Kris Valloton: If you struggle with tithing, this could be why

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A great article about tithing by Kris Valloton:

Probably the most frequently asked questions about Kingdom finance are focused on the subject of the tithe. Questions like these come up all the time:

“Is the tithe a New Testament principle, or is it relegated to the Old Covenant?”
“What, exactly, is the tithe?”
“Whom should I give my tithe to, and what’s in it for me?”

These are great questions and I’ve answered some of them over here on the blog. But if you’re reading this and have similar questions, and if we were able to sit down together and talk about it, I’d follow up by asking you: “Are you trying to give more or trying to give less?

I have been asked these tithing questions more than a hundred times, and only once in twenty years was the person who was doing the inquiring trying to give more. Most often, the people who are debating these questions have other agendas that they are often not even aware of.

WHAT’S AT THE ROOT OF YOUR STRUGGLE?

That said, let me ask you four questions that may help you come to grips with the root cause of any struggle you may have with tithing:

1. Do you trust God to take care of you? If you answered no to this then here is a great Scripture that will help you move forward in your quest to grow in trusting God: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). I find that when we’re afraid that we won’t be taken care of, we hoard and try to control all of our money. Trusting God to provide in your life will set you free to express your love to Him with your tithe.

2. Do you honor the leaders over you who give an account for your life?
The writer of Hebrews gives us insight into the heavy responsibility that God has entrusted to His spiritual leaders. But in an age when family values are being exchanged for independence and even rebellion, this verse feels as if it were written to Martians, or at the least to cavemen: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). To state the obvious, if you cannot honor your leaders in the sense of trusting them to steward well whatever you give, perhaps you ought to be under different leadership.

3. Are you serving Mammon (the spirit of greed and materialism) or God? You will always protect the God (or god) you are loyal to. Jesus put it best: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24). If money is more important to you than God then you will protect your money more than you will trust Him.

4. Are you afraid of not having enough? I love the fact that the God of heaven cares about the practical needs we have here on earth. Jesus reassured us that the Father takes care of us with these words: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:31–32).

If you are struggling with the subject of tithing, I want to challenge you right now to stop reading and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart. Ask Him if your resistance is really rooted in the theology of the tithe, or if there are deeper issues that trouble you. Let Him lead you into all truth and deliver you from poverty, the fear of lack, and the need for control.

HOW TO LOVE GOD WITH YOUR GENEROSITY

Let’s take a look at how the tithe can actually touch the heart of God. I believe that once we understand that this is a holy act that expresses our passion for our generous Father, that our heart issues and fears listed above become smaller and smaller.

It has always astonished me that the God of the universe actually has any interest in humans giving Him gifts at all, much less money. If you are God, what are you going to do with the stuff? All He has to do is speak and the very thing He needs appears in front of Him. So what’s up with giving to God?

There is one thing that God wants but that He cannot make happen—to be loved freely. God gave us a free will so that He could experience us freely giving our love to Him. Love, by its very nature, requires freedom of choice. Love forced or love programmed is not love at all. God is love, which means He has the capacity both to give love and to be loved. Because love “believes all things,” our trusting in God (in every way, including with our tithe) is a manifestation of loving Him (1 Corinthians 13:7).

God can discern a gift that is given out of obligation or manipulation from a gift that is rooted in love. This is evidenced in the story of Cain and Abel. Here is a short account:

“So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” (Genesis 4:3–5)

A few things come to light in this story. First, the need to give back to God is deeply rooted in human nature, so much so that Cain received no sympathy for giving God a crummy offering, even though he did it without God asking for it. I think that God had no regard for Cain’s offering because He had no respect for Cain’s motives. In other words, God refused to be manipulated by Cain’s gift. It is like having a teenage son who is in complete rebellion against you, and then he picks some old, wilted flowers out of your garden and hands them to you. You would be thinking, “What’s the catch? What is he trying to bribe me into doing?”

Unlike Cain, Abel gave God the first and best of his flock as a precious gift, and God loved it. Here lies the beauty of our wonderful Creator basking in the love of His mere mortal creature, giving Abel a pathway of expression to unleash the passion that gushed within him for his God. More than a thousand years before Moses ever wrote the Law that required the people of God to give their Creator the first and the best, Abel already was loving God freely with his extravagant gift.

