Wednesday, September 30, 2009

God’s Glorious Gospel

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21: 1-7)

The matter of the new heavens and new earth can be quite overwhelming.
It is God’s ultimate intention.
It is the very last revelation God has given to us.
He has not revealed anything beyond the establishment of that new creation.
We can get very caught up with THIS world and OUR lives that we forget that God is moving towards something beyond the here and now. Even the (wrong) perception of “heaven” being our eternal destiny tends to keep our minds fixed on this world, giving the impression that everything will continue on as always: the only difference being a change of residence from earth to heaven as we each reach the end of our earthly life.

The fact is that this world is coming to an end. This world was NEVER intended to be permanent. It was GOOD when God created it but it was never intended to be His BEST.
From the beginning this world had a limited use. It could never go on forever. This can be seen in God’s command to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”
Has anyone ever considered what the outcome would be if man had never sinned (and therefore death had not been introduced) and had continued to be fruitful, increasing in number… how long would it have taken for the world to become impossibly crowded?
That makes it clear that the maintenance of this world was never God’s intention.

Scripture shows us that God’s ultimate goal has always been a new heavens and new earth which will be the home of righteousness. That is the climax of God’s revealed plan for His creation.

The current creation ALWAYS had a potential for sin. The new creation will have NO potential for sin. The potential for sin was necessary to ensure that God could obtain a willingly obedient people to adopt into His family. Willingness requires the provision of a genuine choice. Such a choice also presents the possibility of wilful disobedience. That of course was the outcome when Adam and Eve willingly disobeyed God’s sole prohibition in eating the forbidden fruit an act that led to condemnation for all men.

Of course God was not taken by surprise. He had foreknown Adam’s sin and a plan for man’s redemption had been ordained even before the world had been created. This plan is glorious beyond our comprehension. It enabled the salvation of mankind without being dependant upon anything within mankind. Sinful man could do NOTHING to bring himself again into right relationship with a Holy, just and righteous God. But God didn’t leave man in that helpless and hopeless situation. While man had no power to save Himself, God was more than able and willing.

It is impossible to adequately describe God’s means of saving mankind. Words like glorious, amazing, brilliant and extraordinary are all inadequate. It has incredible breadth and countless facets, all of which turn the focus back on the redeeming creator instead of the redeemed creature.
He has provided a way through which all of mankind has the opportunity to be freed from the sin that has separated us from Him. That way is an expression of God’s mercy, His love and His justice. It is not arbitrary and favours no individual above another. Mankind is given both freedom and responsibility, making us accountable for our sin but giving us the opportunity to be freed from it. God’s justice demands that sin be punished, and in His mercy He Himself took the punishment for our sin.

All of this is part of God’s grand plan. It all fits together. From the initial creation followed by Adam’s sin right through to the destruction of this world and the creation of a replacement. Every part of the process has a reason. Everything is leading up to God making His home with a family chosen from among mankind; from all ages and from all nations, tribes and tongues.

And who is chosen to become part of this “grand plan”? Those who have trusted in His Son and His righteousness instead of trusting in themselves and their own self-righteousness; those who through the working of the Holy Spirit have recognised how unworthy they are and have sought and submitted to His mercy; those who rely on Him to forgive their sins and to cleanse them from unrighteousness; those who will receive the gracious gift He has freely given.

No matter how much I have tried I continually fail to glimpse the glory of God’s gospel. At times it seems like I’ve almost grasped part of it – but when I try to put it into words no language seems sufficient to translate that partial glimpse into something tangible. I think all of our attempts to put the indescribable into words will continually fail until we meet Him face to face..

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.(Rom 11:33-36)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

The following is excerpted from David Pawson’s message “The Lessons of the Holocaust for Jews & Christians.”

The God I know loves righteousness more than people.
What I mean by that statement is that when God has to choose between preserving righteousness and protecting people, He chooses righteousness. The event in history which alone would prove that is Noah’s flood, when He drowned the entire population of the world except for one family who were righteous in His sight.
And the end of history is going to be like Noah’s flood according to Jesus.

