A New King!
The coronation of King Charles III was certainly a grand affair, with all the pomp and circumstance that you would expect. An additional bank holiday for the event was awarded, such is the importance of the occasion.
However, imagine what it will be like for a 'new' king who is also the Son of God? Matthew 25 v 31 tells us, “When the Son of Man [Jesus] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne." That's quite an entrance!
The reign of Jesus, however, will have no end, unlike that of any human monarch. Luke 1v32-33 says, "He [Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
What will living in this eternal kingdom be like? Revelation 21v1-5 says, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” …"
This kingdom sounds a truly wonderful picture of the future, for those that respond to God's message contained in the pages of the Bible. What will your answer be?
[Bible quotations from the ESV]
What does the future hold?
How far ahead do you tend to look? Some of us prefer to take one day at a time, while others make plans far into the future.
The Lord Jesus Christ looked to the future, knowing that he was going to be executed. If he had focused only on his death, the word “gospel” (good news) would have a hollow ring to it. He taught people about the Kingdom of God, knowing that his time among them was limited.
He would suffer a cruel death, but he was looking beyond that. He warned his disciples over and over that he would be killed, and also that he would rise from the dead on the third day. They couldn’t get their heads round this at all. In fact, when Jesus died, they scattered in panic, wondering how this terrible thing could have happened to the man they thought would be King.
On the third day after Jesus was killed, two of his disciples set out from Jerusalem on a seven-mile journey. A man fell into step beside them, asking them what they discussed so intensely. They explained that they were talking about “Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him”. (Luke 24:19-20). Some women they knew had been early that morning to the tomb where Jesus was buried. The body was not there, and angels had apparently told them that Jesus was alive.
These two disciples did not understand what was going on. They weren’t convinced by the women’s account, but their travelling companion explained to them that this was exactly what had happened. In their scriptures, our Old Testament, they had the evidence.
The conversation continued until they reached their destination and were sitting down to have a meal together. Suddenly the identity of the stranger was clear – it was Jesus himself! As that realisation dawned, he disappeared. (They saw him again later, after they had hurried back to Jerusalem to share the good news with the rest of the disciples.)
The death and resurrection of Jesus is not merely a story to think about at Easter. It is a series of events that have implications for us today. The gospel Jesus taught is still valid, and we have the benefit of hindsight. We can read about these things in both the Old and New Testaments, things that can give us a future. God’s Kingdom will come and Jesus will be King, as the disciples had thought. They didn’t realise, immediately after Jesus had risen from the dead, that it wasn’t time yet. Many years had to pass before it would be the right time and we still don’t know exactly when it will be. Wars, famine, disease, people fearing for the future of the world – these are all things that Jesus said would happen just before his return. Now, more than ever before, these things are happening. The Kingdom Jesus spoke about will soon be here.
In recent months, we have seen a lot of severe weather warnings. Sometimes it turns out better than expected; sometimes it can be even worse than we are led to believe. In spite of the best efforts of the Met Office, it is impossible to be completely sure what will happen.
When God issues a warning, it is not subject to such variations. He knows exactly what will happen and He is actually making it happen! So in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, when He issued a weather warning, there was no doubt that it would happen as predicted. However, not everybody paid attention. In fact, the majority ignored it and went on with their lives as before. Only one man acted upon the warning, following God’s instructions in minute detail. He knew that his life and the lives of 7 others depended upon it. And that was only the humans!
The account of the Flood in Genesis is often presented as a myth or a fable. But what if it was true? What if the fact that we are here on this earth today was due to the actions of one man following God’s instructions?
Noah was told that because the earth was filled with violence and people had corrupted His creation, God would destroy the earth and “all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven” (Genesis 6:17). The warning was given in good time. It was not until 120 years later that the flood came and wiped out everyone who had ignored God’s prediction. In the New Testament, Noah is described as “a herald of righteousness”. (2 Peter 2:5). In the same place in the Bible, we are told that God preserved Noah and seven others, “when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly”.
Jesus spoke of the Flood as a historical event, not as a myth. He used it as an example to tell us what to expect when he returns to the earth: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”. (Matthew 24:27-39). People were just going about their everyday lives, doing everyday things. They were “unaware”, said Jesus.
