Category Archives: Pastor’s Perspective

Thoughts on Psalm 83

In Psalm 83 we see a confederation of ten nations conspiring to overthrow Israel. A similar confederation stood against Israel in the days of King Jehoshaphat. This good king of Judah encouraged the people to call upon God to help them. He was so sure of God’s help that he arrayed the singers at the front of his army! God defeated all the enemies of Israel that day without Jehoshaphat’s army having to lift a finger (see 2 Chronicles 20).

In this Psalm we see Israel surrounded by nine nations that hate them, with another nation far to the north in confederation with the nine. How like Israel’s present situation, with the Arab nations surrounding them and seeking their annihilation, with Russia far to the north supplying the arms and support! How like the future confederation of ten nations that will come together against Israel at the battle of Armageddon!

We wonder why Israel has known such fervent hate throughout the centuries, until we recognise that Israel represents the One True God. Satan has always hated God’s sovereignty and he fights against all that is of God, and will continue to do so until he is finally defeated at the end of the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth (Revelation 20:7-10).

The situation in the Middle East today is just another proof that there is One True God, and all the world rebels against Him at Satan’s bidding. Israel bears the brunt of the hatred, but God will not allow His people to be destroyed.

Likewise, God will not allow His church to be destroyed as Satan rails against it also. Go to the last chapters of your Bible and see that, in the end, God wins!

 

We Are Baptists, Not Protestants

The non-Christian world tends to categorise Christians into one of two groups. If we are not Roman Catholics, then we must be Protestants, they say. Those of us who attend Baptist churches can therefore fall into the confusion of considering ourselves to be Protestants.

The Protestant Reformation took place in the 1500s, and is said to have begun when when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany.

The term “Protestant” was coined at the time of the Second Diet of Speyer, Germany in 1529. This was a Roman Catholic Council which addressed Lutherans and other Reformed churches that were not cooperating with the Pope. Certain Lutheran princes appeared before this Roman Catholic Diet with a formal written protest against those matters in which the Diet went contrary to the Christian faith. The church historian Philip Schaaf makes this statement: “From this protest and appeal, the Lutherans were called Protestants.” (History of the Christian Church, Volume VII).

The Lutheran and Reformed leaders who made this protest were speaking for themselves and not for Baptists. Their opinion of Baptists was declared in their written statement: “All Anabaptists and rebaptized persons, male or female, of mature age, shall be judged and brought from natural life to death, by fire, or sword or otherwise, as may benefit the persons, without preceding trial by spiritual judges.” The Baptists, then, were not a part of this protest and consequently do not share in the name “Protestant.”

Three Enigmas of Our Day: Resolved!

Many of today’s seemingly intractable problems find a resolution when they are re-examined in the light of that wonderful book, the Bible. The following are three enigmas of our day which, despite decades of research, continue to mystify scientists. Does the Bible have answers?

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)

Billions of pounds have been spent over many decades to fund the search for life and intelligence beyond our earth. Astronomers listen for patterned signals that would indicate intelligent communication. Exorbitantly expensive missions have sent probes into space looking for evidence of life, intelligent or otherwise. So far, no satisfactory evidence of life has been found. Scientists will continue to search, because they believe that our earth cannot be the only planet in the universe to have ‘evolved’ life.

The Search for Dark Matter

Astronomers believe that around 80% of the universe is made up of “dark matter”; stuff that does not give out light energy, so is almost undetectable. They believe this great mass of dark matter exists, because otherwise the beautiful spiral structure of galaxies could not persist for billions of years, and the galaxies would have dissipated into formless blobs a long time ago. In an effort to detect dark matter, a giant bath containing a ton of liquid xenon, brimming with sensors, was sited in a cave a mile below earth’s surface. It was hoped that the sensors would pick up evidence of this enormously abundant, yet strangely elusive material. Sadly, nothing was detected. Yet scientists believe the dark matter must be out there, and so they will build an even more sophisticated detection system, and they will continue the search.

Remarkable Ancient Bible Texts

Scholars have studied the thousands of ancient Bible texts, from small fragments to whole books of the Bible, which have survived many centuries of history. They are trying to understand why the majority of these old texts are in such close agreement with each other. Ancient writings are known to deteriorate through copying and re-copying over the years. However, the great majority of Bible remnants contain text that is virtually identical to today’s Bible. This is an enigma for modern textual critics, who have no explanation for the consistency of these old documents.

