Below is a collection of short books and longer books. Feel free to take, use and copy this material. There may be some spelling mistakes in these, please let me know if you find them.

Jesus, was he real? And if so, then was he?

 Written by David Wilkinson

Thank you to my friend Mike who challenged me to ask the hard questions of my faith.

Contents.

  • Chapter 1: An introduction and Overview.

  • Chapter 2: What have people and movements said about Jesus?

  • Chapter 3: What does the Bible say about Jesus?

  • Chapter 4: A conclusion and few ending words.

  • Chapter 5: Reference list.

Chapter one: An introduction and overview.

What is the purpose of this book? It all started with a conversation I had in April 2016 with a friend of mine named Mike. Mike and I had a short chat in a bar about Jesus which led to me thinking deeply about why I believe in Jesus and what I believe about him. I spent some time putting my thoughts into writing and gathering together the thoughts of some respected thinkers – this book is the culmination of asking two important questions:  Jesus – was he real? And if so, then who was he?

Not everyone in the world believes that Jesus was a real person. Maybe you believe he existed, maybe you do not – I don’t know. For many years of my life I would describe myself as someone of disbelief, doubt, confusion and questioning. If you find yourself in that space, I can somewhat relate to you, and I hope you find this book interesting. If you would describe yourself as someone who has faith, but still with a lot of questions, I hope this book will be of help to you too.

The way that I have set this little book out is very simple. There are five chapters (including this one). In the second chapter I briefly list what different people and movements have said about Jesus over the past ± 2000 years. In chapter three I discuss what the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) say about Jesus. I know I’ve just mentioned the word Bible, but before you put this book down, you should know that there is more to the Bible than you might think! Try stay with me. Finally, I end with what I’ve discovered in this investigation and share my sources.

Chapter two: What have people and movements said about Jesus?

We have in our possession today (libraries, museums, the internet and so on) thousands of copies (and some originals) of ancient manuscripts, documents and books that articulate in different languages what various people, cultures and movements have said about a man named Jesus. Was he a real person? If so, then who was he exactly? I don’t intend to set out a comprehensive list of the different viewpoints across the last ±2000 years, but I’ve done my best to objectively list the most well-known viewpoints below (and tried as best I can to hold back any of my own opinions).

From the first century A.D. onwards, main stream Judaism has both mentioned a man Jesus and accepted that he was a great prophet, but rejected (and still do reject) the idea that he was God[1].

In the first century A.D. the Ebonite’s (who were a sort-of mixture of Judaism and other beliefs) believed in a man named Jesus. They would have said, “That Jesus was a prophet, a spokesman for God, but a man[2].”

During the first century A.D., some (non-Christian) historians wrote about the life of Christ (Jesus). Flavius Josephus was one such historian, and perhaps one of the most respected of the time. Josephus was Jewish and he briefly mentioned Jesus in his Antiquities of the Jews. He said, “Jesus who was called messiah…[3]

Along with Josephus there was a Roman historian named Tacitus, who mentioned Jesus in his He said, “Christ from whom they derive their name [Christians] was condemned to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius[4].”

Other historians worth mentioning are Suetonius, Lucian of Samosata, Pliny the younger and Mara Bar-SerapionDuring the first century A.D. Suetonius wrote a book called The Twelve Caesars. In it he said, “He drove the Jews out of Rome who were rioting because of Chrestus[5].” Here we see him mentioning a man named Jesus. Lucian of Samosata in his book The death of Peregrine said, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…[6] Pliny the younger, while writing to Emperor Trajan, “to seek counsel as to how to treat the Christians… explained that he had been killing both men and women, boys and girls… Pliny goes on to say that he also, ‘made them curse Christ, which a genuine Christian cannot be induced to do[7]’.” Later on in the same letter Pliny said, “… when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god…[8]” Here we see Pliny mentioning a person called Jesus. Lastly there was Mara Bar-Serapion who was a Syrian Stoic Philosopher. In a letter written to his son he compared Jesus o Socrates and Pythagoras[9]. In doing this he reveals that he believed Jesus was a real figure.

Gnosticism (a religious movement) in the second century A.D. mentioned Jesus. They taught that Jesus was, “an aeon which had never ceased to be spirit but merely seemed to be a man [10].”

In the second century A.D. a movement named Marcionism began. It began (you guessed it) with a man named Marcion. Marcion’s followers believed that Jesus did exist and that he was not a man as such, but was God only appearing as a man[11]. The Marcion movement taught that Christ “proclaimed a new Kingdom” and that he was crucified by his opponents. After his death, they believed that Jesus rescued some people from the underworld.

In 313 A.D., Constantine, the Roman Emperor, accepted Christianity as true. There has been much debate as to whether his faith was genuine or if it was a political move. Either way he came to see himself as “God’s kingly representative on earth[12].” Now whether this was wrong or right I won’t discuss this now, but what do know is that he was a forceful man who engaged in war – in the name of his god. From what I can figure out, it appears as though he believed Jesus was a real historical figure and that he was some sort of warlord to be followed.

In 325 A.D., a large number of church leaders gathered together as what has become known as the Council of Nicea, and there they agreed and wrote what was (and is now famously) known as the Nicean Creed. In this, the church communicated that they not only accepted that Jesus was real but that he was fully God during his life on earth[13]. They affirmed that Jesus was born in the flesh[14] (i.e. he was a man). What I find interesting is that all the Protestant Churches, along with the Greek Eastern Churches and the Roman Catholic Church have always (even up to today) agreed with what is affirmed in this famous creed[15].

In 451 A.D., many years after the Nicean Creed, another council (the Council of Chalcedon) affirmed both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus[16].

Tertullian (155 – 222 A.D.) who was a Christian leader and writer from Carthage taught that Jesus was, “both divine and human[17].” This shows us that he believed Jesus was real.

Clement (155 – 220 A.D.) who was a Christian Theologian from Rome held to the idea that Jesus was real and that he, “shed his blood to save humanity[18].”

Origen (185 – 254 A.D.) who was a Christian Theologian born in Alexandria believed that, “Jesus Christ is the Logos (which is the Greek word for ‘Word’) become flesh[19].”

Athanasius (296 – 373 A.D.) who was a Bishop in Alexandria emphasized, “monotheism (i.e. that there is only one God) and that God alone can save. God as the Son, God Jesus Christ, alone is the saviour[20].” During his life, Athanasius strongly opposed the teaching known as Arianism. To the Arianists, Jesus was not God.[21]

Augustine (354 – 430 A.D.) one of the greatest African Theologians and Philosophers firmly believed that Jesus was a real person. He taught that the bread and wine used during Communion (a Christian tradition whereby bread and wine are taken) are the symbols of the body and blood of Jesus. Ambrose, however, who was one of his teachers, taught that bread and wine literally became the body and blood of Jesus when the priest blessed it. Ambrose’s ideas greatly influenced the 12th century church and to this day Roman Catholics believe that the bread and wine blessed by a Priest during Communion, literally become the body and blood of Jesus. Whereas Protestants follow Augustine and say that they are only symbols of his body and blood.

The Babylonian Talmud, which is an ancient Jewish writing completed in the 500’s A.D., claims that Jesus was real, but that he was a, “false messiah who practiced magic and who was justly condemned to death[22].” The Talmud also claims that, “Jesus was born of a Roman soldier and Mary…[23]

By the first century A.D., Monasticism was in full swing[24] as many Christians sought after a simple, poor and relatively solitary lifestyle. Their view of Jesus was that he was a sort of ascetic who roamed around alone, avoiding most forms of wealth. It was during this century that many major debates took place as to who Jesus was. Some of the monks even claimed that Jesus had many natures[25].

In 680 and 681 A.D. a so called sixth council met to debate the will of Jesus. Some taught that, even though he was human and divine, he had one will and that was his divine will. The council met and agreed that he had two wills, both human and divine but that the “two were in harmony[26].”

By the seventh century, Islam had been established as a religion. The Qur’an (the primary text in the Islamic faith) teaches that Jesus (known as “Isa”) lived but that he did not die on a cross and was only a prophet[27].

An interesting difference of views on the crucifixion came up between Anselm and Peter Abelard. They both lived in the early twelfth century A.D. and both believed that Jesus was real. However, they differed in their belief of the crucifixion. Abelard believed that God did not have to die to forgive sins. He believed that the purpose of Christ’s life, death and resurrection was to show the love of God. Anselm on the other hand held to the view that humans have sinned and have broken God’s holy law. He held that we therefore need a saviour to pay for our sins. He taught that Jesus, the saviour, died to pay for sins[28].

Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274 A.D.) who was a Philosopher and Theologian, born in Italy, held to the belief that it is primarily through Jesus Christ that God’s grace is to be found. He believed that Jesus was Christ was born of a virgin and was a “GodMan” – both human and divine.[29]

Bonaventure (1221 – 1274 A.D.) who was a Theologian and Franciscan Bishop had a deep love for the, “Child Jesus and the crucified Christ[30].” He believed that when he mediated on the word of Jesus, “he experienced mystical empathy with the heart of Christ[31].”

The Crusades that took place between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries A.D. reveal some interesting views of Jesus. During the Crusades some people taught that a person fighting for Christ (i.e. fighting in the Crusades) would liberate themselves form sin[32].

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546 A.D.) who was a German priest, desired to see the Catholic Church reformed. He was a brilliant student who believed in being made right with the Father through faith in the Son (Jesus). He believed in the gospel. He claimed that he realised his own sin and saw that the only way out was by received the free gift of salvation offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus[33]. On a complete side note: I have met one of his descendants.

John Calvin (1509 – 1564 A.D.) was born in France but spent much of his life in Geneva, Switzerland. He taught that humans are saved by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He believed that religious authority was to be found in Jesus and not in the Church[34].

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778 A.D.) who was a writer and philosopher born in Switzerland “sought to gain understand” into “the life and faith of Christ[35].” Rousseau believed in Jesus as a historical figure and compared him to Socrates. He once said that, “if the life and death of Socrates are those of a wise man, the life and death of Jesus are those of God[36].”

In 1605 A.D. a document known as the Racovian Catechism was put together which denied the deity of Jesus but it did accept his existence. It was based on the teachings of a man named Faustus Socinus and it made known the teachings of Socinianism. This work, “also attacked the doctrine that Christ’s death on the cross was an atonement for man’s sins[37].” At some point near 1774 A.D. Socinianism became Unitarianism which was a movement that taught that humans are saved by character not by the, “blood of Christ[38].”

Bryan Williams quotes the eighteen century English writer William Paley in his book New Testament I, the life of Christ where Paley said that the miracles of Christ were evidence that he had heavenly origin and was the divine son. Paley believed that Jesus was real.

John Mill (1806 – 1873 A.D.) who was an English writer, philosopher and political economist, “believed in God, supported the ethical teachings of Jesus, but disavowed supernatural support for them[39].”

In 1830 A.D. Joseph Smith claimed that he received a message from God. Later, Smith began what is known today as Mormonism or the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is both divine and human, that he is the saviour and that when we submit to his will, the divine light inside of us all is awakened[40].

German born David Strauss (1808 – 1874 A.D.) was an influential philosopher and theologian of the nineteenth century. He doubted the accuracy of the records of Jesus and rejected the Virgin birth[41].

The French Joseph Renan (1823 – 1892 A.D.) published a book called Vie de Jesus where he describes Jesus as, “attractive, but unpractical and futile, a son of Joseph and Mary[42].” Joseph also taught that Jesus did not rise form the dead. He clearly did believe in his existence.

In 1910 A.D. Albert Schweitzer published a book called The Quest for the Historical Jesus: A critical study of its progress from Reimarus to Wrede. This book caused a big stir in its day because it challenged the traditional (orthodox) viewpoint of Jesus. On a more careful examination of this book I discovered that there have actually been three big quests to discover the historical Jesus. The so called, original quest (1778-1906 A.D.), included men like Reimarus, Harnack, Hess, Wrede, Weiss, Renan and Schweitzer. The second quest spanned the time from the history of the religious school to the new quest and included scholars such as, Bousset, Troeltsch, Hengel and Bultmann. The third and final quest is the new quest which started roughly in 1988 and continues to today. What is blindingly obvious from these three quests is that most of the scholars involved believed that Jesus did exist. What differs between these academics is who they believed Jesus was. Renan’s Christ was not the Jesus of history[43]. Schweitzer believed that, “the true historical Jesus should overthrow the modern Jesus.” To him Jesus was not a teacher but was, “an imperious ruler[44].” To Hengel, Jesus was compared to, “other types of Jewish leaders[45].”  “Harnack’s Jesus was the reflection of a liberal Protestant… Schweitzer’s Jesus had the demeanour of Nietzsche’s superman. The Jesus of the new quest sounded like the existentialist philosopher…[46]” Within these three movements the views of Jesus are indeed wide, however all believed he existed.

