Posts Tagged The word of God is not bound

The truth of the oldest New Testament fragment

In John Rylands Library, Manchester, houses the oldest fragment of the New Testament to date. During this present age of critical modern scholarship and its heavy critique of Biblical texts, we have a great testimony in direct contrast to many critical claims of modern textual scholars.

Many claim that the New Testament accounts were written much later than they actually were, and when I see this fragment as I do on a regular basis, its surviving words never cease to amaze me. They are a pure testimony to the reality of the absolute identity of Jesus Christ, son of God, who was and is, and is to come, “The Truth”. Not ‘a’ truth, but ‘The’ Truth.

The Greek fragment, of John 18: 31-33, on the recto reads as follows, ,

“the Jews, “For us it is not permitted to kill
anyone,” so that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he
spoke signifying what kind of death he was going to
to die. Entered therefore again into the Praeto-
rium Pilate and summoned Jesus
and he said to him, “Thou art king of the
Jews?”

The Greek fragment of John 18: 37-38, on the verso reads as follows,

“a King I am. For this I have been born
and (for this) I have come into the world so that I would
testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth
hears of me my voice.” Said to him
Pilate, “What is truth?” and this
having said, again he went out unto the Jews
and said to them, “I find not one
fault in him.”

Is it not amazing that the oldest fragment in the world of the New Testament, dated possibly earlier than 100 AD and no later than 150 AD, speaks of such a great testimony to the word of God? Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24: 35.

This is certainly true. Glory to the Lamb of God.

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Concerning “A modern sikh interpretation of the Bible” a lecture given by John Parry – November 10th 2011 – Manchester Cathedral

It is out of great concern and deep conviction that I am writing this post today. I write concerning a certain lecture I attended last evening and regarding a situation which I see is ever present with us in England today and is cause for great concern regarding the future of Christ’s church.

The title of the lecture in question was, “A modern Sikh interpretation of Jesus” and although the title itself could be seen as polemical and problematic, I was happy to attend and pleased to know that the lecture was free from admission charges, which is shamefully inconsistent with the many practices of modern Christendom but at least this act bore witness with the direct words of Christ, “Freely you have recieved, freely give” (Matthew 10: 8).

In his talk which began at 7pm after Cannon Andrew Shank’s introduction, the well spoken, humble and polite Mr Parry explored the apparent similarities between the Jesus of the historical canonical Gospels and the so-called Jesus of the Sikh religion. As part of the lecture, the majority of the text which Mr Parry explored was taken from the writings of Gopal Singh and a Sikh work on Jesus which I am not familiar with entitled “The man who never died”.

Gopal Singh’s text makes mention of certain topics which could be seen as Biblical, including ‘regeneration’, rising from the “state of death” and dying to self and yet “being  alive to what never dies within you” which I felt was a little Gnostic or mystical?

The writing then moved on to Jesus healing the sick and “bringing them back to themselves” and the historical facts that Jesus was worshipped as God, son of man, that He was scourged and crucified and the resurrection. Other themes also included the Grace of God and the “Samaritan woman” of the gospels.

In itself, the work written by Gopal Singh appeared to me to be not unlike the many poems and the writings of philosophers, and religious works past and present, and not unlike the ancient Gnostic writings and ancient apocryphal works such as “the Gospel of Judas’ or “the Gospel of the Essenes” or even “the Gospel of Thomas”. All such works which on the surface appears in-line with the canonical Gospels, and yet when examined more closely, they could and I would argue ‘do’ reveal themselves very far apart on the fine tuning of fundamental doctrines and established Christian truths.

This could be argued in the context of the Sikh text which Mr Parry presented, that due to the fact that the Sikh religion rejects the fundamental Christian doctrines of ”The incarnation of Christ” as testified to in the  2nd article of the 1562 ‘Articles of Religion’ which the Church of England continues to use and of the Trinity contained in Articles 1 and the Deity of Jesus which is an established Christian truth. Yet, Gopal Singh’s work “The man who never died” appears to embrace the historical identity of the historical Jesus and the Jesus of Faith? But I wonder if Gopal Singh even believed in the absolute identity of the Canonical Jesus or the fundamental Christian truths of who Jesus really was? I doubt it.

