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Thursday, September 25, 2014

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Spam Email

If you have come to this site because you have received an email from saying 'Payment Overdue', this email is fake and not from me. Someone is spoofing my email. I am in the process of trying to sort this out.

Friday, August 01, 2014

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The Holy Spirit and Fire

A question was raised in a forum I participate in asking what is the fire that is referred to in Matthew 3:11:

I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire
There was a number of suggestions made such as:

  • It means fire through faith
  • It is a purging
  • It relates to being made bold or zealous

All fair suggestions, but it spurred me on to performing some study on the passage. It seems that 'fire' within the context of this chapter refers to an action that takes place when a person is baptised in the Holy Spirit.

Why do I say this? Well, if we look at the exegetical information, we can see that 'Fire', πῦρ, which is transliterated into pyr, is a singular noun which is a prepositional object (relates to the main meaning of a sentence rather than being the main object). So 'fire' is not necessarily the direct object of the verse, but something that is related, or links, with the main subject. In this case, the suggested sense of the meaning of fire indicates a 'process', therefore, we can see that when a person is baptised in the Holy Spirit, the fire is a process of something that happens at the same time.

So what is the process? Well, this is where we look to scripture itself to interpret the meaning. Now 'fire' appears over 2500 times in scripture, so we cannot rely on the definition of the word alone, we need to look at the surrounding context to see how fire relates. Fire is used in scripture to indicate a number of things including:

Protection:   Zech. 2:5
God:  Deut. 4:24
Servant: Heb. 1:7
Gods word: Jer. 23:29
To purify: 1 Cor. 3:13-15
Indicates Gods presence: Exod. 3:2)
Judgement: 2 Pet. 3:7

Keeping the above in mind, if we look back to the chapter, we can see that John is talking about repentance and judgement, he is telling the Pharisees and Sadducees who a arrived to be baptised that they had better be genuine in repentance otherwise they will fall under Gods wrath (every tree that does not bear fruit will be cast into the fire), he then goes on to tell them that he baptises in water, but when Jesus comes, He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. I would suggest that the appropriate interpretation of fire here relates to the two things John was talking about, repentance and judgement, if repentance is genuine, the fire will purify, but if it isn't, then the fire will destroy, just as is said in 2 Peter 3:7.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were well known to be a law unto themselves and to proclaim themselves holy, and for them to go to John for baptism? Well, John could not really turn to them and tell them they are fake since he could not judge their hearts, instead, look at what he said "you brood of vipers, who told  you to escape from the wrath to come!" Matt 3:7, John baptising them in water would not reveal their hearts, but the Holy Spirt and fire would. When a true believer repents and receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the fire will purify, but if a person has not genuinely repented, the fire will destroy. Now, I do not mean that the Holy Spirit will fall upon a non believer, he won't, only a believer who has truly repented will receive the Holy Spirit, but the fire John was talking about to the Pharisees and Sadducees  was more of a warning "you're not going to be able to hide your heart from God, because the fire that comes from Him will either purify you or destroy you on the day of judgement". He basically told them in laymans terms, just because you say your father is Abraham, you are deceiving yourselves if you think that will wash on the day of judgement. No, unless your repentance is genuine and you bare good fruit, the fire of God will destroy you on the day that you face Him.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

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The Book of Job Explained

I always remember thinking that Job was pretty hard done by, but I had this opinion because I didn't understand what Job was about, but now I realise that he was a religious man who forgot what it was to be in true relationship with God, he more looked at God as someone you have to be 'righteous' before in order to receive blessing, however, God loved Job so much that he wanted to remind Job what it was to be in true relationship with Him. This video really spells things out about Job in a way that brings light and understanding to how God moved in order to bring Job into a real relationship with him


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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Should Women Remain Silent in Church?

It has always been a bit (slight understatement) of a controversial issue in the Church regarding the question should women remain silent in Church or be allowed to teach or have roles of leadership. Being a woman myself, I’ve always struggled with this, but the folk who uphold this line of reasoning use biblical text such as 1 Cor 14:34 and 1 Tim 2:11-12 to fight their corner. I’ve often thought when I get to Heaven I’m gonna have a few words with Paul about this and ask him why he put a gag on women since God is very capable of using both women and men equally. I thought Paul caused a real problem for us women in a number of ways and he needed to explain himself…but is this what Paul really meant? Did he really mean that women need to keep schtum in the universal  Church for as long as the Church exists? They can’t preach/teach and if they have a question they must ask their husbands? What about those who are not married? ‘Oh, then you ask your preacher’, a willing person once told me. Well, I wasn’t satisfied. That continuous niggly feeling just wasn’t letting up and I knew I would have to pursue this further….. What did Paul ‘really’ mean? There is only one way to find out, and that is to learn how to understand biblical text in context and not by making a verse of scripture a pretext!

So lets look at what Paul was saying in context.

