Monthly Archives: June 2018

Did Jesus speak more about Hell than about Heaven?

It is commonly held by many Evangelical Christians that Jesus spoke more about Hell than He did about Heaven, and I have in fact written before on this subject; here is the link to my former piece.

Recently, I read an excellent article on the ‘Unfundamentalist’ blog which reached the same conclusion I did: Jesus did not speak more about Hell than He did about Heaven!

Personally, I consider that the whole idea of this inaccurate ‘word count’ is some sort of Christian urban legend, passed on unquestioningly and unchallenged, from one person to another.

But, anyway, here is that aforementioned article, by the brilliant Dan Wilkinson, giving his take on the subject:


According to some well-known pastors, Jesus’ teachings are primarily about fire and brimstone. For example:

“… he [Jesus] himself speaks twice as often of hell as of heaven.”
— D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World

“He [Jesus] spoke more often about hell than he did about heaven. We cannot get around this fact.”
— Leon Morris, “The Dreadful Harvest,” Christianity Today, May 27, 1991

“Jesus talked more about hell than He did about heaven in order to warn men of its reality.”
— John MacArthur, “The Ultimate Religious Decision

“Jesus said more about Hell than Heaven.”
— Jerry Falwell, “Heaven and Hell

“Obviously I do believe in hell. Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven.”
— Rick Warren, interview with John Piper

“Jesus said more about hell than about any other topic. Amazingly, 13 percent of his sayings are about hell and judgment …”
— Mark Driscoll, “6 Questions on Hell

“Of the 1,850 verses in the New Testament that record Jesus’ words, 13 percent of them deal with the subject of eternal judgment and hell. In fact, Jesus spoke more frequently about hell than He did about heaven.”
— Robert Jeffress, How Can I Know?

Those are some very bold and very specific quantitative assessments of Jesus’ message. But are they true?

By my count [1] (with the help of some BibleWorks magic), there are 1,944 verses in the four gospels that contain Jesus’ words.

Surprisingly, only about 60 of those verses–or an unwhopping three percent of them—might be construed as either directly or indirectly referring to hell.

On the other hand, there are more than three times as many verses in the gospels in which Jesus references heaven, eternal life, or his coming kingdom: 192 verses in all, or almost 10%.

So Jesus did not, in fact, speak more about hell than heaven. But many people who should know better still seem hell-bent on insisting that He did.

How do they arrive at a conclusion so contrary to the facts? By reading hell into any and every possible passage in the Bible.

D.A. Carson, for example, who is one of the first purveyors of the “Jesus talked more about hell than heaven” myth, finds hell in the story of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). In the words “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!” Carson somehow construes a clear depiction of eternal damnation:

The sermon ends with what has been implicit throughout it—the demand for radical submission to the exclusive lordship of Jesus, who fulfills the Law and the Prophets and warns the disobedient that the alternative to total obedience, true righteousness, and life in the kingdom is rebellion, self-centeredness, and eternal damnation.
— D.A. Carson, Matthew, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Given that interpretation, it’s no wonder that Carson thinks Jesus spoke of hell twice as much as heaven!

Yes, throughout the gospels Jesus did speak about judgement, and yes, he also spoke a handful of times about places such as Gehenna and Hades, words often translated as “hell.” But those instances do not stand as justification for the promulgation of the myth that Jesus spoke more about hell than he did about heaven. Continuing the promote that falsehood severely undermines Christ’s true message—which is the love of God and neighbor that Jesus himself called The Greatest Commandment.

Turning Jesus’ gospel of love into a “gospel” of fear, damnation and punishment is either alarmingly ignorant or intentionally manipulative. Either way, it’s very bad news indeed, and needs to stop.

 

[1] By request, here is a list of verses I used for my numbers: jesus-heaven-hell.pdf


Here is the link to the original article

10

Assurance

This entry is part 28 of 33 in the series Fiona

This is a very personal account that describes something of what I observed in Fiona, my beautiful late wife, during the time leading up to her loss.

When I lost Fiona to cancer, twenty months ago today, I knew that she had no qualms about dying; about going to be with her Jesus.

This is because she had assurance.

She had complete confidence in Jesus – was ‘assured’, if you like – that He would come through for her and would deliver her into her promised rest. She had no doubts whatsoever about what awaited her on the other side of the veil of death.

And I too rejoice in my salvation. I belong to God; I know it more certainly than I know anything else, and no-one and nothing can take that salvation away from me*.

Jesus’s message was simple: God loves you. Just as you are. He loves you and He cares for you. Jesus amply demonstrated this in His life, His teachings, His miracles, His death and His Resurrection. And His Grace. The unearned, undeserved favour of God. On that basis alone, nothing we can do, or not do, is either a qualification or disqualification for being ‘allowed’ into God’s Presence. Salvation is freely given, and it is complete and perfect, rooted in the historical death and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. This is so simple; why do we complicate it? And yet, maybe it’s just part of human nature, but we do so complicate it indeed!

But not everyone believes like that. Not everyone has that assurance. As I’ve said before, so many people in the Christian faith, particularly those of a legalistic leaning, are actually not sure what would happen if they died tonight. They are not sure because they think that somehow their behaviour might disqualify them at the last second.

My faith isn’t like that. Being fully convinced that we are forever safe in Christ is what’s known as assurance, and knowing for a fact that Jesus has you forever in His arms is simply nothing short of revolutionary. Once we believe that, and know it in our hearts, then every single insecurity we might have concerning our ‘eternal destiny’ just melts away in the burning light of His love. But, because of the ideas expressed below, sadly, many believers who actually have this assured inheritance simply do not know it.

And so I am going to look at our assurance today, from the perspective of one who has seen someone die in perfect assurance of where she was going.

You see, part of the problem, for some people, is that idea that we need to ‘confess’ (i.e. own up to) every. single. ‘sin’. in order to be ‘forgiven’. If we die with just one ‘unconfessed ‘sin’, they claim, then we are toast. I could present many, many Scripturally-based  arguments to refute this idea, but instead let me testify to what my Fiona was like in the last weeks of her earthly life.

