Starting an editorial is always interesting: what do I say, how do I start? Easy, ask the question of how to start. Seriously though, I had barely started contemplating what to write (in this version of my editorial) when two quotes came to mind.
May you live in interesting times. and Be careful what you wish for.
Well we most certainly are living in interesting times, but I don’t know that I wished for it! How about you?
In my own life it seems as if some curve balls have been thrown my way. Back at the end of March, Queensland, Australia, was hit by Cyclone Debbie and the resultant storm depression which tracked down the length of the state. Our little dog (a Chihuahua my wife and I inherited from my mother- in-law) which was scared of storms unfortunately got out during this time. A er getting home from work and nding the dog missing, I walked down the road looking for her. On the way back home (having not found her) I grumbled about the “stupid dog” and perhaps she might learn her lesson this time. I’d barely nished thinking this and the thought came to me about how “smart” we (i.e. me speci cally and people in general) are and yet we keep doing dog-stupid things. Here was I, complaining about the dog and I got a reminder about how we (i.e. me) – who are so much more intelligent(!?) – mess up, sin, and otherwise do foolish things, and yet God remains patient, gracious, and merciful. I can almost imagine God rolling his eyes and commenting on the dog-stupid things
I do. What about you, and your life ... but then, perhaps you’re better than I.
A section of my original editorial for this edition of CETF (which should have been published months ago) included the following paragraphs,
... as I write this, it saddens me to say that it is nearing the time for my father’s life to end. He had cancer and went into remission for a couple of years, but it has now come back. A er a bad round of chemotherapy where both his white and red blood cells were decimated, further tests have revealed that he has leukaemia. With intensive chemotherapy he might get another 2-3 months of life (but even that is not guaranteed, nor is the quality of life that might go along with it); without treatment, my father has been given 2-3 weeks. My father chose not to undertake treatment and by the time you will be reading this, he will have passed away.
The only regret for my father is that my mother had a stroke seven odd years back and as a result my father has been my mother’s carer as the stroke le her partially paralysed down one side, and is unable to talk, write, or type, and as such, her life will in some ways be more insular and restrictive. Other than this, my father has said that he’s had a good life and so he has no regrets. I have tried to talk to my father about the things of God, the Bible, and Salvation, but he doesn’t want to hear it. Concerning the tracts I’ve le for him, he says he has the perfect place for them (i.e. the bin).
Amazingly the leukaemia diagnosis came back as being wrong a er further tests; tests which were only done because my father opted not to seek treatment following the leukaemia diagnosis. Rather than declining a er several days, tests showed that red and white blood cell counts were improving (something that would not have happened had he had further chemo). What we believe happened was that the
chemotherapy round that hit him hard gave a false positive. Rather than being given a six hour session of chemo, he was on the drip for twelve hours – twice as long as he normally was on it for – and as a result the subsequent tests suggested leukaemia. Is this diagnosis a relief? Absolutely! But it doesn’t change the eternal rami cations that are staring my father in the face – if only he could see them.
Time is short, and the longer you live the more appreciative you are about how short it truly is. It’s been over thirty- ve years since my grandparents died. My grandfather had a heart attack whilst playing tennis, but he lasted in hospital for some time. When my father visited him, my grandfather would say, “Can’t you see the re? Get away from the re Bobby.” My dad told me that he never understood his father’s obsession with re at the end.
My family has a Roman Catholic background and my father says that what he was told/taught by the priest back when he was a kid is all he needs to know. In fact, when he thought he was dying, he said that he would arrange for a priest to visit him in hospital. As I said to my father, you have access to the Bible, the Word of God, but you won’t read it, and aren’t interested in it. Why?
I hate to say it, I am in fact loathe to say it, but I wonder if my grandfather’s words are what it would take to reach him, but I think all that would do is nothing more than cause offence, I don’t know that even then he could see.
“Can’t you see the re? Get away from the re Bobby.”
To me the warning is clear, the warning is obvious. Only a person who doesn’t truly believe the Word of God is God’s Word would fail to get the message – I would think.
I know I am not the only person who’s ever been in the predicament of trying to reach a relative with the Gospel, and I certainly won’t be the last, but what do you say to a loved one before it’s too late? Obviously there is nothing
I can do or say to save anyone, I, just like you, can only tell people the Good News ... it is God who does the Saving.
