imajorblog

Reformed Reflections

Silly Atheists!

Here’s an example of the general level of atheist attacks on Christianity:

“The oldest version of the Bible [they mean Codex Sinaiticus, a not very reliable MS]..never mentions the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

A simple on-line check would give them both the Greek and its English translation:
John 20:25 ελεγον ┬ αυτω οι ┬ μαθηται · εωρακαμεν τον κν · ο δε ειπεν αυτοιϲ · εαν μη ειδω εν ταιϲ χερϲιν το τυπον των ηλω · και βαλω μου τον δακτυλον ειϲ την χειραν αυτου και βαλω μου την χειρα ειϲ την πλευρα αυτου · ου μη πιϲτευϲω ·

26 και μεθ ημεραϲ οκτω · παλιν ηϲαν εϲω οι μαθηται · και θωμαϲ μετ αυτων · ερχεται ο ιϲ των θυρων κεκλιϲμενων · και εϲτη ειϲ το μεϲον και ειπεν · ϊρηνη ϋμιν ·

27 ειτα λεγει τω θωμα · φερε τον δακτυλον ϲου ωδε · και ϊδε ταϲ χειραϲ μου · και φερε την χειρα ϲου · και βαλε ειϲ την πλευραν μου · και μη γινου απιϲτοϲ αλλα πιϲτοϲ ·

28 απεκριθη ο θωμαϲ και ειπεν αυτω ˙ ο κϲ μου και ο θϲ μου

29 ειπεν δε αυτω ο ιϲ · οτι εωρακαϲ με και πεπιϲτευκαϲ · μακαριοι οι μη ϊδοντεϲ με και πιϲτευϲατεϲ ˙

John 20:25 The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace to you.

27 Then he says to Thomas: Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach thy hand, and put it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.

28 Thomas answered and said to him: My Lord and my God.

29 Jesus says to him: Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that, though not seeing, have yet believed.

http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/manuscript.aspx?book=36&chapter=20&lid=en&side=r&verse=9&zoomSlider=0

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Politicans & Same-Sex Marriage

Mike Nesbitt is certainly correct when he says, “…to those of us who cannot bring ourselves to support same-sex marriage, I say this – we are on the wrong side of history. There is a new generation coming and they simply do not understand why there is a problem.”

The moral answer to that must be, ‘So? Are politicians to support immorality just because it becomes the popular thing?’

At the least our politicians have the duty to warn those ‘do not understand why there is a problem’, to explain to them why it is a problem.

Otherwise we’ll soon be saying, “…to those of us who cannot bring ourselves to support Sharia Law, I say this – we are on the wrong side of history. There is a new generation coming and they simply do not understand why there is a problem.”

Or select any other folly that may gain widespread support and apply the same message.

Our political leaders will all give account to God for their stewardship as pastors of the nation. They should tremble as they exercise their office.

The Day of the Lord

Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Every sinner converted, every saint strengthened to endure to the end, prepares for that Day. So we pray tonight for named sinners, and for whole communities; we pray tonight for named saints, and for our church and the saints everywhere; for healing for the sick, comfort for the mourning, strength for the weary, for restoration for the erring, power for the preachers, spiritual growth for all the saints. Whatever is involved in the calling, justification and glorification of the elect.

When that number is completed, the Day of the Lord will come and bring in the new heavens and new earth. The Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, the Holy Jerusalem will be ready to come down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. God Himself shall be with us, and be our God. And we shall reign for ever and ever.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Keep looking up, brothers and sisters!

How Can I Know Which God Is Real?

Atheists and agnostics often pose this question: ‘How Can I Know Which God Is Real?’ That is, there are so many competing claims about God/gods, from the whole spectrum of religions through to the belief that there is no God/gods. How can one possibly know which, if any, is true?

Let me give you the Biblical answer. To begin I must define what we mean by ‘know’ in this context. This is important, for even here we can use ‘know’ in more than one sense.

First, the ‘know’ I don’t mean. That is the knowledge the Bible says we all have that there is a God, the creator of all. The Bible says the heavens declare His glory, that ‘what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.’ Romans 1:19,20. One may deny that knowledge, suppress it so that it no longer disturbs, but it remains in the inner being.

Now, the ‘know’ I do mean. It is the conscious understanding that something is real. That the kettle in my hand is real and I’m going to fill it with water to make tea. I don’t need to speculate about its reality. So too with the certainty we can have about God.

The question again: How Can I Know Which God Is Real?
The Biblical answer: You must seek for Him, and He will make Himself known to you:
Acts 17: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

There you are, that’s how you can know God is real. But let me warn you, that knowledge is absolutely useless, if you do not put it to use!

That knowledge will not be enough to make you a Christian. Yes, it will be enough to convince you – but unless you act on it, you will go to hell as surely as the atheist. You will return to suppressing the light, forever hardened in your rebellion:
Hebrews 6: 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

To be made a Christian, the truth about God that you have found must be embraced. The whole point of seeking and finding God is to be reconciled to Him. Our blindness and alienation from Him are due to our sin, a rebellion to His rule that is ingrained in our hearts and practiced in our lives.

That’s why God says we must repent, come to Him in sorrow for our sin against Him and trust His Son as our Saviour. Christ died for the sins of all who will come to Him, and rose again to bring them to be with Him forever. That Day is coming when we all, reconciled and rebels, will stand before His judgment throne. If you truly know Him, you will have nothing to fear – but if you don’t, you will stand before God in your own sins, and be punished accordingly.

Ian Major, December 3, 2015.

Catholics should not try to convert Jews, Vatican says

“that the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery”

No, It’s not a mystery at all! It’s an IMPOSSIBILITY! For without confessing Christ explicitly both Jews and Gentiles will die in their sins. Unsaved.
John 8:24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35061357?SThisFB

How do we know God?

Biblical Faith is not subscribing to a proposition we hope is true, rather it is believing a Person we know is true.

Now atheists will ask how we know God – have we seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted Him? No. We have encountered Him by His communicating with our spirit.

Those who are of God, those whom He chose from sinful mankind, come to encounter and believe Him. God reveals Himself to them; they hear Christ’s call and gladly come to Him. Faith is believing in the One they know is real.

So you see faith is not without evidence – it is merely without the five senses evidence.

Matthew 11: 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

This revelation to the heart/spirit is true for every true Christian, as with this early Christian woman:

Acts 16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann

Excellent read! Begins with all the flavour of ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ but in real lives; insights into the thinking and actions of so many important figures in Jewish and World history; especially informative on the progress of 20th Century Zionism. Full of powerful observations and reflections, for example, on the absence of pogroms of his area: ‘It is a melancholy reflection on human relationships when the absence of murder must be noted as a special circumstance which calls for gratitude.’ p20. From its c.600 pages I’ve extracted some 40 quotes that particularly struck me.

 

Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann

Some thoughts on Nationalism

Nationalism is just collective egotism. It is the expression of unwarranted pride in one’s nation, making its interests superior to the interests of other nations.

Now it is proper to love one’s nation, just as it is proper to love oneself. But never at the expense of others. That’s the key. So much of the evil we see in this world comes from selfishness, from seeking our own at the expense of others.

Scripture makes the point:
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.

The nationalist may well object that they are not coveting anyone’s land or resources, just seeking to protect/take back their own. Granted, there is nothing wrong in seeking our rights. We should speak up if our nation is being abused by others. But so often we seek to gain our rights by trampling over the rights of others. Nationalism is blind to its own failings.

The poet puts it this way:
‘Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled
Oh, man is opposed to fair play
He wants it all and he wants it his way’

Bob Dylan, ‘License To Kill’

Both nations in Northern Ireland; in Israel/Palestine; Ukraine; etc. – are all too ready to defend their nation’s interests without giving thought to those of their neighbour. Honourable patriotism will seek accommodation with its neighbour when their rights conflict. Scripture again speaks to this:
Philippians 2: 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

That personal ethic also applies to our collective ethic regarding other nations. As the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising approaches, history should inform us of the folly both sides had in wanting it all and wanting it their way. Attempts at accommodation only came in 1998 after decades of terror, with thousands of lives lost and tens of thousands of casualties. Even now many are reluctant to take less than all, to have it any way but their own. Their nationalism – be it British or Irish – will bring God’s judgment in the end. Let’s not share in their guilt.

Reflections on the Dirty War

 

Suzanne Breen’s article highlights the growing fall-out from our Dirty War. It’s not just the extra-judicial killings of terrorists that we have to come to terms with, but the possibility that innocent civilians and members of the security forces were sacrificed in the effort to defeat the terrorists.

I personally would have no trouble justifying the illegal killing of terrorists, if the law could not protect society. It’s a dangerous course for the authorities to take, as it could be used against the people – but if it’s a choice between protecting the people and protecting the rights of terrorists, the latter deserve all that’s coming to them. They are fighting a war, so should expect to be ambushed and shot on sight.

In fact, that is the problem for which a dirty war should not be the solution! Had the government the moral courage to accept the terrorist declaration of war, instead of pretending it was just a criminal campaign, a dirty war could have been avoided. Terrorist suspects could have been arrested and imprisoned as PoWs until the war was over. Terrorists intercepted in action could have been shot or taken captive at the discretion of the patrol commander. Violent men and women would have been taken off the streets and the two communities appoint their political representatives to sort out an agreement with the government and each other.

But our government chose the softer option – pretend it is all criminal, but negotiate with the terrorists in secret with the understanding it is a war for political ends. No security system could win against terrorists on that basis – so in secret the government authorises a dirty war: the use of agents in the terrorist groups, and ‘shoot-to-kill’ operations by special elements of the security forces. Not a great moral problem in itself – but then come the cases where the agents pass information on upcoming murders, but which can’t be used without compromising the agent. Or the agent themselves has to commit the murder. How much is ‘collateral damage’, how many innocents are expendable in the greater goal of the ultimate defeat of the terrorists?

I have great difficulty with innocents being murdered by State agents as a price for winning the war. I’m glad I didn’t have to make those decisions – so I’m not sitting in judgement on those who did, be they MI5, Special Branch or FRU, or indeed the politicians in government who gave the ultimate authority for it.

We won the war; the terrorists were forced off the field without their essential goals. But how much better it would have been to have fought the war openly as a war.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/police-allegedly-knew-about-shankill-bomb-plan-and-could-have-prevented-it-34395712.html

Reflections on our Legacy issues

 

Northern Ireland is still bogged down on the issues of the past – the Troubles legacy. Victims want answers at the very least – who murdered their loved ones, or maimed them? Other demands are punishment for the offenders, and financial compensation for the pain and loss of earnings endured by so many.

That’s problematic enough – but further complicated by the terrorists looking on themselves as victims of State terror and making similar demands to those of their victims. This is a major sticking point to any settlement on victims’ demands – we cannot agree on who all were victims.

Even if we could get agreement on the definition of ‘victim’, the next problem will be meeting their differing needs. Financial compensation will be relatively easy, given goodwill by Westminster. But Justice and Truth will not. I see it as an impossible request, for no one will volunteer to confess their guilt, especially if it leaves them open to criminal or civil prosecution. And it leaves only the security forces open to forced confession by means of the records/files which the State has on its various actions. It would be unjust for only them to be exposed, and the terrorists able to keep shtum – so unjust that it would not wear with the British electorate.

It seems to me the best course is to go for Truth on its own – as full a discovery of the facts as possible. That can only come if the facts revealed are barred from use in any prosecutions. It would involve all the State records/files being opened to a panel of trusted people – trusted not to divulge identities of agents as agents, and trusted to not conceal things embarrassing to the government, the security forces or the terrorists. Embarrassment is fine; being killed as a traitor is not.

The files would reveal whatever the State knew or thought it knew at the time – who killed who, and on whose orders. Terrorists, security forces, their agents and political and governmental directors. The information would of course be challengeable as mistaken or mischievous in origin – but it would be the closest we are going to get to the truth.