Why were they “unaware”? It was not for lack of warnings. Noah was given the task of constructing a huge vessel to save himself, his family and a lot of animals, insects and birds. It took him 120 years to get it all ready. This would not go unnoticed among his neighbours, and as a “herald of righteousness” Noah was not keeping quiet about it. People probably came to watch and wonder as he worked on his massive project. They would ask questions; Noah would tell them what he was doing and why. They could have acted upon the warning he gave them, but they chose not to. Because they had never seen a flood before, they assumed it would never happen.
Jesus gave a warning about what would happen in the times leading up to his return to the earth. His advice was to watch and be ready, because the timing will come as a surprise even to those who are looking for his return.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34-35).
The Lord Jesus Christ has not come to set up God’s kingdom on earth before, but that is no reason to disbelieve what he said. When it happens, it will be like a trap, or it will be the event we have been longing for. Like the people of Noah’s time, we have a choice whether to heed the warning or to ignore it.
May your Kingdom come
Recently the results of the 2021 census were made public and it showed up some interesting changes in the UK. For the first time, fewer than 50% of the population identify as Christian.
Yet in both the House of Commons and the House of the Lords, the day begins with prayers. These follow the Christian faith, and attendance is voluntary. The main prayer includes the words, “Grant to our King and his government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed”.
This practice of prayers started in about 1558 and the present form of prayers probably dates from the reign of Charles II.
Whatever the individual members of the UK government believe, they begin each day praying for God’s kingdom to come. By this they acknowledge that the government in which they serve is temporary. It does not matter who is ruling in the nations of the world now; it will change when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth. Queen Victoria once exclaimed: “Oh! How I wish that the Lord would come in my lifetime!” When asked why, she replied, “I should so love to lay my crown at His feet”.
Perhaps not every world leader feels this way, but it will make no difference. The Lord Jesus described what would happen when he returns: “Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”(Matthew 25v32). Then he described how the “sheep” will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God, while the “goats” will be rejected.
The prospect of the kingdom of God on earth is real and it could happen at any time.
Who are the Christadelphians?
Who are the Christadelphians? Why the unusual name? What do they believe?
The name ‘Christadelphian’ simply means ’brothers and sisters in Christ’. It has been used to distinguish the community for more than 150 years.
Christadelphians are found around the world. We believe the Bible is God’s message and a handbook for life. Our faith is based wholly on the Bible which we try to read daily to learn of God’s purpose, for advice and comfort. Our beliefs and practices are modelled as closely as possible to the first century church. The Bible is our sole authority, there are no paid pastors, priests, or central authority. Like the early Christians, we expect Jesus to return from heaven to be a king on earth, bringing justice and peace.
On Sundays we meet for a ‘memorial service’, often also called the ‘breaking of bread’. This is to remember the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We also have a ‘Bible Hour’ where after a hymn, prayer and often a Bible reading one of the members gives a Bible talk. Midweek we have a ‘Bible class’ to read, study and learn from a section of the Bible.
Background: Over 150 years ago a medical doctor called John Thomas realised that the teachings of mainstream Christianity did not always agree with what he read in the Bible. He set about studying the Bible for himself. He gave talks and wrote articles to convince others in his conclusions, which were based solely on his reading and understanding of the Bible. He never claimed to have received any direct revelation or to have been inspired. Christadelphians today see him as a pioneer and his are valued but he encouraged others to read the Bible for themselves.
Goodwill to men?
This is the time of year when the expression “goodwill to men” is heard a lot. But where does it come from and what does it mean?
The words come from the King James Version of the Bible, which dates back to 1611. When Jesus was born, angels told shepherds about him and then they sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men”. (Luke 2:14) A more modern version, the English Standard Version reads “and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”.
God wants peace on earth, and sending Jesus was a key part of His plan for this. There are people who are more interested in grasping power for themselves than living peaceably, but God is able to deal with that. The words of the angels when Jesus was born were looking ahead to a certain future, when God will send Jesus back to the earth as king. Things are happening in the world that make people wonder why God doesn’t intervene. The fact is, He has told us in the Bible that He has set a day when He will change the way the earth is governed. There will no longer be oppression and injustice. Those who try to please God will welcome the Lord Jesus and, like the angels on the day he was born, will rejoice together. That’s when “goodwill to men” will become a reality.
