Water and the Existence of a Creator

Today in the Burton area there has been a problem with the local water supply, which has been over-chlorinated. This has led to a message from the supplier saying do not use the water for anything, even flushing the toilet! It all makes us realise how essential to life water really is. In fact, it’s so essential, and so uniquely placed to fulfil the needs of all creatures, that its very existence argues that a Creator must have provided it. Consider this evidence:

  • Because there is a wide temperature range between freezing and boiling point, water exists in a wide range of environments on earth.
  • Chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried through our smallest blood vessels and all through our bodies, because of its qualities as a universal solvent.
  • Because it is chemically neutral, water does not affect the make up of any substance it carries, which enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.
  • Water’s unique surface tension enables water in plants to flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.
  • Since water freezes from the top down and floats, fish are able to live in the winter.
  • Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes water out of the sea, leaving the salt behind, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water. We know it, of course, as the water cycle.

The arrangement of such a vital material in great abundance across the earth can be seen as evidence of a Creator, who put it there on Day 2 of the creation week.

See www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html as source of this information.

 

 

The essence of the Gospel: A statement on Christology

This week the media has reported the release of a statement on Christology – that part of church teaching which concerns the person and work of Jesus Christ. It has been written by Dr R Sproul working with Ligonier Ministries. In an interview, Sproul has stated:

“In our day, the most critical issue that the church faces is the issue over who Jesus is. The residue of the full measured attack of the last two centuries on the person and work of Christ carries on today and is deeply rooted and entrenched even in the church. Now, like never before, it’s incumbent upon orthodox Christians to stand up and declare clearly what the church believes about Jesus… this is the essence of the gospel.”

We certainly wouldn’t dispute that it is of fundamental importance to be clear about what the Bible teaches about Jesus. The statement consists of 25 articles, easy to memorise and repeat, but that unfortunately don’t stand up very well to what the Bible actually teaches about Christ. For example, part of it reads:

“With the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son created all things, sustains all things, and makes all things new. Truly God, He became truly man, two natures in one person.”

Nowhere in the Bible is the following stated: 

That Christ was truly God. He never said “I am God”, though he did clearly make reference to the fact that he shared the will of God (John 10:30) and that he was a part of God’s plan from the very beginning (John 8:52). The phrase ‘truly God’ doesn’t appear anywhere. If he was God, verses that describe Jesus dying and being tempted (“One who has been tempted in all things as we are,” (Hebrews 4:15)) make no sense, as God cannot do either, and nor do verses stating that God knows something and Christ doesn’t, like Matthew 24:36 referring to the timing of Christ’s return to earth.

That Christ had two natures in the same person. Instead, Hebrews teaches very clearly that the nature Christ had during his life on earth was ours: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same,” (Heb 2:14); “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5). How would two natures in the same person actually work in practice?

That Jesus existed before he was born. If he did, then why would the word ‘born’ be used in Galatians 4:4 – the normal word for a human being born of a mother? Jesus was in the mind of God in the same way that Jeremiah was (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you,” (Jeremiah 1:5) – and that we are (“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,” (Ephesians 1:4). And if he did pre-exist, where was he? He was only allowed to enter heaven on the basis of his work in sacrificing himself: “through His own blood, He entered the holy place [ie heaven, God’s presence] once for all, having obtained eternal redemption,” (Hebrews 9:12).

That Jesus created things in the beginning. Again, if Jesus didn’t pre-exist, he can’t have been there during the creation record. Instead, throughout the Bible his creative work is of people born again, into his death. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth,” (Colossians 1:15-16) – this comes in a chapter talking all about his work in the new testament, which mirrors God’s original creation. Paul says elsewhere: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

Finally, it is a shame that the statement also uses the word ‘mystery’. There is nothing mysterious about the person of Jesus Christ now he has been revealed. The mystery of God’s salvation, and how His great plan would work out, has now been revealed in him, as Paul says: “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” (Colossians 1:26).

Jerusalem – God’s Future World Capital

JerusalemWhy would anybody pick Jerusalem to be the capital of the world? It’s not the oldest city, the biggest city, or the richest city in the world. And it’s often in the news because of acts of terrorism and violent clashes.

