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The Seven Days of Grace that Changed Humanity

In times of chaotic change and stress we need to dig our faith deeper into the rich soil of our Christian heritage. This article is about the historic events that form the soil in which we are planted.

There are seven crucial events in early Christian history, each occurring in a day, that set the Christian faith apart from all religious systems. They not only distinguished Christianity, but also changed the very nature and destiny of humanity. Furthermore, these seven events repeat in every generation of the church and in the lives of all who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, they should be celebrated in the communal life of every church and in the lived reality of every Jesus-follower. Here they are, in the order in which they appeared on the timeline of history.

1.  Birthday

The world changed when Jesus Christ was born to Mary in Bethlehem Judea because on that day God the Son became incarnate in human form. We traditionally celebrate this on the 25th of December each year although the actual day of his birth was more likely to have been in September 3 BC. The religious and secular world adopted Christmas Day as a holiday celebrating family, food, and gifts. Some delight in telling us that in ancient times the god Saturn was honoured on that day. It doesn’t matter what month or which day of the week we set aside to remember and thank God for the wonder of the incarnation, so long as we never forget that our faith started with the birth of Jesus into the world.

Our Christian lives also start with Jesus and a New Birth. We acknowledge that Jesus is God incarnate, our Saviour, and Lord of our life. In response the Holy Spirit, the 3rd person of the Godhead, breathes his life into us. For the individual, this is also a momentous day and one we should rejoice over often.

2.  Baptism Day

About 30 years after his birth, Jesus presented himself to John the Baptist to be baptised in the Jordan River. This was the second crucial day on the Christian history timeline. In the simple act of immersion in water, Jesus drew the Old Covenant to a close and initiated a new right of passage into the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 3:13-15  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” Then John consented’. John was baptising as a sign of repentance from sin and so he could not conceive of why Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, the one who came to take away the sin of the world, would need to be baptised. Jesus had to inform him that this baptism was to fulfil all righteousness and to end the system of right standing with God through works, rituals, and laws.

In our own Christian lives, the first step of faith occurs when we are Born Again of the Spirit, The second step is when we publically acknowledge this through baptism. In that act, we symbolically die to the old self-religion of works and philosophies and rise out of the waters as a testimony that by the Grace of Jesus, we are now alive to him and his kingdom.

Church members do not have any one day in the year when they gather together to remember Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. This acknowledgement and celebration occurs whenever we gather together and witness a man, woman, or child being baptised in Jesus’ name. It is a great pity when churches and believers trivialise or repurpose baptism as an infant initiation rite into the church or as a replacement for the Old Testament obligation of circumcision. We do ourselves a disservice and we dishonour the 2nd Day of Grace on the timeline of Christian history.

3.  Crucifixion Friday

The 3rd Day of Grace occurred sometime around April 30 AD when Jesus was in His mid-thirties. Within days of each other, Jesus Christ, the incarnate God the Son, was crucified by the Romans on Golgotha, and then rose from the dead and walked bodily out of the tomb in which he had been incarcerated.

On Crucifixion Friday at 3:00 pm, Jesus took his last breath as a man of mere flesh and blood. Luke 23:46  ‘Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last’.

In that awful and almost unthinkable moment, God the Son took upon himself the sin of the rebellion of all humanity. He satisfied the requirements of divine justice which he, as a member of the Godhead, had established at the very beginning of creation.

In Adam mankind had sinned in treasonous rebellion against God and had incurred the penalty of a life apart from his creator; a penalty passed on to all of his progeny, the entire human race. On that fatal day, the human spirit died to God for ‘in Adam all die’ (1 Corinthians 15:22)

We were all born into this world suffering from spirits dead to God. We are physically and mentally alive in the world, but spiritually unable to hear his voice unaided and helpless to find our way back to him without his direct intervention. Potentially, through what Jesus achieved on the Cross, we are legally entitled to approach the Almighty, yet unable to do so. This is because God is spirit and dwells in high heavenly realms, and we are born spiritually dead. Jesus said to Nicodemus, the premier theologian of Israel, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)

4.  Victory Saturday

As members of the Christian Church, we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on a day in late March or early April each year. However, we have no memorial or celebration on the day after ‘Good Friday’. On that day, the body of Jesus lay in a stone tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Most Christians have no idea that in the spiritual realm, Jesus was not sleeping the cold sleep of death, but was actively performing a momentous act.

