Austria

5 09 2012

Austria: 82% Christian, but quite a bit of very nominal Catholicism. A good sprinkling of Lutherans as we might expect, among this nation, where 91% of the 8.3 million, are Germanic people. Austria is a landlocked country, with The Alps in the south and west, and the flat plains of the River Danube to the east. Famous for ‘The Sound of Music’, a popular American musical picture, winning 5 Academy Awards… ‘Do-Re-Mi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIjobdArtiA

A mixed prosperous economy, of agriculture, commerce and tourism—with culture, music, art and beautiful scenery in abundance. All this serves as a thin glaze, over a deeper human despair. Rates of suicide are high, as is abortion and alcoholism. The evangelical and charismatic churches, though quite small numerically, are working, praying and seeking to be a fresh influence in the life of Austrian people. Pastors are in great need, as are more full-time workers in missionary work. ‘Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers into the field’ (Matthew 9:38).

In particular there are many unreached pockets of people, such as six ethnic groups from the Balkans, as well as Muslim Turks, Afghans, Kurds and Pakistanis.

Witness among the student population is a fruitful area of work. Vienna the capital (1.7million) host thousands of international students. All 7 universities have active ministries among them. There are growing prayer ministries among teenagers, and SU and CEF are focussing on school age children. Lots to do, but hopeful signs. May the Living Lord Jesus, bless the people of Austria with a good hearing of the Word of Life!

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Vishal Mangalwadi

17 05 2012

Seeing the world through Indian eyes. That’s what I have been doing a bit lately. And it is a very stirring, thought-provoking exercise.

I have been reading a book by Vishal Mangalwadi, entitled: The Book That Made Your World. It is a great book!

A great read!

It is subtitled: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization

The subtitle could be misleading. This is not just a ‘three cheers for the Bible’ kind of book. Nor is it going to simply bolster the views of the hard-line fundamentalist, as the title may suggest.  Rather, these are the words of a man who has come into the rich flow of wisdom, and truth.  Indeed, he puts much emphasis upon the importance of “truth”. He has come to see in a very profound way how the wonderful benefits experienced by countries like Australia, America, England, Canada, Germany, France, and Scotland—to name a few, have flowed from a Bible-given understanding of the world, its purpose, of humanity and of its hope, and of God and his character as revealed in Jesus Christ.

This is a book for the benefit not only of individuals, but for musicians, for those who are troubled by the death of rock legends, like Kurt Cobain, or the enduring love of Johann Sebastian Bach.

It is a book for readers of history, ponderers of culture, and leaders of Nations. It is a rewarding read for those interested in why many nations have not succeeded. Why has poverty engulfed so many nations?

Mangalwadi addresses questions like:

  • ‘Rationality: What made the West a Thinking Civilization?’.
  • ‘Technology: Why Did Monks Develop It?’
  • ‘Languages: How Was Intellectual Power Democratized?’
  • ‘Caring: Why Did Caring Become Medical Commitment?’
  • ‘The Future: Must the Sun Set on the West?’

I first heard Vishal Mangalwadi address a modest sized crowd of listeners in Adelaide, in October, 2011. I would like to have heard more from him. I would like more people to have been able to be there to hear him.

There are some You-Tube links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nHV3j8InRQ

But I suggest you purchase the book, and have a read for yourself.  I certainly have benefited from such an enjoyable read, and from a man who does evidently have a very keen intellect.  And not only that, he does stack of original research – to find out if what he is being told is true. What a good idea.

He also wrote :

  • The World of Gurus
  • In Search of Self: Beyond the New Age
  • Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto For Ailing Nations
  • Legacy of William Carey: A Model for Transforming Culture
  • Missionary Conspiracy: Letters to a Postmodern Hindu
  • India: The Grand Experiment
  • Quest For Freedom and Dignity: Caste, Conversion and Cultural Transformation
  • Astrology

For further resources: http://www.revelationmovement.com/





Great hope for the Future

16 03 2012

The Future is full of hope, because the future—as with the present now—is in the gracious hands of the Risen Jesus Christ.  Christians are those who have by faith, met the Risen Jesus, who died, and rose again as a Man, victorious over death—in this world.  Jesus has in turn shown us—in his life, and particularly at the cross of his crucifixion—the gracious, loving God and Father of us all.

Christians want everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things (See The Holy Bible: Ephesians 3:9). His plan is to reconcile all things, people and nations, through the loving life and death and resurrection of Jesus. This Jesus, and his identity, and his work, is the MYSTERY of the world!

God has made this whole universe—galaxies beyond our dreaming, and this earth which is our amazing, beautiful, delightful—yet, often painful—home.  He has made everything—animals, plants, ocean and mountains, and humanity—with a plan to glorify it (bless and magnify it), through Jesus. God has made every nation on the earth to be included in that amazing plan. He has called one particular nation, Israel to be the nation through which his plan to deal with sin through atonement (propitiation), would be revealed.  It was through Israel, that Jesus was born. He came to destroy the works of the devil, which he has done. He is revealing that victory through his Resurrection power, by the power of his own Spirit—the Holy Spirit—which he has poured out upon the world—so that human beings may see what is hidden, hear what God is saying to us, have faith in this gracious God, and anticipate the great future, while living in the creation with hope.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of One—God’s Son—who has loved deeply and fully, and has suffered deeply and fully in that love, in order to do the Father’s good will, and ‘bear our sins in his body on the Tree (the Cross)’. In Jesus name God declares to us: Your sins are all forgiven. God now in peace, and live trusting God. Go in peace justified through Jesus Christ alone. Trust in his merit. Be filled with God’s love. Serve and honour all people. Thrill others with this good news! Warn people not to miss this hope for their lives. It is folly not to receive such assurance freely from the kind and Living God.

Easter includes remembering Jesus death, which happened under the Roman rule (Pontius Pilate), and with consent and desire of many Jewish leaders.  Jesus was a confrontation in his true living, his hopeful message! Easter is also the celebration of the work of God on Good Friday in dealing with our sin, through Jesus death. It is also the celebration of that quiet, very still Holy Saturday, poised (as we often are)—as God the Son lay dead in the tomb. Hope crushed.  Or so it certainly seemed. Yes he died. But, he died our death, to defeat death.

Easter is also the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday morning and of his appearing to women, then men, then over 500 people at one time. It is the celebration of all the implications, the outworking in history, of that victory over death on behalf of the human race.

Come, he is near. Come to Jesus, believing, receiving his Spirit. Come with new hopes.

If you can read the Bible with faith, then, more and more of the truth and wonder of this hope will break open to you, as the Spirit of God “shows” you great things. Suffering can then been seen and endured—in the creation, and personally, because it is over laden with hope, hope, hope! If you have no Bible, still seek the Living Lord.

Thank you Living Father, crucified and Living Lord Jesus, dear Spirit of God, for all your goodness, and gracious power, on our behalf. Let us respond and believe. Let us not live any longer without this hope flowing through our lives—no matter how ill we are, how sad or lonely, how bad or bruised, guilty or ashamed.

Your forgiving grace now equips us to live within the creation, serving it, serving others, serving God with full purpose. It means seeing grass, lions, sky and sea in a new way, and seeing it all with a future so rich and amazing, as is promised by God!

Trevor Faggotter





Europe’s Past Is Today’s Hope

6 10 2009

Europe continues to be a difficult place for the gospel to take fresh root, and to make real headway. Only today, I received a request for support for a missionary couple, as they endeavour to take the Word of truth into … Italy. Ha – just think… the Apostle Paul wrote his great letter of truth, concerning the world, and life, and the future, to … the church in Rome. We should read Paul’s Letter to the Romans often!

