Dear praying friends,
On 2 separate occasions in early December my attention was drawn to the incident in the life of Matthew Henry some 300+ years ago when the gifted Bible Commentator was robbed and in his diary at the close of that day he wrote ‘Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed’. That story was fresh in my mind when on 15th December whilst moving boxes in our roof space I, through my own negligence, fell out the opening up into our roof space and landed some 7 feet below on the broad of my back on our landing. I managed to get myself up onto our bed and as I lay there I thought of Matthew Henry and I simply prayed something along these lines ‘Let me be thankful first, because I have never fallen out of a roof space before; second, because although I am battered and bruised I’m not paralysed or killed; third, because although it was a big fall, the least possible has happened; and fourth, because it was I who fell and not Margaret’. To all who so regularly pray for the well being of Margaret and myself I say ‘thank you’ and I supremely thank the Lord that He cared when I was careless. As you will see from the enclosed schedule of meetings, Bob Liichow has not been able, due to family commitments, to come in April so I’m delighted to welcome back Alan Morrison to address the topic of ‘God [channel] TV’. Your prayers and attendance where possible will be welcomed.
Your servant for Christ
- ‘Christianophobia’ and The BBC
In recent years two particular ‘phobias’ have been increasingly highlighted in this supposedly ever-so ‘politically correct’ world that we are now living in. These two phobias are ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘Homophobia’. A search of the Internet under ‘Dictionary’ led me http://dictionary.reference.com/
A search using the word ‘ISLAMOPHOBIA’ revealed one entry, defined as – ‘prejudice against Muslims’ and the source for this definition was listed as WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University.
A search using the word ‘HOMOPHOBIA’ revealed three entries, defined as –
First entry:- Fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men. Behaviour based on such a feeling.
The source for this definition was listed as The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
Second entry:- irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.
The source for this definition was listed as Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
Third entry:- prejudice against (fear or dislike of) homosexual people and homosexuality.
The source for this definition was listed as WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University.
A search using the word ‘CHRISTIANOPHOBIA’ produced this message – No entry found for Christianophobia. No suggestions were found.
So, according to this website there is no suitable word to define – ‘Fear of or contempt for Christians. Behaviour based on such a feeling. Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Christianity or Christians. Prejudice against (fear or dislike of) Christian people and Christianity’.
That being the case perhaps I may be permitted to officially coin the word ‘CHRISTIANOPHOBIA’ and ascribe to it the official definition of – ‘Fear of or contempt for Christians. Behaviour based on such a feeling. Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Christianity or Christians. Prejudice against (fear or dislike of) Christian people and Christianity’.
Why have I felt the need to introduce the word ‘CHRISTIANOPHOBIA’? Well, it seems to me that what is construed to be any ‘phobia’, by Christians in particular, against non-Christian faiths or beliefs or against unconventional or what are officially termed ‘alternative’ life-styles simply will not be tolerated in today’s world. In contrast to this the world at large is zealous to sanction, by whatever means, all efforts to stamp out the exclusive, biblical, Christian message that salvation is only found in “Jesus Christ and him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2]. In the days of Noah, God determined that He would destroy all that was evil and wicked and displeasing to Him by means of a global flood and we read of how “the fountains of the great deep [were] opened up and the windows of heaven were opened’ [Genesis 7:11]. This in part describes how that global flood engulfed the entire world in those days. Well as I look at events around the world today it would appear that ‘the fountains of great and deep depravity have been opened up and the windows of hell have been opened’ with the purpose of destroying all that is good and righteous and pleasing to God. My Bible speaks of such a time in Revelation 12:12 “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time’. The forces of evil seem determined to wipe out all preaching of the Christian Gospel and to totally discredit and render illegal the proclamation of righteous living that is demanded by and pleasing to the God of the Bible. I want now to highlight just two events that point to and identify the role of The BBC in ‘Christianophobia’.
1. On Saturday 8th January 2005, BBC2 Television, despite having received, in advance of its screening, an unprecedented record number of protests in excess of 45,000 went ahead with a 2 hour broadcast of Jerry Springer – The Opera. The Director General of The BBC, Mark Thompson, who described himself as a ‘practising Christian’ [Roman Catholic] stated that in his view the programme was not blasphemous. The Collins English Dictionary defines blasphemy as ‘any action that insults, offends or vilifies the Deity, Christ of the Christian Religion’. In this ‘opera’ one sequence portrayed the Lord Jesus as using vile and profane language and He was also quoted as alleging that He was sexually immoral and thus sinful. By allowing this blasphemy, for that is what is was, to be broadcast, The BBC was guilty of ‘Christianophobia’.
