Introduction to 1 Peter

Prepared by Spencer D. Gear PhD[1]

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1.   INTRODUCTION

Have you witnessed to people about your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and experienced these kinds of reactions? “I don’t want to listen to that nonsense. You’ve got to be joking. Just take a look at all those religious paedophiles who have sexually abused children placed in their trust. Especially after the Royal Commission into sexual abuse,” OR

clip_image002 “Christian! Huh! Hypocrites, that’s all they are. Remember Jimmy Swaggart and his prostitute? Jim Bakker, high flying TV evangelist jailed for 45 years for fraud – and of course, there was adultery by that person? Don’t mention the church to me.” OR

clip_image002[1] How can I believe in your God of love with so much evil in the world? Hitler and your God allowed all that! Saddam Hussein & what he did to Iraq.

In the language of some of the kids I counselled in the 17 years before I retired, “Life sucks.” You may get to the point of asking yourself, “Is it worth it? I should chuck this in.”

For those who are tempted to chuck it in, this Book of I Peter has some profound things to teach, to encourage you to keep on keeping on, and NOT to give up when the going gets tough.

Before we examine this wonderful encouragement, we need to note:

2. SOME THINGS ABOUT THE BOOK OF 1 PETER [2]

clip_image003First verse, it claims to be from “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1). Sounds pretty straight-forward. Peter the Apostle wrote it. Yet some liberal scholars promote the view “that First Peter is a pseudonymous [false] work of the post-Apostolic Age . . . [Peter] could not have written the letter.”[3] Why do they claim this is not the apostle Peter who wrote, but a person who falsely used the name of Peter? Because these scholars want us to believe that the “persecutions mentioned in the book” are “those of the reign of [Roman Emperor] Trajan (ca. AD 98-117).”[4]

clip_image003[1]If we make the writing as late as during the reign of Trajan, it would be 70-90 years after the death of Christ and Peter could not have written the book, as he was probably dead and gone. Then somebody from the early church, not the real Peter, wrote the book, and claimed he was Peter.

clip_image003[2]NO, NO, NO! This Peter, 1 Peter 5:1 says, was the one who was “a witness of the sufferings of Christ.” This is no fake Peter, but the apostle Peter, who was Christ’s apostle, denied him 3 times, and was there as an eyewitness of Christ’s death. Why do these liberal theologians invent such things? Here is a link to the non-canonical, apocryphal Gospel of Peter (Raymond Brown translation).

clip_image003[3]In 1 Peter 5:12, he wrote it “with the help of Silas/Silvanus . . . a faithful brother.” This is probably the Silas of Acts 15:22; 1 Thess. 1:1;

clip_image003[4]When was this book written? If you read 2 Peter 3:1, it speaks of “This is now my second letter to you.” Perhaps this is referring back to 1 Peter as the first letter. There’s a writing from the early church called I Clement (5:4-7), written by Clement of Rome to the Corinthian church, written about A.D. 96.[5] It speaks of Peter and Paul suffering persecution.[6]

clip_image003[5]http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/e-catena/ church fathers allusions.

clip_image003[6]Why could these early church fathers not give us a chapter and verse from 1 Peter? Why did they simply refer to the content without any mention of which verse it appeared in?

There’s a simple reason. What could it be?

3. THEMES [7]

Although 1 Peter is a short letter, it touches on various doctrines and has much to say about Christian life and duties. It is not surprising that different readers have found it to have different principal themes. For example, it has been characterized as:

clip_image004clip_image002[2] a letter of separation,

clip_image002[3] of suffering and persecution,

clip_image002[4] of suffering and glory,

clip_image002[5] of hope,

clip_image002[6] of pilgrimage,

clip_image002[7] of courage,

clip_image002[8] and as a letter dealing with the true grace of God. Peter says that he has written “encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God” (5:12). This is a definitive general description of the letter, but it does not exclude the recognition of numerous subordinate and contributory themes. The letter includes a series of exhortations (imperatives) that run from 1:13 to 5:11.

4. Compare verses in 1 Peter with some statements I’ll read.

I would like you to compare what I read with verses in 1 Peter. Read . . .

1 Peter 1:6-8 (NIV):

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy’.

How does that compare with this quote?

[8][. . . .] Though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than that of gold which perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ; whom, having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Do any of you have any idea where that quote came from? Does it sound anything like 1 Peter 1:6-8?

It was by Clement of Alexandria Stromata Book IV, ch 20.[9]

Clement of Alexandria

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Clement depicted in 1584

In Book 4, ch 2, Clement explained what Stromata means: “As the name itself indicates, patched together — passing constantly from one thing to another, and in the series of discussions hinting at one thing and demonstrating another.”[10]

When did Clement of Alexandria live? He was born AD 150 in Athens and died between 211 and 215.[11]

I deliberately left out something at the beginning of that quote. It reads: ‘[12][Peter in his Epistle states]: Though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations.

So as early as the late second century, Clement of Alexandria was quoting the Epistle of Peter, naming it as from Peter, and we now know it was from 1 Peter 1:6-8.

1 Peter 1:8

Read v. 8 again (NIV): ‘Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy’.

How does that verse compare with this quote?

In whom, though now ye see Him not, ye believe, and believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Saint Polycarp

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Martyr, Church Father and Bishop of Smyrna

That’s from the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians. Polycarp was a bishop at Smyrna. Where’s that? It was on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor (Turkey).

clip_image008clip_image010Smyrna, shown within Turkey on the Aegean Ocean line.

One of Polycarp’s famous quotes is from when the fire was about to be lit. He said: “When they were about also to fix him with nails, he said, Leave me as I am; for He that gives me strength to endure the fire, will also enable me, without your securing me by nails, to remain without moving in the pile” (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, “The funeral pile is erected,” ch. 13).

His martyrdom was the first after the time of the NT and he was in his 80s when he died.

When did Polycarp live? His age span was AD 69-156.[13] He was very close to the time of the original 12 apostles. Encyclopaedia Britannica states of him:

Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians is doubly important for its early testimony to the existence of various other New Testament texts. It probably is the first to quote passages from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the Acts of the Apostles, and the first letters of St. Peter and St. John.[14]

I wonder if we would have the same courage as Polycarp if we were faced with being a martyr for our faith:

Because he was born in 69 A.D., as a young man he knew the Apostle John and his faith grew from there. The local magistrate is reluctant to kill him but has no choice when Polycarp refuses to deny Christ.

In Polycarp’s famous words before his martyrdom, he stated: “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” (New Advent, “The Martyrdom of Polycarp,” ch. 9)

Polycarp was sentenced to be burned. As he waited for the fire to be lit, he prayed:

“Lord God Almighty, Father of your blessed and beloved child Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and hosts and all creation, and of the whole race of the upright who live in your presence:

“I bless you that you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, to be numbered among the martyrs and share in the cup of Christ, for resurrection to eternal life, for soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit.

“Among them may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared and foreshown and brought about. For this reason and for all things I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved child, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for the ages to come. Amen.”[15]

1 Peter 1:8

There is something different about this quote from another of the church fathers. What is it? Listen carefully.

And this it is which has been said also by Peter: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom now also, not seeing, ye believe; and believing, ye shall rejoice with joy unspeakable.”

That citation is from Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V.

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (in what is France today) born c. 120, /140, Asia Minor—died c. 200, /203, probably in Lyon.[16]

What is stated here that was not in the other 2 quotes from the church fathers? Answer: The name of ‘Peter’.

Question: Why would I raise these parallels between today’s Bible (1 Peter) & the early church writers quoting 1 Peter?

Answers:

1. They show that the early church fathers quoted from Bible books even though they weren’t in a combined canon of Scripture. When were the 27 books of the NT formed into a single NT?

‘The first time a church council ruled on the list of “inspired” writings allowed to be read in church was at the Synod of Hippo [called Annaba, Algeria today] in 393 AD. No document survived from this council – we only know of this decision because it was referenced at the third Synod of Carthage in 397 AD’.[17] Today, Carthage is on the Mediterranean Sea of northern Tunisia.

2. How the individual books of the Bible came to be accepted as a collection of books inspired by God took 2-3 centuries. But as early as Polycarp in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, a disciple of John, quoted from a number of books.

3. Why did some of these early writers after the NT not refer to the name of Peter and exactly which chapter and verse they referred to?

There’s a wonderful website that gives brief answers to most doctrinal questions. It’s called Got Questions? Beware that it is Calvinistic in tone. This is how this website explained the reasons why early church fathers could not quote chapter and verse:[18]

Question: “Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses? Why and when was it done?”
Answer:
When the books of the Bible were originally written, they did not contain chapter or verse references. The Bible was divided into chapters and verses to help us find Scriptures more quickly and easily. It is much easier to find “John chapter 3, verse 16” than it is to find “for God so loved the world. . . .” In a few places, chapter breaks are poorly placed and as a result divide content that should flow together. Overall, the chapter and verse divisions are very helpful.


The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton’s chapter divisions.

The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan’s verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.

clip_image011 Peter says that he wrote the book from “Babylon” (5:13). Among the interpretations that have been suggested are that he was writing from

(1) Egyptian Babylon, which was a military post, (2) Mesopotamian Babylon, (3) Jerusalem and (4) Rome. Peter may well be using the name Babylon symbolically, as it seems to be used in the book of Revelation (see Rev 14:8; 17:9–10 and notes). Tradition connects him in the latter part of his life with Rome, and certain early writers held that 1 Peter was written there.

Who received this letter? Verse 1, “To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” These were cities in northern Asia Minor, what is known as Turkey today. It was written to God’s people who were scattered, for some reason, across Turkey. If you read 1 Peter 4: 3-4, it suggests that these believers had probably “been converted out of paganism rather than out of Judaism.”[19]

First Peter 4:3 states, ” For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do–living in debauchery,[20] lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.”[21]

This probably refers to the persecution under Emperor Nero[22] of Rome following the fire that destroyed Rome in AD 64. 1 Peter “was probably written from Rome shortly before Nero’s great persecution — that is, in 62-64.”[23]

clip_image011[1]Why did Peter write this letter?

It is a very warm pastoral letter with lots of encouragement for Christians who are scattered. I Peter 5:12, ”I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

clip_image013 These Christians shared a common faith;

clip_image013[1] But they faced common problems. Their basic problem was that they lived in a society that was ignorant of the true and living God. What country does that sound like today?

clip_image013[2] As Christians, they would be misunderstood and given some cruel treatment;

clip_image013[3] Peter wrote this epistle so that these early believers would “see their temporary sufferings in the full light of the coming eternal glory. In the midst of all their discouragements, the sovereign Lord will keep them and enable them by faith to have joy.”[24]

clip_image013[4] This is a very practical and relevant message for us in Queensland and around the world in the 21st century.

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Notes


[1] Prepared on 11 February 2019. Some of the material is taken from my sermon online, 1 Peter 1:1-2, Don’t chuck it in because of who you are as the people of God. (Accessed 11 February 2019).

[2] These points are based on: Edwin A. Blum, 1 Peter, in Frank E. Gaebelein (gen. ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (vol. 12). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981, p. 210-213.

[3] Ibid., pp. 210-211.

[4] Ibid., p. 211. B. C. Caffin states that Peter “must have written before the outbreak of any systematic attempt to crush out Christianity, or any legalized persecution such as that under Trajan. Judgment was about to begin at the house of God (ch. iv.17)”, I Peter, The Pulpit Commentary, Spence H.D.M. & Exell, J. S. (eds.), (Vol. 22), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1950, p. viii.

[5] F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture. Glasgow: Chapter House, 1988, p. 121, gives these details.

[6] Blum, p. 212.

[7] This section is from Biblica 2011-2019, 1 Peter (online), NIV Study Bible. Available at: https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-1-peter/ (Accessed 11 February 2019).

[8] This segment began with the words: ‘Peter in his Epistle says, . .’

[9] Also available at New Advent 2017 at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02104.htm (Accessed 12 February 2019).

[10] New Advent 2017. Stromata (online, Bk4, ch 2. Available at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02104.htm (Accessed 12 February 2019).

[11] From Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019 (s.v. Saint Clement of Alexandria). Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Clement-of-Alexandria (Accessed 12 February 2019).

[12] This segment began with the words: ‘Peter in his Epistle says, . . .’

[13] Ibid.

[14] Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019. s.v. Saint Polycarp. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Polycarp (Accessed 12 February 2019).

[15] Cited in Landon Meadow 2016. God’s gift is given through Christ. Leaf Chronicle (online), 10 June. Available at: https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/2016/06/11/message-gods-gift-given-christ/85663344/ (Accessed 12 February 2019).

[16] Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019. s.v. Saint Irenaeus. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Irenaeus (Accessed 12 February 2019).