Bertrand Russell the famous philosopher claimed that, “historically it is quiet doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all and if he did we do not know anything about him[47].” He clearly did not believe Jesus existed.

“In 1969 A.D. the constitution of the SACC (South African Council of Churches) was drawn up… for purpose of membership. It applied formula accepted by the World Council of Churches., It is a fellowship of Churches confessing the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour…[48]” They accepted that Jesus existed.

In 1988 A.D. journalist Lee Strobel wrote a book called The Case for Christ and in it retraces his “journey from atheism to Christianity by interviewing thirteen leading experts on the historical evidence for Jesus Christ[49].” From his research he concluded by claiming that Jesus did indeed exist.

C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to[50].” Lewis believed Jesus was a real historical figure.

Hitler, Germany’s leader during World War II, seemed to echo Constantine’s opinion of Jesus. In his speech on April 12 1922 he said, “my feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them…[51]

In his book, Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris the famous Atheist and philosopher appears to believe that Jesus did exist[52].

Ellen Johnson on Larry King Live said, “There is not one shred of secular evidence there ever was a Jesus Christ … Jesus is a compilation from other gods… Who had the same origins, the same death as the mythological Jesus Christ[53].” She clearly believes that Jesus did not exist.

Gilbert Bilezikian in his book Christianity 101 says: “No serious student of history denies the fact that then man Jesus live in Palestine at the beginning of the first century…there are many people who believe that Jesus was an exceptional man, even an original visionary who set the course for new ways of thinking about life and about human relations. But they would consider any claim of Christ as having a divine nature a myth that was invented by the early church… Other theologians have proposed a view that Christ was an exceptionally righteous man, a holy prophet uniquely sensitive to God’s will… According to this view, while the teachings of Jesus should be followed, he cannot himself be considered divine… Today some evangelical theologians claim that Christ was equal to the Father in his essential being, but that he is in functional subjection to him[54].”

Bilezikian continues in his book to share his own views, which are that Jesus was born, lived, died and rose from the dead and is now reigning over the world[55].

Albert Einstein the world renowned scientist once said, “no man can deny that Jesus existed[56].”

Even though the famous Atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins once claimed that Jesus, “probably existed[57]” on further investigation it appears that he believes that Jesus did not.

In his book The Reason for God, Tim Keller, the New York City pastor reveals that he thinks Jesus did exist, he wrote: “Who then was the original Jesus? The scholars I read proposed that the real, ‘historical Jesus was a charismatic teacher of justice and wisdom who provoked opposition and was executed… After his death, they said, different parties and viewpoints emerged among his followers about who he was. Some claimed he was divine and risen from the dead, others that he was just a teacher who lived on spiritually in the hearts of his disciples…[58]

Josh McDowell, a famous writer claims in his book The evidence that demands a Verdict that: “Howard Clark Kee, professor emeritus at Boston University, makes the following conclusion…, ‘the result of the examination of the sources outside of the New Testament that bear directly or indirectly on our knowledge of Jesus is to confirm his historical existence, his unusual powers, the devotion of his followers, the continued existence of the movement after his death…[59]

Along with these comments and ideas I could mention Zoroastrianism which did (it was formed from as early as the 5th century B.C.) and does not accept the deity of Christ[60]. The Jehovah’s Witness movement sees Jesus as a created being, namely, an angel[61]. Hinduism teaches that there are many gods and many ways to paradise. It would of course make sense for Hinduism to accept Jesus as divine (as one of the many gods). The Docetists, Modal Monarchianists, Apollinarian Paulicianism, Monophysitists and New agers – all of whom deny the humanity of Christ but hold to his divinity[62].  Rudolf Bultmann who has, “separated the Christ of faith from the Jesus of history[63]” in his view of Christ, he is more like a Greek god. I could mention the gospel of Philip which claims that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married[64]. I could mention Mike Lawrence and Scott Burdick who both believe that Jesus did not exist or lastly, Charles Spurgeon (a nineteenth century Baptist preacher) who once said, “Your sin has been laid on Christ[65]” and “if you believe in Christ, you shall never die[66].”Both of these show he believed Jesus did exist.

As you can see I have done my best to briefly describe what some have said about Jesus. There are for sure many more quotes and comments that I could have mentioned. As you would have noticed – much has been written about Jesus, and there is much disagreement! Before we arrive in the last chapter where I pull together some final thoughts on all these various views of Jesus I want to take a look at what the Bible says about Jesus.

Chapter three: What does the Bible say about Jesus?

You may have seen that I have dedicated an entire chapter to exploring what the Bible says about Jesus. Why would I do this? Some people might say that I am favouring the writings of the Bible above other works. The main reason why I have given an entire chapter to the 66 book library called the Bible is because it contains eyewitness accounts of his life. Books such as Acts, Matthew, 1 Peter and John were written by men who have been recorded to have talked, walked and even eaten with Jesus. I do believe that eyewitness records hold a higher importance then non-eyewitness writings or words. Decide for yourself if what I am saying is right or wrong. In court, who will the judge value more – the person who saw the event (car accident for example) or the one who heard about it from a friend? The judge in court will hold the eyewitness account as more useful than the other account. I remember that once my friend Ian and I were called to testify in court against some men who mugged us. We were called in because we were eyewitnesses of the event. The same is true for written pieces about Jesus. The eyewitness accounts are surely, more useful. I do think that the other views on Jesus that are found in chapter two are useful. I do believe that we must listen to and read all opinions of Jesus. However at the end of the day an eyewitness account is more important when trying to discover Jesus.

When it comes to the Bible, I know that many people do not read the Bible. Just hearing the word Bible makes some people angry or close off. I know that many people in the world today do not believe that the Bible is to be trusted. They might say that it is a string of myths or a product of a game of broken telephones. In many ways I think I can understand someone who thinks this way because I myself did not always trust the Bible. I remember sitting in church meetings listening to a talk from the Bible and through some of it doubting the book that the preacher was reading from. I remember coming to the point where I thought to myself that I must do some research into the trustworthiness of the Bible. I took about four years to read and talk to people, all the time wanting to know if this book was unreliable or reliable. In the end I saw so much evidence that supports these documents that I just had to trust them. I am not going to spend time talking about the evidence now, but if you are interested them I suggest one or more of these books: Christianity 101 by Gilbert Bilezikian, The Bible as History by Werner Keller, Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ, The New Testament Documents: Are they reliable? By F.F. Bruce, What Christians believe: A Biblical and Historical summary by Johnson and Webber, The new evidence that demands a verdict by Josh McDowell, Tim Keller’s book The reason for God Or Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.

The answer to the first question (was Jesus a real person?) that the Bible gives is a definite yes. The answer to the second question (if so, then who was he?) is not that straight forward. I mean, how would I go about describing my wife? There is so much I could say. In the same way the Old and New Testaments says a lot about Jesus.

To help us understand what the Bible says about who Jesus was I have picked four (to be quick) bits of the Bible to look at. My goal is not to interpret these sections much but to merely quote them and say a few words.

The best way of making sense of any book, including the 66 books of the Bible is by reading it in its natural way [67], the way the author intended it to be read. Put another way, the way to gain the true meaning of any text is to see the “plain meaning of the text [68].” Put yet another way, if you want to discover that the Bible is really saying, not what people interpret into it is by using the whole book to make sense of the whole book. By cross referencing the meaning of any words or idea becomes clear. I will use these three methods on the passages below.

  • Acts 3:17-26. “Now, fellow Israelite’s, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah [the meaning of messiah is the, ‘sent’ or ‘chosen’ one] would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus….  For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days….” This is part of a talk given by a man named Peter who claimed to be an eyewitness and follower of Jesus. He gave this talk to a group of people who had gathered in the temple in Jerusalem (the one that fell in A.D. 70). He clearly though and taught that Jesus was the prophet promised beforehand who suffered and died. He believed that in this Jesus the messiah was to be found the forgiveness of sins.

  • Matthew 21:6-11. “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” These people (including the writer Matthew) believed that Jesus was the messiah, the son (or in the blood line) of King David.

  • Peter 2:21-25. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ’He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Peter said that Jesus suffered physically and this is an example for Christians – they should be willing to suffer to. When Jesus was insulted he did not fight back. This is an example for us. Peter believed that Jesus took on our sins in his body on the cross and died in our place. The consequence is that we can now die to sins and live for righteousness. Peter believed that we have all wandered away from our maker but that in Jesus we return home.

  • John 20:24-29. “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” In this account we can clearly see that John believed that Jesus rose from the dead and met with, not only himself, but others to – including a man named Thomas. This Thomas, after seeing that Jesus had risen from the dead- then called him, “…Lord and God…” John believed that Jesus was God.

Chapter four: A conclusion and few ending words.

  • How should I end this short little book? What could I say? At the start I mentioned that the aim of this little book was for me to put together some thoughts (mostly the thoughts of others, but a few of my own) on the topic of Jesus and to then see what turns up. I did this in the second chapter by quoting and discussing what many different people and movements from the first to twenty first centuries A.D. have said about Jesus. I continued doing this in chapter three, but this time I explored briefly what the Bible says about Jesus.

  • So then, what did I find? Four things:

  1. Jesus must have been a real person. I think that it can be said that Jesus did exist. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that supports this from not only the ancient New Testament (and Old Testament) documents but also from thousands of people from all different cultures and worldviews. Yes sure there are many people, especially in the last century, who claim that he was and is only a myth. There are, also many people in the last century who believed that he was a real person. Surely there was a man named Jesus who lived during the 1st century A.D.

  1. People seem to describe Jesus based on their own likes, dislikes, cultures, worldviews and religions, etc. To the weak, Jesus is weak. To the strong, Jesus is strong. To the religious, Jesus was religious. To the atheist, Jesus is not real. To the revolutionary, Jesus was a revolutionary. To the Agnostic, Jesus is unimportant. To the feminist, Jesus was pro-woman rights. To the racist, Jesus was a racist. To the war-lord, Jesus was a war-lord. To the communist, Jesus was a communist and so on. Is it right to see Jesus through the lenses of our cultures, worldviews, experiences and son on? I don’t think so. Why? Because of the danger that we may distort the real Jesus.

  2. Not all views on Jesus can be right? Think for yourself – how can Jesus be God but also not be God. How can Jesus both die for sins but also not die for sins. How can Jesus be a war Lord but also be one that children were comfortable around? These views contradict. Not all the views on Jesus can be right.

  • I do want to listen and learn from all people about Jesus. But ultimately I want my perspective of who Jesus really was (and I dare say is) to come from those who knew him the best. I believe that although I must and do and want to listen to all sorts of people (mentioned in chapter two) and what they have to say about Jesus I must go to the closest source to his life to find the answer. Since that source are all 66 books of the library called the Bible, this is where I go and in there I see that Jesus lived in flesh and bones (1 John 4:2), was a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15 and Acts 3:22-23), was a priest (Ephesians 5:2, Hebrews 9 and Hebrews 10), was a king (Matthew 2:2, Matthew 21:4, Matthew 27:11 and Revelations 19:11-14), was the messiah (1 Samuel 7), revealed the creator to humanity (John 1:18, Hebrews 1:13-17), was the Son of Man (which is a title for the messiah(Daniel 7:11-14, Matthew 9:6, Matthew 20:28, Mark 8:38, John 1:51, John 12:23, Acts 7:56 and revelation 1:1), was declared to be the messiah by others (Luke 9:18-20), called himself the messiah, was crucified for the sins of the world – to pay for them (Isaiah 53, Romans 4:25, 1 Peter 3:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:21), healed the sick and cleansed the lepers (Mark 1:40-45 and Mark 2:1-12), forgive sins (Marks 1:1-12), salvation is found in no other name, was kind to children (Mark 1:13-16). I end with a question to you – What will you do with Jesus?

