Creation: Full of Wonder

15 05 2012

8 Gorgeous Nature Blogs for Earth Day.


Nice images, indeed!

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Psalm 19:1





The Meta-Narrative BC

14 05 2012
  • The Everlasting God
  • The Plan: before the Foundation of the World
  • The Beginning: Creation
  • Galaxies, planets, suns, moons, stars
Image
  • The Earth as Home: plants, animals, oceans
  • Adam and Eve, Created in God’s Image
  • Marriage – Centrality and Prototype
  • The Mandate for Humanity
  • The Great Tragedy
  • Great Grace
  • Anger, Mayhem, Murder
  • Noah and the Rainbow
  • The Nations
  • Abraham: Call, Faith, Blessing
  • Isaac
  • Jacob and Esau
  • Joseph and his Brothers
  • Egypt, Power and Slavery
  • Moses
  • Community Life of Israel: Law, Culture, Worship, Wisdom
  • Joshua, Judges, Prophets
  • David: The defeat of Goliath and Charter for humanity
  • Kings, Prophets and a Recalcitrant Nation
  • 587 BC     Babylonian Captivity
  • Daniel
  • 400 BC     Malachi
  • No Prophets
  • The Rise and Fall of Empires
  • The Roman Empire
  • Alexander the Great




Yaratılış ve İtfa (Turkish)

10 04 2012

Tanrı’ya neşeli bir gürültü, bütün dünyayı (Mezmurlar 66:1) olun.

Filler boru çalmak. Martılar Screeching. Meşgul mavi dil kertenkele.Çıtır Fuji elma. Eğer dünyanın hoşlanıyor musunuz? Arkamızı oluşturma gözlemlemek bizi-hangi benzersiz bir parçasıdır – biz gerçekten ne muhteşem bir yer keşfetmek olacaktır. Böyle bir zengin, sefih çeşitliliğine sahiptir.

Eğer botanikçiler bilinen bazı 380.000 farklı türlerin bitki yaşamı vardır biliyor muydunuz? Balık türlerinin 21.000, amfibi 4000, hayvanların sürüngenler 5,200, kuş 8.700 türleri ve 4.000 vardır.Protozoa, süngerler, denizanası, solucanlar, salyangozlar, böcekler, örümcekler ve daha fazla söz değil. Toprak tek başına karbon, oksijen, hidrojen, kalsiyum, çinko gibi, 100 bilinen elemanları oluşur. Orada kayalar, metal, sıvı, gaz – ve o şekilde gidiyor. Ve düşünüyorum – bu gezegenin ötesinde yıldızlı 10,000 milyon galaksiler,. Atmosfer yağmur, rüzgar, ışık ve ısı ile, sürekli değiştirir.Orada ay ve güneş, gece ve gündüz, dağlar, ovalar ve vadiler, yüksek ve düşük gelgit, elektrik fırtınaları ve türbülanslı kasırgalar.Mevsimler. Ancak çok yaratılış, görünmeyen mikroskobik veya mağaralar ve okyanusların derinliklerinde gizli olduğunu.

Nedir bu insanlar? – Bizim için 6 milyar. Olduğunu düşünmek! 5000 farklı dil vardır. Gürültü – yumuşak ve yüksek sesle ve sessizlik.Müzik – ritim, melodi ve armoni – perküsyon, rüzgar, dizeleri ve klavyeli enstrümanlar çaldı. Tatlı veya acı, yumuşak, orta ve zor – Biz zevk için muhteşem gıdalar var. Lütfen aromalar, ve olmayan kokuları vardır!

Insan icatları ne? Kolları, jantlar, tekneler, uçaklar, arabalar, araçlar, evler, yatak, radyo, TV, DVD, MP3, güç istasyonları. Işleri yapmak için – spor, oyun ve mesleklerin yüzlerce vardır. Sanat, yazma, okuma, araştırma, hikayeler, notlar, söylev ve konuşmaları, kitap, film ve bilgisayar söylüyorum şaka vardır. Ilaç, zehir ve ağrı öldürme var. Cerrahi, masaj ve makyaj vardır. Yapmak için el sanatları, akademik bebekler için öğrenme, ABC’nin, düşünme ve pondering vardır. Duygu Her türlü: sevgi ve özlem, umut ve hayal kırıklığı ve yerine getirilmesi, şifa bekliyor. Hastalık, deformite ve yaralanma biz çok iyi biliyorlar! Doğum, çocukluk, büyüme, aşk, evlilik, arkadaşlık, olgunluk, yaşlanma ve ölüm birbirinden farklıdır. Ebedi hayat.Namaz. Amaç.

Yaratılış içinde “evde” olmak hayatın tüm hakkında ne olduğudur.Nasıl oldu da sıkılmaz? Evet, günah ve onun korkunç, sarsıcı etkileri var! Ama Redemption da var.

O, mağfireti, Oğlu aracılığıyla, Baba eve gelince çok hoş. İbadet Yaratıcımız nedeniyle, yaratılış ve kurtuluş hem de bizim Kurtarıcı.İsa Mesih tasarrufu Rabbimiz, tüm yaradılış için, ölümden yükseldiği – hayatı sonsuza kadar harika. Kutsal Ruh gel.

Tanrı’ya neşeli bir gürültü, bütün dünyayı olun.





Singers and Dancers

20 08 2011

Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.” (Psalm 87:7).

What amazing talents human beings have been given. Singing is something that most people can do—at least, to some extent. Little children, often love to sing away when they are happy.  Even so, a grand, regal, resonating singing voice is surely an extraordinary gift.   Likewise with dancing. To draw upon the presence of God in the exercise of our gifts, is surely something that we can do, consciously and unconsciously, or not. (Some even deny God’s existence, while exercising the gifts he gave). However, when looking to God, and asking him to bless the work of his hands – us – we may well be praying a good prayer, so that, we may be a blessing to others. To cause others enjoyment and encouragement and even a crisis leading to faith—with the gifts he has given us, namely, us the person he has made, has got to be a good thing, I reckon.

Proverbs 4:23 cautions one to, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life”.  Natural water springs are quite a beautiful feature of some of the farming land on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. When springs are flowing well, life surges and grows.

The theologian and teacher, Baxter Kruger, said something like this: “I knew as a child that something vast, deep, ancient and beautiful, was running through all of life—an invisible river of glory is running through our lives”.

When our springs are in the invisible river of glory, and when we are drawing upon those subterranean resources, the exercise of our gifts, and talents, flow in a river of life, and blessing into the life of others, and so into the world around us.

Jesus once cried out: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”  Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).

Jesus was indicating that he himself, was the source of a river of glory, springs of life, to flow out to others.

Interestingly, this ‘river flow’ had an important background in the rock, that supplied water for Israel in the wilderness – as this whole blog title says: ‘And That Rock Was Christ’.

Interestingly, Moses had to smite, or strike the rock for the water to flow. Jesus was struck, or smitten upon the cross, as he was glorified, before the river of the Spirit began to fully flow. This was the place where the guilt of humanity was entered into and borne by Christ. Guilt is like a great blockage in the flow of human life, and love. Guilt is that which must be taken, to allow a true human flow of life into the world, into the future.

A river flows out from Eden, and flows into the world, and onward unto the future Eden of God, where there is a River of Life waters the Tree of Life, and the trees with fruit bring healing to the nations (Revelation 22:2).

The Word of Life, that the Ascended Jesus speaks, is the action of the outpouring of the Spirit of God—the River of Life—into the parched and dry weary world of suffering, lonely, lost, guilty and therefore uncertain humanity.  This river flushes out the old debris and brings with it new life—welling up to eternity.

To be part of the significant flow of God’s word in  Christ is to be in the flow of our true humanity, and it brings blessing and life. It is what we are created for.