[17] R A Baker 2008. How the New Testament canon was formed. www.churchhistory101.com. Available at: https://www.churchhistory101.com/docs/New-Testament-Canon.pdf (Accessed 12 February 2019).

[18] Got Questions Ministries 2002-2019. Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses? Available at: https://www.gotquestions.org/divided-Bible-chapters-verses.html (Accessed 11 February 2019).

[19] Ibid.

[20] “Debauchery” means “excessive indulgence in sex, alcohol, or drugs” (Oxford English Dictionary 2022. debauchery), available at: Excessive indulgence in sex, alcohol, or drugs (Accessed 16 January 2022).

[21] This section is from the NIV Study Bible’s introduction to 1 Peter. Biblica 2011-2019, 1 Peter (online). Available at: https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-1-peter/ (Accessed 11 February 2019).

[22] Caffin’s view is that “all this seems to point to the time of the Neronian persecution. Before that date, we gather from St. Paul’s Epistles, there was no actual persecution in Asia Minor” (p. viii).

[23] Blum, p. 212.

[24] Ibid., p. 213.

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 17 January 2022.

STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH[1]

PAKISTAN: Supreme Court Grants Bail for Christian Accused of Blasphemy

(image courtesy Voice of the Martyrs, Australia)

12 January 22 | All Posts, I Commit To Pray, News

(I Peter 1:1-2)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Bible Reading:

NIV, 1 Peter 1:1-12

1. INTRODUCTION

For the first time, North Korea [has] replaced Saudi Arabia as the country where Christians are most severely persecuted, according to the recent “World Watch List” released by Open Doors on August 9, [2004]. . . .

“For years, Saudi Arabia has held the top spot on the list. The desert kingdom, which sees itself as the guardian of Islam and its sacred cities of Mecca and Medina, requires all [of] its citizens to be Muslims. A Saudi who converts to another religion faces the death penalty for apostasy.

“But growing evidence of severe oppression in North Korea has confirmed what many observers have believed for years, that the communist dictatorship of Kim Jong Il stops at nothing to eradicate all belief systems other than the worship of Kim himself and his deceased father, Kim Il Sung. Both father and son have made every attempt to purge the land of Christians.

“Nevertheless, the church has survived in North Korea. Christian refugees escaping North Korea’s devastating famine have told of small house churches. They rarely number more than 10 individuals, often including only family members for security. One refugee told of how a house church of 20-30 people simply disappeared in [the year] 2000.

“In relative terms, however, it doesn’t matter who is ranked number one on the list,” an observer said. “The conditions facing a Saudi or North Korean Christian are unimaginable for those of us in the West.”[2]

In case you are interested, Open Doors rated the top ten countries for persecuting Christians [in 2004] as: North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Maldives [Islands in the northern Indian Ocean towards India], Bhutan [near Nepal, north of Bangladesh], Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia [north Africa, near the mouth of Red Sea, E of Ethiopia].[3] China ranks at no. 12.

In 2020, Christianity Today listed:

Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus:
1. North Korea
2. Afghanistan
3. Somalia
4. Libya
5. Pakistan
6. Eritrea
7. Sudan
8. Yemen
9. Iran
10. India
[4]

If you were sending a Christian letter to encourage churches in North Korea that are severely persecuted, how would you begin your letter and what would you say? G’day, mate, how’s it going? OR, Greetings brothers and sisters in the Lord? How would you commence a letter to those who were being thrown into prison or prison camps and severely treated for their faith? [I’ll wait for your replies]

That’s the kind of situation Peter faced when he wrote First Peter. He wrote to Christians scattered across Asia Minor, which is Turkey today. This was happening to them:

I Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”[5]

2:20b, ” . . . if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

4:12, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”

4:16, “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

You may not be in a situation as bad as North Korea or Saudi Arabia, but some of you know the hostility of people against you when they know that you are Christians. Or the scoffing at you: What a God you have who allows September 11, Sadam Hussein, the Iraq war, and paedophiles in the church!

You may get to the point of asking yourself, “Is it worth it? Should I chuck in this Christianity? It’s not worth the opposition.” If that’s how you think, you need the message of I Peter – don’t give up when the going gets tough.

Peter gives FIVE very specific statements in his introductory greeting that are so important for those whose faith is being severely tested. In the greeting, the first two verses, to these suffering Christians, Peter wants to get across to them and to us:

2. STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD (vv. 1-2).

So “stand firm in the faith” is Peter’s emphasis in this book of I Peter: 5:9,

“Resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith,” 5:12, ” I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

To these Christian believers who are suffering terrible persecution, Peter greets them with facts that are core to the Christian faith. This is NO “Greetings brothers and sisters in the faith,” but God’s assurance to God’s people.

You are:

clip_image002Firstly, “God’s elect”; according to the foreknowledge of God

clip_image004Secondly, you are “strangers in the world”;

clip_image006Thirdly, “by the sanctifying work of the Spirit”;

clip_image008Fourthly, “for obedience to Jesus Christ”;

clip_image010Fifthly, “for sprinkling of blood.”

Let’s unpack this.

A. FIRSTLY, STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH BECAUSE YOU ARE GOD’S ELECT.

Peter wanted the first century Christians (and us) to remember who we are in Christ! It’s a great honour for the church to be chosen by God. But God elected you into His kingdom, not for you to be proud about it, but for a purpose.

What did it mean that the believers in the first century were “elect”? Eph. 1:4 states: “For he chose us [elected us] in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

The teaching on election has caused much spiritual heartburn and conflict in Christian circles, thanks to the teaching of St. Augustine (4th. century) but especially John Calvin (16th century).

Calvin (and St. Augustine) taught this:

(1) “God chose out of the condemned race of Adam those whom He pleased and reprobated [i.e. rejected and damned] whom He willed.”[6]

(2) Calvin wrote in his Institutes of the Christian Religion: “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or the other of these ends, we say that we have been predestinated to life or to death” (3:21:5).[7]

A leading Calvinistic theologian today, R. C. Sproul, puts it this way:

From all eternity, before we even existed, God decided to save some members of the human race and to let the rest of the human race perish. God made a choice—He chose some individuals to be saved into everlasting blessedness in heaven and others He chose to pass over, to allow them to follow the consequences of their sins into eternal torment in hell. . . The elect do choose Christ, but only because they were first chosen by God. . . The non-elect receive justice. The elect receive mercy.[8]

In other words, God unconditionally elects you to salvation, but God unconditionally damns most of humanity to hell.

You are God’s elected, chosen people. This is who you are. You are not an accident of history or some weirdos. You are people chosen by God for a purpose. But let’s get this very clear, none of us would come to Christ, unless God moved in our lives by the Holy Spirit to draw us.

Henry Thiessen gives an excellent definition of election: “By election we mean that sovereign act of God in grace whereby He chose in Christ Jesus for salvation all those whom he foreknew would accept Him.”[9]

But does that mean God chooses to save a small percentage of people throughout human history, and God chooses to send most people to hell?

I am convinced this is NOT a biblical view. This view of God makes him like an ugly monster. Opening the door for you, by his sovereign act, but giving most of the world the flick into a hell of horror, is grossly unjust in my view. It is inconsistent with the attributes of the God, revealed in the Scriptures.

I do not believe this is biblical Christianity for these reasons:

Firstly, this would make God very unjust, as one who chooses to unconditionally damn people to hell, but unconditionally chooses some for heaven. Ezek. 18:23 states, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD . Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” What is God like? He takes no pleasure in the death of ungodly people, but he takes pleasure in those who repent of their sinful ways and turn to him.

Secondly, we know that unconditional election of a minority of the human race is NOT the nature of God as he states in 2 Peter 3:9, ” The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Thirdly, Titus 2:11 states, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (NIV).[10] Or as the ESV puts it: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.”

Fourthly, John 3:16, ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

While all true believers are God’s elect, I Peter 1:2 says that they are

1. Elect according to the Foreknowledge of God the Father (v. 2)

Pause with me a moment to consider the nature and attributes of God, especially as it applies to God’s foreknowledge. Foreknowledge means “knowledge beforehand.”[11] But knowledge beforehand does NOT CAUSE things to happen. “Free actions [by human beings] do not take place because they are foreseen [or foreknown] by God, BUT they are foreseen because they will take place.”[12]

Also think with me about God’s omniscience – God’s all-knowing ability. For God, that means:

¨He and only He knows Himself and all other people and things.

¨He knows whether they are things that actually happen, will happen, or are merely possible;

¨God knows comprehensively and completely about people and things in the past, present and future;

¨God knows perfectly and from all eternity.

¨God knows all people and things at the same time, exhaustively and truly.[13] [See passages such as: I Sam. 23:11-12; Ps. 33:13-15; 139:1-10; 147:4-5; Prov. 15:3, 11; Jer. 23:23-25; Matt. 6:8, 32; 10:29-30; 11:21-24; I Cor. 2:11; Heb. 4:13].[14]

Let’s look at a sample of how much God knows about you, everybody, our world, and about Himself.

  •  Proverbs 15:3 (ESV), “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
  •  Hebrews 4:13 (ESV): “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
  •  Matthew 10:30 (ESV), “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” For some of us men that is a challenge, but not to God.

We don’t have space to look comprehensively at the Scriptures in this article, but we need to note God’s foreknowledge means that for US, it is God seeing into the future. For God, it is God having knowledge in the eternal present. There is no past and future knowledge with God. He is eternal and omniscient – all knowing.

clip_image012 God knows himself (the Trinity) intimately and only he knows himself (see Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:11); God knows things that are actually existing:

clip_image013 The inanimate creation (Ps. 147:4);

clip_image013[1] People and all of their works (Ps. 33:13-15);

clip_image013[2] People’s thoughts and hearts (Ps. 139:1-4);

clip_image013[3] God knows your needs (Matt. 6:8, 32); God not only knows things in the past and present, but he also knows all things that are possible:

clip_image015 He knew that Keilah would betray David to Saul, if he remained in that vicinity (I Sam. 23:11-12);

clip_image015[1] Jesus knew that Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they had seen the miracles that were performed in Bethsaida and Chorazin (Matt. 11:21);

clip_image015[2] Jesus knew that Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared disaster if they had seen the works that were done in Capernaum (Matt. 11:23-24).

n God’s foreknowledge means that he knows the future as the present for Him. Can you get a handle on that? However, we need to understand that from our “standpoint God’s knowledge of the future is foreknowledge, but not from God’s [point of view] since He knows all things by one simultaneous intuition (Acts 2:23; 3:18, etc.).[15]

So, Peter’s readers were “elect/chosen” believers “according to the

foreknowledge of God.” God knew beforehand what they (and we) would do with the proclamation of the Gospel. Would they respond or reject Christ? We know that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” [Romans 10:17 (ESV)]. But we can’t come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit draws us

n Jesus said: John 6:44 (ESV), “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Here in I Peter 1, the “foreknowledge of God the Father” means that God knew ahead of time what we were like and what we would do with his gracious offer of salvation in Christ.

First, Stand Firm in the Faith Because You are God’s elect.

B. SECOND, STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE STRANGERS IN THE WORLD.

The original language does not include “in the world” but the idea is there. Other translations call them “aliens” (NASB, REB, NJB), “exiles” (NRSV, ESV), “refugees” (GNB), “sojourners” (NAB).

The idea is this: the chosen people of God are:

Persons who belong to some other land and people, who are temporarily residing with a people to whom they do not belong. They are for a time being aliens, foreigners, strangers and not natives. They never expect to become [naturalised citizens of this world]. They do not want to be considered or treated as natives by the . . . people among whom they happen to be living. . .

Aliens are often held in contempt by the natives among whom they dwell. To this day they may be placed under severe restrictions in times of war; they may be [thrown into prison] or even repatriated.”[16]

Yet, despite this treatment by the people living in this world, Peter states that you are “God’s chosen people.” “God’s election has made the Christians `foreigners’ to the rest. At one time [you] were common natives and lived on the same low level as the rest.”[17] You are not like that any longer.

We “live in the world but are no longer of the world. [We] have become like Abraham; [we] are merely sojourners in a land that is now strange to [us]. [We] look for a city which has foundations, whose designer and maker is God; heaven is [out] home and fatherland.”[18]

We are strangers as Christians living in Australia. Our desire is for a better country, a heavenly one, the city that God has prepared for us (see Heb. 11:9-16).

Don’t you feel like this sometimes? You are out of step with the direction the world is taking. We walk to the beat of a different drum. This is the way God wants it to be.

