Monday, May 27, 2013


The contemporary meaning of the term ‘once in a blue moon’ is easier to understand than its origin! Nowadays a blue moon is commonly understood to be an extremely rare occurrence, perhaps never. However, apparently originally it did not refer to a second full moon in a month but to the third full moon in a season with four. The word month comes from moon. The reason the date for Easter varies each year is on account of Easter Sunday needing to be within a week of the first full moon of the spring season. Indeed, the Triune God had seasons in mind when He created the sun, the moon and the stars, ‘Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years’ Genesis 1:14. ‘He appointed the moon for seasons’ Psalm 104:19a.

The Apostle Paul refers to a ‘once in a blue moon’ occurrence where he says, ‘For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:7-8. Grace is the hardest thing for human beings to understand! Jesus did not lay down His life for the righteous or those who work hard at trying to be good. He died for sinners, i.e. wicked people. ‘As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”’ Romans 3:10-12. My old theological professor used to say something like, ‘Grace is not receiving what you do deserve while receiving what you do not deserve.’

To sin is to break the law, God’s Law, in thought or word or deed. To break God’s Law is to incur God’s penalty, ‘The wages of sin is death’ Romans 6:23a. No human being escapes, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ Romans 3:23. However, here is the good news, here is the grace of God, in the second half of a verse just quoted ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Romans 6:23. Eternal life is a gift!

Once in a blue moon will you meet a Christian today who has understood and can articulate that God saves sinners by His grace alone! Salvation is a gift that has been earned by Christ alone and is received through faith alone, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.’ Ephesians 2:8-9.

What Jesus did on the cross was a ‘blue moon’ occurrence. ‘Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy place once for all, having attained eternal redemption’ Hebrews 9:12. After celebrating the last Passover (which He transformed into the Lord’s Supper) He was arrested and crucified. As He hung on the tree we are told, ‘Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour’ Mark 15:33. We know that this darkness was not a solar eclipse because the Paschal Moon was a full moon. Solar eclipses cannot happen when the moon is full. The darkness symbolised spiritual darkness as the Father turned His face away from His Son on the cross. May He make His face to shine upon you.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


History and Freedom

Christians love the pun: History is His story. History is just another word for providence. If ‘Providence’ were a wooden ship, the Father’s hand is on the tiller, the Son, Jesus, is Captain and the Holy Spirit is the wind in her sails. History has to do with God’s sovereignty in all things. However, if God is sovereign how can there be any freedom?

The first couple of chapters of the Bible provide an historical record of God creating creation, summarised in Exodus 20:11 thus, ‘For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.’ Therefore, history began with seven historical days, days in which God spoke and things that were not became things that are! Those days are about what God did. They are His story. He controlled history for at least those first six days. However, what happened after this? Like the Medes and Persians of old, some attempt to rewrite history. Revisionists try to expunge the name of the Sovereign from all records. They try to deny the historicity of the Bible and come up with theories on how creation came into being. Which is it? If God were in sovereign control then how come human beings have freedom to make up their own ‘histories’ of creation?

The God of history gave human beings freedom, otherwise known as ‘free will’. When God made the first man, Adam, He gave him the freedom either to believe and follow what God says, or not believe it and thereby go his own way. By choosing the latter Adam and his posterity, (which includes you and me), are conceived, born and live in a state of unbelief until and unless God converts us. Christian conversion is believing in God and the works He has done through His Son as He is revealed by the Holy Spirit in the sixty-six books of the Bible.

God’s sovereignty in history and humanity’s freedom is seen in the following, ‘[Jesus], being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.’ Acts 2:23-24. In this historical event God sacrificed His only begotten Son. The instrument He used was men exercising their free will. These men are accountable to God for their actions. God did not make them do it. They wanted to. They did it freely. Thus God even works evil for good! (Rom. 8:28).

From supernovas to dying budgies and receding hairlines every historical event is under the sovereign control of God. For, He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.’ Psalm 147:4. And, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.’ Matthew 10:29-30. ‘I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?’ Benjamin Franklin, 28 June 1787.

What shall we do with God’s sovereignty and humanity’s freedom in history? We ought to keep them in proper tension and ‘Let God be true but every man a liar.’ Romans 3:4a. Let us climb aboard the good ship ‘Providence’ and seek to do His will on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Christianity is all about transformation (Rom. 12:2). The leaven of Christ’s kingdom is to permeate the whole batch of dough (Matt. 13:33), which means that Christians are to turn the whole world upside down by use of the Gospel (Acts 17:6). The Gospel began to spread from Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-5), especially with Philip’s and Peter’s missionary journeys (Acts 8:5-13; 26-40; 9:32-10:48). Then, beginning in earnest with the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, Christianity built the West as its influence grew through the centuries. However, because there is yet to be a “Christian era” it is wrong to speak of a “post-Christian” era.

Jesus says, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ John 18:36a. ‘Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”’ Luke 17:20-21. Thus, the spread of Christ’s kingdom is invisible to the naked eye. It is spiritual, and, as such, is the domain of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit started His work right at the beginning of creation, shaping the world (Gen. 1:2) and working invisibly in the hearts of men even after the Fall (Gen. 6:3). Those who have been chosen by the Father (Eph. 1:3-6) also belong to the Son (John 17:6) and enter His kingdom as the Spirit enables them (John 3:5-8). However, those who do not belong to the kingdom always resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Thus the world consists of people who belong to the kingdom living side by side with people who belong to the evil one. The two kingdoms are described in the parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matt. 13:24-30). Likewise the Lord’s Church on earth comprises of true believers and unbelievers (some of whom may be deluded). ‘They are not all Israel who are of Israel’ Romans 9:6b, and, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us’ 1 John 2:19.

So we see then that the Spirit is at work in the world transforming individuals who, collectively, make up the kingdom of God on earth. Thus, the kingdom of Heaven grows on earth as the Spirit works effectively with the Word in the hearts of believers.He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ Philippians 1:6. ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ Habakkuk 2:14.

Christ’s transforming kingdom began with the salvation of an individual, i.e., Adam, right after the Fall (Gen. 3:21). Like the mustard seed growing into a great tree it grew into a family in Abraham (Gen. 15:4-6). It continued to grow and became a nation in Jacob (Gen. 49:1-28). It became international, nay, cosmic, when Christ (the Seed of the Woman who was promised in Genesis 3:15 with Galatians 3:16) rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven from whence He and the Father sprinkled His Church, baptising her with the Holy Spirit. Thus, as the Spirit enables, Christ’s kingdom spreads, transforming whole nations.

‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ Romans 12:2.