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Archive for February, 2013

Thursday Ponderings


28th February 2013

He will carry you…

My mum was extremely poor when she was older and could not afford to eat properly. Because of that for a long time I had a fear that I would be poor when I was old and not be able to afford to eat.

Then one day I came across Isaiah 46:4 – “Even to your old age and grey hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and rescue you.” The verse went straight to my heart and gave me comfort. Every time I start to get worried, I simply speak the verse to myself and my peace comes back.

What a wonderful promise, from whatever age you are now until you are old and grey God the Father, the most powerful being in the universe will look out for you. He will sustain you! He will nourish you, keep you going, support you, help and aid you. What more could we possibly need!


When we’re too tired to continue, He will carry us! When we run out of our own strength He will give us His strength! Isaiah 40:31 – “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

This is just another way of saying He will carry us!


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Exploring Islam 11


Exploring Islam

11. The Jesus of Islam

Part 2 – Jesus remains a man not a god

Despite Jesus’ unusual birth to a virgin Islam still considers him to be simply a man chosen by Allah to be a prophet. He is viewed as a created being from the dust just as Adam was (Qur’an 3:59). To consider Jesus as anything more than his humanity would be to ascribe to him some status of divinity, and as we have seen previously this is a serious sin. Allah reveals himself through the Qur’an as being one, and in being the only one. He is if you like singular in construction and the only one of his kind.

During Muhammad’s life the early Church was spreading rapidly throughout the world and he would have heard of their radical concept of a Trinitarian God – that is a God which is three in one. Such a paradox, which is accepted in Christianity through faith and the testimony of the Bible, seemed to simply be a wilful act to distort the truth about Allah and elevate a man into a deity. If you remember from one of the first podcasts in this series at the birth of Islam Muhammad was reacting against an Arab people who were polytheists, that is belief in and the worship of many different gods and spirits. Muhammad placed the Christian view of Jesus into this category. The Qur’an summarises all of this in the following:

Qur’an 4:171 – ‘O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter anything concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (It is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son.’

Interestingly, there are two aspects regarding the Islamic view of Jesus which are not fully explained. In the previous verse you may noticed that Jesus is referred to as a ‘word’ and a ‘spirit’ from Allah. What exactly does this mean? The Qur’an does not make any further reference to it and they are unique to him. From a Christian perspective Jesus being described as a ‘word’ is familiar as it is found in the opening verses of John’s Gospel to denote his divinity. Alongside this, the Qur’an also makes the unexpected claim that Jesus was holy, faultless, pure, or righteous depending on your translation from the Arabic in Qur’an 19:19. These characteristics are commonly associated with divinity outside of Islam and offer a stark contrast to Muhammad who required forgiveness for his sins (Qur’an 48:2). Many Muslims are not aware of this last verse and can take offense at the suggestion that their greatest prophet is in fact sinful, so refer to it with care and respect.

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WISE – Trinity


Words In Scripture Explored – Trinity

G’day and welcome to WISE! The word for today is Trinity!

One of the problems that people tell me they have with the Christian God is the concept of God being a Trinity, asking “Why must God be a Trinity?” After all they say, the word Trinity isn’t in the Bible! And they are partly correct, insomuch as that there is no explicit Bible text using the word trinity. However, the concept is explicit throughout the Bible.

Trinity is Love

Love Indivisible – One of the main errors people make regarding the Trinity, is that the three names, Father, Son and Spirit are simply three different modes of the one God. However the Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that God, is made of one indivisible essence or substance, and this is expressed in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each belongs to the whole undivided essence of God. The totality of God exists in the Father, the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity is co-equal, co-eternal, self-conscious and self-directing. The three members never act in opposition to any other member, but always in complete union and harmony. The three members are always in complete union with the other.

Love Precession – This endeavours to describe the relationship within the Godhead. While, there seemingly is an order of succession in their relationship, this in no way means superiority & inferiority. The Son is begotten of the Father (John 3v16) and does the Fathers Will. Both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit (John 15v26).

Love Relationship – There is a communal honour between the Trinity Persons (John 15v26; 16v13-15; 17v1, 8,18,23). In the work of redemption or salvation, there is a co-ordination in the Triune Godhead (Hebrews 10v7-17; Ephesians 4v4-6; 1 Corinthians 12v4-6). The Father ‘elects’ (Ephesians 1v4); The Son ‘redeems (Ephesians 1v7); and the Holy Spirit ‘seals’ (Ephesians 1v13-14). Between the three Persons, there is an eternal unison in active purpose and yet seemingly external distinctive between the Three members of the Triune Godhead.

If God was a single essence, as some people say, then how could love possibly be shown, as love requires more than one Person for it to be active? God is love. The Father totally loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son totally loves the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit totally loves the Father and the Son. This Trinitarian God exhibits love and commands His Disciples, to love one another so that He will be seen (John 13v34-25). When you show love, you reflect and reveal the Trinitarian God, in whose image you are made.

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Issues – Universalism

 Partake - Issues


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John writes in John 1v1-5, talking about Jesus “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Jesus talking about Himself John 14v2, 6: “Trust in God; trust also in me. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 17v1-2 “O God, Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.

Most modern societies, particularly in the West, are pluralistic with a many cultures, within any city and country. With this advent of pluralism, comes the widely held belief that all religions, creeds, beliefs and non-beliefs are equal, which all ultimately lead to God and that after death, every person will enter heaven and have everlasting life with God. That is universalism, and sadly, some Christian churches hold this belief. However, that is contradictory to what Jesus said in the bible passages I read earlier. That is not to say that each religion does not have an element of truth within it, but only one religion is ultimate and absolute truth and that is Christianity. As Christians in the twenty first century we are often informed that Christianity is wrong, and that Jesus Christ can’t possibly be the only way to God, even if a God or Gods exist.

