Tuesday, January 31, 2006


The more observant among ye will have noticed my photograph is up.

The design was created by that mistress of IT creativity, Rose Cole.

It looks fantastic. I think it really reflects my personality. I do not know how Rose~ could have been so inspired.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Free Grace Theology: Can a Believer be Certain that He Believes?

Free Grace Theology: Can a Believer be Certain that He Believes?

Greasy Cafe

While, my car was at the garage today, I decided to go in a cafe I had not been in before. It was 9:50 a.m. and I fancied a coffee and a bacon sandwich.

The cafe was a real working-man's place. Really dirty and shabby. There were a load of gambling machines at the back. I surprisinged myself by my pleasure at seeing the food hygeine certificate on the wall. The patrons were rougth looking folks. Nearly all of them were smoking. They will not be able to do that for long. New legislation will shortly put an end to smoking in cafes.

My bacon sandwich was a little late coming. It occurred to me that if it took a really long time, would I have the nerve to get shirty? The man behind the counter was a thin, scrawny fellow, but his regular patrons might not take kindly to a snooty young thing making a fuss. It did arrive, however and was pleasent enough.

Dyspraxicfundamentalist.blog- Bible Prophecy: Ironic? What Would Darby Have Thought?

Dyspraxicfundamentalist.blog- Bible Prophecy: Ironic? What Would Darby Have Thought?

Changes in Dispensational prophetic interpretation.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Shoes Off at the Door, Please

Shoes Off at the Door, Please

I have changed the template on my other blog. It looks a bit smarter now. You can look smart in your slippers. Just ask any Japanese businessman.

Stumbling Block

In the church bulletin today, it was announced that some couple had become enagaged to be married 'while on holiday in -'.

I dare say that this couple may have been keeping separate rooms in the hotel or even different hotels. They may have been on a group holiday. However, this was not clear in the church bulltetin (maybe this was not the case anyway).

I think this notice put out a stumbling block to immature Christians. It sent the signal that it is perfectly fine for an unmarried Christian couple to go on holiday together alone.

This is just not a good idea. Even if the couple are not sharing the same bedroom, they are giving themselves opportunity for temptation by going on holiday alone together.

I think it was very unhelpful for the church bulletin to suggest that possibility.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


I went out street preaching today with a couple of friends. We were joined unexpectedly by a man called Ron from another town. I had met him before. He is a rather zealous old Christian of Charismatic theology. He has a real hobby horse about the necessity of preaching baptism to the unconverted.

He wasted my time shortly after appearing by getting me into a rambling conversation on no particular subject. He cheered and shouhted while I preached. This was encouraging, but a bit distracting.

He got into a conversation with a rather strange chap who I call 'Andrew the Apostate'. He used to be a Christian (he called himself a Messianic Jew) but has since converted to Judaism. He is a very clever chap. Hopefully, Ron's foolishness put to shame Andrew the Apostate's vain wisdom. Andrew has a habit of not making his position clear (he seems a very nervous man). He gives out bold and aggressive anti-Christian essays that he has written (an unusually evangelistic Jew), but never admits in person what he really thinks. Ron had not established while talking to him that he was not a Christian and not a member of my team!

Things got a little more awkward when he got talking to the Aspergers syndrome guy who we have converted. Ron got this guy to say a sinner's pray and made a big song and dance about this making him Born-again (as it happened, this man had said a sinner's prayer a year ago and had forgotten about it. He had recently professed to faith in Christ and I had no reason to doubt his sincerity. He was showing some fruit in a desire to please God). I was very unhappy at this teaching that saying a prayer makes a man a Christian. He insisted, arguing from Rev 3:20, that a man is saved by 'Asking Jesus into his heart'. He asked the opinion of Rory, my Calvinist friend what he thought. I did not agree with all of Rory's response to Ron (he heavily stressed the need to be broken and humbled in conversion) but I was far happier with this Calvinist's thoughts than this rubbish about being saved by asking Jesus 'to come into one's heart'. Nowhere does the Bible tell people to do this. We receive eternal life through faith in Christ, not by praying a special prayer.

We then had a rather difficult session in the coffee shop, with both myself and Ron and his wife talking to the Aspergers guy. I dare say some of the conversation may have been beneficial to him, but the disagreements between Ron and myself were not very edifying.

While I may have allowed myself to be drawn into unedifying debate and let my passions get out of hand, I think Ron's behaviour was deeply insensitive in interfering with our evangelistic work.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Chasing Debts

I was chasing some debtors on the telephone today for my employers.

I do not mind this particular job, but it gets really tedious if I have contacted the same debtor several times before. I would love to say to some of them "Pay up, you rascal!"

Actually, I do not think I would really say something as harsh as "Pay up, you rascal!" even if my boss did not mind my using language like that.

What I actaully said to the various debtors today was:

"We sent you a balance statement in December relating to some outstanding invoices. Can we expect a cheque soon?"

It is absolutely dreadful the way some businesses will build up huge debts and just refuse to pay them off. They have absolutely no shame. It is also dreadful the way they fob me off and waste my time.

I think my employers should hurry up and take legal action against some of the really old debtors. I dare say they may do so.

It seems strange to me that my Exclusive Brethren employers will have nothing to do with politics because it is the world's business and yet they do not mind using the means of government to execute judgment on their debtors (and those who say unflattering things about their fellowship). They will take advantage of government and take an interest in goverment while shunning the politics of government as profane.

I do believe C.H. Mackintosh has a paper on 'going to law' which is on my bookshelf. Perhaps when I read that it will clarify the Exclusive Brethren position.

Free Grace Theology: James 2:14ff Series / Salvation in James Continued

Free Grace Theology: James 2:14ff Series / Salvation in James Continued

Antonio returns to the epistle of James.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

My award to countries in which removing shoes in homes is customary.

What must he do to be Saved?

Is turning from sin a condition of salvation? Most Christians believe this. They confuse the offer of salvation in the Gospel message with the call of discipleship and obediance to believers.

The problem is that telling people to turn from wickedness is not necessarilly asking people to do something easy.

If you tell a Muslim to give up Islam and turn to Christ; you ask him to be rejected by his family and friends and in a Muslim country, to risk imprisonment or death for apostasy.

I am not here talking about the beliefs of Islam. No one could be saved while holding that Jesus is the second best Prophet. I am talking about the practises of the Muslim religion. If a Muslim were to cease attending a the Mosque, keeping the fast of Ramadan and the Muslim festivals; if he were to be baptized, to opnely confess Christ and to admit to reading the Bible, he would be regarded as an apostate and would face social exclusion or worse.

Okay, you may tell him that the Holy Spirit will give him strength to face these consequences, but he will still have to face them.