There is seldom any sound teaching on this so we don’t often hear anything about the events of Easter Saturday. If we do catch a whisper in the intellectual wind and try to research the subject, we tend to get lost in the complex and convoluted commentaries on biblical texts that have a bearing on the subject. I want to spend some time on this Fourth Day of Grace because it is such an under-exposed subject yet one of great significance and importance.

A few biblical texts point us in the right direction but they are difficult to grasp adequately, so we tend to pass them by. For instance:

Hebrews 2:14 ‘Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil.’ In what way did the crucifixion destroy the power of the devil? Did something subsequent to what the world witnessed on Good Friday occur that ‘destroyed’ Satan’s power over death? If so, what was this and when did it occur?

1 Peter 3:18-20 ‘He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built’. Who were these spirits and when and where did this occur?

Then to add to our confusion, the late 3rd century Apostles Creed of the church states that  Jesus ‘was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day, he rose again.’ Not only were the words ‘descended to the dead/hell’ not in the original creed but they are based on a poor interpretation of Ephesians 4:9 which contains, in brackets, the words ‘What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions.’ Within the context of this passage, it appears obvious that Paul meant that Jesus could hardly ascend to Heaven if he had not previously descended into the lower dimension of earthly existence. However, at least this section of the Apostles Creed gives us the insight that its drafters believed that Jesus entered into a spiritual realm between his physical death on Friday and his resurrection on Sunday.

Colossians 2:13-15

However, the most revealing text concerning what happened on the Saturday of Easter weekend is Colossians 2:13-15 where Paul wrote:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’.

This a notoriously difficult passage to interpret, there are numerous opinions on what it means, and detailed and complex arguments derive from the use and tense of the Greek words used. N.T. Wright analyses the passage from most perspectives, as does Wayne Grudem in his systematic theology.

First, let’s consider the immediate context of the passage. In the very next verse (vs 16) Paul wrote: ‘Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.’ The three things cited by Paul are all religious observances thought by Jews and some others to be essential to a right standing with God.  No, says Paul, you don’t need ritualistic obedience. Why? Because Jesus has set you free from all this. And the source of that freedom is what Jesus did as described in the preceding three verses. He cancelled the regulations of religion and its power over us by dying on the cross and then, the next day, by publically disarming and triumphing over the devil and his powers and principalities. We were all dead to God because of our sin of rebellion and the religious code of Judaism served to convict and remind us that we were unable to change this reality through obedience to rituals, and good works. (Galatians 3:19-25) When Jesus died on the cross he was satisfying the requirement of divine law. You see, when Adam walked with God in Eden the Lord made a covenant with him. This offered the benefits of life, earth’s bounty, and God’s presence forever. However, it also contained a penalty clause: “If you break this covenant obligation of trusting and obeying me then you will certainly die”. (Genesis 2:17) This penalty was entirely satisfied by Jesus’ selfless sacrificial act on our behalf.

In dying on the cross Jesus took away the devil’s main weapon of condemning humanity because they were guilty, cut off from God, unable to change this reality, and therefore under his power and dominion.

But wait there is more! (as cheesy salesmen say).

Jesus cancelled the debt of the Law on Friday at 3 pm, but on Saturday he strode spiritually into the realm of Satan with the armies of Heaven behind him and stripped the devil of all authority over humanity. He also banned Satan from ever again appearing before the throne of God the Father to plead his case of absolution from the guilt of rebellion by virtue of humanity’s lawlessness.

The scene is reminiscent of a military Court Marshal. See the scene: The Lord Jesus Christ stands before Satan and his evil hosts, with the angels of Heaven behind him and declares: “Know this Satan. I have personally settled the penalty on behalf of all humanity by becoming a man of flesh and blood, perfectly obeying and trusting my Father, and then dying under the most extreme conditions imaginable. In that act I, as it were, nailed to the cross of Golgotha a notice that read ‘Fully satisfied’. In so doing I wiped out the condemnation and penalty of the violation of the divine covenant. I have won the right for all humans to step out from under the condemnation of the law of religion and in me and through me to once again have eternal life. Death no longer has a sting in its devilish tail and you no longer have any authority”. Then reaching forward, Jesus stripped the insignia of rank from the devil’s shoulders, removed his armour and weapons and in a thunderous voice declared, “It is done! Now be gone!”

