September 2011

The Church’s One Foundation

Church[5]I though I’d start the week by quoting one of my favourite hymns in its entirety for your consideration. There are one or two verses in here that we don’t normally sing, probably cause it’ll make the song go on for ages (not that that’s a bad thing in my estimation). Nevertheless this is a most excellent summary of ecclesiology, that is, the theology of the church. It’s first two lines that have the biggest bang. If you get these two lines only you will have gotten an excellent nugget of truth about the church. The picture on the left is actually a little inaccurate in depicting the church, as you will find out as you read the hymn.

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide!

Worldview? How You See The World

There is a lot of talk these days about worldviews, Christian worldview, secular worldview, biblical worldview, evolutionary worldview and so on. But what does this little phase mean and why is it important? Or is it even important? The answer to the last question is a resounding YES. Lets first look at the word itself:

The word ‘worldview’ comes from a German word Weltanschauung which when broken up means ‘world’ and ‘view’. Its a concept that comes mainly out of 19th century German philosophy. Basically a worldview is a person’s philosophical view of reality. According to merriam-webster.com  Weltanschauung means: ‘a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint’’. A good working definition of ‘worldview’. The next thing to say is that everyone has one. there is not a person on the earth who has not perceived reality in some way, and once you have done that, you have a worldview. Even if you are a day old baby, your worldview is sleep, cry, drink milk, sleep. Our worldview is the key factor is deciding our biases.

For example, I would choose a Coke over a Pepsi every time because I like the taste of Coke more. But lets go through the process of making the choice. I choose coke because I’m biased towards the taste of Coke being better. My bias is informed by preferences which have been filtered either consciously or unconsciously through my worldview. Now lets say that my worldview stated that only pure water was safe to drink, I would probably never touch Coke or Pepsi, and I would say my favourite drink is water. Do you see how my bias comes out of my worldview.

Another example: why do I go to church, and in point of fact would go to church at all costs? The answer is: because I have a biblical worldview, which says to me that the bible is inspired, inerrant and infallible. That means that I have to believe all that it teaches and obey what it instructs me to do. Now the bible instructs that we (Christians) should not forsake the assembly of the saints (Heb 10:25) so that we can stir each other up to love and good works (Heb 10:24). Now my church does this by meeting together on Sunday mornings and evenings. So, according to my worldview, I go to church, and at all costs.

Developing A Christian Worldview

Firstly, why would we want to develop a Christian and biblical worldview? The answer is simple and I quote the Westminster shorter catechism “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”. A Christian worldview is the means to this end. I formulate a Christian worldview for this purpose, to maximise my glorification of God and my enjoyment of Him forever.

For me personally, it was very hard for me to consciously develop a biblical worldview. Like many my age I had grown up with parents who did not believe (and therefore did not teach) the bible and went to a school that tried its best to teach me a secular humanist worldview. It took me a fair amount of bible study before the penny dropped in my head that there is a complete contradiction between what the bible taught about creation (God created, 6 days, young earth) and evolution (no creator, millions of years) and that the differences were as much theological as they were about truth, and what actually happened. Theological in the sense that, if evolution is true, that means that there was death before sin, which means that God’s entire plan of redemption and restoration is false, thus eliminating the bible as any kind of source of truth, because it would then be filled with lies.

But a Christian worldview plays itself out in a variety of ways. For example, when I see a scenic view or a sunset, I immediately thank God for creating me and allowing me to see this sight. When I think about the incredible intricacy of some of our natural wonders I don’t think to myself (as I used to) “amazing what evolution can do” but rather I think “amazing what God can do, Glory to Him” And when faced with an ethical dilemma, my worldview informs me that the bible is my source of instruction through all moral and ethical problems. I then consult the bible and make the right decision. Now if all that sounds too good to be true it is. We are still sinful by nature and there are still many times when my flesh overrides my worldview and I sin.

