Archive for category The Bible
Over recent weeks many people have mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth 11 and since many have written tributes and messages of condolences, I thought I too should write some brief reflections.
In this post I would like to reflect upon my earliest memories of the Monarch and conclude with a brief perspective on her faith.
In the 1980’s (when I was a boy), my parents took me to London. This was a memorable event and seeing that city for the first time was a monumental experience.
I grew up in the north of England and the Lake District was my favourite place on earth. But still, the thought of going to London took my breath away.
It was a warm day when we arrived in England’s capital. I gazed up at Big Ben in awe and wonder. All around me were red telephone boxes and London taxis. ‘The Queen lives near here‘ I thought.
My parents bought me a souvenir. This was a small Britain’s Deetail Queens Guard metal figure. Afterward they took me to the area of Buckingham Palace. These are memories I cherish very deeply.
Back in those days my parents loved the Royal Family and whenever the Queen appeared on television we all sat around and watched. In our home there was never any challenge of those who were in authority, we accepted rules and that was that. But growing up in the north of England was tough and life was difficult. Many working class people hated the lifestyles of the rich and as a youngster I was horrified to learn that a certain group of protesters had thrown eggs toward the Queen during one of her visits to Manchester. Why would they do that I thought?
Times were changing I suppose. But change does not always bring stability and stableness does not always bring change. Life became tougher and the north became a difficult place to live. But for me, Queen Elizabeth 11 remained an enormous presence and gave our nation a sense of hope, identity and continuity.
I will remember Elizabeth 11 with fondness as the only Queen who will ever reign in my lifetime. All of us have been affected in some way by this extraordinary person and all of us will be effected by the Queens absence. As the saying goes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
When I learned of the passing of Elizabeth 11 on 8th September 2022, I felt chocked. I didn’t believe it. But when I realized it was true, I sat in silence and cried. Perhaps you also felt this way?
On Friday September 9, 2022, I attended an evensong service at Manchester Cathedral and read some of the tributes people had written. There for my first time “God save our gracious King” was sung.
“The removal of the crown, orb and sceptre to be returned to the high alter at the Queen’s committal was full of appropriate symbolism reminding the world that all human authority is on loan from the King of Kings himself and that he is the one who rightly holds all the instruments of power; conferring them for a finite time onto one of his servants before taking them back at the end of their life to pass onto their successor.”
This is perhaps reflected in the choice of a particular hymn sung at her funeral. It was based upon Psalm 121: 1, “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills” a favourite Scripture of Mary Jones who’s story inspired the founding of the Bible Society in 1804.
I believe the Queen will leave behind an enormous legacy to this country. We will never see the likes of her reign again. Like many people, I am very thankful for the commitment, loyalty and uprightness with which the Queen lived out a life of service.
But no matter who we are, rich or poor, blind or lame, weak or strong, all our lives will come to an end. What happens then? For those who live for this life only, life is but a fleeting moment. But those who live for Jesus Christ live for an eternal destiny in glory.
As a Christian I believe all those who are in the faith are brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no inequality in Him. All my life my late mother Joyce, would sing the words of the famous hymn, “I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross, and exchange it some day, for a crown.” It is an eternal truth that in heaven there will be no kings or queens, no rich or poor, no hatred or division, we will all be made equal and we will all wear a crown.
Queen Elizabeth 11 believed that Jesus Christ has made all things new and when He returns the dead will rise again, “those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5: 29)
Speaking about her faith, in 2011, the Queen said this, “God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.”
I believe those words are thoughtful, and to be cherished.
As we remember the Queen, please do not forget her faith. Because we all have evil within us and power in the wrong hands can be lethal. We all have the Queens faith to thank for her many years of service and strength. In this world we need peacemakers who are willing to give their lives in the service of others. Let us not forget that as God loves us, He gave us so great a gift, Christ Jesus King of Kings, and without Him we have no hope.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the singularly most important event that has ever taken place since time began. It is such a powerful event that many people have no idea what to make of it. On the one hand some choose to ignore it, while on the other theologians, historians, lecturers, intellectuals, and artists want to explore it.
Artistic representations of the resurrection differ throughout the centuries. The earliest images are believed to be in Rome while later more westernised images appear around the world. Some of these images depict the resurrection in various ways. For many, the resurrected body is presented as clean, and free of scars, yet still containing the nail holes in His hands and feet and the spear hole in His side. While others may present a slightly more rugged body bearing the marks of a crucified man.