What a strange thing human history can seem to be. One of the most unusual days, and perhaps disappointing in terms of unwise use of power, was when Charlemagne, was crowned by the Pope, as leader of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’, on Christmas Day, 800 AD. In a short Church History lesson (2009), I wrote the following:

Charlemagne crowned by Leo III

On Christmas Day, 800 AD, in Rome, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as emperor. This signified a shift in power structure, for the church in Rome, in relation to the all of the Kings of Europe.  In theory, church and state were now in harmonious interplay. How did a Pope ever come to crown a world ruler? Can you have a Holy Roman Empire?

Fast forward. Another Gregory, Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085), instituted reforms, which ultimately led to the papacy emerging in the 12th and 13th centuries, as the most powerful office in Europe.

Fast Forward: By 1409, there was one Italian Pope, Urban, in Rome, another French one, Clement from Avignon,. But neither stood down, as of necessity, a third Pope, Alexander V, was elected. Three Popes. And one was preaching a crusade against another and selling indulgences to pay for it.

In World History, many Christian leaders, (if not all to some extent) have really failed in their specific calling to continue to announce the good news of the gospel to the world. Some have become too theologically clever, and too politically careful, or manipulative, to be able to really bear witness to Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world, through his death and resurrection. Nevertheless, Jesus ever remains Lord of all current affairs, of life itself, of death, and of creation, with its future in his hands! This is an amazing claim.

I was heartened, therefore to read this article in Christianity Today, concerning the current Pope, and his recent words. It is good to be a person, who, in spite of many obstacles, and when often being misunderstood, does not give up in one’s calling to proclaim the good news for the human race. check out this article:

Europe’s Past Is Today’s Hope | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

I hope you are not giving up, on your calling, or compromising it, wherever that may be!





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.




The Conquest of Time By Eternity

14 10 2008

THE CONQUEST OF TIME BY ETERNITY

 

Study 11

 

Trevor Faggotter  

 

Take courage; I have conquered the world! – Jesus (John 16:33b)

 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… (Hebrews 11:1)

 

‘…eternity is doing far more for time than time is doing for eternity’ (P.T. Forsyth)[1]

 

Aware of the complexities of life, the tragedy of war on a global scale, satanic power, and the blindness of humanity among nations, faith sees Jesus!  The Justification of God is written that the church might re-establish a renewed confidence in Jesus Christ, and the gospel, on a grand scale.  P.T. Forsyth confidently asserts his gospel convictions:

 

Faith is more than an individual calm; it is the Church’s collective confidence on the scale of the world for the destiny of the world. The evil world will not win at last, because it failed to win at the only time it ever could. It is a vanquished world where men play their devilries. Christ has overcome it. It can make tribulation, but desolation it can never make.[2]

 

ALL THINGS ARE YOURS[3]

 

The writing of P.T. Forsyth continues to be a highly valuable gift to the church. Forsyth belongs to us. Our appreciation of Forsyth’s enduring theodicy, should serve us well in our ministries – bearing faithful witness to Christ, in the face of all things.

 

All things are ours, even that victory, that elevation over a world’s sin in us; and our very relapses cannot rob us of it. It is easy to believe with a poor sense of what the holy is, of what it makes sin to be, of what the world is, and can do, for the devil. But it needs the supernatural courage of the Cross to believe (at such an hour as this, say,) in the completeness of the Cross and its eternal victory. But there, the more horror, the more hope. The most damning light is the saving light. Therefore, the more holy fear, the more the Cross is working in us; and the sense of the Cross’s judgment is the effect of its grace.[4]

 

In 1 Corinthians 3:21, Paul – having warned his hearers against following party or theological factions – reminds the church that we can learn from and make good use of all things – For all things are Yours! Forsyth may not say everything well.[5] However, he belongs to us.  And we can learn much from him. Forsyth himself, skillfully attributed measured praise to the negative, critical work of the German philosopher – Friedrich Nietzsche[6], who felt as millions feel, that life culminated in its tragic experiences, and that whatever solved the tragedy of life solved all life.[7] Sadly Nietzsche, a vehement critic of Christianity, suffered debilitating mental illness towards the end of his life.  Forsyth comments upon this influential man’s failure to find his answers in the cross of Christ (a salient warning, I think):

 

To grasp the real, deep tragedy of life is enough to unhinge any mind which does not find God’s solution of it in the central tragedy of the Cross and its redemption.[8]

 

Our plethora of ‘why’ questions concerning injustice and the matter of evil, are resolved in the action of Christ’s cross.  For especially here, Jesus gives active praise to the Father, for the rightness of his just and true judgments, as he personally and willingly enters the furnace of God’s holy judgment upon sin, and bears the guilt and evil of humanity. We can replicate the observations of Jesus early ministry, now applying them to his cross, and the fruit of that event for all eternity: ‘He has done everything well.’ (Mark 7:47).

 

FAITH IN CHRIST FOR ALL CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE

 

In the light of:

  1. The worst evil – murdering Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Author of Life, and
  2. The best news of all – the resurrection of Jesus as Man, which opened possibilities, and a reality, not previously dreamed of, 

the early church knew that all things were working together for good for those who loved God and were called according to his purpose. They learned to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Through the cross, understood by faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit the church down through history is assured that nothing is outside of God’s control, nothing is exempt from being used for the purposes of God.[9]

 

Life begins as a problem, but when it ends well it ends as a faith: a great problem, therefore a great faith. Ordinary experience gives us the first half, it sets a problem; but the second half, the answer of faith to us, comes from God’s revelation of grace. As we here pass from the one to the other it should be on large lines, not that we may simply descant on life in a literary way, but that we may magnify the greatness of Christ.

 

FORSYTH’S CLOSING RÉSUMÉ

The final chapter is a résumé of all that Forsyth has been writing about in this book. He expands upon the following 9 essential points:

  1. ‘Life, then, is a problem. If offers a task rather than an enjoyment. The soul must be achieved. The kingdom is above all a gift, but it is also a conquest. We are here to fight the good fight rather than to have a good time. The people to whom life is only an excursion, a picnic, a stroll, or a game grow more and more outlanders in society.[10]
  2. The problem of life is tragic, and no mere riddle. It is not a war game.We are in no Kriegspiel[11], but in the real thing always. It touches the nerve.’[12]Life is not a seductive puzzle; it is a tragic battle for existence, for power, for eternal life’.[13]
  3. There is a solution to the problem. Our battle is not a sport for heaven. The solution is given to us rather than won by us. Already done and not merely shown.
  4. The solution is practical, not philosophical. It is not really an answer to a riddle but a victory in a battle. A life problem cannot be thought out but lived out. Man conquers by faith and not by philosophy.[14]
  5. The practical solution of life by the soul is outside life. The destiny of experience is beyond itself. The lines of life’s moral movement and of thought’s nisus converge in a point beyond life and history.[15]
  6. This world is only complete in another; it is part and prelude of another, and runs up into it, and comes home in it as body does in soul. What is meant when we speak of another world? We do not mean only one that begins at death. We do not mean a new tract of time beyond the grave, but another order, another dimension, of things, that both haunts the precincts and fills the spaces of this life always.
  7. All the crises of His [Jesus] life, I have been saying, had themselves a crisis in His death, where the victory and the solution was won once for all. He did not cheer the disciples with the sanguine optimism of the good time coming. It was not a sanguine optimism, but an optimism of actual faith and conquest. It was not the hope of a conquering Messiah soon. ‘He is here,’ was the Gospel.[16]
  8. The solution in the Gospel is wrought once for all because it was on a world scale, an eternal scale, because He, and He alone of all men, was on such a scale. He was on a scale, which made the New Testament writers give Him not only a human and historic influence but a cosmic, nay, an absolute. He was to command not only the race but the universe, and save not only the soul but the whole groaning and travailing creation.[17]
  9. Trust God. ‘We cannot solve life by moral thought or effort but by trust, which unites us with the invincible, eternal, moral act of God in Christ. Christianity is not the sacrifice we make, but the sacrifice we trust; not the victory we win, but the victory we inherit.  …Christ crucified and risen is the final, eternal answer to the riddle of life. One day, when we sit in heavenly places in Christ, we shall see the tangle of life unroll and fall into shape. We shall see death as the key of life. Our own dead could tell us so already. We shall see guilt destroyed; and, with that, death, wrong, darkness, and grief’.[18]

 

FAITH GREATER THAN THOUGHT

 

Forsyth’s profound thought rouses us to give our own thought process a solid workout. However, the relationship between thought and faith, is an important one to understand:

 

Thought is a mighty and precious power, but on the last things it does more to enlarge our field than to steady our feet. It gives us range, not footing; a horizon rather than a foundation. It does not establish the soul, but widens its vision. It extends our reach more than it fixes our grasp. It therefore often magnifies the problem rather than solves it. Truly, that is a great service. To greaten the problem is to prepare for a great answer. Faith is not there as an asylum for those who are too lazy or shallow to think. But, though thought may tax faith mightily, it cannot do its work. It gives it a grand challenge, but it has not faith’s final word.[19]

 

Rich thought can certainly expand our horizons, but faith steadies our feet, causing us to stand firm, securely, in the strength of the Lord’s power (Ephesians 6:10-18):

 

There is something that gives us power to live and conquer, where thought may only raise challenge and doubt. Thought opens a world ahead of us, but faith forces us back into the soul and its case. Faith must be more conservative than thought; for it is deeper. The vaster the world that thought opens, the vaster is the question it puts; and the answers, the solutions, that fitted a small world, go out of date in a large. But the solution, the secret, of the soul, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is Christ dead and risen that has the key of life. It is living faith in His living, giving, and saving God.[20]

 

It is good to finish our study book! Faith fortified. Yet, of making many books, there is no end. Much study is a weariness of the flesh (Eccl. 12:12). Jesus said: You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life (John 5:39-40).

 

TO THE LAST WORD – LET US COME!

 

We only ever say second-to-last words; God, the Word always has the last Word. So then, let us come to the Word, Jesus Christ in faith, in prayer, in praise and thanks, resting in His finished work, assured of the glorious future, glorified in Him: Thank you Lord, for your servant, P.T. Forsyth! May his writing and insight continue to be a blessing, to many!  Jesus you said: be of good cheer. Jesus, you have overcome the world, triumphed over the power of evil, and secured eternal life. You are our future, and our Life. Amen


[1] P.T. Forsyth, This Life and the Next, London Independent Press Ltd., 1918 (1948), p. 81

[2] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, NCPI, Blackwood, 1988, p. 223

[3] For the wide application of this short biblical phrase, I am very grateful to Geoffrey C. Bingham, All Things are Yours, NCPI, Blackwood, 1991 (1996).

[4] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 222-223

[5] Indeed Forsyth’s final book commends prayers for the dead, and displays a troublesome tendency towards Universalism:  See P.T. Forsyth, This Life and the Next, London Independent Press Ltd., 1918 (1948). It is worthwhile reading it. But many will have strong reservations about some of his statements.

[6] Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a significant influence in the establishment of an understanding of life known as Existentialism. This is a movement in philosophy that says that it is not God, bur rather individuals, that create the meaning of their own lives. 

[7] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 210

[8] P. T. Forsyth, p. 210

[9] P. T. Forsyth, p. 4

[10] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 208ff.

[11] Kriegspiel: A full-scale war game between two nations.

[12] P. T. Forsyth,, p. 209

[13] P. T. Forsyth, p. 209

[14] P. T. Forsyth, p. 211

[15] P. T. Forsyth, p. 212

[16] P. T. Forsyth, p. 219

[17] P. T. Forsyth, p. 219

[18] P. T. Forsyth, p. 220-221

[19] P. T. Forsyth, p. 211

[20] P. T. Forsyth, p. 211-212








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