Compromising with and giving respectability to evil

ETHICS

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I Watched “Taking Sides”, a 2001 movie telling the story of the investigation and trial of Wilhelm Furtwangler, the famous conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, who naively or willingly helped to support Hitler by giving a civilised, respectable, artistic face of Nazism to the world with Nazi hierarchy attending concerts – just like other civilised peoples.

Art/music has nothing to do with politics Furtwangler said. And so he was silenced and was silent in a time of crisis.

But it would have been better if, at some point during a broadcast concert, for him to have suddenly stopped and condemned Hitler and the others to their faces.

He says he didn’t know but the fact is that he also did not want to know.

He knew that people who disagreed disappeared.

Could such a stand have alerted the world and the German people earlier? Could it have resulted in a wider revolution among the German people? He wasn’t married. Yes, he also might have just “disappeared”. Could he have made such a sacrifice for the honour of his country?

Maybe only if he was a Christian.

What relevance does this have for today with the Church?

Do we need a “Confessing Church” that will resist, confront and even condemn? How best might we do that?

…… Sometimes you just gently teach
…… 
Sometimes you preach with invitation
…… 
Sometimes you confront and challenge
…… 
Sometimes you have to condemn
…… 
Sometimes you have to drive the money-changers out of the temple
…… Sometimes you have to walk with Christ to Calvary.

How, in the context of the sometime, do we make such choices?

How do we evangelise when we fail to tell truth?

How do we evangelise when we fail to warn of approaching danger to our kids? When we fail to protect?

SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO MAKE CHOICES.

Do I remain silent in this situation?

Do I say “this is wrong”?

Are there times when I have to say “this is evil”?

And if I am unable to make such declarations (for myriad reasons) then can I hold up the need for choices? Here is a crossroad – I have to make a choice in my own mind as to which is right and then when it becomes necessary in my speech and behaviour. (Sex, drugs, stealing, abortion, suicide etc)

But then we need to know what and where the crossroad is. Where there are crossroads in Christian behaviour we need to know what they are and we need teachers/mentors/pastors to inform us and in a changing world continue to inform us – the watchmen. And we need to know the principles on which we can make such choices. And we need to be equipped, prepared and strengthened to face the consequences of those choices – to lose our family, our friends and to be hated as Jesus was hated.

The King of Kings is born in Bethlehem and the heavens are open to wide-eyed shepherds.

Sing, dance, exchange gifts and good wishes. Forgive, be at peace with one another. There is something bigger than ourselves.

The King of Kings is born in Bethlehem.

 L Dunjey

Proclaiming Truth – Confronting Evil, Real and Fictional

Sometimes the horror of evil is too much for the mind to take in and more than we need to know. But the knowledge that such exists is enough to provoke action. Remember the Army general who, upon being confronted with the horror of German extermination camps at the end of WWII who said “take photos, lots of them” because there will come a time when people will not believe us.

It was out of that and the other horrors of Nazism that the nations of the world met together in 1948 to ensure that these atrocities would never again be repeated and that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was formed and speaks to us so clearly today e.g. in article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. see… (UDHR)

Similarly, article 18 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1976 (ICCPR) declares the right to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. see… (ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) particularly noting that Article 4 states this to be a non-derogable right – one that cannot be overridden even in national emergency.

For further detail on this and the relevance to freedom see submission to The Expert Panel on Religious Freedom by Medicine with Morality Org. 

• THERE are times when we need to understand the times and know what to do, like the Men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32).

• THERE are those that need to be informed, those that need to inform (yes, our preachers included) and those that need to participate in the confrontation even at the risk of being, in turn, condemned by others for the proclamation of truth.

It is here then, this sometime, this horror, that the realisation is obvious – THIS IS NOT OK.

We try not to dwell on the detail but the horror compels action.

Sometimes you just gently teach
Sometimes you preach with invitation
Sometimes you confront and challenge
Sometimes you have to condemn
Sometimes you have to drive the money-changers out of the temple
Sometimes you have to walk with Christ to Calvary.

CONFRONTING GRATUITOUS, FICTIONAL EVIL

In contrast then is the use of gratuitous, fictionalised violence that is in some literature, frequently not essential to the plot (in that sense, gratuitous) and even when it is essential, the detail is not. We must also say, in this instance THIS IS NOT OK.

However, the reality is that it is frequently presented as BEING OK and is included to attract and titillate.

Reading about sexual violence in history – rape in war, sexual slavery (even today) – should drive us into action against such.

But reading, and watching, gratuitous detailed sex – and yes, violence as in sadomasochistic sex – has the potential because it is presented as fictional to attract us into the story as fantasising participants – and ultimately acting out the story.

Such images destroy innocence and can lock in to neural pathways with life-long consequences in sexual thought and behaviour, demeaning of sex as God gave it, and to the wonder of marriage. It is far more than we need to know.

The inclusion of such fiction in a reading list in a Christian school represents a “failure to protect” – the condemnation of the church by the Royal Commission – and a “leading of little ones into sin”, the condemnation by Jesus in Matthew 18:6. To justify such on the grounds of artistic merit or the real world or preparation for exams is wide of the mark.

We have an obligation to ourselves and to the world to think of “good things” – as a man thinketh, so is he – aware of the fact that both “good and evil increase at compound interest” (CSLewis).

The Message expresses it well

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8.

