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Difficult Verses 4: 1 John 1.9

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Well, thanks to the people who suggested this verse as a difficult verse they want an explanation on.  I will do my best to help you grasp what this verse is saying.  The verse says this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9, ESV)

And it is a difficult verse because it seems at face value that it contradicts the wealth of New Covenant Scriptures that we are forgiven because of the work of Jesus, not because of anything we do: that we are saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2.8-9), that the way to salvation is through believing in the work of Christ (Acts 16.31) and not by our works (Romans 4.16, 24).  If our forgiveness is dependent on our ability to confess, then we are in trouble – you don’t remember all your sins, and nor do I – so how can we possibly confess them all.

This verse is initially so difficult to reconcile with the New Covenant that some people actually seek to remove it from Scripture.  I have heard that, against all principles of letter-writing and grammar, that 1 John 1 was written to non-Christians and 1 John 2-5 was written to Christians.  I will give you three reasons why this cannot possibly be true, but firstly let’s just realize this: if your theology has to rip a New Testament letter to the church in two to avoid a verse, you are letting your theological system have more weight than the Word of God has.  That can only be reading into the text, not reading out of it.  

There are three clear reasons this verse applies to Christians today:

  • There is no chapter break between 1 and 2 in the original text.  You have to rip a letter written to the church into two to make this idea work
  • John uses first person plural pronounsin the verse: “we”, “our” and “us”.  Now if John says “we”, “our” and “us” he is including himself.  You cannot argue that this verse is not to Christians unless you want to make the case that John was not a Christian.  If this verse applies to John, it applies to you.
  • People haven’t thought through the implications of what they are saying.  For people who claim this verse isn’t for Christians, they have to then accept it is for non-Christians.  Some people say it is for all non-Christians, others have a special group of non-Christians that 1 John 1 is apparently written to (again, against all possible logic and grammar!).  One prominent teacher tells us that this first chapter of 1 John 1 is written to the Gnostics.   Now, let’s just ignore the fact that there were no Gnostics around in the 1st century when this letter was penned, and let’s just say that if it is not written to Christians then it must be written to someone!  Do the people who think that it written to non-Christians think that non-Christians (whether all of them or just a special group of them) think that non-Christians have to confess all their sins to be righteous?  Do they believe that for a certain group of Gnostics the normal rules of salvation by faith don’t apply?  It’s just not been thought through. 

I appreciate the passion people have for Christ and the complete work, but ripping verses out of the Bible, or relegating them to a secret group of people who no longer exist, because they are difficult to understand is not the way to honour the Word of God.  We have to engage with the Word and find out what it means.

So what does 1 John 1.9 mean?  Well, firstly, we have established that it is definitely written to Christians.  It is written to born-again, righteous, pure, holy, redeemed people.  John includes himself in the recipients of the letter – so it is definitely written to Christians, even mature Christians and leaders and elders!  Let’s just be honest – sometimes Christians, whether they are new Christians, older Christians or even church leaders – sin.  We get caught up in patterns of sinful behaviour and we need to get out.  This verse actually gives us a powerful route out of sin, and to relegate it to a 2nd century cult or rip it out of the letter is to do Christians a great disservice because this verse is powerful and will help you when you rightly understand it.

The first thing we need to do to find the meaning of the verse is examine the words that make it up.  Let’s start with the word “confess”, which in Greek is homologia.  Homo- means the same as, and logia means words, and homologia means to “say the same words as”.  It doesn’t mean we have to ball and squall on the floor and weep and wail about all our sins.  It isn’t talking about an emotional experience, although sinning, dealing with sin and making declarations can be emotional at times.  It is talking about you saying the same thing as God about your sin.  So what does God say about your sin?

Firstly, God says that sin is sin.  So stop calling it something else.  It’s not your personality type, it’s not a bad habit, it’s not my oopsie. It’s sin.  Gossip is sin.  Stealing is sin.  Outbursts of rage is sin.  Looking at a woman with lust in the heart, watching porn, is sin.  Sex outside of marriage is sin.  Cursing Christians is sin.  Pride and arrogance is sin.  Call it what it is.  Face up to the issue – man up and own your sin! Say out loud: “I have sinned.  This action I have done is sin, and I want to be free!”  Let’s exercise some responsibility.

