Some passages on the Trinity and the Incarnation

I thought it might be helpful to think through a couple of passages that teach how Jesus Christ pre-existed before he came into the earth, and that he came from Heaven where he lived with the Father to be among us. I will cite passages in bold and you should look it up on your Bible and then read on.

First turn to John 1:1-18. In this passage we see this thing called “the Word” with both existed “in the beginning that was both “with” and “was” God. Put another way, this thing, from the creation of the world, was somehow both “with” the Father (“with God”) and “was” of the same stuff as the Father, i.e., the Word shared in the Father’s deity (“was God”). So this thing, the Word, was with God and is also divine just like God is. Verse 14 then teaches that this thing, “the Word” was “made flesh” (was made “incarnate”, literally, “enfleshed” form the Latin: carnem = flesh; compare the English word “carnal” or being “fleshly”/”worldly”) and pitched a tent/dwelling among mankind in Israel, as it says in verse 14; and in that same verse, this “Word” is identified as “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

There are other reasons to think that “the Word” figure is a personal agent. Two passages spring to mind. Genesis 15:1 depicts a figure called “the Word of the LORD” appearing to Abraham in a vision and referring to himself in the first person pronoun (“I”). And in Revelation 19:13, the Heavenly Rider (who is Jesus Christ) is explicitly named “the Word of God.”

Secondly, Philippians 2:6-11 is an ancient creed (or statement of belief) from the early church. In it, in verse 6, we are told that Jesus Christ is “in very nature God”, that is, is truly divine, who is also “equal” with God. Verse 7 then describes how this person did something to themselves, namely, “made himself nothing” and took on a “human likeness.” In other words, this is an act that the subject of the sentence (Jesus Christ) did to himself; Jesus Christ made himself nothing and entered into human form. And that is what we call the incarnation: God the Son entering into our world into a human body and nature and becoming one with our race so as to be made the bringer of our salvation through the sacrifice of himself (compare Hebrews 2:14-18).

Third, I would point you to a couple of simple statements in John from Jesus that indicate that he believed he had come from heaven and was returning there. In John 6:38 Jesus says he has “come down from Heaven” (compare the crowd’s reaction in verses 41-42). Then, later on, in John 6:62, Jesus speaks of his “ascension” (going up) to where we “was before” clearly indicating a prior existence in Heaven before coming to earth, so as to make it possible not merely to “go” there but to “go back” or “return” there via “ascending” upward towards it. Last,  in John 17:5, at the beginning of his great and final prayer before crucifixion, Jesus speaks of having had “glory with” the Father “before the world began.” Jesus existed with the Father in the unity o the Holy Spirit prior to the creation of all things, and Jesus asks to return to that state, which he does after his resurrection from the dead. This is in perfect tandem with later on in John 17:24, when Jesus mentions how he was “loved” by the Father before the world began. Of course, you can only love a person. And Jesus was loved by the Father before the world began. Why? Because Jesus existed with the Father in the unity of the eternal godhead — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — which Christians call “the Trinity”: one God in three persons; not three gods, not one person in thee different ways: but one God who is a great unity of three.

Hopefully, these passages are interesting to you and help you think through who Jesus is, according to the Scriptures. Hey, you might also like to check out this neat video.* It gets to the heart of the Christian faith, in how the Trinity and the incarnation illustrate most supremely the great love of God in the Word of God’s entering into our world into human flesh to dwell among us.

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you and dwell in your hear through the Son, who entered into our world, and gave himself up for our sins, and conquered sin and death on our behalf so that we might not die the death we deserve, and that we, in him, may too share in the newness of life.


Advertisements

Thoughts about Christian Love and Freedom

What should life look like for the committed Christian? Should life merely be a list of rules and regulations? Should we wage war and force others to submit to Jesus’ way? Is that how God works? Is God a faceless, war-waging legalistic deity of “Dos” and “Don’ts”?

Well, I don’t think so.

