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 (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/17/abortion-rate-england-and-wales-five-year-high).

[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).


Faith + Hope

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

So begins the ‘hall of fame’ list of faith in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Given the dark days in which we live—rife with evil, moral decay and unbelief—days in which humanly speaking I resign myself to believe our civilisation is doomed, what is faith, what is hope?

Most people today are hopeless, their lives uncertain, because they have a presumptuous ‘faith’ (trusting in themselves, others or in ungrounded optimism & wishful thinking [a ‘faith in faith’ mentality]) that ‘hopes’ in uncertainties (selfish desires, earthly shifting sands, fallible people). It is a trust in a hope of a feeling of expectation that something good might happen. When this leads to shattered hopes and broken faith—as it almost always does—people invariably despair; over time they give up.

Biblical faith and hope are not so vague, but are described as an “assurance” and a “conviction.” Faith is a trust in a promise made by a faithful God. He is the object of our faith, His promises the basis of our hope. Therefore, whatever He has promised we can trust and as we actively wait for it we hope. In fact, our trust is so firm and our hoping so active, it is as if what is invisible is visible before our very eyes (see: Ro 8:24–5; 2 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:8).

Hebrews is speaking about Jesus and His return, but He seems to tarry; we’ve also been promised eternal life, but can feel so dead; we’re promised a happy resurrection, but our bodies know corruption; we are made just, as yet sin dwells in us; we hear the call to rejoice, but are in the midst of miseries; we have the promise of good gifts, but still we hunger and thirst.

What would become of us if we were not supported by true hope and faith, the ministry of Christ’s Spirit and the Word, along with the example of a cloud of witnesses, who together enable us to triumph over the world and endure to the finish line, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Initial Reflections from Sharing Jesus at Summer Solstice 2017

Last year evangelist Jonathan B. and myself led a session on the New Age at the Chapel. We invited Jonathan to speak because he has been attending Stonehenge for 15 years, attending to speak with people about the Gospel. Around the time of that meeting I felt it was an outreach opportunity I should commit to attending. In the end myself and David F. from the Chapel agreed to go with him (so glad he was willing for us to tag along). It was a privilege to serve alongside two men so gifted in “on the spot” public evangelism.

I share these reflections as my mind is still filled with the grogginess of returning home at 0600 not having a proper night’s sleep just in case anyone is interested in what goes on/ or how the Gospel might be shared in places such as these.

The three of us met up in the early evening for fellowship and prayer (so important in evangelism and serving in spiritually dark places). With a willingness to be used by the Spirit, and with tracts, Bibles and Jesus t-shirts in hand (that might seem a tad tacky but they work well as a conversation starter) we set off to seek and save the lost. Given how warm it has been there were lots of people, different sorts of people all searching and thirsting for living waters but searching for it in broken cisterns (Jer 2:13). There were some neo-pagans, druids and witches of varying sorts (some pretend and some real). There were also many neo-pagan and New Age worshippers wishing folks “happy solstice.” Then there was the majority, or those looking for a good excuse for revelry and then those who just came to check things out. There were lots of drugs and alcohol (the air stank of it), dancing, flame tricks, glow sticks and different sorts of music ranging from classic hippy, rock to pagan drumming. I was particularly bothered by how many children were being exposed to such darkness, drugs, false worship and lack of sleep! It was an odd combination of some elements that almost seemed darkly primitive blended with a hippy culture of the 60s. Nonetheless, we were there to love people and minister the Gospel in the name of Jesus.

We journeyed first to:



We arrived here while it was still light out. Given this location is off the beaten path from Stonehenge (though much larger in size) there were less people and a less organised feel. This meant that it had a better atmosphere for engaging with people. Sadly the local URC church had just been sold and nothing was on at the parish church (though I cannot confirm whether they were doing anything or not). After surveying the lay of the land (this was new for 2 of us) we broke off for a time to do some individual sharing. We each had a few conversations with people but it was not until we re-joined a large group within the stone circle that a number of people began being drawn into conversation with us. Chief among these were two teenage boys and some women. We were able to pray extensively for one very lost 17 year old and share with him. It was disconcerting to see how the UKs moral slide away from the Lord is having disastrous effects in real people’s lives and causing so many of the secondary societal issues we are seeing such as broken homes and suicide. With another we were able to share to the extent that he took a Bible and was sincerely interested in considering Christ (once he was not in the state he was). We also shared extensively with a drunk (who we helped get a coffee) who was receptive and will wake up in the morning with the literature he took. Contact details were exchanged with several of these folk so Gospel follow up might take place. It was a good environment for sharing and things seemed to flow very naturally.