2. On Tuesday 26th October 2004 the Pause For Thought slot on BBC 2 Radio’s Wake up to Wogan was presented by retired Anglican Bishop Roy Williamson. This contribution occurred during The BBC’s ‘World of Faith Week. Would this presentation by Mr Williamson lift high the unique Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of a week of devilish promotion of Multi- Faithism? Here is the text of what Roy Williamson said –
Terry, for most of our schools this is half-term week, so I’ve been surrounded by a relaxed family having a ‘wail’ of a time looking through old photographs and pulling my leg. The children just couldn’t stop laughing and making rude comments like ‘would you look at that hair-cut‘ and, ‘Dad, where on earth did you get that hat?’ But there was one family photograph that grabbed their attention for a totally different reason. It was taken at the time of the first Gulf War and pictured the leaders of another family, the Family of Faiths in Bradford. Together with Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu colleagues, I sat around a small table on which stood a single lighted candle. We had spent an hour in silent prayer holding in our thoughts a common concern for reconciliation and peace. It was a photograph that drew lots of media attention – and rightly so, for it spoke volumes about the shared values that unite faiths rather than divide them. Some are hesitant about relating to people of other Faiths lest they have to compromise their own. But my experience in Bradford and elsewhere has taught me that in working for peace through reconciliation no faith need lose its integrity. Like the spokes of a wheel that come together the closer they get to the hub, so, the closer people of faith get to their God, the centre or hub of their faith, the closer they get to one another. That is something which is not just desirable, it is vital for the peace of the world; for the only future we have is a future together.
The Word of God totally rejects and demolishes the underlined lie peddled by Mr Williamson that as people get closer to ‘their God’ whether that ‘god’ be Allah, Krishna, Shiva etc or the One True God revealed in the Scriptures and Incarnate in the Person of Jesus Christ, [‘Immanuel – God with us] the closer they get to one another and that such ‘closeness’ ‘is vital for the peace of the world’. The Christian truth on this issue is found in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Who said “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth, I tell you, Nay, but rather division” [Luke 12:51]. By putting out such an unchallenged broadcast The BBC are once more guilty of ‘Christianophobia’. My personal hope is that the days of the compulsory BBC licence fee may be numbered for it seems grossly unjust that Christians should be compelled to fund programmes that are guilty of being part of a deliberate strategy of ‘Christianophobia’. [UK readers please consider carefully the ‘Jerry Springer’ enclosure].
- Don’t take your cue from Steve Chalke [Part 2]
In another article that I wrote recently called ‘Moral Crusades and The Gospel’ I quoted a saying by a former Pastor of mine. Well once more I want to quote one of the sayings of this former Pastor and it was this ‘When a half-truth is proclaimed as the whole truth it becomes a lie’. Why do I quote this saying? Well at the heart of Steve Chalke’s book ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ I believe that ‘a half-truth is being proclaimed as the whole truth and as a result it has become a lie’. On page 63 Steve Chalke writes ‘The Bible never defines God as anger, power or judgement – in fact it never defines him as anything other than love. But more than that it never makes assertions about his anger, power or judgement independently of his love. So, though we read about his various attributes, in reality they are, as Karl Barth points out never more than “repetitions and amplifications of the one statement that God loves”.’
In this statement Steve Chalke acknowledges that the Bible does reveal some of the ‘attributes’ of God as being ‘anger, power and judgement’ but he asserts, along with Karl Barth, that the one factor that guides God when exercising His ‘attributes’ is His ‘love’ so that any exercise of ‘anger, power or judgement’ is in reality an expression or as Karl Barth puts it a ‘repetition and amplification’ of God acting in ‘love’. Can I just say that I find that assertion ‘hard to swallow’ when I read of how God moved in ‘anger, power and judgement’ against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Was it really God’s ‘love’ that caused Him to exercise His attributes of ‘anger, power and judgement’ when He reigned down fire and brimstone [see Genesis 19:15-29 and Jude 7] upon these dens of iniquity and destroyed them?
I do believe that there is a factor that does guide God when He exercises His ‘attributes’, but I do not believe that it is His ‘love’ and in fact I believe that His ‘love’ is itself guided by this other factor. Steve Chalke wrote that in the Bible ‘it never defines him [God] as anything other than love’. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! In my Bible I read this truth in 1 John 1:5 “GOD IS LIGHT and in him is no darkness at all” and Paul, writing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:16 speaks of God “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto”.