Fiona had a complete assurance of where she was going. She had an unshakeable certainty that, once she passed through the veil of death, she was not only going to be with Jesus, but she was going to her reward, her inheritance, to an amazing life full of beauty, light, joy, fun, and the Presence of God. Not long before she passed away, Fiona shared with me that she had received a vision of what Jesus had waiting for her there with Him. Fiona’s visions were always very vivid and real, like an IMAX experience, only better. Personally, I know what it’s like to receive a revelation from God, but Fiona’s ‘style’, if you like, was much more vivid. And this vision was such a comfort, indeed an encouragement, to her. She already knew what she was going to; she knew she was dying, she knew she wasn’t going to make it with that cancer eating away at her, and yet in that dark tunnel of what could have been despair, instead she was filled with the light, glory and hope of Jesus. She was actually looking forward to going to her inheritance. The phrase, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ applied to her for certain, and I am absolutely sure that she heard those words from Jesus the moment she arrived there.

And you just can’t argue with that. When you have seen the shining holiness of one of God’s Saints about to pass through the veil, you just know it. You know where they are going, and so do they. And that is such a tremendous boost to one’s own faith.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His Saints – Ps 116:15

Non-existent is any lack of assurance; the tired and worn-out ideas that one last-second slip-up could condemn one’s soul to torment for all eternity**. The worry of one ‘unconfessed sin’. When seen in the light of the death of a saint like Fiona, those arguments become just shadows. The harsh, unbending and assurance-breaking doctrines of the religious legalists and gatekeepers are seen as simply two-dimensional, flat concepts when compared with the real, solid and altogether complete certainty of where we go after death. How can I put this more emphatically?

It’s funny, but Christians sing the hymn, ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine’, and yet some of them do not really recognise that assurance. If you are one of those people today, please let me encourage you to raise your head from the mire of – yes, let’s call it what it is: self-righteousness – and of ‘doing things’ in order to try and please God, and instead to rest complete in the salvation that Jesus has bought for you. This is real, it is complete, and it is already accomplished. And I have seen it. All the arguments, theology and doctrine of men melt into nothing in the face of the death of a saint like Fiona; when you have seen this happen, nothing can ever be the same again, and the dry, dusty and indeed crumbly doctrines of we mere humans become as naught in the face of the utter assurance of salvation seen in a dying saint.

I’ve always believed in ‘once saved, always saved‘. I have never believed that anything I can do could either lose or indeed ‘boost’ my inheritance. I am utterly sure of my station in Christ and my status as one of God’s children, because these things have been revealed to me personally by my Heavenly Father. I have dates and times for these events, they were that real. And you can argue with me all you like about doctrines and whatnot, but the thing is that I have seen it. And I have seen the final assurance, first-hand, of someone who is about to pass into the direct Presence of her Lord. There is no fear; there is no sense of ‘what if?’; there is no sense of ‘resignation’. There is only an eager assurance, a peace, indeed an anticipation, of what is to come. There is sadness, yes; we will miss her, and she knew that we would miss her, and she also knew that we would have to carry on without the guidance and wisdom that she brought into our lives in such full measure. And I miss that wisdom every day. But there is also a quiet and yet exuberant joy, that ‘soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!’ And it’s awesome to behold.

Jesus’s Resurrection was, and is, the guarantee for us that there is life after death. Jesus’s presence in our lives, by the tangible presence of His Spirit, is the guarantee, the downpayment if you like, of that assurance. That death is not the end is the single most important truth that we can get hold of in this life, after the fact that it’s God’s love that provides that truth for us. Once you see that; once you grasp that, your life will never be the same again. In fact I would even say that, unless you really believe that you know ‘…where you would go if you died tonight’, then you have absolutely no right to try to sell people the salvation that Jesus offers as if it is indeed a complete, cast-iron assurance, when the reality is that you yourself don’t really believe it is as secure as you claim. Because that sort of gospel, that so many peddle these days, is really no gospel – not good news – at all.

So, for the question, “Is it ‘once saved, always saved’? “, I actually rather think we are looking in the wrong direction. That’s looking backwards, at things we have done; it is a backwards perspective because we are always focused on looking back to see if we have done something that’s somehow going to drop us out of God’s favour, and that we need to ‘confess’ it and get it out of the way. But it’s not like that at all. If you walk in the Spirit, then you will not gratify the desires of the ‘sinful nature’. You just get on with it, free from the encumbrance of worrying about ‘sin’ all the time. Our salvation enables us to walk forwards in life with Jesus. When Jesus said that “whoever sets his hand to the plough, and then looks back, is not worthy to be My disciple” (Lk 9:62), He meant that by looking back all the time, you just can’t see where you’re going. You need to look forward and just walk with Jesus. The only way to keep that plough straight is to look forward, not backwards. Landing an aeroplane is similar; you look forward to the far end of the runway, not down at the runway below you, otherwise you can’t judge the landing properly. Thank you Lord for your wisdom.

And so let’s round this out by saying that, when it comes to the crunch, and death is just around the corner, it is possible – indeed it is your right, as a Child of God – to face that event with love, confidence, hope and indeed a joyful anticipation. Because precious indeed in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints – and you are one of them. There is no fear in Love, because perfect Love casts out all fear (1Jn4:18). And there is no fear in death, because Jesus has gone there before us – and He has come out the other side for our assurance.

Be assured.

Be at peace.

God’s love for you is greater than you can possibly imagine.

And there is no need for fear.

 

Grace and peace to you.


*I’m not going to define ‘salvation’ right now; I do have a set of developing ideas on the subject but I wouldn’t do them justice if I write about them just yet, because the ideas are not fully formed. In this context, suffice it to say that I believe that Fiona’s firm conviction that she was going to be with Jesus is what I am talking about here.


**Not that I believe in that anyway.

20

Deceived by God’s Word?

I think it’s fair to say that many Christians today believe that the Bible is a set-in-stone, non-negotiable document that is open only to the narrowest of interpretations and even then only by people who are ‘qualified’ to do so. Although, in practice, this is not actually the case – there are likely almost as many interpretations of Bible passages as there are individual Christians – still there are those who insist on their own interpretation being the only correct one.

Personally, I believe that if there is only ‘one correct doctrine’ (about anything) then God would have made it a lot clearer in the Bible than He did. By its very nature – many voices speaking of their own experiences of God – it can never present a unified voice on any matter, really.

