“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
Frustration and Dissatisfaction
Are you one of those many Christians in a spiritual drought?
Are you in a spiritual wilderness?
Are you frustrated and bewildered by the emptiness and a dissatisfaction with your life and with your faith?
Are you crying out for something more?
Something that will fill that empty feeling with deep peace of mind, heart and of a capacity for a genuine experience of God's love?
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“…Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15
Jesus Preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
The word Church occurs only three times in the Gospels. Yet the terms Kingdom and Kingdom of God occur over 120 times in the Gospels. The overwhelming emphasis of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ was a Kingdom message. We read that our Lord Jesus Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, yet today it is generally the Gospel of Salvation which is preached.
The Therapeutic Gospel
The Gospel of Salvation, as preached in all too many churches and through much of the main stream Christian media is mostly about me and how I can be blessed, healed, prospered, enriched, improved, saved from all the negative consequences of my bad choices and ultimately end up in Heaven. The way the gospel is preached by all too many today, is something of a therapeutic self-help message where the emphasis is on me, with God playing a supporting role in how I can fulfill my dreams and attain my desires.
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Let My People Go!
“So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me’.” Exodus 10:3
The nation of Israel grew out of secession from Egypt. In the Bible, a nation is an ethnolinguistic people group with a shared faith. The Scriptures make it clear that the Hebrews remained Hebrews, even after 480 years in Egypt. They never became Egyptians. We are not geographic accidents, but demographic descendants. The Scripture emphasises that all the families of the nations of the earth are to sing the praises of the Creator in every language and tongue. “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your Blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9
We need to listen critically and evaluate questions wisely.
A Dishonest Question
“Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1. No, God permitted Adam and Eve to eat from every tree, except this one: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.. Be alert to dishonest questions which distort the Word of God.
A Complaining Question
“And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” Exodus 15:24. Instead of asking God who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, to please provide for their needs, they complained.
An Accusatory Question
“And the people thirsted there for water and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’” Exodus 17:3. The lack of gratitude for God's deliverance of them from slavery in Egypt, is embarrassingly obvious as they accuse Moses of only wanting them to die of thirst in the wilderness!
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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