So my challenge to you today is two-fold: first, work through the questions and any heart issues that may be getting in the way of your tithe. Second, when you go to tithe, give God your first and best. Lavish your love upon Him and watch the extravagant ways He will pour back out to you!


Do you want to learn more about why God cares how you spend your money? Then check out my latest book, Poverty, Riches and Wealth. I wrote it to help demystify God’s heart for us to live in true Kingdom prosperity, and I pray that it will bless you to become a blessing to those around you!

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Dr Michael Bird: Why I Support Dark Mofo’s Inverted Crosses

The political left hates Christianity. They will berate the public about even the teensiest hint of what they call “islamophobia” and they are in full support of inclusion and diversity- except for christianity of course. Publish a cartoon of Mohammad and you will be pilloried by all the virtue signallers, but install blasphemous inverted crosses through a city and it’s fine because it’s art.

Why I support Dark Mofo’s inverted crosses

13 June 2018

8:53 PM

The proper way to understand the giant inverted crosses as part of Tasmania’s Dark Mofo festival is not an expression of macabre and strange art. Rather, it is a powerful symbol of the progressive left’s visceral hatred of Christians.

The giant red crosses erected as part of Tasmania’s Dark Mofo festival has caused offence to various Christian groups who recognize the inverted cross as a Satanic symbol of all things opposed to their faith (Yes, it can also represent St. Peter who was crucified upside down, however, given the deliberately macabre and neo-pagan ambience of Dark Mofo, veneration of St. Peter is hardly what the curators have in mind).

Richard Condie, Anglican bishop of Tasmania, went so far as to call it“state-sanctioned blasphemy” and Anaba Suriel, Coptic Bishop of Melbourne, labelled the display “an anti-Christian symbol in mockery of Jesus Christ” and a particularly painful reminder to Coptic Australians of the persecution they experienced in Egypt for being “people of the cross.”

Make no mistake about it. An upside down cross is as offensive to Christians as cartoons of the prophet Muhammed are to Muslims and smashed Stars of David are to Jews. The curators of the art knew perfectly well the uproar and offence that this art was going to cause. The offence caused was not careless, it was meticulously calculated, and the festival’s director remains recalcitrant in the face of criticism.

As you can imagine, Christian refugees from Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and North Africa are particularly affronted by the art because it rehearses some of the anti-Christian rhetoric that has been used to inspire violence against them. Don’t forget that ISIS’s magazine Dabiq had a whole issue dedicated to “breaking the cross” which justified the killing of Christians. I cannot help but think that the Dark Mofo directors and ISIS might have a few things in common when it comes to their shared animus towards Christians.

Of course, mocking of the cross has a long history.

Crucifixion was the punishment of slaves, bandits, and enemies of the state. So it was particularly offensive to Romans that the Christians honoured as a god a person whom Roman authorities had executed as a common criminal. The cross was considered impious as it was seditious: A crucified Jew rather than Caesar was hailed as Lord of the world.

Marcus Cornelius Fronto, an orator and rhetorician, condemned Christians on the grounds that “the religion of the Christians is insane, in that they worship a crucified man, and even the instrument of his punishment itself” (Minucius Felix, Octavius 9.)

Similarly, the philosopher Porphyry wrote about the story of a man who went to the temple of Apollo to ask the god what he might do to dissuade his wife from being a Christian. In Porphyry’s account, Apollo answered the man as follows: “Let her continue as she pleases, persisting in her vain delusions, and lamenting in song a god who died in delusions, who was condemned by judges whose verdict was just, and executed in the prime of life by the worst of deaths, a death bound with iron” (Augustine, The City of God 19.23).

The earliest piece of anti-Christian graffiti is the famous Alexamenos inscription, dated to around AD 200, found on Palatine Hill in Rome, on what probably was a school to train imperial slaves. The inscription presents a man with a donkey’s head hanging on a cross, while another man faces towards the cross in a pose of worship. The words “Alexamenos worships his god” are etched underneath. The allegation is clear: Christians worship a crucified ass!

Yet despite the shame and derision associated with crucifixion, the first Christians made the cross central to their worship, stories, symbols, and ethics.

The cross is a central symbol for Jesus Christ, his Church, and God’s love for the world. According to St. John, Jesus’s death is a revelation of divine glory (John 12:23; 13:31–32) and motivated by divine love (John 3:16; 15:13). The apostle Paul preached a message of “Christ crucified” because it is the very “power of God” (1 Cor 1:17–18, 23). Paul even regarded his own identity as indelibly and somewhat mysteriously connected to the death of Jesus to the point that he could say that “I have been crucified with Christ” and “the world has been crucified to me” (Gal 2:20; 6:14).

The author of Hebrews offers a stirring exhortation to his readers to remember Jesus, who “for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb 12:2). John of Patmos describes Jesus as the “Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world,” locating Jesus’ death as part of God’s pre-promised plan to rescue his people from the mire of an evil world (Rev 13:8).

Tertullian referred to the late second-century practice of making the sign of the cross: “At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at the table, when we light the lamps, when on the couch, on a seat, and in all the ordinary actions of life, we trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads” (Tertullian, The Crown 3.). In the fifth century, Romanos the Melodist (ca. AD 490–556) wrote his famous hymn “The Victory of the Cross” which says: “In your opinion the cross is an instrument of folly, but all creation sees it as the throne of glory. On it Jesus is nailed, like a king waiting to be hailed.”

While Dark Mofo’s inverted crosses sadden me, I am not outraged by them, and I definitely do not want them taken down. I regard the crosses as exemplary tools with which to teach the Christian community some important lessons.

First, I will make sure my Christian students, my fellow parishioners, and my friends see the Dark Mofo’s inverted crosses for what they are. Their inverted crosses are symbols of the progressive left’s and the cultural elite’s pathological hatred of Christians. The left claims to embody the virtues of tolerance, diversity, and inclusion, yet deeply offensive symbols like these are (literally) iconic for the hatred and loathing they have for Christians. What is on display is their hunger to humiliate us and their insatiable appetite to cause offence for the sheer joy it gives them.

I will make sure Christian refugees from Syria, Sudan, and Iraq see these inverted crosses too. And I will explain what they mean: “See how much they hate you. See their joy at your humiliation. See their delight at the publicity they get when you complain. See their detestation of who you are and who you worship. Remember it and don’t forget it.”

Second, then comes the next lesson. “Even though they hate you and mock the holy cross, do not hate them back. They make the cross an object of hate and ridicule, because hatred gives them focus and purpose, while ridicule gives them a sense of superiority and power over you. But to you, dear brothers and sisters, let the cross be the reminder of power-in-powerlessness, how love triumphs over hate, mercy for the undeserved, and kindness without limits.”

I want to thank the Dark Mofo artistic team for their inverted crosses. They are genuinely illuminating and sobering. Christians are reminded how much they are resented by certain quarters of the progressive left and it is an important reminder that we must not try to out-hate our enemies, rather, we must out-love them. The cross is glorious and the Dark Mofo leadership is powerless to change that. Let them enjoy their hatred and mockery, but do not imitate them, and do not let them change you. That is your victory, the victory of the crucified within you.

Rev Dr Michael F. Bird is an Anglican Priest and theologian and a lecturer at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. He tweets @mbird12 and blogs at Euangelion.

Martyn Iles: The Bell Is Tolling

From ACL, a timely warning about where our society is heading in regards to the freedom of Christians to be Christian.

 

 

Scripture seldom commands us to do anything directly in relation to the State.

A rare exception is found in 1 Timothy 2, where Paul urges us to pray for those in authority – “for kings and all who are in high positions…”

But it’s not just prayer in general. It is prayer for a specific thing – “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

This is prayer that the governing authorities might grant us to live in peace, even as we live godly lives.

Paul is saying we should pray for religious freedom.

In our own nation religious freedom is on the ropes. As Christians, we are less free to live godly lives than we were a year ago.

Many small changes have come along over the years, but the same-sex marriage law was a decisive moment.

The law on marriage used to tell us not only what marriage is, but that gender is ordered a particular way, sexuality is directed towards a particular end, and family is structured around both gender and biology. It was a heteronormative foundation for society. It taught us a great deal about human relationships.

The law on marriage now tells us something quite different about all of these things. Gender does not matter, sexuality is fluid and open-ended, family is whatever we say it is.

But it’s worse than that.

The great English common lawyer Sir William Blackstone wrote that, in an English legal system such as ours, laws are “rules of right conduct.”

Note that – they are rules. Not mere suggestions. Not symbolic. Not flexible. They are rules… And they are rules concerning what is right and what is wrong.

It is accurate, therefore, for me to say that the law on marriage now tells us that gender must not matter. Sexuality must be fluid and open ended. Family must be a flexible idea.

As Christians, we have a collection of convictions about marriage, creation and the human person which are contrary to the new rules.

We have a collection of beliefs that are, strictly speaking, against the law.

Can such beliefs be declared as true and the alternatives false in our preaching?

Can we declare the same thing in our conversations with others?

Can we create institutions and businesses that not only codify these beliefs, but conduct all of their activities in accordance with them? What about Schools? Campsites? Charities?

Can we be fit and proper people to live in society without suffering disapproval or even persecution? To hold qualifications? To teach in schools? To work in corporations and governments?

ACL’s work in the field of religious freedom indicates that the answer is increasingly uncertain.

A Tasmanian pastor is currently fighting a Supreme Court case to preserve his freedom to write blogs on marriage and distribute Christian literature in the street.

A Western Australian couple are fighting for the right to become foster parents after the agency told them it would be “unsafe” to place young children in their care because of their Christian convictions on human sexuality and gender.

A CEO was summarily dismissed for expressing his opinion on the Safe Schools program at work when challenged by a colleague.

Teachers, university academics, students, public servants and professionals across the nation are being placed under suspension, discipline and are even being sacked for their beliefs.

Faith-based schools are being sued by transgender activists because their policies reflect the belief that God made us male and female.

All these and more are cases receiving aid from the ACL.

Without very robust religious freedom protections, Christians are now sitting ducks. Our beliefs are against the law and it will become increasingly obvious with time.

Now is the time to do something about it. The window of opportunity is fading fast.

It is worth noting that Paul and Timothy could do little more than pray. They did not live in a democracy where political action was possible. They couldn’t vote, campaign, speak to their MP, or run for parliament.

But Paul set us an example for action by making the most of the scant opportunities to speak truth to power when they came his way.

The Lord told Ananias concerning Paul that he would speak to kings.

By Acts 23, Paul is speaking to Governor Felix and in Acts 26 he is telling his testimony to King Agrippa. No opportunity was wasted.

God has given us a great gift: the freedom that comes with life under democratic rule.

We live in an age where we can all make representations to our rulers, either directly or through lobbying platforms that unite and amplify our voices like ACL.

If Paul had contemplated the possibility in his time, I am certain he would have told us to both pray and act.

That is why I am asking you to do three things:

  1. Pray for your religious freedom;
  2. Be ready to engage with our religious freedom campaign once the Ruddock Review is publicly released;
  3. Donate to our end of financial year appeal.

Let’s not squander our gift of freedom whilst we still have it.

Liturgy and Pentecostalism

Over on my Facebook page, I share quotes from books that I have been reading. This quote from “The Benedict Option” garnered a lot of mostly negative reaction:ben-op-cover-black-hill.jpg

The need for liturgy is becoming clear to more and more Protestant theologians. Perhaps surprisingly for a Pentecostal, Simon Chan, a noted theologian, scholar, and writer based in Singapore, is one of a growing number of Evangelical church leaders who argue that their churches must return to the richness of liturgical worship. Evangelical ecclesiology is inadequate to the task of meeting postmodernity’s challenges, he has written. Rod Dreher

 

The first thing to note is that Pentecostal churches already have a liturgy, which is a fancy word for “order of service.” It is nearly always a variation of the following:

4-6 songs- 2- 3 fast songs (“Praise”) followed by 2-3 slower songs (“Worship”)

Prayer

Offering- usually preceded by an overly long exhortation to give

Communion (sometimes)- also preceded by an overly long mini-sermon

Sermon

Altar call or ministry time

 

If you know what is coming next than you have a liturgy, whether it is in a book or unwritten. There is nothing wrong with that because people are comfortable when they know what to expect. It doesn’t necessarily limit the Holy Spirit, but it does provide guidelines about when it is appropriate for people to pray in tongues or prophesy.

Our liturgy is a variation on this model, but when it seems appropriate we mix things up a little.

But when people talk about “liturgical worship” they usually mean a more formalised style of worship such as those found in the traditional churches. 

That raises the hackles of many Pentecostal and Charismatic people who see this as “dead religion.”

We can have various opinions on that, but let me share an observation about the usefulness of liturgy.

I have been to several funerals over the last few years, some of which were led by “Spirit-filled” pastors. The thing that I noticed on these occasions was that they were indistinguishable from funerals led by non-christian celebrants, except maybe there was some reference to “Jesus” or “God” and comments about the person’s contribution to the church.

The central focus in each case was the person being buried. Not Jesus. Not the Holy Spirit.

In other words the church is copying the world, and losing its unique voice in the process.

In every act of worship by the church, the gospel must be proclaimed and Jesus must be worshipped. That is why liturgical worship at these formal events of funerals and wedding, in particular, is so important.

A good liturgy keeps Jesus at the centre. The prayers, the spoken word, the music, it is all gospel proclamation. There is no waffle, no adoration of a person, no stumbled prayers,

At the other extreme where the liturgy is everything, there are issues of over formality. I remember when I first started as a pastor in a small town, someone said to me after a funeral “At least with you, we know who is being buried.” The liturgy I followed had room to thank God for the life of the person, to pray for family members by name etc. But the suggested prayers offer gospel hope and constantly refer back to the cross of Christ and His resurrection.

We can make similar observations about wedding ceremonies.

As a pastor I am always wanting to make sure that my congregation is being brought to maturity in Christ. I think that is is what the quote is getting at. The reality is that a couple of “I Love You Jesus” songs followed by a preach about “Three Ways To Boost Your Bank Balance” is not enough to impart maturity into people, even if all the sermon points start with the same letter. But knowing the Apostles Creed or The Lord’s Prayer in the kind of familiarity that comes from saying them every week can give at least a chance for the great truths of scripture to sink into the soul.

 

 

 

 

Israel Folau: Faith Is Greater Than Sport

Increasingly, Christians are having to make hard decisions about standing firm in their faith or kowtowing to the secular religion. Israel Folau is stating that his faith is more important than his sport. Notice how the ABC verbals him in the article while showing his actual tweets way down the article.

From the ABC:

Israel Folau is prepared to ‘walk away’ from rugby union over beliefs

Updated 

Wallabies' Israel Folau tackled by All Blacks' Rieko Ioane and Beauden Barrett

Wallabies star Israel Folau has said he is prepared to walk away from rugby if his situation becomes untenable due to his Christian beliefs.

Folau was heavily criticised for a post on Instagram two weeks ago in which he said God’s plan for gay people was “HELL”.

The 29-year-old said he was disappointed in the way Monday’s meeting with ARU chief executive Raelene Castle and NSW Rugby chief Andrew Hore to discuss his social media use was portrayed to the media by Castle.

“After the meeting I went home, turned on the TV and was really disappointed with some of the things that were said in the press conference,” Folau wrote in a column on PlayersVoice.

“I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments, and did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia.”

Folau said he has “no phobia towards anyone” but refused to back down on his beliefs, revealing he told Castle he would quit rugby if those beliefs were harming the game.

“I didn’t agree with Bill Pulver taking a stance on the same-sex marriage vote on behalf of the whole organisation, but I understand the reasons behind why he did,” he wrote.

“After we’d all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable — that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through — I would walk away from my contract, immediately.”

Castle called Folau a “strong role model” after Monday’s meeting.

“We are in a negotiation with Israel to extend [his contract] and we would really like him to stay in rugby, that’s hugely important to us, he is a great player, he has delivered some great outcomes for us and has been a really strong role model in the Pacific Islander community and we would like to see he stays in rugby,” she said.

When asked if Folau understood the pain his comments could cause, Castle replied: “Yes, and I think Israel has acknowledged that maybe he could have put a positive spin on that same message and done it in a more respectful way.”

‘My faith is more important than my career’

Folau said he “could never shy away from who I am or what I believe”, and speculation he was looking for a way out of his ARU contract to take up big offers elsewhere was false.

“There have been things written about me angling to get a release from my Rugby Australia deal to pursue an NRL contract. That simply isn’t true,” he said.

“There have been rugby offers from the UK, Europe and Japan that are way above anything I could earn in Australia.

“This is not about money or bargaining power or contracts. It’s about what I believe in and never compromising that, because my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be.”

The rugby league and AFL convert said his Instagram comment was to give someone “guidance”, not to cause offence.

“Since my social media posts were publicised, it has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people,” he wrote.

“This could not be further from the truth.

“I fronted the cover of the Star Observer magazine to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition for both men and women.

“I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.”

Folau has previously spoken out against same-sex marriage, after the Wallabies expressed support for the Yes campaign last year.

In a tweet posted on September 13 last year, Folau said: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”

Israel Folau, heaven and free speech

From The Centre For Independent Studies, a defence of free speech in Australia.

Right to speak threatened

Peter Kurti

13 APRIL 2018 | IDEAS@THECENTRE

Enjoy speaking your mind and sharing your views while you can. The rights to freedom of speech, conscience, and religious belief look set to disappear very soon from Australia.

And it will certainly happen if the corporate guardians of public morality have their way following the grilling given to Wallabies superstar Israel Folau who is a devout, conservative Christian.

Falou holds some very traditional Christian beliefs about sin, heaven and hell, and homosexuality. He expressed his view that gay people should repent in this life to avoid being sent to hell.

You can agree or disagree with Izzy. But either way, if Australia is a genuinely free country, he should be free to express his genuinely held religious beliefs.

And if we are a genuinely tolerant country, we will let Izzy say what he thinks even though many of us may strongly disagree with what he says. Remember: tolerating views you agree with is easy.

We often confuse tolerance with ‘respect’. But real tolerance means putting up with the opinions of others that you think are simply wrong — or even abhorrent and repellent.

After all, we clearly expect Izzy to tolerate all the views bluntly expressed by his many critics, including corporate sponsors such as Qantas and ASICS, who accuse him of homophobia, and worse.

Obviously, when he answered the Instagram question, Izzy wasn’t representing the views of Rugby Australia, or ASIC, or Qantas. Only a fool would have failed to see they were his personal views.

Yet now there appears to be a concerted push to silence Izzy and force him to keep his religious beliefs to himself. But why should he keep quiet?

Freedom of speech means sometimes people will say things that others find disagreeable. And if we truly value such freedom, we will stop trying to silence those who offend us.

We are gradually, but inexorably, tipping towards a new kind of totalitarianism where any controversial or awkward opinion is silenced, and all dissent is crushed into submission.

Now is the time to stop this dangerous slide towards tyranny and intolerance. If we delay too long, it will be too late for us, and we will all be muzzled for good.

This is an edited extract of a piece written for the Daily Telegraph.

Where Was Jesus on Saturday?

tomb_stone

It’s Easter Saturday (more accurately Holy Saturday), the space between the sorrow of Good Friday and the joy of Easter.

What was Jesus doing on Saturday?

Maybe we should start with the why of Easter Saturday. In theory Jesus could have resurrected any time after His heart stopped beating. “It is finished!” could have been followed with “Surprise!” as He got down from the cross in His new body.

In Jewish tradition, it was not possible to say that a person’s spirit had truly left their body until the third day after their death. Remember that they counted the day that something happened as the first day. So Jesus rose on the Sunday, the third day after His death.

The delay was for our benefit, so that we would know for sure that He had died on the cross, not merely stunned as some people try to make out. Jesus’ death was truly beyond doubt. Not too many people survived a crucifixion, which in Jesus’ case included a spear thrust through His side.

So the delay was for our benefit, that we would know that the death was real and the resurrection was real.

Jesus’ body remained in the tomb, as far as we know. The opening was sealed and guarded by soldiers in case someone stole the body. They remained there until the events of the resurrection on Sunday morning (see Matthew 28:1-6).

Jesus’ spirit presumably returned to the Father for some high fives and celebration at the completion of the great rescue plan.

In 1 Peter 3:19 we are told that after His death “He went and preached to the spirits in prison.” It is not clear who these spirits are or what He preached to them about or why this happened. But we do know that this particular event happened outside of the constraints of physical time.

Regardless, we do know that Jesus died on Good Friday at the hands of well trained and experienced executioners. We know that He was, by any measure, dead. When He died He took the sins of the world and put them to death also, lifting from us the burden of guilt.

He invites us all to live in resurrection life, being a part of His Kingdom for ever.