In many ways, these artistic representations have conditioned our minds. In the days before film and photography, paintings and stained glass windows served as the earliest cinemas. They presented Biblical stories for artists and Church goers who could not read. In our time Church buildings are not the only representatives of the Bible, movies and television programs have projected Biblical stories into our vision and in many ways have come to dominate how we see the resurrected Jesus. Biblically inspired films often depict the resurrected Christ as One who has suffered the pains of the cross yet risen as a new body with all the scars, wounds, and potential disfigurements airbrushed out. In many depictions the only damage to remain on the resurrected body of Jesus are the nail holes in His hands and feet. Many representations show nothing of the scars left from the crown of thorns, or the scourging, or the damage made to His face and body when He was hit and beaten (Matthew 26: 67, Mark 14: 65, Luke 22: 63-65, John 18: 22. Matthew 27: 27-30, Mark 15: 16-20, John 19: 1-3).
Although the gospels do not give us any graphic details about the passion, Josephus offers insight into how cruel Roman scourging could be and in one incident a man was so severely beaten that his bones were laid bare (Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 6, chapter 5.3).
In my opinion, it is possible that the resurrected body of Jesus still retained the scars inflicted during His passion. Likewise, the whole point of the resurrection is lost if a person assumes Jesus’ resurrected body was not the same body that was crucified. The point of the resurrection is that Jesus rose again in the same body that was crucified and in the same body that died. None of this is denied in the gospels and yet the texts read as though there was something different about the resurrected body. For example, in Mark 16: 12 Jesus appears to two disciples in “another form”. In Luke 24: 13-31 the two people on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognise Him. Luke claims “their eyes were restrained” until He broke the bread and their “eyes were opened” and suddenly He vanished from their sight. In John 20: 14-15 Mary Magdalene saw Jesus but did not know it was Him and supposed He was the gardener, yet in verse 16 when she turned, she knew it was Him. Yet in John 21: 7 Peter recognises Him.
Clearly there was something different about the resurrected body of Jesus and this is also affirmed in Philippians 3: 21 where Paul describes His resurrected body as “glorious“.
Yet in John 20: 24-29, Thomas will not believe until Jesus shows Him the nail holes in His hands and the spear hole in His side. On this occasion the doors were shut and suddenly Jesus appeared. Thomas sees the wounds with his own eyes and believes, so clearly the physical resurrected body of Jesus still bore the wounds of His crucifixion.
This begs the question: if His body retained the nail and spear holes, could it have also retained the scourge marks and other scars from His beating? It would seem logical to assume if the body retained the nail and spear holes it would retain other scars also, including the marks made by the crown of thorns.
Isaiah 53: 5 does not write about the stripes as though they are going to disappear, but as though by their very existence, we are healed. It is therefore possible that His body bears the marks of His passion as a witness to His death and resurrection.
In conclusion, I believe it certainly is possible that the physical resurrected body of Jesus Christ bore the marks made by the wounds inflicted upon Him when he was beaten, scourged, and crucified. It could help explain why some of the disciples did not recognise Him. Isaiah 52: 14 says “His visage was marred more than any man” so we can agree that after such a horrific beating, His appearance would have dramatically changed from His usual appearance. Also, He would have had a new robe on which would not have been the same garment and tunic He wore normally. His original clothing was destroyed at the crucifixion (John 23-24) This may have also made His appearance appear a little different to the disciples.
It should be noted that all the disciples forsook Him at the crucifixion apart from John, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus. Peter witnessed moments of trial. Both Mary Magdalene and Peter recognised Him, which could mean they knew how much He had been beaten.
Although the gospels make no direct mention of it, I believe it is possible, though I cannot prove it, that the resurrected body of our Lord Jesus Christ retained the scars and marks of the physical damage that was inflicted upon Him as He bled to death for us and our salvation.
It is a picture and a reality of hope, that no matter what life throws at you and how horrible people can be at times, those who believe in Jesus Christ will rise up and follow Him. We too will win in the end.
Believe in Jesus today. He died for you.
Biblical Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient tablet containing what could be the earliest known example of the Hebrew name name of God, Yahweh.
The Tablet was found on Mount Ebal mentioned in Deuteronomy 11: 26, 29.
The ‘curse tablet’ is an extraordinary discovery because it was found on a site believed to be the altar of Joshua. If proven beyond doubt it could be the most significant Biblical find since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946/47.
The use of Hebrew would also predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,350 years. Meaning the ancient Israelites had a much more advanced knowledge of Hebrew than modern scholars have thought.
