google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2017 October

Archive for October 2017

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 2 - Reformation Is Born

 

The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.


Change is gathering apace and we now see a great split. A split from within the Roman Catholic Church – the beginnings of the Protestant Church. Our main person we will look at is Martin Luther – one of the very giants of Church history.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Luther was the Professor of Biblical Studies at Wittenberg University in Germany. Luther tried to find God as an Augustinian monk but he was unable to come to terms with God's righteous demands. He eventually realised through prayer and reading the Scriptures, that he could do nothing of his own to fulfil or satisfy God’s righteous demands upon him. He came to see that justification before Almighty God was by faith alone, through grace alone, which was a gift of God.

Included in the aftermath of this discovery, were these key dates and events as the Reformation of Christianity and the Church gathered pace.

1517: Luther’s 95 Theses, statements against indulgences were nailed to the Castle Church door at Wittenberg on 31st October He rapidly gained a following in Germany, and was aided by the advent of the printing press.
1519: Luther publicly denied the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope and Church.
1520: Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X
1521: Diet Of Worms. Luther was outlawed by Emperor Charles V of Spain. He was hidden by friends for 8 months, during which he translated the New Testament into German.
1528: Diet Of Spruger. A change in German law allowed each German State to follow the religion of its reigning prince. Once announced, change of religion was forbidden.
1529: Diet Of Speyer. Decides the Lutheran states were to remain Lutheran and the Catholic states to remain Catholic; not allowed to change. Evangelical princes protested at the restriction and the name Protestant was given to this movement.
1530: Diet Of Augsburg. Protestants submitted a statement of belief which was rejected, but became the basis of Lutheran doctrine.
1547: war broke out between Catholic and Protestant states. This war was won by the Catholics, but Protestantism was finally recognised legally in 1552.

Core Truths

There were 3 main truths resulting from this Reformation which we hold fast today in general in large parts of the Church, particularly Protestantism:

  • Final authority of God's Word
  • Justification by faith, a gift of God's grace
  • The priesthood of all believers.


Lutheranism spread from Germany to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. However, having said that, it should be noted that, wrongly or rightly, Luther still accepted as truth the following theological standpoints:

  • Consubstantiation - a 'real presence' of Christ's body with bread and wine though not that the bread actually became His body. As opposed to transubstantiation held by the Roman Catholic Church which says the bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus.
  • Infant baptism as necessary for salvation.


We may get the idea that this man was dour and humourless. However, he maintained a sense of humour and obviously like laughing. An indication of that, is in this quote attributed to him:

“If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there.”

Tomorrow in part 3, we will look at Luther's 95 Theses...

 

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 1

 

The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.

Download the mp3 using the link below to listen to the full

We start, however, in the 14th and 15th centuries where there was a great European revival of interest in the values of classical Greek and Roman literature, art, philosophy and politics. It started in Italy and spread throughout Europe. Scholars were called humanists as they moulded their life on the teachings of the great Greek and Roman classical literature. Scholastic freedom grew exponentially. There was also an increase in other areas of life: Roman morality, paganism, the Greek New Testament and the study thereof. Many new universities throughout Europe were started.

We look together at three men, albeit briefly, at what they had to do with the Church at that time:

  • Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498)
  • John Colet (1466-1519)
  • Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1467-1536)

Erasmus is described as the one who laid the egg which was hatched my Martin Luther...

We then conclude today with a look at the Devotional Movement and the prime architect, Thomas à Kempis...

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Exploring The Bible

38. Old Testament

Joel - 835 BC

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Joel 2:11
  • Joel 2:28-29

 

Joel preached to Judah 835 BC during the reign of Joash. He proclaims the message of God: that God will destroy all his enemies, but will save those who love Him.

He even sees the day when the Holy Spirit of God will become available to all people – a vision which is fulfilled at Pentecost.

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Gems in the Letter of 3 John

Part 120 - 3 John
More steps in the truth.


3 John is the shortest writing in the New Testament, which doesn’t help when trying to pick out a ‘gem’. In fact in many ways there aren’t any so I will just list verse 1 as a gem because there are some important lessons to be learnt from the situation which clearly lies behind the letter, so it would be a pity to miss it out. 4 characters appear in the story behind the writing: the elder who wrote it, Gaius who received it, a good guy, Demetrius and a bad guy, Diotrephes.

It is impossible to be sure what the argument that the elder refers to was about but there is a good chance it was the old problem which is still around: should we keep the church tightly restricted to those whose loyalty to the faith we feel we can totally rely on; and those who think the church needs to be rather freer in its approach, even including those of whom it is not possible to be totally sure of their stickability in the faith. That is as much, or more, a twenty-first century problem as a first century one.

