Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day!

(Photo by Neil Cullan McKinlay)

I just noticed the date today - it's Reformation Day. The following is a snippet from my The Nexus - a book I'm still working on:

Reformational Teaching
The Reformation of the Church (and therefore of society in general) began with Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. At this point in the deformation and life of the ‘Deformed’ Church the Scriptures had been relegated to a position far beneath the agenda-driven opinions of fallen men. The wheels of the Church’s wagon of redemption had become mired in the manure that had issued from the mouths of the horses that were supposed to be leading it! But after Luther put his shoulder to the wheel and John Calvin had supplied a fresh team, the ‘Good News wagon’ of God began once again to roll forward, spreading the written revelation of God and redemption throughout the nations along with its proclamation.

By 1647 there had been many good theologically ‘Reformed’ documents drawn up by gatherings of Godly men for the purpose of clearly encapsulating what the newly ‘Reformed’ Church believed the Scriptures to be teaching. To be sure these tended to be written in order to counter false theological teachings that had entered the Church through men imbibing false or clearly unscriptural musings of fallen men. Thus, from the Reformation period onward, men had in their hands once again that which the ‘Deformed’ Church had forbidden them. They had the very touchstone of reality in their hands, the written revelation of God – in their own language!

Not only did the Reformation put the Scriptures into the hands of the common people, but it also brought with it the Scripture’s own method of interpretation. No longer was a corrupt church full of corrupt leaders the authority for interpreting Scripture, but rather the Scriptures themselves became that authority: Scripture was to be used to interpret Scripture.

John Knox (1505-1572), a student of John Calvin, can be seen promoting the Reformational hermeneutic in an encounter with the Roman Catholic Mary Queen of Scots,

"‘You interpret the Scriptures in one way,’ said the queen evasively, ‘and they in another: whom shall I believe, and who shall be judge?’ ‘You shall believe God, who plainly speaketh in His Word,’ replied the Reformer, ‘and farther than the Word teacheth you, you shall believe neither the one nor the other. The Word of God is plain in itself; if there is any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost, who is never contrary to Himself, explains it more clearly in other places, so that there can remain no doubt, but as to such as are obstinately ignorant.’"[1]

The Reformation restored the authority of Scripture and, with the previous invention of the printing press, it put the written Word of God into the hands of the ordinary people in their own language. The significance for the Biblical rule of Biblical interpretation should not be missed. It is summed up in the following:

"The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture, (which is not manifold, but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
The supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture."[2]

No longer was the pope or the papacy the interpreter of Scripture – for that is to set the authority of men above the authority of God speaking in Scripture – but Scripture was to be its own interpreter. It stands to reason, therefore, that in order for the reader to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture the reader must believe that the whole of Scripture is the very Word of God written. Though the house was swept clean at the time of the Reformation all too soon the demons of error began to return in the form of Higher Criticism or Religious Liberalism.

"If there was a buzzword in nineteenth-century theoretical thought, it was the word evolution. The idea of evolution was applied not simply to biology, but also to other fields of inquiry. Political theory saw the application of Herbert Spencer’s ‘social Darwinianism,’ for example. It is important to realize that evolution encompasses chiefly a theory of history whereby not only biological entities undergo a progressive development from the simple to the complex, but also other entities undergo a similar sort of progressive change.
"Married to evolutionary philosophy, the Religious Historical School of the nineteenth century considered it axiomatic that all religions go through evolutionary stages of development. They move from the simple to the complex. In this scheme all religions begin with primitive forms of animism and move to a more complex level of sophisticated monotheism."[3]

Regarding the history of man, one can easily see the conflict between Reformational teaching and that of Social Darwinianism: the former is founded upon the written revelation of God while the latter is a product of Darwin’s theory. It is imperative that we are aware of our own presuppositions when considering the Bible and its contents. The treasure chest of Scripture remains securely locked to all who use a ‘Darwinian’ hermeneutic to attempt to interpret Scripture. The Reformation provided the key that unlocks the written revelation of God to man: Scripture interpreting Scripture.

[1] Thomas McRie, The Life of John Knox. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1889. p. 175.
[2] Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) Chapter 2, paragraphs 9 & 10.
[3] RC Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, Baker Books, 1998. pp. 17-18.

For more articles regarding Reformation Day see: http://nordskogpublishing.com/publisherscorner/2009/10/31-october-is-reformation-day.html

http://nordskogpublishing.com/publisherscorner/2009/10/october-31st-reformation-day-or.html

Books, Books, & More Books!

Apologies, I was away on the Darling Downs for a few days!

I mentioned in my previous blog that I was reading Ray Comfort's The Way of the Master. The edition I'm reading goes for about 343 pages. So far, so good. I was going great guns with it (I'm now at page 233) until I picked up Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. Man, what a page-turning, ripping yarn that one is! How does he know all that technical stuff about modern scientific technology? Gadgets and gizmos! Masons and mysteries! Murder and mayhem! Decoys and distractions! I'm up to page 199 of the 509 paged hard cover edition.

I wish I could read faster. I wish I could remember a lot more of what I read! While reading these two books I am trying to write a piece expounding The Apostles' Creed.