Secondly, God says that your sin has been paid for on the cross.  It has been dealt with.  2 Cor. 5.21 tells us that Christ became sin with your sin so that you could be made the righteousness of God.  So your sin has been forgiven and you have died to sin.  Sin is not your master anymore because you are under grace (Romans 6.14).  Now you have accurately diagnosed your problem as sin, and are not hiding behind an excuse start to declare that you are free from sin, that you are forgiven, that you are redeemed, that you are righteous, that your spirit is pure and holy, that you are born again.  Start to declare this outloud.  That is confessing your sin – saying what God says about it.

You see you can only have God’s remedy for your problem when you admit God’s diagnosis for your problem.  Keep denying it is sin, keep blaming the other people for making you behave like that, you start to distort the world.  Your thinking darkens and you become corrupt.  Admit it is sin, declare it is sin, then you can declare God’s solution to sin: the blood of Christ and the cross of Christ.

So now you have confessed your sin, we find out that God will do two things.  Not because He is merciful and kind (though He is!) but He will do these things because He is faithful and righteous.  You see if you have sinned, and you have confessed that sin, then you need to know that God isn’t going to do what He does next because of His goodness but because of His righteousness and faithfulness.  Christ died for your sin because of God’s goodness, but now that Christ has paid the full price for sin, it would be unrighteous for God not to help you in your sin!

How does God help us?  Well, the Scripture says He forgives us and He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  This again causes problems for us complete work people, we read this and go “well, I am forgiven” and “I am righteous” so what is this about?  Let’s just look a little deeper and find out.

Firstly, God forgiving us?  Aren’t we forgiven because of Jesus at the cross, rather than because of our awesome confession?  It depends what you mean by forgive.  The Greek word for forgive is also equally translated as separate, and even as divorce a couple of times.  It means to firmly and deliberately separate two things.  This verse isn’t talking about God forgiving us because we finally said sorry – I know it’s been preached that way, but God is not waiting for an apology!  Forgiveness is rooted in the cross, not our apology.  It’s talking about the fact that God will separate you from your sin – when you start declaring what the Bible says about your sin, you find that sin loses it’s power to tempt you, to control you, to hold you.  When you start declaring that you are free from sin, and sin has no dominion over you because you are under grace not law, that sin loses its power to con you into thinking you have to obey it.  That is what 1 John 1.9 means by forgiveness – it’s about being free from that sin.

Then the cleansing from all unrighteousness.  Look, we all should know that our spirits are righteous the moment we get born again. You are totally righteous in your spirit.  Therefore, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this Scripture is not talking about our spirit! Then it shouldn’t be too difficult to realize it’s talking about our souls.  Your spirit is righteous, but your soul – not so much.  If you had an x-ray machine that could see spirit and soul, and you were standing next to Jesus and you set the machine to spirit – you would not be able to tell the difference between you and Jesus.  You are one spirit (1 Cor. 6.17).  That’s awesome – your spirit is the righteousness of God.

But if you turned the dial on the machine and set it to soul – to thought processes, to how we think and respond and feel.  I am guessing it wouldn’t be that hard to work out which one is Jesus and which one is us!  Our souls are not yet fully renewed and not yet fully restored – we are a work in progress in our souls.  But when we start declaring the Word of God and what God says about sin – confessing our sins – then God, in His faithfulness and righteousness – starts to cleanse our souls from that unrighteousness.  Our thoughts start to line up with His thoughts, our ways subsume into His ways.  It’s awesome!  You see now why the power of this verse means that it should not be relegated to non-Christians or Gnostics or ripped out of the Bible!  It’s part of grace!

Now you sin and most of the time, you can pick yourself up again.  This verse isn’t saying to confess all our sins, it’s talking about those times where a sin or group of sins just seems to be having the victory over us and our life.  Sometimes, and it happens to all of us, a certain sin just seems to get the better of us.  It seems to be winning.  In those cases, here are the 4 steps to victory:

  1. Agree with God that it is a sin.  Stop making excuses or blaming the others, or your DNA, or the situation.  It is sin.  Confess (declare) that your actions are sinful.  This is the diagnosis that allows the remedy – if you can’t make the right diagnosis, you won’t take the right cure!
  2. Agree with God that sin has been dealt with on the cross.  Start to declare and agree with God that sin has been dealt with.  That you died to sin, that sin is not your master.  Read Romans 6.1-14 out loud.  Declare that it is for freedom that you have been set free.  Declare that your spirit is righteous, that you are pure and holy.  Confess (agree with God) that this sin has been dealt with on the cross.
  3. God will then forgive (separate) you from your sin.  You will find as you declare and agree with God what He says about your sin that it’s power is dethroned.  Your confession gives you authority and wisdom.  It dislodges the sin from your thoughts, and God jumps in and separates you and your sin.
  4. God will cleanse you (your soul) from all unrighteousness.  He will start to help you renew your mind and think God thoughts.

