The Atonement

The Atonement

FIRST, a thrilling statement of the Apostle Paul: ‘In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5: 19). Think about that. The message of the Gospel is not about the appeasement of a God who is angry at our failings: it is about a God of love, in His mercy providing a way for us to be reconciled, after our failings have alienated us from Him. Now the Apostle John: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1: 9). What does that mean? We are sinners, by our nature we are unrighteous. But God wants to cleanse us from our unrighteousness. Clearly it does not mean that God will make us into sinless people, because we

All One in Christ

All One in Christ

WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT. The way the world is, that means we’re valued differently. If you’re good looking or clever or wealthy you’re likely to go further in this life. But that’s not the way God sees us. If we’re followers of Jesus Christ, we’re all equally precious to God. A Letter to a Friend Tucked away in the middle of the New Testament is the letter of the Apostle Paul to Philemon. It’s only about a page long. It’s one of the most delightful letters ever written from one friend to another. Philemon was a Christian in Asia. Paul at this time was a prisoner of the Emperor in Rome. The letter concerns a slave called Onesimus, who belonged to Philemon but had run away. He had found himself in Rome, where he’d come across Paul and was converted and baptised. The bond grew between them, and Paul came to

All The World’s A Stage

All The World’s A Stage

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. ‘As You Like It’—William Shakespeare WHEN GOD CREATED the world (Genesis 1:1) He created the most fantastic stage set there ever was. But ahead of the coming of any actors upon the scene He had also written a great drama, with a cast of millions and an amazing climax. Just for a moment admire the set—in the distance, the heavens in their stellar glory. The immediate background shows the wonders of the creation as we view them every day. God then created the first pair of performers (Adam and Eve) and explained to them the role He wanted them to play in the unfolding drama (Genesis 2). But in the second scene (chapter 3) disaster struck. These two actors wanted to take a short cut to the final climax—they did not appreciate that for the drama to

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

IT’S A GOOD QUESTION, and one most people ask when they first come into contact with Bible believers. The idea that someone sacrificed themselves for others is a noble one, yet rather uncomfortable at the same time. After all, we might reason, a religion built on the idea of human sacrifice—that’s a bit macabre. One reason for Jesus’ death is actually quite straightforward. It was that his words and actions antagonised the religious leaders of the day. His total honesty, coupled with his ability to be morally perfect in his actions, made them mad with envy: ‘It was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up’ (Mark 15:10). This all happened because he had shown up the hypocrisy of their religious observances, simply by being the one who observed religion in the right way—that is, motivated by love: He said to them, “Which one of you who

The Unchanging God

The Unchanging God

ARE THERE PARTS of the Bible that are more relevant than others? Some Bible readers would say so—what do you think? It’s sometimes claimed that some parts of the Bible present a less pleasant view of God than other parts. The Bible’s critics will allege that the Old Testament—the first part of the Bible which deals with the history of the world before Jesus Christ— presents a harsh and unforgiving God: ‘the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God’ (Deuteronomy 4:24). Whereas in the New Testament, which deals with the life and teaching of Jesus and his followers, we read statements such as ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). On this basis, there are those who prefer to disregard the Old Testament and concentrate on the New. Developing Ideas of God? Did God change? Or was it people’s perception of God? One suggestion which is often made

The Law of Moses

The Law of Moses

ALTOGETHER, Moses was away for six weeks in Mount Sinai. The people last saw him climbing up into the dense cloud that covered the mountain. They began to wonder why he was gone so long. In fact he was remarkably busy. He was writing down hundreds of major and minor laws from God. There are whole chapters of these commandments in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. As chief judge and administrator, he was entrusted with setting up a system for teaching them, and for courts of justice to deal with offenders. Wise Laws Some of the laws were concerned with ceremonial matters, such as the rules of sacrifice, the great religious festivals, and the organisation of the priesthood. This area of Bible research is fascinating, because in many subtle ways the ceremonial laws spotlighted the ugliness of sin, and pointed forward to the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. However,

Jesus the Saviour

Jesus the Saviour

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD it said more than once that the Bible teaches that we are all sinners. That there is none that is good and that all are equal in the sight of God. Equally sinners. That this is true there can be no doubt, but sometimes sinners can be encouraged by the knowledge that they are sinners amongst so many others. Looked at like this, being a sinner does not seem half so bad. But to be a lone sinner —a personal sinner—is a very different matter. In such a situation our sins take on a different hue and our position takes on a different perspective. It is true that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, but if you are to be saved he died for your sins in particular. If he is to save me personally, then his sacrifice could not have been avoided,

Taking God’s Name in Vain

Taking God’s Name in Vain

WE LIVE IN a world which is increasingly atheistic. Fewer and fewer people identify with organized religion, or any faith at all. But strangely, the names of God and of Jesus Christ feature very commonly in everyday speech. They are used mostly as casual exclamations. People who use this language are generally oblivious to the fact that it is offensive and upsetting to those who believe in and worship God. Why would someone who believes in God use His name as a swear word? After all, people don’t swear and curse in the name of the Queen or the King or the President. Then again, why would someone who does not believe in God use His name as a swear word? What is the point? It is not just believers who find this language offensive. The Bible makes it clear that God hates it. The Israelites had to use the

How to Find God

How to Find God

I KNEW A MAN who was a Christian, and proud of it. But he swore and cursed more than almost anyone else I’ve ever known, and he was particularly imaginative in finding ways to abuse the name of God. I reminded him of the third of the Ten Commandments: ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain’ (Exodus 20:7). He smiled and said, “It’s just the way I am. I live hard and talk hard. God won’t hold it against me.” The fact was, this man was entirely confident because he was a Christian, and a good man—as evidenced by the fact that he had been christened as a baby, attended a couple of church services a year, and had never committed a very serious crime. There was no reason therefore

Your E-mails: February 2022

Your E-mails: February 2022

Jesus says a lot about hell fire and brimstone as the punishment for the wicked. Why don’t Christadelphians believe in it? ED: JESUS MADE IT CLEAR that when he returns there will be a judgement of those who know the Gospel. And he described this judgement in very colourful ways: But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21–22). The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:41–43).