According to my Bible, God is a Father. And Jesus, his Son, said: “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were my people would fight… [M]y kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36.)

Jesus taught that his kingdom — the Kingdom of Heaven — should conquer the world, but not by the physical sword. Heaven should conquer spiritually — not by cleaving open men’s flesh with physical blades and blows, but by slicing through men’s hearts and souls by the sword of the Holy Spirit — that is, the Word of God — by the grace and love of God, making alive the conscience, and turning dead men away from sin, Satan and darkness back to follow Christ’s light, walking closely with God.

Consider what the apostle Paul said: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ” (Ephesians 6:12.)

Paul believed the Christian’s fight in this world — our purpose — was to strive, not with people, but with Satan (the Enemy of mankind) and his evil spiritual kingdom. Our weapon? The Good News (or Gospel) message about Jesus: that because of what Christ has done in dying for us and rising again, we can be completely forgiven of all our sins and enter back into a living, loving relationship with God our Father forever and ever, if only we trust in, follow and obey him.

Satan hates this message because it alone gives people hope to escape death and hell. The Gospel causes people to turn from their evil ways to live a life of love for God and their neighbour. Satan hates love, because “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16), and Satan hates God. In fact, Satan hates all that God loves, and God loves the whole world — every man, woman and child: “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalms 145:9).

Indeed, love is the highest rule of the Christian’s battle: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2.)

And again: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ” (1 Corinthians 13:13.)

What is love? The biblical word I am thinking of is agapethe total sacrifice of one’s whole self for the good of the other person. According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is to love — first for God and then for neighbour — as the Bible says: “‘Love [agapao] the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:27)

In contrast to the Christian God, the God of Islam — Allah — provides a helpful comparison and contrast. According to the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, Allah (God) is not a God of love. According to the Qur’an (Koran), Allah does not love non-Muslims (a.k.a. “infidels” or “unbelievers”). (See Qur’an 3:31-32 and 30:43-45.) Of all the names of Allah in the Qur’an — Most Merciful, All-Seeing, Wise, etc. — not one of them is “Love.” Allah is called “Loving” (that is, toward the Muslim people alone). But Allah is never called “Love” itself. Should we really be surprised, then, that 10-15% of Muslims in the world (about 100 million people) are radical terrorist Jihadists (jihad means “holy war”), who will fight in Allah’s name to spread their religion forcefully and violently, without mercy, slaying all those who might resist them? Corresponding to the unloving nature of God in Islam, God is actually quite non-relational towards puny creatures like us humans. For Allah, we humans are like tiny ants, and who could ever have real affections for ants? And Islam as a religion is extremely legalistic and good-works orientated. Islam is all about rules.

In contrast, the God of the Bible became an ant. More exactly, God became human and was made flesh to dwell among us and show us the way back to himself: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Why? Because he loves us. Indeed, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). According to the Bible, God himself stepped into our world in the person of Jesus to express his love for us by dying for us and rising again, simply to save us: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16.)

God’s love sets us free to die to self and to live a life of love to him and others to the fullest extent possible. We love God and others not to earn God’s favour, but because we are his children, and we want to be like him, knowing that our purpose and being is bound up in God’s purpose to make us children of light and full of love, just as God is. As Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10.)

God has made us free always to enjoy what life gives us. But we always have to remember to put God first. For instance, we need to know that physical training (sport, exercise, diet, etc.) is of some value, but godliness of character (“love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” — Galatians 5:22-23) is even better (1 Timothy 4:8). Similarly, money is good. But we must keep out lives free from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 13:5-6) knowing that we cannot serve both God and riches (Matthew 6:24).

According to the Bible, life and enjoyment are not bad things. What is bad is merely snatching them from the Father’s hand without any thanks to or regard for him who has given them all to you, and without any interest as to what he might want you to do with them.

The Book of Ecclesiastes 11:9, which was probably written by King Solomon (Israel’s most wealthy and successful King), puts it this way:

“You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.”