For this reason it is important to be purposeful in formulating our worldview, according to the bible. “But hang on” I hear you say, “don’t we get our view of the bible from our worldview?” Yes, but it also works the other way. Our worldview tells us how we view the bible and if we are a Christian, our bible informs our worldview, it doesn’t usually if a person is not a Christian, because one of the things that happen at conversion is a person begins to formulate a Christian worldview. worldbviw[9]

This picture brings us nicely to our first danger when talking about a worldview. Many people, especially some of my lecturers, would claim that each arrow is equal or more often, that our worldview informing how we see the bible is more important than the bible transforming and informing our worldview. THIS IS FALSE. If our worldview is different to that of the bible, then we change our worldview, not how we view the bible. This doesn’t mean we don’t have any biases when reading the bible, but we should be aware of them and avoid them if possible.

The other danger I’ve seen is people these days see Christianity as merely a worldview, rather than a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. It is popular these days to do just that, to limit yourself to seeing the world christianly rather than being reconciled to Jesus Christ through His atoning work. May it never be…

That’s all for now, I need to flesh this out more at a later date. In the mean time, I recommend the resource linked below. Its a Christian Radio station called The Christian Worldview

Chapters And Verses Stats

I had fun a a couple of years ago counting all of the number of verses in the bible and doing a bit of a statistical analysis of that data. I found some interesting things; for example Luke has the most number of verses per chapter, which is why it always took me ages to read through Luke. I hope you find this useful

 

THE OLD TESTAMENT
       
  Number Of Chapters: Number Of Verses: Average Number Of Verses:
Genesis 50 1533 30.66
Exodus 40 1180 29.5
Leviticus 27 859 31.81481481
Numbers 36 1288 35.77777778
Deuteronomy 34 959 28.20588235
Joshua 24 658 27.41666667
Judges 21 618 29.42857143
Ruth 4 85 21.25
1 Samuel 31 810 26.12903226
2 Samuel 24 695 28.95833333
1 Kings 22 816 37.09090909
2 Kings 25 719 28.76
1 Chronicles 29 942 32.48275862
2 Chronicles 36 822 22.83333333
Ezra 10 280 28
Nehemiah 13 406 31.23076923
Esther 10 167 16.7
Job 42 1070 25.47619048
Psalms 150 2461 16.40666667
Proverbs 31 915 29.51612903
Ecclesiastes 12 218 18.16666667
Song Of Solomon 8 117 14.625
Isaiah 66 1292 19.57575758
Jeremiah 52 1364 26.23076923
Lamentations 5 154 30.8
Ezekiel 48 1273 26.52083333
Daniel 12 357 29.75
Hosea 14 197 14.07142857
Joel 3 73 24.33333333
Amos 9 146 16.22222222
Obadiah 1 21 21
Jonah 4 48 12
Micah 7 105 15
Nahum 3 47 15.66666667
Habakkuk 3 56 18.66666667
Zephaniah 3 53 17.66666667
Haggai 2 38 19
Zechariah 14 211 15.07142857
Malachi 4 55 13.75
Total Number Of Books 39
       

New Testament

       
  Number Of Chapters: Number Of Verses: Average Number Of Verses:
Matthew 28 1071 38.25
Mark 16 678 42.375
Luke 24 1151 47.95833333
John 21 879 41.85714286
Acts 28 997 35.60714286
Romans 16 433 27.0625
1 Corinthians 16 437 27.3125
2 Corinthians 13 257 19.76923077
Galatians 6 149 24.83333333
Ephesians 6 155 25.83333333
Philippians 4 104 26
Colossians 4 95 23.75
1 Thessalonians 5 89 17.8
2 Thessalonians 3 47 15.66666667
1 Timothy 6 113 18.83333333
2 Timothy 4 83 20.75
Titus 3 46 15.33333333
Philemon 1 25 25
Hebrews 13 303 23.30769231
James 5 108 21.6
1 Peter 5 105 21
2 Peter 3 61 20.33333333
1 John 5 105 21
2 John 1 13 13
3 John 1 14 14
Jude 1 25 25
Revelation 22 404 18.36363636
Total Number Of Books 27

A Matter Of Authority–Healing And Miracles Part 1

This is post number two from the requests I got recently, and the topic for this post is healings and miracles. However when I began writing this post, I did not consider the amount of ground I had to cover, so now its part 1 of at least 2 maybe more posts on the subject. It is my contention that authority is the key to understanding miracles. Just to be clear, in this context, healing refers to supernatural healing that happens because God directly heals the wound using no natural means, such as medicine or anything suchlike. Miracles are happening, events or such like that have no natural explanation, they could only come about by a supernatural intervention. My outline is as follows: It is important to get a clear biblical understanding of what the bible says about this topic so in Part 1 I will be focussing first on biblical miracles to form a theology of miracles. Building on from that I will look at modern views of miracles and how they apply today. I would also like to take an in depth look at miracles as they happen/ are reported to happen today.

