Thursday, 30 April 2009

Thought provoking quotes

"Death is a sobering agent to a world that is drunk on triviality."
Larry, Photizo blog (Here)

Monday, 27 April 2009

What are you worth?

This is an old post of mine written for easter a few years ago, copied straight from Facebook:

I was wondering this week, 'What gives a person worth?' In this note I hope to address a few opinions that people hold and look and whether they hold water or not.

Is it something we earn? Do the rich have more worth?Perhaps the good, the kind, the loving? Is it a status quality: You are worth more because you are a king/queen/prime minister, an MP? What about is we are poor, failures, we mess up, of a lowly position? Are we then worth less or even worthless? Would you give more for the queen then you would your family, even if they were poor or even bad? If its not something we earn then what is it?

Is it something that we automatically have? Is it an intrinsic quality in all of man-kind? I'm dubious. If this is true then why is there inequality in the world. Why are some given more worth then others? Perhaps we have different levels of intrinsic worth? Perhaps a tramp is born with less worth then I am. I think that most peoples consciences would tell them otherwise. The disgust we all felt when we heard about the tramp getting set alight last year in the happy slap incident.

If it isn't earnt and neither is it intrinsic to us what is it that gives us worth? Or am I being an optimist, assuming I am worth anything? Perhaps I am worthless. Do we really believe that, do we live like we are worthless. Even a child cries "Its not fair" and its something we never stop. We constantly protest when our 'rights' are stepped on. If we are worthless and believed ourselves to be so would we bother? What about others? Are they worthless, do we care when others, even strangers are hurt? Of course we do. How do we know its not an illusion, a coping mechanism, a survival of the fittest tactic? Well would we care for strangers, even those outside our community if that's all it was? I don't think so and neither do most the world if their actions are anything to go by.

Do we give ourselves worth? Our we only worth any thing because we say we are? What then of those who actually think they're worthless? Are they really? Do we then treat them as if they are? No, we treat them as human beings, as someone who is worth something.

There is only one more option left as far as I can see:We are given worth by others. We decide how much people are worth. Would you die for your partner, a family member or a friend? What about a stranger or an enemy? Does this add up fully? What if no-one knows you, or even worse, what if they do and still think you're worthless? Are you then worthless? So If we are given worth and yet people don't give it to us who does?The only reasonable answer is that we are given worth by someone unwavering: God. The one who loves us all the same, created us all by choice, who calls us all back to him. You are worth something because God said you are. More then that he proved it. Who else suffered for you, died for you and called you back? Jesus is the only one I know.

Why have I bothered with this note? Well I believe we are worth something and the only thing that accounts for that worth is God. He gave you worth, he gave you his all. Why not thank him? Stopped running from the one who gives you worth. Stop. Thank him. Turn back to him. Thanks for reading this note, even if it was so you don't have to do work! Please ask me, or another Christian about what and why they believe. Happy Easter!

She thinks she's worth £150, what do you think your worth?

What is a Christian and how do I become one?

A Christian is someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. It means "Christ-like" or "Little Christs" and was used to mock early Christians. They liked the term however and it stuck with us, even till today. Christians today are people who have committed to follow Jesus everyday of thier lives because of wat Jesus has done for them.

So what does it mean to be a Christian? The Bible tells us:

"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." The book of Romans, Chapter 10, Verses 9 & 10.

Lets look at each bit of this a little:

1) Confess that Jesus is Lord: This means that we hand ourselves over to Jesus for him to lead us. It also means that Jesus is the most important thing and that we put him first in our lives. When the Bible uses words like 'Lord' it is trying to make us think of Jesus as a king and to follow him as such.

2) Believe that Jesus was raised from the dead: This is supposed to remind us of the Easter story. Jesus came to Earth as both human and God to die on a cross and then to raise from the dead three days later. This means that the wrong things we do that hurt others and seperate us from God (sometimes known as sin) have been taken away by Jesus and that he has beaten death so that although our bodies will die now, Jesus will rise us up from the dead just like he rose from the dead. These promises of God are for those who believe in Jesus.

3) Saved: We all know what this word means but the Bible uses it in a way which we do not in our culture anymore. Here saved means that the wrong things we have done have been dealt with by Jesus so that we my have a relationship with God now and when die Jesus will bring us back to live, fix all the wrong in the world and that we will live with him for eternity.

So this is what a Christian is:

1) Someone who believes that Jesus is King of their life.
2) Someone who believes that Jesus, as both God and human, died in our place to sort out the wrong we have done because we couldn't do it ourselves, and rose from the dead so that we will also one day.
3) Someone who has said sorry for the wrong they have done and seek to live for Jesus as their king now.

I believe that a Christian called Arminius summed up well what a Christian believes when he wrote:

"...Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the gospel of John 3:16: "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And in the First Epistle of John 2:2: "And [Jesus] is the [one who paid the price] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
(Article II of The Remonstrance)

If you want to become a Christian then please read this prayer (prayer is just talking with God) then if you believe it then say it to God and you will have become a Christian:

Dear God,
Thank you for sending Jesus. I am sorry for the wrong things I have done and admit that I cannot be good enough without you. I ask that you will forgive the wrong I’ve done and accept me as your follower and your child. Please help me to follow you as king everyday and to tell others of you,
I ask this because of what Jesus has done for me,
Amen (This means you agree with that was said)

If you said that then welcome into the family of God. I encourage you to go to a local church and tell them what you have done. They will help you to grow as a Christian and to understand it more. If you didn't pray then I ask that you look more into what Christianity is. Maybe try a local Alpha course at one of the churches in your area.

Friday, 24 April 2009

How to read the Bible

When reading the Bible it is very easy to get confused and lost. One only needs to search for a single passage to find a thousand interpretations. Is that how its meant to be? I believe not. The books (whatever you believe about them) were written for a specific purpose and therefore there is a correct reading somewhere. So what's gone wrong? I suggest two issues: 1) What the Bible is has been misunderstood, and 2) People do not know how to read a text properly. In this post I briefly want to talk about what the bible is and how it effects our reading of it and also give some simple skills which will helps you be able to understand the Bible as we ought. This is sometimes known as Hermeneutics or Exegesis). Please also bear in mind that I'm not there myself either, however this is simply trying to convey what I have learnt in the hope that it will bless you and your walk with God:

What is the Bible?
The Book that we know as the Bible is often misused, mainly because it is misunderstood. If you fancy reading another post I wrote on it see here. What follows is a list of things that the Bible is and its counterparts:

- The Bible was written by humans. Often Christians hold that the Bible was given to us by god verbatim. This is not true. Now that is not to say that God did not have a hand in its authorship (I believe he did) but it was by inspiration, not by dictation.

- The Bible contains stories. Often people take random quotes out of books and cite them to you as proof as if the whole of the Bible were a saying document of sorts. This is simply not the case. This is a miss-use of the Bible as it ignores both Genre and context (explored later).

- The Bible must be accompanied by the Holy Spirit to be of any use. The Bible itself (book) is not the word of God! It's a collection on ink marks of paper. Jesus is the word of God and I believe that we often mix the two up. The Bible is a great resource and contains the words that the Holy Spirit by inspiration can bring alive to us. We can learn from it by in-depth study but it is the Holy Spirit that speaks them to us and used it to change us

- The Bible is for us to learn and guide. Anyone who ever discussed Theology of any sort will know that soon the Bible is used as a weapon to break down. Used to quote at people to prove them wrong and you right, and not to build up, grow and learn. I'm guilty of this and need to watch myself. I even sometimes study for long periods, again, not to grow but to be smarter or to beat my opponents.

So now that we've looked about what the Bible is how do we access what it contains?

How to read the Bible

1) Pray: Like was said above if we expect to grow we need to be taught by God. Before we read then we need to pray, set our hearts at rest with him (as much as possible) and ask that he would teach us, and that we'd be different because of the reading.

2)Context: Don Carson once said at a Christian conference, "There are three rules of hermeneutics: Context, context, context!" Now that might sound quite strong but in reality its not. We do this with everything, from watching TV to playing sport. Say for example that you and a friend went to a sandwich shop and your friend didn't buy a sandwich but instead came up to you a said, "Mind if I have a bite?" Of course being the kind person you are you say "Not at all", at which point he leans across and bites you on the arm. You of course are shocked and enraged because although you didn't clearly state that you meant he may have a bite of your sandwich it was implied. There are various types of context, too many to go into now but a good place to start is to ask a few questions:
1) Where in the book is this placed?
2) What comes before it?
3) What comes after it?
This gives the literary context. If you get this then try historical context. These questions may help you start off:
1) Who was the author?
2) When was he writing?
3) Where was he writing to?
4) Why was he writing?
We all know the game. How many cars can you find in the Bible? Its not long till "He rides forth in Triumph" is quoted. Of course the context tells us that cars didn't exist yet and therefore not what its getting at!

3) Genre: Question: How many horns will you see on the Lambs head? Answer: None! Revelation is an apocalypse and not to be taken literally. It uses cryptography (hidden images) to explain things we don't understand. The same principle must be applied to all the books in the Bible. What Genre are they and how do I interpret them in light of it. The Bible contains poetry, song, history, prophecy, apocalypse, philosophy, wisdom literature, theological prose, but to name a few. Please treat it as such.

4) Cohesion: This works on a few levels. Firstly the book is coherent. so where there are apparent differences you must see whether these are there intentionally or not. For example in 1 Corinthians Paul says that women who prophesy must cover their heads, and then he says women shouldn’t speak. Obviously he is not saying that women must be mute in church. I'll leave you to look at the rest of the conclusions (*controversial*). Then we have other books the author has written, other books in that testament, then the whole Bible. The Bible cannot teach anything which a single book, on its own, doesn't teach, or even contradicts. It’s a logical conclusion but one which people often skip over.

5) Honesty: When you approach the Bible you must be honest. Too many people use it as a proof text of what they believe and not as a source of learning a growth. We mustn’t come with any pre-conceived ideas which we aim to prove as then the Bible gets twisted. We come humbly to listen and to learn. Every side has done this at some point, each of us have. We need to leave behind our pre-conceived ideas and try to learn what the Bible teaches and not what other teach us. This means that no-one is above reproach.

6) Discussion: This is not per se a hermeneutic tool however it can be useful. Often others see something you don't. Always be open to how others sees things, even if its not 'orthodox'. You never know. They may be right and you wrong.

What about disagreements?

So both you and others around you have tried to the best of your ability to do the above and yet disagree. What then? Don't panic! This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Try to discuss your methods and reasons with others. Perhaps they can see a gap in your argument, or vice versa. Bear in mind that you understanding will be under flux. You will know more later then you do now therefore opinions on a passage will change. Ask any pastor and they will tell you that they’ve preached at least one sermon they disagree with, probably more. Sometimes the context isn't clear. E.g. was Romans written to Jews, Gentiles, or both? In which case it’s expected that there will be disagreements. The rule of thumb is not to make dogma out of these passages.

End remarks
I hope that you continue to read the Bible and grow because of it. For further reading on this subject I suggest the following books:

- For those who like a challenge yet have no life I suggest the following book but be warned its a hefty one: Hermeneutic Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Grant. R. Osborne (Here)

- For those who are just starting out or want something a bit simpler or an overview I recommend: Digging deeper: Tools to unearth the Bible's treasure, Andrew Beynon and Andrew Sach. (Here)

- Although I've not read it (although I intend to) SCM produce a series of study guides which are amazing, one of which is called "Biblical Hermeneutics" by David Holgate and Rachel Starr. (Here)

- Trying to get to grips with the Bibles Meta-narrative? Then try these: Understanding the Bible, John Stott (Here), or The 100 minute Bible , Michael Hinton and Helen Jenkins (Here)

Thanks to Bethyada for the concept of this post. Please go Here to see his.

Till next time!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

St. Georges day

Oh most glorious day of the great and mightly land known as England.
Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice!

In case you weren't sure I am proud to be English. I am proud be be part of a great heritage. I am proud to be part of this great nation.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Vegetarians working at a Butcher's

Anyone who has read the Metro today (22/04/09) will have been shocked by the following article: Here (The actual paper has different information)

It is about a "devout Christian" of Kingston in Surrey who has recently become the manager of a Lap-dancing club. He's a virgin and has never had a girlfriend. He claims that he has been propositioned over 20 times but its ok, he insist, as he doesn't believe in sex before marriage and therefore wasn't tempted. Apparently it took him six months to tell his Dad he took the job who supposedly wasn't very happy (Understatement?) The article seems to suggest that he justifies the placement on the £35k pa salary that will provide for his family in future.

Now it might just be me but surely a celibate man working in a lap-dancing club is like a Vegetarian working at a Butcher's shop. They just don't fit. Plus (men, I’m sure you'll agree on this one) believing that sex before marriage is wrong doesn't mean that it is not a severe temptation. Perhaps he's a better man then I am? Finally, and call me crazy if you must, but being financially secure is not the most important way to prepare for a family life. Training in Godliness and perseverance is vital to be a good husband. Sticking to ones convictions is surely more important then a big salary.

Till next time!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Can I make my way to God?

"There is no way from here to the new creation. There is no way from here to the kingdom of resurrection. The kingdom can only come. The new creation can only be given.

And the kingdom does come from God. The new creation is given by God. It pours forth from God’s own inexhaustible excess of life. While we are trying desperately to grasp after life, as much of it as possible – and don’t let anyone get in my way, or have any of what I’ve got – while we are doing that, God is pouring life out freely upon everyone – no limits, no stinginess."

From a sermon by Douglas Harink. Certainly worth a read: See here (Thanks to 'Faith & Theology')

This got me thinking about realised eschatology again. The question is not longer the traditional one of 'Will I go to heaven?', etc. but rather 'Am I part of the kingdom of God?' This then makes the searching and the arguments about getting to heaven almost void. What we are searching for is not out there but rather here. When Christ came he brought the kingdom. "Repent and believe! The Kingdom of God is at hand." he declared. And when he rose it wasn't merely a fixing of the old ways, a correction of the error, but rather it was a new thing, a re-creation! That is why he declares, "Behold! I make all things new"(Rev 21:5).

So can I make my way to God, in this life or the next? No because He is making all things new. The kingdom of God is here, now. He is giving himself and participation in his kingdom freely. We can no more make our way to God then we can cause others to love us or buy ourselves a gift. Think about it. They are oxymorons, as is making our way to God. What we are then faced with are new questions. Have we accepted the gift? Have we been made new?

The old and the new don't mix very well. As we read in Matthew 9:16-17:

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

We need to be made new and receive the new wine of the kingdom of God. Then when the fullness of Gods kingdom comes we will fit. We will be preserved with the new as we have been made new but those who have not been made new will be thrown away as they cannot fit together.

Till next time!

Quote from Stanley Hauerwas on ‘Preaching As Though We Had Enemies’

"God has not promised us safety, but participation in an adventure called the Kingdom. That seems to me to be great good news in a world that is literally dying of boredom."

See here
Thanks to Per Crucem ad Lucem

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Advice to aspiring clergy

By James Fenton, Ex-Canon of Christ Church, Oxford

Source: Notes from Underground

10 Theses on Prayer

An interesting post which is worth a read. Thought provoking if nothing else.
See here.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

The Institutional Church and Orthodoxy

Recently I've been re-reading Hans Kung, "The Catholic Church". If you've not read it then it is a must! It's got me thinking about Church and what its role is. Now its very easy to sit in our protestant chairs and point fingers and the Pope in his chair, or at Roman Catholics in general but when we look at ourselves we are becoming the very thing that we denounced from the days of corruption. Of course, 'Roman Catholic' and 'Protestant' are very broad terms, an even in one denomination there is still reasonable variance but these together, this collection of misfits are what we call Church.

Some of you may have noticed, especially those who actually know me, that I have had a slight obsession in regards to Orthodoxy recently. What does it mean to be Orthodox? What happens if someone doesn't fit into that role? What should I do to respond to that? What should the Church do in response to it? Honestly, I've not got very far. If someone teaches someone false are they immediately deemed a heretic? Every time that I think I’ve sorted it someone (thankfully) throws something into the works.

There is a certain preacher who I disagree with quite seriously. I believe him to be rather sincere but all the same to be teaching heresy. So for a while if people asked me what I though of him I would tell them straight, "He is a heretic!" Someone pointed out to me the dispute between Peter and Paul(Galatians 2:11-21) which made me question when a false teaching becomes a heresy and when that person becomes a heratic. Was Peter a heretic before he was rebuked? Would be have been removed if he continued to disagree with Paul?

The reason I bring these up here (aside from wanting your opinions) is that I feel we too long have been afraid to question what the church teaches and look to what the Bible teaches. No I am definitely not saying that its one or the other. Usually they are the same thing and the church has a pivotal role in teaching the body but what when one sees something different in the Bible in terms of secondary issues? Views on Soteriology (Calvinism, Arminianism, Governmental view, etc), or Ecclesiology (Hierarchical, etc), or Ethics (Drinking, war, Euthanasia)? The churches general line over the ages has been to expel and when they could get away with it kill those who differ and squash underfoot anyone who feels like disagreeing to deter others from doing so. There are various examples. Famously Nestorius who claimed that we shouldn't call Mary the mother of God, but rather the mother of Jesus in case it causes confusion. The Church then claimed he was teaching what is now known as Nestorianism (Jesus and Christ as two different natures)as excommunicated him as a heratic. This is pretty well disputed now but I suppose its a case for making ones viewpoints clear. How about Ramihrdus of Cambrai, the first European 'heratic'? He refused to take Communion from corrupt Priests and was killed for his troubles. Then we have the famous case of Martin Luther who was only recently removed from the list of heretics by the RC church.

Before we get on our high horses again take a modern day example. Steve Chalke. He disagrees with Penal Substitution; in fact he called it cosmic child abuse. Now most evangelicals have shunned him as a heretic (although they may not use that word). He teaches Chritus Victor, a view held but many of the Early Church Fathers so why, even if we disagree with him have we shunned him so far over a view which is equally legitimate to hold?

I suppose what I am getting at is we need to be careful to judge on what God has said and is saying. Even if the Church teaches it as wrong is that what God says? We need to be careful that our actions, thoughts and beliefs are in-line with all that God is and not just who we are told he is.

Sorry if that was a rant. I may try and order that a little better later.

Till next time.

Great Quotes: Luther

"However, you must fend this [Anfechtung] off and cling with
a firm faith to the fact that your Christ has risen from the
dead. He, too, suffered such anguish and fear of hell [i.e., the
type suffered by Christians now], but through His resurrection
He has overcome all. Therefore, even though I am a
sinner and deserving of death and hell, this shall nonetheless
be my consolation and my victory that my Lord Jesus lives
and has risen so that He, in the end, might rescue me from
sin, death, and hell."

Luther's Works 28, p. 105. Quote in CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY

Evil overcome

“Nothingness had power over the creature…. But it was impotent against the God who humbled himself, and himself became a creature, and thus exposed himself to its power and resisted it. Nothingness could not master this victim. It could neither endure nor bear the presence of God in the flesh. It met with a prey which it could not match and by which it could only be destroyed as it tried to swallow it. The fullness of the grace which God showed to his creature by himself becoming a threatened, even ruined and lost creature, was its undoing.”

—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/3, 362.

(Post "borrowed" from here)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Thoughts for the day

"The usefulness of a cup is its emptiness"~Lao Tzu from Tao Te Ching

This is a quote which is probably most associated with Bruce Lee. He used it in reference to how to be a good Martial Artist but what if we lived by this principle as Christians. We are only of use to God if we are emptied. If the baggage we had and the preconceptions we hold are let go then we are ready to recieve from God and to be filled by him.

Bruce Lee also said this on a TV interview:
"Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow, or it can crash! Be water, my friend."

Same principle. What is we were water and our vessel God? I often feel like we are ice. We try to chisel ourselves into a certain shape which always fails. We then try and let church and other christians chisel us into a certain shape which also goes wrong. What if we just rested in God and just let ourselves melt into him?

Till next time!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Evangelicalism = Neo-Gnosticism?

There has been some recent discussion in articles and on many Christian blogs on what constitutes Orthodoxy. I have done one recently (see here), as has Jc_Freak (see here). It really has started to get me thinking: What does being a Christian mean? There tends to be two main Christian groups: The conservatives and the Liberals. The Conservatives tend to be obsessed with what is the right thing to believe usually characterised by long sermons and an obsession with the Bible, at the detriment to social action. The Liberal tends to be concerned with Social action usually characterised by RAC (Random acts of kindness-see here) and other out-reach with a lacking on doctrinal understanding.

I would like to take a few minutes to look at what the Evangelical church (although many churches will fit into this understanding) seems to believe a Christian is. There seems to be a list of doctrines one must adhere to make you a Christian and as long as you do then you're in. My worry is that:

1) Holding a certain belief doesn't mean that you live by it or, in-fact, that you are necessarily saved by it anyway. James tells us that even the Demons believe in one God! (James 2:19).

2) It is bordering on a form of Neo-Gnosticism: The Church has a secret knowledge that as long as you believe then you'll be saved, but if you don't know it then you are lost. Repeat the following creed, hold the following doctrinal basis, use the following Version of the Bible, etc.

This is not in anyway to say the have doctrinal Basis' are a bad thing. On the contrary I believe them to be a good and often vital thing for a church/Organisation to have. What it does mean however if that we need to be careful in how we approach them. If Mr. X used the TNIV instead of the KJV is that a legitimate reason to refuse him membership/leadership? If Mr.X holds to 'Christus Victor' instead of 'penal substitution' does that mean the he is not saved?

Paul tells us in Romans:
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)

We see various confessions of the sort in the Bible. If we declare that Jesus is Lord [over everything, including Caesar] and believe that he was raised from the dead [after dying on our behalf on the cross] then we will be saved. It is also worth noting that it is only a modern characteristic that we separate belief and behaviour. Neither the Greeks nor the Jews did this. To believe was to act in relation to that belief. If we believe that Jesus is Lord then we will follow him as such and do as he commands including telling others about him, caring for those in need, etc.