Sadly when we arrived here the party had ended and the campers were hunkering down for bed. That didn’t stop us from looking at Woodhenge in the dark.



The BBC reported that there were 13,000 people at Stonehenge last night, of which we were but three. We hoped there were other Christians there taking advantage of this opportunity for outreach. By the time we got here it was late (or early) such that many people were sleeping on the ground (and you had to watch you didn’t trip over them! A few of them will have woken up to some tracts in their sleeping bagsJ). After paying £15 to park (that kept some away) we walked the incredibly long distance to Stonehenge, through the security and metal detectors, past the lighting, vendors and armed police. It all had a very commercial and touristy feeling that seemed to cramp the spirit of evangelism. We met a Hindu monk in the enormous car park. He showed us some scary Hindu pictures and wanted us to take a copy of his sacred book. He declined the offer to swap “holy books.” It turned out he had been a “Christian” and was from California. Many people we talked with either thought they knew what Christianity was all about from RE lessons or had tried Christianity and didn’t like it, or had been raised in the church but had not had their questions answered (to such nominal Christians- Ps 34:8, Taste and see that the Lord is good…the trouble is they had never tasted, oh what baggage to faith there can sometimes be). After making it to the centre of the circle and witnessing yet more revelry we dispersed to the edges where opportunities to engage with people were generally greater. Jonathan was able to engage with a druid whilst David and I were able to enter into conversation with a number of people who weren’t high. Sadly, despite repeated attempts to steer conversation to spiritual things and ultimately the Lord we sensed things were not as open to evangelism as at Avebury and wanting to beat the sunrise rush left just prior to sun up.

I am sure we’ll all have further reflections and lessons to apply to future evangelistic attempts at such settings, however, for this tired brain it is time to sign off. Please pray for those we met.

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


There are many things I would rather write about, the wonders of Jesus, the depths of what it means to follow Him, however, pastors—in every age— often spend a great deal of their time speaking into the particular issues of the day, which morally speaking centre right now around the LGBTI and gender inclusive agenda. Like I said, this is not a hobby horse but something I feel I must address.

Many Christians have reluctantly acknowledged that until a move of the Holy Spirit comes upon our land to awaken us to the truth and reveal our sin and need for Jesus, there is a very small likelihood that the recent tide of laws against marriage will be reversed. And that we can very comfortably sit behind a belief that while these things may exist in society (and even grow as they are promoted as a choice) that we are safe because of our “freedom of religion” and “freedom of speech.” If you read the fine print of the Article 9 of the 1998 UK Human Rights Act[1] you’ll see there are loopholes that permit a way to circumvent these “freedoms.” This, however, is not the news that concerns me today.

You may have seen a recent news article where the European country of Malta passed legislation banning “gay cure conversion therapy.” Click here to read the BBC article. There are a number of things that I think are disconcerting about this law:

  • That the law “enshrines” that sexual orientation or gender identity is not wrong or a “short coming of any sort”
  • That others who disagree for religious or non-religious reasons are therefore legally “wrong.”
  • That religious freedom is outweighed by others “rights.”
  • That if you believe such things are not acceptable and seek to help change someone you will face up to £8,450 in fines and a year in prison (sending a clear message that freedom of religion is really freedom from religion and that this freedom is at best secondary).
  • That if it has gained a foothold in Europe, how much longer until such laws are advanced in the UK?
  • Lastly, that it strikes hard against two Biblical truths, the first is that what the Bible describes as right and wrong is the standard, there is no other; and the second, the Gospel itself.

While the law targets professionals such as psychiatrists who offer various forms of gay conversion therapy, it also would apply to Christian leaders, preachers and teachers who preach the life transforming message of the Gospel. While physical and psychological routes for gay conversion may assist they ultimately fall short of offering true hope to the individual because the issue is ultimately about sin and requires a spiritual solution.

