The Weapons of our Warfare

Source: The Weapons of our Warfare

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The Weapons of our Warfare

When the subject of spiritual warfare is mentioned we often find two extremes, some see demons under every bed and others play down the notion of spiritual warfare. We have seen both extremes in our day in the pentecostal/charismatic movement we have had our fair share of extreme views.  In some other evangelical circles where Christianity always has to be nice and we are assured of constant blessing the nature of spiritual warfare is ignored or at least played down. The apostle Paul however never went to either extremes but he recognised the reality of the battle and in his teaching he maintained a sane and realistic approach to the subject, we need to recapture this approach in our own day because we are involved in spiritual warfare whether we like it or not. Paul’s approach does not give us any techniques or formulas but he gives us something far better and that is he emphasises that we can fight the war because we are in a relationship with the living God. Paul says this in his second letter to the Corinthian Church,

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.(2Corinthians Chapter 10:3-5)

Paul here is confident that he has the weapons that God has provided and it is interesting that when we find Paul speaking here and elsewhere  it is obvious that he sees two important factors for spiritual warfare and they are Spirit led praying and Spirit-empowered use of the word of God. He draws on both Old Testament teaching but he also must have known about the way Jesus engaged in spiritual warfare.

Prayer must be seen as an interactive relationship with our loving heavenly Father who is the holy and almighty God, although our relationship is intimate we must always remember that he is the sovereign Lord. Thus when we pray we are seeking his will and purpose not primarily trying to get our own way. We will never get anywhere in spiritual warfare unless we realise that we are in submission to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is only as we seek first the kingdom of God that we can make progress in the spiritual battle. We must realise that in submitting to God we are submitting to the one who loves with an everlasting love and cares deeply for us, it is true therefore to say that as we submit to God we will be blessed. As we submit to god and read his word we will realise that God has not promised to give us an easy life but he has promised to make us like Jesus, I want to be more and more like Jesus, do you? If your answer is yes then it is inevitable that you will be involved in a spiritual battle. We have within us many things that are broken and twisted that resist the Lordship of Christ and this needs to change. To say in prayer “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is heaven” is an acknowledgement that God’s ways are best. Sometimes that acknowledgement will mean that we wrestle with a problem over time in prayer at other times the Holy spirit will speak to us and empower us to fight the good fight of faith. But it is easy to ask how do I know what God’s will is and that leads me directly to my second point and that is our use of the Word of God.

The Word of God is crucial for spiritual warfare especially when we are called to tear down strongholds in the mind that contain false teaching but the word of God is essential for our daily walk with God. If Jesus used the Word of god in spiritual warfare how much more do I need to use it? The word of God is the only infallible rule for faith and practice, therefore we need to know the word of God, as we read we must remember that the same Holy Spirit who inspired the words of Scripture indwells us and is able and willing to make the word alive to us and illuminate its meaning. It is good to study using tools but we must always remember that event the best theologians are fallible and we should test their words against the Word of God. In the UK in many nonconformist Churches their is a an open Bible facing the congregation at all times ( this is a practice that goes back to the time of the Reformation), this is a symbolic reminder that we must test all that is said from the pulpit by the word.  Jesus in his temptations defeated Satan by the word of God. We can also do the same thing as Jesus did, if like Jesus we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And let us remember that the whole of Scripture is the sword of the Spirit and the Lord can help us to use the word to defeat Satan both in our own lives and in the lives of others as we witness to the Saving Grace of god our Saviour. The word of God is always fresh, the Bible is the only book that I know of that contains new insights for me constantly, I have been reading the Bible every day since the Autumn of 1969 and yet I never find it boring. I know of no other book than the Bible that can speak with profound relevance and in a life-changing manner. We need to prayerfully read the word of God expecting the Holy Spirit to bring it alive. If we allow the word of God to dwell within us, then when we need it the Holy Spirit reminds us of what it says. As we read and meditate upon the word of God the Holy Spirit uses it to speak to us and to arm us for the spiritual battle that is uniquely ours. But He also uses that same word to bring freedom to those who are enslaved by Satan, this is why C H Spurgeon always had a team of people praying in a separate room in his church as he preached the word of God. We are not using the Bible like some magic charm rather we are using it to hear what the living God has to say to us. We therefore comeback to the fact that we have a dynamic relationship with God that enables us to go forward into the spiritual battle humbly but confidently knowing that as we rely upon God he will empower us.