What truth did John, under divine inspiration, want to convey when he wrote, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all?” To answer that let me quote Pastor John MacArthur from his devotional thoughts for October 4 in his book ‘Strength for Today’ when he considers the verse 1 John 1:5 “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” – Pastor MacArthur wrote ‘Light and darkness are familiar metaphors in Scripture. Intellectually, light refers to truth, and darkness to error; morally light refers to holiness, and darkness to evil. Intellectually, the Bible reveals God as the God of truth…Morally, light describes God’s absolute holiness and separation from evil…Understanding the truth that “God is light” is foundational to dealing with sin in our lives.’ I would like to add to this last statement and to say that ‘Understanding the truth that “God is light” is foundational to God’s dealing with our sin’.
The truth that the Bible reveals as being the guiding factor for God as He exercises His ‘attributes’ is not as Steve Chalke asserts God’s ‘love’ but rather it is God’s ‘holiness’ – an inherent ‘holiness’ that totally sets Him apart from His whole creation. Jesus Christ was “Emmanuel…God with us” [Matthew 1:23] and He was “God…manifest in the flesh’ [1 Timothy 3:16] and John MacArthur gives this telling explanation concerning the Incarnate Christ in his book ‘The Murder of Jesus’ [p71-72] – ‘When Christ took on human flesh, he also took on Himself all the natural weaknesses of humanity – except those that are inherently sinful. Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”…Christ experienced every infirmity of human nature except for sin’. This explanation by Pastor MacArthur explains why Christ could declare in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world” and why He could say in John 14:30 “the prince [of darkness – Acts 26:18] of this world cometh and hath nothing in me”. Jesus Christ, the one in whose resurrected presence Thomas confessed “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28], is supremely “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” [Hebrews 7:26]. In His presence, we read that Peter one day “fell down at Jesus’ knees saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man O Lord” [Luke 5:8]. In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican we read in Luke 18:13 “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner”. Why did Peter and the publican both react in such a fashion – they had become aware of the ‘holiness’ of God. Their eyes had been opened to recognise the truth that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all”.
Another character in the Bible, the prophet Isaiah, was like-wise compelled to cry out one day in anguish of soul, “Woe is me! For I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” [Isaiah 6:5]. Isaiah had been granted a vision of God in His heaven and was it God’s ‘love’ that caused him to cry out in anguish – absolutely not! In that vision, the angelic beings around the Throne of God were not crying out ‘love, love, love’ – no – they were crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” [Isaiah 6:3]. Isaiah had received an overwhelming revelation of the absolute ‘holiness’ of God that is perfectly summed up in 1 John 1:5 that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all”.
Having watched the God of Heaven move in ‘anger, power and judgement’ against the pursuing armies of Pharaoh by drowning them in the Red Sea [Exodus 14: 13-31] we read in Exodus 15:1-10 that “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord…The Lord is my strength…he is become my salvation…The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea…Thy right hand O Lord is become glorious in power; thy right hand O Lord hath dashed in pieces the enemy…thou sentest forth thy wrath which consumed them as stubble…Thou didst blow with thy wind; the sea covered them; they sank as lead in the mighty waters”. Can anyone doubt that this was God exercising His ‘attributes’ of ‘anger, power and judgement’? Steve Chalke and Karl Barth would have us believe that it was God’s ‘love’ that influenced Him to take such action but verse 11 of Exodus 15 tells quite a different story for the “song” concisely sums up God’s actions against the Egyptians with these words “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, GLORIOUS IN HOLINESS, fearful in praises, doing wonders”? God’s move against Pharaoh’s army was influenced not by His ‘love’ but by His glorious [majestic] ‘holiness’. I said earlier that God’s ‘love’ is itself guided by this other factor, namely God’s ‘holiness’ and I want to illustrate this by contrasting what the Bible states to be the height of human love’ with what is revealed as the height of God’s ‘love’. The Lord Himself in these words summed up the height of human ‘love’ – “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” [John 15:13]. Whether it be through a sense of injustice, or through love for a particular individual, or through a longing for the ‘greater good’ of others, the substitutionary laying down of the life of one individual to save the life of a friend is according to Christ the summit of human ‘love’.