If one presents these things as necessary conditions of being saved, then it is very difficult to see one can claim to be presenting a free offer of salvation.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not teaching that it is acceptable for a Christian to be involved in false religion or to hide their faith. I am not saying that we should avoid telling converted Muslims to renounce the evil works of Islam or to opnely confess their faith. I have heard that YWAM, an apostate evangelistic organization, is now teaching that it is not necessary to encourage converts from Islam to renounce their former religion completely. This is wickedness. A Christian should turn from the unprofitable works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). However, to present the action of turning from evil religion and accepting the terrible consequences of it as a condition of salvation is a complete denial of the free offer of grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9
'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.'

Is forsaking one's family for Christ not a work in which a man might boast? Is surrendering to imprisonment, torture or death not a work in which a man might boast? These things have no part in our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith.

Some say that repentance is only a change of mind. However, a study of Scriptural teaching on repentance will show that it involves a change of conduct. Can a man continue in sin while repenting? No, to repent, he must turn from sin completely.

Matthew 3:8
'Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.'

Repentance is a work. We are saved by faith in Christ, not by repentance.

Take an example closer to home.

My sister is not a Christian. She lives sinfully with a man to whom she is not married. If she were to repent she would need to leave this man, unless he were also converted and prepared to marry her pretty quickly.

Now my sister's turning from sin would not be an easy thing. She would have to leave her present home and she would have to forsake the man that she dearly loves.

If I were to tell my sister that if she would receive eternal life, she must turn from her sins, I ask her to do something very painful. This is not a free offer of eternal life, it is a gift with strings attatched.

This does not mean I should not tell her to repent. On the contrary, the Bible commands all to repent.

Acts 17:30
'And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.'

This is a command to all to repent, believers and unbelievers.

If my sister does not repent, she will perish (Luke 13:3). There are numerous ways by which her sin may result in her death. She may become possesed by a devil, her partner might leave her and the anguish lead her to suicide. Her partner might be unfaithful and he might infect her with a sexually transmitted diseise. Even if she escapes such a fate, she will die and face judgment.

If she was converted and continued in her sin, the Lord would deal with her in judgment. She would face His chastening and perhaps the destruction of her flesh (1 Cor 5:5). If she does not repent she will perish.

However, her salvation is not conditional upon her turning from sin. Her salvation is in turning to Christ in faith. Oh, that this would be so!

Acts 16:30-31
'And brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.'

Not repent, not turn away from all ungodliness. Not forsake false religion. Not confess Christ. Not surrender one's life. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

I am Sorry to Keep on about the Liberal Democrats, but they are such a Bunch of Freaks

I am sorry to keep on about the Liberal Democrat party, but the mess they are in is just cracking me up so much. It probably should not, because the lives of some of its leading figures are in such obvious turmoil and darkness.

The Liberal Democrats used to be a catch-all party. If you thought the Conservatives were too sleazy or you did not think the Labour party were very honest, you would vote for the Liberal Democrats. The problem was that nobody really knew what the Liberal Democrats really stood for. Well, now it seems clear that they stand for immorality and lies. So much for the famous Liberal Democrat integrity.

I was informed by the radio this morning, that Simon Hughes, the party president and a candidate for the leadership, had admitted having homosexual relationships, something he had previously denied. This makes him another liar, just like Charles Kennedy and Mark Oaten.

I had always said the Liberal Democrats were a bunch of freaks. So what secrets are Sir Menzies ('Ming') Campbell and Chris Hulne, the other remaining leadership contenders, going to confess?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

John 20:29 and the Passive Nature of Saving Faith

Those of Reformed theology have a tendency to complicate saving faith. They frequently assert that saving faith is more than simple 'intellectual assent'.

An important text on the subject of saving faith is John 20:29

John 20:29
'Jesus saith unto him, Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed.'

In this verse we have the belief of Thomas who saw with his senses and this is equated with that of all believers.

Thomas' belief was simply a passive recognition of what his eyes told him, and what his hands would have told him if he touched Jesus. Was this a cold intellectual faith? Of course not, because that distinction is irrelevant here. Thomas' belief was simply the passive apprehension of truth.

What is truth except a fact, a proposition? Truth is not a theory, it is not an ideal, it is not a whim, a wish or a hope.

The passage goes on to say:

'But these things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.'

If I read this and believe that it is the truth, that this is a fact, then I shall be saved.

Does the passage explain how to believe it? No. Believing is as simple as my looking out the window and seeing that I am still in Worcester. I see with my eyes and believe this to be the truth, just as Thomas looked at His Lord and saw that He had risen.

Does it require me to search my consciousness to find out whether I am believing it in my soul or my emotions or only in my mind? No. I simply believe that this is the truth. If I believe, then I will be indwellt with the Holy Spirit who will deal with my emotions, provided I surrender them to the Lord. My salvation is in believing.

Thomas looked with His eyes and saw His risen Lord. I look with my eyes at the pages of God's Word and see that my Lord is risen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hungry/Six: what is your default position?

Hungry/Six: what is your default position?

What is your default position on the Gospel?

The Vanity of 17-Year old Guys

Once when I was 17, I went into the male toilets of the Sixth Form College (British high school?), dressed in my heavy metal uniform of fringed leather jacket, black combat trousers and heavy boots.

I stood in front of the mirror and let my long hair tumble out of its pony-tail. I took out my girly hair-brush and started brushing out the tangles.

Standing next to the mirror on the other side of me was another 17-year old guy in Skate punk gear, with baggy trousers and a huge wallet chain. He was deeply engrossed in teasing his short hair into spikes with the utmost precision. It looked a very complex operation, and I was glad to simply brush out my flowing locks.

I do not know if my fellow student thought about it, but it struck me as hilarious the thought of two guys standing in front of the mirror fussing so much over our hair. 17-year old guys can be so vain.

I should point out that I did repent of wearing my hair long. I used to get mistaken for a girl so often. It could be awkward.

Charles' Question

Charles A Wallace poses the question to all bloggers "What is the purpose of your blogging?"

Well, Charles, I started blogging in order to promote my views on such subjects as the woman's headcovering, Non-Calvinism, Post-Tribulationalism and removing shoes at the door. The latter was a subject that I was especially keen to tackle.

I did not intend to set up a second blog on Bible Prophecy. When I published my second ever post on Alexander Hislop's Two Babylons, it turned up on a new blog by mistake. I decided to focus this second blog on eschatology. This blog has remained a hodge-podge of amateur political commentary, diary-type entries and rantings on all manner of subjects.

I expanded to a third blog in order to deal with the crucial issue of removing shoes in homes. My strong views on this subject were a major input into my decision to start blogging. As I believe I am the only blogger to regularly post on this subject, I think that I have filled a niche in the blogsphere. Antonio might feel outnumbered by the Calvinists, taking his stand on the free offer of grace, but at least he has Jodie, Nate and the rest of us Free Gracers for company. I stand alone against the onslaught of indifference to carpets and flooring.

