Tag Archives: God

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.  

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).

Exodus: Gods and Kings

You may have heard about, or seen, the Ridley Scott film called Exodus: Gods and Kings. You may already know it is based on events recorded in the book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible. A Christadelphian created this website to explain more about the events behind the film. Why not have a look?

exodus2014poster1

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

The cycle of day and night

I’ve just finished reading a book called The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It tells the story of what happens when the earth’s rotation slows so that days get longer and longer, stretching well beyond 24 hours. This has effects such as gravity getting stronger, radiation from the sun intensifying, food depending on artificial light to survive 30 hours of darkness, and eventually humans not being able to go out in daylight at all.

   It just goes to show how the period of 24 hours that we do have is perfect to sustain life, along with lots of other things that a Creator has designed:

The earth’s surface temperature lies between 0 and 100 degrees nearly everywhere. This is maintained by the earth being exactly the right distance from the sun, with an atmosphere that filters deadly radiation, an inclining axis which results in seasons, and a huge amount of ocean functioning as a heat reservoir, distributing heat and causing rain.

The atmosphere contains just the right ingredients for life, including carbon dioxide and abundant oxygen.

Carbon is abundant on earth and is essential, being the only element able to form the large molecules needed for lie and metabolism. Despite this plentiful supply on earth, it is not at all common in the universe.

Water is also abundant on earth, and is very well distributed due to the water cycle of rains, rivers and oceans. But despite this large amount of water, we also have a lot of dry land to support life. If the ocean basins had been shallower, dry land would have been restricted to the tops of mountains.

If any one of these aspects had not been present, life would not have thrived here. Can this just be chance? Or is it more evidence that a Creator must have been involved?

The Lord God also made a promise that He would not change the cycle of day and night after the flood in Genesis. He said to Noah: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,” (Genesis 8v22). These things are in the control of God Almighty, and He makes the earth to continue turning.