The implications of this for us are vast. If we are born again of the Spirit in and through Jesus Christ then we need not fear death because for us it is just a portal into Heaven. We are no longer under the devil’s authority and he has no right to subjugate us in any way. We possess the delegated authority of the Lord Jesus and can command the powers and principalities of the demonic realm to leave us and to desist from troubling us. Praise God!

5.  Resurrection Sunday

I ended my comments on Crucifixion Friday by pointing out that because of it all men and women are no longer under the condemnation of the violated covenant. However, if it were not for Resurrection Sunday, we would be legally absolved but still spiritually dead!

We all know what this great day signifies and celebrate it annually because on that Day Jesus rose from the grave. He rose, not as a resuscitated man, but as a transformed man no longer restricted by time, space, or matter. He arose in the form that we shall have when we inhabit the new HeavenEarth in the age to come.

In his resurrection, Jesus became the second Adam, a man who would live forever. He became a template of one who could enter Heaven so that we too can enter Heaven when we die physically.

The cross signifies our freedom from death and the Law of Religion and the Empty Tomb signifies our new eternal life in the presence of God. What links us to this wonder is our confession of our sin of rebellion and our heart-felt request that God would breathe his life into us by his Spirit so that we can be born again into a new life in Christ Jesus.

6.  Ascension Day

In years gone by, churches used to celebrate Ascension Day with some form of congregational meeting. This does not seem to be the case nowadays with many churches. Although it may seem like the Ascension is only a conclusion to the Easter sequence of events, it is more. Its deeper significance is that the bodily ascension of Jesus from Earth to Heaven means that;

  • The Godhead now includes a representative of humanity. Jesus, God the Son, has included physicality in his makeup whereas before he was a spiritual being only. This is an astonishing thought!
  • We have Jesus as our intercessor at the Father’s throne. Romans 8:34 ‘Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us’. This too is a wondrous truth that gives us great comfort and assurance.

Ascension Day deserves honour!

7.  The Day of Pentecost

Sadly, Pentecost Sunday also seems to have slipped from the community calendar for many churches. We commemorate the birth of Jesus and his crucifixion and resurrection, but we don’t honour the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church on Earth?

At the Tower of Babel God scattered the nations of  the world and gave them different languages. On the Day of Pentecost, he gathered people from the nations and united those who believed into one new nation, the Kingdom of God. He even evidenced a new language for his people, the church, that we call Tongues. On that day the power of the Holy Spirit was dispensed onto and into the people of God and in this power the church grew and went out into the world preaching the Gospel. (Acts 2)

During his time on Earth, the Lord Jesus depended entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit to achieve the things the Father directed him to do. The same applies to us. Without the anointing of the Spirit, we cannot do what we are called to do. We can’t even live Jesus-like lives of obedience and trust. Why then would we not want to remember and honour the Holy Spirit and rejoice in being part of the church that was birthed on that day?


I started this article by observing that in uncertain times we need to dig down into the rich soil of our Christian heritage. The more insecure the times, the more we need to dig down. It gives us stability and hope to realise again who we are in Christ Jesus. When we consider how God scheduled and executed his plan of salvation in past times, we can more easily believe that he can act in our times. I hope that this overview of parts of our shared history inspire and encourage you. God be with you.



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Basis for Certainty Feature image

The Basis for our Certainty

Basis for certainty

Apart from the formal philosophical definition of ‘certainty’, for most people, the word means ‘firm conviction that something is the case’.

If we were not reasonably certain of most things then we would be incapacitated and unable to perform daily functions. For example, if I were not certain that gravity would hold me onto planet earth, I would walk around in perpetual fear or anchored to a peg in the ground. Our conviction that some things are certain enables us to function, make life decisions, and teach others. But, on what basis do we establish certainty?

Recently, I have been discussing reincarnation and life-between-lives with someone who is, himself, in dialogue with a person who believes in these things. This 3rd person is certain enough about them that he is prepared to stake eternity on them and to endorse them to others. What is his basis for certainty?

Many, particularly those of my generation (and I am 70), base certainty on authoritative statements. Something is certain because some authoritative person, organisation, or document states that it is certain. For traditional Roman Catholics, their church is authoritative, for Evangelicals the Bible is authoritative, and so on.