Jesus had the same problem in His discussions with the ‘religious elite’ of His day. Even in a society where ‘robust’ (i.e. argumentative) theological discussion was actively encouraged, indeed taught, He came up against entrenched opinion and interpretation. Which, I suppose, is fair enough, given that most people like to have answers to Life’s Big Questions, where actually those Questions take a whole lifetime to glean even a sliver of understanding of their answers. You could say it’s part of human nature to want to be secure in our answers, where actually little such security exists outside the Relationship with God, where our security is in Him and our questions and answers will not disrupt that security in any way.

Anyhow, here’s a great piece by Russell Croft, expressing a lot of this sort of thing:


“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” — Colossians 2:8

There is a lot of fear in various Christian circles today that people are being deceived by false gospels that are not grounded in God’s word. It is a very heartfelt sentiment, one that is genuinely concerned for the fate of fellow believers and non-believers alike.

From this perspective, the answer is to stand on the word of God, to hold it sacredly, to believe that it is the ultimate God-breathed truth, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. We should not waver from the truth revealed within its pages and should always consider the whole counsel of scripture whenever preaching or debating the gospel. God’s word is God’s word, from beginning to end, the literal, infallible revelation of God to man. Anyone who abandons any part of the holy, inspired scriptures has been deceived and has believed a false gospel that threatens to lead others astray. One cannot argue with any part of the scriptures or consider alternative understandings of what they literally say without falling into heresy.

Revolution of Belief

Perhaps this is why the leaders of ancient Israel wanted to keep Jesus quiet. He would often take the scriptural understanding of the day and turn it on its head. In a culture that promoted robust discussion and even allowed for disagreement on scriptural interpretation, Jesus still ruffled too many feathers and rocked too many theological boats.

Jesus abandoned many of the well held positions among the religious people of his day. Instead of paying back the scriptural eye for an eye, Jesus told his listeners to love their enemies and forgive their debts. He admonished people for their methods of tithing, praying, and worship. He walked among the outcasts, the lepers, the prostitutes and sinners, telling them they were entering the kingdom of heaven before the others who had excluded them. He taught that God accepted and loved everyone, not just the upright Jew, but the unclean Gentile and the evil Samaritan. His was a message of Grace that had no room for religious striving or elitism under the law. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

So what was Jesus doing? A disregarded sacrificial system of spiritual duty lies wasted on the road to Calvary. His mercy is freely given to those who sacrifice him to their god of control, ending the old covenant based on human responses to God and ushering in a new covenant, where Jesus took on our responsibility and showcased God’s mercy, fulfilling both the human and divine sides of the ledger once and for all. Salvation or spiritual wholeness in this new covenant is based solely on what Jesus did, not on any attempt on our part to enter the kingdom of heaven.

A Conflict of Covenants

Here’s the problem: a literal, unmoving interpretation of scripture combines and confuses the old and new covenants, presenting a belief system that allows Jesus to do the initial work of salvation, but that must be continued by our ability or desire to maintain wholeness–or holiness–through repentance, prayer, tithing, worship, and belief. The old covenant is elevated to a position of equal importance to the new covenant, and appears to still supersede it in many ways. Scriptures declaring God’s goodness, love, and forgiveness of all humanity are accepted, yet overridden by passages portraying him as full of wrath for those who don’t accept his love.

But what if there was a way to hold the entirety of scripture in tension? To find the ways in which Jesus and the new covenant don’t necessarily abolish the old covenant, but fulfill it for us so that it is no longer a requirement? What if there was a way of rest, of faith and of trust in God to bless us, not because of what we do or believe, but because of what Jesus believed about us and did on our behalf? What if we really did have the fullness of Christ dwelling in us because of the reconciling work of the cross, which we just need to trust in, in order to see? A holiness that wasn’t dependent on ritual or repentance, but an already given, unbreakable union with Christ, which once recognized, leads to all kinds of love and selfless action that the old covenant could only hope to inspire.

Relying on Christ

Of course, we can still hold on to human traditions masquerading as old covenant practices. We can try to pull God down to earth or open heaven for some new blessing or spiritual breakthrough rather than relying on Christ, thus denying the fullness that has already been given through God’s grace. We can still hold to beliefs that we are only OK once we’ve said the magic words and dedicated our lives to denying certain aspects of human life. We don’t even need to call ourselves “Christian” to do so.

Or we can rest in the new covenant and allow Christ in us to provide the outworking of our faith. A faith that is really his faith, since it is Christ in us that provides the gift of faith in the first place. A faith in love. A faith that knows, even in the midst of doubt or suffering, that we are OK, because we have a God who loves all his children and a high priest in Jesus interceding for us, even if we are unable or unwilling to pray for ourselves. A faith that places the old covenant in its right place, as something that was fulfilled by Jesus on the cross and as something we need not fulfill ourselves today in order to remain within God’s blessing.


An excellent piece, I reckon. I hope it blessed you and maybe gave you some food for thought 🙂


Here is the link to the original article

10

Vought F-8 Crusader

This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Beautiful Destroyers

It’s been a while since I have done a post on the Beautiful Destroyers – the ironic observation that some of the most beautiful aircraft ever built were made with the express purpose of breaking things belonging to other people.

Today, I would like to introduce you to the Vought F-8 Crusader.

The Crusader was a carrier-based air-superiority fighter designed in the mid-1950s, and used by the US Navy, the US Marine Corps, the French Navy and the Philippine Air Force. A real ‘hot ship’, she was the US Navy’s first real supersonic fighter; previous fighters could go supersonic in certain circumstances (usually a powered dive) but the Crusader could do it in level flight. The Crusader was also known as the ‘Last Gunfighter’ because she was fitted from the outset with four 20mm Colt cannon, in an era where fighter jet designers were moving away from gun-armed fighters and majoring on missile-armed interceptors.

In the Vietnam War, however (1965-1972) the ‘missile-only’ tactical doctrine was revealed as essentially flawed, as North Vietnamese MiG-17, MiG-19 and MiG-21 fighters, which were (in the case if the MiG-17s and MiG-19s) much older than the American fighters and indeed almost obsolete, were able to get ‘in close’ and use their guns, where the Americans couldn’t fire back. This was because not only were missiles quite unreliable in those days, but also they were not really designed to be launched from hard-manoeuvring aircraft at small, agile targets. They also had a ‘minimum range’ limitation and could not be launched if the target was too close – because they took time to arm themselves after launch.

