An important message to everyone!

Certainly today there is a wealth of religions and non-religions vying for our attention all with its various claims for happiness, enjoyment, fun and life.  There is, no doubt, a reason for this…we are all looking for something beyond ourselves, something more.  There just has to be, doesn’t there?  And this yearning is not easy to describe.  King Solomon said that we have eternity in our hearts.

There is one that claims to have the real answers.  THE truth.  Claims to be able to fill the holes in our lives.  Claims to be THE life.  And contrary to how the world thinks, contrary to tolerance and the ‘doesn’t matter what you believe’ philosophy claims to be THE way.

It is odd that we think that it doesn’t matter what you believe if those beliefs are the opposite of each other – and surely we want to get it right, don’t we?  They can’t ALL be right – surely there can only be one.

It was Jesus who said: John 14:6 (NKJV) — 6 …I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus was not inclusive but exclusive – He says He is the ONLY way.  Not very palatable to us – but so what?!  Some medicine is not pleasant for us to take but we still take for the benefit of our health.  Either Jesus was saying something we should pay close attention to or else he got it wrong.

In another place in Scripture (the Bible) it says:

Acts 4:12 (NKJV) — 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

So, if Jesus is right…and I haven’t heard anyone prove Him wrong yet…and what we have just read here is that there is no other way except through Jesus and it says we MUST be saved…then surely we should take extreme notice.

From what do we need to be saved?  Jesus came to give us life.  Not just a plain boring life but life to the full.  So He came to save us from monotony.  But is it this that we need to be saved from?  Of course not but that is one of the benefits of coming to Jesus.  You cannot say that the Christian life is boring!

So, from what do we need to be saved? 1) From ourselves 2) From hell

From ourselves?  Well, yes!  We all like to think that we are good and on the balance of things we’re OK.  But on whose scales are we weighing ourselves?  With whom are we comparing?  With Hitler?!  With our neighbour?

Let’s find out just how good we are!  Have we ever lied?  Ever?  Have we ever stolen something?  Tell the truth now – otherwise we have just lied!  Have we ever got angry?  Have we ever lusted and wanted something that belonged to someone else that didn’t belong to us or ever can without stealing?  Hmm.  Yeah, but these are just minor things, aren’t they?  Aren’t they?  Well, all these things and others like them such a murder, such as taking the Lord’s name in vain (ever said ‘Jesus’ as a swear word), such as not worshipping any other god (including TV, money, wealth, work, etc) – all these things are called ‘sin’.  It is missing the mark – like missing the bull’s-eye on a dart board – or it is something that has been done deliberately.

Sin.

This is why we need to be saved from ourselves because there is a price to pay, a judgment given for those who sin.

We won’t want to hear it…but here goes:

Romans 6:23a (NKJV) — 23 For the wages of sin is death

Death!  That sounds a bit harsh doesn’t it – I mean we haven’t done anything THAT bad, have we?

Romans 3:23 (NKJV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

The point here is that we are all in the same boat – nothing we do can get us to a better place – God is so completely holy He cannot bear sin – and so we are all under the same judgment.  What is more God could not make it clearer:

Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV) — 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

This brings us to the other point – we need to be saved from the judgment.

Jesus says that He is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth, the ONLY life – and we can only come to God through Him.

But if we reject Him then we are going to be judged according to our deeds and according to the fact we have not accepted Jesus:

John 3:18 (NKJV) — 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

But not all is lost!  What difference did it make for Jesus to come?

Well – you know that judgment that we have to suffer – the one which says we deserve death and hell – Jesus paid the price – Jesus took our punishment upon Himself to save us.  That’s why He died an horrific death upon the cross.  We deserved to be there but He paid our fine in full.  That’s why when He was about to die He said: It is finished!

This is why the message that Christian’s bring to the world is called ‘Good News’ (Gospel).

Jesus didn’t stay dead – but came back to life after three days – defeating death in the process – now we can simply accept and trust Jesus has done it all for us – and in return He will give us eternal life.

