Us vs. Them

This year our theme verse is Romans 12:2a and our motto is “Don’t conform! Be transformed!”

This focus on being apart from the world could logically lead, quite dangerously, to some very harmful and unbiblical positions (superiority, seclusion, hate and a lack of evangelism to name a few). There is an “us vs.” them mentality in the Bible, but lest the existence of this lead us into any hazard allow me to offer some ballast that should keep the ship stable and on course (lest we end up embracing aspects of the Amish or the Exclusive Brethren who pervert John 17:16 to be in but not of the world).

The Church is to be an inclusive yet exclusive community.

The Church is an Exclusive Community:

A constant drum beat throughout the Old and New Testaments is that the people of God (the elect) form an exclusive community, special to Him, with certain blessings and responsibilities unique to them in their relationship with the Lord.

Consider verses on the special nature of His people, both Old Covenant and in the New:

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

The Bible also speaks about two ways: the wicked and the righteous (Ps 1); the wise and the foolish (Prov 9); those who are spiritually dead and those made alive in Christ (Eph 2); and those destined for hell or heaven (Mt 25:46).

The Bible also places restrictions such as limiting baptism and communion to believer’s, and likewise “marrying in the Lord.”

All of this centres around one’s response to Jesus and His Gospel: 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12).

These are just the tip of the iceberg for as one scans the pages of Scripture one will find these sorts of texts at every turn. The Bible does not just teach this exclusivity, it shouts it!

The Church is exclusively made up of the redeemed in Christ. If you are not in Christ you are outside the benefits of His body, the Church. In this sense the Church is exclusive.

The Church is an Inclusive Community:

HOWEVER, the Church is also inclusive! There are plenty verses to demonstrate this too!

First of all for the truly regenerate grace is humbling and never encourages pride: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Eph 2:4–5). Grace is of a humbling nature.

God’s general will is that: all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4) and He calls Christians to extend the Gospel call to all nations (Great Commission Mt 28). If the Lord has had compassion on Christians (Mt 9:36) then we ought also willingly be obedient and extend that same offer to others, treating them not with disdain but remembering such were we (1 Cor 6: 11a) and loving our enemies as Christ loved us (Mt 5:44).

Therefore, whilst the benefits of the Gospel are limited to believers its invitation is universal (or inclusive, meaning open to any who would believe).

Whilst we journey under this year’s theme bearing this healthy tension between exclusivity and inclusivity—the us & them— in mind, we will not go astray.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris


Culture meets the Church

We live in an interesting time culturally speaking. In fact there are elements of modern culture that are downright disconcerting. Consumerism, materialism, narcissism along with a whole host of other “isms” plague us. Today seems to be all about me, the ultimate sign of how far society has moved away from God (the first sin was pride, Gen 3:5, see also Ro 1:25). What is perhaps even more troubling is the way culture is leaking into the Church. Whilst we as the Church are not supposed to be conformed but be transformed (Ro 12:2) sadly in many areas believers allow culture to lead them rather than the Gospel of Truth. One area this has become apparent is in “church hopping,” switching churches frequently whenever they cease to meet your needs or try to hold you accountable. In speaking with our missionaries recently who serve in South Korea this is even a problem there! Instead of continuing on I thought it would be worth re-blogging a couple of different articles and a video by an American Christian comedian (the discerning Brit will be able to read between the lines):

What if the church doesn’t meet my needs?

7 bad reasons to leave a church (and while we’re on it, what might be 7 good Biblical reasons to leave a church?)

And finally, check our an comedic episode of “Church Hunters”:

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

What happens to children when they die?

What happens to children when they die?Baby

This question was asked in this summer’s People’s Choice summer series and because of space in that series and also because it may be more clearly delivered in type, I address it in this blog.

This is not a question unique to today (though emotionalism and universalism perhaps make it more difficult to address). Infants died in Bible times, pre-modern Britain, and indeed still today. Although infant mortality has decreased, still children die, particularly the unborn (miscarriage, abortion[1], the disposal of embryos in fertility treatments, etc).[2] So long as there are children and so long as there is sin and death this question will be relevant.