The Christian life is not just health and wealth, it’s also manifest righteousness.  It’s living free from sin, living free from selfishness.  Never having to lose relationships because of your selfishness is one of the best blessings about living the Christian life.  And confession of sin, as defined Biblically – not culturally or dogmatically – is one of the most powerful tools in the Christian life.  Don’t follow the people who because of the misusers of this verse have become non-users of this verse!  Become a user of this verse and learn how to live a life free from sin today. 

5 Ways to become more familiar with the Bible

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5. Get a modern paraphrase like the Message or the NLT and read out loud a whole letter of Paul’s.  That is how they were written and that is how the original audience encountered them for the first time.

4.  Find a verse that you love, write it down and learn it by repetition… speak it over and over again.  That is essentially meditating on the Word.

3.  Take a well known verse and read the whole chapter paying attention to the structure, logic, and context of the chapter.  It may surprise you.

2.  Open the Bible at random and read 5 pages.  I know it’s not a good way to build a systematic theology, and it’s not a good way to hear God, but it’s a great way to encounter a passage you may never have deliberately turned to.

1.  Find a passage in the gospels.  Use a cross reference to find the same account in other gospels and read how the other gospel writer’s approach the same passage.  The Bible is fully divine and fully human and this is a great way to explore the Word.

Cave Men – In the Bible!

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Cave men—in the Bible

by David Catchpoole

Photos by Tas Walker

Residents at the opal-mining town of  Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen,  comfortable furniture and modern lighting.

Residents at the opal-mining town of  Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen,  comfortable furniture and modern lighting.

Residents at the opal-mining town of  Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen,  comfortable furniture and modern lighting.Residents at the opal-mining town of Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen, comfortable furniture and modern lighting.

Evolutionary stereotypes of the first humans as primitive “Stone Age” cave men who had not yet evolved agriculture just do not square with the Bible’s account of history. The Bible says that in Adam’s day, people “worked the soil” (Genesis 4:2—following the events of 2:15 and 3:17), forged bronze and iron tools (4:22) and made and played musical instruments (4:21). There never was a “Stone Age”!1 (Nor the evolutionary-defined “Bronze Age” or “Iron Age” for that matter.)

So what are we to make of the abundant evidence of human cave-dwellers in the past, such as caves with campfire ash, meal leftovers and charcoal etchings on cave walls?

Firstly, we can note that the caves we see in the world today are all post-Flood. In fact, their very existence—i.e. their formation and worldwide distribution—can really only be satisfactorily explained in terms of conditions generated by the global Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6–9).2

Secondly, we see that the Bible itself refers many times to people in caves (post-Noah and post-Babel). However, these are not the “cave men” of evolutionary stereotype. Rather, they are “fully human”—i.e. the descendants of Adam (and Noah)—who for one reason or another3 spent time in caves.

These included Sodom and Gomorrah’s only surviving refugees—Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30), the five Amorite kings hiding from Joshua (Joshua 10:16–18,22), and Samson in the cave at Etam (Judges 15:8).

When David left Gath he escaped to the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1), and later he and his men were in the back of a cave at En Gedi when Saul entered (1 Samuel 24:1–4). Others who spent time in caves were Elijah (1 Kings 19:9,13), Obadiah’s one hundred prophets (whom he supplied with food and water—1 Kings 18:4,13), the ‘men of Israel’ when the Philistines were camped at Micmash (1 Samuel 13:6), and the Israelites at the time of Gideon (Judges 6:2).

These and the many other people in history who found it convenient to live in caves at various times4,5 (and even today—see photos) were not “primitive”, “prehistoric”, “Stone Age” sub-humans, or some such evolutionary stereotype. They were descendants of the first man and woman, created in the image of their Creator (Genesis 1:27), with an in-built capacity for intelligent thought, speech and creativity.