All was going well (sort of - and of course, I was ripping through the Book of Psalms at the same time as all of this!)) until I got home late Friday afternoon and found that a copy of Alexander Tait's The Cup had arrived on my doostep all the way from bonnie Scotland. Ray and Dan are going to have to wait until I've read The Cup.

You see, Alexander Tait is a friend of mine (okay, call me a name-dropper). Anyway, some of you who bother to read my blogs will also know Alexander Tait as Billy Scobie fae the Vale. I immensely enjoyed his previous book Whisky in the Jar - about agoraphobia, illicit whisky distilling on Loch Lomondside, among other things - a great read!

Anyway, maybe sometime in the future I'll blog about each of the books I've mentioned thus far (if I ever finish my present reading regime!)

O, and check out The Apostles' Creed. Then maybe you'll be interested in reading my exposition of it (if I ever get around to finishing it - what, with all these books I have to read!)

Ah, it's great to be back in my comfy blog chair - warp factor four, Scotty!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Bananaman Gets My Vote!

A friend lent me a book by Ray Comfort called The Way of the Master. I'm only up to page 57, so I won't yet comment on the book. Perhaps when I'm finished reading it... Mind you, I quite liked his Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution book. I also like the fact that Ray Comfort gives away free DVD's and CD's with his books!

Anyway, why am I'm blogging about Ray Comfort? Well, I was "Googling" Ray Comfort to try to find out what he's all about when I noticed that he wants to debate Richard Dawkins (who allegedly refers to Ray Comfort as "an ignorant fool.")

Ray has apparently offered Dawkins $10,000 for the pleasure of his company in a debate. I think that amount has been upped to $20,000. But alas! Mr Dawkins keeps on declining! (Big fearty!)

I just think it would be a real treat to see two people with no (formal) theological training debate theology! (Theo(s) = God, logy = subject of study or interest). Mind you, clearly Ray has studied and is interested in God a lot more than Richard has and is!

Therefore, should this debate ever come about, my money (not that I'm a gambling man!) is on Ray any day! The "Bananaman" has my vote!

Find out more about "The Banana Man" and what he is all about by clicking the following:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHaSZtf5I1k

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

LOVE NEEDS A MIRROR

(Photos by Neil Cullan McKinlay)

Blue seas appear when the clouds disappear and the sky gives a parting kiss before vanishing over the horizon. Then moonlight strikes the ocean, turning it into molten lead, which, at the appointed time, is transmuted into gold by the rising sun. Yes, the night stays dark till the Creator gently retrieves the gold fob watch from His waistcoat-pocket come morning. The echo of the words, ‘Let there be light’ will not fade away for as long as day follows night. As the sea reflects the sky, so time reflects eternity, so earth reflects heaven, and so man reflects his Maker. Love is like a mirror.
But as choppy seas distort the image of the sky on the face of the waters, so the fountains of evil broke open to issue forth from the wellspring of man. Sin distorts man the image of God. But God is love, and on the Day of Pentecost God the Father and God the Son from heaven poured the good oil of God the Spirit on the troubled waters of mankind. The desert blooms into life when it receives the showers of God’s blessing. And nations cease to rage as the Son of Righteousness rises with healing in His wings. As the sea begins to reflect the glassy sea in heaven above, the peoples, along with cherubim and seraphim, fall down before the Lamb, for the good Shepherd leads us beside still waters and we lie down in green pastures. His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven when man truly reflects His Maker once more, for a soul restored is an image renewed.

Cultural activities on earth reflect heavenly activities. Man is to eat, drink, and do all things to the glory of God. Which is to say that man is to love the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love our neighbour as ourself. In all our works, and in all our interactions with God and with our neighbour we are to mirror love, even the Father’s love for His Son. Thus the kingdom of the Son of His love manifests itself only to the eyes of man renewed by the Spirit, for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul – writing of Christians – says, ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.

Jesus rebuked the storm, stilling the wind and calming the sea. When we are rebuked by the message of His cross our spirits are stilled and our souls are calmed. Thus we stop our rage against the LORD and against His Anointed. Indeed, ‘Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?’ Psalm 2:1. Why are people like ‘raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame?’ Jude 1:13. It’s because we are cracked mirrors of God the lot of us, and cracked mirrors distort the image of true love. Our love at best is second best because we don’t love – as we ought – God who is love.

Because God loves His only begotten Son, so our first love ought to be Jesus Christ who is the express image of God. For He images the Father perfectly, while the rest of us fall short of His glory. This is because the heart of fallen man is a black hole full only of darkness when it comes to God and the things of God. ‘The heart is an idol factory,’ says Calvin. With it we form gods in our own distorted image, even gods we can ignore. But then there’s our conscience, of which the 17th century Puritan Richard Sibbes said, ‘is the soul reflecting upon itself.’ And then the 18th century poet Robert Burns said, ‘O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, to see oursels as others see us!’

As fallen men our image of ourself is as every bit as distorted as our image of the God who made us, and whose image we are and whose image we are to reflect in our everyday activities. But love looks beyond itself, for the Father loves the Son and the Spirit who both love the Father and each other.