How is it going with you? In the flow? Flowing? Or damn dammed up? May the Spirit flow anew, evoking life, evoking fresh participation in the invisible river of glory, the Word of the Gospel to the nations of the world: look up, receive, believe, Christ is triumphant over death; the Father is the God of ALL grace; he raised Christ and gave him into death for us all-to deal with us, fully in judgment; humanity has a new hope. Let’s begin to live that way!





A few tips for young guys

11 07 2011

Young guys: become a good catch!

Many young women would love to get married.  Many young women today are ‘a good catch’, already.

However, so many young guys their own age are ‘just not up to speed’.  I mean, ‘what are you young guys doing?’ I am convinced that many young guys just do not know how to be a suitable ‘catch’.  Now, I am not a ‘ladies man’, nor a ‘Casanova’. And I never had my act together—far from it.  But I am acutely aware that young guys in our society really do need to learn how to become a suitable catch. Some of my tips may seem obvious, and very basic. However, many young guys just seem to be totally ignorant of them. So here goes—a few tips for young guys:

1. Think. Think about this matter. Start thinking about how you might improve your treatment of all young woman.

2. Treat all young women really well—treat all as you would both a dynamic princess, and a good friend, and a fun sister. Honor them. Regard them highly. Cherish their presence. Happily honour their integrity (Most, will notice this quality shining forth in you). Chivalry is a bit out of fashion in some parts. (So don’t be wrongly condescending, as if you are superior. You are not). But it can still have a place.

3. Talk. Learn to talk to young women, by talking to them as often as you can (without being overly invasive or pushy). Overcome some natural shyness, just by trying a few simple words—often. ‘Hello……  (‘say their name’). Ask how they are? Tell them something interesting, you saw or heard. Not all just about yourself—especially, if you have a big ego, and think you are good.  If you are a bit timid, reveal something about yourself. Share your hopes. Believe in the future. Be sensitive to their comments in conversation! Be responsive too. It is a conversation. Converse!

4. Notice. Take a moment, to notice the small and the overall details of a young woman’s appearance (don’t stare!  haha). Notice accessories and colours – jewellery, shoes, colours, ribbons, fabrics, hair cuts. Pay compliments! (Often, a lot of effort has gone into the selection of these things—why?—so that you notice!)

5. Comment. You can say: ‘You look great!’ (Some young women hope they do, but are not 100% sure. Some don’t realise how lovely they really are. Even the most beautiful women, possibly do not get so many nice comments as you think). Or ‘I like your….’  These are not pick up lines. Just comments, open hearted.  The pick-up lines, haha. Do what you like with them!

6. Discover. Discover the grand dignity of true masculinity—your own, yes, but in the light of the master of masculinity himself: yes, knowing Jesus Christ, by faith, is important here. He has all the qualities of true humanity—kindness, sympathy, understanding, acceptance, genuine strength and toughness (dying on that cross was not a simple, easy matter), a non-violent masculinity, an outward looking focus towards the needs of others, joyfulness, service, cheerfulness, seriousness and a self-giving life! Learn what

7. Include. Learn to include young women in your conversations. Help them to know that they matter to you, and that you like and value their presence in life. Some few, can be a bit shy (but definitely not all!). Include, include, include.

8. Presentability. Clean your teeth. Smell nice—not stinky. Be clean, not grotty. Shave. Wear some real nice stuff, occasionally—as you can afford it. Stand tall. Be clear eyed. Get enough sleep. Have some money in your pocket. Keep your own room clean. Clean up the crap. Start some good habits right there, now. Clean the dust. Keep the floor clean. Lose some weight, if you need to.  Put on some muscle if you need to. Give attention to your skin and diet if you need to do so—as best as possible.

9. Outward. Be outward. Be outgoing. Help. Assist. Move. Dig in. Get over yourself. Don’t just be self-obsessed, always wondering how you are coming across, and if you are looking impressive in the mirror. It is much more than that. Be active. Actively, enjoy the company of the young women. Open doors for women—even the feisty feminists who can do it themselves—it may ev en be a laugh.  If not, think twice on that one— or thrice, she could be a total gem. Be sociable. Turn up. Go to stuff. Be available.

10. Generosity. Learn to give generously, whether it is help, or inclusiveness in conversations, or in preparing some food, or buying drinks, or giving a gift. Give good gifts. When you are going out, do the flowers thing, and the small gifts and the little things. Just a bit here, and there—care enough to bother.

11. Food. Life involves food and drink. Good food and good drink is always attractive. Learn to cook, and make basic stuff—and interesting stuff. It is not that hard. Be confident with a BBQ and with  stove-top. Learn to make a nice drink. A smoothie. Coffee. Tea. Teas. Mixing nice alcoholic drinks.  Go shopping and learn about products on the shelf. Learn about specialty shops. Fruits. Vegetables—lots of interesting ones. Enjoy good foods and drink. Learn how to cook fish, catch fish, flavour fish. Be a good ‘catch’ (haha).

12. Body language.  Laugh. Stand well.  Be attentive with your eyes (to their eyes! And their overall person). Stand near to girls, not distantly. Learn to do so. Let them appreciate and enjoy your masculine, physical presence. Even if you a scrawny, or a bit large. Be physically approachable, thoughtful, a bit buff, and a bit hug-able—when appropriate. Not always easy to work out, but practise. We are our bodies—a hand on a shoulder is still ok—not out of place.  Many young women will be game enough to touch your body, if they feel confident enough to do so. (And you are not some odd-dude, who is seriously unable to control your thoughts, and actions). So, let women touch you without them feeling uncomfortable, or embarrassed. Let it be natural. Let them hit you for stupid jokes. Human bodies are not just about sexual parts, and for sexual interaction. Good heavens! (And you may have to stop thinking about sex allllll the time if it is a bit obsessive, guys!).

13. Practical Man: Learn to be a bit practical at doing stuff, fixing stuff, or finding out who can fix stuff, and obtain stuff. Get your driver’s license. Look after a vehicle. Or motorcycle. Boat. Ski’s. Surf board. Help fix girls cars if you know how. Offer some advice, if they need some help. Some know heaps about cars, and gear. Some do not.

14.  Word oriented. God’s Word forwards life. His Word moves life in a noble direction. Be a person of the Word—knowing the incarnate Word, the written Word (Bible), the Implanted Word and receiving the Preached Word—the truth of Christ. Be able to be still, thoughtful and changing in your ideas. Don’t get stuck and fixed and rigid in opinions like a grumpy old man. But have an opinion. Think about life. Think—don’t be careless and manipulated by the media for all your opinions.

15. Action: Do a few dynamic things. Sport is good. So are plenty of other things. Some sport. Any type. Just some. So is activity, of all sorts shapes and sizes. Be active—it makes you appeal as a good catch.

16. Encourage: recognise and identify the gifts and talents, and hopes and dreams of women you meet. Be encouraging of them in their life, activity, family life.  It is so important to see the qualities of others and to urge them to be a significant contributor in life. Many will already be that. Some may not. True love discerns the needs of another and seeks to supply those needs.

17. Family: honour family life and families of all sorts. Honour your own parents. Highly important. Even if they have made a mess of some things. Family matters: It is good to recognise this strength in society and its importance all over the world. Welcome people, guys and girls into your own family relationships. That is where much of your identity has been formed—like it or not. Help the young women you meet to enjoy their own family—wherever possible. Many have wrecked families, and would love to be connected to stronger ones. Show an interest in children and young people. After all,. that is where things may head if you are a good catch. Family is so joyful, when it is good, and it can be so sad when it is not.

18. Culture: Be culturally alert. It is a global village now. Learn a bit. Understand some other diverse cultures. It makes you more objective, of our own cultures. It makes you more interesting, more adaptable. It inriches what you have to give to another person—to be a good catch.

19. Finance. Have some savings, if you can. Care for having a bit of money to do things. It will give her some confidence in things working out ok—in you being a good catch.

20. Mates.  Have some. Have plenty. Enjoy them. Learn from them. Accept them. But be objective about them too. And take a critical view of them if you need to. But be your own person, independent of mates. The group thing can stifle individual growth and maturity. I think this post is about maturity, in the details of life, actually.

