Your E-Mails: August 2022

Why was Jesus baptised? If he was without sin, surely he didn’t need it? Ed: WHEN WE’RE BAPTISED, we are dipped under water as a symbol of dying and being raised to life again. We show that we want to put to death our sinful nature, and live a new life. And by doing this we associate ourselves with Christ’s death and resurrection. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3–4). Baptism is the way we identify ourselves with Christ, and so it’s the essential start to the Christian life. This is the simple reason why Jesus said at his baptism

Rebellion

Rebellion

ONCE MORE the twelve tribes trekked back into the wilderness, away from the land they had rejected. They were in a mood to complain. Before long a conspiracy developed. The layout of the camp set the tents of the tribe of Reuben near to Levi, for Reuben and Levi were brothers (Genesis 35:23). The ringleader of the mutiny was Korah from the tribe of Levi, a cousin of Moses. With him were Dathan, Abiram and On, three brothers from the nearby tribe of Reuben. They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Numbers 16:3). Korah claimed the right to share the role with Moses and Aaron of leading the people. We

Lessons From Eden

Lessons From Eden

GENESIS CHAPTER 3 tells how Adam and Eve brought a curse upon humankind when they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, after they were lied to by the serpent. This is referred to as a literal occurrence throughout the Bible (for example 1 Timothy 2:13–14, 2 Corinthians 11:3 and Jude 14). As well as being a real event, it also contains great symbolic significance. There are vital lessons here about the process of sin (rebellion against God) which separates us from Him, and the process by which we must be reconciled to Him. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in

Why are Some Christians So Miserable?

Why are Some Christians So Miserable?

“I DON’T THINK MUCH of your church,” said Sam. “You all look miserable and the service is boring. Why can’t you be like the church near me where everyone is happy?” It is outrageous if inappropriate attitudes put people off true Christianity. Most certainly it is true that some people do show more emotion than others, and some congregations are very sombre. While some of us are naturally down-beat, it may be the (often un-knowable) reasons for our moods that matter. Contentment with Circumstances One reason for being miserable is a general dissatisfaction with our lives, leading to habits of grumbling and complaining. If this is the mind-set of the believer, then they are effectively finding fault with God, Who gives us everything we have. This is a serious matter: the complaints of the Hebrews in the wilderness prevented them from entering the Promised Land (Numbers 14:29). In contrast, the

The Trinity

The Trinity

THERE IS A CREED that many churches hold as essential to salvation, and part of it reads: ‘We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity; neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance. For there is one person of the Father, and another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal… And in this Trinity none is afore, or less than other; But the whole three persons are co-eternal together; and co-equal… He therefore that will be saved, must think thus of the Trinity’ (Athanasian Creed). I confess that this creed has always baffled me. I know that the doctrine of the Trinity is held very dear by many people, and I am aware that questioning it can cause upset. But we need to

Colossians

Colossians

WHEN THE APOSTLE Paul spent three years at Ephesus (Acts 20), the Gospel spread inland to such towns as Laodicea and Colosse (in what is modern Turkey), and congregations of believers were formed. While Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he learned from Epaphroditus of problems which had arisen among believers at Colosse (Colossians 1:7). So he sent this Letter via Tychicus and Onesimus (4:7–9) to the ‘brothers in Christ’ (1:2), encouraging them to ‘continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard’ (1:23) and to beware of ‘philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition’ (2:8). The main problems at Colosse arose from Judaisers (Jews who insisted that Christians must follow the Law of Moses) and Gnostics (adherents of a Greek philosophy which valued special knowledge and experience). Paul rebuked those Jews who were still preoccupied with the Law of

The Unexplained

The Unexplained

CROP CIRCLES are one of the more bizarre phenomena of the modern age. They have been reported all over the world, but the majority of them appear during the months of July and August in the county of Wiltshire in the UK. They are huge geometric patterns which appear in standing crops. Some have measured 300 metres across, they appear without warning in the short hours of summer darkness, and they are sometimes breathtakingly beautiful. There are many theories about their origin. They are attributed to extraordinary weather phenomena, or anomalies in the earth’s magnetic field, or reflections on the ground of the collective unconscious, or aliens. The most likely explanation of course is human pranksters. Over the years various individuals and groups have claimed the credit for them, but it’s a fact that the most intricate examples still defy explanation. So for now they remain a mystery. What is

Your E-Mails: July 2022

Your E-Mails: July 2022

“Why should we surrender to an oppressive government?“ Ed: HERE ARE five Bible principles to consider: God is directing world affairs towards His ultimate purpose, and all governments are put in place by Him (Daniel 4:17). This means good governments, and also bad governments—which is admittedly not an easy principle to accept. But here’s an example: the Nazi government in Germany in the 1930s was an abhorrent regime which committed many atrocities. But with hindsight we can see that the Nazis had a part in God’s plan, because their persecution of European Jews provided impetus for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, in fulfilment of Bible prophecy (for example Ezekiel 37). Hitler was a monster, but God allowed him to do what he did. So the first point is that any government is there because God is using it. Followers of Christ must obey the government of

Children of God

Children of God

BEFORE THE LORD Jesus Christ came on the scene, the Jews did not refer to themselves as children of God. Rather they referred to themselves as children of Abraham. Abraham was their ancestor, whose life is recounted in Genesis chapters 12 to 25. It was Jesus who started teaching that true believers in ‘the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ’ (Acts 8:12) are children of God. The Lord Jesus was the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary by means of God’s Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). All who confess their faith in the Son of God and are baptised in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:29) become adopted children of the Father. As the apostle Paul tells us: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive

Crisis of Faith

Crisis of Faith

BY THE COASTAL ROAD, the distance from the border of Egypt to the frontier of Israel is under 200 miles. At a modest pace of 10 miles a day, it could be walked in three weeks. But the journey to the Promised Land took the people of Israel over 40 years. The reason for this extraordinary delay is at once depressing and instructive. This is how it came about. Some time after they received the Law from God at Mount Sinai, the Israelites set off northwards through the Sinai Peninsula. They arrived eventually at Kadesh Barnea, an oasis in the desert not far from the boundary of Canaan. After a Iifetime of burden-bearing in Egypt, the people were looking forward to the farms and villages they had been promised. The snag was, they had no experience of warfare, and the Canaanites were Iikely to resist bitterly any attempts to evict