Thursday, 27 February 2014

PAINFUL TRUTHS



“All the praying must be done here, for heaven will not be a place to make up a pitiable backlog of unfinished praying.” p89

“A bankrupt who had a millstone of debts around his neck would not delay long in using blank cheques signed by a millionaire and specially donated to him for his distress. Why then do we Christians delay in using the “exceedingly great and precious promises” which have already been signed by the Pierced Hand?” p63

“The price tag for effective prayer differs for every one of us, but the fact remains that a true Spirit-praying person will have much of his domestic life shattered.”p73

“I believe most of us will need the tears wiped from our eyes when the books are opened at the judgement bar of God and our personal prayer record is read.” p54

                                                          Leonard Ravenhill Revival Praying Bethany House

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

THE GOLDEN GENERATION



I remember visiting them at their home many years ago.

 Listening to their stories of the good old days when the churches were full of people and joy and excitement and so much else. Days when the ladies would bring a stew to church so that lunch could be enjoyed on the premises, there being no time to walk –yes, walk- home and get back before the afternoon meeting. An evening meeting would then follow hard on the heels of that.

 They had married whilst both teenagers and they were at that time I would think, both in their late 80s. Thus at the commencement of their eighth decade together.  

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

HUMILITY & FRUIT



“Humility is consistent with abundant fruit. When a branch is laden with heavy fruit, that is when it bows down the lowest. When a perky little branch is sticking up out of the top of the tree, as jaunty as anything, the one thing we can be sure of is that there is little or no fruit on it"                                                                                          
                                                                                                                    Doug Wilson

33,000 LIES



Watch all of this (if you can)
One prominent leader of a global false religion cozies up to another one...

What actually got my attention was at 24:30 where Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer rehearses a popular con trick of Rome in asserting that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations. It is obvious that this canard is being given a serious airing by Rome so it is well to know how to respond.

There is a thorough rebuttal of the 33,000 denominations myth here

As for Copeland and the Pope? Well, they truly deserve one another

Sunday, 23 February 2014

SUBDUE THE EARTH



I have commented previously on the flooding in Somerset and the strategic decision-making which seems to have lead directly to the calamity.Further detail is fleshed out here on the causes & I would encourage you to read the whole article before returning here.  

Thinking on this, it seems to me that there is a deeper underlying problem which has brought us all to this pass. These, I believe, are not merely technical matters of hydrology and how to efficiently manage and balance rivers and farmland. We may be surprised at the extent to which the problem here is actually theological in nature, hence my interest in it on this blog.

I believe that there is a worldview at work here. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

LESS GRACE, MORE GRACE

This chimes a lot with my own thoughts on our future

AN UNEXPECTED HELPER

“It is difficult to overestimate the effects of Paul’s assault on Christians in Jerusalem, provoked as it was by Stephen’s attack on the Temple and “Moses.” Believers from Jerusalem were scattered throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria and beyond the borders of the land of Israel to the safety of Damascus and Antioch. Had these events not occurred, Christianity may have remained a Jerusalem-based sect to be swept away in the Roman invasion of 66-70 together with groups like the Essenes and the Sadducees.”

The Birth of Christianity p32

“Luke does not inform us when oral teaching began to be committed to written text. This may have begun soon after the first Easter and been given significant impetus by Saul’s persecution. If the apostles had been killed, their oral didache would have died with them”

The Birth of Christianity p97

HATE SPEECH






The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those that speak it 
                                                                                                                    George Orwell



Friday, 21 February 2014

NEVER ALONE

C S Lewis said, " ..when the modern world says to us aloud, "You may be religious when you are alone", it adds under its breath, "...and I will see to it that you are never alone".

How well he seems to have understood the times in which we are moving into. 

It occurs to me that in the not-to-distant future, the world will seek not so much to attack our freedom of worship so much as it will seek to target our freedom of association. Here I think is the real danger that we face as a worshiping people.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

FEEDING SHEEP OR AMUSING GOATS?

Did Spurgeon really live back in the 19th Century? He seems to know us so well...
       

 My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.

 Then again, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

 The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire. 

                                                                              Charles Haddon Spurgeon  (1834-1892)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

EXPERTS

An expert is a person who avoids small error as he sweeps on to the grand fallacy.”

                                                                                                             Benjamin Stolberg                                

“Paul’s theology within his first-century world, is a breath of fresh air in an environment in which academics learn more and more about less and less—until they know everything about nothing”.
                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                  Douglas Moo
 

WHO KILLED JESUS?

It was the greatest crime in the Universe. Nothing less than the brutal assassination of God’s own Son!

