Tag Archives: Bible

The Gift of Giving

At this time of the year, people in Burton, like everywhere in the Western World, get very excited about giving. It is often said that part of the fun is in the giving, in watching the expression on the face of a loved one as they open the present, or in the delight of a child as they play with a new toy.

The Bible agrees that giving is an important part of our human existence. It is within the capacity of all of us to make someone else happy by giving – either a present, or a hug, or even some time and attention. There are plenty of Bible stories that talk about being generous and selfless in the way that we give. Think of the widow woman, for example, who gave her two mites into the temple treasury, which was all she had to live on (see Mark 12v41-44). This example to us means even more when we think that she was not necessarily an old widow; she could have had children to support. And yet the giving was the important thing, not the amount, and not what she got in return, just the giving itself.

Too often we focus on the value of material things, and what we accumulate in our houses. The focus is on the object, not on the action. Jesus Christ lived his whole life as a gift to others – constantly serving, providing, healing and comforting – as well as pointing out the way to please God was to do likewise. Ultimately this is the way the Gospel of John describes his final act of self-sacrifice: as a gift not from Jesus, but from God.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3v16)

Should we be giving more this year than presents and cards? What could we do with our time, our love, and our thoughts and prayers? Do we value those as much as the goods we purchase in shopping centres? And how do you value the ultimate gift that is offered to you?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” (Romans 6v23)

We’re holding a special event at our hall on Saturday 24 December at 4:30pm, entitled A King is Born.  

Healing all diseases

Mark Zuckerberg clearly has great intentions, having pledged over £2bn to fund his aim of eradicating all diseases by the end of the century. He and his wife rightly point out how far science and medicine have come in the last century, after “millennia with little progress”. It’s only logical to assume that great advances are surely not far away.

It’s interesting to consider the Bible view on this subject. For a start, it is apparent that Jewish health laws were clearly far in advance of their time – modern health practice only caught up in the last century or so with what the Bible instructed back in 1400 BC (Click here for more on this). Washing hands and dealing with sewage far away from human settlement are just two examples of this. Surely this shows that God knows best, and that God is in control of such things anyway.

If God is in control, then it is arrogant of mankind to think it can solve its own problems. The Bible shows time and again that it is in God’s power to strike someone seriously ill with leprosy (eg 2 Chronicles 26v19), for example, and that it was equally in His power to heal, through His son or through His prophets (eg Matthew 8v3). If God wanted to remove all disease, He could do.

So what is the reason why disease still exists? Back in Genesis 3v19 we see that God intervened in His own creation to curse mankind with mortality: “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” From this point on, mankind has been subject to the frailty and weakness of mortal flesh, and ultimately dies from some affliction or other. It is made very clear that sin, in other words, disobedience to God, brought this intervention. Just look at the way it is explained in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

“Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned,” Romans 5v12.

God immediately, however, demonstrated that there would always be a way back to Him through a promised descendant, who would be the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through him that mankind can once again be immortal and enjoy the prospect of healing.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away,” (Revelation 21v4).

We can be a part of this promise of immortality through belief and baptism (see Galatians 3v26-29) – this is the true and real hope of all diseases being eradicated and mankind being restored to the way he was created in the first place. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of many people, charities and organisations, God has shown us in the Bible that only this approach will ultimately succeed.

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 at the Boat House

Maybe you’ve always wanted to read the Bible, but you’re not sure how to start.

bibleMaybe you already love reading the Bible and you want like-minded people to read it with.

Maybe you just have an open mind and you’d like to see what it’s all about!

Whichever of these is you – this is your opportunity, and we’d love to see you!

Our Bible reading group will start on Tuesday 15th September (God willing), and will run for an initial period of six weeks. Everyone is welcome. Bring your Bible if you have one, if you don’t have one, we’ll give you one. (NB this date has changed from the original advertised date.)

The group will start at 7:30 p.m. and finish around 8:30 p.m. with coffee and biscuits. We’d love to see you!

A faith that makes sense

We all have faith. We can’t exist without it.

When you go out in the morning, you have faith that the bus will turn up, or the car will start. You have faith that the shops will be open. If you had no faith, you wouldn’t bother getting out of bed.

Of course, your faith is based on facts – it’s not blind faith.

Say you want to go into town. You could sit down by the side of a random road and wait for the right bus to come along – that would be blind faith. You’d probably be waiting a long time. Or you could look at the timetable and check where and when the bus goes, then go and wait at the bus stop at the right time – that’s faith based on facts. And that way you’d be much more likely to get to town.

The point is, as you stand and wait at the bus stop you don’t know for certain that the bus will turn up, but you have faith that it will, based on your knowledge of the facts.

The Christian’s life is based on faith. Not blind faith, but confident faith that’s based on knowledge and experience. Here is a short summary of the faith of the Christadelphians:

  1. We believe in God. He made everything and is the power behind the universe. Some people have faith that it all happened by chance, we have faith that it was designed and created. And not only did God make the world, with you and me on it – he has a purpose with us!

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

  1. We believe the Bible is the Word of God. Bible-beating has been a favourite pastime of cynics for hundreds of years, but time and again science, archaeology and fulfilled prophecies show that the Bible was right after all.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

  1. We believe we need salvation. We are sinners, every one of us – it all goes back to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit (remember the story of the Garden of Eden? We believe it’s true). That’s why there’s so much evil in the world. People are not basically good, they’re basically bad. That’s why Jesus Christ is at the centre of God’s plan for the earth …

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

  1. We believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God. He gave his life as a sacrifice for sins, to bring us back to God.

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

  1. We believe in baptism. Baptism is when an adult decides that they want to become a follower of Jesus – what happens is they are completely dipped in water. By this they show that they want to ‘put to death’ their old way of life and be ‘born again’. It’s a picture of the death and raising to life again of Jesus.

“Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4

  1. We believe that discipleship is a way of life. It is the way to fulfilment and peace of mind.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is man’s all.” Ecclesiastes 12:13

  1. We believe in the Bible as the only authority in religious life. We don’t have beautiful buildings, priests or elaborate rituals. Our simple life of faith centres on prayer, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), daily reading of God’s word “Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day!” (Psalm 119:97), and the ‘breaking of bread’ (or ‘communion’) service which we hold once a week: “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26
  2. We believe the Jews are God’s people. We’re not in any way supporters of the modern state of Israel, but we take a keen interest in the history and future of the Jewish people, because they are key to God’s purpose with the world.

“You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22

  1. We believe that Jesus Christ will return to the earth. We will be judged according to what we have done with our lives.

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2

  1. We believe in the future kingdom of God. Jesus Christ will reign on his rightful throne in Jerusalem over a worldwide and everlasting kingdom.

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hill; and all nations shall flow to it.” Isaiah 2:2

Our faith is simple, straightforward and logical. It’s based on the Bible, and we have absolute trust in what the Bible says.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and you see a bunch of people waiting at a bus stop. You can’t see a bus, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t coming. It means they’ve looked at the timetable and they know what they’re waiting for. They are acting in faith.

Imagine that this bunch of people is very happy and excited. Maybe you’d stop to see what they’re excited about?

If you want to know more, why not come and meet us this weekend at the Boat House in Burton? More details