A Biblical Theology Of Miracles

First let me say: I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES. If you aren’t convinced yourself, turn with me in your bible to Genesis 1:1. Very first sentence in the bible proves that miracles happen.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

God, using supernatural means created the earth and the universe. According to our definition that would qualify as a miracle. He did in fact create natural means in this verse. Now I would argue that creation is the second greatest miracle in the bible (the first being our salvation through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection). But think through this with me. If God created (spoke into existence to be precise) everything, that is every molecule, put in place every scientific law and made dust into living creatures, then manipulating these things so that a Red Sea parts here or a bush that burns but isn’t consumed there really isn’t that hard for Him. To put it in a punchy way, if Genesis 1 is true, then the rest of the bible is believable. (Which is why creationism is important, but that aside)
It is interesting that up until Jesus began his earthly ministry, miracles were incredibly rare. I’m talking specifically about those miracles we commonly refer to as signs and wonders miracles. These are typically associated with a particular person, a miracle worker of some kind, usually a prophet in the Old Testament and with various apostles in the New Testament.

Other than the events of creation we see almost nothing until Moses. After Moses has turned his staff into a snake, parted the Red Sea and fed the people manna supernaturally for 40 years the tap of miracles slowed and after Joshua has taken Jericho cease altogether with a very few exceptions (I think of Gideon) until Elijah and Elisha come. These men again perform a number of miracles but again they diminished after Elisha had died. Some of the other prophets did perform miracles but on a relatively small scale and not very often. Then Jesus comes on the scene. He blazes away with turning water into wine, clear and obvious healings where limbs grew back, multiplying food such that a fish-paste sandwich fed upwards of twenty thousand people. The purpose of this was to demonstrate His authority to teach what He taught and to show His power as God. After Jesus returned to heaven, He gave His apostles authority to do many signs and wonders, including talking in tongues, healing people, raising people from the dead. However again we see that towards the end of the first century that miracles of this kind (that is signs and wonders from a particular person) seems to die out.

We can get the impression from reading the bible that these kinds of miracles are commonplace, they are not. Over six thousand years of human history, such things are rare, isolated cases of a man, specifically commissioned by God to perform the signs. Let us turn now to the purpose of miracles. In the bible, signs and wonders miracles are always used to authenticate the message preached. Lets go through some examples:

  1. Firstly: Moses, when first meeting with God at the burning bush is told to request of Pharaoh to let them leave Egypt, now read on: Exodus 3:19-20 19But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.mosesandtheburningbush
    Do you see that in before before Pharaoh lets the people go, God through Moses was going to show many displays of power, miracles if you will. Now even more to the point, read Exodus 4: 1-5:

    1Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.'” 2The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”–so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand– 5“that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

    This says it exactly. Moses wants to know how He can prove that the message he brings is from God, God says throw down your stick and (miracle alert) it turns into a snake. Pick it up and it becomes a staff again. Same happened in the next few verses when Moses put his hand in his cloak and drew it out again, it instantly had leprosy, and again when he put his had back in and out again it was healed

  2. elijah-kills-prophets-of-baal[4]Secondly: Elijah was a prophet in Israel during a rather bad time, Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Between 1 Kings 16 and 2 Kings 9these two made life in Israel rather difficult for those who served the Lord. During this time the prophet Elijah operated. Probably his most famous miracle happened during the duel with the prophets of Baal. In 1 Kings 18 he challenges the prophets, all 450 of them, what follows is a scene where two burnt offering are set up but only the one for God is consumed by fire, only after a considerable amount of water is poured onto it. The prophets wail and cry and even cut themselves hoping that their god would hear them. But Elijah prays “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (1 Kings 18 36-38)

    Do you see how Elijah, in asking for this miracle, is asking for God to substantiate Him as a prophet (that I am your servant) as well to demonstrate to the people that there is only one God. He is using the expected miracle as the ratification that He is the prophet of God.

