Friday, July 26, 2013

The book of revelation

               Some people avoid this book in an effort to avoid the effort of understanding mysterious symbols. I do think it unwise to pretend to understand it all, nevertheless the promise of blessing remains for all who read it. May I give you some compass pointers, so that you the reader may enjoy what it has to say.

        Firstly it is, and is to be seen as the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Please do not get distracted from the focal theme - the exalted, appearing Lord. We humans are very apt at being distracted by detail and missing the main theme.

         After a beautiful introduction of chapter one, the Lord is seen as the true and rightful judge among the churches. He alone has the prerogative to commend and condemn, to revive and remove, to promise and punish. Every believer should be discerning of good and evil with appropriate reactions, but HE alone has the exclusive and final rights to judgement. He does in these letters expect believers to act on truth and righteousness, but final recompense is in HIS hand.(22:12)

         Chapter 4 is not focused on the Lord of glory. but rather the context of His throne and the real cause and purpose for the existence of all things (V11).
         The throne room setting then moves into action. The judgements of God must be executed and the only one found worthy of such a task is the one in the midst of the throne - the 'Lamb' whose station is the 'Lion'. He has the official right and the moral right and the universal right to open the seals of judgement.  Horrendous as the judgements are, they must be viewed as the vindication of the almighty, as the almighty, and the vindication of Jesus for who He claimed to be - the Son of man able to take the throne of authority to save and to judge. Understanding this point of view makes the whole book precious.

           The picture of the dragon at work, the beast and the false prophet triumphing for a season, must be read in the brilliant light of chapter 11:15-18. This reminds me of Psalm 2 -God is still on the throne and final victory is His forever.

             The final chapters paint a magnificent picture of the victories of the prince of peace, the King of kings and Lord of lords. His awesome throne passes out final judgement to a rebellious world and the deceiver is delivered into his well deserved abyss.
              Beautiful language depicts the reward and residence of the redeemed with this climax  ---    the Lamb is the temple (for worship) and the Lamb is the Light (eternal day).

May the Spirit of the Lord thrill your soul with the present and future glories of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen   - even so come Lord Jesus.

jm

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Can we trust the bible to be accurate

The question proposed deserves a full size book as an answer. I desire to present a few seed thoughts that will encourage faith in the Bible and maybe inspire deeper study.
          Any reader of the Bible will observe much of it is written as history. Included in the records are the good things that people did and also the bad things. Fiction books and hero books are written differently. It is very much a book that ' tells it as it is '. So then we ask is it historically accurate ?  There are so many stories that are referenced to times or rulers or places etc.

         The book 'The Bible and Archaeology' by Thompson has many recent findings to verify historical data. I give one example: The story of Sennacherib, king of Assyria besieging King Hezekiah in Jerusalem (686BC). Some questioned the historical accuracy until in 1880 the tunnel under the Jerusalem wall was discovered. The tunnel, cut through solid rock for 600 metres to the Gihon spring, had inscriptions on the tunnel wall of how it was built. This was built to enable the people to survive the siege of the city by the Assyrian king. Then was unearthed a clay prism in the old city of Nineveh, which described the same siege of Jerusalem !

         The New Testament is likewise full of time and location data. The Bible reference to the pavement (John19.13) appears to link to the unearthed stonework in Jerusalem today. The external evidence for Jesus and his death comes from the writings of Josephus (Jewish historian) and Tacitus (Roman historian 115AD). Both refer to Jesus the Christ, and that he was executed by Pontious Pilate the governor.

         Some one will interject that the Bible has been corrupted or copied erroneously. Sure, it still is corrupted by some, but 99% of the original text  is verifiable by various means. One convincing method is by the comparing of the more than 5000 copies held in museums etc. People committed to this cause do find variations, but by checkng the age, the language, the context of the copy etc, a very accurate text is possible Some of the copy fragments are very close to the time of writing ( 150 AD ), Hand copying has room for error, but copying and constant use of the copies has an inbuilt correction mechanism. Any changes will come to light and be exposed, just as we today are inclined to compare translations.

        Why did God not preserve the originals? I suggest, for the same reason that He hid the 'ark' of the Old Testament tabernacle  ---   lest the people worship it instead of HIM.

          Let us with confidence read the Bible as accurate and take the promises as solid rock for our faith  - for now and for the great hereafter.

J M (which translation - tell you later)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fear not

A simple but rewarding concordance word study:

'Fear not'

Luke 1.13      'Fear not' - Zacharias -after so long, prayer is answered and the son is promised.
     
          1.30     'Fear not'  -  Mary chosen from among so many,  finds favour with God

            2.10     'Fear not' - Light in the night for the shepherds proclaims the best news of the ages.
   
              5.10      'Fear not'  - For Simon, the change of calling from fishing in water to fishing for men.

               8.50       'Fear not'  - Jairus, encouragement of faith in the presence of desolating death.

                 12.7       'Fear not'   - Disciples valued by God when not valued by men

                   12.32    'Fear not'  - believers as sheep-  values that lie in the eternal future, in the Fathers hand.

There are so many more  -  let your heart be settled and encouraged by the  "Fear not from the Lord himself

John McKee

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Danger

On the journey of life there are many dangers. Let us be aware.

     The grace of God is one of the outshining actions of God, expressing the deeper character of love in action.  God chooses to bless, in spite of the unworthiness of the person - that's God's grace.

        Well according to Jude 4, some take that to mean, they can believe what they like and do what appeals to their human nature, and then claim God's blessing. Verse 4 "perverting the grace of God into sensuality and denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ."