Before I begin to give a basic and introductory response, I want to emphasise that I do not embark on seeking to answer this question as if from a distance. My wife and I lost a child through miscarriage and we have had close friends and family members suffer the loss of both unborn and newborn children. Something else that I must stress before I proceed is that this question is often approached through emotionalism. While our affections have a role to play we must submit ourselves to Scripture, conceding that our ways are not God’s ways (Isa 55:8–9). Generally when we are uncomfortable about something in the Bible God is correct and we are wrong. If you proceed in reading this blog please pause, pray and be open to reason [or reasoning] (James 3:17). Christianity is like a train and the order of that train is important. First must come the locomotive, then the car and finally the caboose. Put another way, first must come fact (or the promises and truths of God), then faith (or belief in those) and then feeling. Get the order wrong and the train soon runs off the track. Get the order right and it runs smoothly along.

The question centres around salvation and namely, if the Bible teaches human depravity and the need of salvation (which it clearly does), what about children? It also touches upon our beliefs about what the character of God should be in relation to this question, either leaning toward His love (how could a loving God allow…) or His justice (God is soft on sin if…).

Numerous passages and verses in the Bible teach human depravity, but three are perhaps most pertinent to this subject.[3]

The first is Psalm 51:5 where the Spirit says through David: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. This verse teaches that not only from birth but from conception we are sinners.

The second is Ro 5:12, which addresses why we are born sinners. Here the Spirit says through Paul: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. This means that because the head of the human race—Adam—sinned, all humans are born sinners (original sin). Not only are we born guilty sinners by nature but we also co-opt into sin through sinful choices throughout our lives.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most challenging, come passages like Deut 20:16–18 and 1 Sam 15:2–3 where the Spirit says the following about the destruction of the Canaanites:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

We must remember that these last passages speak of judgement because of societal sin of a great magnitude (with simply a different means than say Sodom and Gomorrah) and not genocide. Traditionally this total judgment has been understood by Christians as a real event backed up by archaeology, but also as a picture of hell.

If children had no sin, children wouldn’t die. As death is a result of sin generally, children as well as adults tragically die.

In light of these three passages, we return to the question.

There have been at least 7 ways that Christendom has sought to answer this question.

  1. All children go to heaven (universalism: that God ultimately accepts everyone because He is “love”).
    1. This has been the death knell of ‘liberal Christianity.’ The basic teaching of the Bible is that sinners are saved through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Jesus’ death did not save everyone but only made that salvation possible. Jesus died to save those who would believe in Him, He died to save His own (Jn 10:14). The Bible clearly teaches that notall humans are saved.
  2. No children go to heaven.
    1. Based on the above passages and that children cannot believe some do not think any children go to heaven.
  3. Christened children go to heaven (Roman Catholicism).
    1. Roman Catholics believe one is saved by faith+sacraments+works. One of the sacraments is to christen children. In a sacrament the church is seen as having the authority to dispense God’s grace on earth. As such those children who are baptised are saved, hence why Roman Catholics are so quick to want to baptise their children. The clear teaching of the Bible that we are saved by faith and not by works (whether personal or ecclesial [by the church]) discounts this view.
  4. Children who die before the “age of accountability” go to heaven.
    1. Another popular view that seeks to balance accountability for sin and the need for faith in salvation is this one: that children are only subject to the penalty of hell if they reject Christ after some arbitrary or subjective “age of accountability.” If they haven’t reached that age they go to heaven. But what is this age? Is it 4, 6, 8, 12, 20, 40, 80? The Bible doesn’t say, because it doesn’t exist. Anyone who has worked with children knows that children wilfully choose sin from a very early age and should be held accountable much earlier than 18!
  5. In His mercy God applies the meritorious work of Christ to children because He is a God of grace.
    1. In this view children do not exercise normal faith in Christ that is needed by those who can choose, but rather He has mercy upon whom I have mercy (Ro 9:15). While it is true that God has mercy upon whomever He will (in this passage as it relates to election), the consistent teaching of Scripture associates receiving this mercy in faith. The strength of this view is it fights universalism by appealing to the need for the work of Christ. The downside is that nowhere in the Bible is this clearly stated.
  6. Only elect children go to heaven (or children of the elect are saved).
    1. This was the view held by the founders of our chapel. Article 10.3 of our founding confession said this: “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit,[12] who works when, and where, and how He pleases:[13] so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.[14]” (The Scriptural proofs for some of these show that even the most robust theologians need to bend Scripture to address this question). In this view infants who are elect are saved without faith shown on earth[4] according to the mercy of God. A similar view believes children of believing (elect) parents are saved on account of the faith of their parents. This view would account for why not all children (like those of the Amalekites) are saved and why some possibly are, but no one could know who an elect child was or was not, because the elect are normally only justified through faith on earth.
  7. This is a mystery best left to the Lord (my personal view).
    1. I do not stay awake at night wondering about the eternal state of my unborn child. Why? Because I entrust its soul to an all wise, good and sovereign God and accept His will, whatever it may be. While point 6 comes closest to sounding reasonable, I believe that because the Bible does not even remotely touch upon this subject clearly, it therefore must not be a subject God wants us to concern ourselves with, otherwise He would have told us.

