Friday, 20 February 2015

The fog lifted


The following incident from the life of George Müller is related by Mr. Inglis, who heard the story from the captain of the ship with whom Müller prayed.

When I first came to America, thirty-one years ago. I crossed the Atlantic with the captain of a steamer who was one of the most devoted men I ever knew, and when we were off the banks of Newfoundland be said to me:
"Mr. Inglis, the last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, one of the most extraordinary things happened which, has completely revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. Up to that time I was one of your ordinary Christians. We had a man of God on board, George Müller, of Bristol. I had been on that bridge for twenty-two hours and never left it. I was startled by some one tapping me on the shoulder. It was George Müller:
"'Captain, he said, 'I have come to tell you that I must be In Quebec on Saturday afternoon.' This was Wednesday.
"'It is impossible,' I said.
"'Very well, if your ship can't take me, God will find some other means of locomotion to take me. I have never broken an engagement in fifty seven years.'
"’I would willingly help you. How can I? I am helpless.'
"'Let us go down to the chart-room and pray.'
"I looked at that man of God, and I thought to myself, what lunatic asylum could that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing.
"'Mr. Müller,' I said, 'do you know how dense the fog is?'
"'No,' he replied, 'my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.'
"He got down on his knees and prayed one of the most simple prayers. I muttered to myself: 'That would suit a children's class where the children were not more than eight or nine years old.' The burden of his prayer was something like this: 'O Lord, if it is consistent with Thy will, please remove this fog in five minutes. You know the engagement you made for me in Quebec Saturday. I believe it is your will.'
"When he finished. I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. "First, you do not believe He will; and second. I believe He has. And there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.' I looked at him, and George Müller said..
"'Captain. I have known my Lord for forty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to gain an audience with the King. Get up, captain, and open the door, and you will find the fog is gone.' I got up, and the fog was gone!
"You tell that to some people of a scientific turn of mind, and they will say, 'That is not according to natural laws.' No, it is according to spiritual laws. The God with whom we have to do is omnipotent. Hold on to God's omnipotence. Ask believingly. On Saturday afternoon, I may add, George Müller was there on time."
Herald of gospel liberty, Volume 102, Issues 27-52

Friday, 13 February 2015

Answered prayer for bread and milk

George Mueller cared for orphans, in Bristol, in the 1800s.  His life was marked by amazing answers to prayer.  As can be seen in the following story.
One morning, all the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder and no money to buy food. The children were standing, waiting for their morning meal, when Müller said, “Children, you know we must be in time for school.” Then lifting up his hands he prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.”
There was a knock at the door. The baker stood there, and said, “Mr. Müller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast, and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it.”
Mr. Müller thanked the baker, and no sooner had he left, when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. 

'Blessings in their proper time (Jeremiah 30-33)


One time, when I was a pastor in Richhill, a woman rang to ask if her brother could speak in our church.  It was short notice and I knew nothing about him.  I should have known about him, because she had given me a video of him preaching, but I had not watched it.

I said that he could give his testimony, rather than preach, and when I meet him I told him to keep it to about seven minutes.

He started off well, telling us how God had rescued him from alcoholism.  That was good.  But as he continued my suspicions about him grew.  He ended his testimony by saying that since he had become a Christian he had not even had a cold since he had come to faith.  That sounded a little too ‘health and wealth’ for me.  I was glad that I had not given him longer to talk.

The next morning I decided to watch the video I had of this man preaching.  There he was in a little church in Uganda.  He happened to be wearing the same suit that he wore in Richhill.  He looked at the small congregation of people and declared, ‘I have an anointing, and because of this anointing what I say will come to be.  I don’t care whether you have Aids or TB, tomorrow you will be well.’

I was appalled by the false hope that he gave those dear people.  The next morning there would be people who would wake up assuming that they were well, while they were still sick.  Perhaps some of them would foolishly stop taking their medication.  Some would later wonder what they had done wrong that resulted in not receiving the healing he promised them.

The primary problem in that speaker is that he did not know what time we are in.  Let me explain.