If Paul says that women should remain silent in Church in one text, then why does he give instruction on how women (and men) should pray and prophesy in Church (1 Cor 11:5)? Surely this doesn’t add up? One verse says for women to remain silent, yet the other gives instruction to women whilst participating verbally in a Church meeting? If Paul really meant that women should remain silent in Church, then surely he is contradicting himself? This then would create bigger problems since it would show that the Bible contradicts itself which is the Word of God which is inerrant? You cannot be inerrant and contradictory at the same time. So surely this must mean that we are not fully understanding Pauls intention, or at least misinterpreting his intentions towards women within a Church setting? So we need to look at the text (context) further.

There was a number of things going on in the Church at Corinth which Paul had to deal with as well as how men and women should pray and prophesy, he was also dealing with problems such as how the Lords supper was taken 1 Cor 11:17-22

"But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you."

As well as giving instruction on The Lords Supper, he also gave instruction and correction at length regarding spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues. 1Cor 12-14. Paul was dealing with a disorderly Church and was bringing instruction to restore order (1 Cor 14:33) and when he tackles those who speak in tongues he tells them to do so one at a time and only if an interpreter is present, and if there is no interpreter, he says ‘the speaker should keep quite in Church’ 1 Cor 14:28 (Imagine if that text was taken out of context….the speaker should keep quiet in Church!)

It is clear that Pauls instruction here is dealing with a local problem that had occurred in the Church at Corinth therefore making the biblical text as ‘correctional’ in relation to a particular problem so therefore should not be assumed to be applied universally throughout the Church as a whole.

*We should note here that Pauls instruction regarding head coverings for women were inline with the culture of his time and it is widely accepted that this is not a universal instruction for women of ALL time.

Paul also recognised the prophetic word from Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:17-18 in that:

"It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days"

So the question provoked here would be, why would God pour out His Spirit on women and give them spiritual gifts if he did not permit for them to be used to edify the Church? 1 Cor. 14:3-5

If  you have struggled with the reasoning that Paul does not permit women to speak in Church, you have good reason to since on the whole, Paul does not seem to support this and neither does scripture since we see on many occasions women moved by the Spirit of God to engage in giving instruction to both men and women either in Prophecy as we have seen above, or teaching the gospel (even to a man!).

Bob Utley (Utley, 2000) has a great list of women in leadership roles that I will borrow to include here:

1. Elizabeth and Mary, godly women available to God (Luke 1–2)
2. Anna, godly woman serving at the Temple (Luke 2:36)
3. Lydia, believer and leader of a house church (Acts 16:14, 40)
4. Philip’s four daughters, were prophetesses (Acts 21:8–9)
5. Phoebe, deaconess of church at Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1)
6. Prisca (Priscilla), Paul’s fellow-worker and teacher of Apollos (Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:3)
7. Mary, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Julia, Nereus’ sister, several women co-workers of Paul (Rom. 16:6–16)
8. Junia (KJV), possibly a woman apostle (Rom. 16:7)
9. Euodia and Syntyche, co-workers with Paul (Phil. 4:2–3)

So it is evident that women did participate and hold leadership roles within the Church and did give instruction to both men and women.

It is important to keep in mind that Jesus came into a specific cultural setting, women could not study the law or attend school in the Greco-Roman world, women were not treated as equals, infact in some cases, they were treated as property Exodus 20:17. However, this is not how God intended thing to be since both men and women were made equally in Gods image Gen 1:27, it was only since the fall that inequality set in with the woman desiring to  dominate the man and man desiring to rule over the woman.  Gen 3:16, this is not an instruction for male dominance, but a reflection of the curse of the fall, however, through Jesus, order is restored in that again there is no distinction between man and woman, Greek or Jew since all are one in Christ. Galatians 3:28

This will do for now,I may further this with an additional post, but for now, hopefully it gives some food for thought.

Utley, R. J. (2000). Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey: I Timothy, Titus, II Timothy. Study Guide Commentary Series (Vol. Volume 9, p. 34). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

Suggestions for further reading:

1. How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart (pp. 61–77)
2. Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics by Gordon Fee
3. Hard Sayings of the Bible by Walter C. Kaiser, Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce and Manfred T. Branch (pp. 613–616; 665–667)

Friday, June 14, 2013

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Quote of the Day

It is not a true Gospel that gives us the impression that the Christian life is easy, and that there are no problems to be faced. That is not the New Testament teaching. The New Testament is most alarming at first, indeed terrifying, as it shows us the problems by which we are confronted. But follow it-go on! It does not stop halfway, it goes on to this addition, this second half; and here it shows us the way in which, though that is the truth concerning the battle, we can be enabled to wage it, and not only to wage it, but to triumph in it. It shows us that we are meant to be "more than conquerors."
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William Lane Craig v Christopher Hitchens

If you've never watched it, and have an interest in Apologetics, this is definitely worth watching.

