To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘The Gospel’ Category

The Power of The Gospel

Here is a great video displaying the power of the gospel. I found it so encouraging as how the same gospel that has won my heart has such transforming power to create a people for himself. I encourage you to spare 45 minutes.

You Have Got To be Saved.

The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved (Jer. 8:20),’ are the somewhat pathetic words of the nation of Judah. The question I want to ask is; Are they your words as well? They have a certain pertinence in that you are reading them in the November newsletter. That means, very literally, the summer has ended and harvest-time has past. It means as well that another year will soon be passed away. So is it true that you, yes you, are still not saved?

To make any issue of you being saved, we must immediately explain what it is to be saved. When the Philippian jailer was in a state of shock after an earthquake had shaken his prison he was forced to be suddenly faced with his weakness before God (see Acts 16:25-28). As a result he was fearful of what that meant for his future. Through the earthquake he had some taste of the great impending judgement of God and he was afraid. It is in that context that Paul mentions about how to be saved. So Paul urged him to “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31)”. Through believing in Jesus he will be saved from the real and anticipated suffering that comes under and through the wrath of God.

To be saved then, is very much connected with being rescued. It is about deliverance from danger; it is about salvation. When Paul said to the jailer that he must believe on the Lord Jesus he was indicating to the jailer that there was an escape from the terrible rigours of hell. But how is it that Jesus delivers us from this perilous future. It is because Jesus died for our sins. As Isaiah prophetically says But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities (Is. 53.:5a). The wrath that the jailer anticipated comes because of sin; my sin. However, the Lord Jesus died to take away our sins. So when we believe in Him truly we are turning from the foulness of our sins, and realising that we can be accepted with God and delivered from the wrath to come in and through Jesus Christ. This is salvation and as Peter declared Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Only in Jesus can we be saved.

So returning to our original question about being saved we ask, in an alternative fashion: has Jesus saved you? It is so important that you face this question. If you are not saved you face eternity under the righteous judgement of the Lord God Almighty because you have offended His holy majesty and decided that you don’t want him. This is terrible and it reminds us how offensive our sin and rebellion are to God. So you must be saved.

To be saved you need to realise the vile character of your sins and turn from them. You then need to look to Jesus Christ who died on the cross to bring salvation. You must turn to Him and believe. If you do then you will be saved.

Oh you must do this. Let nothing stop you. Which leads me to ask this November of you: What is stopping you if you are not saved. Salvation is on offer as God’s great gift to you. Is there a problem of understanding it? But it could not be simpler. You have a problem and that problem is your sin. There is one remedy for your problem and that is found in Jesus Christ. So heed the Word of Isaiah 45:22 ‘Turn to me and be saved all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

You say that you are just fine without Jesus Christ and you don’t understand this fuss about God, judgment and eternity. If this is your case then I urge to you to think and re-think. You may persuade yourself that life is OK here, but what of God and His judgment? His eternal judgment is real for those who die in their sins outside of Christ. If you die in your sins you face an angry God, fall under His judgement and anticipate an eternity of suffering: will that not make you to think?

Finally, you may have been made thoughtful about these matters through reading this, but you are thinking: I don’t know if I am saved. To which I say go and seek counsel from a Christian you trust. But most important go to God to seek to sort our the matter with Him. In particular test yourself by reading through 1 John. John said of his writings in that book: I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). So read I John to test whether you are really saved

And if you are saved. Then praise Him for His goodness. Thank Him for His salvation. And go live for Him.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of November 2016)


The Prosperity Gospel.

The Prosperity Gospel holds sway in a vast number of churches. It can also easily hold sway in our churches and our hearts as well. The Prosperity Gospel is very attractive and very popular, but it is a false teaching which is very harmful to those who fall under its influence.

What is the Prosperity Gospel? It is the message which declares that if you become a Christian then you will have health, wealth and happiness. Moreover, if you become a really good Christian then you will have lots and lots of health wealth and happiness. Accordingly, in order to seek to prove its truth the leaders of church and ministries, where this message declared, must be very wealthy, very healthy and very happy.

What underlies the message? Three issues cause the message to deviate from the truth of the Bible. These are wrong perspectives on God, His blessings and His desires or His people.

