This World is God's World (10) January 2024
January 2024 This World is God's World - Edition 10- News and Views from a Christian Perspective
By Rev Peter Ratcliff
THE PRESENCE OF GOD
Special times with the Lord should be sought after and the Christian experience of most people has shown that regular time set aside for the purpose is the best way.
However it is often at unplanned times that the Lord plans to meet us.
It was an early start this morning for a possible 7am delivery, not arriving until 9am, so an unexpected special time appeared. Anticipating the alarm I was awake long long before, from about 4am, but thankfully my mind caught hold of our great Saviour or he held on to me. John 10:27-29.
Several thoughts came to mind making comparisons from life to what we are trying to do in the Christian ministry:
Perhaps it was because the awaited delivery was a kitchen item that my first thought was how we are like a marvellous kitchen with all the great technology of fridge freezer, hot and cold water, cupboards full of food and implements, the hob and the oven. Yet without a chef to work, all these great things are useless. So it is that the great Gospel is so near yet remains nothing to those who have not believed it.
Then we are like a superb car that could top 200mph and people stand around admiring it. Yet without a key and a skilled driver the car is nothing.
And we are a great orchestra, all set for a fine performance but silent until the conductor will give the first indication.
And no doubt we could go on with other pictures such as a rocket sitting on a launch pad waiting for the countdown and yet without action it will not take off on fire up into space.
And the potential with the Gospel is even greater. The facility we have is astonishing. It is treasure in earthen vessels or clay jars, 2 Corinthians 4. You wouldn't put treasure in something so rough and breakable but God has put the unsearchable riches of the Gospel of Christ into his people.
Then I drop off drifting back into sleep and awake from a dream in which a friend makes the most dreadful accusation, "there is no presence of God with you". This was particularly shocking as people have come to us saying there was no sense of God in some of the modern Evangelical churchrs. Of course it is true, the presence of God isn't us, it is God. We are not God, we are just the earthen vessels. But we do desire a felt sense of God's presence among us.
Now what potential the poorest of us has. Let us pray and glorify God.
OUR DEAR BRETHREN
Around 295 Christians lost their lives on Christmas Eve, killed in a well-coordinated wave of attacks.
This wasn't in London, neither was it in Glasgow, nowhere in Europe. It wasn't in the USA or Canada. It wasn't in Ukraine, neither in Israel.
If it had happened in these places certainly we would have heard about it.
Rather it happened in 25 isolated Christian villages in Plateau State, Nigeria. Most of the dead were women, children, the sick and elderly – those who could not run away in time. Some were shot or slashed with machetes. Many were burnt alive.
More than 1,500 homes were set on fire, eight church buildings destroyed, and hundreds of people injured. An estimated 30,000 people were displaced, many of them now sleeping in church halls and church compounds.
Barnabas Aid stands ready to help the survivors. It is good that they do. Without them we wouldn't have even heard about this.
The era of missionaries which went out from what were clear Protestant Bible believing churches and took the Gospel to all nations has ended. The Reformed influence abroad now seems very small and when we think of Nigeria we think of large charismatic churches and exploitative miracle pastors albeit opposed to the homosexuality which has engulfed the mainstream denominations of the Western World.
Thus millions of Evangelicals have largely been cut off from one another around the world.
Merely posting reports of the persecuted church on social media feels so very inadequate.
How do we relate to these people whom we understand are our persecuted brethren abroad?
I am sure occasional or regular gifts sent through Barnabas Aid and other means are well received but shouldn't there be more?
Organisations such as Barnabas Aid are excellent but I fear we may simply give money and pray without really joining together with our persecuted brethren in the way we should.
No doubt ministers should take the lead, but it is natural when the church at home is in a poor spiritual state itself, that we are caught up in our local congregations. The persecuted church can feel so far away and messages received from abroad are hard to prove as genuine. It is easy to leave it to the parachurch organisations. It may take church members to prompt us.
We wonder what the Apostles would have done.
The Apostle Peter wrote letters to encourage suffering Christians. These letters are part of the Bible and are of use throughout all ages. The Lord Jesus even commissioned the Book of Revelation for the same purpose. We trust the Bible is well taught among persecuted Christians. Do they have Bibles? Which Bibles? We can support the Trinitarian Bible Society in producing faithful translations.
Certainly Paul would have above all wanted to go and visit persecuted Christians even if he wasn't able to. He was determined to get to visit the poor saints in Jerusalem with gifts even if it was to lead to his own arrest and death. We should share the desire to know our Christian brethren even if we cannot visit each other.
In Hebrews 13:3 Paul exhorts us to pray for those who suffer, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."
What about us? What should we do? While we reject the ecumenical movement such as the World Council of Churches, which has a mere outward unity we believe in the unity of the church which is primarily spiritual and we are determined to pray for this unity to be properly expressed. Let us pray for something real and tangible. Now I cannot imagine what this would be but why should prayer need to know it's own answers. Aren't the prayers of Job prayed in darkness without knowing the end? It is something that the Lord knows which we do not. Perhaps the first thing is to thank God for his people throughout the whole world. If we are to do that we may start by thanking the Lord for the people the Lord has gathered together into our own church.
The Bible says in 1 John 4:20 that If we don't love our brother whom we have seen how can we love God whom we have not seen? Likewise, how can we love our brethren whom we have not seen?
CHURCH OF ENGLAND NO LONGER
The Church of England has ceased to be a church. It was the ordination of women which led to the establishment of the Church of England Continuing in 1994.
The immediate intervention of God to burn up abomination is unusual and not generally expected until the Lord returns. It is more likely that the Church of England will remain in existence as a kind of alarm bell to warn Christians to get out and join a real church.
Few people joined the Church of England Continuing back in 1994 or since but now that the Church of England has blessed homosexuality we are receiving a few more enquiries. It presents an enormous challenge. For individuals who leave the Church of England there may be other local Evangelical churches they can join. However for Ministers desiring to leave the Church of England, they have not got a very easy task ahead of them. It is no small task for us to be able to attempt to support ministers who desire to leave the Church of England. We would value your prayers, encouragement and support.
BRITAIN PREFERS ANYTHING EXCEPT CHRISTIANS
The Scottish National Party leader Hamsa Yousaf says he will vote in favour of LGBT etc, contrary to his Islamic faith. Islam of course only represents a minority of the people in Scotland so it is understandable that a Muslim politician would not be elected if his manifesto was based on Islamic values.
This is very different to what happens when Islam is the majority of the population in a nation and the politics is determined by the mosques.
By contrast the Bible believing Christian politician always votes on the basis of his or her faith. Consequently the Islamic leader wins over the atheist majority who despise the Christian.
We might conclude that this is not a difference between religions but a difference between liberals and conservatives. After all, Roman Catholic politicians will often vote against the teachings of their religion too.
We may feel that the ability to vote against your faith gives the Roman Catholic and Islamic politicians an advantage over Evangelical Christians. We may also feel it is good that the UK has freedom of religion but that politicians must vow allegiance to the monarch who must be a Protestant, even if this vow is not fact checked.
In practice while we are saved from some of the worst forms of politics and enjoy a good degree of freedom in the UK, we are nevertheless in a woeful state. Whatever freedom we allow others, it should at least concern us that a Muslim, Hindu, Roman Catholic or Atheist is acceptable as a political leader but that an Evangelical Protestant like Tim Farron or Kate Forbes is not acceptable. And that goes for all parties, left wing, right wing and even the extreme libertarians and independent radicals.
However while the nation is in a ruinous state spiritually, we should not complain. The extreme toleration of all beliefs in the UK does mean that Christians are quite free to evangelise. We know that political prosperity does not fulfil the longing of a soul seeking God. We also know that the vast array of religions, cults and philosophies are all equally empty.
What we don't know is how long we have. Therefore we know we must not waste our time or focus on worldly treasures and ambitions but rather we must have a spiritual and heavenly vision and aim. We have such a short time on this earth and we must not fear man but rather press ahead with the great commission to take the Gospel to all people.
Talking recently with a fundamentalist atheist was quite shocking.
We may tend to think that the world is less Christian and generally atheist by default, especially in the UK and the West, but atheism has more to it.
While many atheists are typically lost and just going with the flow the broad road to destruction there are others who can articulate what they really believe. When we talk with such people we get a better idea about what is going on, especially when we combine this with the biblical light of Psalms 14 and 51 and Romans 1.
The real atheist has firmly rejected Christ and also thoroughly hates God. The atheist calls Christianity poison. The idea that God demands worship and will torment in hell forever those who do not live for him, the atheist hates with disgust.
The idea that we are made by God, Male and Female is rejected by the atheist who feels that such restrictions are cruel.
Rather the atheist feels that he is neither male nor female but can do whatever he likes. He feels he is genuine and kind and that Christianity or any other religion is the most awful thing that could be believed.
Now while there are few atheists who really express this verbally, they no doubt express the heart of atheism, the default position of most of our society. So when it comes to politics, the movement will be toward all the things that the atheist believes.
How will this affect us in the future? We may feel that this is already with us. Certainly this philosophy of supposed human freedom without God has made great inroads into destroying our society. The future looks more bleak. Efforts to stop it are described as right wing and strangely enough do not themselves come from real Christian roots.
We cannot predict the future. It may indeed get worse. Atheism has historically been as bad as false religion when it has taken hold of societies. China and Russia are proof enough.
There is not much we can do about it. Or is there?
Our concern is for the church. As such these dramatic changes are not as significant as we might think. Children are not so brainwashed that they cannot turn to Christ. This applies both to the vocal atheist and the default atheist. The Holy Spirit can convert both sorts of atheist, just as he can save millions who are Communists.
ABORTION: A CONSERVATIVE VALUE!
Sayings such as "Abortion is a mere healthcare matter" will never be accepted by Christians and neither will the claim that 98% of abortions are on the ground of "mental health". Now I am very sympathetic to "mental health" sufferers but you don't help your mental health by lying or exaggerating. What percentage of this 98% are lying and purely claiming "mental health" because they simply want to kill their children for convenience? I fear it is most. If they want better mental health they should do the right thing and refrain from fornicating, lying and murdering. These many sins go together in abortion, not to mention coveting and not honouring parents.
And why are our laws outdated? Because even our abortion law, bad as it is, at least includes some tiny speck of Christian influence. O, they will throw it all out, no doubt, and woe to any who try to restrain this atheist murder monster.
O, and that opening quote is from a "Tory" MP pushing for a complete free for all of abortion, so I really have heard enough of how "right wing" our government is. We have a Hindu PM, not a Christian. Hindus can be right wing, no doubt, with their cruel caste system and once burning widows on bonfires.The Government may be right wing economically, but I even doubt that with all the massive payouts such as furlough which few other nations enjoyed, yet they certainly are not right wing socially, they are very libertarian, full of adultery. In fact it isn't really a question of left or right wing, they are simply ungodly as voted for by an ungodly nation which has got what it wants and what it deserves.
But as the imprisoned Apostle Paul said, Rejoice! But how can we rejoice in such days? Have you not got Christ? Have you not been saved? Isn't this world awaiting judgement while you are awaiting heaven? As David Dickson, a persecuted 17th Century Scottish Covenanter said to fellow suffering brethren: If you are not in hell you have no cause to complain! Words like that sound harsh but in fact are immensely comforting and they encourage us to stand.
Certainly our hope is that the Gospel will revive millions of souls. As I said to friends when we first did street preaching in 2004, I am not expecting people to clap for us! Funnily enough we preached that day at a spot in Tooting and as we did so there were a couple of African brethren standing in front of us and saying Amen and clapping after every sentence of Gospel proclamation! You couldn't have made it up. It was a lovely token from the Lord.
But as I experienced yesterday with a conversation with a vocal atheist who rejected a church upbringing, there is a deep hatred of Jesus Christ in our land. I believe this one vocal atheist represents millions of default atheists who are almost equally antagonistic but don't or can't explain it. We understand the mass craze of gender confusion stems directly out of a lack of understanding of our identity given by God. This atheist heart is cold and bodes very badly for our nation and it means that the true church and true Christians who do not "self-censor" will be bitterly unpopular, hated, cancelled, put out of work, etc etc. But, like the Apostle Paul, we will count all this loss as gain. We to whom Christ has manifested God (John 17:6) are prayed for and we need much prayer and we must pray. The Lord is doing all things well and not one word will fail until all his people are delivered into his eternal glory. Keep on!
KEVAN ON THE LAW
Ernest Kevan, Principal of London Bible College 1946-1965, on the Moral Law in the life of the believer, explains the Reformed position so well. The following is from his introduction in a book entitled "The Moral Law" of which I have a 1971 copy published by Sovereign Grace Publishers, Grand Rapids, but it is probably a reprint of an earlier book:
"At various periods in the history of Christian doctrine it has become necessary to reaffirm the truth that the ministry of the Law has been Divinely ordained as a means of grace for the sanctification and godly walk of the believers. This, of course, carried with it no denial that the only sufficient power for sanctification is the indwelling life of Christ in the believer by the Holy Spirit: this is sanctification through faith, and this is one of the great glories of the Christian Gospel that it does not merely tell men to be good but enables them to be so. But the bestowal of the power for a holy life needs to be accompanied by instruction in the pattern of it. In what does sanctified behaviour consist? It consists in pleasing God. What is it that pleases God? The doing of his will. Where is his will to be discerned? In his holy Law. The Law then is the Christian's rule of life, and the believer finds that he delights in the Law of God after the inward man. (Romans 7:22)."
The most successful people in the world and the lifestyle gurus all fail: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is everything!
Typical British people are not the old atheists who rejected belief in God: rather they are like an unreached tribe in a dark forest.
The Church of Wokeland is falling down but Jesus is still building his church.
The Church of England long ago approved prayers to bless the physically dead. No surprise it now prays to bless the spiritually dead.
Life is like reaching for the stars but what most people don't get is that the only way there is by dying with Christ and being raised with him.
New Year Resolution: Sorry for sins against God and for sins in ignorance or carelessness against others.
If the Apostle Paul could say: When I am weak I am strong, I suspect any other sense of strength is vain.