Chapter five: Reference list

  1. (2011). The Holy Bible. Colorado Springs: Biblica.

  2. Bilezikian G. (1993). Christianity 101. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

  3. Blanchard J. (210). Dealing with Dawkins. EP Books.

  4. Breshears G, Driscoll M. (2010). Doctrine, what Christians should believe. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway.

  5. Eaton M. (2011). Preaching through the Bible, 1 and 2 Corinthians. Kent: Sovereign World Trust.

  6. Fee G. (2003. How to read the Bible for all it’s worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

  7. Green J, Mcknight S. (1992). Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press.

  8. Hofmeyer J, Pillay G. (1991). Perspectives on Church History. Pretoria: De Jager – HAUM.

  9. Keller T. (2008). The Reason for God. New York: Riverhead Books.

  10. Keller W. (1961). The Bible as History. Suffolk: Richard Clay and Company Ltd.

  11. Kuiper B. (1964). The Church in History. Grand Rapids: Christian Schools International.

  12. Latourette K. (1965). Christianity through the ages. New York: Harper&Row.

  13. Lewis C. (1944). Mere Christianity. London: HarperCollins.

  14. McDowell J. (1999). The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Texas: Here’s life Publishers.

  15. Spurgeon C. (1997). Discovering the Power of Christ the Warrior. Lynwood: Emerald Books.

  16. Strobel L. (1998). The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

  17. Strobel L. (2000). The Case for Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

  18. Williams B. (2000). New Testament I: Life of Christ. Bible Institute of South Africa.

  • [1] Latourette, 1965:13

  • [2] Latourette, 1965:42.

  • [3] Keller, 1961:357.

  • [4] Keller, 1961:357.

  • [5] Keller, 1961:357.

  • [6] McDowell, 1999:121.

  • [7] McDowell 1999:122.

  • [8] McDowell 1999:122.

  • [9] McDowell 1999:123.

  • [10] Latourette, 1965:43.

  • [11] Latourette, 1965:44.

  • [12] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:28.

  • [13] Kuiper, 1964:30.

  • [14] Latourette, 12965:47.

  • [15] Kuiper, 1964:281.

  • [16] Kuiper, 1964:33.

  • [17] Latourette, 1965:49.

  • [18] Latourette, 1965:49.

  • [19] Latourette, 1965:49.

  • [20] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:44.

  • [21] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:97.

  • [22] Strobel, 1998:86.

  • [23] Strobel, 1998:86.

  • [24] Latourette, 1965:69.

  • [25] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:44.

  • [26] Latourette, 1965:81.

  • [27] Qur’an 5:71-75.

  • [28] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:87.

  • [29] Latourette, 1965: 128.

  • [30] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:87.

  • [31] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:87.

  • [32] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:90.

  • [33] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991: 136.

  • [34] Hofmeyer&Pillay. 1991:146-147.

  • [35] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:185.

  • [36] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:185.

  • [37] Kuiper, 1964:282.

  • [38] Kuiper, 1964:282.

  • [39] Latourette, 1965:239.

  • [40] Mormon Website.

  • [41] Latourette, 1935:239.

  • [42] Latourette, 1965:239.

  • [43] Green&Mcknight, 1992:329.

  • [44] Green&Mcknight 1992:332.

  • [45] Green&Mcknight, 1992:339.

  • [46] Green&Mcknight, 1992:340.

  • [47] McDowell, 1999:119.

  • [48] Hofmeyer&Pillay, 1991:293.

  • [49] Strobel, 2000:263.

  • [50] Lewis, 1944:52.

  • [51] Harris, 2007:40.

  • [52] Harris, 2007:3-90.

  • [53] http://y-jesus.com/wp-content/tcpdf-pdf/1848.pdf

  • [54] Bilezikian, 1993:81-83.

  • [55] Bilezikian, 1993:51-83.

  • [56] Blanchard, 2010:68.

  • [57] Blanchard, 2010:68.

  • [58] Keller, 2008:101.

  • [59] McDowell, 1999:136.

  • [60] Latourette, 1965:14.

  • [61] Jehovah’s Witness Website.

  • [62] Driscoll&Breshears, 2010:235.

  • [63] Driscoll&Breshear, 2010:235.

  • [64] Driscoll&Breshears, 2010:56.

  • [65] Spurgeon, 1997:80.

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  • [67] Eaton, 2001:209.

  • [68] Fee & Stuart, 2003:18.

Life and Preaching of the Prince of Preachers - Charles Spurgeon.

Written by David Wilkinson

  1. Introduction.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (or Spurgeon) is the preacher that has been selected for this little book. Spurgeon lived during the 19th century in Great Britain and was a Baptist preacher. Having been hailed as the, “prince of preachers” (Piper, 2015:2), Spurgeon is a house hold name for any student of preaching (homiletics). This book is based on these five questions: Who was he? When did he minister? Where did he minister? What was his style of preaching? Why was his preaching special or famous? Spurgeon was chosen for this because he is special to me for many reasons, one being that his parents lived for ten years in Braintree, Essex – a town where Spurgeon once preached.

 

  1. Who was Spurgeon.

In a biography on Spurgeon’s life, Professor Robert H. Ellison recounts that Spurgeon was born “on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, Essex and spent his childhood and early years in Stambourne, Colchester” (1998). The place and century he was born in made him a Victorian Englishman. Spurgeon had not much formal education but was an active reader (Ellison, 1998) who, after his conversion began to preach. His preaching took him into the Baptist church, making him a Baptist preacher of the 19th century.

 

  1. When and where did he minister?

The place and time of each ministry assignment differed. Spurgeon began preaching in Taversham, Essex, England at some point in the early 1850’s. His second church was the Baptist chapel in Waterbeach (Ellison, 1998). This was all done before he was twenty years old. His success as a minister was impressive and soon a large London church heard about the boy preacher. Through some correspondence Spurgeon accepted a post in London at some point in 1853 which was his main preaching ground until his death in 1892 (Elison, 1998).

 

  1. What was his style of preaching?

Spurgeon style of preaching could be summed up by the word, Eccentric. Spurgeon was an Eccentric preacher, according to Spurgeon’s book Eccentric Preachers.  In the opening lines of his book he claimed, “I have published this little volume very, much in self-defence” (Spurgeon, 1). What did Spurgeon mean by, “Eccentric” (1)? In this book, he quoted this definition of eccentric, “it signifies deviating from the centre, or not having the same centre as another circle.” (8). Spurgeon recognised that this word had (even in the 19th century), “…come to mean singular, odd, whimsical, and so forth…” (8). However, in his mind, all this word meant was that an eccentric person moved in a circle different to the majority. This was how he defined himself as a preacher. Spurgeon was preacher who thought differently to the majority, acted differently to most. He preached in a different manner to most preachers and this made him, eccentric.

 

  1. What was his preaching special or famous?

In an assessment on his preaching, Steven Lawson claims Spurgeon preached, “the book, the blood and the blessed hope… he preached Christ and him crucified.” (2013). This was what made him so famous at the time and famous today. Lawson also claims that there were ten marks of his preaching that made him famous. For the sake of brevity, here are three of these ten. 1.) “He had an unwavering commitment to God’s word” (2013). Spurgeon used scripture to encourage people, to rebuke people and to teach people. He believed that we need to put more, not less, of God’s word into our sermons. 2.) “He had a burning passion for God’s son” (2013). Spurgeon believed that if we leave Christ out of a sermon we have failed terribly. Spurgeon said that, “we must have Jesus” in all our sermons. Lawson believed that if we, “lifted the hood” on Spurgeon’s ministry we would see that the engine that drove it all was Christ (2013). 3.)  “A complete reliance on God’s Spirit” (2013). Apparently in the Metropolitan Tabernacle where Spurgeon preached there were two platforms. He started the service in the lower platform and then before the sermon Spurgeon would walk up some stairs to the second platform. While we walked up these stairs he would say to himself, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Spirit….” (Lawson, 2013). Spurgeon trusted in the power of the Holy Spirit in his preaching.

 

  1. Conclusion.

In conclusion, one can clearly see that Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a very interesting man who lived a very interesting life. His preaching was powerful and touched many lives during his days on earth and many lives after. We can learn many important lessons from his life and preaching – one being the importance of preaching God’s word. This Eccentric preacher from the 19th century goes down in Church history as one of the greatest and most influential preachers to have walked this planet.

  1. Reference list.

1.)    Spurgeon, CH. Eccentric Preachers. Britain: Passmore & Alabaster.

2.) Lawson, S. (2013). The life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon. URL: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopupvideo.asp?SID=1271395305 (visited on 15/08/2017).

3.)  Ellison, RH. (1998).  Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Brief Biography. URL: http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/sermons/chsbio.html (visited on 15/08/2017).

Making sense of the book of PHILEMON.

 Written by David Wilkinson

This short book was written for all those who, like me are interested in exploring this world and its questions. Thank you to my wife Pam.
To the Lord be glory on earth and in his church forever.

Contents.

  1. Chapter one: An introduction.

  2. Chapter two: A verse by verse commentary of Philemon.

  3. Chapter three: Major themes in this letter.

  4. Chapter four: A few ending words.

Chapter one: An introduction.

Why read the letter of Philemon? This forgotten letter by the Apostle Paul took hold of my heart in a real way during the breakdown of two different relationships on two separate occasions. I was leading a service team in my local church and during this time two relationships took a massive blow. We were serving God together on his mission by taking the gospel into schools but had misunderstandings that turned into major relational tensions. The force of the strike almost derailed my desire to give my life to the local church. During these occasions I realized the need for reconciliation between Christians for the sake of God and his mission. If the church fights each other then we cannot fight with each other for the truth. Maybe you have had a similar experience? Maybe you have been hurt by another believer? If so then you like me understand the need for reconciliation for the sake of the mission. God is at work in this world bringing salvation (Acts 4:12) to humans and we get to join him in his adventure. However, we cannot do it alone, we need people (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 3:6-9). This is when things can get messy because like cracked pots, we are all broken (2 Corinthians 4:7). We misunderstand each other, become jealous of each other, get bitter and we say things we don’t mean – hurting each other. When broken people get together to do a task there will come a point where things get messy and relationships take a hit. This is exactly why this letter is so helpful, as it calls us all to overcome any barriers and to, “welcome” (Philemon 1:17) each other for the sake of God and his mission on earth.

LOGIC of this book.

  • There was a broken relationship between two Christians (Onesimus and Philemon) in the first century A.D. 

  • Paul, a Christian at the time, knew and loved both these men. 

  • So he sent Onesiumus back to Philemon in order to reconcile (redeem or heal) the broken relationship.

  • He did this because of the gospel of reconciliation that says that we have been reconciled back to God through the cross and empty grave of the messiah. Through being reconciled we are now partners who serve together under King Jesus.

  • Because of this, we must now seek reconciliation between people and people.

 

Chapter two: A verse by verse commentary of Philemon.

Date of letter: 60’s A.D.

Author: Paul the Jewish Christian.

First readers: Philemon (specifically) and his friends (in general).

Literary Genre: First century letter.

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

1:1. The Apostle Paul, earlier referred to as Saul (Acts 8:1-9), wrote this letter while in a jail cell (Colossians 4:18). He had been arrested and sent to jail for his belief and proclamation of Christ Jesus (Matthew 1:1). He wrote this letter with Timothy his spiritual son and faithful partner in the mission of the gospel (1 Timothy 1:2).

We see here:

Our church community can work together and be obedient to the Lord Jesus.

To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:

1:1-2. We are told that this letter was written to a group of people. There was Philemon, Apphia, Archippus and the rest of the people who met in Philemon’s home. Philemon, who was most likely a wealthy man, was a friend and partner of Paul and Timothy in the mission of the gospel (Philemon 1:16). Apphia was called a sister and Archippus was called a fellow soldier. By “sister” Paul did not mean sister by biological birth but spiritual birth (John 3:3). By “soldier” Paul did not mean a warrior who killed humans but a soldier who fought for people in the armies of the Lord, an army that fought the battle for truth (2 Timothy 2:3-4). Lastly there was the church that met in Philemon’s home. They often met in each other’s homes to pray, have community and hear the word being taught (Acts 2:46).