The context in which He said this was of course at the Last Supper where He was preparing His disciples for the final phase of His earthly mission. What would that final phase be? It would be a demonstration of the height of God’s ‘love’ and as we examine some of the many passages in the Bible that confirm the reality of the height of God’s ‘love’ we shall see that the motivating factor behind God’s ‘love’ was His ‘holiness’. These passages will confirm what I wrote earlier namely that ‘Understanding the truth that “God is light” is foundational to God’s dealing with our sin’. Because of His inherent ‘holiness’ God must act against that which offends His ‘holiness’, namely our sin and the following passages of scripture tell us how God, motivated by the offence against His ‘holiness’, moved in ‘love’ on behalf of those who were not His friends but His enemies. The most important truth that we shall discover from these passages is that at the very heart of God’s ‘love’ is the gracious and glorious truth that manifested itself by what happened at Calvary – a truth that Steve Chalke, as we read in Part 1 of this article, totally rejects in his book and that is the truth of ‘penal substitution’.
Earlier I quoted the words of the Lord in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends”. Keeping those words in mind look at what Paul [who described himself as ‘the chief of sinners’ in 1 Timothy 1:15] wrote in Romans 5:7-8 “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commended [demonstrated] his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for [penal substitution] us”. A few verses later [verse 10] Paul identifies those for whom Christ has lovingly suffered [penal substitution] and died as having been “enemies” to God. As we can see God’s ‘love’ clearly surpasses the height of human ‘love’. Peter, who as we read earlier declared himself to be a “sinful man” [Luke 5:8] wrote in 1 Peter 2:24 of how Christ “his own self bore our sins [penal substitution] in his own body on the tree” and in 1 Peter 3:18 he wrote “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins [God’s judgement upon sin] the just for [penal substitution] the unjust”. John, who wrote in 1 John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” also wrote in 1 John 4:9 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him”; and how is this aim [“that we might live through him”] to be accomplished – we read the answer in verse 10 “Herein is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for [penal substitution] our sins”.
These three sinners, Paul, Peter and John recognised the reality of their sin and its consequences [how it had offended the ‘holiness’ of God] and they also recognised that despite His offended ‘holiness’, rather than mete out to them His warranted justice [“The soul that sinneth it shall die” Ezekiel 18:20; “The wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23], God had invoked His ‘attribute’ of mercy by dealing with Christ through ‘penal susbstitution’ as He should have dealt with them. This was certainly as John expressed it how God “manifested” His love but behind the exercise of God’s ‘mercy’ and God’s ‘love’ lies this guiding factor – the truth that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all”. The reason God “manifested” His ‘mercy’ and His ‘love’ was His ‘holiness’. If God were not ‘holy’ there would have been no need for Him to lovingly have “spared not his own Son but delivered him up” [Romans 8:32] – to have sent His own beloved Son to die at Calvary as a substitute for sinners [penal substitution] on the cross. How apt the words of Psalm 103: 10 “He [God] hath not dealt with us [sinners] after our sins, nor rewarded us [sinners] according to our iniquities”.
In his book ‘The Murder of Jesus’ Pastor John MacArthur gives an explanation of what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 of how God “hath made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us”. Pastor MacArthur wrote [p71&73] ‘When Christ hung on the cross, He was bearing the sins of His people and He was suffering the wrath of God on their behalf. Second Corinthians 5:21 explains the cross in a similar way “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us”. In other words, on the cross, God imputed our sin to Christ and then punished Him for it (cf. 1 Peter 2:24)…The holy Son of God who had never known even the most insignificant sin would become sin – an object of God’s fury’ and that is ‘penal substitution’. Later in his book [p218-221] Pastor Macarthur wrote words that could have been specifically penned to answer Steve Chalke’s denial of ‘penal substitution’. Pastor MacArthur wrote ‘As Christ hung there, He was bearing the sins of the world. He was dying as a substitute for others. To Him was imputed the guilt of their sins and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on their behalf. And the very essence of that punishment was the outpouring of God’s wrath against sinners. In some mysterious way during those awful hours on the cross, the Father poured out the full measure of His wrath against sin and the recipient of that wrath was God’s own beloved Son! IN THIS LIES THE TRUE MEANING OF THE CROSS. THOSE WHO TRY TO EXPLAIN THE ATONING WORK OF CHRIST IN ANY OTHER TERMS INEVITABLY END UP NULLIFYING THE TRUTH OF CHRIST’S ATONEMENT ALTOGETHER. [EMPHASIS MINE]…God was punishing His own Son as if He had committed every wicked deed done by every sinner who would ever believe. And He did it so that He could forgive and treat those redeemed ones as if they had lived Christ’s perfect life of righteousness. Scripture teaches this explicitly: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”…It was God’s own wrath against sin, God’s own righteousness, and God’s own sense of justice that Christ satisfied on the cross. The shedding of His blood was a sin offering rendered to God…when Christ ransomed the elect from sin (1 Timothy 2:6), the ransom price was paid to God. Christ died in our place and stead and He received the very same outpouring of divine wrath in all its fury that we deserved for our sin…The physical pains of crucifixion, dreadful as they were, were nothing compared to the wrath of the Father against Him…all our worst fears about the horrors of hell, and more, were realised by Him as He received the due penalty of other’s wrongdoing”.