The consequences if we ignore this kind of advice are both psychological and spiritual. We need to acknowledge that what we fill our minds with influences our thoughts and actions. Violent thought that we deliberately let into our minds fuels further violent thought. Truthfully, deep inside ourselves, we are aware that such exposure does us no good – it is not uplifting; it does not spur us on to greater things; it does not facilitate our enjoyment of people or the simple pleasures of life.

There is a world of difference between understanding and acting on real world evil and evil presented as fiction. The latter – even if meant to awaken re real evil – should not be detailed and should not be presented to immature minds.

Lachlan Dunjey 26 April 2018.

Cities of Blood

INTRODUCTION

Whilst attending the usual mid week prayer meeting in the CBD I was struck by the scarcity of city-workers to intercede for the welfare of our city (Jer 29:7). The people of God will gather to hear a famous speaker, and in some places assemble in large groups to “worship” i.e. sing, but I don’t know of a single Spirit-inspired ongoing mass prayer gathering in Perth.

When Billy Graham visited Australia in 1959 preparations for a move of God were laid by hundreds of prayer meetings across involving over 40,000 prayer partners from all denominations and prayer meetings of up to 5,000.

This from a population of 10 million!

The spiritual need is much greater today, why then so little prayer? 

The immediate answer is the huge increase in wealth in our country over the last 60 years; but there are much deeper issues. Basically, the life of the godless city has invaded the Church; examining the origin of the first city will disclose how the Western Church has been taken captive by the City of Man.

The City built to satisfy the needs of fallen humanity always opposes the City built for the glory of God. The inability of believers to resist the seduction of the City of Man is the root cause of the prayerlessness engulfing the Church today.

BLOOD TAKEN

The City of Man is founded on the shedding of innocent blood. As punishment for murdering his brother Abel, Cain was sentenced to be “a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth(Gen 4:12). But leaving God’s presence he disobeyed the divine verdict by settling in the land of Nod, where he built the first city (Gen 4:16-17).

The secular city is an invention of man to relieve the pain of the loss of God’s glorious presence.  

Luther summed up the dark dynamic of city building by describing Cain’s city as “the first foundation stone of the kingdom of the world, in which the beast bears sway”. Cain’s city was a point of unity, security and protection for his family as a substitute for fellowship with God.

As rebellious humanity’s greatest achievement the city is the site of its supreme rebellion. All the great cities of the Bible, Nineveh, Babylon, Rome, bear the same blasphemous trade mark, “I am and there is no other” (Gen 11:4; Isa 47:8; Zeph 2:15; Rev 18:7).

Idolising their self image proud cities feel no need for God. In their ruthless lust to expand such cities always shed innocent blood (Nah 3:1). Australian cities grew through shedding of the blood of our Indigenous inhabitants.

Its wealth and power render the fallen city tremendously seductive (Rev 14:8), but because fear is in its foundation this city it is always restless. vs.20the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. vs.21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”(Isa 57:20-21). In contrast to the City of Man the true rest of the City of God is the natural state of the Church.

BLOOD GIVEN

Since the blood of Christ brings universal peace (Col 1:20) Hebrews makes Christ’s blood central to the life of the City of God; “you have come…to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem….and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.(Heb 12:22, 24).

Taken by violence Abel’s blood cried out to God for vengeance leaving Cain the city builder with an ineradicable sense of guilt. Through price gouging, profiteering, back stabbing, ladder climbing and self-selling God’s wrath and guilt penetrate the life of all secular cities.

But Jesus’ blood freely shed cleanses from guilt, releases from fear of judgement and delivers peace in the face of death (John 10:17-18). With hearts sprinkled by this blood the Church partakes of an eternal peace the secular city, whatever its wealth, cannot enjoy (Heb 12:22; 1 Pet 1:1-2).

In Christ we know, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Julian of Norwich

In the End God’s uninterrupted presence will fill all things (Hab 2:14).The light of Christ which daily shines on our lives is nothing less than the radiance which shall forever illuminate the heavenly Jerusalem, “the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.(Rev 21:23). The restfulness of the Church reveals to a disturbed world that the only place of true refuge and security is the City of God.

CHURCH UNRESTED

When the contemporary Church seeks to harmonise the City of Man with the City of God, by political alliances, or using business principles and the practices of the social sciences, it necessarily loses its peace.

This exposes the heart of our contemporary prayerlessness.

For whilst the City of Man labours for a living (Gen 4:12) the City of God manifests itself through prayer for a coming kingdom (Matt 6:10). The Church is called to be a sign of a Kingdom which builds a lasting City (Heb 11:10).

Only the power of the cross can renew the people of God according to this divine vision.

On the cross Jesus was stripped of all earthly benefits so that he could only pray; his blood crucifies all personal desire. Consequently, the absence of prayer in the Church is a sign that it has fallen prey to desiring he pleasures and comforts of the City of Man (Rev 17:4). Dazzling as these enticements may be they can never impart rest.

God’s way for his people out of this bind is the paradoxical form of the cross.

THE PERSECUTED REST

Only a Body whose unity, security and protection are exclusively in Christ can enjoy true rest and unconditional peace.  

Such a Church is always an afflicted Church.

Revelation expounds this marvellous reality.

Imprisoned for Jesus, John is “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day(Rev 1:10).  On the Day that is when God terminates this present world order (Joel 2:11, 31; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph 1:14; Mal 4:5; Acts 2:20; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10).

Harassed and Spirit-filled, John is enjoying a foretaste of the end-time transformation of everything. He expects his hearers in the persecuted churches to experience something of the same prophetic presence of the soon returning Jesus (Rev 1:3; 22:7, 12, 20).

