Monthly Archives: April 2015

When in Rome (a Look at Romans) – Part 1

This is a series that has been a long time coming. I remember working through the book of Romans many years ago, but I have changed so much since then, that I decided to do it again. I know that there is so much ‘meat’ in Romans, that I believe that I will learn much from this series, and I pray that you will learn from it too. Join me each week to have a look at Romans, one chapter at a time.

Let’s start with chapter one. After Paul introduces himself, he wastes no time in showing God’s wrath against a sinful humanity, but first the encouraging bit. Take a look at verses 11 and 12. “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong — that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” There are two things that strike me here, firstly that Paul longed for the gentiles to have spiritual gifts. I still come across people who don’t even believe that spiritual gifts are even from God, they refer to them as demonic. If you’re of this belief, I really encourage you to be open to the gifts of the Spirit. Since I have discovered, developed and used them, my life has changed for the better. The second part is about us encouraging each other. I think that we often go to church to be encouraged. We see it as the worship teams responsibility to lead us into fellowship with God. We see it as the pastor’s job to teach us, and the leadership’s responsibility to lead us as a church. What is our responsibility? Pitch up and listen? I believe that we are all responsible for our own walk with God (as I have said before). Do you ever go to church, preparing yourself before you get there, asking God how He is going to use you to encourage or bless someone else? I’ll leave this to you to think about. All I’ll say is that leaders are people too, they also need encouragement, and we are all responsible to and for everyone. There is no blessing, like blessing someone else.

After this encouraging passage, we then see a long passage about God’s wrath on sinful humanity. This is interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, we tend to disregard passages like this because we are ‘covered by the grace of God’. Now don’t get me wrong, we are covered by the grace of God, but we need to acknowledge God’s reaction to sin. The grace of God does not belittle the consequences of sin, the consequences of sin shows the power of the grace of God! We need to understand how God sees sin, so that we can begin to understand what we have been saved from. We also need to understand that there are people out there who have not been saved from their sins. Take a look from verse 18 to the end of the chapter. How much does that sound like people in the world today? It sounds very familiar to me. This is the sad part, I believe that so many people are in this category today, and it is our job to bring the gospel to them. Are we doing a good enough job? Again, as above, who’s responsibility is this? The worship team’s? The pastor’s? The leadership’s? Yours?

I’m not saying this to guilt anyone, I’m saying it to encourage you. This passage shows a clear difference between us and people who are trapped in sin. I believe that we need to stay out of sin, and help those that are in it to get out. Only a relationship with Jesus can do this, but they may only find a relationship with Jesus when we use the gifts that we have been given, and reach the lost.

Thanks for reading this, I hope that we all learn throughout this series. Please join me for the next chapter next week, and as usual, please feel free to comment if you wish.

Be blessed.

Richard

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Did We Do the Right Thing (Taking an Oath)?

I usually write these posts as I learn something, or once I have been putting what I have learned into action, and seeing the results. This was I can encourage others when the lesson is still fresh in my mind. This post is different. This time I want to know what you think (although I do always welcome your thoughts and comments). My wife and I have both recently been in situations that have called for some ‘uncommon’ actions on our part. We believe that we have done what is biblically correct, but I’m not 100% sure yet, so I would like to see what all of you think.

My wife became a British citizen as I was already a British citizen, and after some time living in the UK, she became eligible to become British. There was a ceremony to swear allegiance to the Queen. Naturally, they ask you what religion you would classify yourself as, and they pull out the respective ‘holy’ book (Bible, Qur’an, Torah etc). They then proceed to ask you to swear allegiance on the ‘holy’ book of your choice.

Before I explain what my wife did, let me tell you about my story. I recently went to court as a witness in a case. Other than being quite intimidating, I found the whole experience quite fascinating. Again, they asked my which religion I belonged to. I resisted the urge to explain that it is not a religion, but a faith and relationship with the risen Lord, and gave them my answer. They then pulled out a Bible and asked me to swear on it that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

My wife and I both gave the same answer. “No, we won’t swear on the Bible”.

Fortunately for us, we live in such a ‘politically-correct’ society, that they had an alternative ‘swearing in’ process for ‘non-religious’ people. No mention of God, you just promise to uphold the British law, or to tell the truth. We opted for that option. Why?

Jesus said this in Matthew Chapter 5 – Teaching about Vows

33 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne.35 And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

This seems pretty clear to me. I don’t understand how people could have been swearing on the Bible for so many years, without someone questioning this. Have I misunderstood this passage? I have looked it up in various translations, and some are even clearer than this (NLT). I know that some people say silly things like, “I swear on my children’s lives”, and other really stupid things like that. I would definitely say that that is covered by this verse, but were our situations? It seems odd that the courts would ask someone who believes a Book, to swear on that Book, when the Book they believe in tells them not to.

I am interested to hear your views. Have you thought about this? What would you do if asked to take an oath? Let me know, comment below or on the social media posts.

By the way, if you are swearing on your children’s lives (or anything else like that), word of advice. Stop.

Richard

False Prophet or Dodgy Doctrine?

Here is a topic that I believe is often miss-quoted, so I thought that I would try and clear it up. I saw an article the other day, naming just about every Christian TV evangelist and Church founder as a false prophet, including John Wimber and Andrew Wommack. Really? It seems like everyone is a false prophet now days, so I will show you the scripture behind this ‘theory’, and then give you my ideas as to why this is going on.

Go and read 2 Peter 2. It is too long to post the whole thing here, but you will see something interesting. The first part is most quoted by people, where it talks about destructive heresies, denying the Lord and greed. As soon as a pastor preaches that God wants to bless us, he is labelled a ‘prosperity preacher’ and said to be a false prophet. People then say that these people preach a message which is all about us. This is in fact, nonsense. Read the rest of the chapter. It goes on to say that false prophets are not afraid to ‘heap abuse of celestial beings’, they have eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning, they seduce the unstable, they have left the straight way and they love sin. That is just some of the depravity that these false prophets are guilty of. This is not describing John Wimber or Andrew Wommack.

So why do people label these teachers as false prophets? Who knows, but I have my theory. It appears to me that it is nothing more that a difference of opinion when it comes to theology. That is all. It often occurs between ‘conservative’ and ‘charismatic’ Christians. I have been in both camps. I started of a ‘conservative’ Christian, scared of anything too spiritual, and I am now firmly in the ‘charismatic’ camp. I have heard both arguments. ‘Conservatives’ say that ‘charismatics’ are away with the fairies and doing dodgy practises, where as the ‘charismatics’ say that ‘conservatives’ wouldn’t recognise the Holy Spirit if He did pitch up at their church. Neither argument is true, or very helpful. Let me make it painfully clear. Just because someone’s theology is different to yours, doesn’t make them a false prophet. False prophets are deranged, deliberately leading someone astray, evil loving, greedy, lustful maniacs. Not necessarily Bible teachers who disagree with what you believe.

So are all Bible teachers right? No. Believe it or not, Bible teachers and evangelists are human, and they make mistakes. I don’t listen to anyone and believe 100% of what they say, and I don’t agree 100% with anyone’s theology. I don’t expect anyone to agree 100% with me either. My personal philosophy is to listen to anyone’s teaching, and ‘filter’ what they say through scripture. If it is true, then I take it on board, if not I let it go. There are times when I have heard a particular preacher get too many things wrong, so I decide not to listen to them anymore. Benny Hinn is an example of this, I don’t particularly agree with what he says, so I don’t listen to him anymore. Yet believe it or not, there is still some truth in what he says. There are others who I agree with 90% of what they say, but I still find things that I believe that they get wrong. I don’t call either of these people false prophets.

So what can we do to avoid false prophets and incorrect Biblical teaching? Read your Bible. Take responsibility for your own walk with God. If you study the Bible for yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Word to you, and ask God for wisdom, then you won’t be lead astray. Whether you actually do come across a false prophet, or if you just end up listening to someone with dodgy theology, you will know that it is not the truth. If you latch onto someone and blindly believe what they tell you, you are running a huge risk. Even if they do get it right, it is still risky getting all of your teaching from one person, and not reading the Bible for yourself.

Keep reading the Word, meditating on it, and then putting it into action.

Richard