Pastor MacArthur’s biblically based identification of what is termed ‘penal substitution’ stands in stark contrast to what Steve Chalke wrote in his book [p182-183] ‘The fact is the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse – a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith…If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil. The truth is the cross is a symbol of love. It is a demonstration of just how far God as Father and Jesus as his Son are prepared to go to prove that love’.
In part 1 of this article I wrote ‘The flaw in this thinking is quite obvious – for God to JUSTLY punish sinners for their sin would not be ‘evil’’. Steve Chalke is clearly of the opinion that all ‘violence’ as he phrased it is ‘evil’. But God’s Word does not view this thing that way and clearly teaches that proportionate and warranted punishment [or ‘violence’ according to Steve Chalke] is both justified and beneficial. The book of Proverbs contains a wealth of divine wisdom and in Proverbs 29:15 we read “The rod [proportionate and warranted punishment] and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame”. The writer to the Hebrews is in no doubt about the benefits of “chastening” [‘violence’ according to Steve Chalke?] as we read in Hebrews 12:5-6 & 9-11 “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth…Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected [‘violence’ according to Steve Chalke?] us and we gave them reverence…For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening [‘violence’ according to Steve Chalke?] for the present time seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised by it”. As I typed these words from the book of Hebrews about how ‘no chastening for the present time seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth…fruit” I thought very much of the prophetic words of Isaiah 53 where we read that the Son was “smitten of God [His Father] and afflicted” [verse 4], of how “the Lord [His Father] laid on him [The son] the iniquity of us all” [verse 6], of how “it pleased the Lord [His Father] to bruise him [The Son]; he [His Father] hath put him [The Son] to grief” [verse 10]. Would all this ‘cosmic child abuse’ as Steve Chalke blasphemously phrased it yield any “fruit”? The answer is ‘yes’ for we read on in verse 11 “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he [Christ – by penal substitution] shall bear their iniquities”. Isaiah wrote pre-Calvary but the post-Calvary writer to the Hebrews echoed these truths when he wrote of “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross” [Hebrews 12:2].
Because God’s ‘holiness’ had been offended by man’s sin, God the Father and God the Son covenanted to lovingly and mercifully and graciously solve the twin problems occasioned by man’s sin, namely God’s ‘anger’ and Man’s ‘guilt’ by allowing the Incarnate Christ, through what has come to be theologically known as ‘penal substitution’, to be “delivered…and…crucified and slain” [Acts 2:23] as “the lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. This “lamb” was pictured in the Old Testament by the “Passover lamb” of Exodus 12 that, through its death and shed blood being applied to the doorposts and lintels of houses, saved the occupants from divine wrath and judgement. It comes therefore as no surprise to read of Paul referring to the Lord as “Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for [penal substitution] for us” [1 Corinthians 5:7]. Probably the most well-known passage of scripture that identifies ‘penal substitution’ as being at the heart of God’s loving solution to His offended ‘holiness’ is found in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten son”. What does it mean that “God GAVE his only begotten son”? Surely it means that the Father ‘GAVE’ His son as a sacrificial “lamb” so that through His substitutionary death [penal substitution] on behalf of guilty sinners, there would be “reconciliation”. In Revelation 13:8 we read of “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” [Calvary was planned by God before time began] and Paul writes of “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death [penal substitution] of his Son” [Romans 5:10]. Steve Chalke alleges in his book [p174] that ‘we have learnt how to explain what a Christian is without reference to the resurrection’ and he goes on to also say ‘The task of the Church is to preach Christ crucified. But surely its task is equally to preach Christ resurrected’. The “gospel” is set out succinctly by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and not only does Paul mention the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ as being “according to the scriptures” but also that “he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”. Clearly the resurrection is important as it is an integral part of “the gospel” [the good news] and therefore it must be properly preached if anyone is to come to a true understanding of ‘what a Christian is’. So how does Steve Chalke explain or preach the ‘resurrection’ in the context of understanding ‘what a Christian is’. On