          God does indeed bless in spite of our unworthiness, but we ought not to" receive the grace of God in vain" (2 Corinthians 6.1).........................grace has an objective  -  to bring us to the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ in worship and obedience.
          How serious to do "despite to the spirit of grace" ( Hebrews 10.29)

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus in sincerity.

J. McKee

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pushing the point

      In seeking to provide some direction in Bible study, let me highlight a danger that many fall into.  The problem of pushing the Bible beyond what it is truely saying. The holy scriptures encourage word studies, theme studies, doctrinal studies, but it is of vital importance to see it all together, comparing spiritual with spiritual, comparing one scripture with another.

To illustrate my concern : In the Gospel  of John, some groups of people have taken chapter 6 verse 53 to be literal and established for themselves an identity doctrine. Transubstantiation for them becomes central to their acceptance with God.   Again in John 20.33, one verse is used to create an order of specialists who have the authority to forgive sins.
      Whiles many would sneer at that group as being seriously misguided, many fall into the same error unknowingly. e.g. John 12.3 Mary's long hair (assumed) linked with one other verse in the New Testament  becomes an identity icon for some groups.  Others pick up on one chapter in 1 Corinthians which mentions "unknown tongues" and make unintelligent tongue speaking a major issue.  Others use Matthew 18.20 as the verse that distinguishes them above all others. Some promote a doctrine e.g. Divine sovereignty and ignore anything contrary to their frame of reference and visa versa.

      What am I getting at??  - We all grow up with a bias, and human nature calls upon us to defend our position ( whatever it is ), and when the going gets tough, we are inclined to major on that which supports our bias and identity. Pride does not like to say "I could be wrong".

      So what I am proposing is, that we read our Bibles with open eyes to see the whole story. Let the indwelling Spirit of God, who inspired the Bible, guide you in hearing the voice of God. Helps can be helpful, commentaries can be helpful, expositions can be helpful...... but always remember that someone writing a book or giving teaching, has a bias and an agenda. Words, concepts and arguments can be used very convincingly and yet be wrong!
     I have watched people in recent years struggling with various unhelpful biases, and whilst I may have been able to show differently, I have learned to try and see the Bible through their  eyes. Winning an argument does not always win the person. Best to lead others to find the truth for themselves.(how blessed we are to have the Bible in our own language and can read it ) ( not displacing the  scriptural place of teaching ).
  So am I biased - sure I am !
  But to return to the beginning - never build a castle on just one verse. See the Bible as a whole and interpret it in context.

      The other fallacy is to ignore the Bible and create our own ideas as 'truth'......!  that is post modernism and very popular today.

Where do we go from here?
Read the Bible as the word of God.
Enjoy the Scriptures revealing the Lord Jesus Christ.
Listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you in the Truth taught.
Study the Bible so as to rightly discern the mind of God.
Share your  meditations with others and listen to others.

J McKee

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Hebrews

                In my recent meditations on the law,  I did skip Hebrews. Let me return there to show the precious value of the Old Testament to us, the seeking Christians of today. It is impossible to understand the letter to the Hebrews without a working knowledge of the Old Testament.
    Many themes run through the book, but most important is the comparing of Jesus to Moses, to Melchizedek and to the sacrifices etc. Jesus is repeatedly described as being 'better', 'greater' & 'much more'. The significant point that calls forth our faith is : " Jesus the Son of God".
      Instead  of dispensing with the Old Testament, the writer enhances the person and work of Christ by the O.T. characters and rituals. Thus we learn so much. Let me select some examples.
      * As Moses was over God's house (the Tabernacle), so Jesus today is over God's house, only with greater honour, as He is the one who built it.
     * As Melchizedek has no mention of beginning or end, so with the Son of God - He is eternal in relation to time - before time and continuing beyond time!
      *As Aaron was a sympathetic high priest, so our exalted Lord is our Great High Priest.  He is able to understand our needs, and able at God's right hand to supply grace to help in time of need according to the will of God.
    * As the sacrifices were offered by Israel to cover the sins of the people, so in a surpassing way the death of our Lord Jesus Christ is able to remove forever the sins of His own. His sacrifice, once for all time, opens the new and living way into God's presence . This thought is enhanced if we carefully read the O.T.story of the tent made under Moses direction. The way in for Aaron the priest was special and the way in to God for the people was special. So for us Christ has gone into heaven itself and soon we will too.
    * The exhortation to 'endure' is made much more meaningful by reading the history of men and women, who because of faith in God, endured in difficult times.
   

  Many terms borrowed from the book of Leviticus help us to see the deeper meaning of the cross. eg  Chapter 1 - 'He made purification by the blood of His cross'.  So much is written about cleansing in the book  of Leviticus - so much was achieved by Jesus at the cross.
  The stories of the tabernacle and sacrifices are described as 'shadows' (8.5). This means that in time the shadow  came first (like the rising of the sun casting shadows as it rises), and the real thing, the substance came later. The tabernacle, referred to so much in Hebrews, is the shadow of the reality of God dwelling with His people today and the approach into heaven itself. The rituals have been fulfilled, and we, scattered across the face of the earth, are encouraged to draw near..........

     One of the most precious thoughts, is in chapter 13 - Jesus is referred to as the great shepherd of the sheep, to whom we are bound by an eternal covenant, sealed by His blood.The O.T. records many shepherds (David, Moses, Jacob), but the Son of God surpasses them all!

May the risen exalted Lord bless you in His presence, now and forever. Amen

JRM