The Wisdom of God

The Wisdom of God

“Why? Why? Why?”“Because I say so!” How many times have we heard exasperated parents exclaim this to a protesting child? To the child it might seem an unreasonable response: it’s no explanation at all. But for a parent who has finally lost the will to explain, it can be their last resort. Questioning can be genuine—the child may be really trying to understand, but unable to grasp their parent’s explanation. Or it may be challenging and defiant. As children grow older, their parents’ reasoning becomes more intelligible; but the tendency to be defiant does not necessarily decrease. And on occasions parents are actually wrong. We are all like the inquisitive child. We like to think that we know the answers, or at least that we are entitled to know them. We also seek reasons. And in this quest we can challenge authority, even when we are incapable of understanding a

What is Truth?

What is Truth?

Jesus Christ was standing trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. The charge was that Jesus was claiming to be a king, which was tantamount to treason against the Roman Emperor. Pilate therefore said to him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in him at all” (John 18:37–38). Was Pilate really interested in the answer to his question? Did he care about the truth? Not enough to let it stop him handing over for execution a man whom he knew

When You Know the Reason it Makes Sense

When You Know the Reason it Makes Sense

IF YOU HAD VISITED the English town of Beverley in the 1960s, you may well have travelled on a bus like the one on the front cover. Why the peculiar shaped roof? Was it an attempt at streamlining—or did they think that was stylish in the ’60s? If so, it didn’t catch on! Actually it was a perfectly sensible design —it was to enable the bus to fit through Beverley’s medieval gateway, the North Bar. When you know the reason, it makes sense. Many things in life are like that. And it’s a good principle to bear in mind when you read the Bible. The Bible is a wonderful book, when you read it you realise it’s like no other book that was ever written—which isn’t surprising because it’s God’s book. But it does say things which initially seem odd. So we need to take the trouble to understand the

Demons in the Bible

Demons in the Bible

THE IDEA OF demons is an interesting one. The word appears over 50 times in the New King James Version of the Bible (which is the version we generally use in Glad Tidings). In the older King James Version, demons are typically called ‘devils’. We’re going to consider what the Bible says about them and how we should understand this concept. Put simply: demons refer to one of two things: Idols worshipped instead of the true God, or Mental illness healed by Jesus and his disciples. There is good news here. Demons are not something to fear, supernatural beings sent to hurt us. Rather, they are a warning to worship God properly, and evidence of His power, as exercised through Jesus Christ. Let’s put aside any preconceptions we may have and read what the Bible actually has to say when it speaks about demons. Old Testament Idol Worship The Bible

Your E-Mail

Your E-Mail

TH: On page 6 of issue 1630, the writer claims that baptism is necessary for eternal life, and to support this he quotes Mark16:15–16: “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’” The earliest manuscripts do not include the verses in Mark 16:9–20.  Therefore, should these verses be used to support an argument? If you’re going to use verses 15–16, you should also consider the rest of what Jesus said: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover”(vs. 17–18). I

The Problem with Rules

The Problem with Rules

RULES are essential. They show us what’s right and what’s wrong, they show us the boundaries of good behaviour, they make it possible for us to live together. Imagine a school without rules—it would be dominated by the few students who could thump the hardest, and nobody would learn much. Imagine roads without rules—nobody would be safe. Without rules, society could not function. There are rules in the Bible, as you’d expect. For example ‘You shall not murder’ and ‘You shall not steal’. These are two of the Ten Commandments, the fundamental rules which God gave to His people Israel as a basis for their society (you can read them all in Exodus 20). They’re part of the system of laws called the Law of Moses, which is contained in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. There’s an odd thing about the Law of Moses, which sets it

What is Faith?

What is Faith?

Popular ideas about faith vary widely and can be misleading. Many religious people think faith is a mystical gift from God that enables us to understand and relate to Him. The Oxford English Dictionary defines faith as “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”. Others may be more sceptical and add the word “blind”, their view being that faith lacks reason or evidence. So, what is faith? Bible-based Faith The Bible is the key source of knowledge about God. Therefore, faith in God is best considered by consulting the Bible itself. In the rest of this article, this ‘Bible faith’ is what we are talking about. True faith in God really does involve substance and evidence. The Bible is not an indiscriminate collection of writings. Although it was written down over at least 1,500 years by many writers from different countries and

Become Someone New

Become Someone New

There is very strong evidence for believing in a God who cares about the world He has created. What if, after looking at all this evidence, we are convinced about the truth of the gospel message? What then? From Caterpillars to Butterflies Some years ago, our eldest daughter was given a butterfly kit for her birthday. The transformation that a caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly is truly remarkable. Caterpillars are beautiful creatures in their own way, but compared to the beauty, elegance and grace of a butterfly, they pale into insignificance! The apostle Paul uses this analogy to describe believers in Jesus: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the word transformed here in

I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

I think I’m a rational person, as do most people. But I’m telling you that I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Am I a credulous and gullible believer in fairy tales? Have I been touched by a supernatural experience which revealed to me something hidden from everyone else? I’m neither of those things, and I’d like to share the extraordinary evidence available to support such a belief. When I say, “I believe”, what I mean is that I have considered a body of evidence and concluded that one conclusion provides the best explanation. It’s not blind faith. Considering the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is a little like examining the scene of a crime. We can sift through the objects in the room, observe what the suspects did after the crime was committed, take statements from witnesses and try to piece together what happened. But we can never

We All Want to Belong

We All Want to Belong

As human beings we are driven by certain basic needs. Our moment-by-moment decisions are often driven by sub-conscious ‘programming’ to meet our physiological and psychological needs. The ‘need to belong’ is one of these, second only to our most fundamental requirements for food and physical safety. The psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a famous paper in 1943 on “A Theory of Human Motivation”. In it, he described a hierarchy of human needs, a sort of pyramid with the most basic at the base and those things that lead to greater fulfilment at the pinnacle. At the very bottom are our needs for food, water, warmth and rest; the next level is our physical security and safety. Maslow’s theory is that we will seek to fulfil our needs in order from bottom to top. Based on this, once we have physical sustenance and safety, the very next urge which will drive our