Why did He do this?  The most famous verse in the Bible declares it best:

John 3:16 (NKJV) — 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

And:

Romans 5:8 (NKJV) — 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He didn’t wait for us to turn to Him – He initiated it all – His arms are wide open now to receive you, if you would receive Him.

We could not pay the price for our sin – our destiny was hell and deservedly so – the proof is in what Jesus has done for us – He would not have gone to so much trouble dying in such a way let alone the spiritual side of things (which was worse – He literally went through hell for us) – He would not have gone through it if there had been some other way.

Will you turn to Him?  Will you accept the free salvation bought for you?  If so – you will pass from death to life – as simple as that.  But if you will not then you are still under judgment – there is a price to pay for rejecting such a great salvation – but why reject Him?  It doesn’t make sense – Jesus is the medicine we need to take – and not the unpleasant kind either.  It is completely free – it is a gift:

Romans 6:23 (NKJV) — 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Pray now and ask Jesus into your life – as a response to His great love for you – give your life to Him.

Here is a suggested prayer to help you:

Lord Jesus, how amazing it is for you to love someone like me.  I am a sinner and I need forgiveness. I know I don’t deserve the life you are giving me.  But I believe that Jesus shed His blood and died in my place for my sin.  I believe that He rose from the dead to give me life.  You have given your life for me – I give my life to you.  Come into my life to be my Lord (to be the one in charge), Saviour and Friend.  Thank you!  And please give me your Holy Spirit to help me walk according to your ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What now?  Go to a Bible-believing Church near you (like Ely Baptist Church in Cardiff) and tell people the Good News that you are now in the family of God and have eternal life.  If you have a Bible then start to read it – perhaps reading Luke first.

Need advice?  Get in contact with me – get in contact anyway and let me know what you have done – and if you have any questions because you have not yet decided or have unanswered questions getting in the way – just ask!  But PLEASE do not leave it – the question of whether Jesus is the way, the truth and the life is the most important question of all – and there is going to be a time when it will be too late to do anything about it – be URGENT – be saved.

God bless you as you move forward in your Christian life.

Homosexuality is a sin, really? Phil Robertson, A&E, and the Duck Dynasty

Of course, it doesn’t surprise us that in our wonderful world there are those who taint and oppress others. Some just don’t like those who are different to them. The plain bigotry of some people who hate and lack tolerance towards those whose lifestyles are not the same is deplorable. There is so much evidence about these fascists it is surprising that the world just doesn’t notice what is going on and even those who are on the receiving end of their narrow-mindedness and prejudice seem oblivious to the hateful nature of their opponents. It seems that the whole world will be turned upside down, if they had their way, to conform to their ideas and way of thinking which is just plain madness. They rail about homosexuality and go on and on as if there are no other issues affecting life and because of it make life a misery because of their rants.

Perhaps you would like to read that last paragraph again. Whose side did you take? You could read this from the perspective of the homosexual and think about the Church or Christians. But there again, you could read it from the perspective of the Church or Christian about the homosexual.

Everything in that first paragraph I have heard against Christians and against me. But it seems to me that the opposite is true. The true thought police is in the militant homosexual who lacks any tolerance at all towards the Christian.

This has become even more obvious, thankfully, due to the suspension of a man I had never heard of before this week: phil rPhil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. The man quoted a verse of Scripture to indicate that homosexuality is a sin in the sight of God…and was suspended from the network for stating his obvious Christian beliefs. The same belief that any true bible-believing Christian would take including me which amounts to millions upon millions. But beware of taking that stance publicly otherwise you will lose your stature in the world. Of course it is a matter of whether we please God (whose standards do not change despite cultural change) or whether we please humankind (whose standards change all the time – for instance in Uganda they have just outlawed homosexual acts – going a different trend to the rest of the world).

The verse of Scripture quoted by Phil Robertson in full is: 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (NKJV) — 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Did you notice there were more than homosexuals in this list? It is not that I have a distaste for homosexuals – though I do hate the act – it is that they are in the fearful place of being excluded from God’s Kingdom (along with all those who have sex outside of marriage and along with drunks and those who despise God’s standards and replace them with their own).

