All Things Must Pass

12 09 2009

All Things Must Pass’, by George Harrison is a collection of music, a 1970 record album, which, as the title suggests, announces the impermanence of all things – life, love and mop top pop bands.  It is ironic that this album stands as one of his greatest legacies!  It was produced at a significant time: The Beatles had broken up as a band, only 6 months beforehand, George’s wife Patty was falling for his best friend Eric Clapton. And George’s mother had just died—things were quickly very different. Looking back over the years of the Beatles huge stardom, this album was ‘his hand full of earth upon the coffin’ of the band (M. Cheney).  Interestingly enough, a song emerging at this same time was Harrison’s search to know God: ‘My Sweet Lord’, (“I really want to know ya yea”…. in, I think, Eastern religion terms). It was a popular song!

All Things Must Pass, is a saying which echoes (sort-of) that of Jesus’ own statement:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away

(Matt. 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33).

Not quite all things must pass, then! The words of Jesus have an eternal quality, because they are spoken by the eternal one: How about that?

Saul (or Paul), like many others, fiercely opposed that idea. Maybe you doubt it? But he did come to know it. So can you. It all hinges on the present activity of this Risen Man, this Son of God, and the work of his Spirit in you and me, now.

In the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and seeing that the new eternal kingdom has arrived in him, and will coming fully at his next coming-appearing, the Apostle Paul put it like this:

For the present form of this world is passing away (1Corinthians 7:31).

We don’t like it when our world changes rapidly. But there is a good aspect to it… Do you think much on the good aspects of this statement?

It was on this insight, that Paul charted his course through life. He had rich insight, and certain faith, in what Christ was doing, and had done. In him there is a new creation. The old things are not only passing away, but, indeed, in a human being who is ‘Christed’ – forgiven, and made new, then those ‘old thing’ are made new.

Many things in our old world—that we liked—are passing away. This we find hard. These are some of mine, or my parents… experiences, think on your own:

(1) The good old slower life, when people had no cars and computer, but they did have time to chat by the roadside, with the horse and dray creating little road noise.

(2)  The good ol’ days when England, Australia, and the noble Westminster system of government, worked well, and people could speak at length, and gain a hearing, and reflect – and not be manipulated by a smart 20 second sound-bite.

(3) The days in Europe, recovering from WW2, as growth and peace came in various places, industry grew, the new possibilities opened up, and the whole future was not threatened by the growth of legalistic Islam, and ghettos and terrorist bomber violence.

(4) The days when a monogamous mum and faithful dad and numerous children, and grandparents, and uncles and aunts, were accepted as the normal basis of family life, and the push, push, push, for the a new anthropology, and view of marriage was not ‘in your face’.

(5) Ice cream and chips were reserved at Christmas or a birthday, not in the weekly supermarket trolley; childhood obesity was not hear of; you could play in the trees, miles from home, without a ‘keep out’ sign, or a sanctimonious ‘safe plastic sterile playground’ [to ward of the insurance claims], or a greenie initiative preventing your joy, you could run home without fear of being molested, stolen, beaten up, or of finding no one at home; these were great days!

(6) There are squillions of thoughts, multiplying, however…

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, who, although Christians, had become bogged in a few deficient ideas: He gave them some health-giving instructions concerning married life, unmarried life, normal creational human passion, and working in the things of the gospel, in the light of this fact:

For the present form of this world is passing away (1Corinthians 7:31).

Here is the full text.  Try and read it with prayer, not just a critical eye! 🙂

7:1 ¶ Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” 2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, not of command.

7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. 9 But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

10To the married I give this command–not I but the Lord–that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say–I and not the Lord–that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.

16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

17 ¶ However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches.

18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.

20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. 22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.

24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

25Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

26 I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.

29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided.

And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband.

35 I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

36 ¶ If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37 But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancee, he will do well.

