Saturday, October 22, 2016
Life Hurts - Why?
It’s my aim in this article to address some of the questions that people ask in life and to discover what the Word of God, the Bible, has to say about it. I place real confidence in the Bible because I have become convinced that the Bible is God’s communication to men and women and I want people to benefit from what God has said.
I’m sure that most would agree that life hurts! That hurt can be caused by the normal progression from youth to old age and all the problems that come with ageing. Sickness also brings its heartaches! Natural disasters are devastating and destructive! To say nothing of the dreadful treatment that people endure at the hands of their fellow man. War and acts of terror produce unimaginable horrors. I’m sure that at times we all question why life is such a difficult and a hurtful experience.
Is there an appropriate response to this? The first thing I’d like to say is that “it's not personal”. What I mean is that we are not usually suffering as individuals because of something specific we have done. Before I go any further let me qualify that statement. There are times in life when we do reap what we sow. There actually are consequences to our actions! But all the awful things that happen in the world are not usually the direct result of our personal actions.
My main thought when I say it’s not personal is this: ;people don’t die as a result of some sinful thing that they have done; old age doesn’t come because you did something wrong. The fact that we die, that we have sickness, that we grow old is explained to us in the Bible. The bible states that all of these conditions and circumstances exist because sin came into the world. As a result of Adam, the first man in the world, disobeying God the floodgates to all that was evil and damaging were opened. The fact that all of this is the result of the first man’s rebellion to God is explained by the biblical statement “by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin”,; Romans 5:12.
The Bible clearly teaches that God gave man a choice:
Enjoy His presence,
Enjoy all that He created for him….
But, there is a but, God warned him that the day he ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would die. And that is what happened! Adam didn’t die physically but he died as far as his relationship with God was concerned. He was dead spiritually. Sin, death, pain and suffering became the normal experience of life. He had to work by the sweat of his brow for everything. Childbirth became a painful experience for the woman and the earth was cursed. So life hurts as a result; a fact that we know only too well.
However, what is quite incredible about the biblical story of salvation is that God had already a plan in place. God’s plan to provide forgiveness and to offer salvation to men and women was devised long before time began, 1 Peter 1. 19,20.
God had always planned to send His ‘Son to be the Saviour of the world’. He made sure in the writings of the Old Testament, the first half of the Bible, that we would know Him when he visited earth. In the Old Testament, God told the prophets how to identify His Son. There were specific facts such as what family He would be born into, His distinctive and sinless lifestyle and His mode of death. Normally how people will die is an unknown fact but God was making a point in defining how Jesus would die in advance. See Psalm 22:16, Zechariah 12:10, Luke 2: 34,35. All of these passages of scripture speak of crucifixion which at the time was unknown and of the piercing of the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus. All of this information was so that when He came we would know Him.
To me the greatest and most amazing thing about this whole thing is that God came to earth in person. He was a real but sinless man. He suffered, He hurt and He endured death to pay for our sin. God wants us to be forgiven therefore the price and the legal penalty for our sin was dealt with by the Lord Jesus Christ when He died upon the cross.
The Bible explains it like this: “Christ died for our sins,” 1 Cor. 15. 3, “He was despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” Isa. 53. 3.
Today God offers us not hurt but forgiveness;
Today God offers us love.
The Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3. 16. The greatest proof of the love of God is that, “God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Rom. 5. 8.
I want to point you to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, if you pray to God, today, confessing your sins He will forgive you.
I trust that you will do this.
May God bless you!
Friday, October 21, 2016
50 Years on - Aberfan is still remembered!
|By John Thorn, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9146083|
The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, that killed 116 children and 28 adults on 21 October 1966. The collapse was caused by the build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale tip, which suddenly slid downhill in the form of slurry.
More than 1.4 million cubic feet (40,000 cu metres) of debris covered a section of the village in minutes. The classrooms at Pantglas Junior School were immediately inundated; young children and teachers died from impact or suffocation. Many noted the poignancy of the situation: if the disaster had struck a few minutes earlier, the children would not have been in their classrooms, and if it had struck a few hours later, they would have left for the half-term holiday.
|By John Thorn, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9146083|
There is no easy answer to the question as to why such a thing should be allowed to happen. What had these children done to deserve to die so young? Nothing, apart from living in world where tragedy and sin exist and where disasters are unavoidable due to the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
Often children suffer because of what adults do. The so called innocency of youth camouflages the fact that they have the same gene pool as each of us - they are also sinners and subject to death. The bible is clear when it states that 'all have sinned and come short of the glory of God'. There are no exceptions to this rule. Even our little darlings are sinners - time proves this to be the case.
But what happens to a child who dies so young? Are they condemned for being a sinner without the opportunity to repent and believe the gospel. You have the opportunity to consider God's offer of salvation and may choose to reject it but what of the child who dies without this opportunity?
I believe that the bible teaches that a child, who dies before they are able to understand and accept or reject the gospel automatically goes to heaven. The death of Jesus Christ covers them. If you are interested I can send you details of why I believe this to be the case but I feel this is the teaching of scripture.
