Sermon for Sunday 22 March 2020

Here’s this week’s message. It’s the last in our 5-part series on The BIG Picture of the Bible.

The Bible reading, which is not included in the video, is 1 Corinthians 15:1-20. You might want to read that first. (We’ll aim to have the readings, and a bit more, as part of the video next week.)

Audio only:


Church gatherings suspended due to COVID-19

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Your invitation

New to the area? Or a long-time resident? Looking for a church?

We are a Bible-believing church in the heart of Holroyd.

We invite you to visit us this Sunday at 9:30am.

Whatever your church background (or lack of church background), you are most welcome.

Our gatherings are friendly and not too formal.

We meet at 9:30am at 11 Ridge Street, Merrylands. (Our building is airconditioned.)

Ladies Gingerbread House event

Welcome message from our Minister

Welcome to our website.

Knowing Jesus Christ is the most wonderful thing anyone can do.

I trust Jesus Christ because I’m convinced –

  • The Bible’s message about him is true.
  • The Bible’s message is wonderful news for everyone – including you!

Here are two talks which you might find helpful in thinking about these matters. Coincidentally, they both draw comparisons with space exploration. 🙂

How can you know the Bible’s message about Jesus is true? Not a Fairy Story. (Christmas 2015.)


How is it Good News of great joy for all the people? On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8. (Christmas 2018.)


and you can also read some notes I put together for our ‘Moon Landing Lunch’ in 2018. (How can you know the Moon Landing actually took place? How can you know anything important in history happened?)

If you might be interested in coming along to similar events, please contact me, and do feel invited to visit us any Sunday at 9:30am. (I promise you won’t be subjected to too much talk about space exploration – but I do hope we can be a help in thinking about the most important and wonderful things of all.)

– Colin Mackellar.

Christmas Message from Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies

Watch this brief Christmas message from Archbishop of Sydney Dr. Glen Davies.

Christmas 2018 — Good news of great joy for all the people

Christmas Day message

If you missed being with us on Christmas morning, you can catch up with the talk here:

And you are very welcome to visit us any Sunday morning at 9:30am – at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, 11 Ridge Street, Merrylands West.

Ladies’ Gingerbread House event 2018

In the run-up to Christmas, one of our most popular activities for ladies is our Gingerbread House event.

This year, it’s on Saturday 24th November from 2:00pm, and we have kept to costs to $30, which includes a Gingerbread House kit, and afternoon tea. Cindy Bootsma is our special guest speaker.

Download your invitation here – and please let us know you are coming by Sunday 18th November.

Remembrance Day Service – Sunday 11th November

Join us at 9:30am on Sunday 11th November 2018 for our special observance of the Centenary of the end of the Great War 1914 – 1918.

We’ll be honouring some of the local residents who left these shores – including those who did not return. We’ll also be praying for genuine peace for our world. And we’ll hear words of hope and comfort from the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus.

And there will be a special morning tea after the service. (Church will finish by 10:30am and, for all who stay for morning tea, we will pause at 11:00am to remember the time the Armistice was signed.)

You are most welcome to join us – at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, 11 Ridge Street, Merrylands West.

(Click the image for a flier in PDF format.)

Notes from our Moon Landing Lunch – 21 July 2018

Saturday 21st July, 12 noon – 2:00pm
the 49th anniversary of the first Apollo Moon Landing

Whether you came to our Moon Landing Lunch or not, we hope these notes might be helpful.

Did Apollo really happen?

Apollo was a triumph of Engineering, Science, Technology, and Mathematics, plus commitment, determination and great bravery.

But imagine someone said to you,

“It was all a government hoax. The Moonwalks were filmed by Stanley Kubrick at Pinewood Studios in London. Nobody has ever been to the Moon.”

How could you discover the truth? Would it be possible to? How could you establish that Apollo really happened?

(Or, how could you prove it didn’t happen?)

