Become an Agent for Change

When I look at newscasts and think about the horrific problems millions of people face because of violence in the countries where they live, I am compelled to wonder how we can make effective changes so that innocent people do not need to flee their homes. How do countries, who open their doors to refugees, help these violent countries develop justice, liberty and equality?

Violence arises from faulty thinking. To think we have a right to attack another person is faulty thinking. Some of this thinking stems from faulty ideologies, some from purely selfish thoughts (I want what you have) and some from the inability or lack of inclination to control violent impulses. God expects us to control our violent impulses, and if we can’t, He has directed civilised societies to create legal systems to deal with people who are a threat to others. Human beings have known from the beginning of time that murder is evil, and there is no doubt about it, we will all stand before our Creator and give an account for the things we have done in this life.

Anyone who has the mistaken belief that in our world today a deity would want them to murder another person, has definitely accepted an ideology that is based on faulty thinking. And yet a large number of the people who are displaced in the world today have had to leave their homes because this type of faulty thinking is being acted upon with, at times, genocidal outcomes. This faulty thinking says, “These people don’t agree with my ideology, I have the right to kill them.”

How do sane, rational people deal with this form of faulty thinking? How should the rest of the world attempt to prevent wholesale murder on the scale we are seeing being perpetrated by IS? I believe we have to directly attack this faulty thinking and it is imperative that this attack comes first from within the community that has given rise to these murderous people.

Outsiders simply pointing out to these people that their thinking is faulty will not prevent the insane violence that is being spread through hate. These murderers claim their scriptures tell them that people who don’t believe in the things they believe in are not only deceived, they choose to be deceived, and therefore their blood is on their own hands. We hear the occasional cry of defence from Muslim leaders who maintain murder is not part of their religion. And yet every day for the last 20 years we hear about Muslims killing people.

If this is not an integral part of Islam, then the leaders need to stand up and say so, loud and clear. They need to teach their children that killing someone else, for any reason other than defending oneself or one’s community, is murder – plain and simple! And they need to educate their young men to think differently. Hate is not conducive to world peace. But perhaps this is what they are actually all about. Their ideology may be based on the idea that the Mahdi will come to a chaotic world filled with hate and violence. They may mistakenly believe they are agents of some twisted sort of good/god.

© Jpegwiz |

© Jpegwiz |

There is no denying the fact that the majority of people who have found it impossible to stay in their own countries have fled to countries that were founded on Christian principals. Christians can attack the faulty thinking that has led to so much violence and human suffering. We need to attack from the front with prayer. Prayer is our most powerful weapon and we need to use it now, because this is a spiritual battle and we are called to arms. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:12)

Christian communities have no problem identifying and condemning murder. Jesus has not given us a mandate for attacking other people, even if they disagree with us and hate us we are commanded to love them and pray for them. The Christian faith is based on peace (Luke 1:78-79), love (John 13:35), forgiveness (Mat 6:12), charity (Mat 25:35-40) and equality (2 Cor 8:13-14). These are the standards the leaders of the Christian church should be setting for their people. God has not called us to be prosperous in this world, He has called us to take up the cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34). Christian leaders around the world today need to speak out about these standards and demand them of their people. All those people who claim to be followers of Christ should be showing love to their Muslim neighbours. We need to be the ambassadors of Christ in the 21st century world.

If these standards are also claimed by other faiths then let their leaders stand up and be counted. Let them speak out and tell their people that this is what is expected of them. If these are not the standards set by their faith, then this faith should be seen for what it is, nothing more than a group of murderous people with faulty thinking. Any faith that promotes violence and hate is a false, evil religion, because we know that God is Love (1 John 4:8).

Why should the rest of the world stand by and pick up the pieces as country after country is racked by the ruinous doctrines of an evil religion. If murder and violence are not part of the doctrine of Islam then let the leaders shout it from their minarets. There are innocent men, women and children who have been born into this faith who have no freedom to choose to look rationally at it and reject it. Apostasy is another choice that is punishable by murder. Outsiders cannot reform Islam, it is up to Muslims to show the world that they really are promoting a religion of peace, if this is indeed what they claim. But this is not what is evident from 1400 years of history.

