Our meetings are held regularly in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; we usually have a speaker who gives a talk on a topic of Huguenot interest.
This is followed by afternoon tea and a chance for members to mingle, get to know each other, and exchange information.
Our meetings are open to everyone. See Upcoming Events (below) for details of time and place.
A variety of dinners, lunches, picnics and other activities are held regularly in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to allow members to get to know each other.
Journal and Newsletter
We publish our journal, ‘Huguenot Times’ twice a year (May and November) to keep in contact with all our members, especially those who live outside the big cities.
It includes articles of Huguenot interest, including the text of speeches given at our meetings and shared information on family history.
We also publish ‘hugo’, an e-newsletter via the Internet in February and August.
NSW (Sydney) Chapter
Our regular meetings commence at 2.00pm. Dates for 2017 are 6th May, 5th August & 4th November (see below for more details).
Venue Gordon Baptist Church Hall, Park Avenue, Gordon
There is a charge of $5.00 for members and $10.00 for non-members
Our Edict of Nantes lunch on 21 April at Sous le Soleil restaurant in Roseville was a great success. We had a record number attending, the weather was perfect and the food and ambience were excellent. Sous le Soleil is indeed a ‘hidden gem’, as one guest put it.
Sunday 18 June, 2.00pm: Our Huguenot Heritage Service at St Swithun’s, Pymble was well-attended, with a substantial choir to swell the singing, and our preacher was the Very Rev’d Kanishka Raffel, Dean of the st Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, Sydney. The Dean’s sermon is posted below.
Saturday 5 August: “Seeking Light after Darkness—Juchau Exiles” by Prof. Roger Juchau. Venue: Gordon Baptist Church Hall, Park Street, Gordon
Thursday 12 October: Spring Lunch at John and Judith Teulon’s property, ‘Jalscene’, 9 Davies Lane, Mt Wilson
- Arrive any time after 10.30am with all your picnic food and gear (it’s a long way from the shops)
- Travel time from Sydney is about 2 hours and it would be good to car pool
- Train to Richmond Station, with a lift from there to Mt Wilson is another possible option.
Saturday 4 November: Reformation Conference and Dinner.
- Venue: ’99 On York’, York St, Sydney
Victorian (Melbourne) Chapter
Our regular meetings commence at 1.00. Venue TBA.
Friday 27 October, 12 noon: Huguenot Lunch —Malvernvale Hotel, Malvern. Contact Sue à Beckett (See below)
Saturday 28 October, 1.00pm: “Silkweavers of Spitalfields” by Robert Nash. Venue: TBA
Queensland (Brisbane) Chapter
Toowong Library Meeting Room —9 Sharwood Rd., Toowong. Our regular meetings commence at 2.00pm
Sunday 26 March: TBA
Sunday 30 July: “Silkweavers of Spitalfields” by Robert Nash
Sunday 26 November: TBA
We meet at HAGSOC Education Room, 41 Templeton St, Cook. ACT
The Huguenot Society of Australia
18 June 2017
This year marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, sparking the movement we have come to call the Reformation. The Huguenots were more Calvinist that Lutheran but both schools affirmed the Reformation motto that salvation is by grace alone not merit, through faith alone not works, in Christ alone not Pope or Church or any other mediator, as taught in Scripture alone not tradition, to the glory of God alone not any human person or institution. Convictions that celebrate the sovereignty and sufficiency, the grace and the glory of God in his work in Jesus Christ and in his witness to himself in Scripture. Convictions which gave birth to the modern era; to the idea of the primacy of the individual conscience; the dignity of marriage and family and secular vocation, to name a few.
But in reality these are convictions that need to be constantly reaffirmed and reclaimed because they stand so much against our natural instinct for self-promotion.
Ephesians chapter 2 is full of the transforming power of God’s grace – in a way, a chapter that reflects precisely the heart of the Reformation recovery of the gospel. In Ephesians 2 Paul gives us a picture of the desperate human plight of his readers before they became Christian – The Plight of their Past. Then he gives a description of the great power that God exerts that changes their situation – God’s Great Power. Finally, he describes the immense privilege of their new situation – Their Privileged Present. Three p’s – Plight, Power, Privilege.
The Plight of their Past v1-3
I can’t remember how old I was when I discovered that the stars are always there. When you are a child you think that the sun wakes up at the same time you do; and that the stars come out at night when you go to bed. But of course, when you grow up a little you learn that the stars are there all the time. I think I was about 22. It’s only when the earth revolves on its axis so that your half of the planet is shaded from the sun, that the stars, that were there all the time begin their magnificent, illuminated display. It’s only when the sky goes black that you can see the glory of the shining stars.
The apostle Paul wants his readers to be stunned by the grace and love and mercy of God. So he reminds them of the black night sky of their spiritual condition before they knew Christ as Lord.
v1-3 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins …….you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient…….gratifying the cravings of the flesh and following its desires and thoughts…..we were by nature deserving of wrath.
It is a devastating picture of the human condition. Dead in sin; disobedient; deserving of wrath. A triple bondage – followers of the ways of the world; subjects of a malevolent spiritual power; slaves of desire and cravings. See it? The world, the flesh and the devil. The world and its ways – corrupted power, insatiable greed, ruthless exploitation. The flesh – the inner voices of lust and envy and pride. The devil – our enemy, the Father of lies, the accuser.
Corrupt, captive, condemned. A picture of utter spiritual incapacity. Not literally dead of course spiritually dead, disobedient and facing God’s just judgement. Paul describes the universal condition of all people everywhere. By nature and choice, spiritually dead, disobedient, deserving God’s wrath.
Calvin’s Institutes (surely the bulwark of Huguenot conviction) opens with the sentences: “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves”
Paul has prayed in ch 1 that his readers would know God better, and in ch 2 he gives them a spiritual diagnosis so that they will know themselves better. No one can be a disciple of Jesus unless they grapple with the grim reality of our desperate plight before God. We are guilty. We are dead.
If we are spiritually dead then immediately we can affirm three propositions. First, every religion or ideology that says to humans, ‘you must try harder’, ‘pray more’, ‘do better’; ‘you must walk the eight-fold Path’; ‘you must build on the five pillars’; ‘you must observe the 634 commands’; ‘you must visualize your best self’ or ‘seek connection with the divine goddess or wild man within’ – every religion or ideology that commands such works must fail. Dead men and women do no works!
Second, any understanding of the human condition that ignores the powerful effects of sin will be inadequate. Adam Smith knew something about the human condition – the power of greed. Karl Marx knew something – the heart of injustice. Freud knew something – the inner struggle. But they are all inadequate because they do not see the fatal wound of sin.
Third, if we are dead, we do not need a doctor. We need a resurrection.
That’s the human plight. Dead in sin, enslaved to the devil and desire, deserving God’s wrath. Now, see the power of God’s Grace.
The Power of God’s Grace v4
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.
But God. The story of every Christian is the story of a powerful intervention by a gracious God. The Christian story is not a story of moral self-improvement or mental discipline or the cultivation of religious habits or tastes. We are not saved by the quality of our character or the purity of our devotion or the frequency of our confession or the diligence of our charity. No. We were dead. And God made us alive.
Why? Not because of us. He saved us because of his own nature. Out of his great love and mercy, by grace. Not because of our works but out of his kindness. Grace has several synonyms in this passage, and you can see them peppered through these verses v4 love, v 4 mercy, v 5 grace, v 7 the riches of his grace, v7 kindness, v 8 grace, v 8 gift. God’s unmerited kindness, his mercy, love and gift.
Grace is not a substance, not a magic potion or fairy dust. No, God’s grace has flesh; God’s grace is incarnate. Verse 5 God made us alive with Christ, v6 we have been raised and seated with Christ, v7 God expressed his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. We know nothing of God’s grace apart from Christ, it is only ‘with Christ’ and ‘in Christ’ that we know God’s grace. That is why there is no salvation outside of Christ, that is why salvation is not from us but a gift of God; that is why salvation is not by works so that no one can boast.
We are saved by the power of God’s grace not by works; by what God does not by what we do, because God helps the helpless and the hopeless not those who help themselves; not by our free will but by the free grace of God; not because we showed our worthiness but while we were dead in transgression.
Grace not works, therefore there is no room for self-congratulation; all the praise belongs to God.
Grace not works therefore there is no room for self-righteousness but rather humility.
Grace not works therefore there is no room for judgmentalism, but rather compassion.
Grace not works therefore there is no uncertainty but full assurance – ‘Bold I approach the eternal throne!’ Wesley says, ‘and claim the crown through Christ my own!’
Grace not works therefore there is no guilt but joy and thanksgiving – full forgiveness is ours through him who died and rose again!
Between before and after, between dead in sin and alive in Christ, is no program no ritual no obedience no prayer no doctrine – between dead and alive is the love of God in Jesus Christ and that is all.
Do you see how glorious, how precious, his life-giving, soul-saving, Christ-exalting is this spiritual principle? But God. Out of his great love. By grace you have been saved. The Huguenots saw it, treasured it and trusted it; so much so, that they were prepared to die rather than renounce it.
Because of the intervention of God in his powerful loving grace Paul’s readers are now in a magnificently privileged position.
Their Privileged Present v7-10
God by his grace raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms (v7) in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
The idea here is that the natural and spiritual world will look on those whom God has saved and praise him for his kindness. I often think that when the new creation comes I’m going to meet a whole lot of people and say to them, “I didn’t expect to see you here!”, and I suppose they’ll say the same about me! The amazing array of sinners who will make up heaven will demonstrate the incomparable riches of God’s kindness. Because everyone will know that we did nothing to get there. It was all from God.
Paul’s idea is that the rulers and powers and authorities in the spiritual realm, look upon the saved sinners who have become God’s masterpiece and gasp! You? You? He has raised you and seated you with Christ? You belong to him – Holy Holy Holy, Almighty, Eternal, Everlasting – you belong to him? Praise his glorious grace! Praise his name! Praise the incomparable riches of his grace!
Sometimes when people speak at other people’s funerals they suggest as they retell the story of the life of the deceased that after a life like that, God could hardly turn them away. As well intentioned as they no doubt are, they could not be more wrong. There is no one whom God could not turn away. But the fact that heaven will be filled – according to the apostle John, filled with a vast multitude that no one can count – is a demonstration of the incomparable riches of God’s kindness, who made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions.
Two more aspects of the Privilege of those who are saved by grace. Faith and works.
v8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.
Yes we must exercise faith – but notice what faith is, and is not. Faith is a gift from God; therefore it is not a work of ours.
Those synonyms of grace help us here. If someone extends to you mercy – what do you do? You receive it. If someone extends to you a gift – what do you do? Surely, you receive it. If someone extends to you kindness, what do you do ? You receive it.
The way we receive God’s love and mercy and kindness is what the bible calls, faith. It means trust, dependence, reliance upon. The faith that receives God’s grace is faith in Jesus whom we know through the message about him – the gospel.
It’s not that God provides Jesus and we provide the faith. No, it’s not like that. Faith is empty. Faith contributes nothing to salvation. Faith is no boast; faith is but an empty hand. God does not reward the faith he sees; our faith receives what God has done.
It’s a lovely thing isn’t it to be invited into someone’s home for a meal. Imagine someone has invited you to a marvellous meal in their home. Three courses perhaps, all made by the host and hostess. Served on the good crockery with the best cutlery – not all that fancy maybe, but clearly the best in the house. After a scrumptious dessert and a leisurely coffee with chocolates you get up to leave and at the door you pull out your wallet, and say, “Look that was just lovely, let me make a little contribution.’
It would be outrageous wouldn’t it? It would be the most grotesque insult wouldn’t it? ‘Here’s a fiver for your trouble.’ It’s a gift. You don’t receive it by making a contribution – you just receive it. Joyfully, thankfully, humbly, gladly. You don’t contribute anything but the empty stomach that receives the gift. And that’s what faith is, just an empty stomach, waiting to be fed; an empty hand that receives what God has done in sending his Son.
Of itself faith has no power and no virtue – it is empty and useless. The saving power of faith is not the act of faith or the attitude of faith or the nature of faith or the amount of faith but exclusively the object of faith. That faith that saves is not faith in faith, but faith in Jesus. We hear the gospel and God by his mercy and grace makes us alive and gives us the gift of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus.
And lastly, works. Verse 10 says: For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us in advance to do.
There are no works we can do to bring ourselves into relationship with Jesus. But in relationship with Jesus – made alive in him – there are works that God has prepared for us to do.
We are not saved by our works, but we are saved for good works. Even these are a gift, from God, prepared in advance for us to do. If we are not saved by our good works, why do good works? Scripture gives us many reasons. Colossians – whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to God. Peter says, Let your good deeds shine as a witness to your neighbours of the power of God. Paul says that obedience to God makes the gospel attractive; and in 1 Corinthians 10, that whatever we do it should all be done to God’s glory. We do the works of God because they are good – blessing people, building God’s church, honouring and serving his Son.
When I was a boy the comic books that I would occasionally read would often carry advertisements for amazing products. The one that always caught my attention was the one about the 90 pound weakling who got sand kicked in his face at the beach who, after purchasing the requisite weight equipment or vitamin supplement or DIY 14 week martial arts training course turned into a muscular and athletic 160 pound adonis who reduced his former sand kicking antagonists to despondent lackeys. I don’t know why that particular ad always caught my attention but nevertheless it did. The dynamic of before and after is a very convincing one isn’t it?
In the ‘before and after’ ads all the emphasis is on the ‘after’ – look at what you can become, look at what has been achieved, look at them now! In Ephesians 2 the transformation is stunning – dead in sin, to alive in Christ; seated in the heavenly realms, displaying God’s kindness in the age to come, God’s masterpiece – that’s a pretty dramatic transformation! But we didn’t bring it about, and the glory belongs to the one who did.
But God – out of his great love – made us alive with Christ. It is by grace that you have been saved.
The glory – oh, the glory and the praise and the honour and the splendour and wealth and riches and beauty and blessing belong to God, now and forever, Amen!
18 June 2017