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

Eschatology ES01 An Introduction

Eschatology: ES01 An Introduction

Eschatology (Greek: G2274 ἔσχατος eschatos = last – The word appears about 50 times in the New Testament) is the study of the last times.  Whilst most studies look at last times only, our studies will include all prophecy that has been fulfilled and all prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled.  All fulfilled prophecies were future when they were written in Scripture and became history!  And as such unfulfilled prophecy shall also become history.  God has acted in history and will also, in history, fulfil it.  Eschatology has been described as the: “systematic study of eventualities.”1

It is a fact that we are all curious about our own destiny and the destiny of others.  There is not a tribe or nation or tongue that does not have an idea about things beyond death.  However it is in Christianity that we find the answers to our questions and so find that as there is a beginning there will also be an end, a consummation.  The greatest event we are waiting for is the 2nd Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  With this will come the Judgment and the final destiny of individuals and the human race.  It will be the end of what we know as time and eternity will be instead which is timeless.

Now I know that many fanatics are also interested in prophecy trying their very hardest with many theories to predict how certain things shall come to pass.  There are others who also, with healthy scepticism, read the signs of the times.  How do we tell the difference between those who are mad and those who are sane?  It is by their level of biblical literacy.

So, in our studies on Eschatology that are going to be comprehensive (for that is what is meant by ‘Systematic’).  We are going to take in the whole field from the first syllable to the last in Scripture to get a balanced view.

I do not promise, however, to be systematic in the order that I present the subject!  I think that some events may overtake us such as those things that are happening in the Middle East even as I write.  Such questions inevitably arise such as: Will Isaiah 17.1 be fulfilled right now where Damascus ceases to be a City and remain uninhabited?  Such dramatic times we live in!  It is ‘watch this space’ time! But we have to exercise caution for it may not be now…but it will be one day!  God has not revealed the timetable for such events; only it is one that is yet to be fulfilled.  And we have the guarantee that it will be fulfilled because we know about all the other fulfilled prophecies.  It is proof that God keeps His Word.

We have to take this subject seriously taking to heart what is said in:

2 Timothy 2:15 — 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Don’t put your reputation on the line by saying with certitude that something is going to happen at this time or on such and such a date.  But put your reputation on the line by saying that what God says will happen will definitely happen for He is never wrong and never lies.

There are some who think that we should not bother with the subject of prophecy because they have no bearing upon our lives, which, by the way, is a fallacy.  However since prophecies take up 20% of our Bibles and 25% of the books of the Bible are expressly prophetic in nature we are doing a great disservice to God’s Word.  And what becomes of such verses as:

2 Timothy 3:16–17 — 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All Scripture…even those relating to end times are profitable.

It is also evident that Old Testament Prophets thought prophecy to be so important:

1 Peter 1:10–11 — 10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

This searching is of the sort that indicates that they barely rested from this task, so vital and central did they think it was.

On top of this is the fact that Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught prophecy as something very important:

John 16:13 — 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

Jesus indicating here that one of the main roles of the Holy Spirit is to reveal things that are to come.

The Apostle John declared that Jesus Himself did the same:

Revelation 1:1 — 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.

2 Thessalonians 2:1–5 — 1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?

How long was Paul with them to teach them so many things about the future and put such an emphasis upon these things as well as teaching other essentials?  It was for a very short time indeed; probably less than a month.  He urges them to remember what was taught.

There are many out there who are making their presence known in Academia, on YouTube, Websites and in Pulpits who should be ashamed.  I mentioned Academia and Pulpits on purpose for either they neglect prophecy altogether or they come up with radical alternative understandings ranging from the liberal to the deranged.  Let us make sure we do not become as one of those by getting a proper grasp of Scripture neither ignoring nor being consumed by prophecies.  The latter is incredibly easy to do and many Christians have got derailed along the way for it is an exciting subject but we ought to be more excited by our Lord Jesus Christ and all that He has done and all that He will do.  All is grace and mercy.

Prophecy is in Scripture to reveal our God who both knows and understands history and the future and is in control of it and who is faithful in bringing to pass all that He says.  Prophecy is the answer to the liberals who reject God’s Word.  Fulfilled prophecies are verifiable and is the reason why these Scriptures are attacked so vehemently as ‘written after the fact’.  But it is impossible to overcome some of these prophecies as they have been fulfilled since the canon was put together!

Elsewhere we have looked at hermeneutics (interpretation).  However we make clear that prophecies in their plain language are how they are to be read and understood.  Where symbols are used these are also plain and indicated and either interpreted within the passage or elsewhere in the pages of Scripture; such is the unity of Scripture.  There are few exceptions to this.  That is not to say that there are not complications but these often become clearer just before or just after a prophecy has been fulfilled; the complications then are understood in ways we often could not have expected.  The proof of this is in the plain statements to His disciples when Jesus was explaining what was going to happen to Him in His death and resurrection.  Though it was very clear from our perspective it was only afterwards the disiples understood.  If, as many are inclined to do, they try to put other interpretations to Scripture then what it leads to is confusion for who is to say whose interpretation is right?!

