The Dignity of Man

I’ve got contemporary issues on the brain at the minute – evidently! Don’t worry it will soon wear off!

 Just was thinking today of the dignity that God gave to man (humanity)  which the animals never had. At the beginning of course man was placed as God’s Vice-regent (or Vicegerent) on the earth. He was given a place of authority and greatness. Read about it in Psalm 8. He was made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour, given dominion over the works of God’s hands and all put under his feet.

Man failed and lost so much when Adam fell, so in Hebrews 2v9 we read of man “But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” Then the writer lifts our eyes to the Lord Jesus. All the dignity of man will be brought back in one man, who is also God’s Son. Everything that man lost in his own failure, will be regained in HIM, the Man after God’s own heart. We read these word “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor…”

Humanity searches inside itself for answers, the cry is “search for the hero inside yourself” but that cry will end in the greatest delusion and disappointment for all answers are found in “the Man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2v5) and in HIM are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.

One day in this sad world, when He comes to reign, the words of Isaiah (32) will be fulfilled and man will have his dignity back.

“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
And princes will rule with justice. 

A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, 
And a cover from the tempest,

As rivers of water in a dry place, 
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”

The Missing link…again?

“Conclusive proof” of our development from apes has been found apparently! It’s something to do with this lemur-like creature. Some scientists are talking it up anyway – they raised quite a bit of money to buy it so you would expect them to.

It’s name is Ida. You can see from the picture below that it’s link to human kind is striking (sarcasm)!!! It seems that they dug the animal out of the ground and found out that it’s paws provided the link. I’m sure they hope that it is more successful that the previous porported “missing-links”.  

fossilpictureyahoo

It seems that even other scientists in their line are not convinced. Er… not quite as conclusive as they would like us believe.

You can imagine a child’s conversation.

“Daddy, is this supposed to be related to us.”

“Yes, son, you can see that from it’s forward facing eyes and short limbs – also it’s hands are like ours as well”

“Well daddy, it’s interesting that it has a long tail and is about the size of our cat – You know, it looks like the monkeys in the zoo…but not very like us”

“Well, son, don’t go telling the scientists that because they have been trying very hard to find this for 200 years…”

 It’s amazing the extent to which humanity will go to dis-believe God! We are to believe in the front paws of a decomposed animal rather than the Word of the living God.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1v27

The Name of God is blasphemed…

Paul, writing by the Spirit of God, spoke of the Jew and his guilt in Romans chapter 2. The topstone of the guilt was that the “Name of God was blasphemed” among the nations because of the Jew. Israel stood as  a testimony for the One true God. God had revealed himself to this nation, He had shown his love in providing for them, He had brought them out of Egypt with a strong arm and had given them the 10 Commandments (the Decalogue) – revealing His righteous character.

The response of the nation was to hold the Law with pride but disobey it in their lives. They were marked by hypocrisy. The other nations looked on and soon they started to speak against the God of the Jews! They had failed to be a witness for God.

I listened to the latest news of a report on the systematic sexual abuse of young people in the care of so-called “Christian Brothers” (a monastic order of Roman Catholic Church).  The Deputy Prime Minster of Republic of Ireland called it one of “the darkest chapters” in Irish history – that’s saying something. This so-called “Christian” organisation has successfully sued so that the findings will not be used in criminal prosecutions. How disgusting! Is it any wonder that the Name of God is blasphemed among the nations. These people take the name of Christ on their lips and in life they show they are anti-Christ and have no knowledge of Him.

Woe unto them! If the judgement of Israel will be great for their misrepresentation of God, what will the judgement of apostate Christianity be. You can read of it in Revelation 17 (NKJV)

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.  Render to her just as she rendered … and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.  In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’  Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her…Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!”

LORD, preserve our feet from falling, our hearts and hands from hypocrisy and be rightly represented in our lives. Amen.

John the Baptist – A righteous sign-post

Someone once spoke to me once about John the Baptist and called him “a righteous sign-post”. I think that’s good.

John the Baptist

Sign-posts have a purpose. John was a man “sent from God”. He said about his own mission that he was merely “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD”” (John 1v23 NKJV).

Sign-posts point away from themselves. I don’t think there are many servants in the Word of God as self-effacing as John. “Who are you?” they asked – “well,” he said in effect, “I want you to know who I’m not, I’m not the Christ, I’m not Elijah, I’m not the prophet… I’m just a voice, really, I don’t matter very much but my message is very important” (see John 1) When his disciples finally said “You know the One you were with beyond Jordan (the Lord Jesus), who you testified to… all are coming to Him” You are losing disciples – what are you going to do? John replied “My joy is fulfilled – He must increase and I must decrease” How wonderful! (John 3)

Again of the Lord, John speaks in Mark’s Servant gospel and says “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.” I’m not worthy to do the most menial service for Him. I wonder is that my attitude to service for Christ? Is it a great honour to me to do whatever I can for Him?