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Salvation,Power and Authority

In this post I want to look at the beginning of Luke 10, this passage raises some important issues for the Church today. I have heard people in the past using this passage especially Jesus words to the disciples about rejoicing that their names were written in heaven to downplay  the power of God. The argument goes that salvation is more important than power. Is this what Jesus is really saying? I don’t think so, I believe that Jesus is reminding the disciples that their power and authority are there because they are saved. Salvation is not just some intellectual acceptance of the gospel but putting our whole trust in the person of our Lord Jesus, in this sense salvation emphasises a living relationship. When we become power orientated we tend to lose sight of our relationship with Jesus. When Jesus is at the centre, we look to him for power and authority, Christian discipleship is one of utter dependence upon the Lord. Let us now look at Luke,

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two a others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 ‘When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 ‘When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal those there who are ill and tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God has come near.” 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

In this passage Jesus commission the seventy-two for mission, he makes it quite clear to them that they go in his power and authority, this is evidenced in the fact that they are told to say that the Kingdom of God has drawn near to all those they minister to. They go out depending upon god’s provision for them as they minister, they go out in poverty knowing that God will provide through those they are witnessing to, many modern missionaries have proved the same faithfulness of God as the disciples did long ago. They have received the authority to declare the good news which includes the fact that God heals today and that he delivers from the power of the evil one. Their message is one that bring wholeness and healing to the whole person, it is not just words but rather power-filled words which accomplish God’s mission. It is vital that we see that this as true today as it was for the disciples, many of us have seen God’s healing power in our own bodies and also experienced deep emotional healing as the Lord has set us free. My own testimony is on this site see It is vital therefore that we see the reality of God’s power in the lives of believers today. Robert Gundry in his commentary on Acts 10 says,

Luke refers to Jesus as “the Lord” to identify him as “the Lord of the harvest” in 10:2. The appointment of seventy-two in addition to the already chosen Twelve (6:12–16) points forward to a worldwide mission in the book of Acts. The Twelve have already gone on a mission (9:1–6). The mission of the seventy-two therefore marks an expansion. Jesus’ sending them “by twos” prefigures the pairing of his witnesses in Acts 3–4 (Peter and John), 13–14 (Paul and Barnabas), 15:40–18:22 (Paul and Silas [compare Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15 on the sufficiency of testimony by two or three witnesses]).

Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 273). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

These comment helpfully show that this is an illustration of what the outworking of the Great Commission would look like. Luke record this account not just because it is history but because it fits the structure of his theology of mission which he sets forth in Luke-Acts. The Western Church has tended to see the fulfillment of the great commission in terms of preaching and it will always include that but it also must include the powerful working of God the Holy Spirit as he glorifies Christ through word and deed.

Those who receive the good news are blessed indeed but those who reject it are in an awful position under the judgement of God, we tend to tone this down today but Jesus is quite clear that judgement will come upon all who reject the gospel. Listen to what Jesus has to say,

13 ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.
16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.’

We must note the seriousness of these warnings that Jesus strongly but lovingly gives. Jesus has ministered to these areas showing the love and compassion of God but in many cases he finds unbelief. The Lord takes this very seriously and so should we. Note that he does not just denounce but first he shows the love and graciousness of God to them and it is only after this is rejected that he denounces them. Some people start with denouncing the sinner before showing God’s grace, attempting to frighten people into the kingdom but Jesus denounces after the good news has has been rejected.  Jesus tells the disciples that whoever rejects them also is rejecting him, this is because the disciples mission is the mission of Jesus. We need to realise that as we fulfill the great commission in words and deeds we are participating in the mission of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, we also have the promise that Jesus will be with us to the end of the age. This story is not just one that applies to the times of Jesus but one that applies to today, realising this we need to look at how Jesus dealt with the results of that mission.

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’
18 He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
22 ‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.’

The disciples come back rejoicing in the fact that the spirits submit to them in Jesus name and we can understand this but Jesus wants them to rejoice in the great facts of their salvation. their names being written in heaven should give them great security because Satan has no access to heaven, they are protected by the power of God.