Agnostics or atheists also appeal to authorities ranging from the opinion of experts, to generally accepted scientific theories. They also rely on logical reasoning and empirical evidence. For them, something becomes certain if, say, Stephen Hawkins said it was, or it makes logical sense, or if there is hard factual evidence for it.

For post-modern and millennial individuals, nothing is certain, however, they regard group consensus, the opinions of social media thought leaders and personal preference as reliable enough to provide sufficient certainty to function normally.

I return to the man who is certain that we all live many times on earth: He believes that between the many live-times on earth there is a complex system of personal development and that neither God nor evil exists. Why is he certain of these things? Firstly, because he has read two books by someone who claims to have hypnotically regressed thousands of patients to a point where they can recall their previous states of being. Secondly, because it lines up with what he believes to be reasonable, and thirdly because it is what he wants to believe.

Contrary to this approach, my basis for certainty lies in one person as revealed in one authoritative document – the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. 2 Peter 1:16-21 provides a compact presentation of why I hold to this.

‘We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’.

The basis for my certainty in things eternal does not come from any so-called experts, or cleverly invented stories. It comes from the divinely authenticated witness to The Lord Jesus in and through a Holy Spirit illuminated understanding of the scriptures. In addition, I have subjected this revelation to rigorous logic, factual evidence, and personal experience.

The big question I must pose to you is: What is the basis for your certainty?

On your answer hangs your peace of mind, your spiritual credibility, and your eternal destiny.

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Pondering the supernatural

Supernatural metaphysical faith relationship

Supernatural metaphysical image

In today’s world, most people associate ‘supernatural’ with ghosts, séances, and Harry Potter. To say that Christianity is a supernatural relationship sounds both confusing and heretical. But it is!

The meaning of the word ‘supernatural’ is ‘relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe’  The Bible is full of accounts of supernatural events. Jesus ministered supernaturally, and the re-birth of the spirit is a profoundly supernatural phenomenon. The word ‘metaphysical’ is more or less a synonym for supernatural and is defined as ‘relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses’ Yet, here again, it is usually connected in Christian circles with cult systems or Word of Faith extremes. Yet, Christianity is metaphysical. We cannot see God, who is Spirit, yet we have a relationship with the triune Godhead in and through Jesus Christ.

We cannot test or measure the manifestations of healing and miracles yet we experience them and gladly accept them… or do we?
Some Christian folk reject outright anything, spiritual gifts included, that appear to be supernatural. Words of Knowledge are to them simply intellectually informed teachings, Words of Wisdom are wise utterances, Prophecy is preaching, and so on. Such people are commonly termed cessationists in theological circles; they believed that the ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ have ceased.  I have read as much as I choose to about the justifications for holding such a belief, but I find them wanting. Although theologians of this persuasion often claim that their theology is based on a sound exposition of scripture, nothing could be further from the truth. The New Testament is replete with references to the supernatural, and the claim that 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 supports cessationism is, in my opinion at least, just foolish and irresponsible. Actually, the real argument that the supernatural Gifts of the Spirit have ceased is based on a selective reading of history and not on biblical interpretation.

On the other side of the spectrum are those who claim to operate supernaturally as disciples of Jesus, but evidence magical manipulation rather than spiritual ministry. I am referring here to such things as crowd mesmerising, leg-stretching, mantra shouting, gold dust materialising, angel feather falling, religious slight-of-hand. I regard this as a perversion and not a spiritual reality, and as mind-craft, not supernatural ministry. Neither cessationism nor charismania are valid expressions of biblical Christianity.

If these two positions represent the end-points of a horizontal line, then the middle point, pulled up to form a triangle, must be intellectual knowledge-based pseudo-Christianity. In terms of this belief system, re-birth is just a euphemism for commitment of the will, spirituality consists of Bible study and prayer, church is an organisation akin to a school, and evangelism is a call to embrace a way of living and a denominational doctrinal statement. To my way of thinking, this too is a parody of New Testament Christianity. Cessationism, charismania, and intellectual pseudo-belief form a baleful triumvirate in current Christendom.

Jesus modelled a supernatural faith relationship with His Father, the Holy Spirit, and His disciples.
Read through the Gospels and observe how He ministered supernaturally, and how He positioned faith, not as a force to be manipulated, but as a the catalyst of metaphysical relationships. Take note of His profound lecture to the intellectually religious leader Nicodemus. Read on through the book of Acts and note how the early church functioned. Note also how Paul explained the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the church (1 Corinthians 12 & 14).

Surely, Christianity is essentially a supernatural metaphysical faith relationship with the triune God in and through Jesus Christ, and with others in and through the Body of Christ the church.




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Quran and Bible

What do Muhammad and Jesus have in common?

Muhammad and Jesus

What do Mohammad and Jesus have in common? Absolutely nothing.

In the religion of Islam, Jesus is honoured as a messenger of Allah but Muhammad is revered as his last and greatest messenger. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, gives no credence to either the god of Islam or Muhammad. Islam only emerged onto the world scene late in the sixth century and has no roots in biblical history. Some like to claim that Islam is the third monotheistic (Abrahamic) religion standing alongside Judaism and Christianity, but it really has no theological common point of origin and its god is certainly not just another name for Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Father of the New Testament.

A few weeks ago I attended a very informative day-long presentation by a man who understands Islam both at a scholarly and practical level. Dr Mark Durie describes himself as ‘an academic, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology’. I was very impressed with both his mastery of his subject and his demeanour. You can access his work at

I learned from Dr Durie that in Islam the essential relationship between Allah and his followers is that of master to slave.
Original sin is not presented as Islam picsrebellion against a loving Father, resulting in spiritual death, but is seen as a stepping off the path (Sharia) set by the creator, leading to punishment. The solution to ‘sin’ in Islam is not spiritual rebirth, but knowledge and adherence to the ‘straight path’ set out in its holy book, the Quran.

The three pillars of knowledge and understanding in Islam are the Quran, the life of Muhammad, and the doctrine of the ‘infallible’ teachers. The Quran is said to have been spoken out by Muhammad under the inspiration of an angel named Jibril, memorised by the first audience, and then later written down by them. The life of Muhammad was only documented in a form acceptable to the majority of Muslim leaders some 200 or so years after his death. The Quran is not compiled in any sort of chronological order and so the authorised life history of Muhammed is used to determine which of his pronouncements were earlier and which later. This is an important issue because an interpretive rule for understanding and applying the teachings of the Quran is that later pronouncements supersede earlier declarations and abrogate any contradictory earlier statements. Muhammad started his career in Mecca, but after 12 years and much persecution he and his followers fled to Medina. The later (Medina) pronouncements in the Quran are far more militant and harsh than the earlier (Mecca) declarations. These later teachings are regarded as abrogating earlier, more tolerant verses, and thus largely determine the essential nature of Islam.

I also learned from Dr Durie that Islam cannot be reasonably viewed on the basis of the Quran and its established interpretive principles  as a moderate and peace-loving religion.
Islam ladyThe ‘radicals’ who are currently trying to establish an Islamic Caliphate are in fact endeavouring to act with hideous integrity to the religion of Islam. Modern followers of Muhammad who espouse moderation and peace either do not understand the established teachings of their religion, or they are being disingenuous. I also learned that these key teachings were settled many hundreds of years ago and that as a result the doctrines and interpretative methods of Islam are, in the view of many, if not all Muslims, set in stone and not open to further inquiry.

I started this short article by asking what Muhammad and Jesus have in common, and then answered ‘absolutely nothing’. A dramatic, and in many ways definitive example of this is what the two taught concerning enemies. I quote here, not from Dr Durie’s material, but from ‘The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter’.

But what did Jesus teach concerning enemies? He said, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
Dr Durie has much to teach us and I encourage you to go to his website and browse through the articles, videos, and interviews.

















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Revelation Revisited Post 53

Babylon the great

Revelation Revisited Post 53

The beast becomes a whore and the whore becomes a city… say what?

In previous chapters of Revelation Religion has been depicted first as a beast from the land, and then as a scarlet woman, but in Chapter 18 she morphs into the city of Babylon. What’s going on?

The 3 depictions of Religion present both different aspects of its nature and the relationship that it has with Humanism:

  1. In Chapter 13 Religion is shown to be in partnership with the beast from the sea, Humanism in all its manifestations. It is Humanism’s voice, its False Prophet, its miracle worker, and its accreditor.
  2. In Chapter 17 Religion is depicted as a woman riding on the beast of Humanism, so the relationship between the two is still maintained. She wears the traditional whore’s headband which carries an ascription that starts with the words. ‘Mystery Babylon the Great…’
  3. She is thus connected both with the image of the beast and with the image of the city of Babylon.

Some commentators claim that in Revelation 18 Babylon must equate to the humanistic world and not religion because of the references to merchants, commerce, kings, and so on. Yet, despite this, the city is connected to the religious whore of the previous chapter by references to ‘her adulteries’ (Vs. 3), ‘her own cup’ (Vs. 6), and her dress of ‘purple and scarlet’ (Vs. 16). The city of Babylon appears to be combination of Humanism and Religion; in some way the two have become one (1 Corinthians 6:16). However, the primary identity of Babylon must be the whore of Religion, because Revelation 17:18 states specifically that ‘The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth’.

Throughout history Religion and Humanism have sometimes become so merged together that they have become virtually indistinguishable. The relationship between the Roman Catholic Pope and the kings of Europe in past centuries is an example of this. A modern day remnant of this type of union is the fact that the Queen of England is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

We also see a merging of Humanism and Religion in our day in the way much of the church has adopted humanistic values and practices. Has there ever been a time, I wonder, when the church has been so obsessed with money as it is today? Of course I am generalising, but all around me I see churches that are run like corporations and where collecting the ‘tithe’ gets more ‘air-time’ than Jesus.

Revelation 18:4 poses a particular problem for some folk and has been used by instigators of church splits, by cult gurus, and even by home-church extremists; ‘Come out of her, my people so that you will not share in her sins…’ To be absolutely consistent with my book ‘Revelation in the Stars’ I am going to reproduce here just what I wrote there:

‘This is a call, not to leave local churches or a particular denomination and ‘go it alone’, but a call to leave an apathetic, apostate environment. Get passionate about the things of God, and be part of a church family which has the same passion and commitment. The call of the Holy Spirit to the church of our day is to return to our first love… and to be the church which Jesus first loved. It doesn’t matter so much what form the local church takes. House churches provide a meaningful experience of simple and real church life. Congregational churches are also wonderful, so long as their leaders structure them organically as opposed to organisationally. However, I have serious doubts that a mega church could embrace the values, principles, and priorities of church life pictured in the book of Acts. Whatever form the local church takes, it is vital that we come out of religion and into real church. Here is what I mean by ‘real’ church:

Relationship: A church family in relationship with God and each other within an environment of order, participation, and accountability, and who value and seek to practice love and acceptance, and see their church as a ‘city of refuge’. A church that is principle, value, and relationship based rather than rules or results based. Where ministries are motivated from within rather than imposed from without. Where leadership’s role is serving, equipping, and facilitating rather than initiating programmes.

Outreach: A church that seeks to reach out to others, both corporately and individually, outside the congregational setting, to bring them into relationship with Jesus Christ, to teach them the basic principles of his kingdom, and to then release them to go and do likewise for others. A church positioned within the context of local community and seeking to serve its community both practically and spiritually.

Anointing: A church which embraces the person of the Holy Spirit and depends on his anointing for life and ministry, whilst eschewing manipulative or psychic methods and practices.

Doctrine: A church which holds to and seeks to teach sound, biblical, life-giving doctrine based on the scriptural revelation of what Jesus said and did, and to propagate this doctrine through other local churches. A church which emphasises expository preaching and teaching of the Bible.

Structure: A church which aims to extend the kingdom of God by establishing interdependently autonomous local churches founded on the principles presented in the book of Acts and embodied in the ROADS concept (relationship, outreach, anointing, doctrine, and structure). A church which believes that the relational dynamics it values can only be evidenced satisfactorily within a small congregational setting. Whose model for church life and functionality is organic rather than institutional – Christ Jesus is the effective head of the church and the Holy Spirit motivates and empowers ministries in and through the body of people constituting the local church. Whose leadership is by means of a functional plurality of Elders, where each plays a role and makes a contribution vital to the effectiveness of the whole; ministry, as well as decision making, is both shared and joint.’

To come out of something we need to go into something else, so it is wise to consider carefully what it is we are called into. We are called into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are called into the organic body of Christ, the real church, expressed in many places and in many ways but always as groups of committed disciples under the headship of the Lord Jesus.

Next week I plan to move on to section Six (Chapter 19) – a much happier part of Revelation.



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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.