But who are the guilty men? 

There are many ways of answering this question.
 For centuries people who called themselves Christians answered it by pointing to the Jewish people. So much so that the Jews became notorious in Christendom as the “Christ-killers”. That accusation has been used throughout history to justify the most terrible acts of  persecution towards Jewish people, all performed in the name of the Christ who came Himself as a Jew!

 The violent hatred towards the Jewish people has stained the name of the Church in history and remains a cause of lasting shame to European civilisation.  But, whatever the motivations of the people who have used this message to spread anti-Semitism in history; we ought not to ignore the stark fact that the New Testament  teaches us that there is truth to the allegation.

Monday, 17 February 2014

ASLAN

“Are you thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realised that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

AN APOLOGY (3)

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and respect

                                                                                                                     (1 Pet 3:15)

We have looked at the main section of the verse and that is generally all that we would quote. 
But we ought to observe that these familiar words are sandwiched between two important statements. 

Firstly,

           “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” (some textual variants read Christ)

What does this mean? Sanctify is hagiazo which here means to reverence as holy One who already is, that is God or Christ. Grudem  believes Peter may be drawing on Isa 8:13, “But the LORD of Hosts, Him you shall regard as holy; let Him be your fear and Him be your dread.”

Sunday, 16 February 2014

THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is an 18th Century poem by Goethe. We are most familiar with it through the classic 1940 Disney animation Fantasia though apparently there is a 2010 version I have not seen.

  An old sorcerer leaves his apprentice in charge of the workshop for a brief period of time. Weary with his chores the apprentice begins to uses his amateur magic powers to force objects to do his will, recruiting them into his service as labour-saving devices. Soon however he begins to realize that he cannot control the forces he has awakened and the workshop descends into chaos as the multiple brooms and buckets he has inadvertently created assume a life of their own and begin to swamp the workshop, wreaking havoc. The poem finishes with the master's return to restore order.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

SMOULDERING EMBERS



Clearly embers continue to smoulder from John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference a few months back.

For my part, whilst I thought MacArthur’s approach was both ungracious and unbalanced, it did at least create a debate about the spiritual gifts which I thought went rather well for those of us in the Continuationist camp.

 It was remarkable for me to see so many men noted for their sound approach to the scriptures suddenly fall back upon eisegesis and tradition in defence of their cessationism. Some of the biggest names out there tried their hand at it, but I can genuinely say I didn't encounter a single convincing argument from the scriptures to justify the belief that the gifts have ceased.

We are going through the 1 Corinthians 12 gifts in a monthly Bible study at church throughout this year so expect this to be a subject I return to at a later date.

AN APOLOGY (2)



Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and respect
                                                                                                           (1 Pet 3:15)

This is one of those truly rich verses where every clause, virtually every word carries significance and must be carefully attended to.

Note that the defence we spoke of is to be given “…to everyone who asks you a reason.” This reminds us that apologetics represents a form of passive or responsive evangelism. That is, this person has issued some kind of a challenge to you in relation to your faith. This challenge might range from the ferocious attacks of a rabid athiest to your best friend asking, “So what is it that you believe?”

But please note carefully the essential prerequisite of the question: they ask because they have noticed that you have “hope”. Live like a Christian in this hopeless world and you may soon expect people to notice that you have something that they lack. It will eventually become manifest to people that you “do not sorrow as others do who have no hope”. Live and think like a Christian and you will get asked these questions. Live and think like the world and you will not.

AN APOLOGY



 Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and respect
                                                                                                                   (1 Pet 3:15)


The Christian worldview is coming under increasingly ferocious attack

The so-called New Atheists, such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are not content to disbelieve. They also seek to impose their atheistic worldview upon society and to drive religion in general, and Christianity in particular, out of public life. They are aggressive, they are articulate and they are hugely influential in our society.

When Peter exhorts us to give an apologia he does not mean that we are to say we are sorry for the Christian faith! 

THE BIRTH OF CHRISTIANITY (2)

“Paul reports that after he went to Syria-Cilicia in ca 36-37 the churches of Christ in Judea “had been hearing that he who was once destroying us is now proclaiming the faith that he once tried to destroy” (Gal 1:23). In other words, “the faith” was an established entity not only by ca. 36, but earlier, in the brief time span “between Jesus and Paul.” Paul’s persecutions attempted to destroy “the faith.” Clearly then, “the faith” (which must have been a christological faith)  had already been formulated in the months between the crucifixion of Jesus and the conversion of Paul”

The Birth of Christianity p57

Friday, 14 February 2014

PROSPERITY

Why is it that the prosperity preacher does not wish to sow into my ministry in order that he might reap the hundredfold increase?