21. Mystery: recognise that there is a lovely mystery in femininity that you and I will never, ever understand, comprehend or ‘get’. It is a marvel, a trouble, a problem and a delight—mostly. We will never be feminine, and so we shall never fully understand. It is a mystery to be lived in and appreciated, not puzzled out and solved. So receive the mystery of the Risen Christ in your life, and the mystery of womanhood, and let it be all that it is. Forgive, adapt, respond, marvel, laugh and wonder, and accept. It is a mystery!

22. Reflect: Take a good, long, hard look at yourself in terms of what a woman may think of you. It is not just about looks. If you are not great looking, let your personality and willingness to be a loving, dynamic person, be the attractive part. If you are great looking, then make sure there is more to you than that! Ha, in the whole scheme of things, when the light is off, it is not just looks that counts! Be thoughtful about what makes a good woman, and overlook, or embrace any lack some things if there is plenty of potential, otherwise. After all, she will be doing that about less-than-perfect, you!

Comment: Some of this looks a bit cheesy, I admit. Ok, a lot cheesy, I guess. But I hope you can see where I am going. Forgive me for serious omissions. Or let me know, and we will update the list, even to 100 things. C’mon guys, young guys, lift your game a bit. It will bless and benefit a lot of people.  (Ha, it could be a controversial post, I also agree. Being a bit of a traditionalist, myself, i guess). Even so, my aim is to say. ”c’mon young guys, c’mon”! Crikes! 

The gist of this, just had to be said!





Edenising the Whole World

25 06 2011

The term ‘Edenising’ is seldom used by theologians and preachers alike—and hardly at all, by the general public.  That is a pity really.

‘Edenising the whole world… that is God’s plan’.  It always has been his plan.

Edensing is a term which encapsulates the story of God, humanity and creation, and the purpose for which all has been created.  It is the whole story and counsel of God from Creation to the New Creation.  From the Garden of Eden, and the tragic event therein, to the “river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing … on either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, … and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:1, 3)

Some may be familiar with Jonathan Edward’s essay: ‘A History of the Work of Redemption (See The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, 1834 (1990), Banner of Truth Trust, p. 533-619). He picks up the details of the biblical story and tells them as a continual flow of events, one story.  This is the story of the Edenising of the world.

The mandate of fruitfulness given to the man, Adam, and his wife Eve, was a word of blessing which forwarded that work. It continued though failure appeared to thwart the whole plan, and it continued through Noah, Abraham, Moses and the whole nation of Israel. It continued through to the coming of Jesus Christ, the most frutiful person who ever lived. His fruitful life, is flowing out into the world now, as he is Lord of creation, and Lord of all fruitfulness.

He will speak his Word and bring forth true action, love and service in that great lan of the Triune God, until that day when he makes all things new, pristine, and full of glory. The glorification, of God, man and creation will be the Edenising of the whole world.

Israel has had a unique role in all this, being elected by God to be the focal point for the revelation of his grace ad love towards all nations.

Edenising the world, how wonderful. In Paradise again, only more fully assured. What a plan. This is the work of the Word of God, as it goes out to turn the peoples of the earth towards the central focus of the people of God – Jerusalem, outside of which Jesus was crucified, so that all through his merit, may enter the New Jerusalem, holy, sanctified, justified ad glorified.

No wonder we like to enjoy a garden and take delight in fixing and tidying it up ready for enjoyment.  No wonder blessing people with love and community in Jesus Christ, is like planting a good rich, vibrant, colourful and varied garden.

Well, by faith, come home to the Gardener, who first planted Eden and placed the man, and the woman, in it. Come home to the Gardener, and share in the work of gardening.

Responsibility and freedom were given to the first couple, with one note of caution. Sadly this warning was not heeded, and so the long saga of human history, battling with sin and death began. But it began in hope, and the flow of the rivier of life continued until it flowed fully from the belly of Jesus Christ – rivers of living water (John 7:38).

As Geoffrey Bingham said of Adam and Eve ‘they are to take what is the special life of Eden and take it to the whole world.’ (G. C. Bingham, Searching For God, RBP, 2000, p. 109)

Edenising the World. That’s the go.

 

 





Dolphin Darting

6 08 2010

Darkness dies.

Day dawns.

Dog and Dog-owner, down daily dunes.

Delightful dog – dips, … drips.

Directed? Drawn? ….  dorsal-fin…. dapper!….

“Dolphin! Dolphin! Dolphin! ”

Dolphin darting, diving.

Darting, diving, darting, diving. Dolphin!

Dolphin devouring delicious delicacies!

Decisive. Decisively devouring different delicious delicacies.

Dignified Dolphin!

Devouring delicacies.

Dangerous.

Deadly: distressed, deceptive, defiant, desperate delicacies … devoured, die.

Dashing Dolphin!

Debonair Dolphin!

Dazzling dolphin!

Dog-owner delirious.

Dynamic Day.

Dear-day: day-off.

Desk.

Demands diligent documenting.

Details done!

“Dolphin Darting” . Done.

© Trevor Faggotter, 6.8.2010





Why God Created:

26 03 2010

Karl Barth wrote:

. . . God did not remain satisfied with His own being in Himself. He reached out to something beyond, willing something more than His own being. He willed and posited the beginning of all things with Himself. But this decision can mean only an overflowing of His glory. It can consist only in a revelation and communication of the good which God has and also is in Himself.

(Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. 2, pt 2, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh,1957, p. 168).






What did happen to the dinosaurs?

9 02 2010




A Distinct Bugle Sound

28 11 2009

As a kid, I used to really enjoy the cowboy movies, we were shown on TV; especially the ones where the US cavalry, heard of the impending problems on the frontier, and to the sound of music … came charging over the hill, to the rescue – just in time! US flag held aloft, bayonets at the ready, and a fine stream of horses and riders… (back in the days before it was politically correct, to hate all things US).

Like the urgent call of the fire siren, to the CFS volunteers in a country town, so the call of a bugle was once used to awaken the troops – to do battle.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he asks the question: “..if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1Cor. 14:8). Speaking in tongues, a lovely, yet somewhat minor matter, had become the big focus for some, rather than the clear Word of the Gospel, proclaimed to the nations. The Gospel is a bugle blast!  It is a clarion call. It is a trumpeted song of resurrection joy!  It makes great, grand sense of the seemingly sad and sombre notes, that cry forth, in the crucifixion.

The bugle. Yes. For what reason?

Ah, the battle!  The life of faith is undoubtedly, a battle. There is a clash of two kingdoms. The kingdom of the Son of God’s love, and the kingdom of the deceptive, evil one.

We usually nominate the enemies, in our battle, as 1. the world, 2. the flesh, and 3. the devil.  However, a more complete list really comprises of: 1. sin, 2. death, 3. the wrath of God, 4. the law, 5. the conscience, 6. satan, 7. world powers, 8. the world, 9. the flesh, and 10. the idols (see G.C. Bingham, The Things We Firmly Believe, NCPI, p. 115).

People of faith are engaged in a battle, a battle to stand firm in the freedom we have already received. Human beings are being called into freedom, through the gospel, or good news of Christ Jesus. Christians are kept in freedom by that same gospel. However, it really needs to be a clear gospel, a distinct sound. And this needs to be the case, even as we are engaged in the great mysteries, revealed to us.

Clarity. Clarity. Clarity. These three are needed amidst the information overload of our age. Especially, we need gospel clarity. To this end, many rightly turn to modern day teacher, John Piper. I do too.