Ok, I have written enough for one post (about 2 pages if you are interested). I have attempted to show how miracles in the Old Testament were used as an authority, something the prophet could point to to say, “I am from God.” I will begin part 2 by developing this point further and showing some New Testament examples.

Until them, Him we proclaim…

 

Bad! Bad! Bad!

Questionmark[3]Ok so I just got this email and it seems to be one of the circulars. But while it is apparently written in English it is entirely incomprehensible. I mean, I know those words, I use many of them but in this statement they seem to fog over with a different meanings. However the first problem I see with it is that it is titled: “Prophetic prayer for this day and in the introductory paragraph goes on about the content being prophetic declaration. I will tear this extremely bad piece of literature when I have understood it. Its all bad. I submit it for your consideration, if you understand  it, please let me know

Please pass on this prophetic declaration to anyone you know that are in need of a life-changing breakthrough from God. This is the season where things are shifting and moving to bring in what has been called out in previous seasons.  Read the full prophetic word on the mentioned website. Be blessed. Zelda-Lyn Haggard (Grace For All Nations Ministries)

I CALL FORTH A MASSIVE BREAKTHROUGH IN JESUS NAME FOR  US. A SUDDEN MOVE OF GOD THAT WILL SHAKE EVERY FOE AND EVERY ADVERSITY TO COME TO NOTHING, BECAUSE THE WORD OF GOD IS YE AND AMEN. HE IS THE GUARENTEE OF HIS WORD RELEASED, AND THE SANCTUARY OF SAFETY FOR HIS CHILDREN. LET HIS MIGHTY RIGHT ARM MOVE AND CONQUER ON OUR BEHALF. I CALL FORTH A NEW ANOINTING TO OVERTAKE US  and RELEASE NEW TERRITORY AND NEW VICTORIES TO US. WE LIVE TO CONQUER AND WIN. AMEN.!!!!
BE BLESSED WITH ALL MANNER OF HIS GRACE MANIFESTATION IN YOUR LIFE.

huh????

Fighting Epicureanism

Ok, I’ll grant you, the name in the above title is probably not something you’ve ever heard of before, but for myself I have found that it is something that invokes foreboding and wariness. But first things first, what is Epicureanism?

Act 17:18  Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, "What does this babbler wish to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities"–because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection

You know the context, Paul, after various trials had found himself in Athens. He was walking around, enjoying the sights but his ‘spirit was provoked’ (vs 16) because of the idolatry and idols that was rampant. So going to the nearest synagogue as well as to the market square on his soap box, he begins preaching the gospel to the people. Now before we have his famous “Men on Athens” sermon (vs 22) we get verse 18, which tells us that two groups of people, both philosophers. Now it is interesting, that of the many hundreds of philosophical systems that were around both before and after the only two mentioned in the bible are Stoicism and Epicureanism.
Epicurus_bust2[3]These two systems were opponents, and were markedly different from each other in many respects, but like almost every philosophical system ever invented by man, the ultimate goal was happiness. In Stoicism’s case, this was done through overcoming destructive emotions whereas Epicureans tried to achieve this by enjoying physical pleasures temperately.
Epicurus reasoned that while pleasure was to be had from such things as food, (thus making it a form of hedonism) over indulging in those pleasures lead to bad results later, for example stomach ache and dissatisfaction because the food just didn’t satisfy for long. And the same applied to other physical pleasure also. So, he decided that the best way to find happiness was to each only fine food, but in small quantities, drink only the best wine, but again, in small enough quantities so as to not get drunk, because after drunkenness is the hangover, and often more consequences than that. Now it often was taken further than that, resulting in asceticism, or the renunciation of physical pleasures altogether, to prevent, in the epicurean though, the bad consequences.
Now we know from Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes that while the desire to get pleasure is a very human on, There is no satisfaction to be found in any physical pleasure. There is nothing wrong with nice food, but whether taken in excess or in moderation, satisfaction will not be found in them. Only in God can satisfaction be found. Therefore this philosophy is dangerous, both to our Christian lives, and also generally to humanity. From this I have identified two dangers in particular that need to be identified and avoided.