There are two things, however, that the Bible does clearly teach: 1) personal comfort grounded in the promises of God (vs. speculation) for those who mourn the loss of a child, and 2) the personal need to respond to the Gospel.

  1. For those who have suffered the loss of a child comfort is available in the face of such loss but it does not come from speculating about your child’s salvation but hoping in the promises of God such as, Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4).
  2. The Lord commands all people everywhere to repent… (Acts 17:30).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] In 2015 there were 185,824 in England and Wales (

[2] I believe it is possible to differentiate between the immorality of abortion for instance and issues of infant salvation.

[3] Jesus saying, “let the little come to me” has as little to do with salvation as it does baptism, rather Jesus is breaking down barriers in the apostles hearts, because the Gospel was not meant for “us” (the disciples or the Jews) but for them (Jews and Gentiles and all who believe).

[4] This is very similar to forms of universalism where it is believed people will get a second chance before entering heaven to believe (but see Heb 9:27).

Half-way evangelism

I recently played host to some family member tourists from Canada. As part of the usual trail of places we took them too, it included some historic churches, cathedrals and abbeys. Often people treat these religious sites as merely sites of historic and architectural interest, no different from a National Trust Property or museum. So, I always value it when the community that represents the building has hourly prayers and asks people to pause to remember it is a Christian place of worship, or when they put up panels explaining the essence of who Jesus is and what Christianity is about.

If you had to write such a panel or explain this to a friend what would you say? Perhaps you might try writing something down yourself, looking up a couple Bible verses to include, it would be a helpful exercise to prepare you for evangelism.

Sadly, some of these panels or leaflets, while beginning with good intentions, end up being a form of half-way evangelism. Consider the following example I came across. There is lots a Christian could say “amen” to, but also much that remains to be said and a few questionable statements. Have a scan to see what you think:


Your thoughts?

Allow me to share mine…

1st Paragraph: Amen and amen!

2nd Paragraph: This begins well but in the list of extraordinary things the main reason he came (to defeat sin and death) is not mentioned? The last sentence is also somewhat fuzzy, not necessarily wrong just a bit fuzzy. Perhaps something better would have been to say, “He lived the perfect life we cannot live to show us what it means to live uprightly before God and others” or something to that effect.