C. THIRD, STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH BECAUSE OF THE SANCTIFYING WORK OF THE SPIRIT.

In v. 2, it is speaking of the Holy Spirit who applies God’s work of redemption to believers so that they will be holy—set apart—purified, and equipped for the task of serving Jesus in this wicked age. However, the Spirit will never sanctify you if you do not submit to him. Following conversion, the Spirit continues this sanctifying work by giving you power to overcome sin. This does not mean that you don’t blow it. Just remember the apostle Paul’s life in the Spirit. Listen to his struggle in Romans 7:15, 19, 21-25:

15 “I do not know what I am doing. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . .”

19 “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. . .”

21 “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

22 “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;

23 “ but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

25 “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

This was Paul’s struggle with sin after becoming a believer. It will be yours too. However, you will be set apart to live a sanctified life by the work of the Spirit. This is how Paul described it in Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Application:

Do you struggle with sin? I do! If you are finding it difficult to gain victory over a particular sin in your life, you must seek the Lord’s help and, perhaps, Christian counsel. However, since we are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) and to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16), why don’t you speak to a Christian friend after the service or phone a friend whom you trust and ask for assistance? God uses the counsel and prayer support of other Christians. We are not lone ranger Christians. We need one another.

If people are brave enough to confess their faults to you, please don’t ever break that confidence. I want to tell you honestly that I’m wary of confessing my sins to people in the church because I don’t know what they will do with that information.

The Spirit, also, gives us assurance of sins forgiven (Rom. 8:16). The Spirit helps us with new ways of living – for example, the fruit of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22).[19]

Imagine if everybody in this church treated each other with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control! Imagine what would happen if you treated your boss, your husband or wife, fellow employees, your children, your parents, this way?

That is the sanctification God is calling us to. And it is absolutely possible through the Spirit’s work.

D. FOURTH, STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH IN OBEDIENCE TO JESUS CHRIST.

Do you know one of the things that really bothers me about preaching,

my preaching, the pastor’s preaching? I am deeply concerned about how many of us leave this place, after hearing a message, and have no real desire to obey the message that was preached.

Parallel verses to I Peter 2 are Romans 8:29-30: “For those God foreknew he also predestined [or elected].” For what purpose? “To be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Rom. 8:30 goes on to say that “those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified he also glorified.”

God elects the church with a purpose in view. In Romans 8, it is so that we might become more like Jesus in our thoughts and actions.

Or we could paraphrase Romans 8:29, “Because although he foreknew us, although he understood all about us and our weaknesses, yet he gave us this great destiny and task of becoming more like Jesus so that people will be attracted to the Master.”

Here in I Peter, the purpose is “obedience to Jesus Christ.” Same thing, isn’t it? I’m reminded of . . .

James 1:22-25:

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror

24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

As an example of what this means, Jesus said: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). The aim of being God’s elect is that we will be obedient to Jesus Christ. Romans 1:5 reminds us that this is “obedience that comes from faith.”

Our obedience is based on faith. I will never obey God’s word if I don’t

have absolute faith in God. However, the other side of the coin is that my obedience springs from faith. Because of my faith, I want to obey. Faith and obedience are like identical twins. “When you see one you see the other. A person cannot have genuine faith without having obedience.” There will be no consistent obedience without true faith.[20]

We see this wonderfully illustrated in the Book of Romans:16:19 Paul writes, “Everyone has heard about your obedience…”

When you become a true Christian, it is “by means of obedience of faith.”[21] To talk of a Christian who is full of faith in Jesus Christ and is not obedient to Jesus, is a paradox. To have genuine faith in Christ, you must be obedient. There is no other alternative. If you do not obey Jesus, your faith must be called into question.

clip_image017Application:

How are your faith and obedience going?

clip_image017[1]What does God say in His word that you are rebelling against?

clip_image018If your thought life became visible before our eyes, what would you be ashamed of?

Would Christ be pleased with what you have thought about this last week?

clip_image017[2]Has your viewing been to the glory of God? I find this a very helpful question: If Jesus sat beside me, would he approve of the books and magazines I read? What about the TV programs and videos I watch?

clip_image017[2]A Christian family sat in my counselling office a few years ago and said, “We don’t allow our kids to watch much TV. But they do enjoy, “Home and Away.” Have you ever considered the values that are promoted in “Home & Away” that are contrary to God’s word and holy living? I think you’d be surprised.

clip_image017[3]What about your conversation? Has your language been pleasing to God this week? To your wife, husband, kids, the boss, other employees, the person at the store?

clip_image018[1]How have I treated other people this week?

May the Lord convict you about what is not pleasing to Him and help you, starting today, to have these things sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit.

E. FIFTH & FINALLY, STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH BECAUSE YOU ARE SPRINKLED BY HIS BLOOD.

My mother told me just a few weeks before she was called home to glory in 1997 that one of our relatives asked her, “Why is your Christianity such a bloody religion?” And he wasn’t swearing! To those who don’t understand, this is unusual language—sprinkling of blood—as the core of what it means to be God’s elect people. Jesus’ death is not mentioned in this phrase, but that is certainly what is meant.

“It is by means of the death of Christ that election is made possible. His death opened the way back to God [and caused the church – God’s chosen people – to come into being.]

The image of sprinkling with blood comes out of the Jewish sacrificial system. The blood of a bird was sprinkled on a leper when he was healed to signify cleansing (Leviticus 14:1-7). Blood was sprinkled on priests to signify that they were set apart for the service of God (Exodus 29:20-21; Leviticus 8:30). The primary Old Testament reference, however, is to the acceptance of the covenant by the people of Israel (see Exodus 24:1-8). God expressed his choice of Israel by means of a covenant in which he agreed to be their God and they agreed to obey him. To certify their acceptance of this covenant, Moses took half the blood of the sacrificial animals and sprinkled it on the altar and the other half he sprinkled on the people.[22]

The Spirit applies the death of Jesus to you and me (the church) to make us more like Jesus. Get the picture?

When the going gets tough, STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD. What hope and encouragement we have, knowing that God has chosen us for obedience and provides the means through the cross of Christ, applied by the Spirit.

Notice the involvement of all the members of the Trinity here:

clip_image020 God the Father’s foreknowledge of you;

clip_image020[1] The Son’s blood that was shed; and

clip_image020[2] The Spirit’s sanctifying work.

No wonder Peter can greet these believers, scattered throughout the Turkey region today, with “grace and peace be yours in abundance.” Wow! What a statement about what is ours in Christ. God’s grace, his favour to rotten, rebellious sinners, which we don’t deserve, has been extended to human beings who will believe. “Peace” (in the Hebrew it’s Shalom) places emphasis on well-being. Peter’s prayer is that these divine mercies of grace and peace will be ours in abundance.

F. Conclusion

The concept of chosen or elect people comes originally from the OT. In Deut. 14:2, Moses told the tribes of Israel, “Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” Isaiah often spoke of Israel “whom I have chosen” (Isa. 41:8; 44:1; 45:4).

But here Peter shifts this thought to the Christian community. We, the born-again people of God—the church—are the elect. How is it possible for people who were enemies of God, rebels and hostile towards Him, to be chosen by God? How could this take place?

I remember two different funerals I attended in the last few years. One I went to, this fellow was preached into heaven with all Christians. I knew him. He was a nice guy, but in my experience he never gave evidence of knowing the Lord Jesus personally. I left that funeral, saying to myself: “I must live so that the preacher can tell the truth at my funeral.”[23]

The other funeral I attended was that of a friend of my family, George Clarke (whom some of you might have known. George was Brad Clarke’s father. Brad & Deb attended Central Baptist until they went to Brisbane.) George was a former criminal, a gangster, whom God radically changed when he repented of his sin and trusted Christ alone for his salvation. His funeral was a time of sadness, but a time of rejoicing, because we knew that calling George a Christian meant that believers would meet with him again at Christ’s return. He was one of God’s elect.

Are you among God’s elect? Do you really know the Lord? Where will you be one minute after your last breath? Are you sure about your eternal destiny? If you have doubts, please talk with me after the service or talk with the pastor.

What will you take away from this sermon that you will obey before God this week?

G.  Notes


[1] This sermon was preached at Gin Gin Baptist Church, Qld., Australia, 25 May 2003.

[2] Open Doors, “North Korea Tops Open Doors ‘World Watch List,’” Available at: http://www.odusa.org/ArchiveDisplay.asp?ID=9AB1FC24-64C7-4E23-8B6D-BB63E9C32D05&Category=Articles (Accessed 11 October 2004).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Jayson Casper, Christianity Today, “The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian (2020),” January 15. Available at: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/january/top-christian-persecution-open-doors-2020-world-watch-list.html (Accessed 13 January 2022).

[5] Unless otherwise stated, all Bible verses are from the NIV.

[6] John Calvin, ‘A treatise of the eternal predestination of God, etc. etc., Section IV [Online], available from Calvin’s Calvinism, transl. Henry Cole, at: http://www.the-highway.com/Calvin_sectionIV.html [11th October 2004].

[7] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (3.21.5), transl. Henry Beveridge [Online], available from: http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/institutes/bookiii/bkiii25.htm [11th October 2004].

[8]R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992, 161-62.

[9] Thiessen, H. C. 1949, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 344.

[10] Today’s New International Version, available from: http://www.tniv.info/pdf/TNIV_NewTestament.pdf [11th October 2004].

[11] Progn?nsis: Thayer states that the verbal form, progin?sk?, means “to have knowledge of beforehand; to foreknow.” For the noun form he simply defined as “forethought, pre-arrangement” [Thayer, JH (transl, rev., enlarged) 1962, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 538]. Progn?sis, the noun, only appears twice in the NT at Acts 2:23 and I Peter 1:2.

[12] Thiessen, p. 126.

[13] Based on Thiessen, p. 124.

[14] From Thiessen, pp. 124-125.

[15] The above Scriptures are based on ibid., pp. 125-126.

[16] R.C.H. Lenski, An Interpretation of I and II Epistles of Peter, the three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966, 21.

[17]Lenski, 21-22.

[18]Lenski, 22.

[19] Suggested by Lyman Coleman and Richard Peace, A Study Guide for the Book of 1 Peter (Mastering the Basics). Littleton, Colorado: Serendipity U.S.A., 1988, 17.

[20] Based on William Hendriksen, Romans Chapters 1-8 (New Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1980, 45.

[21] Hendriksen, 45.

[22] Coleman & Peace, 17.

[23] This was the funeral of Ray Martin, Director of YACCA, YMCA Bundaberg, who dropped dead of a heart attack in Bundaberg, in May 2003.

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 January 2022.

"Wholesome thinking" is more than getting sex off your mind

(2 Peter 3:1-10)

by Spencer Gear PhD

A. Introduction

I exhort you to have

3d-red-star-small “pure thoughts in your mind,” (GNB)[1] to

3d-red-star-small have a “pure mind,” (Moffat’s translation)[2] to

3d-red-star-small do some “wholesome thinking,” (NIV)[3]

3d-red-star-small To stir “up your sincere mind” (ESV)

3d-red-star-small To clean up your mind.

What do you think I am referring to?

Some may think that I am telling you to keep away from x-rated videos that are now called “non-violent erotica” or porn on the Internet. Others would think that certain magazines are off limits.[4] Or get your mind off the sensual and sexual.

Today I want to “stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” (NIV)[5] But I want you to get your mind off sex. “‘Wholesome thinking’ is more than getting sex off your mind” — that’s the title of my message.

Read 2 Peter 3:1-10

These two letters of 1 & 2 Peter were written to “stir up your pure minds” (KJV), according to 3:1. Other translations speak of:

  • “sincere mind” (RSV, NASB, RV, ESV),
  • “honest thinking” (Contemporary English Version),
  • “unsullied (sincere) mind” (Amp. Bible),
  • “unclouded understanding” (New Jerusalem Bible)
  • “minds uncontaminated with error” (J.B. Phillips),

The idea is this: If you read chapter two of 2 Peter, you will see that the church of the first century was faced with what is happening in Australia today. False teachers and false prophets were propounding their destructive heresies.

Peter says: “Dear friends,” or “Beloved” (he uses this word 4 times in this third chapter, vv. 1, 8, 14, 17), suggesting that Peter had an “affectionate interest in his readers.”[6] But he was desperately concerned that they might be led astray by false teaching. He began to address this in chapter 2 of this epistle. So here, he wants to stir up their “minds” or “stimulate” them in their thinking.

This is not the normal Greek word for mind, nous. Rather, this is dianoia. It is referring to our ability to “reflect,”[7] our “understanding.” [8] It’s a similar idea to what we find in I Peter 1:13, “Prepare your minds for action.”[9]

Peter is calling upon these believers (and us, by application) to have thinking that is “uncontaminated by the lust and heresy all around them.”[10] “Pure” or “wholesome” is in the sense of “unmixed”[11] with error and impurity.

This is probably why the J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase is pretty close to the mark. We must have “minds uncontaminated with error.” But what kinds of error? It was the kind of error that was around in the first century and it is is with us today.