Free Grace Theology: The Parable of the Sower

Free Grace Theology: The Parable of the Sower

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Can Things get any Worse for the Liberal Democrat Party?

The Liberal Democrat Party are showing their true colours as the party of sheer stupidity.

Mark Oaten, a member of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary front-bench, has had to resign today over allegations that he became involved with a male prostitute. Last week he pulled out of the Liberal Democrat leadership contest because of 'lack of support'. This is just the kind of publicity the Liberal Democrats need at the moment.

First the Liberal Democrats come up with lots of unpopular liberal policies like giving prisonners the vote. Then they position themselves to the Left of the Labour government while trying to become an alternative to the Conservative Party. They make insignificant gains at the general election and fail in their strategy of voting out front-bench Conservatives. They carry on for ages with a leader who is clearly incompetent. This leader has to admit that he is a recovering alcoholic and is forced to resign (after attempting to hold on to the leadership with embarassing defiance). How long can this absurd saga continue?

I do hope the voters remember these facts in the next local elections.

New Bookshelf

I now have a new bookshelf. It was going spare at the clinic where my mother works. She brought it home for me.

My room is just filled with books. There are just too many for the shelves. Sitting on my window ledge is a long line of books by J.N. Darby; his 34-volume collected writings, his 5-volume Bible Synopsis, his 7-volume Notes and Comments, his 3-volume Letters, his Bible translation and his Notes and Jottings.

Having an extra bookshelf will tidy things up a bit.

A Class of Person that I am Not

I am not a:

Young married Calvinist who is training to be a pastor

It is remarkable how common Young married Calvinists who are training to be pastors actually are. The Evangelical world will soon be able to look forward to a super-abundance of young Reformed pastors with their growing families. It seems to be these young men who are the most enthusiastic about theology among Christians today. Of course, they are, for the most part, quite narrow in their actual knowledge of theology in general. Their reading material is invariably drawn from Reformed and Puritan works. No doubt they have all read the 'Reformed Pastor' by Richard Baxter. Mess with the glories of the Reformed faith and you will soon have to answer to a Young married Calvinist who is training to be a pastor.

Young married Calvinists who are training to be pastors are the Bright Young Things of conservative Evangelicalism. They have a dynamism that is much lacking in contemporary Evangelicalism. They are full of zeal. They are passionate. They are full of confidence and a steady optimism. They could take on the world, provided it did not inconvenience their young families. They are the YUPPIES of the theological world

They are smart. They can preach in a pulpit, they can talk to homeless people on the street. They can lead a youth group or they can teach a sunday school class. They are any pastor's dream as a pastoral assistant.

I find these overconfident young men rather irritating.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Microwave Donner Kebab

I tried a microwave donner kebab this evening. I eat a lot of microwave food, as I am too lazy to cook (I did have some cucumber with it- I do get some fruit and vegatables).

It was nice. Just as greasy as the ones from the take-away.

The 16-year old girl who is staying with us has a worse diet than mine; she does not eat any fruit or vegatables. I cannot imagine never eating fruit or vegatables. When I was a child, eating all my greens was not optional.

My ex-fiance used to complain that I ate 'too much of the wrong things', her main target being my love for pork pies. She was paranoid about food, however. She was always worrying about what it might do to her.

Today's Street Preaching: Caught on Camera

Today's street preaching was filmed by a cameraman from a local T.V. channel (that nobody watches). He did not film my preaching; he was filming a conversation between some giuy and one of the others while I was preaching. Aparently, the cameraman was an ex-Mormon.

We were joined by an American pastor by the name of Todd (one of those mad Yank names). He serves in a Church in Wales and is a friend of one of our team. He had a goatee beard, a sure sign of Calvinist theology.

I stayed out for two hours, longer than usual these days. I preached twice. The first time I preached on Mark 7:18-23. I explained how the problems of society come from our corrupt nature. A boy of about 11 or 12 years listened to this whole sermon. I think he later came back with some friends and talked to some of the other preachers.

For my second sermon, I chose one of my favorite subjects and preached on the Whore of Babylon in Revelation 17. I explained how Roman Catholicism is a false religion, because it denies the truth of the Gospel.

Friday, January 20, 2006

William Kelly's Pamphlet Against Teetotalism

Yesterday, I was reading from a collection of pamphlets written by William Kelly. William Kelly was one of the closest followers of J.N. Darby, unitil they fell out over a complicated matter of Church discipline. The Kelly division of the Exclusive Brethren is distinct from the Raven/ Taylor division, who have become significantly cultish.

The pamphlet I read today was entitled 'The Use and Abuse of Wine'. It was a refutation of the Teetotal movement, who insisted on Christians abstaining from alcohol. Kelly wrote:

"Now, the Teetotal system, however, modified, wil be found to offend against these fundamental truths. Having a low estimate of sin, it presents as low a remedy. Even as to the single evil with which it seeks to deal, it barely skims the surface. it does not, it cannot touch the heart within, and so it wreaks its vengaence upon the liquors without. Pharisaism washed the hands, Teetotalism washes the lips. But the same word of the Lord detects the inadequacy of both. 'Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: there is nothing from without a man that, entering into him, can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.' (Mark vii. 14-16). The entire spring of moral action, the heart, is corrupt before God. What man is, taints what he does. Hence, while the human method is to cut off this and that, the divine is, first of all, to make the tree good. If that be done, good fruit is sure to follow: if not done, the more men work about it they only get more bad fruit.

It is a new life which the sinner requires as the starting point; not a step Godward can be taken previously. But it is precisely this which the Gospel proclaims at once, without money and without price. The gift, the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. And God will own no way, no truth, no life, no saviour but His Son. Therefore to occupy men with a teetotal pledge, is in fact to divert them at best with a quack medicine, and this, not for a particular symptom- to divert them, I say, from the Gospel, which is as efficacious a cure in the drunkard's case as in all others. For it is the power of God unto every one that believeth."

Selected Pamphlets, p.237-238

Kelly goes on to refute arguments made by Teetotalists as to the nature of Biblical wine.

It is very interesting that the Exclusive Brethren have not favoured abstinence from alcohol, especially given the fact that the Open Brethren, for the most part opposed the use of alcohol. The most likely explanation is that the Exclusive Brethren were keen to distance themselves from other Evangelicals who were strong supporters of abstinence. Despite drinking alcohol, the Exclusive Brethren have always been firmly against worldly entertainment (though the modern Raven/ Taylor Exclusives enjoy live music in the privacy of their homes, something that would have been discouraged by Exclusives in the past)

I would suggest that the Abstinence movement was for the most part rather harmful to Evangelicals. It grounded holiness to much in external behaviour. Perhaps contemporary Evangelicalism has gone to the opposite extreme.

The Teetotal movement created a powerful political force, whose greatest triumpth was Prohibition ion the United States. This kind of political lobbying was perhaps an unhelpful distraction and created a pre-occupation with this world. There was an unsound and unscriptural reasoning among Christian supporters of Prohibition that held that a man was unable to respond to the Gospel if he was enslaved to drink. In actual fact, the alcoholic may, in many cases, be better able to see the misery of his condition than the man who abstains from drink. As Kelly argued, transformation needs to come from a regenerate life, not changes in extrnal behaviour.

J.N. Darby Rejected Mary's Perpetual Virginity

I was pleased to discover today, while reading John Nelson Darby's 'Notes and Comments' volume 3, that he rejected the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, our Lord's mother. I had thought it possible that Darby might have held to this unscriptural idea, like many of the Protestants of the 19th century. I have absolutely no idea why so many Protestants clung on to the idea that Mary remained a virgin after giving birth to Christ.

J.N.Darby wrote:

"As regards Church traditions, it is wonderful what futile things they are. Beausobre has, I think, clearly shown that, in large measure, they come from Apocryphal writings, invented to promote some devilish object or another, particularly the famous Leucius Charinus's. The virginity of Mary is treated by the Fathers on wholly other ground, and quite different stories invented at first to maintain it than the bold ground, taken at last, of Church authority. I have very little or no doubt, she had a family by Joseph."

Notes and Comments vol.3, p.303

Interestingly, Darby maintained that James, the brother of our Lord, was the same person as James, the son of Alphaeus and a cousin of Jesus (Notes and Comments, vol.6, p.375). Nevertheless he hastens to add:

"This does not affect the question as to Mary's having a family after the birth of Christ, nor her living with Joseph, of which the Scripture leaves no doubt."

The Scofield Reference Bible also identifies James the Lord's brother as James, the son of Alphaeus.

J.N. Darby: 'A Fragment on Repentance'

J.N. Darby: 'A Fragment on Repentance'

To Repent or Not to Repent: John's Doctrine of Repentance

To Repent or Not to Repent: John's Doctrine of Repentance

Article by Zane C. Hodges

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Observations and Opinions: Bill Cosby & Content of the Sermon

Observations and Opinions: Bill Cosby & Content of the Sermon

A great post on preaching from Ray.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

My award to countries in which removing shoes in homes is customary. In my other blog.

A Post I Will Probably Not Write

A part of me would like to write a post entitled 'Covenant Theology is Naff'. I will probably not write this post for three reasons:

1. I would have to give some good reasons for saying that 'Covenant Theology is Naff'. Writing serious theology is hard work.

2. Some clever Reformed person would argue with me in the comments.

3. That title is rather rude. I would not want to offend any of my more Reformed readers.

When I was doing my theology degree, I outraged a lecturer by declaring that both the Buddhist and Hindu view of the soul were 'rubbish'. Since then, I have tried to avoid making inflammatory comments, not always without success.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Free Grace Theology: The Judgment Seat of Christ (the Bema)

Free Grace Theology: The Judgment Seat of Christ (the Bema)

The judgment of believers. Even some who are eternally saved may yet weep. Eternal life and rewards are not the same.

J.N. Darby on Education

J.N. Darby wrote:

"We are bound to do good to every man, whoever it is; but the pretension of men is, that at bottom there is something good in a man, and so ultimately you can make anything out of him. And so they are working education for one great thing. Of course, everybody has to learn something, but the common idea of education now is an infidel idea. They give everybody votes, and then it follows that they must be educated in order to know how to use their vote. The whole thing is nonsense- a mere question of the passions of the flesh. In some states they compel education. God has committed children to parents, and the parent is bound to care for the child. No state can come in between God and the parent. If the state come in, you will have to leave the state. It is from no resistance to the power that I say so, for that would be wrong directly; but it is the word of God that gives the state its authority, and therefore I submit or go. If you were compelled to be a soldier, if it is against your conscience, you must be shot, or something else: that is all."

Collected Writings vol.26, p.361

I love the way that guy put things.

Almost a Secretary

I am almost a personal secretary to my boss. I sit at my little desk in the corner of her office and answer all the incoming telephone calls. I file away all her paperwork and greet her visitors. She sometimes asks me to make telphone calls on her behalf.

However, I do not do any typing for her. Being Exclusive Brethren, she cannot use computers and so has to use a typewriter. I am just not trained to use those things. I could be trained (though being Dyspraxic, I am a slow learner), but that would be pointless with my only working two days a week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hungry/Six: James and John's excellent rhetorical structure

Hungry/Six: James and John's excellent rhetorical structure

Open-Air Preaching for Beginners

The first step in becoming an open-air preacher is to just go out and do it. It probably seems an incredibly scary step to go out in public and talk in a loud voice about the Gospel, but your confidence will be boosted enormously by that willingness to take the step of standing up and preaching in public. It may seem the scariest thing you have ever done, but once you have done it many times, it will seem to be the easiest thing in the world.

Open-air preaching requires confidence, however, once that confidence is found, I would suggest that it is the easiest form of Christian ministry one could possibly get involved in. It does not require any sacrifice of money and it can take as little time as you please. It does not require any administration or foreign travel necesssarilly and it does not involve looking after screaming children. The amazing thing about street preaching is that it is easy!

All that is necessary is a public space where people gather and a Bible.

I suggest that the first time you go out open-air preaching, you do not go alone, but bring at least one Christian friend. This will provide excellent moral support and boost your confidence when you stand up and open your mouth. The sad thing is that this may not be possible. There is a great shortage of people willing to go out to support open-air preaching. There are plenty of Christians who will tell you they think street preaching is great and that they will pray for you, but when it comes to actually going out and being seen with a street preacher, they are not so enthusiastic. They may say they follow the theology of Spurgeon and Whitefield, but they are not so keen to immitate their open-air preaching.

If you cannot find anyone willing to accompany you, do not be discouraged. It is scarier to preach alone on the street, but it is not impossible. If you do this, start by going out on a week day that will be less busy. Your audience is more likely to be made up of shopping housewives and old people. They are likely to be tamer than the crowd you would get on a busy saturday. Far less intimidating, I can assure you. If you have a mobile phone, I recommend phoning a Christian friend before you start preaching, so that you have some long-distance prayer support. It is good to be supported in prayer, even if you are on your own.

The first time you preach in the open-air, it may help your confidence to stand on a box or a stool. The extra height really helps. After the first couple of times that I did open-air preaching, I could not imagine preaching without standing on a stool. After the third and fourth time preaching, I felt absolutley no need to stand on anything. I have not preached standing on a stool for five years. Provided that you can project your voice loudly, there should be no problem.

Learning voice projection may not come easily, it takes practise. Practise speaking really loudly in the privacy of your own home. Avoid shouhting. If you shouht, you will wreck your voice and you will not be able to carry on for very long.

Always pray before you start. Ask the Lord for the words to say, ask that He would work in the hearts of the hearers and ask for His protection against any who would oppose the work of preaching.

Preparation will be important the first time. These days I do very little preparation. I have preached on the streets so often that I know a good deal of what I am going to say before I start.

I usually begin by reading a piece of Scripture and then explain its relevance. Alternatively, you could begin by making some challenging statement or referring to some recent event in the news.

It is vital to realise that street preaching is very different to pulpit preaching. When you preach in a church, you have a captive audience. They may go to sleep, but they are unlikely to get up and go. On the street, people are continually going by. You may be surpised how many people will stop and listen, but the majority of your hearers will only catch two minutes of what you say at the most. This means that you do not really need a definite introduction and conclusion. I usually have one, but it is for my benefit, not my audience's. It simply helps me to be clear in my own mind what I am saying.

The big difference between pulpit preaching and street preaching is that you have to repeat yourself continually through the sermon. The Gospel has to come through every two minutes, for the sake of all the people going past. I usually have some theme that I develop as I preach, but this will only be helpful to those few who do stop. The people going by need to hear the Gospel coming through clearly. Stories and anecdotes that you give need to be very short.

When I preach on the Ten Commandments, I explain how people break each commandment, but after mentioning each commandment, I bring up how forgiveness can be found through Jesus Christ and His saving work.

If you are not alone, what should your friends do while you preach? They could give out tracts to people. In my team, this is what the others do. However, personally I am not entirely happy with this. I think that if someone is preaching, the rest of the team, or at least some of the rest of the team, ought to listen to the preaching. It seems strange to me, to expect people to listen to what we are not listening to ourselves. Ignoring the preacher sends the message that what he is saying is not very important.

My friends will usually speak to anyone who appears to be listening. Personally, I am inclined to let someone alone who is listening. They will benefit from hearing the preaching. However, contact with such people is usually fruitful. The non-preaching members of the team need to be ready to intercept anyone who wants to go and argue with the preacher. In my experience, this usually means being ready to talk to big groups of teenagers.

What should you do if you are preaching and somebody wants to interrupt you with a question or wants to argue? You could ask them if they would not mind waiting until you have finished (if you are alone) or refer them to one of your friends, so that you can carry on. Alternatively, you might decide that speaking to that one person is more important than preaching and break off. In the case of the latter, it would be helpful if one of your friends could be ready to take over the preaching immediately. There is no rule, you just need to be lead by the Spirit.

You may be afraid of physical violence. Unless you are planning on preaching at night or in a really rougth street, you are unlikely to get any. Most people are unlikely to attack you physically in a busy public place. We have never faced any real violence (I was once rapped on the shins by the canes of some girls who were pretending to be blind). There are always pelnty of police on hand and the street is observed by CCTV cameras. I have found the police to be very supportive. The police and security guards will often rebuke young people who are shouhting abuse at us. The manager of a shop selling sex toys even came out on one occasion to rebuke some abusive youths! The Lord has certainly protected my team.

You are likley to face verbal abuse. People will shouht and swear when they hear the name of Christ being mentioned. This is unpleasent, but it is to be expected. To be honest, I find the abuse directed at my preaching to be less hurtful than the more personally directed abuse that I get in perosnal contact in evangelism. When people say cruel things to your face, it is much nastier than when they shouht it at you from a distance.

It may be helpful to have a sign or banner with some appropriate Bible verse on. At one time our team had a banner which said "Sin is a reproach to a people, but righteousness exalteth a nation". To my mind, this was not the most clear verse that could have been used. We now have a sign that says "For Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners". This is a much more direct message.

Is it appropriate to sing hymns during street preaching? It may help to bring the team into an attitude of worship, but I do not find it helpful in terms of communicating the Gospel. In a busy street, it is difficult to hear the lyrics of a hymn. If the singing sounds good, then people may stop to hear it. They are unlikely to stay any longer to hear preaching. If it sounds bad, they will walk away all the faster. My friend who I mentioned in the last post insists that it is vital that he sings hymns, regardless of the fact his singing is terrible. He produced some verse twisted out of context to prove his point. We just let him get on with it and cover our ears.

If you are going out as a team, you may find it helpful to meet in a cafe for prayer immediately afterwards and to discuss the various contacts made. A prayer meeting during the week focused on street evangelism is very helpful, if people have the time.

When you go out open-air preaching, you will be quite amazed how effective it actually is. You will be surprised by how many personal contacts you make and by all the conversations you have. One of my friends told me after his first time street preaching , that he had engaged in more fruitful conversations in one afternoon than he had found in months of doorknocking.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Confused Message from a Slightly Confused Brother in Christ

I have a friend who's theology gets a bit confused sometimes.

Nevertheless, we do open-air preaching together. He has a habit of going into all sorts of subjects when he does open-air preaching; wives submitting to husbands, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and God's judgment on animal rights extremists.

He has a particular hobby horse about forgiving others. He usually goes into this subject when he does open-air preaching.

On one occasion he went completely over the rails over this subject. He said to the crowds "Just forgive others and God will fogive you all your sins." I was horrified by this distorted message. I rushed to him to warn him that this was a false gospel.

After my warning, he addressed the crowd and said "Ladies and gentleman, my brother here has rightly pointed out that I have been preaching an apostate message. I am very sorry for the apostasy I just said. It is not enough just to forgive others, you need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" I guess you cannot always win.

I love my brother in Christ. He is a wonderful man, despite his tendency to waffle and say weird things. He is a real live testimony of God's deliverance from either mental illness (he refuses to acknowledge any real mental illness) or demonic influence. Despite his real problems, he is very dear to me.

Though his preaching lacks focus, there are beautiful moments of lucidity in his preaching. I am sure that God sometimes uses the things he says to speak to people. Maybe some of the stuff he says seems irrelevant to me, but perhaps to certain people whom only the Lord knows, he may speak very powerfully and relevantly.

One of the most wonderful things about this man is the love for people he shows. He is so generous with his time and his money. He is quite tireless in his willingness to spend time ministering and counselling people who tend to get ignored by churches, whether they be homeless or elderly. He has spent much time counselling me over the difficulties I have had. I owe him much for his care and concern.

His hobby horse about forgiving others seems to me to be quite unhelpful. He sometimes gives me weird advice about the need to 'forgive myself'. This sounds like psychological nonsense to me (funnily enough he is deeply hostile to psychiatry). In a conversation we had at a fellowship meeting, he suggested that a mutual Christian friend was perhaps unregenerate because he was apparently harbouring unforgiveness.

Still, whatever his faults and whatever confusion he occasionally shows, he is a testimony of how the Lord can bring peace to even the most troubled of souls.

Sports Changes Everything

The newspaper today said there was a possibility that Britain's draconian firearms legislation might be changed in time for the 2012 Olympics. In Britain it is absolutely illegal to own a handgun. This will put British athletes competing at pistol-shooting at an immense disadvantage, because they cannot practise at home.