Outside of God’s Kingdom hell and the lake of fire is the scary alternative if we do not repent and follow Jesus who has paid the price so we don’t have to go to the alternative.  hell The good news is we don’t have to go to hell but because we have all broken God’s laws we deserve it. Jesus paid the price with his blood on a cross. Repent, believe and be baptised. Then you will be saved – I asked Jesus into my life some 27 years ago – and I have not regretted it – I am going to Heaven – not because I am good but because He is and has taken away my sin.  Dear people, whether you are a homosexual or a liar or a thief or whatever else we have done or not done that do not fit God’s standards: God loves you no matter what.  He proved it by sending His Son and Him dying and paying the price before we even considered changing our ways.  But now he COMMANDS everyone to repent (to change) and follow Jesus.  This is our proper response – God could have left us to our own devices and let us go to hell – but now the choice is ours to make.  The Lake of Fire.  The name on its own is terrifying.  You don’t have to go there and suffer for ever and ever and ever and ever.  Why be so daft and obstinate?  You could have real pleasures for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever instead.  This is no choice: Repent! Believe in Jesus.  Follow Him.

Many have had their say about what has happened to Phil. This, perhaps, is the most public one and should be a wake-up call to Americans, Brits and others that taking a stance for God’s way will lead to persecution. Maybe not the kind where we would be tortured or killed but certainly it has already affected the income of many in an adverse way because they refused to conduct a gay marriage ceremony or be their photographer or be their cake-maker or be their registrar or be their bed and breakfast (hotel) or be their florist among many others.

And who knows? If this kind of pressure from the gay lobby continues (as resulted in Phil’s suspension) our freedom will be taken as has our freedom to speak about these thing. Soon just being a Christian who says he believes the Bible will also be tainted – and in some circles are already ridiculed especially by the press and by liberal Christians. If Christians do not stand together about this kind of oppression then we cannot be surprised when we are arrested and jailed for our beliefs here in the so-called tolerant West. But remember we are surrounded by clouds of witnesses who have suffered harsher things and rejoice – for great is your reward in Heaven.

PS Whilst I am with Phil Robertson on this issue I am not necessarily aligned with any other view he has or the way he does it.  This disclaimer is here because I do not know him or have ever watched Duck Dynasty.

San Francisco False Prophecies Oct 3rd

False Prophecies Oct 3rd San Francisco

My friends, nearly every day I hear of some prophecy of some sort…maybe because I am interested in matching every day events with the prophecies of Scripture…and whilst this seems to be quite exciting it is a hobby that has very little value!  Some people, however, seem to make prophecy their life’s work and that, my friends, if you are a Christian, is a waste of the resources God has given to bring Good News to our generation.  ALL Scripture is given, not just the roughly 25% given to prophecies.  So, a ¼ of our time should be spent in our studies within this subject and ¾ to the rest.  Do not ignore (biblical) prophecies for fulfilled prophecy proves that the unfulfilled will happen and that God keeps His Word.

There has been a spate of prophecies of late concerning San Francisco especially of a catastrophic earthquake (of about 9.7 on the Richter scale) that was meant to happen on the 3rd of October.  Today is the 4th.  And many ‘big names’ were in on it though some may not have been so bold as to name the day.  But, friends, even if it HAD happened yesterday the seismologists have been telling us this for a very long time that the BIG one is due.  Now, it would have been different if, say the prophecy had been about New York…but San Francisco is an easy target!

Scripture has a lot to say about prophets and their prophecies…especially ones that do not come to pass…for it is evident that God did not tell them and therefore they (the Prophets) should not be feared.

There was a doom and gloom prophet whose prophecies did not come to pass.  His name was Jonah. But God ALWAYS relents when people repent.  Nineveh, though, was overthrown some years later when they obviously returned to their old ways.

Now I am hearing this used as an excuse for the prophecies not coming to pass.  Oh come on!  If there is mass repentance in San Francisco then Praise God!  But, I can guarantee you there is not.