By faith the Christian looks to the One who says, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father.’ John 14:9. – To the One who says, ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments.’ John 14:15. Then out of love and gratitude to God for saving him, the Christian – in the power supplied by the Holy Spirit who has regenerated and sustains him – seeks to reflect God through obedience. Love needs a mirror because love’s object is others. Only in the Jesus revealed in Scripture do we see the clear and undistorted image of God.

Monday, October 19, 2009

GOSPEL FREEDOMS

Arguably the Westernized nations are testimony to the success of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To cut the long story short, the freedoms we enjoy in the West came about after the Christianization of these nations. (An oversimplification, yes, but nevertheless true!) To be sure, some Western nations were/ still are more Christianized than others, but clearly the leaven of Christianity, ie, Biblical teaching, has permeated the West.

This is to say that God’s Ten Commandments along with the right spirit for keeping them are the foundations upon which Western societies are built. Loving God and others as yourself, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, is the application of God’s Law in the West.

However, God’s Ten Commandments for a lawful society are now being shunned by some in favour of a plethora of rules and regulations belonging to Secular Humanism – a movement which is trying very hard to assert itself in the West. Eg. in America they’ve been dragging out all reference to God’s Ten Commandments from Law Courts etc. In place of God’s Law, as a cat drags a dead animal into the house, so the Trojan Horse of Secular Humanism has been dragged into many American Institutions. Multitudes of blood-sucking, life draining maggots of death are pouring forth!

In the West we are losing our Gospel Freedoms to big government red tape. The West has now entangled itself in the sticky web of Political Correctness. The spider of thought-control is injecting its venom into and numbing the minds of the many peoples. Marxism is the new opiate of the masses!

Now people cannot be trusted to do the right thing, ie, no Gospel Freedoms. Now, we are being treated like little kids again: No Running, No Smoking, No Swearing, No Foods, No Drinks, No Tee-shirts, No This, No That, No the Next Thing! No, No, No. No… Rules, rules, and yet more rules! Oh, the burden is too great to bear! Bring back the TEN (10) Commandments and please get rid of all your millions of rules!

Neo-Darwinists, such as Richard Dawkins have the freedom to say what they like about Christians and the Triune God. Muslims also get to blaspheme Christ and the Triune God also with impunity. Yet, as soon as Christians say anything about neo-Darwinism we are ridiculed, expelled from science class, and made to sit in detention with the loony fringe! Any Muslim who hears the Good News of Jesus Christ, repents and believes it, becomes the target of death threats, if not death itself at the hands of a group of people who allege that Islam is a religion of peace!

Bring back the Gospel Freedoms that we in the West used to enjoy before those people started using their freedoms as licence to de-Christianize the West.

Islam sees the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle, pornography, prostitution, etc. as Christianity’s failure in the West. However, in many ways, when you really think about it, these things, although debauched in themselves, are evidence of the Gospel’s success! The West simply has to learn that with Gospel Freedom there also comes Gospel Responsibility. Just because we have the freedom to do a thing doesn’t make that thing the right and good thing to do!

God’s Ten Commandments and all their applications in Family, Church, and State keep us on the right track. So let’s get back to the Gospel Freedoms we once had. Otherwise Shariah Law (ie, Islamic law) will be the order of the day for the West (ie, for those who haven’t lost their heads!)


Click the following to find out about Francis Nigel Lee's excellent book "God's Ten Commandments": http://nordskogpublishing.com/

Saturday, October 17, 2009

THE DAWKINS DELUSION

I've just finshed re-reading Alister McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion. Alister McGrath is an ex-atheist and is presently Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University. Having studied in chemistry and researched in the field of biophysics he knows his way round the science lab.

His book The Dawkins Delusion is, of course, a response and rebuttal to and of the rant of Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion.

Maybe sometime in the future (if God spares him) Dawkins can have a go at dismantling the Triune God rather than raving on about whacko religious people who believe and do crazy stuff - as he does in The God Delusion! Tackle God next time Richard, I dare you!

Also, perhaps Dawkins would like to show us where, eg, Adolf Hitler went wrong in his application of The Theory of Evolution. Yes, perhaps Dawkins could do one of those How To books. "You all know the theory, now let's all put it into practice!" "But isn't that what that maniacal nut-case Adolf Hitler tried to do?" "Er..."

Frankly, I much prefer tried and true Reformed Christianity!

Anyway, back to The Dawkins Delusion. I like the way McGrath conludes his book with the following:

"Dawkins seems to think that saying something more loudly and confidently, while ignoring or trivializing counter-evidence, will persuade the open-minded that religious belief is a type of delusion. Sadly, sociological studies of charismatic leaders - religious and secular - indicate that Dawkins may be right to place some hope in this strategy. For the gullible and credulous, it is the confidence with which something is said that persuades, rather than the evidence offered in its support. Yet the fact that Dawkins relies so excessively on rhetoric, rather than the evidence that would otherwise be his natural stock in trade, clearly indicates that something is wrong with his case. Ironically, the ultimate achievment of The God Delusion for modern atheism may be to suggest that this emperor has no clothes to wear. Might atheism be a delusion about God?"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ALL IN THE MIND

(Photos by Neil Cullan McKinlay - except platypus)

In a clash of confluence, the battle-cries of the Picton River were drowned out by the greater roar of the Huon River in spate. My friend and I could hear the watery commotion in the background as we walked through the peaceful rain-soaked undergrowth of the Tasmanian wilderness. It was as we forded a swollen Huon tributary that my eye initially saw it: ‘A beaver in Tasmania? Surely not!’ The curiosity slowly swam down the surface of the creek toward us: a duckbilled platypus!

