“The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
In my early days as a Christian, I was taught to believe that Jesus was “coming soon”. That was 45 years ago! George Jeffreys, the founder of our Elim Movement, stood firmly on the truth of the Second Coming of Christ as part of his Foursquare Gospel message: Jesus Christ, Saviour, Healer, Baptiser in the Holy Spirit, and Soon Coming King. So the Pentecostal emphasis on the near return of the Lord goes back to our very beginning.
For more than 100 years, Elim has been waiting for Jesus to come back, and we are still waiting. In fact, for over 2,000 years gospel churches have been waiting. But Jesus hasn’t come back yet. Why?
2 Peter 3:9 gives us, at least, one major reason. God doesn’t want anyone to perish. Every day that goes by, is another opportunity for people to respond to his love and to turn back to him. It’s not that God is slow in fulfilling his promise. It’s just that, for now, he’s extending the opportunity for people to come know him.
God’s love for a world that doesn’t know him is unfathomable. Think what it cost the Father to send his only Son into the world, so that whoever believes should not perish and be separated from him forever, but have eternal life. That same love is operating with respect to the Second Coming. It will happen. Jesus is coming back and any apparent delay is in some significant measure due to his love. For love to be love there must be an opportunity for a free response. God is seeking the lost, drawing them by his love. But it cannot be forced upon anybody. We must be willing to choose his love.
As God’s children, we share in his passion for lost humanity. That’s why we try not to pass on any opportunity to share him, and to demonstrate his love to others. God doesn’t want anyone to perish and neither do we. God extends his appeal through us and we are part of his great plan that will culminate in the glorious Return of the Lord Jesus.
In Matthew 16:13-20, when Jesus comes into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asks his disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” They answer, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” There were no shortage of opinions at the time. It seems that the disciples also filtered away the more negative opinions, as many Pharisees claimed that Jesus operated in the power of the devil.
Today, people are still coming up with different answers to the same question. Many say that Jesus is a prophet, moral teacher or a religious leader, perhaps thinking that they are somehow complimenting him. Others claim that he never existed, he was mad, or that he was a founder of some Gnostic group.
Then Jesus asks his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for the Messiah. But it seems that calling Jesus the Messiah wasn’t enough for Peter; he also called Jesus the Son of the living God. The Qumran Scrolls show that the Messianic title ‘Son of God’ was coming into use at this time.
Kings of the Jews When Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, it seems clear that he didn’t fully understand what he had said. The concepts of the Messiah and the Messianic Age grew from the prophet Isaiah’s writings. The word ‘messiah’ comes from the Hebrew verb meaning “to apply oil to”. In the Old Testament, Israel’s kings were sometimes called God’s “messiah” – God’s anointed ones. A high priest or prophet could also be called that. In Jesus’ time, many were expecting a messiah who would descend from King David and deliver them from the Roman rule.
Jesus wasn’t the first candidate for that messiah. Judas of Galilee, for example, was a Jewish leader who led resistance to the census imposed for Roman tax purposes by Quirinius in Judaea Province around 6 AD.
It seems that the messiahs were expected to resist the Roman tax regime; that is why the Pharisees asked Jesus whether it was right to pay the Roman taxes.
Simon son of Joseph rebelled against the Romans and was killed in 4 BC. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian: “There was also Simon, who had been a slave of king Herod, but in other respects a comely person, of a tall and robust body; he was one that was much superior to others of his order, and had had great things committed to his care. This man was elevated at the disorderly state of things, and was so bold as to put a diadem on his head, while a certain number of the people stood by him, and by them he was declared to be a king, and he thought himself more worthy of that dignity than anyone else.”
“He burnt down the royal palace at Jericho, and plundered what was left in it. He also set fire to many other of the king’s houses in several places of the country, utterly destroyed them, and permitted those that were with him to take what was left in them for a prey. He would have done greater things, but care was taken to repress him immediately. [The commander of Herod’s infantry] Gratus joined himself to some Roman soldiers, took the forces he had with him, and met Simon. And after a great and a long fight, no small part of those that had come from Peraea (a disordered body of men, fighting rather in a bold than in a skilful manner) were destroyed. Although Simon had saved himself by flying away through a certain valley, Gratus overtook him, and cut off his head.”
The slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem by Herod the Great around the same time, reported in the Gospels, must be seen in this context. After the death of Herod the Great, the region was divided into four kingdoms. Claiming the title “the king of the Jews” seemed still contentious at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. The Gospel of John says that Pilate wrote “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Judeans” as a sign to be affixed to the cross of Jesus.
