Apr 212017
 

Honouring God with your serviceJust recently we have been looking at different ways to honour God. We started by looking at how we can honour God at work, then we looked at the issue of money and then spent a couple of weeks looking at how we can honour Him with our bodies.

This week, I am going to look at how we can honour Him with our service to Him.

It’s important to note first of all that God doesn’t need our service. He is infinite, all powerful, all knowing. He lacks nothing, so there is nothing that we can give to Him that He needs.

nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:25)

He is also all loving and part of that love is allowing us to be fulfilled by serving Him. That may sound a bit strange, but God made us, He knows us better than we know ourselves and so He knows what fulfills and completes us and ultimately satisfies us.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

He designed works and service so that we could feel worth and acceptance. You know how satisfied you feel when you complete something or do a good job.

God himself, in the form of Jesus, led the way in demonstrating what service and self-sacrifice was like;

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

We reflect God when we consider others and serve them. In fact when we are serving others the bible says that we are serving God anyway.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

I’m going to finish this blog with a few practicalities and thoughts about how we can honour God through our service:

  • Ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to do and then expect Him to speak to you through; His word, other people, church leadership and any number of other ways.
  • Once you know what He wants you to do, make yourself available and free up time to do it.
  • Be aware of your natural abilities. God has given you natural gifts in order for you to serve Him through them. As the Ephesians 2 verse suggests, He has created us with specific gifts and talents we can use to serve Him. You are unique, only you can fulfill the role that God has given you to complete.
  • Encourage others in their gifts and help others to see that they are making a contribution. So many people feel what they are offering is insignificant. You can change their whole outlook with an encouraging word. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Be humble. It’s not all about you and your ministry. It’s all about God and His glory. Try to do as much as you can in secret!
  • Be faithful. It often starts with the small things, be consistent and persistent. Keep going even when nobody seems to notice (see previous point) One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. (Luke 16:10)

None of your service will be wasted. It has eternal significance. Let me encourage you to keep going.

 April 21, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Apr 072017
 

7 ways to honour God with our bodiesLast week we looked at various different aspects set out in the bible as to why God considers what we do with our bodies as important. God is not just interested in our spirit or soul but our body as well. Jesus of course inhabited a body when He walked on earth (and now has a glorified one in heaven) and the Holy Spirit has chosen to inhabit our bodies now.

This week I am going to look at different parts of the body and use them as reference points as to how you can honour God with your body

1. Eyes

We can honour God with what we choose to look at, or more importantly what we don’t look at. I am referring mainly to sexual images and pornography. Our eyes are a major portal into our body. What we look at can very quickly shape our desires and attitudes. Jesus defined adultery by stating that it was not just the act itself, but what goes on in our minds and hearts when we dwell on what we look at. We have already looked at this subject when we studied ‘The sermon on the mount’ http://adrianpursglove.com/tearing-out-your-eye/;

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

But eyes can be used to lust after other things, such as a piece of cake! This leads me on to another part of the body

2. Stomach

Gluttony is named as one of the major sins in the bible but it is rarely spoken of today. It has almost become an ‘acceptable’ sin. One that we, especially in the West, commit regularly without a second thought. When was the last time you had such a huge meal that you felt uncomfortable? You had eaten far more than you needed to. That is the sin of gluttony.

If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. (Proverbs 25:16)

We can also do the same with alcohol. Drink more than we need to and lose control.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

3. Tongue

The Apostle James has a lot to say about how dangerous the tongue can be. How we use our tongue can honour God by encouraging others, but it can also dishonour Him by talking angrily or hurtfully to others, by spreading gossip or telling lies

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6) strong words!