Recently, however, I reviewed one of John Piper’s small talks: What is the Gospel? I appreciated his words, and work, but felt that they lacked something. I would like to make an important point, therefore. Here is his summary:

The Gospel is

  1. A Plan From Eternity
  2. An Event in History
  3. An Achievement between the Son and Father
  4. A Free offer to the world of these things
  5. Application of this Achievement – Forgiven, Justified (do not stop here, he adds, for many do!)
  6. To Bring us to God (Reconciliation for Fellowship)  (What-Is-The-Gospel—John-Piper).               The wonderful point he makes, is that we are to know, love and enjoy the Triune God. So true. But here in point 7, is a further addition, which connects the benefits of the Gospel, to the setting in which we will always find ourselves, namely – the Creation!
  7. To equip us to participate in running the Universe, together with God, eternally.

In all his writings, and especially in his stories, Geoffrey Bingham taught the significance of Salvation in relation to the Creation, and to the New [renewed] Creation. Only recently, theologians were discussing what was, or is, the priority of God – the story of salvation, or the work of creation, in order to bring humanity into fellowship, eternally.  I think the confusion comes, or the question arises, because we seldom ever glimpse the wonder of creation, from the outset, when all the angels sang and shouted for joy (Job 38:7). As a result, we fail to anticipate the role of humanity in relation to creation, into the future. We, as it were, stop short at fellowship and communion.

The real goal of the plan, is to form ‘a peer community’, together with Jesus the Son, Redeemer, who enjoy one another, in relationship, and in the ongoing action of the creation.

One of the Lord’s dear servants, Geoffrey Bingham, has put it like this: ‘God’s purpose in having a church is to train people up to be able to run the universe, with him, for eternity’.

Now, I believe, this is …. A Distinct Bugle Sound.





Aboriginal Communities… and Christ

7 10 2009

Many Aboriginal Australian people are Christians.  Many Aboriginal people are eager that more of their own people might become believers in Jesus, the Son of God, too. They know that the life of a Jewish man, who lived to be 33 years of age, some 1974 years ago, has much to do with their past, their present and their future. The God of creation, is the One who, through the Word – Christ the eternal Son, made this land of Australia, and placed his people – made in his image and likeness – within it.

The good news of Jesus of Nazareth, risen for all nations, came to this land, through the exploration, movement and settlement of mainly European people.  This news made a huge impact upon many Aboriginal People.

Sadly, the disrespect, the attitudes, the cruelty and cultural snobbery and insensitivity that came on the same ships, with it, was often far from honorable; it was in many instances brutal, violent and harsh. Churches were often wrong in their judgments. Decisions were often unwise, and tragic in their consequences. The stolen generation is a case in point.

Nevertheless, the gospel came. It came, and in time, it was received with great gladness. It still is, in parts and in communities, as redeeming grace stuns people afresh.

Briefly: A very significant awakening to the person of Jesus, and to his Father—the Father, the Creator of the Universe—took place on Elcho Island in 1979.

Australia is a land known to many as ‘The Great South Land of the Holy Spirit’.

On Sunday nights I attend the ‘Adelaide Berean Church’ in Queenstown – almost into Port Adelaide. Amidst the weekly local news, other news comes from across the State and across the Australian continent.

It is again, news among several Aboriginal communities, that they are seeing a fresh move of the Spirit, and an awakening to the Lord’s love and presence.  It is early days, but it is good to pray for these things, and to share in this way, in what the Lord is doing.





The Gift of Hearing the Mysteries

8 08 2009

LISTEN, I WILL TELL YOU A MYSTERY![1]

It is a momentous occasion to stand as a servant of Christ at the graveside of a much loved person – who has died – and to declare these words of the Apostle Paul – Listen, I will tell you a mystery! – to those who are pondering – what’s next? – for that person in the coffin.  The very utterance of the mystery[2]– a word picture -, which follows, can open a person’s ear to hear God, and their heart to respond to the Risen Jesus – bringing all the love, comfort and assurance of Our Father, and the gift of eternal life. But not all will hear.

One person hears the word and understands it, embraces the truth of it, and bears fruit in their life (Matthew 13:23) while another hears the words that are uttered, but at best makes a superficial response, and at worst hears nothing but religious god-speak. This further hardens them to words of eternal life.  Markedly different responses to the Word – apathy, hostility, or joy and gladness – can baffle and perplex[3] the speaker. After telling the parable of the sower to the whole crowd, Jesus later told his disciples:

To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’ (Matthew 13:11)

The powerful interaction between God’s spoken word, and receptivity – or not, within the human heart is inscrutable (Romans 11:33).  We do know that it has to do with the will, and the degree of readiness to know the will of God, and to do it.[4]

On one occasion Jesus marvelled at the unbelief that he encountered (Mark 6:6), while on another he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and gave thanks to the Father for the twin action of revelation and concealment:

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 11:21-22)

Apart from the gift of new birth – from above, Nicodemus could not even see the kingdom of God let alone enter it. And if he had not begun to comprehend the earthly things: such as the wind-blowing attribute of new birth – then he could never grasp the heavenly things: such as the incarnation (John 3:13), the atonement (John 3:14), God’s love (3:16), cosmic salvation (3:17), condemnation (3:18), and judgment (3:19)[5]. The gift from above is a must.

IT HAS TO BE GIVEN TO YOU

Matthew 13:1-9 is the familiar parable of the sower ((Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8). We note:

1.     The Sower[6] is Jesus. (Matthew 13:3; 13:37 the one who sowsis the Son of Man).

2.     The seed – the word of the kingdom – falls upon four different soil types, but only the seed, which falls on good soil, bears fruit. This is genuine hearing.

3.     Jesus appeals for willingness to hear: Luke 8:8 says that Jesus “cried out” (Gk: phoneo echo) to the crowd: “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

4.     Within human history, the disciples (in Matthew) are given a unique part to play. Those who were around him along with the twelve (in Mark) – are informed alone (in Mark), of their highly significant role within the vast plan for human history. They are being given something, that other godly people had longed for:

a.      To you it has been given to know the secrets [mysteries] of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (Matthew 13:11b).

b.     But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. (Matt. 13:16-17)

5.     Isaiah 6:9-10 is quoted to show ‘the inevitable outcome’ of Jesus simple message will be hardened hearts, and judgment.[7] The disciples learn that this is the way a parable functions. It sifts the hearers: Fruit as faith is present, otherwise judgment.

6.     The setting of Matthew 13, seems to highlight a vital connection between doing the will of my Father in heaven (Matthew12:50) and the deed of hearing Jesus. Cf. Matthew 13:38, where the refusal to hear Jesus, results in unbelief in Nazareth.

More will be given

Jesus urges the disciples to keep listening, hearing and learning, promising them that – more will be given: “For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. (Matthew 13:12).

All of Jesus teaching would be integral to the future role of the disciples. Further mysteries – he told them many things in parables (Matthew 13:3) – were revealed somewhat progressively concerning the kingdom of God.  More would be given to the men who were to be the Apostles – the preachers of the word of the cross – between this point of Jesus ministry, and the full revelation of the mystery of the gospel. They would be given rich insights – revelation – into the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and the mystery of the gospel – you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). And even this revelation came out of the blue – from the Father, and would be further transformed in the light of the Cross. All inadequate concepts of both ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son’ would be replaced in future days.

Their ongoing glorious glimpses of Jesus identity (Matthew 17:1-8; 2Peter 1:18), their subsequent failures – when they would all desert Jesus and flee (Matthew 26:56) – and then their being present as Jesus suffered and died – their reception of forgiveness and peace as they witnessed and heard the resurrected living Jesus, his post-resurrection teaching concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3), his astonishing ascension into heaven, and his community shaking outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33), and the further understanding that came at that point (John 16:13) would all constitute a unique ‘living in the mysteries’, and would equip them for their crucial work as apostles and heralds of the gospel. Such insight has been called The Messianic Secret’. [8]

The Apostolic Gospel and the content of the Epistles is Given

The Epistles within the New Testament serve a crucial, unique function in the preaching of the gospel. Although the disciples did not fully understand much of what Jesus taught them at the time – what they did grasp was a deposit, which later came into its own. Jesus’ parables functioned in a cryptic (Gk: kruptos) manner:

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden [Gk: kruptov: concealed] that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret [Gk: apokrufov: kept secret] that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.” (Luke 8:16-18)

Like a cryptic crossword, essential clues were yet to be revealed. The early conversations that the disciples had with Jesus alone  – in the dark – could never have broken open to them fully, until the light of the cross and resurrection, and the day of Pentecost had come (John 16:13). Then, that which had been but whispered was proclaimed ‘from the housetops’.   (Cf. Matthew 10:26-27)

P. T. Forsyth writes:

The apostolic interpretation is an integral part of the revelationary fact, process, and purpose, a real though posthumous part of Christ’s own continued teaching. In the Apostles took place a revelation of revelation – and a revelation of it once for all.[9] And Forsyth again:  The Gospels float in the Apostolic Gospel. Not only is Luke Pauline but even Mark.[10]

Every Message is a Gift

The Apostle Paul asks for prayer, from the church, to enable his daily proclamation.