Yes, we can engage in unwholesome thinking when our minds are bombarded with sex. But there’s other dangerous, unwholesome thinking that is more subtle than that. And we are subjected to it in deluge proportions today.

B. We are to clean up our thinking in four areas:

Firstly: Peter says: This world is dominated by very naturalistic thinking. There is nothing supernatural, just matter – some say. Human beings do not have a soul or spirit. I was talking to a Christian drug counsellor in Brisbane recently and he said that a psychiatrist raised his voice at him and thumped his fist on the table: “We are nothing but flesh, and legal drugs are the only cure for our ills.” Matter is all that matters.

Peter challenges us: that is “unwholesome thinking.”

Secondly: Your “unwholesome thinking” can get you to think that it is NOT God who acts in human history, but the USA, the United Nations, and the Australian government as a small player. Look at Kosovo, Vietnam, Uganda, Iraq, September 11 2001, and the Middle East. If you think this way, your thinking is not pure. It is mixed with error.

Thirdly: Peter wants you to meditate on this: even though there is evil, slaughter and strife all around us, God’s delay in acting (holding back Jesus’ second return) is not because God is powerless. God has excellent reasons for stalling Christ’s return.

Fourthly: Human history is not going around in circles (as my doctor said to me), it is heading for an enormous climax. President Joe Biden (USA President 2022) and Scott Morrison (Australian Prime Minister 2022) will not be in control. Neither will the United Nations be able to do it.

While there may be what looks like a repeat of certain events in world history, God’s pattern is NOT cyclical. God’s view is teleological. That’s a big word, but it comes from the Greek, teleos, meaning “ultimate purpose and design.”[12]

This world is heading towards God’s GRAND conclusion to the world and it is right on track. God has a design and nobody in this world will change it.

Let’s see how Peter challenges us to “wholesome thinking.”

C. First Challenge (v. 3),

scoffers (mockers) will come “in the last days”.

When are the last days? This is not just the time immediately before Christ’s second coming. The “last days” is the period that extends from Christ’s first coming to his second coming.[13]

What were these mockers saying?

  • “scoffing”; It’s an interesting phrase, “scoffers will come, scoffing” (v. 3). They are “mocking at holy things.”[14] These scoffers will be:
  • “following their own evil desires”; Sounds like today!
  • “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” they ask;
  • “everything does on as it has since the beginning of creation” (vv. 3-4).

This is a description of Australia today—we have droves of people who deny biblical truths and live in ungodly ways.

I have done a little writing in “letters to the editor” to local papers down through the years, opposing the use of marijuana and showing how dangerous it is, from a scientific perspective. Also, I do not hide my Christian commitment when I write, if it is relevant to the point being debated.

A person responded to some of the issues others and I have raised with this language:

  • “right-wing religious zealots who dominate much of our local anti-drug groups”;
  • “effective drug policy should never be confused with moral crusades”;
  • “Some may ask why I seem [so] interested in drug issues?
  • The reason is that I have probably seen more pain and suffering caused by drug abuse than all our born-agains put together.”
  • “our local anti-marijuana crusaders”;
  • “Right wing anti-drug groups.”[15]

The Bible is right on target, “in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing, and following their own evil desires.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher of the 19th century, influenced Adolf Hitler and his super-race mentality. Nietzsche wrote:

“Christian morality is the most malignant form of all falsehood… It is really poisonous, decadent, weakening. It produces nincompoops not men… I condemn Christianity and confront it with the most terrible accusation that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. To my mind it is the greatest of all conceivable corruptions. . . . I call it the most immortal blemish on mankind.”[16]

It was Nietzsche who described modern people this way: “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed Him.”[17] It’s easy to think that this happened a century ago with Nietzsche. It is NOT relevant to us in Australia, right now.

I encountered a classic example of what the Bible is talking about, a few years ago—here in Australia. I was walking the streets of one of our capital cities, inviting people, young and old, to come to a Christian coffee shop we were operating on a voluntary basis.

A young man, about 18-years-old, wandered into the coffee shop. I was engaged in some good conversation with him. But when I began to share the reality of Jesus Christ and his need to repent, it was as if all hell broke loose.

He sneered, scoffed and then began shouting at me, “You Christians must be out of your mind. How ridiculous you are. You’ve been preaching this stuff for 2,000 years. Jesus will save you, make you clean, and he’s coming again. What rubbish! You’ve been preaching this myth for 2,000 years.”

He began to laugh loudly, “Ha! Ha! Where’s this Jesus you’re talking about? Where’s this promise about His coming again? It’s all hot air. You’ve got to be joking.” I turned to 2 Peter 3 and shared this passage with him. His head dropped, but he walked away – scoffing!

These scoffers in Peter’s day continued:

  • “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:3-4).

This is the argument of evolution, called uniformitarianism. Harvard University’s astronomer, Harlow Shapley, said a few years ago:

“Some say, ‘In the beginning God. . .’ but I say, ‘In the beginning hydrogen.'” What he essentially meant was, “Give me hydrogen, time, and the natural laws, and I will give you the universe. Then we can be done once and for all with myths and fables about God or gods.”[18]

So, are the scoffers correct? Has everything gone on “as it has from the beginning of creation”?

On the one hand, “Yes.” I am glad that the sun will rise tomorrow morning as it has done for thousands of years, millions of days. It does it like clockwork. And yet it’s not the sun rising at all. It is the earth revolving around the sun.

I am happy gravity operates consistently. It would be impossible to live in a world where, one minute I throw a ball out of the window and it falls to the ground. Another time that ball goes up, up and away into orbit. Imagine what it would be like living in such an unpredictable world.

If there was no uniformity to the way things happen, scientific investigation would not be possible. Yes, some things happen as they have since the “beginning of creation,” and we are glad.

On the other hand, DEFINITELY NOT! Peter reminds us that things have NOT gone on in a uniform way since creation. There have been massive interventions by God into our world that floors any argument for evolution’s uniformitarianism.

3d-red-star-small First, “By the word of God, the heavens existed [were created] and the earth was formed out of water and with water” (v. 5). How? By the supernatural intervention of God at creation. Read about it in the first chapter of Genesis.

3d-red-star-small Second, Everything had not gone on in a uniform way and 2 Peter 3:6 gives us a striking picture of the Great Flood that came at Noah’s time: “By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.”

3d-red-star-small There’s going to be a third time. Note v. 7, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

When judgment comes at the close of this age, the heavens and the earth will be burnt up in a great inferno, and ALL ungodly people will be judged. NOBODY will get away with anything before God.

That’s why our proclamation of the gospel is so urgent in these days of cultural crisis. Most will turn away, but God will be about the work of saving some. We dare not be negligent in these dangerous, materialistic days in which we live.

Peter challenges us to “wholesome thinking.” Here, Peter is saying that your “pure mind” has nothing to do with sex. Your “pure thoughts” will know this: First (v. 3), scoffers (mockers) will come “in the last days.” Don’t be surprised when you are mocked for your faith.

There’s a second dimension to this “wholesome thinking”:

D.   (v. 8), if you overlook God’s perspective on time, your thinking will be putrid, not pure.

You must get the Lord’s perspective on time:

  • “a day is like a thousand years,” and
  • “a thousand years are like a day.”

What does this mean? There is a parallel verse in Ps. 90:4, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”

Everyone in this church, everyone in the world, will accept one of two positions in life:

  • First, you will accept the ideas of human beings and their philosophies of history and their forecast for the future of the world.

I noticed on the TV news one time that one of the missions of a USA spacecraft was to further investigate the origins of the universe, billions of years ago.

For the Christian, this is “unwholesome thinking.” If you are looking to the world’s ideas of how time began, when and how the world came into being, as human beings think – this is ungodliness.

God’s views of creation and time are radically different.

  • There’s s a second position. You can accept God’s perspective on time and where the world is heading — from the Bible (The Word of God), the prophets and apostles God has chosen. They will give you God’s account of the world and history. The truth, not human speculation.

If God has the power to stop what is going on in the world, why doesn’t he? Why doesn’t he stop what’s going on in Bosnia, the slaughter of tourists in Uganda, and stopping the floods in Bangladesh that killed so many?

Let’s remember this:

  • We must not be curious about “times and seasons.” The disciples

asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” What was His reply? “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).

Quit worrying about times, dates and seasons in God’s timetable. They are in the capable hands of the Lord Almighty. By the limitations of our humanity, we cannot fully understand the mind of God. Leave the future with Him, while we go about, as v. 11 says, living “holy and godly lives.”

Also remember:

3d-red-star-small God’s relationship to time is so far removed from our thinking.

3d-red-star-small God is above time. He made time, but he chooses to act in time.

3d-red-star-small Listen to these words from Genesis concerning people and time: “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal. . . .” (Gen. 6:3); “For the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Gen. 15:16).

God’s striving to get through to the human heart will end one day. Think of what the Lord did in a day!

3d-red-star-small The days of creation.

3d-red-star-small The day on which Noah’s Flood came.

3d-red-star-small “If we think of the last day of our Lord’s Passion, how much affecting human history, and affecting angelic history, and affecting even God himself, was crowded into it”[19] – ONE DAY?

We think of a day as a short time, almost like an insignificant period of time, and a thousand years as a long period of time. Not so with God. “A thousand years may be a short time with God”[20] who is beyond time.

Just think of the enormous world-wide influence of one day — our Savior’s death. That one day will have more profound influence than thousands of years of human history.[21]

Many people can waste away 70 years of life and accomplish very little. It is not the years that count in your life. It’s the thought, love and action that measure a good life, not the hands of the clock and the lapse of hours and years.[22]

Thank God he’s eternal, the God of eternity. The psalmist put it so profoundly when speaking about God, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. . . . From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:4, 2).

There’s a third dimension to your “wholesome thinking”:

E. Third (v. 9), there’s a reason why God doesn’t end world history NOW. His delay is because of His grace.

If I said to my wife, I will mow the lawn and I don’t do it, she has every reason to say that I am slack, I break my word, and cannot be relied on.

Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).

But he hasn’t returned! We have been waiting 2,000 years and he hasn’t honoured his promise. If I don’t mow the lawn, I can be accused of being slack, breaking my word, and not being reliable. Can the same accusation be made about Jesus? That’s what the mockers of Peter’s day were doing. Look at v. 4 of this chapter in 2 Peter 3 that we are studying: “They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?”

From v. 9, it seems that the Christians to whom Peter is writing, are beginning to accept what the mockers were saying. R. C. H. Lenski put it this way:

Since the [Second Coming][23] has not yet come, and since time keeps going on, ‘some’ who are unable to account for this ever-increasing delay and who let what verse 8 states escape them, get uneasy and think that the mockers are perhaps right in claiming that there is nothing to this whole promise of Christ’s return.[24]

So, what’s the answer? Do we have an unreliable, slack Jesus who can’t keep his promises?

Peter says in v. 9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” That word “slow” in the NIV, “slack” in KJV, means, “The Lord is not tardy.”[25] “The word implies, besides delay, the idea of lateness with reference to an appointed time.”[26]

If you are thinking, like these early Christians, that Jesus’ delay in not returning makes him tardy and slack, you are engaging in unwholesome, impure thinking. This kind of slackness can NEVER be attributed to God. If God says he will do something, and we think it is not fulfilled in OUR puny way of thinking of time, there is a REAL reason for the delay. And it has nothing to do with a slack, impotent God.

v. 9 gives us the clear reason for the delay: “He is patient [or longsuffering, KJV] with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

There is one and only one reason for the delay of Christ’s second coming: It’s the grace of God towards sinners.

God uses time so as to serve his purposes of grace. For that purpose a single day is as a thousand years to him, a thousand years as a single day. To him time, whether it is brief or long, is an entirely minor matter just so his gracious purpose is accomplished. Look at it this way. Then you will not think of delay, procrastination],[27] emptiness of promise. Then you will see that the Lord’s waiting is his longsuffering toward you, his holding out long with the blessed intention[28] . . . that none are to perish.”[29]

The reason for the delay is the patience of God. He is extending time, putting off the Second Coming of Christ. “What is a thousand years to the Lord if he can thereby bring many to repentance?”[30]

God said through Ezekiel: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways” (Ezekiel 33:11).[31]

Christ has not returned because God is extending the time so that we, the church, can get off our backsides, become active in proclaiming the Gospel so that God will bring many more into the kingdom.

Frankly, it is not a SLACK Lord, but a TARDY church. Paul, in Romans 2:4, said: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Matthew 24:14 gives us a further clue: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Your “wholesome thinking” again has nothing to do with sensuality in Peter’s context. God’s delay is not a broken promise, or tardiness. It is God’s grace. His desire is that ALL will be saved. Through the Cross, the convicting and drawing work of the Holy Spirit, and God’s providence in the world. God is delaying his coming so that MORE will have the opportunity to repent.