Just a scant look at each religion throws up the incompatibility between them. For instance the great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam all profess that there is only one God. Contrast this against the religion of Hinduism, which has millions of God, or Buddhism where there may well be no God at all! So Universalism could really be just a form of functional religious atheism.

If we were all going to be with God anyway, why would God bother having a plan of salvation as revealed in the Bible? If Universalism is true, why bother with morals or ethics now during this life as each religion has differing codes of morality and behaviour. Now as soon as a Universalist says that morality is what defines the human (as some do), we can then say well which God, and therefore religion, decides what morality as different religions have different rules of morality!! Taking it even further we could say why would God bother interacting with His creation at all, if humanity is going to be spending eternity with Him anyway! Why would there even be a thing called death at all, if universalism is true! So why is Universalism wrong? Lets have a look very briefly together, how superior Christianity is to Universalism.

Universalism Denies Salvation by Grace

Universalists inevitably proclaim that it is due to God’s nature of love and mercy that everyone will have everlasting life with God. Surely a merciful God will allow all to live with Him, regardless of the path they took in this early life! However the Bible states that while God is a God of love and mercy, He is also a God of justice and the sins of people need to be dealt with. That is where God’s grace comes in. How does God promise salvation to those reaching out for it? Through His unfailing love, kindness and tender mercy, which is enacted through Grace! Salvation can be attained by no other means, but only through the combination of God’s mercy and grace – God’s twin actions working in unison. Grace is easily defined as: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. So what about Jesus Christ?

Universalism Denies Jesus’ uniqueness being human & divine

That Jesus was a man is not really disputed. But why did Jesus need to fully human? Firstly, so Jesus death could appease God’s anger with us. Secondly so that Jesus can empathize and pray for us. Thirdly, Jesus exhibited true and perfect humanity. Fourthly, due to his perfect humanity, Jesus is to be our example to follow. Fifthly, true human nature is good. Lastly, while God is both above and beyond, He is not so far removed from us, that He cannot interact with his creation.

But he was more than human, He was also fully God – He was fully divine! God’s salvation plan for humans involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave. However no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this. Because of this, God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved. This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every feature of humanity, including suffering and death. This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to defeat sin, death and the grave. Jesus, being sinless, was this God-man, consisting as he did of two complete natures, the God nature and the human nature. That Jesus is both human and divine is what makes Christianity truly unique amongst the world’s religions. It is why Jesus’ claims to be the only way to God are true and make sense. It is why universalism is shown to be a fallacy. Universalism is wrong because it makes Jesus Christ out to be either a liar or a lunatic or worse – both.

Universalism Denies Jesus’ cross

As all paths under universalism lead to God, why would God have to send Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world? Surely, if all paths lead ultimately to God, then there would be no need for Jesus to suffer the agony of the cross. On the cross, Jesus died so that all sins – past, present and future sins – can be forgiven. Salvation is to be found only through God’s grace and mercy exhibited by God the Son on the cross. Moreover, it is only to those who acknowledge Him as Saviour in this earthly life that He will acknowledge before God the Father.

Universalism Denies Jesus’ resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1v22; Acts 4v33, Acts 17v18). But what significance is there in Jesus’ resurrection? The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus’ teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to his being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53v10-12; Acts 2v36; Acts 3v13-15; Romans 1v4). The resurrection declared God’s approval of Jesus’ obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, Jesus’ resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15v12-58, Romans 8v10, 2 Corinthians 4v14; 1 Peter 1v3 & 21) As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow him (Romans 5v10; Hebrews 6v20, 1 Peter 1v21).

Universalism Denies Jesus’ authority

Jesus has authority (Matthew 28v18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons. Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers. Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities. Jesus has the authority. Over all religions, leaders and people – Jesus has the authority and supremacy. This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control. Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We have been given a free will, but as his Disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey him and live a life worthy of him. As we grow to rely and depend on Jesus’ authority, we continually gain wisdom, guidance, and power. Because of His authority, Jesus has authority and supremacy over all things – created, non-created, religious and non- religious.

Either Jesus was who he said he was – God – or he was a liar and a lunatic not to be trusted. Universalism and Christianity are non-compatible – the Jesus of the Bible and therefore Christianity, is uniquely superior to all other religions and beliefs encompassed in Universalism.

For more to think about please do read John 14v1-6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How does my life of worship to Christ denounce Universalism?

Q2. How does the call for me to be a witness for Jesus affect views of Universalism?

Q3. How have I witnessed universalism in my community or country?

Thank you.

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loveI have a problem… Its that we in the church don’t seem to love others enough and therefore are not showing our love of the God we claim to serve, worship and love.  That is our challenge if we call ourselves “Christian”. Loving God and loving others above our love of self. Though love may sometimes mean correcting somebody else gently, we in the church in general have lost the sight of loving God and loving others… Particularly to those in the evangelical wing of the church if I may say so… I would call myself evangelical, but I don’t really like tags… A reminder to me is that the church exists for the purposes of God and for those outside it…
Its my goal everyday to show this love to others – online and offline… I rarely, if ever, achieve it 100%. But I keep trying the next day to do it, in the power of the Spirit who lives within me…
1 John 4:19-12 “We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, that person is a liar. If they won’t love the person he can see, how can they love the God they can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.”

So how are you going to go on each day loving God and loving others – both online and offline? You can leave me your answer here if you like!

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