As we read Jeremiah we should keep three periods of time in mind.  Firstly, there is the time between Jeremiah speaking and the first coming of Jesus (horizon one).  Then, there is the time between Jesus’ first coming and his return (horizon two).  Finally, there is the eternal reality that starts with Jesus’ return (horizon three).  What we will see is that the prophecies in these chapters point to blessings that are experienced, in different ways, in each of these periods of time.

These four chapters of Jerimiah (30-34) are referred to as ‘The Book of Consolation’.  They look forward to future blessing.  We are going to look at three of these blessings, in the light of our three horizons.

1. 'I will heal your wounds' (30:17)

When the Babylonians came and conquered Judah and Jerusalem there was much death and injury. There would have been many wounded and grieving people.  But God promises a future time when 'I will restore to you your health and heal your wounds' (30:17).  See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth.  Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labour; a great throng will return’ (31:8). '... I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security' (33:6).  How does this prophecy find its fulfilment in our three horizons?

Firstly, during horizon one, a future generation returned to Judah and Jerusalem from exile in Babylon.  We see that in books like Ezra and Nehemiah.

This talk of the healing of wounds surely brings our thoughts to the coming of Jesus and the ministry he has entrusted to the church.  Jesus was a healer.  Jesus commissioned the church to pray for people’s healing.  The apostle Paul talks of gifts of healings (1 Corinthians 12:9).  James instructed the elders to pray over those who were sick that they may be healed (James 5:14-15).

But we know that faithful people still get sick and die.  Sometimes God answers our prayers by saying ‘no’.  The healings that we see now are really just the first-fruits of the time to come.  When Jesus returns (horizon three), 'there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Rev. 21:4).  The preacher in Richhill was teaching as if all the blessings of the age to come were to be experienced now.

2. 'David their king' (30:9)

In these chapters there is repeated mention of a descendent of David who will be established as their king.  ‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land' (33:15).

However, this promise was not fulfilled in horizon one.  When the exiles returned from Babylon, they were not given a king in the line of David—they were ruled by a series of governors.  The returned exiles are left waiting for future events that will bring this prophecy to fulfilment.

Then, Jesus comes (horizon two), born in Bethlehem (because he was a descendant of David), and called ‘Son of David.’  But while his rule has been inaugurated it has yet fully consummated.  Even though we live in a world that ignores Jesus, his teaching and his offer of salvation, we await that time when every knee will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:10).  The fullness of the promise is found with horizon three.

3. 'A new covenant' (31:31)

There are lovely pictures of God in these chapters.  God is a husband who woos his faithless bride, a father who goes searching for his rebellious son, a shepherd who gathers his flock and a mother who weeps for her children.

We are told that God is motivated by compassion, 'I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them' (33:26), '... I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more' (31:34), 'I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me' (33:8).  Not only does God promise to forgive his people, he promises to transform them: even though they had prostituted themselves with foreign gods, he will call them 'Virgin Israel' (31:4).

There is talk of a new covenant.  Before he sent the people into exile, he ignored their cries because he knew that they were insincere.  Now we read the people saying, literally, ‘cause me to turn and I will turn, for you are the Lord my God’ (31:18).  God does cause people to truly repent, and he always responds to genuine repentance.

This talk of a new covenant brings our minds to the ministry of Jesus (horizon two).  During the first Lord’s Supper, Jesus took the cup and declared, ‘this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’ (Mark 14:24).  This covenant involves the power to change, ‘I will put my law in their mind and write it on their hearts … they will know me, from the least to the greatest … For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more’ (31:33-34).           

In our church’s statement of faith we declare that those who are truly born again are kept by the power of God.  The true Christian may fall, fail and backslide at times, but God ensures that they ultimately remain in the faith.  One of the strongest arguments for this doctrine, called ‘the perseverance of the saints’, is found here in Jeremiah: 'I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me' (32:40).

Of course we still await horizon three.  For in this live we do battle with the world, the flesh and the devil.  We are tempted every hour.  It is as if we have an enemy within us, in the form of our sinful nature.  We know the pain of defeat and the sorrow of letting god down.  But when Jesus returns the battle will be over.  Our hearts will be made perfectly pure.  We will never have to listen to the lies of the devil again.  We will no longer be tempted.  We will no longer be able to sin.  We will enjoy a life of perfect moral purity.  Come, Lord Jesus!