Here are some suggestions for areas of enquiry which could be profitable – 

  • You could interview anyone you could find who claimed to be involved. What do they remember? Do their stories make sense, or do they contradict each other?
  • Are any of them eyewitnesses? Or are the best accounts you can find far-removed from those involved?
  • Are they reliable and trustworthy witnesses?
  • What written evidence is there?
  • And what other records (e.g. photos, film, video, audio) are there to help you evaluate the claims that twelve men walked on the Moon between 1969 and 1972?
  • Are there any artefacts to support the claims? – NASA centers, launch pads, tracking stations (and the remains thereof), flown and unflown hardware, lunar samples, post-Apollo images of landing sites, etc..

Is there other evidence?

  • You could investigate incidental evidence – such as the cloud patterns on Earth visible on photos taken from lunar orbit, and from the surface. These aren’t central to the claims of lunar landings, they are quite incidental – yet they can be compared with weather maps and weather satellite images. This data hadn’t been examined until recently.
  • You could see if there are independent sources which corroborate the claims about Apollo. (e.g., Bochum Radio Observatory in West Germany, and several amateur radio operators claimed to receive and record S-band radio communications from the lunar surface).
  • Were there any hostile witnesses? (e.g. Did the Soviets think it actually happened? If not, did they expose the deception? Did they track the spacecraft?)
  • And do the claims about the lunar landings fit into what we know of the historical and political context of the time?

Once someone does that careful historical research, then debate about whether Apollo ‘happened’ or not moves from the realm of someone’s belief to a question of history.

In the case of Apollo, the evidence is overwhelming. And yet, there are still some people who doggedly claim it is all a hoax.

Their refusal to acknowledge could be described as a religious belief – it’s a belief that has to ignore the evidence.

Even if someone wasn’t there to see it, or to be involved, to know that Apollo ‘happened’ does not require a ‘leap of faith’ – simply a willingness to check the available evidence with an open mind.

It’s a question of history.

Did the New Testament stories of Jesus really happen?

In just the same way, we can approach the claimed events of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

One difference is, of course, that we are unable to speak with participants and eyewitnesses in the first century AD. They are long gone.

However, their testimony has been recorded, in the four Gospels, in the Book of Acts, and in some of the Letters – all in the New Testament. As well, there are very early records which support the claims of the Gospels.

So, we could (and should) use exactly the same kinds of historical tools as someone investigating Apollo.

  • While we cannot now interview anyone who was involved, we can read their written testimonies. Do their stories make sense, or do they contradict each other?
  • Were any of them eyewitnesses? Or are the best accounts you can find far removed from those involved?
  • Are they reliable and trustworthy witnesses?
  • What written evidence is there?
  • And what other records are there to help us evaluate the claims that Jesus of Nazareth was born, lived, taught, was killed, and rose from the dead?
  • Are there any artefacts to support the claims? – inscriptions, coins, ruins of buildings, etc.

Is there other evidence?

  • We could investigate incidental evidence – such as the names of places and people mentioned in the accounts. Are they real places and real people? Are they accurately described? Are the names of people consistent with what we know from other sources? (See some fascinating recent research in this lecture given in Houston in 2011).
  • We could see if there are independent sources which corroborate the claims about Jesus. (e.g. the historians Josephus and Tacitus).
  • Were there any hostile witnesses? (e.g. Religious authorities in Jerusalem – people who rejected claims about Jesus, yet whose comments, nevertheless, give us some information about him.)
  • And do the claims about Jesus fit into what we know of the historical and political context of the time?

Once someone does that careful historical research, then debate about whether Jesus lived, taught, died, and rose from death, moves from the realm of someone’s belief to a question of history.

In the Bible, ‘faith’ is never ‘believing something you know isn’t true’ or ‘believing something despite the evidence’.

No, ‘faith’ (an equivalent English word is ‘trust’) is based on facts, not feelings, not hopes.

Because this is the case, the Bible’s claims about Jesus invite enquiry. Do they stand up to careful scrutiny? Many, many historians believe they do.

If you haven’t seriously investigated these things, may I encourage you, and urge you, to do that.

Why it matters

Does it matter what anyone thinks about Jesus?

If the claims about Jesus do not stand up to the kind of scrutiny I’ve outlined above, then the claim that he is God who has come to save people should be rejected.

However, if it is true, then the implications are massive.

You see, the Bible outlines humankind’s great problem – we are separated from the loving God who made us. We’re separated because we’ve lived our lives our way – rejecting his rightful place in our lives. And that leaves us in a very dangerous position.