God invites us all to live a life that is truly life — a life in full communion or relationship with him. We as Christians can take God’s blessings and enjoy them in full freedom. But our freedom cannot become a license to sin. We must always be humble and give God the glory for everything that he has given us, because — as Jacob (translated “James”), Jesus’ own brother, said almost two thousand years ago: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James [Jacob] 1:17).

For the Christian, it is not hypocrisy to enjoy life. God intends for us to live that way. But because sin is so deceptive and all-consuming in our world, we must walk in wisdom. ust becasue God wants us to be free and enjoy life doesn’t mean we can just go out, get blind drunk and have heaps of non-marital sex. (Actually, sinning in such ways will always invariably lead to greater unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. It’s little wonder, then, why God would teach us to avoid them in the first place: — they will ultimately harm and destroy us.) Rather, as Paul says: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the chains of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1.) God has freed us to live as God intended: not in bondage to sin, but in the liberty of the Spirit: “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Therefore, true life and enjoyment both can and must be found outside of sin and in keeping in step with the Spirit of God, and living how God wants you to (Galatians 5:25).

So what about those “Christians” who would physically wage war with the sword or with fists or with cruel words in Jesus’ name? What about those who turn Christian religion into a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts”? Well, I’d point them back to the Bible. Those persons are simply not living consistently “CHRIST-IAN” (= “Christ-like”) lives. They’re blind to the reality taught and modeled by Jesus and his earliest followers. Having true faith means living a vibrant life of love walking with God and each other. It is our highest joy and strength to walk as the Lord wants us to walk. Would not “the Author of Life” (a reference to Jesus in Acts 3:15) know how to live life well? People who fail to see this are living against Christ and his plain teaching, ad contrary to all reason and good sense.

We all need to judge Christianity (or any religion for that matter) on the teaching and example set by its founder. How did Jesus himself live? Or… “What Would Jesus Do?” Can we find any fault in him? If you strive to live as Jesus lived, putting God first, others second, and yourself last, then in such godliness you will have contentment, find true freedom and real inexpressible joy serving God as a disciple of his Son.

May God richly bless you.


[Words = 1631.]

The Lord is our Lion

Recently, I was watching a documentary about lions narrated by Sir David Attenborough on YouTube.

One of the most interesting parts of the documentary was when it talked about when outsider nomadic male lions try to take over a pride by force (see 44:15 to 46:40 of the video, below.*)

Apparently, when nomadic male lions from the outside want to join the pride, they will first challenge and attempt to kill the current pride leader, and then they will kill all the male offspring of that pride leader and begin anew.

What the pride leader therefore has to do is to defend his pride and send these outsider nomadic challengers packing.

* * *

 As a Christian, this had me reflecting on two passages of the Bible, both of which describe both Jesus and the Devil as lions:

Revelation 5:5. “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.”

1 Peter 5:8. “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.”

In the first passage, Jesus is said to be the victorious Lion from the tribe of Jesse, David’s father’s line. In the second, Satan is said to be prowling around like a lion seeking to devour believers.

Thinking about how nomadic lions challenge the leaders of the pride, we can imagine an analogy where Jesus is the leader of our pride and Satan is a nomadic lion from the outside prowling around the wilderness trying to seek to take over Jesus’ pride, the Church, and devour its young, the believers.

But just as the leader of the lion pride will fight for his pride and fend of the adversaries in the animal kingdom, so too will Jesus fight for us against the Devil when he comes to challenge Jesus’ leadership in the heavenly kingdom.

The one point of dis-analogy would be that sometimes the leader of a pride in the animal world can be defeated by the challengers from the outside.

But Jesus never fails us.

So I hope you take encouragement from this today. The Devil may prowl around seeking whom he may devour. But the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has triumphed.

* * *

*Video (see 44:15 to 46:40): 

* * *

Prayer and Anguish


“The LORD is nigh unto them that call upon him,
To all that call upon him in truth.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:
he will also hear their cry, and will save them.”
Psalm 145:18-19
(KJV)


Recently, I was concerned about a friend. Essentially, my friend was in the process of making some choices I believed were unwise.