This is what we read of in 1 Cor 6: 9–11 (emphasis added):

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And 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.

This passage identifies a representative list of various sins (which includes but is not limited to homosexuality) that separate us from God. Paul then reminds the Corinthians “and such were some of you” meaning they had been CHANGED by believing in the Gospel (that’s the “but”). They once were and were now no longer. The hope of change from homosexuality is possible (though many prefer to continue to walk in darkness). However, it comes not through gay conversion therapy but by trusting in Jesus.

May we never lose sight of the wonder and power of the Gospel which can transform any sinner and make them a new creation in Christ Jesus, regardless of the consequences. May we never cease to be defined by the message of the Gospel that sets us apart as Christ’s.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Article 9 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.


Calling evil good and good evil (a word to Christians about the LGBTI agenda)

Woe to those who call evil good

                               and good evil,

               who put darkness for light

                               and light for darkness,

               who put bitter for sweet

                               and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 ESV)

 This was true of Isaiah’s day and it is certainly true today, where people live sinful lives as if they were the norm (Proverbs 14:12). We live in an age of moral confusion. What was once viewed as evil and unacceptable has witnessed a 180 revolution where evil is touted as being good, and liberating—the epitome of a “liberal” society.[1] Many people begrudgingly go along with the LGBTI[2] agenda or shrug it off by saying things like, “they can do what they’d like” or “so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or bother me…” The reason behind the shift? Our present state of moral confusion has derived from their ceasing to exist in the minds of the populace a moral authority as to what is right and what is wrong. Even for those who have mild moral bearings standing up for what is right is often hard to do and so if the squeaky wheel gets the grease… “hang on a second shouldn’t we think about this…oh bother with the fuss, I’d rather go watch tennis.” This article attempts to reasonably think through this vast issue of gender confusion in an introductory manner from a Biblical and Christian perspective. While many other helpful arguments that support the Biblical view of gender can be found in natural law, etc, (appealed to by non-Christians of religious and non-religious persuasions alike), this post will limit itself to the Biblical argument believing the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God and therefore sufficient in all matters of morality, faith and practice.

The LGBTI agenda has been the squeaky wheel that has got the grease. It has been a silent and stealthy force creeping through Western civilization, often without any thought or resistance. Recently transgenderism[3] has been the issue in vogue. The US has been debating toilet laws and whether transgendered people could join the army. Canada is moving towards gender neutral statements on government issued ID cards as if we are all androgynous.[4] Suddenly transgenderism and homosexuality are being plastered across the media and film in an attempt to enculturate society into believing that the old evil is the new norm.

Part of the issue in trying to stick one’s neck out and offer an honest plea for common sense is that one’s neck risks being cut off. Opposition is branded as the enemy or as hate speech. Let me stop and be clear. This article is not hate speech, it is being offered calmly and collectively, putting forward the Christian view, one filled with truth and love. This is being done in a traditionally liberal spirit (meaning the view open to broad learning and dialogue) and indeed the LGBTI view represents the illiberal view (close-minded to other views than its own). Funny how words change in meaning when those who used to espouse the liberal arts of listening and dialogue, and have largely come to believe the worldview that there is no grand truth and yet militantly use threats to quell any challenge to the norm that is being imposed. For those who are illiberal I am already the enemy. For those who are open to reason and would like to know more of the teaching of the Bible on the subject, I invite you to continue with me.

Before we turn to the Bible one helpful clarification on gender and sexuality.

The World Health Organization records that, “Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.”

To be fair there have been times in the past where aspects of gender have been stereotypically pinned to one sex or another whilst in reality they could be common to the sexes (i.e. the old saying that girls couldn’t play sports). So in this sense the challenge to aspects of traditional gender association has been liberating (for men and women). However, while there are some gender attributes that may be legitimately shared across the sexes many find their roots not in what “society considers appropriate” but in the sex that God assigned to us. For example, there is something in the biological hardwiring of men that make them providers and women nurturers. What separates men and women is not just our physical anatomy. Men really are men and women truly are women. The differences do not only revolve around reproductive systems, but the totality of our biology and calling as being created in the image of God fashions us as men and women, distinct but equal in God’s sight. Therefore the Biblical view sees gender and sex as being inextricably linked and assigned by God, whereas the contemporary developing view sees gender (and sex via sex changes) as a subjective matter of choice.