For the Crusader, however, this was not a problem, because she already had her guns built-in. Indeed, so successful was the Crusader against the MiGs that the North Vietnamese pilots reportedly had far more respect for the Crusaders than any other American fighter.

It is also worth mentioning that, because of the lessons learned in Vietnam, the majority of today’s ultra-modern fighter aircraft, produced by all nations, now carry at least one internal gun.

So, what is it with the Crusader? Why do I find her so beautiful? Well, there’s the clean, sleek lines, the lovely wing shape, the huge air intake under the nose which suggests a belligerent, aggressive attitude, and to be honest she invokes in me a visceral ‘oomph’ sort of feeling whenever I see a picture one of these lovely aircraft.

And – she just ‘looks’ right! And as the old pilots’ adage goes, if an aeroplane looks right, she will fly right 🙂

She also has some interesting design features, particularly the ‘variable-incidence’ wing. The entire wing can be tilted ‘upwards’ so as to increase the lift capacity of the wing for slow-speed work, particularly when landing on aircraft carriers, which is what this plane is primarily designed for. In addition, since she’s a carrier-based aircraft, she has to be made tough and rugged; landing on an aircraft carrier is an entirely different concept from landing on a runway. I’ve described this in some detail in this article, but suffice it to say that an aeroplane rarely arrives on an aircraft carrier in a gentle manner 😉 The variable-incidence wing is visible in the ‘up’ position in this photo of an F-8 about to snag the arrester cables on its carrier’s landing deck*:

…and here’s a photo of a Crusader just about to undergo a steam catapult launch from its carrier:

The version above is the reconnaisance version of the Crusader, the RF-8; the difference is visible in the absence of the cannon muzzles and the addition of the side-facing camera apertures (the black rectangles on the fuselage of the aeroplane).

Earlier in this series, I posted an article on the Russian Tu-95 ‘Bear’ bomber, and pictures of various Western interceptors escorting them. The Crusader, of course, also routinely intercepted Bears, often performing reconnaisance over (or near) the aircraft carrier group. Here’s a US Navy F-8 shadowing a Bear:

…and then a lovely shot of a Bear flying right over the USS Oriskany, with its F-8 Crusader escort in attendance:

This sort of mission (for the Bears) would be primarily ELINT – Electronic Intelligence – the gathering of data on the other side’s electronic emissions, such as radar and communications. In those days, if you decided to fly near an American carrier group, you could guarantee that there would be a lot of radars looking at you, a fair bit of radio chatter, and you’d get some close-up photos of the aircraft that they sent up to take a look at you. And this sort of information would be priceless, should you ever need to fight a war against those people whose technology you are checking out. But the ‘defenders’ still need to send up interceptors, just to make sure that the visitors stay out of mischief 🙂

Here’s another shot of an RF-8 reconnaissance Crusader, showing off that lovely wing shape:

And finally, a monochrome shot of the prototype XF8U-1 Crusader, in 1955:

So there she is, the F-8 Crusader. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful of all the Beautiful Destroyers.


Header Picture Credit: Gaetan Marie


*Observant readers will notice that the Crusader in the carrier landing photo does not have its arrester hook extended. This means that the aeroplane will not stop on the deck; rather she will ‘bolter’, US Navy slang for doing a ‘touch-and-go’. The pilot will touch down on the deck, but will not snag a wire; instead, he will pile on the power and take off again. This sort of thing is done in order to practise approaches and landings, but without actually stopping, and it’s a very common practice also in land-based flight training at any level.


For more information on this beautiful aircraft, take a look here.

00

On Repentance

In many of my blog posts, I mention the idea that ‘repentance’ is not what many churches have taught over the years.

It actually means changing your mind.

Most of the time it is described by Christians as a ‘turning around; a U-turn if you like, and usually in terms of repentance from sin, or a turning away from sin, as seen by the person demanding the repentance. And, for some, it can indeed be that, but it’s not always that. I’m going to pass you over once again to the brilliant Mike Douglas, of the blog ‘Getting Back to My Future‘. Here, Mike describes what he feels repentance really is:


Repent, in our dictionaries, is defined as a verb meaning ‘to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin; to feel remorse, regret, be sorry, rue, reproach oneself, be ashamed, feel contrite; view or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse’.

While this is accurate, it is not how the Bible talks of repentance. The Bible has a different definition for repentance. The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the word typically translated as ‘repent’ is the Greek word “metanoia”.

It consists of two parts, first ‘meta’ which means ‘to change’. We get our word metamorphosis from this word. Like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon.

The second part, ‘noia’ means to think or to know. Think ‘knowledge’.

Combined, it means ‘to change how we think or what we know’. I think that is interesting! It’s not about not sinning or even being sorry when we do wrong. It’s about thinking differently.

But think differently about what? 

It means “to change your mind; reconsider; or, to think differently.” Granted, if a person changes his mind (repents) toward certain behaviours in his life, he may become very sorrowful and may even stop committing those sins, but this would be a result of repenting, not repentance itself. So it’s not about thinking differently about wrongdoing in our lives.

Many understand the term repentance to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the biblical definition of repentance. Many of us were taught that repenting means to stop doing something. But, if that was true we’d all have to stop sinning before we could ask Jesus to save us. Since we can’t stop sinning, none of us would ever be saved.

When God tells an unsaved man to repent, He means for that man to change his mind about how to reach God. The person must change his mind from any idea of saving himself through religion or good works, and trust Jesus’s death as payment for everything he has done wrong. That’s it!

Repent means to change your mind. ABOUT JESUS. 

If you already know you need of a savior, you don’t need to repent to be saved, you just need to ask Jesus to save you. After we’re saved then Jesus sends His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and help us change our behavior, but that happens AFTER, not before, and even then, we never get it completely right. That’s why we are saved by grace, not by being or doing good.

To repent is to change your mind regarding Jesus. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent. Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is who He said He was. Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him.

Repentance and Faith 

Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith [think trust] in Jesus Christ as your Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to believing in Christ.

It is important that we understand repentance is not something we do to earn salvation. The Bible tells us that repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace.

No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. Put another way, He reveals Jesus to us for who He is and then invites us to change our thinking about Him.

How cool is that!


I think that’s brilliant, and he sums it up really well.