As I pondered my friend’s choices, they weighed so heavily on my heart that I prayed to the LORD concerning this friend every day.

My soul was anguished on behalf of my friend. Every day I was on my knees. I was fretting. I was weeping. I was groaning.

How long has it been in your life since you’ve had a real encounter with God in prayer? I tell you, friend, so often I am all too consumed up in myself to give much thought to God in prayer. I am too consumed by the things on this world to focus on Jesus. All too often do I set my mind on things below, and not on things above!

But God has a better way for us. Instead of us just buzzing around relying on ourselves all the time, God wants us to come before him and place our worries in his lap. He wants us to stop for a minute, and to simply sit, be silent, and know that God, the LORD, is God. He wants to refresh our souls in his presence; he wishes to fill us with songs of deliverance.

In the end, my friend never went through with his choices. I couldn’t have been more relieved. But I have to be more careful to remember what precipitated this miracle: not my own strength, but the power of God through prayer.

I think if we be genuine with God, God will be genuine with us, and make his presence known to us.

God bless.

Dr Michael L. Brown, “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” Book Review/Summary

gac689804459350423459032

Michael L. Brown, “Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding with Love and Truth to Questions about Homosexuality” (Charisma House Book Group: 2014); pp. xiii, 286.

I recently finished reading Dr Michael L. Brown’s latest book Can You Be Gay and Christian? This work may be described as a theological critique of arguments in favour of the new liberal pro-homosexual theological revisionism (my term), also known as “pro-gay theology”, that has arisen since the sexual revolution sparked in the later 1960s.

I first became aware of Dr Brown’s engagement with same-sex issues in faith and culture when I read his authoritative 2011 study, A Queer Thing Happened to America (Equaltime Books: 2011), which is a historical and social commentary on the causes and effects of the sexual liberation movement on American culture from the late 1960s through early 2000s.

I was quite confident from Brown’s rich and robustly researched 2011 study that his new 2014 work would be just as engaging. I was not disappointed.

Brown’s book is a challenging argument in favour of the notion that both practicing homosexuality (“being gay”) and being a committed follower of Jesus Christ and His gospel (“being Christian”) are mutually incompatible.

Brown writes skillfully and on various levels for his intended audience. On the one hand, sections of the book must necessarily engage academically with pro-gay theological revisionists. Yet Brown never neglects the pastoral element of his book. Each section is both accessible and applicable by any intelligent layman.

Brown writes with a rare mixture of compassion and candour. He does not seek to disrespect his opponents, and he always presents the opposing views fairly. He also seeks to love his homosexual, bisexual and transgender readers, and to equip his committed Christian readers to do the same.

The book oscillates between positive and negative apologetics:

Chapter 1 (‘Love Does No harm to Its Neighbour’) charactarises the main concern of pro-gay theology and theologians, namely, that affirming gay relationships is an act of Christian love, and a denial of this consistency is a denial of love. In contrast to this point, Brown seeks to argue that whereas it is true that many churches have failed to show genuine love to gays and lesbians et al, nevertheless true Christian love modeled on Jesus is, first, a love for God then, second, a love for neighbour, knowing God’s ways are always best and God has a better way if we will deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.

Chapter 2 (‘To Judge or Not to Judge?’) answers a pro-gay theological objection against traditional Christianity from judgement, namely, that we cannot judge homosexual relationships to be wrong because of Jesus’ teaching not to judge another in Matthew 7:1. However, Brown notes that, firstly, the context demands we take Jesus’ teaching as referring to unrighteous judgement, and, secondly, we must recognise that Jesus does give believers grounds to “make a right judgement” (John 7:24). If we were never allowed to judge, how could we ever condemn as wrong obviously heinous things such as rape, pedophilia, incest, and so on? So of course we are called to judge and discern, but to do so rightly.

Chapter 3 (‘Are We Using the Bible to Sanction Antihomosexual Prejudice?’) answers another one of traditional Christianity’s critics’ concerns that the Church’s traditional stance on homosexual relationships is conducive to the high rate of suicide among the homosexual community. But Dr Brown castigates this as a gross oversimplification that does not get at the real issues. Brown cites both professional studies that measure the high depressive rate among homosexuals as due to a variety of factors which are not necessarily religious at all, and also presents from the other side of the equation true stories about men and women who, having come to Christ and turned from the gay lifestyle, were completely set free and delivered from depression and despair and loneliness, even though some still grapple with same-sex attractions.

Chapter 4 (‘The Bible Is a Heterosexual Book’) responds to a pro-gay argument that observes that, given the whole Bible, the so-called “clobber-passages” (i.e., those passages which have traditionally used to condemn homosexual activity) make up a small percentage of all the verses in the whole Bible, and therefore homosexuality must not have been such of a big deal for God or the Bible anyway. In response, Brown notes that this obviously says nothing about the so-called “clobber-passages” themselves. But also, Brown notes that the Bible does in fact have a great deal to say about human sexuality and relationships in general, and that the Bible always speaks in the negative concerning any form of homosexual activity whatever, but in contrast always assumes that blessed, good relationships are heterosexual (husband/wife, father/mother, male/female) and blesses only these legitimate heterosexual relationships, namely, those which are monogamous and in the context of marriage.

Chapter 5 (‘Levitical Laws and the Meaning of To’evah (Abomination)’) responds to pro-gay arguments trying to soften the meaning of the Hebrew word toevah with reference to homosexual activity, where pro-gay theology prefers to interpret this word as referring merely to a Israelite culture-specific “taboo”. Brown responds convincingly that all professional Hebrew philologists are agreed the word means “abomination” that is universally morally prohibited for all people. Interestingly, this word is also etymologically linked to the word ta’av (to abominate, detest, hate), sealing its nature as denoting a morally abominable and unnatural thing.

Chapter 6 (‘What Did Jesus Say About Homosexuality?’) responds to a common pro-gay objection to traditional Christianity that says Jesus did not talk about homosexual behaviour, and so he must have been okay with it. On the contrary, Brown argues Jesus did not come to do away with the Law and the Prophets, but rather to fulfill them, reaffirming in even stronger terms in Matthew 19 the creation standard of monogamous, male-female lifelong covenant union in marriage found in Genesis 2. Jesus, as a first century Palestinian Jewish Rabbi, most assuredly did affirm all the Law and the Prophets had said previously concerning the moral status of homosexual behaviour, and we have no reason to think otherwise given his surrounding socio-religious context.

Chapter 7 (‘The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant’) responds to a pro-gay theological inference to Jesus’ affirmation and celebration of homosexual relationships from his healing of the centurion’s servant. Pro-gay theologians have advocated that the term in the New Testament translated commonly translated “servant” or “son” (pais) can also denote a same-sex lover. But Brown convincingly demonstrates with reference to major ancient Greek lexicographical reference work that, whereas this is one possible translation used outside the biblical sources, it is never so used in the Bible, and thus no authoritative Greek lexicographical publication has ever postulated this third translation as a possibility in the biblical texts. Brown also notes that, according to these lexicographers, the word pais refers not merely to any same-sex lover, but to a young — probably teenage — same-sex “boy-toy” owned by the older man. Were the pro-gay argument true, it would follow that Jesus not only affirmed a homosexual relationship, but a specific kind of homosexual relationship, namely, a pederastic one — a sexual relationship between an older man and a young teenage boy — which is morally absurd, not to mention “blasphemous” of the Lord.