3rd Paragraph:

  • 1st sentence: yes
  • 2nd sentence: add…”and for who He claimed to be”
  • 3rd sentence: somewhat vague and universalist (meaning because He died we are all okay without personal faith in Him). How about, “But through His life and death He knew he would atone for the sins of all who would believe in Him, reconciling them to God.” (1 Jn 2:2, 2 Cor 5:18)
  • 4th and 5th sentences: hurray, back on track. Amen!
  • Last sentence: fine

4th Paragraph:

  • 1st sentence: “…are Christians” should read “claim to be Christians” for many who identify as Christian are only nominally so (Mt 7:21). Perhaps they were trying to point to the giant wake Jesus left behind Him as a tool to encourage others to think about following Him?
  • 2nd sentence: Wait a minute! How about, “Through Jesus death and life changing and life giving gift of the Holy Spirit believers are given life to the full, starting now and for eternity.” (John 10:10)
  • 3rd sentence: great

We certainly do not want to be automatically confrontational when we encounter such leaflets (remembering 1 Pet 3:15b), however, we do need to be zealous for truth (Jude 3) and as we are we will be sharpened in our knowledge of Jesus and His Gospel, help others to be so, and together more able to effectively spot error and proclaim with purity the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

How endorsing homosexuality crosses the Rubicon

I would much rather write today about the wonders of authentic Christian faith but in the day and age in which we are living in often find it necessary to equip us against the tossing seas of error that threaten the truth (Jude 1:3).

Since homosexual marriage was legalised in the UK in 2013 many in the church have entered into great discussion on the subject, jostling between the direction culture is heading and what the Bible says (don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind [Ro 12:2]). Trying to make the church relevant by giving into culture in certain matters will only make it less potent and relevant. Given that I am from Canada, the fourth western nation (after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain) to make such unions legal in 2005, I have had even more time to reflect on the subject and write today to briefly demonstrate how endorsing homosexuality as a church or Christian crosses the Rubicon.

Firstly, what is the Rubicon? It is a figure of speech, quite similar to the phrase “past the point of no return.” It refers to a river in north-eastern Italy that the general Julius Caesar crossed heading south in 49 B.C. The significance? It was illegal under Roman law for a legion to enter Italy and by crossing he effectively declared war on the Senate and eventually brought about the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. Caesar was intentionally doing something that he knew would have far reaching consequences that could not be [easily] undone. In a nutshell to cross the Rubicon means “to commit oneself irrevocably to a risky or revolutionary course of action.” Endorsing homosexuality is a departure from the “faith once for all delivered to the saints.”


How does endorsing homosexuality cross the Rubicon in ways which other authentic Christians may disagree yet still enjoy varying degrees of fellowship and cooperation? Many Christians disagree over the place of women in ministry, the subject and mode of Baptism, predestination, forms of church government, pacifism/ just war, and divorce.

The answer to the above question is that those are all secondary issues, which whilst very important (and an improper view will produce negative effects on personal and corporate Christian life), are not primary issues. Divorce is an interesting comparison to homosexuality. The reason why it does not cross the Rubicon is because while condemning divorce the Bible does make some exceptions, unlike homosexuality. The greater the theological agreement between Christians the greater the level of missional cooperation (Amos 3:3) and this begins with primary theological matters related to the Gospel (what it means to be saved and know and please God through Jesus Christ). The issue of homosexuality crosses at least three primary lines of Christian beliefs: Scripture, the Gospel, and sexuality.

Rejects the doctrine of Scripture

Central to the Christian faith is that the Lord has spoken light into our darkness by revealing Himself in the Bible. While we must remember context when studying the Bible (literary, theological, historical) the book in question is no ordinary human book but “sacred writings” inspired by God, because “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful…” (2 Tim 3:15­–16) and “every word of God proves true” (Prov 30:5).

Therefore Scripture is trustworthy, authoritative and sufficient. Because God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8) the truths He has spoken to us remain the same today just as they were 2000 years ago, from eternity past, and into eternity future. If the Bible is from God we listen and obey, if it isn’t we can do what we want, but that is not Christianity.

The problem with endorsing homosexuality is it forces one to crop out significant portions of Scripture as uninspired (under the guise they are culturally bound texts) such as Gen 19; Lev 18:22, 20:10–16; Rom 1:23-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; Jude 7. The problem is that not only is the cultural argument untenable, but that in dismissing these passages one dismisses a consistent teaching of the Bible that is intricately interrelated to other key texts and teachings of the Bible. To affirm homosexuality is to dismiss Scripture, including Gospel passages.