The British ban on handguns was introduced in a mass panic after a school shooting in 1996. The then Conservative government was terrified by public hysteria into making handguns completely illegal with no exceptions. The House of Lords attempted to make an exception for disabled people, as pistol shooting is one of the few sports that wheelchair-users can take part in at an equal level to able-bodied people. This failed, because it was argued that handguns owned by disabled people might be stolen.

The British attitude to guns is one of the many things that I hate about this country.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Narrative of the Calvinist

I would suggest that part of the appeal of Calvinist theology is the appeal of the powerful personal narrative in the testimonies of those who have come to accept this theology. Calvinists will often say soemthing along these lines:

"I really struggled with the Doctrines of Grace. For a long time I refused to accept the idea that God would pass over individuals and deny them salvation. I wanted to believe that I had free-will. However, the Scriptures clearly taught the Doctrines of Grace. I realised that it was through my pride that I wanted to maintain free-will. I stopped arguing with God and acknowledged in faith that He is sovereign."

If we examine this testimony structurally, we see that it is built on a set of binary oppositions:

Free-will v Doctrines of Grace

Struggling with the Doctrines of Grace v Accepting them in faith

Free-will of man v Sovereignty of God

Human opinion v Scriptural teaching

Pride v Humility

Arguing with God v Acknowledging God's Sovereingty

I would argue that Calvinist discourse is filled with these binary oppositions. They undergird the framework of the Calvinist worldview.

The problem is with these pre-suppositions is that they strongly affect the potency of Calvinist rhetoric. They stand in the way of clear exegesis of Scripture. They prevent rational argument. How can the theologically naieve Christian find the space to examine Calvinist theology objectively if she is being told repeatedly that questioning these doctrines is a sign of pride and a denial of God's sovereignty? I have found that Calvinists so frequently use a manipulative rhetoric that relies on guilt.

Free Grace Theology: Free Grace Doctrine Correlation : Antonio's Positions

Free Grace Theology: Free Grace Doctrine Correlation : Antonio's Positions

A systematic articulation of the Free Grace position.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Big Team

Our team of street preachers was a bit bigger today. There were six of us preaching the Gospel on the streets of Worcester today, praise God. A chap who had not preached for about a year showed up. This was encouraging.

However, about two years ago, there were saturdays when the team stretched to about seven or eight. I guess our strength is not in numbers.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I Look Like David Cameron

My hairstyle is very similar to that of the British Conservative Party leader, David Cameron. So much so, that when I look in the mirror, I am reminded of the resemblance.

Is that a bad thing?

David Cameron is trying to take the Conservative Party in a new direction. He wants to change it's image, so that it appears less mean. He wants it to be less socailly conservative, more pro-public services (more big government), less pro-tax cuts (less small government) and more concerned about the Environment and the Third World. I do think that these changes will help to get the Conservatives back into power, but that does not mean I like them. Still, in his Euroscepticism, Cameron has put action to his rhetoric.

The big problem is that there is no clear difference between David Cameron and Tony Blair, the prime minister. Their ideology seems identical. How will the public choose between New Labour and 'New Conservative'?

Of course, Cameron is likely to face a rebellion at some point from hardline Conservatives. Tony Blair successfully turned the Labour Party into a Centre party, but still faces opposition form the Left of Labour. David Cameron will be faced with similar opposition from the Right in his attempts to turn the Conservative Party into a Centre party.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

My award to countries in which shoes-off at the door is customary.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How Many Members of the Exclusive Brethren does it take to Change a Light- Bulb?

You must have heard countless variations on the light bulb joke. Here is my version.

Q. How many members of the Exclusive Brethren does it take to change a light-bulb?

A. None. There is no longer power in the Church to change the light-bulb, due to its ruin and apostasy. All that remains for believers to do is to await the coming of the Lord in the darkness, with humility; not thinking that we have power to change that which the Lord has allowed to fall into ruin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sanctuary Defiled

My mother came into my bedroom with her shoes on this evening.

It is her house, so I did not feel at liberty to ask her to take her shoes off. I just said to her 'I hope your shoes are clean' (which of course they would not be). When she got up to leave, she tip-toed out.

I noticed some damp spots on the carpet.

Brothers and Sisters

I think it is really nice the way American Christians will sometimes address each other as brother or sister.

I have to admit that I just cannot bring myself to use such a form of address, even writing comments on the internet. It is just so embarassingly unEnglish. We English people never address people as 'brother' or 'sister'. That just seems really weird and sentimental. Too American? Maybe I should try and get over it.

It is a nice form of address and it might be good to find the courage to use it. My Yank readers must think I am so silly.

Liberal Democrat Party Leadership

Following up a previous post, Charles Kennedy was forced to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats (like the American Democrats, but slightly more to the Left) as a result of his covering up his alcoholism.

There will now be a contest to determine who should lead the Liberal Democrat party. The favorite to win is Sir. Menzies Campell, a boring old man. The most interesting thing about Sir. Menzies Campbell is that his first name is pronounced like 'Ming'. We are already hearing a lot of jokes about 'Ming the Merciless'. No doubt, the cartoonists are hoping he wins, so they can draw the prime minister or the Conservative party leader dressed like Flash Gordon.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Should One Provide Slippers for Guests?

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Should One Provide Slippers for Guests?

A new post on my other blog.

Peculiar Absence

I find it rather strange and a little distressing that the King James Bible is absent from many English libraries.

Most public lending libraries do not have a single copy of the King James Bible on their shelves. Many university libraries do not keep a copy of the King James Version in their theology sections. In contrast, the King James Bible is on sale in nearly every bookshop.

Whatever one thinks about the Bible, let alone its translation, it must surely be regretted that the most influential work of English literature is not stocked in English libraries.

Maybe Texe Marrs and Gail Riplinger are right about a conspiracy against the KJV.

Anxiety about Manners

I often get very anxious in social situations about the possibility that I might come across as rude, impolite or cause offence. I really worry about this.

We British are quite big on politeness (well, we used to be), that is why I am always apologising. However, I think even for an Englishman, I am especially concerned about manners.

A lot of it is my upbringing. My parents were very keen to impress upon me the rules of social intercourse. My parents were keen to clamp down on any rude, unsociable or surly behaviour on my part. I am terrified of offending them in any way.

Part of my difficulty is my Dyspraxia. As with mild autism, I find it very difficult to pick up the rules of social behaviour that others follow. The way other people behave just seems weird to me.

I think my concern with the shoes in hoemes issue is a sort of reaction on my part. In Britain it is considered by many people to be rude to ask visitors to take their shoes off. My championing of 'shoes-off at the door' is probably a desire on my part ot take control of the social codes that are normally written by others and do things the way I think they should be done instead. I think this pro-activity on my part is positive.