I do not believe that Evangelicalism has got to a point yet where it is close to Gnosticism, and there are in fact other false teachings that it needs to be cautious of (i.e. Health, wealth and prosperity Gospel-" The Lord giveth and the Lord giveth more), however it is one which it needs to address so that it doesn't develop further.

Looking forward to you thoughts as always.

Till next time!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Who has a better understanding of their eternal security?

You've really not got to be on the Calvinist/Arminian scene very long before a Calvinist will throw this beauty at you: "Because I'm predestined by God I know that no-matter what I will be saved." Which is usually followed by something of the lines, "I pity you Arminians, not knowing whether you are actually saved or not." My question then is an important one. Is this a valid deduction? Do Calvinists really know that they are saved and Arminians just live in hope that they are?

Simple answer: No!

Slightly more in-depth answer: Firstly there is a misunderstanding in Arminianism here. Arminians believe that we are saved solely by the work of God, and most definitely not due to any of our efforts. The very act of choosing is given by God (Prevenient Grace). It is not of our own works so that no-one can boast!

Secondly, I believe that the Calvinists have actually got it backwards. They are the ones who cannot really know if they are saved or not and here is why. The elect are those who are saved. For a Calvinist the only way to know that you are truly saved is that once you are resurrected and God judges you as righteous (that is saved through Christ). Nothing else is a good enough witness. You may think you believe but you may apostate tomorrow proving that you were never saved in the first place. For the Arminian however they are certain of their salvation. Now that is not to say that that is eternally sure but that is to say at each moment. If I am called and I respond to the Gospel then I am saved. I may also apostate tomorrow but that merely shows that I was saved and have forsaken so great a salvation.

I am certain that I am saved and seek, with Gods help, to persevere to the end that I may not stumble or be disqualified.

Till next time!

The Bible is not the word of God!

Do you ever get a bit confused, or in my case, annoyed when people talk about the Bible as the Word of God, or even worse quote passages about the Bible from the Bible to back up their claims about the Bible (Anyone feeling dizzy?) Now please don't get me wrong. I am not saying we should throw away the Bible, quite the opposite actually, but rather we need to understand the Bible as we are meant to. I am sure that when we understand what the word of God is then the Bible will come alive to us in a whole new, richer way.

Protestants are a funny lot (of which I am one). They view the Bible extremely high. 'Sola scriptura' they cry but it seems today that the Bible is being seen in the same light as the Muslims see the Qur'an. For the Muslim the Qur'an it the literal word of God. Every dot, every mark is inspired. They hold that Allah himself wrote/dictated each surah. Now that’s the funny thing you see. That is NOT how the Bible came to be. Each book was written by a real person, in a real situation. It as written/revealed not over a short period (as the Qur'an) but rather over thousands of years. That is not to say that the Bible is not special. Christians talked of the Bible being inspired or God-breathed; a book written by around 40 authors over thousands of years, many of which would have never met and yet a perfect cohesion.

So why this post? Muslims place the Qur'an to bed every night, would never put it on the floor, must have it above all over books to show reverence, and say that it is only Qur'an if it is read in Arabic. Christians read their Bible whenever, put it on the floor, let it get dog eared and stained, place it on the most convenient shelf for easy access and can read it in whatever language they like. Why is that? For the Muslim the Qur'an is something of God himself but not for the Christian. Perhaps if you answer these questions it will help you understand what I'm getting at:

Q1) What is the Word of God?

Q2) Who is the Word of God?

I don't think it'd be too dangerous to assume that most people would say "The Bible" for the ‘what’ question and "Jesus" for the ‘who’ question. This is the problem: Jesus was, is and will always be the word of God. If we were to compare to Qur'an to anything in Christianity it would be Jesus, not the Bible. The Bible is not the word of God, why? Because Jesus he. The Bible is the inspired witness to this word. The word that was in the beginning that created all things. When God said "let there be light", his word, Jesus, created that light.

So what does this mean for our Bible reading? Should we bother? Certainly . The Bible has been given to us and inspired so that we can learn more about God. However is means that it id only useful when it is spoken to us by the spirit. When God speaks his word to us through the Bible, then is becomes the word of God. That’s why we can treat the Bible in the way we do. It is just a book: Ordinary paper and Ink. It only comes alive when God himself speaks those words into our hearts.

Keep reading, learning and listening.

Till next time!