Rejects the Gospel

The Gospel message begins with the bad news of sin and ends with the good news of forgiveness from sin through faith in Jesus Christ and [eternal] life in His name. To reject homosexuality as sin is also to reject the Gospel. In 1 Cor 6 (cited above) verse 11 reminds the Corinthian believers that “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” When we know we fall short of God’s perfect standard (Mt 5:48) and that faith in Jesus offers us not only forgiveness but the power to change, that is good news in light of our present circumstances. Homosexuality, similar to other sins, separates us from God. The good news is that—whatever our sin(s) or past— we can be restored to God through faith and repentance in Christ and transformed by His Spirit into new creations (2 Cor 5:17). If sin is not sin and the Gospel does not have the power to change it is not a message of good news.

Rejects God’s design for marriage, sexuality and gender

To endorse homosexuality is not simply a different Christian view on human sexuality, it is an entirely different worldview. All Christian teaching on marriage, sexuality and gender (including Jesus and Paul) trace their roots to Gen 1:26–28 and 2:22–24. This is further filtered through the lens of God’s moral standard in the Law such that when in the NT Jesus and Paul quote Genesis and the Law they are showing continuity and agreement with God’s original design consistent throughout Scripture. When Jesus warns the “sexually immoral” that includes homosexuality because it is a stock phrase used by Jesus to refer to the moral standard for sexuality expressed in the Law.

People can dismiss what the Bible clearly teaches on the subject, they are free in matters of conscience to do that, however, it is misguided to say the Biblical worldview for marriage, sexuality and gender is in anyway compatible with those views that endorse homosexuality.

Many objections have and will be made to similar lines of thought as those presented here. I would refer such people to 2 Tim 4:1–5. If we degrade Christ (His Word, Gospel and designs), He will surely degrade us. Recent studies show that generally those churches that remain true to orthodox Christian teachings (such as marriage and sexuality) grow, whilst those who go ahead of such teachings (2 John 1:9) are in general state of decline. Unlike many divisive issues within the church in the past this issue is a Rubicon that will separate the wheat from the chaff. Many churches and individuals have already or are considering crossing the Rubicon. To the former I would exhort you with the aforementioned words, to the latter I would say the following. While Caesar crossed the point of no return, whilst endorsing homosexuality does depart from orthodox Christianity, unlike the Rubicon, through repentance in Jesus Christ, a turning back to Him, restoration is graciously possible.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Post-truth, alternative-facts and fake news

Post-truth, alternative-facts and fake news

What is truth? (John 18:38)

Those are famous words uttered by Pontius Pilate. Whether he meant them as a retort, a genuine question, or both has been debated, but his question has been echoed down through the centuries.

“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus as the Truth himself stood before him. Here was the man who brought truth and reality into being at creation. Here was the man who delineated the bounds of truth (morals) and told us to tell the truth because otherwise we would be acting contrary to His very nature. Here was the man who will judge all people by the truth and whether they knew the Truth at the end of time. It is a perennially good question to ask!

Truth, simply put, is “that which is in accordance with fact or reality.”

Sadly, we are living in an age that relativizes truth, pushes it to the corner, says it is in the eye of the beholder, that it is not relevant. Humanity has moved from knowing the Truth (pre-Gen 3) to a place where very often it is suppressed in favour of our version of the truth.

In 2016 Oxford Dictionary defined their word of the year as post-truth. Here “post” doesn’t mean “after” as in “post-war” but “beyond” or “irrelevant.” They define it as:

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

Truly, this signifies that we’ve moved from being a theonomos culture (where the law of God or the law of nature is self-evident), to where we are not even a heteronomous culture (where someone else sets the law, like a king or a dictator) but have arrived at an ever increasingly autonomous culture where each person decides what truth is for them (the irony being that as soon as they disagree with another’s version of the truth they protest and cease to be autonomous but become heteronomous wishing to impose their view militantly on the other. Hence they operate under the guise of tolerance which is really selfishness).

little-golden-bookMost recently we have seen post-truth at play in politics with the coining of another new term: “alternate facts.” This was poked fun at by countless people on social media including by this meme (or spoof) of the old children’s book series Little Golden Book, where a dog is a cat and an egg is soup. It seeks to make the point that post-truth is downright silly.

