•  — Edited

    Welcome to the Runnymede Christian Fellowship Faithlife Community. This is the hub where we help our blended Church to connect, communicate and be community. There is plenty of material information and help you in connecting, learning, growing and being Church here at Runnymede Christian Fellowship. Please do have a look around if you have any questions let us know and we will help you as best we can.
  • published a bulletin

    ReadRunnymede Christian Fellowship
    26th March 2023 - Teaching Service
  •  — Edited

    ready to take up your cross

    What does it mean to take up your cross?

    After writing about Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, Mark adds, “from that time on, Jesus began to explain” some things to His disciples. While preparing them for His coming crucifixion, He also spoke to them about their own cross. 

    He left no doubt about what discipleship meant: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24). The disciples were part of the “crowd“ that followed Jesus, and it was to all of them that the Master spoke those words.

    Jesus gave them all a word picture that they likely understood better in those ancient times than Christ-followers do today. No doubt many in the multitudes — even the disciples — believed Jesus was about to bring a glorious and powerful kingdom to earth. Some in the crowds had already drifted away; they were only following Jesus for the miracles and meals anyway, and His teachings grew more puzzling. But those who remained misunderstood God’s timetable for prophecy, so they were likely shocked to hear Jesus’ words.

    What Does Matthew 16:24 Mean?

    Was “cross-bearing” different in Jesus' day than today? Why did Jesus use such a tough metaphor to describe discipleship?

    Two thousand years ago, Romans forced convicts to carry their rugged, wooden crosses to their own place of execution. As they bore the crosses of crucifixion, crowds laughed and ridiculed them. Today, except perhaps in rare cases in some third-world countries, people do not carry wooden crosses to their death, but Jesus’ meaning went beyond that tool of execution anyway. His statement to the disciples involved self-denial, surrender, and servanthood.

    1. Self-denial

    Jesus said we must first deny ourselves. In today’s terms, it’s called “dying to self.” Many Christians only vaguely understand the concept but know the “self” can cause problems. Some believe that simply by denying ourselves material goods, accomplishments, or meaningful things, this will make us better recruits for discipleship. Maybe, but it’s more than that. 

    By “self,” Jesus wasn’t referring to a person’s personal identity. God created each of us, and we are beautifully and uniquely known to Him. The “self” Jesus referenced is the sinful, rebellious, unredeemed self — the fleshly and corrupt “old self.” Paul recognized this “self” when he said, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Romans 7:18). At salvation, we are clothed in the “new self” of righteousness (Eph. 4:24), but there is still no goodness in ourselves. Self-denial includes rejection of self-sufficiency and self-will.

    Jesus calls us to crucify — to put to death — our own plans and desires. We’re to stop trying to gratify the flesh. Jesus further calls people to face the potential loss of family, friends, reputation, material goods, career, and personal dreams in following Him — perhaps to even face martyrdom. Jesus didn’t say we would face all these losses or death, but only that we sincerely needed to be willing to lose all things for His sake. It wasn’t and still isn’t a popular message.

    2. Surrender

    Jesus said we must take up our cross. Our taking up is really a matter of bowing down. Jesus never hid the cost of discipleship. He calls us to bow in absolute surrender to Him. This isn’t a mystical deeper life activity for some spiritual super-elite; it’s for all who desire to follow the Lord. It’s for anyone willing to count the cost of bearing His reproach. 

    Surrendering is easy when life runs smoothly, but surrendering to God’s will can be more difficult during struggles and trials. Jesus said we would face many troubles (John 16:33). We will likely suffer in some way as we follow in His footsteps.

    Taking up our cross means sacrifice, laying everything on the altar. It’s not a half-hearted commitment; it is a full surrender to God’s terms of discipleship. It’s a choice to live out the truth that we are “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), even if it means shame, rejection, or persecution. It means being willing to share in the sufferings of Christ — and it’s a choice to be made daily.

    3. Servanthood

    Jesus said we must follow Him. The disciples were called individually, leaving family, friends, and occupations to follow Jesus. No doubt in the crowd, as Jesus spoke that day some had still not come to Him for salvation. In calling people to salvation, Jesus called them to a life of loyal obedience and service. He clarified the terms: if we don’t deny ourselves, carry our cross, and follow Jesus, we cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:27). 

    There is no such thing as a no-cost, no-sacrifice form of discipleship. The hymnist wrote, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me.” Discipleship requires service to the Master and obedience to His will. The Lordship of Christ becomes the daily reality of the believer’s life. It’s clear cut in Scripture. The true disciple will live like and ultimately resemble the Master, and those who do not desire to do the will of the Father cannot rightly call Him “Lord” (Matthew 7:21).

    1. an eternal message

      The cross speaks

      God foretold the crucifixion of Jesus Christ upon a cross in the Old Testament hundreds of years before it happened. The cross was, to the Romans and the Jews of the day, a symbol of death. However, it was this very instrument of torture and death upon which God would sacrifice His only begotten Son for the sins of the world.

      The Bible says, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:5-6).

      The New Testament, speaking of Jesus Christ, states, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree... " (1 Peter 2:24). "For he (The Father) hath made him (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

      You see, the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place to die for our sins! We, who deserve to die (Ezekiel 18:4) and spend eternity in hell (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Revelations 20:14), can receive forgiveness of sin and salvation afforded by the payment of Jesus Christ on the cross and receiving Him alone as Saviour by faith.

      "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9). "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13).

      The Bible assures us that Jesus Christ arose from the grave in victory over sin! "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died fr our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3,4).

      He took the symbol of torture and death and turned it into a symbol of hope and eternal life! The Lord no longer hangs on a cruel cross, sleeps in a borrowed tomb, and occupies a Heavenly throne (Colossians 3:1) from which He offers eternal life to all who will come to Him!