We see here:

Believers in the Lord Jesus have multiple, God given, identities.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3. Paul and Timothy sent all these people a blessing and this blessing was that the cup of their lives would be filled to over flowing with the grace and peace that comes from God the Father and God the Son (The Lord Jesus Christ). This blessing was used many times by Paul in other letters that he wrote (Colossians 1:2 and Ephesians 1:2). He used it because he knew that it was impossible for his friends to live without the grace and peace from God. The word grace means the unconditional favour of God and the word peace means the rest that God gives (in soul and body). The grace and peace mentioned here are wonderful. They are the mercies of the creator. They are what held up the lives of these readers. Paul and Timothy wanted the grace (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 and Romans 3:24) and peace (Galatians 5:22 and Hebrews 12:4) from God to be in the hearts and minds of the receivers of this letter.

We see here:

The true, triune God of the Bible, blesses his Church with grace and peace.

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

1:4-7. Paul was excited about the faith and love that he found living freely in the lives of the people he wrote to. He said that he thanked his God, when he prayed for them because he heard about their faith (trust) in Jesus and their love in action (1 John 3:18) for all the people of God (his holy people). We know that faith in God and love for people are two things that Paul often encouraged people for (Colossans 1:3-4). We know that this faith comes from the word of the gospel (Romans 1:17). God’s word is like a seed that when planted into the hearts of humans brings out faith (among other things) as fruit (1 Peter 1:23). It was faith alone in Jesus that justified these people (made them right with God) and it was this faith that produced love for people (James 2:14-26). Paul not only prayed about these things, but he also prayed that the work that these people were doing in the gospel would bring about a deepening in their knowledge of every good thing there is to be had in the Christians faith. Paul knew that as these people went out to take the gospel message to all nations (Acts 1:8) through various means (such as social justice, strengthening Christians and engaging with people who don’t believe), their own knowledge of God would deepen – this Paul prayed for. This Paul longed for. After these words Paul once again encouraged these people, for their love – their love for people. He had heard about their love in action through the sharing of meals, giving of gifts, encouraging with words, etc. This loved had refreshed the hearts of many people. This he was excited for!

We see here:

We, as the church can pray for people and thank God for people.

We, as the church, deepen our knowledge of God as we spread the gospel message.

We, as the church, can find joy and encouragement in the faithfulness of other believers. 

We, as the church, should value love and faith above many other, less important, things.

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

1:8-11. From verse 8, Paul along with Timothy moves onto talking about the main reason for this letter – reconciliation for sake of God and his mission. Notice, up until now that they had not mentioned reconciliation but they had mentioned the mission of God and God. From verse 8 Paul goes right to the heart of the purpose of this letter and that is to appeal for reconciliation between two people he dearly loved, Onesimus and Philemon. Paul started off by saying that he could be bold and order Philemon to welcome back Onesimus – but no; he would rather call him to action in love and on the foundation of love. Paul, being an apostle (Colossians 1:1) and a powerful apostle (Acts 19:11-12) could command Philemon to do what he should do. But in humility he chose the way of love (Psalms 86:15 and Galatians 2:20). Onesimus, as we see in this letter, used to be Philemon’s slave. However one day he decided to run away. At the point of his running he was not a believer in Jesus. However, while on the run, he developed a special friendship with Paul and it was there that Onesimus became a spiritual son to Paul. The phrase, “my son” was Paul’s way of saying that Onesimus had turned to the light (1 John 1:5) of Jesus and was born again (John 3:3). Before his conversion Onesimus was not helpful in the partnership (or forward movement) of the gospel but after he was born again he became a worker (Colossians 4:9) in the mission. This Paul told to Philemon.

We see here:

We want people to chose to do what is right.

We can strongly encourage people to do what is right. 

The weight of our conversations should be proportional to the strength of the relationship.

When necessary, appeal for reconciliation between people – this is part of the mission of the Church. 

All true believers are useful for the work of the mission of the Church.

12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

1:12-16. Even though Paul wanted to keep Onesimus for the sake of the forward movement of Gospel (Book of Acts) he decided to send him back to Philemon because he did not want to do anything without Philemon’s agreement. In the world of the first century, slaves were not necessarily like slaves are today. Slaves were very common and were legal. In fact many slaves were treated very well and wanted to be slaves. Just because someone was a slave did not mean they were treated badly. It is because of this that Paul told slave owners to treat their slaves well and slaves to work hard (colossians 4:1 and Ephesians 6:5-9). The reason why he did not condemn slavery was because it was not necessarily always a bad thing, like it is today. It was much like employment is today. Paul’s words to slave owners then would be similar words to people who employ people today. Paul then suggested that God used Onesimus’ decision to run away to reveal himself to Onesimus through Paul which ended in his salvation (Colossians 1:13). He suggested that this could have been in the plan of God. Since God is able to work all things for his will (Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28), it sounded like Paul said that God may have worked Onesimus’ run from Philemon for His glory. Paul continued on this thought and said that Onesimus had now returned not as a slave but a brother (part of the family of Christ).

We see here:

The body of Christ serves each other in the mission.

We should redeem evil cultural practices. 

When we become Christians we change ownership.

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

1:17-21. From verse 17 Paul’s request continued – he wanted Philemon to choose to do the right thing and that was to forgive Onesimus and welcome him as a friend. He wanted Philemon to be reconciled for the sake of God and his mission. Reconciliation is a major theme in the whole Bible. Jesus talked about being a, “…peacemaker…” (Matthew 5:9) and he prayed that the church, “…may be one…(John 17:51)” Along with this Paul taught the church in Rome that they should aim to, “…be at peace with all men…(Romans 12:18-21)”. In this letter we see Paul speaking about reconciliation again. Paul continued and said that if Philemon thought of Paul as a partner in the cause of Christ he should welcome Onesimus. This line is, for me the climax of this letter. It was when Paul called for reconciliation. The word, “welcome” implies not just a passive, “I forgive” but an active, “I forgive you and welcome you to come be with me.” Along with this request Paul told Philemon that if Onesimus had caused any financial harm to Philemon, Paul himself would pay. This was something Paul did not have to do – but he knew the importance of making right the wrong done. This is part of reconciliation. Reconciliation is more than just saying, “I am sorry.” It is also fixing what was broken. Paul seemed rather confident that Philemon would do what he asked. This may seem a little rude of Paul to have said this, but it was not. This would have been rude if they did not have a deep friendship. Paul however had a deep love and friendship with Philemon. This is clear throughout this letter. Over friendship lines this kind of request is perfectly valid. Paul ended off asking Philemon to prepare a bed for him – this suggests that Paul had stayed with Philemon before.

We see here:

Go to great lengths to help reconcile Christian believers.

Refresh the hearts of other Christians through reconciliation. 

Do more then what people ask (as long as the, “more” is of God).

22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

1:22-25. Paul (and Timothy) finished off the letter with a greeting and a blessing. A greeting from Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke. All of these people were Paul’s partners in the work of planting and growing churches and therefore Philemon’s partners. The blessing that Paul gave to these people was much like the blessing he gave them at the start of the letter. It was the grace of the Lord Jesus the Christ for their spirits (their whole lives). This grace is the unconditional mercy and love that is talked about in the whole Bible. It is this grace that saved Paul (Acts 9), empowered Paul through suffering (2 Corinthians 12:9) and made Paul what he was (1 Corinthians 15:10). This Jesus who gave this grace is not the Jesus of Greek mythology or anything else. He was the Jewish Jesus who came for the Jews first and then the Gentiles (Romans 1:16) – this Jesus it he Jesus of the gospel. This Jesus lived on earth, was predicted in the Old Testament, died on a cross and rose from the grave (Isaiah 53 and Romans 1:1-4).

We see here:

Host other Children of God.

Do ministry in a team. 

Jesus gives us grace.

Chapter three: Major themes in this letter.

Big Idea of the whole book:
– Be reconciled to people through Gods way for the sake of God and his mission. (Philemon 1:17).

 

Themes in this book:
– Friendship (Philemon 1:21-22).
– Grace (Philemon 1:3 + 1:25).
– Peace (Philemon 1:3).
– Prayer (Philemon 1:4-6).
– Love for people (Philemon 1:6-9).
– Faith in Jesus (Philemon 1:6).
– Family of believers (Philemon 1:1-2, 1:10, 1:16 + 1: 20).
– Workers for the gospel (Philemon 1:1-2, 1:24).
– Soldiers for Christ (Philemon 1:1-2).
– Salvation of people (Philemon 1:11-16).
– Making right the wrongs (Philemon 1:18-19).
– Appealing for things in love (Philemon 1:9).
– Partnership in the gospel mission (Philemon 1:6, 1:17).
– Understanding all good things we have in Christ (Philemon 1:6).

Chapter four: A few ending words.

Life is tough and friendships can take a blow. We say things that we don’t mean and we do things that hurt others Trust gets broken and we run away from each other. This is why reconciliation is an important topic to think about and teach. The church has a powerful source of strength for reconciliation – the person and work of Jesus. Reconciliation is not only necessary on a human to human level, but also on a human to God level. You see, we all have run away from God – choosing to do things our own way. But because of his mercy he has offered reconciliation to any person. No one is automatically reconciled – we need to respond to his hand of friendship. If we are reconciled we will find eternal life (now and after death), if we don’t, we will face eternal death (now and after death).
After working through this commentary (and the letter itself) I want to ask two questions, 1.) Have you been reconciled to God? 2.) Do you have a human in your life who do you need to be reconciled with? My prayer is that the words of God in the letter of Philemon may be used to change your heart and mind so that you may be reconciled to God, be reconciled to people and become more effective in the work God has asked you to do.

Reference list.

1. The Holy Bible – NIV translation. Colorado Springs: Biblica.

Exploring the Bible with a friend.

 Written by David Wilkinson

Exploring our world is awesome! Whether it’s walking in a park, climbing a cliff with ropes, hiking a pine forest in the snow or scaling a mountain. Exploration is glorious. So too is exploring the Bible. The Bible is a land to be explored and how glorious it is. Like with taking a walk up a small hill, moving through the Bible is normally (except on occasions) best done with a friend (or friends). I have spent much time in the Bible by myself and with others and I always prefer to do it with others because of both community that is built but also the insights that are found.

In Exploring the Bible with a Friend the idea is to go on various adventures through the land of the Bible with a friend. There are thirteen routes to take. Some are harder than others – so be ready. Find time in your week that suits your friend (or friends) and together meet to read the words of the Bible verses for that week and talk about what is said. Here are some questions to help guide you.

  • Why was this written?

  • What comes before this?

  • What is it saying about God?

  • What is it saying about me?

  • How can we obey it?

Route 1: A short walk in a city park.

Week one – Mark 1:16-20 and 1:29-34

Week two – Mark 2:1-12

Week three – Mark 3:7-19

Week four – Mark 4:35-41 and 6:30-44

Week five – Mark 8:22-26 and 8:27-30

Route 2: A quick walk in an forest.

Week one – Mark 10:13-16 and 10:35-45

Week two – Mark 8:30-31 and 9:30-37 and 10:32-34

Week three – Mark 14:1-11

Week four – Mark 14:43-72

Week five – Mark 15:1-47 and 16:1-8

Route 3: A walk up a small hill outside a town.

Week one – Psalm 150

Week two – Psalm 23

Week three – Daniel 1

Week four – Daniel 2

Week five – Daniel 6

Week six – Psalm 98 and 100

Week seven – Proverbs 1:1-19

Week eight – Proverbs 2 and 3

Week nine – Proverbs 4 and 5

Route 4: A hike up a small mountain.

Week one – John 4:1-42

Week two – John 5:1-15

Week three – John 11:1-44

Week four – John 20

Week five – Ecclesiastes 1 and 2

Week six – Ecclesiastes 3 and 12

Week seven – Genesis 1 and 2

Week eight – Genesis 3 and 4

Route 5: A climb up a big mountain in the Rockies.

Week one – Acts 1 and 2

Week two – Acts 3 and 4

Week three – Acts 8 and 9

Week four – Acts 10 and 11

Week five – Acts 13 and 28

Week six – Book of Ruth

Week seven – Book of Galatians

Week eight – Book of Philemon

Week nine – Books of 2 and 3 John

Route 6: An expedition up a snow capped peak, like Kilimanjaro.