Fake news has also come into our vocabulary with trust in the mainstream media falling to 32% in the USA. Who are we to believe? Who is telling the truth? What is truth? While I believe in the freedom of speech I cannot help but see that many of those who are “crying wolf” have contributed to the epidemic. The reason why some are using “fake news” is not so much because news has been fake but because it has very often been highly biased and very often interpreted facts narrowly within one worldview (liberal). The very people who have often called evil good and good evil are now upset a similar tactic is being used against them.

It is my prayer all of this post-truth, alternate facts, and fake news nonsense will not drive people into their particular prejudices and result in ignorance but cause us to wake up and ask what is truth?

God asserts that truth is real and that it matters: “do not bear false witness” (Ex 20:16) and “abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Ro 12:9), and that the Bible is God’s standard of truth (Amos 7). Christianity is based on facts (Luke wrote “an orderly [eyewitness] account…that you may have certainty” about Jesus [Lk 1:3–4]). Jesus claimed to be the Truth (Jn 14:6), and that in knowing Him as the Truth would “set you free” (Jn 8:22). That upon believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins we would not only be reconciled to God (the greatest reality) but receive the “Spirit of Truth” who would “guide us into all truth” (Jn 16:13). This is not arrogance but a recognition that sin clouds our minds, and that when we have come to Christ and put on Christ we receive a new worldview, a new lens, a new way of looking at things.

It is my hope that as people react against post-truth it might lead them to consider the life giving truth claims of Christianity. The horrible alternate is that we truly are living in a time when people will “turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into lies” (1 Ti 4:4).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Be on the lookout!

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

In January we looked at Jesus’ promise from Matthew 16:18, I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jesus is on the offensive, the devil is on the defensive. Yet while his power was defeated at the cross it would be a mistake to let down our guard because he is still dangerous. This is exactly the spiritual wisdom Peter gives us in a passage we’ll be examining at Bible study this spring. It is generally when things are going well as a chapel and as individuals that the devil chooses to strike. Why? Often in those instances we let our guard down. Peter, however, says we should never be spiritually naive and always have our guard up because 1) lions strike without notice, 2) they are always on the prowl, and 3) if we’re unprepared the results can be messy.

The devil is especially concerned when people and churches draw near to Jesus. He doesn’t want that and will stop at NOTHING to disrupt this. As a Christian, do not think temptations and trials of various kinds will diminish the more mature you become, rather the devil’s attacks will intensify. Likewise, he’ll seek to disrupt the unity, faith and peace of a growing congregation. How does he do this? Often by fostering a spirit of jealousy, bitterness, strife, pride and rebelliousness that will show itself in gossip, slander, anger, a reliance on worldy wisdom, and disrespect toward others and leaders (see Eph 4). In effect he tries to take our eyes off Jesus. So let us resist the devil, be on our guard and be on the lookout—firm in our faith—fixing our eyes on our shied and defender, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Two types of Christians I really respect…

There are two types of Christians that I have immense respect for (and would invite all believers to join with me in prayer and support for such fellow-believers): 1) Christian singles waiting to marry in the Lord, and 2) Christians who are married and find themselves married to unbelievers. This post will address the former.

Christian Singles

I have immense respect for men and women who’d rather wait and obey God’s command to not marry outside the faith, rather than disregard that for expedience (marry “only in the Lord” 1 Cor 7:39). While this could be anyone, because statistically there are more Christian women than men, it usually happens to be young women in their 20s or 30s. Though they may have a great desire to marry, though the social and peer pressure to do so may be enormous, though many seemingly good alternatives may come along among unbelievers and tempt them considerably, they patiently wait upon the Lord, obey His command and submit to His providence (Ps 130:5–6), maintaining their purity. For such people, would you join me in honouring them and praying for them?