Platypuses have webbed-feet with claws; the female lays eggs; the male has a poisonous spur on his hind legs; and they both have an electronic-receptor in their bills. When a (dead) specimen was taken to England in 1799 it was thought by some to be a hoax!

Dear reader, where does the platypus fit into your worldview? Do you hear the great commotion in the world today as Darwinism and Creationism clash? To suggest that these two opposing worldviews can be reconciled is like saying a duck can marry a beaver and produce a platypus!
Theories come and theories go, but the Word of our God stands forever. On the sixth day of creation God created man in His own image. ‘Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all the cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.’ Genesis 2:20. Adam studied and catalogued the animals.

We chuckle when we consider the platypus because it reminds us of a duck. We chuckle at gorillas and chimpanzees because they remind us of ourselves. My wife and I chuckle when we hear the word ‘primate’ used to refer to a Roman Catholic or an Anglican bishop (it brings a strange picture to our mind!) However none of this affects our worldview which has been build upon the infallible Word of God.

God made each creature according to its kind (Genesis 1:25). That’s why not even an ape is comparable to man. A dog might very well be man’s best friend, a budgie might be good for company, but only a woman is comparable to a man. In marriage a man and a woman complement each other. Marriage doesn’t produce apes, dogs, budgies, or duck-billed platypuses for offspring Why? because God created each creature according to its kind.

When the fountains of the great deep were broken up and the windows of heaven opened up and the waters above collided with the waters beneath, Noah and his family, with all the air-breathing animals God had put on the ark, could hear the watery commotion in the background. They were on God’s life-raft, safe in the ark from the global flood of God’s judgment upon people who hated Him. There is evidence of the great Flood in many of the fossils and bones that keep being dug up. The Church on earth was caught napping when Evolutionists started dragging in bones of dead animals, such as their alleged ‘Dawn Horse’ (eohippus). But as with the platypus, one’s understanding of it is determined beforehand by one’s worldview: human speculation or Divine revelation? Did rock ‘rabbits’ breed horses into existence? And is a lizard able to sprout wings full of feathers and take to the sky? Can unthinking matter become thinking matter? Your answer to these questions will be influenced by your personal worldview. It’s all in the mind!

In some ways Darwin did Christians a favour. The Darwinist’s war-cries are being used by God to awaken us. And now their battle-cries are being drowned out by the greater roar of the outpoured Spirit speaking in the Scriptures! Do you hear the commotion in the background as you walk through life? Have you given any thought to what you believe? Have you considered the claims of Jesus Christ?

Christ believes in the fixity of kinds. He also believes He is God, the Middle Person in the Trinity, who is the Word become also flesh. Stand on Christ our ‘Rock,’ our firm foundation. Develop a worldview based on His Word. ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Romans 12:2a.
(Click the following for an interesting but brief article on the latest buzz among Evolutionsits):

Friday, October 9, 2009

CIVIL AUTHORITIES

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Romans 13:1.

All authority comes from God, even if the one who holds that authority is non-Christian. Therefore all who hold authority are directly answerable to God for how they exercise that God-given authority; “…their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them…” Romans 2:15b. Therefore, as we look at Romans 13:1f., keep in mind what the Apostle Paul has already earlier stated, viz., that even non-Christians have the work of God’s Moral Law written in their hearts (Romans 2:14&15).

The Apostle, in Romans 13:2 writes: “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Notice that those who rebel against governing authorities are rebelling against God. Thus God uses means, including non-Christian means, to bring about His desired purpose.

God’s purpose, as it stands at the moment, is to bring all things under subjection to the One who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence the outpoured Holy Spirit has come upon all flesh, even all the nations.

Next, notice how the governing authorities or rulers are to govern or rule. Romans 13:3f. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.”

Governing authorities are to encourage their subjects to do good and are to avenge evil done by their subjects. Is, e.g., adultery, good or evil? Would a non-Christian ruler be able to answer this question correctly? And if so, how so? Surely it is because he has the work of God’s law written in his heart. Therefore, even his own conscience tells him that adultery is evil, as is the transgressing of all the rest of the Ten Commandments.

God’s Moral Law is God’s standard for all morals, even in non-Christian governors. “He is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” What should Christians do if the governing authorities themselves are corrupt and promote things contrary to God’s Moral Law? “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29. Hence Christians are to pray for “…all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:2.

