10/11/2009

In what way can you be sure that Jesus is the Messiah?

That’s a very simple and interesting question.
First we must remember that Israel were looking with a great longing for the coming of the Messiah in Christ’s day. They had discussed the matter in great detail and had come to the conclusion that when the Messiah came he would perform what they called Messianic signs. Messianic signs were miracles that were unusual. That is they could only be performed by the Messiah and nobody else. The Messianic signs were…

1. The blind who have never seen will be cured.
2. The lame who have never walked will be cured.
3. The lepers will be cleansed
4. The deaf demon possessed will be delivered
5. The dead of four days will be raised.

These are very specific miracles that no man could do even if he were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

There had never been a case of a blind man from birth healed.
There had never been a case of a man who has never walked been healed
There had never been a case of a leper of Israel healed
There had never been a case of a deaf and dumb possessed man delivered
There had never been a case of a man who had been dead four days healed.

The Rabbis has agreed that if one of these Messianic signs were seen in Israel then a delegation would be sent from the Jewish authorities and they would begin a ten day investigation. It this point they would listen only to the Messianic pretender. They would answer the question – Is this person a significant person to further investigate?

If the answer was yes then a second stage would be established in which they would ask him questions.

Now let us turn to scripture…

Luke 5v12: And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13: And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. 14: And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Now when the leper arrived at the high priest he was to present himself to Caiaphas for a sacrifice of two doves as a testimony of cleansing. At this point Caiaphas would go back to the OT and find three chapters dedicated to how to offer a sacrifice for a leper.

Then we find in the next passage that the first stage of the Messianic investigation has begun…

Luke 5v17: And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

Now why was there Pharisees and doctors of the Law from every town of Galilee Judea and Jerusalem? Because they were here as representatives of the High Priest, Caiaphas to begin the first part (the ten-day) investigation in to the man who had performed a Messianic sign, the cleansing of the leper.

True to form they come only to listen…

18: And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. 19: And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20: And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21: And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? 22: But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

Now at this stage of their investigation they were not allowed to speak but Christ could know their blasphemous thoughts. So he challenges them regarding their assumption that he has no authority to forgive sins.

23: Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24: But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25: And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26: And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

So Christ proves his Messianic authority for forgive sins but doing a greater miracle the raising of a lame man.

They return to Caiaphas no doubt to say that this man is significant and should be investigated more. Later they return with their questions.

We even see the same questions of his Messianic authority asked of John the Baptist…

Luke 7v20: When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 21: And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22: Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

After Christ has displayed all his Messianic signs The Religious leaders reject Christ and attribute his power to Satan instead of to the work of the Holy Spirit in his life and so they damn themselves to the lake of fire. There will be no forgiveness to this blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.

From this time on Christ’s ministry changes very dramatically. From now on he speaks only in Parables so that those who have rejected him might not understand. Even the disciples do not understand his parables and ask him of the meaning in private. Prior to his rejection he spoke openly and healed all who came but now he heals only those who express faith in him first.

The Ministry of Christ does not stop at the Cross. His work is picked up by the Apostles. Luke describes this period as the continuation of All that Jesus began to do. And during the 37 years of the Acts the Apostles continue to Messianic signs now apostolic sign continue to be demonstrated to Israel in every city where there is a company of Jews gathered. Eventually the Jews rebel against the Romans and the legions in AD 69 move in to suppress the nation. 1,100,000 Jews die and the temple is destroyed. Jewish national and religious independent life ceases as does the apostolic ministry to the Jews.

Steve

06/11/2009

Ten things l remember about my Dad Samuel Hugh Pugh

When my Father died last year l recalled many memories with my brothers and sisters. We had great times recalling events and stories that had surrounded our lives for many years. Recently l saw a small leaflet called ‘Ten things l remember about my Dad’ and l began to think, what would be the ten things that l remember about my dad? Here are my ten.

The first thing l remember about my dad was when he used to get me to go out into the shed and clean his shoes. I hated it, because no matter how much time l spent, the shoes never shone - as he wanted them and time stood still. My father was a man of smart appearance. He was always turned out well. Even at camp, a shirt and tie were the order of the day. (I did learn to polish his shoes and mine, they required hard brushing and elbow grease.) My father was a man who had pride in his appearance. He thought that tidiness was normal and that keeping himself, the car, the house and the garden clean and tidy was important, especially as a christian.

The second thing l remember was that he was strong. Being brought up on the family coal firm, he had developed real strength and stamina. He told me recently that he could deliver two lorry loads of coal a day - by himself. ‘And the biggest thing was filling the bags by yourself’ he said. He had always been a labouring man, working by the strength of his arm. He was a great supporter of the Labour party as most working men were. One year at camp he bet all the young men £5, that they could not climb up the marquee pole ropes, using only their hands. Nobody ever made it, but he did and he did it so quickly and effortlessly.

Thirdly, l must mention his faith. He was a man of unbreakable convictions. I don’t ever remember him giving his testimony, but l remember his preaching. It was easy to understand, down to earth and solidly fundamental. He had gone with his parents to the Presbyterian Church as a boy, but had associated himself with the Christian Brethren as a youth. There he developed a deep reverence for the Word of God and he had been encouraged to preach. In those days, he was secretary of the Shrewsbury Christian Youth, an interdenominational group of 400+ members. He was no intellectual, he was a man of practical faith. He was always preaching a ‘Christ centred Gospel’ somewhere. When the war broke out, he was a ‘conscientious objector’ (although he was exempt from action due to his occupation). He won his case and went out with the Royal Air Force as a fitter’s assistant. He met my mother at an evangelistic meeting, at a break in training. (She was singing on the platform). He was a man who knew what he believed, some would say ‘firm’, others ‘stubborn’. His children at times ‘unyielding’. His children were like him and huge ‘conflicts of will’ ensued as they grew up.

When he was posted to the western desert, he found that men trusted him because he was totally reliable. He got a job in the wages department. This is the next thing l remember about him. If he made a promise to you - he kept it. He was a man of honesty. Often he would come home with cigarettes in his pocket. Not because he smoked, he was looking after them for others. We were quite poor in those days. Feeding six children must have been difficult. We kept chickens and had a huge vegetable patch. I spent many an hour standing leaning on a fork in the garden.
The next thing that comes to mind was his laughter. We had family jokes, and when they were repeated he would howl with laughter. He had a great sense of humour, just the same as my mother. His humour was very dry and subtle. He would roar at the story of the black man who when he was being baptised and when asked what he believed he said ‘I believe - your trying to drown me’.

He was a man loyal to his wife and whose love for her was the most important thing in his life. He was proud of her ability to sing and would insist on her singing whenever he went out preaching. This didn’t mean they never had differences. They did, but they worked through them and were still together at the end, as at the beginning. For him the children were important, but his wife came first.

The seventh thing I remember about my dad was that we seldom sat down on a Sunday afternoon without visitors. He was a man of hospitality. He had learnt the value of taking in strangers when he was serving in the Middle East. On the night of the Battle of El-Alamein, he was being baptised in a pool in the backgarden of a house in Jerusalem. The war had given him a world perspective. It had made him what he was, but he could never forgive Hitler for keeping him from his mother during her closing years. When problems arose with the Christian Brethren he moved the family to the Baptists, were he saw a number of his children converted and baptised, but when problems arose there, he moved back to the Christian Brethren. He was a protestant through and through and a nonconformist at heart. He initial efforts to shield his children from Church of England influence at school eventually relaxed. However, his generosity always shone through. Even in times of shortage, speaker’s, missionaries and especially blind christians were found around the family Sunday tea table.

His greatest achievement was in the organisation of the Shropshire Assemblies Young Peoples Christian Camp and of his association with Bob Watson. The Camps were his brainchild, and his life work. Hundreds of people came to the camps over the years and they found my dad as Commandant, or ‘Comy’ as he was called. With Phil Bellingham and Edwin Hannay, they were a formidable team. On the first camp at least fifteen people were converted and as many Christians renewed their commitment to the Lord. I was converted at the first Camp. The Camp ran on the same pattern for ten years. The Shrewsbury Assembly was built up and many of his children found their sweethearts at camp.

The last thing l remember about my dad, was that no matter who loved and respected him - worldwide, he was My Dad. In the latter days, before he lost his mind and his faculties, he was a delight just to be with. I used to sit and ask him questions about his earlier life, the war and the people he knew. I remember too, years before, being so proud of him when one night unexpectedly, he said to me ‘Go and get you best clothes on were going out’. He took me to St John’s Hill Methodist Church, Shrewsbury, to listen to Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

S Pugh

How does the message of Repentance fit in with the rest of the Bible?