Excuses to justify the opposite, however, abound and are rooted in a wilful disregard for what God has said for our benefit.

An excuse such as “I love him” or “no one better has come along” is to fail to recognise that the prudent look for a marriage of both the head and of the heart and trust the Lord until He provides a believing spouse (if that of course is His will). “I can lead him to the Lord” is also naively unrealistic. We by our influence can never convert someone as that is the work of the Holy Spirit. All such excuses recall Satan’s first lie, “did God really say?” All excuses are exposed for what they are—unsubstantiated—and are swept away after the marriage when the reality of being yoke to someone who does not share your values becomes evident and begins to cause endless headaches.

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)

This New Testament teaching is deeply rooted in the Old Testament (Dt 7:3–6; Ezra 9; Amos 3:3, Mal 2:10-16; etc).

While forgiveness is surely available for believers who persist and marry a non-believer, they will still face the consequences of their choice. For such people, would you join with me also, praying for the conversion of their unbelieving spouses, and the strength and grace to persevere under such circumstances.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Praying for Nice

If you began your day like me today, you will have got up and then at some point seen or heard of the news flash that 84 people had been killed by a lorry driver in the French city of Nice during celebrations for Bastille Day.[1]

Heureux les affligés, car ils seront consolés! (Matthew 5:4)

Firstly, let us all stop right now (if you haven’t done so already) and pray for the victims, the citizens of Nice and the French Republic. Let us pray—holding this situation up before the throne of grace—out of our deep compassion and love and because it is our Christian duty (1 Tim 2:1). May we also mourn over this great evil (Ro 12:9).

Most people will be asking two questions: why and what’s going on? Both of those are difficult and yet straightforward to answer, and in my attempt to do just that I therefore proceed with great humility.


Many Christians will look at these events through one of two lenses: the sovereignty of God or eschatology (end times belief). Since I am no seer other than some basic things Jesus has told me will happen (He is coming, to live as if His return is imminent, and that we do not know the day or the hour) let me seek to find the answer to WHY? in what the Bible says about the sovereignty of God.

First, if God is not sovereign, the things that happen are either by pure chance or happen because God is not sovereign or almighty or all wise enough to stay the hand of evil. As we will see the Bible clearly tells us this is not who God is.

Secondly, we need to resist the temptation to attribute every evil act to a karma like belief that the 1st century Jews held. That if you sinned you would not prosper, you would be judged. Jesus challenged this belief (Luke 13:1-5 ESV):

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

 But with that tempering truth in view, if God is sovereign then evil is part of his will (at least indirectly). This is a truth we cannot faithfully shy away from, even if we ought to be slow to attribute all evil acts definitively as judgement.


Every age has its troubles. In every age some Christian has cried “the end of the world.” Like I said earlier I’ll leave that with the Lord. However, that does not mean we cannot look around today and notice that the Lord is shaking the nations. This is but one instance of that.

A verse from our passage this coming Lord’s Day from Isaiah 22:11b helpfully reminds us:

But you did not look to Him who did it, or see Him who planned it long ago.

While God cannot do evil, in accordance with his will evil men and women can do evil things, and that can be used by and accomplish his greater purposes. So while God cannot do evil, we must acknowledge that in accordance with His sovereignty, nothing can come to us by chance but by His fatherly hand. Hard to swallow at times, perplexing to fathom, but encouraging to know we serve an almighty God. These wake up calls ought to cause us to look to the Lord and not to continue a life without Him.

Islamic Movements[2]

It would seem that with the rise of Islamic extremism the Lord has been using this to cause many Muslims to become disenchanted with Islam and consider Christ. Indeed, in the last 15 centuries there have been 88 movements of Muslims to Christ (a movement being 1000 Muslims becoming Christians in an area). 72 of those have been in the last century with most in the last 15 years since 9/11. The Lord is doing something amongst the nations.