Sadly, the idea of ‘repentance’ has been misused and twisted in order to pull people into legalism – making oneself right with God by things we do or don’t do. As with so many of the simple things of faith, it’s been made more complex than it needs to be. For example, I’ve seen repentance described as the more complex idea of ‘a change of mind, leading to a change of heart, leading to a change in actions’. So in that idea they’ve taken the real, simple meaning of ‘changing your mind’, and made it far more complex, and just wrong as well. All we need to do in order to repent is to change our minds. Change our minds from the idea of getting ‘right with God’ through our own strength, thoughts, actions and deeds (which is pointless anyway (Rom 3:20, Gal 2:16, Gal 3:11 ) and instead relying entirely on Jesus and what He has already done for us.

This means that if you change your mind – repent – about your attitudes to finding your own way to God, and trusting instead in the finished work of Christ, then you will be saved. Saved from a life of drudgery and endless tail-chasing, into the life of the glorious freedom of the Children of God (Rom 8:21).

Be free!


Here is the link to the original piece

00

The FIFO Church

I used to go to a church where everyone had to fit in.

Everyone had to believe the same things.

If they didn’t, they were treated with suspicion and kept at arms’ length – and they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to be ‘in ministry’; that is, serving in a public role such as teaching, housegroup leading or worship leading. Only those who were fully kosher in terms of their beliefs were fully trusted. This was not done overtly, but I believe it was almost subconscious on the part of the leadership. And I imagine people knew what was going on (although as an Aspie (undiagnosed at the time) I didn’t really have a clue).

My friend at that church referred to that sort of thing as the ‘FIFO’ church – Fit In or Go Away. Yes, that’s a euphemism; deal with it 😀 * (And it has nothing to do with ‘First In, First Out’!)

And at the time, I was so blinkered that I didn’t realise it, or, if I did, I was one of those who approved of the attitude – because I did fit in, or at least I thought I did (cynically, I now believe that my ‘differences’ were tolerated because of my worship leading and musical gifts). I thought that this was the norm. In fact, I didn’t think about it much at all.

But just lately, I have got to thinking in more depth on this subject. There’s no way God made all these different people, just for them to be all the same. We are all going to have different attitudes, different beliefs, different backgrounds, talents, hang-ups, habits, situations, circumstances and what have you.

Now, if we can’t accept people who are voluntarily and regularly in the congregation – people who profess and enact belief in Jesus Christ – who show ‘differences’, then how are we ever going to bring others into the Church? People with far, far more jarring, offensive and sometimes downright disturbing tendencies? We simply will not be able to cope, and people will not come because they (either tacitly or overtly) won’t be welcome, plain and simple. This is not rocket science!

I know that all faiths and people in general have a natural tendency to gravitate towards people of like beliefs/interests/whatever, and to distance themselves from those who are different. I appreciate that. But the Church – the Body of Christ – as Jesus’s representatives here on earth, we should be different. Jesus said that people would be able to tell who are His disciples because of the love we have for one another (Jn 13:35). And I also believe that He meant, not just people in the Church (even the ‘tax collectors’ do that! (Mt 5:46; Lk 6:32)), but also those outside it.

And this is one reason why I like my church so much. It’s an inner-city church where we get all sorts of real people in. People who smoke, people who are addicts, people who are recovering, people who have never had a problem like that, the homeless and those who live in modest accommodation, right up to those who live in dead posh places. Everyone is different and nobody is expected to conform at all. I mean, sure, there’s the odd Fundie there who finds it hard to keep his trap shut, but again, it takes all sorts. We dwell together in harmony, regardless of differences, and there the Lord commands the blessing (Ps 133:1,3 KJV).

I’m not saying everyone has to minister to the homeless and the poor. What I am saying is that we should at least learn to minister to those who are in our own congregations, despite their differences – whether differences in sexuality, belief, status, age, or whatever.

Interestingly, the whole idea of ‘equal opportunities’ for everyone, as depicted in UK law, comes from the basic human need to be treated fairly and not discriminated against. Now, granted, it’s not perfect, but it’s a step on the path. If the world can do this, then how much more so the Church, in which there is supposed to be “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ” (Gal 3:28)? What the Life of Jesus does in this case is to remove the barriers between people and help them relate to one another as Family. In some places, yes, this is a dysfunctional family – but with a little effort and application, it’s possible to turn this around. How? As always, start with yourself. Determine to treat others with respect and love; do not judge or condemn others for what they do, say, what they are or what they eat.

Do this not as a set of Rules, but let it flow naturally from your life in the Spirit. Determine to be Jesus to those around you. Make everyone properly welcome, not as ‘evangelistic targets’, but merely and simply as people. Imagine how you would feel if (whatever), and run with that. As an Aspergic person, this is something I have had to train myself in; for those to whom it comes naturally, go ahead and use your abilities in the Spirit!

And it will happen. And the church will no longer be ‘FIFO’

Yes!


*If you are offended by ‘cuss words’, then please let me apologise for the offence but also may I suggest you get a sense of perspective. In any event, I needed to include the euphemisms because they are part of the impact of the piece.

10

A Vewwy Gweat Fwiend in Wome…

You’ve probably gathered by now that I have a rather silly sense of humour. Very silly indeed.

And much of it is inspired by the revolutionary humour of the Monty Python team: Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Carol Cleveland (who was often known as the ‘Seventh Python’)

Not only was the Python humour genre completely different from other types of humour that had been seen before – especially on the prim-and-proper BBC (all kudos to them for taking the risk in the first place!) – but it was also written and performed by people who, in my opinion, rank among the greatest comic geniuses of all time.

I think that one of the best pieces they ever did was the movie ‘Life of Brian‘, its title lampooning the title of the movie ‘Life of Christ’, and which of course offended many stick-in-the-mud Christians when it first appeared. Even as a fundamentalist at the time, however, I saw it as being absolutely hilarious. Like all the best comedy, it lampoons, exposes and ridicules the silly little sacred cows we all have, and makes us laugh at ourselves. If we have a sense of humour, that is. Unless you can laugh at yourself, you shouldn’t really laugh at others. Conversely, though, if you can (and do) laugh at yourself, then that, in my view, gives you the right to laugh at anyone and anything, because you don’t take yourself so seriously that you can ever mean such laughter in a bad way.