 

These three enigmas have something in common. It is this: Bible believing Christians do not see any of them as problematic! Here is the Biblical perspective on each ‘enigma’ that blows away the confusion:

SETI: the Biblical answer – The Bible describes God’s creation of the earth, followed by the sun, moon and stars. It tells us that mankind is the final work of creation, after which God rested. Where, then, could extra-terrestrials fit into this picture? The Bible makes no mention of other ‘earths’. Bible believers therefore do not expect the SETI programme to find life anywhere else in the universe. God is the only intelligence out there, and He has already revealed Himself to us in the Bible.

Dark Matter: the Biblical answer – Bible believers accept the biblical timeline for the age of the universe. According to the accounts in Genesis, God’s creation is only a few thousand years old. Therefore believers do not have a problem with the present consistency of the universe. The galaxies remain intact because they were made recently! It is not ‘dark matter’ that holds the galaxies together, it is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the God of the Bible.

Preserved Bible Texts: the Biblical answer – God is the author of the Bible. The Bible is His message to mankind so that we can find out about God, and also know Him. If God is the Creator of all things, then He is certainly able to preserve His message intact. The Almighty Creator God has maintained the integrity of the Bible in all ages for the benefit of all people.

Why not start exploring God’s wonderfully preserved message today? May God lead you to find in its pages the answers to all of life’s mysteries!

For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89

Thy word is truth. John 17:17

Time for a Good Shake

The world in 2017 seems to be more unstable than ever. We are in a time of political upheaval internationally. Here in Britain we are very much at sea: in the process of separation from Europe and looking elsewhere for economic partners, while at the same time we ponder the security of our own United Kingdom as Scotland again eyes independence.

In times like these, if you don’t have a spiritual grounding, then you are truly adrift.

Often, people fail to consider their eternal destiny because they are comfortable. Britain has been a prosperous country for many years and our standard of living has been good. As a nation we have prided ourselves in our ability to punch above our weight politically and economically. As individuals we have enjoyed freedom and relative wealth. We have wanted for little, and so we have contented ourselves that we have no need for God.

Now all around us things are becoming unsettled, some may begin to realise that they have a need. I truly hope that is the case for many people in our land. God, please show them their need!

As a Christian worker who has spent many years knocking on doors and speaking to ordinary British people, I have generally witnessed a sad lack of interest in spiritual matters. There is little or no recognition that God exists, or that He has an interest in people. But worse than that, there is an apathy; many people really don’t care one way or the other. They don’t know if God exists, and they have no interest in finding out. Why? Because they are comfortable.

I pray that God will make people uncomfortable! I pray that He will give this country a shake. People need to see their lack of a spiritual foundation, and to feel the unease that that realisation brings. Then we might see some changes! Our empty churches might begin to fill with lost souls looking for answers. Oh, I hope our preachers are ready with a clear gospel message!

What about you?

If you are reading this article and you have not sorted out your eternal destiny, I strongly encourage you to call upon God. Ask Him to show you the truth. Pick up a Bible and read John’s Gospel. Start seeking in earnest, and God will help you. Don’t leave this important matter undone for another day. You do not know for sure that tomorrow will come.

The Meaning of the Barcode?

The man who came up with the idea of a barcode was Norman Joseph Woodland. Woodland was inspired by his interest in Morse code, and one day while sunning on a Florida beach he marked out some Morse code in the sand and extended the dots and dashes to make thick and thin lines. So, the first barcode was composed of lines in the sand!

Supermarkets in the UK were the first to adopt barcoding to manage the movement and sale of products. The first product to receive a barcode was Wrigley’s chewing gum (perhaps a useful quiz-fact?).

Today things have moved on, and barcodes are found on almost every commodity across the world.

In a recent development, NHS Hospital Trusts in England & Wales are working towards an all-encompassing barcode management system where everything gets a barcode – the medical equipment, the medicines, the stores, the wards, even the patients wear a barcoded wristband. The purpose of this system is to ensure treatment can be efficiently tracked for patient safety reasons; however, students of Bible prophecy will perhaps recognise a sinister aspect of barcode management, particularly when people are a part of the system.

The “mark of the beast” is mentioned eight times in the Book of Revelation. The first mention reads:

“And [the beast] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16, 17.