Sign-posts point towards something. And so John pointed to Christ in a very special way. You’ll remember that he pointed his followers to Him in John 1v29 saying “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (NKJV)

It is easy for us to use our service to appear faithful to others or even to promote ourselves. We live in an age dominated by self, me, and mine. It would be nice when people reflected on our Christian service they would say of us as was said of John “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” (John 10v41 NKJV)  

In an Enemies land – the World (2) “The leeks, the onions…”

“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11v4-6 NKJV

This is the hardest post I have written,  from the point of view of being the most challenging to myself.

I have often tried to fathom what is involved in “loving the world” that John clearly warns against (1 John 2v15). Perhaps this post might help me to become less entangled with the world and more enraptured with the Lord.

The journeys of the Children of Israel leave lessons on the page of scripture for us to take note of. There is a clear indication of this in 1 Cor 10v11, NKJV “Now all these things happened to them as examples (types), and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

Egypt, with its evil tyrant Pharoah, is a picture of the world ruled by Satan. Israel, the earthly people of God had been redeemed by blood (Exodus 12) and power (Exodus 14). They were now on a journey through the wilderness, sustained by God, towards future blessings promised to them by the LORD their God. God had blessed them abundantly. We to have been redeemed, by the blood of Christ and the power of God and we are strangers and pilgrims moving on to eternal blessing (Peter writes about this).

There came a time in that journey when Israel no longer wanted the provision of God to sustain them, the Manna. If fact, as they thought back on Egypt they FORGOT that it was a house of bondage, they FORGOT the sighs and groans of slavery and they only remembered that they had fed on “melons, leeks, onions, and garlics”. They then yielded to “intense craving”. They lusted after the appetites that had governed them when they were in Egypt and rejected the Manna.

ourpreciouslambs.files.wordpress

Paul, it would appear, is writing about this very incident in 1 Corinthians 10v10 NKJV and he says “that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” But, you say, there is nothing evil in melons, leeks, onions and garlics! That is true of course. However, they became evil when they replaced God’s provision! Rather than manna from the hand of God they wanted the food of Egypt.

There were appetites that governed us when we were in the world. They were not necessarily evil. For myself, I spent much time, trying to satisfy myself following sport – football, cricket, athletics, boxing etc. I lived for this. I could have spoken about these things all day. But now I am a Christian, I have new attitudes and desires. God has provided for my satisfaction a wonderful diet in the Word of God and especially Christ in the Word. The danger with me is that I can fall back into old habits. I can seek my satisfaction in the world again! I can allow the appetites of Egypt to stop me enjoying the Manna.

No matter how clean they seem, don’t let appetites of the world spoil your enjoyment of Christ in the Word. It’s not worth it. Don’t lust after evil things. One thing is for sure “melons, leeks, onions and garlics” wouldn’t have sustained the Israelites across the desert. They might tantilize the tastebuds but they wouldn’t sustain for the journey. Bread from heaven was absolutely essential.

It wasn’t to novices that John wrote “Do not love the world..” (1 John 2v15, NKJV) it was to young men, who knew the word of God and who had overcome the wicked one. I find this very challenging…

Without God…

The most fundamental flaw in the whole atheistic psyche of the western world can be summed up very succinctly. Some of their own people even acknowledge it.  I remember sitting in a lecture with a professor detailing the wonders of the human heart. He then turned around to us and said (putting it politely) “anybody who doesn’t think there was a Designer is mad”.

It is all a question of purpose, design and intention. If this great Universe has no purpose, no point, no meaning, if it is all a random collection of impossible chances, if there is nothing out there – hope is dead and life is pointless!

Praise God it is not so because “There is a God in heaven” (Daniel 2v28 NKJV) and there is a purpose to life.

“Andrei Bitov, a Russian novelist, grew up under a government that denied the existence of God. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, “In my twenty-seventh year, while riding the metro in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, preempting the future entirely, let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no sense. Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a moving staircase, got out of the metro and walked into God’s light.”

What on earth am I here for? R. Warren

Gospel of John booklets for evangelism – LivingWater

Maybe I’m strange but I have about a billion issues when it comes to tracts and literature for distribution to unbelievers! Some issues over the last number of years I have scrapped. Other issues remain with me, I feel they are valid.

