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.
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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.
"I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace, day or night, you who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent."
Go to the House of Israel
"Moreover He said to me, 'Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.' So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.' So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. Then He said to me: 'Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My Words to them. For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.'
Whether they Hear or Whether they Refuse
"Moreover He said to me: 'Son of man, receive into your heart all My Words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord God,' whether they hear, or whether they refuse.' Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: 'Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place!' I also heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, and a great thunderous noise. So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me. Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
"Thus says the Lord: 'Stand in the ways and see and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls… Also I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!'."
Christian Civilisation is at Stake
Since 1914, God's people have been subjected to a hundred years war. There is a concerted and comprehensive conspiracy to undermine, subvert, eradicate and annihilate the company of nations, who have been the bastion and bulwark of Christian civilisation for centuries.
Recognising the Threats
The threats to Bible-believers are very real and extremely serious. Never have the people of the Covenant faced such extraordinary hostility from such a bewildering array of enemies. Centuries of Evangelism and discipleship have been eroded. Centuries of Reformation work and Revival blessings have been subverted. Centuries of progress and technological advances have been side-tracked and spectacular achievements are being undermined and sabotaged on almost every side. Schools, universities and churches have been hijacked by secular humanism and radical atheism.
"But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My Words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings."
The Crisis That Confronts Us
Just how did we descend to such a disastrous situation that degenerate Hollywood entertainment could be considered normal, that corruption could be endemic, dysfunctional families the norm, most state schools failing, rampant rhino poaching, canned lion hunting, legalised abortion, "gay pride" parades, legalised perversion and so-called homosexual "weddings"! How could Europe so abandon its Christian heritage that it could be hijacked by the New World Order and endangered by Islam?
Wickedness Within the Church
"My heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord, and because of His holy Words. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, and their might is not right. 'For both prophet and priest are profane; Yes, in My house I have found their wickedness,' says the Lord."