Art for Art’s sake!

It has often been the expressed desire of many aficionados of the “Arts” and “Culture” to seek to engender an appreciation of them in the “ignorant masses” and “common herd”. They hope to raise the moral and intellectual tone of society by giving the “common people” a love of beauty and through this the desire to improve themselves and make the world a better place.1200px-Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_127

Commendable as this aim may be, the fact is that very often it comes from a sense of superiority and condescension.H6pa0aC

While Art may be a source of Beauty and convey powerful influences and emotions it has very often been degraded and debauched by sin besotted people and has often had a deleterious effect on culture and morals.

The artistic community while professing an aim is to raise others from their boorishness and bad taste are very often those who lead in immorality and sinful depravity.

The “Arts” like  other intellectual pursuits and worldly pleasures bear the taint of sin which spoils them and require great discernment on the part of the believer to see through the enemy’s lies masquerading as works of Art .

It is only when our eyes are opened to the beauty of Christ that we  come to understand that so much of what the sinful world regards as beautiful is actually ugly in the extreme and the “spiritual” things that the world sees no beauty at all  in, have beauty that endures for time and eternity.

The Gadarenes.

indexpig

When the Gadarenes arrived at the place Jesus was and saw the former “demoniac” who had formerly terrorized their country, sitting sober and in his right mind, they were filled with fear and asked Jesus to leave the area. The whole account is found in Mark 5:1-20.

One can only wonder as to the cause of their fear.

Why were they not relieved that they were now free from the terror and threat that this man formerly represented to their community?

They could now sleep safe in their beds and dwell undisturbed by his cries and rantings. The people could go about their business safely without the constant fear of harassment and harm.

Why was there no rejoicing in the miraculous deliverance of someone long held in bondage, no happiness felt in prospect of his re-uniting with family and love ones?

There is not the least evidence seen here of human compassion and tenderness on the part of these people.

It would be terrible to think that the main cause of their fear was due to the loss of the swine herd in the Sea of Galilee.

Perhaps it was the prospect of further financial losses to their lucrative business that prompted them to beg for Jesus’ immediate departure.  They feared loss income if Jesus remained in the area working miracles hither and yon.

The mercy and healing power Christ manifested in this wondrous miracle was, to these “swine keepers”, of less importance than their own prosperity and desire for a quiet life.

For whatever the reason that motivated it, their bidding Jesus depart had the effect of shutting the door, for the time being, upon themselves for the Saviour’s further imparting of saving mercy and grace to them.

In this they showed themselves more foolish than even the Samaritans who welcomed the Lord into their midst, after His conversation with the woman at the well.

How many have shied away from Christ and Christianity because their all absorbing personal interests were threatened? Like the “Rich young ruler” they could not part with all and follow Jesus.

How many have baulked at the mighty and genuine work of God around them because it spoiled and interrupted the order and tranquility of their lives?

How many have been unwilling to put in effort involved in following Christ fully?

It is a terrible thing to ask Christ to depart from us? It will cost us far more in the long run than a herd of “piggish” pleasures and porcine desires.three-3-pigs-feeding-from-trough-ABKP3X

God’s Mercy and Grace .

NPG D29764; Robert Trail published by Robert Wilkinson

Robert Trail in his sermons on the “Throne of Grace” says that many people go there for forgiveness but do not seek God’s grace for conquering sin and holy living. I quote;

“Mercy and grace are joined together by God, and are not to be put asunder by man.

 

They would be content to obtain mercy; but they care not so much for his grace. But such are only profane ignorant persons, that know neither God nor themselves, nor his mercy, nor his grace.

 

The Lord will not give mercy without grace, nor grace without mercy. All that receive either, receive both; and all that would have either, must ask both; and none can ask either a right, but he that asks both.”

To me it seems that the Christians of today are all for seeking God’s miraculous power in their lives for somewhat selfish and short-sighted ends.

God has come to be regarded as an over indulgent “father’ happy to spoil His children in any way they ask or desire.

We may desire mercy from God but we have no interest in seeking  His grace to avoid future sin and for help to increase holiness of life.

Or we desire  to obtain grace and blessing without any regard to our need for His mercy with regard to our past sin and present sinfulness.

We may be glad  to benefit from Christ as Saviour yet will disregard his Lordship and the need for His control over our lives.

As Trail says what God has joined let no man put asunder.

Every “jot and tittle”!

The difference between these two:

The master beat the scholar with a strap.

The master beat the scholar, with a strap.

Is in logic nothing; but in rhetoric it is the difference between a “Matter-of-fact ” statement and indignant statement: a strap, we are to understand from the comma, is a barbarous instrument. (quoted from “the King’s English) by H.W. Fowler and F.G Fowler.

Most of us see no difference between these two statements. yet the insertion of a miniscule comma draws our attention away from the action and towards the instrument used to inflict it.
Like spelling, punctuation is not my strong suit at all and may be so for many of us.
To understand the point a writer or for that matter a speaker seeks to convey it is often necessary to pay close attention to even the seemingly insignificant expressions and punctuation.
This is especially so in our understanding of the Scriptures as God’s Word.
Great matters often hang upon small things.
As Christ said of the Law, not the least “iota’ of it will pass away until it is fully fulfilled.
Indeed our clear and correct understanding of it may depend on the smallest “comma” and “full stop”.

imagesmissed your road

 

 

Advertisements
Art for Art’s sake!

