Misuse of Mary, A beautiful book, Amazing manuscripts, and the doubtful of Sheffield.
This weekend we went to Dublin for a birthday weekend for Anna. In this city we found a few things that were a surprise and one thing in particular that was a delight for us to find by accident. It was a blessing from God to see the good things that are given to yet another city of the sons of man that is so undeserving of any good. We spent wandering around the city and visiting the various historical and interesting places to see including the museums, castle and the only bridge in Europe that is wider than it is long.
While walking through the main street I stumbled on a store that outraged me and I believe would outrage the Christian it was named after - Mary the mother of Jesus. The store claimed that Mary of Nazareth is mediatrix of all graces and so claiming salvation can be found in Jesus and in her. As I said this would have outraged this Godly woman who submitted herself to salvation through her son and her God Jesus Christ.... ALONE. This is witnessed to by her presence among the disciples before Pentecost devoting herself to prayer, which in this context would have been directed in faith to the Father and to Jesus as they awaited the Spirit (Acts 1:13-14). It is one of the great tragedies of church history that faith has been misplaced in Mary and the church of Rome has indulged in the sin of the Israelites using her as an idol.
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)
We pray that those who teach and practice this idolatry would be saved from it to a pure faith in God alone and that He would purify them by the blood of Jesus!
We also had the opportunity to view the Book of Kells while we were at Trinity College; this book is full of amazing illustrations and the most minute and intricate detail I have ever seen in an ancient book. This book was truly beautiful to behold and is a witness to the creativity of mankind. It is a great pity that in reading the history of this book we found that its purpose was to decorate an altar ("...was intended as altar furniture" was the phrase) and not to be read and treasured for the beautiful words that God has given us. While the Book of Kells was truly beautiful, it is also a sad state of affairs when the more beautiful words of God are neglected and left to stand gathering dust on an altar. This is also the state of many bibles in this land, left to gather dust on the shelves of many homes and libraries. Wake up people! There is a treasure greater than the Book of Kells on your shelves! In the words that came to Augustine we would urge you all "Take up and read, take up and read"! Do not neglect what can make you wise unto salvation.
Quite by accident we stumbled upon a great treasure when visiting the Chester Beatty Library. Within the Christian religion display that the library has we found some old manuscripts of the new testament and the description underneath them revealed them to be P45, P46 and P47! We were astounded, here were authenticated manuscripts dating from 200AD to 250AD, a less than 150 years after the writing of the originals. These manuscripts were written by people who's grandparents or great grandparents would have been alive in the time of Jesus Christ. We were amazed at the privilege God had given us by bringing us to the library unbeknownst to us, to see these ancient works that support the word He has preserved for us His children.
Along with the 5000 odd other manuscripts that are currently known, these manuscripts provide more support for the bible's unchanged nature than any other ancient book. The histories of Rome and Greece, the books of the Qu'ran and Ahadith, the biographical works of Julius Caesar and Alexander the great, all these accepted ancient writings must be thrown out as so much trash if you will not accept the bible as historically accurate. When compared to the New Testament none of the above writings (individually or even collectively) have as many manuscripts to support them and none of the manuscripts are as close to the original time of writing. Do not doubt Christian readers that you have a book that can be trusted. The translators of the bible from Koine Greek into modern languages have one main problem; the wealth and volume of the material that they have to work with, it is embarrassingly large!
The rest of our time in Dublin was enjoyable and we returned to Sheffield late on Sunday night.
Wednesday this week I went into Sheffield and spent some time witnessing in Fargate mall. While handing out tracts a couple of young Emo's stopped to talk and one of them was willing to be tested against God's standard. This young lady like me has failed to keep God's law and after a short discussion could see that there should be punishment for sin and that justice would be served one day. She feared going to hell yet wanted to leave at that point, I stopped her and shared the good news of God's intervention in history. She and her friend heard the bad and the good news of God's judgement and salvation and we pray that they would both would turn to Him in saving faith. Interestingly as I was sharing the gospel with them one of their friends spotted them from further down the mall and began to scream "No, No, No!" and came up and warned them about me. It is a re-occurring scenario now with the Emo's/Goths that certain outspoken people are trying to stop their friends hearing the gospel. We pray that these young enemies of God who so loudly proclaim their hatred of God would be saved by the sovereign work of His Spirit in their hearts.
A little while later I was able to speak with two young men and while acknowledging their crimes against the law of God they said it didn't matter because God didn't exist. At this they demanded evidence for the existence of God, in particular that I get God to appear in front of them immediately. I couldn't help but smile, odd that they thought that I (a creature of immense unworthiness) would be able to command the ruler of ALL THE UNIVERSE to come and appear like I would my pet dog! It is quite the opposite, God can and will one day call and all of us will obediently appear before Him.
While giving them some the universe full of evidences for God I warned them that one day they would have their request fulfilled but it would be a terrifying day for them unless they turn in repentance to Christ. On that day God will come in wrath-filled judgement and even the mountains and stars will melt like wax before him. We pray that these boys would not be in the crowd of those who will scream in terror for the mountains to fall on them rather than meet God face to face.
I would ask you to consider dear non-Christian reader (you know in your heart if you have submitted to Christ so examine yourself!) how short the days of grace are. Today is the day of mercy and you are offered again salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The day of mercy is passing, you do not know when you will be whisked into the eternal day where you will meet God who knows ALL your secrets and will judge you and all according to His standard. Do not fool yourself; you will never meet the perfect demands of God's law. Unless a perfect replacement has paid your price you will be condemned for your rebellion against and hatred of God. Turn in repentance and faith towards Christ Jesus while you still have time. You are not guaranteed one more second in this world and may before God before you finish reading this page. You are in danger, look to Jesus.
Oh Lord our God we pray that you would in grace and mercy look on these people who like us deserve your unceasing wrath and punishment. Save them we pray, turn them from the darkness they love to the glorious light of your presence. Bid them enter your courts and give them faith and repentance. Clothe them in the righteousness of Jesus and the indwelling Spirit to make them like our Lord. In short O God save these hard hearted ones for the sake of your Glory and to your endless praise!