There is law as well as love in God. There are sanctions with God. He rewards obedience and He punishes disobedience. He is a God who blesses AND curses. There is no difference in this regard between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New.

We of course are under a new covenant with God, not under the mosaic covenant of Sinai, but under the new covenant that Jesus shed His blood to make with us. This covenant also has sanctions.
The differences are firstly that is individual rather than collective. It’s not made with the church is it made with individual believers. It is made with “whosoever believes”. It is an individual covenant and each person will pay for their own sins and nobody else’s.
Secondly, the punishment in the new covenant is not the same. It is not in this world it is in the next world and it is not temporary it is permanent.
The sanctions are worse under the new covenant. Judgement is more serious, especially since Jesus is going to be the judge and He understands us perfectly; can see right through us.
I am speaking about hell.

Standing in the cremation chamber at Auschwitz, I thought “this is the nearest to hell I’ve ever been”, but it wasn’t. There is nothing we experience yet that is as bad as that: to be permanently cut off from God and therefore from all goodness, and to spend eternity with selfish, utterly heartless people and with the devil and his angels.
It is horrific.

We need to take God seriously. “Worship Him with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” That is a quote from Deuteronomy, but it is also in the New Testament. For God has not changed. He’s the same God. He’s a God who loves righteousness. No one has ever asked me “how can a RIGHTEOUS God send anyone to hell?” because all they have heard about is this “love, love, love” thing.

You mark my word; go through the New Testament carefully. They did not preach the love of God to unbelievers in the New Testament. They preached His RIGHTEOUSNESS and the need for repentance. Paul said “I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God to salvation of everyone who believes, for in it is revealed the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God”.
That is hope for everyone in the world and for the world itself, that God is righteous. He is good. He is moral. He will do what is right and what is fair. He is righteous, the only person in the whole universe who really is: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May His name be praised!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Millennium: Failed Prophecies and Lost Faith

For most of my Christian life “The Millennium” was a mysterious 1000 year period beginning after the Great Tribulation. The religious tradition to which I belonged paid lip-service to the reality of a future “millennium”, but never offered any teaching about it.
Therefore the only thing I knew was what I read in Revelation and that didn’t say very much. Even the word “millennium” seemed to take on a mystical character that took it outside the realm of concrete reality.

My first informed introduction to the topic came a few years ago through teaching by David Pawson. At first I thought that most of what he was saying was based on speculation like the majority of popular teaching on end times. But if that was the case it would be out of character for him. He always makes a strong issue out of sticking with the clearest and simplest meaning of the biblical text. Was he abandoning this approach while tackling this topic?

Pawson rarely gives convenient chapter and verse bible references for his hearers to “look up”. He encourages the practice of searching the scriptures rather than checking references; and over time I started to find confirmation of his teaching as I read through the Old Testament prophets. I was surprised how much of their writings applied to the promise of an earthly rule by Israel’s Messiah.

Recently I came across a former believer (and now professing atheist) who claimed that Jesus had failed to fulfil many OT Messianic prophesies. It seemed that this understanding might have played a part in him losing his faith. An honest assessment of his view would see the legitimacy of his conclusion, but ONLY on the condition that Jesus’ time on this earth was over and that there was no further opportunity for the prophecies to be fulfilled.

Most Christians look forward to a “second-coming” of Jesus, but how many have given any thought to WHY He will return to earth? Why is it necessary? What will it achieve that could not be achieved by him remaining in heaven? Is He returning merely to bring everything to an immediate end prior to judgement? If that is the case, then what about those unfulfilled Messianic prophecies? Has God given up on them? Was He lying when He gave those words to the prophets? Or are those events still pending?

Many try to spiritualise John’s prophecy about a 1000 year period in which Jesus rules with His saints. But is it merely coincidence that John describes the very same situation that almost all of the prophets predicted? If the prophets’ predictions were valid (which believers MUST accept if we deem that they were prophetic messages from God) then could those prophets have been predicting the very same thing that John foresaw? If so, the events they describe in their prophecies will give us a picture of life during the millennium period, filling in the detail missing from John’s account in Revelation. And the former believer’s claim of failed Messianic prophecies would be clearly premature. There is still plenty of time for the Lord to fulfil His prophesied Messianic promises.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Salvation: Fire Insurance or Extreme Makeover?

How much do we really understand about “salvation”? To most people it seems to mean salvation from an eternity in hell. Therefore our eyes become set on our ultimate future instead of our lives here and now.

But does scripture EVER portray salvation as an escape from hell? It may be surprising to find that most references to eternal damnation are directed towards believers.
Hell was not used as an incentive to turn sinners into saints. If anything it was an incentive for believers to remain faithful and to maintain their fear of God.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him”. (Luke 12: 4-5)

The New Testament message of salvation is far different to the common idea of someone stepping from a state of “unsaved” to “saved”. Yet many people understand that a single step is all it takes. Whether that step comes by God “unconditionally electing” a people, or through those people making a personal response to a preached gospel message, the common idea sees an instant safety from eternal damnation has been obtained. But is that the case?

Romans 8:29 is often used to support the Calvinist idea of an elect few being “predestined” for salvation. Yet the actual reference is not addressing “salvation” (at least NOT the common understanding of salvation). Instead predestination is associated with being “conformed to the likeness of his Son”.
To me there seems to be much more profound and challenging being revealed here than an alleged “elect” group being given an undeserved “get out of hell” free card.

Peter also wrote about being “partakers of the divine nature” – something made possible by God through “great and precious promises” and “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”. Again this tells us something about God’s intention for His people – to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”

Salvation is not about our future destiny it is about NOW. It is about being brought into relationship with God NOW. It is about being transformed NOW. It is about trusting in God NOW. It is submitting ourselves to God and His provision NOW so that day by day we increasingly become partakers of the divine nature. Day by day we are increasingly conformed to His likeness until that day when “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” and He “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” and “ we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”.

Jesus told us that He is the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through Him. He did not say He is the way the truth and the life and no one avoids hell except through Him.

A secure eternal destiny, being with God in His new creation, is a continuation of our salvation. It is the result of a life lived IN salvation – a life lived IN CHRIST and obtaining a family likeness. It is the result of an ongoing relationship with God. Salvation is intended to bring us into that relationship. Escape from hell is a mere fringe benefit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Commit mass murder then still go to heaven…

“There is nothing more dangerous than someone with two verses of Scripture that he has strung together to create a doctrine. We need to take the whole Bible into consideration.”
David Servant.

As a Father
by David Servant

Last month, George Sodini walked into a women's aerobics class at an LA Fitness Club just a few miles from where I live. He turned out the lights and began shooting into the darkness, firing fifty rounds. Within seconds, he killed three women and wounded nine others. Then he shot and killed himself.
According to his blog, he had been planning the killings and his suicide at LA Fitness for months in advance. In December, he wrote in that blog of the evangelical church he had attended for thirteen years, saying of the pastor, "This guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven."
Just one day before his murder spree and suicide, he wrote:
Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell.

complete article here:

As a Father


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Word of "Faith"

I’ve made no secret about my one time involvement with Word of Faith (WOF) teaching. It’s a confession that one visitor to this blog has tried to use against me. On more than one occasion (here and elsewhere) he has tried to use it to discredit who I am and what I now believe.

Accompanying that attempt has been an assumption about the extent of my involvement and the effect it continues to have on my life. From the tone and the content of insinuations made I can see he assumes my attraction to WOF was inspired by greed.

While my involvement with WOF has never been hidden, I don’t recall writing about my reasons for getting involved with that teaching. I now want to address those reasons.

For several years I had been involved with a Pentecostal denomination that continually presented a Christian reality that I was not experiencing. No matter how often they insisted that healing and miracles were valid today – they were demonstrating nothing of that professed reality. There was a huge gap between professed belief and actual experience. It was a gap that didn’t seem to exist in scripture. What was the problem?

My introduction to WOF came at a midweek home fellowship meeting. Members of the group had been listening to tapes from one of Kenneth Copeland’s conferences and they were sharing some of the things that had excited them. I offered significant resistance to the things they were saying but eventually their enthusiasm got through to me.

Was I won over by the promise of a prosperous life? Or was it the claim that Christians could and should live in total health?

It was neither. The thing that broke down the wall of my resistance was a realisation of what faith meant. At that stage I didn’t know about the WOF teachings of faith being a force that anyone could utilise. I knew nothing about the emphasis on positive confession (confess and possess or the less reverent blab it and grab it). All I knew was that I gained an understanding of faith for the first time. It became much more than an “airy-fairy” mystical word that seemed to have no practical use.
At best my previous understanding of faith involved a lot of uncertainty and had more in common with “wishing” than with a firm trust in my redeemer.
For the first time faith became something more certain and firm, something concrete.

Having faith in God meant to trust Him no matter what.
It meant taking Him at His word and having confidence in what He had said. Primarily, in practical terms, that meant accepting His word as being the truth even when our circumstances or experience offered contradictory evidence. If God had promised something in scripture, and if all conditions of that promise were met, then we should have the total confidence of receiving what was promised, because God is not a liar.

The biblical faith I discovered was not a vague uncertain trust in God. It involved an absolute confidence in Him and His character. His word became the standard by which God and His purposes could be known. Through scripture His desires and plans for mankind were revealed. By knowing His will and in particular through knowing what He had provided for His children, we could have the foundation upon which our faith could firmly stand.

That is the area of WOF that attracted me. It was not the promise of health and wealth – it was the promise of living as a genuinely effective Christian witness, actually LIVING and demonstrating the Christian life described in the New Testament instead of tolerating the hypocrisy of professing one thing and living another. It gave a tangible reality to faith and it was no longer merely a theological concept.

THAT is what drew me to WOF. Its teachers were the first to give me a real understanding of what faith is and at the time they were the only ones who seemed to be teaching that truth.

However, their message came with a lot of excess baggage that was not so helpful. While their doctrines were always (supposedly) based on ‘the word” – like all false doctrines they were based on PARTS of the word. I became very adept at quoting scripture to promote the teaching I was receiving. But my quotes were learned mainly via Copeland recordings and not through turning to scripture for myself. I was therefore never aware of the correct context of those quotes. I was only familiar with the interpretations placed upon those verses by the Copelands and associated ministries.

While the understanding of faith that I’d initially gained was still valuable (that is trusting God’s word to be the truth): all validity was dependant on it REALLY being GOD’S word and not a false assumption that I mistook for God’s word. Believing in an assumption or a wrong interpretation of scripture is NOT an expression of faith in God. That is where my departure from WOF began. There were too many inconsistencies between what I was being taught and what I was reading in scripture for myself. Too much of scripture was being ignored or misapplied.
At first I pushed aside my concerns. After all no one is perfect and I couldn’t expect the teachers to get everything right – and they were the ones who had given me an insight into the nature of faith when my church and its leaders seemed to be as much in the dark as I had been.

Instead of being attracted to WOF by their teaching on prosperity, it was the increasing emphasis on earthly wealth that gave me most cause for concern. While I was struggling financially I could see these men and women living highly extravagant lifestyles, financed by the donations they solicited. It seemed that the way for me to get out of financial difficulties was by sending them money (?) – and their lifestyles showed how it all worked (and could allegedly work for me) with God clearly blessing them and their ministry with wealth. None of this (their extravagance) seemed compatible with anything that Jesus said about wealth. Those parts of scripture were among those conveniently ignored.

A major area of their teaching on faith that I could not reconcile with anything in scripture was the idea that faith is a force that works when it principles are put into practice. Even unbelievers were tapping into this force of faith and were reaping its benefits without realising what they were doing. This teaching made faith into something impersonal with a power of its own. It was not a matter of having faith in someone (God), it was important to have faith in your faith. This is where “positive confession” came into play. Continued positive confession was the means of reinforcing and expressing faith to obtain a desired outcome. Negative confession was equally effective, but the outcome was nothing to be desired.
I was never comfortable with this aspect of WOF teaching and when I read “The Seduction of Christianity’ by Hunt and McMahon the reason for my discomfort was made clear. The authors showed there was a relationship between these beliefs and practices with occultism and eastern mysticism. It was around that time that I broke away from WOF teaching.

WOF teaching is riddled with false doctrine and false practices (and I think that has increased in the 20+ years since I abandoned it). But like the majority of heresies there is enough truth to disguise the lies. In the case of WOF I gained a much stronger understanding of what faith is (and is not). Faith revolves around relationship; knowing God, His ways and His desires well enough to trust Him totally. Faith requires an understanding of His will and is focused on His will. It is not focused on our desire or our assumptions and it definitely is not a “force” to be operated.

Looking back now I can say that my understanding of faith began with my involvement with WOF teachers – but it developed and matured DESPITE their teaching and not because of it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Controversies: Scripture or Men’s Traditions?

There are countless controversies raging among those identified by the generic names of “Christian” or “Church”. Adherents to the various divisions of theology being promoted would all claim to be basing their views on scripture. But how can that be true unless scripture itself is divided and is intentionally contradictory.

It is my view that scripture is NOT the problem. Competing traditions arise when man departs from scripture and adds his own interpretations of what scripture needs to mean in order to confirm his preconceived doctrines.

It is a process that starts at the beginning of our Christian experience. As newcomers to the faith we are particularly vulnerable to the teachings of the church we attend and the particular doctrinal stance they take. It is so easy for us to trust the word of those we consider to be more mature in the faith and we rely on them more than personal study of the scriptures. By the time we do address the scriptures for ourselves, our reading has become coloured by the doctrines we expect to see proclaimed in the bible.

One of the clearest tests to see how our understanding of scripture has been adversely affected by traditional teachings is to assess whether we find ourselves trying to explain why scripture DOESN’T mean what it seems to be clearly saying: when it requires the performance of some energetic intellectual gymnastics to make the written word of scripture conform to our beliefs.

I am seeing more and more instances of spiritual-contortionists in action. Instead of starting with the clearest and simplest meaning of scripture, they start with a belief and search out “secondary” scriptures to “prove” that the clearest meaning of their initial reading can not be the right one.

Examples are found in the Calvinist response to:

1 Tim2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men

Nothing could be clearer than the categorical statements that God wants ALL men to be saved and that Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for ALL men. There is no way for the Calvinist to reconcile these statements with their doctrines of “Unconditional Election” and “Limited Atonement”, so they choose their doctrine above the clear and simple word of scripture.

That is merely one example, but almost any area of controversy could be examined in the same way, such as:

1) Spiritual gifts: valid or did they end with the Apostles?
2) The millennium: literal or symbolic
3) Rapture: pre-trib, mid-trib. Post trib or no trib?
4) Hell: eternal suffering, annihilationism or universal salvation?
5) Predestination: of an elect minority or of a collective body who are in Christ
6) Election: to salvation or to service
7) Baptism: essential or optional/ of babies or believers/ sprinkling or immersion

Where do OUR personal beliefs on these issues lie? With what scripture actually reveals? Or with what our tradition has taught us?

What are the simplest and clearest messages given in scripture relating to these issues? Does my belief conform with that clearest and simplest meaning? Or did I obtain my belief from men's teaching? Am I more interested in defending the teaching I received or am I more interested in what scripture says?

Friday, September 11, 2009


A recommended article from the Classical Arminian blog


Recently, I have heard comments from Calvinists from pulpits making statements that, in my opinion, are entirely inconsistent with their theory of Unconditional Election. For instance (and I will not mention any names), I heard some ministers promote the notion that "if more Christians do not go out to the mission field, then those people will die without Jesus Christ." That much is true, and it is certainly more than a mere sincere motivating factor for Christians to consider. In New Testament Scripture, it is a given that followers of Jesus Christ will share their faith with others (cf. Acts 1:8).

Recently, however, I have also heard Calvinist preachers make this comment: "If more Christians do not go out to the mission field, then those people will die without Jesus Christ. And they will stand at the Judgment Throne of God and ask us, 'Why did you not come and witness to us? We will now spend eternity in hell because you refused to bring us the gospel.'" Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Calvinism, my friends! Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Complete article here:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hell: Reason and Necessity.

The thought of God condemning people to hell seems to be a problem for many people. The problem is perhaps increased if we listen to some who say that God does not desire to throw any of mankind into hell but will do so anyway. So what is the situation regarding hell and what were God’s alternatives? Why does there need to be a “hell” and why does anyone need to be condemned to it?

Maybe we can look at some differing scenarios:

1) God allows a moral free-for-all in which no one is held accountable for anything. Therefore no need for hell. (But this earth would be as bad as hell anyway with no moral restraints).

2) God denies mankind any freedom of choice at all. He programmes everyone to be (and to remain) morally perfect. In other words he ends up with a puppet race controlled entirely by Himself. (But there can't be much joy in a family made up of dolls that say "I love you daddy" every time you press the right button). In such a scenario there would be no need for any of mankind to be thrown in hell.

3) Repeat the "denial of choice" scenario of alternative 2, but this time God actually WANTS to throw the majority of mankind into hell. He selects a chosen few (“the elect”) whom He has predestined to save, but He predestines the rest to burn for eternity as a demonstration of His justice. This will bring Him great glory.
Of course those who are thrown in hell are treated in this way because they are depraved sinners and not because God brought them into existence with a depraved and sinful nature: even though they had no choice about that nature and no opportunity to be free from it – that nature being a result of God’s sovereign choice. [Oh the wonders of Calvinism!]

4) God creates mankind with the ability to choose, so that He can obtain a people who will willingly follow Him. This option cuts both ways. The freedom to choose obedience also creates the freedom to rebel.

Such a scenario seems fine in theory, but what if we can’t live up to the standard God expects? According to the bible God has provided for that reality by putting everyone on a level playing field where no one is more advantaged/disadvantaged than anyone else. Romans 11 states that ALL were bound over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on ALL. In this scenario NO ONE is able to fulfil God’s expectations according to our own efforts, but He has provided a way for us to be acceptable through relying on His mercy. This is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ through which He has made it possible for the worst of men to turn towards God and be changed from a sinner to a saint.

Not only does God give us the choice of turning towards Him, He also adds a big incentive to do so. To the obedient He promises an eventual new creation which will NOT have the potential for evil; from which all rebellion will be barred. It will be populated by only those who have already chosen His (the creator's) way in this current creation.

However, what becomes of those who reject God and His promise?
Jesus describes their destiny in the terms of a garbage dump; using Gehenna, Jerusalem's dump as an illustration.
Like anything that does not fulfil its intended purpose, those who continue in rebellion against God' purpose for them will be thrown out as garbage.

This is NOT done arbitrarily. We ALL have the choice to recognise and respond to our creator in the way that He desires. But most prefer to go their own way and kick against any idea of there being a greater authority to whom they are accountable. Such is the arrogance of mankind. And hell is the ultimate result of ignoring personal accountability in a moral universe created by a Holy, Just and Righteous God

Friday, September 04, 2009

Scripture and Knowing God.

This is an answer to a comment made about the previous post. Due to the length I though it better to post it here instead of in the comments box.


Knowing God begins before the new birth

From Romans:
…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

When man comes into relationship with God through faith in Jesus that knowledge deepens to become something more personal. But to come into that relationship we need to have faith. And how do we have faith in someone we do not know?

Of course the Calvinist would put regeneration ahead of the ability to have faith. But scripture makes it clear that faith in Jesus comes first. It is the one who believes who is saved. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of the one who believes. It is the one who believes (and continues to believe) in Jesus who will not perish but will have everlasting life…

I agree. Knowledge of scripture will not necessarily lead to knowledge of God. There is a requirement to ACT on what scripture says. It is DOING and not only HEARING that is required.

A growing understanding of scripture IS required if we are to grow in true knowledge of God. Without that understanding of scripture we can never be sure that it IS God that we are following. There are many deceptive voices in the world and also in the church, as Jesus warned. And of course, that warning comes to us through scripture, so an ignorance of scripture will also result in an ignorance of the dangers that scripture warns us about.

The article that I recommended (see previous post) addresses the disturbing tendency that many professing Christians display when they are ambivalent and at times antagonistic towards the scriptures. The results of this can be seen in the experience based “faith” being pursued by millions in the western world – a symptom of which was last year’s “Lakeland Revival”.
People are choosing hype and spectacle with the flimsiest of Christian veneers, and are promoting that as genuine Christianity. Those people get caught up because they choose to be ignorant of God’s word and thereby remain ignorant of the God who inspired that word.
They are easily led astray by false doctrine, and end up following a false god – because they have not learned to recognise and know the TRUE God

When we are first introduced to someone our knowledge of them is limited and relatively superficial. Like in ALL relationships, our knowing of God increases according to the time spent together and the quality of communication that takes place. If we shut ourselves off when someone tries to share their plans, hopes, desires and intentions – then our relationship will never develop. Instead it is likely to lapse and eventually come to an end.
In scripture God has given us a revelation of everything we need to know about Him and His plans for mankind. Ignore scripture and we will remain ignorant of God and His desires and will be susceptible to receiving false ideas in place of the truth we pushed aside.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

“The Totality of Knowing God Begins Here” by Dan Edelen

Another article about the all too common neglect of scripture in today’s church.

The Totality of Knowing God Begins Here

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The man who convinced me to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

David Pawson is one of the very few bible teachers I would personally recommend. I first became aware of his ministry in the early 1980s when he visited Australia to speak at conferences run by Vision Ministries.

I came across recordings of his conference sermons and enjoyed most of his teaching.

At the time I was getting involved with Word of Faith teaching through Kenneth Copeland’s TV broadcasts and I heard Pawson speak out against the excesses of “faith” and “prosperity” teaching. At the time I thought he was out of line, but I still liked a lot of what he had to say.

My involvement with WOF finally took its toll, as will involvement with any false teaching. It took many years (over 15) to start the recovery process, and even after so many years WOF teaching was clearly still having an effect on my understanding of God.

I am grateful to the Lord for bringing David Pawson’s teaching back into my life at that time. I am also grateful that I found it hard to accept. I resisted what he was preaching. It didn’t fit with the gospel that I’d accepted previously. I couldn’t recall Pawson preaching that way in the past…

But despite my resistance, I was coming across more and more people saying the same kind of things and I started to wonder whether I had ever understood the gospel in the past.
I went back to Pawson and what he was saying started to make more sense. Most importantly he made a big issue about people NOT accepting what he was preaching. He consistently told his hearers to go to the scriptures to test everything he said. How different is this to the “touch not the Lord’s anointed” threats wielded by those who don’t want their teaching held up to the truth of scripture?

Through David Pawson’s encouragement and example I have learned of the need to search scriptures for myself and to always accept its clearest and simplest meaning unless the context indicates otherwise.

Here are links to two David Pawson sermons.

Romans 11

Jesus The Baptiser

Or if they fail, try following this link

and scroll down almost to the bottom of the page until you find:

Romans 11
David Pawson May 31 pm (88 min 49 sec)

Jesus The Baptiser
David Pawson May 31 am (77 min 49 sec)