Assaulting the Almighty

During the Second World War blitz on England, falling bombs were not the only danger to the population.

aagun

The anti aircraft artillery barrage, while not very effective against German aircraft, did make the bombers fly higher and spoil their accuracy.

However what goes up must come down and shrapnel from the explosive shells rained back to earth posing a danger to those on the ground.

So when sinful man launches his attacks on the Almighty, the arrows he fires redound upon and injure himself.

The same goes for those who rejoice in contradicting God’s holy and wise laws and cast beneath their feet the message of Salvation.

Sadder still are those who pose as Christians yet do all they can to water down and relegate those parts of Scripture that do not conform to their own conceptions.

True, their impending judgment may be slow in coming but it is sure and certain none the less unless repentance and mercy intervenes.

Communication Breakdown!

Apparently one of the symptoms of mental illness is the fact that the afflicted cannot seem to make themselves understood by those around them and have difficulty comprehending what others are trying to convey to them.

In the same way sinful man has lost the ability to understand the things of God in fact they are hateful to him.

Man by nature is dead in sin and cut off from God and, unless aided by the Holy Spirit in conversion is unwilling and indeed  unable to obtain a fatherly hearing from God because his speech is drowned out by his willfulness in rebellion and sin.

As the blind man told the inquisitive Pharisees ” God does not listen to sinners. John 9:31″.

“We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.”

While most today make man the first mover in salvation, the scriptures lay the salvation of man first to last, in the will of God and power of His Spirit working in the sinner’s heart moving him to repentance and seeking to God through faith.

Sin is the great communication barrier between God and us and it is only when it is repented of and dealt with by the blood of Christ that the channels are opened and the way of fellowship cleared.

The mock turtle.

cary grant mock turtle

 

Believe it or not, this costumed character from the 1933 “live action” version of “Alice in Wonderland” is Hollywood heart-throb Cary Grant .

True it was early on in his career but it does display a willingness on his part to put aside his trademark debonair good looks to perform a role to entertain the young.

Many of the actors who played Lewis Carroll’s characters in this film were popular actors and comedians at the time, with well known faces and mannerisms and yet under some of their costumes they were almost unrecognizable unless you listened carefully and knew where to look for them.

Generally famous people are known for their self promotion and greedy seeking after publicity to further their career.

So for well known personalities to efface and disguise themselves in order to perform roles in which they may or may not be recognized is remarkable.

Self promotion is not something that sits well in the sphere of Christianity.

When the ministry has more to do with the charisma of the “personality” in the spotlight and his obvious talents and less to do with the glory of God and the salvation of sinners, spiritual failure is sure to be the ultimate result, regardless of the hype and hysteria.

We have no shortage of “show ponies’‘ in our churches today.

People who are the Christian equivalent of exhibitionists. Their overarching desire is to be seen as special or talented and be admired.

We are all prone to fall into this trap to some degree and we all have need to humble ourselves and do as John the Baptist did in like circumstance.” He must increase while I must decrease”.

While it is true someone must be out the front, they should not be there seeking fame or reputation for themselves.

Human nature being what it is, some notoriety is unavoidable for many in prominent positions in the church but we have no business seeking it as an end in itself: rather it is all about proclaiming the gospel message and bringing glory to Christ and He alone.

We ourselves are incidental in the service of Christ and all the reward we seek is his well done and all the glory belongs to Him.

quote-if-i-might-be-the-means-of-saving-one-soul-i-should-prefer-it-to-all-the-riches-and-asahel-nettleton-58-17-15

Esau.

Was in many ways an admirable figure. He was the sort of  “out- doorsy, self reliant man that is admired and envied by most.

He reveled in the wide open spaces and pushed himself to his limits in manly pursuits, especially hunting.esau.jpeg

Unfortunately while he spent much time abroad in nature, like many of our famous naturalists today, he never sought to know and obey the God of creation.

He had a very two dimensional and short sighted view of existence and could see no further than his next meal and   immediate carnal pleasure.

When cheated out of His birthright and blessing all he could think about was getting revenge on his devious brother rather than blaming his own short sightedness and foolishness and seeking repentance and trying to amend his life.

We do feel that during the years of separation from his brother, Esau may have mellowed somewhat.

We see this in the kindly way he received his estranged brother upon his return home.

Perhaps rather it was more to do with the restraining hand of God upon him than anything else

Yet the behavior of his descendants toward their kinsman in latter days betrays the continuance of a long held grudge and resentment towards the  Jacob’s descendants, the Children of Israel  because of God’s favour  abundantly lavished upon them ,contrasting with the passing over of Esau and his descendants.

While it is a great deep and beyond our comprehension, God’s sovereignty in election and choosing one over another is repeatedly taught in scripture. Yet it never diminishes the fact that we are responsible for the wrong we do and for our turning away from God and living in disobedience to Him and his Word.

Let us be diligent in our seeking the Lord while he may be found!

quote-the-stairway-to-the-ministry-is-not-a-grand-staircase-but-a-back-stairwell-that-leads-edmund-clowney-74-80-31.jpg

 

 

Assaulting the Almighty

A “Nine days wonder”!

When one looks back at the trends that promised to take the Church and Christianity by storm and start a World –changing revival, we can only marvels how many of them departed as quickly as they came.