  1. The first danger is fairly personal, and to my knowledge something not everyone struggles with. I have found in myself a tendency to want to get pleasure from many physical things in life, food and social interaction in particular. As a working bachelor I have both time and money to indulge these pleasures more or less to the extent I want. Again neither food nor social is bad, but taken to excess there can be a problem. I know this and so limit myself. Here is the danger, I am tempted to think that because I am not just indulging every pleasure of the flesh but rather enjoying the fine company of good friends doing wholesome and moral activities together (which is my particular point of temptation) I can find happiness and lasting pleasure in this. I have to remind myself that THIS IS NOT THE CASE. I need to revolt and fight against this kind of thinking. Satisfaction can only be found in God.
  2. The other danger is far more profound and rampant. It involves running from God. People can run from God in two ways. The most common way is for them to ignore Him in every way, ignore His laws and rules, by being immoral and rampantly ungodly, and ignore the consequences of those sins, ultimately ignoring the eternal consequences, death, judgment and hell. The other way is by obeying God. People think that by obeying God’s laws, living a moral life and possibly going through the actions of bible reading, church going and prayer, that God owes them heaven. The bible says that nobody gets to the Father, unless they have been born again (John 3:3) only through Jesus (John 14:6). However people think that they can get to the Father through, their efforts, their ‘good-doing’. They believe that if they do all these things for God, God somehow now owes them good things, in life and ultimately heaven. This is patently false. Today we would call this moralism and and self-righteousness. But I identify it as a semichristian form of epicureanism. This is why:
    The person reasons that they enjoy the fine, moral things in life; then things should be better for them. For example, if they don’t sleep around they won’t get an STD. To that extent, that is true, better behavior generally results in a better life. Generally, but its not guaranteed. They then extend the thinking all the way to heaven. “I live morally in this way, then I get the ultimate pleasure, heaven”

You can just imagine a person standing before the thrown, saying to God “But I did all these things for you, you owe me heaven” and God replies “depart from me, you worker of inequity, I never knew you” (Mat 7:22-23). Epicurean thought leads to hell, we need rather to believe the Gospel of grace which says, “you, a sinner, are forgiven by a just and holy God who, because of His love for you, poured out His wrath on His Son, Jesus Christ to take away all of your sins, then three days later rose from the dead, proving that His sacrifice had been a sufficient payment.” Don’t run from God, ‘repent and believe the Gospel I’ve just described above.
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes spends the duration of the book describing how he tried to find satisfaction and pleasure in actions ranging from the most extravagant to the most moderate. This is how he concludes that book:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14  13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Soli Deo gloria

Note: picture and research on epicureanism taken from this Wikipedia article

On The Immortality Of The Flesh

tombstoneFor most of my life, both as a false convert, then later, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I had a vague stereotypical idea of what heaven in like. Basically in my ignorance, I believed that once a believer died, their soul left their body and went to heaven, where there was golden streets and mansions, one assigned to each person. What’s more, our entire occupation would be singing, in worship to God, the whole time, without ceasing.
While not everything in the previous two sentences are inaccurate, there is quite a lot of detail missing, and one or two parts completely wrong. In this post, I will try to outline what the bible says this topic and how things play out.

  1. God designed man to live on earth. God made man from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7) to work and tend the earth (Gen 2:15). It was God’s plan that human beings would live forever, on earth, as it tenderers. Although through sin, man wrecked all that, I will try to show that it is still, ultimately, God’s plan for us to live on earth as physical beings, tending and working it.
  2. When Adam sinned, he and his wife had died, spiritually. Physically they had also begun to die, and (in Adam’s case)  after 930 years, he breathed his last. For those who have not been born again, a person is thrown, ultimately, in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14) which is described as the second death. This is God’s ultimate judgement on sin, the complete fulfilment of what He said in Genesis 2:17. Its interesting to note that this lake is physical, and that the suffering there is physical. It has fire and worms, (Mark 9:47-48) smoke, Darkness, and physical actions like gnashing of teeth (Mat 22:13)
  3. In the same way that hell is real, so is heaven. But more to the point, in the same way that the lake of fire is real, so is the New Earth

    Revelation 21:1-3  1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

    These verses describe how God create a new spiritual heaven, and a new physical earth. This is done because the old earth had been destroyed as part of God’s judgement on the place, and the old heaven seems to go with it. Notice the detail about there being no sea there (sorry my surfer buddies). This is fascinating when you think about it. The sea is a sign of God’s judgement, it came when God flooded the whole world and made a significant change, it transformed a world, designed to be inhabited into a wretch, such that today, only about 3% of the surface of the earth can be inhabited by man. But on the new earth, without the sea, there will be much more space for man to live. All these features are physical.

    It is clear from these verses that for those redeemed by Jesus, their ultimate destination is on a new physical earth.


  4. With all the above in mind, by way of preamble, lets now look at the humans themselves:
    First lets take a few logical steps. If humans are designed to physical, live on a physical world and work as part of our existence, then it makes no sense to say that, after death and all of the events of Revelation are complete, we should spend our time as spiritual beings without bodies or physical activities. Also, why would God recreate a completely new physical earth unless He intends real physical humans to live there.

    Let us now look to the bible to see if it has anything else to say on the subject. The key word here is resurrection. There are several verses that I could cite, but the key one in this case is Revelation 20:5-6:

    5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

    It is clear that part of God’s fulfilling of all things, is to resurrect His people unto life forever with Him. Resurrection is always physical, if its not, then its not a true resurrection. Christ rose physically from the dead.

  5. The final point is that from this point, we will carry on into eternity (Rev 22:5) living and reigning with Christ without end.

So what then, the bible teaches that the ultimate destination of man is earth? Yes it is true, but certainly a new earth, one without curse or sin (Rev 22:3). An those who are there are, if you will immortal, they will not die, for death was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:14)
A few other points have to be made: firstly that we must be careful with the word flesh. 1 John 2:16 uses the word flesh to describe one of our 3 things we as believers have to look out for, which come as temptations to us. The “Lust of the flesh” is not a good thing. For that reason, we would do better to refer to ourselves as having ‘glorified bodies’ or ‘resurrected bodies’ rather than ‘immortal flesh’. Praise God that our sinful flesh will pass away.
Also you may have questions as to the in-between times. What happens to us if we die before Christ’s return? That whole topic requires another post, but in brief this is my answer: 2 Corinthians 5:8  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. The verse implies that when a believer is away from their bodies (in this context, meaning dead) they would be in the presence of the Lord.
Recommended Resources
400000000000000080040_s4[5]If you want to get a good, comprehensive and biblical book on this topic, I highly recommend Heaven by Randy Alcorn. This really is the best book on the topic, and it is recommended by many brilliant theologians. For example Rick Holland said Rez2011 that it was one of his top 5 most important books after the bible. You can buy it from amazon or in audiobook format here

I also put forward a sermon series tentatively. Tentatively because it has only just been released and I haven’t yet listened to it yet. But I have gained very much from the preacher in question and trust him implicitly to be both accurate and biblical. Still listen with discernment.
Heaven & Hell: The Truth About The Afterlife by RW Glenn
Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

An Interesting Encounter

I had the privilege of preaching the Gospel again yesterday, first to one girl, then three of her friends. The setup was rather interesting, she was bored in class (and finished the assigned work), but then started talking about, what amounted to existential philosophy. I mentioned to her that that was what she was doing, and gave her permission to look up the word. What followed was research into Ecclesiastes and Lamentations and then the lesson was over. I asked her if she would like to get an understanding of what she was researching, and she said yes.

Right, Romans Road locked on. I began by establishing what she believed about God. She was agnostic, very agnostic, so agnostic that she didn’t even know what the word meant. I proceeded by establishing that God exists, and asking what He requires of us.