Sorry to be so introspective. I do like to be honest about how I feel on my blog. I am not so open about how I feel in person, except with close friends.

I think I need to pray more about my anxiety. I am not afraid to offend others with the truth, but I always feel a bit bad about it. It is also not good to be so fearful in the company of Christians.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

According to Thy Gracious Word

According to thy gracious word,
in meek humility,
this will I do, my dying Lord,
I will remember thee.

Thy body, broken for my sake,
my bread from heaven shall be;
thy testamental cup I take,
and thus remember thee.

Gethsemane can I forget?
Or there thy conflict see,
thine agony and bloody sweat,
and not remember thee?

When to the cross I turn mine eyes
and rest on Calvary;
O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
I must remember thee.

Remember thee, and all thy pains,
and all thy love to me;
yea, while I have a breath, a pulse remains,
will I remember thee.

And when these failing lips grow dumb,
and mind and memory flee,
when thou shalt in thy kingdom come,
Jesus, remember me.

James Montgomery

An excellent hymn for celebrating the Lord's Supper. Set to the tune of Vaughan Williams' 'Theme from Tallis'.

Free Grace Theology: Why Sacrifice for God if You Can't be Certain that He has Saved You?

Free Grace Theology: Why Sacrifice for God if You Can't be Certain that He has Saved You?

Saturday, January 07, 2006


I find it very irritating that certain Christian writers and teachers come to be above criticism.

I had a conversation once with a brother who I preach with. He asked me if I liked books by FF Bruce. I said that Bruce's books were useful, but expressed concern about his denial of the Inerrancy of the Bible. This man was rather offended that I presumed to criticise such a well-respected writer.

Well, I think believing in the Inerrancy of the Bible is really important and I am concerned if someone denies it, even if everybody thinks their books are great.

The Plymouth Brethren and Baptism

Though the Open Brethren are firm supporters of Believer's Baptism, the majority of Exclusive Brethren divisions practise Household Baptism, which involves the baptism of infants.

It has always been a principle of the Brethren that the age and mode of baptism should not be a barrier to fellowship and participation in assembly life. Both George Muller of Bristol and Robert Chapman of Barnstable had been Baptists, but quickly came to believe that those who upheld Infant Baptism should not be excluded from fellowship. Likewise on the Exclusive side, J.N. Darby, a Paedobaptist and G.V. Wigram, a baptist had close fellowship. Darby was once asked what Wigram thought about baptism. Darby replied 'He knows how to keep his mouth shut.' This is not the most polite of Darby's remarks, but it does reflect the refusal of the Brethren to allow baptism to generate controversy.

The Brethren hold that baptism is a matter for one's conscience. If one believes that the Scriptures teach one position, then one should be a t liberty to maintain it. To force the conscience of the saints by making one position compulsory would be considered a denial of the unity of the Body, for the Church is united by Christ not by doctrinal agreement.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: The First Weekly NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: The First Weekly NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

In my blog Shoes Off at the Door, Please, I will be giving out a weekly award to countries in which removing shoes in homes is customary.

The Silliest Man in British Politics

Charles Kennedy is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third largest party in British politics. Many senior Liberal Democrats believe that he is incompetent and want him to resign. There have been rumours that he has a drink problem.

Charles Kennedy surprised everyone yesterday by admitting that he is a recovering alcoholic and that he had lied about his condition. Nevertheless, he maintains that he is quite competent to lead his party into the next general election.

If Charles Kennedy thinks he is credible leader after announcing this; he is most definitely the silliest man in British politics. He has ruined the Liberal Democrats reputation for honesty, one of their strongest political assets.

Some people have suggested that he will win because he has the sympathy of his party. I realise that alcoholism is a serious condition, but people are talking as if he has admitted he has a cancer or he is going blind. They seem to have forgotten that his own heavy drinking has got him into this mess. If this does not show a serious flaw in his character, I do not know what else would. Then again, the Liberal Democrat party is full of weird folks who are out of touch with the British people. Kennedy is a silly leader for a silly party.

Marking Religious Studies Exam Papers

Last June, I marked Religious Studies exam papers to earn extra money. I will be doing this again this June (assuming the exam board got my acceptance letter).

Unlike the United States, Religious Studies is taught in schools and is an exam option for 15 and 16 year old pupils. It is their papers I mark. My specific subject is 'Religion and Philosophy'. This paper deals with subjects like the existence of God, the afterlife, creation and evolution and evil and suffering. The candidates can choose questions on Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish perspectives. Most choose to answer questions on Christian views.

The standard set is very low. We are supposed to give them marks for very easy answers. If a pupil says 'Christians believe good people go to heaven', I have to give them a mark. The religious knowledge of the pupils is appalling. They are quite ignorant of the Bible and Christianity. I have never read an exam paper in which a right understanding of salvation was given by a pupil.

There was one school in which every single candidate said that Christians believe in Re-incarnation. I doubt the Religious Studies teaching at that school was of a high standard. Soemtiems the anwsers are mildly amusing. One candidate wrote:

'When God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden, he took away their clothes and thats where the human population comes from.'

Another gave a heterodox view on Christology:

'Christians believe that Jesus is all good. However, I think he is like us, both good and evil. This is seen in an incident when he went into the temple and got mad and threw tables around because they were buying and selling there. I think Jesus done good, but he could have been a lot calmer.'

I see the same level of ignorance when I talk to young people on the streets in evangelism. Marking Religious Studies papers has given me a valuable insight into how teenagers think about religion.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I Feel Like I am Wanted

Good news today. My boss spoke to a printing firm on the phone. She asked them to include my name on a list of extension numbers for the switchboard. I guess that means she wants to keep me on indefinitely. I had thought that she and her brothers and business partners would make me redundant after Christmas. They obviously need me.

I think most of the work I do in the office is not that useful, apart from answering the telephone. However, as I only work two days a week, they can afford to have me there to save the administrator the job of answering the phone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

'Crusades': Does this not seem a bit Dumb?

Does anyone else think it is a bit stupid that Christian evangelists persist in calling their activities 'Crusades'? Do they have any idea how offensive this is to Muslims?

Peregrine Sojo - Kitty's Kronicle

Peregrine Sojo - Kitty's Kronicle

A Christian blog from Australia.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Free Grace Theology: John MacArthur's Radical Re-Definition of Faith

Free Grace Theology: John MacArthur's Radical Re-Definition of Faith

Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5
1 But a certain man named Anani'as, with Sapphi'ra his wife, sold a possession,

2 and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

3 But Peter said, Anani'as, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

4 While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

5 And Anani'as hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

7 ¶ And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Many hold that Ananias and Saphirah were false professors and not truly regenerate. However, this seems unlikely. What is the evidence that they were unregenerate? That they sinned? However, many Christians might easily commit their sin. The main reason why the salvation of Ananias and Sapphira is questioned is that they lacked Perserverance. However, the fact is that while believers are justified in Christ and through Him receive eternal life, perserverance in the Christian life is not automatic, but requires us to work it out with fear and trembling. The Christian life may in the result of serious sin may be terminated by divine judgment.