Week one – Book of Ephesians

Week two – Book of Philippians

Week three – Book of Colossians

Week four – Book of Jonah

Week five – Book of James

Week six – Book of Jude

Week seven – Matthew 5 – 7

Week eight – Luke 7:36-50 and 10:1-24 and 10:25-37

Route 7: Ice and rock climbing in tough conditions, like Patagonia.

Week one – Genesis 6 – 9

Week two – Romans 1:18-32

Week three – Genesis 12 and Romans 4 – 8

Week four – Genesis 22

Week five – Exodus 1- 4

Week six – Exodus 11 – 15

Week seven – Exodus 32 – 35

Week eight – Deuteronomy 1 – 2

Week nine – Deuteronomy 3 – 5

Week ten – Deuteronomy 6 – 9

Route 8: An intense climb up an intense mountain like Mount Everest.

Week one – Numbers 12

Week two – Numbers 16

Week three – Hebrews 1 – 4

Week four – Hebrews 5 – 9

Week five – Hebrews 10 – 13

Week six – Joshua 1 – 5

Week seven – Joshua 6 – 8

Week eight – Judges 4 – 5

Week nine – Judges 19 – 21

Extra:

Acts 5:1-11

1 Samuel 3 – 7 and 11 and 17

Whole book of Kings

Route 9: A journey for single men and Women.

Week one – Ephesians 6:10-20

Week two – 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and 6:11-16

Week three – Philippians 1

Week four – Philippians 2

Week five – Philippians 3

Week six – Philippians 4

Week seven – Philippians

Week eight – Proverbs 1 – 8 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week nine – Proverbs 9 – 16 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week ten – Proverbs 16 – 23 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week eleven – Proverbs 24 – 31 (spend the whole week reading these)

Route 10: A journey for married people.

Week one – 1 Peter 3:1-7

Week two – Ephesians 5:21-33 and 6:4

Week three – Colossians 3:18-19 and 21-4:1

Week four – Titus 2

Week five – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Week six – Proverbs 1 – 5 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week seven – Proverbs 6 – 10 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week eight – Proverbs 11 – 15 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week nine – Proverbs 16 – 20 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week ten – Proverbs 21 – 25 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week eleven – Proverbs 26 – 30 (spend the whole week reading these)

Week twelve – Proverbs 31 (spend the whole week reading these)

Route 11: A journey for Church leaders.

Week one – Deuteronomy 1 – 10

Week two – Deuteronomy 11 – 20

Week three – Deuteronomy 21 – 34

Week four – Joshua 23 – 24

Week five – 1 Samuel 12

Week six – Acts 20:13-38

Week seven – Book of 1 Timothy

Week eight – Book of 2 Timothy

Week nine – Book of Titus

Week ten – 1 kings (spend the whole wee reading this book)

Week eleven – Philippians 1:12-26

Week twelve – Philippians 2:19-30

Week thirteen – 1 Peter 5:1-4

Week fourteen – John 21:15-17

Week fifteen – 2 Kings (spend the whole week reading this book)

Route 12: A journey for young people.

Week one – Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Week two – Proverbs 1

Week three – Proverbs 2

Week four – Proverbs 3

Week five – Proverbs 4

Week six – Ephesians 6:1-3

Week seven – Colossians 3:20

Week eight – John 20:30-31

Week nine – Proverbs 8

Week ten – Proverbs 10

Week eleven – 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and 6:11-16

Route 13: A journey for people looking into Christianity.

Week one – Mark 1:16-20 and 1:29-43

Week two – Mark 2:1-12

Week three – Mark 3:7-19

Week four – Mark 4:35-41 and 6:30-44

Week five – Mark 8:22-26 and 8:27-30

Week six – Mark 10:13-16 and 10:35-45

Week seven – Mark 8:30-31 and 9:30-37 and 10:32-34

Week eight – Mark 14:1-11

Week nine – Mark 14:43-72

Week ten – Mark 15:1-47 and 16:1-8

Every church needs administration.

 Written by David Wilkinson

Introduction.

In 2017 I had to do an assessment of the local church that I was part of at the time. I was living in South Korea and was studying my masters in theology through the Cape Town Baptist Seminary. The assignment was to assess the administration of this church. At the time I had no real idea of what church administration was. If you had asked me before this assignment what it was I probably would have said that it was the sending of emails, making phone calls and counting money. All the boring things a church does. Was I wrong, and was I proud and ignorant! I am forever grateful to Professor Harold for walking with me (over email) through the assignment. This short book is a result of this assignment and I hope that it will inspire you to take church administration very, very, very seriously. Thank you to Professor Harold for this assignment and my wife for encouraging me to finish my degree.

What is church administration?

Church administration is basically everything that a local church does. It is better described as church dynamics. It is unhelpful, dangerous and perhaps even un-biblical to define it with one word or one phrase. It starts with understanding what a local church (and the global Church) really is and why she exists, through to the running of a local church. It includes vision casting, evaluation, teaching the word, counselling, children ministry and prayer. It involves everything, absolute everything that will make a church run smoothly and effectively (Venter, 2002:14).

Why is church administration important?

Since it involves everything a local church does, it is critical that every church member and leader understands it. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of church administration. Some say that church administration is unbiblical. Some say that we don’t need it. They foolishly say things like, “just teach the Bible and pray.” Now teaching God’s word and prayer are two of the central practices (along with counselling) that the Church does, but to say that the only thing we need is to teach the Bible and pray, is over simplifying the matter. Common sense (a facility given by God because it belongs to God) tells us that church administration is inescapable, if we want to make a church work. The Bible also tells us that church administration is right. Paul the great prayer warrior and preacher spoke about administration or organizing in some of his letter (1 Corinthians and Romans are two examples). The Old Testament is also filled with people who organised Israel. People such as Moses, David, Nehemiah and Solomon. In-fact Moses was corrected by his father in law (Exodus 17) for not administering counsel in an appropriate and sustainable way. This was an administrative issue (Venter, 2002:16).

Many people do not like the idea of church administration. They say it is controlling and will, “stop the move of the Spirit.” These kinds of ideas are born out of human pride. Good, Godly and humble church administration will only help the mission of the Church. People who have a problem with administration have this problem because of the wrong attitude, a lack of training, a lack of discipline, a lack of insight and a lack of ability (Venter, 2002:17). What we need to do it to drink a few liters of humility and then gain the correct insight, training, discipline, attitude and find someone who has a gift in administration. When this happens, all Christians will see the important and blessing of good church administration.

What does church administration involve?

As I said above, there is much that church administration involves, so much that it would almost be foolish to ty map it out. Having said this, I would like to try and open the God given gift of administration as best as I can and help you to see some of what it involves. I want to do this so that you and your local church can build a church administrative plan that honours God and blesses people.

To build such a plan takes humble discussion that is guided by the Holy Spirit. Every local church needs to figure out what the running of their church looks like for them in their setting. Every church will have some similarities and some differences in the administration of their community. What is important to know is that it is dangerous to take what works for one community and apply it to another. This is dangerous because every city, town, road – community on planet earth is different.  You and your church family must figure out, with the counsel of Godly people and the infinite mind of our Lord and Savour Jesus how to administer the community.

Having said all this, here are eight pointers that are helpful for every church. See them as big ideas that each community will out work. Note that, even though they are different, there is a lot of overlap between them. Try to see they whole system of administration like a flexible, yet concrete scaffolding. A living, yet not living animal. Compartmentalized, yet holistic framework that needs constant work and improvement.

ONE – Mission and vision (goals)

According to Shawchuck and Heuser, a mission and a vision are two different things. The vision, they say, is an idea of what the church will look like if they are able to outwork their mission and other strategic goals. It is a, “desirable future” (1996:6). A church can have many different visions with varying length attached to each of them. The mission, they say, is essentially the purpose of the church. We know that the mission of the Church (globally) and every local church is set in scripture. In Venters book on Church Administration, he describes the mission of the Church to be twofold. One – to evangelise or, “make disciples” (2002:12) and two – to edify or, “teach them” (2002:12). This mission is echoed in David Bosch’s book transforming missions.

Since the mission is set for us by the Lord, the only thing left to do is for you and your community to discover what will the short and long-term goals of your church will be? What is the preferred vision for what we want to see happen?

TWO – Creating a plan using the challenges, need and opportunities.

The whole world has many challenges, needs and opportunities. Every country has many challenges, needs and opportunities. Every city and town and village has many challenges, needs and opportunities. Every church community has many challenges, needs and opportunities. These challenges, needs and opportunities must be discovered using survey, discussion groups and so on. Once they have been found you need to then work through them and, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Godly people, choose some that you can work on. I suggest that every community works with five to ten of these. The reason is because resources, in every community, are limited and so you don’t want to spend time, money, people, etc. on too many projects.

THREE – Organisation.

Simply put, the organising is done by finding the details of the plan. Who will do what? When will it be done? How much will ti cost? Where will it be done? And so on.

FOUR – Stimulation.

Stimulation, in church language, is essential the answer to, “how will we keep ourselves fired up on what God has called us to do?” Communities need fuel added to the fire of passion. Communities need to be encouraged to keep working at their God given goals. How will this be done in your church? Two practical ways are through training and evaluation. what else? This you need to figure out.

FIVE – Leadership structure.

Different churches take on different leaderships structures. Some use the elder/deacon model. In this model the church is organised into four groups of people: visitors, members, deacons and elders. The deacons and elders work together to administer God’s grace within his bride. Paul seemed to use this model. Another model is the business model. In this model there are four groups of people: visitors, members, various teams that do various tasks and then the CEO (lead pastor) who works with teams of people that work with and under that person. Like with the model above, each team works with each other. Each person reports to a line manager or the lead pastor. What will work in your context?

SIX – Common values.

We are all so different. We all grew up in different homes and in different schools and in different neighborhoods. Because of these and other factors such as when in history we grew up, our values are so different. These differences can quickly lead to conflict within a church community. Therefore, it is necessary to decide on what core values will run through the life of your church. These values must be discussed and used in every decision made and in every meeting. This way every person can find common ground. My suggestion is that you chose three to five common values. Why? Because more can make things confusing. Some values that I find very attractive are: humility, creative and honesty.

SEVEN – Communication.

Communication is one of the keys that opens the door of health in a community. Clear, simple and informative communication that is aware of the different ways people and cultures communicate must be explored. There are many forms of communication and so, every church community, must figure which form will best serve them. In the age of the internet, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, videos, emails and websites are most common. How will you and your church community administer communication?

EIGHT – Budgeting.

Money is a blessing from God that we can use for his glory and the good of all people. Through careful budgeting that is informed by the mission, goals, plans and so on discussed above, we can underwrite the work a church army. Careful budgeting and the stewardship of finances can be a powerful force for good. How will you and your community deal with finances and other forms of wealth?

One thing to think about.

I believe that one image of administration is that of a control room. Many modern factories have a control room from which everything works. These rooms keep everything together and in check – they guide the factory. Ships also have a room where people stand and keep a watch over everything. From this room comes the communication and all other matters.

I am convinced, that If a church allows the administration to be central (obvious God is ultimately central) – but central from a practical, day to day running’s of the church perspective, then every other ministry (such as children’s ministry, homeless ministry, preaching, counselling, mission trips and so on) can find their place much easier. I have worked in many ministries and/or churches where there is no control room from which people can keep a bird’s eye view of the overall running of the church. In churches and/or ministries like these there is much conflict and many misunderstandings which ultimately meant that we could not fulfill our calling. Churches and ministries that have no central control center are more likely to be dysfunctional. It is for this reason, that I suggest, that every local church uses administration as the bird’s eye view or control center.

Conclusion.