It is important to notice that when Jesus rejoices in what has happened to and through the disciples it is because he is filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus shows us what it means to be a Spirit-filled man. Sometimes people think that being Spirit- filled will make them weird that is not true, being Spirit-filled will make us more like Jesus. The mission of God can only be accomplished through the Holy Spirit as he imparts to us the authority and power of the risen Christ. This passage shows to us what can be accomplished by ordinary people when they take the commission of Jesus seriously, may we be such people.

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where does true wisdom come from?

Paul when he writes to the Church at Colossae is concerned to show the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ, the Colossians were tempted to follow some very clever sounding teachers who would lead them away from Christ. The temptation is to see heavenly intermediaries between God and man and these can be accessed if you have true knowledge which is obtained through initiation into the mysteries. Paul sees all this as a distraction from the true fullness of Christ and he wants the Church at Colossae to be healthy and vibrant in their mature walk with the Lord. We confront the same problem today when spiritual techniques are used which take away from the centrality of Christ. Our culture is an entertainment culture which wants instant gratification and sadly these attitudes soon come into the church. One hears of techniques by which one can get rich and live a long life full of blessing and free from sickness. Many believers are finding that the promises that were made to them at conferences are hollow. But we must make sure that we do not as a result turn our faith into something that is just intellectual, we run scared of any experience because some have exploited us. Paul sees the nature of faith to be Christ-centered and therefore he emphasises the relationship we have with the living God. Paul wants believers to grow in understanding so that they mature in their faith and their relationship with God and one another is deepened.

Paul had this to say to the Church at Colossae

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

(The New International Version. (2011). (Col 2). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)

Paul wants believers to be encouraged in heart and united in love and he realises that this is the path to spiritual growth and understanding, He wants them to have knowledge, he wants them to realise the greatness of their salvation and the amazing riches of that salvation but that can only be achieved by fellowship in the Church and a united seeking of Christ together. Christ is at the centre of the Christian life and he should be at the centre of the Church. If we want to know more of the reality of our Christian faith we need to be united in love and encouraged in heart

Paul goes on to show the  true knowledge of God and spiritual reality are to be found in Christ alone, it is in him that we find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Notice that although Paul speaks out against false teaching, he is very much in favour of Christ-centered teaching but notice this that Paul never divorces our knowledge from our relationship with Christ. Too many people have got taken up with trying to work out theological problems without a humble dependence upon the Lord.

Paul warns the Colossians about false teachers and teaching in this letter many times and he does so very clearly in this next section,

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

The New International Version. (2011). (Col 2:8). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Paul here is attacking false ways of thinking which depend on human tradition and the forces of evil, he certainly is not opposed to a philosophy that is based on the word of God. Down the centuries the Church has been well served by many who have exposed false philosophy and replaced it with solid biblical teaching, for example Irenaeus, Augustine, Calvin,Kuyper, Dooyeweerd and Schaeffer. Once more Paul is telling us to base all of our thinking on the revelation of God in Christ. This will mean that like Jesus we will honour the word of God in Scripture, we need to be people of the book because here we hear the voice of God speaking to us. he goes on to spell out the importance of a Christ-centered faith in the following verses.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The New International Version. (2011). (Col 2:9–15). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Notice that it is in Christ all the fulness of the Deity dwells, here is a profound truth which is also a great mystery here we see the risen Christ and indeed the incarnate Christ as one who is truly God and truly man. And it is in Christ alone that we find fulness, notice that Paul emphasise the power and authority of Christ. Paul emphasises these things so that we might realise how great our salvation is.  Faith in Christ brings about newness of life in the believer, we are raised from spiritual death by the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Once again we are reminded of the centrality of the cross because it is here that we find forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus has disarmed those powers that are against us and he has done so through the triumph of the cross.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
The New International Version. (2011). (Col 2:16–23). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Paul then warns against falling into legalistic practices and teachings, we are not bound by man-made traditions but rather we find all we need in God’s revelation to us in Christ Jesus and through him in the Holy Scriptures. Having been raised in a legalistic tradition I know what a hindrance man-made laws can be and how hard it can be to rid ourselves of them. It is therefore good to reject legalism before it enslaves us and takes our eyes from looking to Christ.