If true the ‘curse tablet’ could prove the Books of Moses were written earlier than modern scholars have claimed. I say this because in recent years many modern sceptics have sought to challenge the claim that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. The use of Hebrew, they say, is too advanced. Yet Jesus said “If you had believed Moses, you would be Me: because he wrote about Me.” (John 5: 46). Clearly Jesus believed Moses was the author of the Torah.
I believe people today have to live with one of the biggest problems in history, they have lost confidence in the Bible. Secularists and revisionist modernisers have sought to drive away peoples trust in the Bible. But God is forever drawing them back.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is yet to be discovered by many people and for believers, telling people the truth about Christ is a little like doing archaeology, we must remove centuries of layers to uncover the truth.
The ‘curse tablet’ is great news in a world hell bent on destroying itself. If proven to be true, it is an excellent discovery. But don’t take my word for it. Look it up, see for yourselves! Have faith and be assured the Bible is true from cover to cover. Go tell someone about Jesus Christ today.
It has been exactly ten years to this very day that I have been presenting Biblically inspired articles on this website. One of my first articles was published on October 18, 2011 on the theme “The Experience of Visiting Biblical Sites” Today, on October 18, 2021, I am continuing to share that joyful experience with my latest documentary.
This documentary is dedicated to my mother Joyce Sutherland, who went home to be with the Lord earlier this year.
I feel now a sense of completion that an era, or particular season, is drawing to to close. Ten years is a long time and I sense somewhat of a closure.
Over the last ten years I have stated many things that I believe, and that I will always do. So as a testimony to my faith, the articles published here will remain and represent a particular era of my life. I have much more to do and see and next year it will be exactly ten years (again) that I have been making Biblical Documentaries. These films simply reflect my personal faith. That will also be made complete.
But as for now, I sense a wind of change. I have said for many years “There’s an East Wind coming” and I believe it has come and will. But for now, as I withdraw to my curtain of silence, I leave you with a quote from THE COLLECT out of the Book of Common Prayer, for this day, October 18, SAINT LUKE THE EVANGELIST.
“ALMIGHTY God, who calledst Luke the Physician, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist, and Physician of the soul: May it please thee that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed; through the merits of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The English word ‘Church’ has come to mean a lot of things to a lot of people. The most common is a building, a place of worship, of bricks and mortar, history, structures and things. The original English word however is derived from the Greek adjective Kyriakos meaning ‘the Lord’s House’.
Church in the New Testament however is from the Greek Ekklesia, meaning Congregation. Tyndale’s 1526 and 1534 Translations immediately spring to mind here. For Tyndale, the Christian Church was never a building or a hierarchy of bishops, popes and prelates, but a collective of equal souls, united in faith and bound together through the Bible. This concept is entirely Biblical, and even though the early New Testament Church did not have the entire Canon of Scripture, they had the Apostles teaching.
For them, the Ekklesia, was not merely a gentile thing, but was known and lived among the Jews.
While there certainly were many ‘Churches’ scattered throughout the cities of the New Testament, most, if not all of them were house Churches. I have visited many ancient sites throughout the Biblical lands and a majority of early ‘Church’ buildings were constructed centuries later. Despite this, the New Testament recognises there is only one Church. The modern ideas of pulling out of one Church and setting up your own is alien to the New Testament. Likewise, the idea of popery and one man leadership is unknown. What we see is a plurality of elders and deacons and a collective of equal souls.
In the New Testament, whether a Church be in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus or Rome, it saw itself as one body. It was a heavenly reality, being built in this world and on this earth, where Jesus Christ is exalted at the right hand of the Father and in the midst of the Church (Hebrews 2: 12) and is head over her (Ephesians 1: 20-23)
Today however, because of false teachers and false doctrine, divisions are as common as muck. Because of circumstances, historic divisions, tribalism, the idea of one Church (in a context) simply does not work. I say this because no person who actually believes the Bible and knows that truth, can abide with a fake unity that excludes truth. As though right doctrine can be set aside, and categorised as unimportant in the cause of unifying people. It really doesn’t work!
But in Acts 21: 20, when they heard they glorified the Lord and many thousands of people believed. Other Churches grew and when Peter wrote his epistles, Churches had scattered to the south coast of Black Sea, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (1 Peter 1: 1) and this is in the context of persecution.
Thankfully, in England, we do not have any set persecution. Individuals may seek to undermine the faith and push down conservative values, but that will get them nowhere in the long run. A democratic society must be founded on freedom of conscience, belief and speech, otherwise we are not a democracy. So long as Christians do not attempt to force their beliefs on others, we are free to maintain them. If anyone seeks to force their beliefs and ethics upon us, they are guilty of doing what they condemn others of. Simply let them do their worst and their own extremist mindsets will expose their deeds.
This is actually quite a picture of the Church in the New Testament. Believers lived their lives, had families, met together, and the world did what the world always does. The New Testament Church never persecuted anyone, but visa versa. When read in this context, Romans 13: 1-7 makes perfect sense. The Church influences society, and works with the governments, but does not not rule them.
This is where todays independent Churches have got it right. However, I have come to understand that the idea of independent churches is unknown to the New Testament. Christ did not say I will build my churches but “I will build My Church…” (Matthew 16: 18). New Testament Churches may well have been established in various cities, but they were still part of one Church.
Thus, to answer my question, are independent Churches in the New Testament? My answer is no. But again, that is just my opinion.
One of the two Scripture readings from the Book of Common Prayer for today (Easter Day) is John 20: 1-10. In this passage John gave his account of the first day of the week where Mary Magdalene saw how the stone had been rolled away from the tomb of Christ and she ran to Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved to tell them “They have taken away the Lord from out of the sepulchre“.
In the passage from the BCP it is not difficult to hear Tyndale’s unmistakeable 16th century translation work. And if we look back centuries earlier, we can read Wycliffe’s 14th century translation, yet with a difference.
In verse 7 of the same passage, the 1388 Wycliffe translation makes reference to an English translation of a Latin word. This six letter word is “sudary” from the Latin Vulgate’s “Sudarium”.
The Sudarium is believed to be a bloodstained piece of cloth that was wrapped around the head of Christ after His death. Many learned people who believe the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial cloth of Christ also believe the Sudarium is a match.
The Wycliffe translation puts it this way;
“And in one day of the week, Mary Magdalele came early to the grave when it was yet dark. And she saw the stone moved away from the grave. Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to another disciple whom Jesus loved, and says to them, They have taken the Lord from the grave, and we wit not where they have laid Him! Therefore Peter went out and the ilk other disciple, and they came to the grave. And they twain ran together, and the ilk other disciple ran before Peter and came first to the grave. And when he stooped, he saw the sheets lying. Netheless, he entered not. Therefore Simon Peter came suing him, and he entered into the grave and he saw the sheets laid, and the sudary that was on His head, not laid with the sheets, but by itself lapped into a place. Therefore then, the ilk disciple that came first to the grave, entered and saw, and believed. For they knew not yet the Scripture that it behoved Him to rise again from death. Therefore the disciples went eftsoon to themselves.”
The Wycliffe New Testament 1388. The Gospel of John, Chapter XX
Today a Sudarium is in Oviedo, Spain. Opinion differs as to the authenticity, but it is the responsibility of each individual to weigh the evidences and make a decision. But whatever a person decides, the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be ignored.
my mother Joyce Sutherland went home to be with the Lord on February 17. I have dedicated this precious hymn to her. Joyce was a wonderful mother to me and all her children. I will never forget her and I will honour her memory and legacy for as long as I live.
Joyce Sutherland was not only my mother, but was a singer who worked with me from my earliest days and until the final moments. In the 1960’s Joyce and my father met Johnny Cash in Manchester. In 1991, Joyce met Johnny Cash once again, only this time, with me. She was loved by everyone she knew. Joyce had seven children and after the death of my father, spent her remaining years serving her family, friends and everyone she met with kindness, love and friendship.
Joyce became a Christian in 1972 after an experience with Christ that she told repeatedly throughout her life. I was the first born after she became a Christian. Joyce sang with me on most of my recordings and appeared in my live concerts, the last few being the UK’s only Bob Dylan Festival.
Joyce Sutherland’s story will be told.
This wonderful Anglican hymn was written by John Ellerton in 1888 while walking home from his Church in Cheshire. The lyrics are set to the tune of St Clement. The hymn is a national favourite and has become a theme song for me and I have used it in every documentary I have made. When I was in Paphos, filming my first documentary, I asked the Lord what music He wanted me to use for my documentary and immediately the brass band behind me broke into that tune. When I arrived back in England I hummed the tune, as I do in the recording, and asked my mother what the hymn was, and she said she knew it and sang it to me. I have used this hymn ever since and I will use it again. I have dedicated this version to Joyce and I hope it is a blessing to you.