Yet, because of his amazing love for us, he sent Jesus to rescue men and women from the consequences of living for themselves.

If someone were to put their trust in Jesus, there is forgiveness, and a new start. And that is really the best news there is!

That’s a very inadequate outline. You can read a better one here.

Some helpful books

A Short Book About Jesus, the Man from Heaven.
by respected Sydney-based Historian Dr. Paul Barnett.
(It is available from Christian Education Publications in Sydney.)

Another excellent book – Gospel Truth by Paul Barnett.

And you can see previews (thanks to Google) of Paul Barnett’s book, Bethlehem to Patmos: The New Testament Story (Revised 2013).

There are many good and helpful books which approach the question of the historicity of the New Testament accounts honestly, but I recommend Dr. Paul Barnett’s books because I’ve read them, and he is a very careful and knowledgeable researcher.

– Colin Mackellar.

The invitation to our Moon Landing Lunch.

Ladies’ High Tea – Saturday 5th May

Ladies – you re invited to our Mother’s Day High Tea on Saturday 5th May at 2:00pm.

Join us to hear a special guest speaker and for card-making fun with Olwyn!

No charge, but RSVP essential by Sunday 29th April to 9682 7613.

Click the image to download your invitation. 🙂

Learning from the Lord’s Prayer

Starting Sunday 4th March at 9:30am, we’re beginning a new series of Bible talks based on Jesus’ teaching about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount.

Have you ever wanted to know how to pray? What to pray for? What not to pray for? To whom should we pray? Does God really want us to pray, anyway?

Sunday mornings at 9:30am at 11 Ridge Street, Merrylands West.

No previous experience of church needed! Adults and children most welcome.

Billy Graham’s message of Hope

Billy Graham, the most famous preacher of the twentieth century, died at the age of 99, on Wednesday 21st February.

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the media coverage.

What was the message of this humble man – and why did more than 200 million people hear him in person, over the course of his preaching ministry?

On Sunday 4th March at 7:00pm, we’ll screen Billy Graham’s last message – My Hope: The Cross.

How can the Cross of Christ give hope? How could Billy Graham confidently look forward to heaven?

You are very welcome to come along. There’s no charge, and they’ll be no collection – but we’ll have supper afterwards. At St. Matthew’s Church, 11 Ridge Street, Merrylands West.

Click the image to download your invitation.

Christmas 2017

Come and celebrate the joy of Christmas –

Christmas Eve (Sunday 24 December) – one gathering at 9:30am.
Holy Communion.

Christmas Day (Monday 25 December) – one gathering at 9:30am.
Christmas Church for all ages.

Everyone very welcome.

At 11 Ridge Street, Merrylands West.

And here is this year’s Christmas message from the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Glenn Davies.

If you would like a free copy of The Gospel of Luke, which he mentions, we’d be glad to give you one.

125th Anniversary of St. Matthew’s on Sunday 28th May 2017

This Sunday, 28th May, it will be exactly 125 years since the original St. Matthew’s building was opened in Arcadia Street. That means we’ll be celebrating the Quasquicentenary!

Back in 1892, the Archbishop of Sydney and Primate of Australia, William Saumarez Smith, officiated at the opening of St. Matthew’s Mission Church, Holroyd.

(You can read more of our history here. PDF file.)

While the streets, the culture, and even the location of the church building, have changed, that original name is a wonderful reminder of why St. Matthew’s is here – to share the saving news of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why our church mission statement is “Building People Around Christ”.

To help us celebrate the 125th anniversary, The Rev. Tom Halls will be our special guest preacher.

Formerly the Rector of St. Peter’s Cooks River, Tom is well-known and loved at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, where he has been assisting with the Healing Ministry since 2006. He also has a special love for the people of South Asia, and regularly visits India and Sri Lanka and further afield, helping pastors and church members better understand God’s word to us in the Bible.

So please feel invited to join us on Sunday 28th May 2017 at 9:30am.

Ladies’ Mother’s Day High Tea

On Saturday 13th May, local ladies are invited to our Mother’s Day High Tea at 2:00pm.

There’s no charge, but for catering, please RSVP by Sunday 7th May. Contact Details here.