Tuesday, 29 September 2015

What About the Planets?

"He made the stars also".

But what about the planets?

Well what's the definition of a star?

For the purposes of Genesis' account, it was everything in space that appeared as light on the earth, besides the sun and moon. It didn't matter what its composition was.

Of course the closer light sources couldn't be big suns. And being close to the sun, they didn't need to be light sources in themselves, because they could just reflect the sun's light.

But why were they needed? Besides light, for signs and seasons.  

Friday, 25 September 2015

Considerate Heart

Paul took Timothy and circumcised him, even though Paul knew circumcision isn't necessary.

He didn't expect others (Gentiles) to be circumcised. It was something Paul did only in Timothy's unique case. Timothy was known to be half Jewish. And he was about to become part of Paul's ministry team. I guess Paul did it to remove unneccesary barriers in the Jews' minds about his Gospel. He didn't do it because he thought all believers must be circumcised. He knew they didn't have to be, and he taught so.

A lesson we can learn from this is that we ought to be willing rather to forego a freedom - to deny ourself, even to suffer momentary pain - than to do something (something which isn't essential to do), if it's going to needlessly offend someone else's conscience and place a barrier in their mind against us and our ministry.

"As much as possible be at peace with all men," doesn't mean to barge ahead and do everything you feel free in your conscience to do, then demand that everyone else be gracious towards you even if they disagree in their conscience with what you've done. That could tempt them to break their own conscience.

It means to choose to deny yourself a freedom, if you can (if it's a non-essential), so that the relationship stays in tact with others whose conscience is different to yours.

Sometimes doing something you don't have to do; sometimes refraining from doing something you would have felt free to do - for the sake of others. For the sake of how they're going to feel about it. For the sake of the ministry.

That's love.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Harvest Without Limitation

"Go ye into all the world..." Jesus said
"...and preach the Gospel to every nation"

The Apostles heeded His Word
And went without hesitation

But until the Holy Ghost was given
The upper room remained their station

"Wait for the Promise", Jesus had told them
They were filled with anticipation

In one place for ten days they waited
All in good relation

With the women and Mary and His brothers
They continued in prayer for the duration

Matthias along with the eleven
As an Apostle received his registration

For one-hundred-and-twenty people
It was a time of preparation

Then when the Day of Pentecost was fully come
The room was shaken with vibration

They all began to speak with other tongues
As the Spirit gave them dictation

When this was noised abroad
The city was filled with consternation

"How do we hear every man speaking our language?
Is this mere intoxication?"

"These are not drunk as ye suppose"
Peter stood and gave his quotation

"This is that which was spoken by Joel"
The empowerment for the ministration

"What must we do?"
The people asked with desperation

"Repent and be baptized, and you'll receive the Spirit too
For the Promise is for you and your children to every generation"

In that way, in one day
Three-thousand became the Church's population!

And today in contemporary society
We are still in the same situation

It's not by might, nor by power
Nor by human orchestration

It's by the Spirit
When He comes with impartation...

...that we shall attract the harvest
without limitation

It's by letting go
Of our reputation...

...allowing rather
The Spirit's manifestation...

...that we shall enjoy
the greater celebration

Baptised with the Spirit

There is an experience after salvation, called the Holy Spirit falling upon, coming upon, being given the Holy Spirit, receiving the Holy Spirit, being baptised with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit.

It can happen either after or before being baptised in water - but it's an experience distinct from and subsequent to salvation. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Scandal of Grace

Grace isn't a scandal - it's legal!

God's grace was offered not scandalously but on a just basis (the cross) - in fulfilment of the Law (and Prophets).

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Tongues in Church

I think a lot of people mistakenly think Paul said it's a turnoff for unbelievers if they walk into a meeting where they hear people speaking in tongues - they quote Paul saying, "If an unbeliever walks in, won't he think you're mad?"

But Paul didn't say it's a problem if unbelievers hear tongues being spoken at church. That wasn't the problem at Corinth - and it's not a problem today.

Think about it. The Holy Spirit gave 120 people utterance to speak in tongues in the upper room, and it was noised abroad until a whole multitude of unbelievers came together and heard them. Was that a problem? No - thousands got saved!

At Cornelius house, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone WHILE PETER WAS STILL SPEAKING, and they all got filled with the Holy Spirit - and people heard them speak with tongues. Was that indecent and out of order? God must have thought it was okay - He did it! Was it a turnoff for new people? No - it was the new people who got filled!

And at Ephesus twelve people spoke with tongues and prophesied - at once, and in public.

So why would it have been God's intention for unsaved people to see or be involved in a manifestation of God's Spirit in those three places, but a problem if unbelievers ever saw such a thing at Corinth? Answer: it wasn't a problem at Corinth - and it still isn't.

Paul's issue with the meetings at Corinth was not that unbelievers were hearing manifestations of God's Spirit such as tongues. In fact, Paul was all for manifestations of the Spirit at church! (Notice he commended them for their zeal for spiritual gifts, and encouraged them to continue coveting and earnestly desiring it; he said God had placed such expressions in the church - he even said he wished they all did it.)

Had they all spoken with tongues at once (like at Jerusalem, in Cornelius' house, and at Ephesus), Paul wouldn't have had a problem with that - even if unbelievers heard it. Because the book of Acts is full of that very thing happening.

The issue at Corinth was this: individuals seemingly were, for all intents and purposes sort of standing up, holding the floor as such, and lecturing in an unknown tongue, likely expecting the whole congregation's undivided attention while doing so; then evidently someone else would do the same, followed by someone else - with no consideration that no-one was understanding their speeches. It may have made the individuals feel good, but no-one else was getting anything out of it.

The senselessness of that was of a purely practical nature. Just like if lecturers at Uni were to lecture in a language unknown to all the students - it wouldn't educate anyone. And if the faculty persisted in doing that, you'd question their common sense wouldn't you? Of course you would - anyone would! That's purely practical.

It didn't mean Paul felt that tongues itself was a turnoff to unbelievers if they ever heard it, and that manifestations of the Spirit should therefore be avoided at church. Paul was simply pointing-out the obvious: that lecturing in a language no-one understood was impractical. But tongues itself was fine, even if unbelievers heard it, if:

If someone spoke in tongues unobtrusively; or even if everyone got filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues at once during a meeting, without anyone holding the floor as such; or if some people did address the meeting in an unknown tongue and it was followed-up with interpretations - Paul would have been fine with that, and all of that would have been consistent with what God did in Acts; tongues would have served as an effective sign to unbelievers, as well as edifying the believers.

Paul's issue was purely practical - but it's not a problem at all if unbelievers hear tongues or see other manifestations of the Spirit at church. It can result in salvation, like in Acts. And I've seen it happen again and again!