On top of this there are other rules of interpretation such as what is called the ‘Law of Double Reference’.  There are many times throughout the Old Testament, for instance, where Jesus’ coming is predicted but the verses are speaking about His 1st and 2nd Advent.  For example in:

Zechariah 9:9–10 — 9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Verse 9 relates only to His first coming; verse 10 only to His second.  But it is not obvious that there is a time gap between verse 9 and 10 but history shows that there is.

And as well as other rules of interpretation that follow on from the first is the law of context.  It is too easy to take verses out of context and give them a meaning that would not be possible otherwise.  The Bible can mean whatever you want it to mean but only if you disobey the above rules.

There are some who think that these rules are a new thing somehow carved out by fundamentalists in our present day but even Irenaeus says: These things are such as fall [plainly] under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scriptures…But to apply expressions which are not clear or evident to interpretations…such as everyone discovers for himself as inclination leads him, is absurd. For in this way no one will possess the rule of truth; but in accordance with the number of persons who explain…will be found the various systems of truth, in mutual opposition to each other, and setting forth antagonistic doctrines,[1]

Whilst he is speaking of parables it is obvious that he would have included prophecy too.

And this is very clearly the case in Academia and in Churches today with their innumerable interpretations.  No one seems to have the truth leading to the ridiculous saying today that; ‘You have my truth. Fine and good!  I have mine!’

God has purposely revealed to us the future and because He has decided to do that we should make sure we are aware of what is written.  Because God fulfills prophecy we can also be sure that the promises He has made concerning our future and the future of the world will come to pass as assuredly as you are reading or listening to these words.

As well as all this it is a subject that is contemporary with all the fears and worries that the world has today about its future whether it be chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or accidents and natural and other man-made disasters whether floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, fires, climate change and so on.  Scripture gives hope to those who are God’s and fear to those who are not.  It is easy even as God’s people to be fearful but time and time again we are told not to be consumed by worry but to put our trust in God who knows all things before they even come to pass.

God has seen it fit to reveal many things but not everything has been revealed.  There are gaps in our knowledge and in formulating a systematic theology we have to be careful not to speculate wildly but within the confines of what has been revealed.  We are not able to predict the future with any level of certainty but what God has revealed will surely come to pass.

However when speaking of prophecies fulfilled and unfulfilled it has an effect upon us to make sure that we ourselves are ready; that we are holy as He is holy.  Prophecy has a sanctifying affect upon us.  And so throughout our studies the end game is to become like Jesus and to know Him all the more till at last we shall indeed, in a twinkling of an eye, be like Him and know Him as we are known.

Eschatology will cover such subjects as Israel and its place, the death of the individual, the Intermediate State, the 2nd Coming, the resurrection, the judgment, and the destinies of all peoples.  We will also be looking at the differences found between theologians (we are all theologians) in approaching this subject and will cover such topics such as the millennium and the tribulation.  As I have said already; it will be comprehensive.

So, concerning things to come we are not to avoid this subject but instead:

1 Thessalonians 4:18 — 18 comfort one another with these words.

Is it Heaven we look forward to?  Is it the pleasures forevermore?  Yes, and more.  We can look forward to these ‘things’ but really the whole of Eschatology is centred upon Jesus.  It is Jesus we are looking forward to seeing.  It is Jesus we are yearning for.  It is Jesus, the All in all.  He is the One who is coming for His own.  Indeed, let your Kingdom come!

Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

Feedback and discussion points are welcome either here or on Twitter: @pastorianthomas

Do share this article as the reason for writing is to lay biblical foundations in the Christian’s life which are grossly lacking today.

Bibliography

Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.

Berkouwer, G. C. (1972). The Return of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Boice, J. M. (1986). Foundations of the Christian faith: a comprehensive & readable theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Chafer, L. S. (1993). Systematic theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Culver, R. D. (2005). Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical. Ross-shire, UK: Mentor.

Erickson, M. J. (1998). Christian theology. (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2003). The footsteps of the Messiah : a study of the sequence of prophetic events (Rev. ed.). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.

Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.

Hodge, C. (1997). Systematic theology. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Horton, M. (2011). The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Irenaeus of Lyons. (1885). Irenæus against Heresies. (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe, Eds.)The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

McCune, R. (2010). A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity: The Doctrines of Salvation, the Church, and Last Things (Vol. 3). Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.

Miley, J. (1893). Systematic theology, volume 2. New York: Hunt & Eaton.

Pope, W. B. (1879). A Compendium of Christian Theology: being analytical outlines of a course of theological study, biblical, dogmatic, historical, volumes 1-3. London: Beveridge and Co.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

Strong, A. H. (1907). Systematic theology. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society.

Torrey, R. A., Feinberg, C. L., & Wiersbe, W. W. (2005). The Fundamentals: the famous sourcebook of foundational biblical truths. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Van Kampen, R. (2000). The sign (3rd rev. ed.). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.



1 J. Oliver Buswell Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1963), 2:295.

[1] Irenaeus of Lyons. (1885). Irenæus against Heresies. (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe, Eds.)The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (p. 398). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

Why is the Bible so important? Part 1

Why is the Bible so important? Part 1

Interesting question as it actually has many answers.

I suppose it has to do with authority. By authority I mean, what is it that informs what we believe and why we believe it? Some rely upon tradition, others on feelings, others on what someone has told them, and still others rely upon their rational. All these are based somewhat upon upbringing, culture, natural demeanour and a host of other internal and external affects. And all of these are different for different people, a fact recognised in our post-modern world. Forgive the word ‘fact’ and ‘post-modern’ in the same sentence! Because it is our post-modern society that says there are no facts, no grand narrative, no one authority. This makes it convenient to believe whatever we believe with no justification necessary as you believe what you will believe and I will believe what I believe and both can live in unison despite its tensions and often diametrically opposed truths.
There is one authority, though, that has not changed, is neither ancient, modern nor post-modern but is present no matter what the era. And that is the Bible. The Bible speaks down through the ages to every people, culture and language. The Bible is its own authority. It speaks the truth. It is the Word of God. It is what God is saying.

Open Bible
Open Bible

Some say that the Bible contains the Word of God meaning that somewhere in its pages are words that can pertain to God but other pages where it does not. When I say the Bible contains the Word of God I mean from cover to cover every Word is given by God and is from God. This makes the decision about what is my authority very easy: it is the Bible. For those who think that only part of it should be our authority then pickers will be choosers. Who is to say what part is and what part is not? For those who choose which parts are and what parts are not have actually made themselves the authority. Some make it sound very spiritual and say that it is Jesus who is their authority. If this is the case then they would know that Jesus Himself made Scripture totally authoritative.

It is clear we either take the whole of the Bible with its difficulties that should not be glossed over or we take none of it. The only way we know what we believe and why is because God has revealed it to us through human writers sometimes through dictation (Thus says the Lord…) or, as usually was the case, using the writer’s humanity but without error.

This is called plenary inspiration, the view that all Scripture (the Bible) is inspired by God and thus is without any inaccuracy, mistake, fault or error.  2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NKJV) — 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

[Glossary: ‘plenary’ means ‘full and complete’]

If it is found to have inaccuracies, mistakes, faults or errors then we have nothing to rely upon for truth. Jesus regarded Scripture to be authentic even in those parts that are hard to believe like Jonah. And who am I or you to argue with the Author of our Salvation?!

[A more in depth article will be written in due course]

Hell and everlasting punishment

hellClick here for recording of Ian Thomas preaching on Hell and Everlasting Punishment

Today’s subject is a solemn one, the most solemn that you will ever hear from me but for us to have revival we need to wake up out of our slumber and focus our energies upon the most important things of life.  The reason Christians today are without backbones are because these truths are no longer heard nor believed.  I said previously that revival comes when old Scriptural truths are regained and the topic for today is one that needs to come back.  It maybe as a result of hearing this that revival will come because we will actually push forward with the preaching of the Gospel.  Perhaps we should not be so much praying for revival but that God will send labourers into His harvest field.  I will say again – unless there is a return to the truths of Scripture we will not see revival.  So today’s topic is the Bible truth about hell and everlasting punishment.  There is much in Scripture especially through what Jesus has to say on this.

John 3:18 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.

John 3:36 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

What needs to be set forth is the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the unendurableness of it, the endlessness of it.  To keep quiet about it or to ignore it is just about as irresponsible as one can be. 1 Peter 4:17–18 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” It is our duty to warn people to flee from the wrath that is to come. Revelation 6:17 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

There are many arguments today made against this doctrine believing that God’s character could not possibly send people to hell.  There are people who actively go round today espousing the opposite – a guy called Rob Bell is one who was Pastor of Mars Hill – he now goes round universities undoing this doctrine.  I had tutors at Uni who also believed that there was no such thing, even saying Jesus didn’t even preach it.  And many taught by them follow this line of thought.  I’m not sure how this is justified for Jesus says in Matthew 25:41 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

God has sent throughout Scripture punishment regularly as we read in 2 Peter 2:4–9 ‘4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.’  It is no wonder that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.  It is just inescapable that God will judge and bring people to punishment.  God is love but it is not the sentimental kind but is holy and hates evil.  It is not a love that simply lets people of the hook. Psalm 5:5 ‘The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.’  How often we find that God is angry and full of wrath.  He did not create humankind for them to do their own thing though he has given them freedom to choose – but people in their rebellion have shook the fist at God but there will be a day of recompense.  God in His mercy has made a way of escape, if we would have it.  Mercy is always shown before judgment.  But if it is spurned, as it often is, then judgment will come.

Some say that God is unjust to sentence people to an eternity in hell.  But who are we to judge? The awfulness of sin is glossed over not realising that God cannot bear it nor look at it and will not put up with it.  Those of us who have been saved realize just how much we deserve eternal punishment.

Some say that the punishment won’t go on forever for God will destroy people in the lake of fire, that is, make them cease to exist.  But the word for destroy in Scripture never means to annihilate for the Greek word for destroy is elsewhere translated lost – as for instance the lost sheep of Israel – but Israel still exist!  If death is annihilation, or should be translated as such, how then are we resurrected again to come before the Judgement Seat?  Scripture speaks only of punishment and torment – and it does not have an end.  Scripture speaks in Isaiah 33:14 ‘14The sinners in Zion are afraid; Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” will there be in eternity.’  It says here people will live with the fire forever.  Time and again in 13 places Scripture records Jesus as saying there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Sin is ultimately punished two ways: either by the blood of Jesus or the fires of Hell. The fires of Hell and the blood of Jesus in a sense go together: they are the two final ways God chose to deal with sin. The fires of Hell do not truly satisfy the justice of God. This is the reason why Hell is eternal. If the fires of Hell satisfied the justice of God we could be sure that Hell would not last forever. But only the blood of Christ completely satisfies God’s justice.[1]

Hebrews 9:27 27 ‘And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.’  Ecclesiastes 11:9 ‘Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.’  When I see the party goers on Fridays and Saturdays, yes, they have permission to go and enjoy – but, be warned, judgment will be passed on their actions.

Acts 17:31 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”   And this day is described in Revelation 20:11–15 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

I cannot read this without being afraid for the people of this world.  For so broad is the way to destruction that almost all 7.1 billion are on their way to judgment day without Jesus being their Saviour. Romans 3:10–12: “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.””

There is no escape when we die.  John 8:21 Then Jesus said to them [His enemies] again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” Once they died in their sins, it was impossible for them to go to heaven and be with Jesus. In John 13:36: “Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”” Peter will go to Heaven – His enemies will not.

In this passage we read at the beginning about Lazarus and the rich man we gain many insights into what happens to the unbelievers: Luke 16:19–31 19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”

This holding place of the dead has two compartments – one for the wicked and one for the righteous.  Scripture plainly declares that the only ones that are righteous are the ones who have been justified by faith (Rom 5.1).  Between them there is no going from one compartment to the other. The rich man is being tormented in a flame.  As confirmation of this: Matthew 13:37–42 37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

There they remain until the judgment, when they shall be resurrected will be brought before the Great White Throne to receive their final sentence that we have also already read in Rev 20 where if their name is not written in the book of life the lake of fire is the last destination, forever, in a conscious torment, remembering as did the Rich Man in our original passage the life he led and regretting it.

For believers who have died and for those who will friends, let us be clear: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

We were those who at one time had no hope too: Ephesians 2:12–13 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Now we, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

John 5:24: ““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

There are many, many other Scriptures I can mention in relation to this subject but even though this is not an exhaustive study I still think that the point has been made.

1)    The first response to all this is surely to make sure that we are Christians.  Let us make sure we have the way of escape.

2)    Second we have to be eternally grateful that Jesus has made a way of escape where we are now a people of hope.

3)    Third, we have to use all our means, all our prayers, all our efforts to make known the Good News that there is a great Salvation to be had.  We need to be aware of the plight of the 7.1 billion souls on this planet.  A day should not go by that when we look upon our friends, our family, our neighbours, the people whom we meet, our colleagues, those we see on TV, our politicians and so on we will remember that one day before God they will stand.

A prayer:

Lord, wake us up to the plight of the billions on this planet and make every effort to bring them into your Kingdom.  Move us with the same compassion that you had for you came to seek and save the lost.  Fill us with you Holy Spirit and empower us.  Send workers into your harvest field, Lord, and bring in the sheaves to honour and glorify you.  Thank you that the invitation is still open.  Thank you for your patience.  Have patience with us too as we seek to do your will and disciple the nations baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


[1] Kendall, R. T. (2004). The Judgment Seat of Christ (16). Fearn, UK: Christian Focus.

All Scripture is quoted from the NKJV

Revival – Can we have it again?

RevivalRevival – Is it possible in the UK (and elsewhere)?

Matthew 17:14–21 (NKJV) 14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

“I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need in the world today is revival in the Church of God. Yet Alas! the whole idea of revival seems to have become strange to so many good Christian people. There are some who even seem to resent the very idea, and actually speak and write against it. Such an attitude is due to both a serious misunderstanding of the Scriptures, and to a woeful ignorance of the history of the Church. Anything therefore that can instruct God’s people in this matter is very welcome.”[1]

Today I want to talk about revival.  Today in the UK and especially in Wales there is a move away from the Church and to personal religion or spirituality that is not the religion of Jesus or revealed in the Bible.  It looks like all hope is lost for our present generation.   It could be that we don’t actually realise what is going on but there is a battle for the hearts and minds of the people and the Church is not winning but rather is compromising God’s truth so that we can be more palatable to the people of the world.

But according to Acts 1:8 (NKJV) and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  We have the uncompromising truth that is the Gospel.

Right on our doorstep as a Church homes directly around the Church and the whole estate, village or town – our Jerusalem, in our Country – our Judea and Samaria.  That is not a small number let alone the fact we have the ability to reach 536,600,000 English speaking people on the internet – which is our ends of the world – and, of course, any other language that we know – so what are we using the internet for?  We have a massive mission field – for what are we using Facebook, twitter, blogs, Pininterest, Google+ and the rest for?  Are these gateways into the lives of others being used for our own entertainment alone or do we look for ways to be Christ in the world? We don’t need to travel anywhere for we have the world on our laptop and mobile devices.  We are called witnesses to Jesus – it is a mammoth task – but with God on our side the tide of godlessness even in our nation can be turned.

Ephesians 6 makes it clear that we are in a war against Satan and his host of demons.  Our fight is not against other human beings.  Ephesians 6:12 says: (NKJV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

And Satan has bound the many.  The war is being done in the Spiritual Realm.  Binding the strong man, that is the devil, to get to his people to make them children of the living God.  How can this be done except by prayer and fasting?

Sleeping angelIn September 2011, my wife, Irena, and I were in Macedonia and we went to Church – and to be honest I was not expecting to hear much of the message as my Macedonian is pretty rusty now (I was formally a missionary in Macedonia) – but I asked God to help me understand anyway.  But before the preaching a man was invited up who was an American, and he said that we should be praying for revival in Macedonia – and then he went on to say that he had a woman friend who had visited the Church that Evan Roberts, the 1904 Welsh Revivalist, was at – and whilst she was there – and this is what the man said – so I cannot vouch for the credibility – she had a vision of a sleeping angel – and she asked God why is the angel sleeping – and God told her that the angel is sleeping because no one is praying for revival.

My friends, I do not know if the story is true or not – but that man could not have known that there was someone there from a Welsh Church in the congregation – so I took it as a word from God regardless.  Even if it were not a direct word from Heaven it is plain that Scripture indicates that this is how we will see a change in our nation.

In the passage that heads this page there are two things that had to be done for the demon to leave were prayer and fasting.  We are in a battle – but it is not with people – but with spiritual powers at work in their lives.  Unless we return to prayer, unless we use the spiritual disciplines at our disposal in God’s economy then we will not see a change; we will never see our nation return back to God.  The effect of the Welsh Revival of 1904 was worldwide and it kept the nation on track so that through the great wars we were trusting God for the outcome.  Revival not only affects people spiritually but socially.  When the Gospel is preached the heart of human beings are changed irrevocably and when it happens on a large scale nations can be changed as a result.

And friends we have such a great responsibility.  We don’t have revival because we have stopped caring for the lives of our fellow countryman.  We forget so easily that each person will have to give an account to God.  We forget that, like Tozer said, ‘we hold onto the tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly (and this) has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions’.  This deadly opiate is the apathy we have as a result of thinking that there is only a Heaven and no Hell.

Habakkuk in his very short book of 3 chapters that takes about 10 minutes to read prays for justice to come in Judah.  So he is told by God that judgment is coming in the form of the Chaldeans.  Habakkuk now realises what God’s justice looks like and he doesn’t like it because it is all too terrifying.  So, then Habakkuk prays for mercy for the people rather than justice because he understands the judgment that is to come.

Revival has come in the past when old truths from Scripture have been recovered and preached.  Today the doctrine of hell is one of those teachings that has suffered a great deal probably because of the abuse it had centuries ago – so the pendulum swung away – but now the pendulum has to swing back to recover the truth that if for the people of God whom the Lord judges it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God then what will it be for the godless of this age?  Jesus Himself said that it would be better to cut off our hand or foot than to go there.

How come we are not like Habakkuk crying out for mercy, praying and fasting on behalf of our friends, family and countrymen:  Revive us, O God.  If we realise that God’s judgment and anger will be poured out upon the world that does not believe in Jesus then we are going to pray-ers and those who fast because we would not wish what will happen upon our worst enemy for even 5 minutes.

God wants all people to know Him and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  But His people, as the angel, are asleep and getting on with their own thing and have become too comfortable.  But the promise of Scripture stands: 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) 14 ‘if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ What a promise!

We’ve got to get motivated because at the moment the Church is sleeping and sleep walking others into the judgement of God.  What does the Scripture say? ‘Wake up, O sleeper and rise from the dead.’ (Eph 5.14)

Perhaps it is time to take seriously time with God, praising Him, praying to Him making our petitions known to Him, praying for the Church, for our estates, villages, towns and for Wales, etc, and then listening to Him and reading what He has to say in His Word – perhaps getting up earlier or staying up later to make sure we do.  Is this really a hardship or a sacrifice?  Jesus made a point quite often of going apart, getting up early, and praying.  But I will speak about what real sacrifice is: That was Jesus dying on a cross drinking in the last dregs of the wine of God’s wrath so that we who so deserve hell could be free – and not only us but He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  How should we or how can we repay such kindness?

fasting

We don’t hear much about fasting these days but sometimes we have to be as Jesus when He said John 4:34 (NKJV)34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work’ in reply to the fact he had not yet eaten.  He simply had God’s work to do and that took precedence over food.  In fact, his own mother and brothers thought he was mad that he did not stop to eat at times because he was so involved in God’s work.

What about fasting, proper fasting, from food, for a period of time, say, for a day?  Fasting is not about twisting the arm of God, no! It so that we can pray more effectively and be more open spiritually to God.  But it is a lost art to the majority of Christians today…but Jesus assumed that we would pray and fast as a matter of course for He says: When you fast and pray do not do it in public…Jesus simply believed that we will.

For you have need of endurance, says Hebrews 10.26, so that after doing the will of God we may receive the promise.  Prayer is where we love God with the heart and mind, and fasting is about loving Him with our bodies too.

There is something else about revival – and that is identifying ourselves with those of the world:  Realising that we are all sinners, there is none that are good.  We read of Moses, of Isaiah, of Daniel, of Nehemiah and others praying this kind of prayer.

prayer handsMoses prayed in Exodus 34:9 (NKJV) 9 Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”

Daniel 9:4–5 (NKJV) 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.

Surely we want to see revival – in praying these prayers we are identifying with and interceding for the sake of our fellow humans as well as ourselves.  Do we not also pray in the Lord’s Prayer: forgive us OUR trespasses?  There are intercessors among us to stand in the breach.  Jesus intercedes for us; will we intercede for our neighbours?  How else will we see revival?

There is something I have not yet mentioned that will make all the difference: God’s power.  I read the latter part of Acts 1.8 earlier but here is the rest of it:  Acts 1:8 (NKJV) 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We can apply the words of Jesus to us as His people: Luke 4:18–19 (NKJV) 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Only God’s power can overcome the obstacles of reaching people for Jesus.  Unless we watch, fast, pray, awake out of our slumber we will lose another generation to the devil and it will be even harder again to reach the generation that follows.  What we need is the power of the Holy Spirit and the only way we are going to get there is through spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting.  We have to implore God to pour out His Spirit upon us as with the early Church and in revivals we have only ever heard about.

We are completely reliant upon God’s power and leading.  Again, we are not self-reliant but God-reliant.  The strong man, the devil, has power over the lives of people in this town but we are overcomers for we are a people of God’s power.  We have the power of Him who raised Jesus up from the dead living in us.  We have Jesus in us. And so we need to be a people of prayer, of fasting and of witnessing.

There is something that can get in the way of all this as we see in the demon passage we read – in verse 20:  Unbelief is the hindrance for God’s power to work.

So it is time to move back and to return to the Bible: Romans 10:17 (NKJV) 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So, our faith, our belief, is in the God who speaks today.  We have a faith that is based upon reliable evidence.  In our witnessing we can, in the power of God’s Spirit, preach Jesus knowing that God will work in the hearts of our hearers.  If we have faith as small as a mustard seed God will meet us the rest of the way and we shall see His power at work.

We need to build the foundations in our lives especially spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, Scripture and witnessing.

Revival will come, by God’s grace, if we awake, if we turn to God and seek His face for the sake of the people of around our Churches and beyond.  Will we join God in this momentous task – will we be co-workers with Him to seek and save the lost?  Let us commit ourselves to this task and to pray and fast for God’s mercy to be poured out: Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV) O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

What will we do?  Who will take up the challenge of calling together God’s people to pray that God will move again in such a way?



[1] Christian History Magazine-Issue 23: Spiritual Awakenings in North America. 1989. Worcester, PA: Christian History Institute.

Critical

I am curious as to why so many of the Reformed Tradition in their Systematic Theologies are so critical of others (I’ve decided not to name and shame) who also take God’s Word as the ultimate source of authority (Sola Scriptura) and drag down such who are also seeking to know God, His will and the things revealed by the Holy Spirit of God.  [I am not talking about those who do not regard Scripture as a Christian’s authority though even here still have to be careful of HOW we judge].

It seems that other genuine Christians are being treated as heretics and non-Christians just because of a difference of understanding.  I believe that such an attitude is itself heresy.  Oh, there are heretics and such should be exposed as such but generally these are those who put on the cloak of being a Christian but their teaching reveals they are nothing but wolves in sheep’ clothing.  There are definite things we should all believe as Christians but we are pilgrims together  with the whole true Christian witness; present, past and in all places.

The truth that is revealed in part to one group may be revealed in another part to another group as happened during the Reformation.  Of course not all of those who call themselves Christians are Christian as Jesus made plain – many will call Him ‘Lord, Lord’ but he will declare He never knew them.  Let us judge aright.

We do not agree on everything. I do not call myself either Reformed or Arminian as if these are the boundaries we should establish between us (and actually I have issues in both camps in their respective Systematic Theologies but glad to get a rounded perspective on Scripture even if I do disagree from time-to-time – however I do also make it clear I am not a liberal), and generally it is true that there is only one ‘right’ answer – but we should treat each other with grace, for God reveals things that are hidden from academics and reveals them instead to children!  Whether we have a high IQ or a low one – everything we have comes from God.  Let us be so careful of Spiritual pride.  And we need, yes, need each other.

Let all things be done for GOD’s glory.

Why study theology if God does not exist?

There is no point in studying theology if God does not exist!

This is one of many posts that will eventually come together in a coherent way in the study of theology.  In the mean-time enjoy the bite-size pieces that will arrive here on this blog!  Most of these will also be imageless – sorry!

Christians not only believe He exists but that He has deliberately revealed Himself to us through a variety of methods.  Miracles, traditions, the Church, creation, experience, reason, history, etc but the ultimate revealing was done in Jesus Christ.  We know for sure about Jesus Christ because of the Word of God: Scripture: The Bible.  The Bible simply takes it for granted that God exists from the very first verse (Gen 1.1)…in the beginning God created… This God, our God…’transcends the entire creation, but is at the same time immanent in every part of it’. [1] There is a point in studying theology for God does exist.

Of course, it is not something that we can prove beyond all doubt but is something that is grasped by faith (faith = trust).  This is not faith without any basis in reality as some prominent atheists want to espouse as our belief system but it is indeed based on reliable evidence contained in Scripture, especially.  Now, it is up to us to mine the riches of Scripture and to know and pursue the knowledge of God (Hos 6.3).  This knowledge though is more fully revealed to believers and therefore this Queen of Sciences known as Theology, is darkness and foolishness for those who do not believe.  But once Jesus is believed on then we see with clearer light and see the wisdom of God in all His works.

The evidence for this is also found in Scripture: Matthew 11:27 (NKJV) 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  We see, then, the impossibility of knowing God without us knowing Him through Jesus Christ and therefore the study of Him without this real knowledge is going to fall far short.

There is a revelation called ‘General Revelation’ which is, especially, found in nature that God can be seen and known in it.  This revelation though falls short of any knowledge about the saving grace found only in Jesus Christ.  The revelation reveals God’s creation, His creativity, His awesomeness, His providential care for what He has made, among other attributes.  These are a precursor to us seeking God.  The fear of the Lord is both the beginning of knowledge and of wisdom.  We, therefore, lack both if the Lord is not truly Lord of our lives.


[1] Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (21). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.

Minefield or a Mind-field? An Introduction to an introduction to Theology

Minefield or a Mind-field? An Introduction to an Introduction to Theology

The line above is surely a trick question… surely it isn’t minefield OR a mind-field but a minefield AND a mind-field!  That’s why this is one of the few subjects that could have an introduction to an Introduction about theology!

Before we even start on a subject like this there are so many pitfalls to avoid but though this subject is so very large does not mean that we should not embark on this adventure.  Even the intro could go to hundreds of pages as I note in some theologian’s works (hint Geisler)

Of course, one of the things we need to set out are presuppositions.  These are totally unavoidable because we all have them.  So, you need to know mine – do you know yours?

My largest presupposition is that God exists.  I am not a Thomist (a follower of Thomas Aquinas) in their thinking in seeking to prove the existence of God though I will set out these things in the Bibliology section of this site under the sub-section of General Revelation.  My next presupposition is that God has revealed himself.  And lastly, I believe He has revealed Himself supremely through Jesus Christ and in the written word known as the Bible.

Many have whiled away the hours setting out each of these and of course, it is my intention to do so too!  However, for this Intro to the Intro, for that is what it is I wanted to give a heads-up on the way I will be going about posting items on this blog.

This blog will gradually have some static pages added to it which will form the basis of a systematic theology that is going to take many years to complete.  I’d rather it be a quick exercise but all good things come to those who wait…or should that say ‘work’?!

In the meantime I will post my latest thoughts and most of these to start with will form the Intro to Theology and Bibliology – Bibliology being the study of the Bible.  This is not a Bible-study in the usual sense of the word though it will thoroughly use the Bible as its text.  The study of the Bible will consist of How God reveals Himself, the Authority, Inspiration and Illumination of the Scriptures.  Scriptures is another word for Bible and the Bible is known also as the Word of God.

Theology is the Study of God.

So, as we can see it is not simply a minefield or a mind-field but both.

Homosexuality

Hot Topic – Homosexuality

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Homosexuality is a subject that, unless you are in support of it, is one that is most avoided by Christians in the public sphere.  However there comes a time when the voices within Christianity are sounding with an unclear sound.  This results in confusion.  This happens especially when big name ‘Evangelicals’ such as Steve Chalke publish articles in support of the upcoming legislation for homosexual (gay) marriage. He also recently had a service of blessing for a gay couple.

To mention that you are against such a sexual union or to support two parent, mother and father families as being normal is swimming against the tide.  To say that anything other than this is abnormal could end up infringing the rights of others simply because someone is offended.  Then, add to the mix what the bible says and one day this is something that could lead to a jail sentence.  I make no bones about the fact that there will be those who think I am bigoted, uncaring and the product of a by-gone era!

So, before I work this treatise to its logical conclusion I want to make it clear that I have nothing against those who call themselves homosexual or anyone who is part of the LGBT community.  I think that we should treat each other with respect even if we disagree in the most strongest terms (disagree without being disagreeable).  I have had friends who were homosexual and whilst I, personally, do not applaud their lifestyle, I would not have any issue in eating and drinking with them.

The other thing that needs to be mentioned is that I do not think that the act of union between two men or two women (for instance) is the greatest of all (dare I say?!) sin.  Any sex outside of marriage (defined as that between one man and one woman) is sinful.  And so is lying, gossiping, and stealing.

The reason why this article is being written is because of the vocal 0.5% of those in the UK who claim to be LGBT and its effect or possible effect upon Christians.  I also want to undo the lies told about certain verses of Scripture.

All the foregoing was a prelude to the main article that now follows:

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It is unavoidable that Scripture by its plain reading is not pro homosexuality.  In fact it is quite the opposite.  It is very negative to those who practice this lifestyle.  What has happened though is that these plain readings have been attacked by a rather large band of revisionists who interpret Scripture according to the dictates of their own hearts.. They try to justify Scripture to the present world-view.   Rick Warren, when interviewed recently by Piers Morgan in the USA, in answer to whether the Bible should be updated, said, that human opinion changes but God’s Word and Truth remain the same.  In other words: Opinion changes, truth doesn’t. Here in the UK we have gone from jailing ‘sodomites’ 50 years ago to propagating their message to the point where they should be allowed to publicly marry in the Church.

Now, of course, I do not want to return to making the homosexual lifestyle a criminal offence but why should the Church be involved in affirming their lifestyle?  Is this not the devil’s work?  Something that has been considered to be against the norm of nature for thousands of years could now lead to the persecution of Christians who in all good conscience cannot lend support to them in such a way.  Yet we are finding that such a small group have a great deal of influence that their rights trump the rights of Christians as evidenced in the recent court cases.

But what does the Bible say?

The Old Testament

Leviticus 18:22 (NKJV) 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV)13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

Caution should be used when using Leviticus for you will come across those who say about the other laws that are contained within it.  However moral law still stands as authoritative for a Christian and the ceremonial, civil and ritual laws do not as has been taught since the time of Christ.  The revisionists want to say that these laws have nothing to do with normal homosexual living but to do with homosexual pagan and prostitution rites and worship.  Whilst this is repeated quite often modern scholarship does not go along with this as there is no evidence that such rites ever existed in the Bible lands.  In fact, it would appear that the reason for these laws arises out of the creation story where God blesses the union of Adam and Eve and in revealing God’s perspective on marriage:

Genesis 1:27–28 (NKJV) 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The Israelites thought that any other kind of union was repugnant and against the natural order ordained by God.  In fact wherever we read Scripture it is always in relation to male and female in marriage that is blessed by God and no other kind of union.

The New Testament

The most oft quoted passage and perhaps the most clear is:

Romans 1:26–27 (NKJV) 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

This also is in relation to the creation story which today is also under attack both from without and within the Church.  If God did not create us therefore we are not answerable to Him for our rebellion.  And because this is on the rise so God has given over the human race to their depravity (v.24 and .26) which reveals how much people are in such need of the grace of God.  The giving over to such passions is very much in line with the idea of punishment in the same way that God punished Egypt with plagues.  They refuse to acknowledge God as God as Pharaoh refused and so stubbornly received their due.

It is also accepted within scholarship that this passage also has nothing to do with prostitution or cultic worship – Paul is so clearly against the practice of man with man and woman with woman that no one can deny it.  But some do try to twist it to their own ends in saying that the ‘against nature’ means only ‘unusual’(!) but even this is so out of left-field that this is not taken seriously.  The point of this passage is that they are defying the creator and reveal that they are indeed separate from God.  They defy the creator by doing what they were not created to do.

But I have another proviso: Whilst it is clear that Paul is evidently against homosexual practices this is actually only a small part of the whole passage that reveals that we are all alike sinful.  Let the one without sin throw the first stone…Romans 2:1 (NKJV) Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

Another Scripture:

1 Corinthians 6:9 (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…

Actually here we do have a mistranslation though an understandable one.  The word in Greek translated as homosexual here is malakoi which means ‘soft’.  The understanding of this word is one who is the ‘female’ participant in the homosexual act.  The latter word for Sodomite is the Greek word arsenokoitai which means the male participant in the homosexual act.  Again there is argument among some still propounded today that this is all relating to homosexual prostitution but what is clear from the passage is that no such narrow meaning can really be obtained from these words.  Just because something is repeated often enough does not make it true.  It seems that Paul was alluding to the two Leviticus passages mentioned above by the use of the unique word arsenokoitai where both arsēn and koitē appear in the LXX.  It is unavoidable that Paul meant the homosexual act in all its forms would exclude them from the Kingdom of God. But again notice the other sins that are also condemned for it also includes thieves and drunks in verse 10.

Another Scripture:

1 Timothy 1:10 (NKJV) 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine

Paul uses his unique word arsenokoitai again which is covered above.

So, it is plainly clear that homosexual acts are condemned in Scripture in both Old and New Testaments.

For those who want to claim that there is no Scriptural evidence against homosexual, life-long, monogamous marriage have not taken into account that there does not appear to be a lee-way that the homosexual act itself is condemned no matter what the relationship.

The understandable Steve Chalke whose compassion for those caught up in the homosexual lifestyle does not change the Scriptural mandate.  We are to love, for sure, but this does not stop the condemnation of a loving God – and who loves more than God? For God is love.  Let us beware of Chalke’s understanding that would put tolerance above what God says and invert ‘God is love’ to ‘love is god’.

If we are not those who count Scripture as authoritative (but I hope you realise that I think you should be!) tradition of the Church has always held that the homosexual act is wrong and sinful.

As for homosexual orientation there is room for manoeuvre: I think it likely that the Apostle Paul considered homosexuality a choice but if (and it hasn’t yet been) proven to be one of orientation – that is, we are born that way – it can only be concluded that this would change nothing of what Paul said – only that the whole world is under sin and we are born sinners, and in this way it is genetically passed on down to us from the original sinner, Adam.  The point being that orientation (if that is what it is) in and of itself is not sinful.

What should our response be to homosexuals?  It is obvious, if we are Christians: It is one of love, acceptance and understanding.  We are all in the same boat – that is, we are all sinners in need of grace given to us freely in Jesus Christ.  We all have to live our lives being convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit, confessing our sin to God, and repenting, turning from our sin.

There are a number of other helpful articles out there (that I looked at after I wrote this article but pleased they affirmed the biblical principles) one of which is:

Biblical and pastoral responses to homosexuality