The Biblical View of Gender

 Why is it that Deut 22:5 says,

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5 ESV)

This verse against transvestitism (dressing like the opposite sex) is a prime example of how the Bible places boundaries between male and female because God has fearfully and wonderfully made us and assigned to us our sex which is a gift to be cherish and not denied or confused. To deny your sex is to deny who God has made you to be and to rebel against God.

On the creation of the sexes let’s turn to Genesis 1:27:

 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

(Genesis 1:27 ESV) [emphasis added]

This truth is the fountainhead of all other conversations about human gender and sexuality in the Bible. Every one of them harkens back to this truth. After Gen 1:27 it says God saw that it was “very good” (Gen 1:31). Therefore to deny who we are is to rebel against God’s good design for us. It bespeaks arrogance, pride, revolt, selfishness and self-indulgence whereas accepting and rejoicing in who God made you speaks of humility, celebration, gratitude, submission and worship.

This is why as part of the FIEC we have collectively proposed adopting the following statement on gender:

God created us male and female, and calls us to live according to our gender identity which is inseparable from our biological sex determined at conception. Our gender may not be changed or reassigned.

 *This said we need to acknowledge that there are difficult and very rare cases such as biological “transgenderism” (when a child is born as a hermaphrodite or intersex [having both sets of sexual organs]). As Jesus said, “there are eunuchs who have been so from birth” (Mt 19:21). Physical defects such as this are a general result of the Fall. Being confronted with these parents have an enormous decision to make, one in which I would argue they as parents have the authority to exercise parental judgement in one way or the other. In such cases families require all the care and counsel Christians can offer. However, a rare exception should never be allowed to trump the rule.

 How Christians Should Treat Transgendered People

Have compassion on the lost and confused as Jesus did:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)

Because these people are troubled, insecure and often possess deep wounds, they are therefore in great need of healing, teaching and care. We need to do this firmly but with gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3:15) remembering they are our fellow sinners and that the only thing that separates us is grace:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And 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. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV) [emphasis added]

We must love them while presenting the truth to them with the firm believe that true healing for their gender confusion can only be found in their finding their identity in Christ.

In a generation in which morality sways with the wind may those who follow Christ resolutely place their feet upon the rock trusting He will be the anchor that will keep us in the storm, and may the Lord use such steadfastness to be a light in the moral confusion of our time.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] “Freedom” however is often pure licentiousness and underneath its cover is the truth that people who think they are free—free from God, authority, moral obligations— are actually slaves to Satan and sin (Ro 6:18). Our inalienable rights are truly only those that God has established in His word.

[2] Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans-gendered or Inter-Sex.

[3] To be transgendered refers to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.

[4]Being neither male nor female in sex and gender.

The Sabbath

The Sabbath[1]

As we read the through the Old Testament numerous things are bound to challenge us, because they are unfamiliar, complex and sometimes because we have avoided reading them and now are confronted by them. I would suggest the latter is true of a reading from Tuesday’s passage on the Sabbath (today known as the Lord’s Day). This is especially the case today as many Christians and churches dismiss the Sabbath as no longer being authoritative for the Church (while inconsistently upholding the other 9 of the 10 commandments).

The challenging passage read:

A Sabbathbreaker Executed

                While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Numbers 15:32-36 ESV)

Inter-tangled in this passage is both a moral law (keep the Sabbath) and a judicial law (stoning). While Israel’s judicial law is no longer authoritative[2] Christians have always taken seriously the principles behind them and often structured western laws upon them. The law does underscore the importance of the Sabbath as part of God’s law and puts it forward as a foundational element of fostering a healthy relationship with Him. It has been instituted—for our benefit—as a chief means of grace to bless humanity and the Church.

Given that we are reading the Old Testament we have come across the Sabbath a lot and will continue to do so. Indeed the Sabbath (not “sabbath”) is a central theme in the Bible. We recently came across the Sabbath in Ex 20:8-11 (did anyone notice the greatest stress in length is applied to this command?). In this week’s morning sermon Stewart Heap also drew our attention in Lev 26 to three things that we essential for either bringing blessings or curses to the Israelites: 1) not making idols, 2) keeping the LORD’s Sabbaths and 3) upholding His statutes and commandments.