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak (Ephesians 6:19-20)

God had set Paul apart before he was born, called him through his grace, and was pleased to reveal his Son “in” him. On the Damascus road, Paul had undergone a ‘Christological explosion’, as the Risen Jesus – a mystery, confronted him. He ‘heard a voice’ (Acts 9:4). That he might proclaim Christ among the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15-16). Yet even Paul was always contingent upon the Lord’s giving him a message, for each occasion.

MYSTERY AND MYSTERIES

The New Testament refers to numerous mysteries, as well as one mystery.  In the parable of the sower, the singular and plural are used of the same incident.[11] Geoff Bingham’s comment is a clear summary of this matter:  We can safely say that ‘the mystery’ is the overall reality of God, and His plan for the history of creation.  We can also safely say that ‘the mysteries’[12], though each one in itself, yet all are parts of the one great mystery[13].

The Mystery of Lawlessness – or Iniquity

‘For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed’. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

Paul wrote this to alert his readers, that ‘an immense blasphemy will take place, the like of which they would never imagine.  Evil being and evil action do constitute a mystery, but for the believer a revealed mystery, warning him of what lies ahead’.[14]

Insight into the dynamics of the clash of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan is not something that can be grasped by mere explanation.  Revelation is needed. To perceive dark, sinister elements at work in the world, can be – to say the least – perplexing and disturbing.  Rod James depicts Satan as ‘the cosmic terrorist’.[15] The working of his woe is a mystery.  Also, the deceptive, addictive and seductive powers of sin are yet at work in us who believe. I know that sin and guilt combine to reign o’er every thought of mine, and turn from good to ill.[16] We often feel deeply the hidden evil of our own hearts, and we are shocked to the core at the depths of our corruption, as we discover, by revelation, something of what it means that the thoughts and intentions of the human heart are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Evil lies close at hand, and sin clings so closely (Hebrews 12:1) even as we delight in the law of God in our inmost being (Romans 7:22).  The mystery of iniquity, or lawlessness may never be fully understood but we are alerted to it, for wise living.

Mystery a Positive Concept in the NT

A mystery… in the New Testament, is a truth which is revealed to the initiated – the person who is born anew of the Spirit – but which remains closed off from the uninitiated, that is, those unable to receive the truth.[17]

It is crucial to distinguish between hearing the mysteries, and all forms of religious mysticism, including so-called Christian mysticism.[18] A finger placed to the lips is a gesture well known to Buddhist piety.  Such a gesture is made as an affirmation that mystery is ‘that about which one must remain silent and really only can remain silent’.[19] It is not uncommon for theologians, philosophers, and religious leaders to employ the word ‘mystery’ to denote ideas such as ineffability, darkness, and impenetrability. In order to avoid wrong ideas conveyed by the English word ‘mystery’, and to emphasise the revelation that has come in human history, fully disclosed in Jesus, Marcus Barth prefers to translate the Greek ‘mysterion’ as ‘secret’. God’s secret has been make known.  He claims:

It is impossible to demonstrate that at any place in the New Testament it signifies an insoluble puzzle or incomprehensible – and yet believed – mystery, though the English translation ‘mystery’ may suggest this meaning.[20]

In Christian history, a negative spin has often been given to the term ‘mystery’.[21]

One of the dark puzzles of the history of theology is the way in which this positive New Testament understanding of mystery has constantly been suppressed hermeneutically in theology. Talk about God is often understood in the tradition as mysterious talk. But it was thought to be mysterious because its object, God, cannot actually be known by our thinking. Talk about God is accordingly regarded as inauthentic talk. This hermeneutical scepticism with regard to the speakability of God can be so intensified that the demand is made not to speak of God at all because our thought cannot genuinely know him. It is virtually a kind of theological self-commendation to introduce “God” as an unspeakable term. As doubly enlightened theologians, we have been taught that what cannot be known is something we cannot talk about.  And “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” [22]

John 1:18a says: “No one has ever seen God”. But what follows, is at the heart of the New Testament:  “It is God the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, who has made him known” (John 1:18b). The Word has become flesh. God himself is now accessible:

One can discover what distinguishes the Christian mystery from all others. In the Hellenistic mysteries revelation took place through special rites and ecstasies. In the apocalyptic literature the mysteries of God are revealed by visions or angelic beings.  But in the NT the disciples meet the revelation or mystery of God in a historical event, in Jesus who is the Christ.[23]

TAKE HEED HOW YOU HEAR

Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. (Luke 8:18 – RSV)

Jesus was and is genuinely concerned that people should hear him. P. T. Forsyth wrote:

“The more we fix our attention on the object of our certitude, the more we humbly realise that it is a something given. Its source is not in us. It is of grace.  The men of discovery, of inspiration, tell the same tale.  Truth finds them not they it.  All that is in us is a welcome, a response, a correspondence to it – not indeed a passivity but a receptivity.”[24]

Hebrews 3:12-19 amd 4:2 warns and exhorts believers, to exhort one another every day to keep hearing. Sin is deceitful. Any of us can become hardened! Our ministries can become crusty. Our participation in the mysteries is dependent upon continually hearing God’s voice with faith. This always necessitates a personal encounter with the Giver – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and a subsequent worshipful action in life. Struggle and genuine disturbance are likely at this point. Open our ears Lord! And help us to listen.

These mysteries are so wonderful – marriage – the profound mystery, and the mystery of glorification, to name but two, and all that they mean for the future of creation.  How could we grow dull about such things?  It was said that deficient ecclesiology kills soteriology.  Perhaps it often has. How could we as Christians ever sing of the mysteries as a Sunday morning dirge?  How could we really grow tired of the mystery?  It happens.

Substitutes are devised daily, in our ‘idol factory’ (Calvin), as replacements for the authentic mystery.  Of ourselves, we can never reason our way to know God, as he is in Christ, although we may fathom out some conclusion that there is a God: theism (Antony Flew)[25] But this is neither hearing God, nor a saving faith. We can easily look on at unbelievers dabbling in religious endeavour, in the occult, in atheistic philosophy, and new age forms of age-old Gnosticism, in secret societies, and the like. All are a rejection of God’s word to us in history, and are the judgment of a crass refusal to hear the mysteries of God. However, as believers, we too can devise our substitutes for living in the mysteries.

When this occurs, faith must come once again by hearing. Hearing must be given by the preaching of Christ – the Living Jesus preaching to us. We hear him (Romans 10:17). He deals with our guilt, he obliterates our dullness, he imparts his love (a joyous mystery) we hear him gladly – and he gives to us the knowledge of, and a share in the whole dynamic plan of God’s history, from the beginning of creation through to the new creation, and all that this entails – the whole counsel of God.  The key to our stewardship is to be a person who is ‘always living in the mystery’[26]. We must be persistently acting upon what we hear, and not giving way to cowardice, laziness or apathy. I will tell you a mystery: in Christ, that person in the coffin has a great future!

* Paper Previously published as © 2005 T. R. Faggotter New Creation Teaching Ministry School


[1] 1Corinthians 15:51 Also1Corinthians 4:1  ‘Think of us in this way as…stewards of God’s mysteries’.