Edmund P Clowney says:

"Nor are Christians necessarily called to suffer state persecution in silence. Jesus called Herod ‘that fox’ (Luke 13:32); John the Baptist rebuked the same notorious king for his incestuous marriage (Mk. 6:18); Paul remonstrated against illegal procedures in his hearing before the Sanhedrin – although apologized for calling the high priest a ‘whited wall’, because of the respect due to his office (Acts 23:3). The Christian may criticise, but stands before the magistrate in meekness and respect, to give the reason for the hope that is in him or her (1 Pet. 3:15)." Edmund P Clowney, The Church, IVP 1995, p. 190.

Notice (in the Clowney quote) that governing authorities are to be rebuked by Christians for any evil they do, i.e., things contrary to God’s Law. They are to be God’s ministers for good, not evil. A Christian’s conscience would bother him if he remained silent about continued evil actions of any governing authorities.

Thus by rebuking any un-Biblical practices of the governing authorities the Christian is showing respect for the office of the governing authority. Indeed he is demonstrating obedience to the authority of God from whom all authority comes. Thus the church witnesses to the nations by testifying to the truth of God’s Moral Law before the nations’ governing authorities.

The church is to proclaim outwardly what individual consciences (and the collective national conscience) testify inwardly, for this is how the Holy Spirit uses His Word to convict the nations of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8-11).

In the Proverbs we are taught: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Proverbs 21:1. Therefore the Creator, Redeemer, and Consummator, who works all things according to His eternal purpose, has absolute sovereign control over even the most despotic of rulers.

Robert Haldane commenting on Romans thirteen puts it this way:

"Civil rulers… are the ministers of God; if so, they must be of God’s own appointment. The worst government in the country is of God, and is calculated to effect His purposes and promote His glory. Wicked rulers are necessary in God’s plans to punish wicked nations. It is not merely the form of civil government that is from God, but the governors."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CHRISTIAN JUSTICE

Does something need to be done with a legal system that doesn’t believe in justice?

It was reported in Australia: “A British judge is at the centre of an investigation after he freed a child rapist who then kidnapped and raped another youngster [a five year old] just eight days later.”

There also are judges in America who don’t believe in justice either, releasing rapists back into the community without them having spent any time in prison.

In Australia there is an unrepentant repeat paedophile being shunted from one location to another because of public outcry, many gathering outside his various homes in protest of him roaming free in their community.

Apparently the parents of the first victim in the British rape case (see above) “who are devout Christians” forgave the serial rapist. (However, we need to know that God only forgives those who repent of their sins!)

Yes! It is great not to harbour a spirit of hatred that seeks revenge. But what does this have to do with justice? Since when did Christians, even “devout Christians”, stop believing in justice? A child, two children, were raped by this young rapist.

According to a newspaper article “The latest victim’s father said: ‘Our son was abused not only by this lad, but also in effect by the British [English?] legal system that was supposed to protect him.’”

As a Christian I heartily agree with this statement. The legal system is for the protection of the innocent.

For the record, here’s a little of what Christians actually believe regarding justice:

"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good and you will have the praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” Romans 13:1-4.

“Therefore submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 1 Peter 2:13-14.

If God did not believe in justice then He would never have sent His only begotten Son to the cross to pay for all of our sins.

May the rapists and the judges who release them see the horror of what they are doing. And may justice, Christian justice, soon be restored in the land.

Monday, October 5, 2009

WHO AM I?

I saw an advert on the Net for Genes Reunited which, directed at me said, "Neil, Find Out Who You Are."

No doubt it's all about finding out my family tree. But it got me to thinking: Who am I?

Am I Scottish? Am I Canadian? Am I Australian? I have been, and still am, each of these (it just depends on who I'm talking to at the time!)

Am I a Plumber? Am I a Presbyterian Minister? Am I an Army Chaplain? I am mostly an Army Chaplain at the moment, but cannot discount the others.

But do we measure who we are by our nationality or what we do or both?

I'm also a husband, a father, and a grandfather, as well as a brother.

I'm a pet-owner. I'm a singer. I'm a song-writer. I'm a writer. I am sure I am many other things too! I think I've reinvented myself more times than the pop singer Madonna!

The bottom line is that I already know who I am.

I am a citizen of Heaven. I am an adopted son of God. I am an (albeit at the moment imperfect) image of God. Yes, being Triune, God is therefore one yet many, unity in diversty. So am I!

I can see that I reflect God somewhat in many things. That's good enough for me!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

THE TREE OF LIFE

Trees are fascinating. After driving for ages on a road through a huge forest in southern Tasmania we pulled up to have a look at The Big Tree. It was the tallest and oldest swamp gum I’d ever seen. There was a noticeboard with comments, among other things, on the amount of water hydraulically pumped from its roots to its uppermost branches. What a magnificent piece of engineering!

Trees figure prominently in the Bible from beginning to end. Indeed both Peter and Paul refer to the cross as a tree. Paul, quoting from the Older Testament says, ‘Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree”).’ Galatians 3:13. And Peter speaks of Christ as bearing ‘our sins in His own body on the tree.’ 1 Peter 2:24. A tree then, even Christ’s cross, is a central theme of the Bible.
‘And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ Genesis 2:9. Like the Tasmanian forest, trees and more trees! Adam and Eve stopped to have a look at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The rest is history! The serpent soon had Eve eating out of his hand and Eve had Adam eating out of her hand and they both partook of the forbidden fruit of that tree.