I end off with part of a sermon by CM Lockridge, ““The Bible says my King is the King of the Jews. He’s the King of Israel. He’s the King of Righteousness. He’s the King of the Ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of Glory. He’s the King of kings, and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King. I wonder, do you know Him? My King is an all-powerful King. There is no way to explain His limitless love. His strength never ends. He’s completely sincere. He’s eternally unmovable. His grace never dies. His power is that of a King and his mercy is the same for all people. Do you know Him? He’s the greatest celebrity that has ever walked on this earth… He’s the sinner’s Savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. There is no one like him. There is no one who comes close to him. He is the greatest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology. He’s the only one qualified to be an all sufficient Savior. I wonder if you know Him today? He gives strength for the weak. He’s there for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He strengthens and keeps us going. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick. He cleansed the lepers. He forgives sinners. He lets debtors go. He saves the slaves. He defends the weak. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He respects the old people. He rewards the diligent. And He beautifies the meek. I wonder if you know Him? He’s the key to knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory… His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. And His yoke is easy. And His burden is light… He’s indescribable! He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible. He’s irresistible. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hand. You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him…”

If this is the God we serve, if this is a small taste of our King and God – surely, we need to take church administration seriously? Why? Because we are marching in the army of the Lord and the Lord is worthy of all worship – even the worship of doing all we can to make our churches run smoothly and effectively. We want his name to be known in all the earth and for this to happen we need to figure out how we will administer the gifts he has given us, the preaching of the word, prayer, counselling and so on. I charge you and your community by God’s word (not mine) to go and build an administrative plan that can, by the Spirit power and through the Word of God, advance his fame.

Reference list.

Bosch, D (2010). Transforming Mission. New York: Orbis Books.

Lloyd Jones, M. (1971). Preaching and Preachers. USA: Zondervan.

Venter, G. (2002). Church Administration. Understanding Church Dynamics. Cape Town: CTBS.

Teaching and Preaching the Bible number one.

 Written by David Wilkinson

Introduction.

In 2009 I started to become interesting in a 19th century preacher name Charles Spurgeon. Charles Spurgeon has been nick-named the, “prince of preachers” (Piper, 2015:2). He has been called this because his preaching has changed the lives of millions of people. I am not certain why Spurgeon interested me, perhaps it was because he was young when he began to speak in public forums about Jesus, or maybe it was the Holy Spirit who put this desire on my heart, all I know is that from 2009 I have become increasingly interested in Spurgeon, and along with his life the preaching and teaching of the Bible. I have written on Spurgeon in another short book, this short book is however is the result of eight years of studying the art and science of the verbal communication of the gospel – teaching and preaching. I pray that God can speak to you and that you pick up this lost art and science that can and is changing peoples lives.

What is preaching and teaching?

Teaching and preaching are both the verbal communication of God’s word. By verbal I mean, words that come from a human mouth. Whenever someone speaks about what the Bible really says, which is what God says, they either teach or preach – or do both at the same time. I am personally convinced that this can happen no matter how large or small the group of people is.

There is also a difference between teaching and preaching. R.C. Sproul claims that there is a difference between teaching and preaching. He says that, “one way to illustrate the distinction… is to note the difference between the indicative and the imperative. The former tells us what is, the latter tells us what we’re supposed to do. Teaching, obviously, tends toward the indicative while preaching tends toward the imperative” (2012). Teaching appears to be more focused towards the head, but preaching the heart. One can teach and preach in one sermon, or one can only teach or only preach. They are not mutually exclusive – rather they are like two sides of one coin.

Why do we need to teach and preach?

Humans beings are starving for the glory of God says John Piper in his book The Supremacy of God in Preaching.  We are literally dying from spiritual starvation, because we do not know who God really is. Our minds are filled with lies about God and his glory. We need to know God, as Paul prayed (Ephesians 1:17). How do we get to know God and his glory? We can read, mediate on and memorize God’s words revealed in the pages of the Christian Bible, we can see God through creation – and we can also sit under the preaching and teaching of God’s word. My Chinese friend Roger Warr always said that if you want to get a sun tan, you go and lie in the sun. If you want to be filled with the knowledge of God – go and sit under the preaching and teaching of God’s word. We need to teach and preach because humanity is dying from spiritual hunger.

Below are ten pointers to help you teach and preach God’s word better.

The people you are preaching and teaching to.

Martin Lloyd Jones in his book preaching and Preachers said that we must understand the people we are preaching to and speak to them (1971:121-142). Whatever it takes and however you do it – know what they are thinking, what they struggle with, how they learn, what they need, etc. Do the hard research and build this into your teaching and preaching.

When thinking about the audience we must consider body language (non-verbal communication). The audience learns from our bodies as much as our words – so our body language is important to. Using our hands and eyes and arms and all our bodies to communicate to them. This is especially true when there is a language difference between the speaker and then congregation.

Let God prepare you.

As the preacher and teacher, you need to be prepared by the Lord to do the job. This takes time. In our world we love the microwave because we can heat food up quickly – this is not true of the character and skill of a preacher and teacher. We need to ask, seek and allow God to change us, mould us like a potter shaping clay. Actively want to be prepared and work with God as he prepares you.

In addition to this, I would add as Spurgeon does in one of his sermons, that we need to know that God is calling us to teach and preach. God’s calling into this task is an important part of the preparation. How do we know? Many say that when we have a burning desire to preach and teach, when all we could do with our lives is this one thing – that is one way we know God is calling us to this holy and important job. Like Jeremiah, is there a, “fire” shut up in our bones? Is the fire to preach and teach burning so strong in our souls that we must speak? If the answer is yes – then God has probably called you to preach.

Preach God.

Preach God. Fill your message to over flowing with God. Many books have been written on the importance of preaching God. Piper says it in his book The Supremacy of God in Preaching. We must center the whole message on the true, Triune God of the Bible.  Fill your messages with God.

Preach Idols.

In his book Church Planter, Darrin Patrick says that teaching people about idols is an important part of the work. The Bible is filled with the topic of idolatry. It was why Israel was exiled (2 Kings 17). It was why Solomon turned away from the living God (1 Kings 11). Idols are false gods that we set up in our hearts and worship. Idols bring sorrow, says Psalm 16 – and so we must teach our people about them. We must help our people find their idols so that they can, “throw” them away (Joshua 24: 14).  Fill your messages with correct ides about Idols.

Preach the mission.

One of the most famous books to come out of South Africa is the book Transforming Mission by David Bosch. It was written in the 90’s and it a large and extensive survey of the mission of the Church. He called it the mother theology. By this he meant that we cannot properly understand the Bible, Church life, or this world if the mission of the Church is not understood and practiced. If this is the case, which it is, we must teach our people about the mission of the Church. Every Christian is part of the Church (the Church being the world wide body of people who believe in and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior – loosely put). And so must be taught about the purpose, the mission of the Church because this is the purpose of our lives, as believers.  Fill your messages with the mission of the Church.

A one-point message.

There is so much that a preacher and teacher can speak about – so much. The problem is that too much will dilute the impact. We would rather find one big idea and hammer it hard into the minds and hearts of people so that it sticks and changes their lives, and the lives of those around them. This is what a preacher and friend of mine named Terran Williams says. There is more then enough in God’s word and in this world to preach for hours on one word, or one topic – such as Salvation or the Cross of Christ. Find one big idea and do all you can to make people see the truth of this Biblical idea.

The color of stories and illustrations.

If the doctrine is the outline of the picture that a preacher and teacher paints for their hearers, the stories, object illustrations, poems, quotes and analogies are the colors. A message needs lots of these colors to bring it to life. Make sure you add lots of these into your message – but be careful of making these colors the main meat of the message. The meat must be God’s written word.

These are helpful ideas to think about when preparing a message. They are: 1.) People learn better when they experience. 2.) People learn better in a comfortable environment. 3.) People learn better when they can discuss what they are learning. 4.) People are motivated to learn when the answer is not obvious. 5.) People learn better when they can chose what they learn. 6.) People learn better when they can translate the ideas into the language they understand. 7.) People learn better when they care challenges to be creative. 8.) People learn better in different environments. 9.) People learn better from people who care. 10.) People learn better when the lessons affect their lives.

Conclusion.

In this short book I have shown what teaching and preaching are – they are the verbal communication of Gods words. I discussed why we need to teach and preach – people people are dying from spiritual starvation. I then talked about some important pointers that should be considered by anyone wanting to teach or preach. Now, at the end, we are left with a choice. Will we seek the Lord and speak his words or not? Will we ask for more of his Spirit to do the work that can change people lives or not? Will we ask God to prepare us to teach and preach his word sin the power of the Holy Spirit or not? I call you in the name of Jesus to go and do this work! Amen.

Reference list.

Bosch, D (2010). Transforming Mission. New York: Orbis Books.

Lloyd Jones, M. (1971). Preaching and Preachers. USA: Zondervan.

Patrick, D. (2010). Church Planter. USA: Crossway Books.

Piper, J. (2015). Supremacy of God in Preaching. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Sproul, R. (2012). Whats the difference between teaching and preaching. URL: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/whats-difference-between-teaching-and-preaching/ (visited on 30/09/2017).

 

The Holy Spirit.

 Written by David Wilkinson

Introduction.

In 2017 I went camping out in a forest in in South Korea with two friends, Kris Wang and Ben. We were roughing it out – sleeping under a bamboo made shelter with a blue waterproof tarpaulin. While we cooked our food and sat around, we spoke about many things including the Christian message. While discussing these things, Ben said that he can see that the Bible speaks about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit – but it doesn’t fully make sense.

Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? Who does the Holy Spirit work with? Are just three questions that I asked myself after this conversation. Having skim read a book by Francis Chan called The Forgotten God some years before this trip I decided to revisit this part of Christian doctrine .

Who is Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God. The creator of the Universe – God, is triune in nature. The word trinity, although not found in the Bible, is a word that describes in one word who the God of the Universe, the creator is. The word Trinity simply means that God is: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – AND one God. All three persons mentioned are all one God and three different persons. One community of God, Not three Gods and not just one God. One God who is more than one. Three distinct person who are all God – yet one. Unity and diversity (Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:13. Luke 1:35. Matthew 3:16-17, Romans 14:17-18, 1 Peter 1:1-2).

 “…and we believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the Lord, the giver of life.
      He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
      and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
      He spoke through the prophets….” Nicene Creed

“Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and is called the third person in the Trinity. Is the Holy Spirit divine? Yes, the Holy Spirit is God.” John Broadus

What does the Holy Spirit do?

The Holy Spirit does many things – since He is God. Here are SOME of what He does:

  • He works in the life of a Christian – changing them, as they are led by His voice (Galatians 5 and 6).

“You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give. In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief but a psychological cataclysm. If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love “in the bank” to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment.” Tim Keller

“In my experience, self-hatred is the dominant malaise crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit.” Brennan Manning

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  • He grows the Church – empowering her to be all she can be. He empowers us to do this work. One of the main ways is through the gifts He gives (Book of Acts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-10, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Peter 4:11, Ephesians 4:11-13).

 “The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely a human creation. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.” Francis Chan

“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.” Corrie Ten Boom

 “When you strip it of everything else, Pentecost stands for power and life. That’s what came into the church when the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost.” David Wilkerson

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  • He gives us the love of God (Romans 5:5-6).

 “It is the Spirit that sheds the love of God abroad in their hearts, and the love of all mankind; thereby purifying their hearts from the love of the world, from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. It is by Him they are delivered from anger and pride, from all vile and inordinate affections.” John Wesley

 “Without the Spirit we can neither love God nor keep His commandments.” Augustine

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  • He shows us Jesus (the truth) and makes us aware of false teachers (1 John 4:2, John 14:15-31 and John 15:26-15).

 “The indwelling Spirit shall teach him what is of God and what is not. This is why sometimes we can conjure up no logical reason for opposing a certain teaching, yet in the very depth of our being arises a resistance” Watchman Nee

“And most of all, remember that He who rose from the dead, rose to pour our His Holy Spirit into human lives, and, by that Spirit, to make available to any individual all the fullness of Himself, twenty-four hours a day.” Ray Stedman

“… [Holy Spirit] takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.” Billy Graham

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  • He lives inside of believers in the Lord Jesus – making us the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, John 14:15-31 and John 15:26-15).

 “Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”  N.T Wright

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  • He makes us children of God (Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6).

“The spirit of bondage works by fear for the slave fears the rod: but love cries, Abba, Father; it disposes us to go to God, and behave ourselves towards God as children; and it gives us clear evidence of our union to God as His children, and so casts out fear. So that it appears that the witness of the Spirit the apostle speaks of, is far from being any whisper, or immediate suggestion or revelation; but that gracious holy effect of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the saints, the disposition and temper of children, appearing in sweet childlike love to God, which casts out fear or a spirit of a slave.” Johnathan Edwards

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  • He empowered people to write the Word of God (2 Peter 1:21).