[2] ‘A mystery is a reality disclosed, a reality, which could not be otherwise known’. See Geoffrey C. Bingham, The Glory of the Mystery and the Mystery of the Glory, NCPI, 1998, p. 17

[3] ‘…mysteries are not puzzles to be solved, but realities in which to live’ ,  Ibid. p. 5

[4] Leslie Newbigin, in Proper Confidence, Eerdmans, 1995, p. 38-9 says: “Because the ultimate reality in the Bible is personal, we are brought into conformity with this reality not by the two-step process of theory and practice, vision and action, but by a single action comprised of hearing, believing, and obeying. The operative contrast is not between theory and practice; it is between believing and obeying on the one hand and the refusal of belief and obedience on the other.  Believing and obeying are not two separate moves. When Jesus says to Simon, “Follow me,” the response is a single act of faith and obedience; there is no gap between a mental action of believing and a bodily action of following.  The human person is not a mind attached to a body but a single psychosomatic being.’

[5] Nicodemus was quite possibly born from above, but we don’t quite know. (John 7:50; 19:39)

[6] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, IVP, 1992, p. 335

[7] Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, IVP, 1993, p.79

[8] William Wrede, The Messianic Secret, Cambridge: Mowbrays, 1971. See also J.D.G. Dunn, “The Messianic Secret in Mark”, TSF Bulletin 69, 1974, p. 7-14.

[9] P.T. Forsyth, The Principle of Authority, NCPI, 2004, p. 133

[10] Ibid. p. 140

[11] Mathew 13:11 and Luke 8:10 refer to “the mysteries” (ta mysteria) – plural, of the kingdom of God, while in Mark 4:11 the word used is “mystery” (ton mysterion) – singular.  When Jesus likened the Kingdom of heaven to various examples: a mustard seed – yeast that a woman mixed – treasure hidden – a merchant searching for pearls – a net thrown out for fish – and so on, each parable is really a mystery within the primary mystery.  Likewise, Paul writes in 1Corinthians 4:1 of being stewards of “the mysteries”  – plural, while in Ephesians 3:9 the reference is to “the mystery” – singular.

[12] A comprehensive list of the NT mysteries would include the following references:

1.     The Mystery of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, Luke 8:10)

2.     The Mystery of the Hardening of Israel (Romans 11:25)

3.     The Revelation of the Mystery (Romans 11:25-26)

4.     The Mystery of God (1Corinthians 2:1)

5.     The Mystery of Glorification (1Corinthians 2:7)

6.     The Mysteries of God (1Corinthians 4:1) –Stewards

7.     All Mysteries (1Corinthians 13:2)

8.     A Mystery (1Corinthians 15:51f)

9.     Mysteries uttered in the Spirit (1Corinthians 14:2)

10.   The Mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9)

11.   The Mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:3)

12.   The Mystery of the Integration of the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6, 3:9)

13.   Marriage: the Profound Mystery (Ephesians 5:32)

14.   The Mystery of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19)

15.   The Mystery hidden throughout the ages (Colossians 1:25-27)

16.   God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself (Colossians 2:2; 4:3)

17.   The Mystery of Iniquity – or Lawlessness (2Thessalonians 2:7)

18.   The Mystery of our Faith (1Timothy 3:9)

19.   The Mystery of our Religion (1Timothy 3:16)

20.   The Mystery of the Seven Stars (Revelation 1:20)

21.   They Mystery of God (Revelation 10:7)

22.   The Mystery of the Woman – Babylon (Revelation 17:5-7)

Many mysteries are not directly named as mysteries, but can be classified as such: For example:(1) Sanctification: See Walter Marshall, Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Tyndale Bible Society.(2) The revelation of God, as love, and the central matter of the propitiation and God’s wrath, in order to deal with sin, and establish peace is a mystery unveiled in the text of 1John 4:7-10.

[13] G.C. Bingham, p. 73 gives further insight into the meaning of the passage.

[14] Ibid, p. 67

[15] Rod James, Unity ‘Fails’ in All the Earth, in The Ministry and Message of Reconciliation, NCTM Ministry School, 2003, p. 141

[16] Frank B. St. John, c. 1879, in New Creation Hymn Book, No. 218

[17] G. C. Bingham, p. 27

[18] ‘Are you listening to God?’ can be an ambiguous question, without Apostolic substance to the teaching.

[19] Eberhard Jüngel, God As The Mystery Of The World, Eerdmans, 1983, p. 251

[20] Markus Barth, Ephesians: Translation and Commentary on Chapters 1-3, The Anchor Bible, vol. 34, Doubleday, New York, 1974, p. 124

[21] This has a long history dating back to around 482 AD and the work of a theologian known as Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite (not to be confused with the person of Acts 17:34). His teaching has had an enormously detrimental influence on thinking concerning God. He says: “We approach Deity in its concealment only after we have set aside all thinking.”  See E. Jüngel, p. 8

[22] E. Jüngel, p. 251

[23] G.W. Barker, ‘Mystery’ in The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. III, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1986, p. 453

[24] P.T. Forsyth, p. 82

[25] See ‘Why the world’s most famous atheist, now believes in God’ by James A Beverley, Christianity Today:, April 2005, Vol. 49, No. 4, p. 80 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/004/29.80.html

[26] G.C. Bingham, p. 30





Adelaide to Darwin

18 07 2009

Arrived home this week from a driving trip (on annual leave) to Darwin, in the Northern Territory (NT). What beautiful territory!  From the flat city named after Queen Adelaide, to the Modern City named after Charles Darwin – it was mostly dirt, termite mounds, blue sky, green pick and long grass for cattle, lots of bitumen, and … I like our term: “the bush!”

It is staggering how much wide open space there is in Australia. And some strange, odd, stunning, and interesting places there are!  Alice Springs is a very lovely looking town. Standley Chasm is always a favorite.

But that Big Rock is still a stand out: Uluru – or Ayers Rock as we said for a while. (And of course Kata Juta – the Olgas). Always reminds me of this Blog Spot – ‘And the Rock Was Christ’… provision of water springing up in the dry land, the law for aboriginal children ‘rustling in the leaves of the trees’ (innate in creation, we might say), and the sheer mystery of it.  Ha. …. I rather like the Aboriginal explanation as to how it all came to be… ahead of the one by the geologists (still plenty of room for mystery when both have had their say!)

To the west of Elliott, (half way between Darwin and Alice) there is a great Waterhole with more pelicans and other birds catching fish in a big expanse of water – the Longreach Waterhole. It is near to Newcastle Waters, and so worth a look.

Then, to the top end…. Wow! The salty crocodile, is a fearsome creature! The fresh water crocodile, is mostly, rather like a very sleepy lizard. Ha.

Mindil Beach sunset markets, on Thursday and Sunday nights is quite an event. Food and people from all over the place, but with a distinctive Darwin feel.

And winter in Darwin 32 degrees! Can you believe it? Quite nice to get about in shorts for 3 weeks.

Then, there are the water holes… Douglas Daly, hot springs, cooler pools and cold rivers. Very refreshing. Litchfield National Park – what excellent Falls into the waterholes. And the lovely open wet country on the road to Jabiru.

Speaking of Jabiru – what a colouful masterpiece is the bird they call the Jabiru. And then there are the hawks and raptors – birds everywhere…. Enough of all this.

Psalm 150:6 is a good summary:

“Let everything that breathes praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!”





Geoffrey C. Bingham dies – (goes home!)

3 06 2009

Geoffrey Bingham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Today Geoff Bingham died. He is one of the dearest of men, that I know. He has been a friend, a mentor, a joyful preacher and teacher of the Christian faith, a doctor of theology, a missionary to Pakistan, a former POW in Changi in WW2, and a prolific and notable Australian author – and one to whom many, many people are grateful for his help and encouragement.