But it is located very well – at the confluence of three major continents, and in a very key position strategically. More importantly than that, we are told in the Bible that it is a special place, because God chose it to put His name there:

“Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name.” – 1 Kings 11:36

David was a king who ruled from Jerusalem in around 1000 BC. He had a very strong faith in God, and pleased God. God made a special promise to David that his throne (which was in Jerusalem) would be established for ever. This would be possible because he would have a descendant who would be immortal.

“Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” – 2 Samuel 7:16

It sounds amazing, but this is what was promised to him – it’s worth reading the whole chapter if you can. David’s descendant was to be Jesus Christ, who would be descended from both David and from God.

“You shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” – Luke 1:31-33.

So we are told that the Son of God will rule from Jerusalem. That’s enough to make it a very special city indeed!

When will this happen? There is a prophecy in Ezekiel that Jerusalem would be a troublesome place, and it would be completely destroyed (or ‘overturned’) three times in its history:

“You, O profane wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment, thus says the Lord God: Remove the turban and take off the crown. Things shall not remain as they are… a ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it. This also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgement belongs, and I will give it to him.” – Ezekiel 21:27

We know that this has already happened twice: once by the Babylonian army in 586 BC and once by the Romans in 70 AD. It has not yet happened a third time, so this event is still in the future.

800px-A_man_prays_at_the_Western_Wall_in_Jerusalem

Jewish man at the Western Wall, Jerusalem (Wikipedia)

For many years, it would make no sense to punish the Jews by overturning Jerusalem (as this verse suggests) because the Jews did not inhabit Israel, and so anything happening in Jerusalem would not affect them. But all that changed in 1948 when they returned to their land and the new state of Israel, and again in 1967 when the Jews occupied the whole city of Jerusalem once again. Now any overturning of their capital city would very dramatically affect them!

We know from other Bible prophecies that this third overturning will be done by many nations all coming together against Jerusalem. “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken.” – Zechariah 14:2

We can actually see this building at the moment, with lots of nations preparing to fight with Israel. The Bible tells us that when all seems lost, God “will go forth and fight against those nations” (verse 3), and it is at this point that Jesus Christ will be established as the king (the rightful king, according to our verse in Ezekiel 21). He will reign from Jerusalem over all the earth.

“At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it.” – Jeremiah 3:17.

So it will be the capital of the world. We have a choice now to be a part of this kingdom to come, but time is running out. The nations are gathering even now against Jerusalem, and the battle is coming. Will you be ready?

These notes are a summary of one of our Bible Hour talks – see Coming Up page for more talks like this one. 

Bible Reading Group this Spring at the Boathouse

We will be starting our Bible Reading Group again on Tuesday 5th April at 7:30pm, God Willing.

This is a 6 week series (every Tuesday up to 10th May) where we go carefully through the Gospel of Matthew, and all are invited to come along and join in. No previous Bible knowledge is necessary – just a willingness to find out more.

Bring your Bible if you have one, if you don’t have one, we’ll give you one. The group always finishes around 8:30 with coffee and biscuits. We’d love to see you there!

signs

Why IS the Bible special? Part 1

Since we believe that the Bible is a special book, here’s the start of a new mini-series presenting different perspectives about it. What makes it so different from any other book, and why is it so important that we read it?

In the last week, legislation has been passed in the US state of Mississippi to make the Bible the official ‘state book’. Full news article here:

Bible Mississippi

This has come with its unsurprising share of controversy and anger, as some religious groups claim that the Bible should not be valued any higher than any other religious text. But the fact is, the Bible does make a claim that it is different and special. The word ‘Holy’ often gets put in front – and ‘holy’ means ‘separate’ or ‘different’.

  • Jesus is the ONLY way for mankind to be saved: “There is salvation in no-one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
  • The Bible is the ONLY book that Jesus endorsed: “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God… have you not read…?” (Matthew 22:29,31) – in this one chapter, Jesus quotes from Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus and the Psalms.
  • We are warned against adding ANYTHING to the the words recorded in the Bible, which includes counting any other book as equally holy. “I testify to anyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18)

The Bible is different and distinct, and the best way to see that is by reading it for yourself. Unfortunately, simply making it the state book doesn’t necessarily encourage more people to read what it actually says. Don’t take someone’s word for it, read it for yourself.

There is plenty of help available on this website to read it for yourself, such as:

Beginner’s Guide to Reading the Bible

Or look at our Read the Bible page on the website, where you’ll find help with regular reading and some links to online resources.

and watch out for future posts on this subject too.