THE BIRTH OF CHRISTIANITY



One of the most popular attacks on biblical Christianity these days comes from those who would seek to drive a wedge between Jesus and Paul, that is between the “primitive” Christian faith of its Founder who was supposedly a mere rabbi and the “developed” doctrine of its greatest early theologian for whom He had become the Son of God.   

 One very helpful work in showing the inseparable link between Christ and Paul is The Birth of Christianity by Paul Barnett. Tauntingly titled as a riposte to John Dominic Crossan’s work of the same name Barnett’s research shines a penetrating light upon the first twenty years of the Christian era and convincingly demonstrates that the apostle was close to His Lord both chronologically in terms of his conversion and inseparable from Him in theological thought. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Just been reading a tweet from Joel Osteen,


"Expect restoration now, expect healing now, expect your breakthrough today."

Fantastic news! I knew it all along...

Hang on though, what if the tweet was for the guy who read it just before me?

Or for the guy who read it just after me?

Perhaps it applies to everybody who reads his tweets?

But hang on, what if I miss the tweet? Do I miss out on my restoration/breakthrough/healing?

Now I'm confused...

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE



 Many centuries have now passed away since God sent forth a few Jews from a remote corner of the earth to do a work which according to man’s judgment, must have seemed impossible. He sent them out at a time when the whole world was full of superstition, cruelty, lust, and sin. He sent them out to proclaim that the established religions of the earth were false and useless, and must be forsaken. He sent them out to persuade men to give up old habits and customs, and to live different lives. He sent them out to do battle with the most perverted idolatry, with the vilest and most disgusting immorality, with a bigoted priesthood, with sneering philosophers, with an ignorant population, with bloody-minded emperors, with the whole influence of Rome. Never was there an enterprise for all appearances more unrealistic and less likely to succeed!

AN EXCITING DISCOVERY



Well, exciting to me at least.  But I have to keep reminding myself that I am strange...

During his debate a good while ago with sceptic Bart Ehrman, New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace announced an important discovery of papyri fragments including a MS of Mark's Gospel which is believed to originate from the 1st Century!

To put that into some kind of perspective, we must remember  that on average for ancient documents, the time gap between the autograph (original) and the earliest extant copy is typically around a thousand years. The previous earliest New Testament fragment was reckoned to be P52, usually dated to around 125AD.

That was remarkable enough. But to discover a MS from the same century as the writer is truly amazing. The apostle John may well have still been alive when this copy was produced. Very likely the New Testament itself may not even have been completed!

 When fuller details of this discovery are made known (and I understand a book will be published shortly) doubtless it will only serve to demonstrate that which we already knew; that the New Testament documents constitute by far the best attested, most reliable documents we have from the ancient world.   

BE STILL


                                   "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10)

We live in a world that moves at a 100 miles per hour.

Technological advance continues at breakneck speed. Buy the latest gadget today and it will be obsolete within a few months. Life never seems to slow down. No matter what day of the week or time of the night our roads are full of vehicles scurrying hither and thither. The shops never seem to close. Society has completely driven out Sunday as a day of rest. We are far too busy to rest! Busy doing what I wonder?

 We might hope that, in contrast to all of this hectic activity that God’s Church would be a dignified haven of peace and tranquility. But sadly we Christians are all too often caught up in the spirit of the age. Jesus had to remind Martha in the midst of her busyness that her sister had chosen the better part (Lk 10:38-42). Martha could so easily have justified her activities as being in the service of God. But how many of us are so busy doing the work of God that we have no time for the God of the work? How many are so busy in the Kingdom that we are neglecting its King?

 Psalm 46 is a very noisy psalm. It speaks of the earth being removed, the mountains carried into the midst of the sea and the waters roaring. Yet it promises that even amidst such turmoil those who seek out the Lord in the stillness of their hearts will always be able to find Him. That they will always be able to hear that “still small voice” that waits to speak to them in the midst of our hurried lives. We ought never to allow a single day to go by in which we have not sought out that place of stillness that Jesus called “the secret place” (Mt 6:6) to be alone with God.  The scriptures promise us that it is those who wait upon the Lord who shall renew their strength for their labours (Isa 40:30-31).

Let us learn all over again what it is to be still and know that He is God




Derwent Water from Keswick

WELCOME



He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
     And whatever he does shall prosper
.”  (Ps 1:3)


Welcome to the Rivers of Water blog!

Here we aim to address matters spiritual and (occasionally) temporal from a biblical perspective.  

Enjoy! 

Millennium Bridge Stockton-on-Tees