In Mr Parry’s lecture, he made mention of certain fundamental truths of the Christian faith and that the Sikh religion does not agree with these truths. yet at the same time seemed to be presenting the inter-faith argument that Christianity and Sikhism has much in common? That could well be argued in the context of philosophical themes and there may be evidence of similarities. But, these similarities, including morals and ethics may also be found in Buddhism, Islam and other faiths, yet the problem is that Philosophy, morals, ideas and such cannot save a single soul from eternal damnation. The Bible is clear that morals cannot save a man from damnation. This is likewise confirmed in article 11 of the 1562 Articles of Religion of the Book of Common prayer which states that neither good works nor mere belief can save a man, but the person and work of Christ on the cross is sufficient to save and justify those who embrace Him as savior and Lord. Thus, good works alone cannot save a man and faith alone or belief alone in Jesus cannot save a soul either, for, faith and belief which does not present works as a fruit of faith and not the root of faith is evidence contrary to real salvation. As it is written in James 2: 14 “What does it profit a man, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?”

If the fruit of faith becomes twisted with the root of faith, then the fruit is spoiled and destroyed and will be burned up. However, justification is a huge debate in itself and subject to reason, but few can deny that the fruits of a tree do not make that tree good or bad, but merely reveal to others if that tree is a good tree or a bad tree. I believe this is clear from scripture and good doctrine that the fruit of the Holy Spirit which manifests not only in the outward deeds of a person, but within the soul of a person brings forth good works and not the other way about, as stated in article 12 of the 1562 Articles of Religion.

Now, my readers may say what has this got to do with the topic at hand? Well, the answer is that although the people of the Sikh religion may be moral people, may be seen as nice friendly folk, they may even believe in a Jesus or certain aspects of ‘The’ Biblical Jesus, yet in reality, they do not believe He is the one and only, absolute savior and Lord God and the only way to heaven. This is contrary to the Word of God, as Jesus said, “I am the way, the Truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me“. (John 14: 6)

Could a Sikh Jesus make such a claim? I doubt it, thus he cannot be the same Jesus!

 The Biblical narritive of John 14: 6 is clear that outside of the mediatorial work of Christ there can be no salvation. That although salvation may exist outside the church, it does not and cannot exist outside of Christ! That the fundamental Christian truth according to God’s Holy Word is that if you do not have and know Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and have received the Holy Spirit, you do not have eternal life.

Jesus claimed to be “The way, the Truth” not ‘a truth’ or ‘a way’ to God, but “The Way”. He claimed to be the great “I am” as it is written in the scriptures, “Before Abraham was I am”. (John 8: 58) Now, either a person argues their way out of this text and other texts by questioning the authority of divine scripture or by claiming that the Sikh religion is part of that mediatorial work of Christ, then that would be implying that God is not sovereign over His word and that the Holy Scriptures are not written by the inspiration of God, but are merely the product of the evolutionary thought of men of God and traditions and collections of ancient myths and verbal testimony of the Jewish people. Such is contrary to the claims of scripture and historical Christian theology.   

Paul writes, that he says that the things he spoke to the Corinthian church were spoken “for your sakes that you may learn not go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4: 6) and likewise, the scripture declares that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4)

Thus, did not the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 3) not come directly from the mouth of God? Or would the liberal theologian deny this established Christian truth?

Now, if the Church neglects these fine tunings and examinations of the Biblical Jesus and the character of God and embraces the people of the Sikh religion as though Jesus has provided another way to eternal life and the Sikh religion is part of that, the Church is guilty of denying the fundamental Christian truth’s and denying the Word of God and breaking the commandment of God and embracing other gods. That is dangerous place to be!

“There are few more warnings in scripture than this: “Remember lots wife” who did not obey Gods word.

I would also like you to remember York Minster!

It is clear to me that what the main problem with the lecture and theme and continuing theme which My Parry and the Church of England are moving deeper and deeper into, is that the inter-faith movement is not only a mere dialogue or the exchanging of ideas and thoughts, but of universalism and a denial of the narrow and absolute mediatorial work of the Biblical Christ, who is God made manifest in the flesh, the only Son of God as it is stated in the 39 articles of Religion, which still remains in the Book of Common Prayer.

Now, in conclusion I mention these things for the good of the Church and out of my love of the Brethren. I wish to make known that I have no problems with Sikh people and am not implying that Christians should avoid Sikhs or not reason and debate with them, but my issues are with bad doctrine. Likewise, I wish to make it known that I do not seek to argue with the church or attack her but to defend her with more than mere opinion. The gospel cannot be denied for the word of man, neither can we ignore the Biblical passages which I raised in my brief and voluntary public debate with Mr Parry during the service on the 11th Novemer, that the Sikh religion denies many sides to Gods character and attributes, and denies His power to do as He wishes and to make Himself incarnate (2 Timothy 3: 5) and as I mentioned in my critique of of the Sikh claim that “God has no hate in Him” that the text from Malach 1: 2-3 and Romans 9: 13 does not authenticate the Sikh claim, for God does hate certain people who are not only liberal but deny Him, as I mentioned in my debate. Hate is an attribute of God which many would ignore, as the scripture reads, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” Romans 9: 13 – Malachi 1: 2-3. Why did God hate Esau? Well, there are many thoughts and ideas within that theme, but one theme is clear is that he sold his birthright.

Please note, many of the highest Biblical scholars and NT Greek experts agree that the word employed by Paul is clearly communicating that one attribute of God is that He does hate. However, this does not mean that He is not love or has not love, but that He has a side of Him that contains hate, a side that many do not know or understand. But who are we human beings to say that God cannot do this or that? We are only men and not gods.

Thus, Such an aspect of the character of God, which I would argue is distinctly mentioned in the Biblical narrative and is within the text for a reason, it is a side of God which many people of our generation of Church goers and leaders do not like to confess. Yet the warning is given for you, that you may have a care, lest you too sell your birthright and fall from the grace of God and give away your inheritance for the flesh, typified in the form of a plate of lentils and some stew.

That if you deny the commandment of God to have “no other gods before me” and thus whore after other gods and do like the ancients of old who did trust in lying words, and did stand before God in His house, which is known by His name and say “We are delivered, only to go on doing all these abominations” (Jeremiah 7: 10) then I fear that just as the judgement of God came upon His beloved temple in Jerusalem because she did “walk after other gods” (Jeremiah 7: 9) that let us not fool ourselves and deceive our minds that His judgement will not come upon His church once again.

The scriptures inform us time and time again, that Jesus warned about deception in the church more than any other topic, that false deceptive teachings and teachers would come into the church and as Peter said “secretly bringing in destructive heresies and denying the Lord who bought them” (2 Peter 2: 1) 

Thus, in conclusion, and after hearing Mr Parry and his lecture and giving this matter much thought and prayer, I must conclude that the theme was and is heretical and the interfaith movement which is coming stronger than ever and of which Mr Parry is part of, is an absolute heresy and has no business with the Christian Church or her people.

I say this in love and I mean it with all sincerity and please know that I write this out of concern and with a heavy heart for the good of Christ’s body; for I believe that the Church in England is in the condition it is in because she has forgotten her firstlove, and is not holding to Biblical truth. Please repent of this sin and turn back again to the truth of scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit and He will pour out His spirit upon this nation once again.

This day, I plead with the Church of England and all her liberal theologians and ministers who may be denying the truth of Gods word in favour of modern winds of doctrine and out of fear of what people might think? I would like to add that ministers, theologians and leaders should not give people what their itching ears want to hear or be a people pleasing modern concept. I plead with you who are involed in the inter-faith movement and resist the word of God according to modern man made ideas, to Repent and come back to the truth of Gods Holy Word and recieve the blessings that God by His Holy Spirit will send and restore and bring His church into a new era if His people repent and turn back to Him and His Word. Of this I am certain, that judgement does not fall upon the world, unless it has fallen upon the house of God first. As it is written in 2 Chronicles 7: 14 and also in the words of St Peter, and I believe this should be must spoken today in England, that “the time has come for the judgment to begin and it is beginning with Gods own household”  (1 Peter 4: 17)

Simon Peter Sutherland.

Manchester. 11th November 2011

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The importance of Theology and the problem of religion

The problem of religion © 2018 Simon Peter SutherlandThe importance of Theology is and has always been needed within the walls of the Christian life. If we sit outside the walls or on the walls we do very little but watch the sun go down and the sunrise. In other words it’s like sitting on the fence, or guiding sheep into a field where there is no grass. They don’t eat and the work does not get done. We and they, are wasting time and energy. Now suppose we do not sit on the fence or outside the walls but rather stand within the walls and not only take in the scenic views, but internalise them and embrace them, as one would do when he or she returns or marries the love of his or her life. We kiss, we hold each other, we embrace. We become one.

Now if we do not make the first move we will never know what lay before us or what we could have had or known if only we would make the move and ask the question, just as a nervous teenager asks a girl for a date. If he never asked, he would never know and that plaque would haunt him for the rest of his life. Now suppose he asked the girl, ‘would you like to come out with me for a date sometime?’ and she replied, ‘Sure, I’d love to’. Would he not be the better for it than if he had never taken the step to ask the question? Of course he would and the same can be said of understanding ‘Biblical Theology’. Asking questions is vital, but more than that, we need to listen to the answer or answers and take them on board. Remember the movie, ‘It’s a wonderful life’ where James Stewart and Donna Reed are challenged by an elderly guy sat on his porch, and he says, ‘Why don’t you just kiss her instead of talking her to death’. James Stewart could talk the ears of a wooden Indian and yet despite his true feelings, he hesitated to act upon them. But little did he know that in time he would marry the girl and raise a family. Thus we do not always know where we are going when we follow impulses but destiny and providence is working its hand in all our lives. There was a time when I was compelled to purchase books, yet all the time a war was going on within me to reject the books and buy something else rather than a book that inspires thought towards the truth of God. The human will would have you follow the world and feel the impulse of the human will, ‘go sin some more’, whereas Christ would say, “Go and sin no more”. Thus the war is underway in the search to find a Theology that can find us and place us where God would have us be. This Theology is the means appointed to us for eternal life. We need it, we should love it, and we should always apply it to every moment of life. But there are times when we don’t. We are men and women and we fail. But that does not mean that we cannot and should not continue to try. We should look at our human nature and say, ‘Wait a minute…if I don’t drink coffee for two weeks, I won’t have the desire to drink anywhere near what I did before’. Thus the nature of the will can be lessened by the practice of a Theology that is both vital and important for everyday living. Not a Theology that can often lead nowhere, but a Theology that can hold us, sustain us, keep us, watch over us, comfort us, bind us and keep us so near to Christ that we can hardly stand a brief minute being away from it. Its something that is practised and enjoyed. Like a Theology of the attributes of God. Who is He? What is He like? What does He talk like or what does He like? What offends Him and do I offend Him knowingly or unknowingly? And if so what can I do about it? This is what I would love to hear belted out from the heart and the mouth of every preacher in every nation. Truth, a Theology of Truth. A Theology that sustains and sticks to every word of the Bible like glue and does not ignore a single text that either contradicts or compliments a single Theology or a single creed. I’m talking about holding on to the word of God in every corner and every last syllable and every last text that our eyes and hearts embrace. Not ignoring a text or pulling out the old context or Greek interpretation ploy whenever its convenient. But asking God and ourselves, ‘What does this truly mean? Have I erred?’ If only humans would truly say to themselves, ‘I don’t care if I contradict a creed or a leader by not swaying from a single text of the Bible’. Or as Luther said, ‘My conscience is captive to the Word of God, and to go against conscience is neither right nor safe’. Thus, a Theology that is put into practice before God, ourselves and man, is far greater than a theology put down on paper or belched out from the pulpit but not lived. There’s only one thing to do with such theoretic blasts of wind and that is to strike a match and burn the stench.

God gives warnings to His people, ‘get it right’ and we only have this life to do it in and then comes the judgement. Not judgement for indwelling sin, but being neither cold or hot. God would have us be one or the other. Same to can be said of our Theologies, are they cold or are they hot. I don’t know about you but I prefer the hot days rather than the freezing cold ones. I’d rather be in the blazing heat than in the dusty old cold cellar where there is little light or beauty. The beauty is in the light of the sun and the light magnifies the beauty of all things good. Thus when we open the pages of the Bible, what good would it be to open them in the dark and attempt to read it? Why not call out for a light as the jailer in Acts 16: 25-31 and fall to our knees and believe? That’s what Salvation is all about, believing and asking “What must I do?” (Acts 16: 30) It’s not a salvation that requires a man or women to sit and simply read or do nothing, it’s a salvation that at first requires belief and second beliefs to good works. Just as the Phipippian jailer believed and then washed the stripes of Paul and Silas and after the event of his baptism continued in good works and made Paul and Silas a meal (Acts 16: 33-34). In other words the Theology I am speaking of is a Theology that is put into practice and one that says, ‘Let’s talk about it over dinner’ and more than that, ‘I will cook the food for you’.

In other words Paul never spoke of a faith that is idle or so stable that it can hardly move. No it’s a faith that is so strong and active that there is little room for inactivity. Paul’s Theology was like a lion, it works best when you turn it loose. It’s not something that can be caged or contained within the limitation of words, books and preaching. It’s something that requires a person to get up off their backsides and do something about. It’s not a Theology that once learned stays behind closed doors or stained glass windows. It something life changing, threatening to authorities and governments, leaders and control freaks. It’s something that once turned loose, can cause a whole City to turn into uproar. This is what we have read about in the journals of Wesley, and the Foxes book of Martyrs. It’s a total uproar, a Theology that once learned must be practised and lived to the point of death. It is something so strong, so powerful, so addictive, so un-measurable that once tasted can never be erased from the taste-buds of our hearts and minds. It captivates people, arrests them and throws them into the prison and binds them in the chains and stocks of Christ. We must hear the word of God, believe all that is written and be astonished at the doctrine of The Lord.

A PROBLEM OF RELIGION, NO JOY

Many people dislike “religion” and view “religious people” as often miserable and tense, extreme and strange. Of course this is not always the case for many people admire others who have faith in something because they often fail to have any true faith themselves. Many find in their own characters and conduct a sustaining faith that influences their own selves, many say to me, “I believe in myself” and “I cannot believe in a God that I cannot see”. And although I can understand and identify with such people, it must be pointed out that such is not the case with “true religion”. One common view is that many people blame the many world religions as the one of the many problems that often provokes world wars? And although there is some if not a very lot of truth in that fact, I must state that true religion is not the cause of world wars. It is the power trips of certain evil dictators that cause war, it is not true religion. There would have been no wars in the Bible times if evil did not wage war upon goodness, therefore we cannot be blinded to true religion because of war. True religion is not a mystical faith that is nothing more than a leap in the dark, and a voyage to nowhere. “True religion” is true faith and true faith is an eye opener and a joy to behold. True faith is not a leap in the dark but is a leap from the dark into the light. It opens our eyes to who we are and who God really is. The problem we face with “religion” today is the many self appointed religious leaders who attempt to lead men to themselves or to God as though they are a necessary channel or mediator to the heavens. We see this with men like the Pope who are presented to the public as messianic type figures who claim to have the authority to anathematise people or bless them. False religions promote a threat that unless you join the certain church you are going to end up in hell. But true religion does not attempt to ensnare the individual into becoming a member of “the denomination church” but invites them to be reconciled unto God and to be at peace with Him through Christ. Religions such as Islam and Roman Catholicism all teach that unless you join the certain denominational church you cannot enter heaven. While on the other extreme some Religions claim that everyone will go to heaven with or without Christ or God. Yet Jesus did not teach this. On the contrary He said, “accept a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3: 3. And no where does the Bible state that a man can only be born again when he or she is part of the denominational Christian Church. Christ said, “come to me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11: 28. “The truth shall make you free” John 8: 32. You see that Christ pointed people to Himself and not the denominational Church, and offered peace and rest for the individual in Him and not dismal church sacraments and dull services. While on the other hand Christ stated that without Him, there can be no hope of salvation for anyone. Christ did not say, “Come to the church” or “Come and receive the sacraments at your local church and inherit heaven through the church”. On the contrary, if one is truly saved and born of God, he or she will want to join other people of like mind and be blessed and built up by their company. That is what the Bible says is the true church. Thus, the distracting claims that religion promotes often clouds the eyes of many people and the actions of the church distract people from the personal conduct and salvation freely offered to the individual.

All such religions as Roman Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, and many branches of so-called Christianity including the Church of England, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses all have one thing in common. They all promote the individual religious and sacramental workings of a man as a necessity of inheriting eternal life with God. But the problem is that true religion should promote the fact that God Himself came down to earth in order to reach man and reason with him concerning righteousness and heaven. God Himself came down onto earth and reasoned with Abraham, (Genesis 18: 16-33) God Himself came down onto mount Sinai and gave Moses the tablets containing Ten Commandments (Exodus 19-20: 17). God came down to earth and said “Come now, and let us reason together” Isaiah 1: 18. God Himself came down to earth in the form of Christ and offered mankind the opportunity to reason with Himself and receive the free and unconditional gift of salvation. All man had to do was receive the gift and believe that God has made a way for him to inherit a gift that he was unable to achieve by human efforts. All those who believe in Jesus are saved to good works not by good works. This for me demonstrates that real God given Christianity is the true religion and the most powerful. For all other religions teach a certain way for man to find the truth and not the truth finding him. Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life” (John 14: 6). But Mohamed came along over 500 years after Jesus and based all his ideas upon what was already written by Moses centuries earlier. He could not say that he was the truth and neither could Buddha’s The sayings of Buddha for such writings only attempt to point people to human wisdom being nothing more than a form of the truth taught by Solomon in the book of Proverbs and Moses many years previous.

It has to be said that the problem we face today with our current religious and none religious generation is that there is no healthy fear of God and no healthy fear of authority, for religion has blinded many peoples eyes to the truth. In my opinion much responsibility for this is to be blamed upon the theory of evolution as a presentation and enticement that creation account recorded in Genesis is just a myth and evolution is factual religion. But such evolutionists fail to inform their hearers that the scientific world is 50-50 regarding the creation account and the Darwinian theory.

If only man would embrace the God given gift of eternal salvation and eternal freedom and wash away the clouds that religion blows in front of their eyes he would hear and know that what the Bible states is the truth of all hope and pleasure in the glory and beauty of almighty God. Therefore the problem of religion is that it blinds peoples eyes and blocks the ears to the actual text of the Bible beyond disputes concerning, the creation account or the Lords prayer or the virgin birth. Religion never finds the treasure because it never looks up from the map. If only the public of today would know that true religion is a joy to hold, it is an honour and a delight to embrace. It is filled with the spiritual truths, joy, pleasure and insights and unimaginable truths. But religion without joy is like a spare tyre with no jack and a spare tyre without a jack is like a Church without Jesus.

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