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  • He gives us the new birth (John 3:6-1).

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  • He helps us to pray (Romans 8:26-27).

 “The true spirit of prayer is no other than God’s own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tends to God in holy breathing’s and panting’s. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer.” Jonathan Edwards

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  • He speaks to us (Hebrews 3:7-11, Ezekiel 2:2. Matthew 10:19-20 and John 16:13).

 

Who does the Holy Spirit work with?

He will work with anyone who is humble enough to lean on God’s word and pray . The people in the history of the Bible who He worked with were the broken and desperate. The people in history (since the finishing of the Bible) who He worked with were the weak and humble. He works with those who are most in need of him – he loves us work through those desperate for him (1 Peter 5:5-6, James 4:6).

 

“To pray in the Holy Spirit simply means to lean upon His divine help as we pray.” William Thrasher

“Everybody gets to play.”  John Wimber

“When we pray for the Spirit’s help … we will simply fall down at the Lord’s feet in our weakness. There we will find the victory and power that comes from His love.” Andrew Murray

One interesting article on the Holy Spirit is by J.D Greear. In it he wrote that the Holy Spirit is experienced: 1.) In the gospel (we are sealed with Spirit when we are born again), 2.) Through the Word of God, 3.) Through the Church (guidance, etc.), 4.) In our gifting’s (as we use them he guides us), 5.) In our spirit (he puts dreams, etc. in our souls) and 6.) Through circumstances.

Is He important?

Yes, for all the above reasons. He is vital for any believer in the Lord Jesus. He is how Jesus leads us and guides us. He is how Jesus wants to change us. The work of the Spirit in our lives is what is means to be a Christian.

 

The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.” AW Tozer

Conclusion.

I will end off with this quote by Francis Chan.

“…are you willing to pursue truth in your journey to know and be known by the Holy Spirit? Do you have enough humility to be open to the possibility that you have been wrong in your understanding of the Spirit? It’s easy to get into “defensive mode,” where you quickly disagree and turn to proof texts and learned arguments to defend what you’ve always believed. Rather than guarding your perspective, consider taking a fresh look at familiar passages to make sure you haven’t missed something. You may end up with the same theology you’ve always had, but maybe you won’t. Don’t let your views be determined by a particular denomination or by what you’ve always been told. Within the context of relationship with other believers, seek out what God has said about His Spirit. Open up your mind and your life to the leading of the Spirit, regardless of what others may think or assume about you.”

I believe that the secret is to seek the Spirit. To desire His work in your life and in the lives of others. Then to step out and just do something bold for the glory of the Lord. Pray for someone to be healed, speak the gospel to a friend, maybe even try and use some of the other spiritual gifts. There is no rule to this – it is a relationship with God and so each of us needs to figure out how we are going to access the Spirits life and power for His glory – NOT out glory.

Reference.

Short sayings and Poems.

 Written by David Wilkinson

On Change

Be aware that many molecules might just morph into a multiple amount of new shapes and sizes, if placed under the right conditions.

The rocks frowned at us yesterday as we tried to climb them.

The rocks smiled at us today as we climbed them.

What will the rocks do tomorrow when we try to climb them?

 

 

On the Church

The Church is like a guitar, playing a song to the world of God’s great grace.

 

 

On preaching

Preachers, may we be wise and pick up the old golden tipped arrows of life that were fired from the mouths of many mighty warriors in Church history and use them today to pierce the hard hearts of people – saving them from certain death.

 

 

On God

The name of the Lord is a raging river that removes the dirt of sin from our souls.

The name of the Lord is a perfectly painted picture that should be looked at all day long.

The name of the Lord is a sweet smelling smell that slowly moves through our world bringing newness to the dark decay of death.

The name of the Lord is a life boat that lifts us up as we live lost lives. It saves our souls from sins evil.

The name of the Lord is food for our minds, making us like mighty trees that stand tall, providing places for people to come to and find peace.

The name of the Lord is worth the worship that we can give it. Let us move on from the worthless worship of worthless idols and live for the name of the Lord.

 

 

On work and purpose

My dog does not do anything else during the day except dig deep holes in the dirt, and in the end, my garden looked magnificent.

 

 

On vision

The right picture is a powerful thing. It inspires the soul. It motivates the mind. The right picture is a powerful thing. It keeps up going against giants. It stops conflict in communities. The right picture is a powerful thing. It is a joy to look at and it is a reason to sing. The right picture is a powerful thing.

Paul had the right picture when he sat in a Roman prison – a dark and damp place of rats and moldy bread. His environment was anything but exciting, but he could still sing, he could still rejoice, he could still write books, he could still stay motivated – why? Because he had the right picture in his heart. It was the picture of Jesus, and the mission Paul was given. Paul held onto this image so tightly, that nothing or no one could take it away from him. The glory of Jesus was so tattooed onto his mind that even in the hardest moment he could still stay inspired. The glory of the mission of the church was bolted so tightly into his heart that even the strongest winds could not take it off.

The right picture is a powerful thing. It inspires the soul. It motivates the mind. The right picture is a powerful thing. It keeps up going against giants. It stops conflict in communities. The right picture is a powerful thing. It is a joy to look at and it is a reason to sing. The right picture is a powerful thing.

How to do the work God has for us to do?

 Written by David Wilkinson

Our King and Savior Jesus has given us the wonderful and important work of making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), fishing for people – so they know the Lord (Mark 4:19), feeding His sheep (John 21:15-17), witnessing to the gospel of grace (Acts 1:8) and so on. This work (the work of the gospel) is important. How then do we do this wonderful work?  Here are four actions that I have found to work beautifully. Give them a try and as you do remember to NEVER treat people like projects or objects, but like valuable and beautiful creatures – made in the image of God.

1.) Use what you enjoy doing to do this work. We all have hobbies (things we enjoy) and there are other people who enjoy doing these things to. We can, therefore, do what we enjoy doing and invite people along and in the process let Jesus walk from your life to theirs.

E.g. If you enjoying running then start or join a running club.

2.) Join and serve in a ministry at church that the Spirit leads you to.

E.g. Youth ministry, counseling ministry, etc.

3.) Invite people you know to go on an intentional retreat. There are so many things to distract us from hearing Gods voice and obeying it. So what we need, often, is to get away from the distractions of life, leave our phones and computers alone and to pray, mediate on God in silence, have spiritual conversations and enjoy Gods word. If you enjoy camping – go camping for 1 day, 1 night or more. If you don’t enjoy camping then rent a house. Take some people along and retreat to hear Gods voice.

4.) Invite people into your home. We don’t need much money or a fancy house to have people in our homes. By doing this we create the environment to do Gods work.

5.) Go and find a way of blessing people in the public. Christians have done public ministry for hundreds of years. Some times it is done well, other times not. I have heard and seen believers in the Lord Jesus doing it in a way that – to be honest, from my perspective – does more harm for the name of Jesus then good. This does not mean that we get rid of the idea of doing Gods work in public. This just means that we need to pray and think more before doing it.

Satan and his army of Demons.

Written by Dave Wilkinson

“Don’t think of Satan as a harmless cartoon character with a red suit and a pitchfork. He is very clever and powerful, and his unchanging purpose is to defeat God’s plans at every turn.” Billy graham

C.S. Lewis once said that we usually fall into one of two errors when thinking about Satan and his Demons. We either ignore and/or believe that him and his army do not exist. Or we focus on (obsess over) Satan, and see his Demons in any and every situation. I believe that what C.S. Lewis said was and was onto something when he said this. My reason for saying this is because Gods word, the Bible, does talk a lot about Satan and his Demons, but it does not obsess over (or focus on) him.

Last week I wrote an article about a personal experience where through prayer I was delivered of demons that had been oppressing me for many years. I wanted to follow that experience up with what the Bible tells us about Satan and his Demons. It is my aim to be as faithful to the Bible as I can and so if I get something wrong, please have grace on me and show me my mistake.

Universal facts about Satan and his Demons.

  • By Universal I mean – facts that are still true today.

  • Are all the facts below 100% accurate? The Bible does seem to say these things. However, since the Bible is not crystal clear on the doctrine of Satan and his Demons, we must always hold some of these ideas loosely.

Satan and his Demons are all spiritual beings who live on this earth (Matthew 12:43-45). They are utterly corrupt and only do evil, all the time. They are not our friends and never will be – they are our enemies and the enemies of God (Zechariah 3:1-2 and Ephesians 6:11-13).

It appears that the Bible claims that Satan was once a powerful angel, but that he rebelled because of pride and took with him a third of the angels (who we now call Demons). When this happened, he was thrown out of heaven (Ezekiel 28:11-19, Jude 1:6 and 2 Peter 2:4). Apparently Satan still has access to heaven, but not to his same place of authority (Job 1:6-12 and Zechariah 3:1-2). The Bible is clear that Satan and his Demonic army exist, they are living in darkness (2 Peter 2:4) and they rule (somewhat) on this earth (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Satan is an intelligent being who knows the Bible very well (Matthew 4:1-11), as well as the foolish human heart. Satan (and his Demons) know that God is real (James 2:19) and who the Son of God was when He walked the earth as the man Jesus (Luke 8:28, Mark 3:11 and Mark 1:23-24).

 What does Satan look like? The Bible does not tell us exactly, but he did once take the form of a snake (Genesis 3) and can also appear as an, “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). This means that sometimes when we see Satan, we see someone who looks good and attractive – but really he is evil..

We are told that Satan he has been sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8). The beginning of what? Not the beginning of all things because only God has existed from before all things spiritual and material came into existence. The beginning that John talked about must have been from the beginning of either human existence or the beginning of the material universe. We are told by Jesus that three of the actions that Satan does wrong is that he is a murderer, a liar and a deceiver (Revelations 20:10). He is even called the, “father of lies” (John 8:44). The first humans, in-fact, were lied to by Satan (Genesis 3:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 11:3). Jesus said that Satan has come to, “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10) and that he is like a roaring lion, trying to destroy all that is Gods (1 Peter 5:8-9).

What does Satan do?

  • Note that there is confusion and disagreement about how much Satan can still do today (after the coming of the Messiah). I will list here what we know Satan and his Demons have done (before and after the first coming of the Christ), and then in the conclusion share what I believe Satan and his Demonic army can and are still doing today.

Satan and his Demons:

  1. Accused Christians (Revelation 12:10).

  2. Tempted people (1 Corinthians 7:5 and Matthew 4:1-11).

  3. Lied to people (John

  4. Blinded the mind of unbelievers, stopping them from knowing the truth of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

  5. Owned people (John 8:44 and revelation 2:8-17).

  6. Hurt or inflicted pain on people (2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Mark 9:17-27 and Mark 5:5).

  7. Possessed or entered people (Luke 8:30 and John 13:27).

  8. Could repossess people if they did not turn in repentance to the Lord (Matthew 12:43-45),

  9. Made people stop the work of God (Matthew 16:23 and 1 Thessalonians 2:18).

  10. Empowered people to do great and mighty miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

  11. Made people mute and deaf (Matthew 12:22, Mark 9:17-27 and Matthew 9:32-33).

  12. Terrorized people, if the Lord allowed (1 Samuel 16:14).

  13. Were worshiped (or sacrificed to) (Deuteronomy 32:17, Leviticus 17:7, Psalm 106:37, Revelation 9:20, 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 1 Corinthians 10:20).

  14. Taught false ideas and people followed them (1 Timothy 4:1).

  15. Filled the hearts of people (Acts 5:3 and Luke 22:1-6).

Satan and his army are defeated.

Someone once likened Satan and his Demons to Germany during World War II. During World War II the Allies (UK, Britain, etc.) fought against the evil invasion of the Germans in Europe. On D-Day the Allies invaded Europe and even though it would still be a few months before the War would officially end, the way was over on D-Day. In this same way, when Jesus – God the Son lived, died and rose he defeated Satan and his Demons once and for all – the war was over. However, over the past two thousand years since this historic event, Satan and his Demons have still been causing havoc.

Satan is a defeated foe. He was defeated by non-other than God the Son, the messiah who conquered him in his life, death and resurrection (1 John 3:8, John 10:10).

