Luke Wilson | 09th August 2017 | General Articles, My Books | 0 comments
9 August
Aug 9
9th August 2017

It's been a little quiet from me over here, but not for lack of things to write! I have been busy putting together a book based on the Lenten series I recently did this Easter just gone. It has been reformatted for paperback and soon to follow, eBook/Kindle too, as a daily reading plan not just to be read during Lent but can be read as your own personal reading plan over a forty day period of your choosing. The book will also be released with a companion book which will contain all of the full, original texts from the relevant Church Fathers that are included within the forty day plan. You can read more about it, and follow any updates here on this promo page: 40-days-with-the-fathers.html  ...

| | Current Events, General Interest | 0 comments
10 April
Apr 10
10th April 2014

Ancient and not a fake according to scientists IMAGE: HARVARD UNIVERSITY, KAREN L. KING/ASSOCIATED PRESS A little while ago, there was some hoopla in the news about a newly discovered fragment of papyrus from ancient times which contained the phrase "Jesus said to them, 'my wife...,'". Obviously, and not surprisingly, the media made a big deal out of this. Atheists and the like, saw it as a blow to Christianity and conspiracy theorists everywhere thought it confirmed their views that the Vatican and the Catholic Church were part of some big cover-up to hide the "truth" about Jesus: that he married Mary Magdalene and had children. But before we all get too carried away at the so-called implications of this, lets now forget one thing: Jesus being a bridegroom and having a bride (ie. a wife) is in the Gospels and New Testament all along. In his parables, Jesus often referred to, or implied himself as the bridegroom (Matthew 9:15; Mk 2:19; Lk 5:34), whilst the people of the Kingdom of God were a part of the bridal or wedding party (Matthew 25:1-13; Jn 3:29). In Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church, he speaks of them as a bride to be presented to Christ, the husband (2 Cor 11:2), and also to the Ephesian church, Paul draws a parallel between the love of a husband and wife being the same kind of love and commitment as Jesus had for his church: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25) This theme of husband and wife with Jesus as the groom and husband even follows through into John's apocalyptic Revelation, probably in a more vivid depiction than the previous examples: And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:2; Rev 21:9-10) The New Jerusalem here is the bride "adorned for her husband" who is the "wife of the Lamb" - and who is the Lamb? Yep, Jesus (Jn 1:29). Then also, Jesus is linked as the one who has a bride again in Rev 22:17, when John writes: The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”And let everyone who is thirsty come.Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. It's interesting here that "the Spirit" is synonymous with Jesus as having the bride, since he is the one who gives the water of life, which we can see in John 4:14 when Jesus says "those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty". So what's the point here? There's lots of references made about Jesus being the bridegroom and as one who has a bride and, later in the book of Revelation, has a marriage supper (Rev 19:9) so it presumably married by this point too (or at least, will be), so it's really not that unusual for a reference of Jesus speaking of a "wife". Despite all this though, the fragment has been dated to be "between the sixth and ninth centuries CE" which means it was written long after the rest of the New Testament, which already has a rich narrative about Christ and his Bride, and so the small fragment of text could simply be a later interpolation by Christians writing about Jesus and his wife, the Church. Alternatively, it could also be a genuine saying of Jesus which had been preserved in other texts not included in the Canon, in which Jesus was saying "my wife... the Church". We don't know, and unless the rest of this document is found, we will never know. But I think it is pretty clear and likely that Jesus never had a "real" wife, as you would think that would have been mentioned by someone in all the hundreds of texts written about ...

| | Theology, Judgement | 0 comments
10 April
Apr 10
10th April 2014

On judgement ...there is only the Spiritual realm, ...and to which one either serves God in heaven or resides in hell awaiting Judgment. Is it as simple as that? This is an actual quote from someone during an online discussion on the subject, but this is not anything against who ever said it, but rather a response to the prevailing view behind it that people generally seem to adhere to. The topic of Hell in itself is a rather large subject that is much more complex that you might initially think, and is a topic I intend to cover here soon as a series. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. A lot of Christians would say that hell is the 'final destination' of the dead who are not "in Christ". But if the dead already reside in hell then surely they have already been judged? If not, then why are they there? What use is the final judgement if God has already pre-decided what most people's fate is? That isn't judgement, that's a decision with no consideration. Look at the definition of judgement in the Oxford dictionary: The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. Or in another definition: "The capacity to assess situations or circumstances and draw sound conclusions". If its already been decided that the dead without Christ are going to hell, then they haven't been judged in the way the Scriptures portray - and definitely not with "considered decisions" about the "situations or circumstances" of the people involved. So how does Scripture portray God's judgement on people? Let's look at the Great White Throne judgement: Revelation 20:12-13And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. This judgement sounds a bit different to simply being condemned to hell automatically. At least here it appears as though God is considering his judgement on the people before deciding, else what is the point to this process? Another thing to consider is what Paul writes about the Law being written on our hearts so that we are without excuse - another verses often bandied about, but we must consider the full statement made by Paul and not stop short of it: Romans 2:14-16When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all. This is in line with Revelation's depiction of judgment as God looks at their deeds in his books, he sees everything we've ever said and done, and even then some deeds and thoughts may "excuse them" on the day of judgement. I feel confident in God's justice here that those who didn't know Christ "personally" but still lived as though they did, or still lived as though they followed his commands, will have that taken into account by God. But before you quote John 14:6 at me and cry out "but none come to the Father except through Christ!" - remember who is the one judging: Jesus. If he accepts them as righteous on the day of judgement, then they have indeed still come to the Father through Jesus, even if it's not in the way we would have expected....

| | Theology, Women | 0 comments
8 April
Apr 8
8th April 2014

1 Timothy 2:12 - "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent." Here's an often tricky subject, depending on who you speak to about it. Before I begin, it should be noted here that these words ("woman" and "man") could also be translated as "wife" and "husband", which then changes the thrust of this command quite drastically. This verse, and others similar, are often taken by people to mean that it only applies in a church setting (ignoring the fact that we are the Church - 1 Cor 12:27; Rom 12:5). A little while ago when discussing this topic, an argument was put forth about the 'Woman at the Well' preaching to others (men especially) as she, after speaking with Jesus, went back to her town and proclaimed the Gospel to everyone (Jn 4:39-42). Though the opponents argued that she was permitted due to the fact that she was in a town and not a church. Despite that, the argument about the woman at the well being "permitted" to teach the Gospel, because it was in a town and not a church building, fails because Paul is basing his logic on the Genesis creation order - which would surely apply universally. We can see this in the very next verse and sentence in 1 Tim 2: For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. So if Paul's logic and subsequent command comes from creation-order, then either everyone is subject to it in every situation, or they aren't at all. You can't say "do it this way because Adam and Eve, God said so" and tag it with "but only here, here and here" if the argument it based on how God originally designed everything to be. The whole marriage debate is also based on a creation-order logic that God 'made them male and female' (Gen 1:27; Mk 10:6), therefore man/man, woman/woman can't marry - and the church is fighting its hardest to make that apply to all people, secular or otherwise - despite Paul saying judging those outside the church is not our business (1 Cor 5:12). So why in the instance of women being silent, should this same creation-order command from Paul be only situational and the other not? Leaving aside the silence issue for a moment, those women out there who do keep to this non-authority, staying quiet thing - do you follow the preceding verse as strictly?  ...also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes... (v.9) Do you men who follow the silence of women strictly, also follow this? How many of you make sure your wives don't have a new hairstyle, or wear jewellery or buy nice clothes? Are any women reading this wearing jewelry? Or have their hair styled? Or are wearing expensive designer clothes Surely you should cast all your personal ornaments and fancy clothes away lest you break Paul's command about modesty! Men you should stop your wives, and any woman in the church you may lead, from wearing jewellery, or doing their hair in nice styles - and you better make sure they only buy drab, second-hand clothes from charity shops so as not to fall into the trap of getting immodest, expensive clothing! But now lets look at 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, where Paul issues a similar command, yet this time it's translated as "husbands" and "wives" rather than generic men/women: As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. OK, so, same line of thinking here from Paul it would appear. But before you say "but this is a different situation!" - see how he begins: "As in all the churches of the saints" - ALL the churches. It would seem that this is speaking of the same type of situation as in 1 Timothy, yet this t...

| | Theology, Judgement | 0 comments
6 April
Apr 6
6th April 2014

A question most often asked by Christians and non-Christians alike is "why do bad things happen to 'good' people?" I say 'good' in quotations because, as Paul writes in Romans 3:10, "There is no one who is righteous, not even one". In light of that this question is technically, fundamentally flawed, as it presupposes that some people are better or more worthy than others. We all do wrong one way or another, so at a base level and in comparison to a Holy God, no one is any more 'good' than another, which is Paul's argument I believe (but that's probably a whole other blog post). But that aside, taking the question as it is, and assuming that those who just go about their daily lives not doing anything particularly 'evil' or nasty are to be considered as good people, then why should they have horrible things happen? Why should people who maybe even worship God, and live as best they can in accordance with his commands, get cancer for example? Or suddenly lose a child or spouse? Or have to constantly worry how they will pay the bills month to month? Isn't God good? Doesn't he care? Yes. Yes he is, and yes he does.   Often with these kinds of questions, people will point to Job. If you don't know the story of Job, basically in a nutshell, he was a good, God-fearing man and then Satan challenges God by saying "[S]tretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face" and then lots of really bad things happened to him (like his house collapsing and killing his family etc.) - you can read about all the sudden calamities in Job 1. But at the end of the first chapter describing all the bad things happening, verse 22 simply says, "In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing." Though there is debate about whether Job is a historical account, or simply an allegorical story to try and give an answer to a similar question, I think the principle of the story is that despite the circumstances of life, we should still praise God and keep ourselves righteous in his sight no matter what - to persevere in faith even when those around us doubt - like Job's wife and friends did: Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. The Tower of Siloam (James Tissot) But whether it is allegory, parable or historical, the righteousness of Job is one that is noted by God when speaking to Ezekiel, and James writes about Job's endurance as an example of being blessed by the Lord (Ezekiel 14:13-14; James 5:11).   Even the disciples had a similar question in John 9:1-3 when they came across a man who had been born blind, and asked Jesus whose fault it was - the man's or his parents? I find this particularly interesting as the man was born blind, yet they wonder if it was his fault - how could that be? It definitely highlights some interesting theology of the day if there was a general assumption that sin was always someone's fault - like a punishment, even if you were born like that! Jesus simply responds that it was no ones fault, but it was so that "God’s works might be revealed in him" (v.3). This man's blindness was not a divine punishment, but rather just something that happens and something which can be turned around for the glory of God - a sentiment that is echoed in Paul's writing to the church in Rome: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God..." (Rom 8:28). Whatever is happening or has happened, if you love God, then he is actively working to turn all things for good. Later in the Gospels we find that there were others who had a similar question for Jesus too in Luke 13:1-5, as they also wonder how can God let such bad things happen to righteous and good people (and possibly to try and trap Jesus with a tr...

| | Book Film Reviews, Hell | 0 comments
5 April
Apr 5
5th April 2014

Book review on Rob Bell's “Love Wins” (originally written March 2013) This book was quite openly condemned by some prominent Christian leaders when the book was first announced back around Spring 2011, mainly mainly accusing Bell of being a universalist and denying the existence of hell. Lots of leaders formed opinions about the book and thus lots and laypeople took on various opinions as their own without much insight or research. The problem was that these leaders hadn't even READ the book! It wasn't released yet at the time. They decided their opinions based on the blurb and promo video which posed provocative questions about the doctrine of hell. The book starts up asking lots of questions concerning salvation and how are you “attain” it and the consequences if you don't – while the same time pointing out the flaws in modern theology and general beliefs held by many in the Church today. He then presents a lot more question to get you thinking and quotes Jesus' words, and a few other scriptures, which leads to more questions. Therein lies the purpose of this book – not for Rob to push you to believe what he does, but to get you to question and really think about the things we say we believe. Bell then moves on to heaven. Unless you've really studied the Bible on Heaven, this chapter will likely smash a lot of cultural ideas you hold without you really realising it – the same can be said about the the chapter after which deals with hell. Prepare for an eye-opener, and a lot of "Gospel Truth" that has somehow got lost, changed, misrepresented and mixed up in Medieval tradition and imagery over the last few centuries. Anyone who is aware of the controversy that was/is surrounding this book and who heard that that Rob Bell "doesn't believe in hell" can rest assured that this isn't the case. To quote the book, Bell writes: "There is a hell now, and there is a hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously." (pg. 79) It's not only that he believes in hell "later" (i.e. after death), but also that because of our freedom of will in this life we can, and do, create hell on earth through our actions and sins. Likewise, we can also create heaven on earth in the same way. This is what Jesus referred to when he prayed "Your will be done on earth as in heaven" – bringing the kingdom of God to the here and now. The book then continues on from what is explained in these chapters to explore the rest of our theology and doctrines on salvation, the cross and the hereafter, often taking our contemporary doctrines (which aren't always as scripturally based as we may think) to their sometimes extreme logical conclusions; which often shows up the absurdities in them that we can overlook. The book ends by examining the Good News, explaining that "it's better" than we first imagine; that God has done so much more through Jesus on the cross than we can comprehend at times – God's reconciliation is, literally, awesome and that ultimately, one way or another, love wins. Whatever your thoughts or opinions on Rob Bell, whatever your beliefs about heaven, hell and everything in between, I highly recommend this book. Go in without an agenda – read it with an open mind and a willingness to learn and let the Spirit guide you. You may not come out agreeing with everything written, but if you at least question and think about your views on hell and who goes there and, more importantly, why you think that – then I believe this book has served purpose. Five stars – Well-written, easy to read and a thought-provoking book that everyone who takes Jesus' Gospel seriously should read at least once, even if they think they'll disagree....

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