Saturday, 19 May 2012


Incredibly it seems there exists today the belief that if Christians continue a life of sin, all is well, because Grace assures that all is well. Lets be clear. Grace assures salvation through faith, but don't doubt the work and power of sin to attack faith, and if we leave ourselves undefended, our faith will certainly be hard pressed, if not outright shipwrecked (1 Tim 1:19)

Heb 10v26 says that, 'If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. ' We all sin, and we all stumble, each and every day in fact. This is not talking about that. This scripture is talking about the kind of sinning that is a continual life of WILFUL sin. We know the truth, and yet we chose to be a constant, wilful participant in sinning, and we are bold in it. This scripture clearly says that such sin means that NO SACRIFICE FOR SINS IS LEFT (Heb 10v26), therefore Jesus' sacrifice for our sins is no longer left for those people. I think the primary reason that no sacrifice is left for sins, simply implies that by their actions, those people demonstrate that they no longer want a sacrifice for their sins, they are happy with their sin, and they reject Jesus' sacrifice (sin hardens their hearts so much that they can actually reach that place and that wilful choice). 

Let's be clear again. The Lord is VERY PATIENT, VERY MERCIFUL, VERY GRACIOUS, and such a thing I think to happen to any Christian would be so very rare. But the warning in Hebrews remains for every Christian, therefore God knew that we all need to hear it for our good. 

There is also the belief that nothing can be done to Grace, because Grace is freely given. But people forget that grace is given by the Son. If Grace is abused therefore, it means that the Son is also being abused:can be abused: 'v29: How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has TRAMPLED THE SON OF GOD UNDER FOOT, WHO HAS TREATED AN AN UNHOLY THING THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT THAT SANCTIFIED HIM...'. There is also the SPIRIT OF GRACE (so grace doesn't operate as some type of independent magical formula)- v28 'Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. HOW MUCH MORE SEVERELY do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has INSULTED THE SPIRIT OF GRACE? The Spirit of Grace is the Holy Spirit, and the Word says that we cannot insult the Spirit of God in the manner of a life of continual wilful sin, and not expect punishment. 

Whether this passage means that salvation is lost, I do not know. I don't believe it says that explicitly, but I think it could very well imply it. Or it could just mean that (taken straight from the passage here) 1) there will be punishment for those that do this, 2) this punishment will include judgment, 3) The Lord will avenge, repay and judge 4) It's a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God 5) And that the Lord will not be pleased with his 'righteous one' (Heb 10v38) that has led a life like this when He returns. The writer of Hebrews may have qualified this whole passage when he ends the chapter with v39: 'But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.' The writer hopes here that he speaks to those that are truly saved. But how do you know for sure that you are truly saved in the present? Firstly your conscience will testify about it to you by the Spirit of God, and also in checking your life and yourself with God there is safety. The writer here speaks about salvation not only being past tense (as in 'has happened'), but present tense by saying 'who believe' and 'are saved'. He is admonishing the Hebrews to check themselves and their lives, to see if there is the fruit of believing. If so, they are safe! If not, they are to make the most of the warning!

Friday, 18 May 2012


..."The Lord will judge his people." (Heb 10v30)

Contrary to popular belief amongst Christians today, the Lord does judge His people (1 Pet 4:17). That judgment is because of DISCIPLINE, not payment for sin. We are only qualified for salvation through Grace, but if we are true sons the Word says we will be disciplined (far from losing heart at this, we should rejoice at the reason for this, knowing that it's only because the whom the Lord LOVES He disciplines! Heb 2v5). Hebrews 12v6 says that He 'punishes those that He accepts as sons.' When it speaks of that kind of punishment, in context, it refers to the suffering God allows to shape us into His image. Far from being 'light and fluffy' hardship, Hebrews speaks about the tremendous affliction and suffering those believers were facing: 'Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.' Such suffering is often a CONTEST, because of the conflict that is waged within us, i.e: the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. Suffering still tempts us to turn away from the Lord in order to live an easy life, but such temptation only shows the apple and not the death that awaits at the end of the line.

There is a belief that exists at the moment that says if we have been given His Grace, that obedience then becomes easy, this is unbelievably untrue, that is why the Lord called it a narrow way and a difficult way- Matt 7:14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. There is still the necessity of taking up our cross and still the necessity of denying ourselves, and if anyone out there tells you that's a cakewalk, I'm sorry, but they're not following the Jesus of the Bible (i.e- 'take up your cross and follow me'). Peter said that we'd, by necessity, be at times grieved by various trials. Jesus said that we'd need to lose our lives to follow Him. So given that, while we have SUFFICIENT GRACE, we still must face GRIEVOUS trials, and we must also be equipped with the knowledge that such suffering comes to us because of divine, sovereign and LOVING judgment. 

One of the greatest, if not THE greatest apostles to ever live- Paul- knew more about Grace than probably anyone that ever lived, and yet he still was human, he still PLEADED God to take the thorn of affliction away from him, that 'messenger of Satan.' Take note here. Often affliction just seems EVIL, it cannot seem to come from a loving God, but it does, with good intent. There is the temptation in all called Christians to want to rid ourselves of God sent afflictions in the belief that Grace extinguishes all such things, however it is quite the opposite, God, again, gives SUFFICIENT GRACE in order to bear up under such trials, and in fact use them for His glory. 

Grace does not take away discipline and it does not take away the punishment that comes in order to discipline, rather it uses all such things to mould us more and more into His image, to work for us a far more exceedingly weight of eternal glory, and is used so that ALL THE MORE we should be to the PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE. You see, GRACE and JUDGMENT aren't so far apart after all. God is even in His grace judging His people in order that HIS GRACE MAY BE PRAISED ALL THE MORE IN US WHEN HE RETURNS. Grace and judgment are both needed to make us more like God. We must welcome them both :)

Heb 12v4 + onwards-: 'In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children not true sons. v10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. v11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

1 Peter 4v12: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. v17: For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


John 12v20-26: Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

We all want to see Jesus, we all want to behold Him. The Christian's greatest joy in this life is in seeing the King, in times where we are 'caught up' in the Spirit, and we see Him for who He is. There are times when this is a simple thing. Times in our lives when the heavens seem to open over us and we hear the Father's voice so clearly over us. Times like this are so blessed. Those are incredible times; when all is peaceful and the world seems to line up perfectly with all our hopes and expectations (and even line up with heaven itself), and God seems to be just as He should. But there are also harder times, when seeing Jesus will be and must be more of a pursuit and will be, by God's design and necessity, be times where we must also face death to self, and in dying to self, still be active in serving Him. It's then that our comfort and joy, namely, seeing Jesus, will still be a part of our lives, and even more so, because, '...where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.' In following closely in Jesus' footsteps, we will readily find Jesus in front of us, and Jesus beside us. In serving as He served, we will see Jesus and thus the evidence and fruit of who He is in our lives and in the lives of those around us. In dying to self, following His example ('Not my will, but thine be done'), we shall find that His comfort will also be our comfort, that our gesthemane will also find a light from heaven; one that perhaps we've never known and seen before.

It is very interesting to note that those Greeks that wanted to see Jesus, were FIRST going to worship Him. Seeing Jesus for ourselves, each and every day, is very possible, but we must first enter His courts (His Presence) with, '...thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.' It is then that Jesus will reveal Himself in the way that He chooses. Those men probably wanted to see Jesus immediately 'High and lifted up' and yet where was Jesus headed? He was headed to the cross FIRST, THEN He would be glorified. So must we head to the cross first, before we see the glory of the risen Lord for ourselves. In some of the hardest times in our lives, it is often a struggle to even come to the Lord for times of intimacy, because we first only see the cross and only feel it's pain for ourselves and we doubt that such an awesome and powerful Saviour could be part of what we are going through. It sends us into doubt and confusion and the waves begin to make us afraid. However, there is great hope for us, because Jesus stands upon the waves, and He Himself conquered calvary, and we need only to come to Him, to SUBMIT OUR WILLS AND OUR UNDERSTANDING to Him, and there to except the pain we experience as being from a faithful Creator, and there begin to worship. It is then that the Lord will part the heavens, through that cross experience and that service, the Lord will reveal Himself in a unique and extraordinary way.

There will be times in our lives that in order to see Jesus, it will cost us much, if not all we have. The more we see Him though, the more that cost will seem to make sense in light of the eternity that awaits, and in light of the God to whom all our hopes rest. So don't question the way the Lord reveals Himself, but trust that He reveals Himself in the way and ways that He desires, and those ways are precious and full of sovereign will and specifically designed purpose. And if we are to lose our lives one day anyway, what does it matter if we lose them now to see as much of Jesus as we possible can. Would you see Jesus? It's possible, just believe that His ways are higher than our ways, and all His ways and means are good and give for our encouragement to continue to pursue Him. "...for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.' (Heb 11v6)

Monday, 14 May 2012


Grace is an amazing thing. It is quite rightly the root, foundation and the reason any Godly life is given and operates. Through grace we have been redeemed and are kept by the power of God. Through grace we have love and life more abundantly, and through grace we live and move and have our being. However, there is a danger in it's being over emphasised. There is a danger that now exists in becoming so 'single-focused,' that Christians must be careful that they do not stay as spiritual children because of it. The author of Hebrews puts it like this: 'So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don't need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God' (Heb 6:1). But there is a reason why Christians love to stay at the fundamentals aspects of grace.

It is a good thing that all Christians know they are forgiven, that they are washed by the blood and that they are accepted in God. BUT, grace always produces an effect that is not just personal, but also PROVISIONAL, that is, it GIVES (manifested in our lives sacrificed for others through the gifts given to us through that grace). If we simply stay at the basics of the doctrine of grace, we become purely selfish. This happens because we are only ever focused on WHAT GRACE DOES FOR US. But God gave us His grace so that HE COULD WORK OUT HIS PURPOSE THROUGH US to those around us, and so that we can SERVE HIM. Think about that for a minute. The purpose of grace is not only to redeem, but to redeem in order to serve (which involves needed equipping, which involves learning all of the Word, not just parts and not just 'single doctrines'). 2 Cor 5v15 says; 'And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.' So grace is given in order that we might become LESS AND LESS focused on ourselves, and more focused on living for Christ. If all our doctrine and understanding of grace does is provide for us, we have failed to understanding the whole intent of the provision and working of that grace.

I think I have now heard about the fundamental doctrine of grace so many times on Facebook it would make my head spin. And funnily enough, I've hardly heard about anything else about the Word. Which is amazing really, since the grace that has been given to us is intended to be WORKED OUT according to pattern of instruction given to us in the New Testament. That PATTERN is so incredible, so multi-layered, so colourful, vibrant, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. That pattern of instruction is 'line upon line,' and 'precept upon precept.' We are called to be 'workmen who needeth not be ashamed' for a reason. We must be workmen because there is SO MUCH in this Word of God that we've been given. There is SO MUCH of Jesus that has been given to us that it simply boggles the mind. And all of it was given FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE. All of it was given with the intent that we live our lives according to His Will and come to know Jesus in the way that was intended (with eternal results!!!).

The encouragement in the New Testament is repeated so many times. Paul encourages and urges the believers to continue to grow in truth and knowledge, even as they grow in love. They are continually directed to forget that which lies behind them, and to 'press-on'. But alas, many of us have grown weary and grown lax, feeling as though we don't need to do that as long as we have our babies bottle of a belief we can understand and grasp; to go beyond that, we feel, would be to hard, too much work and too much to grapple with. So we content ourselves on the basics, and never realise that true spiritual state we are in. The author of Hebrews basically said that if you weren't progressing in spiritual truth, you were more than likely stopping and in danger of falling away.

So the encouragement remains for us to GO ON, to PRESS ON, and to not remain where we are and to not remain where it is easy and comfortable, and where we can get an easy feed and remain in a babies wonderland of ignorance and simplicity. To believe that we are safe in simplicity is a dangerous thing. God intended that we grow up, and that we come to know Him more and more in Jesus Christ. We should not trust our own understanding of things; both of this life and how we should live in it, Christ didn't come to have us live through us understanding and wisdom, but because of and through His. This should be more than enough encouragement for us! 

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Gal 2:6- 'As for those who seemed to be important- whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance- those men added nothing to my message.'

It is incredibly hard for men to not make much of other men. Much of today's Church loves to make much of men and their talents, gifts, abilities and much of their service. We have gone far beyond 'honouring' (which is a good and Godly thing to show those that serve), we, because of the weakness of our own flesh, have made idols out of men. We speak often of their great words and their great works. We become awed at what the Lord is working through them and how the Lord is using them to speak. We become like the crowd that tried to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas when God performed a miracle of healing through Paul, and we forget that the sacrifice of our lives is not meant for other men, but it is meant for the Lord God alone. Our sacrifice and our 'honouring' really becomes idolatry because while we think we are serving and sacrificing for God, we are really doing this for men. So why do we do this?

Pride is the main reason why we do this; pride in ourselves and pride in men. Pride within our own hearts because secretly we wish to be 'great' and seen as great to others, and so we make much of others because if the Church sees them as great, then maybe, just maybe we can reach the level they reached, and have men love and adore us just like we adore them. We also become proud of other men, making idols out of them by giving them too much attention and too much honour, which really means we come to give them the glory that belongs to the Lord alone. We do this usually because of their appearance to others and their appearance to ourselves. There was a time when Jesus didn't accept the TESTIMONY of men because, 'John 2:24+25- But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.' There is a kind of testimony that the Lord does not accept from those that serve Him. He does not except that kind of testimony from His Church which is done because of self and in order to glorify self. 

Much of this glorifying, quite sadly, goes on quite frequently in the Church today. The spotlight is turned on the Pastor, and away they go. Jokes rule the stage, and every story centres on their lives and what God has done through them. TV screens show performances and humorous skits, fluorescent lights highlight the stage and the musicians, and all eyes centre on men, while trying to focus on the Lord (contradiction anyone???). Men except praise that shouldn't be theirs, and accept sacrifices that also shouldn't be theirs. All the while the Word still testifies that John the Baptist said that, 'He must increase, but I must decrease' and the Apostle Paul said that he would boast in nothing except his weakness and nothing except the Lord and His cross. 

All this may appear quite harsh at first glance, but is it really so 'out-there' when we think about it carefully? We've all done this at times, we've all accepted praise we shouldn't have, and we've all made more of men than we should. The point, however, is that we as a Church should try to guard ourselves, as much as possible (knowing the weakness of our flesh) against falling to the temptation of idolising men. Pride was the sin that made the enemy fall, and are we strong? God works actively to hide pride from men, we as a Church must, with all of His Grace that works so powerfully in us, continually work to hide ourselves as much as we can from becoming entangled with such a destructive sin. If that means we have to lose much of the frivolity and trappings that have hindered and ensnared much of the Church today, is that too high a price to pay? If we believe it is, we are loving men too much, and we are sacrificing, not to the Lord, but to them.

Friday, 11 May 2012


Gal 1:11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

...I did not consult any man, nor did I go unto Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: "The man who formally persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. And they praised God because of me.

Speaking in purely human terms, Paul should have been one of, not only the most unqualified men for God to use (steeped in legalism), but also morally unqualified (persecuting the Church of God) and practically unqualified (no long record of helpful and long-running service to a Church). However, God didn't have Paul 'consult any man' first, before he began His ministry and service of 'preaching the faith' (he had once tried to destroy). How shocking! It's almost as if God's grace was enough for Paul. Fancy that! Many Churches would be horrified if such a thing like that was happening today. They would look to his past violence and how hurtful he had been to the Church. They would point out the fact that he had never contributed to building funds, never attended 'vision' nights and never served faithfully in a practical manner (apparently this is crucial before serving spiritually in some Churches) and never gotten to know the Pastors and leadership teams around the areas he began to preach. The absolutely mind-blowing thing about this is this: while Churches very rightly place the issue of God's grace as front and centre in their places of worship, they all the while hold very man-made legalistic rules and regulations about those that THEY would accept to serve in their Churches, all the while forgetting that God is the one who has laid out the standard in His Word, and that GOD is the one, not they themselves, that equips, calls and uses for HIS work, in HIS Church, of which they are overseers of (and for which they'll need to give an account to the main Shepherd).

In the above scriptures Paul emphasises to the Galation Church that it was never by human institutions, or by human advancement or by human wisdom and human choice that Paul was chosen to preach the Word. What Paul preached was not made up by men, he didn't receive it from men, he wasn't taught it. The next truths would stun some Churches; he didn't consult men, didn't even see the apostles (leaders of the Church), but simply went where God told him to go; 'I went into Arabia and later returned to Damascus,' and he simply did what God told him to do, by preaching the Word. The Churches in his day, praised God, but I wonder if it would be the same today. Or maybe it would be the case that, very sadly, jealousy and consternation would be the order of the day by many Churches, and even criticism and outright condemnation. Maybe it would be that Paul would not pass their litmus test for a true servant of God, and that those same Churches would never benefit from the extraordinary work and service that God would have such a man contribute to the people, family and Church of God. Oftentimes many of the people of God wouldn't even know that such attitudes and practices prevail behind the scenes in their Church 'leadership teams', but sadly oftentimes they do. And so the result of this is often a service team established and encouraged according to human values and human service traits, that have nothing to do with how God establishes and calls for service.

This is not always going to be the case of course. God uses and has used to a very great degree ordinary and practical means whereby He calls, equips and sends out. God very much uses the Church today to equip His people and train them up. God has seen the tireless efforts of Godly men and Godly leaders who have poured out their lives on a daily basis for others and for those that they have recognised as called and chosen by the Lord for His service. But we must remind ourselves as a Church to do such things according to the pattern shown to us in the Word, and to always remind ourselves that we ourselves don't call men to their service, but we simply may recognise and become part of the process God uses to train His people for the work of the ministry. The calling to service and ministry must not be something facilitated by something that man has invented, but it must be according to the grace and truth that God has given His people.


Gal 1v1: Paul, an apostle- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead- and all the brothers with me. 

There is a strange belief that is going around in much of the Church these days. It is the belief that many Churches have that if a person hasn't known its Pastors and 'leadership team' for a long time, haven't attended as many meetings as possible, haven't contributed in every way possible, and haven't had a long and impressive 'track record', that those people are not worthy to be listened to and not worthy to have a place of service in their midst. This kind of a 'screening' process is simply not Biblical, and it isn't sanctioned by the Word of God. This kind of process comes from the proud heart of men who believe that they have passed a grand test of their own making, that they have won the right to their ministry and service through an impressive track record with God, and men who ultimately are running according to much of their own 'strength' and their own vision.

Lets look at a balancing truth to give this the proper perspective. It is true that God gives strict spiritual conditions for those wanting to be Elders in a Church. And it is also true that it is implicitly implied that such conditions be the standard by which men of God should be imitating if they are wanting to serve the Church of God. Paul says that, 'not many of you should desire to be teachers, for you know that we shall be judged more strictly'. But the scripture above (Gal 1v1) clearly shows that in any case, a man must be called, appointed and sent by God. The scripture does not say by God AND man, it simply says that Jesus and God are the ones who do this. This means that any kind of service cannot simply be given to men by fulfilling a set of man-made conditions or even spiritual conditions, but men must know whether they have been sent by Jesus and sent by God.

The amazing and often sad fact about this though is that many cannot discern properly between those that are man-sent and those that are God-sent. This is because those that are man-sent often seem to prosper, while those that are God-sent often seem to be the strangest, hardest and most rejected men you'll ever meet. Furthermore, men often have a very hard time distinguishing between the flesh and the Spirit, and this is where the rubber hits the road. The question is how do we distinguish? I'll address that in the next post.