Shaking Self-reliance and godlessness

The average person, let alone the average French citizen, devoid of trust in God, is fearful. We live in an increasingly uncertain world. Though major international leaders seek to calm these fears, there words are often a smokescreen. Increasingly, as the Lord is at work shaking the nations we are being forced to trust Him or self, divine government or the ruler(s) of this world.

The French president said they had been “badly hit” but was strong, adding “we need to do everything we can to fight against” such attacks…”All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism.” Here is a secular state fighting a deeply religious phenomenon and trying to do so temporally! They are trying to do “all they can” ignoring the one thing that is needed. While there are many causes behind Islamic terrorism the spiritual reasons and solutions are discounted as naïve (are the other explanations and tactics working…?). Instead of viewing these events as from the Lord and issuing a call to repent and seek him, the West continues to discount religion and fail to return to the quarry from which they were dug [Christianity; Jesus!] (Isa 51:1).

If the Church in the UK is very small (estimates ranging from 1–4% of the population) then the Church in France is even smaller. Friends of ours recently vacationed in France. They tried to find a church—any church— to worship in. They searched for “evangelical church,” “Protestant church” and finally “Catholic church.” The nearest Mass was 28 miles away. Nominal Christianity aside, figures for the size of the Church [born again] in France estimate it to be around 0.9% of the population.[3] Much of this represents recent growth and immigration of believers from former colonies.

Pray that the people of France would look not to themselves or their government or to hatred for explanations or solutions to resolve these issues, but to Christ! Pray the Church there would be ready. Pray that the French may “return to the Lord,” “look to Him who did it,” and “repent…lest they perish.”

Pray the Lord will continue to shake all nations, as He sees fit, until His will is accomplished and His glory revealed.

Cherchez-moi, et vous vivrez! (Amos 5:4b)

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Bastille Day 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution: an age of “liberty” and a quarter century of political turmoil, terror and international conflict (


[3] Gospel centred and evangelical, reformed and Lutheran churches and faithful minorities from mainline churches (most studies also . For some introductory reading on Christianity in France see:;


Why is the Apocrypha not part of the Bible?

As we began our 2016 focus on the Bible this year, twice already, I have emphasized that we believe, or said that the Bible only consists of, 66 books.

Our FIEC statement of faith says: God has revealed himself in the Bible, which consists of the Old and New Testaments alone.

An older chapel confession of faith emphasised this same fact more explicitly. The Westminster Confession, Chapter 1.2 titled “The Holy Scriptures” states:

Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the Books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these:

[after naming the 66 books that make up the Old and New Testaments it ends by saying]

All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.

Chapter1. 3 goes on to say:

 The Books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

The apocrypha are books that appeared in history between the Old and New Testament. Discerning whether they are part of the canon of the Bible (that which the Church sees as from God and therefore beneficial and authoritative for His Church) is an important issue. For example the matter of purgatory can only be held by Roman Catholics because they appeal to one verse from the Apocrypha. Catholics endorsed the Apocrypha as canonical at the Council of Trent in 1546.

Evangelicals, however, while acknowledging the historical and literary values of these books (1 & 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 & 2 Maccabees), have rejected them as canonical for the following basic reasons:

  1. They were never quoted by Jesus or the Apostles;
  2. Most of the Church Fathers regarded them as uninspired;
  3. They were not part of the Ancient Hebrew canon; and
  4. The inferior quality of most of the writings compared with the canonical books, mark them as unworthy of a place in Scripture.

What is canon becomes very important when we ask, what is truth?, in our post-modern age. Is it to be found in the Bible, the apocrypha, gnostic Gospels, other holy books, books of human wisdom, all of the above?

Where does the Lord want us to look for truth and where can we confidently know where to turn to be instructed in how to know Him and walk in His ways. The 66 books of the Bible, that is where, no more and no less.

If issues of why we believe the Bible are of importance you may want to click here for an additional resource.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris