Alastair T. Ferrie's Blog

November 14, 2014

Luke 17:11-19

11 It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance 13 but raised their voices, calling out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
14 Taking a good look at them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests."
They went, and while still on their way, became clean. 15 One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. 16 He kneeled at Jesus' feet, so grateful. He couldn't thank him enough — and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus said, "Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? 18 Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?" 19 Then he said to him, "Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you."
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)


In the history of mankind, there never has been a healer like Jesus. When we think of the miracles of Jesus it is to the healing miracles that our minds turn. It seems that everywhere we look in the N.T. we see this picture of the healing Jesus.

Jesus is travelling along the road passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He travels He meets 10 unfortunate men, all suffering from leprosy. Sufferers had little hope of remission. There was no treatment available and little hope of any kind of normal life. They were compelled to live outside of society to protect others. This was the Ebola of the ancient world. They stand at a distance and cry out for help. “Jesus, Master! Have mercy upon us!”

Even without touching the men, nor applying any medical treatment... at the word of Jesus the disease fled before the unconquerable force of His overpowering love. They were commanded by Jesus to go and show themselves to the priests, this being the requirement before being allowed back into living in the community.

As they are making their way to see the priests they find themselves being cleansed of their leprosy. 10 hopeless outsiders become 10 hopeful insiders.

Although 10 are healed, only one returns to give thanks to Jesus, and he was a Samaritan. One might have imagined that such a transformative healing would have led to a more enthusiastic thanksgiving. Who is this Jesus that He can speak and dreadful disease is turned into hope and healing?

No wonder that marvelling Samaritan felt compelled to return and offer thanks. New life had come. Happy, heavenly, hope-filled healing.

Here is a man whose whole life was swallowed up in illness, incapacity, and isolation from all whom he loved. Every day was a challenge and a sentence…. Every day there was pain and discomfort.
Oh what a transformation, instigated by healing words of love from the lips of Jesus.

Wherever the Master went,
healing went with Him.

Alastair
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Published on November 14, 2014 07:44 • 87 views

November 3, 2014

Jesus: Miracle Man.

This short blog is a brief excerpt from a new work I am writing to help share the message of Jesus with the world. There may be fewer church attenders today, and fewer church communicants, but it seems to me there is a growing number of those who are exploring Christianity, looking for meaning and purpose. To these precious souls this work is dedicated and will hopefully see the light of day very early in the new year.

Let me tell you something of the amazing story of amazing Jesus. When Jesus came to be with us on earth, wherever He was miracles kept happening. What do we mean by miracles? One dictionary definition is, "an event or effect in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or transcending our knowledge of these laws: a wonder or wonderful thing; a marvel." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)

C.S. Lewis defined a miracle as "an interference with Nature by supernatural power." The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible gives an even better definition: "Miracles are events in the external world, wrought by the immediate power of God and intended as a sign or attestation”.

In John's gospel these miracles are referred to as signs. This again emphasizes that they had a purpose. They are not just wondrous events, worthy of discussion... but they are meant to signify something. They are signs pointing towards something... in this case the deity of the Christ.

Some people of course have problems with the miracles. They do not want to accept that such things happened in Biblical times. But these problems stem from a weak view of God and His Son Jesus. The real problem then is not with miracles but with the whole concept of God. Once we are convinced about the existence of God then miracles are no problem. In fact it would be utterly astonishing if they did not exist. And the converse is also true... if we are convinced about miracles then, the existence of God is a natural conclusion!

Biblical miracles were never performed for personal prestige or to gain money or power. They were always performed for the benefit of others and for the highest of all motivations. Jesus Himself saw them as of paramount importance in declaring His deity to the world, as He told the Jewish leaders of His day:

I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me. Jn 10:25 RSV

25 Jesus answered, "I told you, but you don't believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words. John 10:25 (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. Jn 14:11. RSV

11 "Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see — these works. John 14:11-12 (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

The Nature of Christ's Miracles.

The miracles of Jesus were both frequent and varied. We mean by this that it was not the case that sometimes He could do miraculous things and sometimes not. There were never occasions when He set out to perform a miracle and had to give up because His magic wouldn't work.

Also it is notable that there was a tremendous variety to the miraculous things that Jesus could do. It was certainly not the case that the Lord had a few magic tricks up His sleeve and the five tricks were rotated as He performed them in different towns. There was a tremendous variety to the amazing signs which Jesus was able to perform at will.

Such miracles are usually classified into the following main groups:-
• Power over nature.
• Power over disease.
• Power over demons.
• Power over the material world.
• Power over death.
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Published on November 03, 2014 06:36 • 113 views

October 19, 2014

Matt 22:37-40
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Jesus was asked one day what the greatest commandment was. This was a matter debated about by the scholars and experts on the law. However Jesus answered without hesitation with the text shown above.

The chorus that we sometimes sing with this title is one of the favourites of our congregation.. One of the few we have learned to sing in four part harmony.

Why is it the greatest? Jesus explains, it is because these two commandments underpin all the rest.

If we want to know if we are making progress spiritually, there is no better place to look than this. For if we are able to take hold on to these two then truly the change will be noticed in our lives.

To love God with our whole being is a transforming love which changes our approach, our thinking, our feeling and our spirituality. “I will place my laws in their hearts” prophesied Jeremiah in speaking of this new covenant of love. This innate love (innate at the point of the new birth) compels us to worship, and nothing but nothing will stand in the way of your worship to God…. Not circumstance, nor inconvenience, not greed nor gain. Each Lord's Day morning we have an appointment with the God we love.

The second command was coupled with it by Jesus Himself. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. This is the greatest because it underpins all the laws dealing with how we are to treat our fellow man. If we love our fellow man then we shall certainly not steal from him, nor covet his possessions nor covet his wife. How could we ever deprive one whom we love. This is the motivation for Christian service towards others.

Am I making progress in my journey towards spiritual maturity? The answer will be found in how we are responding to this answer of Jesus.

Is it more obvious to me, my
Friends, my dog, and the
World that I love God and love
My fellow man.

How am I demonstrating my love for God?

How am I demonstrating my love for my fellow man? With what service?

Alastair
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Published on October 19, 2014 06:16 • 81 views

September 9, 2014

We come in our reading of Genesis in this poat to chapter 3. The events of this chapter are momentous. They are far reaching and reach out across all of human history from this time in the garden paradise of God all the way down to you and me in the present day. Some vital answers are given to some of the most fundamental questions we might ask.
• Who created evil?
• Where did evil come from?
• What kind of being is man?
• Why is sin attractive?
• Whose fault is the original sin?
• What are the consequences of sin?

As a book of origins, Genesis tells us all about the existence of evil, and in this passage the origin of evil in the midst of God's good creation. See Gen 3:1-23.

The chorus of "good" and "very good" of chapter one tells us that evil was not there in the very beginning. Perhaps we might say that the potential for evil was there but in chapters one and two everything was good.

The amount of time that passed between chapter two and chapter three is unknown. However it is clear that God did not create the evil which so permeated the world following the events of chapter 3.

Adam and Eve rebelled against the provision, authority and love of the LORD God (Yahweh Elohim). In chapter one we were introduced to Elohim the mighty One who made the universe. In chapter two we were introduced to the personal God Yahweh who sought a personal relationship with the man He had created.

How did sin enter into the world? Paul comments on this.

Rom 5:12-13
12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned -

Any time we reject the Lordship of the Creator, we invite evil into our hearts and lives. Evil then reigns in our personal lives and it has consequences.

Rom 6:12-14
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. .... 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Spiritual death is separation from Yahweh Elohim our Creator.
Hab 1:13
13 Thou who art of purer eyes than to behold evil
and canst not look on wrong,
why dost thou look on faithless men,
and art silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?

God is too holy to abide in the presence of sin.

The Serpent:

The serpent of Gen 3 is a bit of a mystery and there has been speculation about the serpent down through the ages. According to Gen 3:1, God created it! Is this Satan? Or did Satan indwell the serpent? Then did God create Satan? And if so why? Should we consider that God created the serpent and the serpent came under the influence of Satan? The origin of Satan does not come under the remit of this study. But God created the serpent and Satan used the serpent. The serpent is so closely associated with the cause of Satan that in some passages it comes to stand for a symbolic representation of Satan.

Rev 12:9-10
9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

There has been a body of opinion that at one time the serpent walked on two legs rather than as we now recognize how a serpent would move. (This view is echoed by Josephus.) The word is a generic word for a reptile of some kind. Did snakes once have legs? The idea comes from the view that God cursed the snake by condemning it to travel on its belly and taking this statement literally. However note that the same verse declares that it would eat dust. We know that this is a figurative statement..... "bite the dust"... it means will travel close to the ground but snakes do not eat dirt. So is one statement literal and the other figurative?

We note the serpent's strategy in deceiving Eve.
1. He misrepresented the words and heart of God. He focussed on God's prohibition without mentioning His lavish provision. God just wants to spoil your life and restrict you. But no mention of how man could eat of every other tree in the garden which were all a delight to the eyes and good for food. And even to eat of the Tree of Life.

2. He smuggled in an assumption that God's Word is subject to our judgement. If the Word of God can be interpreted according to our whim and subject to our own reason then the Word ceases to be authoritative and it is our reason which is authoritative. The patients are running the asylum.

3. We note that the serpent created a false distance between God and the man by refusing to refer to God by the personal name Yahweh preferring instead the impersonal "God". Later in the conversation he falsely questioned God's motive for placing a prohibition on the one tree in question.

4. Lie 1: You will not die. The serpent inserts one crucial word into the sentence that God had uttered totally reversing the meaning. The serpent in the clutches of Satan is the father of all lies and Satan uses lies to accomplish his purpose of bringing men and women down to his level.

5. Lie 2: Eat and you will be like God! God knows all things and if you eat of this tree you will know good and evil. But the idea of knowledge in this passage must be seen as experiential knowledge. Did they become like God in eating? In fact this is the antithesis of the truth. They became nothing like God by eating... they were disobedient and introduced sin into the world. They had experience of both good and evil,good things and bad things: love and hate, peace and war, health and disease, life and death.

Eve:

Adam named his mate Eve, which means life or living because she would become the mother of all living. By the way Adam means man!

I have never given birth to a child, however I know that it can't be as painful as a man with the 'flu.

Her curse is to experience pain in childbirth. Imagine that those of you who are mothers... it if had not been for the fall, what would childbirth have been like... a piece of cake.

Scripture confirms that childbirth is extreme as an experience.

Isa 13:6-8

6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come!
7 Therefore all hands will be feeble,
and every man's heart will melt,
8 and they will be dismayed.
Pangs and agony will seize them;
they will be in anguish like a woman in travail.
They will look aghast at one another;
their faces will be aflame.

Isa 21:1-3

As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on,
it comes from the desert,
from a terrible land.
2 A stern vision is told to me;
the plunderer plunders,
and the destroyer destroys.
Go up, O Elam,
lay siege, O Media;
all the sighing she has caused
I bring to an end.
3 Therefore my loins are filled with anguish;
pangs have seized me,
like the pangs of a woman in travail;
I am bowed down so that I cannot hear,
I am dismayed so that I cannot see.

Mic 4:9-10

9 Now why do you cry aloud?
Is there no king in you?
Has your counsellor perished,
that pangs have seized you like a woman in travail?
10 Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion,
like a woman in travail;
for now you shall go forth from the city
and dwell in the open country;
you shall go to Babylon.
There you shall be rescued,
there the Lord will redeem you
from the hand of your enemies.

Gen 35:16-21

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor. 17 And when she was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, "Fear not; for now you will have another son." 18 And as her soul was departing (for she died), she called his name Ben-o'ni; but his father called his name Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day.


Despite all the advances in medical science, childbirth remains a matter over which there is and should be concern. Perhaps it is part of the reason why a mother has such a huge emotional investment in her children... they are born out of her body and borne with pain.

What was the fruit that so appealed to Eve? The fruit for almost 2000 years has been painted and portrayed as an apple. But the text speaks only of an undefined "fruit". (One good preacher friend of mine would say that it wasn't about the apple on the tree, it was about the pair on the ground.) How do we get the apple? Especially we think this because the apple was unknown in the Near East until a century ago. In Jerome's 5th century Latin translation known as the Vulgate, the word for "evil" with which the snake's speech ends (Gen 3:5) is malum. Malum can also mean apple and so the association of apple with this story which has been so ubiquitous.

Adam:

One thing that is not obvious from the English translation of the passage comes from the odd fact that in English we cannot distinguish between the 2nd person pronoun plural from the 2nd person singular. That is, "you", can be either plural or singular.

Gen 3:4
4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

The verse indicates that the serpent spoke to the woman but in fact the pronouns are plural. That is, although it is usually assumed that Adam was not present during this interchange between Eve and the serpent, it is clear that he was there throughout the whole thing. Eve may not have been present when God gave Adam the instructions about the tree and she may have got her information from Adam, but Adam was present not only for God's instructions but also for the serpent's disinformation.

• He could have intervened and tried to prevent his wife from being seduced into disobeying.
• He could have corrected the disinformation about whether in eating of the tree they would die or they would not. What did God say? Adam knew and said nothing.
• He could have refused to eat the fruit that Eve handed him and hence perhaps have persuaded her not to eat.
• After all of that he has the gall to blame both God and the woman for his mistakes. This woman you gave me. You gave me that woman in the first place..... and she is responsible for eating and giving me to eat. He acts like he is a child with no responsibility for his actions.

Notice the curse that Adam receives is not the curse of work. Indeed work was one of the blessings of Eden. But now his work would be arduous and the ground would not cooperate as the soil of Eden did. His work would be frustrated, refusing to provide fulfilment as it once did. It is a curse that still haunts every son of Adam today.

Our personal story of the fall echoes and fulfils the story of the fall in Genesis 3. As young children we are like Adam and Eve. We are pure and innocent in God's eyes. But the tempter comes (the serpent, the devil), and convinces us through lies and subterfuge that God's provision is not sufficient, that His Word is not authoritative, or that His love is not immense. We are persuaded that we know best, but surely anything that separates us from God cannot be best. We partake of the world's forbidden fruit, and a great gulf is created between the Father and us. Embarrassed we hide from God, using every type of fig leaf to pretend we are not really naked in His presence, but all our righteousness is like filthy rags. The fig leaf would have been a totally inadequate covering from which to hide ourselves from God. Whenever man tries to solve his own problem of moral inadequacy then we are hopeless at it.

God provides them with more suitable clothing of animal skins. Whether these were from food or from sacrifice is not clear but both are possible. Now that sin is in the world it is natural to assume that sacrifice for sin would be the next logical step. And it seems unlikely that sacrifice began with Cain and Abel (Gen 4), but that their parents would naturally have been involved in sacrifice too and that is where they learned about sacrifice in the first place.

The net result of their sin was a sense of nakedness. It represented a distortion of every relationship of man.

• man's relationship with God is distorted and instead of walking with God in the garden in the intimacy of divine fellowship, they attempted to hide from God among the trees of the garden.... now afraid of the Yahweh whom they had loved.

• man's relationship with woman is damaged. Man blames woman for his sin... it was her fault that he sinned. Selfishness has reared its ugly head and sin is multiplying.

• They are further ashamed of their nakedness suggesting that they looked at one another in a different way. Instead of the sexual act being an expression of love for one another, it became a means of personal sexual gratification and it was this that filled their minds and hence even their marital sex had changed beyond recognition.

• man's relationship with the animal kingdom has changed as the woman blames the serpent for her sin.


Protoevangelium:

Gen 3:15 is traditionally known as the proto-evangelium. i.e. the first prediction of the gospel. it seems unlikely that the original audience would have so understood it but with the benefit of hindsight we see it clearly enough.

It is alluded to in the New Testament...
Luke 10:19-20
19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.


Rom 16:19-20
19 For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil; 20 then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
RSV

Let us note the message of protoevangelium.

Gen 3:15
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."


• There will be enmity between the serpent and the seed of woman. Jesus was the seed of woman.

• He (Jesus) will bruise your (Serpent's) head... i.e. deliver a serious death blow to Serpent.

• You (Serpent) shall bruise His heel... i.e. you will deliver injury to the seed of woman, Jesus. This is seen in the crucifixion but it was not the end of Jesus, He rose again showing His victory over the serpent and in His resurrection He delivered the death blow to the head of the serpent. (Satan)
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Published on September 09, 2014 10:39 • 179 views

August 28, 2014

Genesis chapter 2 is a majestic chapter and is the foundation of what follows in the Bible. The main thrust could be expressed as the assertion that God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the source of this creation and responsible for it all. It is quite unlike the creation myths of antiquity which picture gods warring with one another and having sexual relations to produce various aspects of their creations. These polytheistic myths are in sharp contrast with this beautiful monotheistic view of an all-powerful God, who is omniscient, solely involved in the creation of all things. This God is presented as being the eternal One who was there in the beginning of time.... there is no aspect of the physical world which is to be viewed as eternal, only God is the eternal One. He speaks the worlds into existence with a simple, "Let there be..." The sun and the moon are of His creation, not rival deities to be worshipped.

In the first instance I would ask you to pause for a moment and read through the chapter to refresh your memory of what it contains. It begins with the statement, “In the beginning…” It points to the fact that this universe had a beginning. Where did it come from? How did it originate? The answer to this is suggested by the very next verse of Gen 1:1. “In the beginning, God….” God is the source and origin. He is the one who made it all. The eternal, omnipotent, omniscient God is the One who is outside of time and made everything that was made (John 1).

Man was given dominion to care for God's creation. And in Scripture the one who is superior is often seen as changing the name of the inferior, or giving a new name to the inferior. Here note man is giving names to all of God's creatures, and whatever he called the creature, that was its name.

Environmental science and ecology were invented by God and introduced to man in the Garden of Eden. The principles of Biodiversity, i.e. protection of species, was the initiative of God and delivered to man in the Garden.
The imperfections of this creation were not how it was originally created. Note the statements of Gen 1.

Gen 1:4-5
4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

Gen 1:10
10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:12
12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:17-19
And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:21
21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:25
25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then finally following the creation of man that was seen as the pinnacle of God's creation, and made in the very image of God we note then His reaction to His creative acts....

Gen 1:31
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

God placed us on earth to reflect His character and care for the creation which was an expression of the creative character of God.

In the beginning God.... God is presented as being there before time began. Nothing precedes Him and everything in the cosmos finds its origin in Him. God is before and outside of time and space as we know it. Thus He is not limited by either time or space. He is eternal and He is omnipresent. The God of Genesis 1 portrays Himself as the only God that there is, and He is unlimited in power and holiness.

In fact the use of the number seven in the narrative is notable and we should perhaps see it as part of the structure of the story. It would appear that the number of Hebrew words being used in the passage are multiples of the number 7.
1:1 consists of 7 words in Hebrew.
1:2 consists of 14 words (7 x 2)
2:1-3 consists of 35 words (7 x 5)

The number 7 dominates the opening chapter in a strange way, not only in the specific number of words used in specific sections but also in the number of times specific words or phrases are used.

God is used 35 times
earth is used 21 times
heaven/firmament is used 21 times
and it was so is used 7 times
God saw that it was good 7 times
God's approval recorded 7 times

Although there are ten announcements of the divine word and eight commandments actually cited, all of the above are grouped in sevens.

The idea of creating ex nihilo (a Latin phrase meaning out of nothing) is certainly present in Scripture,

Heb 11:3
3 By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.

Rom 4:17-18
17 as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations" - in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

And indeed although the quote that follows is not from Scripture it is from an ancient work of the Jewish people and represents their understanding of the creation

2 Maccabees 7:28
Look up to heaven and earth and see all that is therein, and know that God made them out of things that did not exist.

Thus the idea of creation out of nothing is part of the Biblical testimony of the original creation of God.

It is notable that the whole process begins with the creation of light. This is notable because the first thing to be created was then energy and energy is at the heart of the whole process. You cannot create anything without energy and with perfect logic, God begins the process with energy. Light is also necessary for the life of the things that God is about to create. We note that though light is created on day 1, the sun and moon are not created until day 4. This means that the light created on day 1 may not be the sun and moon but some other light energy put in place by God. Or it may mean that though the sun was created on day 1 it was not put in its relational arrangement with the earth until day 4.... it was set in right relationship to the earth on day 4.
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Published on August 28, 2014 05:41 • 99 views

August 9, 2014

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; ….. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Gen 1:26-27.


Have you ever wondered exactly what the Scriptures mean that we are created in the image of God.

It is true that man tends to think about God as someone who is in man’s own peculiar image. Yet if all of mankind is made in the image of God it simply cannot mean that we physically look like God since we are all so diversely different in appearance.

Some are tall and some are short. Some are dark and some are fair. Some have black skin and some have white, and a few other hues are possible. Some are plain and some have a film star appearance like me. (What do you mean the creature from the black lagoon?)

It is not physical. But there are some other things about man that mark him out as different from the rest of creation which derive from the fact that we are in God’s image.

We are eternal beings in the same way that God is eternal. God made us to live eternally and His desire is that we should live with Him. And He has placed within each one of us a consciousness that we are and should consider our eternal nature (Eccles 3:11). Where will you spend eternity?

We are rational beings, able to think and consider life, our identity, our destiny, our characters. No other being is able to think like man thinks. This is true because no other being was made in His image. Imagine where life today would be without that ability to think, reason, problem solve, think about things which are not in the room with us and consider abstract concepts and solutions. Man is unarguably a thinking being because God is a thinking God.

We are communicators. Though several creatures have some very limited ability to communicate in a rudimentary way, God has granted to us unparalleled ability to communicate because He is a communicative God. In many and various ways God spoke …. (Heb 1:1-3) God set out to communicate with us and gave us the ability to communicate with Him. God made us and set out to have a relationship with us, a relationship based on communication. God the communicator made man the communicator. And how much misery we bring into life and relationships when we fail to communicate as God intended we should.

We are moral beings with choice. God has made us free moral agents with the ability to choose to do right or wrong. Adam and Eve made a choice in the garden. And we either stand up for right or we ratify the choice that they made in Eden. God took the risk of granting to us the ability to choose and as a result had to put into place the great plan of redemption. He could have made us as android robots with no choice but to do good, but that was not part of His creative will. He made us with choice and called upon us to choose Him. There would be only limited joy in seeing us obey because programmed to obey. But think of the great joy when His children choose to do so. That is why every man and woman has within them an inbuilt sense of right and wrong because, made in the image of God, He created us with a sense of oughtness.
Alastair
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Published on August 09, 2014 03:51 • 83 views

July 25, 2014

Gen 1:1.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In these 10 simple words in the English language, the Bible begins. And this short simple statement contains the only inspired statement which explains where this universe sprang from and no theory of man has ever successfully arrived at an explanation which rivals it for completeness and rationality. The Big Bang Theory falls short because it still has no explanation of where this universe came from, or what was there a nanosecond before the Big Bang. Recent discoveries in Physics have ruled out the old theory of an oscillating universe, first exploding then imploding again in some vast cosmic cycle.
In these first words of Scripture is contained the elemental entities of the universe….

In the beginning ... Time
God... force
Created ... energy
The heavens ... space
And the earth ... mass

With these simple words of Scripture we see where the universe came from and how it came to be. The energy which was required to bring this universe into being came from the omnipotent God. Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence suggests that you cannot bring a physical universe into being without vast stores of energy.

If my life is an accident of evolution, then it is meaningless and purposeless. I have no significance. But if I am made in the image of Creator God, then this changes everything. My life does have purpose, significance and direction. My identity is radically changed when we include God in the picture.

I am the unique production of the creative genius of God. God created me because of His creative nature and I am the product of that creativity. You are God’s masterpiece. Only the omniscient, omnipotent God could create someone like you.

This is your source, your beginning.
And this puts your life into
context. Let’s start at the
very beginning…. A very
good place to start.
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Published on July 25, 2014 16:27 • 118 views

July 16, 2014

What is your life, a mist that appears for a little time then vanishes away. This is the Biblical analogy.

However, there are other ways we could express it. How about as a train journey? At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believed they would always travel by our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. 
 
As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant, i.e., our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don't realize they vacated their seats.
 
This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having good relationships with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.
 
The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step  down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

Who knows what thrills and hardships we might experience on the train journey of life? But one thing is for certain, it is there to be experienced and enjoyed, and however long our journey might be it is important to travel hopefully and joyfully, knowing the destination to which we journey.

I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love. More importantly, thank God for the journey. Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.
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Published on July 16, 2014 06:35 • 93 views

June 20, 2014

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold , the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them; He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
Rev 21:1-4.

There can be little doubt that there are different views that can be taken of the church of the living God. There is the view that the world takes of the church. It often sees it as judgmental, condescending. As a result many in the world give the church a major body swerve and want nothing to do with it.

Secondly there is how God views the church. God so loved the church that He gave His only Son to purchase the church, purchased with the blood of His own Son. (Acts 20:28)

Thirdly there is how the church views the church. I cannot help but feel that the revelation to John was designed in part to inform our view of the church of the living God. There is ever the tendency for us to undervalue the church. Yet when the chips are down, there is nothing else on earth that can compare to what the church can mean to us, do for us, and inspire us to do in the service of the Master.

There can be little doubt that the church is as beautiful to Christ as the bride is to his bridegroom. Do we see the beauty of the church like Jesus does?

She is the bride of Christ.
She is the new heavenly city of God…. A dwelling place for God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:22)

John sees the heavenly company of the church coming down to have fellowship with the earthly company.

Behold the dwelling of God is with men!
In the church there is fellowship between God and man!

He shall comfort us in our tribulations, wiping every tear from our eyes in the blessed fellowship of the new city of God.

Death itself shall not have dominion over us, nor pain nor crying.

Church could never be
boring nor irrelevant.
It is the new Jerusalem
of God.

Alastair
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Published on June 20, 2014 15:31 • 129 views

May 31, 2014

Many Christians ignore the Old Testament as something which is historical but perhaps has little to do with them. And yet it holds great relevance for the people of God.

Certainly it contains many exciting stories which are thrilling to read: Eg The crossing of the Red Sea., David and Goliath, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego and the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den, Elijah and the contest on Mount Carmel, Joshua and the Walls of Jericho, etc etc. But it is more than a book of adventures.

For the Christian the Old Testament lays out the detail of God’s gracious plan to redeem mankind from the consequences of sin. As soon as man fell into sinful ways, God set out His intention to redeem him from guilt and reunite him with God through the giving of His only Son. (Gen 3:15).

Indeed the overwhelming theme of the Old Testament is that Jesus is coming! We might summarize the message of the Bib le this way…
Old Testament He is Coming.
Gospels He has come.
Epistles He is coming again.

In every book of the Old Testament we can detect the message about the coming Christ. This is somewhat the theme of my latest book, Seeing the Big Picture in which I endeavour to trace the message of the Messiah through every book in the Old Testament.

Some books are more obvious about this theme than others.

Isaiah is known as the messianic prophet and is full of prophecies concerning the Messiah. Several others of the prophetic books also portray minute details of His ministry and sacrifice.

Other books are more challenging but nevertheless follow the theme…. Like a golden thread running through the great tapestry which is the Old Testament, the message of Messiah is there.
Seeing the Big Picture
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Published on May 31, 2014 09:46 • 85 views