Jesus promises that on the Christian who conquers this world he will inscribe,

the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which descends from heaven”.

The power of this reality can be imparted in the Spirit now.

The triumphant Lord of the Sabbath rest has delivered us from the seductive powers of the cities of this world (Mark 2:28 cf. Deut 5:15; Ezek 20:10-12).

The peace which the people of God are called to enter is liberty from the pressures to conform to the City of fallen Man (Heb 3-4).  

The blood of the Lamb has conquered all these powers (Rev 5:5).  

CONCLUSION

  Stop shopping for satisfaction, including shopping for an ideal church

  Stop striving for success, influence or promotion.

  Stop trying to be someone for God.

ASK THE SPIRIT TO HELP YOU MAKE JESUS YOUR ONLY DESIRE and you will come to know, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Such insights are incomparably more wonderful than anything the secular city can give you, and they will move you to……pray.

May the Lord grant us this wisdom, which is a share in the wisdom of the work of the cross whose blood alone builds a City that can never fail our needs. Hallelujah, what a Saviour! 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 22nd. April, 2018

Author: Dr. John Yates

Related Link: Nil

Jesus and the Bible

Scriptures: Deut 6:4-9 John 5:30-47

INTRODUCTION

Why is it that only 20% of professing Australian Christians regularly read their Bibles? Clearly, most of the Church does not experience “the word of God (as) living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.(Heb 4:12 cf. Jer 23:29; Acts 20:32; 1 Thess. 2:13), When Jesus expounded the scriptures after his resurrection his disciples remarked to one another, ““Did not our hearts burn within us…while he opened to us the Scriptures?”” (Luke 24:32)This is something of the power of God speaking through the Bible.

The Chinese government has just banned Bible purchases online, because they rightly grasp it’s a document far more revolutionary than the communist manifesto. The experience of any of us who’ve been on a mission trip to the Third World will testify to the incredible hunger of believers to be taught from the scriptures.

Contrary to well meaning illustrations the Bible is not your maker’s handbook, a manual of morality or God’s “how to” book.

The Bible draws its power solely from its relationship with Jesus. It exists to call, convert and conform us to the life of the one who fulfils all the promises of God through his suffering and glorification.

The scriptures were breathed out by the Spirit of God (2 Tim 3:16) for the sole purpose of imparting to men and women a Jesus-shaped life marked by death to self and rising in the resurrection power (2 Corinthians 4:10; Phil 3:10).

The Bible is attractive, wise, knowledgeable, charming and so on because it communicates these properties of Jesus as Lord. But the Bible itself must not be our focus. When James compares hearing and obeying the word of God to looking at your image in a mirror he had no intention of encouraging us to examine the properties of the mirror (James 1:22-25).

The Bible is of crucial significance to being a servant of God because in an undistorted way it holds up to us the image of Christ.

OLD TESTAMENT AS PROPHECY (see Appendix 1)

The Hebrew Bible had 3 main divisions, the Law, Prophets and Psalms. So when Jesus said to his disciples, “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.(Luke 24:44) he testified that the whole Old Testament was written to point to his coming.

The writers of the New Testament also saw their scriptures in this light.

Peter says, vs.10 “the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, vs.11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.(1Pet 1:10- 11).

Jude sees Christ actively at work in the history of Israel, “Now I want to remind you…that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.(Jude 1:5 cf. 1 Cor 10:1-4; Rom 4:23).

That the substance of the entire Bible is its witness to Christ is perfectly clear from his own testimony.

JESUS AS THE TESTIMONY OF GOD

Jesus quotes from 24 books of our Old Testament, and always in a way that indicates he was submissive to its authority.

When tempted in the wilderness by Satan he always replies by quoting scripture with the preface “it is written”, meaning it must be obeyed (Matt 4:4, 7, 10).

Christ was devoted to the scriptures not because they were a source of information about his future but because they revealed and empowered the shape of his life-identity as Son of God.

Therefore in launching his public ministry he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and said, ““Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”(Luke 4:21).

When his Jewish opponents moved to stone him to death his chief defence was, “Scripture cannot be broken(John 10:35).

On the eve of betrayal and death he strengthened his disciples with the words, “I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’(Luke 22:37; ­cf. John 13:18; 17:12).

It was impossible for the scripture to fail in its witness to the Messiah’s identity. How deeply the fulfilment of scripture is internalised in Jesus’ life is expressed in his dialogue with his enemies in John 5: 30-47.

As the living Truth of God (John 1:14, 17; 14:6; 1 John 5:20) the life of Christ is encompassed in a cloud of witnesses which he lists on his behalf; he “himself” witnesses (5:31; cf. 8:13–14, 18, 54; 18:21), as does John the Baptist (5:33-35), the Father and his works (5:31, 36), the voice and form of the Father (5:37), he says “the scriptures… bear witness about me(5:39), Moses’ writings are about him (5:45-47).

By resisting these weighty witnesses the Jews brought about their fulfilment; as Jesus said, “the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’(John 15:25).

The unlimited sufficiency of the scriptures to bear witness to the shape of his life was pronounced by the resurrected Jesus to his unbelieving disciples, “ “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And…he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself….(Luke 24:25-27, 44).

The story line of divine promise, faithful suffering and glorious fulfilment shapes the Bible, Jesus own life and God’s kingly rule on earth.  The Bible has power and authority because it reveals this order of death and resurrection as the true way of God.