What, for me, is sadder is that so many Christians have been duped by all this going on being deceived and deceiving.  But what is sadder still is that they relish the thought of hundreds, thousands, millions dying without Christ just so Christians could go ‘aha!’  Shouldn’t our hearts yearn for the lost?  God’s does.  God has NO pleasure in the death of the wicked – and so should we?  Is it not enough that they will stand before God one day to give an account?  Should we not pity them, should we not preach to them the Good News?  Yes, perhaps they will reject the message, perhaps they will reject you…is this not the lot of the Christian?  If they hated Jesus will they not also hate you?  However, we are NOT called to hate in return.

God does warn people and sometimes about earthly disasters.  This is mercy BEFORE judgment. And so we also should be merciful as God is to us every day.

I have read about those who claim they ‘got it right’ with the Boston Marathon or the Japanese earthquake in 2011.  So what?  What good did it do?  What was it that they did that helped them?  There are many people in the world who are not Christians who claim these things too but again it made no difference except to boost them in the eyes of others…so there you have it…false prophets are all about self-glorification and ego even when done in the name of Jesus.  The true prophets are there on the ground making a difference in the lives of those they meet by talking about and being like Jesus.

Let us return to Scripture and learn to test prophecies.  Let us turn to Scripture to see what IT has to say about the future.  Let us remind ourselves of those amazing prophecies that have come to pass word-for-word.  Let us test people according to the Words of Scripture for this is what we are called to do.  Let us not get caught up in a plethora of prophecies that appear to be saying the same thing and reckon it must be God…a confirmed prophecy is only in its fulfilment.  And friends, the San Francisco one was a false prophecy.

http://z3news.com/w/97-earthquake-coming-west-coast-october-3-2013

Are Christians lacking faith if they do not prosper or are sick or have trouble?

Today’s subject will be an eye opener.  It goes against the grain of those prosperity gospeller’s who ply their trade on God TV and elsewhere. We are told by them that only good is in store for those who are Christians.  We are told that problems simply go away because we belong to God.  We are told that there is no sickness, no pain this side of Heaven that God will not heal.  We are told that we will live abundantly in every green field and that we will have money to spare.  And if this is not the case then we are without faith.  This is a mindset that is difficult to overcome and is a very typical western view of how God should be to His children: the One who is on demand like our Sky Boxes, TiVos and Freeview boxes.  It is difficult to overcome because those who have believed these things can only feel condemned that their lives are not rosy and comfortable or instead are snug because it is all going their way and so, therefore, are of great faith.  Millions of Christians around the world think it is their right to have everything go their way.

My question is three-fold:  Do bad things happen to good people?  Is there something wrong with good people if things go pear-shaped?  When trouble comes who is at fault?

Now I have said before there is no one who is good except God – but I am addressing those who have been made righteous in God’s sight.  Do bad things happen to God’s people and is there something wrong with them if things don’t go right?

Let’s read from Scripture and see what it has to say:

Job 2:1–10; Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” 3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” 4 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Notice that Job did not sin by saying that adversity came from God.  In another translation it says: “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (ESV)

So, should we only expect good from God and no bad to come our way?  Today it even sounds heretical to say that the trouble we have actually comes from God.  But this is what Job says and he did not sin by saying that – meaning he was right in his estimation even though we, unlike him, have the insight to see that Satan was the one to actually cause all the pain and hurt he suffered – but this was allowed by God.

But this is so Old Testament, right?  I mean, it can’t be the case now that we are saved by Jesus Christ, can it?

1 Peter 1:3–9; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

James 1:2–4; My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

You can’t be serious, can you?  Peter mentions that some may have had trials but James says when you fall into trials…it seems that if we have come out of trouble and not having trouble now we are guaranteed that trouble is on the way.  Out of Jesus’ own words He says:

John 16:33b; In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

If we have no challenge and no trials it can only lead to a bland Christian life; a life that does not cause us to rely upon God.  We naturally do not seek God when things are well and comfortable.  Faith grows in the crucible of fire, of trouble and trials, where we are forced to rely upon God even when the circumstances can seem unbearable.

1 Peter 4:12–13,19; Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

Suffer according to the will of God.  There it is again! To re-emphasise;

Job 42:11; Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.

suffering

Even after the trouble was over it left its mark on Job… but notice that others helped in comforting him.  We may know someone now who is going through the mill.  When they have come out the other side we need to be those who draw alongside and help where we can.  When we, ourselves, have been through the fire then we can empathise with those who also suffer…and this world is full of suffering.

