A One Man Ministry?

Appealing to the testimony of Scripture alone: to the doctrine of the gospel of Christ, we can say that as the church became established in the apostles’ doctrine, there was no place found in it for a one man ministry.

That this statement is plain contrary to what has arisen in the professing church should not surprise those who seek the mind of the Lord on these matters; because, as I have begun to show in some of my recorded messages (link below), today’s church no longer resembles the church which Christ said he would build, it having gone astray in so many aspects from the original doctrine of the apostles, not least in this question of the ministry.

Read the apostles’ doctrine for yourself: read the epistles, and see if you can find a one man ministry established or exhorted in the church: see if you can find one man ministering to a ‘church’ alone, from anything resembling a pulpit, separate and above a mute congregation on a regular ‘service by service’ basis. See if you can find a ‘sent ministry’, an ‘anointed preacher’ or, for that matter, the equivalent of a Bible College/Seminary trained preacher: a Reverend, a Doctor, an Evangelist, a Pastor – all as understood to the modern mind. You won’t find one.

Therefore what exists today in the church as ‘the ministry’ has no foundation in scripture, is a corruption of the true, and cannot sustain and feed the spiritual children – the sheep – of Christ: something which they come to realise over a long and painful period of awakening.

Now, of course, many arguments will already have arisen in the minds of the readers as they balk against this; which is understandable, as the validity of the whole of their church system is being brought into question. And up until a few years ago I would have been one of them: arguing against what has been written thus far. There are many people – most everyone, I suppose – who attend church or chapel regularly, and who have done so all their lives, who might stand up and say that, yes, there are things wrong in the church; but if we can weed out the errors and seek to return to the teaching of scripture, then everything will be much better. I’ve been there. And in some places and denominations the question of the ministry has been addressed, and they have readjusted their services accordingly to try and make things fit more with what they perceived it was like at the beginning. But ultimately it is no good, because seeking to prune or train the branches of what is a corrupt tree is useless: the tree itself must be uprooted. What’s wrong with the modern church – in all its various manifestations – is not just this or that doctrine or practise, but the whole of it is corrupt and cannot be ‘made better’. This is why the Spirit-taught children of God are eventually called out of it to seek the Lord for a true gathering of his body.

The Principle of Preaching in the New Testament

It is my purpose in this article to discover the principles which underpin this aspect of the manifestation of the true church and then leave it to the readers to apply any scriptures they use to justify their system to that principle to see if they hold up. If you are an exercised soul then it will be a profitable, if costly, exercise; but truth received by revelation of the Lord himself must be our only desire: we can be taught much truth by ‘flesh and blood’ alone, and so be wrong at last: at least that is the teaching of the Lord Jesus relating directly to his church in Matthew 16:15-18.

What is preaching? Preaching is simply a declaration of the truth of the gospel by those who have been taught the message by the Lord himself. This is the preaching which feeds the sheep of Christ; is spiritual food for their souls; is the message of Christ upon which they live. There is ‘word only’ gospel preaching, see 1 Thessalonians 1:5, but that is dry and dead to the Spirit-born, cannot feed nor sustain them, and indeed tends to starve them and therefore repulse them. They cannot away with this soul destroying fare, and they quickly flee it.

Such preaching is produced by those who have only learnt their gospel out of books – even by study of the Book – from commentaries, traditions, natural application to the text of scripture: in short ‘of men’. But the Lord never reveals his truth by utilising the revelation of flesh and blood. Look at the apostles. Who taught them the truth of the gospel in their experience? Their fathers? The scribes, Pharisees or doctors of the law at synagogue or temple? Did Jesus even send them to scripture to learn his gospel before they could teach it? No. They were taught of the Lord himself.

‘And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, Mark 3:13,14. This is the order by which the Lord works with all who are to declare the truth, whether they be apostles at the beginning or any of the Lord’s people to this day. He first separates them unto himself and teaches them, before they bare witness to his gospel.

But of all his people without exception it is said: ‘And they shall be all taught of God’, John 6:45. But those who preach the gospel in word only: who do not feed the sheep or lambs, cannot be said to have been taught anything by God; for if there is one thing the teaching of the Lord does, it feeds his people. Notice what Paul writes to Timothy: ‘But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them’, 2 Tim. 3:14. Who is the ‘whom’ in this verse? Paul? The scriptures? Hardly the scriptures: they are a book not a ‘whom’. No, Timothy learned of the Father, of Christ by revelation; of God himself. Paul goes on to say that the scriptures themselves, which from a child Timothy had known, were able to make him, an already child of God, ‘wise unto salvation’, in that they were the record of the work and doctrine of God which He uses to establish his children in the truth; but it was God himself who taught Timothy, and that by revelation.

Paul himself had just written that he knew ‘whom he had believed’, 1:12, not just ‘what he believed’, as the doctrine in the head only. In fact Paul’s desire – as is the desire of all taught of God – was to know Christ himself, and to preach HIM, not just to know about him and preach doctrines pertaining to him, as though the message was somehow detached from the Person. ‘Word only’ gospel preaching is only about Christ and his salvation, whereas true preaching is to preach Christ himself, the Person, by revelation of him.

Which brings us to Galatians Chapter One. This is Paul’s clearest testimony to the difference between learning the gospel of Christ from men only: ‘in word only’ – the Lord’s ‘flesh and blood’ of Matthew 16 – and by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Read what he said: ‘I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but [except] by the revelation of Jesus Christ’, verses 11,12.

Look at Paul as Saul of Tarsus. He was learned in the scriptures; was a Pharisee, and sat at the feet of Gamaliel, no less: ‘a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people’. Saul was ‘taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers… zealous toward God… more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of his fathers’, in that when ‘this way’ came along which seemed so contrary to the religion of his God – the Lord God of Israel – he ‘persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.’ So much for the revelation of flesh and blood. So it is not surprising that when Christ called him and was revealed in him, he came to count all his natural learning – even of Jehovah’s religion – as ‘dung’ in comparison to knowing Christ and preaching him, Philippians 3.

And when Christ was revealed in him, and the Lord started teaching him the gospel by revelation, what did he then do? Go to man again to learn the gospel in all its fulness, so he could be fully equipped to preach it? No. Paul didn’t even go to those who already had the revelation of the truth from the Lord himself: ‘neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me’. No, notice what he said when Christ was revealed in him: ‘immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood’, Gal 1:15-17. Not from or with flesh and blood EVER, in regard to learning the truth of God, of the gospel, to preach it. How could he have? Neither flesh and blood, nor anything which emanates from flesh and blood, can inherit the kingdom of God.

But go to the Bible Colleges today, and go listen to the men who have been taught their gospel by that ‘flesh and blood’ system, and if you are one of Christ’s sheep you will starve under their dry, dead, word only preaching. No, Paul, the apostles, and all of God’s people are ‘taught of God’: they learn the truth of the gospel by revelation of Jesus Christ. They don’t start with revelation and then go to man, they learn of him all the way through: the teaching of the Lord – the manna – is all their meat; they receive it of him, they feed their brethren with it as they declare – preach – it to one another: they ‘give me meat’, says Christ, Matt. 25:35. No other food will do; no other meat is palatable to the sheep, but God-revealed truth. And do you think you have to go to a stone building on a supposedly sanctified day, to receive that from the brethren? Away with all carnality.

Anointed to Preach

Another aspect of preaching which is misunderstood, and wrongly claimed, is this question of being ‘anointed to preach’. Many people believe that if you stand in the pulpit then you have not only been called but anointed to preach. In the last denomination of which I was a member this was the belief. It ran something like this: He’s been ‘called to the ministry’; he’s received the command to ‘go’; he’s been anointed by the Lord to preach the gospel: and because he is now one of ‘the Lord’s servants’ then ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed, and do his prophets no harm.’ Did you get that? Instantly you have a man in the pulpit, put there by God himself, he preaches the gospel – obviously – and we can never question it. Furthermore: as we believe men can only be saved – called – under the sound of ‘the gospel’, by those sent to preach it – enter a misuse of Romans 10 – then we must attend to this ‘means of grace’ if we would be saved.

Other denominations and traditions might use different phraseology but this is in effect what many believe. But where is that in the doctrine of Christ? What! these men anointed to preach? And your soul’s salvation bound to their ministry? I used to answer ‘yes’ to that proposition, until the Lord showed me otherwise.

There is actually only one Person described in the New Testament who is anointed to preach, and that is the Lord Jesus himself. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon ME, because he hath anointed ME to preach the gospel…’, Luke 4:18. And no-one else is described as such. Jesus never taught the apostles that they were anointed to preach; they never thought it, nor declared it themselves. None claimed ‘a sacred anointing’ to preach the gospel; no-one else in the early church admitted the apostles’ anointing; this teaching is just plain absent from the testimony of scripture.

The fact that John writes that all of God’s people are ‘anointed/have an unction from the Holy One’, 1 John 2:20,27, is irrelevant to the subject at hand, for the apostle nowhere relates it to the ministry. Every member of the body, from the little children – newly regenerated – up, have been baptised into Christ, have this anointing: they could not be members of his body otherwise. These were those who were being taught of God: ‘But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you [recognise that?]: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.’

So the Lord Jesus is the only person described as anointed to preach the gospel, and he is still the only one. He said, ‘My sheep hear MY voice’. Never a man speaks like this man. Hear ye him. Today, if ye will hear his voice. Learn of me. They shall be all taught of God. And you don’t need a preacher in a pulpit to channel that voice. Which preacher was Saul listening to on the road to Damascus? To ‘anointed’ Peter, or John, or James? If you are a child of God and have heard the Lord’s voice calling you, convicting you, condemning you, revealing truth to you, pardoning you, comforting you, commanding you, revealing his will to you, promising you something, you will know that it has more often than not come directly from him, without the means of ‘sent ministers’, chapel attendance, or Bible reading.

This is not to say that the Lord does not speak or minister to his people when they are gathered, for there is something very special about the Lord being in the midst of his gathered saints. The Thessalonians heard ‘the word of God’ ‘of us’, said Paul, which effectively worked in them that believed, 1 Thes. 2:13. God ministered to their hearts, as Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus preached the truth. But that doesn’t mean that every time they heard these men declare the truth they heard the word of God. The Lord is not, and will not be bound to ‘means’ to communicate to his people.

Just read the Gospels for yourselves. Look to see if the Lord waited till the sabbath day, or until he and his disciples were in the formal gathering of synagogue, before he would teach his disciples the truth of his words. Rarely happened like that. Go through Acts the same. The Lord and his disciples preached and taught the people anywhere and everywhere. The New Testament is nothing but a great proof that ‘this mountain’ and ‘Jerusalem’ have become irrelevant to all those who would learn of God, John 4:21. Believe it and embrace it, and be liberated from the dead, stifling traditions of men.

‘When Ye Come Together…’

Having just mentioned the Lord being in the midst of his gathered saints let us turn to 1 Corinthians 14:26ff where this situation is described. Here is the church, the ecclesia: the body of out-called in one place. This has nothing to do with buildings, days, times, services, Sunday best. Neither is it a gathering of saved and unsaved: there are no unsaved here. These are the saints. Some may be yet carnal, some babes still – see the earlier chapters of Corinthians – nevertheless this is the body of Christ separated from the world, turning aside from the labours and cares of the day, gathered to worship God and be edified (a frequently used word in this passage) one of another, the Lord being in the midst. Wonderful! And how could it not be in his presence; he is the one who has called them, they make up his body, it is HIS church! ‘My church’.

There is nothing dry, staid, or formal in this gathering. It is orderly, yes, but not dead.

Now, keeping strictly to our subject, this passage reveals no one man ministry. First of all Paul says, ‘How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath…’ Every one of you has something to contribute to the gathering: unto edifying; amongst which is ‘a doctrine’ and ‘a revelation’. A little later Paul says: ‘Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If anything be revealed to another [prophet] that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye [prophets] may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted’, verses 29-31.

Here is the ministering of the gospel in the gathered assembly, and it is by ‘two or three’. These prophets ‘speak forth’, declare the doctrine of Christ before the people and the present Lord comforts and edifies the whole assembly in the truth. This is preaching! This is the ministry in the church. The Lord is there, anointed to preach the gospel to his people: and as he does, he heals the spiritually broken-hearted, delivers those held captive in unbelief, doubt, fear, temptation, oppression; he recovers the sight of them that are blind: that cannot see; and liberates them that are bruised, battered and world-weary. That’s the purpose of the preaching in the assembly. Look, here it is again in Ephesians 4: ‘And he gave some, apostles, and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ’, verses 11,12.

The gathering of the body is for the benefit of the body as a whole: not just for ME to get my own personal blessing. And look how it is wrought in the assembly by the Lord. There are two or three ‘prophets’, likely elders, mature brethren, perhaps fathers, whom the Lord has testified to the local body that these are those whom he has entrusted to teach the truth of the gospel among them; to preach the doctrine of Christ – which they’ve been taught themselves by him through long experience. This is that doctrine, ‘my doctrine’, which establishes the people in the truth, and which warms their hearts; causing them to glorify their Saviour; humbling them each before him who has been so gracious as to save and call such an unworthy body of people to show forth his praise. Truly they know and experience the fact that He preaches the gospel to the poor!

So as one prophet begins to speak and open the truth as led of the Lord – not ‘take a text’ and ‘preach a sermon’ from it with one eye on the clock till end of meeting – the others judge: they listen and feed; and then if another has something to add he will signal to the first who will hold his peace – perhaps he’s said all he has to say for now – and the second will speak. Then a third might say something or add a new element to what is being spoken: all ‘unto edification, exhortation and comfort.’ Yes, this is the ministry, and this is preaching in the church. The Lord is doing it: he is ministering to his people in their hearts. Some perhaps are being rebuked, others comforted, others are receiving new and further revelation of the truth; some a promise, others an answer to their cries; some are being stirred up to cry, others are being chastised for their unbelief and cold-heartedness; some are having their feet washed, others melted in the love of God. You see, the Lord is ministering to his people in the assembly in a way which is unique to that gathering. Yes he communicates these things to his people sometimes when they’re on their own, but there is a particular ministry which the Lord administers when his people are gathered together.

Can you see it? Have you ever experienced it? You won’t in the corruption of the ‘man-in-the-pulpit’ system. I can honestly say that since the Lord has called me out of that wretched system he has caused me to experience this ministry of the Lord when gathered with my brother, and I couldn’t have written the above paragraphs before I left it all, because I hadn’t experienced it then.

Two and Two

But let us just consolidate our fundamental point regarding the absence of the one man ministry from the New Testament. Right from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he called and ordained disciples, apostles. Never was there one man with his own ministry. In fact even the Lord Jesus himself did not constitute a one man ministry. When he was speaking with Nicodemus in John 3, he said, ‘We speak that we do know…’ – and Jesus wasn’t just employing ‘the royal we’ here. So who was the ‘we’? In the context of the opening chapters of this Gospel the ‘we’ was John the Baptist and Jesus. John came preaching in the wilderness, gained some disciples, but pointed them straight to the Lord Jesus when he appeared: ‘And the two disciples [of John] heard him speak, and they followed Jesus’, John 1:29-37.

The truth is that you cannot attend unto the ministry of the Lord Jesus – ‘My sheep hear my voice’ – until you have heard the voice of the one that crieth in the wilderness. Jesus’ ministry always comes in the context of John’s preparation ministry: always. You have to be taught what your life is in this world, as grass, vanity; being brought into that spiritual wilderness in your soul – which could take years to experience – before you hear this voice which points you to the Lamb of God. As that is the gospel order of the experience of every child of God who is brought to Christ, then what is this modern gospel, sounded out by these modern salvation salesmen, which tells you that, God loves you, Jesus died for you, if you want to go to heaven when you die then just accept him. The Bible tells you you’re a sinner, and if you will trust in him he will save you…, etc. Yes, the Bible might say that ‘all have sinned’ – whoever the ‘all’ are in that verse – but until you are taught in your own hard experience what a sinner is: involving coming to realise your inability to believe yourself, pray yourself, cry yourself into salvation has been fully proved and you find yourself in a barren spiritual wilderness; then the Lord Jesus will remain out of reach, out of sight, unknown, unheard. You can’t ‘just’ come to him. There are many things that you must experience before ‘the coming of the Lord’.