What about the other tree in the midst of the garden, the tree of life? ‘So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.’ Genesis 3:24. After eating of the tree which had the promise of death attached they now were barred from approaching the tree having the promise of life attached. Why? ‘For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.’ 1 Timothy 2:5. The Word made flesh (John 1:14) alone is go-between between God and men (John 14:6). For, He is the Messenger or uncreated Angel of the Covenant (Malachi 3:1). The One coming to redeem His people by the shedding His own blood (Acts 20:28) and to destroy the works of the devil or serpent (1 John 3:8) also was called BRANCH (Zechariah 3:8).

Consider Moses who pulled up to have a look at a bush: ‘And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.’ Exodus 3:2a. Thus the same Jehovah who had appeared to Abraham ‘by the trees of Mamre’ (Genesis 18:1) appeared to Moses. The Angel in the burning bush is reminiscent of the cherubim and flaming sword that guarded the way to the tree of life: ‘Moses, Moses! … Do not draw near this place’ (Exodus 3:4-5). And, what of the BRANCH and the serpent? ‘So the LORD said to Him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand)…’ Exodus 4:2-4. Blood? ‘Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood.’ Exodus 7:17.

At a later time, ‘Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “we have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He would take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”’ Numbers 21:7-8. Thus the BRANCH, as ‘a root out of dry ground’ (Isaiah 53:2), has become the Tree of Life. As Jesus says, ‘“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.’ John 12:32-33. ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:14-15. Thus Christ and His cross are the Tree of Life that saves us from the Hellfire Judgment of God, i.e., from being run through body and soul by the flaming sword in the place where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Mark 9:48.

To escape the fire you need to come to the Tree of Life and eat of its fruit. For Jesus says, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.’ John 6:53-55. There is no tree more remarkable than Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life. Pull up, look at Him, and live.

A COPY OF THE ORIGINAL

We wouldn’t need to speculate about our origins or about the origin of the universe if we could access accurate information from an observer who was there in the beginning. But what would we do with such information were it available to us? Would we discard it out of hand because it does not fit our presuppositions about ourselves or about the universe in which we live? Would we adjust it by adding to and taking away from the information as our presuppositions determine? Or would we accept the information and continue to seek a greater and a deeper understanding of the information given?

In every court of law when witnesses are called to testify they are cross-examined as to their character: character lends to the credibility of their testimony. We have information about our origins and the origin of the universe given us by an observer who was there in the beginning: the Triune God.

Because it does not fit with his presuppositions about biological life the Darwinian Evolutionist rejects even the very notion of revelation from God – rejecting therefore what the Bible has to say about the creation of the universe and biological life. Thus the Darwinian Evolutionist begins his study of biological life by an outright rejection of God and the revelation God has given in His written Word.

Upon this Atheistic premise then the Darwinian Evolutionist relegates God and His Word to some nefarious realm he derogatorily calls ‘faith’ (by which he means anything that does not fit his own set of Naturalistic presuppositions!) The Darwinist alleges that he deals only in facts. Thus, when considering the creation around him, the Darwinian Evolutionist does so with a total disregard of the input of theology – though paradoxically he finds he needs to expend a lot of time and effort attacking the theology he bars from influencing his worldview!

Jonathan Sarfati explains a little the method of interpretation based on assumption as used by Naturalists such as Evolutionists:

"It is a fallacy to believe that facts speak for themselves—they are always interpreted according to a framework. The framework behind the evolutionists’ interpretation is naturalism—it is assumed that things made themselves, that no divine intervention has happened, and that God has not revealed to us knowledge about the past.
"Evolution is a deduction from this assumption, and it is essentially the idea that things made themselves. It includes these unproven ideas: nothing gave rise to something at an alleged ‘big bang,’ non-living matter gave rise to life, single-celled organisms gave rise to many-celled organisms, invertebrates gave rise to vertebrates, ape-like creatures gave rise to man, non-intelligent and amoral matter gave rise to intelligence and morality, man’s yearnings gave rise to religions, etc."[1] Thus Safarti.

Because Darwinian Evolutionist assumptions are based upon the philosophy of Materialism the supernatural is vehemently denied. Thus Naturalists believe (i.e., have faith) that the natural is all there is – that the physical universe is the sum total of all things. Then the Darwinian Evolutionist reads back into the very origins of the universe what he considers to be the process of Natural Selection on earth – assuming that the process of Natural Selection is a true and accurate copy of the original. But in the final analysis Natural Selection is a mechanism or a process, and as such, cannot be at the same time that which originated itself. A process must have a means other than itself in order to come into being.

For the Darwinian Evolutionist the primary question therefore still remains: How could the Natural Selection process come into being from nothing? How can something come from nothing? Evolution is a philosophy with no platform of support. The Evolutionist has no soapbox to stand on while he preaches his Materialistic doctrines. This is what happens when philosophy divorces itself from theology – as Evolutionism has done.

[1] Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution, Internet.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SEEING THE LIGHT!

I'm a bit loath to try another joke, seeing as no one thought my last effort funny! Anyway, I'm sure I heard Billy Connolly tell this one (and, of course, he tells it better than I ever could!):

This man comes into the doctor's surgery. "Who are you?" says the doctor as the man enters.