The Lord has said that there will be people occupying caves at some future time, too, as they try to hide themselves from him.

As an outlet for their creative urges, and a welcome distraction while holed up inside a cave, they could have whiled away the time drawing charcoal figures on the walls, or composing poetry. Two of the Psalms, for instance, were written by David when he was ‘in the cave’ (Psalms 57,142—see titles), a poignant record of his crying out to the Lord.

The same Lord has said that there will be people occupying caves at some future time, too, as they try to hide themselves from Him (Isaiah 2:19,21; Revelation 6:15), unsuccessfully (Jeremiah 23:24).

References and notes

  1. See also: Niemand, R., The Stone Age a figment of the imagination? Creation 27(4):13, 2005, <creation.com/stone>. Return to text.
  2. Silvestru, E., Caves for all seasons, Creation 25(3):44–49, 2003; <creation.com/all-seasons>. Also see Emil Silvestru’s DVD presentation: Geology and Cave Formation—A Post-Flood Story”. Return to text.
  3. In at least some cases the trigger might have been a traumatic event (e.g. displacement by war or natural disaster), with a concomitant loss of community expertise (e.g. knowledge of construction and agriculture). See: Catchpoole, D., The people that forgot time (and much else, too), Creation 30(3):34–37, 2008; <creation.com/all-seasons>. Return to text.
  4. Other references in the Bible include Jeremiah 49:8,30, Ezekiel 33:27 and Hebrews 11:38. Return to text.
  5. See e.g., Mizzi, J. and Matthews, M., The amazing cave people of Malta, Creation 26(1):40–43, 2003; <creation.com/malta>. Return to text.

(Available in Indonesian)

Romans 2.12

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12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

Ever been asked what about the lost who never heard the gospel?  Ever wondered what will happen to them?

This short verse tells us four wonderful truths about what will happen to them and what God is like:

1. This verse tells us that God is fair.  He will never judge someone by something they did not know.  If you never knew the law of God, if you have never been told about God’s holiness and justice and standards, you will not be judged by that standard.  God is utterly just in the way He deals with people.  Do you know that the Bible says that Sodom and Gomorrah on judgement day will be dealt with less harshly than Capernaum (Matt. 11.24) – why? Because when God judges He does not judge by the level of darkness, but by the amount of light rejected.  So we know that those who have never heard will not be accountable for what they have never heard.

2. This verse tells us that those who have never heard will still perish.  This is a sobering thought.  Although they will not be judged as harshly as people who have had revival and had miracles done in their city and rejected the Holy Spirit, they still will be judged.  They still will perish.  The Greek word here for perish means to be put over into eternal misery in hell.

Matthew Henry in his commentary on Romans says this about Romans 2.12:

As many as have sinned without law shall perish without law; that is, the unbelieving Gentiles, who had no other guide but natural conscience, no other motive but common mercies, and had not the law of Moses nor any supernatural revelation, shall not be reckoned with for the transgression of the law they never had, nor come under the aggravation of the Jews’ sin against and judgment by the written law; but they shall be judged by, as they sin against, the law of nature, not only as it is in their hearts, corrupted, defaced, and imprisoned in unrighteousness, but as in the uncorrupt original the Judge keeps by him.

Those without the law of Moses and without the revelation of who God is still through their conscience and through the evidence of creation know there is a God.  Because they rejected that God and worshipped idols they will perish.  This should inspire you to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Believe God to send you to the nations to preach the good news.  Expect God to enable you to go – or at the very least find someone else who is going and pray for them and give them money and encourage them.

3.  This verse tells us that if you sin in the law you will be judged by the law.  So many religious people are law-obsessed.  They are living by the law.  That is a dangerous place to be – because James 2.10 tells us if we break any one law we break it all.  The law is a complete whole, not to be divided up.  If you try and live by it and fail on one point, you will be judged more harshly than if you did not know about the law.  Religious people like to judge others, but Paul here is turning it on them and saying: you will be judged more harshly because you have broken the law and you know the law.  You think you are so learned, but the more you learn about God’s law the harsher you will be judged.  It doesn’t make sense to a religious person that a nice village like Capernaum where the all lived decent lives and nodded to God will be judged more harshly than Sodom and Gomorrah where they were homosexual, were happy to rape virgin girls and were happy to rape angels.  But Jesus tells them that if the miracles done in Capernaum were done in Sodom they would have changed.  Sodom didn’t have a chance – but Capernaum had chance after chance and rejected them all.

