Its that time of year when churches are finalising their plans for Christmas events. Congregations across the country are becoming alternately enthusiastic or nervous as we are challenged to invite a friend to a carol service, nativity, or social, to be told about the 'true meaning of Christmas.' People may be heard complaining about the commercialism, insisting Christmas is 'all about the children' - or even about Jesus. What do we offer that stands out, is different from those things folks regret about the season?
Mark begins his account of Jesus, 'The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.' (Mk.1:1) Jesus is good news any time of year, but high points in the church calendar bring him closer in people's minds, and opportunities to share the good news are more abundant. What could the world possibly offer to match this great good news?
Matthew begins his account of John the Baptist, 'In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'' (Mt.3:1) Where Jesus is, there is the kingdom. Christians are a kingdom people. Our message isn't just a saving out of, but a saving into - into the kingdom of heaven. It isn't simply about a manger, but about a throne, occupied by the king who overcame on behalf of those lost in sin. As heaven's citizens we have every reason to declare the nearness of the kingdom, the advent of our king.
In a world that rejects organised religion, yet happily embraces anything that is occult, supernatural, 'spiritual,' that offers purpose beyond the now, we have a king whose coming was foretold centuries before his advent (Isaiah 53; Mt.2:1-6); whose ministry saw heaven's kingdom break into a fallen world with spectacular effect (Mt.14:13-23); whose death and resurrection brought peace with God and salvation (Ro.5:1-11)
Those who seek after righteousness trust him (Mt.1:19-24); the wise seek him (Mt.2:10-11); the faithful are constant in waiting for him (Lk.2:28-29); the discerning are amazed by him (Lk.2:46-47); the humble proclaim him (Lk.2:15-17), and declare that, though the world is a desert place, nevertheless life has now come (Lk.3:4-6; Jn.3:16).
We are not simply inviting our family, friends, and neighbours to a carol service, we are inviting them to meet a friend like no other, the King of kings and Lord of lords, to finally encounter and embrace the truth that leads to eternal life (Jn.3:36). This is the message we bring. In the midst of winter, we seek to light a candle and shed light and truth into lives lost in sin and error. In a desert place we work to bring life, to lift heads, to mend hearts, to inform minds, and to reach souls for the kingdom, for the coming king.
Whoever governs in this world, Jesus is on his throne. The Mormons say he was elected, Jehovah's Witnesses insist he was created, but the Bible insists he is King from all eternity and one day at his name every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philip.2:10-11)
In this edition: In Christian Fundamentals we ask, What is Wrong With the World and consider the battle for truth. Our Mormon article examines Mormonism's Dog-Whistle Theology, the subtext of Mormonism understood by the faithful that the rest won’t hear, the employment of a coded language to convey a hidden message. We ask Is the New World Translation Accurate and discover Jehovah's Witnesses fed with propaganda instead of learning and Jesus buried in the bowels of their website.
We also look at what the Watchtower Society publish this time of year when everyone else is talking about Christmas. Halloween has just passed and we consider its implications for Christians in Halloween: Its Pagan So Get Over It. We have the usual round up of news and stories and some suggested reading.
Please pass this newsletter on to a friend if you think they might benefit. If a friend has passed this on to you and you have found it helpful do consider subscribing and receiving it direct to your inbox. Whoever you are, we pray you have a blessed and hopeful Christmas, filled with the good news of King Jesus.
'He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything he might have the supremacy.' (Col.1:18)
Christians can get confused about what should be their attitude to the world. On the one hand we know “God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) On the other hand we see “The whole world is in the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19) and we are told in our passage “Do not love the world…” How should we understand this?..read more →
'For more than thirty years, The Universe Next Door has set the standard for a clear, readable, introduction to worldviews. In this fifth edition James Sire offers additional student-friendly, features to his concise, easily understood introductions to theism, deism, naturalism, Marxism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern monism, New Age philosophy and postmodernism. Included in this expanded format are a new chapter on Islam.'
If you are confused by the plethora of ideas, philosophies, and worldviews we face today this book will be a major help, preparing us to speak intelligently about our faith in a chaotic world of beliefs and philosophies, both religious and secular.
Here we find the usual dog whistle theology, something for the faithful that the rest won’t hear, the employment of a coded language to convey a hidden message. The article insists, ‘true faith in Jesus Christ is coupled with obedience,’and any true believing Mormon will understand that this means, “not like my one-day-a-week ‘Christian’ neighbour.” This is a coded allusion, a sideswipe at Christians who are portrayed in Mormonism as not believing in perseverance, obedience, good works, being faithful to the end…read more →
On their website, jw.org, the Watchtower Society asks, ‘Is The New World Translation Accurate?’ It is a good question. The Bible speaks to our deepest concerns, explains our purpose in the world, and introduces us to the God who made us. Every movement that seeks to identify itself with Christ claims to get its teaching and authority from the Bible, It is vital, then, that every such claim is tested. What is the Watchtower apologetic for their translation? The Watchtower Society give the impression that the ‘modern’ JW Bible is bound to be reliable because ….read more
For genuine Pagans it is as much a part of their calendar as is Easter for Christians, or Diwali for Hindus. For Christians there are clear warnings in Scripture against calling up the dead, divination, fortune-telling, and other occult practices. On the other hand, it is part of this world, and Christians are in this world, though we should not be of this world. It is a Pagan festival marked with distinctly Pagan symbolism and we are not Pagans, so why do Christians Celebrate Halloween? Indeed, we are to Hallow the name of God, and that means having no gods before him. We are a holy people, meaning set apart for service to God,…read more →
Reachout Trust is a Christian ministry whose aim is to equip the church, uphold biblical truth, and build bridges to people in the cults. We equip Christians to be effective Christian witnesses and, to that end, provide relevant teaching, news, and resource materials. We provide a general information service to those involved in cults and cultic groups, as well as those seeking to understand and help them.