Chapter 8 (‘Paul and Homosexuality’) responds to some common pro-gay objections to traditional Christian usage of two of Paul’s major texts in opposition to homosexual practice, namely, Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6, which try to limit the context in which Paul condemned homosexual behaviour, particularly to that of abusive/objectifying pagan ritualistic contexts. Brown’s response to this is primarily to say that there is no evidence in the texts that Paul is restricting himself in this way, and besides, many of the sins listed in the texts (greed, depravity, mercilessness, etc.) would be sins wherever they were committed, and there is no reason to think otherwise concerning homosexual practice. Brown also responds to pro-gay arguments which try to show that we do not know what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 6 by the terms  malakoi (“receptive partner in male-male intercourse”) and arsenokoites (“men who have sex with men”), arguments which Brown shows to be unfounded from professional etymological research. Brown also points to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6 that those who struggle with same-sex desire that they may be justified, sanctified, washed, cleansed and changed by the power of the Spirit of God, and live in the hope of New Life in Jesus.

Chapter 9 (‘Everything Reproduces After Its Own Kind’) reports on some of the heinous and frankly heretical fruits of pro-gay theology on the scene today. Essentially, Brown demonstrates how pro-gay theology is fundamentally driven by a desire to cause the Word of God to conform to one’s sexual identity and behaviour, instead of yeilding one’s sexual identity and behaviour to be shaped by the Word and Spirit of God. It is therefore, fundamentally, a form of idolatry of the self. This is amply demonstrated with reference to several examples of the perverse interests of the pro-gay Metropolitan Community Church cult in BDSM and its mixing in pro-gay politics, and also with reference to several greatly influential and highly respected gay theologians’ fantasies which depict God, Christ and the Holy Spirit and various biblical saints as hyper-homosexualised beings who take on a  tirade of different sexual identities and engaging in erotic activity with biblical figures. For example, Brown cites one group of Jewish pro-gay revisionists who depict the fiery consumption of Aaron’s two sons Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 not as their annihilation for presumptuous offering of false and unauthorised worship before the LORD, but rather as a passionate, homosexual threesome between Yahweh, Nadab and Abihu, who gratefully receives them into a fiery, divine threesome. It is a highly disturbing yet eye-opening chapter to read to find out the true nature of revisionist, pro-gay theological heresy.

Chapter 10 (‘Balancing Grace and Truth’) ends the book with a pastoral note on how Christians ought to approach this issue as a matter of course: with wholehearted devotion to God and the truth of the Word, and with a heart full of grace and compassion to reach out for the lost. This chapter encourages all who struggle with same-sex desires to find their identity and wholeness in Jesus Christ, serving Him. The book ends in asking our homosexual friends (indeed, all of us): “Isn’t this [i.e. the true Christ and all His fullness] enough?” (p.222).

I would recommend this book to any Christian struggling through this issue of Christianity and homosexuality, especially someone who either themselves struggles with having same-sex desires and being a Christian, or has a friend who is in a  similar situation. It may also be helpful for any Christian — same-sex attracted or not — who finds themselves engaged in conversation about Christ with same-sex attracted people.

You can follow Dr Michael Brown on his web-based ministry:
1. AskDrBrown.org Website
2. AskDrBrown Facebook Page

God bless.

Brendan BURNETT (here).

My Personal Testimony: The Word, the World and the Way.

Here’s the story of my Christian journey of how I came to know Jesus and be a Christian! I hope you are encouraged by it!

I was born September 15th 1992. I wasn’t brought up in a Christian home. But then, one Spring, in Year 6, my Primary School put on a carnival where people had various rides and stalls with things on display for sale.

On one stall, there was a stand of Bibles. So I picked one up, and asked the lady, “How much is this one?” and I remember her saying, “It is a gift.”

So I took the Bible and I began to read it. I believe the first book I ever read was the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah begins with a bang! Immediately I was captivated by its central character: the LORD. He was powerful and mysterious; fearful, but good and loving. Most of all, the Temple Vision in Isaiah 6, where the LORD appears surrounded by angels was particularly amazing where God manifested his glory.

As a result of reading this I was awe-inspired by the LORD such that I believe I asked my elder brother Matthew (who was going to a Youth Group at the time which apparently I also once visited) who the LORD is supposed to be. And he told me somewhat about Jesus.

