Category Archives: Bible

The Book of the Covenant: A Very Good Book

Originally published in 2013.

This evening I read Nick Howard’s delightful new book, The Book of the Covenant, published by the aptly named Good Book Company. It is indeed a good read. Nick provides a simple, clear, easy to understand, overview of the entire Bible, tracing the unfolding story of God’s covenant relationship with his people.

Each chapter includes copious scripture quotations, lively contemporary illustrations and a helpful application section called ‘Life Lessons’. Important sentences are printed in bold for emphasis. Footnotes are kept to a minimum.

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The Time Has Come: Jesus and the Last Supper

Beat the clock. Around the clock. Against the clock. Clock in. Carry the day. Once in a blue moon. From now on. In the long run Come of age. A day in the sun. The crack of dawn. Year in, year out. A month of Sundays. Hour of need. Full of the joys of spring. Now or never. The moment of truth. Better late than never. Make my day. Here today and gone tomorrow. A blink of the eye. Days are numbered. What do they all have in common? Time. We say, long time no see. Killing time. Wasting time. Behind the times. On time. Just in time. As time goes by. The nick of time. Do time. Serve time. A whale of a time. Save time. Good time. Ahead of time. No time to lose. The big time. High time. Time is money. Times flies. Crunch time. Out of time. Time for a change. Times up. I counted over 100 expressions for time. They all refer to chronological or sequential time.

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Palm Sunday: Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven

According to the Mail on Sunday, “Thousands of Extinction Rebellion protestors including an Olympic gold medallist have staged a sit-down protest in Oxford Street and Regent Street, blocking traffic in the heart of London’s shopping district to call for no new investment in fossil fuels. The climate change activists gathered at Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park on Saturday morning before marching into the centre of the city’s West End.” Climate Change is indeed a serious threat to the survival of planet earth. But only one person can save the world and that is Jesus.

Many people joined in the demonstration. Some were there on impulse. They were tourists or troublemakers. They joined in the demo. They took their photos. But they went home but soon forgot about it. Others were intentional. They planned to be there. They take climate change seriously and want to do something to help the most vulnerable nations. So there were the impulsive people and the intentional people at the demo yesterday.

It was the same on that first Palm Sunday. The crowds gathered when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Why arrive on a donkey? Because King Solomon had done the same. Because Jesus the King was coming in peace. What did the people shout? Hosanna. What did this mean? “Save now” But not everyone in the crowd was serious. Some were there on impulse. They saw the crowds and thought Jesus could save them money. Change the government, lower the taxes and give them food to eat. Others were intentional. They recognised Jesus as the King of heaven. What did they do? Why? They lay down their lives to serve and follow him not just for one day but forever.

The same is true today. Some are here on impulse – maybe you saw the cars or crowds coming in and you thought – I’ll go and find out. That’s OK. Some may have come because of an invitation or the breakfast or fresh coffee. That’s OK too. We hope you will come back next week. Others are intentional. You planned to be here. You wouldn’t miss being with Jesus and his family on Sunday for all the world. So which are you? Impulsive or intentional? It depends on whether Jesus is your King? How do you become a citizen of a country? Normally you have to be born in the country to be a citizen. It’s the same with the Kingdom of Heaven. We have to be born again.

In the United Kingdom we also welcome people born elsewhere in the world who wish to become citizens (but only if they are from certain countries). The fortunate ones are expected to learn English and find out about our history, culture and values. It’s the same with the Kingdom of God. That is why we run the Christianity Explored Course to help people learn about citizenship in God’s kingdom. Sometimes countries also require you to give up your old citizenship first if you want to become a citizen of their country. It’s the same in the kingdom of heaven. We have to give up our old citizenship. The Bible tells us this is why Jesus came as King. He came to rescue us.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13)

In the UK we also now ask new citizens to take part in a public ceremony and make a declaration to promise to abide by the laws of our country. It’s the same in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the Baptism Service when we repudiate our old citizenship to take on our new citizenship. These are the questions asked and answers expected:
Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God? I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil? I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour? I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord? I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life? I come to Christ.
Have you been baptised? We are having our next baptism ceremony on 7th June.
Some countries have a special day in the year when they celebrate their citizenship. In the United States it is the 4th July. In the Church, Easter is the special time of year when we remember Jesus death and resurrection and renew our faith in  Jesus our king. Next Sunday as part of our Easter service we will be inviting you to reaffirm your citizenship in the kingdom of God expressed in membership of this local church.  If you regard yourself as a citizen of heaven but have not completed the Electoral Roll form, please do.

How do we prove our citizenship when we travel abroad? We have to take our passport. It’s a document provided by the government to prove our identity as its citizens. Do you have your passport with you? Then I’d like to provide you with one.  There is one in your weekly news.

In preparation for next Sunday I invite you to answer these questions and repudiate your membership of any other kingdom…..

Now lets declare our commitment to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ – intentionally and not impulsively. I invite you to sign your passport and carry it where ever you go. Be ready to show it to anyone who asks you about your citizenship. Give your life in total surrender and loyal obedience to your King. Not just for Palm Sunday but every day. And remember the good news is that anyone can become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven if they too recognise Jesus as their Saviour, Lord and King.
Lets pray.

Ash Wednesday: Jesus on Blessings and Cursing

Will you be making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Will you be fasting during the 40 days of Lent? Will you give up any little luxuries until Easter?  Will you mark Ash Wednesday with ash on your forehead as a visible sign of your repentance for sin?  Will you tell anyone?  In our series The Passion of Jesus, based on the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus taught us how to inoculate ourselves from spiritual abuse:

Be Holy: Cultivate a Simple Faith.
Be Hidden: Content with a Secret Faith.
Be Humble: Concentrate on a Serving Faith.