Joyce Sutherland passed away peacefully in her sleep.
“Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. From dust we came and to dust we shall return.”
Today we often hear claims that the Church of England was formed in 1534 by Henry V111. Often these claims are followed by repeated references to the lifestyle and apparently tyrannical ways of this king of England. By all accounts, the popular claim presents Henry V111 as the boogeyman.
The problem is, it is not true. It is only a fraction of the story.
The historic truth is that the Church of England was not formed in 1534 by Henry V111 because he wanted a new wife, it was actually formed in 597 AD by Augustine of Canterbury. The history shows that while visiting the Forum of Rome, Gregory saw some slaves and was fascinated by their hair and after inquiring of them, learned that they were in fact Angles (people who settled in Great Britain). Being burdened, Gregory met Augustine (of Canterbury) in a monastery in Rome and Augustine mentioned his desire to be a missionary in Britain. Gregory granted permission for Augustine to go to Britain, and in 597 he established a Church in Canterbury where he baptised a quantity of persons. This mission is known as the Gregorian mission and this is the date and event that marks the formal history of the Church of England. Today, Canterbury Cathedral stands in the location associated with that event.
So in answer to my rhetorical title “Was the Church of England formed in 1534?” the answer is no! What happened in 1534 was the Act of Supremacy, being brought about as a response to years and years of doctrinal division and the false usurping of unbiblical teaching and unholy living of Pope’s and clergy, past and present. If you will, it can be likened to a 16th century ecclesiastical Brexit. Just as England and Britain have existed long before the EU, so the Church of England existed long before the creation of Roman Catholicism at the East-West Schism (Great Schism) of 1054.
The reality is the 1534 Act of Supremacy was an engineered event. 16th century reformers William Tyndale, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer knew full well what they were doing, and they used and engineered Henry’s desire for a new wife as a Nosus Decipio to get this 16th century Ecclesiastical Brexit Done.
Did everybody agree? No. There was and always will be remainers and Brexiteers. But thank God for William Tyndale and for Thomas Cranmer.
The original 1549 Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer is a wonderful and historically significant Christian book. In Rylands Library I have had the honour of reviewing and researching ancient original copies of this work, in the original prints and wording.
The original Book of Common Prayer supports the claim to universal redemption as a consistent Christian truth. The text of reads as follows;
“First, I Leanne to believe in God the father, who hathe made me and the worlde.
Secondly, in God the sonne, who hath redeemed me and all mankind.
Thirdly, I God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me, and all the electe people of God” (The Book of Common Prayer. 1549. A Cathechisme.)
The proposed questions which I set forth are these;
Q. does this article consider the possibility that the world does not mean ‘the entire world’? That is the entire human race?
A. No it does not. The text clearly states in clear basic terms for simple Christians in England during the 16th century, not to view the world as meaning only the elect or the people from within the world, but all the world. If God made all the world and this means ‘all’, then it follows that when the passage speaks of redeeming “all mankind”, that it means ‘all’ and not only some.
Q. Does this imply universalism? Or does this imply universal offering of redemption?
A. I think the word “redemption” states that the passage refers to universal redemption, that is in the sense of Christ regaining possession of mankind, in the context of a payment. It does not imply universalism. I think there is not even a hint of limited atonement within this article.
Q. But does not the text say “sanctifieth me, and all the elect”? Yes, it does. That those whom have the Holy Spirit are elect and are sanctified by Him and when the Holy Spirit is given, His work is effectual for those who believe. But that belief must be present, active and continuous. A person need not be understood as ‘elect’ because he or she has been determined by God to be elect in order to believe, but that he or she is elect because they believe.
Once again we see further proofs in favor of my claim that the Calvinistic doctrine of ‘Limited Atonement’ need not be understood as pure reformed teaching.
We must consider that if Christ has died for all, He must have made a way for all to receive Him, as communicated throughout the New Testament. But Calvinism cruelly offers salvation to people when in reality it knows all too well that unless a person is determined to believe, he or she cannot receive the grace of God unless that soul has been predestined and elected to salvation by the deterministic power of ‘God’. It offers a man bread only to give him a stone.
It is a very cruel doctrine that is somewhat deceptively diluted by many modern Calvinist preachers and presented as reformed. Yet the 39 Articles of Religion (1562) do not teach it. On the contrary, Article XXX1 (31) states the following;
“The Offering of Christ once made it that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone.”