4. Ears

Just as the tongue can be used to honour or dishonour God, so what we listen to can do the same. We can honour God by refusing to listen to gossip or people who trash talk other people or even people who just speak lies:

An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue. (Proverbs 17:4)

5. Arms & legs

I’m referring here to physical exercise. Obviously the bible doesn’t talk too much about going to the Gym or working out but it does suggest that physical exercise has some use;

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way (1 Timothy 4:8)

As our bodies are referred to as temples of the Holy Spirit it would be wise to look after them and keep them healthy. After all, the more energy we have, the more we can achieve for God. We do have to be balanced in this though as many can take exercise too far and be in danger of actually worshipping the body.

6. Back

OK, I know I am pushing the analogy a bit here but I am referring to sleep and rest. Being too tired and exhausted is not a good thing. God has given us sleep as a gift

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)

God also introduced the principle of Sabbath rest, so that we could recuperate.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)

Our bodies get tired as a constant reminder that we are not God. He has set limits on our bodies to keep us humble and reliant on Him. He of course does not need to sleep;

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:4)

7. Hands

Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:17)

There are many ways we can use our hands to honour God. It could refer to our employment which we looked at a couple of weeks ago. It could refer to being creative. It could refer to using our hands to help others and it could also refer to works of service which we perform for God. This is what I am going to look at next week.

 April 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 312017
 

Honour God with your bodyOver the last few weeks we’ve been looking at ways that we can honour God in our everyday lives. Two weeks ago we looked at how we can take God to work with us and ways that we can honour Him there. And then last week we looked at how we can honour Him with our finances. I thought I would continue this general theme over the next few weeks and look at how we can honour God with our bodies. I’m going to take two weeks because it is a really big subject with many aspects.

This week we will look at a biblical perspective of our bodies and then next week we will look at a few practicalities.

As always, I will back up what I say with bible verses. An important one on this subject is:

..do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

The Apostle Paul in this letter to the Corinthians has just been spelling out the fact that our bodies are important and God cares about what we do with them. In ancient Greek culture they were very strong on a subject called dualism. Basically they separated the spirit or soul and the body. They considered that the soul was the most important thing, but the body didn’t really matter. In some cases it was even considered evil. They thought that it really didn’t matter what you did with the body, hence they were happy to over indulge sexually or with food and drink. As I hope to set out in the following few points, God has a different view of the body.

  • It is very significant that God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ took on a physical body

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)

Do you think that God himself would live in a physical body if it was not important?

  • God created the world (including our bodies) and stated that He thought it was very good

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

  • Psalm 139 talks about us being knit together before we are born and being fearfully and wonderfully made. That sounds really special to me:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)

  • We don’t need to present animal sacrifices anymore, but instead we present our own bodies as living sacrifices in order to please God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

  • The Holy Spirit Himself has chosen to honour our bodies by dwelling within us. Our bodies are the new temples:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

  • God sees us as a whole; spirit, soul and body, all wrapped up together;

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

  • The bible makes it clear that it is possible to honour Christ with our bodies;

it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20)

  • Even though our bodies are currently imperfect, when we die we will gain a new and improved body. We won’t cease to have bodies and live in a spirit state:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:21)

Next week I will continue this theme and look at ways that we can honour God with our bodies.

 March 31, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 172017
 

Taking God to workIn my opinion, one of the greatest challenges in the Christian life is how to live effectively for God and especially, how to live for him effectively in the workplace.

Last year, due to a number of circumstances I undertook a complete career change. I was working as an IT support officer in a major government department and I am now a bus driver. It has been a complete change from sitting at a desk Monday to Friday from 9am till 5pm to driving buses every day of the week anytime between 5.30am and midnight. Shift work has been a huge culture shift and has affected me much more than I ever could have imagined.

My Civil Service career lasted 27 years and in many ways, I have to confess, I became complacent.

This change has really made me think about how I can live for God, at work, on a daily basis. I have come to realise that God wants to use us, even in the mundane existence of our day to day work, which almost never feels exciting and could in many ways be described as drudgery.

My experience is of course going to be different to yours (you may not even have paid employment). But I want to set out some observations about how we can honour God whatever we do, in our daily routine.