Regrettably we were unable to get the June edition of CETF out in time, and with the goings on in the world, and Australia in particular we’ve changed the focus of this edition. We had previously promised the article – Irredeemable: So long as we are Christ’s, we are secure ... but can we turn our back on Him? – but we are holding that article back to address the topic of marriage as a result of the debate about same-sex marriage which has come to the fore in Australia a er having done the rounds in other countries in past years.
One of the arguments put forward by proponents of same-sex marriage in Australia is not being le behind the rest of the world, but there is a difference between lagging the world in such things as education, health, and technology, but when it comes to changing attitudes to moral standards, should we be so quick to follow? When you read the comment section of newspaper websites – irrespective of an article’s subject – you nd a whole range of perspectives: from the outraged (either for or against) who voice their disdain for anyone whose opinion differs from them; to those that don’t strictly have an opinion one way or another, but for the sake of being (or perceived to being) just and equitable they side with giving one group what they want; and then there are those who take a side and give reasons, be those reasons subjective or objective. Some such comments (even the ones that are contrary to one’s own points of view) can be helpful and educational because they make you consider your position, whether you need to change, or whether such views can be refuted or invalidated.
In the Love, Marriage, and Faithfulness article, the question of the Christian’s faithfulness to God, to Christ, to the Word of God, and the Gospel is raised. As a prelude to the article I would ask you what you think about the Ten
Commandments in relation to being a Christian. A er all, can you BE A TRUE BIBLE BELIEVING SAVED CHRISTIAN if you believe, advocate for, and/or defend the idea that:
• The God of the Bible is NOT the only God.
• One has the “right” to hate God (e.g. support Satanism).
• Murder is okay. • The is okay. • Adultery is okay.
I’m not talking about someone sinning and doing one of the above, so much as whether or not you think a person who believes in one or more of the above things and pushes for its legitimacy and legality, and even going so far as to vote in favour of it, could they be a Christian? No? Then why is homosexuality and homosexual marriage suddenly being defended by supposed Christians? Does anyone see a contradiction between advocating for such things whilst believing in a Gospel which says to REPENT?
Or what about the validity of God’s moral laws! Do my failings, your failings, or anyone’s failings justify annulling God’s laws, God’s standards? We hope the article helps you settle things in your own mind, and helps you “be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
At this time of changing standards of morals and ethics in the Western world, we also have the changing perception of who the God of the Bible is. Included in this edition of CETF is Part 2 to James Smith’s Biblical examination of The Shack, and the way its author, William P. Young, has distorted God’s self revelation of Himself, to one which you won’t nd in the Bible. Reviews of Young’s book show that some people are using this work ction as a source of theology, using it as the basis for understanding what Christianity is about; and though some secular critics blithely call the movie a long sermon, with some mushy bits in it; the problem is it doesn’t lead people to eternal life through Christ; rather it inoculates them to the real Word of God – a er all, they “know” what it’s about.
Thirty- ve years ago, pastor Philip Powell preached a series of sermons on, The Song of Songs; included in this edition of CETF is the sermon, The Church in Union with Her Shepherd Lover, from that series. Philip warned, all those years ago, about the growing deception in ltrating the church, and the attempts at seducing her away from her one true love, her Lord and King. It is with our Lord that we have an eternal covenant and it is the Holy Spirit by whom we are sealed. There are many voices out in the world today, and many from the world are trying to in ltrate the church with an alternate message, an alternate gospel; but there is only one Gospel, and it is THE Gospel, THE Good News, of Jesus Christ. It is worth remembering the words of Jonathan Edwards, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” The Church needs to be wary of those who would say sin is not sin, and the Church needs to be wary of personalities, especially king-like gures, would-be messiahs, would-be christs, who are not THE Lord Jesus Christ
It is y years, this year, since Jerusalem was uni ed as the capital of Israel, and it is now, at this time of the year, that the Biblical autumn feasts are near. An excerpt from Alfred Edersheim’s book, The Temple: Its Ministry and Service, on the Feast of Tabernacles explains much on this feast, which as yet has not been ful lled by our Lord and Saviour. Incidentally, Mr Edersheim was ordained as a minister at the Free Church in Scotland during the mid 1800s. He resigned from the position due to poor health in 1861 but still pastored various churches until he formally retired in 1872, again due to bad health. Mr Edersheim was later ordained into the Church Of England in 1875 and almost a decade later was Select Preacher at Oxford University. A proli c writer, he published 10 theologically in-depth books before his death in France, 1889.
We hope that this edition of CETF gives you comfort and strength in the Lord to stand for Him, knowing that He has done so much for us, and indeed we will one day be with Him. Amen.