MY BIBLE BLOG
Confidence is a subject behind the headlines this month.
two-minutes’ silence in London on the 7th was a reminder that
confidence is required by those working and travelling in the city. The
death of British troops in Iran and Afghanistan requires a brave
attitude of their comrades maintaining peace-keeping patrols. In the
World Cup a positive belief was required by those chosen to take
decisive penalties. But what of religious confidence?
As a young person I belonged to a church that denied a personal
experience of God. You couldn’t say, “I am saved” or “I’m going to
heaven”. This kind of knowledge, I was told, is in God’s hands and
could only be known after one’s decease. Strange, I thought, and
contrary to the “I know”, “I believe” and “I have” confessions of
Scripture. Didn’t the psalmist confess, “The LORD is my shepherd”?
The Gospels were written that we might “believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing (we) may have life in his
name” (John 20:31). Faith in Christ brings a confidence for living and
dying. As Paul confessed to Timothy: “I know whom I have believed, and
am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for
that day” (2 Tim.2:12). Can we make the same confession?
This month I am concerned about hypocritical leaders of
In 2003 a newspaper article featured a London
pastor as 'a sexual predator'. The married father with four children
appeared before the Old Bailey charged with sexual assault and rape.
The church oversight failed to examine complaints about him.
In 2004 a self-styled bishop claimed to produce miracle pregnancies
through prayer. But international police investigations revealed that
the preacher was probably responsible for babies being stolen from
hospitals in Kenya. He still appears on TV!
This year the pastor of an evangelical church with a congregation of
800, was jailed for flying illegal immigrants into Britain to renovate
his luxury house. They worked for as long as 16 hours a day on his
home, earning as little as £1.36 an hour. The pastor faked immigration
documents. We must learn from these stories.
First, we must pray for church leaders, as those who must give an
account to God (Heb.13:17,18). Secondly, leaders should have a
'covering'. Thirdly, churches should examine bad reports and be
prepared to apply discipline to any church member. Fourthly, because a
preacher appears on TV or has a large congregation does not indicate
divine anointing or authority. Non-biblical doctrines should be
questioned, and bad lifestyles must be judged. Mark false prophets
My personal note this month is painful.
I’ve been suffering
from toothache! The experience reminds me that Paul likens the church
to a body: “The body is a unit... if one part suffers, every part
suffers with it” (1 Cor.12:1,12). This analogy is applicable to the
local church and the universal church.
Today we need to pray for the suffering church in China. Sometimes the
Chinese authorities appear to accept the Christian witness, but the
fact is, Chinese Christians are still being persecuted as members of an
‘illegal structure’. Chinese police broke up a peaceful demonstration
on 29th July by several thousand Christians who watched them demolish
an independant church building. Police used electric stun batons to
beat the Christians in Dangshan township, Xiaoshan. Local authorities
repeatedly deny believers' requests to rebuild the church, even though
they had met all the registration requirements.
Churches have been growing rapidly in suburban Dangshan. There are more
than 100,000 Christians and 120 unregistered house churches in Xiaoshan
district, according to a Chinese scholar familiar with the area. With
about 1,000 attendees, Dangshan Church has roots extending back to
Watchman Nee's indigenous Little Flock movement.