Gathering 18 February 2018
How/What God Spoke to me.
In this subject please share with us a recent book or sermon through which God has spoken to you in the last year or so.
Books and reading
A lot of my reading is online blogs. Here’s some bits and pieces…
Atheist vs believer: Who is more intelligent? Study has the answer, finally
Scientists found that atheists are smarter than the religious people. According to research, the believers have less intelligence because they always rely on intuition, not facts.
I don’t think I am the only exception to the rule!
A total of 63,000 participants, who had to complete a 30-minute set of 12 cognitive tasks online
This is a study that can’t fail: those things Christians know as facts can easily be dismissed as coming from intuition and a 30 minute set of 12 tasks could easily be set up to prove the point.
The historical facts I relied on when I became a Christian are still true facts, not false facts or alternative truth, nor are they intuitive. What’s intuitive about God becoming human in order to have his human life taken so I can have forgiveness for my rebellion against him?
15 ‘If you love me, keep my commands. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Christians see things the way God sees them, which means that it is the Christians who are the realists – the rest are out of touch with reality and cannot see things as they really are:
The Australian edition of thegospelcoalition.org has a good article about this dealing with myths about religion held in the secular world.
Why is the Bible so poorly written?
God is a terrible writer. Many passages in the Bible would get kicked back by any competent editor or writing professor, kicked back with a lot of red ink
Another justification not to read it.
Another failure to understand the Bible’s history, structure, purpose and story.
Another example of human arrogance and pride – sometimes called sin.
However, there are blogs worth reading. One I like is written by Tim Challies, an evangelical/ reformed Christian who pastors at a church in Toronto, Canada. His web address is simple: challies.com.
The poor people who think the Bible is badly written would do well to read Tim’s series on “The Inerrancy of Scripture” – in fact we would all to well to read them.
57 years of being a Christian…
From John Chapman: “How do you know you are still a Christian?”… Jesus still forgives me.
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court – and this in front of unbelievers!
Here is something we rarely think about because it is so hard to visualise, to comprehend. We are heirs and co-heirs with Christ. When he returns we will find ourselves forgiven, cleansed and ruling with Christ in his kingdom. We will see as well as he does what is right and wrong and be able to judge the difference between them.
We know that all of us will die once, and after that face judgement (Heb 9:27) and that although we should not presume to judge others in this life this remarkable passage tells us that we, along with Jesus, will be judges in eternal life – even to the extent of judging angels!
In these words we are reminded that as Christians we have available to us the wisdom and righteousness of God – and that surely makes us equipped to sort out differences between Christians. Our eternal status in Christ is amazingly wonderful, a gift of such grace and enormity. We don’t need the judgement of people outside the kingdom of God.
People who are outside of Christ’s kingdom do not follow and cannot possibly understand God’s way of thinking and what he tells us in the Bible; so they are simply incompetent when it comes to passing judgement on Christians.
When the world wants us to believe and act contrary to God’s clear teaching remember the ignorance and error from which it comes and dismiss this pressure. No matter what people in the world around us might try to tell us, by the grace of God it is us Christians who know the way, the truth and the life.
The passage goes on to say that a failure to sort things out among us is complete defeat. Let it go! (7-11)
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
The reality is, of course, that Christians do fail, do sin and should heed the teaching of the Bible that warns us in the clearest and dreadful terms:
Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
But we are a new creation, born again to new life. We are not like that any more:
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
You do not belong to the immoral world around you. You are set apart. What wonderful, exciting, refreshing, re-invigorating, reassuring, releasing, freeing words these are! “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
We don’t get into heaven because we keep commandments and rules. We don’t get right with God because we are law-abiding, moral people. We don’t earn God’s acceptance by anything we do. God accepts us into his kingdom because Jesus was crucified to pay for our rebellion against his kingship, giving us forgiveness, washing, sanctification, and justification. When we face God it’s just as if we had never sinned.
