The Mexican Standoff

Anyone remember the scene in ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ where Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach are standing in the graveyard, ready to shoot each other in what has become known as a “Mexican Standoff”?

The premise is simple, three people who all think they are correct face off against each other, three opposing view points….. they can all be wrong but they can’t all be right. This idea has great parallels within Christianity, for two millennia men have debated, argued and even shed blood over their interpretation of Scripture, each believes they are correct and the others are wrong, with deep theological and passionate arguments Christians have generally taken one of many sides; are you a Calvinist? Maybe an Arminian? What about Universalism? Or maybe some mixture taking parts of two or all three?

Now I don’t expect to solve this problem or give some perfect answer, for there isn’t one despite what many sincere teachers and false heretics have claimed over the years; but I will lay out an objective view of three (or more) viewpoints on the following subjects: Hell, Atonement, The Rapture and maybe more as I begin to compile research over the coming weeks and months.

These topics are either avoided or taken to extremes without considering the other possibilities in light of Scripture, let’s be honest, there are many things in God’s Word which are absolutely clear but there are a few areas which have become open to interpretation.

Friends, this is not going to be an easy study, no doubt some of my preconceived notions may be challenged along the way. I ask that you pray, as I will be, that throughout it all the only voice I will be open to is Gods, the only teacher I will adhere to is the Holy Spirit and the only leader I will follow will be Christ.

God Bless and watch this space!

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

The Christian Ostrich

A while back I wrote about the “Christian Ostrich”….

An ostrich isn’t the brightest bird and it will generally eat anything that fits into its mouth whether it’s edible or not. The Christian “ostrich” is one who does not (or cannot) discern between true and false, as long as something has the slightest connection to Christianity or Jesus then it must be good, even if it is something clearly defined as false in Scripture….they’ll swallow it anyway. We’re seeing a lot more of this lately with the rise in universalism, the liberal-emergent church, word of faith teachings and the attempts of many popular “christian” leaders to unite Protestantism with Catholicism or even Christianity with Islam!

Then I came across this paragraph written in 1885 which sounded too familiar…..

“Myriads of professing Christians nowadays seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with colour-blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound. If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest, they appear to think he is all right, however strange his sermons may be. They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error. Romanism or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Ghost or no Holy Ghost, future punishment or no future punishment, ‘high church’ or ‘low church’, Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism—nothing comes amiss to them; they can swallow it all, even if they cannot digest it! Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody going to be lost….” ~ J.C. Ryle (Holiness)

Then again, even in first century, in early days of the Christian Church the apostle Paul had to deal with the same situations, so really it’s nothing new…..

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! ~ Galatians 1:6-8

O For A Heart To Praise My God

I’ve been thinking, praying and writing a lot about the Christian heart lately; I found this hymn written by Charles Wesley in 1742 which sums it all up perfectly….

O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that always feels Thy blood
So freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.

A humble, lowly, contrite, heart,
Believing, true and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Christ who dwells within.

A heart in every thought renewed
And full of love divine,
Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.

Thy tender heart is still the same,
And melts at human woe:
Jesus, for thee distressed I am,
I want Thy love to know.

My heart, Thou know’st, can never rest
Till Thou create my peace;
Till of mine Eden repossest,
From self, and sin, I cease.

Fruit of Thy gracious lips, on me
Bestow that peace unknown,
The hidden manna, and the tree
Of life, and the white stone.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
Come quickly from above;
Write Thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of Love

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever ~ Psalm 73:26

A Contrite Heart

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:17

We don’t know the author, the timing and the purpose of many of the Psalms however with Psalm 51 we know the author, King David, the timing, after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for husband Uriah to be killed in battle and the purpose, to repent and seek God’s forgiveness.

In this Psalm we see David truly broken, the man described in 1 Samuel 13:14 as “after God’s own heart” has committed a heinous sin against God and has been confronted by Nathan the prophet with a word from the Lord…. “You are the man!” Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword” Although David’s sins were forgiven, he was told that the son he had with Bathsheba would die because of what David had done.

The phrase I’m going to focus on here is the “contrite heart”, when I first read this Psalm years ago I didn’t know what contrite meant; it has such a powerful Hebrew meaning “crumbled, crushed, broken, bruised, beaten to pieces, destroyed”. At first it’s hard to believe that this is what God wants from us, we often think of God only accepting what is perfect, without blemish or complete. However no man, saved or unsaved has those qualities in him. When we first come to Christ or whenever we seek forgiveness, only a broken Spirit and a contrite heart are acceptable.
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