38 So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

Yes folks, what a piece of writing!
Yes, it needs some clarification. A commentary will help.
The hope is, that in Christ, you will ‘do well’!
The point is there is a noble, creational way of living, in the present age, in the light of the impending crisis, yes, the coming of the kingdom. This is it. It is a gracious kingdom, with room to move, under the gracious care of the Lord, for each of us. Are you keeping uppermost in mind what matters most?

The world of sin and death, is passing away, and the world of holiness and life, is breaking in upon us. Amidst all the uncomfortable changes, faith sees Jesus.

Jesus Christ, and his kingdom. Thy Kingdom Come.





Greatest Father’s Day

5 09 2009

There have been some great Father’s Days. But what is the greatest?

Father’s Day, today, in 2009, has become another opportunity for the opportunist commercial world to capitalize on the spare—or not so spare—cash of the community. Father’s Day for many dad’s has sometimes been – a day of genuine joy. A time for dad’s to spend with their wife, and their children, or brothers and sisters and their families.

A few years back, the traditional sort of Father’s Day may have begun with breakfast in bed, a new pair of socks, or a tie, some chocolate, and a  maybe new set of garden pruning shears, or similar.  Cool.

However, the Greatest Father’s Day, may have been the day that the creation was finished, to the point of creating the man and the woman, and placing them in the Garden of Eden. Yes, here in this ancient event, we have the Father creating a home for his family. And what a home creation is!

Added to that is the Day that the eternal Son of God, became a human being, a son, like Adam. The Day that Jesus was born was certainly hailed as one of the Greatest Father’s Days ever.  Here, the second Adam came to do that which the first Adam, had failed to accomplish.

But perhaps, above all Father’s Days, was the Day in which the wayward members of the family—the human family, were reconciled through the profoundly strange events of the cross of Jesus Christ. The Day the Father over-reached Jesus, as it were, and in his love, and together with Jesus, and the Spirit, reclaimed, redeemed, and renewed the children in rebellion—this indeed was a Day of grace. And here, perhaps, the gracious Father was at his best – in dealing with our sin, the holy Father laid it upon his own sinless Son, Jesus, and there it was borne, and destroyed, in the mind, conscience, and body of the finest Son ever. This was an action of—from one point of view—unimaginable horror and loneliness. Yet, it was a deed of the deepest love ever known. It was a work of the Father, on behalf of his eternal family. It was the Greatest Father’s Day.

We could add to this the Day the Son of God, rose from the grave, victorious over death forever.  This happened as the Father, by the Spirit, raised Jesus from the tomb, alive forever more.

And we could add to that the Day the Spirit was poured out upon all flesh, to enable the great ingathering of the Family. All nations, coming home at last; the family coming home, washed, sanctified, justified, in the merits of Jesus—the great Elder brother of all those of faith.

Yes, there have been some good Father’s Days. Let us remember the Father—The Father—with us. May this Father’s Day be a good one for many.

Blessed be the God and Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ!





His ministry was wider than one church

19 06 2009

Geoff Bingham

Geoffrey Bingham will be talked about for a long time to come. More than that, his life and ministry will continue to be appreciated far and wide. He will, I feel sure, be read more widely, too. Amazing what the gracious Father, our God, does with a sinner isn’t it?  And the good things we see, are thanks to the merits and joy and sufferings and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, made known as his Spirit is poured into our hearts, bringing forgiveness, and effecting reconciliation. From rebels to Sons! What a change.

This is a good link to the article in the Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper:

His ministry was wider than one church.





At the Library

25 05 2009

What an excellent photo this is! …

3779_700.jpg (image).

Ben Meyers included in his post recently, saying:

“And since I’ve been waxing eloquent about books, I’ll leave you with my favourite bibliophile photograph: a photo taken in 1940 of the bombed library at Holland House in Kensington, London. This is what libraries are all about (click the image to enlarge).”

http://faith-theology.blogspot.com/2009/05/comparing-new-barth-edition-print-or.html#links





Evil accomplishes absolutely nothing in the ultimate

20 05 2009

My friend Geoff Bingham speaks of the enemies of a Christian, as “a phalanx of evil seeking corporately to destroy us”. An infantry, close knit army of opponents, like sin, Satan, the principalities and powers, the world, the flesh and death’.