Malachi, 3v1: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2: But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 3: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. 4: Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

Let me put the passage in context…
A The Present
1v1-5 The Love of God for Israel
1v6-2v9 The Priests rebuked for profanity
2v10-17 The People rebuked for social sin
B The Future
3v1-6 The Two Messengers
3v7-18 The People rebuked - Religious sins
4v1-6 The Day of the LORD

Malachi is speaking to Israel regarding the Day of the LORD. The day of the LORD is the return of (Jesus) The Messiah of Israel to bring judgment first on the house of Israel and then on the Gentile world. (Matt 25 the Judgment of the living nations) This all occurs at the end of the Tribulation But before the day of the LORD God describes the waywardness of his people Ch1-2 and then he describes first the coming of John the Baptist. (the death and resurrection and the church age are not foretold here) and of the coming of Christ to Israel. (God promises that ever word will be confirmed by two witnesses. That’s why Gods servants are always in pairs. Moses Aaron. Paul and Barnabas etc, etc) Johns ministry is briefly described in verse 1… Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: then the Prophet immediately goes on to The ministry of Christ… and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2: But who may abide the day of his coming? (Now this cannot be Johns ministry because it says… the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come).
So how does Malachi describe Christ’s ministry…
Christ will come to this temple (to examine Israel’s worship)
His coming will be in judgment (Who shall stand, Only the righteous stand)
He will be like a refiners fire to the sons of Levi (After Levi the priests are purified then they will be able to offer sacrifice to the Lord) that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then An offering will be made unto the Lord (This is in a future day! So the idea that all sacrifices are over is incorrect! However this is not an offering of atonement, That has been offered once for all at the cross but it is an act of consecration probably for the temple or the throne of judgment which will be in Jerusalem.) However in judgment there will be mercy. Judgment for sorcerers etc but mercy in that not all Israel will be consumed.
Then we have the call for a national repentance again. Return unto me says the LORD of hosts. This is the gospel of the Kingdom. (Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand) Notice the message is legal (based on the Law) return unto me and l will return unto you! (This is never, ever said to Gentiles and it is not the Gospel we preach) How do l know this because he goes to call on Israel in that they have robbed him of the tithes that are Israel’s due – He says… for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Then comes the promise of kingdom blessing (One of the most beautiful passages in scripture…
10: Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
The LORD then promises the binding of Satan in the Kingdom – I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, etc etc
And he promises blessing to the nations in the kingdom through Israel…all nations shall call you blessed
Then Malachi describes More of Gods dealings with Israel and the destruction of the wicked. But in destruction God will remember those who fear him (Whose names are in the book of remembrance (The thief on the cross quotes this when he said, Remember me when you come into your kingdom)
In the day of the setting up of the Kingdom these righteous are called my jewels. - in that day when I make up my jewels.
Then when God has dealt with Israel he will return to deal with the Gentiles – Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
The wicked will be judged but the righteous will be blessed - But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings
Then the prophet reminds Israel that he will send Elijah to prepare Israel. – Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
And so the Old Testament ends and 400 years pass with now word from God and then in the wilderness of Judea a man stands up and says…
Matthew, 3v1: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2: And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3: For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Steve

28/10/2009

The peace of God

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Here Paul gives the antidote to worry. What is the antidote for worry? Forget about it? Try to put it out of your mind? NO, Paul says face it straight on but do that by Prayer. God does not want us to be anxious he wants us to be wise and courageous. He wants us to face the difficult issues by Prayer, Petition and Thanksgiving, We are to present our requests to God. So what this means is that we are to come to God with the issues that concern us and we are to present our requests to Him. WOW that’s new. That’s reality. That’s facing up to our responsibilities and doing something about it. That’s bringing God into our lives. And then what? Well the peace of God which cannot be explained it can only be experienced will stand guard over our minds in Christ Jesus. Do you know something of the peace of God? You may ask what is the peace of God? The peace of God is the knowledge that God is in control. It’s the realisation that God is going to look after us. That God is now responsible to act on our behalf because we have placed ourselves in his hand. The peace of God is quiet contentment between presenting our needs and receiving the answer. It is the time when heaven is silent waiting for God to answer prayer.

steve

15/10/2009

Preaching

Thoughts on preaching.


The point l would like to make is that there should be only one main point.

This might be supported by a number of sub points but they should be made to fit the one point and not divert attention.

By mentors used to say

1. State.
2. Illustrate
3. Prove
4. Apply

That sounds like four points but its not each of the four is related at supporting the one point.

The reason why l would use these four sub points is because different people are touched by different styles. Some are touched by a clear statement - some by a interesting illustration - some by a logical reason why the point must be so and others by how this point applies.


The overarching thing in my opinion about preaching should be.

Preaching is not a lecture. People have not just come to learn something
Preaching is not a running commentary on scripture. Although teaching through biblical books is very important.
Preaching is not the delivery of the preacher’s pet theories.
Preaching is not the preacher’s thoughts on the world at large - What he has read in the paper etc.
Preaching is not the latest sweet story or illustration.
Preaching is not entertainment.

Preaching is the exposition of Gods word whereby the listeners come face to face with Gods message for them.

People should not come away saying, ‘that’s interesting’ or God forbid – ‘that’s funny’.

They should come away suitably humbled at being in the presence of God

People should come away with the deep impression that God has spoken to them today!!


Steve

10/10/2009

The Heresy 'Oneness Pentecostals' and 'Jesus Only'

John 1v1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.


The Sentence has three parts

1. In the beginning was the Word,

John first states that the Word (Christ) is from Eternity.

2. and the Word was with God,

Next John states that the Word in Eternity and for all time is 'With God'. Quite simply this means that the Word (Christ) is alongside God in a way whereby the Word and God are distinct persons. The Word With can have no other meaning than to be separate to and along side. The whole idea of WITH brings up the concept of the mutual fellowship of two people (or more as the case may be) Christ for example called the Disciples - 'that they might be WITH HIM'. So clearly John is saying that The Word - Christ is in fellowship with another person who is called - GOD. This is in the context of Eternity (the first phrase) So Christ is Co-Eternal With God.

3. and the Word was God.

Lastly John clarified what he means because he has just stated that the Word was With God. but now he states very emphatically that Christ IS GOD. Johns Gospel was written to show that 'Jesus is the Christ the Son of God' [1]. Ch 20v30-31. So in his prologue he states that the WORD WAS GOD. There can never be any doubt that Christ is God. John is saying that the Word (Christ) is eternally God.

So how can we reconcile the second and third phrases. Well in our limited human capacity we cannot. The two phrases are contrary to human understanding. We cannot be WITH some one and also BE that person at the same time. But clearly Christ can. And although we cannot comprehend it - both statements must be accepted as true even thought it is beyond us to rationalise them.

So John has established his thesis for his Gospel.

The Word, from eternity, is WITH God and IS God.


Now to Arians l would need to explain Christ’s deity and his eternal character.

But to Oneness Pentecostals [2] - Christ is WITH GOD. That is there is at least another person that is God apart from Christ. However scripture shows that three persons claim to be God. The Father, The Spirit and The Son.


[1] the phrase 'The Son of God'. Also proves the same 2 points of johns opening prologue. The phrase means firstly that the person to whom it is related is God. It is a statement of his Deity. But secondly it is a statement of relationship Christ is the Son of GOD. He is separate to the Father because the Father is his father and he is the Son. No-one can be son without the existence of another person who is the father. Therefore the Phrase Son of God brings out two points.

1. That Christ is God - he is Divine
2. That Christ is the Son of the Father - He is co-Divine.

[2] the Heresy called 'Oneness Pentecostals' believe that Christ is God but that the Father and the Holy Spirit are not God.

Steve

07/10/2009

Does the Bible really teach the Trinity?

The Trinity in the Bible


1, The Plural noun Elohim.
The most common name for God in Hebrew is Elohim. The word means God and is sometimes used for false gods. In Genesis 1 The word is used of the One true God yet the name is plural indicating that the name signifies more than singularity.

2. The Plural words used with Elohim
The second evidence for plurality in the godhead is the verbs used in relation to the Name Elohim. Normally when Elohim is used of the one true God the verb is singular. However this is contrary to Hebrew grammar. The verb must agree with the noun in gender and number. Normally the verb is singular yet there are very many notable exceptions and this opens the discussion as to the plurality of the Godhead.

In Gen 35 for example the Hebrew reads – ‘For there God revealed themselves’.

In 2 Sam 7v23 the literal Hebrew reads – ‘For God went them to redeem’.

In Psa 58v11b the literal Hebrew is – ‘There is a God they judge’.

3. The Noun Elohim is applied to two persons.
Sometimes the name Elohim is used to apply to two different persons in the same passage.

In Psa 45v6-7 In this passage the name Elohim is applied to two persons. He says that one Elohim has anointed another Elohim with the oil of gladness. The second Elohim is the God of the first Elohim. It is Gods God who anointed him.

In Hosea 1v7 In this passage Elohim says that he will save his people by another person also called Elohim.

4. The name YHVH is applied to two separate persons.

Here the personal name of God YHVH or Jehovah is applied to twp persons in different locations.

In Gen 19v24 In this verse Jehovah (number one) rains fire and brimstone from Jehovah (number two) who is in heaven.

In Zechariah 2v8-9 In this verse Jehovah (number one) is the speaker and he says he is being sent to accomplish a task by Jehovah (number two)

5. The plural name Adonai

This word means Lord. However when ever it is used of God it is plural. The singular term is never used of God. This is evidence of a plurality in the Godhead.

