Your E-mails: March 2022

Your E-mails: March 2022

“If God is all-knowing, He must know the outcome of everything—so why bother going through the process?” Ed: GOD HAS A PURPOSE, which is to fill the earth with His glory (Habakkuk 2:14). That purpose involves you and me (if we want it), glorified and immortal when Jesus Christ returns to establish God’s Kingdom: ‘When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ (Colossians 3:4). There are those who will respond faithfully and be part of that glorious future, and those who won’t (see for example Matthew 25:31–46). God knows everything: ‘O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up’ (Psalm 139:1–2). He knows the future: ‘I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done’ (Isaiah 46:9–10). So

All The World’s A Stage

All The World’s A Stage

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. ‘As You Like It’—William Shakespeare WHEN GOD CREATED the world (Genesis 1:1) He created the most fantastic stage set there ever was. But ahead of the coming of any actors upon the scene He had also written a great drama, with a cast of millions and an amazing climax. Just for a moment admire the set—in the distance, the heavens in their stellar glory. The immediate background shows the wonders of the creation as we view them every day. God then created the first pair of performers (Adam and Eve) and explained to them the role He wanted them to play in the unfolding drama (Genesis 2). But in the second scene (chapter 3) disaster struck. These two actors wanted to take a short cut to the final climax—they did not appreciate that for the drama to

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

IT’S A GOOD QUESTION, and one most people ask when they first come into contact with Bible believers. The idea that someone sacrificed themselves for others is a noble one, yet rather uncomfortable at the same time. After all, we might reason, a religion built on the idea of human sacrifice—that’s a bit macabre. One reason for Jesus’ death is actually quite straightforward. It was that his words and actions antagonised the religious leaders of the day. His total honesty, coupled with his ability to be morally perfect in his actions, made them mad with envy: ‘It was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up’ (Mark 15:10). This all happened because he had shown up the hypocrisy of their religious observances, simply by being the one who observed religion in the right way—that is, motivated by love: He said to them, “Which one of you who

Flesh and Spirit in Corinth

Flesh and Spirit in Corinth

THE NEWLY ESTABLISHED congregation of believers in the Greek city of Corinth faced many different spiritual challenges. The two letters which the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians expose these challenges vividly. The most pressing concerned the ungodly behaviour of certain of the church’s members. There were also wrong teachings. It had got so bad that some brothers and sisters did not believe that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead! Despite this ‘perfect storm’ of moral and doctrinal difficulties, the Corinthian church was addressed by the Apostle Paul as ‘the church of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 1:1). He did not distance himself from them, he appealed to them and set about correcting them. The Works of the Flesh Firstly, just how bad were the problems at Corinth? As a preamble to the answer, in Paul’s letter to the believers in Galatia we read: Now the works of

1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians

THE CORINTHIAN congregation was established by the Apostle Paul during his second missionary journey. There had been a warmer response to the Gospel in Corinth than in intellectual Athens. Paul wrote this letter whilst at Ephesus, during his third journey. Believers With Problems In a decadent pagan city such as Corinth, it was not surprising that problems would arise: personality factions (1:12–16; 3:1–6), human pride (1:17–2:16), idolatry (chapters 6, 8, 10), wrong teaching (11:19), and serious moral problems (chapters 5–7). The authority of the apostles was being questioned (chapters 4, 9). Paul reminded the believers of the basis of their common salvation and of the need to put their house in order. Phrases such as “Now concerning…” tell us that the letter is responding to questions which some Corinthians had raised (7:1, 25; 8:1, 4; 12:1; 16:1). There were misunderstandings about the memorial service (‘Lord’s supper’ or ‘breaking of bread’)

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

DO YOU KNOW what the Ten Commandments are? You may well have heard of them, but do you know where they came from, and how many of them could you name? It’s worth a Iittle Bible research to find the answers to these questions. The people of Israel had escaped Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and survived three months in the desert. They were on their way to the Promised Land. They now came to a mountain range well known to Moses from his shepherding days in the Sinai Peninsula. However, the hills would be awe-inspiring to the rest of the people, who had grown up in the pancake-flat, green triangle of the Nile delta. Moses knew that this particular mountain before which they were now pitched was a special place. There, only months before, he had removed his shoes in the presence of the angel of God. He had

The Unchanging God

The Unchanging God

ARE THERE PARTS of the Bible that are more relevant than others? Some Bible readers would say so—what do you think? It’s sometimes claimed that some parts of the Bible present a less pleasant view of God than other parts. The Bible’s critics will allege that the Old Testament—the first part of the Bible which deals with the history of the world before Jesus Christ— presents a harsh and unforgiving God: ‘the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God’ (Deuteronomy 4:24). Whereas in the New Testament, which deals with the life and teaching of Jesus and his followers, we read statements such as ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). On this basis, there are those who prefer to disregard the Old Testament and concentrate on the New. Developing Ideas of God? Did God change? Or was it people’s perception of God? One suggestion which is often made

Your E-mails: April 2022

Your E-mails: April 2022

“Jesus said at the Last Supper ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. The Last Supper was the Passover. Surely you should keep the Last Supper once a year, at Passover, not every Sunday?“ Ed: EVERY YEAR on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan religious Jews share the Passover meal. It is a ceremony that dates back 4,000 years to the meal their ancestors ate on their last night of slavery in Egypt. A central element in the Passover meal is the Passover Lamb, which recalls the lamb whose blood was used to protect the Israelite families from the final plague which God brought on the Egyptians. The record is in Exodus 12. The Passover Lambs were actually only pointers to the ultimate Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God—Jesus Christ (John 1:29). He was the supreme sacrifice, whom God has provided to save us from death (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus

2 Corinthians

BETWEEN the two letters to Corinth we have in our Bibles, it seems there was another letter which has not been preserved—evidently even more severe in tone than the first letter (see 2 Corinthians 2:3–4). In 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul admits his great relief that, according to news brought to him by Titus, the ‘in- between’ letter had been well received (see 7:6–15). Though Paul is reassured about the spiritual development of the Corinthian believers, there is still much for them to learn. They have to learn that discipleship of Christ is not easy, and that all true believers must expect opposition (4:7–18). Suffering for Christ In Corinth, opposition would mainly come from those who had leanings towards Judaism. The ‘Judaisers’ would insist that believers are bound by the rituals of the Law of Moses. Paul shows that the Law was only of a temporary nature, whereas those things

The Law of Moses

The Law of Moses

ALTOGETHER, Moses was away for six weeks in Mount Sinai. The people last saw him climbing up into the dense cloud that covered the mountain. They began to wonder why he was gone so long. In fact he was remarkably busy. He was writing down hundreds of major and minor laws from God. There are whole chapters of these commandments in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. As chief judge and administrator, he was entrusted with setting up a system for teaching them, and for courts of justice to deal with offenders. Wise Laws Some of the laws were concerned with ceremonial matters, such as the rules of sacrifice, the great religious festivals, and the organisation of the priesthood. This area of Bible research is fascinating, because in many subtle ways the ceremonial laws spotlighted the ugliness of sin, and pointed forward to the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. However,