And again. Mental assent to the doctrine of the gospel and a deliberate determination to believe it and ‘embrace Christianity’ is no more saving than the previous deception. The wilderness must be entered. The voice that cries in the wilderness must be heard; and eventually the Saviour must be revealed; the SAVIOUR must be revealed! What do you think salvation is? Something you partake in, as though you are called upon to do something? No. It is the RESCUE of a lost, barren, desperate soul, who cannot save himself. People talk so loosely about ‘salvation’ – ‘Oh, the Lord saved me when I…’ – when they have never experienced an actual rescue out of a wilderness.

Well, you need to have been under John’s ministry before you will come to hear the Lord’s ministry: ‘We speak.’ So no, even John the Baptist, even the Lord Jesus, didn’t exercise a one man ministry.

So Jesus sent disciples: two and two, Mark 6:7, Luke 10:1. On Pentecost it wasn’t just Peter who spoke ‘the wonderful works of God’, Acts 2. Paul was never sent out alone: ‘Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them’, Acts 13:2. And when Barnabas left, Silas went with Paul, Acts 15:36-41. Nearly all his epistles are addressed from himself and at least one other – see the salutations of each. As the church was established it was, ‘Ordain elders in every city’, Titus 1:5, or ‘in every church’, Acts 14:23. The verses in Ephesians 4 already quoted pertaining to the gifts of the ascended Lord to the church, are all in the plural: ‘Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers’, verse 11, never ‘a pastor’, or anything like it: not in the settled life of the local assemblies.

Of course from time to time we do read of individuals being sent at specific times and for certain purposes to ‘preach’, like Philip in Acts 8; or others being called to testify of their faith, as Stephen in the previous chapter, but these are exceptions to the rule, and cannot be used to dismiss the whole argument here, so that people can sustain their own long-held tradition.

Well, there is more which could be said relating to this subject; but my hope is that what has been written will encourage the reader to look further into these things; that the Lord will set his people free from the religion of men, and gather his own out-called together so that they might be enabled to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

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(Preaching messages mentioned can be found linked from the Home Page of www.separating-gospel-truths.co.uk. Search for Audio or Video Messages.)

“Comforted … Tormented”

In Luke 16 we read Jesus’ account of the rich man: ‘there was a certain rich man’, and Lazarus: ‘and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus’: actual people – this is not a parable. The striking thing about the language Jesus uses is its succinctness: he describes briefly the character of the two men’s experiences in life, records the plain fact that they both alike died, and gives minimal descriptions of their present situations. Therefore the Saviour needed only to use few words to convey profound truths regarding life, death, and the eternal state.

In looking at this passage – which is part of the doctrine of Christ – we can examine ourselves as to where we really stand in life and can judge what our experience will be after death, simply by comparing ourselves with these two men. For you must realise that the ‘rich man’ and the ‘beggar’ represent the only two types of people in the world – spiritually considered, and if you can discern which you are now, then you will know what awaits you after you die.

Then please do read carefully and judge yourselves righteously in the light of the doctrine of the gospel.

I write this in the context of the death of a loved one: someone who lived a long life and who had a relatively sudden end. Much comment has been made to me regarding her length of days – 34,027 to be precise, Psalm 90:12 – but little if anything has been said about the fact that ‘the end’ has been reached and that if she died without Christ then the great span of her life will have been nothing to marvel at.

All this has caused me to ponder afresh ‘the end’ of things; for the end is the everlasting state: it comes to us all. Therefore it should be our most important consideration in this life, far above and beyond the fulfilment of all our ambitions, etc. Consider for a moment the following words from Psalm 37: ‘Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off’, verses 37,38. Notice how these characters have an ‘end’: of the one it is ‘peace’; of the others it is ‘destruction’ and a ‘cutting off’.

The wise man spoke similarly when he said, ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness’, Prov. 14:12,13, ‘the end’, ‘the end’. Now although in these verses it is not necessarily the end in death which is being alluded to, yet it is still evident that the scriptures are forward in reminding men and women – and the young also, cp. Ecclesiastes chapters 7 and especially 11:7-12:14 – to consider their latter end, Deut. 32:29, Prov. 19:20,21. Every time I hear on the news that some famous person has died, and listen to equally famous people eulogising them, I think, ‘Yes, but what are they thinking now for all their fame; probably most are shouting out in horror, ‘Stop! Don’t ‘celebrate’ my life, it was all vanity and lies, someone go back and tell them…!’ Famous or not, our end will come too, and then where will we be? My departed loved one has now come to her end: and what is that end? According to the Lord Jesus it is either ‘comfort’ or ‘torment’.

But to judge ourselves in this matter – and it is vitally important that we do judge ourselves – we will look at the two men Jesus described: the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus.

The Rich Man

The rich man in this account is a man with no name – he is not recorded in heaven: in the book of life. The beggar has a name though: Lazarus’ name has been written in that book from the foundation of the world, Rev. 17:8, he having been known to the Lord and chosen in Christ from all eternity, Eph. 1:4. But not the rich man; for all those that are ‘known’ of the Lord are brought to ‘know’ him in this life, John 17:3; 1 John 5:20, and there is no evidence – of course there is no evidence – that the rich man ever knew his Creator. No, all he knew was ‘the good things’ of this life and he was quite content with them. Because he was rich in this world’s goods he had no need – so he thought – of knowing the God of eternity, and therefore had no need to consider seriously his latter end.

But the man was a fool; ‘for what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?’ in the end! Luke 9:25. What advantage to the rich man now in his torments; what good, what profit does he now think all his riches, finery and feasting were to him when ‘the end’ has turned out to be so horrendous? If only we would see beyond this brief moment of time we call ‘our lives’ to ‘the end’: to the ultimate reality.

But let us have a look at what made this man rich, and why he thought those ‘riches’ were all and sufficient; and in the light of it let us see if we too have riches and are likewise content in them. We are told what his riches were: he ‘was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day’, Luke 16:19; he ‘received his good things’ in his life, verse 25; he owned a house, verse 20; had a large immediate family: ‘five brethren’, verse 28; and perhaps most importantly of all, he had access to the writings of ‘Moses and the prophets’, verse 29.

And what of us today? I read once a statistic which said that if we have the financial means to house ourselves – either by renting or buying – and feed ourselves adequately; if we are relatively healthy and have ready access to good health care; if we can read and write sufficiently to enable us to make our way in this world; and if our income generally exceeds our normal ‘cost of living’, then we are in the top eight percent – 8% – of the world’s richest people! And considering also the benefits of living in a ‘social security’ society then this figure must apply to just about everyone living in ‘the West’ today: therefore we are rich!

What is more many of us have the added means to be ‘clothed in purple and fine linen’, and to ‘fare sumptuously’ at least three times every day. That is, we can have a varied wardrobe; can dress seasonably, or for the occasion – even though at times we cry in exasperation that ‘I have nothing to wear!’; and we all have access to supermarkets which stock the widest variety of foodstuffs – both necessary and indulgent – to cater for what we feel like eating at any given time. Also if we are ‘too tired to cook’ then we can visit any number of eating establishments who will ‘do all the hard work for us’ while we just sit there waiting to be fed – either cheaply or finely. And between meals we can always nibble something to ‘keep us going’ till tea-time. This is being ‘clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day’.

Moreover there are other things we can readily enjoy above and beyond mere ‘food and raiment’. As the rich man in his lifetime received his good things so we are able to avail ourselves of just about anything our hearts immediately desire. Our homes can be furnished with all and more than we need; we can mix and match; rip out the old and replace with the latest styles when we get tired or ‘bored’ with what we had before. We can have our hobbies and pastimes, indulge our interests; enjoy our trips out, and our holidays: ‘where shall we go this year, dear, home or abroad?’ There seems to be no end to the latest things, gadgets, ‘stuff’, that we must acquire for ourselves or for our children – for us to ‘keep up with the world’; well, we can afford it all, or can afford the repayments on the loans we have to take out to have these things. And the list of ‘good things’ goes on.

We can afford various insurance policies just in case of ‘misfortune’ or the unforeseen. So we can insure our lives, our health, our holidays, and even our pets. We can ‘put something aside for a rainy day’ – what, for when it rains fire and brimstone from heaven?! – well, not that, but at least for our old age: a private pension plan and a lump sum upon retirement, so that we can continue to have security and enjoy our ‘good things’ into old age. Moreover when we are feeling a little generous, or when our uneasy consciences prick us, then we can let fall ‘a few crumbs’ from our ‘table’ to aid the poor or ‘less fortunate’ in the world who will be so grateful for our spare cash, spare time, or our throw-away clothing or goods which we don’t want any more. Well, look how little it costs us to benefit them so much! cp. Mark 12:41-44.

But let us not think that these are the characteristics of the irreligious only, for remember, this rich man, like his brethren, also had ‘Moses and the prophets’ – in other words, the scriptures freely available to be read and obeyed. And no doubt being Jews they were familiar with them, reverenced them, and heard them read regularly at the synagogue, and did, to some degree, conform to their precepts and commandments – so long as they didn’t interfere too much with their life of acquiring and enjoying their ‘good things’. But notice how Abraham in verse 29 says of the rich man’s brethren, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them’, not just read them. Thus the father of the faithful exposes the typical attitude of the religious who are devoid of true saving faith: they never ‘hear’ the scriptures though they might read them and even ‘believe’ them. But ‘faith cometh by hearing’ specifically, and ‘hearing by the word of God’ – the spoken word; whereas false, presumptuous ‘faith’ can be acquired any number of ways in an outward Christian profession.

So this rich man can be seen to have been someone who was not necessarily devoid of religion, even of the religion of Jehovah; but he nevertheless remains in torments to this day.

Thus we have gradually begun to realise that riches in themselves do not consign those who have them to everlasting torments, it is our attitude towards them which exposes the state of our hearts, and hence gives us an inkling as to what our end might be. And this is a great gospel principle. Money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is. Those who are rich in this life – as we all are to a degree – are not automatically condemned in the world to come because we possess them; Jesus never said that it was impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, but ‘how hard it is’ for him to do so, Mark 10:23. Why? Because it is likely that he is ‘trusting’ in those riches, verse 24; because ‘they that will – desire to – be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after, they have erred – or been seduced – from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God [Timothy], flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…’, 1 Tim. 6:6-12.

Notice here the prime fruit of coveting and pursuing wealth in this world is that we will be seduced from the faith, and leanness will be sent into our souls, cp. Psalm 106:10-15. And notice also how Paul didn’t exhort Timothy to follow after poverty in light of the fact that the love of money was the root of all evil and a snare; for as we will go on to discover, Lazarus didn’t receive comfort after his death simply because he was an actual beggar in this world. No, riches in themselves are not evil as such, it’s when our hearts are set on them; when we become dependant upon them; when we become used to them and take them for granted – or even as our right, that the subtle snare comes and we loose sight – at least – of the Hand which has bestowed them upon us for the time being.

Paul later tells Timothy to ‘charge them that are rich in this world’ – that is, those in the church who possess worldly riches – not to get rid of them because they are God’s children, but to use their riches wisely and to the benefit of others: ‘that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate’, or share – in accordance with Matthew 6:1-4 of course; because it is God who has given these things to them so that they might ‘richly enjoy them’. And what better way to ‘enjoy’ your wealth as a child of God than to use that wealth for the good of others; especially the household of faith – even as it was from the beginning, Acts 2:44,45, 1 Tim. 6:17-19.

We must remember also that there are many people who hear the word of the kingdom and receive it with joy; but when tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, they are at length offended and fall away. And what is one of those things that offends them? What gives them tribulation and persecution? Why, their own hearts are offended when the doctrine of the gospel declares that they cannot serve God and mammon – riches; that they are called to deny themselves in this world and to take up the daily cross if they would be Jesus’ disciples; and how hard that is; and how quickly they perceive that the axe must be laid to the root of their natural love for the world and the things – the good things – of the world; it is then the offence comes; called ‘the offence of the cross’ – in the fullness of the meaning of that phrase, cp. 1 Cor. 1:23, Matt. 19:16-30, Luke 9:23,24, 14:27.

But then there are those who likewise hear the word, and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and they become unfruitful – no fruit of the Spirit is seen in them, for he does not dwell in them. These are ‘they that would be rich…’

Furthermore, there are those with a profession of the name of Christ – who appear to be part of the body of Christ – but who in time reveal what they really are. Paul writes: ‘For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things’, whose mind is on earthly things, Phil. 3:18,19. Do you see where the desires of their hearts really lie? Do you see what reigns on the seat of their affections, even though they might apparently be part of the body, the church? ‘Earthly things’. ‘Thy good things’. Paul’s ‘set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth’ is anathema to them, showing that they have no real union with Christ at all, Col. 3:1-4.

Yes, their ‘riches’ hold their hearts captive even with a profession of the Lord upon their lips. So their end will be torments, unless they repent.

In relation to this the next thing we can say about the rich man – and those like him – is that having received all his good things in his lifetime he could therefore be said to have ‘gained the whole world’, Matt. 16:26. Though in the West there are differing levels of wealth accumulation amongst us, it is all still only relative. Therefore compared to the vast majority of people living in what is disparagingly called ‘the third world’, even a ‘poor’ Englishman in his two-up, two-down terraced house; with his low-paid job, small car, and two-week holiday to the sea every year, is still ‘rich’ if he is satisfied with his lot. If he wants for nothing, is settled into his secure routine of ‘life’, then he can be said to have ‘gained the whole world’ just as much, and perhaps even more so than the very rich man with his mansions, yachts, Swiss bank accounts, favourable connections, and playboy lifestyle. For the fact is that the latter will probably always be looking for ‘just a little bit more’ to make him ‘happy’; but not the former; for the ‘world’ that he has ‘gained’ is all and sufficient to his limited expectation.

So let us not think that this rich man who is now in torments is so vastly different to us. We are all like him to a degree – but that degree is potentially a very dangerous degree because it could be leading us into the flames. So as we now come to look at the beggar – Lazarus by name – and if we would have his end, then we must see in ourselves and in our experience a great degree of similarity with him.

The Beggar

There are three things to note about the beggar: that he in his lifetime received evil things; that he is now found in Abraham’s bosom; and that he is comforted. And of course these are all related.

We have already commented that the beggar is named by the Lord Jesus: the Saviour knew Lazarus as one of his own, John 10:14; had called him by name, John 10:3; kept him safe in his hand, and had given unto him eternal life, John 10:27,28. Now although we read of Lazarus being comforted after death, despite outward appearances he had known comfort in his life also, for God says only of his people, ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people…’, Isa. 40:1; and in verse two God commands ‘speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.’ Thus Lazarus, despite the fact that he had been a poor man in this world’s goods, had actually been ‘poor in spirit’ as well, which was a blessed poverty – and the two don’t always go together, Matt. 5:3.

In this life he had needed comforting because of his sins; because of his felt enmity with God which was at one time destroying him; and because of his iniquities which had reached up to heaven. Lazarus had been lost; had been a servant of sin; had been condemned under the law; had been without faith; and had therefore needed a Saviour to come to end the warfare, pardon his iniquity, and cover abundantly and totally all his sins. Such a Saviour was Jesus Christ the Son of God. His work upon the cross – his broken body and shed blood – was to bring redemption, forgiveness and justification to the spiritually poor man Lazarus, and in time he had been given faith by God to look to that finished work as all his expectation, hope and salvation; which, of course brought him that comfort of which Isaiah spoke. Thereafter it could be said of him that he was a child of Abraham – in whose bosom he is now comforted – because he was found in the way of faith, cp. Galatians 3:6-9, John 8:31-44.

In the light of that, what were the ‘evil things’ Lazarus endured in his lifetime which resulted in him now receiving comfort? Well it was not because he had been a beggar, found day by day at the gate of a rich man hoping for a few scraps of nourishment; nor was it because he was full of sores; neither was it for having to suffer the ignominy of dogs licking those sores – I don’t know if that would have been beneficial to him or not; and it wasn’t because of his probable lameness – as one who had to be ‘laid’ at the gate. No, Lazarus’ ‘evil things’ were the hardships he endured through loving and standing for the truth of the gospel; through following Christ, which meant taking up the cross and denying self; through suffering his affliction patiently rather than making a noise about his lack of ‘state aid’ and ‘human rights’. His evil things came upon him through suffering the loss of all things for Christ, and being hated of all men for Christ’s sake; through being spoken well of by few; suffering persecution because he lived godly in Christ Jesus; and through being at times chastened of the Lord and scourged of Him because He loved him.

Perhaps these things can best be summed up in this one verse: ‘We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God’, Acts 14:22; or in this word of the Lord Jesus: ‘in this world ye will have tribulation…’, John 16:33. Yet again this tribulation is not referring to the general trials that all humans go through in this world: family problems; financial problems; health problems, etc.; no, these are the tribulations, trials and temptations peculiar to those who are in the faith; who are seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; who are hearing Christ’s voice and following him whithersoever he is leading; and who are discerning the will of the Father and doing it – despite the cost to self, Matt. 7:21.