Dotrephes was entirely for the pure church. He may not have had Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians beside him but he would thoroughly have approved of Paul’s advice to the church in 5:4-8: “when you are assembled … hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[ so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. … Get rid of the old yeast … keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Demetrius on the other hand would have been anxious to obey the words of Jesus in Matthew 13:24-30: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”


There is no clear way of resolving that dilemma. Each situation must be resolved ‘face to face’ as the elder clearly wants to do when he meets Gaius who would seem to have had some authority over the whole situation, though that authority may have been informal since there is no indication of any formal authority structure of bishops or deacons existing.

That is the first thing to be learnt from this short letter. The second is this: human nature being what it is it is all too likely that, particularly in an informal structure, those who gain power can all too easily become too conscious of it, too fond of it and too overbearing in their attempts to direct other people. And there are always people willing to be led for want of the strength of mind to understand what is happening and take appropriate action. They will often do that from a misguided feeling that it is Christian to accept the direction (or misdirection) of others.

It is a pity that we have to end these ‘gems’ on such a pair of negative notes, but that is the way it is. Note that besides these warning notes in this short letter there is much that the elder is prepared to rejoice in. He says many nice and gracious things to Gaius.

Take care. If you have been with me all, or most of the way, through this exploration of some of the lovely and encouraging things John has said - thank you. May the Lord bless you on your further journey of faith. He will be with you and bless you through thick and thin - and there will probably be both experiences on your onward journey.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

27th October 2017

 

We pray together and when Christians pray together, including across the internet and from different times, different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity!


My Heavenly Father,
I thank You,
through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son,
that You kept me safe from all evil and danger last night.
Save me, I pray, today
as well, from every evil and sin,
so that all I do and the way that I live will please you.
I put myself in your care, body and soul and all that I have.
Let Your holy Angels be with me,
so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me.
Amen

 

(A Morning Prayer of Martin Luther)

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Exploring Islam 04

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Exploring Islam

4. Allah versus God - Essentially Unknowable

Welcome to ‘Exploring Islam’. We are now starting to look at some of the beliefs of Islam and see how they are similar or different to those of Christianity. For this session we shall examine the concept of Allah, which is simply the Arabic word for God and existed before Islam. These words are the same linguistically, but what about the characteristics behind them between the Islamic Allah and the Christian God?

Essentially unknowable.

This may seem a rather negative launch point but it is an important concept to realise within Islam. The Qur’an does not reveal Allah rather it shows how people should live in accordance to his will. He is essentially transcendent to all, he is above and beyond everything we do know or could possibly understand.
Qur’an 16:74 – ‘So do not assert similarities to Allah. Indeed, Allah knows and you do not know.’

Humanity’s position in regard to its creator is that of a slave with a master. There is no possibility for a personal relationship like that found in Christianity where the analogy is a divine Father with His children. However, this is not to say that Allah is disinterested in his creation, humanity, or his Muslim followers, far from it.

In fact the Qur’an describes Allah as being exceptionally close:  
Qur’an 50:16 – ‘And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.’

This description of Allah is understood to be more of an awareness of everything that is happening in creation. Allah is all knowing and all powerful, just as Christianity’s God is. The most significant difference between them is that in orthodox Islam Allah makes no attempt to personally reveal himself or to reach out to humanity in the same way as God does.

In Christianity, God loves his creation to such a degree that he becomes a man in the person of Jesus Christ in order to fully reveal to us his nature (Colossians 2:9), how we are to live, and ultimately provide the route for our forgiveness - Hebrews 1:3 – ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.’

However, just a cursory glance through the Qur’an and you will notice there are many adjectives used to describe Allah and so Muslims are given some concepts which to form their beliefs and service, the 99 names of Allah.

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What About Mormonism 3

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Mormonism - Part 3

Teachings contrary to the Bible

 

What are some of the teaching of Mormonism which differ from biblical Christianity?

1. They teach an addition to the Genesis account of the beginnings of mankind.

The book of Mormon reads "A god and a goddess on another planet had a spirit called Elohim who was born into this world and because he obeyed the Mormon teaching became a god like his father. He eventually left this world and took a number of wives on another planet. Two spiritual children were born and were named Jesus and Lucifer. A discussion took place and it was decided by Lucifer that he thought all human beings be compelled to become gods. Jesus however objected. He said there ought to be free choice. Lucifer rebelled and took a third of the angels on his side. Because of this action they were cast out of heaven and into the earth and were not allowed to take human form. Those angels who had remained neutral in the battle of heaven became the black people of this world and were cursed by true Mormons. Those who fought against Lucifer were called the ‘Light Ones' and were born into the Mormon families. Elohim and one of his wives returned to this world and became Adam and Eve to begin the human race. Thousands of years later Elohim returned and went to the house of Mary and had intercourse with her to enable Jesus to come into the world in a ‘human' body. Later when Jesus grew up into manhood He took three wives, Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene. He supposedly had a physical relationship with them and several children were born to them. Then He was crucified and following the resurrection returned to America to tell the Indians that they were Israel. A great battle then took place between the black and white until one white remained, his name was Moroni and he hid the history of their people on GOLD PLATES (You will remember I spoke of these same plates being supposedly shown to Joseph Smith by Moroni in the early part of this booklet). Many Mormons today do believe that these events did take place.