John 19:21 tells that the Jews told Pilate: “Do not write King of the Jews” but instead write that Jesus had merely claimed that title. Pilate responded: “What I have written, I have written.” This was clearly a message to the Jews that any uprising would meet a similar fate.
The Son of God The Gospels clearly take place in a world ruled by the Romans, but it seems less obvious that the region was also steeped in Hellenism. Israel had for hundreds of years been ruled by Hellenistic kings, so the influence of the Greek culture would have been clear to the readers.
Herod the Great, an Edomite raised as a Jew who expanded Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, was heavily influenced by the Greek culture, and he also built a temple for the Emperor in Caesarea Philippi.
If claiming that Jesus was the Messiah was made within Judaism, claiming that Jesus was the Son of God was at least partially directed at the Romans and the Greeks, as the Emperor Augustus became known as the son of god, “son of the divine (Julius Cesar).
It seems no coincidence that this conversation between Jesus and his disciples took place in the region of Caesarea Philippi, as this was the place where Jesus called Peter the Rock.
Caesarea Philippi was an important Greco-Roman city primarily populated with Syrians and Greeks. Historically, it had been the centre of worshipping Baal, Greek god Pan and now Caesar Augustus. The city of Caesarea and its idol worship had been built on a huge rock; it would have provided an imposing backdrop to what Jesus said about Peter and the Church prevailing against the gates of hell. The context is clear: the Greco-Roman system of idolatry exemplified so visibly in Caesarea Philippi would eventually be overcome by the Church.
Faith rooted in history It is clear that the Gospels are firmly rooted in history. In fact, you can’t fully understand them unless you know history. That clearly makes the Gospels historically authentic.
From the beginning, Jesus came to challenge the established rule; only he never did it violently like the false messiahs. Instead, he challenged it peacefully; it was only the gates of hell he attacked violently. Our faith has never been a matter of private opinion. What Peter said challenged the universal beliefs of the known world.
Peter could not initially grasp what kind of Messiah was in front of him. But the Messiah was not going to conform to human opinion – not even of the Jewish nationalism.
Indeed, he was and is the Messiah, the Son of God – the long-awaited deliverer. But he is more than a man, an earthly political leader. He is the saviour of the world. That is why he came as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 – to fulfil another messianic prophecy that most Jews still prefer to ignore.
Colin will continue his series next month with part 3 of Rediscovering Jesus by looking at his divinity.
Colin Dye celebrates the world-changing glory of the cross
Part of Jesus’ unique mission, why the Father sent him into the world, was to break the power of evil and death. So Jesus willingly came into the world to establish the kingdom of God, disarm the evil powers of darkness, and triumph over them.
Jesus’ mission was so unique that not even his closest disciples could fully understand it. They waited for the Messiah – the deliverer of Israel – instead he ended up on the cross.
But rather than bringing political deliverance to Israel, Jesus was sent to reach the lost; he was sent to save hurting people who were powerless to save themselves. So, at great personal sacrifice, he came to make atonement – to be the substitute for every member of humanity, to bear the wrath of God against sin, to reconcile man and women to each other and God.
As well as this, he was to demonstrate a life of perfect submission and consecration, to be the pattern and example for people of all ages and races. So, in his daily death to self and the desires of the flesh, Jesus came to show us how we should live and die. And Jesus was also sent to show the world what God is like, to reveal and reproduce the glorious Father’s nature. So he came as God’s living Word, as a unique and complete revelation of the invisible God, to reproduce the divine nature in humanity. Each aspect of Jesus’ ministry reached its fulfilment at Calvary. Although the cross was a simple event which accomplished the single objective of our salvation, it was also a complex event, when eternity broke through into time, when humanity’s need, Christ’s mission, and all the parallel, interrelated aspects of God’s nature came together.
When we preach the gospel, we usually try to explain why Jesus died and what happened on the cross. It is easy, however, to focus on just one aspect or accomplishment of his death, and to present an incomplete or unbalanced picture of salvation. We must work hard to understand and proclaim the full picture of salvation in all its glory.
When we take an overview of the New Testament, we see that Jesus died for several parallel reasons which fulfilled the complementary purposes of his incarnation and messianic mission. Our understanding of ‘salvation’ needs to incorporate all these simultaneously.
Victory Jesus died to rescue humanity from the grip of death and Satan. Through his death, he destroyed the one who had the power of death, and released those held captive by their fear of death. He returned to earth in resurrection triumph, and ascended to heaven with ‘the keys of hell and death’ (Revelation 1:18). Jesus died and rose as ‘the Victor’ who destroys Satan’s last weapon, establishes the kingdom of God, sets people free, and fulfils every aspect of the Old Testament reparation sacrifice. This is salvation from Satan so that we can live in Christ’s victory and freedom.
Atonement Jesus also died to make atonement for humanity’s sin. On the cross, he appeased God’s wrath and delivered us from sin. He did this by accepting the blame, enduring the agony of separation from the Father, taking the faults of many on himself, and winning eternal reconciliation.
By his death, Jesus paid the price for God’s forgiveness, and fulfilled every aspect of the Old Testament sin sacrifice – and all the prophecies which point to substitutionary death by God’s Servant as the only acceptable ground by which God can satisfy himself and cleanse and justify a sinner. This is salvation from sin and God’s wrath so that we can have Christ’s righteousness and stand before God.
Revelation In and through his sacrificial death, Jesus supremely revealed the full glory of God’s holy nature – his goodness, mercy, grace, truth, patience, forgiveness, righteousness, peace, self-control, gentleness, selfeffacement, trustfulness, faith, justice and love.
On the cross, God revealed his perfect justice by condemning all sins and bearing his just punishment for evil, and he demonstrated his immeasurable, inexhaustible, unknowable, self-giving love. At the same time, Jesus also revealed ideal human behaviour in comforting a criminal, asking God to forgive those who tortured him, committing himself into God’s hands, and providing for all time an example of perfect submissive obedience. In this way, he fulfilled all the details of the Old Testament whollyburnt sacrifice. This is salvation from alienation and isolation so that we can live in fellowship with God.
New life And Jesus also died in excruciating pain to struggle and strain for the birth of a new creation. After six hellish hours of spiritual childbirth he was, like the panting deer of Psalm 42:1–2, deeply spiritually thirsty. As he died ‘in labour’ he could cry, ‘It’s finished; it’s completed; I’ve done it’ because, like the Servant in Isaiah 53:10, he had seen his offspring. So Jesus went to the cross to travail and give birth to a new creation which would reproduce the divine nature, and to fulfil every aspect of the Old Testament communion sacrifice. This is salvation from eternal death so that we can live eternally with God’s new life.
Full salvation It is tragic that the whole Church has seldom embraced and proclaimed every aspect of salvation, for all are biblical and all are grace.
For example, many congregations concentrate on Jesus’ triumph on the cross, and stress his authority over Satan. Others focus on Jesus’ atonement, and emphasise his forgiveness of sin. Some concentrate on Jesus’ revelation of ideal humanity; and a few stress his manifestation of God’s glory.
We do need to appreciate the distinctive emphases of other Christian traditions, and to stand with them in their worship and proclamation. But it is surely better for every congregation to grasp the fullness of salvation, so that we all understand, appropriate, experience and proclaim the full world-changing glory of the cross.
If I were speaking with a group of students – or even unbelievers – I might try to get them to think through the resurrection along with me, by asking: how do we know when something happened in history? For example, how do we know that the Magna Carta was really signed, or that Julius Caesar or George Washington ever lived?
Ask what sorts of criteria we would need. Point them in the direction of needing good records, especially those by eyewitnesses. Reading someone’s account of walking and talking with Washington would be a good example. A copy of the Magna Carta would be nice, etc. Maybe write these historical criteria on a board or somewhere.
Then I would tell them that we have that sort of evidence for the resurrection - many reliable writings, eyewitnesses like the apostle Paul, an empty tomb (archaeology), possibly the Shroud of Turin (more archaeology), and so on. Attempts by critics don’t disprove this event. So what we are left with is that Jesus died by crucifixion and his disciples believed they saw him afterwards. Virtually every critic admits these two facts. But here’s the key: since natural hypotheses don’t explain these two facts, as these same critics usually admit, now we’re pretty close to a resurrection.
Further, we have the disciples’ transformations due to their beliefs. High school students would probably like to hear details about how some of these disciples died for the resurrection message. This proves the sincerity of their beliefs. Tell them that two ancient critics, James the brother of Jesus and Paul, both were unbelievers before they met the risen Jesus.