"I'm a moth," promptly replies the man.
"You're a moth? What makes you think that you're a moth?"

I don't think I'm a moth. I AM a moth!"

"Let's get this straight," says the doctor with a concerned tone in his voice. "You believe that you are a moth?"

"I don't believe that I am a moth. I AM a moth!"

The doctor looks him in the eye and says, "If you're a moth, then you should go and see a psychiatrist. Why did you come here?
The man replied, "I was going past your window when I saw your light was on!"
(PS I know that the picture above is not of a moth but of some sort of Tasmanian butterfly (the Meadow Argus) - because I took the photo! However, I posted it to try to help with the humour!)

THE IMAGE OF GOD

The Triune God is full of grace. He gave His own reflection five senses to appreciate His beautiful creation. And with His own finger He delicately wrote His law of love on His little mirror as He breathed life into him. As the three Persons love the eternal Godhead, so man was to image his Creator by loving God and his neighbour personally, perfectly, and perpetually.

God planted a garden. In it placed His compact mirror; graciously condescending to enter into a covenant relationship with him. With the threat of death for disobedience came also the promise of everlasting life for loving obedience. Thus the man, God’s little looking glass, was placed on probation in a walled orchard. The image was commanded to replicate itself and was graciously permitted to freely eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden bar one.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was set as the outward test of Adam’s obedience to God’s covenant. To eat of that tree was to bite the hand that graciously fed him. It was to shatter God’s image. Hence, the threatened death penalty for all mankind: immediate broken fellowship with God, subsequent temporary separation of soul from body, and ultimately everlasting separation from God.

God’s Word testifies, and history records that the world was plunged into darkness to the sound, as it were, of shattering glass, a Kristallnacht, when in Adam all mankind broke the covenant of works. Like mirrors falling on a ceramic floor, every single image of God throughout history was smashed, including you and me. By eating the forbidden fruit Adam overturned and smashed the tables of man’s heart. God chased the man and his wife out of His Garden. The righteous and holy God could not look upon fallen man. Adam had constructed a wall of broken glass separating himself and God. In Adam, our representative head, we violated our probation by miserably failing the outward test.

Yet God is gracious. He so loved the world that He immediately began to publish the good news to fallen man of a hidden insurance clause called the covenant of grace. The old covenant with Adam had included all his descendants; Adam’s own image and likenesses. As sin-buckled mirrors we distort the image of God. The way of attaining everlasting life through works of obedience was closed to us when Adam sinned. The old covenant, the covenant of works condemns us. However, God formed one last perfect image of Himself, Jesus Christ, the replacement representative. Unlike the first man who fell far short of God’s glory, He kept the covenant of works perfectly. He was like us in every way apart from our sin. However, like the first man the second Man too was on probation. He likewise had to undergo an outward test. There also was a tree…

The new Adam would restore what the first Adam had destroyed, i.e., God’s perfect reflection, even man. He also needed to pay the penalty owed. So Jesus Christ loved God and His neighbour personally, perfectly, and perpetually by keeping God’s Law even unto death. In this He demonstrated to the world that He alone is God’s perfect image. But when He hung on the tree to pay our penalty He showed us what man, the image of God, had become – blood stained - hardly recognizable – separated from God - dead!

His perfect obedience satisfied God’s justice. So God raised Jesus from the dead. God imputes the perfect covenant of works-righteousness of Jesus Christ to those who keep-on believing in Him alone for salvation. And by His Spirit, even today, God is at work progressively renewing His image in all true believers.

If you see yourself as a shattered image of God on your way to eternal separation from Him, then call on Jesus Christ to save you – today.

Pacific Island Nations Devastation

As our prayers go up to God, so our hearts go out to those suffering devatation from the earthquakes and resulting tsunamis in those Pacific Island nations affected.

Communication breakdown, loss of property, injury, fear, and more tragic, the loss of loved ones brings much misery indeed.

It is in times like these that we seriously seek solace in our God through Jesus Christ.

The following is in the Samoan language. It is meant as an encouragement. It and other pieces of encouragement (in Samoan) may be found on my Website by clicking the following:

http://web.mac.com/macfhionn/Site/1._O_le_Faatusa_ole_Atua.html

O le faatusa o le Atua

O le Atua Tolu Tasi e tumu o ia i faamanuiaga matagofie mo le tagata. Sa ia foai mai lona lava faatusa I tauala mai I faatusa e 5 ina ia mafai ona matagofie lona foafoaina o le lalolagi:
1, sosogi (taste); 2, tago poo pa’i (touch); 3, faalogo (hear); 4, pupula (sight); ma le 5, manogi (smell).

Ma, i ona lava tamatamai-lima, sa ia tusia le tulafono o le alofa i lana tama’i fa’ata a’o ia feulaina atu le manava ola ia te ia. O le Atua le Tama, le Atua le Alo ma le Atua le Agaga Paia e faavae ile alofa i lo latou Atua Tolu-Tasi, ma o le faatusa lea na saunia e le Atua Tolu-Tasi i lona foafoaina ole tagata ola ina ia alofa atu i le Atua faapea ona tagata tuaoi I le faamaoni, usiusitai ma le faamaualalo.