2. How Different Does The Bible Speak Of Those Early Times?

Consider this. When we read the Genesis account concerning Adam and Eve the first created beings on the face of this earth, we see the way they were tricked into believing the serpent's words recorded for us in (chapter three.). They had been warned off it but the serpent tricked them into believing they would miss out if they didn't eat from the forbidden tree. They would lack wisdom and knowledge. Note how subtle the Serpent and how they both gave in to their own selfish appetites and rebellious spirits and as a result missed out so much on the blessings of God. Would you not agree that it seems people are only too ready to believe a lie when prosperity is offered to them? Joseph Smith's teachings had been very much on prosperity and gaining materially. At least that is how it comes across to me as I have delved into Mormon origins and the teachings given to them especially from the Book of Mormon The Genesis account doesn't need to be changed it tells us all we need to know and the teaching becomes blasphemous when Scripture is added to and changed in regard to the origins of Jesus and how he came into the world. The Mormons teaching removes fundamental truth from God's Word.. It makes Jesus a person less than the Son of God and in competition with the devil rather than the Sovereign Lord which indeed the Scriptures show him clearly to be. Any other book that disagrees with the Bible teaching is to be treated as anathema and not to be taken note of. The Bible is sufficient in itself and needs no backing up from any other source.

3. Some key Mormon beliefs

1. Mormons believe that all men will be resurrected but only Mormons will enter the third heaven where God is. 2. The Book of Mormon is on an equal footing with the Bible 3. God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who became God. 4. A person will be judged by their works 5. Redemption can only be gained by obedience to the Mormon teachings. 6. We will be judged in front of a panel including Joseph Smith, Jesus and Elohim 7. The Mormon Church alone is the Kingdom of God on earth and its headquarters on earth is in Salt Lake City Utah. Jesus when He returns will return there. 8. Jesus will return to reign for 1000 years. At the end of that time there will be a second resurrection and all will be judged. Those worthy of a highest grade of salvation will then live on the new earth. A second group will go somewhere else. Still yet, a third group who are exceedingly wicked will be joined by the fallen angels who rebelled before the creation of man and they will be cast into hell.

4. Who Are Perceptable To These False Teachings?

We understand that many of those converted to the Mormon faith are disenchanted church goers who have left orthodox Bible teaching .Instead they believe that which is different from scripture. Also what attracts people to the Mormon Church is their clean living and they will not drink alcohol. They also have a high code of morals. They give a tenth of their income to the church. They also major on youth activities encouraging many young people to take part. (Editors note....I actually witnessed as a spectator a national athletics competition of young competitors from Mormon churches all over England in a large stadium in Reading Berkshire. Having been an athlete in my youth I was aware of the high standard and the fierce but friendly competition it was a pleasure to watch). They have many young people in their churches throughout Britain. Next time we shall look into their teaching on 'Temple Rituals'

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POD - Psalm 96

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Psalm 96

 

96:1 Sing to Yahweh a new song!

Sing to Yahweh, all the earth.

96:2 Sing to Yahweh!

Bless his name!

Proclaim his salvation from day to day!

96:3 Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples.

96:4 For great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised!

He is to be feared above all gods.

96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

but Yahweh made the heavens.

96:6 Honor and majesty are before him.

Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

96:7 Ascribe to Yahweh, you families of nations,

ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength.

96:8 Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due to his name.

Bring an offering, and come into his courts.

96:9 Worship Yahweh in holy array.

Tremble before him, all the earth.

96:10 Say among the nations, “Yahweh reigns.”

The world is also established.

It can’t be moved.

He will judge the peoples with equity.

96:11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.

Let the sea roar, and its fullness!

96:12 Let the field and all that is in it exult!

Then all the trees of the woods shall sing for joy

96:13 before Yahweh; for he comes,

for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness,

the peoples with his truth.

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Think Spot 23 October 2017

What we say, as well as what we don’t say, as Christians is very important. The Bible is very clear on that.

1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”
James 4:11-12 “Brothers do not slander one another...who are you to judge your neighbour?” The definition of slander is words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another or an abusive attack on a person's character or good name or to attack the good name and reputation of someone.So next time you go to say anything negative about someone or to criticise their actions, think again, you might be disobeying God and breaking a command.

James 3:3-8 powerfully shows how a small thing such as the tongue is able to cause much damage. He says that the tongue is a world of evil that corrupts the whole person ...and is itself set on fire by hell.

Christians are very good at gossiping but disguising it as prayerful concern. We pass on a juicy bit of information about someone and then ask the person to pray about the situation. As Christians we should not pass on any information about anyone else unless the person concerned has asked us to. It is not our place to do so even if it is for prayer.

However, sometimes it is also what we don’t say that causes problems. We stay silent when in fact we do need to give that word of love, encouragement, rebuke or kindness. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be fabulous sites if used properly. How often to we stay silent when we should say something kind? We get a message from a friend and we don't reply to it.  How often do we say something when we should stay silent instead of slandering, complaining, gossiping or bickering?

Prayer

Now, a prayer to help you into this new week. Father, we thank you for words. We thank you that we can communicate words of life to other people. Help us to use words wisely as we interact, communicate and deal with other people, especially our loved ones and work colleagues. May the Holy Spirit, guide, rebuke and counsel, as we use the amazing gift of words to us, as we seeks to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

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Exploring The Bible

37. Old Testament

Amos - 760-753BC

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Amos 3:1-2,8
  • Amos 8:11

 

Amos preached 760 - 753 BC, first to the surrounding nations, and then to Israel in the North It was a time of national optimism in Israel.

Business and national boundaries were expanding. Internally however, greed and injustice were rife and people were increasingly rejecting God’s discipline. Amos, visualizes the coming judgement of God and tries to mobilize the nation towards repentance.

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Gems in the Letter of 2 John

Part 119 - 2 John 4
Walking in the truth



. This second epistle of John’s is seldom read but is rather lovely. It gives us a view into the very early church. We don’t know who the writer was - probably not the same John as the writer of the Gospel and the first letter since he calls himself the ‘elder’ and not the apostle as he surely would have done had he been one. It is also unclear who the ‘lady chosen by God’ was. Most probably it is a way of referring to a local church rather than a person.


We have this delightful phrase in verse 4, “walking in the truth“ as the commendation of the members of the church. All too often the various translators have in many places translated the word meaning ‘walking’ by ‘living’ because that is clearly what it is a picture of. But in doing so much is lost. One can ‘live’ sitting in a chair or lying in bed all day while walking strongly implies activity and progress.

We, my wife and I, made a conscious decision when we retired from active work that we would go for a walk every day to avoid slowly getting less and less fit. Of course, as the years have passed we have slowly got less and less fit anyway but we would have done so much quicker had we not determined to keep moving as long as possible.

What is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world. We need to keep moving, moving towards our ultimate goal of being with Jesus in the life of the ages. This we can do in many ways according to our abilities and gifts. You may become much more regular in the prayer meetings and other meetings of your church than you have ever been able to be as you were working fulltime (without intending to I have slipped into thinking about the situation of those entering retirement. You will need to translate what I say into a more appropriate language if you are much younger!). You may be able to help in the practical tasks involved in a church. You may be able to help with the outreach tasks as well, door to door work, visiting places with the gospel, perhaps - if you are fortunate like me with these short ‘gems’- doing something with a directly Bible teaching ministry.

An old wartime song exhorted people to ‘keep right on to the end of the road, keep right on to the end’. That is excellent advice for us all in a spiritual sense. And, of course, I don’t actually need to look for secular encouragements. 1 John 2: 6 would say “walk as he walked” if they hadn’t gone and translated the ‘walks’ as ‘liveds’ (see what I mean)!, or we can go to Isaiah 2: 3 where it says, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”

John has said we are to walk in the way of truth. By ‘truth’ he means in the way set out by Jesus. Jesus did plenty of walking, backwards and forwards through Galilee and on frequent visits to Jerusalem.
Let us walk - easily the most enjoyable way of getting around either in the country or in the Kingdom of Jesus. The Pilgrim’s Progress (a famous old book written centuries ago) should never be restricted to one man’s story. It is to be the experience of all of us – you and me! Together – see you on the path.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

A prayer of John Calvin from the 16th century

Almighty God,
since under the guidance of Your Son,
I have been united together in the body of Your Church,
which has been in the past, often scattered and torn apart,
O grant that I may continue in the unity of faith,
and perseveringly fight together
against all the temptations of this world,
and never deviate from the right course,
whatever new troubles may daily arise;
let me not be seized with fear,
such as may quench every hope in my heart;

but may I, on the contrary,
learn to raise up my eyes and mind
and all my thoughts to Your great power alone,
by which You quicken the dead,
and raise from nothing things which are not,
so that, though I be daily exposed to ruin,
our souls may ever aspire to eternal salvation,
until You at length really show Yourself
to be the fountain of life,
when I shall enjoy that endless joy,
which has been obtained for me
only by the blood of Your begotten Son,
my Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen

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