How many of us have attended or plan to attend a bonfire this year? On an often cold Autumnal evening, it can be pleasant to feel the warmth and enjoy the glow of the fire.
Imagine, if when you were standing there, you heard a voice coming from it? It would probably be quite frightening!
For Moses, in Exodus chapter 3, the voice he heard coming from a bush that seemed to be on fire (often referred to as 'the burning bush') was a reassuring thing, it was the voice of God saying, “Moses, Moses!” And he (Moses) said, “Here I am.” Then he (God) said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (verses 4-5)
Moses had noticed that the bush was alight but not consumed, due to the presence of the Angel of the Lord, a truly awesome and fearful sight.
This was God's way of communicating a message to Moses, whereby he asked him to save God's people, the Israelites from Egypt and slavery. "Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (verse 10)
A similar thing happened in another incident involving Daniel's three friends, in Daniel chapter 3. They had continued to serve God despite the King's decree not to. As a result, Daniel's three friends were thrown into a furnace by a king named Nebuchadnezzar, heated to temperatures far hotter than normal. So hot that the guards that delivered them to the furnace did not survive the heat! Yet, not a hair on the three friends' heads was harmed.
A fourth figure could also be seen, as explained in Nebuchadnezzar's words: “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (verse 25) It is thought that an angel was sent from God to protect them here from certain death.
As a result, Nebuchadnezzar had a change of heart and allowed his people to serve the God of Daniel and his three friends. So the fire was strong, powerful and changed lots of things, just not in the way you might have originally expected!
I wonder what things you'll consider next time you are warming yourself near a bonfire or open fire. Will the word of God 'speak' to you?
Let the Bible be your guide book for life. Read the Bible for yourself to see what it really says. To help you, send for a FREE Bible Reading Planner - see below
What did the Queen represent to people of your generation?
A young man in Windsor, asked this question by a BBC interviewer on the day that the Queen died, replied:
“A guiding light, a moral code, how to conduct yourself, how to act, knowing what is right and what is wrong”.
He obviously had a deep respect for Queen Elizabeth II, who had a strong faith in God. That is where her “moral code” came from.
In a world where the moral code is increasingly led by public opinion, the Queen recognized God as her authority. The Bible is where God tells us what is right and what is wrong. Although the Queen is dead, the word of God is still with us.
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains for ever”. (1 Peter 1:24-25)
These words were written hundreds of years before the apostle Peter quoted them in the New Testament. God had caused the Old Testament prophet Isaiah to write them in a chapter that looks forward to the Lord Jesus Christ and a time that is still to come, when he reigns as King on this earth. You can read it yourself in Isaiah chapter 40.
God told Peter to quote these words to encourage us to focus on His good news, which tells us that death need not be the end.
Whatever the Queen represented to you personally, the guide book that she held in such high esteem can become your guide too. It tells us of Kings and Queens, shepherds, farmers, builders and fishermen, who all had something in common: faith in God.
When he returns to the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ will give eternal life to all who belong to him.
Let the Bible be your guide book for life. Read the Bible for yourself to see what it really says. To help you, send for a FREE Bible Reading Planner - see below
Did God Actually Say ..... ?
You probably know the feeling. There is something you want to do. You know it’s wrong, but if somebody persuasive says it isn’t…
The first question in the Bible was asked by a serpent!
God created a beautiful garden and put the first human beings there to care for it. Life was good. They had complete freedom, apart from one thing. One tree in the middle of the garden was off-limits.
Then the serpent asked the woman his question, raising doubts in her mind. She knew what God had actually said, but was easily persuaded to ignore it and influence her husband Adam to follow her example.
So does God really mean what he says? The decision to listen to the serpent set in motion a series of consequences, leading to shame and ultimately death. Thankfully, God didn’t let it end there.
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive”. (1 Corinthians 15: 21-22).
God’s commandments were given to us for our good. He even gave his only son for us! But it is our choice whether or not to listen to him and be made alive in Christ.
A very wise man said, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
God has told us how he wants us to live, but he doesn’t force us to obey his commandments. As God’s prophet Moses, said, “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…. Therefore choose life!” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19).