6. The Plural pronouns.

Plural pronouns are used of God thus indicating plurality in the Godhead.

In Gen 1v26a God says let US make man in OUR image after our likeness.

In Gen 3v22a Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of US.

In Gen 11v7a God says Come let US go down…

In Isa 6v8a And l heard the voice of the LORD saying Whom shall l send and who will go for US?

Notice that it starts in the singular and ends in the plural.

The singular shows that God is one but the plurality shows that within the oneness there is more than one.

7. The Plural adjectives.

The plural nouns in English were Hebrew plural adjectives.

In Josh 24v19 The passage says ‘holy God’. The word holy is plural. Literally it reads ‘holy Gods’.

In Psa 149v2 Literally the passage says – ‘let Israel rejoice in his Makers’.

In Ecc 12v1 Literally the Hebrew is ‘Your creators’.

The English translations do not pick up on these differences yet they are clear in the Hebrew.

In Isa 54v5 We have two examples. In Hebrew it reads ‘Your makers are your husbands’. Both maker and husband are plural.

All of these verses emphasis the plurality of the Godhead.

8. The Angel of Jehovah.

Through out the OT we have introduced the Angel of the Lord and the Angel of Jehovah. The word angel means messenger and can refer to human or angelic messengers, however the word is also used of God himself. The context always makes itself clear when the angel is God himself.

In Gen 16v7-14 He is called the Angel of the Jehovah in v 7,9,11 But in v13 He is called Jehovah himself.

In Gen 22v9-13 He is called the Angel of the Jehovah in v11, 15 but in v12 he is called God and in v16 he is called Jehovah.

In Gen 31v11-13 He is called the angel of God in v11 but in v13 He says, ‘I Am the God of Bethel’.

In Gen 32v24-30 In v24 the angel is called a man, (because that is how he appeared) but in v28 he is referred to as God. and in v30 Jacob says ‘I have seen God face to face’.

So the person who appeared to Jacob is firstly called a man and then later an angel of the Lord and then afterward God himself.

In Exo 3v1-5 In v2 We have the angel of the lord but in v 4 He is called Jehovah and God.

In Judg 2v1 States that the exodus was brought about by the angel of Jehovah but in Exo 19v4 it says that God was responsible.

Now l could go on and on but it is clear that in the Godhead there is both singularity and plurality. The Jews could never understand this and they had huge debates on the subject. It becomes much clearer with the personal coming of Christ and the NT.


It is interesting to me that Arianism and Oneness Pentecostalism are similar as Red is to Violet - they are opposite ends of a spectrum.

The Arians believe there is One God and that person is the Father.
The Oneness P's believe there is one God and that person is Christ.

The Arians deny Deity to Christ and the Holy Spirit
The Oneness P's deny The Deity to The Father and the Holy Spirit

Both are Unitarian and Monotheistic Heresies.


The Scriptures teach clearly that - The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God.

See Matt 3v16-17 Where three persons are mentioned who all are God.

See Matt 28v19 Again three distinct persons are mentioned. No less than three and no more than three. the Word Name is singular yet there are three persons here.

See John 14v16-17 Again three distinct persons. One is the speaker he says 'I' this is Christ. The person that he prays to is the Father. And he speaks about the promise to send a third person who is not himself or his Father the Holy Spirit.

See 1 Cor 12v4-6 Again three persons are mentioned yet all three are the source of the gifts to the church, the Spirit of God, The Lord (Christ), and God (the Father). All three are distinct persons yet they all do exactly the same thing to the same people at the same time. This can only be so if the three are actually One.

2 Cor 13v14 Notice the three persons here Only three - no more than three and no less than three. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit.
Now whereas previously all three do the same thing here the three do different things. Previously the emphasis is on unity but now it is diversity.

1 Peter 1v2 In this last example we have described three persons again. No more than three and no less than three. God the Father who is responsible for Foreknowledge. The Spirit who is responsible for sanctification. And the Son Jesus Christ who alone is responsible for shedding his blood for the sins of the whole world.

From these passages it is clear that there are three persons called God, No more than three and no less than three.

These three persons all have the Divine Attributes

Eternity.
The Father Psa 90v2
The Son Micah 5v2 - Matt 2v5-6
The Spirit Heb 9v14

Omnipotence
The Father 1 Pet 1v5
The Son Heb 1v3
The Spirit Rom 15v19

Omniscience
The Father Jer 17v10
The Son Joh 16v30, 21v17 Rev 2v23
The Spirit 1 Cor 2v10-11

Omnipresence
The Father Jer 23v24
The Son Mat 18v20 28v20
The Spirit Psa 139v7-10

The Creation of the universe
The Father Psa 102v25
The Son Joh 1v3 Col 1v16
The Spirit Gen 1v2 Job 26v13

The Creation of Man
The Father Gen 2v7
The Son Col 1v16
The Spirit Job 33v4

The Work of Inspiration
The Father 2 Tim 3v16
The Son 1 Pet 1v10-11
The Spirit 2 Pet 1v21

The Bible teaches three great truths

1. The Plurality of the Godhead. as opposed to Unitarianism or Monotheism
2. The Unity of the Godhead. as opposed to Polytheism
3. The Trinity of the Godhead. the plurality of persons in the one God. Limited to three no more than three and none less than three persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.


Lastly in John 1v1 we have an interesting construction which says…
In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was WITH GOD and the WORD WAS God.

Now that is impossible – unless the WORD is both separate to God and yet united to God at the same time.

This is what trinity teaching is Christ is separate to the Father and the Spirit. Distinct and not to be confused. He is WITH GOD. Yet it also says The WORD WAS GOD. Christ is God fully There is no three separate Gods there is One God, but three persons in that Unity.

Steve

05/10/2009

Enemies of the Cross of Christ

18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

Paul describes these false teachers who he mentioned in verse 2. He mentions four things about them.

1. They live as enemies of the Cross of Christ.
These Jewish teachers cannot comprehend the truth that their Messiah was crucified and thereby cursed by the Mosaic Law. The cross is their great stumbling block. Therefore they deny the very Work that Christ came to do. And by denying his atoning work and blaspheming his messianic signs they continue the rejection of Christ. They are enemies of the Cross of Christ.

2. Their destiny is destruction
The ultimate destination of these religious men is the destruction of the Lake of fire. How sad. No wonder Paul weeps. He says they devote themselves to religion, They try to keep the 313 commandments of the Mitzah, They have great missionary zeal, but they are found to be like Paul before his conversion an enemy of Christ. Stephen said of these men, ‘You do always resist the Holy Spirit’. There doom is certain if they continue. Yet Paul is an example of how God, resists the proud and brings judgment (blindness) in order to save them.

3. Their god is their stomach
These men are men of the flesh. They are absorbed with the thinks of the flesh and seek in like to gratify the fleshly appetites. They are gross.

4. Their glory is in their shame.
The very thing that they glory in is the very thing they should be ashamed of. What did they glory in? A number of things. Circumcision for one. This glorious symbol of the Mosaic Law has become symbolic of a return to Judaism and therefore apostasy. They also glory in their law keeping yet it is the very thing that should bring to them conviction of sin and poverty of spirit. They glory in Sabbath observance without realising that Christ is now the Sabbath of his people and that by keeping this ‘queen of commandments’ they deny Him. They very things that they glory in are the things they should be ashamed of.

Steve

The parable of the Ten Virgins

This parable comes in the middle of a discourse by Christ himself regarding the end times, usually called The Olivet Discourse

D. The Discipleship of the Messiah – Call to Faithfulness

In this discourse Christ answers the questions that the Disciples put to Christ. They ask three questions…

1. Tell us, when shall these things be?
2. and what shall be the sign of thy coming,
3. and (the sign) of the end of the world?

Christ answers all three questions but in the reverse order.

24 v1-2 The Destruction of the Temple
24 v3-14 The time of the end 3rd Q The sign of the END
24 v15-26 The end comes
24 v27-31 Signs in the heaven 2nd Q The Sign of the Coming
24 v32-35 The fig tree lesson
24 v36-44 The time unknown 1st Q WHEN shall these things be
24 v45-51 Watchfulness at his coming
25 v1-13 The Ten Virgins
25 v14-30 The Talents
25 v31-46 The Judgement of the living nations

The Parable of the Ten virgins and the Parable of the Talents occur while Christ is explaining the answer to the first question - WHEN shall these things be?

(In this case the use of a parable is not to obscure the meaning of Christ’s teaching but to illustrate it for those who want to learn)

25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. :7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. :9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

The first thing we notice is that this parable is something to do with the Kingdom of Heaven v1 (The Messianic Kingdom promised in the OT and which will follow the Tribulation described in Ch 24)

In v 13 Christ gives us the main point and interpretation of the parable. He is saying that those who are Gods faithful people at the end of the Tribulation and who are waiting for the coming of Christ to the Marriage Feast, are to watch - because they will not know the day or the hour in which the Son of Man cometh.

(The oil signifies spirituality in scripture.) Those who are watching remain faithful to the LORD and remain in a state of readiness spiritually at the time of the bridegroom and the brides coming. The virgins are the Israelites who are waiting for the return of Christ and his Bride the Church - (the church has already been married to Christ in heaven but now the Bridal party are returning to earth for the Wedding Feast.)

It is important to note that this parable is about the Feast not the Marriage. Those who are not ready spiritually at Christ’s coming are not shut out of heaven! nor shut out of the Kingdom, but they are shut out of the Wedding Feast of the Bridegroom and his Bride. On that day All Israel will learn of the mystical union of Christ and the Church.

Steve

19/09/2009

Introduction to the New Testament

The Gospels
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the birth life and death and resurrection of the Messiah of Israel. They are not so much biographies but long sermons from differing perspectives. The four Gospel writers represent a cross section of society. Matthew was a civil servant for the Roman government. Mark was a member of a Levitical family, an assistant to Peter. Luke was a Greek physician and John was the owner of a medium sized fishing business. All four address a different public. The three Synoptic writers, Matthew Mark and Luke, address the three divisions of humanity, Israel, the Romans and the Greeks.

Matthew, a despised tax collector, describes the ministry of Christ to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’. Matthew gives us the Royal line of Jesus as ‘the Son of Abraham’ & ‘the Son of David’. The Jews understood these designations, ‘Son of Abraham’ and ‘Son of David’ as Titles of coming Messiah. In other words Matthew is introducing Jesus of Nazareth as Israel’s Messiah. The son of David was Solomon. But a greater than Solomon is here! In Christ’s early ministry he displays greater wisdom that Solomon, answering all of the most difficult questions and expounding the Law’s real significance with accuracy, precision and breathtaking clarity. The Son of Abraham was Isaac - the son of the father, who learned obedience by the things that he suffered. He was willing to do his father will in every circumstance of life and even to the point of being laid on the altar. But for Christ there would be no substitute. In Christ’s early ministry, Christ is ‘The Prophet’ who brings the message of God to Israel, a message of repentance. He is a greater prophet than Moses. In his later ministry he is the Priest and as Priest he offers himself as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He is a greater priest than Aaron. Constantly Christ looks forward to the day in which he will be crowned King and reign in righteousness and glory. He will be greater than Solomon. However, in this present interregnum, Christ is the High Priest of his people, the one who has entered the presence of God but who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmity.

Mark writes, on behalf of Peter, for the Roman world - the greatest military empire the world had ever seen. He stresses the virtues of immediate service and of obedience to authority. He reveals the Redeemer to be the Son of God and presents Jesus as the Servant / Prophet of Isaiah. He records no family tree. (Who is interested in the family tree of a Servant?) He introduces Christ straight away after giving his two references. There is no birth story or any reference to his childhood. Only one visit to Jerusalem is recorded and The sermon on the Mount is not included. The Romans were more interested in what you did, than what you said. In Mark the emphasis is on deliverance from demon possession, whereas in Matthew it is deliverance from disease and physical ailment. Mark records healings that are in response to urgent personal appeals.

Luke writes for the wider speaking Greek world, with its ideals of physical and intellectual human perfection. He presents Jesus as the Son of man, the perfect man, the Physician / Priest, the healer of broken humanity. He comes to be tender hearted and compassionate. Nearly 60% of Luke’s account is unique to himself, whereas Matthew has more than 40% and Mark only about 7%.

John is the last to write a Gospel. He finally picks up his pen to combat the heresies emerging in his day regarding the person of Jesus, he says that he writes that men might come to realise that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that on believing in him his readers might receive salvation – the very life of God. John brings us the largest contribution of unique material - approximately 93%. John reveals Christ to be the Creator/Incarnate, worshipped as ‘my Lord and my God’. He is also The Lord – The Redeemer. The Lamb of God who was offered for the whole world. That is why he recordes the superscription on the cross which was written, he says in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The Hebrews brought religion to the world. The Greeks brought culture to the world and the Romans brought unifying politics to the World. Adam was created to be the King of creation, the Prophet of God and the Priest of God. But in his sin he came under the Dominion of Satan, the Darkness of Ignorance and the Death of Separation from God. In OT times God raised up three offices that men might be anointed to – Prophet, Priest and King. In all three offices men were anointed with oil, a symbol of the spiritual life. (God always wants spiritual men and he gives his spirit to them to enable them in ministry). No man ever held all three offices in OT times but Christ takes all three, but not all at the same time. John writes for the whole world. ‘God so loved the world’ he says.

The Acts

Acts is the firstly, the continuation of Christ’s mission to Israel through the Apostles, until the rejection of the Gospel of Christ by the Jews through the whole Eastern Roman Empire and secondly the slow and steady growth of the mainly Gentile Church. Acts is the continuation of Christs ministry which was begun in Luke’s Gospel. After Pentecost there are three great divisions of humanity - Israel, the Gentiles and the Church.

The Church Epistles

In these Epistles Paul teaches Christian doctrine and practise to the church.

The Christian/Jewish Epistles

In these Epistles various authors give Christian teaching in a Jewish context

One of the most important things to understand is the dispensational change that occurs with the rejection of Christ by the Jewish people. Christ came to preach and minister only to Israel. He addressed only Israel and sent his disciples out only to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’. The message he brought was to a nation suffering under the chastening hand of God for their backslidings. Wherever he went he reversed the effects (sickness, disease and death) of their spiritual state performing Messianic signs to attest to his divine mission. During the first part of his ministry he calls on Israel to return to the Lord and to their obligations under the Mosaic Covenant. He preaches Law to those under the law but speaks too of the coming kingdom and the new covenant. He preaches the sermon on the mount specifically to combat the teaching of the religious leaders whose theology was so shallow. He addresses the faulty teaching of the Jewish Mishnah and expounds the real significance of the Mosaic law.. Wherever he goes He calls on Israel to repent and return to the LORD. However the religious leaders faced with their Messiah, reject his signs and seek to murder him. Christ at a significant moment turns from them and refuses to teach them anymore except by Parables – whereby they will hear but not understand. From now on the government of God will begin a long period of change. The Apostles by the time of Christ’s crucifixion are fully trained for their mission but lacking in spiritual power. After the resurrection they wait for the baptism of the whole church into the Holy Spirit. Now they are ready to face the whole Jewish world scattered through the Roman empire with their message of repentance to Israel. And so the Apostles go forth preaching the same message that John and Christ preached but now there is the added dimension of the Cross and in particular the resurrection and ascension. It is only after chapter 10 of Acts that a few gentiles are converted to Christ. And it eventually becomes apparent that the whole Mosaic system ended at the cross and that a new dispensation is now in operation. Paul is the one who more than any other brings the great doctrinal teaching of the dispensation of the Grace of God the church era. The Jew now stands with the heathen sinner on the same footing by virtue of the cross and instead of seeking to keep the Mosaic law can come in childlike faith and receive the very righteousness of Christ. There is a very real sense in which the Gospels do not contain the christian gospel at all. After all the cross and resurrection are not known by the disciples until after the events and so therefore the message preached by the church today is fundamentally different to the message of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and the seventy.

The doctrines of Grace and the doctrine of the Church are found in the Pauline Epistles rather than in the teachings of Christ in the Gospels.

The Jewish-Christian Epistles

In Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter and Jude we have a collection of writings which reflect the Christian message in a Jewish context. Hebrews was written specifically to ‘the Hebrews’. There maybe a prophetic element when for example James addresses his letter to the twelve tribes. Of course today the twelve tribes are not returned to the land as yet but one day they shall and then this epistle will take on a specific significance. Because they are addressed to Israel in a Jewish context they are addressed to a nation all of which are not believers in God. They are therefore addressed to a nation who have both believers and unbelievers in their number. This is not true of the Epistles of Paul to the churches. Therefore the Jewish/christian epistles are full of calls to legalistic obedience, to go on from faith to a life of godly works. The two epistles of Peter are not addressed so much in a Jewish frame yet Peter still ministers in a Jewish context. His second letter has only a slight Jewish touch.


Contents

Matthew Jesus the Messiah and King
Mark Jesus the Servant / Prophet
Luke Jesus the Son of Man
John Jesus the Son of God

Acts The Birth of the Church

Romans The Gospel of God
1 Corinithians How to live right for God
2 Corinithians Paul’s authority
Galatians In Christ we are free from the Law
Ephesians The Church the body of Christ
Philippians Joy in serving Christ
Collosians Christ is everything
1 Thessalonians Christ is coming for the Church
2 Thessalonians Christ is coming for Israel
1 Timothy Advise on Church leadership
2 Timothy Farewell, my son
Titus Living for God
Philemon Take your brother back

Hebrews Christ is sufficient for the christian
James A message to the twelve tribes of Israel
1 Peter Gods people in suffering
2 Peter Gods people in danger
1 John God is light
2 John Truth and love
3 John Live for God
Jude Valiant for the truth

Revelation Christ Revealed

steve

introduction to the Old Testament

Introduction to the Old Testament


The Bible which appears at first, to be the most simple and straightforward of books to read, is in fact a record of Gods message to mankind which covers the whole history of time. It was written by up to 40 writers and has a wide range of literary styles. Those who understand its message can never be thought of as ignorant but those who know little of the Bible can ever be described as educated. Once any serious minded person has begun to read the Bible it soon becomes apparent that help to understand its message is essential. The Ethiopian Eunuch said to Philip. ‘How can I, (understand it) except some man should guide me’? It is for this reason that l give this introduction.

The first thing to realise is that the Bible while it is made up of 66 books is nevertheless the whole message of God to mankind. It is firstly a revelation of God but it also includes specific messages from God to men for the times that men find themselves in. As CI Schofield once said, ‘The Bible is a progressive unfolding of truth. Nothing is told all at once, and once for all’. Never has there been a more insightful thing spoken in relation to the Bible. The one great theme of the Bible is the promised seed – Christ himself. Who is promised in Genesis and occupies the throne of heaven in Revelation. The one great crisis of world history is the Cross of Christ. Eternity past had no other future and eternity future has no other past. It is the central event of all time, the heart of the gospel and the one theme of eternal worship.

One of the things that becomes apparent, when reading the Bible, is that God has revealed himself progressively and that God holds men responsible at each stage to the revelation that he has given at that time. In the Garden of Eden the Lord placed before man a simple clear commandment but he fell in sin and was banished from the presence of God. Never again in the history of the world will man find himself in the same situation again - Paradise was forever lost. And so the period of innocence was lost and man moves out into a world of thorns and thistles and the first man to be born murders his own brother, the second man to be born. From this time onward the path is downward into sin and wickedness. Often God has to step in, in premature judgment, to bring to an abrupt end the wickedness of men and in doing so he preserves life and the promised seed. The other thing we notice is that after the call of Abraham the focus of the Revelation of God is on one small middle eastern family and from Genesis 11 onward the story of the Bible is the development of this family into a nation under God - in covenant. And how God works with this nation bringing them into their own land and blessing them beyond their dreams. Its also the history of these people and of how their Messiah eventually appeared but was rejected by them and how he became the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the whole world. Its also the ongoing story of how this nation continued to reject his Messianic claims until the nation was finally destroyed by the Roman legions in AD70. The New Testament follows the Old Testament containing a body of literature which is written by a new group of believers called ‘The Church’ who live in an interregnum, while Israel is in a state of denial of their Messiah. For the first time in human history there are three great divisions of humanity - Israel, the Gentiles and the Church. The Church is brought into the blessing which Israel will enjoy in a future day – the New Covenant. But in the meanwhile men are saved by Faith in Christ and in his atoning work accomplished at the Cross. The New Testament contains a number of letters which contain doctrine and teaching for the development and regulation of Church life. The later part of the New Testament include a number of Christian letters written in a Jewish context and finally John writes his prophesy outlining the whole close of human history.

01/09/2009

The Old Covenant and the New - A Contrast

A contrast between the Old Covenant of Moses and the New Covenant.

Jer 31v31: Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34: And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

From this description of the New Covenant we see a number of points.

1. The New Covenant is New – Its realisation is future not past
2. It will be made with the house of Israel and Judah. – It’s a Jewish Covenant
3. It is not like the Mosaic Covenant – which was broken like a divorce
4. There are three key aspects of it
a. The new birth. The Law of God will be in their inward parts – on their minds.
John 3v3: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Entrance into the Kingdom and the New Covenant will be by the new birth.
b. They will know total forgiveness of sins for the first time (Acts 13v39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.)
c. The indwelling Holy Spirit
Eze 36v27: And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28: And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Eze 37v14: And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
Joel 2v28: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30: And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.)

There are some that think that the Mosaic Law is an eternal covenant. This is not true. Gal 3v19: Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; The time limit was the coming of Christ to Israel. when Hebrews was being written the Old Covenant was old and ready to vanish away.
Heb 8v13: In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
We the church receive the blessings of the new Covenant before it is offered to Israel.
The three aspects are the seen in Christians i.e. the new birth, Forgiveness of sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Steve

31/08/2009

Has there always been faith?

Paul says

22: But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23: But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25: But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

You say that...
faith has always been what makes us righteous and saves us

My answer...
Yes its only faith that saves yet, l ask faith in what? The OT saints had no faith in the atoning work of Christ. The OT saints did not even know that Christ would die for sin. Now if they didnt know that Christ was going to die and its certain that they did not then they had no faith in the atonement of Christ. Without faith in the atonement of Christ there is no salvation!

In the above passage Paul says that...
22: But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

And here it is...
23: But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

So Paul is saying that in the era of the Mosaic law men were 'shut up unto faith' In other words they were in a situation which was 'before faith'. Now Faith existed then obviouisly (It was faith in Gods word and commandments) but not Faith in Christs atoning work.

Then Paul goes on to say...
24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25: But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Now Paul repeats the same thought but in a different way, that when the Old Covenant was finally fulfilled in Christ established a new era that we might call The era of the New Covenant.

He says,'But after faith has come'.
Now we are living in the age of Faith in the atoning work of Christ.
Before the cross the Apostles knew about Christ and believed he was the Messiah and they believed in the OT and the promises yet none of these things save the soul. Only faith in Christs atoning work. Before the cross they didnt even believe that Christ was going to die, Inspite of being told three times.

The Old covenant was a covenant of works based on law, but the New Covenant is a covenant of new birth based on faith in Christs atoning work.

Its not faith that saves. There are people who believe that God exists that are not saved. Nicodemus was like this. There are people who worship God. Preach the word. They do Believe the scriptures yet are not saved.

Why is that?

Because they do not believe the good news that Christ has died for their sins. They either do not know about this or they do not believe it and therefore they are not born again.

Now does this mean that they do not have an experience of God? No of course not. There are many people who look up into the heavens and believe in God and at some level they worship God but thats not salvation.

Your thoughts are welcome

Steve

Understanding the Bible

Understanding the Bible


It is often said that there is a consistent theology right through the Bible and that Man has an unchanging relationship with God in all ages from Adam to Revelation.

That David has the same relation to God as do you.

That Gods dealings with mankind have never changed.

However we must understand that our Bibles contain two parts the OLD TESTEMENT – NEW TESTAMENT.

Have you ever tried to do a jigsaw?

Imagine that you struggle to make the pieces fit until it suddenly emerges that there are actually two jig saw puzzles in the box not one. Suddenly it becomes clearer what is your task. The first task is to understand the whole pictures and see the differences to enable you to get the clear picture.

There is a fundamental change between the OT and the NT.

Christ said…
Matthew 26v26: And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27: And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28: For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29: But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

Paul said…
1Cor 11v This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

2 Cor 3v: Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7: But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9: For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10: For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11: For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 12: Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

Hebrews 9v15: And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16: For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17: For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 18: Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19: For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20: Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21: Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22: And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. 23: It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24: For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26: For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The word Testament means Covenant

Actually in the Bible there are not just two testaments but eight.

So instead of just two jig saws there are eight jig saws!! The Bible now appears a bit more complex that was originally thought. However once the eight pictures can be seen the whole Bible starts to become so, so much clearer.

Lets look at the eight Covenants...

1. The Edenic Covenant
2. The Adamic Covenant
3. The Noahic Covenant
4. The Abrahamic Covenant
5. The Mosaic Covenant
6. The Palestinian covenant
7. The Davidic Covenant
8. The New Covenant

Before we look at each covenant first we must realise that there are two types of Covenant

There are conditional covenants and unconditional covenant

In the Conditional Covenants we find the formula – If you will,..... then l will. We find that Obedience brings blessing and that Failure bring judgment. There are two Covenants like this Edenic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.

In the Unconditional Covenants we find the formula – I will.- period. These covenants are a Sovereign act of God and of his intension to bless. The Blessings of God are secured by the Grace of God alone. there are six Unconditional Covenants
1. Adamic Covenant
2. Noahic Covenant
3. Abrahamic Covenant
4. Palestinian covenant
5. Davidic Covenant
All of these covenants are still in force today
6. The New Covenant is a covenant that the LORD will make with Israel and Judah in a coming day but in which the church enjoys the spiritual blessings today.

The Covenants with Israel number five. The four unconditional covenants with Israel are Literal covenants, Eternal, they are not broken by disobedience, they are ONLY to Israel, Roms 9v4
Eph 2v11,12 The One Conditional covenant with Israel is the Mosaic Covenant.

Now lets go through the eight covenants

1. The Edenic Covenant - Gen 1v28-30 – (Hosea 6v7)
In this Covenant is between Adam and God. Adam is representative head of the whole human race – thus the actions of Adam are attributed to all men
There are seven provisions of the Covenant
i. Be fruitful and multiply 1v28
ii. Subdue the earth 1v28
iii. Dominion 1v28
iv. Diet 1v29-30 2v16
v. Dress and keep the garden 2v15
vi. Forbidden to eat – Tree 2v17
vii. The warning of Spiritual death 2v17
This conditional Covenant was broken and man was banished from the Garden of Eden

2. The Adamic covenant - Gen 3v14-19
This Covenant is between Adam as representative of the whole human race again
However there are four provisions mentioned in the four principle characters
i. The Serpent 3v14
ii. Satan 3v15
iii. Woman 3v16
iv. Man 3v17,19
This Covenant is unconditional and is still in force today. That is why women have pain in childbirth, and man sweat over their work. It will cease when the Second man the last Adam comes to establish a kingdom that will be Edenic in character.

3. The Noahic Covenant - Gen 9v1-17
This covenant is with Noah as head of the Human race - after the flood
There are eight provisions of the Covenant
i. Repopulation of the earth
ii. The fear of man - animals
iii. Diet will include flesh
iv. No blood to be eaten
v. Capitol punishment
vi. The promise of no flood ever again
vii. The Token – rainbow
viii. The seasons will not cease
This covenant is thankfully unconditional

4. The Abrahamic Covenant - Gen 12v1-3, 12v7, 13v14-17, 15v1-21, 17v1-21 22v15-18
This covenant is with Abraham as representative head of the nation of Israel
There are fourteen provisions of the Covenant
i. A great nation
ii. Land - River of Egypt to the Euphrates
iii. Abraham greatly blessed
iv. Abrahams name would be great
v. Abrahams a blessing to others
vi. Those who bless Israel will be blessed
vii. Those who curse Israel will be cursed
viii. In Abraham All will be blessed one day
ix. A Son – Sarah
x. Children – Egypt
xi. Other nations from Abraham
xii. Name changed
xiii. Sarah’s name changed
xiv. Circumcision
d. Confirmed in Isaac, Jacob and his sons
This is an unconditional covenant. The Palestinian and Davidic covenants are part of this covenant. It is fully fulfilled in the New Covenant.

5. The Mosaic Covenant - Ex 20v1 all the way to Deu 28v68
This covenant was ONLY with Jehovah and Israel. Ex 19v3-8 Deu 4v7-8 Psa 147v19-20 Mal 4v4
There are seven Provisions of the Covenant
i. The Whole Law 613 - Mitzvot
ii. Conditional Covenant - Blessings and Curses
iii. Blood sacrificial system
iv. Diet restrictions Clean – Unclean
v. Capitol punishment expanded
vi. Sign of the Covenant Circumcision
vii. Token of the Covenant Sabbath observance – only for Israel not Church
viii. Ended at the Cross Rom 10v4 2Cor 3v3-11 Gal 3v19-29 Eph 2v11-18 Heb 7v11-12, 18
ix. The Law of Moses did not end with his coming but with his death.

6. The Palestinian Covenant - Deu 29v1-30v30
This Covenant is with God and Israel
There are eight Provisions of the Covenant
i. Disobedience of Israel
ii. Future repentance
iii. Messiah will return
iv. Israel will be regathered
v. Israel to possess the land
vi. Israel to be regenerated
vii. The Enemies of Israel to be judged
viii. Israel to be blessed

7. The Davidic Covenant - 1 Sam 7v11-16, 1 Chron 17v10-14
This Covenant was with God and David as King of Israel
There are seven provisions of the covenant
i. Eternal Dynasty
ii. Solomon to be established on the throne
iii. Temple
iv. Throne of David’s Kingdom to be forever
v. Gods loving kindness to Solomon
vi. Solomon king forever
vii. Christ throne house kingdom forever

Lastly the New Covenant

8. The New Covenant - Jeremiah 31v31-34
This is a Covenant with God and Israel Isa 55v3 61v8-9 Jer 32v40 Eze 16v60 34v25-31 37v26-28 Rom 11v26-27
There are nine provisions of the New Covenant
i. Unconditional covenant between God and both houses of Israel
ii. Distinct from the Mosaic covenant Jer 31v32
iii. Salvation to Israel – regeneration Jer 31v33 Isa 59v21
iv. It will be universal to all Jews. Jer 31v34 Isa 61v9
v. It will include forgiveness of sins Jer 31v34
vi. It will include the indwelling Holy Spirit Jer 31v33 Eze 36v27
vii. Material blessings Isa 61v8 Jer 32v41 Eze 34v25-27
viii. New Temple Whole of Eze
ix. The Law of the Messiah Rom 8v2 Gal 6v2

So how the church fits in!
There is a false teaching called Replacement theology, which says that the Church replaces Israel. This is not true at all. The truth is explained in Eph 2v11-16 Eph 3v5-6. The blessings to the church are ‘Spiritual’ not Physical.
There is another false teaching that Christians become Jews!! This is not true either. Gentiles are included in the New Covenant Rom 15v25-27

The New Covenant is unconditional.

When thinking about the difference between the OT and the NT the main contrast is between the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant. In Romans and Hebrews the writers concentrate on this contrast.

There are at least six differences between the Old Covenant the OT and the New Covenant the NT

1. The New Covenant is unconditional covenant between God the believer - and is based on Faith and Grace.
2. The New Covenant is the basis of the blessing of God for Christians
3. The New Covenant is based on regeneration
4. The New Covenant includes forgiveness of sins
5. The New Covenant includes the indwelling Holy Spirit
6. The New Covenant includes material blessings however this is not for the christian. The Land, the Temple and the material wealth of Israel is part of the earthly Kingdom but our inheritance is heavenly.

Rom 8v1: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Gal 6v2: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Steve

22/08/2009

I am the true Vine

I have struggled with the concept of fruit and fruit bearing for quite a while. In the Gospels Christ is addressing Israel of course and we as christians need to be careful how we apply things regarding Israel to NT believers.

Often John 15, where Christ talks about the true vine, is applied to christians and the general challenge to fruit bearing goes out to christians however l believe that this is incorrect.

Lets look at the scriptures to see how the word vine is used.
The vine is mentioned in the life of Noah and the dream of Joseph. In Genesis 49 we have a prophecy of the foal being brought to the vine this is a prophesy regarding the Kingdom. Next we are told in the law the regulations regarding keeping vines. On and on the references come and on each occasion the vines spoken of are real physical vines every time. As the focus of the OT increases on the coming kingdom so the vine becomes a symbol of rich blessing which will be enjoyed by Gods people in the Kingdom.
In Psa 8 for the first time the vine is used metaphorically of Israel.
7: Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 8: Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.
14: Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;
in Psa 128 the image of the vine is used metaphorically for a mans wife...
3: Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
In Isaiah 5 the prophet gives a parable of a vineyard that will be destroyed even as Israel will be destroyed.
1: Now will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3: And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4: What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5: And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7: For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
So Isaiah now brings the OT references to the Vine and the vineyard into its full significance.
He says...
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant:
I believe that this is the imagery that Christ speaks of in John 15.
In Luke 20 Christ says...
9: Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. 10: And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. 11: And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12: And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. 13: Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. 14: But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15: So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 16: He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
The religious leaders were very familiar with the link between the image of the Vine and Israel as a nation. In this parable Christ takes the image from Psa 8 and Isa and describes a vineyard in which the servants who are to look after it refuse the messengers sent to it and finally kill the Owners Son. Then Christ poses a rhetorical question What will the owner of the vineyard do? And he answers his own question - He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
What did the king want of the men who were looking after the vineyard? He wanted fruit.
Then we turn to John 15 and Christ addresses his disciples who in this passage are the true representatives of Israel.
The disciples were the true alternative leaders of Israel and in a coming day they will in fact take the leadership of Israel. Christ was raising up a new leadership in Israel.
In Matthew 19v28 Christ said...And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29: And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30: But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
The regeneration is the new birth of the Nation of Israel in the Kingdom. At that time the Apostles will sit on twelve thrones to exercise judicial rule over Israel. Then it will be said that the decisions they make will be ratified in heaven. - Matthew 16v19: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. The men who had the keys were the magistrates and they sat in the gate of the city and opened and shut the gate and executed judgment on the citizens.

Now lets get back to the True Vine.
1: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2: Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3: Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6: If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7: If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Christ says firstly, I AM the TRUE VINE. He is saying Israel is the vine of the LORD but I AM the TRUE VINE. Christ is saying l am the Messiah of Israel. Then he says...6: If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Now this cannot be said of the least christian. No christian for lack of fruitfulness is cast into the fire. But Israel? that is a very different thing altogether. Israel is made up of a mixed multitude. there are those who are righteous and those who are unrighteous (That can never be said of the church, In the Church the - the true church there are only the saved and they have the very righteousness of Christ) And there are those in Israel that are unrighteous. How does the Lord judge Israel? He judges them on the basis of the righteous life lived under the law. If a man does that which the law demanded he is righteous and will be raised from the dead to receive eternal life in the kingdom. The christian is not like this, he has eternal life now on earth before he goes to heaven.

So what does God look for in a man who lives under law? He looks for righteousness. And the righteous deeds he does are the fruit of the inner man.

Steve

28/07/2009

Dubious Practises - Dangerous Concepts

1. Healing

a. A concept that God wants to heal everyone all the time
b. A refusal to accept that the Apostolic healings were signs from God to Israel
c. A fear of sickness or of common aliments
d. A trivialising of Gods power to the mundane

This is one of the most common things in the churches and missions of today. Christians talk of healing all the time yet have no biblical understanding of its true significance.

Some Christians pray if they have a mild head ache or think that God should heal them because they feel a slight twinge which is more common as one gets older.

I do believe in God and l believe that God can heal. I also believe that faith can heal, however l do not believe in the modern healing movement one bit.

Let me tell you why.
I offered to take a local faith healer to the hospital to show me his gift in action. He declined. Then l would have taken him to the crematorium. Now that would have caused a fuss!!

No, The Apostolic gift of healing was not just to show
kindness to the sick The Apostolic healings were signs from the LORD to Israel (He confirmed his prophets with 'signs following') I believe that the Apostolic signs of healing/death tongues/interpretation prophecy/knowledge are not in existence today - because they were signs from God to unbelieving Jews.

However l do believe in God and in his power.

Has it ever occurred to you that Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel or the twelve Minor prophets and John the Baptist never healed anyone!!!

Nor did Augustine, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Theodorate, Cyril of Alexandria, Boethius, Bede the Venerable, John Scotus Erigena, Peter Waldo, Bernard of Clairaux, Bonaventure, Don Scotus, John Wycliffe, Geert de Groote, John Huss, Christian David, Martyn Luther, Hugh Latimer, Zwingli. John Calvin, Theodore Beza, Richard Baxter, George Fox, John Bunyan, Count Zinzendorf, John Wesley, Daniel Rowland, Howell Harris, George Whitfield, Christmas Evans, William Carey, Anthony Norris Groves, George Muller, David Morgan, Humphrey Jones, Hudson Taylor, CH Spurgeon, Charles Finney, BB Warfield, Gladys Aylward, Gypsy Smith, Harry Ironside, Moody, LS Chafer, JN Darby, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Billy Graham, Nate Saint, John Hyde, Harold StJohn, George Verwer or John Stott.

So lets not run away with the idea that faith healing is a common thing.
Did God hear their prayers? Of course.
Did God heal someone occasionally? - no doubt, But none of them were 'faith healers'.

Miracles in scripture are in fact infrequent.

They occur at the beginning of a new ministry and
especially regarding Israel. For example in the life of Moses-Aaron, Elijah-Elisha, Christ-his Apostles.



2. Touch

a. An increase of the use of touch in everyday life.
b. A use of touch in prayer groups – holding hands etc
c. The idea that the laying on of hands is the means of spiritual blessing or the actual reception of the Spirit.
d. The touching of sacred things such as crosses, Bibles etc

Often Christians increase the touching of one another which is a sign of closeness and empathy. This use of touch can be symbolic of greater christian fellowship. But it can be an invasion of personal space and an interruption of normal social conventions. Often christians get over attached to ‘sacred things’ such as ‘christian’ jewellery or books such as their bible. They feel that God is present when they touch or are near these ‘things’. This is a form of idolatry.

3. Speaking in tongues

a. The idea of speaking in tongues as appropriate today and even in private.
b. The idea that speaking in tongues has magical powers

The apostolic gift of tongues was given as a sign to the Jews of the validity of the Gospel message being preached. It was always a sign gift to unbelievers not to believers. It was the actual speaking of a language that one had not learnt but it was always accompanied by another companion who also had exactly the same gift who could interpret the language for those who were listening. The idea that is was not a language or that it was a ‘heavenly’ language is just plain untrue.
Some christians are taught to not think and begin speaking any phrases that sound like a foreign language and this is how one learns tongues. This is self deception based on ignorance and peer pressure.

4. Prophesy

a. The idea that everyone can speak directly from God to people in a manner that is from God.
b. The idea that whatever comes into you mind is from God.
c. The idea that christians receive direct revelations from God all the time
d. The idea that certain people have a private hot line to God.

The Apostolic gift of speaking directly from God was a gift given before the coming of the NT scriptures and it enabled believers to be taught and edified until scripture was complete. Those who had this gift could say… Thus saith the Lord…etc etc. This gift is not in operation today. All prophesy in this sense has been superseded by the preaching of the Word.

5. Worship

a. The idea that worship is the main emphasis in a service rather than the ministry of the Word.
b. The idea that worship is a highly emotional ecstatic experience

The great emphasis is on worship rather than the preaching of the Word. The time period for preaching is drastically reduced and the worship period increased. The introduction of ‘New Ministries’ such as ‘song leader’ ‘worship leader’ is a symptom of this emphasis The modern idea that worship is a highly charged experience of God in which the worshippers get more and more emotional and mentally distracted is a false idea. The last fruit of the Spirit is self control. Self control will be greatly enhanced as one is filled more by the Spirit.

6. The idea that the Holy Spirit is to come

a. The modern idea that the Church does not have the Holy Spirit and that we are to pray for his coming is incorrect.
b. The idea that individual christians need to receive the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit has been given by Christ to the Church and he remains with us forever. All believers have the Holy Spirit at the time of their conversion. However christians can be filled with the Spirit to enable them to minister for Christ. This is an act of faith and a willingness to submit to the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit.

7. The Spiritualisation of locations

a. The idea that certain places are holy or sacred and that other places are evil.
b. The use of phrases such as ‘holy place’, ‘House of God’.
c. The concept that we call God into our presence or that we enter into his presence

Since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem there is No Holy place. No specific location for God’s presence. Christians are to get away from the idea that we come into the presence of God

8. Spiritual warfare

a. An emphasis on the idea of ‘Spiritual warfare’.
b. Walking around ‘a territory’,
c. Binding and releasing,
d. Praying against, praying over.
e. An emphasis on fear of Satan and demons
f. A so-called ability to see demonic activity

Some christians are absorbed with the ideas of ‘spiritual warfare’. They think that they are involved in an actual fight. They think in terms of ‘gaining ground’ or ‘standing sure’ as if they are on an actual battlefield. This is naive in the extreme. There are Spiritual battles but we are no real match in the spiritual realm if only we knew. Some christians think they can ‘cast spells’ which they call binding and loosing. They speak of praying against or praying over something or someone. There is an over emphasis on Satan and demonic activity. This becomes a diversion in itself and Satan absorbs their energy and diverts them from their real mission of preaching the Gospel.

9. Prayer

a. The idea that a christian is able to speak things into existence
b. The practise of chaotic prayer, which is everyone speaking together.
c. The practise of emptying of the mind in prayer.

The idea that Christians have creatorial power is more common that it might appear. Christians are not able to say magic words to bring things into being. Sometimes christians think that prayer is best when everyone prays together in a cacophony of noise and chaos. This is often accompanied by a working up of emotional feeling into a crescendo of emotion. This ecstasy of thought of as being truly spiritual. Some Christians think that prayer is the emptying of the mind into a state of non thinking. Prayer is an intelligent conversation with God.

10. Emotion

a. An emphasis on how you are feeling.
b. The idea that we should be open to new people and new ideas without discernment
c. The idea that when we feel good that is Gods blessing

This is a very common thing among women and certain men who like to play on emotions. The emphasis is on how one is feeling at the time and this sense of wellbeing is interpreted to mean that one is in the blessing of God. This is inspite of the fact that scripture teaches that all the emotions of life and circumstances are not at all linked to spirituality. Christ even hinted at this in the Sermon on the Mount when he said Blessed are the poor in Spirit and Blessed are they that mourn. Our feelings may be up and down – some more than others but they have no relation to spirituality or our true relationship with the Lord.

11. Finding Gods will

a. An emphasis on visions, visions and even more visions.
b. The simplistic idea that good events are from God and all adverse events are from Satan.
c. A general lack of christian discernment.
d. Bibliomancy

This is a very important area of christian understanding. There is nothing more important than knowing Gods will, however immature christians often slip into over simplistic ideas which are a diversion from the real understanding and knowledge of the will of God.

Some christians think that Gods will is to be discerned by the receiving of visions yet they fail to realise that visions in scripture where given in the absence of specific scripture. They are often given to men who are outside of the nation of Israel and who have to turn to men of Israel for its interpretation. Most of the time the visions are not understood. The proliferation of visions of the most obscure nature are very common among certain types of christians who seem to place great emphasis on them.

Some Christians seem to think that every little event of life like missing a bus or the fact that it is sunny or raining are signs from God which tell them which way they should go. Christians should avoid an over simplification of the providence of God and an over superstitious view of ordinary events. These people mistakenly think that every good event is from God and that every adverse event is from Satan. In this way it becomes very easy for Satan to deceive these people anytime he wishes.

Some christians take a very simplistic view in relation to discernment. They seem to lack even the common sense they were born with and do things that are not only absurd but which even ordinary men would consider to be ridiculous. This path is then defended as ‘Gods will’ and anyone who questions it as persecuting them.

Some christians use the Bible as a sort of luck dip. They use it a sort of repository of fortune cookies, they only have to open it randomly to find a verse which will be ‘Gods will’. They don’t know what to make of… ‘Judas went and hanged himself’…followed by…’Go and do thou likewise’.

The discernment of Gods will is the most important thing to learn. The willing christian will always find Gods will when the Lord time comes to reveal it to him. However the Lord has a thousand ways to reveal it and the christian must place himself in a position of willingness to receive do it and patience to wait on God.

12. Diversion

a. An emphasis on anything apart from the simple preaching of the Gospel.
b. An involvement in mission activities that have a ‘mysterious’ aspect.

Napoleon said, ‘It is amazing what people believe provided it is not in the Bible’. The same is true of Christian work. It is amazing what christian missions do that is not specifically the preaching of the Gospel. Christians are often diverted into a thousand types of activity rather that the one thing of Prayer and the Ministry of the Word. I say one thing because Prayer and the ministry of the word are actually one ministry.
And so they become involved in Bible bookshops, Hospital work, Rescue missions, Homelessness, Challenging Abuse, Challenging religion, Challenging Social ills, Challenging the Politician’s. Counselling. Praying for sicknesses. Giving out literature by the 1000’s. Placards. March’s, Protests, Testimonies, Singing. Discussions. Dialogue etc etc. Everything and everything apart from the simple preaching of the word. Now I’m not saying that all these things have no place, what l am saying is that they should have second place. Prayer and the ministry of the Word should have first place.

13. Evangelism

a. An emphasis on not speaking about the Lord directly
b. An emphasis on a non direct approach in evangelism
c. A lack of evangelistic teaching to the participants
d. A general lack of evangelistic ability or experience

There is the idea of pre-evangelism, bridge building, ‘being present’ in the community. But No evangelism has happened until we preach the Gospel. Often Christians get sidetracked into questionnaires, or discussions and debates. We might even get to the absurdity of asking a godless man what his opinion is of the holiness of God as if he has anything to say whatsoever. Then we might even disgrace ourselves by giving him the respect due to his opinion. The Gospel is not an argument to be won. It is not a concept to be understood. It is not a thing to learn. It is a message to be delivered. It is the message of God to men and their response is to believe it. Its is as simple as that. The Gospel is a declaration of God which silences men in conviction and converts men in faith.
Some christians think that they can go out into the streets just to give their testimony but that is not evangelism – that’s testimony. Some christians think that there is nothing to learn about evangelism however Christ thought differently. He said, ‘Follow me and l will teach you to become fishers of men’.
The work of the evangelist is a specific gift from Christ to the Church in which he gives the supernatural gift of evangelistic ability. These men and women are the most misunderstood and undervalued christians of the church. Everything is focused on the Pastor in Church life and little if any attention is given to the evangelist.
Some christians go out to evangelise with no actual understanding of what they are doing and no training, thinking that this work is just simple, Its not!

14. Domination

a. The practise of dominating believers under the guise of obedience to elders.
b. The idea that we are to submit to leaders even when they are clearly not acting in a Christ-like manner.
c. The abuse of christians under the disguise of discipleship by giving them things to do that are deliberately uncomfortable or disgusting

This is a very important thing to understand. There was a strong movement called the Shepherding movement in which christians were bullied and coerced into very unhealthy relationships with strong cultic leaders. These leaders were either evil or extremely na├»ve. They bullied their ‘converts’ into a form of submission that created a very strange and dangerous relationship. This was the very reverse of the scriptural teaching of Discipleship. Discipleship is the spiritual development of those who want to serve God to empower them and develop them personally to discover and exercise their spiritual gifts. The beginning of the abuse of Christians is the challenge of the will to do some act that is repulsive or difficult in the guise of submitting to Gods will. This begins a downward path into servitude.

15. Extra biblical teaching

a. An emphasis on teaching that is either absent in scripture or has no specific relation to scripture. Such as ‘The Father heart of God’.
b. The use of Unbiblical terminology.
c. The use of teaching that has come from visions of a prophet’s new revelations.

There is a strong emphasis by some christians on teachings which have little or no support from scripture. And of course the list of subjects is endless. It includes ‘The Father heart of God’, Doctrines of Demons. Angelogy etc etc. Often these people bring up new words which summarise concepts which are not biblical. Very great care needs to be exercised to discern these errors. If new words or concepts are introduced then this concept should be written down and kept as a separate issue before it permeates your thinking.
Some christians say Oh the Bible was ok for the past but we are living in a modern world and the Lord has got new things for us.
Some leaders say that we are now moving into a new wave of freedom in the Spirit which previous generations never knew. This then opens the door for ANYTHING new!

16. Family relations

a. The separation of Family relations.
b. The emphasis on the mission as ‘a family’
c. The criticism or demonization of family relations

Often Christians try to separate family and friends from christians involved in missions, because as the old family ties are broken so the mission becomes the new family. The leaders are thought of a ‘spiritual fathers’. (this is inspite of the fact that Christ forbad the use of the term Father and of its meaning as spiritual leadership)
Of course family ties are never to be broken EVER. They are the very basis of our personality and the rock foundation of our lives. Christian leaders should never disagree with parental or Spouse opinions and should encourage the maintenance of family bonds. Cult leaders always try to demonise family to remove these links and to cause their followers to cling to them.







Appendix 1.

A description of the Apostolic Ministry

In this passage the Lord explains the whole of the Apostolic ministry. Which began during Christ’s lifetime and continued while the Apostles lived and is described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Matthew 10.
1: And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
2: Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3: Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4: Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
5: These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7: And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
9: Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10: Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
11: And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12: And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13: And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14: And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15: Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
16: Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17: But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18: And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19: But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20: For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21: And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22: And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
23: But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Notice a number of things.
1. The apostles specifically had power over demons and sickness and disease.
2. The Apostles are Named as a group of twelve men. There are no Apostles in this sense today.
3. The Apostolic ministry was confined specifically to Israel called – the Lost sheep of the house of Israel.
4. The Apostolic message was a national call to Israel that they might return to the Lord because the Messianic kingdom was very near
5. The Apostolic signs were - Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. These were not ordinary miracles by men who were empowered by the Spirit, rather they were Miracles which the Rabbis had come to understand as being only able to be performed by the Messiah. These Messianic signs were described as.
a. The Cleansing the leper
b. The Restoration of sight to a man born blind
c. The Healing of a man who had never walked
d. The Raising from the dead of a man who had been dead four days
e. The Deliverance of a man who had a demon which makes him dumb.
6. The Apostolic method was.
a. To take no money
b. To take no spare clothing but to rely on Jewish traditional charity.
c. To stay with those who are worthy – and to not move.
d. To salute the house
e. To let the Shalom come on them or not.
f. To shake the dust.
g. The twofold principle of welcome, i.e. receiving and hearing.
h. Their spirit was to be wise and harmless
7. The Apostolic persecution by the Jews is predicted
8. The Apostolic mission will be incomplete

All of the Apostolic signs were signs specifically toward the Jews.
They include, Knowledge/Prophesy. Healing/Death. Tongues/Interpretation.

All these signs were given by God specifically to Israel and were indicative of a nation in a state of rejection.






Appendix 2

Other scriptures related to Signs

Here are a few scriptures that have bearing on the subject.

John 6v29: Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30: They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

The Jews understood that God gave them signs and so they asked Christ for a sign. However at this time they were refusing to accept the Messianic signs already given and so Christ refuses to cast his pearls before swine.

Acts 2v22: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Here Peter is addressing Israel. He says Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs. The Signature of God was upon his ministry by the miracles, wonders and signs which accompanied his preaching.

Acts 2v43: And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

The Apostles where still only preaching to Jews (Even as far as chapter 10 they were preaching only to Jews and later they continued to preach to Jews while occasionally preaching to gentiles too) The Apostolic ministry to Israel was characterised by Wonders and signs.

Acts 4v29: And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30: By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

After the Apostles were warned not to preach Jesus as the Messiah any more, the church did not cower away they asked God for boldness and for MORE Apostolic signs.

Acts 5v11: And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. 12: And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.

The effect of the Apostolic sign of death on Ananias and Sapphira was that the fear of the Lord came upon the Church. And many more signs and wonders were done among the people.

Acts 8v13: Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Some of the Apostolic signs were performed by those who were not Apostles, Philip performed miracles and signs to the Jews that he met.

Acts 14v1: And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. 2: But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 3: Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

In the Jewish Synagogue Paul performed signs and wonders.

Romans 15v18: For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19: Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Here Paul describes the signs and wonders that he did at Illyricum. These were all for the benefit of the Jews there.

1Cor 1v22: For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

Paul states the principle of how nationalities are reached with the Gospel and what appeals to them. He says the Jews require a sign from God. This takes us back to the first day when Moses stood before the burning bush and he asked what sign he would take to Israel to prove his authority to be their delieverer.

1Cor 14v22: Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Her Paul states unequivocally that the gift of tongues was a sign not to believers (they don’t need a sign from God because they already believe God) but for unbelievers. So the Gift of Tongues was an Apostolic sign to unbelieving Jews.

Hebrews 2v3: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4: God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

The writer to the Hebrews gives the true significance of signs – that is they were a witness to the authority of the messenger in this case Christ himself.


Steve
Shrewsbury 2009