Conclusion

'Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see' (Hebrews 11:1).  Faith looks forward, in joyful anticipation, of what is to come.

Jeremiah has been put in prison because the king, Zedekiah, does not like what he is saying.  Hanamel, Jeremiah’s cousin, comes to visit him in prison.

Hanamel wants Jeremiah’s help.  He has run into financial problems and wants Jeremiah to buy a field off him.  As a near relative Jeremiah has an obligation to do this.  But this is not a good deal for Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is in prison, and may never get to enjoy the field.  At the time of asking the Babylonians are at the edge of Jerusalem, and have probably trampled all over that field.  This field is a worthless asset.     

But God tells Jeremiah to go ahead and buy the field.  Jeremiah was then to place the deeds of that field in a clay jar.  These deeds were to be a symbol of hope.  They were about to go into exile, but these deeds were not useless, for a future generation would return and the landed would be traded again.  These deeds are a promise that there will be a brighter future.

As we live in horizon two (between the first and second coming of Jesus) we know that the best has yet to come.  We are a people of the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’.  We live in the beautiful light that shines from the ministry of Jesus.  We enjoy the gift of his indwelling-presence.  Yet even those who have passed on in the faith, who are in paradise with Jesus, eagerly await his return, when they will see the arrival of the new creation, and find themselves clothed in their resurrection bodies.

As we look forward let us never forget that the greatest blessing of the coming age will be the uninhibited fellowship with God.  Now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part, then I shall be fully known (1 Corinthian 13:12).  Then we will live in a city that does not need a sun—for the glory of God gives it light (21:23).  Now, as we live in joyful anticipation, we are to get ready for that future by learning to love and enjoy God more and more!    

Monday, 2 February 2015

Deuteronomy (The One and Only)


This book opens with God’s people in the wilderness preparing to enter the Promised Land—do you get a feeling deja-vous?  We’ve been here before—at the beginning of Numbers.  However in Numbers a whole generation of adults failed to trust God and enter the land, so they died in the desert.  Now we are preparing for entry again.     

On the plains of Moab, by the river Jordan, Moses addresses them before he dies.  In three sermons he gives them God’s instructions.  He urges them not to blow in like their parent’s generation had, in the light of all that God had done they are to trust and obey.  

Sermon 1 ‘The One and Only’ (chapters 1:5-4):

The first and shortest sermon begins in chapter 1 verse 5.  In this Moses spends a lot of time reminding them of what has been happening during their time in the wilderness.  Despite the fact that God had preformed miraculous signs among them, the people had refused to believe that he could conquer the inhabitants of Canaan.  So that generation did not enter the land.  ‘Just like you might send a disobedient child to his or her room, God sent a disobedient Israel into the desert to think over their “attitude problem”’ .  God did however care for them in the wilderness (2:7), and strengthened them so that, after the period of discipline, the next generation could receive the Promised Land.

Moses reminds them of these things to highlight what God is like.  To show them how God does things—so that they might know who it is that they are dealing with.  In chapter 4 comes the most important thing they are to know about God—he is ‘the One and Only’: . . . ‘the LORD is God; besides him there is no other’ (NIV) (4:35).  This is not only the central message of the first sermon—this is the central message of the whole book.       

Sermon 2 Part 1:  ‘God who takes the initiative’ (chapters 5-7):  

The second sermon, which begins in chapter 5, is the longest by far.  It has, however, a simple structure: after telling them more about the LORD, Moses focuses on how they should respond to him.  With this in mind we are going to divide the sermon in two.

It opens by reminding them that their relationship with God is the result of God’s initiative.  It was God who rescued them from Egypt (5:6)—and in so doing made them into a nation; and it was God who initiated a covenant with this new nation at Sinai (Horeb) (5:2).

As in Exodus, the Ten Commandments are introduced here with a reminder of what God has already done for them (5:6).  Their obedience to these commands is not what will save them. 

God has already saved them!  Their obedience is to be their response to his salvation.

 

 

But why did God save them?  What prompted him to take the initiative?  Deuteronomy 7:6-9:

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God.  The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (NIV)

Did God choose them because they were an impressive nation of people?  No!  Quite the opposite, they were insignificant.  He simply loved them because he loved them, and because he is the God who is faithful to his covenant promises.

When we think of our salvation we remember that God took the first step.  He rescued us from slavery—a second Exodus, on the cross freeing us from slavery to sin.  He has loved us even though we have done nothing to deserve that love.  Rom. 5:8 . . ‘God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (NIV).  He did not set his love on us because we were impressive or faithful, we were weak and rebellious.  To the Christian he says, ‘I love you not because you are better, or wiser, or more attractive, or more impressive than anyone else.  I simply love you because in grace I choose to love you.  Nothing can separate you from my love.’

Sermon 2: Part 2, Response: ‘Trust and Obey’ (Chapters 6-28)

Ch. 6 tells us that there is really only one fundamental response that Israel should make to the LORD—to love him.  Verses 4-5, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one [he is the one and only].  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ (NIV).  They are to love him with every fibre of their being.

God has demonstrated his awesome love for them.  He has been committed to them through thick and thin.  Despite the stubbornness of his people he has stuck with them.  Yes, God disciplined them—he did it to wake them up to themselves.  He never stopped wanting the best for Israel.  That is biblical love.  It is essentially commitment.  Love is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling, although that may be a part of it.  Love is primarily a deliberate expression of loyalty.

The remainder of the second sermon spells out the behaviour that is to demonstrate their love for the LORD.  Their love is to be shown in trust and obedience.

Israel’s first attempt to enter the Promised Land had ended in disaster because they had rebelled against God and refused to enter.  Moses points out that what they had been lacking was trust and obedience (see Duet. 9:23-24).  As a result they spent forty years in the wilderness.  Deuteronomy contains a great deal of instruction about how that wilderness experience should have taught them the importance of trust and obedience.

For example in chapter 8, Moses points to LORD’s provision of manna.  It should have taught them that God can be trusted.  Every day they had to trust God to feed them, and not once had he failed them.  Now as they prepared to enter the land they were to trust God, and once in the land—enjoying its luxuries, they were not to forget that everything comes from God.   

At the start of chp.11, Moses takes another lesson they should have learned from their time in the wilderness—a lesson to teach them the importance of obeying God.  Dathan and Abiram treated God with contempt and were literally swallowed up by the earth (see Numbers 16:1-35).  Through such events God reminds the people that obedience is important—as is spelt out in the rest of that chapter.

The rest of the second sermon is heavy going.  It contains lots of specific ways they are to obey God once in the Promised Land.  Their diversity reminds us that every aspect of life is relevant to God.  Some of them are extensions of the Ten Commandments, applying their principles for a new setting.  Many are designed to be a reminder of God’s absolute holiness.

But what about us, are we to follow all the commands that are given here?  We have looked at this already in our Bible overview.  The laws Moses gave to Israel were for the old covenant, not the new.  Christians are no longer under the law (e.g. Rom. 6:14). 

However, that does not mean that these verses are irrelevant.  When we read them we should look behind the law and consider what aspect of God’s character it is referring to.  For example, many of the laws relate to God’s concern for the needy—as we read them we remember that God is merciful. 

One last thing about obedience before we move on to the third sermon: Israel was to keep these laws out of love for God.  This was not supposed to be a dry, cold, legalism.  This was to be a labour of love.  In the same way, as Christians, we are to obey God out of love for him.  God has saved us, he has made us his people, and in response we ought to love him with thankful hearts.  And our love should be show itself in obedience.  As Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will obey my commands’ (John 14:15).

Sermon 3: ‘Happily ever after?’(Chapters 29-33):

As we reach the third and last sermon the unimaginable is about to happen—Moses is going to die.  He was the leader God used to bring them out of Egypt, who led them while they were in the wilderness.  In preparation for Moses’ death Joshua is endorsed as his successor (31:1-8), and the things that God had told Moses are written down (31:9-13).

In this last sermon Moses faces them with a choice.  It is a choice that all of Deuteronomy has been presenting to them.  Are they going to follow God when they enter the Promised Land?  It’s a choice between life and death; between God’s way and their own way. 

If they choose God’s way it will be like Eden all over again—they will be God’s people, in God’s place, enjoying God’s blessing.  If they choose to go their own way it will be like the Fall all over again. As Adam and Eve were removed from the garden, so they will be removed from the Promised Land (see chapter 28).

In the last chapters we see what Israel’s choice will be. Again they will choose not to follow him.  Continue reading through the Old Testament and you’ll see what happens.  We read of continued rebellion, idolatry, corrupt kings, and civil war until—in line with his warning in Deuteronomy—God tears Israel out of the Promised Land (first by sending the Assyrians and then the Babylonians to conquer and displace them—see 1 and 2 Kings).

So a book that began with such hope—a new generation about to enter the Promised Land, ends in disappointment—Israel will mess it up again!  It leaves us with questions: ‘what can be done to make a people who are obedient?’ ‘Is there any way that sin can finally be dealt with?’    

These questions point us to Jesus.  For on the cross Jesus broke the grip of sin in our lives.  On the cross Jesus opened up the way for us to be forgiven by God and become his obedient children.  Moreover, Jesus’ followers have the Spirit living within them, enabling us to put to death our sinful nature.

Conclusion:

The LORD is the one and only.  Who or what else is there that should command our greatest loyalty?

The LORD is the gracious God, who rescued his people from slavery in Egypt.  Therefore Israel’s fundamental response to him is to be one of grateful love.  A love that was to be demonstrated by trusting him and obeying him!

The LORD has rescued us from something worse than slavery in Egypt—slavery to sin.  Therefore our fundamental response to him is to be one of grateful love.  A love demonstrated by trusting and obeying.  This is a response we can make because Jesus has given us a fresh start and a fresh heart!

Extra notes:

  1.  Circumcision of heart points to new covenant (10:16)
  2. The purging of evil prefigures purging of evil from church (1 Cor. 5:13) and final consummation (Rev. 21:8)
  3. The curse anticipates the curse being dealt with by Jesus (21:23 and Galatians 3:13)
  4. Uniqueness of Moses prefigures uniqueness of Christ (34:10 and Acts:22-26)
  5. Jesus the unique prophet (18:18)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Wilderness wanderings (Numbers)


By the time we come to Numbers God’s people have experienced some amazing things.  They have seen how God delivered them from Egypt.  They had walked through the parted sea and watched as God drowned their pursuers.  They had been fed manna in the wilderness.  They had been delivered from the Amalekites.

                Now they are preparing to enter Canaan.  This should be an exciting time for them.  God has demonstrated that his power and his faithfulness, surely they will trust him and obey, taking the land that he has promised.  If only things worked out so well!

Preparation for entry: (Chapters 1-10)

On the first anniversary of the Exodus the Tabernacle was erected (Exodus 40:17), a fortnight later the Passover had been celebrated (Numbers 9:1-3), and a fortnight later again a census was taken.  Numbers takes its name from the censuses that are recorded in it.

We see this first census in chapter 1.  Note that this census is of all the men twenty years or over, who would be able to serve as soldiers.  This is preparation for war—the rabble that had emerged from Egypt is beginning to look like an impressive army.  Three weeks later the march begins.  The Tabernacle is dismantled and God marches before them in a pillar of cloud (Numbers 10:11-12).

How are things looking?  Things are looking good!

Entry Postponed: chapters 10-19

However, within hours of setting out the people start grumbling.  They complain about the conditions God was making them endure—especially with regards food and water.  They refuse to accept the leaders he has provided.  Most seriously, despite all the evidence of God’s power that they have witnessed as he delivered them from Egypt, they will not trust that he is able to bring them into the land.

Moses had sent out spies to explore the place.  They returned with fruit proving that it was indeed ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’, but the spies added that in their view the inhabitants were invincible (see chapter 13).  At this report the people wept.  Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, urged them not to disobey the LORD or fear the people of the land (14:5-9).  But it was no use, indeed the people talked of stoning them.

The people had treated the LORD with contempt, they had refused to believe in him despite the miraculous signs he had performed among them (14:11), and so God’s judgement fell upon them for their rebellion.  None of the adults of that generation, except for Caleb and Joshua, would enter the Promised Land.  For forty years they wondered in the wilderness, and there they died.

What has happened God’s promise?  In faithfulness to his promise he does not abandon it but, because of their unbelief, it is postponed.

Preparation for entry ‘again’: chapters 20-36

It would seem that by chapters 20 and 21 all the older and unbelieving generation had died.  The census of chapter 26 confirms this.  So at the end of Numbers we are again getting ready for entry into the land.  In preparation we see discussions on such things as inheritance issues—for when the people are settled, and the urgent question of who will succeed Moses and lead the people into the Promised Land is answered with the appointment of Joshua.  In these chapters God’s promises again come to the fore.  We see this in the story of Balaam. 

Balaam is hired by the king of Moab to curse the advancing Israelites, but Balaam finds he is unable to do anything but bless them, even quoting God’s promises to Abraham in the process.  Here is a pagan prophet incapable of nullifying God’s promise.  The Moabites, standing between Israel and Canaan, are not able to stop its fulfilment.

Numbers and the New Testament:

In both Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13) a parallel is seen between Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness and Israel’s forty years in the desert.  The temptations that Jesus faced were almost identical to those faced by Israel—relating to food, protection and idolatry.  But Jesus did not give in to the temptations.  He responds to the devil by quoting passages from Deuteronomy—passages that were dealing with Israel’s wilderness experience.  Jesus is the new Israel, where the old Israel failed.

Amongst John’s use of Numbers is the story of the bronze snake in the desert, recorded in Numbers 21:4-9.  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, we read in John 3, so the Son of man must be lifted up (a reference to the cross and his exaltation), that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:14-15).       

In the New Testament epistles (the letters) this time in the desert stands as a great warning to us.  As we have seen, despite being miraculously delivered from Egypt, and daily evidences of God providing for their needs, Israel refused to believe and rebelled against their Saviour.  God’s judgements against them are a warning for us.  In a passage that draws heavily from Numbers Paul writes, these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did’ (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-13).  Vaughan Roberts expands, ‘If we have faith in Christ, we too have been set free from slavery (to sin, not to Egypt) by a Passover sacrifice (of Jesus, not a lamb), and we have been set on a journey to the Promised Land (heaven, not Canaan).  We must make sure that we do not fall because of sin and unbelief, but that we keep on trusting God until we reach the destination.’ 

Extra notes on Numbers:

  1.  Redemption of firstborn (who would have died in the Passover).  Firstborn are replaced by Levities and offering for extra 273.  See Numbers 3.
  2. Miriam and Aaron complain about Moses’s Cushite wife (12:1-13)
  3. Korah’s rebellion (16)
  4. Aaron confirmed as High Priest (17)
  5. Moses lack of faith (20)
  6. Balaam in New Testament (2 Peter 2:15 and Revelation 2:14)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Reasons for God

Andrew Wilson asks, 'How can any thinking person choose God over science?'  He answers by suggesting four scientific facts that point to the probability of the Christian story over the atheist story.  They are:
(1) the sudden appearance of something out of nothing,
(2) the emergence of order out of chaos,
(3) the emergence of life from non-living matter,
(4) the emergence of consciousness.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What atheists believe about Christianity

David Robertson lists a number of things that atheists believe about Christianity:

1.  Christianity is a belief that's equivalent to a fairy story.  It is based on faith, which is defined as belief without, or contrary to, the evidence.
2.  The Bible is a primatial book written by illiterate desert shepherds who reflect the horrendous morality of their barbaric culture.
3.  Christians only believe because of their parents or predominant culture.
4.  Christians are intolerant bigoted fanatics and a bit dumb.
5.  Christians and the church are anti-science.
6.  Christianity is based on revelation, not reason.
7.  Christians are trapped, repressed and need to be set free.
8.  Christianity is the "regressive" position for society, a return to the dark ages.
9.  Some Christians do good things but it is in spite of, rather than because of, their Christianity.  Religion is seen as the root of all evil.
10.  Jesus is unnecessary.
11.  Suffering proves that the God of the. Bible does not exist.
12.  The Christian belief in the afterlife is pie in the sky when you die, and results in people wasting their lives on earth.