Anyhow, here is the classic scene from Life of Brian where Pontius Pilate, played by Michael Palin, gets annoyed when the soldiers find his friend’s name – ‘Biggus Dickus’ – to be funny. This is probably the greatest comedy sequence of all time, in my book. Added to the brilliant comic timing and the expressions on the actors’ faces is the wonderful choice of words in the script that take maximum advantage of the lisp that the character Pilate has in this movie. If you haven’t seen this before, this will explain the strange nature of my title for this piece.

Right, over to the Pythons. You may need a box of tissues on hand because this might well reduce you to tears of laughter.

“I will not have my fwiends widiculed by the common soldiewy!”

Classic. Laughter is definitely one of the best things that God invented, along with the joy that feeds it. Laugh out loud, and love it, and live!

Peace and Gwace to you!


Header picture shows Python team member, the late Graham Chapman, in his role as ‘Biggus Dickus’, Pilate’s vewwy gweat fwiend in Wome, from later in the movie. Chapman also played the lead character, ‘Brian’. Or, should I say, ‘Bwian’? 😉 hehe

00

Is Your Bible an Idol?

Here’s a great piece about idolising the Bible above God. It’s from the ‘Unfundamentalists’ blog, and is written by Darrell Lackey:

“The Bible is not God, nor do symbols on a page contain God. God is not hiding in the ink or paper molecules/atoms of the Bible. God existed before the Bible. Every time we read or quote a passage of Scripture in an authoritative way, it doesn’t mean God is speaking either to us or through us. It simply means we are reading symbols on a page that represent meanings, which we then interpret. Whether or not we truly understand the meaning or purpose of those symbols is something else entirely. It’s possible I am idolizing my understanding of those symbols, rather than worshipping (or even interpreting correctly) what they may be pointing toward.

“A person could memorize the entire Bible. They could quote a Scripture verse for every problem, argument, or issue at hand. One could study the Bible deeply every day, for a lifetime. One could do all this and never know the God of whom it speaks. One could do this and be a mean, angry, and selfish person. One could do this and never lift a finger for another human being. One could do this and be nothing more than a judgment machine, handing out judgments, opinions, and confident assertions about the world and everyone else.

“How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced it. I know some of these people. I stopped being impressed by people who’ve memorized a lot of Scripture a long time ago. Why? Because I knew too many of them who were awful people.

“Bible knowledge will never substitute for a relationship with the subject of that book. Imagine a woman named Susan. Suppose I have a book about her life. I could read all day long about Susan and memorize much of the information. I might even fall in love with the Susan I read about.

“However, it may be the words, the description, the sense I get from the book in my own mind that I’m actually in love with. Not Susan. I’ve fooled myself. I’m actually in love with my knowledge of Susan—my mental picture of her. I might think to myself, other people know things about her too, but not as much as I do. I love how much I know about her (see the problem there?).

“However, unless I actually met Susan and spent time with her and got to know her personally, outside that book, I DO NOT REALLY KNOW SUSAN.

“An anticipated response: “But if the Bible is the primary way to know Jesus, if he reveals himself, his thinking, his desires, what he wants from us, in that book, isn’t that what is really happening—we are in fact meeting and knowing him through this book?”

“First, note how this type of response situates the person contextually in a time (modern) and place (America/the West) where the Bible as we know it is common and readily accessible—as if our time and location (a short blip on the radar screen of history) was the pinnacle of wisdom on the subject. The response forgets the first Christians (or the Hebrews before), who did not have what we think of as the complete Bible today. In fact, such would not exist until several centuries after Christ. And guess what, they still knew Jesus, they still knew God. Jesus did not need for a complete Bible to be present before he communicated with his people.

“The first Christians had the Hebrew Scriptures and the Apostle’s letters in circulation, but this was not a literate culture—most could not read. They came to know Jesus through the spoken words and lives of others, not primarily from a book or Bible as we know it.

“As Australian systematic theologian Geoff Thompson has noted:

‘…the fundamentals of Christian faith were already in place in creeds, liturgies and summary statements of faith before the extent of the Christian Scriptures was settled. It was not the Bible which produced Christian belief. Rather, the Bible emerged in the process of clarifying the details of Christian faith. In other words, it was because you believed certain things about Jesus and God that led you to believe certain things about the Bible.’

“Even in its complete form, regardless of how we think the Bible is inspired or authoritative, it is still not God. The reader, the interpreter is not God. Our thoughts, views, and opinions about what we think the text means, are not God. Our vocal or quoted expressions of the text, are not God. Our typing out a verse of Scripture is not God. Our theological frameworks are not God.

“Second, such a response completely eschews the ancient mysticism of the Church and the idea that experience, intuition, reason, communal teaching, acting, and the liturgical inhabiting of the faith were also ways in which God as Trinity “spoke” and communicated with the Church, apart from the Bible or written forms.

“And just a side note to all this: Fundamentalist Christians (and some evangelicals), when the Church is discussing same-sex attraction, marriage, abortion, the death penalty, gender roles, or any other complicated issue where there is respectful disagreement on both sides, if you think merely quoting a Scripture verse somehow settles the matter, then you are incredibly shallow and, frankly, ignorant. If you really think the people in those discussions weren’t aware of those verses, then I feel sorry for you. It means you are a child who has wandered into an adult conversation.

“Too many fundamentalists (and many evangelicals) make of the Bible, and their understanding of it, an idol. They worship a book and their knowledge of it. Their “relationship” is with a book, rather than with the one of whom it speaks. Christian: Don’t make of your Bible an idol—don’t be an idol worshipper.”

Here’s the link to the original article

10

The Secret of the Lord

I think it’s fair to say that God knows everything. He knows how everything is put together, how it all works, how it all began and how it all ends. And yet, in the midst of all that wonder, He chooses to let us ‘in’ on His secrets.

Now, everyone loves a secret that they are privy to. You’ll remember the delicious feeling, when we were kids, of being ‘in the know’; maybe being part of a secret club or ‘gang’ (not a ‘gang’ in its modern sense!); a group of kids who all identified with each other and who were all ‘in’. Great fun, wasn’t it? 😀

And I think that this is a precursor to knowing the secrets of God. That same desire to ‘know stuff’, which manifests itself differently in different people. For some it might be a desire to indulge in gossip about others’ private lives; for others it’s a desire to work things out in great detail; for still others it may be something else entirely. So I do believe it’s part of every human’s makeup in one form or another.