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The Trinitarian Theology of Stanley J Grenz by Jason S Sexton: A short boook review

This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the theological writings of Stanley Grenz, here we find a clear scholarly analysis of Grenz theological position. I hope particularly that those who have been critical of Grenz will read this book because it demonstrates convincingly that Grenz stood in the Great Tradition as far as the doctrine of Trinity is concerned. It must be emphasised that this work does not answer all the questions some will have in regards to the theology of Stanley Grenz, I am sure that some will say that post-foundationalism should have been treated in greater depth but that is to miss the point of the book.

Chapter 1 leads us into the theological program and methodology pursued by Grenz and deals with some of the criticisms levelled against him. For me the most interesting part of this chapter was the section dealing with Grenz’s methodology, the section on the sources of theology is particularly illuminating and demonstrates to my mind that Grenz was using a genuinely evangelical methodology whilst addressing contemporary issues.

Chapters 2 and 3 are an enlightening examination of the influence of Pannenberg on Grenz, here we see that Grenz was not a slavish follower of Pannenberg but rather he  critically adapted Pannenberg’s insights into his own theological thought. He was particularly influenced by Pannenberg’s emphasis on the Trinity.

Chapter 4 shows the development of Grenz’s thought in developing his doctrine of the trinity, here we find an examination of the development of his thinking from the time he was taught by Lewis and Demarest until the time he published “Theology for the Community of God” here we see that Grenz has embraced the idea of the social trinity. Personally I have always been fascinated by Grenz’s emphasis on community both as regards the trinity and in regards to the Imago Dei, this is because in 1976 I had developed a view of the image of God in man in which I described man as an individual-communal creature, this concept I had used to critique both Marxism and Liberation Theology.  I had purchased Theology for the Community of God soon after it was published in the UK because of this interest in the concept of community.

Chapter 5 helpfully guides us through the developing thought of Stanley Grenz regarding the doctrine of the trinity, this chapter takes us in depth through the various stages of Grenz’s trinitarian doctrine, although this chapter is not an easy read it is worth the effort because one begins to understand the issue Grenz dealt with until his untimely death in 2005. Here we see that Grenz was steeped in not only modern theological reflection but was also aware of patristic writing both of the east and the west. It is interesting to see that Augustine was an influence upon his thinking. This chapter will challenge the reader to be more careful in their critique of Grenz but it is also an example to us of good theological research (both by Grenz and Sexton). We need to see that Sexton has shown clearly in this chapter that Grenz was a trinitarian theologian who realised that the Triune God could not be easily classified and because of this was willing to develop his thinking in his response to theological challenges and primarily to his growing understanding of divine revelation.

Chapter 6 is a very interesting introduction to Genz’s concept of the Imago Dei, Grenz rightly grappled with the issue of the implications of the doctrine of the trinity in its relationship to biblical anthropology. What is helpful here is that Grenz moves beyond the rationalistic views of the Imago Dei to a more relational concept. Sexton shows how this functions in several aspects of theological thinking including ecclesiology, I was hoping that there would be some discussion of the social implications of this doctrine but here I believe that Sexton is just demonstrating the flow of Grenz’s thought. I have in the past tried to find references to the social implications of this in Grenz’s writing and I wonder if he realised what a powerful tool he has given us to critique both Marxism and Capitalism. I have commented above about my own development of the concept of the Imago Dei and I will not repeat that here.

Chapter 7 is a very interesting discussion of Grenz’s trinitarian ethics, here we see Grenz the theologian grappling with theological and ethical issues that have pastoral implications. Sexton demonstrates that whilst Grenz deals with the modern world in all its complexity he does so with a pastoral heart that desires to be faithful to divine revelation. This chapter helps us to see how Grenz was God-centered in  his ethic and how this impacts his thinking.

Chapter 8, brings the book to a close with a look at how Grenz has been received and Sexton demonstrates that Grenz theology was “A comprehensive conservative evangelical project” I know some will disagree with this evaluation but to do so is to ignore the clear argument of this book. I fear that some have labeled Grenz as being post-conservative or even post-modernist and are not really open to the excellent research that that this book contains.

I recommend this book to all who want to understand the theology of Stanley Grenz, it is also an example of good theological research which will stimulate us in our task to be better thinkers and theologians.

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The Greatness, Humility And Glory of God Our Saviour

Too often when we isolate one aspect of who God is we  miss the riches of his self-revelation, I realise that in this post I will do this because when one considers the greatness of God that is inevitable. The way the Triune God of grace works cannot be confined to a few words in a blog post but I will attempt to bring together some aspects of who God is that we normally forget. The title of this article gives a hint of the direction in which I am moving.

The Greatness of God, when we think of this term we normally think of the exalted nature of God who as the creator God is sovereign overall, the sustainer of creation, this God is also the one who is Holy and therefore we like Isaiah will realise our sinfulness before this awesome God( see Isaiah 6). Yet it is at this very point we see another aspect of his greatness the wonder of his grace, Isaiah is not consumed by his meeting with this Holy God but cleansed and transformed. We will not want to diminish the greatness of God in anyway but rather glory in it.

The Humility of God, God has humbled himself in many ways starting with the revelation of his grace in the Garden of Eden, every act of revelation is the act of God stooping to our level so that we might come to know him. We see this supremely in the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, he humbled himself to take on true humanity setting aside the glory of heaven so that he might become our Saviour. He was born in humble circumstances and lived among the poor and needy of this world, the creator of this world tasted true poverty. Yet we see the climax of his humility in his willingness to di upon the cross for the sake of our sins. There is no more humiliating way to die than crucifixion and yet he willingly went to the cross. It is on the cross that he gained his greatest victory, his victory cry was “itis finished” he knew that he had accomplished what he had set out to do. The resurrection is the vindication of all that Jesus achieved in his earthly ministry. But it does not stop there he intercedes for his people in heaven, he still cares for us.

In this talk of the humility of god is it just Jesus that humbles himself, the Biblical narrative tells a different story. The Father has been communicating his love to the world since time began and that very act of revelation is an act of humility. We can also see this in the way he sustains and guide his Son while he is on earth.

The Holy spirit humbles himself by indwelling believers and testifying to the truth of the gospel. We worship a God who is not far off but rather is present with us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Glory of God, God is glorified through the salvation of sinners and when we look at the book of Revelation and see the exalted Lord Jesus, we are drawn to one who cares for his people and sends His Spirit to speak to them of his love, grace and his authority as Lord of all. TheGod who could have justly condemned us for our sin is the one who by extending his grace to us gets all the glory. Yes he is high and lifted up , the Almighty but as such he is the god of grace who humbles himself to redeem his fallen creation.

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How Should We Vote?

In te United Kingdom we are facing one of the most closely contested elections in our history, the opinion polls are all united in one fact no one and that is no one can predict the outcome. With the arrival of UKIP and the Greens as national parties and the increase of nationalism in Scotland and Wales the next Parliament could look very different from the present one. Some suggest that we will end up with minority government. In this context Christians need to consider how they will vote.

Some organisations are trying to mobilise Christians to vote on a one issue basis, emails are being sent out telling us that we should vote for this one because they opposed gay marriage or because they are anti-abortion. This is not a sufficiently broad basis for us to make our minds up on. We are faced with the fact that the leaders of the three major parties all support both gay marriage and abortion. That is why it was so easy for parliament to change the marriage laws so that we now have departed from our Christian foundation in this area. Some Christians are taking the attitude that all parties are bad so I will not vote, this leads to the fact that our voice as Christians will not be heard, we need to vote and take part in the democratic process in accordance with Christian principles. Let me spell out some principles that should affect our decision making.

Firstly God is Sovereign over all thing and that includes the United Kingdom, the ultimate sovereignty that we recognise is not the Queen or the people but that of God, as Christians we are called to live out lives in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We are therefore people who realise that the principles that should guide us are found in the pages of the Bible.

Secondly, The dignity and importance of all human life, all people are made in the image of God and must be treated with the love and respect that God has commanded us to give. There is no room for Racism or totalitarian ideas in the Christian framework. The Christian view is naturally pro-life but this must not be seen in a narrow sense. To be pro-life logically means to be opposed to immoral armaments that cause mass destruction as well as being opposed to abortion and euthanasia. To be pro-life means to seek true justice for all. The danger is that if we conceive the idea too narrowly we will end up electing people who will have unjust policies in other areas. For more on this see

Thirdly, Economic Justice, the Bible is concerned about the plight of the poor and indeed in the Laws of Jubilee sets forth a mechanism for the redistribution of wealth. The prophets denounced those who exploit and called for justice in society, Jesus came with good news for the poor. This means that we must oppose the whole concept of zero-hours contracts where people are exploited not knowing whether they will be able to work or not. On the other extreme bankers and other business men are lining their pockets with unjust bonuses even when their companies are being bailed out by the government. I wonder at times if we should introduce a maximum wage to stop this unjustified income.

International Justice, We need to maintain aid to poor countries to suggest otherwise is to avoid our responsibilities as a nation, for years as a colonial power we exploited these same nations and we should make amends through giving aid to them now.

We also need to remember that we serve the Prince of Peace and we must be seeking true wholeness in the world. This world is a dangerous place and it is our task to be agents of the Kingdom of God as such we are called to  bring truth and reconciliation to bear in the in the international situation. In the West we have been quick to condemn other nations for having weapons of mass destruction yet we cling onto our nuclear weapons. The use of nuclear weapons can never be justified from a biblical point of view, their use goes against any just war theory let alone the Biblical injunctions, to not destroy fruit trees etc. This nation was wrong in its way that it bombed Dresden in the second world war, nothing can justify such carnage. So we need to ask of our political parties will they work for peace.

Thirdly caring for people. The National Health Service is under threat from many quarters and we must strive to protect it, so that it can go on providing first-class medical treatment to all who need it. We must make sure that it stays a free service so that medical bills are not added to everybody’s daily concerns. The NHS I was always taught and I believe today enshrines so much of value from our Christian past.

We need also to be active in supporting any attempts that deal with the modern day slavery of human trafficking, We must make sure that those who are doing these things are brought to Justice but we must seek the restoration and healing of the oppressed.

I can not and will not tell anyone who to vote for but these are among the principles that I will apply to reading the Party Manifestos when they are published in the coming few days.

We need to be praying that the number of Christian Members of Parliament will be increased and that the group “Christian in Parliament” may increase in numbers and through that the cause of Christ will be advanced in Westminster. For more details about the work of Christians in Parliament see their website

For more useful information see the Christians in Politics website

and also the Kirby Laing Institute of Christian Ethics website


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Romans 13 and The Christian View of the State

Romans 13 is placed in the flow of Paul’s letter as a whole and can not be divorced from its context without doing violence to it. Paul is speaking to Roman Christians about how they should live the Christian life. He has just been talking about the fact that the Christian should not take vengeance. He then show that government is instituted to deal with this very problem, we must realise that Paul here is dealing with a specific pastoral problem, he is not writing a treatise on the state but rather dealing with some aspects of our relationship to those who govern us. But this teaching applies to us today as part of God’s word to us and we must take it seriously.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour. (Ro 13:1–7)

We are confronted here with a problem because we don’t want to think of the Roman Empire and its governmental structures as being ordained by God but Paul says that they were.We tend to read back our democratic society into scripture but of course democracy would not exist for many centuries. It is therefore important that we wrestle with the fact the Roman Christians were called to submit to the state. Now of course we must remember that Paul at times disobeyed the state when it required him to disobey God’s law, Paul is not calling to blind obedience but rather submission to the state in all that coheres with God’s law. Paul would have agreed with Samuel Rutherford that the law is king, that is God’s law of course. We are not to rebel against the state but rather work for change in a peaceful manner. Government is ordained of God to be the agent of justice and of course this raises the knotty problem of totalitarian governments, should the Christian seek the overthrow by violent means of such a government. I believe that violent revolution can never be justified by this or any other passage of the Bible. Rather we are to seek to work for change within the societies we live in, as Paul and the early church demonstrated the best way to do that is to proclaim the gospel.