We MUST respond with evangelism in the cities and towns where we live.

We MUST be committed to world evangelism, missions. Otherwise, we are engaging in worldly, impure, unwholesome thinking. That’s Bible.

There’s a fourth and final dimension that must be a part of your “wholesome thinking”:

F. Fourth (v. 10), God will end human history suddenly.

READ v. 10:

First Thess. 5 2 confirms this: “You know very well that the day of the

Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

Jesus agrees: “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:39-40).

By the “day of the Lord,” we are to understand it to be the glorious Second Coming of Christ. Its coming is as certain and as sure as God Himself.

Flower2 It will be an awful day;

Flower2  It will come like a thief entering your house in the darkness;

Flower2  People will be eating, drinking, partying, marrying, defacto-ing, without a thought of God, and ZAP — the end will come.

Flower2 It will be a catastrophe of humungous proportions. This will make the eruption of Mt. St. Helens look like a kids’ party.

Flower2 The crash of a world falling apart;

Flower2 The roar of destroying flames;

Flower2 The dissolution of the elements into chaos;

Flower2 The holocaust that will burn up the earth and everybody in it;

Flower2 The palaces of kings, the forts around cities, the cathedrals and church buildings, burnt up in an instant of tremendous ruin.

Flower2 This is God’s sudden judgment on a world that

cubed-iron-sm thumbs its nose at him,

cubed-iron-sm scoffs at the thought of his coming again,

cubed-iron-sm treats Christians as idiots from another planet.

On that day, the heavens that at one time sent down a deluge of water in the time of Noah, “will themselves pass away . . . with a sudden crackling, sizzling, sputtering roar.”[32]

G.  Application

Let’s pause for a moment to meditate on this message and apply it to us. You must have wholesome thinking, minds uncontaminated by error.

1. Mockers were around in the first century church. They are still with us. They scoff at holy things. Like the fellow writing to the Bundaberg, Qld., Australia News-Mail: “I have probably seen more pain and suffering caused by drug abuse than all our born-agains put together.”

Expect it. But what’s your response? Will it be gruff and

antagonistic, or considerate as you respond to a person made in the image of God? It’s hard!

2. Men and women of science will constantly come up with new theories of how the world evolved billions of years ago. Will your faith remain rock solid on the FACTS of God’s Word, “In the beginning, God [not the force of evolution] created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

In spite of NASA sending satellites to try to discover the origin of the world and human life, will you remain firmly committed to the God of the Bible who has told us HE created it in the beginning?

No matter how sarcastic and arrogant the scientific community may become in asserting the certainty of uniformitarianism and evolution, will your faith remain solid in its commitment to the Lord of the universe?

2. Will you quit placing limitations of time on God? Will you let him be his eternal self? Pray fervently for God to save your family members, your neighbours and the people of the world, but leave the timing to him.

3. This world is becoming more putrid by the minute. People seem to sin their way into stupidity. Why hasn’t the Lord come by now? It’s His grace.

Since the second coming of Jesus has been delayed, what should your response be in sharing the gospel with family members, your neighbours, and taking the Gospel to the world? Mission societies are always struggling for funds to keep missionaries on the field. Will you become part of the financial solution, even if it is only a few dollars a week? Will you sacrifice, so that others will hear?

Wise people do not lay up treasures on earth. I plead with you to live with heaven on your mind, and not to live as though this dying, wretched world is your home.

4. “Suddenly, instantaneously, the end will come. The Lord will need no time at all. But there will come the Lord’s day as a thief, in which the heavens with a cracking crash… shall pass away; moreover, elements, being heated, shall be dissolved, and earth and the works in it shall be burned up.[33]

Peter is so certain about this sudden destructive blaze that will envelop and destroy the entire world that he repeats it in v. 12, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”

In light of this FACT, Peter gives the application in v. 11, “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

God has intervened in judgments in the past: he did it when Adam and Eve sinned, through the World-wide Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the confusion of languages at the Towel of Babel; Israel was judged in being sent to Egypt and Babylon.

God will do it again when the world ends in a massive inferno. In light of this, I urge you to live godly lives as you live for Jesus in the town where God placed you and proclaim Christ in an antagonistic culture.

Believers, remember that v. 13 follows: “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

Is your mind clean, clear, pure and wholesome in God’s way of thinking?

H.  Works consulted

Alford, Henry. Alford’s Greek Testament: Volume IV, Part II, James -Revelation (containing revisions by Henry Alford up to the time of his death in 1871). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Guardian Press, 1976,

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Geisler, Norman L. Ethics: Alternatives and Issues. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966.

Parker, Gary. Creation: The Facts of Life. San Diego, California: Master Books, 1980

Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament (Volume VI: The General Epistles and the Revelation of John). Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1933.

Shapley, Harlow (ed.), Science Ponders Religion. New York: Appellation Century-Crofts, 1960.

Spence, H.D.M. and Joseph S. Exell (eds.), The Pulpit Commentary (Vol. 22, Epistles of Peter, John & Jude, The Revelation). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950, The Second Epistle General of Peter, exposition and homiletics by B.C. Caffin.

The Heritage Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language: International Edition. Boston: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1975.

I.  Notes


[1] 2 Peter 3:1, Good News Bible.

[2] 2 Pt. 3:1, Moffatt’s Bible translation, New King James Version.

[3] 2 Pt. 3:1, New International Version (NIV).

[4]Eg., Playboy, Penthouse and Picture magazines.

[5] 2 Pt. 3:1, NIV. Other translations of “wholesome thinking” are: The literal Greek means “pure mind”; “pure thoughts in your mind” (Good News Bible), “sincere mind” (RSV, NASB, RV), “sincere intention” (NRSV), “sincere disposition” (New American Bible), “honest minds” (New Century Version, Weymouth), “honest thought” (NEB, REB), “honest thinking” (Contemporary English Version), “unsullied (sincere) mind” (Amp. Bible), “minds uncontaminated with error” (J.B. Phillips), “unclouded understanding” (New Jerusalem Bible).

[6] Pulpit Commentary, vol 22, 65.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol VI, 172.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries). London: The Tyndale Press, 1968, 123.

[11] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Vol. 1). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., originally published 1887, reprinted 1946, 703.

[12] The Heritage English Dictionary, 1323.

[13] Caffin in Spence and Exell, The Second Epistle General of Peter, 85.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Letters to the Editor, “Marijuana would remain illegal,” M. Buscombe, Bundaberg, in the Bundaberg News-Mail, March 5, 1999, 13.

[16] Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Christ. New York: Knopf, 230, in Geisler, Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, 1971, p. 33.

[17] Friedrich Nietzsche, Joyful Wisdom, translated by Thomas Common, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1960, section 125, 167-168, in Geisler, 1971, p. 33.

[18] In Gary Parker, Creation: The Facts of Life. San Diego, California: Master Books, 1980, 139. See also Harlow Shapley (ed.), 1960, 3.

[19]Spence, Exell, Caffin, 86.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Suggested by ibid., 67.

[22] Suggested by ibid., 73.

[23] The original said “Parousia.”

[24] Lenski, 345.

[25] Alford, 415.

[26] Vincent, 705.

[27] The original said, “dilatoriness.”

[28] My deleted section reads, “boulomai [in Greek characters] is often used in this sense, notably in I Tim. 2:8; 5:14; Titus 3:8; etc., Lenski, 346.

[29] Ibid., 345-346, emphasis added.

[30] Ibid., 346.

[31] See also Ezekiel 18:23, which asks: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

[32] Ibid., 347.

[33] Lenski, 346, emphasis in original.

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 January 2022.

The Bible and Chance

Casino Roulette - 3d Render

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Does the Bible teach a doctrine of chance in Ecclesiastes 9:11? This verse reads:

designBlue-small “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” (NIV).

designBlue-small  “I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time” (NLT).

designBlue-small  “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all” (ESV).

designBlue-small “I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning, nor favor to the skillful; for time and chance overtake them all” (NASB).

designBlue-small  “Again, I observed this on the earth: the race is not always won by the swiftest, the battle is not always won by the strongest; prosperity does not always belong to those who are the wisest, wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning, nor does success always come to those with the most knowledge–for time and chance may overcome them all” (NET).

Typography: Ecclesiastes 3:11 - YMIIs this a message only for the Israelites? How can “time and chance happen to all” (ESV) or “overtake them all” (NASB)? The contemporary understanding of chance,[1] in a universe controlled by the Sovereign Lord, do not harmonise.

Don Partain explained the meaning of “time and chance”:

“I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise, nor wealth to the discerning, nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

The writer of Ecclesiastes (who appears to be Solomon) emphasizes how quickly passing, uncertain, and even unfair earthlife is—it’s “vanity.” He doesn’t do this to depress us, but to stress how important it is to live for values and goals that are eternal—and not just be living for earthly pleasure, knowledge, our work, etc.

If we do choose to just live for earthly goals and pleasures as our ultimate goals, we are going to be sorely disappointed—not only after this life is over, but even during this life on earth. You will be disappointed over and over and over!

Here in 9:11, Solomon illustrates how earthlife often just isn’t fair! He says, “the race is not to the swift”—but, it should be, shouldn’t it? In other words, if you are the fastest runner in a race, isn’t it right and fair that you win—and not the slowest runner? And yet, the fastest runner might get “accidentally” bumped off the track, and even injure himself so that he can’t even finish the race. It does happen upon this earth.

Same thing is true about the rest of the statements: “the battle is not to the warriors”. That is, by all rights, the warriors should win the battle—not the on-lookers. But sometimes, the latter are the winners. “The bread” should be to the wise—and “wealth” should be the claim of the “discerning.” But sometimes, fools destroy the fields of the wise, and they extort wealth from them. Lastly, “men of ability” should be the ones winning the favor of those who can employ them. But sometimes, those of little—or no—ability win out instead, by their bribery.

“Time and chance” are things none of us can either know or control. And, they often end up resulting in things that are just not fair.

But, no surprise: as Genesis 3 tells us, we are living upon a cursed earth—and it’s a dead-end, in itself. But it’s a moral and spiritual character builder if we live it by God’s direction, seeking His help, with eternal life with Him in our sights: “The conclusion is, ‘Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man’”. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (What does the Bible mean when it says that “time and chance happen to them all”? Ecclesiastes 9:11, Quora.)

“Time and chance” are not to be seen as above the powers and reign of God. We know this because they are things “under the sun,” under God’s control. This is indicated by the use of the singular verb, yikreh, which combines them into one compact idea, as in Isa 13:22 (judgment) and Ezek 7:7 (God’s activity). Chance (pega) is also in 1 Kings 5:28 (in the Hebrew Bible), v. 4 English Bible. It is derived from the verb meaning “to meet.” It usually has the connotation of evil as in “evil occurrence” (1 Kings 5:4).

In summary, people may have resources at their disposal to bring victory in events but God causes things to transpire (‘by chance’) that overthrow the enemy. “Time and chance” are events that happen “under the sun” but they are always under the control of Almighty God. A chance lottery is never something that happens with God.

Notes


[1] The Oxford English Dictionary defines chance as, “A possibility of something happening,” (2021. chance), https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/chance (Accessed 12 December 2021.)

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 December 2021.

Christmas bells mixed with the real thing

File:Christmas bells.png - Wikimedia Commons

By Spencer D Gear PhD

What foolishness or funnies should we expect at Christmastime? Christmas should have nothing to do with jingle bells, Christmas lights, Santa and the sleighs. How did they seep into this holy celebration?

According to history.com, the legend of Santa Claus dates back to about the third century when Saint Nicholas walked the earth. He was the patron saint of children. The shopping mall Santas were promoted by two New Yorkers, Clement Clark Moore and Thomas Nast. They had the major influences on the Santa Claus theory that millions of children anticipate on Christmas Eve.

Bells were a popular form of communication in the Middle Ages (AD 475-1400) and were usually rung from the largest building in the city, which was usually a church. The reason was to communicate a time of the day when an important person arrived or an important announcement was made. They were used to indicate the beginning and end of various events.

Ignorance of nativity

Baby Jesus In Manger Clipart - Clipart library(courtesy Clipart Library)

Recently, I went to the entrance of a leading department store and asked to be directed to a department where I might purchase a small nativity scene. The woman looked bewildered, “What do you want?” I had to explain that nativity referred to birth, and especially the birth of Jesus Christ. A non-Christian friend responded: “You should have expected that. We are not a Christian country but a secular nation.” Is that so?

The Australian Constitution’s introduction

What does the Preamble of the Australian Constitution state?

The Oxford English Dictionary asks: “What a truly great mystery is the Nativity of our Lord!

The introduction (preamble) of the Australian Constitution reads:

An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia

[9th July 1900]

WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established. . . .

This introduction is part of the Act and demonstrates Australia is a nation built on a Christian foundation that seeks the blessing of the God Almighty (revealed in the Scriptures of Old and New Testaments).

We still are in severe drought in many parts of Australia. We must not be embarrassed to talk about the Lord God sending the rain after the drought we are still experiencing in some parts of the nation. After all, Australia’s Christian foundation is demonstrated each day when the President of the House of Representatives reads a Christian prayer. Christian values brought to Australia by the First Fleet and enshrined in the Australian Constitution include: ‘Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’.

The real Christmas event

This is related to the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ on the first Christmas Day. The Scriptures record the Nativity scenes in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. While there are some differences in the records, there are some points in common.

The basic narrative is that Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There they found no room for them in the inn, so the baby Jesus, when born, was placed in a manger. Such a humble birth was celebrated by choirs of angels and shepherds. Gifts were brought by the Magi. This version appears in Christmas carols and stable scenes. They are used for Christian liturgical readings during the Christmas season.

The manger is not like a baby’s crib (basket) today but was a “long trough from which horses and cattle fed” (Oxford English Dictionary). What a humble beginning for the birth of the Saviour! He died in similar circumstances where there was no exaltation but a humble, excruciating death by crucifixion.

Don’t miss the truth for the glitter!

God sends the rain and withholds it.

RainbowJeremiah the prophet warned Israel of the consequences of not serving God and seeking Him to send rain:

Foreign idols don’t have the power to bring rain.
The sky does not have the power to send down showers of rain.
You, the Lord our God, are our only hope.
You are the one who made all these things (Jeremiah 14:22 (ERV).

What should we learn from this verse? No foreign gods, including secularism of any sort, have the power to bring rain. No meteorologist (in spite of satellite technology to see the clouds) can cause the rain to fall.

There’s a similar message proclaimed for all people according to this New Testament passage:

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:44-45 NIV).

DroughtWe know who sends the rain and it’s time for the Australian media, politicians and ordinary folks to own up: “We do know that Almighty God sends the rain but we are not prepared to bow down to His laws.” Therefore, the more we pursue secular values, the more droughts, floods, and other disasters we can expect to come from the hand of God who showed what he could do with drought and floods.

See my articles:

clip_image002Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

clip_image002[1]Get to the heart of the BIG drought, fires and floods

clip_image002[2]Who can break the drought?

clip_image002[3]Dams needed. Who sends the rain?

The great hymns of the faith have been sung by people as varied as George Beverly Shea and Elvis Presley.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 November 2021.

clip_image003clip_image003

Criticizing the Rude and Disrespectful

Never Respond To Rudeness

(image courtesy Timfly)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I have failed miserably in personally dealing with this topic. Too often I have been angry towards the person who is rude and disrespectful.

Which rude behavior am I addressing? I am speaking of a person “not being polite; offensive or embarrassing” (Cambridge Dictionary 2021. “rude”) This dictionary gave these examples:

  • He’s a very rude man.
  • It’s rude not to say “Thank you” when you are given something.
  • He’s got no manners – he’s rude to everyone.
  • He shouted a collection of rude words at me and stormed off.

I live in Australia where swear words have become part of normal vocabulary. Nevertheless, how does one deal with rude and disrespectful words and action?

My normal approach

I customarily have said to the person, “Excuse me. That’s an unkind way to speak to me.” I consider I should add these elements:

· “Excuse me. That’s unkind language. Would you mind dropping out the “b” and “f” words entirely? At least that lets the person know I don’t appreciate the language. Even if he or she doesn’t change, at least he or she knows I would like them to change the language.

The Golden Rule

This is how I should treat others, even though I know I won’t do it perfectly: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12 NIV). Luke’s version is: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV).

With the Lord’s help, that’s the easier part of the dynamic. Christian actions are part of the sanctification process.

The harder part: How to confront the rude.

Titania Paige wrote:

Dealing with rude people is something we all have to do. In the heat of the moment, when you’re about to “go hulk” on a perpetrator, it can be painstakingly difficult to react in a God glorifying way. Dealing with rude people is no longer a singular, face-to-face interaction either. No,no,no. You’ve got your: “rude-in-person-rude people;” “rude-on-social-media-rude people;” “rude-on-a-text-rude-people;” “rude-behind-your-back-rude-people.” The lists goes on and on my friend.[1]

Titania presented six principles:

1. Don’t take it personally.

She cited Prov 29:11 (NLT): “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”

When someone is being rude to you, remember that 99.9% of the time what is really bothering the agitator has nothing to do with you. Usually, the rude fellow is venting about something else, is in pain, or is generally just a rude person. The offender’s rude behavior does not reflect anything negative about you, rather it is a reflection of him or her. Keep in mind, that you yourself have said things to others or about others that were rude at some point.[2]

2. Don’t fuel the flame.

Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) exhorts believers: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

When someone says something rude to you, maybe your first reaction is to deal with them on sight. I know mine is. You’re ready to hit them with something hard: words or fists, whichever comes first. (I’m not picky when I’m angry.) Solomon is speaking the truth here when he says, “a harsh word stirs up wrath.” As far as it depends on us, we are to live at peace with others. (Rom 12:8 ESV).[3]

3. Show them grace.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27 (NLT). This is probably the last word we want to hear from God when somebody is being disrespectful to us. Notice how this response is radically different from what comes naturally. Grace leads to a gracious, loving, caring response.

4. Be patient & humble.

Whether I like it or not, I also have been rude and disrespectful to others. I have a bad habit of becoming angry, especially when another lies about a situation. I did this with a pastor who lied from the pulpit about James Arminius and his view on total depravity. The pastor, a TULIP Calvinist, preached that Arminius did not believe in total depravity. I got angry with the pastor after the service as Arminius did believe in total depravity. How I responded was ungodly, even though the pastor’s content was wrong.

5. Forgive.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 NIV).

Don’t change the standard for forgiveness when it comes to others. You want to be forgiven when you’re rude, right? Again, we never really know the circumstances of the people we run into, and what makes rude people do the things they do. But we do know that we ourselves have been shown grace by Christ and have been forgiven. That at least should motivate us to forgive others and choose grace over bitterness and revenge every time.[4]

This article by Titania is full of gems of biblical wisdom. This is another example.

6. Pray for Humility.

When you pray to God for humility, you shouldn’t act surprised when he puts you in trying and humiliating situations. Being a secretary in general has taught me so much about humility and how to react when confronted with rude stereotypes and behaviors. In the beginning, I just felt angry and embarrassed when I felt disrespected, but those times have helped me see that I have a tendency to care more about “saving face” than seeing others saved through my witness as a Christian.

Don’t let your pride cause you to displease the Lord. Don’t be ruled by your emotions. You can forgive and bare with rude people because you have been forgiven.[5]

It seems to me that a Christian response to the rude and disrespectful includes the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23 ERV): “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things.”

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(image courtesy needpix.com)

Notes


[1] “How to Deal with Rude People,” Blessed Transgressions, October 20, 2016, accessed 12 October 2021, https://blessedtransgressions.org/how-to-deal-with-rude-people/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 October 2021.

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What is good news in a bad news world?

By Spencer D Gear PhD

After the Christchurch NZ massacre of 50 Muslims at Friday prayers on 15 March 2019 and about 50 injured, doesn’t it sound ridiculous to speak of:

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(image courtesy 123RF)

Sadly, there are things much more disastrous than terrorists in action. I mean that. Most Aussies and other people in the world don’t understand the . . .

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(image courtesy dreamstime)

What could be worse than this? Could I be talking about this Australian situation?

However, what are Australian governments doing?

(abortion image courtesy http://100abortionphotos.com/#23)clip_image005

This is a very bad situation, a horror that Australian governments at State and Federal levels are perpetrating.

What could be worse than this abortion? I put it to you that this condition I’m speaking about is far worse than any of the above and it leads to abortion, euthanasia, crime, violence, terrorism, and a glut of other evils.

Where does it come from?

It leads to this kind of warning:

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(image courtesy openclipart.org)

Jeremiah 17:9 (NET) tells us about the source of the problem: “The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad.[1] Who can understand it?”

A deceitful human mind for all people is the bad news. It infects everything we think about, say or do. In New Testament terms, it is described as, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 NET). Further,

So what benefit[2] did you then reap[3] from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, freed[4] from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit[5] leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life. For the payoff[6] of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:21-23 NET).

The effects of this internal sin and then outward actions lead to death but this death does not relate only to the stopping of breathing.

The effects of sin

They are eternal. “For the payoff (wages)[7] of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23 NET).

The bad news is so serious because of its eternal consequences. The good news is positive because of its eternal benefits: “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects[8] the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath[9] remains[10] on him” (John 3:36 NET).

For how long will the unbeliever experience damnation? “And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”[11] (Matt 25:46 NET).

The length of time for punishment for the unbeliever is the same as life for the believer. Which path will you travel for eternal life or eternal damnation? “If you have no desire[12] to worship[13] the LORD, then choose today whom you will worship” (Josh 24:15 NET).

It is the sin within human beings that contaminates

It is the wrongdoing, sinful nature within every human being that drives him or her to do wrong, whether that is stealing from the neighbour, killing unborn children in abortion, or committing adultery.

There is only one solution and that is through a changed heart and mind. I know of only one way to change your and my heart and mind. That’s through a changed relationship with God, brought about through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. He and He alone can change the human heart to want to pursue God.


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Detail from Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, Sistine Chapel (courtesy Wikipedia)

Notes


[1] “Or “incurably deceitful”; Heb “It is incurable.” For the word “deceitful” compare the usage of the verb in Gen 27:36 and a related noun in 2 Kgs 10:19. For the adjective “incurable” compare the usage in Jer 15:18. It is most commonly used with reference to wounds or of pain. In Jer 17:16 it is used metaphorically for a “woeful day” (i.e., day of irreparable devastation).sn The background for this verse is Deut 29:18-19 (29:17-18 HT) and Deut 30:17.”

[2] Grk “fruit.”

[3]Grk “have,” in a tense emphasizing their customary condition in the past.’

[4] ‘The two aorist participles translated “freed” and “enslaved” are causal in force; their full force is something like “But now, since you have become freed from sin and since you have become enslaved to God….”

[5] Grk “fruit.”

[6] ‘A figurative extension of ??????? (ops?nion), which refers to a soldier’s pay or wages. Here it refers to the end result of an activity, seen as something one receives back in return. In this case the activity is sin, and the translation “payoff” captures this thought. See also L&N 89.42.’

[7] ‘A figurative extension of ??????? (ops?nion), which refers to a soldier’s pay or wages. Here it refers to the end result of an activity, seen as something one receives back in return. In this case the activity is sin, and the translation “payoff” captures this thought. See also L&N 89.42.’

[8] Or “refuses to believe,” or “disobeys.”

[9] Or “anger because of evil,” or “punishment.”

[10] Or “resides.”

[11] ‘Here the ultimate destination of the righteous is eternal life. In several places Matthew uses “life” or “eternal life” in proximity with “the kingdom of heaven” or merely “the kingdom,” suggesting a close relationship between the two concepts (compare Matt 25:34 with v. 46; Matt 19:16, 17, 29 with vv. 23, 24). Matthew consistently portrays “eternal life” as something a person enters in the world to come, whereas the Gospel of John sees “eternal life” as beginning in the present and continuing into the future (cf. John 5:24).’

[12]Heb “if it is bad in your eyes.”’

[13] Or “to serve.”

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 October 2021.

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Calling for Christians to care

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This will be a very personal article. It will be 5 years on 30 November 2021 since my wife of 48.5 years announced in front of my 3 children and me that she was leaving me. I had loved her for over 50 years.

She committed adultery with the pastor of the church we attended. That was followed by marrying him. She sought my forgiveness for a “short-term physical relationship” she had with him. She did not call it adultery. Of course, I granted her forgiveness.

Seven weeks later she passed away from leukaemia. We knew the leukaemia was coming eventually after battling polycythemia rubra vera for 28 years. It is a type of blood cancer.

clip_image002(image courtesy Wikipedia)

There was not a single person in the church – including elders – who visited with me to bring comfort. Two marriages were wrecked (although the pastor’s marriage was rocky at the time of adultery); two families were devastated.

Churches that do not care

The church was negatively impacted to the point where it has since closed and the members have dispersed to other churches in the region.

I was hurting deeply, but not one person from the church visited. There was no counsel or comfort from the elders of the church. I’m left to conclude, “Church people don’t care or don’t want to become involved in my life.”

Now I’m in another church but the elders have a similar disinterest in caring for me in my hurts.

What I’ve learned

What has my divorce taught me?

clip_image003 There were personal issues (like my anger) that I handled badly.

clip_image003[1] I have been sexually impotent since age 55 and could not take Viagra because of my severe heart condition. I’ve since spoken with my heart surgeon and his view was that Viagra, taken in small regulated doses, could have helped me.

clip_image003[2] There’s a Billy Graham rule I broke (my paraphrase): “Never leave your wife alone with another man.” Since I have a severe heart condition, I could not walk or run with my wife, so I encouraged her to do this with the pastor. She also was an outstanding pianist who spent the closing years of her life learning jazz and played with him as he played clarinet, flute or saxophone. They played in a jazz band. She spent too many hours alone with him playing music.

clip_image003[3] I’m not convinced churches know how to comfort the separated and divorced.

How to help with caring

Scripture gives clear examples of how to extend compassion to those in need:

  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15 NET).

There are practical applications here for pastoral care. When someone is happy, rejoice with them. If someone has reason to weep, join with them in providing empathy. I would have appreciated people visiting with me and staying for short periods to weep with me by putting an arm around my shoulder. I remember feeling deep depression to the point of sending my children an email about the songs I want sung at my funeral. I had a visit from a relative who chastised me about doing that.

He didn’t know how to put his arm around my shoulder, pull me close to him, and comfort with speaking words of compassion. I don’t think he knew what to do. I wouldn’t have committed suicide but I sure felt that nobody understood.

  • “He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us” (2 Cor 1:4 ERV).

This was an important verse for me. I had to be comforted by God Himself who would prepare me to comfort others.

  • “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8 NIV).

What I’ve been through was an opportunity for the local Christian believers to love me. It would be a demonstration of love to have Christians bring me meals that I enjoy and give comfort when I wept.

It has taken 5 years to be able to write like this. I never believed the closing years of my wife’s life and my life would be so impacted by a failed marriage. I’ve had one visit from a former elder at the original church. There has been no follow-up care for me.

This may sound egocentric to you but it’s not. I’ve been hurting so deeply I’m only now able to write about the break-up and divorce. One of the shockers was what the new husband said in the obituary at the funeral: “We are ashamed of what we did” and his new wife was in the coffin.

He has not been anywhere near me to seek forgiveness.

A Christian couple has ministered extensively to me in my sorrow. I bless the Lord for them and pray more such people will be found in the churches.

 

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 October 2021.

Book Review: Christians, The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World, Greg Sheridan (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2021)

Greg Sheridan AO

Sheridan interviewing the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, June 2010

Sheridan interviewing the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, June 2010 (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Read the recommendations at the front of this book and you’ll get a view of the ecumenical nature of it for Christians. They range from evangelical, Protestant Anglican, John Dickson (author of A Hell of a Life) to Chris Uhlmann, Channel 9 political editor and newspaper columnist, to Peter Comensoli, Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.

Greg Sheridan, The Australian‘s foreign editor, is one of the nation’s most influential national security commentators, who is active across television and radio and also writes extensively on culture.

The first half was promising

In this half, Sheridan writes for a general Christian audience – “about the compelling, dramatic, gripping characters you meet in the New Testament” (p. 1). Then at the beginning of chapter 5 one epilogue is from Mother Teresa, “Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.” An Essential Poll in Australia in 2017 found “about 40 per cent of Australians believe in angels, which sounds about right” (p. 132).

Sheridan let us know his position: “I certainly believe in Angels. We Catholics have a sacrament called Confirmation, which confers on the recipient the gifts of the Holy Spirit” (p. 134). “Angels are our friends. Surely—surely—we need all the help we can get” (p. 146).

The second half lost its power

An epilogue at the beginning of ch 6 by Larry Siedentop states, “It is hardly too much to say that Paul invented Christianity as a religion” (p. 147). Sheridan has blinkers on to place this kind of statement at the opening of a chapter. There would not be a conversion of Saul on the Road to Damascus without what happened on Golgotha:

Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1-5 NIV).

Saul was persecuting “the Lord’s disciples,” so Christian disciples were present. “Who are you, Lord?. . . I am Jesus.” Sheridan is flatly wrong. The start of Christianity emerged because of Christ’s death on the cross.

Meet Gemma

Greg Sheridan told of Gemma’s unlikely helper in Tanzania at the School of St Jude. “That helper is St Jude, the Apostle, the patron saint of desperate situations and hopeless causes. . . . When she asks St Jude to help her, she is not asking him to exercise any independent, magical power. She is asking him to pray to God on her behalf, in a normal expression of what Christians call communion of saints” (p. 215).

This is not a biblical view but a Roman Catholic perspective of praying to the saints. It has no biblical warrant. This is how the Roman Catholic Church explains this practice:

One charge made against it is that the saints in heaven cannot even hear our prayers, making it useless to ask for their intercession. But as Scripture indicates, those in heaven are aware of the prayers of those on earth. This can be seen, for example, in Revelation 5:8, where John depicts the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God under the form of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” But if the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God, then they must be aware of our prayers (“Praying to the Saints”).

So, Roman Catholics don’t pray to the saints. The teaching is that they can ask the saints to pray for them. Nowhere have I found anything in the Bible that instructs Christians to pray to the saints, or to get the saints to pray for them.

We are to approach God directly. That’s the teaching of both the Old and New Testaments: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:16 NIV). To whom should Christians pray? “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea” (Ps 55:1 NIV). Therefore, it is false teaching to pray to the saints when Scripture instructs us to pray to God.

Australian Christians in Parliament

Sheridan is rather provocative in this statement – which is his judgement:

I have never met an Australian Christian politician I would say is not sincerely trying to live out their ideals and implement policies for the good—from Penny Wong on the left of the Labor Party to Andrew Hastie on the conservative side of the Liberal Party. It’s legitimate for a politician to think: these policies are the best way I can give effect to my Christian principles; it’s entirely wrong, except in extreme cases, for them to say, only this policy is a Christian policy, or, if you don’t follow my policy, you’re breaching Christian teachings (p. 241).

I find that to be too simplistic and anti-biblical. There are principles in government that are based on biblical foundations and those that are quibbling over a Christian base, don’t know the Scriptures.

It’s legitimate to say a homosexual marriage is anti-biblical. Romans 1:26-27 (NIV) states:

Because of this [the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Sheridan doesn’t want to make a judgement about which Christian principles are for the good. God has done it for him in Rom 1:26-27 but he doesn’t want to accept it. Acts 5:29 gives another principle: ‘Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”’ (Acts 5:29)

Sheridan’s book is splendidly written by an experienced journalist. For me, it began with great promise but ended with anti-biblical compromise. It’s a promoter of ecumenism, i.e. generic Christianity, that dilutes the cutting edge of Christianity to get rid of the specific Gospel penetrating qualities.

If you have a high view of biblical authority and believe in the Gospel – as I do as a Protestant evangelical – don’t recommend this book. Its sub-heading is: “The urgent case for Jesus in our world.” Which Jesus? I’m convinced Sheridan promotes a compromised Jesus, which I can’t support under any circumstances.

 

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(image courtesy Allen & Unwin, Book Publishers)

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 October 2021.

Is climate change true or a hoax?

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Photo courtesy ABC News: Hundreds of students defied school warnings to attend a rally at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. (ABC News: Megan Kinninment)[1]

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Study shows school children influence parents on climate change:[2]

There were 50 rallies planned across Australia for students to protest against what they see as the destruction of their future.

My ears pricked when I read and heard the news that school students left their classrooms for the streets and beaches to protest climate change on 15 March 2019. That’s when I began writing this article.

Who is driving the climate change agenda around the nation? Are teachers in the classroom advocates for this position or are children and youth motivated by their parents and peers? Or, is the Australian Labor Party and the Greens’ agenda so powerful that it’s influencing people, right down to children and youth?

It was estimated that 20,000 people in Melbourne rallied outside parliament house.

What is the natural breakdown of gases in the earth’s atmosphere?

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(image courtesy The Engineering ToolBox)

So, the majority of our dry atmosphere is made up of two main gases: Nitrogen (79%) and Oxygen (21%) with a very small percentage of other gases (ca 1%).

1. What is climate change or global warming?

‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are used in this article as synonyms.

This is the Australian Government (Department of the Environment and Energy’s) explanation:

1.1  Understanding climate change

Our climate is changing. Observed changes over the 20th century include increases in global average air and ocean temperature, rising global sea levels, long-term sustained widespread reduction of snow and ice cover, and changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation and regional weather patterns, which influence seasonal rainfall conditions.?

These changes are caused by extra heat in the climate system due to the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The additional greenhouse gases are primarily input by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), agriculture, and land clearing. These activities increase the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The pattern of observed changes in the climate system is consistent with an increased greenhouse effect. Other climatic influences like volcanoes, the sun and natural variability cannot alone explain the timing and extent of the observed changes.

The science behind climate change is supported by extensive scientific research performed and reported across the world. Past and present climate information is collected from observations and measurements of our environment, including trapped air in ice from thousands of years ago. Climate models are used to understand the causes of climate change and to project changes into the future.

Many of the impacts of climate change pose risks to human and natural systems, in the form of more frequent and severe heat waves, coastal inundation due to sea level rise, disruptions to rainfall patterns and other effects. Analyses of a range of climate scenarios indicate the most severe risks of climate change can largely be mitigated if carbon dioxide emissions are reduced to the point where carbon dioxide is no longer accumulating in the atmosphere.[3]

It is signed, sealed and delivered according to the Australian government.

Is it true that ‘the science behind climate change is supported by extensive scientific research performed and reported across the world’?[4]

The CSIRO in Australia claims:

The international scientific community accepts that increases in greenhouse gases due to human activity have been the dominant cause of observed global warming since the mid-20th century. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.[5]

This sounds reasonable and plausible. Are there any substantive objections to this analysis?

Shock jock and prominent radio commentator, Alan Jones, formerly of radio 2GB Sydney told a small group in 2012 in Melbourne,

“The notion of global warming is a hoax,” Jones told a group of about 150 people on the steps of the Victorian Parliament. ”This is witchcraft. Commonsense will tell you it’s rubbish; 97 per cent of all carbon dioxide occurs naturally . . . 3 per cent around the world is created by human beings.”[6]

He now works as a commentator for Sky News. Campbell Newman told Jones:

Debate over climate policy is heating up ahead of the COP26[7] Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, with pressure building on Australia to commit to a net-zero by 2050 target.[8]

“People are hell-bent on doing this,” Mr Newman said.

“What will we see? We’ll see the rural sector in Australia decimated … we’ll also see importantly the coal and the fossil fuel producing parts of our economy and our regions decimated.

“They absolutely do not know the extent of the economic carnage they’ll create.”[9]

This target will decimate coal mining and gas mining industries and communities.

clip_image006(sulphur hexafluoride molecule,[10] courtesy Wikipedia)

2. Is it true or fake as demonstrated by science?

NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet[11] provided this graph to demonstrate the warming of the planet from 1880-2018:

clip_image008In interpreting this data, NASA makes what seems to be a reasonable assessment:

Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.[12]

Starting on 31 October 2021 there is an important event for the climate change promoters:

The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 this year, is a talk-fest designed to pressure countries like Australia to close down the fossil-fuel industries that provide most of the country’s electricity, oil and gas to stop “climate change”.

Within the broad conference is a more specialised meeting, the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the Inter­govern­mental Panel on Climate Change. The longer name has been abbreviated to COP26, in the shorthand beloved by bureaucrats the world over.[13]

This article highlights:

The price of electricity and gas . . . has risen dramatically with the closure of coal-fired power stations in each state.[14]

2.1 Climate change for novices

I admit I’m a novice at trying to understand this science. For those of us who are not climatologists or scientists, this topic may be daunting and confusing. My exposure to the mass media and policies of political parties shows that climate change is pushed regularly. It seems to be a Greens’ Party mantra. These are only a few pro-climate change articles but there are many more:

clip_image010Bill Shorten treads gently with careful climate change plan’ (The Canberra Times, 1 April 2019).

clip_image010[1]Serious concerns”: New study reveals how heatwave hit Shark Bay dolphins hard’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2019)

clip_image010[2]The Coalition has painted itself into a fiscal corner, just like it has on climate change(ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 6 April 2019).

clip_image010[3]What are major parties’ climate change policies?’ (news.com.au, 2 April 2019)

These three major news’ sources (The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald are part of the Fairfax organisation) report as if climate change is an accepted fact.

Is it so or not?

See also,

clip_image011What happened to the climate change election?

clip_image011[1]Australian election could have global climate change impact

clip_image011[2]Election 2019: What happened to the climate change vote we heard about?