A great life verse to consider when thinking about this subject is:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

That is the bottom line of what we are trying to do. We want to live a life that pleases God. But what does that look like?

Firstly, I don’t think you should be putting yourself under so much pressure to ‘perform for God’. I don’t think He is expecting us to run daily bible studies with our colleagues . God is not looking for our works but our attitudes and these can even be relevant when no-one else is looking. God is looking for consistency and faithfulness, not for results. After all, He is the one who makes things happen and the more we ‘strive’ to achieve results, the more likely we are to put people off!

Here are a few thoughts:

We are dependent on God – I know this may seem obvious, but I think, far too often, we rely on our own strength, gifting and abilities. I have found bus driving very difficult. I have not found it easy at all. They are big vehicles and some of the streets I drive down are very narrow. In many ways I have been blessed through these difficulties because I have had to throw myself on God on a daily basis. Even if you find your job very easy, it is good to seek God for continued support and to acknowledge that we can’t achieve anything in our own strength.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

We need to be people of integrity – Be a person that your colleagues know they can rely on. Do the right thing even when the boss isn’t looking. Be honest and trustworthy. If you say you will get something done in a certain time, do it. Don’t steal from your company, whether that is equipment or time. This may in some circumstances cause you to be unpopular, doesn’t matter. You are doing everything right to please God. Doing all for an audience of one.

Be a good character – seek to be loving and kind to your colleagues and customers. Even today I had someone remark, when they got onto my bus, how nice it was to see someone smile. I also try to be generous and help people out if they don’t have enough change for the fare. It’s the little things on a daily basis that have an impact and you won’t always see the effect. Know who you are in Christ. You are a child of the living God. You are spreading the fragrance of Jesus to everyone you come into contact with. Walk confidently with the assurance that you can and are making a difference.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Be a servant – This is largely demonstrated by preferring others and putting them first. Offer people cups of tea. Find ways that you can bless other people and make their experience at work more enjoyable

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. (Romans 12:10)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

Finally, find time to include God in your daily schedule. Pray to him whenever you can. Offer up your problems and your worries. Thank and praise Him for the things that go well. If you have the precious gift of praying in tongues, do it as you go along. I pray in tongues a lot as I drive around the town. Who knows what the Holy Spirit can accomplish through this simple obedience.

I hope you have found this useful. Please put something in the comments if you have anything to add and also let me know if you have any subjects you would like me to cover in the future.

God bless

 March 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »
Dec 162016
 

Why I blogI only just recently noticed that this blog was going to be my 250thso I thought I would just depart from my long running series looking at ‘The sermon on the mount’ and just write a few reflections about why I write these blogs.

The first one was over 4 and a half years ago, on 6th April 2012. If you want, you can read it here http://adrianpursglove.com/whats-so-good-about-good-friday/

I hadn’t originally intended to write Christian blogs. I started creating websites to see if I could earn some money through internet marketing. Basically, you set up websites about specific subjects and then put links to products for people to buy. Every time they buy something you get a very small percentage. Sounds great but the reality is not so easy and you have to find ways of getting up the google rankings so that people can actually find the sites.

My heart wasn’t really in it, but I discovered that God was using this journey of creating websites to start this blog. I definitely have a heart to share God’s word with as many people as possible and I have learned a lot to share in my 45 years as a Christian. I love the bible and I love it when God reveals fresh insights with me. I don’t have the opportunity to preach, so writing was the best vehicle for me to share all that I have learned.

In the early days I wrote more than one blog a week, but after a while I got into a pattern of producing one each week and I don’t think I have missed a week for a good few years. I sometimes wonder if anyone actually reads them, but every now and again I get some lovely comments and it really encourages me. I hope if you are reading this that you have found these blogs helpful. Please do feel free to write in the comments section, especially if I have not been very clear, or even if you have any future subjects you would like me to tackle. My prayer is that through the reading of these you will feel closer to God and understand His word more.

If you want to read any of the previous 249 blogs, why not check out the archive section at the top of the page?

Next week we will return to look at the third aspect of Matthew 7:7 ‘knocking’) following asking and seeking. Until then, God bless and thanks for reading.

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Jan 162015
 

Is the bible sexistWe have been looking at various bible difficulties over a number of weeks. Another difficulty people commonly raise with the bible is that it appears by many to be quite sexist. The Old Testament is mostly dominated by men and when true heroines do appear they still seem to be subservient to men (such as Esther).

When reading the Old Testament we should be mindful that it is a very ancient book. It records events as they were ‘warts and all’ it was written without intention to gloss over the nasty parts. When reading it, you must consider the culture at the time which treated women very badly and on many occasions as no more important that property. They were not allowed to contribute fully in society and were constantly subjugated, such as the draconian divorce laws which allowed for a man to hand his wife a written divorce paper for simply burning the dinner. Within all this injustice and inequality, if we read the bible carefully, we see a God who continually stepped in and gave women honour and dignity. God’s intention has always been that men and women are to work side by side, each with their own specific gifts and tasks to perform. There are some significant women in the bible such as Deborah who was one of Israel’s judges who Inspired Israel to victory when men weren’t up to the job (Judges 4&5). Other strong women in the Old Testament were Rahab, Esther and Ruth. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus resurrected after his crucifixion (John 20:15-18). There were also women at Pentecost who were filled with the Holy Spirit when He fell in power. It was a woman who truly grasped what Jesus was going to face before any of his disciples caught on in Mark 14:8. And it was almost exclusively women who stayed with him at the cross (John was the only exception)

In Galatians 3:28 it says There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

We are all equal before God. So how do we square this passage with for example 1 Timothy 2:12?

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

Do they not contradict each other? I don’t think so, because although we are equal and one in Christ, we have different roles assigned to us. God has made us and designed us to fulfill certain functions. There are of course always exceptions but in general He designed men; bigger and stronger to protect women and children and He gave women much more compassion and durability when it comes to child rearing etc. It has never ceased to amaze me how women cope with the demands of small children and the care and attention they provide 24/7. I have always maintained that infant mortality would increase dramatically if it were only men responsible for their upbringing! We are made in a certain way to fulfill roles that God has ordained that men and women should complete. These roles are not haphazard, they are part of His great design. He is certainly not being sexist!

We mustn’t take verses out of context though and it is important firstly to say that the translation ‘man’ in 1 Timothy 2 could equally be translated husband, which adds a whole new light to this verse. Also, this verse could conceivably be referring to one particularly domineering woman in Ephesus where Timothy was leading. But in other New Testament passages we also see women teaching. Women such as Priscilla, who with her husband Aquila taught Apollos (Acts 18:26) and Timothy himself was taught by his mother and his grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15)

I believe the only office not available to women is that of an Elder. Unfortunately, some people seem to spend all their time debating this one prohibition when there are numerous other wonderful roles that God has provided to complete and fulfill women. Instead of complaining, we should be encouraging women to reach their full potential and thrive in everything He has given them to do. As the French say vive la difference!

 January 16, 2015  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Dec 122014
 

God of old & newOn a superficial reading, the God of the bible can seem quite different in the Old Testament as He does in the New. If you are not careful you can focus on His wrathful character, where he smites whole nations and appears; angry and vengeful and compare that with ‘nice’ Jesus who went around healing people and cuddling babies!

Modern atheists and sceptics love to seize on this caricature and focus on God’s angry aspect without any reference to God’s qualities of love and patience etc. The well known atheist Richard Dawkins writing in his book ‘The God delusion’ said “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” (page 31) ouch! I don’t even know quite a few of those words but they don’t sound very nice. Now Richard Dawkins I know, has an agenda, but is there an element of truth in his rantings? Is this God of anger and wrath so different to the God of the New Testament?

The idea that it is a different God has been around for centuries. It started with a chap called Marcion in the second century, who had this teaching ‘Marcionism’ named after him. He believed, much like the Gnostics of the time that the wrathful God of the Old Testament was a lesser god (with a small g) from the all forgiving God of the New. He was denounced as a heretic and his teaching was refuted for the following reasons;

The bible is God’s progressive revelation. He dealt with people very differently throughout history. We see this in the various covenants He had with characters like Noah, Abraham and David. Each covenant building on the other, each one revealing more and more of His plans and purposes. These covenants also meant he dealt differently with people. He established and called His own people, the Israelites who could demonstrate His character to the world. This was with the express purpose of reaching these people and demonstrating mercy and grace to them, but they rejected Him outright and subsequently had to face the consequences.

To describe God in the Old Testament as only angry is a huge misrepresentation. God is amazingly loving, compassionate and faithful. This is demonstrated again and again in the Old Testament.

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,  keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (Exodus 34:6)

But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf (Nehemiah 9:17-18)

For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 108:4)

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. (Joel 2:13)

Any many, many other passages.

The fact is that in the Old testament, God had to jealously guard His people to protect them from their enemies because they threatened to destroy His plan of salvation for all people, for all time (God is always looking at ‘the big picture’). What has to be remembered is that God is a God of justice as well as love and the evil of His enemies could not be condoned and go unchecked. Even then he gave them ample time to repent. The Amorites in Genesis 15:16 had hundreds of years to repent and in Genesis 6:3, Noah preached for 120 years calling the people to repentance before God sent the flood. Surely enough time to give them a chance? This was not a case of God wiping out innocent people. They were all wilful in their rebellion and often engaged in very violent and barbaric practices. To not act would mean that God would seem unjust. God dealt with His own people as a father would discipline the child he loves. It’s not unloving but ‘tough’ love, designed to bring transformation, repentance and change.

The bible describes God as unchanging (Malachi 3:6) and so let’s briefly look at the similarities between the God of the Old and the New Testaments;

We mentioned that God disciplines His children in the Old Testament but He also does this in the New;

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. (Hebrew 12:6)

He is still a God of righteous wrath in the New

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18)

And He said some harsh words in Mark 16:16

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

And even though Jesus demonstrated the most amazing love and patience on many occasions he did still show his righteously angry side when He twice turned over the money changers tables and drove them out of the temple and when he rebuked His disciples on a number of occasions and the way He spoke to the scribes and Pharisee’s.

In summary it is very important to study the bible correctly and see that God has demonstrated His character in multi-faceted ways. It is also important to note that He is sovereign and is fully justified in whatever He does. I am so glad that throughout His dealings with mankind His mercy has triumphed over His judgement continually. He doesn’t always treat us as our sins deserve and that is why He is worthy to be praised.

 December 12, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Nov 142014
 

What shall I doI thought I would have a break from writing a blog this week. I have been writing a weekly blog now for about 2½ years, totalling 139 blogs. If you haven’t been following me from the beginning, you may find it interesting to take a look at some of my previous blogs which can be found in my archive (see above menu). Alternatively, you could choose a subject you are interested in from the tag list on the right hand side and see what comes up.

I would really appreciate some suggestions for future blogs. Is there something within Christianity that you don’t quite understand or something from the bible that has always puzzled you? It could be that you would like me to explore a certain subject, or you may like some ideas for a talk you are preparing. Why not put a suggestion in the box below? I can’t make any promises but I’ll try and give it my best shot.

Anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blogs and I hope you have found them useful. I hope to hear from you.

 November 14, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized 2 Responses »
May 212014
 

Firstborn over all creation Last week we looked at Jesus being the ‘image of the invisible God’ and before we leave this passage in Colossians, I want to look at verses 15-20 in all their glorious majesty but with specific reference to Jesus being the ‘firstborn over all creation’. Here’s the full 5 verses in all their magnificence..

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

You see there was a bit of Gnosticism creeping into the church at Colossae about whether Jesus really was God with a big G or god with a small g. Paul sets the record straight in no uncertain terms with his whole letter, but what does ‘firstborn over creation’ actually mean.

The word ‘firstborn’ is translated from the Greek word ‘prototokos’ and as with many words translated from one language to another it is very difficult to sum up in just one word. If you look at it, you will see the similarities with another word, ‘prototype’ and that is roughly what Jesus is. Prototype being the first one, he came first.

Some have tried to deny the divinity of Jesus (i.e. that Jesus is God) from this phrase by arguing that Jesus was created first of everything that was created, and if He is a created “thing”, He cannot be God. This argument completely ignores the context in which this phrase was written. Firstly it comes immediately after the phrase we looked at last week about Jesus being the exact representation of God. He wasn’t a copy or a lesser thing but God himself in human representation.

Secondly the word Prototokos doesn’t necessarily refer to just the one born first, it is a title of the one considered to have that special status conferred upon them. In the culture of the Ancient Near East, the first-born was not necessarily the oldest child. First-born referred not to birth order but to rank. The first-born possessed the inheritance and leadership.
We see in a number of places in the bible where the title ‘Firstborn’ is given to someone other than the first one to be physically born such as Jacob over Esau and David over his brothers as shown in Psalm 89:27. Jesus has pre-eminence and first place rights over everything that exists.

The description “firstborn over all creation” speaks also of Christ’s pre-existence. He is not a creature but the eternal Creator as shown in John 1:10.

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him

God created the world through Christ and redeemed the world through Christ (Hebrews 1:2-4) and he now has control over the created order.
Notice too that Jesus is referred to as also being the “firstborn from the dead”. Jesus was not the first person ever raised from the dead; a number of people throughout the Bible were raised from the dead before Him; Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son in 1 Kings 17:22 and Jesus raised Lazarus in John 11. But Jesus holds first place among all who have or will be raised from the dead because of what His resurrection accomplished and provides.
This is glorious news, because he is Firstborn and ruler over created things he will keep and protect those of us who are trusting in his resurrection and one day we will celebrate with Him a new created order in the new heavens and the new earth.

 May 21, 2014  Posted by at 9:09 pm Names of Jesus, Uncategorized No Responses »
May 152014
 

Image of the invisible God He is the image of the invisible God…(Colossians 1 v 15)

The bible is full of the most amazing statements that would take an eternity to unpack. I guess that is the nature of any statements about God which by nature go way beyond our understanding. Today we look at an amazing mystery in just 5 words.

The first word ‘image’ could mean quite a few things in English so let’s see what the original Greek word actually means. The word is ‘Eikon’ which has no direct translation into English, the closest being ‘image’

A Greek dictionary will define the term as ‘mirror-like representation’ referring to what is very close in resemblance, something that exactly reflects its source (what it directly corresponds to). It assumes a prototype, of which it not merely resembles, but from which it is drawn. It is more than a “shadow”; rather it is a replication. It is the same word used in 2 Corinthians 4:4

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

So Jesus then is more than a vague representation of God, someone who resembles Him like a child resembles a parent. He is the exact representation. Jesus has all the qualities that God the father has in complete measure; His righteousness, justice, purity and love. He doesn’t have them to a lesser degree as a cheap copy, He has them fully.

There are other clues and images of God in things such as creation

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:20)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

Also created man reflects His image:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Genesis 1:26)

With it (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (James 3:9)

The examples of creation and mankind give an idea, an impression, but only Jesus reflects Gods image perfectly.

So why does He need to represent the other two members of the trinity? Because they are invisible. Jesus is the only one who can be seen. It would be very difficult for mankind to grasp all these qualities of God through some abstract concept. God made it easy for us to understand what He is like. Jesus came into the world and represented God in His very essence. Jesus said in John 14:9

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father

And also in Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.

It is an amazing thought that by following Jesus we are being changed into His image, we are being shaped into the very image of God.

 May 15, 2014  Posted by at 10:41 pm Uncategorized No Responses »