I can only hope that I am wrong, that I have looked at this situation and missed something. But I simply have to look at the news to see that even if a small number of misguided people are promoting violent aggression in the name of Islam, it is enough to cause immense and unpardonable suffering. Christians around the world need to identify this faulty thinking with compassion and attack it with prayer. This is a call to every Christian in the world today to become an agent of change. Pray brothers and sister, pray like you have never prayed before. Pray for the souls of the lost and deceived, pray that they will see the Light and come to the only true God, their Creator.

© Alistaircotton |

© Alistaircotton |

Christians of the world must unite and attack this faulty thinking on the spiritual level. The Body of Christ needs to be an agent for change in the world today. Christian people all over the world need to dedicate some time to prayer. We have the most powerful weapon in all the world and we can use it for God’s glory. We need to show the world “proof of our love” so that the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified (2 Cor 8:2-3). Brothers and sisters let us pray.

“Father, let those people who have been born into countries where faulty thinking is the norm hear Your Truth. Lord, open their hearts and their minds to the Truth of Your gospel and bring them into Your Kingdom. Father let them hear about the great love You have for them. Let them truly understand that You sent Your Son to die for them, that they might have eternal life. They have been told that they will live in paradise because they are prepared to kill for their god. Break down this false hope Lord and open their eyes to Your Truth. We know it is only in and through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can be granted the gift of eternal life. Father, reach out to them now we pray and touch them mightily. Amen.”

Who Is Jesus?

Who is Jesus? The answer to this question has occupied academics for centuries, as historian and author John Dickson asserts:

It is a conceit of every age to suppose that it has discovered the most important questions—and answers. The quest for the historical Jesus really began as soon as he left the scene in AD 30. Even the author of one of the four New Testament Gospels shows an interest in searching out the facts rather than opinions about the man from Nazareth.

Whether we believe Jesus of Nazareth is an historical figure may depend entirely upon our own pre-existing bias towards the concepts conveyed by His name. Despite the sceptics, there is very sound evidence to support the claim that Jesus was indeed a real person who lived in the Middle East 2000 years ago. Dickson suggests Luke, the physician and gospel writer was:

….. someone committed to weighing earlier sources, gathering (eyewitness) testimony, researching thoroughly and then providing an orderly account of the most reliable data.

In his orderly account (Luke 1:3) of the life and work of Jesus, Luke records Jesus posing this very question to His disciples. Luke writes:

He was praying alone, only the disciples were with Him, and He asked them, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist, but others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the old prophets has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20)

I believe we must each ask ourselves this question: Who is Jesus? Or perhaps we should consider just what His life and claims about Himself have to do with us today? Like many other people, my interest in Jesus had waxed and waned throughout my life, but eventually I decided to pursue an answer to this question.

As a child I was sent to Sunday School, where I heard many stories from The Bible. Some of them were about the Baby Jesus, who, I was informed, was born a long time ago and a long way away. This baby grew up and became an Important Person, but He was killed by some soldiers, who nailed Him to a cross. Amazingly, He came back to life and spent some time with His disciples, before He rose up into the clouds and went back to heaven to be with God.

Growing up in an agnostic household, we didn’t talk about this story at home. My parents didn’t attend church but my sisters and I went to Sunday School, while Mum and Dad read the Sunday papers. Church was just something some people did, but it didn’t have any significant impact on our home life. Although I loved to read Bible stories in the books I won at Sunday School, I didn’t take them too seriously. meeIn my mind they were similar to the classical myths I read in our Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia, or the stories I devoured in my Fairy Tale collections and my book of Aesop’s Fables. I stopped going to Sunday School when I was about 11 and I don’t remember anyone talking about religion in our home after that.

Teenagers in the 50s and 60s were born not long after WWII and most of us hoped to live in a world that was free from the widespread violence and aggression our parents and grandparents had seen. Perhaps we thought the two horrific world wars that tore apart the very fabric of society in the first half of the century, were products of old thinking. hippies1As the past traditions had not prevented such human carnage, we were reaching for new ways. While the post war world began reconstruction, many people began to reconstruct their concepts of reality and a more progressive concept of Jesus began to emerge.

In my late teens I started to think about this person Jesus again and it was then that I came across the Theosophists’ concept of Maitreya, who was, they claimed:

….. an advanced spiritual entity and high-ranking member of a hidden Spiritual Hierarchy, the so-called Masters of the Ancient Wisdom. According to Theosophical doctrine, one of the Hierarchy’s functions is to oversee the evolution of humankind; in accord with this function the Maitreya is said to hold the so-called Office of the World Teacher. Theosophical texts posit that the purpose of this Office is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge about the true constitution and workings of Existence to humankind. Humanity is thereby assisted on its presumed cyclical, but ever progressive, evolutionary path. Reputedly, one way the knowledge transfer is accomplished is by Maitreya occasionally manifesting or incarnating in the physical realm; the manifested entity then assumes the role of World Teacher of Humankind.



Jesus as an incarnation of Maitreya seemed more appropriate for the end of the 20th century, particularly if humanity had evolved to a higher level of awareness and we were now ready for the masters to transfer information suitable to this higher plane. I found this teaching much more palatable than the ideas I remembered from the “religious” people who went to church.

From my perspective, church people appeared narrow minded and seemed to have little imagination; I perceived them as people who had simply swallowed ideas that had been passed down to them from repressive leaders, who used religion as a means of maintaining control of the masses.

This new version of Jesus was far more in line with psychedelic thinking. This Jesus had come to Earth to teach humanity a different way to the one the established church presented. Through New Age teachings I thought I could find a way to higher consciousness and enlightenment by emulating Jesus’ lifestyle and teachings. I decided Jesus was one of a number of examples we could model our own lives after, if we seek world peace and enlightenment.

It was during this time that I embarked on a quest for Truth. I had a rudimentary understand of truth being relative, and I toyed with this idea. However, I was beginning to encounter a range of “cosmic” teachings about higher consciousness and I felt it would be interesting to explore some of these ideas, which were becoming more prominent in the youth culture through the hippie movement and people like Timothy Leary. Perhaps there really was such a thing as Truth.timothy leary

I started reading books I bought at The Theosophical Society bookshop. The writers of these tomes presented Jesus as a very different person to the one I’d learned about at Sunday School. One of the books I purchased was The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi Dowling. This Jesus was portrayed as a well travelled sage, and from Dowling’s book I learned that:

By making himself, through desire, effort, ability and prayer, a fit vessel, Jesus enabled The Christ to dwell within him. Christ is therefore used as a term for the seemingly perfect human being that Jesus exemplified, a human being that has been “Christened” (anointed) and therefore made holy.

This idea struck a cord with me. I had discovered the concept of Christ Consciousness and read about the Cosmic Christ, who, along with other enlightened sages, would help guide humanity on its journey of spiritual evolution. I also discovered the concept of the ascended master. The followers of this idea believe ascended masters are:

….. individuals who have lived in physical bodies, acquired the Wisdom and Mastery needed to become Immortal and Free of the cycles of “re-embodiment” and karma, and have attained their “Ascension”. … According to the Ascended Master Teachings, gaining “mastery over matter planes” means learning to consciously use 100% of one’s Creative Power of thought, feeling, and spoken word to create greater perfection, joy, and love in the world, as opposed to using thoughts, feelings, and words to create greater limitations, bondage, and chaos in one’s own experience and in the world at large through carelessness and lack of awareness of the extent of one’s influence in the world.

In the course of my quest I left my job and went to live on a commune in the hinterland behind Cairns, far north Queensland. This property was owned by a fellow called Jan Daube, who had come to Australia from Germany, with the express purpose of setting up a community for people to come under the spiritual guidance of his Master. According to Jan, his Master had ascended from a community in Spain in the middle ages, and she was drawing people to the Cairns commune to learn from her through Jan.

We were to learn about living in such a way that we would elevate our cosmic vibrations, enabling us to more easily communicate with higher forms of consciousness. These were the gods of the universe, who would be our guides as we moved into the Aquarian Age. We lived on a strict gar shu vegan diet, which meant we avoided animal products that would lower our vibrations and anything that grew under the ground, away from the purifying rays of the sun. I spent many months learning from Jan about the Master’s teachings.

kurandaTowards the end of my time in this community I came to the conclusion that, rather than following Jan’s Master, I would adopt Jesus as my Ascended Master. Jesus became my guru and I began to speak with him throughout the day. My life took on a completely new shape. Where there had been a sense of emptiness and a longing for love and a place in the world, I found peace.

Jesus became my friend and companion and when I moved from the commune back to Sydney I decided to seek out other like minded people. However, most of my friends were into Indian gurus, they saw Jesus as western and not at all exotic, and of course, he represented the western culture against which they were rebelling. I didn’t mind, Jesus had brought something into my life nothing else had ever achieved.

Although I still believed in conservation and a counter culture philosophy, I found the whole hippie lifestyle very disappointing. People continued to be people, and many used and abused those around them, while chanting peace and love. I decided I needed to get out of the hustle and bustle of Sydney so I found a little shack I could live in and moved back to the country to pursue my “spiritual” studies through meditation and the library of books I had collected relating to spiritual growth. I still saw Jesus as one of the ascended masters, he was one of many who could help people on their way to self-actualisation and enlightenment, but he was my Master.



During hunts through second hand bookshops I discovered Brother Lawrence’s book The Practice of the Presence of God and also Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ. Then one day I found a book called The New Life by Andrew Murray. With the help of this battered old volume I began to read the little Bible I had carried with me through years of hitch-hiking up and down the east coast of Australia. It had been a present from my parents for my 10th birthday, but I never actually read it, I just liked the way it looked and felt. It was beautifully bound and it had rice paper pages with gold edging. What I discovered was that the words inside The Bible were more beautiful than I’d ever imagined.

In The Bible I read:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him; and without Him not a thing was brought into being that has been created. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not overtake it. (John 1:1-5)

The Bible was telling me that my Master, Jesus, was actually the Creator of all that existed on both the physical and spiritual planes – He brought all things into being. He was also the Light carrier, who was far more powerful than any dark force. I also read:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. (1 John 4:7-9)

I had traveled thousands of miles wearing plastic sandals with Peace painted on the back of one and Love on the back of the other, but I had now found both at the feet of Jesus. He became not only my Master, guru and friend, but also my Lord. I began to understand that He is unique. He is not an ascended master, He is the only begotten Son of God and the only person who has ever been raised from the dead with an immortal body. The uniqueness of Jesus began to unfold before me as I read The Bible. I also read:

I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you know me, you know my Father also: from now on you know Him, and have seen Him. (John 14:6-7)

This is a momentous claim. Jesus is asserting He is totally unique, He is the only Way for us to know the omnipotent, omniscient God who created all things through Him. This God, who has revealed Himself through The Bible, His Son and the Holy Spirit, calls Himself our Father, and Jesus is the human embodiment of the Father. He is indeed God incarnate.

Until that time I had perceived God as an impersonal force; in a sense I saw Him as the collective consciousness of all lifeforms in the universe – He was therefore nothing more than a product of evolution, just as all living things were. We were a great cosmic accident that was unfolding and becoming. Now I discovered we were no accident. There was a God who was immortal, eternal and infinite and He had a very specific message for the people He had created in His own image. He said:

Truly, truly, I tell you, We speak about the things we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and you don’t believe our witness. If I tell you about earthly things and you refuse to believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? And no one has ascended into heaven, but He that descended out of heaven, the Son of man, who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whoever believes may have eternal life in Him. For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:11-16)

I came to understand that the real Jesus is the Jesus revealed in the pages of His Bible, the written Word of God. The only way to know this Jesus, who is the only begotten Son of God, is through the teachings in His Word that are opened to His followers by His Holy Spirit. This Jesus came to Earth from heaven and went back to heaven, and He said quite clearly that He was the only one to do so. He assured His followers that those who believe in Him and His teachings will be given eternal life.

It took me some time to come to terms with just a few of the ideas I found Jesus preached through the pages of His Word. It became evident that His teachings were not only multifaceted, they were multilayered. I had started with the concept that God is Love and moved on to the uniqueness of Jesus and His claim to be the only Way. I did not begin to explore the concept of sin for a number of years after I started to follow Jesus, but when I did it enabled me to more fully understand why He went to the cross. From the book of Hebrews I read:

…..He has once for all, at the close of the ages, appeared to abolish sin by His sacrifice. And just as it is appointed for all people to die once, and after that face the judgment, even so it is that Christ, having been offered once to take upon Himself the burden of the sins of many – once for all – will appear a second time, not to carry any burden of sin nor to deal with sin, but to bring to full salvation those who are eagerly waiting for Him. (Heb 9:26-28)

There was so much to unpack in this passage. This teaching dealt the final blow to my ideas on reincarnation. If I was to follow the teachings of the biblical Jesus I must accept that people will die only once, and then face judgment. I was not a continually reborn person, I was uniquely me and the choices I make in this life will influence my eternal destiny.