We are in the kingdom of God, having eternal life, no matter what we do. We have the right to do anything we want but because we are in the kingdom of God, having eternal life we don’t do just anything we want.
Jesus forgave the woman charged with adultery and told her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.“
How easy is it to do this?
In desiringgod.org John Piper gives Two Strategies to Win the War on Lust – a practical article that I will leave you to read.
Tim Challies on his blog tells us, “As we grow in grace and become ever-more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, we wondrously, inevitably find that sin is loosening its grip on us. Sins that once tormented us are now mere irritations; temptations that once consistently overwhelmed us now arouse little interest or enthusiasm. We find to our delight that God is faithful to his promises and that he has been using every circumstance to conform us to the image of his Son.”
I hope you are finding this to be true in your experience.
Isn’t this process of sanctification wonderful! – but what a pity it isn’t complete and immediate. That leaves us with some struggles and questions. Like the one Tim raises; “Which is the easiest sin to justify?”
We can each answer for ourselves but his suggestion is anger is the easiest sin to justify.
The passage goes on to encourage us in righteousness by reminding us…
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
So we ask ourselves, “is what I am doing, saying, thinking, feeling, suitable for the Temple of the Holy Spirit?”
“Who do I belong to, anyway? I am not my own – I was bought by God at the price of Jesus’ life.”
Because of this, the passage tells us, whatever you do, say or think – choose it to be beneficial, worthwhile, useful, and constructive. Honour God with your bodies – not to win God’s favour but because you already have his favour!
As adopted children of our Father, God Almighty, we want to follow his standards as best we can.
But should we expect non-Christians to do the same?
We have the Bible to tell us how to behave, what to believe, what morals to follow but is it our role to tell others how to behave, what to believe, what morals to follow?
Does it work when we try?
We follow the standards set for us Christians because that pleases our Father. We do what is suitable for members of the body of Christ, what you would expect in the temple of the Holy Spirit. We do what is honouring to God. We follow the standards that are best for us, standards that are the most beneficial.
But when we encourage non-Christians to follow these standards they more often than not object to us telling them what to do, of ‘ramming the Bible down their throats’, of being judgemental, of being hateful.
I think it would be irresponsible and unloving if we don’t explain to people what God thinks they should do – because his ways are the best ways. People would be so much better off following God’s ways. Our society and culture would be a much more pleasant place to enjoy if we all followed God’s ways. We can advise and encourage people to do this but experience shows that we cannot insist on it. Actually, the Bible also says we cannot insist that non-Christians follow God’s way – because God doesn’t.
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts …
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.”
That’s why, as 1 Corinthians 6 tells us, it is wrong to allow uChristians to be judged by non-Christians. We don’t let non-Christians set the standards for Christians. God has set his standards for us so clearly in the Bible.
The non-Christian world will tell us our beliefs and standards are out of date, that they were suitable for another culture but not ours. They compromise by accepting parts of the Bible that suit their purposes, and want us to compromise by accepting their ideas.
The Billy Graham Rule.
US Vice President Pence was ridiculed for following the Billy Graham Rule – as a man do not allow yourself to be alone with a woman other than your wife.
The Bible gives clear guidelines to Christians on morality, including sexual morality but what are the boundaries accepted in our society and how are they established?
Our society follows the morals of the majority, the morals of the media, these boil down to the morals of me. On the principle “I am free to do whatever I like; don’t judge me; don’t discriminate against me; I must have equality” the list of immoral acts is very short.
One act seen as sexual immoral in our society currently is adultery. Billy Graham and Mike Pence avoided this failure by following a simple rule. Barnaby Joyce did not
Even the recently changed Marriage Act requires those being married, including same sex couples, being told that it is a lifelong contract to be entered into to the exclusion of all others – that is, our law says that no adultery is allowed.
So, they go their way, and we Christians go the Lord’s way.
We are encouraged by this wonderful truth as we read it in Romans chapter 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel”
And as we saw in 1 Corinthians chapter 6:11,19-20
“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God….Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”