In today’s passage – Matthew 23:13-39, Jesus turns from the disciples and confronts those responsible for the abuse, directly and personally. He pronounces eight woes upon them.  It is poignant to remember this was Jesus last public sermon. It stands in stark contrast to his first public sermon in Nazareth and its elaboration in what became known as the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus describes true righteousness. In Matthew 23, He defines false righteousness.  Let us compare the two.

Lets distinguish the path to blessing from the path to cursing. The first contrast?

Jesus on Blessings and Curses from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

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Where Do You Long To Be? Christmas Down Under

moana-november-2016“There’s a line where the sky meets the sea
And it calls me
But no one knows how far it goes
All the time wondering where I need to be
Is behind me
I’m on my own
To worlds unknown”

I wonder if you can identify with Moana singing “How Far I’ll Go” in the lavish new Disney film?

“Every turn I take
Every trail I track
Is a choice I make
Now I can’t turn back
From the great unknown
Where I go alone
Where I long to be”

When you look at the beauty of the world around you, does it fill you with a sense of wonder? Does its abundance inspire you to praise God?  Are you thankful just to be alive? Are you frustrated with the world the way it is? Does the presence of evil and suffering impel you to want to help those in need? Are you restless? Are you longing to fulfil your destiny?  I encourage you to see the film Moana.

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A Biblical Critique of Apartheid

What does the Bible say about apartheid? How has the Bible been used to justify supremacism, segregation and racial purity? How is apartheid easily refuted from the Bible? This presentation will provide some answers. The introduction gives a brief historical overview showing the lineage of European supremacism, slavery, segregation and apartheid. It also examines why apartheid has been designated a crime against humanity, and shows the similarities between the South African and Israeli variants.

Download a copy of this presentation here

Contents

  • A brief history of apartheid tracing its roots from European colonialism, white supremacism and black slavery, through to segregation in the US, Fascism in Germany to Apartheid in South Africa and Israel. 
  • A summary of how the Bible has been used to justify white supremacism, segregation and apartheid.
  • A biblical refutation of apartheid. 
  • A Bible study to encourage personal reflection as well as group discussion.

This presentation examines how biblical texts have been used by proponents of segregation in the USA and apartheid in South Africa. It does not elaborate specifically on how Christian Zionists use the Bible to justify Israeli supremacism, the subjugation of Palestinians or the colonisation of their land.[1]  These are addressed more fully in my book Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? [2]. Zion’s Christian Soldiers? The Bible, Israel and the Church[3], provides a more detailed study of the biblical texts concerning the two key elements of apartheid theology – supremacism “Chosen People”[4] and colonisation “Promised Land”[5] 

Download a copy of this presentation here

You may also download a Bible Study for personal reflection or group discussion and read a short reflection based on Isaiah 65. For a more detailed examination of the biblical relationship between Israel and the Church (and deconstruction of Christian Zionism), download Seven Biblical Answers.

A Bible Study on Israeli Apartheid

The Bible has been used in the past to justify colonisation, slavery, white supremacism, segregation and apartheid. The Bible has also been used to defend Zionism and justify Israeli apartheid. This study is intended to help you to challenge the misuse of the scriptures and bring an end to apartheid in the furtherance of justice, peace and reconciliation.

You may download a copy of this Bible Study for personal reflection or group discussion as well as a longer briefing paper on a Biblical Response to Israeli Apartheid For a more detailed examination of the biblical relationship between Israel and the Church (and deconstruction of Christian Zionism), download Seven Biblical Answers.

Questions

  1. Many Christians believe that God blesses people and nations who bless Israel and curses those who do not. 

“The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. ‘I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’” (Genesis 12:1-3). 

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Sabeel-Kairos UK Conference Statement on Israel

The following statement was endorsed by the Trustees of Sabeel-Kairos UK with the support of Sabeel Jerusalem and Kairos Palestine and was published at the annual Sabeel-Kairos UK conference on 24th September 2021.

‘Having considered a Christian response to Israeli apartheid, we affirm that all people are created equally in the image of God; we commend the B’TSelem and Human Rights Watch documents designating Israel as an apartheid state; we repudiate all forms of racism and discrimination; and we recommit ourselves to working for justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.”

You may download a  Bible Study for personal reflection or group discussion as well as a longer briefing paper on a Biblical Response to Israeli Apartheid 

For a more detailed examination of the biblical relationship between Israel and the Church (and deconstruction of Christian Zionism), download Seven Biblical Answers.

B’Tselem Report: This is Apartheid
Human Rights Watch: A Threshold Crossed

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield: Charlatan and Heretic

1. Scofield: The Christian Leader with Feet of Clay 
2. The Link between Darby and Scofield in the Rise of Dispensationalism 
3. Scofield’s Dispensational Hermeneutic: ‘Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth’
4. Scofield, the Brethren and the Bible Prophecy Conference Movement 
5. The Significance of the Scofield Reference Bible 
6. Scofield’s Seven Dispensations 
7. The Denigration of the Church within the Purposes of God 
8. The Elevation of National Israel to a Superior Role over the Church
9. Prophetic Promises of a New Covenant with a Restored National Israel
10. Speculations on Armageddon and the Day of the Lord
11. Conclusions: The Legacy of Scofieldism on Christian Zionism

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