The people in the New Testament had no need to fear Satan or his Demons (Isaiah 41:10) because of the work of Christ. Those who belonged to King Jesus, overcame Satan by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11). Those who were born again (John 3), defeated Satan and his Demons through resisting him (James 4:8 and 1 peter 5:8-9). Paul told the church in Rome that, “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20) – in other words, God defeated Satan on their behalf. Humans do not have the power to overcome Satan and his army on their own, but those people then could defeat Satan by hiding under the name of the Lord (Zechariah 3:1-2 and book of Jude). Paul told the Ephesian church that they do not struggle against flesh and blood, but against the evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. These evil forces are Satan and his Demons. Paul continued to say that they must stand firm against him (Ephesians 6:11-16). Satan is an enemy of the church and through forgiveness, the early church prevented Satan from outwitting them (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). Unforgiveness is one way we step into Satan’s trap. Jesus, who himself has the power of Satan and Demons (Matthew 8:10, Matthew 4:10, Matthew 8:31, Mark 5:12, Luke 10:17, Matthew 17:18 and Luke 13:32) gave the twelve apostle the authority over Satan (Mark 3:15 and Acts 16:18, Acts 19:12, Acts 5:16). There was at-least one person who did not belong to the group of close disciples, who prayed for deliverance from Demons (Mark 9:38). Evil spirits can recognize those people who belong to Jesus (Acts 19:15) and if people, who do not belong to Jesus try and cast out demons, they could get a beating (Acts 19:13). In other words – we have no power on our own.

At the end of the age when Jesus returns he will cast Demon and Satan into the pit prepared for them (Matthew 25:41).

What does this mean for us today?

In conclusion, having studied what the whole Bible says (and what we see see in the world) – this is what we know. Satan and his Demons are still alive and are still doing their work of destruction. They still hate God and his church and are still doing all they can to hurt and inflict suffering on as many people as possible. What does this practically look like? I can confidently say that it looks like: temptation, church splits, adultery, false ideas about God, unforgiveness, murder and so on. Am I saying that people who do these things are not responsible for their own actions? No way! All I am saying is that Satan and his demons want these things to happen and so do all they can to make them.

How else are they working? I think it is safe to say that people who are not in the Kingdom of God can be oppressed and possessed (tormented) by Demons in their minds, bodies, souls, etc. This can happen because they have no power on their own to defeat Satan and his Demons, since they have rejected Jesus (who is the only one who can save). They make themselves easy and unprotected targets and soon, through their own choices – become overwhelmed with Demonic activity. But what about born again believers? What about children of God? What about those who have the Spirit of God in their lives? What about those who are being protected by God? Well it appears that Paul was inflicted by some work of Satan (mentioned above) – so we know that this can happen, even to a believer. If it happened to Paul, could it not happen to us? In addition to this, the New Testament tells the story of Ananias and Sapphire (arguably believers) who had their hearts filled with Satan. This clearly appears to be Demonic influence. The Demons worked in their lives and they lied to God. I am sure many people will disagree with me on this point, but I believe that if a Christian opens their life to Satan and his Demons, they give him the right to come and inflict all sorts of torment in their minds, bodies, soul, etc. Having said this, Jesus can deliver that Christian and he does. I do not believe that a Demon can live inside a Christian, but I do believe that Demons can oppress form the outside. At the end of the day, we must stay humble and resist Satan in the name of Jesus.

A Theology on Domestic Animals.

Written by David Wilkinson

Introduction.

Domestic animals, which we also call tame animals (not wild), have been part of human cultures for generations and generations. Many of us have had, at one time of another, one or more domestic animals. Cats, dogs, horses, chickens, snakes, rabbits, pigs, donkeys and so on. Generally speaking we own them for comfort, protection or some agricultural use. Up until this year, I have not thought much about what God the Creator says about Domestic animals. What changed in 2017, that made me think about Gods thoughts, is that Minsu walked into my family. Minus is my families dog. He is a little Maltese cross, who knows what, and we love him. This is what this short book is all about – what does Minsu’s creator (and our creator) say about Minsu, and all Domesticated animals?

 

  • I am going to focus on Domesticated animals, however whatever I say about Domesticated animals, can be said about wild (undomesticated) animals.

 

God created all living things.

One thing we know for certain is that God created all living things. In Genesis chapter 1, we read that, “God created” all living things. In Ephesians 3:9 Paul wrote that God, “created all things.” In addition to these two, the Levites (a clan in ancient Israel) once said, “You alone are the LORD You have made… The earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them…” (Nehemiah 9:6). Since all things include Domesticated animals, Domesticated animals were made by God. Since they were made by the Lord – they all have value to them and each one has its purpose.

Evolution?

The Bible does not tell us exactly how God created Domesticated animals. It does say that he, “spoke” (Genesis 1) all things into being, however what did this look like? Some say that it looked like evolution by natural selected (Darwinian evolution) from cells to more complicated organisms. In contrast to this, others say that God did not make living things by evolution.

Even though popular science says that all living things did evolved, this does not mean that those who say it, are correct. The evidence for evolution may be correct, or it may not be correct. We may have evolved or we may not have. The fact is that we just do not know for certain and anyone who says we do know for certain is proud. I say this bluntly because there is not point beating around the bush. I want to be humble and, I am sure you do to. To be humble is to say that since no human alive today was around when the world was made – we will never know for certain. We can assume or approximate, but we cannot know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

On this point, some people might say that by this logical we cannot, therefore know if God is real and if he made the world. I hear and understand this. I am sorry if you are thinking about this right now, but this short book is not written to speak about this idea. There are many other good books and talks that discuss this idea. This book starts from the idea (premise) that there is a creator God, who made the Universe and all in it and who has revealed himself to us.

God has allowed us to Domesticate animals and bread new types of animals.

It is crystal clear that God has allowed us to domesticate wild animals and bread new types of one species. I don’t need to speak more on this point, as the very fact that we have cats in our homes and pigs on our farms means that wild cats and wild pigs have been tamed. For this to happen God must have allowed this to happen, for nothing happens on earth that God does not allow (Proverbs 16:4-9, genesis 50:20 and Psalm 115:3). In addition to this it is clear that God has also allowed us to bread new types of one species. For example, we have many new types of dogs that have been bread over hundreds of years. In Genesis 1 and 2, we see that the Lord allowed humans to rule over the living things, name them and take care of the earth. This act of ruling, means that he allowed and gave us the authority to domesticate wild animals and bread new types of one specie.

We must care for all Domestic animals.

On this point I say again that I don’t need to say much. I am sure that most people in the world will agree that we need to take care of all Domestic animals. God has told us this to. Since the Lord gave humans the earth to take care of it (Genesis 1 and 2) – this means that we must, therefore, take care of all Domestic animals. Therefore, animal abuse is incredibly evil, because it violates Gods words to the first humans. In addition, it also hurts the animal or animals involved and the rest of the earth.

God has allowed us to eat meat, but we don’t have to and shouldn’t judge others over it.

In the beginning, human beings did not eat meat (Genesis 1:29). However, in Genesis 9:3 we read that God did, at some point, gave us permission to eat meat, however we don’t have to eat it. This tells us that eating Domesticated animals is not a sin. It is not wrong. This is challenging for western people, because this means that eating dogs and cats is OK with God. This is an easy thing for Eastern people to believe because many do eat dogs and cats.

I find what Paul said to the Romans very helpful on this point. He said to them that if something we do makes someone sin, we should not do it – because we want to have peace between people. This principle is good, because it includes respecting people’s convictions. If my wife is convicted that eating chicken is not good, then she must not be forced to eat it and I, because I love her, should choose to not eat chicken around her. Some people might find this principle too hard to do – and this is because of our downfall, pride. We are stubborn and prideful by nature, and so want to do what we want to do. The better way to live is to be humble and to give up our rights to help other people. If someone’s conscience is weak and does not want to eat Domesticated animals like pigs or dogs, then that is fine and I should not eat them around that person or talk about it. But if someone wants to eat dog (such as in the old Korean culture) they are welcome to and should not be stopped, unless they are abusing the dogs. On this point, I have some Korean friends who have eaten dog meat, 개 고기 (Romans 14 – 15:13).

Domestic animals are part of Gods plan of redemption.

I am not sure if you have noticed – but this is a broken world. This world was once a healthy place, but is now sick. When our first parents chose to give God the middle finger (rebel), all of creation broke with a loud bang. Since that day, humans have fought each other, abused the earth and have hated God. This is a sad reality and is clearly seen by studying the history of the world.

In Gods loving kindness and justice He chose to redeem this world through Covenants (agreements with humans). He first did so through the Noahic Covenant, then the Abrahamic Covenant, then the Mosaic Covenant and lastly through the Messianic (or New) Covenant. This New Covenant, that is now currently in effect is a beautiful agreement. In this Covenant, we can be reconciled to our creator and be changed through this relationship. As we are redeemed, the rest of creation gets redeemed.

What is fascinating to see, is that God chose and is choosing to use Domestic animals in this redemption. Think about it: King David, who lived during the Mosaic Covenant learnt the necessary skills of leadership through caring for sheep (1 Samuel 16). These skills enabled him to lead Gods people. Think about the great Messiah Jesus who established the greatest of all the Covenant. What animal did he use to open up this Covenant? A donkey (Matthew 21:1-11).

In addition to these examples, people have been working with Domesticated animals in Gods redemption of the world. Think about John Wesley who rode the length and breath of England on what? A horse. His mission? To lead people into the life changing Covenant with the Lord. Think about David Livingstone, the honoured missionary who travelled with oxen and horses to spread the good news of redemption through Zambia, Africa.

Domestic animals in the new earth.

Will we see our cat in heaven? Will our favorite dog be with Jesus when we arrive? We just don’t know. Maybe, or maybe not. The heaven, where the people of God will live for all eternity, will not be on a cloud, but it will on a restored earth (either this earth or another one). Will there be Domestic animals? Maybe, but we cannot say for certain. God does say in Isaiah 65:25 that the lion lying down with the lamb). Maybe this is just poetry that describes the peace that will be present every second in the new earth, or maybe the literal lion will literally lie down with a literal lamb. We just don’t know.

Domestic animals as idols.

We were made worshipers. This means we worship all the time. We either worship God or creation, the creator or the earth. This means that Domestic animals can become idols. You believe this? Good because this is the truth. You don’t believe this? Then go look at the world – you will see it. Look at how dogs and cats are so worshiped in England by some people to such a degree that children are sacrificed on the altar of their worship. Look at India where cows are worshiped. If a domestic animal is placed higher then God – it is worshiped. This is what one of the early Christians Paul’s said, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles  “ (Romans 1:22-23). Be aware that domestic animals can be worshiped, but shouldn’t be as they are not worthy of our worship, only the Lord God our creator is worthy.

Satan and snakes.

Some say that snakes are evil, because in the Bible Satan is shown to be a snake. Snakes are not evil. It is true that Satan did take the form of a snake, he can, however take the of anything in creation, even an, “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan can come to us in any form and demand our worship, just like what he did with Adam and Eve. He came as a snake, they believed him over God and so worshiped Satan – trust is an act of worship. In India, so says my Indian Friend Matthew Chacko, Demons (Satan’s allies) have been known to go into trees and dogs. If you cannot believe this, then I urge you to please step out of the western materialistic worldview and go spend some time in Africa or India. You will see things that you never thought exist. If this happens in India, does this mean that dogs and trees are evil? No. When the Bible talks about Satan being the Serpent it is referring to Genesis 3. Snakes are not evil and can be great Domestic pets.

Conclusion.

Domestic animals are wonderful blessings from our maker. He has given them to us and wants us to take care of them and use for His glory. If you own a cat or dog or snake or rabbit – do you sue it to advance the redemption in the New Covenant? Do you allow your domestic animals to, “praise the Lord” (Psalms 150)? Are you working with your animals to do all for the glory of God? (1 Corinthians 10:31). My prayer is that this short book has helped you to receive freely Gods words on domestic animals. Am I saying that I always speak Gods words? NO! I am not God. However I have done my best to allow Gods words (the Christina Bible) to speak through this short book and in this way, I believe that it is Gods words on domestic animals. If I have said anything unhelpful or untrue – please forgive me and forget it. Whatever is glorifying to the Lord of heaven – may this stand. Amen.