1. I have a dislike of “sinner’s prayers” at the end of tracts and evangelistic booklets. I think they are dangerous. They have little scriptural warrant anyway. We cannot allow people to think that by rhyming words over like a catachism they will somehow be saved. No doubt some have been saved by genuinely believing and have used these as prayers in the process, but we must not make salvation a work.

2. I increasingly have difficulty using literature which people might have problems with understanding. We do not want to create unnecessary barriers. “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Cor 14v8 NKJV). One of the main aims in evangelism is to reach people, especially those who don’t know.

3. I think that literature should be Christ-centred. With reference to man’s need of Him, His death and the open offer of salvation.

4. I believe that literature should be presentable. People will form their opinions as to whether you care about the message you are presenting to them by the quality of your literature. (I don’t mean that we should to go overboard on this one, but I do think it should be taken into account).

Gospel of John

I have recently come across a free gospel of John for distribution, which answers almost all my queries. I didn’t think one existed but I was wrong. I have read through much of it. It has brief explanatory notes in places (as far as I can see, biblically sound), no sinner’s prayer. It is a translated by Art Farstad (William McDonald’s Editor for his Bible Commentary, General Editor of NKJV) for true to the text but easy reading. It is John’s gospel, given by God for evangelism. It is also very presentable. You’ll find it and information about it at www.livingwater.org

Hymns – Missing Verses (3)

Some hymns are vastly inproved by the removal or editing of some of the verses.

  I quite accept that there should be a measure of license given to hymnwriters. Sometimes inaccuracies in bible doctrine don’t directly undermine the person of Christ, or the majesty of God. As Paul clearly intimates none of us know things as we ought to know them anyway! (1 Cor 8). Please don’t think I’m trying to foster a censorious spirit towards hymnwriters!

However, I do believe we should be careful what we say in public worship and witness as to the person of Christ. The ark of the covenant (which typifies the Person of Christ) was to be handled and covered by the priests alone and carried by the Levites. You will remember the result when David didn’t follow God’s directives but copied the Philistines by placing the Ark on a cart (2 Samuel 6).

One hymn verse that particularly annoys me speaks of the dying thief and says that he “looked with pitying eyes (to the Lord Jesus) and said O Lord remember me”.

Lets be clear about this: 1. There is not one word in Luke 23 to support this thought of “pitying eyes”. 2. There is no way that he was saved by looking on the Lord with pitying eyes. Pleading eyes might have been allowable! The man was exercising faith, not pity. He was the object of the Lord’s pity, not the other way around. I think that the hymn writer must have taken leave of his senses when he wrote that line!

I think that this truth is so important when we are presenting the Gospel of Christ to others who are not Christians. The unbelieving world might like to feel “sorry for” the Lord on the Cross, but the Christian delights in proclaiming the Cross as the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1). The One who died on the Cross, did so voluntarily, as an answer to the throne of God with regards to our problem of sin. Glorious truth! Let us not demean this story of redeeming love or try to evoke a sentimental response of pity in the heart of unbelievers. This wonderful person is on Heaven’s throne at this very minute, raised from the dead. The cross should bow the heart of every person in contrition at the sin of mankind, and prostrate us all in worship at the love of God in giving His Son to save an undeserving world! 

Back to hymns – there are some verses left out of other hymns that could do with inclusion! Here is love, vast as the ocean is a particular favourite of mine. I didn’t realise until about a year ago that there were more than 2 verses to it!

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

William Rees/William Williams

The Golden Sceptre extended…

What a beautiful picture of a faithful Jewess is seen in Esther. Propelled into prominance by the orders of a Gentile King, she risked her life for the safeguarding of her people.

 As she decides to enter the presence of the king against the laws of the court to speak for her people, her words are “If I perish, I perish” (Est. 4v15)

The whim of king Ahasuerus meant life or death, if he extended the royal sceptre she was accepted in his presence, if he didn’t, she had forfeited her life!

Esther (christiansunite)

For us, entering the presence of the King of the Ages, is not dependent on the whim of some earthly potentate! We have actually been invited near by God Himself, and the righteousness of His throne is behind it!! Praise God!

The Scriptures speak clearly, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4v16) The thought behind the word “confidence” is “freedom of speech” – we are invited to bring all our problems to God and leave none of them out.

Grace has lifted us. We are accepted in the Beloved One.

“So near, So very near to God,
Nearer, I could not be,
For in the Person of His Son,
I am as near as He!”

Having answered the claims of God by shedding His blood, He is now on the other side of judgment and as He is so are we in this world.

May God help us to avail of this open invitation more and more!