Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

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.

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).