We moved from there to the law, and she admitted to lying, stealing and blasphemy. I then explained her dilemma about being under judgment. This was the interesting part of this encounter, her curiosity of how she was to escape judgment. Also sombreness. I then explained the Gospel to her using Easter as my springboard, and again, she seemed to be focus clearly on the message preached. What was interesting (as she told me later) she had never heard the Gospel message before, it was her first time to hear it. As I was beginning to explain repentance and faith, her boyfriend, and two other friends who had been wondering around looking for her (it was break time) found her in the computer room.

I switched back to the law, and moving faster than before cause time was short, recapped, using the girl I was first talking to, to explain in her own words. She remembered what I had said quite well, a sign that it had gone in. I then explained the Gospel one more time, for all for to hear, then repentance and faith.

At that point the bell rang and they had to leave. I left with a direct challenge to the girl. “Is what I’m saying true and if so, what are you going to do about it?” They left and I glorified God.

I pray for all for of them, that they would repent and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that they have clearly heard the gospel, and I pray God would make them respond to it.

Soli Deo gloria

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The Problem With Free Will vs Sovereignty

crown and scepter[3]The problem with the freewill vs sovereignty debate is that it is mistitled. You see, the bible presents both ideas, freewill (Gen 2:16-17) and sovereignty (Eph 1:11; Acts 4:24; 1Tim 6:15; Rev 6:10 et al.) are presented in scripture.

Then how should we understand the balance between the two, how do they work and how can conflict be resolved?

The problem as I see it, is that there has to be something sovereign in the universe. Some might say it is luck or chance, or even mother nature, which has ultimate control over what happens in the universe. Up there with that list is free will. I discovered this recently when talking through the issue with a couple of Arminian friends. Their perspective was that God was in control of everything, except over the free will of man.

This is a problem, because it puts God in a box that He doesn’t put Himself into, limiting His power and ability to save anyone. This is bad news for us because the bible says that:

  1. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), under God’s judgment (Acts 17:31) and deserving going to hell (Rev 20:15)
  2. We, as unbelievers, hate God (John 8:44), are at war with him (Rom 8:7), and neither can nor will seek to believe in Him (Rom 3:10-19)

So basically, if the choice was left up to us, we would all, and without exception be in hell, we wouldn’t choose God, why would we, He is the enemy.

But thanks be to God, who did not leave us in that state, but chose to rescue us from our plight. Romans 5:8  “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. How precious is that phrase “but God”

What I am going to say next may be painful for some of you, it may cut right to the heart of what you believe. But I believe it is a lie, and needs to be exposed: Ultimately what it boils down to is this, those who was to say free will trumps sovereignty are believing the Devil’s lie from the garden “you shall be like God” (Gen 3:5). This is because they are uncomfortable with the idea that God CAN actually override their will, yes I said it, God can take over and your will plays no part in what happens next, He has complete control over all things, including our salvation, the if, the how and the when.

What then of free will? How does it come into play? The question is important because in this day of decisional regeneration (a false teaching) it affects the gospel, and how it is presented. This is how free will fits in:

throne2[3]A person is going along, he or she is, as described above, willingly against God. Then, someone presents the Gospel to him or her is some why. God, having predestined this one, causes the person to be regenerated, born again. This may happen immediately or many years down the line, but God always uses the means of the preaching of the Gospel to bring a person to regeneration. AFTER the person has been born again, he responds willingly to the Gospel commands, namely to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ. At this point, his or her redeemed will is now bent to go all out for God, to obey Him, and to follow Him wherever He may lead.

Do you see that a person has free will, but it is completely bent either away from God, (when unregenerate) or towards God (when regenerated). But at the point of change, God usurps the person’s will in order to change its bent.

Philippians 2:12-13:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

A Few Brief Thoughts On The Tongue

This is my second post on thoughts gathered during the conference, This one is more compact as I didn’t develop the idea fully on the day. I will probably expand on this topic soon
What a wonderful thing it is that Christ has provided atonement for our sins, not least of which is the tongue. James 3 describes the tongue in pretty graphic terms, for example, in verse 9 it calls it a “restless evil, full of deadly poison”, in my experience, and this is a very apt description. James then goes on to tell of how the tongue is used, almost in the same breath, for blessing and for cursing, vs 10. How very often do we do the same? This is something we need to repent of.
 

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