  • God is seen as a nice God who always brings nice things into the lives of His children. So if you have unpleasant things in your life then that proves God is not happy with you.
  • His blessings are viewed in a worldly way. The way of the world is that I am happy and I get what I want. So God’s blessings are viewed in terms of a healthy bank account a fit an healthy body and happy circumstances.
  • God is interested in me having a happy and comfortable life

Whereupon we must ask if these perspectives are not right then what should be the proper view of God, His blessings and His desire for his people.

  • God is the true god I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord (Jer. 9:24b). God is not focussed on exercising niceness. He is focussed on exercising grace and truth. So we notice of our Lord Jesus as He entered this world that he was full of grace and truth (see John 1:14).
  • Our blessings are not to be measured according to the measure of this world. Our blessings are connected to another world. Our blessings are not in ourselves, but in Christ (see Eph. 1:3)
  • God is interested in me being holy and having all my satisfaction in Himself.

The agenda of the Prosperity Gospel is based on the agenda of this world, whilst the agenda of the true gospel is focussed on the world to come. In working out His agenda, so very often God gives His people very painful circumstances in this world. God’s people do suffer. The Book of Job in the Old Testament with all of its 1070 verses, is devoted to this theme. The question that underlies this book is: Does Job trust God for what he can get from Him (the worldly way) or does he trust Him because of who He is (the godly way)?

In the New Testament we immediately see how God’s agenda is different with the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus. At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him (Mark 1:12-13). The Spirit of God sent the Lord to a hard place with hard experiences. But note that angels came from another world to sustain Him in the hardship.

And then we see with Paul how God sent a thorn in the flesh. Whatever that was, it was not nice. Let us read Paul’s account in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 as he looks back on this experience:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul suffered so that he would know the power of God.

We need to have these things rammed into our beings. We so easily think that God is being good to me only when I have good things and He is only answering my prayers when I get what I want. Yes thank the Lord when you do have blessings from him. Every meal you receive, for example, is an indication of His blessing. But remember you may have far more to thank God for through Him giving you a broken leg or him giving you a difficult colleague at work. This is because we learn far more when circumstances drive us to God than when everything is comfortable and we trust in our situations.

In the light of these things. I raise three concerns:

  • So many people are thinking they believe in Christ, but they do not believe in the true Christ. Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins so that we might be like him. To believe that Christ died to bring great things to me is a lie and takes people to eternal hell.
  • When bad things come into their lives so many (so-called?) Christians treat it as a blip in life and can say nothing about it. But when good things they are gushing with happiness. The true Christian knows that God is good in both and can worship Him in and through both.
  • The false gospel of prosperity promises you contentment in what you have and fails. The true gospel offers you acceptance in Christ and eternal blessing in Him and succeeds.

So be finished with the teachings of the likes of Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, David Oyedepo and Enoch Adeboye. But more subtly be finished with any thought that God is only working good when I am passing exams or earning lots of money or achieving lots of things.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of September 2016)


True Gospel / False Gospel

Some pertinent observations here as Tim Challies examines a Joel Osteen sermon.

Welcoming Them.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15b). Moreover we read in Luke 15:2b the Pharisees accusatory, but gloriously true phrase, that ‘This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.’ It is great when sinners come among us and we should be rejoicing when they come among us at church. The question comes though: how do we handle them when they do come among us?

I fear that so very often when people come among us our thought is to not to ‘gospelize’ them, but to ‘christianize’ them. What is the difference?

We gospelize people when we seek to introduce them to the great saving grace of God in Christ and His cross. We are praying for them that they will come and taste that the Lord is good. We don’t allow their awkward habits, disturbing lifestyle or morally iniquitous ways to divert us from this goal. Rather, winning them for Christ is what we are fixed on and we will not be diverted.

We christnsiaze people when we see people come among us and want to change their lifestyle because we believe it to be incompatible with our Christian ways. So for the transgender person who comes we start to engage in a rectification process so that birth sex and chosen gender cohere. and as for the couple engaging in fornication we counsel them to purer ways.

When we christianize and don’t gospelize we are putting the cart before the horse. The horse is conversion, the cart is a godly life.

I have written about this before here. We should be welcoming people relentlessly, but our welcome should be a gospel welcome.

If God Knows Everything…

…..and He therefore knows who is going to be saved then where does that leave me?

Many people get themselves into mental and spiritual fixes through their consideration of the sovereignty of God in salvation. One of the ways is to tangle themselves up over the issue about whether or not they are called to salvation.

The Lord Jesus faced this issue in Luke 13:22-24

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’  He said to them, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

He then went on to adumbrate the pain and bewilderment as those who thought they were saved, but had never entered into the door of salvation. Therefore they face eternal rejection and loss.

The approach of our Saviour is most instructive here. When the question about the number of people being saved was asked He did not get involved in a discussion about the electing purposes of God. Rather, He immediately challenged those in front of him to make sure that they are saved.

We do well to follow this example of Our LORD. When we are faced with questions about election and salvation the most important thing is to challenge those in front of us to repent and go through the open door which is offered to them in the Lord’s grace.

And if you are personally tangled up mentally and spiritually over this issue, my call to you, in the words of our Saviour is:  Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Don’t let Satan divert you from the lord’s direct call to you to repent and believe the gospel.

Harry And Meghan Get Wed

So what did you think about it; the Royal Wedding last Saturday that is? So much has been written about the event, in particular the sermon by Michael Curry. Accordingly, I hesitatingly throw my little bit into the ring of information and opinion.

  • After all the fanfare and grand entrance we had to listen to a man who seemed less than excited about what was happening. Could they have put someone on who had some more interest and engagement in his presentation. By the way it is important who leads and how we lead our church services.
  • The wording he read was grand though. Talking about husband and wife and the fact of a man and woman coming together being at the heart of marriage. Good to hear. Mmmmmmmh where does that leave same-sex marriage? Finished and in the grave one would hope! But such is a vain aspiration I fear.
  • Great to hear a confession of our Trinitarian God.
  • At least Justin Welby was somewhat more lively.
  • And then there is Mr Curry. Vast amounts have been written. Two most helpful contributions would be by Stephen Kneale here and David Robertson here. Here are some of my thoughts upon:
    • The fact that he spoke with passion and warmth seems to have taken people aback. How can we have got into such a state that people expect to come to church and hear something delivered in a cold and detached manner. Surely it should be de rigeur that we preach with warmth and passion. Now passion and warmth are incarnated and therefore will vary from person to person, but they must be there.
    • He did say some better things than most in a similar position have done. He did speak warmly of Jesus Christ.
    • However, let us be clear; he did not preach the gospel. It is shocking that people in evangelical circles can be thinking the he “preached the gospel.” Do we really understand what the gospel is? See here for my previous thoughts on this.
    • I am drawn back to Dr Lloyd Jones great teaching in his book on the Sermon on the Mount about how false teachers are known not by what they say, but by what they do not say. And normally that means lots of love and little sin and judgement which is exactly what was there on Saturday.
  • I’m not sure what place a rendition of “Stand by Me” had in the context of a church service. More suitable for the reception I would have thought. But that is all part of wanting to have church to make me feel good rather than being challenged about the call of God on our lives.
  • Hence, returning to Mr Curry’s sermon, it is all part of creating a certain view of God which is bolstered by a selective use of the Bible. Then we are encouraged to work ourselves into/towards this version God that has been revealed to us. And we all go away happy because this nice convenient God is now happy with us.
  • Whereas the love of God is truly experienced when I submit in all brokenness before this mighty God and am totally dependent upon Him to raise me up and bring me to Himself. Now that is the love of God.
  • The airbrushing of Meghan Markel’s divorce was interesting as well. No mention of it at all. Now I know the Christian gospel is all about forgiveness and restoration. But vows have been taken by Ms Markel previously and have not been fulfilled. Our society seems to be very casual about keeping your word and honoring vows. It is a startling thing about the Old Testament that vows were viewed in the highest regard. For a society to be bound well together, honoring of commitments is vital. It was all as if nothing had happened.
  • And then there is the magnificent white wedding dress. Yes it was respectable and all that. But is not the white wedding gown supposed to be a declaration of virginity? Which leaves me wondering?!

Just some thoughts.


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