What is the evidence that they were saved? They were part of the Church and professing believers. This is not proof of their salvation, but we have no evidence to question their sincerity. Certainly not on the grounds of their sin. It is arguable that their sin of lying to the Holy Ghost is the sin of grieving the Holy Ghost, which believers may certainly commit.

The New Testament teaches that sometimes believers die as a result of God's judgment on their sin:

1 Cor 3
16 ¶ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

1 Cor 5
3 ¶ For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

4 in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

5 to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Cor 8
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

11 and through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

1 Cor 11
27 ¶ Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

James 5
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil Mk. 6.13 in the name of the Lord:

15 and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

17 Eli'jah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 1 Kgs. 17.1 ; 18.1

18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, 1 Kgs. 18.42-45 and the earth brought forth her fruit.

19 ¶ Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

20 let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

1 John 5
16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

We see no mention of any children, so it is likely that Ananias and Saphirah were a young, recently married couple. It is possible that they were elderly and their children had left home, but it is more probable that they were young, rather than old. Like any young couple, they may have faced financial hardship and so their keeping back money was understandable. However, as Peter said, it was their money anyway. Their wickedness was in lying, not discerning that they weere indwellt with the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:9-12) and dead to sin through Christ's death (Romans 6:2).

No doubt, if they were indeed a recently married couple, they were enjoying the delights and intimacies of their new marriage, living in the bliss of their new-found joy. This was their right and privilege. Marriage is part of God's original creation and one of His greatest gifts. However, even the best of things can become idols that ensnare and distract us from serving Christ. Perhaps, in the midst of their newly married bliss, they had forgotten the Lord who bought them and something of the world had entered in. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32 'But he that is married careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife'. I know a Christian woman who worries about her son and her daughter-in-law. She fears that they are so happy in their marriage that they may forget that they have a higher and holier calling to serve the Lord. This is a very understandable fear. It may well be that this is what happended to Ananias and Saphirah.

It might be suggested that the punishment of this couple was not real; for they would have entered the presence of the Lord immediately, in whose company all Christians should long to dwell. No doubt in heaven now, Ananias and Saphirah are at rest and peace with their Lord. However, to come to Him at their death, empty-handed, knowing that they had failed completely in His service, must they not have felt such shame? Christ had given His life for them and yet they had given Him so little. Can we imagine how they must have felt?

They had lost the privilege of ruling with Christ. For the Scriptures teach that inheriting the Kingdom of God is conditional (Gal 5:21, 2 Tim 2:12, Ephesians 5:5). Nor would they have recieved any rewards for service, no treasures in heaven. When all the saints appear before the judgment seat of Christ, how will they feel on seeing so many receivng rewards for faithfulness and themselves receiving nothing? When we live in this world, full of its vain riches, it is easy to care nothing for heavenly rewards, but we can be sure that we will when we arrive there. You sometimes hear Christians say 'I am not bothered about rewards, I just want to get to heaven.' This is Arminianism and foolishness. This is talking like the fearful and the unbelieving. If you are a believer in Christ you are already seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). You belong in heaven because Christ has earned your place there. The question is what status you will have when your position there is realised in the flesh.

They lost the privilege of being able to look back in old age at their life and to be at peace, knowing that they had used their lives to serve their savior. I know many godly old people who can say that, whether they would admit it or not. They are joyful people who know such profound peace, being satisfied that they have given so much to serve their Lord. I know other people who are old who do not have that same peace. These are people who have been converted later in life and have not used their lives so well. What a short Christian life Ananias and Sapphira experienced!

What of their marriage, which must have surely given them such joy? It is certainly true that the incomprehensible pleasures of dwelling with Christ are far beyond the pleasures of an earthly marriage. However, Ananias and Sapphirah had all eternity to spend with their Lord. What was perhaps most important to them (surely more than their money) came to an end because of their sin. There are many elderly Christian couples who will testify what a joy it is to experience a life-long Christian marriage; to serve God together as a husband and wife team. Ananias and Sapphira missed that experience. What about the joys of bringing up children? How will Ananias and Sapphira feel in the resurrection when other saints meet their children and grandchilren and their descendants of many generations into the future. Ananias and Sapphira were saved by grace, but they missed out on so many blessings because of their sin.

Politically Correct?

I really dislike the term political correctness. I am sorry to say that I have used the term myself on quite a number of occasions.

Originally, political correctness had a specific meaning. It was concerned solely with language, specifically bringing language up to date with the liberal consensus in society. However, the use of the term has become so broad that it has ceased to have any usefulness. It has been employed to refer to liberal values, Secular Humanism, any opposition to racism, Feminism, discrimination law, the New Left, Social Democracy, Socialism, Religious Pluralism, Postmodernity, New Age spirituality and even health and safety legislation.

It is quite simply a lazy term of abuse that we conservatives can apply to anything we do not like. It also has a convenient rhetorical value. If you want to make a message more interesting and powerful, you can warn people that it is not 'politically correct'. People will soon perk their ears up. It is simply not a meaningful term.

The term can also be used to justify insensitivity and pig-headedness. I have a friend who insisted that it was quite reasonable to refer to people with Downs Syndrome as 'Mongoloids'. When I challenged him, he insisted that I was calling for 'political correctness'. His comments left a bad taste in my mouth.

Let us be exact in our language.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Years Day

My sister came for dinner today with her partner (she is not a Christian and lives in sin). Typically, she kept her shoes on most of the time, as did her partner (my mother also did not remove her boots until after dinner).

We had a magnificent meal of Pheasent casserole with chestnuts. This was followed by Christmas pudding in brandy sauce. We had champagne just before the meal.

My sister and her partner stayed until quite late. It was very pleasent to have them here, but it was a little bit long. I like to spend my sunday afternoons soaking up God's Word and sound theology. Spending the afternoon talking of worldly things was rather depressing. My sister is, alas, very much a child of this world.

We openned some more Christmas presents in the afternoon, as my sister had spent Christmas in Cornwall with her partner's mother. Her bloke is from Cornwall. He has a strong Cornish accent and is very enthusiastic about all things Cornish.

We finished the day with a meal of Pork Pie and salad. None of us had any room for Christmas cake, but my family ate cheese and biscuits (I cannot stand cheese).

I Did Not Ask for This

People have this idea that I am a tireless lover of controversy and debate. The truth is that others seem to bring the debates to me.

Today at church, a woman I had never met before wanted to get me into an argument about Bible versions. She had seen my Scofield Bible and wanted me to explain why I did not think the New International Version was really wonderful. It was very irritating, being forced into controversy.