This is why the prophetic ability of the Bible to speak God’s Word to us is most concentrated in its witness to the cross. The Old Testament as a mouth piece of God is perfected in its intimacy with Jesus’ own words when the bearing of the burden of our sin (Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 5:21) Jesus speaks out Psalm 22:1.“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Mark 15:34).

It is when life’s circumstances appear to threaten the fulfilment of God’s promise to save the world that there is a perfect unity between the written words of scripture, the eternal Word made flesh in Christ, and the lost state of fallen humanity (Heb 2:10; 5:8).

This is a perfection which will be completed for us in the resurrection and glorification of Jesus and made manifest in the gospel witness of the New Testament (cf. Heb 11:40). To suggest that there’s any deformity in the Bible implies imperfection in the life of Christ.

Our problem with the Bible isn’t that its outdated or complex, its that it calls for our obedience to Christ in the gospel (Rom 10:16; 2 Thess 1:8 cf. Mark 14:36; Phil 2:8; Heb 5:8-9). It is far easier for us to search for and listen to witnesses other than Jesus (2 Tim 4:3-5).

OTHER (ALIEN) WITNESSES

Sin always seeks false witness to justify itself. In his dialogue with his religious opponents in John 5 Christ said, “you do not have…(the Father’s)…word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent(John 5:38 cf. v.43).

Then said, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?(John 5:44).

Human beings prefer the witness of other sinful human beings because their testimony is always more in conformity to our pride than the message of God’s death and resurrection in Jesus.

The Bible is avoided today because being intimate with Jesus involves strength through suffering (2 Cor 12:10).

The proper use of scripture is made clear through Jesus own words.

LIVING THE WITNESS

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples… If you abide in me, and my words abide in you…. you will abide in my love’(John 8:31; 15:7, 10).

This abiding is much greater than an individualistic thing; as we heard last week about what it means to belong to the people of God; “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…(Col 3:16).

We abide in Christ and become more intensely united to him as we receive his Word into our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17).

The truth of the Bible supernaturally shines through our lives as Christ lives out his life through us (Rev 1:1-2 cf. v.9). The naturally supernatural state of Christians is to be powerfully bonded to the scriptures because we are called to conform to that of which they so clearly, Jesus!

Where then is the great challenge?

When we look at the life of Christ all becomes clear.

Only in becoming the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14), only in becoming weak and subject to temptation like us (Heb 4:15), did Jesus need the Word of God written to become “complete, equipped for every good work(2 Tim 3:17)

Christians receive revelation from the Bible and are empowered by it to do God’s will only as in ignorance, weakness we struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil and seek the triumphant life of Christ. Receiving the victorious humanity of the Son of God is what moved all the authors of the Bible to speak as witnesses and it is what will move us too (cf. 2 Pet 1:21).

This is the essential mystery and stumbling block of what we Christians call our holy scriptures (Rom 1:2). Unlike Jews for whom the notion of a suffering Word is a scandal, unlike Muslims who believe the Koran is eternal with Allah, unlike Mormons who believe their book was written on golden plates, the power of the testimony of the Bible to convert men and women is directly related to the weakness and suffering humanity of God’s own Son and his servants. 

CONCLUSION

The Bible has a central place in the life of the Church because it is the primary medium through which the Spirit communicates the heart, soul, mind and strength of Jesus.

The falling away from reading and obeying scripture is a tragedy because it means a falling away from conformity to the life of Christ.

This sets up a vicious cycle.

The neglect of scripture is a serious sign that we have become confused over Christ’s identity and the more we leave off reading and hearing the Lord through the Bible the deeper this confusion becomes. In the book of Amos God threatens to send a terrible judgement on the land, “a famine…of the hearing of the words of the LORD(Amos 8:11).

This possibility, which is presently an actuality in Australia, should strike our hearts with godly fear.

But it is a fear with a remedy in Christ himself.

Since Jesus bore the terror of not being able to hear God speak to him on the cross (Mark 15:34) but was then raised from the dead by his Father we know God wants to speak to us and will do so again and again through the Bible; as we come to him with our struggles, temptations, tribulation, distress and persecution (Rom 8:35 cf. Rev).

If we see the Bible in this way, as the indispensible means to share in the life of Jesus, we will not fail to abide in Christ and in so abiding hear him speaking again and again effectively equipping us to serve him in this world(2 Tim 3:16)..


APPENDIX 1:

OLD TESTAMENT TYPES FULFILLED IN CHRIST

Theme Old Testament New Testament
ELECTION Gen 12:1- 2 Eph 1:4
Deut 7:7 -8 1 Peter 1:20
COVENANT Gen 15:17 Matt 26:26- 28
Ex 19:5 -6 Heb 12:24; 13:20
2 Sam 7:14  
Isa 42:6  
Isa 49:8  
Jer 31:31 -34  
DESCENDANTS Gen 12:2 Matt 1:1
Gen 13:16 Acts 3:25 -26
Gen 15:5 Gal 3:16
Gen 16:10 Heb 2:10
Gen 18:18 Rev 5:9 -10
LAND Gen 12:7 Heb 11:16
Gen 13:14 – 15 Rev 21:1- 5
Gen 15:18- 21  
Gen 17: 8 Luke 9:31
EXODUS Ex 12:1 – 15:27 1 Cor 5:7
Ps 78:1-72 Col 1:13
Isa 40:3- 4  
Jer 16:14- 15  
ISRAEL/SONSHIP Ex 4:22 -23 Matt 2:15
Isa 43:6 Mark 1:1
Hos 11:1 John 1:18
  Luke 3:22 -38
LAW Ex 20:1-26 Matt 5:17 -18
Lev Rom 10:4
Deut 5:1-33  
Ps 1:1-6  
Ps 19:1-14  
SABBATH Gen 2:2 Mk 2:28
Ex 20:8 -11 Rev 1:10
Deut 5:12 -15  
TEMPLE Ex 25:1 – 31:38 John 1:14
1 Ki 5:1 – 8:66 John 2:19 -21
SACRIFICE Gen 4:2- 4 John 1:29
Ex 12:1-51; Ex 29:1 -30:38 Rom 8:3
Lev 16:1-34 1 Cor 5:7
1 Sam 5:22 Heb 9:1 – 10:39
Ps 50:5 Rev 5:6- 10
PROPHET Gen 20:7 Luke 4:16 -21, 24
Deut 18:15 – 19 Luke 13:33
Amos 3:7 John 4:19
Amos 7:14 -15 Acts 3:22 -23
PRIEST Lev 1:7- 17 Mark 10:45
Lev 13:1 – 14:57 John 10:11
Num 1:47 -54 Rom 8:34
  Heb 2:17
  Heb 3:1
  Heb 4:14 – 15
  Heb 7:1-28
KING 1 Sam 8:4- 18 John 1:49
2 Sam 7:14 -16 Mark 15:32
Ps 89:1-52; 132:1-18 Acts 2:29- 33
Isa 9:6 -7 Acts 13:23, 32 -34
Ezek 34:20 – 24 1 Cor 15:24 -28
  Rev 19:16
KINGDOM OF GOD Ps 22:28 Mark 1:15
Ps 24:1-10 Acts 14:22
Dan 2:44 Acts 28:31
Dan 4:3 Rom 14:17
Dan 7:13 – 14 Col 1:13
SON OF DAVID 2 Sam 7:14 Matt 1:17 -20
  Matt 20:29 -31
  Luke 1:30 -33
  Rom 1:3
SON OF MAN Ezek 2:1 Mark 7:38
Dan 7:13- 14 Mark 8:31
  Mark 13:26 -27
  Mark 14:62
  Acts 7:56
ANOINTED ONE (MESSIAH) Ps 2:2 Matt 16:16
Isa 61:1 Mark 1:1
Dan 9:26 -27 Acts 10:38
SHEPHERD Ps 23:1 John 10:11
Isa 40:11 1 Pet 2:25
Ezek 34:23 1 Pet 5:4
  Heb 13:20
WISDOM 1 Ki 3:6- 9 Luke 2:46- 52
1 Ki 4:20 – 34 Luke 11:31
Isa 9:6; 11:2 1 Cor 1:20 – 2:16
  Col 2:2- 3
KNOWLEDGE Prov 1:7 1 Cor 2:16
Isa 11:2 Col 2:2- 3
CAPTIVITY/EXILE Gen 15:13 John 1:14
Jer 1:15 -16 Rom 8:3
Jer 20:4 -6 2 Cor 8:9
Micah 4:10  
RESTORATION Isa 1:26 Matt 19:28
Isa 49:6 Acts 3:21
Jer 30:18  
Ezek 36:35  
Amos 9:14

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 8th April, 2018 | Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates


MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: This is a single sermon which is recorded in two parts because of a slight technical problem.

8th April. 2018 part 1 |     

8th April. 2018 part 2 |     


Related Link: Nil

Unbelief

Scripture Reading: Num 13:25-14:4, Ps 78:9-22, Heb 3:12-4:2 & Mark 6:1-6

 

INTRODUCTION 

In the Gospels, Jesus is said to be amazed only twice; at the great faith of a Roman centurion who believed he could heal his sick servant at a distance and at the unbelief in his hometown synagogue of Nazareth (Matt 8:10, Mark 6:6).

Given this reversal of natural expectations we shouldn’t be surprised that mass conversions are taking place amongst religious groups long opposed to the gospel e.g. Muslims, Hindus, but almost nowhere in the established churches of the Western world.

Familiarity with the Jesus message usually seems to breed unbelief.

Whilst doubt is a state of mind where a person with a divided heart (Ps 86:11) wants to believe but struggles to trust God (cf. Mark 9:24), unbelief is stubborn resistance to believing.  Unbelief is a conviction that God won’t keep his word.

The magnitude of the unbelief that confronted Jesus in Nazareth is extraordinary. This was the town where he grew up, played as a child, walked the streets, attended weddings, worshipped with the community and built some of their houses and furniture. If “familiarity breeds contempt” how have we become immunised against the profound reality of Jesus in our midst (cf. Rev 3:14 ff.)?

THERE ARE VARIOUS SURE SIGNS OF WHEN A PROFESSING CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IS AFFLICTED BY UNBELIEF.

1. A lack of expectation that the Lord will speak to us through scripture and in prayer; this is reflected in the huge decline in these devotions across the Australian Church.

2.  A lack of expectation that the Lord can convert anyone, even people close to us; this is reflected in the malaise of evangelism in the Anglican Church.

3. Low anticipation that the Lord will dramatically change our own lives when we come to church; hence the irregular attendance patterns across all brands of Christianity.

Unbelief is a powerful problem amongst us that urgently needs to be addressed.   Inexplicable

JESUS THE FOCUS

Our story in Mark 6 follows on a list of healings performed by Jesus so by the time he arrives in Nazareth everyone knew his teaching was extraordinary and his miracles astounding; “many who heard him were astonished, saying,Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?(Mark 6:2). Then follows a turn of events that illustrate the baffling evil of the human heart.  The conversation rapidly descends from what the Nazarene’s don’t understand to what they clearly comprehend; “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?And they took offense at him.(Mark 6:3).

Jesus is just too ordinary; we know this guy’s occupation, his mum, his brothers and sisters are with us; the tone turns dismissive, contemptuous and hostile.

Jesus’ status as an itinerant preacher and miracle worker doesn’t fit in with the man they are familiar with, so they exclude him from their village fellowship and worship. (In Luke’s version of this story they even try to kill him (Luke 4:28-30).)

These harsh judges of Jesus were decent religious people who lived good lives, worked hard and took care of their families. But when it came to Jesus they were “know alls” closed to heavenly revelation about the identity of their fellow Nazarene. Familiarity had bred a dreadful contempt for the Saviour of the world.

These Nazarene’s were country folk who couldn’t imagine someone with the status of a prophet could be raised up by God from amongst them and manifest himself in such ordinary circumstances. Perhaps they knew the opinion of the famous teachers of the day quoted in John, “Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”” (7:52). They were scandalised by Jesus’ apparently everyday appearance and origins. This is the offense that will come to its completion at the cross (1 Cor 1:23).

In the progressive rejection of Jesus in Nazareth we are witnessing, to quote Hebrews, a “hardening of the heart by the deceitfulness of sin(3:13). The harshness of their verdict upon the blameless Son of God was the consummation of a long history of rebellious Israel refusing to believe in the word of the Lord (Num 13:25-14:4; Ps 78:9-22; Ps 95:8; Heb 3:8, 12, 15, 19; Heb 4:7)

Like their fellow Jews under Roman rule they were desperately seeking a Messianic deliverer, but when he was sent in the form of their own lowly flesh and blood they couldn’t conceive Jesus was this Saviour (John 1:11).

In the synagogue of Nazareth, and finally on the cross, the Jews could not believe that this ordinary looking man was “the Lord of glory(Mark 15:32; 1 Cor 2:8). Their hearts were closed against the Word of God (Acts 28:27). Now Jesus has something to say, and what he says should strike fear into the hearts of all easy going believers.

“A prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”(6:4). Hometown, relatives, family –  all those naturally close to Jesus dishonour him. In refusing to accept Jesus’ status as a prophet God’s covenant community in Nazareth showed itself ashamed of her Lord (cf. Mark 12:4).

Therefore upon this proud, prejudiced, disrespectful congregation fell this Old Testament warning, “those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me shall be despised(1 Sam 2:30 cf. Mal 1:6). Because they dishonoured Jesus “he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.(Mark 6:5)

Surely these orthodox Jewish worshippers who knew Jesus in the flesh had a heart of unbelief deeper than that of Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus; if the mighty works of God progressively hardened his heart (Ex 7:13, 14 etc.); any dazzling display of the supernatural by Jesus in Nazareth would have aggravated the crowd’s stubbornness and intensified their guilt.

If the scarcity of the God’s mighty acts of power in Nazareth 2000 years ago was an act divine judgement it must be the same amongst the churches of Perth today. But there are exceptions. I can think of three groups who are seeing the mighty hand of God in Australia today; outback Indigenous communities, Iranian refugees and drug addicts.

Like the revival that broke out through Jesus’ conversation with an immoral woman amongst the despised Samaritans (John 4), none of these folk take up a lofty place and look down on the lowly country carpenter from a tiny town crucified in weakness on a cruel cross (cf. John 1:46).

The simple trust of these broken communities means they are honoured by the Father with wonderful works of power (cf. 2 Cor 10:5). Coming to the end of our story in Nazareth we are confronted with a provocative testimony to Jesus’ personal state of mind.

And he marvelled because of their unbelief.(Mark 6:6). Jesus was astonished, shocked, and stunned that his own people would reject his witness. If only they had the humble faith to see Jesus as the almighty Lord-in-flesh they could have been saved. But their image of God didn’t fit with the true image of God who stood before them (Col 1:15).

Nothing has changed.

Most Australians are apathetic about God, which means they think that God, if he exists, is apathetic about them. Where people exhibit a spiritual hardness it’s because deep down they believe that God’s heart towards them is hard (Matt 25:24-25). Can we conceive that Jesus is astonished at our unbelief? Or are our hearts so hardened to the tender reality of the humanity of the Son of God as to deny this could be?

Can we hear Jesus saying to us, as he did to his disciples who because of their unbelief could not heal a sick boy, ““O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?””.

The story goes on to record the plea of the boy’s father whose faith had been shattered by the powerless of the disciples, ““I believe””, he cried out to Jesus; “help my unbelief!”(Mark 9:19, 24).

Why are we not hearing such a desperate cry across the churches in our city today?  

Are we are too Anglican to call out to Jesus like this, too proper, too self-controlled, too deaf to the one who cried out so loudly for us on the cross (Mark 15:34). Too unbelieving to think our cries will make any real difference!

CHRISTIAN DISBELIEVING

Who are the people most likely to deny their unbelief….the most unbelieving.

In praying about this incredibly stubborn spiritual problem, from which we all suffer, I have come up with an “index of unbelief”.

If unbelief expresses itself in the dishonouring of Jesus then signs of unbelief are present in every action where we appear ashamed of the Lord.

Our unbelief manifests itself whenever we hold back from helping people hear about, meet and grow to be like Jesus.

These outward signs are pretty obvious, but our Bible readings for today point to an even more profound level of unbelief, one residing in the deepest interior of the human heart, the place where both belief and unbelief originate (Rom 10:9; Heb 3:12).

The most profound sign of unbelief, one which I encounter again and again in ministry to people from across the Body of Christ, is an inability to enter the rest of God (Heb 3:12-4:2).

God’s rest not some passive state whereby we wait for a mysterious outpouring of the Spirit.

It is the opposite of a spiritual activism which seeks to make things happen (something from which I suffered terribly as a young preacher). The true rest of God in Christ is entered by faith and is an unforced expectation/assurance that God is going to act in the presence and power of his kingdom to reveal the honour of his Son amongst us (cf. Heb 11:1).

CONCLUSION

If those in Jesus’ home town who knew him in the flesh couldn’t see God in him, and if his first disciples could not believe that God would have his Son crucified in order to raise from the dead, what hope is there for us in our unbelief (Luke 24:25-26)?

Unbelief is a power, a power so deep and invasive that only God’s mercy in Christ can overcome it.

It’s not hard for us to believe that God works miracles in other times and places and through other people; but we have little to no expectation he can do these things here and now through us.

We can believe that “someone else somewhere else” can evangelise, pray for the sick and see them recover, cast out demons in Jesus’ name, intercede with great authority, sacrificially give of finance, time etc. (James 5:16; cf. “Mark 16:17-18”) but we can’t see ourselves doing these things.

The way forward out of such a spiritually stuck condition does NOT involve a focus on our own locality and wretched state of unbelief (Rom 7:24). Such self-initiated self-examination is never helpful. 

The healing that our hardened hearts need can only come from heaven, we must ask our Father to send us his Spirit to stir us up to plead for the honouring of the name of Jesus (Luke 11:13; John 16:14).

As there are signs of unbelief and divine judgement, so there are signs of the favour of God upon a people.

Any congregation which makes it their first priority, however great the cost, to uplift and honour the name of Jesus will see mighty acts of power so that many lost and broken men and women come to marvel at the revelation of Almighty God made flesh (Heb 2:9). 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 15th. April, 2018 @ St Marks

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 15th. April, 2018 |   

Related Link: Nil

A Perth Church says it’s time to take a stand and protests against ‘Hannibal’

MEMBERS OF our Morley church went into battle against evil a couple of Sundays ago when they spent part of the morning service considering the film “Hannibal” and being told that their Pastor and Elders had written to the Federal Attorney-General to express strong feelings about the film which is currently showing in Perth.

Others in the denomination may have thought about the film with distaste and perhaps anger: Morley went further by registering their grave concern about the classification given to the film which allows it to be seen by anyone aged above 15 years and suggesting it should not be shown at all.

At the morning service on February 18 Pastor John Randell introduced the subject, saying he would like to read to all those present the letter that had been written by Keith Robins on behalf of the Elders and the Pastor to Attorney-General Darryl Williamson — a House of Representatives member for a Perth constituency and the Minister in charge of film classification in Australia.

The letter read as follows:

“At a recent meeting of the Pastor and Elders of the Morley Baptist Church we expressed grave concern about the showing and classification of the film “Hannibal”, rated MA15+.


Our first preference would be that the film be withdrawn from the theatres. “If this is not possible we would request that you take the necessary action to have the Office of Film and Literature Classification re-classify this film to an R rating.


“We are deeply concerned about the psychological and spiritual effects this film, with its hideous violence, will have on, especially, the young people in the audiences.”

John Randell told the church that Dr Lachlan Dunjey had wanted something said about reasons why church people should not see “Hannibal” and the Elders had agreed with that sentiment. But, he continued, even if it was never going to be necessary to dissuade people from seeing the film he would like Lachlan to express his views.

“Obviously I haven’t seen the movie,” Dr Dunjey replied, “but it is about real evil — not just your ordinary murder and rape and mass killings (as though we could ever become desensitised to those, which is a risk). It is about sinister, terrible evil and all the critics acknowledge this. So, the real question is, ‘Should we expose our minds to this or any other kind of evil?’

The scriptural principles are very clear: just let me mention two: ‘We reap what we sow’ (Gal 6:7) and ‘We must sow good thoughts’ (Phil 4:8).”

He quoted from “The Message” version of the latter: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you‘ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse … Do that and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.

Continuing, he warned that the consequences of ignoring this kind of advice were both psychological and spiritual and he saw both in his work.

We need to acknowledge that what we fill our minds with influences our thoughts and actions. Violent thought fuels even more violent thought. Truthfully, deep inside ourselves, we are aware that such exposure does us no good — it’s not uplifting, it doesn’t spur us on to greater things, it doesn’t facilitate our enjoyment of people or the simple pleasures of life.

Quoting C.S.Lewis (“it’s not surprising he had something to say about this principle of life”) Dr Dunjey said:

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or a railway line or a bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

C.S.Lewis

Asked by Pastor Randell if there were any circumstances in which it was all right to go to see a film like “Hannibal”, Lachlan Dunjey said there were.

“If, for example, a person ‘had’ to go because of his involvement in mental health issues, or if, for any good reason we, as Christians, had to go into the Devil’s territory. But then we must surround that person with prayer and send them in God’s name. It must never be out of curiosity or seeking entertainment. Those motive are dangerous, and we leave ourselves open psychologically and spiritually.”

— Alan Burton

Healing the Broken Heart of Australia “REPORT”

56 Days Non Stop Around Australia

8 Capital Cities in 8 weeks

Dear South West Prayer Network and Friends of the Gospel,

It’s been a long time on the road!  I just returned home on Monday evening of the 5th of March after travelling fifty six days non-stop around Australia to eight capital cities in eight weeks with Team Kenya and other Australian Leaders. Every night at 7.00 pm we were preaching with one night where we didn’t make it in time.

I want to thank everyone who was involved with Healing the Broken Heart of Australia in these past 2 months.  Especially our coordinators in each of the eight cities… THANK YOU SO MUCH!

All our prayer partners, THANK YOU!  We stepped into something very, very great in God.  I ask your forgiveness for those I have forgotten to mention, my apologies everyone.

SPECIAL THANKS to Francis Borsic from Port Hedland who sacrificed her life and home to serve God with me for the past year.

SPECIAL THANKS to Team Africa for their gift of love and extreme sacrifice in paying their own fares and coming to Australia in sometimes pretty rugged conditions and then going home to personal hardship.

First Four Cities:

Second Four Cities:

PERTH – MELBOURNE – DARWIN – BRISBANE

CANBERRA – ADELAIDE – HOBART – SYDNEY

The reason for such a trip was concerning revelation, visions, dreams and missions over several years into Africa and Pakistan since 2013.

“Overthrow 2017” was the gathering that was held in Mount Barker, Western Australia last year in Pastor Mike and Lisa’s church.  This gathering was significant to understanding the timing of God and His heart for Australia right now and where he was taking us.  The nation of Australia had a broken heart.

During the first four cities, Apostle Frederick Indangasi Isoyi was partnering with Arrow Head International and was a key person and very significant in our ability to take a team of seven Senior Pastors mostly from the Baptist Church in Kenya.

Fred represents “Jesus Power Evangelistic Missions International” based in Mtwapa, Mombassa, Kenya.  With him comes the support of thousands of Baptist Churches.

Apostle Solomon Okumu is the Pastor of Destiny Outreach Church in Mtomondoni, Mtwapa, Mombassa, Kenya.  Solomon was the first pastor who opened the door for me to go into Africa and to preach and hold my own leaders conference in partnership with his ministry for that time.

The Journey Began on the 8th of January

Perth, Western Australia is where we began our journey on the 8th of January 2018.  During that crusade, I was already thinking about the 8 weeks away from home and family and counting the cost.

Praise God!  We have obeyed the Lord in going to every capital city of Australia in 8 weeks.  A total of 56 days non stop and holding meetings every night with one exception when we travelled by plane from Perth to Melbourne and we didn’t arrive in time for our first evening meeting.

Support the work of the ministry 7 more years to go

Please support the work of the Lord through your finances and prayer.

During the past 2 months, the Lord has shown us that this was just the foundation year and that there are 7 more years to go.  We need your help and thank you to those who sowed into the ministry in accomplishing the task of Healing The Broken Heart of Australia in our Maiden voyage around Australia.

WE NEED:
$8000.00  

Account Name:  Arrow Head International,

BSB Number: 036032,

Account Number:  524137

Maybe you can sow $1000, if that’s you, praise God!  There has been an anointing on a call for $1000 which started in Perth, Western Australia. 

Your assistance is required to complete the mission of HEALING THE BROKEN HEART OF AUSTRALIA.  And also for me to go to Africa next month for the Annual Fire Conference with Sister Eunice Indangasi and to plan for next year with Apostle Fred and the team there.


New Assignments into Alice Springs and Kenya, Africa

I am calling our Australian Team from Healing The Broken Heart of Australia to Alice Springs to support Pastor Sharon Lowah at Easter this year.

More details will follow, but we are planning to be there from the 30th of March for 3 days.


2019 Healing the Broken Heart of Australia 

The 2nd Circuit around Australia – will you join us as we pick up momentum in the coming year for HEALING THE BROKEN HEART OF AUSTRALIA in 2019.

I will be travelling back to Kenya to continue our discussions and making plans for our second circuit around Australia.  I need your support for these missions and to continue to build in Australia and in relationships with Africa.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and for standing with us in this past year.  We were able to do the task the Lord had given us this year.  7 more years to go and maybe you will be able to physically join us next year.  Pray about it.  Ask the Lord what He wants you to do… revival and transformation is what is being released and more as we travelled around the nation.  We can’t stop now… the Lord is breathing on us… Amen!  The foundation has been built… our Aboriginal people were there to receive us in every city… some stronger than others… but praise God the Lord has done His work.


Writing a Book

When we were in Canberra, Apostle Joshua Omala had a word for me to write a book.  I have already started writing one but felt that the Lord was wanting me to write specifically about the Healing the Broken Heart of Australia and the meetings that took place.  So that is what I will be doing.  If you want one, let me know please. 

love and blessings from, GLORIA MILLER
Arrow-Head International
Arrow-Head Ministries
RED DOOR AWAKENING – 24 Hour Prayer Summit 2014
http://vimeo.com/90045270 (Promotional Video)
BREAKSPEAR FILMS
e:  gloria@arrowheadministries.org  |  m:  0412899966

Visit the Arrow Head International website:  http://www.arrowheadministries.org