Read the Bible for yourself to see what it really says. To help you, send for a FREE Bible Reading Planner - see below
The man who had everything
There was a man who had everything. People travelled from all over the world to learn from him, because he had an amazing mind. He built houses, made himself beautiful gardens and parks filled with all sorts of plants and trees. He was immensely rich. Yet he considered everything he had done to be a waste of time. He hated life, because he saw that it ended in the same way for the wise as for the fool. I said of laughter, “It is mad”, and of pleasure, “What use is it?”
You can read about the man, King Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.
This feeling of emptiness is not uncommon today.
Good mental health, according to the World Health Organisation, is defined as a state of well-being where individuals are able to: Realise their own potential. Work productively. Cope with the normal stresses of life.
Solomon appeared to tick all of these boxes, but he was still depressed. In the end he realised that without God, life was empty and incomplete.
People who believe in God are not immune to anxiety and depression. The Lord Jesus Christ himself suffered from mental anguish, knowing that he must suffer a cruel death. He looked beyond it to the joy that God had promised, and that is how he was able to do the work God had given him. But it wasn’t easy.
The apostle Paul put it like this: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).
However you feel right now, God has promised something better for those who choose to be part of His family.
For a FREE booklet on a Bible topic or Bible Reading Planner see below
Worried about the future?
This year has seen some very worrying developments that affect ordinary people every day. Rising costs of gas, electricity, petrol and food – nobody is exempt.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25 come to mind: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” “Yes, but…” we might say, “We can’t manage without those things, can we?” Jesus went on to speak about the birds, which are not able to produce food for themselves, yet God feeds them, and the wild flowers which God causes to grow and bloom with colours that a king would be proud to wear.
Does this make you feel better about the problems of life? Maybe not, because it’s complicated and often others are depending on us. Jesus was telling his disciples that God knows what we need and if we put our trust in Him, He will care for us. It doesn’t mean life will be easy. But our focus will be different and we will realise that this life is only temporary. There is something much better in God’s plan for us. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow…” (Matthew 6:33-34)
The kingdom of God is what Jesus came to tell people about. In fact, he and John the Baptist before him were telling people to repent because the Kingdom of God was at hand. The people they spoke to have been dead for many years and we are still waiting for the Kingdom of God on earth. God does not look at time in the way we do; He can see past, present and future all at once. He has promised eternal life to those who have faith in Him, and death doesn’t hinder that. Jesus will raise those who died in faith when he returns to the earth. He told his disciples what signs to look for and it is clear that it could happen any time. Read the Bible to find out what Jesus said and what God has promised.
To hear a talk on this subject, "Worried about the future? - the Bible can help" come to our hall on Creswell Road on Sunday 31st July at 5pm. All welcome.
For a FREE booklet on a Bible topic or Bible Reading Planner see below
Hope for a World in Trouble
We all know what it feels like to be troubled. Sometimes we might feel anxious about something outside our control, where there is little or nothing we can do to improve the situation.
When we hear news from around the world, some of the terrible things that are happening can be very troubling. Yet Jesus told his disciples not to be troubled. “…when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed…” (Mark 13 v 7). He was telling them of the series of events that must happen before his return to the earth.
The disciples of Jesus had to live through some very upsetting and challenging times. Their beloved teacher was cruelly killed, when they had hoped he would become King and sort out the problems of their troubled nation. Two of them were talking about this as they walked together after Jesus was killed, when someone joined them. This person was able to explain to them how the Old Testament had foretold these events and what they meant. When they arrived at the village they were heading for, they urged their companion to stay with them, and as they began a meal they realized he was actually Jesus, risen from the dead! (Luke 24: 13 -35).
Shortly before his death, Jesus told his disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14 v 1). He knew they would be afraid, confused and sad, but he wanted them to remember what he had said to them. It was something they did not understand immediately.
Sometimes we are so troubled that we can’t see the obvious. Jesus warned his followers not to be like that. There are many signs that he will soon be back on this earth, but it is easy to miss them if we aren’t looking for them. Jesus told his disciples to “watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21 vv34-35).
We have the privilege of being able to read all of those things in the Bible. Like the disciples, we might not be able to understand straight away. The world is in trouble caused by man’s greed and ignorance, but it is God’s world and He is able to put things right. Careful reading will show us that there is hope for the future. Like the disciples, we need to remember what Jesus said and do as he asked.