Those who seek to debunk and de-construct the Gospel and thereby the Church, find at last that they have nothing real and substantial to offer in its place.

Others who seek to embellish Christianity with devices that amount to gimmicks and lures, discover that the crowds which throng their meetings come only for a cheap thrill and leave when they are bored , seeking fresh excitement elsewhere.

Genuine Christianity is not appealing to the unconverted sinner and the self satisfied man of the World, it never was. The things of God are above and beyond their understanding and do not appeal to their predilections and desires.

Yes, they would like to think that they will go to some nice place when they die they find the way of Salvation too humbling and the cost of following Christ to expensive in self denial and sacrifice.

The gospel promises great things to come for those who believe and persevere in the faith but the fact remains that despite the promises of “prosperity” gospel-lers, to be a follower of Christ is not easy and often galling to flesh and blood.

It is only when a person is “born again” that they can begin to find the strength and peace in Christ necessary to counter ,endure  and  yes even rejoice in the midst of the trials and tribulation which beset the people of God for Christ’s sake.

Anyone can put up their hand or sign a card or go up the front.

This may be enough for many of our local churches and denominations because it swells their membership books and adds to their offerings but only those who show in themselves the work of the Spirit by newness of life are those whom God counts as being His people.

When we have sifted through all the googols , gimmicks and gimcracks of past and all the “nine day wonders” and finding them barren .wanting  and false, we are left solely with the proclamation of the old gospel  of “Christ and Him crucified “ as the power of God unto salvation Romans 1:16.

Spurgeon First Words

Amiability, no proof of Christianity

We often meet people who, in the old parlance would be referred to as “nature’s gentleman” or generally as the “salt of the earth”.

s-l1000
Diamond in the rough

These people by their speech and behavior engender all that is best and admirable in human nature. Like the rich young ruler they are loveable, greatly admired and sought after as friends.

I myself have many numerous people who would fall readily into this category.

These “paragons” of virtue often have many of the characteristics’ of Christians yet do not regard themselves as such or at least do not associate themselves with the visible body of Christ.

Others do indeed pass current in the local church and are universally accepted as Christians of legal tender.

In our tender heartedness we tell ourselves that God Himself must have a soft spot for these upright and humanitarian people. At least we can hope that if not actual Christians yet they are not far away from the “kingdom of heaven”.

These “rough diamonds” in the church may be accepted by all as genuine believers and born again Christians. It is not our place to judge anyone’s heart and the complete knowledge of anyone’s spiritual state is only truly known to God.

However we often find with these wonderful people that come to our churches and sit in our pews come to a point in their profession of faith that is a spiritual “bridge too far”.

They are taught what the Bible says about renouncing our own righteousness and clothing ourselves in the righteousness of Christ and seeing ourselves as God sees us as lost sinners, clothed in rags and it “ sticks in their craw”.

Whatever the trigger may be they find that the reality of Christian teaching and practice are more than mere “flesh and blood “can take.

In many ways the “good” person is further away from belief in the gospel than the unpretentious sinner. Jesus said himself said that He came not too called the “righteous” or rather those who viewed themselves as such but sinners to repentance.

However never let it be said anyone is beyond the reach of the power of God in Salvation.

The “rich young ruler” found, in himself something lacking spiritually, but when Jesus put his finger on the problem he was unwilling to receive the cure.

Others under the invisible work of the convicting Spirit,  would humble themselves and take it.

The world may be a better place for lives of the great public benefactors and “good sorts” but the true Christian is one who has been lifted up to a higher and heavenly plane.

True, he may not always be what he or she should be and many times the amiable and worthy “non Christian” may exceed them in good works , generosity and kindness, but if they are grounded on the foundation of Christ and indwelled by Him, they will grow in righteousness and holiness, for they are truly the “salt of the earth”.

Advice Gratis

No one likes being told how to order and run their life.

Especially so in this “anything-arian” age when most lifestyles and indulgences are tolerated and even applauded.

(Of course this is only up to a certain and ever receding point where peoples scruples and sensibilities are offended.)

History teaches us that people veer from listening to nobody, to listening to anybody, no matter how wrong.

There are always those who never ask for or take advice and follow guidance. Indeed this is often seen as a mark of strength and independence.

These people follow their own whims and desires and “woe betides: anyone who gets in their way.

Contra- wise at the other extreme, there are many people who are suggestible and pliable and will jump on someone’s bandwagon, and in their blind adulation take onboard everything they do and say.

In proof of this we can only ask why so many seemingly reasonable and decent people followed Adolph Hitler to their destruction and caused a holocaust of unspeakable suffering.

Our sinful and self sufficient tendency is not to listen or even welcome advice from those who are wiser than ourselves, sometimes we even resent it.

When we do seek guidance we turn to those whose advice will forward our own carnal ,sinful desires and ends even if it means using dubious and “dodgy “ means.

Fundamentally we look to our own ideas and instincts to lead us forward and are slow to admit that we are not always sufficient of ourselves to cope with the problems and perplexities of life…

It is blatantly obvious from our own experience and our observations of the ungodly people around us, that the last place we, without Divine help, will seek for guidance and wisdom is the Word of God and by prayer.

When we finally come to the end of ourselves and look for fulfillment and the meaning of it all, there are a great many “Worldly –wise men” who will volunteer to show us the way to happiness and to the achievement of all we desire.

They may have a great deal of seeming wisdom and  common human experience on their side but the motives they act from and the guaranteed results they promise prove false and delusions.

When we are finally led to the scriptures and read them with an open heart and mind we find truth that speaks to and answers our fundamental problem and shows us the means to cure our spiritual bankruptcy.

We find the solution to the questions of “why we are here” and “what has gone wrong”. We also discover that Christ has paid our debt and blazed a trail for us that leads us to eternal joy and peace. It is only for us to believe and obediently follow Him.

While the “scales” of sin are upon our eyes, we remain blind to this answer to all our needs and questions. It is only by the power of God in giving sight to the spiritually blind that we can see the gate of salvation opened before us.

Even on the more mundane level of day to day existence, the Bible gives guidance and simple common sense advice for all our dealings with people, money and those in authority over us.

In the Wisdom writings of the Old Testament as reinforced by the New, we find out that how we treat others often dictates how they react to us and treat us.

We discover that while money may seem to “answer all things” it is not to be an end in itself.

Rather, it is to be saved and used in ways that benefit the welfare of others as well as us.

Indeed we are given a sense of urgency for the generous use of our money and riches for good purposes because our wealth is only lent to us by the Lord and of themselves have wings to fly away.

Our family relations are not neglected by the Word and were the guidance given more widely followed many marriages and families would have stay intact and not splinter apart.

All this is laid upon the foundation of our restored relationship to God.

Our reconciliation with Him is the spur and impetus to seek reconciliation with others and they, in turn to find peace with God.

The Scripture are full of great advice and wisdom freely offered and we should gladly receive it because it comes from the ever wise and loving God.

Optics.

optics

One of the great advantages that the Germans had in World War 2 was the high quality optical equipment they produced.

It meant they could see and engage targets at great distance and with great accuracy.

In spiritual matters to it is vital necessary to see things clearly and as they are.

It is our inherent blindness and lack of perception which causes us to see things different from the way they actually are and  often leads us into Spiritual danger.

We all need to pray that God will gives us eyes to see the truth that he shows us in His Word and to differentiate it from the “ miasma” of lies and distortions which surround us.

Bias

The Puritans often refer to the ancient anecdote about a philosopher called Bias.

As I recall it he was shipboard during a violent storm at sea.

While observing the panic and frantic prayers to the “gods” by his otherwise profligate and pagan-istic fellow passengers, he bade them cease their prayers.

He told them that prayers in the ears of the “gods”, coming from such people would only remind the “deities” of their (i.e. the passengers and crew) many sins and wicked deeds and provoke their hoped for saviours to increase their affliction and peril and possibly destroy them.

So when we feel the need to pray, it is often the reminder of past and present sins that makes us reluctant to come before our holy God.

This is the reason why we need to keep short account of our sins and be ever seeking their forgiveness , our cleansing from all unrighteousness and grace for a ever holier life.

This should also make us ever thankful to Jesus Christ who is our great intercessor with the Father and an ever present help in time of trouble.

thomas hooker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “Nine days wonder”!

Dust and Ashes.

humble

Whatever maybe our modern Christian understanding or attitude to the holiness of God, one wonders whether it still provokes the humility and self loathing for our ongoing sinfulness such as it did in the great Saints of the past?

To what extent a ”professing Christian” can  engage in sin and yet still regard themselves as a true Christian is a difficult question.

The prevailing belief is that the Christian does not willfully persist in a sinful practice if understood and known to be such, without hating, striving against and seeking Divine assistance to conquer it.

Paul’s testimony in Romans Seven has been the experience of many of the soundest Christians of the past yet one wonders whether it is the experience of many professors of the faith today.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:21-24

True, we know little or nothing of each Christian’s individual experience in their dealings with God alone and in private.

(In times past many kept a daily journal or diary where they recorded their spiritual experiences and feelings and left them for future generations but it is not a common thing now.)

Yet surely those who fully and sincerely,  examine themselves and find so much remaining sin within them, cannot but cry out in earnest “God be merciful to me a sinner”!

Indeed this prayer for mercy and yearning for holiness must show forth in our behavior and Christian living as seen by our humility and overall hatred of sin.

Sadly, The need for self examination as to our spiritual state , remaining bondage to sin and worldliness is in many denominations discouraged because they say it is sinful to have lingering doubts about our salvation by Christ and exalted spiritual position in Him.

We are constantly told that because He” paid it all” there is no remaining need for our being concerned about our remaining sin and sinfulness, God will deal with it or overlooks it for Christ’s sake.

We are told that our only need is to sit back and enjoy all the benefits Christ has procured for us by His death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit.

The worst lie is a half truth

Our sense of the sinfulness of sin and its deserved consequences can be blunted by the fullness and free-ness of Christ’s salvation when it is not the accompanied by the preaching of the holiness of God and His perfect law and the constant need on our part for watchfulness and striving against the sin that so easily besets us and a life of whole hearted obedience to Christ’s commands.

I fear we regard sin too lightly and superficially and see it only in the past participle.

Yes Jesus did indeed paid it all, but should we lightly forget that it was for loathsome, sinful and defiled wretches such as we, that the perfect and sinless Son of God suffered and died.

It was our sin that put Him there.

We can see the chaos and suffering sin continues to cause in the world ,  but can we imagine what it would have been like had not Christ humbled Himself and came in the likeness of sinful man (yet remaining without sin) and redeem mankind, to save You and Me?

Mankind would have been without any hope at all and the world a far worse place than it is!

Over and above the consequences of sin on creation and mankind, is the affront it gives to the holiness of God, who dwells in the unapproachable light of holiness without any darkness at all and to whom sin is completely abhorrent.

Sin is base ingratitude to the grace and loving-kindness that God has shown in placing man-kind in such an exalted position in His creation and yet it’s choosing the path of disobedience, self will and self exaltation.

The price paid by Christ on the cross is the greatest indication of the sinfulness of sin.

Nothing less than this wondrous and perfect sacrifice was sufficient to deal with sin and its horrific and eternal consequences.

Can we therefore lightly regard and treat the sin that engendered the need for such an infinite sacrifice for its atonement?

There is a free and easiness that seems to characterize most of our Christianity today that seems to ignore the greatness and costliness of our Salvation and minimize the spiritual debt and obedience which is our grateful response to our lovely Saviour.

In the joy of Christian worship and fellowship we  must not forget the awe and reverence which are due to our Wondrous God who though He has become our loving heavenly Father, is still worthy of our reverence, praise and worship.

We come to God, not only as Christians and saints but also as saved sinners seeking deliverance from the remaining remnants of sin in our lives and whoever else may lay claim to sinless perfection, the majority of us will continue to take our place before God in dust and ashes until He lifts us up in mercy and forgiveness by our Saviour’s loving and mighty hand.

 

Led Astray.

We very often hear of Christians desiring to enter the ministry or Christian work and go to Theological seminaries for training.

However as a result of the “”liberal” or “modernist” teaching and irreverent  attitude taken towards Scripture shown by their instructors, they become disillusioned with Christianity and fall away from “the faith”  and some may fall under the spell of  false teachers.

Some people today seem to have the attitude that it does not pay to examine the Bible too closely for fear they will find it flawed and delusory?

It could be they are just not theologically minded and will take it all upon trust.

They may be attending a lively, “happening” church, with warm fellowship and an exciting program and entertainment. Their religion is all about the experience and how it makes them feel.

Possibly there is in their church very little exposition of Scripture and an easy going attitude to faith and practice.

Then, for some reason, they decide to do some training in theology and Bible study and during its course they run into doctrines and teachings they have not heard before and which they find difficult, uncomfortable and straitening on their lifestyle: as a result they become disillusioned or offended and drift away from profession of Christianity.

Sadly their last state is often worse than their first.

False and deficient teaching always has been the bane of Christianity and the Church.

As the saying goes “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, drink deep or touch not the Pierian Spring”.

While it is true that we cannot learn the whole of Christian doctrine while a person is “standing on one foot”( as someone asked to learn philosophy) yet it is necessary to  learn and drink deep as fully as possible  Scriptural truth to gain a sound and balance knowledge of what and why we believe.

We understand as Peter says of Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:16) that there are some things in scripture that many find hard to understand and who, by their own lack of learning and instability may wrest or turn and twist them to their own destruction, yet there remains so much that is plain and unmistakable to anyone, except the willfully blind spiritually.

The way of Salvation and the path of obedience and Holiness are clearly set forth in the Word of God so that even a child may understand and come to belief and faith under the work of the Holy Spirit.

The “Doubter” and the infidel will point to the multitude of translations and paraphrases or to the various renderings and disputed verses and portions in the Bible and ask how we can be certain of its truth and Divine authority.

They will also point to the many denominations and streams of theology and exclaim that even Christians cannot agree among themselves so why should anyone wish to join such a state of affairs and believe something which no one really understands.

Truly there is nothing new under the sun.

From the very beginning the “enemy” has thrown “soot into the eyes” of men and women and encourage their apathy, ignorance and disinclination to Christianity and obedience to God’s Word as revealed in Scripture.

His constant ploy is to make the Bible a “closed book”, so obscure and dark that it can only be truly opened and interpreted by a carefully picked elite, and by his influence, they will only read it to suit the “adversaries” own ends and  interests, twisting Scripture beyond recognition and smudging its original meaning .

Failing this, he will reduce the Word down to a merely fallible human book to be taken or left and interpreted according to our whim and predilection or to what is bothering us at the time.

Even true believers are not immune from the prevailing influence of unbelief, they can find themselves with doubts about the veracity of the Bible and questions they find difficulty answering.

Fortunately if we truly belong to Christ and part of his flock, we are not left to our own devices.

The believer who is sincerely seeking to hear what God has to say, can seek the assistance of the Holy Spirit and by His guidance be led into all truth.

The Scriptures are the result the Holy Spirit of God, working through faithful writers and His Divine task is to open the eyes of our understanding and writing upon our hearts and minds God’s truth and perfect will.

He also acts as our guardian so that we can discern divine truth and differ it from satanic lies.

We must continue to hold to the veracity of the Scripture and with the Spirit’s aid seek to understand and be obedient to those things God teaches us in His Word.

 

 

Popeye Christians!

MV5BNDcwNGU2NzUtODIwZC00YTdmLWE3NjItNjRmNjczNWFiY2VlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjk3NTUyOTc@._V1_

I confess that it is getting harder to find things to write about, added to this I feel a real spiritual dearth at the moment.

It is a common experience among Christians, in times of spiritual decline and leanness that they seek for something that will act as the Christian equivalent of Popeye’s “spinach”.

They are unwilling to put the time and effort into restoring their spiritual well being and seek for a “short cut” instead.

It could be that many look to the weekly “Worship” service they attend as something like a coach’s pep talk at halftime instead of finding it a source of spiritual nourishment and strength.

Often and for various reasons, our experience of “church” ceases to provide the necessary impetus and “food” to fuel our Christian life and witness.

This could be because most of us do not lay the spiritual groundwork in our personal lives and are instead seeking a quick fix to our problems, emotional lows and spiritual lethargy.

Is this why Charismatic churches are all the rage at the moment?

They seem to offer an easy way to “turbo-charge” our Christianity by the receiving of “gifts” of the Holy Spirit and higher states of excitement and ecstasy.

This can be only a short term solution because the fundamental problem remains untouched.

Yet even when our local church is sound and alive it will not make up for our laziness and lack of spiritual application.

When we are lackadaisical in our Bible study, practice of prayer and Christian obedience and duty it is no wonder we sink to low ebb spiritually.

These may be commonplace things but it is by neglecting these things and half hearted in doing them that we shrivel spiritually and lose our blessing and fruitfulness.

I believe that very little good comes from the passive “let go and let God” attitude in the Christian life.

The New Testament writers constantly exhort us to strive and work even going as far as to say that we are “fellow workers with God” therefore our efforts is not in vain.

We are not depending on “mere” human effort but rather vigorously applying the spiritual strength that God by His Spirit readily supplies to those fervently and prayerfully seeking it.

It comes down to the fact that the “pump” of our Christianity needs constant priming and for “all hands” to apply to it, in the knowledge that the Water is of God’s providing and for His glory alone.

It may be a conundrum to say but we need the Holy Spirit in order to pray acceptably and in a manner pleasing to God, yet this does not excuse us from the effort and diligence required to persevere in prayer and in crying for the Spirit’s assistance for our daily life and service.

We are not “automatons” that are acted upon” willy- nilly”.

We are willing servants and workers in the great work that God has called us to in the Church and in the World.

It is often our lack of spiritual discipline and obedience which has the most telling effect on our spiritual pulse and vigor.

The blind man whom Jesus healed at Bethesda told the interrogating Pharisees that Jesus must have been sent from God because God does not hear sinners.

For the professing Christian it could be that the harbouring of sin and leaving it undealt with and un-repented, acts an obstacle to our prayers and retards our growth in grace.

Disobedience and our indulging in sin is the sure way to spiritual decline and failure.

Our attitude towards sin must be one of loathing, opposition and the constant seeking of forgiveness and deliverance and by our not falling into complacency.

Another reason for spiritual weakness is, as D. Martin Lloyd- Jones points out in his book on “Spiritual Depression” that it can be can be a symptom of physical sickness and emotional stress and strain.

Our physical health can tell on our spiritual feelings of joy and well being.

It must be realized that often there are no easy outs of many of our problems and pitfalls and despite what some would have us to believe the Christian has a difficult path to tread.

This is because everything in our physical body and sin tainted soul is crying out for ease and rest and that we are living in a Satan inspired world system calculated to divert us from the “upward way” to earthly pleasure, material possessions and carnal indulgence.

We must cope with these things by relying on Christ through faith, constant vigilance and self control.

 

s bolton.jpeg

 

 

Dust and Ashes.

Pamper yourself because its all about you!

The marketers and sellers in today’s world, in order to make us part with our cash, are telling us to enjoy, indulge, pamper and put ourselves first.girl-lying-on-the-tropical-beach-H3FY5W

We are constantly being fed the line that sometimes it is a good thing to put ourselves first and forget the others. As if we sinful people needed any encouragement to indulge in love of self and egocentric behavior.

If we look to the scriptures we see that this has ever been the line of attack that Satan invariably uses.

He flattered our first parents with the idea that they were being deprived of opportunities and experiences and pleasures by God by denying them the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

In the parable the younger son feels that he is being repressed and denied good things by his father and seeks through gaining his inheritance to find freedom and “the good life” but instead finds that many of life’s so called pleasure are fleeting and in the end not worth the having.

Sad to say that the Church is not devoid of those who would tell us that we can have it all and be free of many of life’s problems by professing Christ and jumping on their particular bandwagon of philosophy.

The devotees of this sort of teaching find too late that even the “Christian” must take “the rough with the smooth” and often a great deal more of the former.

We are told by the scriptures again and again that self denial and tribulation are part and parcel of the Christian life. They are unavoidable but in the overall scheme of God’s purposes they are a gateway to true and lasting blessing; if encountered in the same manner as Christ, the apostles and their successors did, by faith, prayer and patience.

How ironic it is that for every one person who teaches the scriptural truth about self denial and the certainty of earthly suffering, we have so many others who will seek to pursue the same line as the enemy of the Saviour and his saints.

Emperor Pedro the second.

Pedro_II_of_Brazil_1848

The 58 year reign of Brazilian Emperor Pedro the second was one of the high periods of Brazilian history. It marked thanks to his influence a period of political stability, respect for freedom of speech, vibrant economic growth and a parliamentary system which worked well.

Against staunch opposition he pushed through the abolition of slavery and was a sponsor of culture, learning and the sciences. (Quoted from Wiki)

Despite all this Pedro was overthrown and exiled by a military coup devoid of any popular support.

In view of Brazil’s subsequent history many have looked back at that period and regarded the removal Pedro and all he stood for as a false and retrograde step with long term consequences for the well being of the nation.

We to can look back at our history and lament the false steps we have taken which have resulted in failure and disappointment and long term consequences. Yet we can no more change the past than change the colour of the sky.

We seldom know when we are well off; we are ever looking away to things that seem bigger and better.

Contentment with all the blessings and good things that God bestows is a blessing in itself and something we should all seek for.

The story of Ruth.

While there are many profound and deep things found in Scripture there are also many simple and plain histories recounted with morals, lessons and spiritual importance, among these is the book of Ruth.

Placed as it is in the time of the Judges, this story stands in incongruity to the idolatry and national disobedience that characterized this time in Israel’s history.

It may be speculated that this story occurred during one of the “revivals” of true religion and obedience to God that punctuated the apostasy and anarchy which characterized succeeding generations throughout this period but we do not know for sure.

The Book of Ruth stands as an oasis in a spiritual wasteland and a fruitful tropical island in an angry sea.

We Christians of today may only give a passing look at this simple story and think of it as only a romantic tale but we thereby miss a great deal of spiritual truth.

Upon a closer examination we might learn a great deal more than we expect.

Philip Mauro entitled his work on the book “Ruth the satisfied stranger”.

There is no doubt that this devoted Moabitess, as well as being a progenitor of King David and thereby according to the flesh through the Davidic line an ancestor our Lord Jesus Christ, was also a first fruit of the Gentile believers who would be grafted into spiritual vine and Church of the firstborn.

After losing and leaving so much she found even greater and truer blessings among the chosen people of God by coming to dwell in the land of promise.

She by simple faith and devotion entered into the hope of the future Messiah and Saviour and became an example of what those of like faith would also find who would likewise come.

ruth's wise choice

Even if isolated from the rest of the scripture, the lessons of the book are useful and helpful.

However when placed in its Biblical setting and context, in knowledge of future events, this little book takes on a new importance in understanding the manner and means of God’s working in history and through the lives of believers.

God not only works in the large scale but also works in the small and mundane.

He works in the long term and not contingently meeting things as they arise.

Also I would point out that while we moderns are revolted by the sacrificial system attendant on the Old Testament worship of Israel’s God yet when compared to the vain and debauched worship of the heathen who “knew not God” it was not without attraction.

Ruth being a Moabite was probably familiar with the Moabite worship of Chemosh and the vile rites associated with it: this added to the character and witness of Naomi made Israel’s God and His worship attractive and compelling.

Would that we all by our life and witness made Christianity attractive to those outside.

In Christ we find all that is eternally satisfying, yet we still have the old desires for fast satisfaction and worldly pleasure, so it is a constant battle to be forever seeking the better things of God and His kingdom.ruth

 

Ruth’s marriage to Boaz and subsequent bringing Obed the grandfather of David into the world is not merely a “Happy ever after” ending as a fairy tale would have it.

It shows forth the overruling providence of God in the deliverance and eternal well being of those who place their trust in Him coupled with the unfolding of His eternal plan and providence in the election and Salvation of a people for Himself through the saving work of His Son Jesus Christ.

a maclaren

 

 

 

Pamper yourself because its all about you!

The consequences of sin!

The writer of the Book of Chronicles is seldom squeamish about laying the blame for the consequences of transgression and sin. In chapter 10:13-14 speaking of the tragic fall and death of King Saul, he says this So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 14 But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse”.

To many modern eyes this sort of statement is “judgmental” and “unloving”.

He does this again in 2 Chronicles 36:15-21 speaking of the deportation of the Jews to Babylon as a consequence of their idolatry and disobedience of the Lord.

Some today would consign this to the lost cause of the “Old Testament”, yet there is no lesser emphasis on the consequences of un-repented sin in the New Testament to anyone with eyes to see it.

Where does this refusal to see sin in its true light by the modern church come from, what is its source?

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot”. Romans 8:7

Even among professing Christians their remains  to varying degrees this carnal mind in seeking to blunt and water down God’s holy law and commandments.

People want the benefits of being the people of God yet disregard the necessity for genuine holiness of life imparted as well as imputed. This does not happen without striving, rejecting and mortifying of sin upon our part.

It is this that is the unpopular part of Christianity which has gone by the board in much of the Church.

The demand for us to believe lies today is becoming more violent and outspoken and in the future will separate the sheep from the goats among us.

A High Hand!

In the descriptive language of the past presumptuous sin was described as sinning with a “high hand”.

It is always dangerous to measure one sin against another and deciding which is more or less heinous.

All sin is displeasing to God and falls under His righteous judgment. Yet to commit it willfully and persistently adds immensely to the guilt of sin .

The terrible consequence of the redefining of sin in this age has added the dimension of calling what God has called wicked and sinful  as acceptable , innocent and good.

This as the prophet Isaiah spoke of his times as the great sin of many in calling evil good and good evil. ” Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

Many professing christian are falling into line with the “mores” and “zeit-geist” of the age and compromising and re-interpreting the plain teaching of God’s word. They are in fact if not in intention departing from the uniform belief and teaching of the Christian Church as well as an unbiased and plain understanding of Scripture teaching.

Popularity at a price!

In all the effort to re-interpret and popularize Christianity in the World the fundamental difficulty is that rightly understood Jesus Christ and the gospel message of Salvation has never been popular.

Christianity runs counter to everything that man by fallen nature is.

Today we see many who under the name of the love of Jesus attempt to cloak and allow the very sin that He died to save mankind from.

To what lengths they will go is astounding, either to the re-interpreting what the Bible says to make it speak to something different altogether or disregard the teaching and authority of Scripture and thereby God altogether.

We are finding ourselves in the midst of a spiritual quagmire unsure of where the solid ground is and indeed if there is any place for a firm footing at all.

There is no doubt that in the Church, not to speak of the God denying world, standing upon the truth and teaching of the Bible as the Word of God is going to become more difficult and cost a great deal more.

Jesus experienced the fleeting popularity that continues current in the world. The Jews of Jesus’ time were willing to accept Jesus as the Messiah as long as He conformed to their political and carnal desires, but when He proved to be a Messiah of a different kind the popularity with the multitudes fizzled and led to the Cross.

Are we not seeing in the call to understand Christianity in modern Worldly and psychological terms and attempt to rob it of its demands for repentance and self denial as a seeking for popularity at the expense of truth?

images grey sheep

 

The consequences of sin!

Revised Christianity??

e0ceaccf3e865b6463471ddf59d222b4--ancient-egypt-pyramids-cairo-egypt

A story is told of an archaeologist returning to his work inside a pyramid and finding a man chiseling away at the pyramid to bring its internal measurement into line with his interpretation of prophecy.57f9645272048e19f1e6c60fb164f2d2--chisel-set-tool-steel

So the tendency today is to look back at history and reshape it into line with our current ideas and prejudices. This is being seen today in the push to rename schools and streets and remove statues. Also the trend to write revisionist history among our academics is part of this attempt to “remove the landmarks”.

Christianity itself is not immune from this desire to re-mould it into forms more acceptable and less offensive to so-called modern man.

It has always been the case that some people would take a part of the Christian message and run with it while conveniently avoiding those things that are of no interest to him and to affronting to his own self worth.

The modernist takes the ethics and values of Christianity and attempts to conform society to his imagined portrayal of Christ as merely a social reformer.

The ritualist takes the scriptures and distorts them into a series of religious acts and ceremonies which sinful man must perform to obtain access and acceptance with God and superimposes a hierarchy he must implicitly believe and obey.

Others, to whom I have often referred, make the gospel message a source of earthly health, wealth and personal fulfillment and remove the self denial and bearing of the Cross.

While we all read the Bibles through the glasses of our own point of view we must put ourselves to one side and hear what the Word of God actually says.

The Reformers for all their shortcomings reminded those willing to hear that the Scriptures alone are the source of God’s truth. We are to believe nothing that is not revealed or is able to be reasonably deduced from scripture. In this we are to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to remove the veil and open our eyes to God’s truth revealed therein.

While there is still room to differ in some interpretations of Scripture the fundamental doctrines of Christianity must remain inviolate and implicitly believed.

8cde47825ee02fffe624d57bd4711970--scottish-quotes-reformed-theology-teaching

A mixed bag!

We all know people whose Christianity stands out and are an adornment to the church they attend.

We also know some whose Christianity although genuine is still being formed and having the rough edges smoothed.

Then there are those who profess Christianity but are really a hindrance to the work of Christ’s church and a constant blot on the spiritual landscape.

We read that when the Children of Israel left Egypt there travelled with them a” mixed multitude” who use the opportunity to get out of slavery and get the great material benefits offered in the promised land.imagesmixed multitude

Unfortunately when the way became hard and material comforts did not come up to their expectations they became the ringleaders in the murmuring and complaining which plagued Moses thus bringing God’s judgment and plagues upon the people as a whole.

Lest we be found finger pointing we must examine ourselves to make sure we are not modern day examples of these “whingers”.

Standing up for God’s revealed truth is the duty of all His faithful people but it is to be done with love and the use of reason. Zeal and passion are to play their part but governed by the love of Christ for the erring from the way.

To be found a “troublers’ of Israel” and a false professor of Christ in the Church and in the world is something we must pray we never be.

God-Quote-What-God-Has-Done-For-Me-Joseph-Hall

Arthur_Lowe

Arthur Lowe (22 September 1915 – 15 April 1982) was one of the iconic figures of British film and television. Most of those who worked with him said that his best known character of “Dad’s Army” “Captain Mainwaring” pronounced Mannering, was very like himself especially in pomposity.Dads35Statue of Captain Mainwaring, Arthur Lowe’s Dad’s Army character in Thetford.

It does make it easier when we “be ourselves” and not pretend to be something we are not and not likely to be.

The wonder of true Christianity it that it makes us into new creations without robbing us of what is intrinsically “ourselves”.

Like the work of art that needs the centuries of dirt and grime removed before it re-appears in the true and living colours with which it was painted, we need the power of God to remove the grime of sin and shame and to impart His grace to our lives, to bring us at last to our eternal state of Christ’ like perfection.

Revised Christianity??