But for me there is no more fascinating quest than that of the pursuit of the secret things of God. To see in increasing measure what His purpose is; to see His attitudes; to know His love; to know many, many other things, maybe not even necessarily things directly about Him, that I can’t even begin to describe. Even the beginning of the knowledge of the answers to the deep questions of life is to be found in this quest.

As a medical research scientist, many years ago, I discovered how many things worked in a medical sense. That’s what we did. We were finding out these previously unknown things – secrets, if you will – that, up until we had made the discovery, nobody knew about.

And yet that’s nothing compared with knowing God and knowing about His ways. Consider also, there are Life’s Big Questions too, which I have touched on previously – why do bad things happen; why does God allow suffering and death – yes, I have those questions too.

So in this piece, then, I will attempt to explore something of what this ‘The Secret of the Lord’ is all about. The Psalmist said, “The secret of the Lord [is] with them that fear Him; And He will shew [archaic: show – Ed] them His covenant” – Ps 25:14 (KJV) – and that’s what we’re going to be looking at today.

But first, let’s just deal with that word ‘Fear’, shall we? The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him? As I have said in a previous article, the word ‘Fear’, when seen in the Bible in the context of the ‘Fear of God’, does not mean what people in this day and age understand as ‘fear’. The word ‘fear’ has been retained in modern translations, despite its archaic use (and hence my use of the King James Version quotations to illustrate this), but it meant a different thing then from what it does now. The cynic in me says that this has been done for control purposes, but then that’s just my opinion. I’m not going to go into more detail here, but if you would like some more background on the common misuse of this word in the Bible, please take a look at this article. Suffice it to say for now that it’s a very rich word with connotations far exceeding simple ‘terror’; that the word can mean concepts more like ‘respect’, ‘awe’ or even ‘worship’ too, and given that perfect Love has no room for ‘fear’ as we understand the meaning of the word today, we would expect that the context is less to do with terror than it has to do with love. So, when we talk about people who ‘fear’ the Lord, we are talking about those who love Him, who worship Him, and who think He’s just pretty amazing. That’s what we’re talking about here.

So, to paraphrase Ps 25:14, ‘The secret of the Lord is with those who think He’s amazing’. Ok? But I am going to carry on using the word ‘fear’ in this article because it is the form of the Scripture passage that most believers will be familiar with. Just remember what the word really means, right?! 🙂

So, then, using our knowledge of Hebrew parallelism, we can at least see that the two concepts in Ps 25:14 are linked, in that to those who fear the Lord and know His secrets, He will show His covenant. In other words, the very idea of God showing His secrets to those who fear Him means that He makes His covenant – the ways in which He has promised to relate to us – known to us in increasing measure. And while that’s absolutely wonderful, there’s a lot more that He makes known to us as well.

And this is to be expected. God’s dealings with His faithful have always involved Him telling us stuff that we wouldn’t previously have known. Even as far back as Genesis, God said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Gen 18:17). As St. Paul wrote, “…The natural man [that is, one not walking in the Spirit] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone’s judgment. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ” – (1Cor2:14-16) If we are living a supernatural life, then it is to be expected that God will reveal new and surprising things to us through His Spirit; things we were not expecting, things we did not ask for, and certainly things that we didn’t know before and would have no way of knowing without the Spirit of God showing us these things.

Linked with this is the idea that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” – (Prov 9:10). Do you see the connection there; the common root? If we begin by approaching the Lord in ‘fear’ – worship, adoration, awe and just generally being gobsmacked – then we begin and continue our walk along the path to wisdom, which is part of the ‘Secret of the Lord’. If you’ve been a believer for some time, then you will know what I am talking about. You will be able to point to various things that God has shown you over the years that you couldn’t have known yourself; things He has shared with you, in terms of both wisdom and knowledge. If you’ve not been walking with Jesus all that long, then I rejoice in saying that you have all this to look forward to!

Much of the wisdom I have been able to share which I have learned in my grief journey since losing my wife to cancer nineteen months ago, this wisdom I have been taught in the silences of simply sitting at Jesus’s feet; in the agonies of grief; in deep, healing worship; and in the times where I have felt His tangible Presence like a warm cloak of divine Love wrapped around my shoulders. And some of this knowledge is ‘secret’ because it relates only to me; it’s personal for my circumstances – these are ‘my secrets’, if you will. But other things have been revealed that I have indeed shared. In particular, the profound realisation that death is not the end is extremely important, and had to be shared with my readers here.

He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him – Dan 2:22 (KJV)

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. – Dan 2:22 (NIV)

‘Deep and secret things’. That sounds amazing, doesn’t it? And it is. We are privy to an immense storehouse of God’s wisdom and knowledge that He is willing to pass on to us, albeit in chunks that we can cope with. The ancient Hebrew King, David, wrote this: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” – (Psalm 139:6). Jesus Himself said several times that even once He’d gone, not only would He not leave us ‘as orphans’ (Jn 14:18), and that He would come to us and that He would send us His Spirit “…to be with you for ever” (Jn 14:16)

And He also said that, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” – (Jn 16:12-15)

I also love the bit in Matthew 11:25-27 where Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children [in the context, He was referring to His disciples here – Ed]. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the key to all this is Jesus. Knowing Jesus is foundational. In order to sit at His feet and learn from Him, you need to come to Him. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” – (John 17:3). If you like, the wisdom and knowledge of the ways of God, including the ‘Secret of the Lord’, is part of the ‘Eternal Life’ package; the life of the age to come being projected into the here and now. Parallel to this idea, Proverbs 8:35 says, “For he who finds me [wisdom] finds life, and obtains favour from the Lord” – Prov 8:35 (NASB)

As I mentioned above, some parts of the Secrets of the Lord can be shared; some cannot. Some we can learn from each other; from those to whom God has revealed things. Some things are too far ingrained in the route by which we learned them such that they are not communicatable because the way we learned them is too deep to be expressed. But some things are in any case altogether too sacred to share, and indeed can be potentially harmful to share with people who do not have the maturity to hear those things (cf. Heb 5:11-14)*. Some of the stuff I get from God, I know full well would cause one helluva stir if I were to let it out into the public domain. And so, the wisdom that I receive from the Lord – which I always want to have at the same time as the knowledge I receive – is that which says what is good to share, and what is not. St. Paul, somewhat modestly, declared (in the third person) that he had received visions from God that he was not permitted to share. I love the passage where he writes about this:

“Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell“.  – (2Cor12:1-4, emphasis mine)

Some of my readers will know what this is like. How many times have you had dreams where God has shared things with you that you cannot even express? I remember once (if ‘remember’ is the right word) having a dream about the things of God. I could not remember a thing about it when I woke up except that I knew that something really deep had happened. The fruits of that dream are with me to this day. I’m not talking about the ordinary kind of forgetting of dreams that always happens; I distinctly remember waking up fully from the dream that had just finished, knowing that something amazing had happened to me, but I didn’t know what it was. It seems that, on occasion, God even keeps secrets from us about His dealings with us! And talking of dreams, my late wife Fiona had a similar occurrence in her sleep in her early twenties, which was incredible but which is not my story to share.