So I put two and two together and got JESUS!

Then the next year, in Year 7, the Gideons (a society of Christian business men) came to our High School year group. They came and gave us all little red books: “New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.” So I took one and read portions of the New Testament.

Reading the New Testament confirmed my simple faith in Jesus. More than that, the Gospel of John testifies concerning JESUS, referring back to what I has read in the Isaiah 6 Temple Vision:

“These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” (John 12:41)

The only “His” or “Him” in John’s immediate context is Jesus himself! Isaiah saw *his* glory, and spoke of *him*? Isaiah saw Jesus! Jesus was not only a man. Jesus was the LORD, the God of all creation, come to dwell among us. (I learned all this without any preconceptions.) Jesus made me and crafted me to know and live for him, and be sent as his messenger.

As the LORD God says in Isaiah 6, “Whom shall I send for us?” And Isaiah replied, “Here am I: Send me.”

So then I truly trusted in Jesus and knelt to receive him. I got a new heart and new spirit. I was washed, and I was cleansed of all my sins by Jesus, the LORD God of Israel, by faith.

Now, the first thing I did when I believed was try to learn how to share my faith. It only seemed natural, after all, that the awesome God who made himself known to me wanted to be known by everyone else. One of the primary ways I did this was by watching videos of Christians sharing the hope and love of God in Jesus but being opposed to their faces by the world. They were confronting to watch! I was both terrified and inspired by the example of these courageous Christians.

One of the ways I learned to share Jesus was with “The Way of the Master” method taught by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Their method makes the person to whom you are witnessing condemn himself so you don’t have to! You ask a person if they’ve ever told a lie or lusted or hated somebody else and so on. Then show them that it is sin according to the Bible (e.g. Sermon on the Mount). Then you share the biblical consequences for sin: namely, death and hell. Finally, you present Jesus’s death on the cross as God’s way for people to escape God’s judgement against sin. (By and large, my evangelism still takes this general shape!)

The other thing I did was to soak in music. I remember playing “Planet Shakers” on my PlayStation full blast and just worshiping God. I also kept reading the Bible.

As I started to put my faith into action and by being different and sharing Jesus, I was also very naïve. For example, I would mix my Christianity with other things. At one point, for instance, about through Year 8, I thought NewAgey spiritualism through rocks and crystals and tarot cards and so on was all fine and good. For, surely, if God is “spirit” and these things are “spiritual” that should be fine, right?

Wrong. Remember I was still reading my Bible. What did the Bible say?

“Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:15)

Woah! The Bible actually teaches that things like magic lead people not to God but away from God; that is, “outside” or into hell. So not everything is acceptable before God; there are boundaries of right and wrong.

Needless to say, I completely cast that stuff from me, and turned back to the Lord, to do what he wanted me to do. It was then that I found a little church, in about Year 9, at Loftus Uniting Church. That little fellowship gave me a sound example in Christian love. From things as small as allowing me–a mere kid among the mature and the elderly–to answer sermon-questions, or being made tea at the end of service, talked to, and getting lifts home… All these were practical examples of Christian love. So I came to value Christian fellowship very much.

From about Year 10, I found a new church, Jannali Anglican Church, I think because it had a Youth group. I still go there! (You should come along to our Sunday 7:00pm Evening Service.)

Next, came other challenges. You might remember that I was sharing my faith often. So I would often run up into opposition–sometimes for the right reason, and sometimes for the wrong reason.

For example, when I shared Jesus, some of my non-Christian friends would often mock Christ and Christianity. These weren’t really bad people per se; they just weren’t interested in religion. Some of them were also influenced by Dawkins and Hitchens and so on. So I began to read Christian intellectuals, like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig and Alister McGrath to hold on to Christ and give a more courageous witness for Jesus. In sharing my faith regularly I found value in apologetics (defending the faith) and learning about how and why Christianity has historically come to believe what it does (theology). And I remain, as ever, a learner of Christ Jesus.

One time, I was publicly mocked by many people at lunch time following an episode that morning where I rebuked one of my non-believing friends from using the name of Christ in vain. Needless to say, this embarrassed and offended him to such an extent that he decided to stir up the particularly belligerent atheists against me. I distinctly remember them putting on a show of mock-worship. They set up some kind of a wood-log as a god to fall down before and glorify–a mindless, nonexistent thing… Get the idea? They were also just very spiteful, and it was very, very hurtful. Had it not been for two older Christians I would have been very, very downcast, and perhaps given up. But what man had intended for evil God had intended for good, and God crafted this episode as a means of making me bolder to share Christ.

I am also a naturally stubborn person, and this can be shaped and expressed in various ways, both good and bad. For instance, I can be bold and resilient in the midst of opposition. But, “Love builds up, but knowledge puffs up,” says the Lord (1 Corinthians 8:1b). This saying is true. For sometimes I would act rather disdainfully towards who are admittedly truly ignorant people. Not often did I show the grace, the patience and the mercy that Jesus would show to those who doubt: “Be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 1:22). But I would often become puffed up in my superior understanding of religion, and become arrogant. God needed to sanctify me of that, and he is in many ways still sanctifying me of it.

I was also massively hypocritical. On the one hand, I would speak out in evangelism against lust, but I was full of lust. In the Bible, I would read, “Do not steal,” yet I would steal. (I committed petty theft numerous times.) I would also speak out against impurity. But I was often engaged in crass, foul joking, and still fall into that sometimes. Yet again, I knew the Bible spoke out against drunkenness. but I remember at least two instances where I got blind drunk and was vomiting everywhere… I reckon my friends remember it too, and frankly, I think it permanently soiled my witness to Christ so that, today, at the end of the day, I don’t know if any of the years I spent at High School trying to be the best Christian I could be were of any advantage to anyone at all.

Well, finally it all came to a head. I made some really bad choices in High School. One particularly shameful event (which I will not go in to here) left me quite shaken about my Christian convictions. Eventually this went on so that I came to a place where I had to choose to be a Christian or not. Maybe to try and blend Christianity and this other thing… But as I spoke to one of my faithful church ministers about this, I knew from the Bible that that was illegitimate to identify both with Christ and with my sin. (C. S. Lewis talks about the dangers of “Christ-And” thinking.) But in many areas of life, you see, I was in the habit of justifying what I liked, and making God into my own image. But I knew I couldn’t do that here. Scripture was quite clear.

Long story short, I knew that if Jesus is Lord–indeed, the LORD God–who has created heaven and earth and me for himself, who died for my sins and risen again so I could live for him, then I would never be satisfied outside of him. So I pledged myself to identify with and serve Jesus Christ as Lord forever and ever. I was baptised on Sunday the 12th of September 2010, three days before I turned 18, proclaiming openly about who I am and who Jesus is, turning away from Satan and his works. I’m very thankful for the fact that some of my non-Christian friends and family came to my baptism.

Since then, I’ve been at the university for four years, from 2011 to 2014, learning Philosophy, and History and Literature, and so on. One of my favourite things has been to participate in the Sydney University Evangelical Union where Rowan Kemp is the chaplain. I feel I might go on to study Teaching and go back into the High School system. I have also considered the Christian Ministry.

God still has a long way to go with me yet. I am still learning, shaping and being shaped by others.

If you’re a Christian in my personal acquaintance reading this: you have no idea how much I love, value and appreciate every single one of you, and how I am jealous for you and your faith, and for your keeping on in the Christian life. Don’t give up, my brother/sister. Jesus is worth it!

If you’re a non-Christian, why don’t you do what I did, and pick up the Bible. Read Isaiah, or read the Gospel according to John. The Bible is the Word of God, and in it is found the testimony about Jesus. Find Jesus. Find Life.

This is my signature verse which I strive to live by:

Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

God bless you! Thanks for reading.