After making a simply but exciting case, I would tell them that if Jesus rose from the dead 2000 years ago, then this message is still relevant and can change their lives today. If God raised his Son from the dead and God was in charge of the world in 30 AD, then he is still in charge today. This says something about pain and suffering, for example. And the New Testament repeatedly links the resurrection to the believer’s resurrection and eternal life (almost 20 times in the New Testament).
Then I would leave them with my testimony - as a real example of life having meaning. It’s so crucial today that young people see the connection between truth and their needs - that Christianity really answers their personal questions. I think it can all be done in an exciting and interactive manner. If the students get their questions answered too, this makes it all the better.
Dr Gary Habermas will be speaking at KT on Wednesday 3rd May – become equipped to defend the truth of the resurrection by one of Christianity’s foremost specialists!
One of the authentic hallmarks of the cell vision is that it places the gospel at the top of the agenda. The cells prioritise evangelism in their ministry – as they are for both reaching the lost and the encouragement of the believers. We know that unless we keep evangelism as our primary purpose, the cell groups easily slip into the comfort of Christian friendship meetings or become Bible studies.
That is why we call everyone to be part of the Evangelism of 3. This is an effective way of involving every single cell member in winning people to Christ.
Begin by making a list of 10 people whom you know, meet regularly and can invite to your cell meeting. Then we focus on 3 people the Holy Spirit shows us on each of these lists. Joining with 2 or 3 other people begin to pray daily for those on your ‘shortlist’. Cell leaders, make sure that you include time for prayer and strategic planning, in order to win these precious people for Christ.
Prayer is the single greatest evidence we have of our dependence on the power of God. Our prayer life also reveals our passion. We pray for the things we most want to see happen. That’s why the cell meetings always include time to intercede for the lost, personally by name and with understanding. As we pray, God acts. CH Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher who ministered in London in the 19th Century, said, “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of Omnipotence.” From May through to July we will have a special emphasis on organising events to which you can bring your Evangelism of 3 contacts. Some events will be held centrally in the church and others we will help you to arrange as a cell.
Don’t forget that your open cell can meet around some social activity such as a meal, a film, a sporting event or a party. Evangelism then becomes a lifestyle and you can focus on reaching out to those who do not yet know Christ and bringing them to the cell meeting.
We have a number of outreach events coming up in the next few months – further dates and details will be printed in Revival Times or available through your primary leader. But in the meantime begin to think now about who you can invite and add them to your Evangelism of 3 prayer list.
Dr Taiwo Akinseye with a team of KT doctors and health experts will be running a men’s health day. We will have key seminars addressing men’s health issues as well as the opportunity to get informal advice from experts. We will also have resources men can take away and advice on nutrition and ways to improve your health.
We are calling KT Mens Cells together for a football tournament at Goals Soccer Centre Alperton on a Saturday morning 9.30-2pm. Prepare for cell group now and invite friends to join your team for a day of competition and fun.
Monday 5th June, 6:30pm , Amber Bar in Moorgate.
We are hiring a large barbeque area in Latimer Road where cells can gather with their friends for steak, burgers, sausages and fun. It’s a going to be a great opportunity to invite friends. Cells will also host BBQ events across the city. If you would like to host one let us know – speak to your primary leader or email email@example.com.
We are challenging cells to host a curry night at a Indian or Sri Lankan restaurant during the summer of Evangelism. If you would like to host one let us know.
The KT Business forum will be hosting business dinners throughout this time as opportunities where people in the ‘marketplace’ can hear the gospel. Some of our LCC churches will also be hosting some of these dinners.
We are looking at hosting a day away to St Georges Park in Burton on Trent when you can tour St Georges Park where England Football team train before big matches. You can tour the facility, take part in a level 4 training session and mini tournament. Cost £35 per person (travel & accommodation extra) Great opportunity to bring a football-mad friend, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We are calling KT Women’s Cells together for a Netball Social. Prepare your for cell group now and invite friends to join in for a day of competition and fun.
In our 20:20 Vision for the next four years:
• We see you touching the lives of those around you through powerful Christian love.
• We see you with a heart for the lost and a powerful prayer life that will help shake the foundations of our city for God!
A team doctors and health experts from the KTLCC Women’s net will be running a ladies health day. We will have key seminars addressing womens health issues as well as the opportunity to get informal advice from experts. We will also have resources women can take away and advice on nutrition and ways to improve your health.
Some cells are planning ‘foot spa’ evenings where you can share testimonies and tell you friends about Jesus in a relaxed, small group. Invite work colleagues and family members to bring along their favourite shade of nail polish for a fun evening. Details of how you can borrow a foot spa will be available through the primary leaders.
Throughout May - July cells will be organising ‘cook ups’ of specific nation’s food nights or days where ladies can come together eat and hear the gospel.
Some of the Primary Women will be organising pop up restaurants in different locations in London throughout May - July as an opportunity for people to hear the gospel.
An “Inner beauty” event Crazy golf tournament Film afternoons Line/square/barn dancing evening
SHARE YOUR IDEAS: If you have a good idea for an event that you can help organise then speak to your primary leader or email Kristian.email@example.com
Nine in ten UK universities are now restricting free speech in some way, according to a survey by online magazine Spiked. Almost two thirds (63.5%) now actively censor speech, and 30.5% stifle speech through excessive regulation, indicating a steady rise in censorship over the past three years. Only 6% of universities have not imposed any censorship on their students.
Bristol, once one of the world’s biggest slave ports, has pledged to become the world’s first “trans¬parent city”, eliminating all slavery in the city council’s supply chains.
The Modern Slavery Act, which became law last year, requires companies with a turnover of more than £36 million to report the actions they are taking to end slavery in their supply chains. The city council has signed up to the TISC (Transparency in Supply Chains) report, a database created by a social-enterprise company to provide an open, accessible registry to increase corporate transparency around those supply chains. The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said, “Our city was built through the sacrifices of victims of the transatlantic slave trade. But, together with Bristol’s business community, we will ensure that slavery has no place to hide in our city.”
Proposals to require Christian pharmacists to keep their religious convictions separate from their work have been branded “draconian” by the Christian Medical Fellowship. The organisation fears new guidance from the industry regulator would see believers forced to dispense abortifacient drugs, such as the morning after pill, or hormone blocking drugs used by transsexual patients.
Chief Executive Office Dr Peter Saunders has described the plans as “draconian”, “unethical, unnecessary and quite possibly illegal”. Proposals by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) state pharmacist must not “impose” their beliefs and values on other people. It also says that pharmacists must “take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs”. Source: premier.org.uk
A court in China’s northeastern Liaoning province sentenced five Christian leaders to three to seven years behind bars on Wednesday for purchasing and selling prohibited Christian material.
On 22nd February the defendants, comprised of four women and one man, learned they would be imprisoned for allegedly buying and selling “officially forbidden Christian devotional books.” Of them, pastors Li Dongzhe and Piao Shunnan received seven years, Zhao Chunxia and Li Yuan were given five years, and Shi Jinyan was sentenced to three years.
Doctors must not be afraid to do God, new NHS advice suggests, as medics are urged to ask the dying about their spiritual and religious preferences. The guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says hospital staff need to do more to ensure that the individual preferences of patients are addressed, as well as their medical needs.
Doctors and nurses will be encouraged to ask patients about their “spiritual, cultural, religious and social preferences,” opening up conversations on matters such as life after death. The advice follows an audit of deaths in England, which found that the spiritual wishes of patients were recorded in just one in seven cases where communication was possible.
Tory MP Dame Caroline Spelman, who represents the Church of England in the Commons, says work is underway to put signal boosters at the top of the buildings in ‘not-spot’ areas where signals are particularly bad.
Speaking in the Commons about the impact the churches could have, she said: “As long as there’s a line of sight between a church tower and another church tower or high building, it is possible to provide internet coverage in remote rural areas which presently have no signal.
She spoke of the WiSpire project in Norfolk, which provides wi-fi signal boosters across the Diocese of Norwich’s churches. She suggested that ancient or even listed churches could be used and added that discussions were under way to expand the scheme into Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
With over 100,000 Christians expected to be involved, 17:21 promises to be an exciting initiative that will spread unity between different churches and Christian groups across the UK. 17:21 has brought together leading Christian festivals and conferences that are happening this year.
Each participating event will read the same Bible reading, prayer of commitment, a declaration of a shared life in Christ and play the same worship song. There will also be an artistic symbol of unity that will be transported to each event. 17:21 is based on the Bible verse John 17:21: “May they all be one that the world might believe”.
17:21 will launch at Spring Harvest in April and run until October 2017. The initiative was developed by Lyndon Bowring (Executive Chairman of CARE), a KT member who served our church for ten years as a minister, Nola Leach (CEO of CARE), Steve Clifford (General Director of The Evangelical Alliance) and David Coffey (former President of The Baptist World Alliance). Source: care.org.uk