Christians live under the Lordship of Christ and his word, iot is to him we are accountable and we must proclaim that Christ is Lord of everything but this does not mean that we can treat others with contempt, This passage and other parts of Scripture call us to honour and respect those in authority over us. There is no legitimate way to sidestep this command, some people have suggested that in a democracy the people are king but that is to read an Enlightenment concept back into the Bible. The idea that that the people are king owes more to Rousseau’s idea of a social contract than it it does to the Bible. We also need to see the the consequences of man being king has, if one looks in the book of Judges everyone was doing what he thought was right in his own eyes. The book of Judges in many ways reflects the consequences of abandoning God’s standards as the Western world has done. (For evidence of this read the works of Francis Schaeffer)

Looking at these words seriously from a Christian worldview means that I have to realise that even bad government is better than anarchy. We live in a fallen world and have to wrestle with the problems that brings but wherever God’s law is maintained we must support it even if we don’t like the form of government, when unjust governments require us to do something that is against God’s law we must resist them non-violently. We have the example of Daniel and the Apostles in how this can be done. As Christians we are called to work for the implementation of Biblical standards for some examples of this see my

In summary we should seek to be good citizen, showing the glory of the risen Christ in all we say and do, declaring to a lost and needy world that true life is found in Christ alone. Whatever type of society we are called to live in we will model the respect that god demands of us from those he has placed in authority over us, and yet resisting these same authorities when they command us to do things contrary to the word of God. But even our resistance must be a gracious but firm resistance, we will not dishonour those in authority even when standing against their evil deeds.

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A Great Salvation and a Glorious Saviour

The writer of the Hebrews in chapter 2 of his epistle continues to meditate on the glory of Christ and in so doing reminds his readers of the greatness of their salvation. Michael Bird (See his “Evangelical Theology”) says our theology should be shaped by the gospel, this passage shows how right he is. This passage is full of deep insights into the nature of our salvation. So remembering these things let us turn to the passage itself.

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.(Heb 2:1–4).

Here we are called to pay attention to te gospel, this is a glorious message not some cheap thing but rather was achieved by the eternal son of god coming down to earth to work out our salvation for us. We are called to faithfulness in a world which pressurises us to accept its agenda. To give into the pressures of the world is to be distracted from Christ. Notice that the miracles etc confirm the salvation brought about by Jesus. Sometimes we get taken up with dwelling on miracles themselves instead of looking to the author of those miracles. It is also important to note that it is the Holy Spirit who imparts gifts according to the will of God.

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor
and put everything under their feet.”,

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb 2:5–18).

The writer cannot stress strongly enough the glory and dignity of Jesus and yet he also stresses that because of his gracious glory he is a great Saviour.Everything in the created order is to be subject to Christ and yet he is the one who reaches down and pulls us up out of the pit of sin. He suffered so that he could bring many people to glory, he came to share our humanity so that it could be redeemed. The amazing fact about this portrayal of Christ is that he is undescribably glorious and yet at the same time he is very close to each one of us. The writer does not use the glory of Christ to intimidate us, but rather to encourage us. He is a powerful Saviour and that that is what we need but he also understand us intimately. He knows our temptations because he too has suffered temptation. But far above it all we need to remember that he died to defeat Satan and therefore destroy the fear of death.

another aspect that is brought out is that Jesus in not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters, rather it his desire to bring many people into the family of God. This passage shows that our Saviour is the glorious one who has redeemed us and has called us to himself. He sustains us in our faith as we draw near to him.

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A Change of Heart by Thomas C Oden.

I am reading this book at present it is written in a most engaging style and takes you right into the life not only of Oden but also of the theological debates of the past 60 years. But the book also describes his boyhood and his family life. Oden was to become a “centrist-Bultmannian” (his term) and was advocating a form of situation ethics. He was involved in political action of a leftist character. I find it interesting to find so many of the authors that I read in the sixties when I was involved in political campaigning mentioned on these pages.

But Oden was to have a confrontation that changed his theology and indeed his relationship to God, his whole perspective changed as he read the Church Fathers, he now is a defender of classic Christian theology and defends the historicity of the incarnation and the resurrection. Oden’s writings have stimulated an interest in the Ancient Christian Community and I believe many are like me and have shown a greater interest in the Church Fathers as a result of this.

I believe this quotation shows the heart of what Oden believes,

“Theology is the study of God. The study of God is simply to be enjoyed for its own incomparable subject, the One most beautiful, most worthy to be praised. Life with God delights in its very acts of thinking,reading, praying and communing with the One most worthy to be beheld, pondered and studied,not for its written artifacts or social consequences but for joy in its object”

One cannot say more than that.

I hope this book gets a wide readership, all who read it will gain insights into the life of a great man who serves with humility our great and glorious God.

I will edit this post when I have finished reading the book but I felt it was too good to wait until I had concluded reading it.

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