Capernaum represents the religiosu people today.  They don’t do anything but judge.  You are too happy, you are too sad.  You are not holy enough, you are a fanatic.  You are too loud, you are too quiet.  The presence and power of God is in their midst and they simply ignore it.  The greatest preacher who ever lived on planet earth came to their village to hold the greatest miracle crusade of all time and they rejected it because his father had the wrong job.   Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world today: a lost, rebellious, harsh, vile, selfish group of people – who IF THEY SEE LOVE AND MIRACLES WILL CHANGE!  Jesus didn’t say go into all the church with the gospel, He said go into all the WORLD.

4. This verse tells us that God holds you accountable for what you know – not other people.  So many people take the law and use it to judge everyone else in the world.  Jesus said that the world will not even be judged by the law, but you will.  If you are a religious person, if you don’t know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins you will be judged by the full force of God’s law.  Don’t let that happen – believe in the gospel.  Realize that Jesus Christ took all your sins on the cross and your way to heaven is by grace alone – not your goodness but God’s.  Then when you accept this for yourself, you will not judge and attack other people, you will love them and tell them about the wondrous grace of God that you found has saved you.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Twas blind but now I see

Romans 1.18

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For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

This is a very serious verse and one that needs considerable contemplation by all Christians. Let’s first of all define the phrase “wrath of God”. The Greek word is orge (pronounced or-gay) and it can mean violent emotions or it can mean punishment.

Most commentaries I read seem to lean towards defining orge in this verse as violent emotions. This goes back to the Calvinist idea that God is angry with the world. I even read one commentary that said that God hates sinners – that if you sin, God hates you until you repent.

I believe whole heartedly that this idea of “sinners in the hand of an angry God” is a false one. We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God, and we were never sinners in the hands of an angry God! We were sinners, but God was not angry. Now, as Christians, we are not sinners any more: we are righteous saints in the hands of a loving Father.

The preacher of “sinners in the hands of an angry God” first transcribed sermon was about how God will not save anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith, as God can do what He likes and God will only save who He wants to save! People in his church were so depressed by his preaching that some of them committed suicide, including his own uncle. He then said that it was God that made them kill themselves! If I thought that unless I was specially chosen by God there was no way I could be redeemed from sin, no matter how much I wanted to be, I think I would be suicidal too! It is utterly Biblically incorrect to say that we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, yet many Christians use this era of Christianity as their benchmark of living Christianity and ignore the book of Acts!

Let’s look at this topic of the wrath of God across the wider Biblical teaching of God and then let’s look at this within the context of Romans 1 and unpick what this verse means. I believe it means that the legal punishment of God is revealed, not God’s emotional anger.

Firstly, let me say that the Bible is clear that God is pure and righteous and holy. Godliness is about being pure and acting right and living holy. I am not for sin – sin is a killer: sin will keep you enslaved and take you places where death can attack and destroy you. However, the sin problem has been dealt with. Sin will never affect your relationship and intimacy with God.

You see when God created Adam and Eve and when they first sinned, God did not punish them. Pain in childbirth, having to work and sweat to make the world produce, difficulty in relationships, being dead spiritually and eventually dying physically were not placed on Adam and Eve by God – they were just the natural consequences of kicking God out of your life and your planet. God gave Adam and Eve planet Earth and they booted God out of it – no wonder the planet is in a mess! No wonder marriages are in a mess – they booted God out of marriage! No wonder child-rearing and producing a living are such hard work – they booted God out of these things!

God wasn’t punishing them, they were just dealing with the natural consequences of their actions. If you live a promiscuous lifestyle and catch a sexually transmitted disease, God didn’t put that on you – it is simply the natural consequence of you actions. If you eat 5000+ calories a day, and you have a heart attack – God didn’t do it. If you drink and drive and crash your car, God didn’t do it. If you sin and end up in hell because you never accepted the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary, God didn’t send you to hell – it is simply the consequence of your actions.

God found Adam and Eve and clothed them with the skin of an animal. God brought death into an animal, so that Adam and Eve could live. That is not the actions of someone who is “violently emotional and angry”. You don’t make a sacrifice for someone you hate.

Now, God continually showed love and affection to the human race. Cain murdered his brother and God marked him. The mark of Cain wasn’t judgment it was mercy: it said that you couldn’t punish Cain. It was protection. You don’t protect a murderer if you are violently emotional and angry.

However, people took the love and mercy of God and the goodness of God for granted. The world became more and more wicked, and people such as Lamech said essentially if Cain could murder and God still loved him, I will go and murder who I like. The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2.4) but not if we take it for granted.

So God had to develop a system of laws. He had to wipe out everyone in a flood. But God did it as a discipline and a punishment for sin – not out of a temper. He is our Father – if a father disciplines and punishes a son, that is fine. If my son was rude or stole something, I would punish them in some appropriate way. But, if I did it out of violent anger (which I have on occasion lost my temper at my children and had to repent of it) then you would say that this was bad parenting. How much more is God a good Father?

He flooded the world because He was the judge of the world, not because He violently hated mankind. Someone in a violent emotional state would not have led Noah to build an ark and waited 100 years to discipline humanity, spending that time calling them to repent with a powerfully anointed preacher. Violently angry people do not wait 100 years pleading with people to change!

He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because He had to stop their wickedness spreading. Violently angry people don’t wait until people escape before destroying a city – God did.

You see this idea of God being violently angry and needing to be placated is actually a pagan idea, not a Christian one. The truth is that sin does need a punishment, a death, but God is the one providing the lamb that takes away the sin of the world, not the one looking for it. We are the ones looking for it, and we found it at Calvary – the love of God in a human, giving up His life for us. That is the nature of God.

God must punish sin. The wages of sin is death, and if you die in sin you will go to hell. Sin cannot enter heaven. God’s justice demands that sin is punished. But the love of God triumphs over sin through Calvary. Mercy has triumphed over justice.

This is what this verse is talking about, not a God in heaven looking at people enjoying getting them and blasting them and being violently angry at them. It is a God who knows that sin must be punished and needs to deal with that so that He doesn’t have to punish sin. God doesn’t want anyone going to hell, God doesn’t want anyone sick, anyone suffering, God loves people! Your ungodliness must be punished, your unrighteousness has to be punished! But Jesus was punished so you don’t have to be!

The context of Romans 1.18 is the gospel. The whole reason we need the good news of Jesus is the wrath of God. Not the capricious anger of God, but the punishment of God. God must punish every sin you have ever committed, every impure thought you have ever had. But far from being violently angry with you, God loves you so much that He gave up His only Son to die your death, to bear your iniquity, to take the punishment for your sin – so you could have eternal life, so you could be righteous and pure and so you could have a relationship with God! Selah!

You deserved hell, Jesus went there so you don’t have to. You deserved death, but you are going to live forever if you accept by faith that Jesus took your place. This is the good news. The wrath of God is what makes the good news good news. If there is no wrath of God, then the gospel is meaningless. If sin did not warrant death, then the gospel is useless.

But let that realization of a clear punishment for sin lead you to say that God is an angry God – He is a God who only has thoughts to prosper you not to harm you. Angry people cannot think like that. God is angry – but not at humans, He is angry at injustice, He is angry at ignorance, He is angry that the devil keeps tripping people up and lying to them and making them think that He hates them. He is angry at anything that stops you and Him enjoying fellowship and friendship. But He is not angry at you.

Look at Isaiah 54.7-8:

8In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
9For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

God compares His never being wroth (angry) with us again like the promise that He will never flood the earth again. They are as important to Him. Every Christian knows that God will never flood the world again like He did. You need to know as well and as deeply in your spirit that God will NEVER be wroth with you. Ever.

Next time you see a rainbow, thank God that He is not and will never be angry with you. The wrath of God was entirely poured out on Jesus, the entire punishment for the sin of the world was laid entirely on Him.

That is good news!

Romans 1.13

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Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

I love this verse. Paul says that he would not have the Roman church ignorant.

Ignorant in the Greek is agnoeō. It literally means without knowledge or without awareness. The English word “agnostic” comes from this root – so just think when someone tells you that they are an agnostic, they are saying “I know nothing”!