This meant the Hindu understanding of karma was also out. We will not work our way to enlightenment by improving our behaviour over successive rebirths. We will indeed reap what we sow, but this law of consequences is something that tends to bear fruit in this present life. Although the life to come is also dependent on our deeds, the judgment that we must each face (Mat 12:36) is more dependent on whether we are prepared to accept our Creator’s Way.

As I read The Imitation of Christ, I realised that there is not a single person in the world who could stand up to the standards God has set for the holiness people need to possess to be part of His eternal family. Indeed Paul told the Romans that everyone has sinned (Rom 3:23). I had been deceived into thinking I could make the grade. I had believed that if I was prepared to give up the worldly things (thoughts, deeds and possessions) that held me back from enlightenment, I could ascend to the next plane of existence.

Instead, I came to understand that Jesus is the only person who has ever lived a sinless life. God intends to dwell in the midst of sinless, eternal people, but to achieve this end He has allowed His perfect creation to be corrupted for a short time before He destroys it and remakes the heavens and Earth to be a home for people who have accepted the righteousness of the Jesus of The Bible (Rev 21:1-5). It will be His righteousness that makes us able to eternally coexist with the Holy Eternal Father.

The issue of sin began to make its way into my thoughts. The word sacrifice was something I had not really contemplated. I finally saw my own selfishness for what it was. I wanted enlightenment simply for my own peace and fulfillment. Despite this, the Father was offering me a place in His eternal kingdom through His Son. The wondrous truth is that Jesus is going to abolish sin. My sins, and the sins of every person who has ever lived, will be dealt with, and then abolished (John 1:29). This will be done with complete and perfect justice. Selfishness, greed, jealousy, envy, hate, malice, lust, hypocrisy, deceptiveness and all the other negative human traits that plague us will be gone.

I finally realised that I needed Jesus as my Saviour and Redeemer and the gracious provision the Father has made is that every person who repents of their sin and accepts Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf, can be freed from the penalty of that sin. This is because God has declared that the death of His one and only Son is the sacrifice He demanded from the very foundations of the world (Mat 13:35; 25:34; Eph 1:4; Heb 4:3; Rev 13:8). As Peter put it:

God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but He has now revealed Him to you in these last days. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because He raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. (1 Peter 1:20-22)

After coming to an understanding of the world’s problem with sin, I also came to realise that Jesus is not the person we want Him to be, He is not an aesthetic, mystic, philosopher, sage, ascended master or great teacher, He is the man revealed in the pages of The Bible, the Saviour of the world. Any other man is not the Lord Jesus Christ of The Bible, and therefore is not God’s only begotten Son, who came into the world to deal with sin. I had followed the Cosmic Christ, the Mystic Christ and the Aquarian Christ, but the Christ revealed in The Bible is God’s only Son, He does not need repackaging for the modern world.

I was now a member of the Body of Christ, the church, the universal body of believers, and I had learned that we can look to God’s inerrant Word and know that the words in The Bible can be taken at face value. If this were not the case there would be no way to know who Jesus is and what He believed and taught. There would be no way to be a Christian. Jesus came to Earth from heaven and was born into history. He had painstakingly prepared a nation into which He would be born and He then thoroughly prepared His apostles to write the New Testament books of The Bible.

Jesus wisely and meticulously provided The Bible so that all Christians throughout history can come to the same set of core beliefs. One need only examine the writing of Christian authors from the beginning of the Church Age to find their work reflects the same core beliefs followers of Jesus hold today. OtsyThis is because they also recognised The Bible as the final authority for their doctrine. The real Jesus is the Jesus of The Bible and it is He who offers each and every person the gift of eternal life. This Jesus is not bound by denominations or traditions, He is the living embodiment of the invisible God. As Paul told the Colossians:

…The Father has given us a part in the heritage of the saints in light; He has made us free from the power of evil and given us a place in the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have our salvation and the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the image of the unseen God, He existed before anything was created and through Him all things were made, in heaven and on Earth – things seen and things unseen, authorities, lords, rulers, and powers – all things were made by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things have their being. And He is the head of the body, the church: the starting point of all things, the first to rise from the dead; so that in all things He might have the chief place. For God was pleased to be in Him in full measure. (Col 1:12-19)

An important piece of the picture that just wouldn’t fit was finally highlighted for me when I read passages like:

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. (1 Peter 1:23)

This led me to re-examine the concept of an immortal soul, which I had accepted as truth and simply carried over into my Christian walk from eastern mysticism. After reading The Bible for more than thirty years I finally decided to go against a teaching that had been introduced into Christian tradition in the 2nd century. It gradually became clear to me that The Bible does not teach that we have immortal souls or spirits. God warned Adam and Eve they would die if they chose to reject His clear guidance. He calls this rebellion against His rightful authority sin, and He told Adam and Eve that the penalty for this sin would be death (Gen 2:16-17). snakeSatan lied to Adam and Eve and assured them death would not be the outcome of their disobedience (Gen 3:4). It was! Death entered God’s perfect creation and people, plants and animals began to die.

From the very beginning of its pages The Bible teaches that immortality is no longer part of the human condition; we must each make a choice to give our lives into the hands of the immortal Father, through His Son, to be given the gift of eternal life. If we choose to reject this gift, then Jesus has warned us, we will perish (John 3:16).

Jesus, God’s only Son, accepted the role He must play in the Father’s rescue plan for humanity. From before He created the universe God had determined He would redeem those who were prepared to accept His Truth: He would give them the gift of eternal life. Jesus was, “In the beginning”, and as John explains, He is with God, and He is God. (John 1:1) It is only through Jesus that God is able to transform mortal humans into eternal beings and make us able to join Him in His eternal kingdom.

NLA photo collection

NLA photo collection

Surprisingly, Jesus made a bit of an impact on the youth culture when He became a Superstar, and Webber and Rice’s musical came to Australia in 1972. This didn’t have a noticeable impact on my hippie friends at the time, as the Jesus Movement was only just beginning in Australia and the distorted theology in the show was far from biblical. But eventually a number of people from the hippie scene started to look into Jesus and by the late 70s there were hundreds of Jesus Freaks in Australia who had discovered who Jesus is.

The musical has recently made a comeback but the real Jesus has always been here, reaching out to us through His Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and if He is not already, He can be your Lord, Saviour and Redeemer. But we must each listen to the teachings He has provided through His Word so that we can hear what it is He wants to say to our hearts. Why not find out for yourself the answer to the question, Who is Jesus?


When I was young I lived and went to school in the city of Sydney. Many times during my early days I saw the message “Eternity” written in chalk in beautiful copperplate handwriting on the footpaths of our beautiful harbour city. I have no idea how much this one word effected me, but I do know that now it is one of the most important words in my life.

EternityHBWhen I consider this word my mind jumps in two directions, the first and most powerful is the thought of those people around me who will miss out on Eternity. It breaks my heart. I want to strap on a sandwich board and stand in the centre of the city alerting people to their need for repentance. But what would they understand if they heard the word “Repent”? I was saved and had committed to living my life for my Saviour some time before I really understood anything about repentance.

The man who wrote Eternity on the streets of Sydney during the 50s and 60s was called by God to do so. God called him and God enabled him; he could hardly write his own name, but when he wrote Eternity on the streets of Sydney it was beautifully executed. Arthur Stace, who came to be known as Mr Eternity, had lived a desperate, profligate life; mostly drunk from the age of 15. When he met Jesus his life changed completely and he understood just what Eternity was all about. He’d been to the depths of depravity and the light of Eternity was a beacon for his soul. How do we reach out to the people of the 21st century and alert them to God’s offer of Eternity?

arthur-stace1I think we need to be clear in our minds about the issues involved. A large portion of the population today have a sort of sentimental idea that they will be reunited in some other place, and live on in some other life, with departed loved ones. This is because many people, including some Christians, believe in an immortal soul.

I also have a number of friends who are atheists and they are very pragmatic; as far as they’re concerned the soul is nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain. Their catch-cry is, “When you’re dead, you’re dead”. To a certain extent I agree with this sentiment. It is far more biblically sound than the sentimental journey the after-lifers imagine awaits us. The difference between the atheists’ idea of death and that of The Bible is that before the final, second death we learn about in Revelation, there is a Day of Judgment. This is when those who have rejected God’s gift of Eternity will understand just what it is they will loose. They will meet their Creator and know without doubt that He loves them, but that He has a plan for the future that they can only be part of by being in Him (Romans 8:1).

We don’t really know much about life in Eternity, but those of us who know Jesus know we will be with Him, and that is more than enough to assure us that Eternity will be magnificent. This, of course, is the second thing that comes to my mind when I think of Eternity. It will be unbelievably wonderful. If we could make it clear to people that they have a choice between Eternity with a Father who loves them so much He was prepared to die for them, and the second, final, irreversible death, perhaps they would have a better understanding now of what this momentous choice is all about.

Jesus preachingUnfortunately, a large portion of the church has swallowed the Greek idea of an immortal soul, although Christians historically have referred to it as an immortal spirit. This is not a biblical concept (see What is the second death? for a more comprehensive discussion on this topic), this idea was imported into the church in the second century by converted Greek philosophers and perhaps originally came from Hindu teachings.

Adam and Eve 2This belief is a direct result of Satan’s first recorded lie to humanity, when he told Adam and Eve they would not die (Gen 2:16-17). Sadly, many people today have believed this lie. Demonic spirits use the idea to great advantage through spiritualism and mediums, and even those who refuse to believe in the God of The Bible can be heard to refer to some departed person “looking down on” or “watching over” them.

Christians carry this concept of an imagined afterlife into ideas about the fate of the unsaved. As Christians, we need to find doctrinal truth in The Bible, and not blindly accept church traditions, they can be wrong (Mat 15:6). The Bible teaches that after we die we are resurrected to face judgment. Christians will be judged before the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10), where they will either receive their rewards or find themselves surrounded by cinders (1Cor 3:12-15), but all will go on into Eternity, because they have been given eternal life. Before receiving this gift we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Mat 8:22; Eph 2:1).

Unbelievers will not be resurrected until after the millennium, when they will stand before the Great White Throne of their Creator to be judged. John tells us in The Revelation:

And I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. (Rev 20:11-21:1)

Thus we learn that the present creation will disappear just before this judgment, and a new heaven and a new earth will be created immediately after this judgment. Between the destruction of the old creation and the appearance of the new one the fate of the unbelieving dead is sealed. We are told that they are judged “according to what they had done”. I believe a valid interpretation of these verses is that some people, who had not consciously accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour before they died – perhaps because they had never come across the gospel during their lifetime, may indeed find their names recorded in the Book of Life. If their names are not in this book then logically they will have no life beyond the judgment, they will experience the second death.

We do not have eternal life unless we accept this great gift from the only One who can make it, the only One who has conquered death. Without the gift of eternal life we will have no Eternity. Nowhere in The Bible do we read that God gives eternal life to the unbelieving dead to go on in some unknown state forever. Those who have received the gift of eternal life and are part of the new creation will find:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Rev 21:4)

I believe this verse is telling us that even the second death is gone. All these things are gone forever, the Lake of Fire and everything in it will disappear, along with the old creation. Eternity is a place for the living, and only those who have accepted eternal life from the Lord of Life will go on into Eternity.

What an incredible opportunity we are missing by creating this unbiblical afterlife for the unbeliever. The idea that we can claim God is love, but then go on to insist He will send unbelievers to eternal torment, is not logical. This fact is not lost on the lost. We have created an unbiblical doctrine, presented it as Truth, and then told those who reject it that they are rejecting the love of God.

What many of these people have rejected is a contorted doctrine about a tyrannical God who knew He would be sending people to eternal torment and nevertheless went on with His plan. Although He is holy and just, the God of The Bible is indeed a God of love. He loves people so much, He will not force them to spend Eternity as sinful, fallen humans. It would be intolerable living eternally with our selfishness, greed, insecurities, arrogance, hate, malice, deceitfulness and all the other products of sin that plague unredeemed humanity.

God offers each one of us the opportunity to choose His alternative to the second death. We must be born again of God’s eternal spirit to live in Eternity. There is no other alternative. In John’s first letter he explains that eternal life is only found in Jesus and that those who are in Jesus can be assured they have eternal life:

And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life; and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life: he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written to you that you may know that you have eternal life who believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13)

God’s new creation will be without sin, pain, death and suffering, and only those who have been transformed by God’s Holy Spirit (John 3:5) will be fit for Eternity. We must each make a momentous choice. If you don’t already know you have eternal life, will you now choose Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Through Him you can be saved from the second death and go on into Eternity?

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The Power of Love

I’m reading The Koran. Admittedly I can’t read it in Arabic, but then I would imagine many Muslims can’t read it in Arabic either, so I’m working my way through an English version. Right now I’m saying to myself, “Will the very fact that I’ve stated here in this public forum that I’m reading The Koran make some people want to harm me?” It’s a frightening thought. But a religion that encourages terrorism is a frightening reality, which I guess means that the terrorists have achieved their goal, we feel terrified. I’m still totally at a loss to understand how anyone can think the God who created the universe would want this sort of violent behaviour to be carried out in His name. But then I read passages in The Koran like:

Make ready then against them what force ye can, and strong squadrons whereby ye may strike terror into the enemy of God and your enemy.

And also:

Strike off their heads then, and strike off from them every finger-tip. This, because they have opposed God and his apostle.

This God appears to be very different to the God the Lord Jesus Christ came to reveal. 640px-Bloch-SermonOnTheMountJesus taught:

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! (Luke 6:27-33)

I know many non-Christian people cite Old Testament passages to make the claim that Christianity also promotes violence, but that’s because they don’t understand what The Bible is all about. They don’t understand that there is a New Covenant and a New Commandment. Under the old covenant God was preparing a people and a place into which the Messiah would be born. Now we have a New Covenant and under this covenant we are learning about the power of love. This is a radical idea. I was once told by a Muslim that Jesus was a coward because He didn’t take up arms against His enemies. This man did not understand the power of God’s love. He also did not understand that it is this love that will ultimately be victorious.

Throughout history, some people who claimed to be Christians (see my article What is a Christian) also did not understand this important truth. In the 16th century a godly man called William Tyndale was persecuted and eventually hanged and burned at the stake by the religious leaders of his time. TyndaleAlthough these people claimed to be Christians, they appear to have completely missed the teachings of Jesus. Not only did they not follow His teachings, they worked hard to maintain control of the Word of God, while Tyndale was trying to get God’s Word into the hands of the “common” people.

Today there are people who claim to be Christian whose beliefs appear to me to be closer to the teachings of The Koran than to The Bible. They promote the idea of eternal torment. This teaching is found over and over again in The Koran. The gruesome details of the horrific fate awaiting the infidel is related many times, but one sentence in particular grabbed me.

He that feareth God will receive the warning, and the most reprobate only will turn aside from it, who shall be exposed to the terrible fire, in which he shall not die, and shall not live.

This is exactly what many Christians claim is the fate awaiting unbelievers. I can find no scriptural support for this concept in The Bible, yet people who choose to believe this idea do so with strong conviction. If we lived in Tyndale’s time I could understand such ideas being prominent, in those days people did not have access to God’s Word, but today most Christian’s can read God’s Word in their own language. And still they cling to this doctrine.

I believe that people who understand God as an omnipotent being, who is preparing eternal torment for a large portion of the human race, must surely make allowances for themselves when they lack love and compassion. Belief in this sort of violent retribution corrupts the soul. Even for the Christian love becomes a relative term. God is love, but this love must be understood in the light of the understanding that he will allow the torture of people for eternity. This is not the God of The Bible, this is the God of The Koran.

The God of The Bible expects His followers to live as Jesus did. John wrote about this concept and he also talked about people who claim to know God but don’t follow Jesus’ teachings. He wrote:

If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:4-8)

May the darkness that accompanies this horrific doctrine be overwhelmed by the light and love that shines forth from God’s Word. And may people who believe terrorism is an expression of God’s will discover another way, the Way of love.

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