In particular Geoffrey has taught the heart of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the grace of God known there, he has taught the hope and joy of creation redeemed through Jesus resurrection, and he has – perhaps as well as any – taught the Fatherhood of God.

Geoffrey has been a theologian and preacher of the heart! He has left a rich legacy in New Creation Teaching Ministries. 

May the Lord comfort Laurel—his dear wife, and his family, and the many, many people who will miss him. Much will be written about him. As the years roll on, many will undoubtedly discover his writings, and do so with great joy.

That is my small comment, for now.  … thanks dear Geoff, thank you!





Creation and Redemption

2 03 2009

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth (Psalm 66:1).

Trumpeting elephants. Screeching seagulls. Busy blue tongue lizards. Crunchy Fuji apples. Do you enjoy the world? If we observe the creation around us– of which we are a unique part – we will discover what a marvellous place it really is. It has such a rich, riotous variety.

Did you know there are some 380,000 different species of plant life known to botanists? There are 21,000 species of fish, 4,000 of amphibians, 5,200 of reptiles, 8,700 species of birds, and 4,000 of animals. Not to mention protozoa, sponges, jellyfish, worms, snails, insects, spiders and more. Earth alone is made up of 100 known elements, like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium and zinc. There are rocks, metals, liquids, gases – and so it goes on. And think – 10,000 million galaxies of stars, beyond this planet. The atmosphere changes continually, with rain, wind, light and heat. There is the moon and the sun, day and night, mountains, plains and valleys, high tide and low, electrical storms and swirling hurricanes. Seasons. Yet so much of creation is unseen, microscopic, or hidden in the depths of caves and oceans.

What about all the people? – 6 billion of us. Contemplate that! There are 5000 different languages. Noise – soft and loud, and silence. Music – with rhythm, melody and harmony – played on percussion, wind, strings and keyboard instruments. We have fabulous foods to delight in – sweet or bitter, soft, medium and hard. There are aromas that please, and smells that don’t!

What about human inventions? Levers, wheels, boats, planes, cars, gadgets, homes, beds, radio, TV, DVD, MP3, power stations. There are hundreds of sports, games and vocations – jobs to do. There is art, writing, reading, research, joke telling, stories, notes, sermons and speeches, books, films, and computers. There is medicine, poison, and pain killing. There is surgery, massage and makeup. There are crafts to do, academic learning, ABC’s for babies, thinking, and pondering. All sorts of feelings: loving and longing, hoping and waiting, disappointment and fulfilment, healing. Disease, deformity and injury we know all too well! Birth, childhood, growth, romance, marriage, friendship, maturity, aging, and death are all different. Eternal life. Prayer. Purpose.

Being “at home” within the creation is what life is all about. How could we ever be bored? Well, there is sin and its terrible, shocking effects! But there is also Redemption.

It is so lovely to come home to the Father, through His Son, in forgiveness. Worship is due to our Creator, and our Redeemer, for both creation and redemption. Jesus Christ our saving Lord, is risen from death, for all creation – life is forever wonderful. Come Holy Spirit.

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth.





The Future of Creation

16 01 2009

I received an email, from the “Citizen’s Electoral Council” this week. The article which they drew my attention to, begins, thus:

“Is Nature Warning Us of a New Ice Age?, by Laurence Hecht Editor-in-chief, 21st Century Science & Technology. January 14, 2009 (LPAC)–Global warming fears aside, all students of climate science know that the Earth is presently in an Ice Age and has been for approximately the past 2 to 2.5 million years. “

The articles continues with some interesting information.  

Too hot, too cold… or just right? Who knows?  

Granted, the question sounds like one from ‘Goldilocks and the 3 Bears’?

They say that news of impending doom, sells well to the human race. (eg. ‘Henny Penny, saying The sky is falling, and the great poem … ‘We’ll all be rooned, said Hanrahan’). But what of news of the certain goal of creation?  We need to reaffirm, what Scripture teaches us: The Future of Creation is firmly in God, the Father’s gracious hands. The Apostle Peter, in the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, could urge his fellow hearers, and those with a fresh, new trust in God—who were suffering for it— to entrust themselves to a faithful creator.

1Peter 4:19, says: Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.

It needs to be repeated, often. What God is about is the redemption of the creation, this one!  His plan is a good one.

As my friend Geoffrey Bingham has put it so beautifully, ‘Creation is Primary’. And ‘If creation fails, then God fails’, in which case He does not prove to be a faithful Creator. (See page 73 of his book “Creation and the Liberating Glory”). Indeed, download it for free. Creation and the Liberating Glory

No, creation will not fail. It is not planned to be ending, either in ‘a bang, or a whimper’, but rather, it is gaining momentum towards it’s great goal—a redeemed home, for all who long to be part of it.  It is wonderful to know the perfect love of Christ, risen and ruling, which casts out fear. It is excellent to know the Father, who is forming a home suitable for an eternal family.

Yes folks…. The Future of Creation is secure in Jesus Christ. Did you know that? It is a faith insight. It is a matter of genuine revelation, made known to faith. Have faith. Cheers!





Music and the Gospel

14 10 2008

MUSIC AND THE GOSPEL

The following quote is from P. T. Forsyth [numbers added]: 

(1) There is at once a compelling grasp and a pervasive idea in great music, which lifts us, if we seek something more than mere amusement, into the vision which sees all things as working together for glory, good, and God

(2) Music is a universal speech, not only in the sense of coming home to almost all hearts. In that sense it is true only of simple and homely music. But great music is universal in a deeper sense than the simple, as Christianity itself is. Its nature and destiny is universal. It sweeps over us with a wave of emotion, which is humane, universal, and submersive of our own petty egoism. 

(3) It exists to purify and organise the selfish emotions, not simply to soothe them, excite them, or indulge them. It lifts us into a world of things which includes our little aches and joys, laps them in a diviner air, and resolves them into the tides and pulses of an eternal life. 

(4) It raises us to our place, if but for an hour, in the universal order of things, and makes our years seem but moments in the eternal process. It is not then our personal welfare we think of, or our private enjoyment. 

(5) Music, like Scripture and Nature, is of no private interpretation. We feel then that our passions and affections, however real, are but rills and streams in an infinite world of love, sympathy, and consummation. (Forsyth, Christ On Parnassus, p. 209-210). 

(6) ‘…we have in a piece of great music the world’s order in miniature.’

(P. T. Forsyth, Christ on Parnassus, p. 212)

Ah, music, blessed, wonderful music.
It was Jonathan Edwards, who said, ultimately, ‘everything will be music‘, rightly understood.
What a symphony the creation is, when tuned by the Risen Lord, to participate in his redemptive love, through the ages.

Thanks to the Lord, for saxophones, piano’s, drum kits, guitars, flutes, violins, trumpets, clarinets, and ’76 trombones’, and the sheer joy of it all.

I might just go, and put some music on.





The Redemption of Creation

14 10 2008

THE REDEMPTION OF CREATION

 

Study 4

 

Trevor Faggotter

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In Christ Jesus, God has spoken, and is speaking. This speaking awakens hope. Some people prefer perpetual silence, and a lifetime of distractions, or even years of pessimistic mumbling and commentary, to a word, which breaks that silence, brings comfort – yet probingly so – and so, demands much more of us.

 

We saw in Study 2 that a tragic guilt has come to the human race. Sin enters the world. Communion has been broken on a large scale, with huge ramifications. Wholeness, unity and peace on a personal, and global scale have been shattered.  However, as Christians we have, by faith, experienced the healing of our broken lives in Jesus Christ.

 

SELF-HEALING AND REPAIR

 

A marvel occurs when we cut our hand: immediately the body goes to work. An anaesthetic, and the great healing power of our own blood flows forth – spreading, congealing and eventually bridging and plugging the gaping gash in our skin, and finally healing over, with what can surely be described as – a remarkable repair job!  Similarly, some months after a scorching bushfire blackens the Australian scrub, we see small, power-filled green shoots emerging from charred stumps.  What then of the whole world?

 

Is there a moral order a self-healing power, as nature overgrows in course of time catastrophes volcanic in violence and in area continental? Has it a Vis medicatrix, a power of innate self-recuperation, corresponding to what we find in physical organisms? Is there in it an indwelling tendency, which moves to repair all damage at last, and a power to overbear those elements, which arrest its development?

 

Creation does appear to have inbuilt dynamic powers of its own. Let the earth bring forth living creatures (Genesis 1:24), and it does; creatures themselves are blessed, commanded and equipped to be fruitful, and they are. Powers of procreation, medicines and powers of healing lie within creation.  As we look to Scripture, and our hear Christ speaking in it, we see that creation has a future. This future is however, always integrally bound up with the person – Jesus Christ.  Scripture records that the earth shook at Christ’s crucifixion and the whole creation now waits with eager longing for the unveiling of the future, the sons of God participating in the life of total liberty, where death and decay are no more; this future is that which God has planned.  But there is not merely, an inbuilt self-directing powerful pressure for good that brings new life to the world.  There is a Person! That person is the Redeemer.

 

THE PERSON

 

It is the personality and deeds of Jesus Christ, as Lord of creation, Lord of life, and Lord over death, which brings the future into being. Firstly, together with the eternal Father, as the eternal Son, he freely selects and sets out what the future goal of creation will be. And he brings this future into being in a way, which is truly moral (not moralistic), where moral actions matter. Forsyth says:

 

…we construe the universe in terms of its crowning product, soul, conscience, and society.  It exists for the growing of personality, which is an end in itself, and, in so far as it serves, it serves only another personality, and grows men of God, who is the end for all ends.

 

In Christ, God is:

 

…that One who has His universal end completely in Himself, who is identical with the end of the disordered universe – with its redemption. He is the Redeemer because He is identical with His own redemption. 

 

What does this mean for our lives?  How does it affect our living?

The following points outline the matter in brief:

  1. There is a Person – Christ –unifying all things, himself the guarantor of the goal.
  2. We are called to participate with Christ, as he takes us towards, and to the goal.
  3. As participants, we nevertheless, of ourselves, have severe limitations.
  4. Creation appears to have innate qualities of self-repair and healing, but in fact, all of these are contingent upon the Living Redeemer.
  5. Evil also has an inbuilt tendency to disorganise itself – to self-destruct.
  6. The atonement of the cross, flowing from a Holy God, however, is the only way of dealing fully with the moral situation of the human race. It is a moral Act that is required, and marks a new beginning for the human race. There is no other.

 

WE DON’T JUST FIND A SPOT TO PARK OUR CARAVAN

 

Christian faith is about willing participation in the workings of Christ. It is a moral struggle to do so (Ephesians 6:12). Many miss this fact. As such, some believers are virtually ‘still-born’, upon their new birth into God’s kingdom. Our lives, our actions have a direct bearing upon what shall be, in eternity. Moral or immoral action has significant bearing on the way in which history unfolds. 

 

Faith in the Living Christ excludes the idea of fate, but includes the realisation of destiny:

 

We do not find our freedom and peace merely by finding ourselves, but by finding ourselves in a world Saviour. We do not reach rest merely by finding our place in an objective order, and reconciling ourselves to it.  For that is rather resignation than reconciliation.  What we find is a power rather than a place, a power working congenially in us both to will and to do.  We do not merely win a fortitude, which accepts our niche in the universe, or takes the room assigned in the caravanserai of life.  We recognise … our own Master’s voice, the voice of One whose mastery of us is our own true self, true power, and true freedom.

 

Hearing God, we begin to participate in his will – at first, and ever anew: 

 

Moral power is, at the last, personality. That is the only form in which we know what power really is – our own sense of acting as persons, or of being acted on by persons.

 

Our destiny, however, is always a gift, a grace, redemptive. It is only possible because there is a Living Redeemer. And this Redeemer carries out many repairs.

 

THE LIMITATIONS OF CREATURE AND CREATION

 

In answer to his own questions, (see the start of this paper), Forsyth thus reminds us:

 

The moral order is self-repairing only in the sense that it is repaired continuously and creatively by the Holy One whose end is in Himself, and who is its true self and more. (So that to love God is to love ourselves in the truest way).

 

For the human race the fact of our mortality, limits any self-repair we may be given:

 

There comes a point when the power of physical self-repair ceases – in death.

 

As to the renewal of this creation; we are not to expect evil to be a self-solvent. Nor does the good make its slow and ebbless way through creation. The wicked are often caught in their own net (Psalm 141:10), and their evil deeds are turned to work together for God’s purposive good, as in Joseph’s life (Gen. 50:20). However, it is in the cross of Christ, (Acts 2:23) that God works Redemption – and in no other way, does history come to its appointed goal. The creature and creation need the Creator for Redemption! Paul teaches that in the new creation, the old things have become new (1Corinthians 5:17). Revelation 21:1 shows the new heaven and new earth is the same heaven and earth, “but gloriously rejuvenated, with no weeds, thorns or thistles, and so on”.

 

The following comment by Forsyth regarding the new creation is consistent with this:

 

The new creation must, of course, arise out of the first, for, though it is an absolute Act, it does not take place in an absolute way.  But it is a more grave matter to regenerate the first creation into the second that it was to organise chaos into the first.  The opposition of chaos, void and formless, was passive, but the opposition of the creature is active. It is a family quarrel, and they are the worst. It is not matter against force but will against will.  It has behind it all the power of the freedom, which makes the first creation what it chiefly is.  So that it is really more true ethically to speak of God’s goal as a New Humanity than as two stages or states of the old Humanity – so long as we do not put the old and the new out of all organic connection whatever…. The Redeemer was not the mere agent of a process. He was the New Creator. 

 

WHAT IS REDEMPTION?

 

It is an Act, with a capital ‘A’. Redemption is not a process. Rather, it is a concentrated Act, with an eternal and universal bearing.

 

Forsyth takes us on, into the cross, as that necessary and crucial Act of God:

 

Nothing offers a future for such a world as this but its redemption.  But by redemption what do we mean? We mean that the last things shall crown the first things, and that the end will justify the means, and the goal glorify a Holy God. We mean (if we will allow ourselves theological language) an eschatology and a theodicy in it – a divine Heaven, a divine Salvation, and a divine Vindication in the result of history. But more. We mean a consummation, which can only come by way of rescue and not mere growth. We mean rescue from evil by a God whose manner of it is moral, which is the act of a moral absolute, the act of a holy God doing justice to righteousness at any cost to Himself. We mean rectification of the present state of things on His own principles; that is, not mere rectification, mere straightening of a tangle, but justification on a transcendent plane of righteousness, the moral adjustment of man and God in one holy, loving, mighty, final, and eternal act.  We mean something more crucial than Meliorism.

 

We will continue to explore and expound these things in the next study.


Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me..”

     John Piper has a thoughtful book title: What Jesus Demands From the World, Crossway Books, 2006.

Vis Medicatrix naturae means: the healing power of nature.

, NCPI, 1988, p. 59

Matthew 27:51, 54 ‘The earth shook, and the rocks were split’ ‘… the centurion saw the earthquake…’

Romans 8:19 For ‘the creation wais with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;’

Forsyth, p. 63

Ibid.

Caravanserai: an inn in some eastern countries with a large courtyard that provides accommodation for caravans

Forsyth, p. 64

Ibid. p. 65

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ibid. p. 66

Geoffrey C. Bingham, Creation and the Liberating Glory, NCPI, 2004, p. 144

William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors, Tyndale Press, 1940, p. 198 says: ‘The word used in the original implies that it was a ‘new’ but not an ‘other’ world. Fn: The original has kainos, not neos.’

See also Geoffrey C. Bingham, Creation and the Liberating Glory, p. 73, 121

Forsyth, p. 68

Forsyth, p. 74

Meliorism: the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment. 








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