These are the sheep who, because they stand firm in the truth of the doctrine of the gospel, suffer persecution, opposition, ostracism, enmity and hatred from those who obey not the gospel, and whose hearts are gone after the ‘good things’ of this world: i.e. from the goats. But the goats at whose hands they suffer the most are those who think themselves sheep – Christ’s sheep. They love Jesus, believe in him, live their lives for him, praise and worship him so easily and readily; and yet hate his doctrine; hate his discipline – negating, therefore, their claim to be disciples; are aliens to his correction and chastening; and despise the thought that they cannot somehow serve God and mammon while still arriving safely in glory at the end.

No, they really hate the truth of the gospel of Christ; loathe in their hearts – which loathing sometimes seeps out onto their otherwise smiley, ‘loving’, countenance – the true people of God: the beggars with a name; and they will not humble themselves, deny themselves, and abandon themselves, their lives, their thoughts or their things daily into the sovereign hands of Almighty God. So, despite all their religion – their comparatively easy religion in Jesus’ name: a ‘good thing’ to them – when they come to die they will have no need of comfort. Why, they don’t even look for it now, and have no longing for it because they aren’t spiritual strangers and pilgrims among the people of the world. Therefore they never feel their need to enter into that rest which remaineth for the people of God; never feel the enmity of the flesh, to put it off and be clothed with a glorified body – except perhaps when they get old and naturally weary; and never really tire of this world, nor of the things of the world – except perhaps again in old age: in ‘the evil days’, Eccl. 12:1. So being relatively content in this life they never really long to depart and be with Christ which they feel will be far better; because they never really suffer because of sin, or temptations, nor at the hands of enemies of the truth; never, never, never experience anything particular to the true children of God in this world. So, unlike Lazarus, they will never be comforted. Then, they will be tormented; for that is the only other ‘end’, according to the Lord Jesus.

Now hear the sentence that many of them will receive from the judge of all the earth – Christ himself – on the coming day of judgment: ‘I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’, Matt.7:21-23. Depart? But where? Into torments of course! ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels… And these shall go away into everlasting punishment’, Matt. 25:41-46. ‘And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night’, Rev. 14:11. The torment is everlasting, for ever and ever, without rest, without let up, without intermission; for this torment occurs outside of the time state in eternity. Listen to the rich man crying; and listen to what you will be crying if you are like him now in character and die in the same state: ‘I am tormented in this flame!’ And he is still crying it.

Now, reader; now professing Christian; where are you found in all this? What is your experience in this life? Are you like the rich man, enjoying life with all your ‘good things’, accompanied by your constantly smiling saviour, and with little real trouble in your soul? If you are; if you are ‘finding’, ‘saving’ and ‘loving’ your life day by day – in other words, if you are always insisting on having your own way – then you will lose it for ever in torments, Matt. 10:39, Mark 8:35, John 12:25. But if you are like Lazarus: poor in spirit but rich in faith; a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth; an alien in this world and even in your own family, Psalm 69:8, Mark 10:29,30; one separated unto Christ and his gospel; one troubled with the workings of the flesh, with that ‘law in your members’ and with indwelling sin, Rom. 7:7-23; one vexed with the enmity of the goats – especially those ‘Christian’ goats; then you have the prospect of comfort at the end – oh, how you need comforting! – you will rest in Abraham’s bosom and will be for ever with the Lord.

Judge yourselves. Time is so short, life is so fleeting and full of vanity; eternity is so long. The wide gate of false conversion and the broad way of presumption which leadeth to destruction is so easy and straightforward – many are found on that way. Light, happy – though at times sincere – Christianity is so popular, and so comfortable to the flesh and to the deceived mind; but what a dreadful end it brings: ‘destruction’, Matt. 7:13,14. Judge yourselves. What are your ‘good things’? Are they Christ’s things only? Or are they your things? Phil. 2:21. Are you suffering affliction with the people of God for the truth’s sake, or are you enjoying the pleasures of sin? – including religious sin like hypocrisy, the forms of godliness without the power, and the honouring of God with the lips while the heart remains happily far from him – and, yes, these can prove very pleasurable… until the end comes. Are you suffering – or are you prepared to suffer – the loss of all things for Christ? If not, you will suffer the loss of all your things without Christ in everlasting torments.

For it came to pass that, in the end, ‘the rich man died, and was found in hell’.

Then do judge yourselves. Judge yourselves. Why won’t you judge yourselves?

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(This article originally ended there, but then I got taken up with the following ‘afterthought’: it made me tremble to write it, and makes me tremble to read it back.)

‘Comforted’

In this account of ‘the end’ of Lazarus Abraham says that ‘he is comforted’. Nowhere here is Lazarus recorded as saying anything, it is what he’s experiencing that matters. Comfort is a known experience: an actual state which one feels; therefore after death – the death of the body – those who are then found residing in Abraham’s bosom are actually aware of their continued existence. The same, of course, is true for those who are found in torments. Whereas once they were ‘in the body’, in the flesh, now, the spirit having departed the body, they still know and have feelings. Therefore death is not the end of the person but simply a translation from one realm to another. After we leave ‘time’ we enter ‘eternity’. Everyone who dies – regardless of the circumstances under which the heart stops beating and the life departs the body – immediately relocates their state of consciousness to a place out of the body. Yet they are still the same person, with the same mind and understanding of who they are and how they have lived their lives; only now that knowledge is acute: all those things long forgotten suddenly flood back into mind and are crystal clear in their memory.

But it must immediately be said that this ‘relocation of their state of consciousness… out of the body’ is nothing akin to the New Age thinking of moving onto a higher realm, ascending into a higher self, or returning in some sort of advanced reincarnated state. This translation into ‘the other world’ is a once only and final translation: that is, into either ‘comfort’ in heaven, or ‘torment’ in hell. And as it is appointed unto man once to die, and once only, Heb. 9:27, then we do not ‘come back’, we ‘cannot be found’, and there is no ‘second chance’. The spiritual state of our soul at death fixes our eternal state. Jesus tells us here that Lazarus died and was found in Abraham’s bosom. Likewise the rich man died and was found in hell.

When the rich man starts calling out to Abraham in his torments the patriarch says very clearly that ‘between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence’, Luke 16:26. The word ‘fixed’ here means something which stands established – it is firmly in place and cannot be moved or changed. So both men instantly arrived in places that are separated immutably: it was impossible thereafter for either to change their settled state.

You doubt it? Are you looking for some sort of transitory place after death where you can perhaps be purged from the residue of your sins before stepping up into heaven at last? Well, purgatory finds no place in the doctrine of Christ. If like the rich man you die without Christ then you will go straight into torments with no hope of remission. Just look at that word of Abraham in the verse quote above: ‘…cannot…’ It is an absolute. When you arrive in eternity it will be impossible for your habitation to change… ever.

But we are considering the comfort of Lazarus. It is the only word used here to describe his experience in eternity. We have already looked at the poor man’s experiences in this life which caused his needing comfort afterwards: it being only because his trials and tribulations were ‘for Christ’s’ sake, not just because he was poor in this world. It is a sorry fact that millions of poor, destitute abjects live in this world who will find torments in the next because they live in their misery and die outside of Christ. ‘Misfortune’ in this life is no guarantee of rest and comfort in the next. No. People die solely because of sin: sin must pay its wage. The quality or otherwise of one’s life ‘in sin’ is irrelevant. Poor miserable wretches, whose lives in this world were plagued by starvation, disease, hopelessness, despair, instability, lack of love, lack of opportunity; who were used and abused, exploited, enslaved and even brutally done away with in the end will go straight into more torments – torments that they had never known or even imagined – if they died without Christ. Hard as it may be able to stomach by those who have no love for the truth of the gospel of Christ, this is the only judgment: ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned’ – damned, Mark 16:15,16. Those are the words of the Lord Jesus.

So Lazarus’ comfort was not a ‘pay back’ for his horrible life: a rebalancing of things to ‘make it fair’. No. Beware all you who think things must be fair in the end. God doesn’t deal in ‘fair’, he deals in righteousness, truth, justice and holiness. If you are to find comfort in the end you must experience in this life suffering and tribulation as a result of having ‘lived godly in Christ Jesus’: for the gospel’s sake, for Christ’s sake: as a result of your walking in the narrow way of the few: in the way of the cross. What other life is there, spiritually considered, that could end in the receiving of comfort from the One for whom you have suffered these things?

Again, do you not like the sound of all this? Is it all a bit too ‘harsh’ for you? Well, contrary to popular belief, this world does not belong to man, and he does not set the rules. His thoughts, reasonings and judgments do not matter; he is not the final arbiter on what is right and wrong, on what is just and what isn’t; and he is not the coming judge of all the earth. The gospel of Christ is not a series of general and vague ideas which the Saviour threw out at the beginning for man – religious man – to take up and develop into something believable and acceptable based on his own standards of wisdom, understanding and taste. No. This earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof. His commandments and judgments are the only ones which hold any weight in the court of heaven. He only has, and is, Wisdom. His word only stands. In fact, his word has been from all eternity; is, and always has been, ‘settled in heaven’, long before time and man came into being, and it will endure forever. Christ is the coming judge of all the earth and every man will be judged by his word. The gospel is his gospel, Rom. 1:16, which has been complete from the beginning and cannot be changed: added to, subtracted from, amended, or diluted without it being perverted and changed into ‘another gospel’.

Lazarus, for all his temporal poverty, knew, believed and lived in the light of these truths – to his much tribulation: but now he is comforted. Another gospel was abhorrent to him. A gospel of the will of man, or of works for reward – even if it was believing for reward – was alien to the way he had been taught. His faith did not stand in the wisdom of men, and he didn’t trust man’s interpretations of the words of God; he only ever found rest and comfort in the Scriptures if God himself had opened the true meaning of them to him by revelation. Salvation he knew to be of the Lord through and through, and even in his receiving mercy, knowledge of his own election of God, and revelation of the truth of the pure gospel into his heart, he never gloried in God’s presence like the easy-believer does; never boasted in his acts of faith like the free-willer does; and never counted his obedience to the commandments of the Lord as anything other than ‘unprofitable’, which the Arminian never does. And among the religious generation in which he lived this caused poor Lazarus much opposition, ridicule, and hatred from them: but now – in the end – he is being comforted.

Lazarus’ walk in this world had been characterised by his obedience to the doctrine of Christ, Rom. 6:17. He had taken up the cross of self-sacrifice daily in his following of the Saviour. This entailed hearing his voice often and obeying what he heard. Again, it meant discerning the will of the Father in any given situation and ‘doing’ that will regardless of what it cost him in the flesh, and regardless of what he might have liked to have done instead. Lazarus had known that because he had been – or was to be – ‘bought’ by Christ’s blood, then he was no longer his own. His will, his desires, his lusts, were all to be ‘crucified with Christ’, and therefore he counted himself to be ‘dead’, with his life now ‘hid with Christ in God’.

And how most of the professors of Jehovah around him hated that doctrine! As they still do today. But surely, they argue, we now have liberty! We can freely praise, worship and rejoice in our God! Jesus loves us and has forgiven all our sins past, present and future. Our faith and our full assurance guarantees us heaven at last. We are secure in God’s hand and nothing we can do now will ever cause us to be plucked out of that hand – hallelujah! So long as we live now in a cleaner way than we did before we ‘believed’, then everything will be all right ‘in the end’. Any doubts we might have regarding our salvation are only attacks of the devil which we easily dismiss with a quoting of our favourite promises. Yes, there is a wonderful victory and assurance to this Christian life, and people like Lazarus who come along from time to time, trying to undermine our faith with questions regarding our assurance, or by quoting Bible verses about self-examination or warnings to the presumptuous – which don’t apply to us – just fill us with rage. Therefore we argue against these miseries with ‘the authority of the Bible’ and when they shake the dust off their feet against us in their judgmental pride and walk away, we just say ‘good riddance’ to them in our hearts.

But for all their ‘faith’, Lazarus is now comforted, and they are, and will be, tormented.

Oh, what comforts Lazarus now feels! He has been taken out of the world at last – fully: out of that world which lieth in wickedness, vanity and lies. He has been released from the influence and enmity of false religion – especially from that which is practised in Jesus’ name. He has been finally and eternally separated from all contact with the goats – what comfort! The flesh – his own flesh – which so often rose up in enmity against the right way will trouble him no more. He will never again suffer at the hands of a subtle deceiving devil who was always seeking to turn him from the narrow way into the accommodation of the flesh and of ‘self’. He has finally been rescued from the vicious attacks of that same Satan: whose accusations harassed, whose insinuations harangued, and whose lies caused endless fears – none of which ever materialised. He has been liberated from the workings of a lustful mind, from an often lethargic will, and from the law in his corrupt members which constantly seemed to war against the law of his mind – for he did have the mind of Christ – which brought him so often into captivity to the law of sin which, although it had been put away by Christ, still dwelt in his members. Lazarus had known and mourned over the fact that when he would do good evil was present with him; and when he found himself doing that which he did not really desire to do he knew that it was no longer him that fell into it, and did it, but sin that dwelt in him.

Needless to say this caused the poor man many tears, not a little heaviness in mind and spirit, and caused much crying to the Lord to save him out of them: indeed, his often cry was, ‘Lord, save me from this hour’, as well as, ‘O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.’ And when sometimes he related these things to those others who said they ‘loved Jesus’, he more often than not… usually… always! got a quick rebuff for being ‘faithless’, constantly having ‘wonderful’ texts quoted at him to cheer him up. All this, of course, just added to his pain. But now, at long last, he is comforted completely.

But before that the time had arrived for Lazarus to die. And for some of that time when he knew his end was near his strength and hope left him. For a child of God; for one in the faith; it seemed strange to those others at synagogue that he was often ‘in trouble’; they were never in trouble, Psalm 73:1-5. Lazarus was no presumer, you see. He knew the enmity of the flesh, the corruption of his heart, the oppression of temptation, and the assaults of the enemy of his soul. These others would live and die in full assurance; marching triumphantly to the gates of heaven with no doubts or fears. But that was because Satan was not their enemy; and so he would never attack them at the eleventh hour as he does Christ’s sheep. But then, in the end, Lazarus does breathe his last, the enemy can do no more, and comfort comes. But they, for all their ‘blessed assurance’ till the end – who die peaceably – are tormented.

Comfort is that which brings all sighing and tears to an end. Comfort soothes bruised spirits. Comfort brings an end to the life of faith, and endurance. Comfort fully satisfies and justifies hope. Comfort follows great tribulation. Comfort fulfils desperate longings. Comfort is the end of experiencing ‘evil things’. Comfort is accompanied with rest, and peace, and joy, and amazement, and wonder, and thanksgiving, and gratitude, and real praise and worship. Comfort is the fulfilment of grace, and mercy, and election, and redemption, and justification, and sanctification, and every exhaustive part of the doctrine of the gospel of Christ. Comfort is experienced, rejoiced in and dwelt in… for ever. The God of all comfort who spoke so comfortably to his people in their lives here on earth, consummates his relationship with his bride – his people – in comforting their hearts in his presence for ever.

‘Tormented’

But relatively few find this comfort. In Matthew 7:14 Jesus calls this place of comfort ‘life’: ‘and few there be that find it.’ A little later he calls it ‘the kingdom of heaven’; but not every one that calls him Lord will enter into it. No, for most – the ‘many’ in comparison to the ‘few’ in Matthew 7:13,14 must be the most – with a Christian profession will find no comfort when they die, but torments only. They will be tormented in the flame of hell.

To be tormented is to be troubled. They had experienced little or no real trouble in this life amidst the enjoyment of all their ‘good things’, so now trouble is theirs. Why? Because sin specifically was not a trouble to them: well, after they’d easily ‘believed’ in their youth their lying Sunday School teachers and false preachers assured them that sin was now more or less gone and forgotten. Every time thereafter they ‘did something wrong’ they simply had to say a prayer for forgiveness to receive instant pardon: so they went on throughout their lives until the end. Therefore it had been a trouble-free life of faith! But sin troubles them now; because one thing they failed to realise was that God never actually answered and spoke pardon to them, they took it presumptuously for themselves from the Bible, claiming promises which didn’t apply to them.

Torment is tribulation. Their trials in this life had been the same as were common to all who are born in sin. The fact that they said prayers to their God when these tribulations came upon them and – amazingly – those trials subsided shortly afterwards – with strengthened faith and peace of mind – didn’t negate the fact that never once were their tribulations because of obedience to Christ’s commandments. So now they receive tribulation.

