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Indelible Grace Church Blog

Where Our Hope Lies

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Recently I've decided to read through all the books of The Chronicles of Narnia in order, starting with The Magician’s Nephew, the story of Narnia’s creation. There’s a beautiful passage where Aslan the lion sings the world into existence:

"In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise Digory had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. And then the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars."

And thus Narnia, in all its resplendent beauty, comes into being – a peaceful, flourishing, verdant land. But then, when you get to the second book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, you discover that Narnia has been covered in perpetual winter (but there is never Christmas) and all the creatures live in terror and bondage. The White Witch has usurped the throne and reigns with cruelty and injustice.

In his stories C.S. Lewis deliberately echoes the story of the Bible, which says that the world was created beautiful and good, but that sin marred creation and brought a curse upon the land. This is why we continue to hear tragic news reports, such as what happened recently in Nigeria, when armed gunmen kidnapped over 300 girls to sell them into sex slavery. This world is full of pain and tragedy. We weep, but not without hope. For as said in the second Narnia book, "Aslan is on the move. The Witch's magic is weakening."

Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2014 09:13
 

He is Risen!

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One of the most influential books that has shaped my theological understanding is NT Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God. It's beast of a scholarly work (over 800 pages) - theologically and historically deep, and demonstrates, with devastating logic, the incredible historical case for the Resurrection. Let me give you part of his conclusion:

The actual bodily resurrection of Jesus clearly provides a sufficient condition of the tomb being empty and the "meetings [with Jesus after his death]" taking place. Nobody is likely to doubt that. Once grant that Jesus really was raised, and all the pieces of the historical jigsaw puzzle of early Christianity fall into place. But my claim is stronger than that--that the bodily resurrection of Jesus provides a necessary condition for these things; in other words, that no other explanation could or would do. What alternative account can be offered which will explain the data just as well, which can provide an alternative sufficient explanation for all the evidence? Historical argument alone cannot forced anyone to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead; but historical argument is remarkably good at clearing away the undergrowth behind which skepticisms of various sorts have been hiding. The proposal that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead possesses unrivaled power to explain the historical data at the heart of early Christianity.

You can see a 2 minute video of his argument in summary form here.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 15:16
 

Through the Looking Glass

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In Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story, Through the Looking Glass, Alice finds herself before a looking glass – an older British word for mirror – and curiously, she finds that she is able to crawl through into the world on the other side. Now in the world of the looking glass, everything is upside-down. All the rules are backwards. The clocks run backwards. People write backwards, people speak backwards. It’s a topsy-turvy, upside-down world.

The gospel is the looking glass through which we enter the upside-down world of the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God, the first will be last and the last will be first. Those who give away their money will have true wealth but those who hold on to their money will become impoverished. The way to fullness is to empty yourself; the way to true happiness is to mourn and weep; the way to greatness is to serve. If you hold on to your life, you will lose it, but if you lose your life for Jesus, you will gain it.

It’s a world that seems absurd and ridiculous...but then the cross seems foolish to a world that is perishing. For the gospel is not only Jesus saving us, but a pattern of life he sets before us. For he said to his disciples, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:26
 

The Gift of Failure

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So I recently saw Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s the story of a talented folk singer living in New York City in the early 1960s, trying to make it as a musician. And the whole time, you’re cheering for him, hoping he’ll get his lucky break, but instead, you just see him being pummeled and beat down by life, so that the movie is rather depressing, full of yearnings and disappointments. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, maybe it's the haunting music, but I really like this film.

Because disappointments and failures tell us that there’s something more than this world we can see and touch. There’s a deeper reality that can only be accessed through a kind of death to this life. So that uninterrupted success is hallow and unsatisfying. This is deep mystery of the gospel--that defeat is not soul-crushing, but the door to another world, a better world.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 11:34
 

Reflections on the Wrath of God (Skeptics Night)

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This past Saturday, we had our third “Skeptics Night”; this time addressing the question – isn’t it cruel of God to cast people into hell just for not believing in him? The basic response I gave is that God is not so much casting people into hell against their will, but letting them go. So that if heaven is the loving presence of God, hell is the absence of God’s love. And therefore, hell is simply God giving us what our rebellious hearts want – to flee from him forever. So that hell arises out of our own desires and therefore self-imposed. This is the passive wrath of God (see Romans 1:24).

But there is also the active wrath of God. David in Psalm 139 says, “where shall I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?” So that God is present even in hell, in wrath and judgment (see Revelation 14:10). God will forever be angry at evil and injustice, for he is a good and holy God.

And therefore, God will simultaneously rejoice with the saints in heaven and pour out his wrath on sinners in hell – for all eternity. This is a difficult teaching for us. Most of us cannot imagine being both angry and eternally happy, but God is infinitely complex and we will never plumb the depths of his being. We can only cover our mouths with Job and say, “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3)

In the end, why is the doctrine of hell central to the gospel? Because hell tells us how much God loves us. For Christ, on the cross, drank the cup of God's wrath, to save us and love us. We can never know the love of God until we contemplate the wrath of God.

You can hear the skeptics talk with Q&A here. You can also read about our previous Skeptics Nights here and here.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 March 2014 11:48
 


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