Already, it is possible to have identifier chips implanted under the skin, and we can already envisage a restricted trading system that uses such implants to identify its adherents.

Certain types of barcodes have check numbers at the start, middle and end of the code. Interestingly, the check number used is similar coding to that used for the number ‘6’, so it looks like those barcodes have ‘666’ built into them!

“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:18.

Whether this appearance of the check numbers is intentional or not, I believe it is indicative of a future fulfilment of an important end-times prophecy, especially in the context of the use of barcodes to track and manage people.

In Revelation 20 we obtain the good advice that believers ought not to accept the “mark of the beast”, but should rather identify ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, whatever that might cost us:

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4

A Most Unusual Death

The death of Jesus Christ was peculiar in many ways. In this article I want to draw your attention to four peculiarities surrounding Jesus’ death that came to my attention as I read Mark’s gospel recently. Most of the references following are from Mark chapters 14 and 15.

A) This cruel death was inflicted upon an innocent man. Sadly, miscarriages of justice are not unheard of; however, in the case of Jesus’ death, just about everybody at the scene knew that Jesus was innocent:

  • The witnesses were all false: they made up their stories:

Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses … Matthew 26:59-60

  • The leaders of the people knew He was innocent:

But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. Mark 15:10

  • His followers in the crowd knew He was innocent, because they had never seen Him commit any sin.
  • Pilate knew He was innocent:

Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? Mark 15:14

  • Jesus Himself knew He was innocent, yet He made no complaint!

And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. Mark 15:3-5

This last point is particularly unusual, but it was accurately predicted centuries beforehand:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

B) Jesus was in control of events. When people are dying, they usually have little or no control over the circumstances. Illness and death happen to us unexpectedly, and people feel helpless at such times. Jesus’ situation was different. He knew exactly what was going on.

  • He knew He was going to be betrayed:

And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. Mark 14:18-20

  • He knew well in advance that He was going to be arrested and killed:

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. Matthew 20:17-19

  • He knew the exact time:

 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered … And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Mark 14:27, 41-43

  • He decided not to intervene, although He evidently had the necessary power to stop what was happening:

… Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. John 18:5-9

  • He died at His own bidding:

And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God … And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. Mark 15:37-39, 44

Both Pilate and the centurion, who knew about death by crucifixion, noted Jesus’ early death to be remarkable, to the point that the centurion proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God!

C) Jesus’ death had a purpose: Most deaths are meaningless. They come when we least expect them, and they cause grief and sadness. Death is about loss and the end of things. Death is wanton and cruel and usually without purpose. Jesus’ death was different: He died in order to accomplish something. His death on the cross, with all its agony and bloodshed, was a deed done to benefit you and me:

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission … So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; Hebrews 9:22, 28

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:14-16

D) Jesus’ death was the beginning of something: Most deaths are the end of something. They are sad times, times of loss and reflection on what has been, but is no longer. But the death of Jesus was the start of something big:

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun … And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. Mark 16:1-6

From the day Christ arose from the dead, there came a hope of resurrection for all who believe in Christ. Before Jesus returned to heaven, He commissioned his disciples, along with all subsequent believers, to get to work sharing the good news of the gospel:

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:6-8

The work of the Great Commission began at Jesus’ resurrection, and it will continue until His return. If you are a Christian reading this article, let me ask you a question: Are you an active participant in this work, or are you merely an onlooker?

 

Thoughts on Righteousness

There are over 300 mentions of ‘righteousness’ in the Bible, and I recently took the time to have a look through them. It is amazing how much can be learned by doing this kind of word study, and by using Bible software such as e-Sword it is so easy to collect the verses together and compare them.
It is clear from the number of mentions that ‘righteousness’ is a key Bible word. It is always useful to look at the first mention in the scriptures of key Bible words, because very often that first mention of the word is where you find its scriptural definition. ‘Righteousness’ is first mentioned in Genesis 15:6. Abraham believes God’s promise that he will be blessed with countless offspring despite his old age and his wife Sarah’s inability to bear children. This faith of Abraham’s to believe the seemingly impossible, simply because God says so, is very significant. God rewards Abraham’s faith by accrediting him with righteousness.
We see in this passage that God delights to see believing faith in His promises. The reward of righteousness is a very great reward! Nothing less than righteousness is needed to enter into Heaven’s gates. Without righteousness we are doomed to separation from God.
It is interesting to consider ‘righteousness’ in the context of Deuteronomy 6:25:
“And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.”
Here is the only other way we can attain righteousness – by obeying all the commandments of God! If you have ever tried keeping all of the Ten Commandments you will know what an impossible task this is for any normal person. And yet we find that one man did keep them throughout His life; that man was the Lord Jesus Christ. He attained righteousness on earth the hard way, and then He offered His righteousness to us!
The way you and I receive Christ’s righteousness is by believing faith, just as Abraham did.
Jesus Christ is called ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ in Jeremiah 23:6. There are several scripture references about the believer being ‘clothed in righteousness’, e.g. Job 29:14, Isaiah 61:10, and this idea culminates in the Church being similarly clothed in Revelation 19:8:
“And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
Being clothed in righteousness is a beautiful description of the believer who has new life in Jesus Christ. Only Christ has attained righteousness by keeping the commandments of God. He offers that righteousness to us through believing faith. Those that believe are born again into Christ so that we are in effect clothed with His righteousness. We are thus suitably arrayed for eternal life in Heaven with God!
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

A Litter-Pick Lesson!

When was the last time you did a litter pick? I did one on Friday. On my way to the local shop I thought the route looked ugly with litter, so I decided to retrace my steps with a litter bag. I picked up every piece of trash I could see on the route, and I discarded it in a litter bin.

On the way back home, I decided to enjoy the litter-free walk. To my surprise, I noticed that I had missed quite a few items, and these offended my eye almost as much as the mess I had previously seen.

The moral of the story? A litter-pick is never complete!

While doing this noble exercise, it occurred to me that God wants to do a similar work in the life of Christians. He is always ready to point out things that make our life ugly, and to instruct us to clear them out. The problem is, we are not always ready to see our life as God sees it. Just as many people walk through my neighbourhood seemingly oblivious to the litter, we often are oblivious to those things in our life that are ugly. And we don’t always want to have them pointed out to us, if we are honest.

Christians, it is time to let God litter-pick your life! Let’s decide to remove ugliness from our conduct, whether it is greed, selfishness, rudeness, indifference, carelessness, pride, impatience … whatever God points out to us, let’s be rid of it!

Remember though, a litter-pick is never complete! We will never be perfect while we live on this side of Heaven. Let us therefore make a regular habit of looking in God’s mirror (the Bible), heeding His prompting, and having a good clear-out.

What’s So Special About Sundays?

In our country it used to be the norm for people to attend church on Sundays. Indeed, those who did not attend were frowned upon. Today, the things of God are not held in such high honour, and most people couldn’t care less about church meetings. Even so, there is relative peace in our land, and most people in the UK are well-off compared to many in other lands. How long can this situation last?

We see in the Bible that God was very patient with Israel, His chosen people; however, when they continued in their rebellion against Him, in due time God drove them out of their land into a miserable captivity.

There should be no doubt in our minds that God is grieved by our coldness toward Him. One day soon we may see our own country take a nose-dive. God may decide that enough is enough, and He may decide that it is time to punish those who grieve and offend Him.

I would therefore encourage you to pray for our country, its leadership and its people. Pray for a revival in our land, that many might wake up to their spiritual needs, call upon Jesus Christ, and be saved.

Let’s also make a point of recognising the Lord’s Day every week, by going to church to honour our God and our Saviour.

Make Sundays Special!

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

II Chronicles 7:14

Earthquakes a sign of the end?

There have been so many natural disasters in recent months; earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand and Haiti; and major flooding in Pakistan. When we also consider the widespread political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa, and the financial upheavals that are currently affecting most countries, the overall picture is of a world in crisis.

And yet our world has a long history of major disasters even more horrific than those of recent years. The great Chinese famine of 1958 caused the loss of 40 million lives. 300 million people died of Smallpox in the early 1900’s, and in the 14th century 75 million (half the population of Europe) died of the Black Death.

So these recent events by themselves are not an indication that Christ will return soon. Rather, they remind us that our world is tainted by sin and the curse, and they warn us that our lives are fragile.

Let us take heed of these recent terrible warnings, and make sure we have taken care of the important matter of our final destiny. Only by putting our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ can we make sure of eternal life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16