pages 192-193 of his book he writes ‘Taken on its own, the death of Jesus on a cross outside Jerusalem, like the death of John F Kennedy or Princess Diana, was nothing more than a space and time event. Slowly it would have faded from the social memory of Israel and so been confined to an event of ancient history. But the resurrection is different. It is a unique, universal and cosmic event. It transcends not only death, but time and history as well. And its message is that you can trust Jesus with your life. You can put his philosophy for life up against any other the world has to offer because it works’. According to Steve Chalke the resurrection means ‘you can trust Jesus with your life’ but of course for him this does not mean that you can believe that by ‘trusting Jesus’ [in the sense of ‘penal substitution’] you can be perfectly pardoned and absolved from all the guilt and punishment due to you by God because of your sin. The Bible puts it that you can be “justified” [perfectly pardoned] but the Bible also states the grounds upon which God’s “justification” of guilty sinners is possible. Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Being justified [perfectly pardoned] freely by his grace [through no personal merit] through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus [the sole grounds of God’s justification] whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [a means of turning away God’s wrath] through faith in his blood [his penal substitution at Calvary]” [Romans 3:23-24].
Christ lived a sinless life and then offered himself as a substitutionary sacrifice to obtain pardon for guilty sinners and to redeem them and reconcile God to them. We read in Hebrews 9 “Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God” [verse 14] “once in the end of the ages hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” [verse 26] “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” [verse 28]. How is a Christian to know that the sacrifice offered by Christ was sufficient and accepted by God the Father? Paul tells us in Romans 4:25 that Christ “was delivered for our offences [penal substitution] and was raised again [His resurrection] for our justification”. Pastor John MacArthur explains in his Study Bible notes on this verse ‘The resurrection provided proof that God had accepted the sacrifice of His Son and would be able to be just and yet justify the ungodly’. That is Biblical preaching of the ‘resurrection’ as opposed to the fanciful message of Steve Chalke that ‘you can trust Jesus with your life. You can put his philosophy for life up against any other the world has to offer because it works’. I think the words of Paul in Colossians 2:8 seem rather apt at this point “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy or vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ”.
I mentioned that Steve Chalke’s assertion that ‘in the Bible ‘it never defines him [God] as anything other than love’ was in effect a lie. It was a lie that ignored the revealed biblical truth that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all”. Who would want to cover up this truth of God being “light”? The answer is that those who “preach another Jesus [and] have received another spirit [and] another gospel” [2 Corinthians 11:4]. Who are such people? “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” [2 Corinthians 11:13]. Should God’s people be surprised at such happenings? “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” [2 Corinthians 11:14-15].
Just a few hours after writing this article I received via email a ‘Cyber sermon’ from Pastor Alan Morrison [http://www.diakrisis.org ] that looked at lessons to be learned from the slaying by the Lord of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu [Leviticus 10:1-7] and a similar occurrence in the New Testament involving Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5:1-11]. This is part of what Alan Morrison wrote on the Ananias and Sapphira incident
‘This whole incident is a real slap in the face for all those who think that God never becomes angry or makes awful judgements. True, His anger is not like ours. His is divine wrath against all that which contradicts His law, which is about as far from human anger as it could be. It is revealed everywhere in Scripture, but it is especially poignantly manifested in the incidents involving Nadab and Abihu and Ananias and Sapphira. Yet many professing Christians today — even influential Christian leaders — deny the existence of the wrath of God or His judgement. Here is a typical quotation from the words of one of today’s evangelicals:
“The Bible never defines God as anger, power, or judgement — in fact it never defines him as anything other than love. But more than that, it never makes assertions about his anger, power or judgement independently of his love. So, though we read about his various attributes, in reality they are, as Karl Barth points out, never more than ‘repetitions and amplifications of the one statement that God loves'” [Steve Chalke & Alan Mann, “The Lost Message of Jesus”, Zondervan, 2003, p.63].