Added to that, a few months before she died, Fiona was given a lucid vision of what Heaven was going to be like for her. And she kept that a secret from me until only a couple of weeks before her passing, because she knew that her telling me would greatly upset me, because then all my hope of not losing her would be lost. Now that’s wisdom! She was the most wise person I ever met, was my Fiona! 🙂

Another idea along these lines is that sometimes someone isn’t ready for new knowledge just yet. Let me use the example of an article I read the other day, where the writer was working through some concepts of Scripture that were bothering them. This person had some excellent ideas, some that were not so good, and also expressed some concepts that I left behind years ago. But rather than wade in and point out ‘errors’ based on my ‘knowledge’ (which I appreciate is sketchy at best!), I recognised that the writer was at a point in their own walk that was a huge step forward from where they were previously, and for them, that was amazing. And so I kept my trap shut and didn’t say anything. I sometimes think that wisdom is knowing how and when to use the knowledge that we have been given!

I also read a comment, in reply to one of Christy Wood’s posts, where the commenter said this, “Here’s the thing: even as God does gently lead me into greater understanding, I cannot then turn around and push it down the throats of others. I have to allow God to be God, and do with them as he is doing with me. If I am a parent, I have to allow my adult children to learn their own lessons, make their own mistakes and choose their own flavor of relating to God“. We can use that illustration as part of the reason why God shares with us certain things, while not sharing others.

Sometimes, the stuff He shares with us is so historically magnificent that it would destabilise lives if we were to share it. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law“. – (Deut 29:29) This is true insofar as the secret things of God were being progressively revealed to the Israelites in the desert under Moses, and later through the prophets, but were revealed in their fulness in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfilment of that Law on our behalf. And so, ‘secret things’ were revealed, yes, but their true historical significance did not become apparent until Jesus Christ. They couldn’t, and indeed shouldn’t, have known what was to come, because the ramifications were so huge. In other words, God speaks His secrets to us at a level we are able to cope with, and not necessarily at a level that others could cope with. That’s pretty deep, I know.

You will probably be raring to go, to seek after the ‘Secret of the Lord’. Remember it’s not one thing, but a whole magnificent plan and destiny of which He reveals only a small part at a time, and the hugeness of which cannot be understood by mere mortals like us. But even so, having the plans of God revealed to us carries an immense sense of privilege, and an immense responsibility, to hold and use that knowledge with the wisdom that He also gives freely.

How do we start? It’s nothing heavy. The knowledge and wisdom of God is given freely to those who simply ask. Just ask Him, and then expect Him to point things out to you as you go about your everyday life, walking in the Spirit. It will happen. You may suddenly realise that for the past week, God has been speaking these secrets to you and, you haven’t realised. Don’t worry. He will bring things back to you. This is something that takes some getting used to, and it improves with practice. It’s a ‘learning curve’! Cut yourself some slack and just enjoy the experience.

Oh, and one more thing: remember it’s a ‘secret’. Don’t share stuff with others unless you are absolutely sure they can deal with it. Don’t share it boastfully or with ‘attitude’. Remember there will be those who do not, indeed simply cannot, understand. So, most of the time, keep these nuggets to yourself, let them nourish you and teach you in the ways of God. The fruits and the benefits for others will emerge in due course.

To quote J. C. Philpot, from August 1844:

“It is a secret, because it is only known to a few. It is a secret, because it is carried on in private between God and the soul. It is a secret, because never known until God the Spirit unfolds the mystery.” [1]

So, The Secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him. Enjoy this. Be fascinated by it, by your discoveries, by His revelations. Drink in the richness of His Creation, the depths of His wisdom, and the knowledge of His love, power, majesty and might.

Grace and Peace to you.


There is an interesting article that I read recently, which goes quite deeply into the ideas of sharing the ‘Secret of the Lord’ with others. “When the Lord knows that He can trust us with His secrets, He will reveal things to us which He cannot reveal to others”. Definitely worth a look. See reference [2] below.


[Edit] – I recently had a little more insight on the wisdom of sharing the deep things of God.

Firstly, there is always the ‘pearls before swine’ analogy (Matt 7:6). Don’t give certain people precious knowledge, unless you know it will be treasured.

Secondly, I recently wrote this on a Facebook post, which I think adds to our present discussion:

The Secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him. And sometimes these secrets are too deep to share with others, especially when those others do not yet have the spiritual maturity to deal with them. When we share with the objective of putting ourselves on a pedestal about how awesome our personal revelation is, that’s a sure sign that we are not sharing at the right time. Sharing of such deep wisdom generally needs to be done in the quiet, on-on-one place, not in a big meeting where the effects can be catastrophic. Deep wisdom can be a two-edged sword; it can build up those who have the ears to hear and the eyes to see the truth, but it can also destroy those who do not have those ears and eyes. This is why knowledge of the things of God must go hand in hand with the wisdom of God. This may well be why there is such an emphasis on wisdom in the Scriptures.


[1] https://www.gracegems.org/Philpot/secret_of_the_lord.htm
Much of what Philpot says in that sermon is stuff I don’t agree with, and it reflects the prevalent thinking of the period. But some of it is real gold. I leave it to the reader to sift it for the nuggets 🙂

[2] From ‘Love Notes’, by Mary Love Eyster: http://www.iprayprayer.com/secret-lord-fear-psalm-2514-keeping-gods-secrets/


*”We have much to say about this [theological idea], but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” – Heb 5:11-14

10