But remember that is not the case for you. You have the capacity to believe the gospel, to understand the seriousness of your sin and repent and trust Christ for salvation.
Have you ever done this?
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Art is a personal and subjective matter. What you like might not appeal to me and vice versa! Having said that we all have an uncanny sense of appreciation for beauty and the value of great talent. This ability to appreciate seems to be both universal and unique to the human species.
The sheer beauty of the universe tells us something about God. Who designed the sunset, or created the backdrop of the rolling hills or the rugged mountains? Who sourced the sound of the quiet babbling of a brook or the thundering pounding of a mighty waterfall! Where did the variety of colours come from, the magnificence of natural sounds, the multiplicity of materials and texture? Was this all by chance or did the Creator design a tapestry of wonder that makes you think – why, how and who?
In general, despite all our brilliance, we have damaged our world. The Bible explains ‘by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin’, Romans 5:12. Sin and evil has damaged the beauty of our planet, and lives, as a result of our actions and behaviour. The Bible compares the original state of our world with it’s current state in these terms - “You made him (Adam, the first man) for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honour, putting everything in subjection under his feet…..at present we do not see yet everything in subjection to him….but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour that he by the grace of God should taste death for everyone”.
Life and it’s beauty do not last for ever; in fact things normally degenerate. God in the Bible offers to reverse the trend of deterioration in our lives by giving ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’. This offer is because of and through trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.
C S Lewis, the famous English author, spent many years of his life as a confirmed atheist. When he was 30 he became convinced that God was a reality. Two years later on the 1st October 1931 he wrote to his friend Arthur, “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ – in Christianity. The great story really is true. God really sent his Son. He really died for our sins. We really can have forgiveness and eternal life in the presence of the One to whom all the Joy was pointing”1.
“Tolle, quæso, tempus ad meditandum”
1. The collected writings of C. S. Lewis, Vol. 1, Family Letters 1905-1931, ed Walter Hooper (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), p 974
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
It could be the onset of years but Christmas seems to come around quicker every year. It is probably the early appearance of adverts and the Christmas commercial juggernaut appearing on the horizon which gives the impression that Christmas is coming.
For a Christian, the event which is celebrated at Christmas is not confined to December or even November. It is not even restricted to being about the Saviour’s infancy; it is actually about more about His deity and that is a truth which bears consideration all year round.
I don’t suppose anyone can ever fathom what it means for God to be born in a manger. How does one explain the Almighty stooping to become a tiny infant? It was the greatest condescension the world has ever known or will ever know. Our minds cannot begin to understand what was involved in God becoming a man. We will never comprehend why He who was infinitely rich would become poor, assume a human nature, and enter into a world He knew would reject Him and kill Him.
Nor can anyone explain how God could become a baby. Yet He did. Without forsaking His divine nature or diminishing His deity in any sense, He was born into our world as a tiny infant. How can both things be true?
Humanity and Deity
For nearly two thousand years, debate has been raging about who Jesus really is. Some say He is one of many gods, a created being, a high angel, a good teacher, a prophet, and so on. The common thread of all such theories is that they make Jesus less than God.
But let the Bible speak for itself. John’s gospel begins with a clear statement that Jesus is God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Who is “the Word” spoken of in these verses? John 1:14 removes any doubt: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”.
The biblical evidence is overwhelming that this child in the manger was the incarnation of God. For one thing, He was omniscient (knew all things). John 2:24-25 says that, “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” Nathanael was shocked to discover that Jesus knew all about him before they ever met. It was enough to persuade him that Jesus was the Messiah (John 1:48-50). John 4 describes Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He knew everything about her (John 4:17-19, 29).
Jesus also did the works of God, saying, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). Jesus’ works are convincing proof that He is God. He began His miraculous ministry with a simple act—He created wine at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). Only God can create. Moreover, He healed people who were hopelessly ill. He gave a blind man eyes. He opened ears that had never heard. He restored withered limbs. He created enough fish and bread to feed thousands. He raised the dead simply by a command.
This child was God
Why would God become a man and be born in such a lowly manner and let men treat Him the way they did?
“It was the Father’s good pleasure . . . through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
He did it to make peace between God and humanity. All of us have sinned, and we sin repeatedly: “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 2:23). God hates sin and must respond with His wrath. He is a righteous judge who “is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Humanity reacts with more hatred, rebellion, or indifference toward God: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). The only possible response of a holy God to our sin is more than we can bear, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Only Jesus, because He alone is both God and man, could ever resolve the conflict.
He takes the hand of a repentant, yielding sinner and the outstretched hand of a holy yet loving God, and He joins the two. He can forgive our sins, reconcile us to God, and thus make “peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20). And God is not reluctant for that to occur; rather it is the very reason He sent Christ into the world.
God is justifiably angry with our sin. Yet He loves us enough that He gave His own Son to live on earth, die on a cross, suffering the full weight of God’s wrath, which should have been our lot. He paid the penalty for sin and can bring peace between us and God. It could not have been done any other way.
Will you hear the voice of God in His word, the Bible and trust His Son, Jesus, for salvation. Our prayer is that you will.