This World is God's World (7) January 2023 - News and Views from a Christian Perspective
DEATH'S WAKE UP CALL
From footballer Pele to punk fashion designer Vivienne Westwood to the Pope Benedict, 2022 saw as many deaths as ever. We don't know who had been made wise unto salvation and prepared to meet their maker. Certainly the Archbishop of Canterbury, leading the praises of the Pope, makes the Church of England irrelevant. Rather than opposing error by shining the light of the Gospel, Welby congratulates the Antichrist on being a Christian!
Now is the time to wake up and believe the Gospel. It is too late when you are dead.
DON'T GET WEARY OF HOLDING TO REAL BIBLICAL CREATION
I noticed that a Facebook friend (not a personal friend) had posted a link to an article claiming that the Bible was compatible with evolution:
It raises several glaring questions which destroy this clever nonsense. Here is a very brief list of why I cannot accept this "Bible accepts evolution" idea:
First, this all reads as being very reasonable but then it goes on and on and on almost hypnotically, so I skipped through to the end where I found a pathetic effort to justify the evolution of Adam from an apelike creature.
Second, Christians need to wake up and listen for alarm bells. Beware of going along with "theories" which are not proven and which you cannot understand but sound plausible. Here is a prime example of one which leads you to disaster like the blind leaders of the blind of whom Jesus said both fall into a ditch.
Third, if these enormous long periods could be justified as "days" by time expanding in different atmospheres, the proposed evolutionary order of events still doesn't fit with the events of the six biblical days.
Fourth, the morning and evening of the six days of creation is not poetic but needs to be accepted as real so this bizarre extension of days into billions of years is nonsense.
Fifth, to go to all this trouble to then attempt to justify Adam and Eve as being born from a "hominid" but then made human is nonsense. It is plain nonsense in itself and it is also even more plain nonsense because it flatly contradicts the biblical account of Adam being made from dust and Eve from his rib. While advocates of this view may claim to continue with an evangelical understanding of the fall and salvation we ask why. How, when you have distorted the Bible so far, can you persuade us to trust you with the rest of the Bible? I don't trust these folk and I recommend that we separate from their corrupting influence.
Conclusion: by all means take a look at this article but BE ALERT. Don't get sucked in like many Evangelicals are prone to do to make life easier. Evangelicals have got sucked in by the atheistic rewriting of the Greek New Testament following an oddball theory of literary criticism. Evangelicals have even followed bad translations of the Old Testament not even based on original languages! Now Evangelicals are falling in line with evolution. What next? Are they also falling for LGBT and Buddhist Mindfulness and secular politics?
Therefore I conclude that we stick with the biblical account that a day of creation is a normal day marked by a day and night, not billions of years.
"Through faith we believe that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Hebrews 11:3
ATHEIST MEDIA FACT CHECKED
At this time of year it is the duty of Christian ministers to provide some fact checking to the typical misinformation regarding Christianity such as Polly Toynbee's article in the Guardian newspaper, "Christmas comes with good cheer. The tragedy is the religious baggage", Friday 23 December 2022.
Of course Christianity doesn't issue violent fatwas so is a soft target while other religions are merely subsumed under and not named.
As letters to the Guardian can only be 300 words I wrote as bullet points but it would be easy to expand these answers. I realised afterwards that a properly written shorter letter focussing on just one point would have had a better chance of being published. Next year perhaps!
CLAIM: This is the first Christmas that most people are not Christians.
ANSWER: Nothing new. Matthew 7:21-23 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
CLAIM: Toynbee speaks of myths and superstitions.
ANSWER: The Apostle Peter says the opposite. 2 Peter 1:16, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
CLAIM: Goodwill of Christmas doesn’t get acted out in politics.
ANSWER: Matthew 7:20, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Jesus also speaks of hypocrites.
CLAIM: The theology “Veiled in flesh the godhead see” is bizarre.
ANSWER: Jesus said in Matthew 11:25 that the wonder of salvation is bizarre to the proud but is revealed to the humble.
CLAIM: Christmas usurped the pagan Mithras birthday.
ANSWER: Christ is worshipped all year and Christmas is not necessary.
CLAIM : Why wear the symbol of barbaric torture?
ANSWER? Agree, Bible believing Christians don’t wear crosses.
CLAIM : Martytrdom is a repugnant virtue.
ANSWER: Jesus gave his life in a unique way as a true sacrifice for sin.
CLAIM: Perpetual guilt is another repugnant virtue.
ANSWER: Sorry Polly, but look at the world. We are all sinners!
CLAIM: Nuns taught Toynbee’s mother that every naughty act (sin?) was another thorn in Jesus’ crown.
ANSWER: Bible believing Christians agree against the false claims of the Roman Catholic Church.
CLAIM : God should not be worshipped because he inflicts random horrors on people.
ANSWER: Suffering is a consequence of sin in the world but God’s saving purposes are eternal and far greater.
CLAIM : A book “The Darkening Age” by Catherine Nixey shows that the greatest myth of Christianity is that it drove out pagan brutality.
ANSWER: Early Christians were persecuted but later Antichrist (The Papacy) usurped and persecuted both pagans and the true church until the Protestant Reformation.
CLAIM: The C of E is progressive on social justice but not sex.
ANSWER: So what? The C of E has abandoned the Bible and is no longer a good guide.
CLAIM: The church's grip on the nation is seen in King Charles’ Coronation oath to defend THE faith and serve all faiths but not atheists.
ANSWER: Atheist Westminster effectively reigns and the monarch has no power.
CLAIM : Great harm is caused to 6000 children in unregistered schools.
ANSWER: False religion and atheist schooling is harmful but Christian education does not put a child under pressure to become superman or wonderwoman but rather gives the realistic hope that in a very cold hard unforgiving world there is a Saviour Jesus Christ who offers true forgiveness, love, peace and joy.
CLAIM: Religion has blocked our right to die.
ANSWER: If you won’t trust Jesus then don’t trust wicked men to end your life.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Local police (Merton, London) announced that sixty police raided several houses and arrested several local men and confiscated some very nasty weapons. Local media are glad that some criminals will be taken off the streets. Others noted they will only get a few months inside and will be back and called for longer sentences. Others said the prisons are full and advocate rehabilitation schemes for such folk. This has mixed success. I suggested: let me or some other minister go and talk to them about Jesus as he is the only one who can rehabilitate. No doubt my comment will receive mocking.
DOWN'N'OUTS AND UP'N'OUTS
On my cycle ride back from a cold swim in the Serpentine, Hyde Park, this morning 9th December, I passed an elderly woman in Battersea lying asleep on the pavement outside a closed shop under blankets. The temperature was still around freezing point. Even by normal standards I was so shocked but yet I didn't stop. As I cycled on my mind was troubled. What sort of life is this? Then a short while after I saw a police car stuck in traffic going in her direction so I stopped, knocked on the window, and told the policeman driving what I saw. He said he'd go and see if she was ok. OK? I thought. Was she ok? Yes, she might be "ok" but hardly. Women who are ok are not sleeping on a frozen pavement at 10 o'clock in the morning...Anyway maybe she is one of those people whom lots of people have tried to help and in some respects she is ok, just slowly dying without hope along with most of the people in London.
Some of the people we speak with in Wimbledon are not far from this condition. I know they get practical help and don't always want it, but O, if they would only look to Christ! And that goes just as much for what Pastor John Gillespie used to call the "up and outs" as it does for the down-and-outs.
The world really is in an equally terrible state as the woman lying on the freezing street, yet it still feels "ok". This is being dead in sin and is why we pray for the Holy Spirit to put eternal life into the bones...
Epilogue: Next week I pass the same spot and see the same woman on the street but I notice that there is a much younger healthier looking woman lying beside her. Is it an angel? I don't know but certainly it is the gift of God. Our lives may not be what they should be but let us appreciate the grace of God in small things.
Second Epilogue: I passed the woman again on 29th December and stopped and spoke with a man who works at the cafe next door. He said that the restaurant nextdoor, outside which the woman sleeps, keeps a heating vent blowing by her so she is not cold. Also she has her own flat! Apparently she has what is today called "issues".
OPEN AIR PREACHING REPORTS:
These preaching and outreach reports form a rather long section of This World is God's World but include thoughts and reflections so we hope they are of interest.
FRIDAY 9TH DECEMBER 2022
THE DEEPEST NEEDS OF CHILDREN AND HOMOSEXUALS
It was lovely to be out in daylight again rather than after dark, yet spiritually there is as much darkness in our nation in the daytime as there is at night.
It was bright and also cold but we four were well wrapped up. I began preaching at 3pm and continued with only one or two short interruptions for about an hour. Certainly my voice has got stronger this year and I no longer hurt my voice by speaking loudly for so long. Thankfully at home I am much quieter!
THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN
As the preaching began there was a little child sitting on the bench with her mum so I included the mention that we would be better with Jesus than anything of Christmas. He is better than any present and he does not disappoint. I went to John 1:1 to explain who Jesus is.
Further on, an enormous number of small children passed by led by a number of carers or teachers. There must have been at least two batches of more than a hundred each time. They all looked at me but were dragged quickly along and it was hard to say much clearly to them. Lord have mercy on these little ones, was my heart cry. There were some older school children around too, mainly waiting for buses and they were well behaved this week too. Now as I thought and spoke, it came to me that they were all going to be facing challenging lives ahead and yet their school and upbringing was not giving them the truth about God. Therefore they were being very badly let down. As they grow up they will find that they are expected to do very well in life but they will be disappointed and depressed. Also they are not taught that they have a sinful nature, therefore they are expected to achieve everything in life without the vital gift of God in forgiving them and filling them with the Holy Spirit. It is not surprising that so many young people with this bad teaching are ending up terribly disillusioned and depressed and even taking their own lives. I tried to explain that it was therefore very cruel to bring up children without the encouragement of knowing that they can trust in the Saviour and be accepted and know the love of God and enjoy his blessing and favour upon them.
A couple of the children with whom I had chatted on previous occasions stopped to be cheerful and encouraging and I briefly told them this sort of thing and they seemed to understand something of the grace of God.
THE NEEDS OF HOMOSEXUALS
The highlight was however the inevitable conversation which I have previously not had and almost avoided: homosexuality. At one point I was challenged by a man who said that the Anglican church hated homosexuals and he asked if I had the same hatred. I felt he was serious and that I could answer him. I explained that I am not Anglican as our church does not belong to the Anglican Communion but it was not possible to easily explain the differences between churches. Nevertheless I felt I had to clear the charge of hatred. I tried to explain that it is not only homosexuals but the vast majority of people in the country who need a dramatic change given by God or they will all be going to hell. I tried to explain that this was not hatred at all but rather that God changes lives in very dramatic ways. I said that Muslims would go to hell but that did not mean that I hated them. When he insisted on still accusing me of hatred I suggested that he did not know God and he agreed. I said that it didn't matter to him what Christians believe about heaven and hell if he doesn't believe in God as he can continue ignoring it. Soon he walked away.
I felt afterwards that I should have told him that it was only Christians who really love homosexuals because we are the only ones who tell them the vital truth which will do them good. Nevertheless I felt like this was a reasonable start to discussing this subject when asked by such people who are incredibly sensitive and at the same time are very against us. Previously I have more or less refused to answer on this subject but now I feel better prepared for next time.
As there is a need to carefully explain the necessity of a Christian aspect to childrens' upbringing in the context of the terrors that come without it, so there is a need to very carefully explain the Biblical teaching of male and female so that we can be a real help to people who do not understand that homosexuality is a strong and dangerous delusion.
Our 80 year old lady helper gave out huge to amounts of tracts including to a group of school children whom she approached and to whom she talked a while. The other two helpers had some conversations too.
All in all it was an excellent hour well spent. Once again, thankyou friends for your prayers.
Saturday 17th December 2022
REPORT: Due to the freezing weather we changed Friday night for Saturday midday. There was music going on so we moved along a bit and put up a small table with TBS Calendars and Bible portions.
Well it was too light at this time of day for our usual Nicodemuses to approach us but we did meet some encouraging folk.
Preaching by the table across the street felt a little strange but was ok. We preached a little under an hour minus stoppages for conversations on Jesus Christ being infinitely better than Christmas.
One conversation started as a man asked me for a calendar and then proceeded to tell me that he was a Roman Catholic but that we are all Christians. How many times we have heard this, it must be what they are taught to say. And every time I cannot let it go. I go straight for asking them if they are going to heaven. And every time Roman Catholics can only say that they hope to go to heaven but that they don't know. This, I tell them, is the difference between your religion and mine. I should say, this is the difference between your God and mine. This is the difference between your Jesus and mine. I don't talk to them about the Pope or Mary or the Mass, serious as those errors are. This one thing, knowing that Jesus has saved me. That is the one thing that divides evangelicals from Roman Catholics and every other false version of Christianity or religion. Let us keep to this main point and pray for the salvation of souls.
This conversation inspired me to carry on preaching making the point that I would not say "Jesus loves you" or "God loves you" as this would mean nothing. Theologically such a statement is dubious anyway and it is certainly not how to preach biblically. I said people need evidence. So I would rather ask them, "Does God love you?" If he does love you then you will know it for sure. And then I went on to explain how that the only way to know the love of God was as a needy sinner through faith in Christ and his death.
We were down from our usual five to three as one was unavailable and another had Covid but three is fine for outreach. Even two is good.
One couple from another church were particularly encouraging.
Thanks for your prayers.
PEOPLE ARE LISTENING
An encouraging follow up on the street preaching from a Mitcham pastor:
"Two weeks ago I was in C....... school preparing the hall for my class whilst the lunchtime supervisors were clearing away. After, they both came in to chat about Jesus. One of them talked about the preacher on a Friday afternoon in Wimbledon! I said he was my friend too! Keep up the good work for our Lord, we may express our ministry in different ways but truly with the same heart."
I replied, I hope the person didn't speak too badly about me! If they are passing by they only get snippets and, although I try my best to be careful, without the wider context they might come to the conclusion that I am unkind. It has been interesting that some have approached us after many weeks. If they pass by each week they will eventually hear all parts of a sermon and if they piece it together and then talk to you, that is brilliant!
I believe that there are many people who hear the preaching in Wimbledon who are taking it seriously but would not dream of approaching us. I am setting out the enormous challenge that the whole of their life will be a complete disaster if they do not turn to Christ. For someone to face the consequences of that is to them unthinkable. Yet if they even start to question things then there is no limit to what might happen.
A PICTURE OF OUR HEARERS
Chiefly man has an identity crisis. This is nothing new. Man doesn't know who he is. He is brought into the world and treated like a little God without reference to God and he is then expected to grow up into a slightly bigger god. The problem is that he doesn't know he has a fallen sinful nature and a day of judgement approaching in which he will stand before his maker ashamed and condemned. Meanwhile he feels in himself stress and depression and despair but without the knowledge of God and especially of Christ, he has nowhere to turn. The troubled soul realises that he is not the god he was made to be. And this then is something of this deep trouble.
And yet there are flickering lights of the Gospel scattered around.
O, but, Mr Worldly thinks: these poor church people, pity them. Poor souls getting a bit of happiness believing in the sky fairy!
So we go out and preach in the streets. (Yes, we believe we are called and sent by God through the church).
They won't get Jesus by envying our lifestyle. They don't want our lifestyle. They don't want God telling them off or redirecting their lives. So we go and preach. And there behind the bus stop is the brightly painted yet suicidal woman, there is the young man taken over by drink and pornography. There is the one diagnosed with terminal illness. There is the struggling mother and there is the one with a weight of debt and the drug dealer calling with a gun. And they wait for the bus with an eye to the road but they have an ear absolutely rivetted to our preaching of Christ. They think all sorts including: could this be true? Could I ever be in love with God? Could God love me? Could I ever just be free? These thoughts bug them then the 131 bus arrives or the 57 or a multitude of others from Wimbledon and off they go.
It looks like we lost them but a word has stuck. Some great moment of foolish preaching has pierced their heart.
Then a couple of weeks later they are in the school supervising lunch and now they cannot help but chat to the pastor setting up the RE lesson. They politely ignored him before, or at least ignored what he believed, but this week they want to ask him, Who is Jesus? Who is this Jesus? Is he really the great one that the street preacher promised? O, yes. O yes. Amen. He certainly is able to save to the uttermost all that come to him. Shall we pray?
O Lord God, we only have tears and we have no confidence even in the sincerity of them. O come Lord Jesus, be born in us today. O Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.
Friends, your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
REPORT Friday 23rd December 2022
Thanks again for your support in the open air ministry this year. I think we all feel encouraged. Yesterday preaching felt a bit laboured as I felt people were perhaps in more of a rush and perhaps even the closer to Christmas the further from Christ.
But the Lord's ways are largely hidden. I had a phone call in the afternoon from a rather distressed woman who said she was a Christian but had trouble from a fiancée who is now abroad but they are supposed to marry in a few months time but he has turned nasty and she has Covid. But she just wanted prayer and she listened to me read the Bible and accepted biblical counsel.
Then later in the evening I had a surprise video call from a man I knew twenty five years ago in Cornwall, a very amazing chef but not a Christian and no doubt suffering in unseen ways. Now he is working in London and wants to meet up. He started the conversation saying that he wanted spiritual advice but he had another friend with him so I would need to see him on his own to know how serious he might be, if at all.
So let us press on. We just don't know what the Lord will use of the hundreds of conversations and the thousands of tracts and who knows how many thousands who heard preaching. The seed is sown. Let us continue to water with prayer and follow up as best we can and the Lord will give the increase.
THOUGHTS IN BRIEF
"As long as you are out of hell, you have no reason to complain" David Dickson on Lamentations 3:22
THE NEED OF CHRIST
Consider the inevitable ruin of the soul and the pathetic insufficiency of philosophy, atheism or the most fanatical religiosity. Then look unto Christ and be saved!
If a man can call himself a woman and vice versa, there is no definition of a man or woman. Then there is no more feminism or inequality: only complete insanity.
REVIVE YOUR SPIRIT
Are you in low spirits? No doubt it can be a difficult time of year. The answer is to look to Jesus Christ in humble prayer and to praise God with Psalms.
By Rev Peter Ratcliff
St Johns Continuing Church, London
Our Basis of Faith, Life and Worship is: Reformed, Protestant, Evangelical, 39 Articles of Religion, Authorised Version Bible, Psalm Singing.
Tel: 07946 465156