He goes on to say that ‘evil is unremitting in its implacable intention to destroy’.

But then this statement: ‘Evil accomplishes absolutely nothing in the ultimate’. 

Christ’s cross is the place or victory for the truth, and for good. It means also, the defeat of evil – ultimately.  Evil is doomed, and Christ reigns.

To be sure, God’s truth is marching on, against the “phalanx” of evil. Jesus Christ has triumphed over all the powers of evil. His building will accomplish all that is needed for a substantial future for humanity – a humanity of faith, and hearts changed towards God.

(See page 226 in The Splendour of Holiness, G. C. Bingham)





And The Rock was Christ

19 05 2009




Share our headlines with your friends | The Christian Institute

9 05 2009

Share our headlines with your friends | The Christian Institute.





基督死了。 基督上升。 基督再将来。

2 05 2009

基督死了。 基督上升。 基督再将来。

그리스도는 죽었다. 그리스도는 일어난다. 그리스도는 다시 올 것이다.

Christ Died. Christ is Risen. Christ Will Come Again.

Le Christ est mort. Le Christ est levé. Le Christ viendra encore.

O Χριστός πέθανε. Ο Χριστός αναστήθηκε. Ο Χριστός θα έρθει πάλι.

Christ è morto. Christ è aumentato. Christ verrà ancora.

Cristo murió. Se levanta Cristo. Cristo vendrá otra vez.

Christus stierf. Christus is toegenomen. Christus zal opnieuw komen.

Christ starb. Christ wird gestiegen. Christ kommt wieder.

キリストは死んだ。 キリストは上がる。 キリストは再度来る。
Христос умерло. Христос поднято. Христос будет приходить снова.
Christ morreu. Christ é levantado. Christ virá outra vez.
Well, no matter how you say it, the wonderful exclamation of life, hope, faith and the love which lies at the heart of creation, is such stunning, all encompassing truth, that the simple words – at the heart of the gospel sound out across the nations. 
Of course, Christ, or the Messiah is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. More than a prophet. More than a political King. More than a servant. He is the Man, in whom God himself has come among us, and now shares in the life of humanity, eternally. All this, in order that we may gain our bearings, through him, as our sin is forgiven, our lives reconciled to God, and our place in the eternal family secured.
Praise to the Lord.




Karl Barth – God in the History of His Deeds, on mp3

29 04 2009

Karl Barth: Great Theologian:

“evangelical theology is concerned with Immanuel, ‘God with us’… a happy science!”

The much-loved, much-studied, and much-criticised theologian, Karl Barth is not with us, bodily, for he is now, with the Risen Lord Jesus.

Karl has departed from his participation in this world—where sin and death are present. But, if you are interested, you can still … ha! read his books (this post was originally about an MP3 lecture in English. But it is no longer at that URL.  I am sorry to say, I can’t direct you to listen to him.  Oh well. If anyone knows where it went, please let me know!)

I—did—love the accent … as he spoke in English!

So instead of listening to a quote, why not read a little of his writing…

“The truth of the knowledge that Christ in his revelation has the power of the Creator, depends upon it being the acknowledgment of a fact and  not an arbitrary combination. Where this power is experienced, there is literally nothing to combine, creation and revelation are not two truths to be held side by side, compared with each other and put into touch with each other, but the one reality of Jesus Christ, as the Revealer with the power of the Creator.  And in that case this power of the Creator cannot be thought of as one specially related and limited to revelation. Augustine, therefore is right when he lets even the angels, and Luther therefore, is right when he lets even the broody hen, be created  by the Word. ” (p. 511-512, CD, Volume 1. Part 1)





Such Graciousness

19 03 2009

‘Such graciousness!’ The other night, while considering John’s Gospel, chapter 4, it came to me that the one thing that the woman at the well was moved by—changed by—was ‘such graciousness’ imparted by Jesus towards her. This woman, of whom he was fully aware, what a mess of life she had made – with five husbands and another man as well—he loved, he received, he be-friended. He did this, not by ignoring her failure, but by loving her in spite of them. But more than that, he ‘right-wised’ her. He “righteous-ed” her. He justified her. He accepted her; he welcomed her. Not by by-passing the mess, but by giving himself graciously to her.