Let us beware of how we respond to those in troubling times and not be judgmental and be like those whom Paul saw:

Galatians 4:13–14; You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

This just goes against the whole grain of prosperity gospeller’s preaching.  Even Paul was not well.  It would really seem that we are not promised that anything will go right for us this side of Heaven, if anything we are promised the opposite.

God does give us faith to trust Him for healing and other things and most of us have experienced such things and know others who have too but these things are not guaranteed to happen every time.  God however gives us faith to handle the different situations when they arise if we are willing to receive it – and sometimes it is for a complete miracle.

We have gained the idea in the last forty years that somehow we can demand of God our rights as Christians just like people are all the more demanding of their rights in today’s world.  But I think we are mistaken as to what those rights are.  We do have a number of rights: we have the right to become sons of God as long as we believe on Jesus, we have the right to be forgiven as long as we have forgiven others and confessed our sin – these rights come with conditions attached – and these are gifts from God through the suffering of Jesus.  We also have the right to suffer, a right that not too many Christians want to claim I expect but it comes with great rewards though not in this life.

Hear Jesus:

Mark 10:28–30; Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

We really do have it upside down; we are not gaining anything until we have left everything – which means that anything we do gain in this world will be held onto with very light hands because we realise their true worth.  And there is the bit we don’t want – persecution.

God may tell us that we shall be healed or, indeed, we have faith for healing so that is a promise to hold onto until it happens but unless this is so our faith is nothing more than presumption.  Earlier we saw that Paul was sick, we read that Job was sick, in Acts and the Epistles we discover others who were sick such as Timothy and he was advised to take medicine (rather than claim his healing – and this by Apostle Paul!).  If our great apostles needed healing and were sick from time to time are we to expect that we will live a sick-free life?

2 Corinthians 12:10; For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

Paul is content in troubles and in whatever happens.

Perhaps we are surprised because we know

Romans 8:28; And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

And

Jeremiah 29:11; For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Both verses are absolutely true and are God’s promises to us but what do we think this good is or this future and hope?  Do we think that God’s good for us means monetary rewards?  Do we think that the future that God is giving us is a life of luxury?  Did we not hear that the things of this world are at enmity with God?  Sometimes God will bless us with these things and indeed we should be exceedingly thankful if so and to use what we have been given for God’s service.  But as said before we are to treat these things with light hands;

1 Timothy 6:17-19; Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,  19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

If we were to look up the word ‘riches’ in the Bible we would find that riches of the world are mentioned with disdain but when it refers to riches for a Christian it refers to our inheritance; to the knowledge of Jesus; to the riches we have in glory.  Not at all what the world would want to hear or our faith preachers and their adherents.   Earlier in the chapter Paul says:

1 Timothy 6:9; But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

forgoodDo all things work for the good of those who are God’s?  Bernard Gilpin, accused of heresy before Bishop Bonner, set out for London for trial. His favorite maxim was, “All things are for the best.” On his journey, he broke his leg. “Is all for the best now?” jested a scorner. “I still believe so,” he replied.   And so it proved, for before he was able to resume his journey, Queen Mary died. And instead of going to London to be burned, he returned home in triumph.

We don’t know what we have missed by the fact trouble has come our way…it maybe a worse calamity would have come our way us. Just because things don’t seem to be going well does not mean that things could have not have been worse or we escaped temptation that would have ensnared us.  God uses the things that happen for his purposes.  God sees the whole picture whereas we are like fish in a goldfish bowl only aware of our own situation – and even then we are not truly aware.

God does promise all things for good but it may not be what accountants call ‘tangible assets’.  Tangible assets are those that you can value with money and can touch with our hands: things like cars or computers or money. Most often, though, the good we receive is an intangible asset – something that is hard to put a value on because these are assets you cannot actually put your hands on.  These intangible assets are

Galatians 5:22–23; …the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

These intangible assets become evident to everyone even if one is poor or sick or homeless or jobless or friendless or possessionless.  But the greatest riches we shall enjoy will be once we cross over the Jordan, so to speak.  The Bible makes it clear we should be encouraging each other about the fact Jesus is coming back.  Why encourage?  Because this world has mainly troubles…and when He comes back He will set everything right…He will give us a reward and riches that nothing can corrupt but above all we will be with Him forever.

