Tag: Hope

MY FAITH, MY TESTIMONY

Why am I a Christian? How did it come to be? In answer, an entire book could be written, which would have quite a few racy, dramatic, well-thumbed scenes. However, it’s likely that no-one, or almost no-one, would read it in todays racy, well-thumbed, sound-bite world, so instead here’s a brief, somewhat clinical summary.

Image result for baby images
(Not me-I was nowhere near being that cute!)

I was raised in Britain in a Christian home, and I was a born thinker. I thought deeply about most things from whatever age I was at all conscious of the world. I also suffered acutely from loneliness, particularly as my hard-working and wonderful dad was never at home, and my wonderful mum was preoccupied with housework and TV soap operas.

In my teens I fell in love with a girl, and she seemed equally in love with me, but when she dumped me four years later my world came crashing down. What was life all about? What was the point of it? Was anything worth living for? God didn’t enter my mind here. God seemed far, far away, like my dad was.

I took to drink and drugs. The pub and party life was my church where I found fellowship, conversation and a lot of laughs. I was looking for love, whatever that was, but my second serious relationship with a girl ended the same way as the first. I suffered terribly with rejection, and the drink and drugs got stronger. They numbed the pain, at least for as long as I was high. However, two things had come into my life which turned out to be milestones in my journey to faith. First, the second girl’s mother had taken me to church, mostly against my will, and she herself was the real deal- a warm, kind person. The second influence was a professional musical- “Godspell” which I toured with as a musician. The actors themselves were for the most part hedonistic, but one scene in the show, which I could view clearly from my on-stage vantage point, enacted in an abstract way the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every night for ten months, as the lead actor, a Christian, died and rose again, my heart was burning inside me. God, I now know, was calling me. Sadly, I continued to get high for another three years, not knowing any other way to cope with life.

By that time, when I wasn’t high I was suffering severely with depression, and I can remember one night calling on God-whoever or whatever God was-to help me. It was just a simple two-worder, but packed with sincerity! Not long after that, the warehouse I worked in found itself short of work, and I was laid off for the Christmas period. I decided to use the time, and some money I had saved for the first time in my life, to go to visit my eldest sister, who lived five thousand miles away in the United States, just to get away from it all for a while.

(Also not me)

What I wasn’t expecting was that she would hook me into attending her church. It may be that the influences I had experienced before helped me to feel safe enough to go along just to please her. There the minister, one Earl Hargis, turned out to also be the real deal. When he preached, my spirit inside me was hugely and deeply aroused, as though God himself was speaking to me: He was. Hargis faithfully relayed the gospel-the good news-of Jesus Christ. That is, that the Son of God came to live among us, and to suffer God’s judgment in our place on the cross. God could then overlook our sin nature, and give us eternal life with Him. On the third day Christ rose from the dead. He will come again to subject the world to himself, and to take us home.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is blinding-light-into-lent.jpg

I cannot relate the exact feeling I had when the pastor preached, but God had come for me, and was calling me loudly and clearly. After a month of being so called, I went back to where I was staying one Sunday, got down on my knees, and asked Jesus Christ to save me from my sins, to take over my life, and to change me. The light of God truly came into my life at that point, and very quickly life had meaning and purpose for the first time. The plan of God for me and for the world, which I now realized He had created, made eminent, beautiful sense.

Decades later, I’m still on the same road: the road to eternal life with my God and my saviour, and with all those who’ve heard the call and responded. The road isn’t all strewn with roses, but it’s going in the right direction.

A caution here-not everyone hears the call as loudly as I did: God had to shout to get my attention.

Sanity In An Insane World

Does it ever seem to you that the world has gone crazy? Here’s the antidote to insanity…

I spent the first part of my life trying to escape reality in many ways, most notably and notoriously through alcohol and drugs. To me the world was an ugly, lonely, dark and boring place, and every opportunity I had to ignore it and turn in on myself and my own personal world I took. I would sleep until twelve or one or two. I would avoid work as much as possible, and I would avoid people who had their feet planted firmly in the real world.

th (2)

Decades later I can see why I was that way, because, without doubt, the world of humanity really can be for many people lonely, frustrating, hurtful, harmful and even disgusting. But now I sometimes feel like I’m one of the only people attempting to see the world as it really is. Escapism rules, in many forms.

However, what’s far worse than widespread escapism is that the Western world has largely cut itself off from its moral and spiritual roots, so that what was once unthinkable has become acceptable or at least up for serious discussion. Our world has embraced immorality-even to the point of infanticide and giving children sex changes-and a potent mixture of voluntary spiritual confusion. Logic is also “out the window”, so that a majority are happy to believe that we evolved from soup, even though, as I’ve documented before, the evolutionist can show you no evidence whatsoever for that idea. I suppose you could call it paganism run amok, and political correctness defends and champions paganism in any form your little heart may desire: anything which dismantles traditional values and commonly-held truths and standards.

The result of rejecting the truths our Creator established can only be error: confusion, faulty living, mistakes, blunders, disasters, and a battle for the supremacy of ideas.

Unfortunately, the problem of the rejection of truth and so the rejection of sanity and peace extends into a large part of the professing Christian Church. And here is the nub of the problem. If those “leading” the church fall into the ditch, will not the church fall into the ditch with them? At least, those who don’t think for themselves will.

The rejection of our founding beliefs and truths is actually an attack on the Church of Jesus Christ, and therefore a spiritual attack. When a minister promotes his own views or those of others above what the Bible tells us, or even if he just ignores Scripture as being irrelevant or “elastic”, he is in fact denying the Faith once delivered to the saints. He’s leading his flock into confusion, insanity, and paganism.

Our hope in eternal life is built on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and on what he taught. If it isn’t truth, then we’re all adrift on an ocean of uncertainty and confusing and conflicting ideas. But what does scripture claim? It claims that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). So when your minister or your church or you yourself deny or ignore that claim, you may as well throw out your hope in eternal life, and in the forgiveness of your sins. If some of it is wrong, all of it is wrong, because it consistently confirms itself. If it’s wrong it has become just someone’s opinion as to how to be raised from certain death, and how to be accepted by whatever or whoever is beyond it, if there is anyone or anything beyond it.

Jesus Christ, according to the apostle John, said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If you don’t want to accept that statement as being factual, you’re calling John and Jesus Christ liars, and you’re flushing away any certainty of eternal life. Not only that, but you’re also flushing away the teaching of Scripture as to what is right or wrong. Truth is then up for grabs, for anyone who can win elections and force their views of right or wrong on everyone else. Man has then become the measure of all things, as Protagoras claimed, and you are at the mercy of whoever gains the upper hand, whether it be by force, trickery, lies, semantics, abuse, flattery or bribery.

Jesus Christ, in the synoptic gospels, quoted Old Testament Scripture and declared it to be the Word of God, to be obeyed above any other alternative (Matthew 4:4). Denying Old Testament truths such as Creation ex-nihilo is to deny God and to call the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit liars and incapable of speaking truth. You’re on very shaky ground if that’s your view. In fact, cutting yourself off from the foundations of the free world, as imperfect as it is, can only lead ultimately to either virtual insanity or tyranny, or both. Atheists argue that they can be as rational and moral as any religious person, and so they can, but only because they have the benefit of being raised in the afterglow of a society based loosely on the principles of God. A multitude of alternative societies in the past and the present holds the value of life and liberty in contempt.

Some of God’s actions as recorded in the Bible were confirmed by Him with an oath. “God did this so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:18-19).

Would you rather live life and approach death and eternity embracing those promises, in which case you have nothing to lose and everything to gain: or rejecting them? In the latter case, you have everything to lose. Have faith in God, and in His Word.

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

In this world of struggles and disappointments and hardships and loss it’s refreshing to be reminded that there’s something worth celebrating every day of our lives, and that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ.

smile

The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us?

In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life with our Creator. The only requirement is that we accept God’s son, and attempt, through him, to live God’s way instead of our own.

Contrary to the common view on the street, as promoted by Hollywood and by certain authors, the gospel, the scriptures and the essential Christian doctrines were not all invented hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth. Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ” interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians can be confidently dated to around 55 AD (1).

Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and writes:

“That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum” (2).

THE GOSPEL

Here, then, is Paul’s first century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

So the gospel of Jesus Christ-the good news we can accept or reject-is this:

1 Christ died for our sins, as prophesied in Old Testament Scriptures (we can be forgiven for all our sin because of Christ’s death on the cross);

2 He was buried;

3 He was raised from the dead on the third day;

4 He appeared alive to his disciples after his resurrection.

5 He has promised peace in this world and eternal life to all who trust in him.

NOTES

1 Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” (Pub. By Zondervan, © 1998) p. 230.

2 Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS?

What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it socialism? Is it just one of many ways to God? Is it an invention of white American men? I’ve posted this message before…and I’ll post it again…

blinding-light-into-lent

The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us?

In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life. The gift-if we accept it for ourselves and change our ways-takes us from being subjects of God’s wrath into eternal life, even though for now we are in mortal bodies.

Contrary to the common view on the street, as promoted by Hollywood, the education establishment and by certain authors, the gospel, the scriptures and the essential Christian doctrines were not all invented or altered hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth.

Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ”(note 1) interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, which contains a clear definition of the gospel as outlined below, can be confidently dated to around 55 AD.

Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and writes that the gospel existed in the form below even before Paul’s letter:

That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum”(2).

THE GOSPEL

Here, then, is Paul’s first-century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…(1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

So the gospel of Jesus Christ is this:

1 Christ died for our sins, as prophesied in Old Testament Scriptures. We can be forgiven for all our sin because of Christ’s death on the cross;

2 He was buried;

3 He was raised from the dead on the third day;

4 He appeared alive to his disciples after his resurrection.

The gospel is here spelled out for you. Accept it, believe it, pray it, confess it, and live it.

NOTES

1 Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” Pg 230. Pub. By Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49130. © 1998 by Lee Strobel.

2 Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

GETTING A GRIP

One of the hazards to faith, peace and confidence can be the impression that God’s justice is not apparent in the world around us. Those who have no thought for God and who hate truth and justice sometimes seem to be doing very well for themselves, while the rest of us, those who love God and his ways, are not getting a fair shake on life…

800px-Golondrinas_Entrance_Rappelling

If we start to think God isn’t doing his job, or that he treats us unfairly, or that others are getting a much better deal in life even though they despise what is good, we can easily and quickly sink into bitterness and faithlessness. However, if we really know our God and our Scriptures-the ones on which our faith and hope are built-we should also know the truth of the situation.

David was one who similarly felt, for a time, that the darkness in humanity was triumphing over the righteous. Psalm 73 is an incredible view of David’s fear and bitterness that his enemies and those that hated the ways of God were running the world and getting their way:

From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
    their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
    with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
    and their tongues take possession of the earth (Psalm 73:7-9).

David confessed to us and to God that observing the prosperity of the wicked had almost destroyed his faith, because it seemed like they, and not God, were in control of things:

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
    I had nearly lost my foothold.
 For I envied the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (verses 2 and 3)

This is a lie which any one of us can fall for if we aren’t on our guard, and if we aren’t seeking our God and his word. In the country I am originally from you might be said to be “losing your grip” if you don’t have your mind or certain aspects of your life under control. David almost lost his grip, and I’ve almost lost mine. If you’re honest, you’ll probably admit that you too have almost lost yours:

Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure...(verse 13)

But lets’s settle the matter in our hearts, just as David did. Let’s get a grip by recognizing that all things… all things… are ultimately under the control of our God, who is both perfectly patient and perfectly just:

When I tried to understand all this it troubled me deeply,

till I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood their final destiny.

Surely you place them on slippery ground:you cast them down to ruin (verse 16-17).

David’s conclusion was that God is just and faithful:

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

and my portion forever (verse 23-25).