      If the cross should speak, it would proclaim the gospel message of salvation, full and free, by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

      1. published a bulletin

        ReadRunnymede Christian Fellowship
        19th March 2023 Infill Service
      2. feed me with life

        Jesus, the Bread of Life

        Who does Jesus claim to be? In our passage, he says, “I am the bread of life.” To understand that, we have to understand a little background to this passage. John 6 begins with Jesus feeding the five thousand. He takes a few loaves of bread and fish, and he multiplies them (in a miracle) to feed five thousand people. Then, after he has fed them, he sends the disciples across the Sea of Galilee—but he doesn’t cross with them. They go over in a boat, and then he chooses to do what only he could choose to do: to walk across the sea in the middle of the night.

        The next day, the crowd of five thousand people, who had just been fed the previous day and had gone to bed that night with full bellies, wake to find that the disciples and Jesus are gone. Then they figure out that he must have gone to the other side, so they begin to cross themselves and track him down. John 6:24 tells us that they were “seeking Jesus”. That sounds awfully good, but when they find him, Jesus’ response is not what we would expect. He doesn’t commend them for travelling across the Sea to find him. Rather, he chides them for seeking him because they are not (in reality) seeking him. Rather, they are excited about the bread that he gave them and are foolishly seeking more things like that—things that are perishable.

        But Jesus is concerned that they seek that that is eternal. As the good and loving pastor he is, not wanting them to die in their folly, he says (verse 27), “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” “What you seek is too small,” Jesus is saying. “It disappears. How good it was to have full bellies when you went to bed last night, but you should labour for the food that sustains you forever.” He gave them a little nourishment and sustenance, but it was temporal. They’re hungry again.

        I cook at my house. It was a pretty easy gig when it was just Leah and I, but now I have two other mouths to feed. Those mouths don’t just want to be fed—they also talk! Often, when I come home in the evening, the greeting I get when I come in the door is, “Daddy, what are we going to have for dinner?” I think, “Didn’t you already get fed twice today?” They seem to need to be fed every three hours, especially the boys. They’re always hungry. If I could cook something that would last and fill them for even one day, it would be wonderful. I would be happy. They eat, though it is temporal and not long-lasting. The problem is that if I don’t feed them, they die.

        This conversation leads these Jews to bring up the bread God supplied from Heaven to the Israelites in the wilderness. They say, “God provided this manna. Moses provided this manna. It would fall from the sky and land on the ground six out of seven days, and we would eat it.” It was another amazing, miraculous provision, but that bread was also only temporal. They would go out and collect it and eat what they could, but eventually, it would be filled with worms, mould and decay. Jesus says, “There is the bread you can eat that surpasses what I fed the five thousand. There is the food you can eat that surpasses even the manna that fell from the sky.”

        That is worth seeking. What is that food that endures?

        You can almost see Jesus thumping his chest: “This is the bread that came down from Heaven!” He not only gives this bread—he is the bread. Whoever feeds on him can live forever. How clear his point is. How foolish it is for people to say that Jesus made no grand claims about himself. It’s not only his followers attributing things to him. Have they considered even one of these “I am” statements? “I am the bread of life!” He’s saying that as our bodies need food, so our souls need him.

        He’s making a bold declaration about himself. Verse 27: “For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Christ has been appointed, commissioned, and given all authority by the Father. He’s been sealed with the privilege of being the Savior of mankind. He’s pointing to himself and saying, “I am the bread you must eat. If you eat of me, you’ll live forever.” C.S. Lewis famously said that Jesus must either be Lord, a lunatic, or a liar because this is a bold assertion.

        Bread is the most basic of human needs. It’s a fundamental part of daily life. It provides nourishment, sustenance, and vitality. “Give us this day our daily bread”, we are taught to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. Why? Because we need it. For goodness’ sake, there wouldn’t be pizza without bread! So our souls need him. He is the very food our souls crave. They remain famished and dying apart from him. Anything else is just empty calories—junk food. He alone is the answer to end all of our spiritual cravings.

        One thinks back to the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve in that Garden. God gave them a command: “You shall not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you do, you shall surely die.” As we know, Adam chose to eat the fruit of the tree, and he died. Jesus was saying, “As the curse came in through eating, so the remedy is only found in eating the bread which God provides in the person of his Son. Whereas death was a result in the garden, life is the result of feeding upon me.”

        What does feeding upon him mean? Christ isn’t talking about us grinding him with our teeth and chewing upon him. Cannibalism is a bad thing! Rather, he is telling us that we must digest him by faith.

        We often see the imagery in the Scriptures of eating representing faith. For example, when the Passover was celebrated by the Jews each year, it was a ritual of faith. They were to sit down to eat a lamb that had been sacrificed and was sitting on their table. But they weren’t just to eat the lamb—they were to consume all of the lamb. As they consumed this provision that had been made for them, it was an act of faith that a sacrifice had been made for them to atone for their sins, pointing forward to Christ Jesus to come—that they had a God who was their deliverer. And so they would consume this entire lamb. It was an act of faith.

        We believe in this God who delivers us and does the same thing when we come to the Lord’s table. We break the bread and pour the cup, and then we eat the bread and drink the cup in faith. It’s a sign of our faith in and belief in him. Jesus makes it very clear that he’s not talking about physically eating but consuming him with our souls. He says in verse 29: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Verse 35: “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” We eat him by believing in him.

        1. Mar
          Friday, March 3rd  •  7:30–9:00 pm (GMT)
          Bar 163, High Street, Egham, Surrey
          163 High St, Egham TW20 9HP, UK
          1. Mar
            Wednesday, March 8th  •  6:00–8:30 pm (GMT)
            Every Wednesday