Life's too short!
Perhaps you say this to remind yourself that some things just aren’t worth worrying about. You are probably right!
The Bible tells us that this life is only a preparation for something a lot better. It doesn’t mean our lives aren’t important – in fact, how we choose to spend them is a key factor in what happens next.
The world is not going to continue as it is today. God has a much better plan, which includes the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to reign as King. He will raise the dead and there will be a huge clean-up operation to fix the problems we are facing now.
When Jesus ascended to heaven after his death and resurrection, angels told his disciples: “..why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”. (Acts 1 v 11).
We can’t realistically look very far ahead now, because we don’t know what each day might bring. Take the opportunity to find out about God’s plan for us in the Bible. It gives hope for the future and shows us that life doesn’t have to be too short.
Help is available, see the options below or refer to the 'Links' page for other information to help you.
As we emerge out of winter into early spring, signs of new life are everywhere we turn. Buds and shoots are bursting out of trees, flowers and bushes. Lambs are springing around the fields. As the daylight increases, there's more time to do those jobs and projects you'd wanted to start over the winter. A fresh start, a chance to try something new, perhaps?
At Easter time, many remember the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, sometimes commemorating this event with the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, as instructed to by Jesus at The Last Supper.
Matthew 26v26-29 reads:
"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
The breaking of bread and drinking of wine is time to reflect on what Jesus did for us by giving his life, despite being someone who had never done a single thing wrong.
Christadelphians, just as the first century Christians were thought to have done, (see Acts chapter 20 for an example), believe this is so important that we break bread and drink wine at a memorial service weekly. It's a model for us, the idea of giving up our old lives and starting afresh.
When breaking bread and drinking the wine, it is a chance for quiet meditation. To reflect upon what God did for us, allowing his only son to die a terrible death on the cross, but also the joy of his resurrection as the grave couldn't hold him, giving him a 'new life' and an example that we too could try to follow.
To find out more about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the consequences of this amazing event, have a look at the articles and videos below.
If you want to try something new today, why not try reading the Bible for yourself? Help is available, see the Bible Reading Plan options below or refer to the 'Links' page for other options to help you.
What's special about the Bible
2022 marks 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II was presented with a copy of the Bible for the swearing of the Coronation Oath. “…to keep Your Majesty ever mindful of the Law and the gospel of God as the Rule of the whole life and government of Christian Princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords…”
Some do not see the Bible as a valuable book; some have never read it. So why did it play such an important role when the Queen was crowned?
There are so many books in the world today that it is hard to imagine life without them. Yet they used to be the preserve only of the rich. To own a Bible was a great privilege.
“In 1800 a 15-year-old Welsh girl named Mary Jones trekked 26 long miles through the rugged terrain of north Wales to buy a Welsh Bible. Mary was so determined to have a Bible of her own, in her own language, that she saved up for six long years before her walk to Bala”. (source: biblesociety.co.uk)
This came to the attention of William Wilberforce MP and others and in 1804 they formed the British and Foreign Bible Society, now called the Bible Society. Their aim was to make the Bible accessible to ordinary people all over the world.
Now that the Bible is available in more than 250 languages, many people can easily obtain their own copy. It is still a best-selling book. But how many people actually read it regularly?
Reasons for not reading the Bible
Some just don’t see the Bible as relevant in the 21st century. Yet we use expressions from the Bible all the time, as you can see from a previous blog. The situations we read about in the Bible are often recognisable to us. People responded to events in their lives in the same way as we would respond now. Characters are portrayed “warts and all”. Even kings were foolish at times, and in historical records this was often glossed over. But in the Bible the facts are presented without any attempt to whitewash them.
Some think it is just too hard to read, using language that is hard to understand. But more than ever before, there are translations that can make it more accessible for someone who is new to reading the Bible.
Give it a try!
Not only is the Bible a fascinating book – it is life-giving! God caused it to be written so that we can get to know Him and His Son the Lord Jesus. He wants us to be part of His family, with a future in His kingdom on this earth. We can’t lose anything by opening it and beginning to read. Help is at hand if you want it, with distance learning courses, Bible reading planners, Bible talks, or just someone to write to or email with questions when you want to. We hope you will give it a try.
All Bible quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible unless otherwise stated.