- Link Hands
- “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1st Corinthians 12:27).Keen Christians are thin on the ground, and thank God for the ones He sends us to help each other!By linking hands we are stronger: this is Christ’s plan, for we are members of His body.Our small congregation at Wodonga has been facing a financial challenge, as they seek to grow in a large growing city. It is good to report that Numurkah’s Federal Board has joined Benalla’s Federal Board in supporting Wodonga with a solid contribution. There was a real sense of joy in both meetings. Who knows, maybe Wodonga will one day help us – perhaps in some other way. As we help others, the blessings go around.
Likewise, youth fellowships need to link hands. As I write, there is, to my knowledge, among the various churches in the district of Benalla and Euroa only two youth fellowship, ours being one. Within the Presbyterian denomination, across northern Victoria, there are but three youth fellowships: ours, Broadford and Rochester. Just over the border we have Finley youth fellowship.
Please pray that God will bless and strengthen these four to work together. All of us can reach Shepparton within an hour’s drive, and my earnest hope is that these four, in working together, may in time serve for the emergence of more fellowships, under God’s blessing.
Likewise, individual followers of Jesus need to link hands. God creates Christian fellowship so that we all may grow to be happier, more useful, more aware, more loving. Flowers grow better when planted together. When Gippsland’s pioneers began to cut down the giant blue gum trees, the greatest trees on earth, the remaining lonely giants were prey to winds and storms, and sadly toppled. They had only reached their magnificent height growing together.
People say the church is just a man-made institution, and we all know the church is hurt by man-made fights and man-made campaigns; and yet, we can miss the point that the church as the fellowship of true believers is the gift of God, and everyone who believes truly that Jesus Christ is Lord, Judge and Saviour is a walking miracle, plucked from the floods of dark despair. The fellowship and unity of Christians is a work of God.
Satan wants us divided, self-centred, looking only inwards. Link hands in partnership for the gospel!
Yours in the fellowship and service of our Lord,
Ken Martin, Minister
Is the Bible out of date?
In the September election campaign, a pastor asked Kevin Rudd how he could support ‘gay’ marriage and call himself a Christian: “I just believe in what the Bible says and I’m curious for you, Kevin, if you call yourself a Christian, why don’t you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible?”
Mr Rudd replied, “Well, mate, if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition – because St Paul said in the New Testament, ‘slaves, be obedient to your masters’. And, therefore, we should have all fought for the Confederacy in the US war. I mean, for goodness’ sake, the human condition and social conditions change.”
Mr Rudd’s argument is that at least two parts of the Bible – teaching on homosexuality and slavery – no longer apply because human society has moved on, and most of us no longer recognise Biblical authority in these sections. This means that the Bible as a whole can only be accepted, section by section, according to modern social standards.
The Presbyterian Church’s Westminster Confession of Faith declares: “The authority of the Holy Scriptures . . . dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof.” So what does the Bible say about slavery? Why should slaves obey their masters?
Paul says, “Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.” [1st Corinthians 7:21]. That is, don’t fret if you are a slave – you are the Lord’s freedman, eternally free in Christ [verse 22]. But if you get an opportunity to be free, take it.
The Bible recognises that wicked human nature causes all kinds of injustices in this life, which Christians have to put up with: for example, many Christians today have to live under oppressive rulers and religious majorities.
Most slavery in the Roman era was due to wars which ordinary people had no power to stop. God has allowed wars and rumours of war since Cain and Abel; yet the Bible condemns aggressive acts such as enslaving captive populations [Amos 1:9-10]. Aggressive invaders are under God’s sovereign hand and serve His hidden purposes to bring people to repentance, but the invaders themselves are reserved for God’s punishment [Isaiah 10:12-15].
Christians living in the time of the apostles were authorised by the Lord to make the gospel known, not to lead a revolution as Spartacus did in 70 BC. By graciously serving their master without resentment they were witnesses that all men should be brothers: the Law of love for one’s neighbour declares the wrongness of slavery.
In the American Civil War, there were sadly Christians on both sides of the question of slavery, which simply shows that money and human influence can corrupt us. Slavery in nineteenth century America was indefensible, being based on the blatant sale of African captives who were kidnapped. The Bible condemns all kidnappers (men-stealers), including them with “murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers” as the vilest of men [1st Timothy 1:9-10].
So the view that the Bible approves slavery, and as such is no longer authoritative, is untrue. As the Apostle Paul said in the above passage, such a view is “contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”
With love in Christ,
Ken Martin, Minister
Marriage : still under threat from social engineers
Human beings, like all living things, have been wonderfully created by our God. God gave marriage to our first parents: “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
One man, one woman for life makes good sense: in Bible times, there was polygamy, which was not declared illegal, but it so often led to bitter family division. One man, one woman in permanent union has been the foundation of western society ever since the Christian gospel was first honoured.
Homosexuality has only been allowed in western society within the last half-century. In many societies it has been unknown. In Venda, a district in northern South Africa, homosexuality was unheard of until the new ANC government made it a constitutional right. It remains deeply unpopular there.
Homosexuality is clearly learned, not inherited, though some people are born with a mix of characteristics. It can be learned very early in life, and it also has been unlearned: in some cases, a person has found faith in the Lord Jesus, and He has healed them of this gender confusion.
While our state education system affirms the homosexual lifestyle as a valid choice for young people, young Australians need to know that it is a lifestyle fraught with medical and psychological problems: the average Australian ‘gay’ man dies at 51 years of age. It is often a lonely, dangerous and isolated life which will never be liked and favoured by the majority.
People in this lifestyle need love and encouragement from the Christian church to find deliverance and freedom in Christ. He befriended those on the fringe of society without encouraging their sin [Luke 15:1-2]. I believe our Saviour wants us to befriend those with whom we strongly disagree, but without moral compromise.
If Christians stand firm on the definition of marriage, it will help the young people who are growing up now to know of God’s standards, which never change. I think we should be aware that another attempt will be made in next year’s federal Parliament to amend the Marriage Act so as to include same-sex couples. While our Parliament late last year affirmed the Biblical model of marriage, since then Britain, France and New Zealand legalised same-sex marriage; President Obama agrees with them.
Therefore may I recommend that Christians contact their federal Member of Parliament, other candidates, and Senators to ask them –
“In the new Parliament will you support the traditional, Biblical model of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman?”
Let’s challenge our leaders before the election, rather than give them a free pass.
With love in Christ,
Ken Martin, Minister