I love Paul because he wasn’t some kooky emotionalist – he knew that the key to victory in the Christian life isn’t goosebumps, isn’t falling, isn’t laughing, it is knowledge.

Hosea 4.6 says that people are destroyed by lack of knowledge, Isaiah 5.13 says that people are held captive by what they do not know.

So – my challenge and question to you today is this: what are you doing to increase your knowledge?

Do not complain about areas of your life where there is destruction, where there is captivity, if you are not doing something to increase your knowledge.

Are you in a church where the preaching of the Word increases your knowledge? Have you this week read a book on the Word of God (one that exalts the Word and expounds it, not one that attempts to judge it!)?

Have you learned something new about your career this week? Are you studying something?

What do you know about healing? About prosperity? About dominating your emotions? Do you know enough? Where are you going to get new knowledge?

Do you know which websites have faith-filled life-changing messages and which ones are just the shouters and the beggars?

Do you waste your life in amusement? Remember our Greek word agnoeō? It comes from the Greek word gnoeo which means understanding. The “a” at the beginning means “without” or “the opposite of”, similar to how we might use “un-” as a prefix in the English language to change the meaning of a word. For example, happy and unhappy.

Amusement also comes from the Greek language, muse comes from the Greek word mousa meaning to contemplate or to be creative. Amuse literally means without contemplation or creativity.

That is what nearly all amusement is: what you do without contemplation or creativity. Watching hours of TV, listening to most chart music, playing computer games, all these things. I am not saying these things are wrong, but I will tell you that you only have 24 hours every day, and every hour you spend in a-musement is an hour you cannot spend in “musement”. Remember – God would NOT have you ignorant.

I remember a pastor in my city saying that if he had to work out how successful someone was in life just from their house, his formula would involve the inverse of the size of their television and the size of their personal library.

I think that he would not be far off in his guesses.

The world says that ignorance is bliss. It is not – it is deadly, it will keep you captive, it will destroy you.

What are you doing to destroy your ignorance before it destroys you? Don’t just hope it will go away, it won’t. Make a plan. Decide which 5 books you are going to read before the end of the year.

Decide how many books of the Bible you are going to read before the end of the year. Change church if you need to, find out a Christian conference and take the time off work and get yourself there.

Don’t just sit there and stay ignorant!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

BBC highlights squeeze on Christian street preachers

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BBC highlights squeeze on
Christian street preachers

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A BBC report has highlighted some of the religious liberty issues facing Christian street preachers.

Listen to the report

An extract from BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, broadcast on 23 August 2009. Visit the BBC’s website to listen to the entire programme.

The report, featured on Radio 4’s Sunday programme this weekend, included a recording of a recent incident where a street preacher was told by police officers that it is a criminal offence to identify homosexuality as a “sin”.

They said this to Andy Robertson, an evangelist with the Open-Air Mission (OAM), even though he had never mentioned homosexuality in his preaching.

Mark Jones, an employment lawyer who specialises in religious liberty issues, told the programme: “Giving offence of itself is not against the law.

“There is no protection that I may have from somebody simply walking up to me in the street and saying something that I might disagree with or I might be offended by.”

Mr Robertson is not alone in encountering problems while preaching in public.

Earlier this month it was reported that a street preacher had been arrested after reading out Bible passages in Maidstone, Kent.

Last summer a street preacher in Birmingham was arrested after he had mentioned homosexuality while preaching about sin and its consequences.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge told the Radio 4 programme why more cases like this are taking place.

He said: “I think the reason for this increase has been there is a diversity and equality agenda that doesn’t seem to allow for Christians to express their faith in a way where other people may disagree with them.”

He said that sensitivity about issues such as minority faiths and sexual orientation has put police officers and local authorities “under huge pressure to be seen to be responding”.

He added that “sometimes you get over-zealous public officials who want to step in and say, ‘you can’t say that because someone might be offended’, and that over-zealousness is I think part of the problem”.

Another evangelist with the OAM was recorded for the programme as he preached in Hounslow, West London.

Tim Whitton told the reporter: “Our approach generally is just to speak but not shout, to be friendly”.

He said the aim was to make sure that “if anyone is ever offended, they’re offended by the message of the Bible, rather than by anything that we’re doing”

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