Prophetic messages

In Luke 4 v 18,  Jesus applies Isaiah 61 v 1 to His own ministry :

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me,

to preach good news

to the poor.’

For over 2000 years the Christian Church has often neglected this aspect of its own calling. Let’s move forward in obedience so that :

God may bestow on the poor of all nations :

‘crowns of beauty’ and ‘the oil of gladness’   Isaiah 61 v 3

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1. Jesus taught us to give priority to the poor. Matthew 25 v 40,45; Luke 4 v 18, 7 v 22; 1 John 4 v 20. We need to make sure that church leaders and Bible Society members ‘hear’ this message. ‘Oral’ ministries are useful and should be supported BUT they are no substitute for easy, very easy and Royal easy to read gospel portions at different levels for poor readers and also for recent immigrants and learning-disabled people in all languages; even in small communities.

2. Jesus’s last prayer in Gethsemane before he died was that believers would be united. John 17 v 20. Let us seek to encourage faithful men and women in all Christian denominations. Let us love one another. 1 John 2 v 10, 3 v14, 4 v 7-12; 1 Peter 3 v 8, 4 v 8. Even if fellow believers, in their ignorance, will not share the bread and wine with us – we should love them as brothers and sisters and not ignore them.

3. We should be embrace God’s Diversity – especially with LGBTQIA+ people. Recently (2017) I’ve enjoyed joining friends in Chester Pride and Manchester Pride, Uk. My first PRIDE was in Cardiff in 2015. Unfortunately, it clashed with Manchester this year – but it was good to see on TV mounted police with rainbow coloured horses supporting. The UK Police generally now support ‘Gay’ people and prosecute Hate Crime.

4. With regard to our frequent use of the phrase, ‘Word of God’ – we should notice these words from an important Christian – C S Lewis :

In a letter to Mrs. Johnson, written on November 8th 1952, Lewis says:
‘It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him. When it becomes really necessary (i.e. for our spiritual life, not for controversy or curiosity) to know whether a particular passage is rightly translated or is Myth (but of course Myth specially chosen by God from among countless Myths to carry a spiritual truth) or history, we shall no doubt be guided to the right answer. But we must not use the Bible (our ancestors too often did) as a sort of Encyclopedia out of which texts (isolated from their context and read without attention to the whole nature and purport of the books in which they occur) can be taken for use as weapons.’

5. We should examine anew the traditional teaching on ‘Heaven and Hell’. Please consider thoughtfully Revd John Wenham’s plea concerning disastrous teaching on Hell.

On page 256 of ‘Facing Hell’ ISBN 0-85364-871-9 he writes :

‘I believe that endless torment is a hideous and unscriptural doctrine which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a terrible blot on her presentation of the gospel. I should indeed be happy if, before I die, I could help in sweeping it away.’

John Wenham died in 1996. His words are important today.

BUT EVEN MORE RECENTLY – HELPED BY ROWAN WILLIAMS (former Archbishop of Canterbury in radio BBC interview with Jon Humphrys) AND AGAIN C S LEWIS (who believed in a revised form of Purgatory) :
I believe that unbelievers will get a second chance to accept Christ when they meet Him -after death.
This life is NOT fair. But eternal life will be fair – as God is just, fair and merciful.

Please read 1 Peter 3: 19ff and ch 4: 6 about what my Anglo-Catholic friends celebrate on Easter Saturday ‘The Harrowing of Hell’; Coptic Christians call it ‘Joyous Saturday’. Please look it up in Wikipedia – where you can also put in C S Lewis and Purgatory.

IT’S GOOD TO KEEP LEARNING AS LONG AS WE LIVE.!!

6. TRUE religion?

For a while i’ve been noticing that truly loving the poor does not always go hand-in-hand with church-going.

James ch1 v 27 and 1 John ch4 v 20b are at the centre of this discussion for me. Indeed, after the 4 gospels, i now regard the Pastoral Epistles as of next priority. All scripture is inspired by God but some parts are much more relevant today than others. But 1 Corinthians ch13 v 2 is in the same theme. Without love, “We are nothing”!!
I’ve also recently been reading again ‘The Orthodox Church’ by Timothy Ware ISBN-13: 978-0-140-14656-1 – a standard introduction to such churches. It is full of refreshing new ideas, such as these words from a Good Friday hymn (p 227):
‘Today is hanged upon the tree
He who hanged the earth in the midst of the waters.
A crown of thorns crowns Him
Who is the king of angels.
He is wrapped about with the purple of mockery
Who wraps the heaven in clouds.’

Moving back to p 207 :
‘All true Orthodox theology is mystical’ ..or it ‘degenerates into an arid scholasticism, ‘academic’ in the bad sense of the word.’….’Doctrine cannot be understood unless it is prayed’….’theology without action as St Maximus put it, is the theology of demons’…The creed belongs only to those who live it. Faith and love, theology and life, are inseparable.’….’If we do not love one another, we cannot love God’…’there is no other way of knowing God than to love Him.’
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So, loving and helping the poor and disadvantaged is part of our calling!
Which people REALLY have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Who will He really KNOW when He judges?
Sadly He told many religious people to, “Depart from me for I NEVER KNEW YOU!”