Grays Baptist Church was packed out on Saturday 29 January to worship with “God’s Troubadour”.
Godfrey Birtill (right and below left) is known for his unique music style and challenging prophetic lyrics. And being a northerner, he says it like it is and plays it for real.
The event was attended by a significant number of people from across the churches of Thurrock and quite a few from beyond, especially from Havering and Southend. This was Godfrey’s fourth visit to Thurrock, and each time he has spoken into the borough and brought a challenge to people’s lives.
This time Godfrey was more than ably supported by GBC regular musicians André Santos on the drums and Gareth Marsh on bass. Afterwards, Godfrey was appreciative of their skill, their easiness to work with, and their willingness to work with him.
Godfrey chose to bring a hard-hitting, tell-it-like-it-is word to those gathered, the gist of which went something like this:
Everything’s changing. There’s an urgency. The Gospel is ‘tops’ – it’s more important than anything. But no one can make someone else a Christian – it’s God’s revelation of Christ in us. The importance to Thurrock is that people come to know Jesus for real.
Romans chapter 6 (see below) – ‘Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ’ and ‘Slaves to Righteousness’. The Bible is God preaching to us. In the Greek, the word ‘sin’ means an inward element that produces evil acts.
If we add a ‘but’ to the Gospel, we’re spitting on the cross – we end up with ‘do, do’. The ‘do, do’ comes out of the ‘but’ (i.e. that which is not of the Gospel of Christ is the work of man). But it’s a Gospel of grace! It’s heresy to say we can’t be free from the sinful nature. Jesus doesn’t just deal with our sin – he obliterates it, annihilates it! When we’re born again, it’s all different, completely different.
We died with Jesus.
Temptation is a sign that God is in us. Christ came to kill us – ‘Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ’! We can’t follow our own lusts and desires when Christ is in us; instead of being a slave to sin, we become a slave to righteousness.
This requires believing it – but even belief is a gift… The Gospel is acquired by revelation. It changes everything. We can stop complaining! Our driving can change! The way men we talk to our spouses can change!
This calls for a response. A sign that he’s done it all and I’ve done nothing. “Religion brings separation, but the Gospel brings unity – unification with Christ in you.” It is a finished work.
Godfrey later said he’d dropped a lot of stuff to just tell people the Gospel now.
Above: André Santos at the drums(left) and Gareth Marsh on bass (right)
Pastor of Grays Baptist Church, Colin Baker said afterwards:
Saturday 29th January 2011 marked the commencement of Grays Baptist’s 126th year.
During the last year we have been celebrating the 125th by a variety of means such as quizzes, Easter activities, flower/craft festival, talent night etc. We have used the opportunity to gather together the community as well as share with other churches across the borough something of the joy of celebrating our Anniversary.
We did not want to keep it to ourselves and used the opportunity to raise needed funds for St Luke’s Hospice and Little Havens Children’s Hospice. In total we have raised over £3,500.
The last planned event was a prayer and praise evening led by Godfrey Birtill. Godfrey led the evening commencing with a traditional hymn (done in his own inimitable style) and followed with a string of uptempo and, it has to be said, toe-tappingly brilliant tunes with incisive lyrics. As usual Godfrey’s songs were up-to-date (many writtten in the last couple of weeks) and reflective of the times we now find us in. More importantly, the new songs express the simplicity of knowing Jesus and the need to get ourselves right with God now.
A great evening of word, song and fellowship. The building was full and as well as blessing Godfrey with a financial gift towards his ministry the church were able to set aside a further £300 for the work of the hospices.
Romans 6:1-18 (NIV)
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The songs Godfrey sang were:
- O for a thousand tongues
- Praise my soul the King of heaven
- There’s a battle raging (Just one touch from the King)
- How beautiful the feet
- Raise up, raise up the standard
- He’s done it all
- Oh outrageous grace
- When I look at the blood
- Are You ready ready ready
For more info about Godfrey Birtill and his music, please go to
Transformation Thurrock can recommend the following albums:
- Ring Out Wild Bells (2010)
- Hijacked into Paradise (2009)
- Very God (2008)
- R U Ready? – Godfrey Birtill Live
- Dread God – The Fear and The Faith (2004)