“Debate - William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens - Does God Exist?” — April 4, 2009 - Craig vs. Hitchens Debate from Biola University.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

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Faith and Works

James talks about living faith and dead faith James 1:21-26

James uses Abraham as an example. God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, yet Abraham knew that God had given promises regarding Isaac.. and since Abraham knew that God was not a liar, his faith was steadfast in God in believing that if he sacrificed Isaac God is surely still going to be faithful to his word.

Because of Abrahams faith in God (faith), he obeyed God and went to sacrifice Isaac (works). This was faith and works working together.

Faith and works is even at work even at the point of Salvation. Firstly you believe in God (faith), secondly you repent of your sins (works), and believe that God is just and will forgive sin just as he said he would and once you receive that forgiveness, you are saved. Salvation comes from putting that faith into action. (faith and works working together)

However, there were no works which resulted in salvation in the sense that salvation could be earned. It is a gift that comes from God through Jesus by faith in the grace of God and that God is just and true to his word. So there was nothing we could do which bought us to a place deserving of salvation.

Once we are saved, faith and works still work together, but the works is not only about physical work, but is evident in many different ways, but once someone is saved, it is inevitable that we will be changed and righteous deeds will follow as evidence of salvation and relationship with God.

Faith and works working together is about putting faith into action. As James said, what good is faith without works? What good would Peters faith have been if he told the cripple he had faith to heal him but carried on walking without the cripple being healed? There would have been no justification of Peters faith had he not healed the cripple. So since Peter did heal the cripple, his faith was justified by works, just as Abrahams faith was justified by works and his faith was perfected and credited to him as righteousness.

The object of our faith is always Jesus. Trusting in who God is. Abraham trusted God, Peter trusted Jesus, both relied on God being faithful to his promises and both put their faith into action believing that what God said was true, and God was faithful and true on both occasions, and it is through Gods faithfulness to his word and who he is that the justifications of putting our faith into action comes.

Monday, August 06, 2012

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Defining Deity

...Well, I'm not about to try and define deity, but I've just started to read John Blanchard's 'Does God Believe in Atheists', and in his introduction, he explains what he means when he says God.

Blanchard led up to his definition by showing that statistics or 'opinion polls' do not give a true representation of facts since they are too general, an example was a poll that was taken in Western European which showed 75% of those polled said they believed in God, yet when the question was asked as to whether they believed in a personal God, the figures dropped to 32%.

This shows that words need definition. Voltaire (The pen-name of the French Philosopher, Francois-Marie Arouet who is the author of Candide (the best of all possible worlds...well worth a read it if you haven't as yet)) is quoted as saying "If any man reason with me, let us first define our terms". Blanchard goes on to say:

[box] "To talk about 'theism' and 'atheism' is to engage in a dialogue of the deaf until we determine what we mean when we use these words and, as the meaning of the second depends directly on that of the first, we must begin with 'theism'."[/box]

So, to get to the post...John Blanchard goes on to set out a bench-mark of what he means when he says 'God',  There are so many people with so many different ideas of 'god', that to add definition to who we refer to is helpful so we know where we stand when we talk about God. Since I am in agreement with Blanchard's definition, I thought I would write it here:

Blanchard says:

[box]Put in a nutshell, I mean 'a unique, personal, plural, spiritual, eternally self-existent, transcendent, immanent, omniscient, immutable, holy, loving Being, the Creator and Ruler of the entire universe and the Judge of all mankind.[/box]

That is a pretty good definition! He then goes on to elaborate:

  • By 'unique' I mean that there is only one God and that all other objects or ideas given that name are figments of misled imagination.

  • By 'personal' I mean that God is not a 'thing' or 'power', influence or energy, but that He lives, thinks, feels and acts

  • By 'plural' I mean that there are distinguishable persons withing a single Godhead

  • By 'spiritual' I mean that God has no physical attributes or dimensions, that he does not have a body, or any characteristics that can be defined in terms of size of shape

  • By 'eternally self-existent' I mean that he has always had the power of being within himself and had neither beginning or end

  • By 'transcendent' I mean that God is over and above all things, outside of time and space, completely distinct from the universe, and not to be confused with it in any way

  • By 'immanent' I mean that, while remaining separate from it in being and essence, he permeates the entire universe

  • By 'omniscient' I mean that he knows everything, including the past, the present and the future

  • By 'immutable' I mean that he is unchangeable in every aspect of his being

  • By 'holy' I mean that he is utterly without blemish or deficiency in his being, essence or actions

  • By 'loving' I mean that he cares for all of creation and that in a very special way he demonstrates his love to humanity and communicates this to individuals

  • By 'Creator' I mean that by his own choice and power he brought into being all reality other than himself

  • By 'Ruler' I mean that he is in sole and sovereign control of everything that exists or happens, and that nothing can prevent him doing as he pleases

  • By 'Judge of all mankind' I mean that he alone determines the eternal destiny of every member of the human race

Blanchard goes on to explain that this list is not exhaustive, but is enough to put across who we mean when we say 'God'.

This is just the beginning of the book! So I'm looking foward to reading what lays in the pages ahead.

John Blanchard - 'Does God Believe in Atheists'