Friday, June 30, 2017



The other week, Patsy and Helen wanted to know what the title of my little Homily was going to be, so that they could put it into today’s Order of Service. I wasn’t really sure, until I was sitting in Church last Sunday morning. That’s when it just sort of came to me: “Rest In Peace!” I wanted the title to reflect, or at least summarize, the essence of the previous reading, in particular the bit where Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus is saying that He will give rest to anyone who comes to Him, that that person will find rest for their soul. 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Labouring and being heavy laden includes the troubles we face in this life. However, it also means being weighed down by the knowledge of what the Bible calls “sin”, an acute knowing that you don’t measure up to God’s standards. It’s the burden of an awakened conscience, an accusing conscience that gives you no rest – until you come to Jesus!

The meaning of this is deep, very deep, deeper than the deepest ocean. It is beautifully summed up in the words of George Matheson’s beautiful hymn: 
“O, love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”

The love of Jesus is the type of love that will not let you go. It is an eternal love, a love that lasts forever. That’s why George Matheson could write those words, “I rest my weary soul in Thee!” 

Matheson was born in Glasgow in 1842. He wrote that hymn forty years later, and said, “I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes.” It sort of just came to him on the eve of his sister’s wedding. 

Matheson himself had been engaged to be married some twenty years or so earlier. But when his fiancĂ©e discovered that he was going blind, and that there was nothing the doctors could do about it, she said that she couldn’t go through life with a blind-man. So she left him! His sister’s wedding reminded him of that tragic time. His sister had looked after him in his years of blindness, and now, by getting married, understandable as it was, she was leaving him too!

People will disappoint you. They have their own lives to lead with their own sets of problems, but the love of Jesus will never let you go! You need to rest in Him. His rest is forever. As did George Matheson before him, so Allan Barker has entered into His eternal rest.

It causes us pain to lose a loved-one. But Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” He wants us to come to Him, and to be yoked to Him, as in the old days oxen were yoked or joined together to plough a field or whatever. Jesus says His yoke is easy. It’s easy and light because He does all the heavy-lifting! But you have to open your heart to Him. You have to trust Him, trust His promise, even in times of grief, times when we go through pain.

“Oh, joy that seekest me through pain
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.”

Allan loved rural Australia. Can you picture a thunderstorm rolling through the Outback? Can you see the ghost gumtrees against the backdrop of dark thunderclouds? Can you hear the sulphur-crested cockatoos shrieking as they flee the deluge? Can you see and smell the steam rising from the hot earth after the storm has passed through? Can you see the magnificent rainbow in the sky?

George Matheson said that he changed only one word after he had written his beautiful hymn, because he was asked to. It’s in the line that speaks of the rainbow, the sign of God’s covenant promise. Instead of, “I trace the rainbow through the rain” the original had “I climb the rainbow through the rain.” Climbing rainbows in the rain gives a picture of hardship, weary toil. The years of weary toil are over for Allan Barker!

I visited Allan a few times when he was at the Care Centre in Ferny Grove before he moved down to Victoria. One of the things Allan is remembered for is being a Rat of Tobruk. He was twenty-two years old when he was involved in the Siege of Tobruk in1941. Surviving that he then went on to reach the rank of Lieutenant and even living to the right good age of ninety-eight! Wow! 

One of the downsides to living that long is that you lose a lot of your old friends over the years simply by outliving them! Then Allan lost his wife Daphne (Del) in October 2012. How hard it is to lose the ones we love! And now it’s Allan’s turn. So, we say for Allan, a friend, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather, a great, great grandfather, and a Rat of Tobruk, “Rest In Peace.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017



What was Adam like before he sinned? Well, we have acknowledged something just by asking this question, which is that there once was time when Adam was without sin! Therefore, we can safely say that the sinless Adam would be void of all of sin’s corrupting effects on every aspect of his being, body, soul, and spirit. None of us can say that of ourselves, none except Jesus! Indeed, Scripture refers to “the first man Adam” and to Jesus as “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

To sin is to break God’s Law, because “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Thus, neither the first Adam (pre-Fall) or the last Adam (post-Fall) were lawless, i.e., sinners. Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” Hebrews 4:15b. It was when Adam ate the forbidden fruit that he (and we) became sinners, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” Romans 5:12. “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23a.

Whereas the first Adam subsequently became corrupted, the last Adam always remained uncorrupted, i.e., without the decaying effects of sin, body, soul, and spirit. Scripture says that even in death Jesus’ body saw no corruption! “‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ For David … fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption, but He whom God raised up saw no corruption” Acts 16:34b-35. Thus, even in death the last Adam remained as was the first Adam pre-Fall, i.e., without corruption!

Did Jesus really die on the cross then? Of course He did! And He died for our sins, not His own. He had no sin of His own. Whilst nailed to the cross, Jesus said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” Luke 23:46. James says that “the body without the spirit is dead” James 2:26. Therefore, according to the Bible, human death occurs when the spirit leaves the body. Then the rot sets in – but not for Jesus! For He “saw no corruption.” Thus, in death, unlike King David and unlike Lazarus, Jesus’ body saw no decay, no putrefaction.

How was it that Jesus saw no corruption after being dead “three days”? Was He cryogenically frozen to preserve His organ tissue? Was He embalmed? No! He was taken down from the cross and had His body wrapped in strips of linen. Then He was laid to rest in a tomb. Let’s just say that even in death God preserved Him, body and soul and spirit. “‘A body You have prepared for Me’” and “‘Not one of His bones shall be broken’” and “‘For You will not leave My soul in Hades’” and “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’ and “‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ Hebrews 10:5b; John 19:36b; Acts 16:34b.

Jesus was incorruptible before He was raised from the dead and He is certainly incorruptible after He was raised from the dead! Do you want to know what something with no corruption looks like? Then look to Jesus!

Scripture says, “It is not yet revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” 1 John 3:2b. For us then, when we are raised from the dead, just like Jesus, we will have no corruption. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:51-54).
See also:

Friday, June 2, 2017


Myths & Mysteries

Myths and mysteries invariably make me think of mists, (perhaps because the words sound so similar?) And when I think of mists, I think of viewing Scottish scenery in the rain, which in turn reminds me of what the Bible says about faith: ‘Now faith is the confidence of what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.’ Hebrews 11:1. Faith kicks in whenever a tour guide says that there is a mountain over there when all we can see is mist! Thus, there are times when the tour guide needs to be taken at their word!

Some call the Bible a book of myths, while others believe its truthfulness but acknowledge that it contains certain mysteries. The Bible claims to have been written by God (albeit using men). Should we take the Bible’s ‘tour guide’ at His word? Or should we just climb back onto the bus out of the rain? If faith is ‘assurance about what we do not see,’ we must presume the tour guide knows what they are talking about.

The tour guide for the Christian is the triune God, Father, Son or Word, Holy Spirit. And God says, ‘In the beginning God [i.e., ‘Elohim’, a plurality of Persons, He, in the singular] created the heavens and the earth’ Genesis 1:1. Is this a myth? Is this a mystery? Is this a mountain covered in scotch mist? Well, the Bible says ‘what may be known about God is plain … because God has made it plain … For since the creation of the world [i.e., the cosmos] God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse’ Romans 1:19-20. The sun, the moon, the planets and the stars, the earth, the sea and the skies, the flora and the fauna, the bens and the glens (i.e., mountains and valleys), you and me – everything, has been made by God. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made’ John 1:1-3.

Are you still sitting there on the bus viewing everything through steamed-up windows? Or are you out there walking around looking at things with the ‘tour guide’? Are you sitting there thinking that God is a myth? Or are you walking with the Lord while contemplating the mystery of the Trinity? There’s a big difference between these two ways of thinking. The ‘tour guide’ says of the former that he/she is one of those who ‘suppress the truth by their wickedness’ Romans 1:18. Of the latter He says, ‘The hidden things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law’ Deuteronomy 29:29. Yes, how can God be three Persons but one God? How can ‘Our Father which art in heaven … give us [who art on earth] this day our daily bread’? How can the Son/Word, i.e., Jesus, be both God and Man in One Person? And, how can the Spirit of God be everywhere at once while ‘hovering over the waters’?

Dear Christian, you are not on a mystery tour. And you have not come to a mist-covered mountain. ‘But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem … You have come to God … to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant’ Hebrew 12:22-24.

Dear non-Christian, come off the bus, join us as we explore myths and mysteries with our ‘tour guide.’ He knows all things!