Skip to content

Idolatry – 1 John 5:21


Text. 1 John 5:21. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen
As we come to the very last phrase in John’s first letter, we are driven back to the most basic premise of the Christian faith. That there is only one, True, Holy, God who will not tolerate the worship of any other god that we might invent. John warns us to guard our lives from idols. There is a deep pastoral concern that the believers watch their lives, be so careful, for idolatry can present itself in so many forms, and can draw us away from faithfully following the Lord. Read more…

‘The Koran and the Bible – What’s the Difference?’

‘The Koran and the Bible – What’s the Difference?’

In a recent ‘Nolan Show’ on radio Ulster, a member of the public phoned the programme to declare that he had read the Koran, and that it is ‘exactly the same as the Bible’. Perhaps he is illiterate, or intellectually challenged, or perhaps he is indicating by that remark that in fact he hadn’t actually read a Bible!

For example-

Jesus: “…the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” John 16:2

Muhammad: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” Sura 9:29

There is a huge difference, a literary difference, a chronological difference and a deep theological difference. Let’s consider the Koran and look at it briefly at these differences under three headings:-  Read more…

Three Things that the World Needs but Hasn’t Got – 1 John 5:18-20

Three Things that the World Needs but Hasn’t Got

Text. 1 John 5:18-20.
John is going to remind Christians of three things we know, three blessings of the Christian life and they are all found in Christ alone. They are freedom from sin, victory over the world and a new perspective on life and death, AND these are what every person in the world really needs! I know they won’t admit it, for what they THINK they need is greatly different from what they REALLY NEED, but, you see, what we think people need, and even what they think they need, is nowhere near as important as what THE BIBLE says they need! Look again at the blessings we have in Christ, blessings that everyone needs to have, and which we should be telling them about… Read more…

Is My Lifespan Determined by God?

Ask the Pastor…

Pastor, Is it possible that I could I die prematurely?
Have you ever heard someone refer to ‘an untimely death’ – say in the case of someone who has died in their younger years. They are implying that the deceased has died ahead of their predetermined time – died early. So, is it possible a person may die before God has ordained that they should die? Not at all! Read more…

Death is nothing at all! Er… What????

Death is Nothing at All!  Er….  WHAT?????

(Or why I don’t read poems at funerals!)

I was standing in the foyer of our local Crematorium, and listening to the service that was taking place in the chapel. The minister who was conducting the service had finished his words of committal, and had just started doing something I would be extremely reluctant to do at a funeral. He began to read a poem…

Do not stand at my grave and weep 
I am not there. I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I am the diamond glints on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you awaken in the morning’s hush 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there. I did not die.

I was somewhat surprised, to say the least. Up until that point he had sounded reasonably evangelical, but when he read this poem he had abandoned any biblical faithfulness to indulge in modern popular sentimentality and superstition, (probably at the family’s behest) and worse, to deny the reality of the most traumatic, final, non-reversible event that ever occurs to individuals, – death. Read more…

The Lord Looks on the Heart. 1 Samuel 16

The Lord Looks on the Heart

Where Samuel anoints the least likely boy as king!

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

When reading and speaking on the OT, some modern preachers will use a preaching method called, ‘allegory’. That’s where you take a historical narrative like this, and ‘spiritualise it’ – so that it becomes about you or me. So, they will look at the historical story of David and Goliath, and ask something like, “What’s the giant in your life? Perhaps it’s debt… What ever it is, you can defeat your own personal giant! And how did David slay the giant? With five smooth stones, so those five smooth stones become five principle to deal with distress in your life. It is a complete distortion of what the historical narrative is for. The history books of the Bible are to reveal God’s dealings with His people, in providence and redemption. Yet I can confidently tell you that the OT is about Jesus because that’s exactly what the Bible teaches us! Look at:-

  1. Jesus speaking to the Jews in John 5:38-39 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
  2. The story of the men walking along the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. The Old Testament is full of Christ!
  3. Christ’s words to His disciples, Luke 24:44-45 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
  4. The story of the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:30-35  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Think how Christ is directly introduced, right after the fall of man, as the seed of the woman, (Gen 3:15), how the Messianic Psalms speak of Him, the Suffering servant in Isaiah… Think how many OT prophecies were fulfilled in Christ’s birth and life and death. The OT is about Jesus, about God, his redemptive plan, his Covenant of Grace with mankind, and the expectation of a coming Messiah. So we are going to look at the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, and see Christ in all the Scriptures. So let’s remind ourselves of what we read in the text…

Read more…

Prayer: A Case Study 1 John 5:16-17


Text: 1 John 5:16-17.
John has been speaking about prayer, and how we may have confidence in prayer, and then he adds this next verse, perhaps as a case-study for what he has just taught us; praying for sinners! What does John mean when he says that there is a sin not unto death, and a sin unto death?

1. Sin unto Death / Sin not unto Death.
Now John’s readers knew what this meant. We have a little more difficulty with it. I’m intrigued, and I have looked at as many commentaries on the subject that I can find, and all I can conclude is that every commentator seems to treat this text differently! Here’s a couple of suggestions:-

  • Roman Catholic view of sin. The Roman Catholic Church has a two tier view of sin, – sin that is mortal and sin that is venial. So the priest in the Roman confessional has the horrendous task of trying to decide which sins are mortal and which are venial and which will carry which penalty, and how much penitence will be needed for each sin. IT IS THE MEASURE OF THE SIN THAT DETERMINES ITS SEVERITY AND WHICH CATEGORY IT IS IN.
  • The Jewish belief in sin. The Jews also had a two-tier view of sin. Sins for which atonement could be sought and sins ‘with a high hand.’ A man could be tempted and sin, or be filled with anger or passion and sin, he could err, make a mistake and sin, or he could sin without even being aware at the time that he had sinned. But when that man realises he has sinned, he is filled with remorse. He is ashamed at what he has done and filled with regret and sorrow, and he REPENTS of his sin before The Lord, and is forgiven. BUT, what if he sins ‘deliberately?’ What if he plots to sin, and having sinned, he has no regrets, what if he enjoys his sin, and revels in his sin and continues in his sin with arrogance and pride? That is SIN WITH A HIGH HAND and for sin like this there is NO FORGIVENESS!

I wonder is that what John is speaking about here? Is John simply talking about sins that lead to death, because the sinner refuses to repent of his sin and be forgiven. Romans 3:23, For the wages of sin is death! Now, if that IS what John is referring to here, then the implications of what John is saying is clear. We must pray for sinners, and we must pray for sinners to be saved, to know God’s forgiveness and pardon, so that they may have eternal life, – BUT IF THE SINNER WE ARE PRAYING FOR WILL NOT REPENT OF HIS SIN, turn from his sin and turn to Christ, OUR PRAYERS WILL NOT BE ANSWERED AS WE WOULD WISH THEM TO BE!

Read more…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 537 other followers