This book, described in a review in one Christian paper as “an alarming, painful, dangerous book” [review by Andrew Sach & Mike Ovey of Oak Hill Theological College, London, in “Evangelicals Now”, June 2004, p.27], is typical of many that can be found in Christian bookshops today. In the same book, which is an object lesson in the misapplication and misinterpretation of Scripture (not to mention the tendentious manipulation of its readers), the authors claim that the Son of God could not have been punished by the Father as this would be “a form of cosmic child abuse” [Chalke & Mann, op. cit. p.182]. Remember that Steve Chalke is a keynote speaker at the highly popular Spring Harvest/Word Alive evangelical conferences in the UK, a television personality, director of the Oasis Trust, who works closely with Youth For Christ and has been associated with evangelical youth movements in the UK for many years.
One wonders how such people gain credibility in the Christian scene at all. From the time that he was promoting the Toronto Blessing in 1994/5 through to his lightweight neo-liberal theological essay on an alleged “lost message of Jesus”, Steve Chalke has been a classic wolf in sheep’s clothing. One wonders what clothes those who invite him to speak are wearing…What are these people going to do with the descriptions of the Lord’s hand of judgement in Leviticus10 and Acts 5? The stark reality is that the Lord uses profoundly disturbing means to impress His power upon us.
In conclusion, in relation to this book, ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ it seems to me that the only thing that may be ‘lost’ is its primary author, Steve Chalke.
- TEACHING TAPES ON VARIOUS ‘ISMS
During the months of September – December 2004 a good friend and brother in Christ, Pastor David Legge, of the Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast spoke on various ‘isms at the Assembly’s Monday night Bible Class. These are fresh and up to date assessments of what various groups teach and believe. Audiotapes of these talks may be obtained from myself – the price for each tape is £2.00. The subjects addressed by Pastor Legge are as follows:-
- Tape Number – Topic
1 – Jehovah’s witnesses 2 – Christian Science & Scientology 3 – Mormonism 4 – Unitarianism 5 – Spiritism 6 – Church of Christ 7 – Christadelphianism 8 – Buddhism 9 – Baha’ism 10 – Islam
‘Try the spirits’ [Volume 2]
Enclosed with this newsletter is a photocopy of the cover of a second volume that I have just had printed under the title ‘Try the spirits: volume 2’. The topics addressed are all related to Roman Catholicism and are detailed on the cover and should you wish to obtain a copy of the book it can be ordered from me – price £5.50 [includes p&p].
- A response to the Queen’s broadcast Message
Also enclosed with this newsletter is a copy of a letter that was sent to the Queen in response to her broadcast message of 25 December 2004.
Letter published in the Belfast Telegraph
Saturday 8th January 2005
Obviously preferring to receive the plaudits of the scripture-contradicting, Christ-dishonouring, politically-correct advocates of Multi-Faithism such as members of the Royal Family, assorted Public Sector bodies and the Inter-Faith Forum rather than to receive the Lord’s “well done thou good and faithful servant” [Matthew 25:21] Alf McCreary wastes no time in 2005 [Perspectives 1 January 2005] in publicly deriding the character of Christians who seek to honour the One True God revealed in His inspired Word, the Bible. He writes ‘the differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism still dominate much of our thinking…on a Saturday night…most of the regular correspondents are still bogged down in the 17th century’. The Christ-honouring, Bible-believing Bishop J C Ryle wrote “it is as certain that the Romish Church burned our English Reformers as it is that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings. Truth is truth, however long it may be neglected…The principal reason why they were burned was because they refused one of the peculiar doctrines of the Romish Church…the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the consecrated elements of bread and wine”.
Are writers such as myself the only ones who are, according to Mr McCreary, ‘bogged down in the 17th century’? In the conclusion of his 2003 “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” Pope John Paul II wrote “In the humble signs of bread and wine, changed into his body and blood, Christ walks beside us as our strength and our food for the journey”. No change there then in this false teaching from the 17th and indeed many earlier centuries and yet this entrenched Roman dogmatism draws no barbed criticism from Mr McCreary. Instead, ostrich-like he prefers to ignore this still-existent, eternity-determining difference that led faithful, Reformation-time Christians to lay down their lives as martyrs rather than submit to Rome’s Eucharistic claims. Mr McCreary recommends to all and sundry his multi-faith calendar for 2005 that focuses upon ‘The Practice of Prayer’ so clearly he’s still ‘bogged down’ in the 1st century, and ongoing ever since, rejection of the Biblical truth that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus” [1 Timothy 2:5].
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries