The last word

Now, we are at the end of the year – time to take stock of what has happened during the year – lessons learnt; and, hopefully we can say that our relationship with God has grown stronger and deeper (in love and trust).

I like a lot of what Selwyn has to say – especially the way he summarises the last two months, in regard to the subject – ‘Surprised by God’. He says: “God’s work, we said, is seen clearly ‘only now and then’. The Almighty occasionally breaks into our lives with surprises that serve as mountain peaks from which we can view the rest of His more subtle work.

We have stood together upon some of those mountain peaks and surveyed the wonder of this most surprising God – the way He answers prayer, the manner in which His Spirit draws people to Himself, the turning of the ordinary into the extraordinary, the forms of deliverance He provides when we are experiencing difficulties, the way He pours deep and lasting joy into our hearts, the relevation of the Church, the glory of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and of course, His coming again.”

The important point, I believe, we can learn from the last two months is that God does do extraordinary, surprising things – it is not an attempt to impress us with His power – but it is an action born out of His love – with the purpose of bringing us into a closer relationship with Him.

If we have no relationship with God in this life then, in general, will not have a relationship with Him in the next. We will go to a place where he chooses not to go – a place where there is no light, no love, no companionship, no friends and no family – a dark place full of the sounds of weeping, and gnashing of teeth.

Yesterday – a man died on the gallows. His year ended – as did his life. Yet, all of us started this life as someone in bondage to our evil desires – and there is no way for us to free ourselves from this bondage which always ends in death. Good works can never buy or earn ourselves freedom – only a surprising act of mercy by our loving God can set us free. Perhaps, a useful place to start as we think about any New Year resolutions – do you agree?

The main verse for today is also worth thinking about (Isaiah 40:25): ‘”To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.’



As … so

Second last day of the year – and Selwyn starts to summarise what he has been writing about for the last few days. (Has it been a good year for you?)

He writes: “If Christ’s second coming is not something which will never happen, nor something which has already happened, nor something which is always happening – what is it? It is an event which is yet to happen, as the New Testament repeatedly asserts in the clearest language and as the increasing number of signs in the world around us reveals.”

The main verse for today, (Acts 1:11), is fairly clear: ‘This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way …’. It’s my view that He will surely come back in the same way and the important difference is He will come back as God – Jesus, now glorified – and the whole of creation, that is everything – the physical world, and everything in it – plants, animals & especially us – will automatically respond to His presence. It’s my belief, based on my personal experience, that whatever we think about God – e.g., if He exists or not, will have no bearing on HOW we respond to His presence when He returns. Every knee will bend – then, there will be no choice.

Is death, Christ’s coming?

We spend another day with Selwyn looking at the question; is death Christ’s coming? The answer is ‘No’. To use the verse (John 21:22); ‘Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”‘, as evidence for the second advent re Jesus coming to a believer at the point of death – is a common error – taking a verse out of its context and ignoring the rest of the text. As Selwyn mentions, John provides a clarification, to make it very clear what Jesus meant. Why would anyone take a view about the meaning of a verse without looking at what else is mentioned in Scripture as well as the author’s own clarification? As I wrote yesterday – what’s the agenda of a person who tries to re-define what the Second Coming of Jesus means – when, if you read the relevant verses, it’s fairly clear and unambiguous?


 I’m currently reading a book, printed some time ago (1984), called ‘Keep in Step with the Spirit’ by J.I. Packer (who was then Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Regent College, Vancouver).

The interesting aspect for me is that while I may disagree slightly over some minor points I fully agree with the ‘headline’ issues discussed in this book. You may have noticed over the last year that I usually agree with Selwyn on the major issues which he raises. I find it more and more these days that there is a gradual coalescence of my views about God and His world (& Word) with a wide range (in terms of backgrounds) of evangelical ministers and theologians. I think this is only natural – as the Holy Spirit works with us to brings us to the same understanding of our relationship with God.

At the same time, I’m becoming more aware that we can never fully understand the ways of God and that it’s a real waste of time trying to do so – it’s a position of ignorance, which some never leave because of their desire to reduce God to something the human intellect can define and describe.

I’m often amazed al the mental contortions some people indulge in, in an attempt to force Scripture verses to say what they want to hear – what’s your view about this issue?


An event – not a process

We now look at another false teaching. Today, Selwyn looks at the claim: ‘Christ is always coming back … (He) is always coming into human hearts and into human history.’ While the last sentence is true it is not the ‘second’ coming of Christ.

In a way I don’t really understand why anyone who reads Scripture could be confused by this rather simple teaching that Jesus will return – and in a way that will leave no-one guessing as to if He has returned or not, I then ask the question, why is the simple explanation so hard for some to understand – what is it about His secong coming that they don’t like and, so seek to have a different interpretation?

I share Selwyn’s astonishment that anyone could be confused about the nature of His second coming. Do you agree?


More misunderstanding

Selwyn continues to look at the misunderstandings concerning the return of our God – Jesus.

He writes: “Some believe that Jesus has already come back. … His coming in the presence of the Spirit (at Pentecost), however, is quite different to His personal and visible return, which is predicted repeatedly in Scripture. So many predictions of His second coming were made after Pentecost that they could not have pointed to Pentecost.

Others claim that Christ returned to this earth at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in AD70, when the city was destroyed by the Romans, … but as one more enlightened writer and theologian has pointed out, ‘Part of Christ’s purpose in coming to this earth is not to destroy Jerusalem but restore it.’  So much for the view that Christ has already come a second time.”

It’s my view that there is no doubt that Jesus will return; Revelation 22:20-21, ‘He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen’

The second important point is that He will return in His glorified state – and, everyone will know that He has returned – in one sense He will be the restored Jerusalem, and the perfect eternal Temple.

One other thing I noticed in the quote from Revelation – His grace is with His people  – not all people. What’s your view about this?

‘In for a surprise’

Selwyn now moves on to another of God’s great surprises.

He says: ‘We end our consideration of some of the ways in which we are ‘surprised by God’ by looking at a surprise that is still in the future. I refer to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. … There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding and false teaching about the second coming of Christ in certain Christian circles.’

It’s my view that those who say that Jesus will not be returning do not have a relationship with God; they do not have the Spirit of Jesus directing their lives – they are currently lost, and a long way from home.

The prayer for today is excellent: “Gracious and loving God, please help me to stay alert and watchful for Your coming. May I work as if You were not coming for a thousand years, but live as if You might come today. In Christ’s name I ask it. Amen.”

I recommend that we all live this way. Do you agree?


‘Gasp in wonder’

Christmas Day – it was nice – with close family – time to relax and reflect on what is the highest priority in our lives.

I like Selwyn comments in today’s study: God came down to us, ‘Archbishop William Temple expalined it like this: “There are just two types of religion. The one type tries to meet God at the top rung of a long ladder; the other meets God at the lowest rung. In the one, men and women try to go to God, climbing by their good deeds; in the other, men and women simply allow God to save them.” The message of Christmas is this: we do not have to climb a long ladder in order to reach God. He comes down the ladder to us and meets us on the lowest rung, and receives us there as sinners.

This sets the Christian faith apart from all other religions. …

Every person ought to reflect on this again this Christmas day – and gasp in wonder.’ Don’t you agree?

It’s sad that many people who go to a church service on Christmas day – just don’t live their lives in accordance with the reality of the amazing grace demonstrated by God through Jesus.