2.2 Policies of Australian political parties

As I wrote this (23 April 2019), we were in the midst of campaigning for a federal election to be held on Saturday, 18 May 2019. Climate change or global warming is the mantra for the Labor Party and the Greens’ Party. These are their policies:

2.2.1 The Labor Party

Part of its policy is:

Consistent with our obligations under Paris of keeping global warming to well-below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, and informed by independent Climate Change Authority advice, Labor is committed to reducing Australia’s pollution by 45 percent on 2005 levels by 2030, and to reach net zero pollution by 2050. . . .

Making Australia a Renewable Energy Superpower by ensuring that 50 per cent of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030, and empowering households and businesses to take advantage of cheap, clean renewable energy and storage.[15]

There are many more details in this policy, but that sample gives a peep into Labor’s support of global warming and that is obvious in its 2019 marketing for the election.

2.2.2 The Greens

Part of its vision is:

Our future is too important to leave up to the fossil fuel lobby and the major party politicians they’ve bought. The Greens have a plan, based on the science, to rapidly transition our economy to renewable energy and end political donations from mining companies. Without the big polluters holding us back, we can create the infrastructure and jobs needed to drive a cleaner, modern economy.

The Labor and Liberal parties will try to convince you that we can only have cheaper energy bills or renewable power. Don’t believe them: we can have both.[16]

It’s obvious The Greens see the only way to address climate change is to get rid of fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy sources.

2.2.3 The Liberal Party

On the LP website was this video by Professor Ivar Giaever, 1973 Nobel Laureate in physics, who said that “Global warming is pseudoscience.” He ‘trashes the global warming/climate change/extreme weather pseudoscientific clap-trap and tells Obama he is “Dead Wrong”’. Hear what he said here.

“Global warming expert Don Easterbrook, a professor of geology at Western Washington University, says that the planet is actually getting cooler. Easterbrook recently spoke in Chicago at the 4th International Conference on Climate Change.”

2.2.4 The National Party

The policy of the federal National Party regarding global warming is:

Meeting the challenges of climate change

We need to meet the challenges of a changing climate in a sensible way that protects our natural environment and sustainability but doesn’t throw out our way of life, local jobs and industries.

Through investing in technology, world leading management practices, renewable energy and practical action we are working to tackle climate change and help our natural environment to safely coexist with industries such as agriculture and resources.

Looking after the environment starts locally, and we want to empower communities to take practical action to protect our natural environment.

We want our agricultural sector to continue to grow and build resilience and sustainability in a changing environment. Making sure water resources are strengthened and preserved through innovation and infrastructure and supporting sustainable and clean, green practices.[17]

I find this to be a weak statement as it avoids the specifics of whether it supports the coal and gas industries in regional Australia. At least the Liberals raised persons who questioned the pseudoscience of global warming.

3. ‘Global warming is a hoax’.

One layperson called it ‘the concocted global warming hoax’.[18] Shock jock Alan Jones of radio 2GB, Sydney, Australia is adamant, ‘The notion of global warming is a hoax’.[19] This is close to the statements made by Professor Ivar Giaever and Professor Don Easterbrook (see above).

3.1 The fake news of climate change

This is exposed in the article by Tom Harris and Timothy Ball:[20]

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is arguably the most misinformed of the lot, saying in a recent interview that “polluters should pay.” She too either does not know that CO2 is not a pollutant, or she is deliberately misleading people.

Like many of her political peers, McKenna dismisses credentialed PhD scientists who disagree with her approach, labelling them “deniers.” She does not seem to understand that questioning scientific hypotheses, even scientific theories, is what all scientists should do, if true science is to advance….

Mistakes such as those made by McKenna are not surprising, considering that from the outset the entire claim of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) was built on falsehoods and spread with fake news. [21]

Harris and Ball explained:

An increasing number of climate scientists (including Dr. Ball)[22] now conclude that there is no empirical evidence of human-caused global warming. There are only computer model speculations that humans are causing it, and every forecast made using these models since 1990 has been wrong – with actual temperatures getting further from predictions with every passing year.

President Trump must now end America’s participation in the fake science and fake news of manmade global warming. To do this, he must withdraw the U.S. from further involvement with all U.N. global warming programs, especially the IPCC, as well as the agency that now directs it – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.[23]

They describe how the fake news of human-caused climate change was promoted as far back as 1988 when the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) created the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Hamilton Spectator (Hamilton, ON, Canada) investigative reporter, Elaine Dewar, concluded that the all-embracing purpose of the IPCC was political and not scientific. Dewar wrote that Maurice Strong, the first executive director of UNEP, ‘was using the U.N. as a platform to sell a global environment crisis and the global governance agenda’.

3.2 Global warming is true.

Democratic Senator in the US, Timothy Wirth, organised for a leading scientist, Jim Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, to the hearings in 1988. Wirth stated at that time ‘we had introduced a major piece of legislation. Amazingly enough, it was an 18-part climate change bill’.[24] After his address, Hansen received the reputation of being ‘the father of global warming’.[25]

Hansen recalls some of what he said:

it was time to stop waffling so much, and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate….

I said that I was 99 percent confident that the world really was getting warmer and that there was a high degree of probability that it was due to human-made greenhouse gases. I think it was the “99 percent probability” statement which got a lot of attention, because that was a fairly strong statement….

we don’t have a lot of time to begin to change the technologies and the energy infrastructure so that we can avoid what [are] really dangerous climate changes….

Scientifically, it’s just very clear that if we don’t make changes within the next few years that we’re going to be past a point where we can prevent large, dangerous changes….

There are just some very fundamental facts which are not understood by the public and, frankly, not understood by many policymakers. For example, more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere will stay there … more than 500 years, and that means we cannot burn all of the fossil fuels without producing a different planet. If a scientist doesn’t say that, I don’t think the public’s going to know that.[26]

3.2.1 NASA exposed Hansen’s global warming ideology

In Harris & Ball’s view, the events of 1988 ‘created an unholy alliance between a bureaucrat and a politician, which was bolstered by the U.N. and the popular press – leading to the hoax being accepted in governments, industry boardrooms, schools and churches all across the world’.[27]

How did NASA respond to Hansen’s promotion of climate change in 1988?

Dr. John S. Theon, Hansen’s former supervisor at NASA, wrote to the Senate Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “Hansen was never muzzled, even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress.”[28]

Dr Theon continued:

the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works reports that James Hansen’s former supervisor, retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist Dr. John S. Theon, former Chief of the Climate Processes Research Programme at NASA who was responsible for all weather and climate research in the agency from1982 to 1994, has said he thinks man-made global warming theory is anti-scientific bunk:

‘I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man-made,’ Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. ‘I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation….

Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress….

Theon declared ‘climate models are useless.’ ‘My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,’ Theon explained. ‘Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,’ he added.[29]

So, a leading NASA weather scientist concluded in 2009:

clip_image013 ‘man-made global warming theory is anti-scientific bunk’;

clip_image013[1] ‘anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system’;

clip_image013[2] ‘Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988’;

clip_image013[3] ‘climate models are useless’;

clip_image013[4] ‘some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results’;

clip_image013[5] They [some scientists] have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists’;

clip_image013[6] ‘This is clearly contrary to how science should be done’;

clip_image013[7] ‘Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy’.[30]

clip_image015See: There’s an interesting article being discussed in On Line Opinion, Why do scientists disagree about climate change?

clip_image015[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/sep/27/global-warming-ipcc-report-humans

clip_image015[2] https://www.desmogblog.com/denial-down-under-galileo-movement

4. Renewable energy

clip_image017(photo of wind farm courtesy Wikipedia)

4.1 Who encouraged these strikes by youth?

These students are part of a global movement ‘inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’. Some of Greta’s story can be read in the interview with her, Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’ (The Guardian, 11 March 2019).

ABC News reported:

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said he would meet with the climate strikers to discuss their concerns outside of school hours, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the protests should have been held on a weekend.

“Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage,” Mr Tehan said….

Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists“.[31]

There was union support for the strike by school-aged youth:

This year’s event is [was] already being supported by a growing number of unions including the National Union of Workers, National Tertiary Education Union, United Firefighters Union, Hospo Voice, the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and the National Union of Students.[32]

Fifty rallies were planned on 15 March across Australia as these students claimed their futures are being destroyed.

5. Australia’s 2019 ‘climate change’ election

clip_image019 See, ‘What happened to the climate change election?

clip_image019[1]Australian election could have global climate change impact

clip_image019[2]Election 2019: What happened to the climate change vote we heard about?

6. Conclusion

The Liberal Party, which seems to be the Party rejecting climate change and having videos by scientists claiming climate change is pseudoscience, won the election. Its Coalition partner, The National Party, seems to advocate a fence-sitting position.

As for me, I consider climate change has more to do with advertising hype than scientific substance. Therefore, I’m not convinced by the ravings of Labor and the Greens. No international conference will convince me there is a need to eliminate coal and gas-fired power stations that will devastate communities, especially in light of what happens naturally in our environment.

clip_image021

(Photo: Students gathered on the steps of South Australia’s Parliament House. (ABC News: Gabriella Marchant)

Notes

[1] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Climate change strikes across Australia see student protesters defy calls to stay in school (online). Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/students-walk-out-of-class-to-protest-climate-change/10901978 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[2] See: https://www.popsci.com/kids-change-parents-minds-climate

[3] Available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science-data/climate-science/understanding-climate-change (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[4] Ibid.

[5] CSIRO n.d. Climate change information for Australia (online). Available at: https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/OandA/Areas/Oceans-and-climate/Climate-change-information (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[6] Ben Cubby 2012. Climate change a hoax, Jones tells tax protesters. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 2 July. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/climate-change-a-hoax-jones-tells-tax-protesters-20120701-21b3z.html (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[7] “COP” stands for “Conference of the Parties.”

[8] That’s “net-zero” carbon emissions and approx. 100% renewable energy by 2050/

[9] Alan Jones, Sky News, “People have ‘every right’ to question climate projections: Newman,” 5 October 2021, accessed 8 October 2021, https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/alan-jones/people-have-every-right-to-question-climate-projections-newman/video/55de0f35e23415c4910325fa656d0d83.

[10] ‘Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is an inorganic, colorless, odorless, non-flammable, non-toxic extremely potent greenhouse gas, and an excellent electrical insulator. SF6 has an octahedral geometry, consisting of six fluorine atoms attached to a central sulphur atom…. SF6 is used in the electrical industry as a gaseous dielectric medium for high-voltage circuit breakers, switchgear, and other electrical equipment, often replacing oil filled circuit breakers (OCBs) that can contain harmful PCBs…. SF6 is used as a contrast agent for ultrasound imaging.’ (Wikipedia 2019. s.v. Sulfur hexafluoride).

[11] NASA Global Climate Change 2019. Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming (online), 19 April. Available at: https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/ (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[12] Ibid.

[13] News Weekly, National Civic Council, “COP26 highlights high cost of Green insanity,” 6 October, accessed 8 October, https://ncc.org.au/newsweekly/cover-story/cop26-highlights-high-cost-of-green-insanity/.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan n.d. Available at: https://www.alp.org.au/media/1692/labors_climate_change_action_plan.pdf (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[16] The Greens n.d. Our Vision: Renewable Energy & Climate Change (online). Available at: https://greens.org.au/platform/renewables (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[17] Nationals for Regional Australia, accessed 8 October 2021, https://nationals.org.au/policies/protecting-our-local-way-of-life-for-future-generations/.

[18] Mark Poynter 2019. Closing a renewable timber industry for carbon credits is far from ‘common sense’. On Line Opinion (online), 5 March. Comments: Posted by calwest, Friday, 5 April 2019 1:21:52 PM. Available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=20243 (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[19] Ben Cubby op. cit.

[20] ‘Dr. Timothy Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada’ as stated in the following footnote.

[21] Tom Harris & Timothy Ball 2017. Global warming: Fake News From the Start. The Heartland Institute (online), 20 December. Available at: https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/global-warming-fake-news-from-the-start (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[22] Co-author of this article.

[23] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[24] PBS Frontline 2007. Interviews Timothy Wirth (online), 24 April. Available at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/wirth.html (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[25] PBS Frontline 2007. Interviews James Hansen (online), 24 April. Available at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/hansen.html (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[28] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[29] Doug Bandow 2009. What NASA Thinks of James Hansen. Global Warming.org (online), 29 January. Available at: http://www.globalwarming.org/2009/01/29/what-nasa-thinks-of-james-hansen/ (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[30] Statements from ibid.

[31] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld. Climate change strikes across Australia see student protesters defy calls to stay in school (online), 15 March, emphasis added. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/students-walk-out-of-class-to-protest-climate-change/10901978 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[32] Charis Chang 2019. news.com.au (online). Unions back next school strike in Australia ahead of 2019 federal election (online), 11 February. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/unions-back-next-school-strike-in-australia-ahead-of-2019-federal-election/news-story/50dcdc9aae668636129232bdc0518841 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 October 2021.

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