But this tribulation is also theirs because they troubled the people of God – the saints. In this we are reminded that this torment is suffered at the hands of God himself, for Paul writes to the Thessalonians: ‘Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you’, 2 Thes. 1:4-6. ‘Inasmuch as ye did it to one of these – the least of my brethren – ye did it unto me’, Matt. 25:40-46. Beware, then, how you treat those who tell you these truths.

Torment is pain. Again they may have suffered pain in this world: medical pain; the pain of heartbreak or lost love; the pain of disappointment or unfulfilled desire; the pain felt as the result of sin and self-centredness. But they never felt the pain of spiritual starvation at the hands of false, dead, dry preachers. Never felt the pain of wandering in a solitary way devoid of the love and fellowship of other sheep – wherever they might be. Never felt the pain brought about by seeing those who said they were Christians being satisfied with vain, light, fleshly religion, while shunning and caring nothing for the true gospel of Christ. They never felt the pain of a longing soul to hear from their Lord words of eternal life spoken by revelation into their hearts. No. Never experienced pain on the broad way: well, it is a pain-free way after all. But now in the end they have the pain of torment.

Again we can look at Asaph’s revelation of ‘the end’ of the ungodly: while speaking with his Lord about these wicked he suddenly realised, ‘Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors’, Psalm 73. Utterly consumed with terrors!

So torment brings fear. Now they fear. They’d had no fear of the Lord in their lives, and they did not fear – barely believed in – the judgment to come; but now they are experiencing that judgment at the hands of the hitherto ignored God; so fear is now their meat ‘day and night’ – perpetually, proving the scripture to be true: ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’, Heb. 10:31. Added to that they fear for others also: ‘Send Lazarus to my brethren that he may testify to them lest they come into this place of torment!’ But no. The fear – the horror – is that the warning will never be heard; because those who are being comforted never go back to ‘tell how it is on the other side’, and so the fear is a dread and a frustration that nothing can now be done from the place of torment to warn those loved ones still alive who are happy to go on living in contradiction of the truth.

Fear hath torment. A fear arises with the realisation that ‘the end’ has come and is fixed. In an instant this fear teaches that all the good things enjoyed in life were vanity and less than vanity. It shows that those things cannot now be seen to have been merely a waste of time but a hindrance. They were a lie. They said, ‘All this is worthwhile; beneficial; to be valued’; but they proved to be the opposite. They deceived and deviated the mind, heart and soul from the supreme occupation of man: to turn from a life of rebellion and self-indulgence to seek the Lord; to consider eternity; to number the days of our lives; to redeem the time and follow the voice of conscience; to believe in and seek to flee the judgment to come; to have an eye – nay, both eyes – on our latter end; on ‘the end’.

But none of these things were done – none were even sought. And what fear this now brings. The fear of righteous judgment. The fear of constant torment because of rebellion. Fear born of the despair that there is no hope of let up. And this fear is an eternal fear; that is, it is a fear experienced outside of time. So it is a constantly experienced fear, a fear lived in the eternal moment of now. This fear won’t wane; it will not diminish or become more bearable ‘with time’, or ‘through experience’. For this fear is now: and now constantly. Just think of those moments in life when you are the most afraid; just that first moment when the rush of fear comes into the mind, senses and bowels. Well, capture that moment and live in it constantly, with no remission, and then realise something of what this torment is to be like.

Torment is regret. Jesus speaks three times of the worm – the maggot – that never dies, Mark 9:43-48. This is the gnawing sensation of regret and remorse – but not repentance – for things done and said which cannot now be reversed. The agony of the sleepless night, the tossing and turning, the ringing of hands, the cries and tears, the torment! born of ‘if only I hadn’t…’ But you did. And you did it a million times in your short life. Every act of rebellion; each moment lived in unbelief; each word, thought and inclination of contention against the truth: every single idle – spiritually unprofitable – word uttered; each one is a worm which will burrow into your tormented body and mind, reminding you constantly of what you did, or what you didn’t do; of what you said; of what you thought; of what you imagined, of what you intended: over and over and over: ‘where their worm dieth not.’ This worm, this maggot, will never cease its work. It is an eternal worm which is never filled for all its consuming. It will just go on eating, go on gnawing away; ever busy; ever hungry; always finding fresh matter in mind, body and battered conscience to feed upon. Yes, this worm is in you.

Think of all those people who hear the truth of the gospel – like the reader is now – and yet they refuse it, disobey it, will not receive it, and contend against it. Well, they will remember that rebellion for all eternity. I often think of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 10 where he says that it will be ‘more tolerable’ for the Sodomite in the day of judgment than it will be for these religious people who reject the true gospel, cp. verses 14,15. Yes, it will be more bearable for those who defile themselves with mankind than for those who profess the name of Christ but believe ‘another gospel’. Whereas the worm of the former will still have its work, the worm of the latter will be even busier in its tormenting gnawing; having even greater depths of sin and rebellion to bring to mind. You false, presumptuous, hypocritical Christians have been warned again.

Then torment is brought about by fire and burning. ‘I am tormented in this flame.’ Jesus taught constantly of those who would be cast into hell, into the fire, into the furnace of fire, into everlasting fire, into the fire that shall never be quenched, into hell fire (yes, Jesus was a ‘hell fire’ preacher, Matt. 18:9, etc.). John the Baptist likewise spoke of the chaff – actual people – burning with fire unquenchable, Matt. 3:12. Paul again to the Thessalonians wrote of the Lord Jesus himself taking vengeance ‘in flaming fire’ upon them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thes. 1:7,8; after all, this torment is said to be suffered ‘in the presence of the Lamb’, Rev.14:9-11. Also in Revelation we read of ‘the lake of fire and brimstone’, and ‘the lake of fire’, while Jude had written of ‘eternal fire’, Jude 7. So let us not be in any doubt but that the doctrine of the gospel speaks readily about the existence of this fiery place of torment after death. (Actually the lake of fire spoken of in Revelation is that very final place of torment into which ‘death and hell’ will be cast after the day of judgment, Rev. 20:11-15.)

Therefore the main sensation in this fire is of being burnt – and it will be 100º burns – of being charred, scorched, blistered; in perpetuity. And what torment that must bring. But then there is the unbearable heat of the fire: as the rich man confessed: ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But there is to be no cooling sensation there; no drop of water will ever be given to quench – but for a moment – the dreadful thirst; for there is no water in hell. There is no dew; no mist; no condensation; no dampness at all. Not a drop of moisture can be wrung out of anywhere to cool the tongue: the only thing in this ‘lake’ is flames of fire: for ever; for the fire will never be quenched.

As well as heat the fire produces smoke: ‘the smoke of their torment’, Rev. 14:11. Smoke exacerbates the sensation of thirst because it is so drying. When in autumn you’ve got a good bonfire going you can put damp leaves on top which will dry out in the smoke so the flames can consume them. Smoke also dries and burns when it gets into the eyes and down the throat: drying, burning and tormenting.

And then, as well as all these sensations, there is the darkness. Those who find themselves in such a stifling situation at the end of their lives will experience darkness: well, they had loved darkness rather than light in this life, John 3:19, so now they have it to the full. But this darkness won’t be like any darkness they’d known before; for this is ‘outer darkness’; a place so dark that it could almost be described as being beyond darkness. This is a darkness which may be felt. In childhood we are afraid of the dark because we don’t know what might be ‘there’ in the dark. Being in darkness means we cannot see. On earth we may at least be able to pick out shapes or forms in the dark, and in time our eyes adjust and we get used to the dark. And if we are blind or go blind then at least we are able to form images in our minds based on memory or imagination causing us to ‘see’ to a degree. Again, our other senses might become heightened to compensate for our loss of vision so that ‘a blind man can sometimes see better than a sighted man’. But not in outer darkness. There, there is no seeing at all; even the ‘flames’ give no light. All is dark; all is unknown – more fear; there is no perception of the surroundings which could perhaps give at least some vain hope of security – even for a moment.

But even this outer darkness – terrible as it is – does not come alone; for in the three times that the Lord Jesus mentions it – and he is the only one who does – he always couples it with ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’, Matt. 8:12, 22:13, 25:30. Weeping is born of sorrow. This is the exact opposite of the experience of those who are comforted for eternity, for their previous tears have all been wiped away, Rev. 21:4. Weeping comes about because of the sorrow of remorse, loss, broken pride, and despair. Those weeping in eternity are suffering retribution because of rebellion; the wrath of God because of sin; the unadulterated wrath of the Lamb. They are suffering ‘indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish’ because of contentiousness against and disobedience of the truth. All their fears are now coming upon them; for all their sins and iniquities they are receiving ‘double’; they are weeping in torments and the weeping will never end. But no, not even then will tears roll down the cheeks onto the tongue to quench the thirst – that just doesn’t happen in a place where there is no comfort whatsoever.

But this weeping is not a silent, private, stoical, weeping; this is an out and out wailing. This is tormented crying, full throated howling, and is accompanied by ‘gnashing of teeth’. This is not just sorrow for sin, tears of regret, or a self-reprimanding because of stupidity. This is hatred towards God, against his Son, his truth, his gospel, cp. Acts 7:54, and against his righteous judgments unleashed. This is a wild fury at the Person of God and against all his attributes. Their love of darkness in life had been because their deeds were evil; but God – whose eyes are in every place and are as a flame of fire – had seen the evil they had committed; and now they hate him for it. They had believed the lie that they could be as gods – in control of their own lives – and now they hate and resent the fact that that was a lie, and that there was actually a true and living God apart from themselves who is now meeting out his vengeance upon their beloved rebellion. And they will scream their foul hatred against him for as long as they are in the dark, for as long as the flame torments, and for as long as the worm continues its work; because contrary to the godless humour of the world: hell will never freeze over.

What a terrible state to be in, then; to be gnashing ones teeth for ever and ever. What pain, what fear, what torment, what terror, and still what risings up again of pride in the face of holy rendering must be present to cause unremitting anger from so miserable a wretch in such a dire situation. But such is the end of sin. Death is horrendous; this ‘second death’ which all out of Christ will experience for all eternity: a living, conscious, felt – intensely felt – death. For the doctrine of the gospel is very clear: one is either ‘in sin’ when he dies, or he is ‘in Christ’; and those in sin will go to hell; while those in Christ will go to heaven.

You don’t believe it? You don’t think ‘a God of love’ would mete out such vengeance upon the disobedient? Well, what does it matter what you think. The truth of the gospel stands without the opinion of fallen man. Perhaps you think all this has been too unremitting. Well, you had better get used to it. The word ‘unremitting’ describes the very essence of the experience of the place of torment – but, of course, you will never ‘get used to it’. Or perhaps you stand back in your ‘knowing’ pride: full of the advanced ‘wisdom’ of this age and quietly chuckle to yourself to think that there are still some around who believe the ‘out-dated’ message of that dusty old Book; well, laugh on; enjoy your lives now; but be warned: ‘Woe unto you that laugh now! Ye shall mourn and weep’, ‘ye shall’, says your coming judge. Oh yes you will. Luke 6:25.

And a word to those who might like to wriggle out of their accountability upon reading this article with a quoting of the hymn-writer: ‘Law and terrors do but harden…, etc.’ – and these people know who they are. But just remember this: the hymn-writer was wrong: unbelief and rebellion harden. The law has been designed by God to convict his people of their sin and lead them unto Christ; and terrors are designed to cause them to flee to Christ for salvation. But instead of being engaged in this work of the Lord you carelessly ape the words of the hymn-writer and sit back passively waiting for some imagined ‘sense of blood-bought pardon’ to dissolve your heart of stone; but until then you’ll remain in ‘unbelief and hardness of heart’ by your own rebellion: and for that you can expect to be tormented, Psalm 95:7-11, Mark 16:14.

In the light of these things then, if you were to die tonight where would you be? In torments? Or would you be comforted? Do you care? Many don’t care. If you don’t, you will care when you are in the flames; but it’ll be too late then. It is no wonder then that ‘God now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained [Jesus Christ]; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead’, Acts 17:22-31.

Heed the word. Heed the truth.

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‘And [Jesus] lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

‘Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

‘But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.’

Luke 6:20-26.

Mercy

A short consideration on the principle of mercy.

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Romans 9:15, Exodus 33:19.

Thus saith the LORD.

In declaring such a thing Jehovah states clearly that the will to bestow mercy is his and his alone. If mercy could be claimed, or grasped, or taken to oneself upon the merest desire for it – as if it were something offered – then it would no longer be mercy in the true sense of the word.

The mercy of God, which he bestows, can only be mercy if it is sovereignly given; and the characters who rightly receive it are, first, those who don’t deserve it – and know they don’t deserve it; and secondly, those who nevertheless in faith seek for it. In fact, the seeking from a helpless state after One who is able to bestow mercy, if he will, is the only ground upon which mercy can be hoped for and rightly found; any other element added disannuls mercy.

If the Lord were in any way indebted to a poor helpless creature to show mercy, then mercy would no longer be mercy; it would to some degree be debt. But the one being sought for mercy is under no obligation to be so; for in that it is solely of his own will – for reasons found only within his own nature and character – then if bestowed it will be mercy indeed.

The leper came to Jesus in a real seeking after mercy with these words, “If thou wilt, thou canst…”: the bestowing of the mercy in cleansing him was completely the prerogative of Jesus to perform if it was his will to do so – and for no other reason. The leper brought no other plea but pure undeserved mercy; neither did he bring a reason as to why he thought Jesus should be merciful; he just pleaded and waited. All the will to be merciful was on Jesus’ part. The leper knew that Jesus could be merciful – why else would he have come?! – but was he willing? That was the question in the leper’s mind. As one filthy, unclean, and under the law, he had no hope of mercy from any one, but the One he believed to be God. So it was pure mercy the man craved, and Jesus of Nazareth being who he was – Jehovah in the flesh – bestowed upon the man that for which he pleaded; as indeed Christ will to all who come to him in such a way; for mercy is God’s delight, and all who call upon him for mercy will surely receive it, for he said, “I will”; and, “Him that cometh to me [in such a way] I will in no wise cast out”, Matthew 8:2,3.

And how could he cast them out, for he is the merciful God, full of mercy and compassion, and only those who seek to introduce an element of merit in their cry will be ignored and receive nothing – not that they truly want mercy anyway.

But how many are there today who think they have received mercy simply because they have asked for it under the guise of ‘the sinner’s prayer’? Having made a commitment, or sincerely prayed to be forgiven based on, say, 1 John 1:9, they believe that as soon as they said the words then God has immediately heard, answered, bestowed mercy, forgiveness and salvation. But there has been no thought or expectation that the Lord must reply! It is all presumption and terrible delusion to think that the prayer for mercy doesn’t actually need answering.

This would be like hearing the leper say to Christ, “If thou wilt, thou canst…”, and immediately going his way rejoicing that, because he’d asked – and, yes, asked the right person – he’d obviously been healed! No one who witnessed the scene would conclude anything other than that the man was a fool to think such a thing, for Christ had not answered, and it was quite obvious that the man’s leprosy remained.

But this is how it is with masses in the churches. Just pray for forgiveness, don’t worry about receiving replies or, yes, actually seeking for mercy; just say a prayer, believe, and go on your way in the full assurance that God has heard, forgiven, and saved. No need to worry about scriptures like, ‘And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean’; just forget about the woman who asked mercy of Jesus, but ‘he answered her not a word’, so she kept pleading till she heard, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt”, Matt. 15:21-28. How can these who claim instant salvation upon the muttering of a few words ever cry with David in Psalm 28:1, “Be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit”? They cannot.

And the reason they cannot is because many of them are poisoned with this proud idea that they have some sort of free will, and that when they feel like it they can call upon the Almighty in the supposed light of many-a-text of scripture and receive instant salvation. But it is not of him that willeth, nor, we may say, of him that prayeth, but of God that showeth mercy. It is then God’s will which is at work, for his is the only will that is free.

Yes, it is mercy that the sinner needs; and if he really feels the depth of corruption in his own soul, and his utter inability to save himself, then he will quickly come to realise that no praying, natural believing, presuming, claiming, or attempts to persuade the Almighty will effect anything until he that ‘will’ be merciful, is! The doing is all God’s; the bestowing is his, and the recipient is helpless and destitute of mercy until that mercy is shown. Therefore mercy is all of free and sovereignly exercised grace; yea, ‘the grace of God that bringeth salvation’; for it is ‘according to his mercy he saved us.’