Sa totoina e le Atua le faatoaga. Sa ia tuuina atu iai lana tama’i fa’ata, ma le fiafia ma le ‘mavaega o galuega’ sa osia ina ia tonu le la mafutaga. O le iuga o le maliu ona o le le usitai, e sau faatasi ai ma le tautoga o le ola e faavavau pe a usitai ma alofa. O iina, na aumaia ai le tagata, o le tama’i fa’ata a le Atua, ma tuuina atu I le faatoaga sa ia faia e galue ai. O le faatusa sa ia manao ina ia faatuputeleina ma galueaina e Atamu, ma ina ia ‘aia so’o se fua o le faatoaga, vagana ai le fua o le laau faasaina.

O lea laau sa suesueina ai le malosi o le usitai ma le faatuatua o Atamu i lona Atua ma le ‘feagaiga o galuega’ sa osia. Ua ai i le laau faasaina, ma ua pei ua tipi eseina le lima o Le na fafagaina ia. Ua ia fa’ato’ilaloina le faatusa o le Atua. Ma o iina, ua faasalaina ai ile faasalaga o le oti le tagata; o le mea lea ua malaia ai le laueleele; ua momotu ese le nonofo fealoa’I ma le Atua; ua momotu ese le agaga mai le tino, ma ua momotu ese ile ola faavavau le mafutaga ma le Atua.

O le Upu a le Atua o loo molimauina i tusitusiga ma lomiga i tausaga e tele ua mavae atu, ua pouliuli le lalolagi ina ua pau ifo ma le leo tele le tama’I fa’ata ma nuti nini’I, ua motusia le feagaiga ma le Atua ina ua agasala Atamu. E pei o le nuti nini’I i luga o se foloa sima o se fa’ata, e faapena ona nuti le faamoemoe sa fausia e le paia o le Atua mai le vavau mo le tagata e aofia ai oe ma a’u. O le aina o le fua o le laau faasaina e Atamu ma Eva, ua nuti ai le kate mai le fatu o le tagata ola. Sa tutulieseina e le Atua ia Atamu ma Eva mai le faatoaga i Etena, ua leai se faamoemoe sa tuuina atu e le Atua I le tagata. Ua fausia e Atamu se pa puipui o le tagata ola mai le Atua.

O le mavaega sa osia ma Atamu na aofia ai ma ona aiga, auga-tupulaga ma gafa e tau ia Atamu. O le ala I le ola e faavavau e afua I le usitai ma galuega fai ma le faamaoni, ae paga lea, sa vavaeeseina e le Atua le tagata ina ua agasala Atamu.

AE PEITAI, o le Atua Tolu-Tasi o se Tama e tumu o ia i le alofa. Aua ua faapea lava ona alofa mai o Ia I le lalolagi, sa vave ona toe fausia e le Atua lona faatusa sili, e ala mai I lona alo pele o Iesu Keriso, o le faatusa ola sa ia foaiiina mai I le lalolagi.

O lea faatusa E LE PEI o le faatusa sa ia faia I le uluai tagata ola o le sa agasala muamua I luma o le Atua, ae o lesu Keriso sa ia usitai, galue ma le faamaoni ma le loto maualalo. Sa auina mai ia e le Atua ma nofo faatasi ma ona tagata I le lalolagi. E pei o le uluai tagata, sa faapea foi ona nofo vaavaaia lo tatou Alii, tele faaosoosoga sa fetaia’I ma ia, sa iai foi ma le ‘laau’ I le taimi o soifua ai Iesu I le lalolagi. Le laau lena sa tautau ai lo tatou Alii Faaola, ‘le satauro’ ina ia faamagaloina ai oe ma a’u mai le agasala. Sa faamaoni le Alii o Iesu I lona usiusitai I le Atua, loto alofa ma fesoasoani I soo se tagata, sa fai o Ia ma faatusa ola o le Atua I le lalolagi ma sa ia osia lava le feagaiga ma le Atua, seia oo lava ina tautau o ia I le satauro ina ia magalo ai le tagata agasala.

O lona usitai I le Atua ua mafai ai ona faafiafiaina lona Tama I le Lagi i lona faamaoni, alofa ma le usitai. O lea, sa toetu manumalo mai ai o ia mai le oti. Ua faia e le Atua le ‘feagaiga o galuega-paia a Iesu Keriso’ I e o loo talitonu ma le faamaoni ia te Ia mo le ola faavavau. Ma, I le Agaga Paia, e oo mai I le aso lenei, o loo galue pea le Atua e faafouina agaga ma loto o ona tagata I lona faatusa paia.

Afai la o e iloa, o loo nuti le faatusa o le Atua I lou olaga, ua tatau nei loa ona e valaau atu I lo tatou Alii Faaola ina ia alofa mai, ta’u atu au agasala, suiina lou olaga ma mulimuli atu ia te Ia, I le suafa o lo tatou Alii o Iesu Keriso, AMENE.

Faaliliuina e: Sara Seiaemoe Slade-Brunt