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“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
The Record of History
It is remarkable how much discussion, debate and media attention is given to the old slavery, that was exposed and opposed by Christians, such as member of parliament, William Wilberforce, over 200 years ago and how little attention is given to the much worse and greater numbers enslaved by the Muslim slave trade, as exposed and opposed by Dr. David Livingstone and others in the 19th century.
Outrageous Silence on Human Trafficking Today
It is scandalous how little attention or concern is given to the ongoing Islamic slave trade to this day. Even more outrageous is the virtual silence over the very worst slavery in history, which is prevalent and pervasive throughout the world today – to this day: Human trafficking and sexual slavery.
“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:6
The Book of Malachi begins with a blessing and ends with this warning of a curse. Repentance and Faith in Christ will be seen in the restoration of family relationships. Certainly that was my experience.
Shamefully, I clashed with my Father frequently. I argued over many issues. However, my conversion to Christ brought conviction of sin. The first sin I repented of was lack of gratitude. The second, disrespect for my parents, particularly seen in my argumentative relationship to my Father. Regeneration led to a radical transformation of my relationship with my parents. In time this led to both my parents turning to Christ. Although, in my Father’s case, it took eight long years. By God's grace my Father experienced the life transformation that comes with repentance and Faith in Christ. God turned my heart to truly love, honour and respect my Father and God graciously turned my Father’s heart to me. Before he died on Christmas Eve, 1986, I heard my Father say, for the first time in my life: “Son, I am proud of you.”
Back to the Bible
Over six years ago, I embarked on a bold and ambitious Back to the Bible Reformation project – to read, study and preach through every Book of the Bible, with the goal of producing books surveying the Old Testament and New Testament. This was to coincide with the Reformation 500 anniversaries.
It was 31 October 1517, that Professor Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Church door of the Schlosskirche (the Castle Church) in Wittenberg, Germany. It was 1 January 1519, that Reformer Ulrich Zwingli dispensed with the Latin mass and began Expository Preaching, in their local language, starting with the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1, working through every verse in the New Testament. The Reformers called believers to return to the Bible as the sole standard of Faith and practice and to recognise the Lord Jesus Christ as the only True Head of the Church.
Scripture alone is our ultimate authority. Sola Scriptura! However, most Christians have never read through every Book of the Bible. Our Professor of Old Testament at Baptist Theological College, Dr. Frits Haus, regularly asked the students how many had actually read the Book of the Bible which we had been focussing on for the semester. Incredibly, only a minority of students could say that they had actually read the Book of the Bible we were studying in that semester! Dr. Fritz Haus asked the assembled college students of all years at a Chapel service: “How many of you have read the whole Bible?” Hands started being raised and then somebody asked, “You mean the New Testament?” “No”, Dr. Haus smiled, “I mean the whole Bible!” Hands came down all over the Chapel.
Freedom in Christ
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“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Is it possible for a Christian to be under spiritual bondage?
Can a Christian Sin?
Many Christians say that they do not think that it is possible for one in whom the Holy Spirit lives to be bound by an evil spirit. Yet, if we were to ask: Is it possible for a true Christian to sin? The answer would unfortunately have to be: Yes. Christians do sin. Of course, this grieves the Holy Spirit, it quenches the Holy Spirit, it resists the Holy Spirit, but the fact is that sin can be present in Holy Spirit indwelled Christians. Sin is worse than satan. It was sin that turned Lucifer, the archangel, into satan – the fallen angel, the enemy of God and all His people.
Some of the well-known Christian leaders who have taught that Christians may suffer from demonic bondage include: Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, Dr. Kurt Koch, Watchman Nee and A.W. Tozer.
The Forces of Darkness
The book of Ephesians is addressed to “The Saints… Faithful in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 1:1. And these Christians are taught not to “give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27. In fact the believers are commanded to “Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:11-12
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As we are reminded again of the sufferings of Christ on the Cross, we need to consider the question: Who is responsible for the sufferings of Christ? As we read the Gospel narratives, or as we see the crucifixion of our Saviour depicted by The Passion of the Christ film, we have to ask the question: Who killed Jesus?
1. Do we blame the Roman soldiers? Certainly they crucified Him.
2. Surely though it was the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who was responsible? He alone had the power to enforce the death penalty, it was he who, as a magistrate of the Roman Empire, declared: "I cannot find any reason to condemn Him" John 19:4; "I find no reason to condemn Him" John 19:65; "I find no reason to condemn this Man" Luke 23:4. Yet, Pilate bowed to pressure and condemned an innocent man for political expediency and popularity.
It was a meaningless gesture for him to publically "wash his hands" and declare: "I am innocent of the blood of this just person. You see to it" Matthew 27:24. How hypocritical! He was the Roman governor. As the highest magistrate in the land he had declared: "Having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man, concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him." Luke 23:14
"He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord." Proverbs 17:15
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“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:15-17
Frequently one hears the refrain: “The Bible does not give any guidelines for music. It is all a matter of taste and preference.” However, the Bible speaks to all areas of life and music is no exception. “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians. 5:17-21
Music is to be melodious. We are to sing as unto the Lord. It is to be wholehearted. The content is to be Scriptural, with the Psalms predominating. It is to be in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and thanksgiving for all things to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ is to characterise it. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices and with my song I will praise Him.” Psalm 28:7
"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings?"
Lies of Our Age
"Man is good by nature, but corrupted by societies!"
Actually it is man's depravity which corrupts society.
"Every man possesses an innate moral goodness!"
It would be more accurate to say that there is bad in the best of us because we are fallen creation.
"Happiness is the measure and goal of our lives."
No it is not. God's Word, God's Will and God's work is the measure and goal of our lives!
In 1643, during a time of political turmoil, military conflict and threats to religious freedom, the English Parliament called upon 121 "learned, Godly and judicious" pastors, teachers and Theologians, to meet at Westminster Abby to provide considered guidance on issues of Faith and conduct, doctrine and devotion, applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life.
The Westminster Assembly produced what has been described as the finest, most Biblical description and definition of Christian life, faith and practise. The Westminster Confession, The Larger Catechism and The Shorter Catechism, have been adopted as the standards for most Reformed Churches.
The Westminster Confession was adopted by Act of the English Parliament in 1648 and by the Scottish Parliament in 1649.
The Westminster Standards have been adopted, with minor modifications, by the Congregational Churches in the form of The Savoy Declaration (1658), by the Baptists, in the London Confession of Faith (1689), and others.
Throughout the Bible commandments and warnings against idolatry are the most repeated of all. There are more denunciations of idolatry than any other sin in the Bible.
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image... you shall not bow down to then nor serve them."
"Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves moulded gods; I am the Lord your God."
"Thus says the Lord God: repent and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For everyone... which sets up his idols in his heart... I the Lord will answer him by Myself."
"The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissention, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like... those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God."
The Apostle John beseeches us: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
1 John 5:21
Why are so many things going Wrong?
Recently, I was asked by a Christian leader: "Why is there so much corruption, crime and violence in our society? Why is there so much immorality, even in the church? Why are we seeing so many moral failures and scandals amongst leaders in business, in every level of government and even in the church?"
Everything has Consequences
My answer is that these are the inevitable consequences of the spirit of our age:
All Ideas Have Consequences
Foundational truths have been ignored and vital pillars of Christian civilisation have been eroded. What we are seeing today are the inevitable out-workings of false doctrines being introduced, tolerated, accepted, and in many cases, even celebrated.
One of the great problems of our age is the separating of Salvation from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is the Lord Jesus Christ alone who can save us. We cannot accept Jesus as Saviour without submitting to Him as Lord. Those who preach a cheap grace and an easy believism, betray an inadequate understanding of the problem of sin, the nature of God, Christ's Mission on earth and our purpose and calling as Christians.