Have you ever wondered about the relationship between the 1st and 4th commands in the 10 Commandments? Why is the Sabbath on the “God side” of the two tablets? Why did the prophets dwell so often and so particularly on these two commands? “The answer is uncomfortable but important. Here was the reason: the Sabbath reveals our idols. The prophets knew that where there is idolatry, there you will find a people struggling – if even trying – to keep the Sabbath; and where the Sabbath is a burden, there you will find a people caught up in all kinds of idolatry. What is it that keeps them from obeying the Sabbath? What is it they find hard to give up? What is it they would rather be doing? There it is. Now you know their idol.”[3] But do we take this all as seriously as the passage suggests?

When we are not delighting in the Lord and His Sabbath (Isa 58:13-14), we are delighting in something else, which in turn weakens our relationship with Him and the overall health of the Church. Delighting in God and delighting in the Lord’s Day go hand in hand. Are you delighting in the Lord’s Day, if not what idol does this reveal that needs to be addressed so you can honour His day and Him?

This was something understood by the Enlightenment thinker Voltaire. He said, if you wish to destroy the Christian religion you must first destroy the Christian Sunday. While subversive it was a wise and truthful observation.

God, in His grace, gave us His day for countless reasons that cannot fit within this blog, however, chief among them was to combat idolatry and to draw us towards a greater delight in our relationship with Him. Isn’t that what every Christian should want?

Let me impress this point by closing with an example from history. In recent decades many western Christians, following societal trends instead of God’s word, have followed suit by casting off the “burden” of the Sabbath. The largest point in case to the aforementioned conversation and to the divine authority of the Lord’s Day comes by asking the question, has it helped the cause of Christ? In history, however, our gospel forebearers knew how vitally important keeping and spending a profitable Lord’s Day was to their own spiritual health, that of their local church and the cause of authentic Christianity across the land.

William Wilberforce, abolitionist, evangelical and Sabbatarian commended the day in the following way and is but one of many famed evangelical examples that would include the Puritans, John Wesley, George Whitefield, John Newton, Rowland Hill, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle… Their views on the Lord’s Day cannot be divorced from other things for which they are remembered for. Wilberforce said in two separate letters:

There is nothing in which I would recommend you to be more strictly resolute than in keeping the Sabbath holy…. I can truly declare to you, that to me the institution of the Sabbath has been invaluable…. I have said a great deal on this subject: it is because I am deeply impressed with its importance.

…I don’t say it lightly, I believe the contempt into which the Sabbath has fallen, bids fair to accelerate the ruin both of church and state more than any other single circumstance whatever; and it is the bounded duty of every friend to our civil happiness no less than to our religious interests, to hold up its authority… it is one of those things wherein the duty is so obvious and binding, that in doing it there can be little exertion; in leaving it undone, great blame.


May we delight in Him,

Pastor Chris

[1] This is a massive subject. I would love to chat about it more for anyone who is interested and provide further resources if you are care to studying the subject further.

[2] An example of this would be Eph 6:1. Here Paul continues to urge children to honour their parents but he drops the threat of stoning.

[3] Credited to a good friend of mine.

Finally some good news.

For the sake of truth and righteousness as a nation I praise God today that finally, at least on one matter, the UK—when many Western nations have not— has stood up with regards to an important area of modern debate.

In a 330-188 decision assisted dying [assisted suicide/ euthanasia] was defeated, upholding the 1961 Suicide Act which recognizes suicide as unhealthy tragedy in and for society (click here to read more). Today Christians can praise the Lord on this matter. But there is work to do. As we saw in our summer study, much of the blame for our current shift towards immorality and a non-Christian state has been our fault. Let today’s victory therefore, not simply be an opportunity to breed complacency but to recognize the fact that the “progressive” slide away from Christ towards godlessness can be averted, and the Lord desires to use you as a means.

This summer Wilberforce challenged us to be Christians that seek to use our influence for the exertion of the Gospel and the extension of Kingdom values. Today is not a day to celebrate and then cease our endeavours, but to take courage, regroup and engage yet again. May our prayers for revival only become more fervent! May we never cease to labour until “the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris