Theology

I was reading the apostle's Paul's first letter to the Corinthians last week and came to chapter 13, the great love chapter, a chapter I have read hundreds of times. The following statement jumped off the page at me: 1Cor.13:12. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. NLT Here is the leading theologian of the Christian faith, who met the risen Christ personally, who visited the third heaven to receive direct revelation from God, and who knows more than most of us will learn... Read more →


In a previous post, we talked about God as a worker and the sacredness of work, as well as God’s purpose for our work or business. Today we want to share a few reflections on the integration of our work and our faith as followers of Christ. How You Work Matters It's one thing to have a job and know God’s purpose for our work. It’s another thing to consider how we go about our work. God desires that we work with diligence, honesty and an excellent attitude. This attracts God’s favour and makes the Gospel attractive to a watching world. We are to serve people with love, as to the Lord. 1. Be diligent. Whatever your job is, develop... Read more →


For the first 30 years of his life, Jesus was boring. He was an unknown carpenter who wasn’t doing “big” things for God. He worked alongside his dad, using his hands to shape, shave and tack together pieces of wood. He quietly studied the scriptures, and grew in stature with God and men. He didn’t have a public ministry. He didn’t write any books, go on a conference tour, adopt an orphan, give away 75 percent of his income, or go on multiple missions trips. He loved the Lord with all his heart, honored his mother and father, and quietly went about his work. Was Jesus wasting his life? Absolutely not. He was doing exactly what God had called him... Read more →


Did you know that the average person spends about a third of their life working, a third of their life sleeping, and the other third with family or friends (when they are not working or sleeping … or on the internet!). That mean’s that over half of our waking hours are spent in the workplace. Have you ever asked yourself what God's purpose for your work is? And how we can find more meaning and fulfillment in our work? These are some of the questions we’ll be discussing in this series. God as Worker In the beginning, God worked. Genesis shows us that the creation of the world is God’s “work” (Gen.2:1-3), undertaken within a regular workweek of seven days.... Read more →


Christmas draws our attention to the arrival of Jesus on the earth as a small baby over 2,000 years ago. It provides an opportunity to reflect on his life and how He intersects with our life, wherever we may be on our journey. Jesus is known by many titles, each describing part of who he is and/or a role that he fulfils. We can think of Jesus as Saviour and Immanuel. Jesus was also called the Messiah or the Christ, which means ‘anointed one’, as well as Son of Man (his humanity) and Son of God (his deity). I love how one old preacher described Jesus in 'That's My King!' As we read the Gospels, one title rings loud and... Read more →


Here is an excellent BLOG post by Tim Keller from Redeemer Church in New York City (August 6th, 2012) ... When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question "Why me?" was a natural one. Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, "Why me?" Suffering and death seem random, senseless. The recent Aurora shootings—in which some people were spared and others lost—is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents—the list is long. As a minister, I’ve spent countless hours with suffering people crying: “Why did God... Read more →


Understand and Rest in God’s Providence (Pt.2)

Let’s look at a well known statement by the apostle Paul that gives us a providential perspective on our lives. Rom 8:28. We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NAS No matter what is happening in your life – good, bad, or ugly – God’s purpose is working in you. When you have a problem that you don’t understand the purpose it’s very difficult to handle. You know the most difficult kinds of questions of life are, “Why is this happening to me?” On the other hand, when you see a purpose behind your problem it gives you enormous hope. It... Read more →


One of the things that the prophet Daniel had to learn was to understand and rest in God's providence. If he was here today, he would tell you that his life did not turn out as he expected it would or even as he planned that it would. His life was affected by dramatic circumstances and changes of events that took him totally by surprise beginning with him being taken as a prisoner from his homeland and right through his time in Babylon. Dan 4:25. “… until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.” NLT In the same way, each person's journey has unexpected terrain and turns.... Read more →


Theology may sound a bit boring and heady, but it's really not. It is simply the study of God. Of course, God is not someone we can put under a microscope and fully understand. He is beyond our comprehension. nevertheless, as creations of God, its important that we take time to think about our Creator - to reflect on who he is and what's like, as well as what he's up to in the world. I've written a whole bunch of posts around the topic of theology. Take some time to read one or two of them each day over the next week. You'll be glad you did. May each of us come to know God more personally as we... Read more →


The Jesus Story

The Jesus Story Matthew’s begins his story about Jesus with a family tree that any first century Jew would have been pretty impressed with. It includes heroes such as Abraham and David, but also some surprise inclusions such as Boaz (son of Rahab the prostitute) and Solomon (born out of the adulterous relationship of David and Bathsheba), hinting at the unexpected ways God often works. Jesus (a popular boys name, similar to Joshua, which means “the Lord saves”) came to “save his people from their sins (Matt.1:21-23).” Jesus would rescue people not from slavery in Egypt (like Moses did) but from the slavery of sin. John the Baptist then appears as the forerunner to Jesus, preaching a message of repentance... Read more →


All kingdom work is worship. Or to put it another way, worshipping the God we see at work in Jesus is the most politically charged act we can ever perform. Christian worship declares Jesus is Lord and that therefore, by strong implication, nobody else is. What's more, it doesn't just declare it as something to be believed, like the fact that the sun is hot or the sea wet. It commits the worshipper to allegiance, to following this Jesus, to being shaped and directed by him. Worshipping the God we see in Jesus orients our whole being, our imagination, our will, our hopes, and our fears away from the world where Mars, Mammon and Aphrodite (violence, money and sex) make... Read more →


Tom Wright (also known as N.T. Wright) has achieved global recognition as a biblical theologian through his academic and popular publications. He is a leading New testament scholar and former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England. His most academic work is his Christian Origins and the Questions of God series, of which three editions have been released so far. These include The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God and The Resurrection and the Son of God. Tom also has also written a commentary series on the entire New Testament called For Everyone, as well as a contemporary translation. His more popular books include Simply Christian (likened to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity),... Read more →


What would Jesus look like if he were living on earth today? One artist, Stephen Sawyer, thinks he'd be more macho than wimp. Click here to read all about it. No doubt our image of Jesus is important. It's so easy to create a God who is what we want him to be and something we are comfortable with. The philosopher Rousseau once said, "God created us in his own image then we returned the favour." Today we have images of a spooky Jesus, a plain Galilean Jesus, a hippy Jesus, a revolutionary Jesus and now a macho Jesus. We believe that Jesus is fully human and fully divine - the God man. As a man, he was a carpenter... Read more →


The foundation of our love for others is a revelation of God’s love for us. The most important question in your life is not how much you love others or even how much you love God. It is how much do you think God loves you. Everything flows from this. Once we grasp and fully understand how much God loves us and allow that love to transform our lives, we are in a much better place to reach out in love to those around about us. In contrast, when we are unaware of God’s love for us, we can tend to relate to others from a point of need, seeking to get them to fill the emptiness in our own... Read more →


I believe that this lyric contains the most profound statement about the love of God outside the Scriptures: Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky. These words were found pencilled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried away to his grave, the general opinion was that this inmate had written the epic in moments of sanity. They now form the third verse of a well-known... Read more →


Here are a few insightful quotes about the Trinity: “In Christianity, God is not a static thing … but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.” [C.S. Lewis] "The Trinity is a communion of three persons, three centers of consciousness, who exist and always have existed in union with one another and in dependence on one another … Each is essential to the life of the others, and to the life of the Trinity. They are bound to one another in love, agape love, which therefore unites them in the closest and most intimate of relationships. This unselfish, agape love, makes each more concerned... Read more →


How should we then LIVE? We should live “ready” for Christ to come at any moment (Lk.21:34-36) but “working diligently” as if he may not come back in our lifetime. We should avoid extremes (over-preoccupation with a sneaky rapture vs. trying to create heaven here on earth). To quote Tony Campolo, “Any theology that does not live with a sense of the immediate return of Christ is a theology that takes the edge off the urgency of faith. But any theology that does not cause us to live as though the world will be here for thousands of years is a theology that leads us into social irresponsibility.” 1. Live with full devotion to the Lord. Be prayerful and watchful.... Read more →


Things to Occur AFTER the Second Coming 1. Judgement and reward for believers. There are two judgements – one for believers, the judgement seat of Christ, which is not about salvation but about reward for the “good works” we have done (2 Cor.5:10). [One area of debate amongst end time theologians is when the ‘millennium’ spoken about in Rev.20:1-6 will be. The ‘millennium’ is a 1000 year period where believers will rule and reign with Christ on the earth as a reward for their faithfulness. Some people believe we are in the millennium now and therefore that it occurs before the second coming (post-millennialists). Some people believe that it does not refer to a literal period of time but rather... Read more →


Things to occur AT the second coming 1. The appearance of Jesus in glory. Jesus’ return will be with “a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thess.4:13-18). He will return in great glory, the glory of his Father (Mt.16:27; 19:28; 25:31). The angelic hosts will accompany him. Every eye will see him (Rev.1:7). Revelation 19:11-16 gives us a vivid picture of Jesus riding on a white horse – eyes blazing with fire, a two edged sword coming out of his mouth, his robe dipped in blood and the armies of heaven riding with him. 2. The destruction of the wicked. Those who have rejected Jesus will be shocked at his... Read more →


An Order of End Time Events Without being dogmatic in any way, here is what I see happening BEFORE the second coming of Jesus. NEGATIVE things to occur: 1. Increasing spiritual darkness (Is.60:1-3). Jesus told us that the last days just prior to his coming will be similar to the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Lk.17:20-37). He said that there would be great deception (Mt.24. 1 Tim.4:1) with many false prophets and false “Christ’s” appearing (Mt.24:5, 11, 23-26. 2 Thess.2:1-12. Rev.13). We are told of a great “apostasy” or “falling away” of many from their faith in Jesus Christ (2 Thess.2:1-3. Mt.24:12. Heb.6:3-8). 2. Great Tribulation (times of ‘pressure’). There will be a time of great tribulation... Read more →


The Bible and the End Times There are a number of books and passages in the Bible that deal specifically with the ‘time of the end’ and the second coming of Jesus. Obviously, the book of Revelation would be the primary source of information concerning the end times. It is a fascinating apocalyptic book with much prophetic symbolism in it that makes it somewhat difficult to interpret. Over the years there has been a variety of approaches to interpreting the book of Revelation. There are three broad categories of how people have interpreted this book through the centuries: 1. The Preterist (‘past’) View – this view understands the events of Revelation as having been fulfilled in large parts in the... Read more →


Today is supposed to be the end of the world (read here) ... but I don't think so. Times like this are a good time to re-post a series of articles on how it will all end ... End Time Fever The first words that Jesus preached were, “Repent for the kingdom of God is near” (Mt.4:17). After the resurrection and at the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, he ascended up to heaven. As he did, two angels appeared and boldly proclaimed, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:10-11).” The... Read more →


Finally, C.S. Lewis had to come to grips with answering the common question: "Isn't Jesus just another good, moral teacher?" Since there is little likelihood that Jesus' claim to deity is legend or myth, we should expect to find something in his words and actions that suggest he thought of himself as divine. Jesus' self-perception as God is clearly seen in the various Gospel accounts. Jesus claimed to be God: He believed he had the power to perform miracles and cast out demons (Matt. 11:2-5. Luke 11:20). Jesus claimed to determine people's eternal destiny (Luke 12:8-9). Jesus placed his personal authority over the Law of God (Matt. 5). In Mark 2:5-7, Jesus shows he believed he had the power to... Read more →


C.S. Lewis also grappled with the validity of other religions - There are so many religions, how can you say which one is right? Are all religions really the same, or is there a difference? How can we say which one, if any, is the right one? Lewis felt it was atheism that wrote off all religious claims as false, while he was free to affirm truth wherever it was found. He accepted truths in other religions. He recognised the similarities - as well as the significant differences between religions. A commitment to Christ does not necessitate the denial of truth in other religions. When it came to other religions, Lewis was an inclusivist - he believed that the only... Read more →


Another objection to faith that C.S. Lewis struggled with was the question: Aren't morals relative? More than two-thirds of Americans deny any belief in absolutes and the statistics would be very similar in other countries. An an atheist, Lewis denied that there were any moral absolutes. When he became a Christian, he insisted that Christian morality had to go beyond mere personal opinion. It had to fit with life as a whole, or it was meaningless. Lewis queried where he got this idea of things being just and unjust. A person does not call a line crooked unless they have some idea of a straight line. An absolute standard of good suggests a God who is the infinite reference point.... Read more →


A good question at this stage in our overview of C.S. Lewis' objections to faith and how he overcame them is, "Is what was true for C.S. Lewis necessarily true for me?" Post-modernism denies meta-narratives: any narrnaitve, story or account of the world that claims to be absolute or all encompassing. It sees no facts, only interretations. There is no such thing as an objective view of reality. Ethical claims are sentiment and de-construction is justice. Lewis lived before the full flowing of post-modern thought but some of its roots were already present in his day. When it comes to post-modernism, Lewis would have agreed that: 1. There are limits to knowledge. 2. Our perpsective does affect what we see.... Read more →


C.S. Lewis also struggled with the question of Wish Fulfilment: Isn't belief in God just a crutch for needy people? Some people believe that humanity invented God out of need - to cope with the uncertainties of a confusing and often dangerous world. The psychological explanation for God is one of the most common arguments against Christian faith (and against any theistic religion). Belief in a god is common to all cultures in all time periods. Atheists prefer to explain this as "wish fulfilment" - that humanity invented God because we wished God existed. Lewis responded to the influential atheists of his time - Ludwig Feuerbach (1804 - 1872), Karl Marx (1818 - 1883) and Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939).... Read more →


C.S. Lewis also struggled with miracles: do you believe in the miracles of the Bible? A miracle is something that comes to us from beyond the world. It is an event that can't happen, but it does. It can't be explained scientifically. Lewis gained attention beyond his academic circles through his unflinching affirmation of the supernatural - God, demons, miracles and all. How could a sophisticated Oxford professor believe in such fables in the 20th century? He took on the task to consider whether it was intellectually honest and realistic to automatically reject miracles. He critiqued naturalism, which claims that miracles were impossible or at least so improbable that they can never be accepted. In his book Miracles, Lewis confronted... Read more →


C.S. Lewis struggled with Imagination: Isn't faith merely imaginary? Reason and imagination were important to Lewis because they had once been separated in his own life but were later brought together. For him, meaning often came through imagination. For some, imagination can seem like an escape from reality. In contrast, Lewis believed that stories can be an escape into reality. Imagination is a means to truth. As part of Lewis' conversion, he received what he later called the "baptism of his imagination." He came to see that his earlier aspirations pointed to something real, unlike his atheism which led him to a grim and meaningless universe. He noted that the authors with the most depth in them were written by... Read more →


C.S. Lewis struggled with Rationalism: Who needs faith? In Lewis' time, the dominant view of life was what we call Modernism, which placed great confidence in reason, the scientific method and rational arguments. We can also call this view Rationalism. There are four basic intellectual positions about the relationship between faith and reason( R stands for reason and F stands for faith): 1. R - F = M (modernism or rationalism). 2. F - R = F (fideism or faith-ism) 3. - F - R = P (postmodernism) 4. F + R = C (classical approach) Lewis took the classical approach: faith plus reason. He definitely saw a place for reason in the Christian faith. He believed there was enough... Read more →


C.S. Lewis also struggled with Myth: Isn't Christianity just one myth above many? Some people believe that Christianity is just a myth, a legend, a nice story made up by some well-meaning religious folks. This was one of the major objections that C.S. Lewis had when he was an atheist. He saw Christianity as “one myth amongst many.” In his biography Surprised by Joy, Lewis wrote that one factor that contributed to his atheism was the similarity between Christianity and pagan mythology. In his secondary education it was assumed that pagan myths were false and Christianity true. He wondered on what basis Christianity could be exempt from the same critical judgment that was passed on myths. In 1916 (at age... Read more →