2 Corinthians 4:17; For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

When bad comes our way we are not to demand our rights but seek God and allow Him to do His work in us, so that the end result is a greater trust in Him with an even greater reward.  It maybe that God will give healing or wealth among other things but maybe he won’t. We can say:

“I know that God has a purpose in this. I know that God will bring me through this. I know that God is a good and loving Father and that He is doing a good and eternal work in my life.” (Charles Stanley)

Through it all God never leaves us or forsakes us.  Like the footprints poem He carries us.  He is with us through thick and thin.  Remember that story of Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace?  Who was there in the fire with them? (see Daniel 3:1-30)

I will end with this poem by Walter Knight who it would seem knows something of trials and pains:

vice

Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,

Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength;

Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,

Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;

Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends,

Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends,

Pressed into loving the staff and the rod;

Pressed into knowing no helper but God;

Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,

Pressed into faith for impossible things;

Pressed into living a life in the Lord,

Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured!

All quotations from the Bible are NKJV unless otherwise stated.

Pope Francis – we welcome you! (Right?)

Pope Francis – should he be welcomed?

I am alarmed at how quick evangelical Christians have been to welcome Pope Francis.  Does the fact we have a new one change the organisation?  Or does it change the message it brings?  I think not.

It might seem like a good thing to do (to welcome Pope Francis) but it gives credibility to the Roman Catholic Church (RC) and its leadership. We may agree with the RC in relation to many moral matters (and perhaps disagree) but I can say the same in relation to my Muslim friends and the Islamic faith.

In relation to doctrine, which is the most important part for Christians, the RC have little in common with evangelicalism.  This is especially true in the veneration of Mary and the Saints, and in the 7 Sacraments. Ignorance of what the RC teaches is a problem. We willingly call them brothers and sisters in Christ.  How?  By finding the lowest common denominator (normally morality) for unity.  High profile Christians, such as Jonathan Edwards of the Baptist Union of Great Britain among others, are giving credibility to the RC.  This does not help but muddy the water.   This is not to say that there are no brothers and sisters in Christ in the RC but, I think, ought not to be.

Salvation by works (what RC teaches) is not what evangelicals (protestants) believe – but works as a result of salvation, in Christ alone.

So, glossing over ‘the much that divides us’ is not helpful but blurs the line even more. The RC Gospel is another Gospel. And the Apostle Paul said that was anathema.  This is the strongest condemnation anyone could give – basically saying ‘be condemned to hell’.

Now, I do not know Pope Francis and he may genuinely be a nice guy, humble, and loving but that is irrelevant if the Gospel is not right to start with.  I have met my share of non-believers who would seem more Christian than Christians.  And some Christians who, unfortunately, give non-Christians a run for their money in their lifestyles.

New Pope or not – the Catholic Church cannot change in regard to its essential doctrines.  Therefore evangelical Christians who take the Bible for their authority (or those who claim that Jesus is) cannot have unity with the RC, its new Pope or any of its adherents – except those who truly have found faith in Jesus- and this in spite of the teaching (doctrine) of the RC.

And the main reason for well-known evangelicals welcoming Pope Francis along with many within evangelical circles is because of their lack of knowledge of Scripture or the ignoring of it or the denigration of it.  No wonder we are sleeping instead of sounding the alarm.

On another point, wholly unrelated(!) his politics does not (yet?) [in response to an article about praying that this will be a ‘man of peace for the world’ in the Baptist Times] make him a man of peace for inflammatory comments he made last year in relation to the Falkland Islands.  It reveals nationalism which would be abhorrent to most, especially Brits.  And, of course, there will be a man of peace in due time who will be anything but, but to whom the whole world will go.

Do we welcome the new Pope? No.  He is a man who will influence many – and I think that that will not be a good thing for it will harden hearts against the true Gospel.