Therefore never stop short of receiving mercy from the very hand of God. Any profession of Christ without this is nothing but groundless presumption; and, despite ‘many wonderful works’ which may subsequently be performed ‘for the Lord’ and ‘in his name’, all will be to no avail; for if you have not heard the voice of the Son of God in this life communicating grace and mercy to your soul in the felt need of it, then you will hear his voice for the first and only time on the day of judgment, saying, “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Things God Cannot Do

It would seem to be blasphemous to suggest that there are things which God cannot do, nevertheless scripture does reveal this truth in at least two places: Titus 1:2 – ‘God cannot lie’, and 2 Timothy 2:13 – ‘he cannot deny himself’. Actually from the immediate context that second example is speaking especially of the Lord Jesus Christ: God manifest in the flesh.

The reason some would cry ‘blasphemy’ upon reading the title of this piece is because it is generally understood nowadays that ‘God can do anything’: if we have enough faith God will hear and answer our prayers: after all, he is the God of the impossible! The reason people say this is for a number of reasons: Firstly, because they just don’t know the testimony of scripture – see above verses; Secondly, because when they ‘believed’ God didn’t actually say or do anything in response to their ‘commitment’, so they have never really experienced, or even looked for, an answer from him in anything, just that they’ve always presumed that when they’ve prayed he has automatically heard, saved them, or answered their prayers eventually through changed circumstances or feelings of peace.

Thirdly, they believe that as God is Omnipotent – All Powerful – then it necessarily follows that he simply must be able to do anything and everything because he is God! And, Fourthly, they believe that God can do anything because they have never really understood the meaning of words like, ‘God doeth all things according to the counsel of his own will’, or, ‘Our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased’, for they’ve missed the simple fact that conversely God cannot actually do that which is not according to his will.

And therein lies the reason why God cannot do some things: for they lie outside of his will. If God has not willed to do something then he cannot possibly ‘change is mind’ and act contrary to his will. I believe that there are many people who think that God acts mostly as a response to their requests; as though he is some sort of heavenly reactionary to events as they occur. We are entering the realm of God acting or reacting according to ‘unforeseen circumstance’, as if he ‘hadn’t seen it coming’, but the suggestion that these things might be the case is indeed blasphemy – speaking evil of God.

Yet many do believe that God acts as a response to their requests because – as we have already hinted – he did respond to their ‘sinner’s prayer’ by saving them – so they thought. They were told from the beginning that God ‘wanted’ to save them if only they would believe, and that he wouldn’t or couldn’t save them until they did respond to his offer of salvation. So you see that right from the beginning they have been taught that God is there waiting to save, give, bless, heal, answer prayers, etc. but that he cannot do these things unless we are willing to let him, or if we pray to him to do them.

And here is the real blasphemy: The Sovereignty of Man, and The Servant God. In effect this is what people believe, or how they perceive God to be. But at this point I always like to quote the once heathen king, Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4: he’ll tell you what is true about Almighty God: “I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?… Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”

Yes, “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased”, Psalm 115:3. And again, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure… yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it”, Isaiah 46:9-11.

Now read those words and see if you can find a God who is ‘looking to do something’ if he can only get the co-operation of man, or of a believer. By the way, those last verses in Isaiah are often quoted as ‘God knows the end from the beginning’, but he definitely says that he ‘declares’ the end from the beginning, something way beyond merely knowing what will happen, God actually declares what is going to happen, for he in his sovereignty has purposed it. He is not a reactionary.

Therefore we can say that God only acts in accordance with his will and his purpose: a will and a purpose which is like himself – eternal and unchanging. In fact we can say that God is bound to his will, as he is bound to the nature of his own Person. Think about it: God is Holy, so therefore he cannot sin – can he? Can God sin? No, the thought is unimaginable. Well there is something he cannot do. God is true; Jesus even declared himself to be “the truth”; therefore can he lie, deceive, or be tempted of evil? He cannot. When God speaks he not only speaks true things, but actually speaks in accordance with ‘the truth’. He can only speak in accordance with his nature, which is true. After all, ‘God cannot lie’, cannot exaggerate, cannot tell ‘half-truths’, cannot lead people to think he’s saying one thing when he means another, cannot give a deceitful impression. In fact he is the only Person who always speaks ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.’ How refreshing, how trustworthy, how absolute he is. Has he spoken to you? Has he revealed his will to you? Has he promised you something – either according to blessing or warning? Then his word is sure, certain, and will come to pass. He means what he says, he will carry out what he has revealed, and you will not be able to counter it, talk him out of it, or fail to see the fulfilment of it. Bow. Worship. Be silent before him.

No. God cannot deny himself. He cannot. Our greatest liberty is to know him and to abide in the truth of who God is. It is to lose self completely. Free-will? Nowhere to be seen. How can sinful man’s will be free when the will of the Holy God is not even free, being itself bound to the nature of his own Being. Such arrogance fallen man in his blindness and ignorance displays. God is sovereign, God is just, God is almighty, God is true; and he cannot be anything other. Those born of the Spirit see it, know it, and rejoice in it. The rest argue and rebel against it. Nevertheless it does remain true: That there are indeed some things which God cannot do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Out of Touch with Reality”

A while ago on a religious discussion forum, after a lot of toing and froing with people – mostly atheists – on matters of the truth, someone charged me with being ‘out of touch with reality’.

Is this an insult for the child of God? On the face of it it seems to be. But then, what was the unbeliever actually saying? He used the word ‘reality’ to describe what he judged as being normal, true, right, and reasonable according to the mind of this world and said that I was out of touch with what he perceived these things to be. In other words I didn’t show any signs of thinking the way the world does, or of seeing things the way the world perceives them.

But in saying this he inadvertently testified to the work of God in my soul, and gave the ‘amen’ to the doctrine of the gospel as it pertains to the fruit of that work. I quickly found this very encouraging because even a spiritual enemy could not help but justify the doctrine of Christ. Verily, The wrath of man shall praise God, Psalm 76:10.

So what of the doctrine was justified by my being ‘out of touch with reality’? That one born again of God is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things are become new, 2 Cor. 5:17. An easily and often quoted verse of scripture, but just look at the absolute which is in it. This is not just someone ‘getting saved’ when they ‘believe in Jesus’; nor is it someone ‘committing themselves to Christ’ and, turning over a new leaf, trying their hardest now to be ‘a good Christian’. This is a fundamental work of God making a new man – not refurbishing the old man – so that a new nature has appeared having a new mind, one which thinks, reasons and judges everything about the things of God, of himself and of the world around him in a totally different way than he did before.

Here is true regeneration, the outworking of the death of the old man which was crucified with Christ upon the cross, and the appearance of a new man from the dead. And as this new man lives and moves and has his being in this world he gradually loses touch with the old ‘reality’ of life in the flesh: thinking as the world thinks, reasoning with carnal judgment, for he now, being in Christ, has the mind of Christ, he thinks and sees everything as Christ does, concluding at length that the whole world lieth in wickedness, that it is all full of vanity and lies, that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, that natural reasoning is blind ignorance, and that he has become a stranger – an alien – upon the earth.

Being ‘out of touch with reality’ testifies therefore to a genuine work of repentance wrought by God within. For repentance is a change of mind, of mentality, one which begins to savour – mind – the things which be of God and not the things which be of men. The fruit of true repentance is not just giving up smoking, swearing and going to the pub; it is not just becoming a Bible-believer, a Sabbath-keeper, and a better person, it is an entering into the mind and will of God, of seeking his thoughts instead of our own, of his desires and abandoning our own, for we see them for what they are: founded in pride, independence, rebellion, sin and death. In fact, to receive the mind of Christ, to think how God thinks, to seek his will over our own, and then to be given grace to walk according to his revealed will is to experience true liberty, for it frees us from one of our greatest enemies – Self.

So to be ‘out of touch with reality’ is to be manifest as being ‘not of this world’; as Jesus said in his prayer to his Father regarding his people: “they are not of this world”. That was a statement of fact. In Christ they are no longer ‘of’ the world, for they have been born ‘of’ God. They now realise that to love the world – to conform happily to the way the world thinks and reasons – is a sure proof that the love of the Father is not in them; and that even friendship with the world – a momentary returning to the mentality of the world and its ‘reality’ – is enmity with God, and makes them a spiritual adulterer or adulteress against Christ, James 4:1-4.

But to return to this state is abhorrent to the child of God, he has no desire to live in that old reality again, although at times he does slip into it, to his own hurt. And this is the other great fruit of losing touch with the former reality – which, of course, was no reality at all, but a lie – is that the desires have changed. You now know God, you know Christ, they are the reality, and you desire to abide in the truth of God – to abide in Christ and his doctrine. All of Paul’s desire was to ‘know Christ, and be found in him’, and this is a ‘reality’ not only different from, but totally outside the realm of that which is found in the world, in an unregenerate state, and in a carnal profession of the name of Christ.

And it is all the work of God in you. You do nothing. You cannot change yourself. You cannot grant yourself repentance unto life. You cannot give yourself the faith of God’s elect, it is the gift of God. You cannot and will not glory in anything you have done as they do in Matthew 7:21-23, for you know that you have been made a recipient of the grace of God in Christ, and all the glory for that can only go to Him!

So what a blessed insult it is to receive, when you are told that you are ‘out of touch with the world’s reality’, for it means that Almighty God has come and done a work in you, a work which he does only in his own people, and which he does in all his people.

 

The Flat Earth and Holy Scripture

Does the Bible Teach that We Live on a Flat Earth?

(Revised February, 2017)

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Part One: Our Global Mentality

It’s Gone Global

From earliest childhood we have been surrounded by images of a globe earth: at school, in atlases, from the news media, in films, and now on the internet; see how many you come across in your daily lives: and see how many phrases you can think of containing the word ‘global’; you might be surprised to discover just how all pervasive this ‘indoctrination’ has become. Subsequently we don’t ever stop to question the ‘fact’ that the earth is a globe, that it spins on it’s axis – at just over 1,000 miles an hour at the equator – orbits the sun, and that because ‘gravity’ miraculously cancels out the resultant centrifugal force, the inhabitants of the earth don’t shoot off into space.

But although we don’t question these things it doesn’t mean that from time to time puzzling thoughts don’t arise in our minds; like, for instance, How is it that people in Australia don’t actually walk upside down? How come the waters of the seas and oceans don’t drain off the ball? Why is it that we don’t feel any motion under our feet? – in the UK we’re supposedly travelling at about 700 miles an hour even when standing still. Why is it that we actually do see the sun, moon and stars move across the sky?

These are some of the questions that perhaps arise in our minds even from childhood; yet we instantly dismiss the obvious answers because we are assured by our teachers, the media, and ‘science’, that the earth is a globe and that because it is so big then somehow its vast size makes many of the apparent anomalies null and void. So we shrug our shoulders, go our way, and just accept things that we perceive to be naturally impossible.

But for all that, people in Australia, like everyone else on earth, do walk around upright, with the horizontal horizon constantly before them at eye level. Strange phenomenon on a big ball!

There are of course other things we are taught from childhood which are irrefutable facts: like man’s evolution from monkeys; like the fact that the universe is billions of years old, and that therefore the Bible has been proven scientifically unreliable with its plain references to man being created as man – from the dust of the ground; that Adam was created right at ‘the beginning of the creation’, Mark 10:6 – and that, specifically, about six thousand years ago – that the earth was created before the sun, and that the days of Genesis Chapter One seem to be what we recognise as ordinary twenty four hour days, having evening and morning as we still do today. Oh, well, I suppose science must have the final say on all these things, mustn’t it, Christian?

Willingly Ignorant?

Now one of the reasons for this article is to expose the fact that man has a natural antipathy to having early learnt ‘truths’ undermined in adulthood. We come into this world knowing nothing – except how to sin, of course; all that we know regarding facts, perceptions and general attitudes is taught us by our parents, our education system and, if we are exposed to religion, by our church leaders. And of course we believe these people: we trust them and have no reason to doubt them. When I was a little boy I apparently said, ‘My daddy knows everything, and my granddad can do anything!’ I heard someone say recently that he had been ‘an atheist from his mother’s knee.’ It is a famous boast of the Jesuit priest: ‘Give me the education of a child till he is seven and his beliefs will stay with him for life.’ Now I am not saying that our parents and teachers deliberately lie to us when they educate us about the things and way of the world: most of them are simply passing on to us what they’ve been taught themselves. Even so, who wants to come to their years of maturity and find that everything they’ve understood about a fundamental aspect of their existence is false? Flat earth? Nonsense!

The second reason for this article is to show therefore how liable, and indeed, willing we are actually to be brainwashed: our ready disbelief of a flat earth again being a fruit of that. Whereas we are made to believe that we have a liberal ‘education’ system, the fact is that it is not actually a system which encourages us independently to think, reason or expand our minds at all, but is rather one that very subtly indoctrinates us to perceive the world in which we live in accordance with the ‘politically correct’ spirit of the age. Absolute freedom of thought, of imagination, of enquiry is very carefully stripped away from young minds and replaced with a – sometimes uncomfortable – passive acceptance of and conformity to received ‘wisdom’. Someone once asked this question: ‘What is the difference between a bright, inquisitive four year old, and a dull, shallow, disinterested sixteen year old? Answer: Twelve years of state education.’

Sound true? Look at the generality of today’s ‘youth’, absorbed in their social media, ‘pop’ culture, prevailing fashion, teenage angst; preoccupied with their concentrated absorption of facts to pass exams so that they can ‘make it’ in the world; and see how limited an outlook on life they have compared to your little ones full of life, imagination, and questioning. There is just no comparison. But when we have left school/college/university do we then revert to our four-year-old sense of wonder and inquisitiveness? No we don’t. For we have now been ‘programmed’ in the way of the world: what we must do, how we must exercise our minds to reach our goals and realise our ambitions to ‘achieve’. Subsequently we adults have little or no imagination left, no real liberty of thought, of enquiry; because we are now bound to ‘the way of the world’, which has taught us how to think, how to reason, what to question, how to question, or not to question at all.

Do you notice that already I have substituted the word ‘education’ with ‘brainwashing’, ‘indoctrination’, ‘programming’, and ‘bondage’? This is deliberate. Whether we like it or not we are prisoners to the system. You simply do have to conform to ‘the course of this world’ to survive. Man is not free; we do not live in ‘the free West’; the mainstream press and media is not free, independent and impartial; opinion, whether it be found on ‘the left’ or on ‘the right’, is not formed ‘from scratch’ by any one of us; and although you can discover verifiable ‘facts’, and from time to time you might come across ‘honesty’, there remains little ‘truth’ in the world.

Are you offended by that assertion? You will be if you have swallowed the lie that ‘democracy’ and modern liberal values have liberated us to being autonomous creatures, who think for ourselves and have control over our lives. What about our highly prized ‘freedom of speech’? of our ‘Western values’ of opportunity for all, open-mindedness and tolerance? Well, what about them? Don’t you realise how gradually words like ‘fundamentalist’, ‘extremist’, ‘bigot’, ‘absolutist’, ‘hard-liner’, ‘narrow-minded’, have taken on a sinister, anti-social dimension in our ‘tolerant’ society, one to be avoided by us at all costs? Yes, and who today would ever want to be called a ‘flat-earther’?! (Of course, secular humanism can be all of the above and still remain ‘reasonable’; such is its hypocrisy.)

Man is a social creature; generally speaking he doesn’t like being alone or to stand out; he doesn’t want to be mocked or derided because of any sincerely held beliefs, ideas or convictions he might have, and has a natural tendency to conform to his social environment by ‘going with the flow’. Generally he likes to agree with his peers, live peaceably with all men, submit safely to the way things are; and one of the sure ways to succeed in these things is simply not to think or question too much.

The result of all this is that man has become such a shallow creature. The masses and, if they only knew it, the great majority in academia, the media and politics, are just being swept along by the spirit of the age, blindly accepting or working within the general confines of what is deemed acceptable or expected. Some do, from time to time, seek to ‘break the mould’ or ‘step out of line’: thinking themselves innovative or ‘radical’, but it is more often than not out of a spirit of rebellion against ‘convention’ rather than having had an original thought: having come under conviction of something profound, or having come into knowledge of ‘the truth’. And anyway, the age old verity does still stand: ‘there is no new thing under the sun.’

So how are we all kept in this way, in this general conformity? Well, by diversion, of course, which can be manifest in many ways. By ambition and drive to attain; by being constantly encouraged to fulfil of the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, which often involves getting into financial debt – what a great ‘discipline’ that is! No, wait, think of it rather as ‘investing for the future’; there, that feels better, doesn’t it? Then there is the preoccupation with political intrigue and current affairs: the sham system which is democracy – so devoid of truth, so full of deception.

Consider one of the greatest of modern tools for keeping people entranced: competition in all its various manifestations: not least in sport; and more subtly in business or academia, where perhaps you can become ‘an authority in your field’. And what about the all consuming diversion of entertainment and amusement: getting immersed in the moment: in the ‘here and now’. The arts are a great distraction, especially when man is stirred up to attempt to ‘create’ in literature, music, art, or theatre. Multitudes are absorbed in films and programmes and series: the latest box set; and with the lives and careers of those whose fame is won because their ‘work’ is play-acting: performing. Allied to this is the cult of celebrity: eagerly following the so often dissolute lives of the ‘stars’ of the day. Add to all this individual pastimes, hobbies and interests and the vast majority will be content in their lives: in the things which ‘stimulate’ them. But what a poor state to be in. Boiling it all down to the increasingly prevalent lowest common denominator, all you seem to need nowadays is a screen – of whatever size – a shallow commentary, and a ‘like’ button, and you’ll never need to think, reason, search, or exercise your minds again. ‘Life’ is provided for you, and it’s all continually and irritatingly instant!

Yes, ‘intelligent’ or ‘riff-raff’, we all seem to be falling into this mentality. And don’t imagine that the professing Christian church is untouched by it either. The basic principle that man no longer has to think for himself to survive in this world applies as equally to the church. Take this principle and apply it to your denominational mentality and see if it is not exactly the same. In your church you gather under the banner of ‘what we believe’, which is a set of doctrines which distinguishes your gathering from the one down the road. But that set of beliefs has most likely been in existence from before the time you joined the church – or were born into it – and is therefore probably a long settled and entrenched state to which you must continue to conform if you are to remain in it. Because of this, no original thought or questioning by you regarding what you believe is necessary or even permitted as the immovable monolith of your denominational tradition is not up for discussion: no further light is admissible; no new ideas are needed to maintain the ancient and steady ark: the one rule of continued membership is simply ‘conform or leave’.

So is the way of the world. Yes the world is different to the denomination in that it – the world – does not profess to accept the concept of absolutes and so can change – ‘progress’ – with the latest ‘new thinking’, although even that foundation has begun to disappear from the churches; but in principle they are both the same: ‘conform or …’ And who wants to be found in those dots.

So don’t think. Just don’t think. Don’t question, don’t raise your hand and ask, ‘Why…?’ Or, ‘What if it’s all wrong?’ ‘What if we’re being deceived?’ Just don’t do it. Result? Peace, ah, peace. Peace and safety. Peace and security: ‘safe and sound’! Never mind the coming ‘sudden destruction’.

Now, what is behind all this: this spirit of the world – manifest equally in the modern church? Well, it is a spirit, an evil, malign spirit called by the apostle Paul, ‘the prince of the power of the air’: ‘the god of this world’: Satan, the Devil. And it would be tempting here to go into a substantial documentation of the personages in this world – of men and organisations long set up – who exist in high and secret places, who worship, serve and obey the dictates of ‘Lucifer’ – as they call him – of this apparent ‘angel of light’, who promises them that ‘they shall be as gods’ – whose wealth and power is so substantial that we are, to all intents and purposes, slaves to their political and social agenda of absolute world domination. But I’m not going to. If you have the inclination to look into these things and investigate what is commonly termed the New World Order, then you will discover that the world in which you live is not all that it seems; that it is not only the ‘state media’ of dictatorial regimes which spews out propaganda all day, and your whole outlook on life will change. Guaranteed.

The reason I’m not going to expose these things here – apart from the fact that the subject is far too big and all pervasive, there being thousands of websites, blogs, documentaries, documented records, and hundreds if not thousands of years of history to prove this great conspiracy against man – is because it is not actually these wicked men who are ultimately behind the deception, it is that great enemy of our souls himself working in these children of disobedience who is the real culprit.

Let us be clear: Satan hates God; and therefore Satan hates man who was created in the image of God. So is it not reasonable to conclude that he should take every opportunity to discredit God and his truth in the eyes of men? What was the first thing that the serpent said to Eve in the Garden of Eden? ‘Yea, hath God said…?’ Now if you are someone who believes that ‘the Bible is the Word of God’, then you must also accept that all it reveals regarding any given subject must be undeniably true. And yet, as we shall prove, at the very heart of a belief in a globe earth is a denial of the scriptural record.

So why do most Bible-believing Christians believe the earth to be a sphere, and scoff at the idea that it might be flat? And why do they not perceive more the working of Satan in the course of this world? Because of the fact that we have already established: they do not and cannot perceive these things because the system which they belong to – both religious and secular – has ‘educated’ them into seeing the world in a certain way. Let me ask the Bible-believer this question: Why don’t you know that the earth is a plane which doesn’t spin or move at all? Your Bible tells you openly that your world is flat and stable. And what is your immediate reaction to that question? Incredulity? But why incredulity? Have you never stopped to think about it? No. Well, you have an opportunity to stop and think now. These things are more important to your ‘faith’ than you realise.

Red means ‘Go’

Before we continue I want you to imagine this scenario. From January 1st next year the government has decreed that all traffic lights are to be turned upside down so that green will be on top with red at the bottom. However, the top colour will still mean ‘stop’ and the bottom ‘go’. Just imagine the effect upon the collective consciousness if this were to happen. We would have to start coming to terms with something so contrary to what we’d always understood to be ‘right’ and ‘true’ that society would probably undergo some sort of mass nervous breakdown. Why? Because we’ve always understood green to mean ‘go’, not the opposite; and because – this knowledge and perception being so ingrained in us – we don’t actually ever question the fact: we don’t have to, green does mean go. When you’re driving towards a set of traffic lights and they turn red you automatically slow down and stop; you don’t look at the red light and think, ‘Oh, a red light; now this means stop, I’d better stop’. No, you don’t think it because this knowledge is innate. But if the law was changed – even if the ‘stop’ light were still on top – you would become so troubled and unsettled in your mind that it would act as a kind of earthquake in the depths of your being. You might even go so far as to think that your whole world had been turned upside down, because such a naturally perceived and basic principle of life had been totally undermined.

Now this is more or less what happens to you when you come to realise the profound truth that the ground under your feet is a stable plane and not a spinning ball. The whole of your perception on the world in which you live is changed. And as we will go on to see, your whole understanding of the ‘universe’ of which you are a part alters dramatically, and ultimately the whole question of ‘the meaning of life’ comes into sharper and more profound focus. Some might think these to be over-dramatic assertions; but behind this whole question of the shape and position of the earth in relation to what we see and perceive in ‘the heavens’ above, is the realisation that it actually becomes a question of origins, of the history of time, of Creation, of God: Is there a God? How did we get here? Was there really a Big Bang? Is the Bible true? etc. It’s not simply a question of science: of what we can ‘prove’ or otherwise, but is a question of Truth: Is God true? Is man wise? What drives ‘science’? What is truth?

You must realise that it is not merely a question of whether the earth is a ball or a flat plane; it’s a question of whether God created the earth unique – as Genesis 1:1 clearly implies – or ‘chance’ created this small insignificant lump of spinning rock in a vast infinite universe which just so happened to find itself in the right relationship to its nearest source of light and heat to allow ‘life’ to evolve upon it. That’s the issue. This is why – in the context of the mentality of the modern world – the flat earth is potentially such a devastating question to consider, and find an answer to. So let not the professed Christian, at least, dismiss this issue so lightly; and let him not fall into the mentality of the world which scoffs mindlessly at ‘the flat-earther’.

The Flat Earth and Today’s Church

Now it is not true to say that every one who propagates this idea that the earth is flat is a ‘Bible-believing Christian’, as a quick search of this subject online will show. Nevertheless there are some interesting observations to make regarding these people. Firstly many of them will readily turn to scripture to prove certain points of their theory; and secondly, a majority of them also conclude that if the earth is flat then of necessity the ‘big bang’ evolutionary model becomes redundant as an explanation for the origins of ‘the universe’. More often than not they conclude that there must be a ‘God’ who created all things – or at least an ‘intelligent designer’ – as opposed to the chance, random, chaos-to-order explanation used by most godless scientists. This is most interesting, and should actually serve as a wake up call to the professed Christian who likes to boast that he ‘stands on the authority of the Bible’. Worldly men investigating the shape of the earth cannot help but conclude that your Book backs up their contention that the earth is a fixed plane and not a spinning ball!

Now although the scriptures don’t require man’s ‘belief’ in them to make them true, it is certainly interesting when one discovers non-Christians arguing for the validity of scripture on certain points, while at the same time ‘Christians’ remain ignorant or even outright unbelieving of those same scriptures when they evidently prove that a widely held perception is actually false. To me all this just shows how dull the modern profession of Christianity has become: how apathetic, ‘past feeling’, Eph. 4:19, how mindless and careless it is when it comes to the spirit of enquiry, with its general unwillingness to seek anything out for itself: remaining quite happy to believe just about anything it is told – fed – from ‘the pulpit’.

But why is it like this? Because the modern church – almost totally – exists and functions quite happily without ‘revelation’. True saving knowledge comes only by ‘revelation of the Father’, see Matthew 16:13-17; and because today’s church – in whatever denominated form it appears – survives without ever having had to receive this revelation – although it receives plenty of what it professes to believe by ‘the revelation of flesh and blood’, i.e. natural learning – then its members, when faced with any truth which goes against their ‘beliefs’, are much less likely to stop, think and question what they do believe, why they believe it, and seek that testimony from God himself – by revelation – as to what the truth actually is.

Now I am not saying here that if you are truly saved you will believe the earth to be flat; neither am I saying that only those who believe the earth to be a fixed plane can be saved. But what I am saying is that those who are truly saved – because of the profound work which God has wrought in them by revealing the truth to them – are much more likely to realise that their natural understanding remains darkened until God enlightens it; that the world and everything that emanates from ‘the wisdom of this world’ usually proves to be ‘foolishness’; that, therefore, all that the world teaches as ‘truth’ must be counted as highly suspicious; and that because ‘the whole world lieth in wickedness’ then everything it propounds as ‘science’ – knowledge – is likely a lie; especially when it concludes against the truth, person, work and revelation of God. And yet here we are arguing for the truth that this world upon which we live is a stable plane and most if not all the Christian readers will already have dismissed the very thought as being ridiculous. But why will they rightly reject the theory of evolution – and use scripture to do so – but will not even consider the proposition that the earth is flat? There is an obvious inconsistency in professing Christendom in this.

There are, at the time of writing (Summer 2016), some very famous Creation apologists who show no sign or even willingness to address this question of the flat earth, even from scripture, while spending all their energies proving from scripture that evolution is a lie! But why not use the same principles of enquiry to investigate this question as they do the question of evolution? Non-Christians prove from scripture the earth to be flat, why not these ‘stout defenders of scriptural truth’? Well, only time will tell whether or not these creationists will catch up with the ‘honest’ non-believers as regarding the truth of their scriptures on this point.

Part Two: The Flat Earth Reality

The Motionless Earth

So we come to the question: Can we find any scriptural testimony to a spinning earth? About a year ago I was pondering the subject of ‘the beginning’ in Genesis 1:1 – ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’ – and it struck me how unique the earth is in the creation of God; the verse reads in effect, In the beginning God created the earth, and everything else which is not the earth; that’s how I read it. As we read on in that First Chapter we see that the lights: the sun, moon and stars, were created to serve the earth: ‘for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years’, verse 14; therefore these lights were subsidiary to the earth. This, of course, is clean contrary to the big bang, billions of years, evolutionary theory, where the sun is the centre of our ‘solar’ system and came into existence long before the earth was formed, which in time became in effect subservient to the sun because of the workings of Newton’s invented ‘law of gravitation’. According to this theory the earth could not have existed without the sun; yet in Genesis we find that not only the earth but the heaven – the firmament – the seas, the dry land, and all the plant kinds on the earth came into being before this so-called life-giver, The Sun, was even created. It turns out to be nothing less than pagan Sun worship which has reversed the order of Genesis 1; and which has, at length, issued in the ball-earth theory.

Anyway, as I continued my meditation on this beginning in Genesis and the special position of the earth in God’s creation, I began to notice in references throughout scripture that all the language which relates to the earth is the language of stability: that the earth is motionless; while all the language descriptive of the sun, moon and stars is that of movement. But that is as far as I got. When I mentioned this to my brother he replied, ‘Well, you know the earth is flat!’ ‘What?!’ I can still recall the feeling I had when he said it: Absolute nonsense! It is one of the fundamental facts of life, like ‘death and taxes’, that the earth is a spinning globe! How offended I was at my brother’s words. Yes, offended: the sky is blue, red does mean stop, and the earth spins around the sun; we all ‘know’ these things to be true.

But it started me upon a quest to see if what he said was true, though I should have begun to conclude this myself from scripture. For verily the language of scripture regarding the earth really is everywhere the language of stability. We read that it has foundations and is built upon pillars; that it can be shaken, and that it can tremble: possibly figurative language but a meaningless figure if the earth already has natural movement. But when we read a verse like Job 9:6 we see that God ‘shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble’. There the earth is indeed said to have a ‘place’: by implication a set place, and that its pillars are usually stable – indeed what use are pillars otherwise.

Now I do realise that there are some phrases in scripture which can be seen as being figurative only: for instance, although ‘God is a Spirit’, John 4:24, yet he is said to have ‘eyes’, ‘ears’, and ‘hands’; but a spirit by definition cannot have physical properties. But does this mean that he cannot still ‘see’, ‘hear’, and ‘do’? It does not. God is also said to have a heart and a mind, he can feel, be grieved, can love, can be angry: only a sentient Person can manifest these things.

In the light of this then perhaps these foundations, pillars and, as we shall see, the earth’s ‘establishment that it cannot be moved’ is all merely figurative language that is not supposed to be taken literally. Let us see. Psalm 93:1, just quoted, seems to be a common verse referenced by flat-earth proponents to prove the motionless earth: Young’s literal translation of the Hebrew is very terse: ‘Also – established is the world, unmoved.’ Now the first thing to note here is that the psalmist doesn’t use the word ‘earth’ but ‘world’. Is this important? Is there a difference between the two? In this verse there is no real difference. Generally speaking in the Old Testament the word translated earth, as in Genesis 1:1 and 1:10, is simply ‘the ground’ as opposed to ‘the sea’; whereas the word ‘world’, although it does have a more varied application in scripture, is usually the word for ‘the habitable part of the earth’; and that is the word used here in Psalm 93:1. So it is fair to say that the world in this verse can to all intents and purposes be understood as being ‘the earth’ – cp. also Psalms 50:12 and 24:1.

But for all that I still can’t quite apply this verse as literally as others do to ‘prove’ a stable earth. The simple reason being that a principle can be ‘established’, and a principle is not a physical entity. The earth therefore can be described as having been established in that it has been made by God, and that unless or until he destroys it, it ‘cannot be moved’. So although this phrase can hint at a motionless earth it cannot really be taken on its own to prove it.

I suppose the same could be said of the ‘foundations’ and the ‘pillars’ of the earth. But these words do also suggest a more physical application along with the admitted ‘principle’ interpretation. As the ‘establishment’ of something can exist solely in the realm of principle, the words ‘foundation’ and, perhaps to a lesser degree, ‘pillars’ can also be applied to the physical. If you’re not convinced then consider the following verses: ‘Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed…’, Psalm 102:25,26. Now no-one reading those verses can fail to see that the psalmist is speaking of the physical creation bound by time: of the physical world in which he lived and of the physical heavens which he saw above his head. Therefore there is no reason to believe that the ‘foundations’ are not physical also.

Look at Job 38:4. There the LORD asks Job, ‘Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?’ – he then going on in chapters 38 and 39 to make reference to many other physical properties of creation. Psalm 104 also speaks of the foundations of the earth in the context of the literal physical creation, and with probable reference to the Flood in Noah’s day – another literal physical occurrence, verses 5-9. In fact it is interesting to note in verse 5 that the marginal reading gives the literal Hebrew: ‘He hath founded the earth upon her bases.’ We know from Genesis 1:1 that ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’, obviously a physical earth: so why not built upon actual foundations or bases?

Psalm 24:2 says that the earth upon which we live has been ‘founded upon the seas, and established upon the floods’. This can be clearly seen in the account of creation in Genesis 1. At the beginning the earth was covered in water, no land could be seen. It wasn’t until the third day that ‘dry land appeared’ above the water, verse 9. Peter says that people are willingly ignorant of the fact ‘that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water’, 2 Peter 3:5, therefore the earth can be said to have its ‘foundation upon the seas’. So it is reasonable to conclude from these references that the material earth upon which we live is built upon actual foundations: hence the distinct probability, from the testimony of scripture, that the world is motionless.

As to the pillars of the earth: the only references I can find in our present context are in Job 9:6 quoted above and in Hannah’s words in 1 Samuel 2:8, where she says of the pillars of the earth that the LORD hath set the world upon them. Now the reason that I said earlier that these pillars are ‘to a lesser degree’ a proof of the motionless earth is that this reference could have merely a spiritual application. In Galatians 2:9 Paul refers to James, Cephas and John as being ‘pillars’ in the church; and it may be that Hannah’s ‘pillars’ are the people of God upon the earth, immediately referred to as ‘the poor’, ‘the beggar’ and ‘his saints’. In that she said that the LORD ‘hath set the world upon them’, it may mean that the world is upheld because of the continued presence of the people of God upon earth – they are, after all, ‘the salt of the earth’, and ‘the light of the world’, Matt. 5:13,14. So perhaps Hannah’s reference to pillars here is not literal. Nonetheless like ‘established’ this word does seem to add to the scriptures’ accumulative testimony to the ‘stability’ of the earth.

Now if you investigate further what the flat-earthers in the world say in regard to the movement or stability of the earth you will discover that they can prove scientifically – without, though not contrary to, scripture – that the earth is motionless. I must confess that I have never had a scientific bent and do not pretend to understand all the scientific proofs of the subject at hand, but, as I said, a lot of serious research has been done, and there is a lot of repeatable experimental evidence out there for a motionless earth which will stimulate and perhaps surprise the scientifically minded reader; as all these researchers seem to say: ‘Don’t just believe me, do your own research’: so try looking up the Michelson-Morley experiment; the Michelson-Gale experiment; Airy’s Failure; and Sagnac’s experiment, etc., and see what you discover.

Check Your Flights

Now although my main point of reference in this article is scripture, I would like to mention one or two interesting occurrences from general observation which have sparked my imagination, and which provide extra proof, to me at least, that the earth doesn’t spin.

According to the rotating earth theory the globe is spinning from west to east. That would mean that if you were flying west your destination would be spinning towards you as soon as your plane left the ground. So, for instance, when I used to fly from London to Edmonton in the west of Canada, the rotation of the earth should have brought my destination towards me at a speed of about 700 miles an hour making my journey relatively short even though Edmonton is seven hours behind London. So in practice my plane should have taken off from Heathrow and flown west for three or four hours before happily landing at our newly arrived destination. But we never did. The flight was always a good eight hours or more: we literally had to fly across seven time zones to get there. Also consider a much shorter flight, say, from London to Bristol. Surely all you’d need to do is ascend from the runway and hover for the few minutes it took for Bristol to appear below you. But again you actually do have to fly the hundred miles or so west to get to Lulsgate airport. These flights are only necessary over a motionless earth.

Likewise, if you were flying three time zones east from London to Moscow, as soon as you took off from Heathrow the earth beneath you would be spinning ahead of you at seven hundred miles an hour. Therefore your plane would have to be flying at 700 mph just to keep you positioned over London! You would never get to Moscow unless you flew significantly faster than the spin, and I am not aware of any passenger airliner today which flies at such speeds to enable you to get to Moscow in the three and a half hours or so that it actually does take. Why not look up the flight times, plane speeds, etc. yourselves and see what you discover. Interestingly what you will find is that flights east and flights west to and from the same two destinations are always more or less equal in journey time – impossible on a spinning earth.

Again, if you were flying due south, say from London to Lisbon – which is about a thousand miles and a two-and-a-half hour flight over the motionless earth – you would have to travel much further and in a south-easterly direction to follow and catch up with Lisbon because of the spin of the earth; but it just doesn’t happen.

One more observation. If the earth was a globe – spinning or not – then, regardless of which direction planes were flying, the pilots would have to be continually ‘diving’ to keep parallel with the ground. Once they had reached ‘35,000 feet’, to maintain their height of seven miles above the earth they would, if they were travelling at about 500 miles per hour, continually have to ‘descend’ just over half a mile – about 2,800 ft – every minute. If they set their course at cruising speed and ‘just kept flying straight ahead’ – which is what they do do – they would soon ‘fly off into space’ getting ever further from the ball earth dipping round the curve below them. But of course that just doesn’t happen. If you know any pilots ask them about these things: just ask them if they ever have to make allowance for the curvature or spin of the earth.

‘From the rising of the sun…’

Now if we look up to the heavens we discover that the constant language of scripture to describe sun, moon and stars is the language of movement. Immediately some will say that of course the lights in the sky seem to move from our perspective because it is actually we who are spinning, making it appear to our senses that the lights are moving, when in fact they are stable. ‘In fact’? Oh, and who came up with that ‘fact’? Not scripture. In the days of Joshua we do not read that the earth stopped spinning but that ‘the sun stood still, and the moon stayed’, Joshua 10:12-14. Now those words are so specific and deliberate, that they must prove to be misleading and, indeed, a lie if what in actual fact happened was that ‘the earth stood still’. ‘The earth stood still’ could so easily have been written without detriment to truth or the power of God, if indeed the earth had stood still. But no. Scripture clearly records Joshua before the LORD calling upon the sun and moon to cease their movement; not the earth its. Again in the days of Hezekiah we definitely read that ‘the sun returned ten degrees’, not that ‘the earth spun back ten degrees’, Isaiah 38:8, see also 2 Kings 20:9-11.

Again there are numerous references to the movement of the heavenly bodies: especially of the sun: ‘From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised’, Psalm 113:3. Poetical language only? Well it is poetical, but the psalmist could just as easily have sung, ‘From the dawning of the day to the fading shades of light…’, but here he chose to describe the beginning and ending of the day from what he observed in the sky above him. In fact throughout scripture the sun is constantly being referred to as ‘rising’, and ‘going down’. In Ecclesiastes 1:5-7 the wise man speaks of the movement of the sun – ‘The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose’ – the winds and the rivers; but why is it only the movement of the sun in this passage which is thought to be merely illusional?

In Psalm 19 we have the sun ‘as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race’, of his ‘going forth’ and of his ‘circuit’: movement, movement, movement. We will come back to this psalm later. The Lord Jesus taught his disciples that the Father ‘maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good’, Matt. 5:45; and Paul in Ephesians 4:26 exhorts the saints: ‘let not the sun go down upon your wrath’. They each wrote and spoke of what we see every day! The sun rises, moves across the sky, and then sets.

As to the moon, it is said to be ‘walking’ in Job 31:26, and ‘withdrawing itself’ in Isaiah 60:20; while Habakkuk 3:11 confirms that ‘the sun and the moon stood still in their habitation.’ The stars also are said to have ‘courses’, or ‘paths’ as it says in the margin of Judges 5:20. It is all the language of movement. There is no doubt from the testimony of scripture that these lights move across the sky above us, not that we spin around below them.

The Flat Earth

So we come to the actual shape of the earth – this incredible plane upon which we live! Firstly we must look at the most commonly quoted ‘proof-text’ given from scripture for a ball earth: Isaiah 40:22 and ‘the circle of the earth’. Surely the prophet is telling us here that the earth is round? Well we are told that it is, or has, a circle, yes, but not that it is a sphere. Hair-splitting? All right, if you want it to say ’round’ then yes, a ball can be described as being round, as can your dinner plate or a compact disc. CDs are round – circular – while remaining as flat as a pancake! This is also why you can sail ’round’ – or circle – the earth without it necessarily being a ball. But anyway, as this verse doesn’t actually describe the earth as ‘round’, but rather as having a ‘circle’, and as a circle is a two, not a three dimensional shape, then Isaiah 40:22 cannot be used to prove, and doesn’t prove, the earth to be a globe.

For me there is one cast iron proof from both scripture and nature which clearly testifies to the flat earth: The surface of water. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that a body of water always finds and maintains a level surface; and that holds true whether it be a small puddle, an inland lake or the Pacific Ocean. The very nature of water dictates this to be an absolute verity. Now as all the oceans of the earth are connected – one can ‘sail the seven seas’, circumnavigating the earth without touching land – then it must follow that all the water of the oceans is on the same level – sea level? – making the earth of necessity a horizontal plane.

The scriptural testimony of this is found right at the beginning: Genesis 1:9 says, ‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good’, verse 10. As the waters were ‘gathered together unto one place’, the surface level of those waters would have been uniform. Notice also that God called that one body of waters Seas, not just ‘the sea’: so all the waters upon the face of the earth were on one level even though they existed in various places across the plane as seas.

Now a question immediately arises: How is it then that the water doesn’t drain off the edge of the flat earth? The answer is because there is a big wall keeping them in, as Job 26:10 says, ‘He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.’ Now again that verse is very specific; it definitely says that the waters are compassed with bounds, not that the land is bound by the waters. On a ball earth it is the land which is everywhere closed in by the seas but here we have the sees themselves closed in: and as you can indeed sail round the earth on water without touching land then on a globe the seas cannot be said to be closed in – ‘compassed with bounds’.

So what and where are these bounds? On the flat earth Antarctica serves as the bounds for all the waters of the earth. The great body of water upon the face of the earth which we call seas and oceans cannot drain off the edge because of the great wall of ice surrounding them. It’s quite simple really. In our lying atlases Antarctica is always shown as a roundish continent ‘at the bottom of the world’ surrounding what we are told is ‘the south pole’; but on the flat plane Antarctica becomes the boundary wall of ice which surrounds the whole earth. Again this could be what the LORD is referring to in Job 38:8-11, when he speaks of the sea having ‘a swaddlingband of thick darkness’; of having ‘bars and doors’, saying to it, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed’. Notice again that it’s the sea which has ‘a band’ around it. Read the passage for yourself, and see what it suggests to you.

Does this mean then that there is no south pole? It does. There is 90° south, just as we are told, but there must also be 91° south, and 92° south; and how far further south we don’t know. In fact ‘south’ is the direction from what we call the north pole: but really, on the flat plane, ‘north’ is actually the centre of the circle of the earth, ‘south’ more accurately being the direction ‘away’ from that centre. Therefore the lines of latitude actually radiate out, not ‘down’, from the centre; across the plane away towards ‘the ends of the earth’; while the lines of longitude, which all converge at the centre point – the ‘north pole’ – in reality continue to diverge and not converge beyond the ‘equator’, making the land masses ‘south’, or outside, of the equator much larger in reality than our globes show.

Now the reader might find the subject of Antarctica interesting to investigate. Try researching ‘The Antarctic Treaty’ of 1959, and the amazing level of political agreement which holds it together. Discover how this great mass of ice is totally off limits to independent explorers: that no-one can go beyond or outside of 60° south without ‘official’ permission; and ask yourself why although there are over 20 bases dotted around Antarctica, there are none situated between Australia and South America. And if the airline flights section above sparked your imagination then try and find out why there are no flight paths over or near Antarctica. Search for direct flights from one southern hemisphere city to another over two continents – say from Cape Town to Sydney, or Auckland to Buenos Aires – and see what you find. Anyway, I find this a most interesting and indeed exciting discovery. Exciting because what you find will add to the evidence that the earth is a plane and not a ball; which knowledge seems to come with a surprising degree of liberty.

The Stretched out Planes

We come now to look at the language scripture uses to describe the related planes of the heavens, the earth, and the waters which are ‘under the earth’. As we do the ball-earth theory will recede further from our minds: (I’m tempted to say that the ball earth continues to ‘fall flat’!). Psalm 136 says, ‘O give thanks unto the LORD… [for he hath] stretched out the earth above the waters’, verse 6. Again the earth is not only said to be ‘stretched out’ but ‘spread forth’ according to Isaiah 42:5. That same verse also speaks of the heavens as having been ‘stretched out’. These heavens are frequently described in scripture as being ‘above the earth’, never ’round about’ it. Look at Deuteronomy 5:8 for instance: here we have ‘in heaven above’, ‘in the earth beneath’, and then, ‘in the waters beneath the earth’. Paul in Philippians 2:10 also testifies ‘…of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth…’ This use of language clearly describes the heavens, the earth, and under the earth existing as a series of planes, one, obviously, on top of the other: nothing spherical can be deduced from these verses.

So firstly we have the psalmist declaring, ‘As far as the heavens are above the earth…’, (on the underside of a ball the heavens would be below the earth as viewed from ‘outer space’); secondly we are found living ‘under the heaven’, cp. Ecclesiastes 3:1, ‘in’ the earth – I live ‘in’ England; and thirdly there are those things which are ‘under the earth’: the waters – as well as the pit – which exist on the other side of the earth to the heavens. Distinct planes. This latter place is brought out very clearly in Numbers 16 where we read of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram: ‘…the ground clave asunder that was under them: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up… [and] they went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them…’, verses 31-33. Now read those words carefully; what are they saying? They are telling us that the men were literally swallowed down through the earth into the pit below. Their entrance into this pit is not described in spiritual terms: we are not told that their ‘souls’ went into the pit (cp. Revelation 20:4), but that they themselves, the men, went down alive into the pit. So this was a physical descent into an actual place ‘under the earth’. I found that most striking when I read it in this context.

Remember again that in Noah’s day we read of the waters of the great deep whose fountains were broken up at the beginning of the Flood, Gen. 7:11. These fountains and waters obviously came up from under the earth as in the same verse we read of ‘the windows of heaven’ being opened above the earth. The ‘water under the earth’ is again referenced in the Ten Commandments, in Exodus 20:4, where we read, ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.’ Now some might say that this is just a reference to the water of the sea; but in Revelation 5:13 we have a distinction made between the two: ‘And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea…’ There we find those which are ‘under the earth’ existing in a different place to those which are ‘in the sea’.

The Firmament of Heaven

Now let us consider ‘the firmament’ of Genesis 1:6-8. When created this firmament ‘divided the waters which are under the firmament from the waters which are above the firmament’. Now modern astronomy tells us that the sky above us is limitless: beyond the blue – beyond the earth’s atmosphere – is the infinite vacuum of space. But Genesis 1 clearly states that there is this firmament, which is a solid, material, though probably transparent, structure. Read again what it says: the firmament divides ‘the waters which are under the firmament from the waters which are above the firmament’. Now as waters are physical, they exist as matter, then anything which divides them must itself be an actual physical barrier. When the Flood came upon Noah’s world we read that ‘the windows of heaven were opened’ releasing waters from above the firmament for a time before they were ‘stopped’. Now for some reason I long presumed that all the water which was above the firmament drained out at the flood, but no; Psalm 148:4, written centuries later, states that there are still waters above the heavens; this answers to the windows being ‘stopped’ in Genesis 8:2, indicating that they hadn’t all run out, there is still water up there – perhaps this is why the sky is blue?

Now here ‘the plot thickens’! For a common reason given to explain the great ages of people who lived before the flood was because the waters above the firmament acted as a shield or filter which kept the inhabitants of the earth safe from the sun’s more harmful rays. But if you read Genesis 1 you will discover that the sun was definitely placed ‘in’, or within, not ‘above’ the firmament, verses 14-17, so these waters were always above – the other side of – the sun, and could never have acted as a shield. This means that you had the earth with the expanse of heaven, or sky, above it, and then the barrier of the firmament – containing sun, moon and stars – which separated the waters which were above the firmament from those which were below it upon the earth.

Now what about the shape of this firmament? Some believe it to be a dome over the earth: that we live in a giant enclosed structure where the edges of the dome come down to ‘the ends of the earth’ somewhere beyond 90° ‘south’, where none of us have ever been: think of those little snow-globes we used to shake as children. If this is the case then it might explain why Antarctica is the windiest continent on earth – the winds constantly rebounding off the sides of the dome. But as we have already seen that the heavens have been ‘stretched out’, it seems more likely that the firmament is another plane, most likely held up at ‘the four corners of the earth’ – again well out of our sight – by ‘the pillars of heaven’, see Job 26:11. Revelation 6:14 refers to the heaven as being like a scroll, and scrolls when they are spread out are usually flat. Indeed the base of the word translated ‘firmament’ in the Hebrew is the word for ‘beaten out’, as a piece of metal might be beaten out into a sheet. Either way it must be a fact that the earth does indeed have an edge, or ‘ends’; being a material plane it cannot be infinite as some flat-earth proponents seem to argue, for nothing of time can be infinite.

Perhaps the Antarctic Treaty was brought into being because explorers in the early- to mid-Twentieth Century actually did ‘find the edge’, and the ruling elite of this world, who by then may also have discovered the solid firmament, were determined to keep the fact of the finite flat plane of earth from the knowledge of the general population, who’d been sold the ball-earth, big bang, billions of years, evolution, no creator God theory. Who knows; we don’t, for we have never been to the ends of the earth and are not allowed to get anywhere near them!

By the way, this means that when the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection he went up into the sky – ‘the heaven’ – ‘a cloud receiving him out of their sight’, Acts 1:9,10, past the sun, moon and stars, through the sold structure of the firmament, through the remaining waters which are above the heavens, and into heaven itself. All Bible-believing Christians acknowledge Christ’s resurrection and ascension to have been physical and literal: an actual body of flesh and bones walked out from the grave and was taken up into heaven. And it is also accepted that ‘this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven’, Acts 1:11. Therefore it must be true that ‘the man Christ Jesus’ passed through a literal firmament and literal waters above the firmament. And why not? The physical, resurrected Jesus had already appeared to the disciples when they were ‘within… the doors being shut’, John 20:19-29. (Consider also Elijah’s ‘taking up’ in this context, 2 Kings 2:9-11.)

This immediately raises another interesting question: How far above us then is this firmament? Surely the sun is 93 million miles away, isn’t it? Is it? Who says? ‘Science’ says. Oh yes, that same science which teaches the globe earth and evolution as ‘fact’. Actually numerous calculations have been made using sextants and plane trigonometry which measure both the sun and moon to be about 3,100 miles above the earth with each being about 32 miles in diameter. If that is the case then the physical resurrected and ascended ‘Man in the glory’ is situated perhaps little more than 3,000 miles above your head. Forget ‘science’ and read the testimony of scripture regarding these things and see what you find.

On typing those last two sentences my mind went straight to Saul on the road to Damascus. There a light shined round about him from heaven and the Lord Jesus spoke to him – from more than 93 million miles away? Both Luke’s telling and Paul’s recounting of the incident indicate something much more immediate, more intimate, than ‘across the vast tracts of space’; cp. also Stephen in Acts 7:55,56.

Then here’s another interesting thought in this context. In Genesis 11 we read of the building of the Tower of Babel: hear what the people actually said: ‘Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven’, not just ‘into the heavens’ as in ‘high up in the sky’, but they intended to build a tower whose top would literally reach unto heaven itself, that is what they said. This was a great act of rebellion – ‘let us make us a name’ – clearly of the same nature and character as Lucifer’s in Isaiah 14:12-14 – ‘I will ascend into heaven… I will be like the most High.’ Whereas theirs was a physical and his primarily a spiritual attempt, yet both were literal: they both thought they could actually reach unto heaven. The ancients obviously knew, then, that the physical dwellingplace of God was reachable – reachable enough at least to try anyway. Again, a realisation of the earth being flat with a near firmament gives this account an added edge, and perhaps makes it a bit more understandable.

Psalm 19

But I want to come to Psalm 19 which we briefly referenced earlier. The subject of this psalm from the first verse is ‘the heavens’, and ‘the firmament’: ‘in them’, verse 4, ‘hath [God] set a tabernacle – a dwelling-place – for the sun’. Again the sun is said to be ‘in’ not above the firmament. This sun, as we have seen, ‘is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race’, verse 5. Moving across the sky ‘his going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.’

In the context of all that we have seen thus far, this circuit – circle – of the sun in the heavens, in the firmament, is solely above the earth and compasses one end of heaven to the other. If you imagine the flat circle of the earth – well, you don’t have to imagine it, the United Nations flag shows you what the flat earth looks like: they do know – place the sun just above its surface, and see it circling over the earth once every twenty-four hours. The sun, as well as the moon, both circle above the earth in ever decreasing or expanding circles, depending on what time of year it is. In Britain the circle of the sun is more ‘northerly’, or nearer the centre of the earth, and is therefore a tighter circuit, in summer than in winter when the sun has moved out and away from the centre in ever increasing circles towards the ‘southern hemisphere’, or outer regions of the circle of the earth. But even then the sun still completes its circuit once every twenty-four hours, so is therefore moving faster the more ‘southerly’ it goes.

In the light of that consider the difference between, say, 70° south and 70° north – or even 50° in both – in relation to the character and nature of dawn and dusk at these latitudes; of the amount of plant and animal life which lives and can thrive – or not – at each, and see what interesting anomalies you find – anomalies indeed on a ball earth, but only to be expected on a flat plane. (By the way, the map of the world presented on the UN flag is known officially as the ‘Azimuthal Equidistant Polar Projection’; I’ve got one in my ‘Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas’ of 1969: they know as well.)

But back to Psalm 19 and specifically to the words at the end of verse six: ‘…and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.’ This is saying that there is nothing in the heavens, in the firmament, which is hidden from the heat of the sun. Now just think of that; what does it suggest to you? Well, does it need to be suggestive of anything, or does it just mean what it says? It says that there is no place in the heaven, in the firmament, which is hidden from the heat of the sun. Which means that all areas of the expanse of the firmament of heaven at one time or other feel the heat of the sun. Therefore as the sun is not 93 million miles away from the earth; and is not light years away from the stars, but is relatively close to the earth, then the firmament itself and the space between the earth and the firmament must actually be very small – compact – in comparison to ‘the vast emptiness of space’, of ‘outer space’, which modern science, and the modern film industry, assures us exist. As the sun makes its daily and yearly circuit above the earth, the whole of the firmament – that solid structure, the roof of the sky – feels the heat of the sun: that is what Psalm 19:6 clearly says.

Also consider this. If the earth is indeed a stretched out plane, and is about 25,000 miles circumference at the equator – the middle line, or circle, of latitude between the centre of the earth and 90° ‘south’ – then it follows that the sun cannot be 93 million miles away simply because if it was then the whole of the plane would be in daylight all the time. But if the sun and moon were only about 3,000 miles above the earth then you would indeed get day and night on earth at the same time because the lights would always be relatively ‘local’ at any given time. You can see this in your own living room in the evening. Turn the main light on and the whole of the floor space is lit because the light is high above the floor, on the ceiling. But now turn off the light, get a torch and shine it down a few inches above the carpet and move it round in a circle above the floor and see ‘day and night’ appear!

Now what about ‘the ends of the earth’ which we have already referred to? This is again an interesting phrase if it is thought of as merely figurative language; for the writers could just as easily have used a phrase like ‘around the earth’, or ‘all over the earth’ instead, but they didn’t. Many of the places in scripture which use this phrase are obviously referring to all the peoples of the earth found out and away from the place the writer was dwelling. In Psalm 67, for instance, the psalmist continually speaks of ‘us’, the immediate people of God that dwelt in the land, and also of ‘all nations’, concluding with ‘God shall bless us: and all the ends of the earth shall fear him’. Psalm 98:3 likewise declares that the LORD ‘hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.’

Another wonderful passage containing this phrase is found in Proverbs 30:4, which now takes on a sharper meaning in light of the understanding we have gained thus far: ‘Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, or what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?’ Can you see it? See also Isaiah 41:5, 43:4-7, 52:10, etc., in our context.

Whereas the phrase ‘the ends of the earth’ in and of itself – just like the earth having been ‘established that it cannot be moved’ in and of itself – cannot be used as an absolute proof text for a flat earth, it does however feed into the general realisation from scripture that the earth is indeed a stable plane which has outer limits – a ball earth cannot have literal ‘ends’.

Another phrase used frequently by the scriptural writers is ‘the face of the earth’: already in Genesis 1:2 we have ‘the face of the deep’ and ‘the face of the waters’. Now we know the word face to refer to the front side of something – like your head; or the flat side of an object – like on a clock; but I am not aware of the whole surface of a ball or sphere being described as ‘the face’. The face of something is always describing a particular aspect. So as the earth is said to have a face, does that phrase make more sense on a flat plane or on a spherical earth? Just another interesting element to the subject under consideration, don’t you think?!

Conclusion

Now it is very probable that if you have read this far then numerous questions will have arisen in your minds which I haven’t addressed: ‘Well, if that’s the case, then what about….?’ Hopefully your interest, or annoyance, will have been sufficiently stimulated to search out the answers for yourself; either to satisfy you that my assertions are valid, or to disprove them. Whichever it is, enjoy your investigations, and be prepared for surprises!

But having looked into these things over the last year or so, I cannot help but come to the firm conclusion – and I am a hundred percent sure of this, totally convinced – that the earth is flat: it is a plane; it does not move or spin on an axis; it does not rotate around the sun, and it is at the centre – is the ground – of this small concentrated ‘universe’ – a word which has been coined to give us the impression of limitless vastness, but a word you will not find in scripture. According to the testimony of holy scripture – all of which has been given by inspiration of God – the earth upon which we live is the most important, the central part of the creation of God, and it is the only material plane there is – the lights in the sky being just that, lights: mere servants of the earth.

The importance and uniqueness of the earth in God’s creation is seen throughout scripture from the very beginning of Genesis to the last verses of Revelation. Nowhere in the Book do we get even the merest hint that the LORD God Almighty has bestowed his attention, the fruits of his purpose, or wrought anything savingly or graciously but upon this earth. Nowhere in scripture are we led to believe that the Lord Jesus visited any other world in ‘the universe’ but this one: indeed, the suggestion that he did would be thought blasphemous. Christ was the eternally begotten Son of the Father, who became incarnate once, here; and the sole purpose of his being made man was to do the will of the Father: to finish the work which he had given him to do, which was to save his people from their sins, and then to return to heaven to sit down at the Father’s right hand. The work of God in time, in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a work wrought uniquely upon this earth, and when all that work is completed the end of the world and of time will come; and God will destroy this world, the sun, moon and stars, and the firmament, and create a new heavens and a new earth. This is the clear and abundant testimony of holy scripture.

Therefore there is nothing in scripture which hints or suggests that there is life ‘out there’ in the heavens, on other ‘worlds’, be it human or ‘alien’. The concept of advanced intelligent life on distant planets which may, or may not, have been our progenitors, is solely born out of a belief in evolution and a complete dismissal of the biblical record. Just think of the absurdity of this earth being no more than a speck of dust in a vast limitless universe; of our sun being a relatively insignificant star among trillions of others, and that here, and nowhere else, Almighty God decided to put human life and concentrate all his attention, as though he had billions of other planets in the universe to choose from. No, but rather see this world as the only plane there is with the whole of the heavens stretched out above it, of similar length and breadth, and the supreme importance of this earth in the creation comes into view, as does our existence upon it. We are no more mere creatures of chance processes over millions of years with no souls, who must just make the best of the here and now in a self-centred, materialistic, nihilistic, few years of meaningless existence before we go the way of all flesh: the earth upon which we live having already been here for millions of years before us, with untold millions more to come.

If you read scripture with an open and honest mind you must surely get the impression that this earth is unique in the creation of God. But it has an end. When God’s purpose for this earth is completed, which is to call all those for whom Christ died, the end of the world, and of time, will come. And how does the scriptural record describe this end? Read Revelation 6:12-17. ‘And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth…’, without destroying it, by the way, so they must be what they appear to be, small pricks of light and not enormous suns, ‘…and the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together…’ for me, indeed, the conclusive proof of it being a plane ‘…and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.’

And then what? The passage goes on to tell you:

‘And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?’ Who indeed?

So who is this Lamb that has appeared? It is Jesus Christ the Son of God. He who was slain for his people; who was made sin for them; who bore their sins in his own body upon the tree; who died for them, ‘the just for the unjust’; and who rose again. His blood justifies them, and they are consequently called ‘the congregation of the righteous’, Psalm 1:5, and they alone will ‘stand’ in that day.

Here is ‘this same Jesus whom ye have seen go up into heaven’; he is the one about whom heaven declares, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever’, Rev. 5:12,13. ‘For God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’, Phil. 2:9-11.

‘The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’, 2 Thes. 1:7,8. These are all events which are soon to take place at the end of this brief history of time. Everything you are taught in this world by science: by astronomy, biology and physics, as well as by geography, history, and corrupted ‘religion’, regarding the origins and age of the earth, of time, of life, and of man which contradict the teaching of holy scripture; and by NASA and Hollywood, regarding moon landings, Mars probes, space travel and exploration, light years and everything to do with ‘outer space’, are just so many lies and fabrications. How is it that people can go to the cinema and watch the latest Star Wars film and gasp at the amazing special effects, and then go home, turn on the television and see a news item about the latest shenanigans on the International Space Station and think, ‘They’re really there!’? They can only do so if they have suspended any speck of God-given intelligence they might once have had, and have been given over to believing lies. Please do stop and think about these things.

Contrary to the ‘knowledge’ which godless men like to propagate, the holy scriptures give a truthful account of the history of our world from the first verse of Genesis: of the fall of man into sin because of rebellion against his Creator; of the only remedy for sinners through the blood of the Lamb; of how God works his salvation in his people, and of how our world is soon to be brought to a conclusion at the end of time, by God, by Jesus Christ, and the day of judgment.

In light of the scriptural evidence – at least – detailed in this article it would be foolish to go on in our apathy. The truth of the flat earth is not an interesting sideline to ‘belief’: a quirky optional extra to be held at arms length, or downright scorned, while still retaining some sort of ‘belief in Jesus’. He is the one who created this world, and man in it as man from the very beginning; and who presently upholds all things by the word of his power; and the abundant testimony of his scriptures is that he made this earth a stable plane: so important a truth because it does away absolutely with the alternative theory. Whom do you believe, Almighty God or godless science? If you are a professing Christian can you lightly let this subject go as unimportant or will you turn to your Creator and seek out his truth?

Professed Christian or not, I believe these things are true whether you believe them or not. The truth of God does not require the belief of man to validate it. There are dreadful warnings in scripture for ‘whosoever loveth and maketh a lie’, Rev. 22:15; 21:8,27. Ignorance is not bliss; we are accountable for willing ignorance in the light of revealed truth. But while there is life there is hope; there is still time to seek out the truth; not only about the flat earth – as we’ve already said, believing in the flat earth in itself will not deliver you from the wrath to come – but about why we are here, and what the meaning and purpose of life really is. Is there a God? What is he really like? What is man? What is sin in its very essence? What is true faith? What is salvation? Well, hear the commandment of the only true and living God, your Creator: for there is a God and he does command; and ask him to lead you into the truth of the fulness of the meaning of the following statement, which will lead inevitably to the answers of the above questions:

‘God now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead’, see Acts 17:22-31.

Welcome to Andrew Dibble’s Blog.

This blog has been set up to accompany my website http://www.separating-gospel-truths.co.uk but also to write new articles and comments on various scriptural subjects. It is hoped that I might have some contact with others of like mind who are searching for the truth. (I have recently joined twitter: find me at http://www.twitter.com/@AndrewDibble3).

In recent times I have been exercised with the question: What is the true Church? Linked to my site you will find some audio/video messages I have recorded, some of which seek to address this issue. Please have a listen.

Also on ‘separating gospel truths’ are a number of articles for Christian readers which I hope will encourage them to examine themselves to see whether they are truly in the faith. I am convinced there is a lot of deception in the professing church today – not to mention, presumption – and that as we are so near to the end of the world and the coming again of the Lord Jesus and the day of judgment, it is incumbent upon all who call Jesus “Lord” to stop and question where they really stand; for Jesus did say, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven…”, Matthew 7:21.

As you will see, the main reason for setting up my site in the first place was to publish my book, ‘Contentions Against the Traditions of Men in Denominationalism.’ I believe it strikes at the very heart of the principle of denominationalism and exposes it for what it is: a corruption of the true church, not what Christ said he would build, and therefore no place for the children of God.

Since publishing my book five years ago no minister of any denomination – least of all of the denomination primarily addressed in that book – has published a reply, rebutle or even a defence of their system: one wonders how much they actually believe in what they practice. Perhaps the reason is that they just can’t answer what was written, and instead of repenting have just ignored it. They remind me of the people in Elijah’s day: they ‘answered him not a word’, 1 Kings 18:21.

This all proves to me just how dead their system is, how apathetic to truth the modern church has become, and how devoid of revelation they must be. In fact their apathy is born out of their lack of truth received by revelation. Surely those who know the truth, as having been taught it by God himself – and not just by the revelation of flesh and blood – love the truth and seek to uphold it and contend for it at every opportunity: so why not these? Perhaps it is just because they know not him who is the truth.

Well, as and when I have opportunity, I hope to add more to this blog. Feel free to have a look at my site, and please leave a comment here or start a conversation.