This is stunning.

During this past term I have been covering some old rich insights, from church history. While looking at the Reformation, I came across Martin Luther’s statement, prior to his coming into a dynamic Europe-tearing faith in Christ.

Martin Luther the monk, said: ‘If I could believe that God was not angry with me, I would stand on my head for joy’. His friend and mentor in grace, Staupitz, tried to convince him of God’s graciousness, but he could not see it, or feel it, of know it.

Sometime later—after the renewed—Martin Luther, had weighed into a debate in criticism of indulgences. He was not initially against the indulgences as such-there was a Papal theology widely accepted for it;  it was just that indulgences were being ‘hawked’ to pay for St. Peter’s Cathedral, and Martin was deeply offended by the manner in which an authorized itinerant showman, named Tezel, was at work on behalf of himself – as well as the papal system.  It stirred everything up, in the world, when he attacked that.

Background:

Pope Leo X issued the sale of indulgences to fund the completion of St. Peter ‘s Cathedral in Rome. John Tetzel was an itinerant papal-fundraiser, who promised his hearers immediate release, according to his rhyme: ‘As soon as the coin in the moneybox rings, the soul from purgatory springs’, and again, ‘Throw your money into the drum, heaven’s gates open and in walks mum’. If a person bought an indulgence for himself it would ‘wash awash the foulest of sins, even if the person had raped the Virgin Mary’. He was crude, tasteless, vulgar, and even contrary to the official theology of indulgences—for at the least the church did teach that the purchase must be accompanied by repentance to be effective. Luther had pastoral responsibility for teaching students, as also for the church where he preached. His concern was a very practical one, that people were being ripped off by such a corrupt and blatant scheme. Luther had no desire to stir up a public quarrel, let alone begin a movement to tear apart the very fabric of Europe. He was not even criticising the official sale of indulgences, just Tetzel’s perversion of the practise.

But then, this amazaing thing:

Luther’s revelation concerning the meaning of Romans 1:17.

He said, ‘I hated that word “righteousness of God,” which …I had been taught to understand philosophically… I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners… I was angry with God …I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted. At last, by the mercy of God…I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live”. Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. Here a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me.’ (John Dillenberger (Ed.), Martin Luther: Selections From His Writings, Doubleday, New York 1961, p. 11)

This, I think, is what the Samaritan woman at the well experienced, in John 4.

It is what gets at us, most deeply of all!

God right-wises us. In the gospel, God is shown to be righteous, not for getting his pound of flesh in punishment for sin. But rather, in taking sin seriously – as Jesus had done with the troubled woman – God still comes to us righteously. And as he comes to us, righteously, it is as the friend who justifies us. He is seen to be righteous in his exercise of grace!  Wow.

This is a turn around 180 degrees from what some have called ‘legal’ repentance.  Legal repentance is not genuine repentance. It is a trick-contract with God. Legal repentance is a little heavy deed of self, in order to get off the divine hook of guilt.

Like buying a pizza, you pay the price (repentance), you get the pizza (grace). No! No! No! That is sometimes how we think it works, in our sinful heads. No. God does a great thing in the gospel. And when Jesus comes to us, it is to bring us the Fruit of that great dying death.

Now:

God comes in generosity, and looks upon us, in mercy, and sets us right. What a scenario. He tips us right way up.  Judicially all is sorted; but practically, it is God’s graciousness that just does that, that is amazing. So lovely, so gracious. Not counting our sins against us. Wow.  

This is the gospel. Such graciousness.








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