Friday, 11 September 2015
Monday, 20 July 2015
It might not be entirely the transformation that some might hope for. Professor Flew has not gone so far in this book as to personally accept what I would love to see him embrace: personal faith in Jesus Christ. But after 50 years of atheism, even his acknowledgement that God must exist is a huge step. He still is not ready to accept any specific religious persuasion and has not embraced life after death either. His influence over the discussions of atheism against theism is, however, shaken by his statement of his acceptance of “the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being.” That’s quite a lot to accept for someone who previously taught and truly believed that the rational mind must consider the idea of any sort of God to be purely unreasonable.
One of the characteristics of Professor Flew’s writings on the subject of atheism is that he has always rejected the almost religious side of atheism that this book condemns. He did not pursue atheism necessarily because he was mad at God or was a fanatic of “religious atheism.” He rather rejected the idea of God from purely rational reasoning. It did not make any sense to him to accept the idea of a real God. In spite of having grown up in the home of a widely respected Methodist leader, Antony Flew believed that God was impossible to believe in. His progress toward atheism, surprisingly, came through the same mindset that eventually led to his acceptance of God: reason and logic. He says in chapter 4 “I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena.” He continues, “It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions. Nor do I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that may be called supernatural or miraculous. In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.”
In the first three chapters, Professor Flew discusses the reasons he embraced and promoted atheism in the bulk of his life. There was a constant willingness to adapt as he understood things more clearly through life. One of the noblest principles that he sought to follow through life has been called the Socratic principle: “We must follow the argument wherever it leads.” This willingness to follow the logic of an argument wherever it led is seen in two earlier examples where he found that he was unable to maintain opinions that he had previously held. Firstly, when he embraced atheism as a teenager one of his reasons was his perception that evil in the world precluded a good God. Even as an atheist, he later came to refer to this as one of two “juvenile inconsistencies” that he had previously believed. The second example was his political departure from Marxism to a “vigorous defense of free markets.” In light of his genuine search for truth, it should not have come as too much of a surprise that he finally found it.
In the remaining seven chapters, Professor Flew describes his journey from atheism to theism and explains his reasons for that unusual change. There were three main questions that he could not answer through atheism: How did the laws of nature come to be, how did life as a phenomenon originate from nonlife, and how did the universe come into existence? He shows how these questions logically proved to him that there must be a divine Being who was the Creator of all. The arguments used are certainly worthy of a renowned philosopher of Flew’s stature. These are not pat “just believe it” answers. They are logical, consistent, and profoundly persuasive.
For a Bible-believing Christian this book provides some excellent arguments for the existence of God that can be used to challenge the thinking of atheists we are seeking to reach for Christ. Besides Flew’s own reasons for believing in God, there are also two helpful appendices. Appendix A is written by Roy Abraham Varghese and is titled “The ‘New Atheism’: A critical Appraisal of Dawkins, Dennett, Wolpert, Harris, and Stenger.” Appendix B is titled “The Self-Revelation of God in Human History: A Dialogue on Jesus with N. T. Wright.” Antony Flew is not certain whether he is ready to believe that God has revealed Himself either through a specific religion or through incarnation. In that context, this second appendix deals with the rationality of the historicity, deity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of all the major religions in the world, Professor Flew comments that “the Christian religion is the one religion that most clearly deserves to be honoured and respected,” and says, “If you’re wanting Omnipotence to set up a religion, this is the one to beat.”
This book is an enjoyable read for anyone who is interested in the discussion of the existence of God. A certain level of familiarity with some of the context of that discussion is helpful for anyone picking this book up, but anyone should be able to take some valuable thoughts away from this book.
Friday, 26 June 2015
I have believed in God for thirty years. When first converted I did not believe in Him very much, but ever since then I have believed in Him, more and more every year. When people come to me, tell me they can’t believe, and ask what they shall do, I tell them to do as I once knew a man to do. He went and knelt down and told God honestly he could not believe in Him, and I advise them to go off alone and tell it right out to the Lord.
But if you stop to ask yourself why you don’t believe in Him, is there really any reason? People read infidel books and wonder why they are unbelievers, I ask why they read such books. They think they must read both sides. I say that book is a lie; how can it be one side when it is a lie? It is not one side at all. Suppose a man tells down right lies about my family, and I read them so as to hear both sides; it would not be long before some suspicion would creep into my mind.
I said to a man once, “Have you got a wife?” “Yes, and a good one.” I asked: “Now what if I should come to you to cast out insinuations against her?” And he said, “Well, your life would not be safe long if you did.” I told him just to treat the devil as he would treat a man who went around with such stories. We are not to blame for having doubts flitting through our minds, but for harbouring them. Let us go out trusting the Lord with heart and soul today.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
In the Bible, Daniel was an incredible individual like that. He was in the stratosphere in his occupation and in his walk with God. He reached great heights in the government of more than one world empire, and he also had revelations in visions from God that have fascinated and astounded the world for the last 2500 years.
Pastor Paul Gibbesh
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Many good people believe and have been taught that Paul wrote Hebrews. I do not have a problem with anyone who believes that, but I believe that we should study to show ourselves approved unto God as workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. I believe that we can find the answer to this question and many others without looking any further than the precious Book that God has given us!
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Don’t Turn Off
Recently my laptop computer was not functioning properly. I decided that it would be helpful to run a system restoration. I thought that if I could return to the factory settings it would probably eliminate some of the glitches that were causing frequent problems when I used my computer. As it turns out, it did help with stabilizing the system.
While the computer was going through it’s process of restoring the factory settings, a message was displayed on the screen that said, “Please do not turn off your computer during this process.” If the computer is turned off during the restoration process it will ruin that process and the restoration will have to be started all over again. This reminded me of the process God sometimes uses in our lives.
Occasionally our Christian life can get off track, and, like my computer, begin to have glitches that disrupt the proper functions. The spiritual system of our lives can become unstable. When we start messing with some of the designed functionality of our walk with God by doing things our own way, we should not be surprised when our life becomes as frustrating as a rebellious computer.
God will sometimes bring us through a purifying restoration process to bring us back to our original design specifications. He will allow certain programs or files that are corrupt and are interfering with the proper functions to be deleted. Not too shockingly, those programs or files that we intentionally downloaded into our lives are often tough for us to see deleted. However they must go for stability to return to the system. If they are not removed the system of our spiritual lives will continue in the state of disfunction that has been frustrating us. We will continue to try to go forward, but we will consistently be hindered by the systemic chaos caused by the confusion of content as we have tried to mix good programming with bad programming.
What a blessing that the Lord wants to help us with the purification process! It may be painful, but it sure is necessary. It is always better to fix the problem in our walk with God than to try to manage in spite of it. The time and difficulty taken to restore my laptop has been amply repaid by the time and frustration saved by not having to fight with it anymore.
One problem that occurs when we are going through this painful process of restoration is that we are sometimes tempted to turn off during the process. What I mean by that is that in the pain of purification and separation from the things we held dear, we might be tempted to throw in the towel and give up on the whole thing. We might stop going to church, reading our Bible, and praying regularly. We might give up on our convictions and the good spiritual decisions we have made. We might stop trying to live for the Lord. So often Satan at that time of purifying will whisper in our ears that we are failing and might as well give up now since God has clearly given up on us anyway. However the fact that we are being purified is actually evidence that God is working to draw us back to Himself!
The danger of turning off during God’s process can be illustrated by what happened with my laptop. I won’t bore you with the details, but during the return to the factory settings, my laptop was unintentionally turned off. The computer was about half-way through the restoration when this happened, and I was horrified when I turned the computer back on and found that I needed to start the process all over from the very beginning. All I had done had been wasted! All the time waiting for the process to be completed was now to be done all over again! Let’s just say I was not too thrilled.
When God is purifying us and restoring us to the original design specifications, we may turn off and fight the process. However, any gains that may have been made toward fixing the problem will likely then need to be redone. This is why we might feel like we’re never getting anywhere in our Christian life. We feel like we are constantly repeating the same struggles, sufferings, and battles. Sometimes we will feel that way because we have shut down on God when things started getting tough. Then when we come to the place of seeking God again, He will start the restoration process again. We need to realize that the reason things were getting tough is that God was trying to get us back to the place where we could abide in His easy yoke and His light burden. By turning off we prevented ourselves from getting to the place of peace that we secretly wished we could get to!
You will never function properly in your Christian life unless you are following your design specifications. And if the restoration process has been begun, just yield to it, knowing that God is using that process to bring you to a place of effectiveness and victory in His purpose for you.
Whatever you do, don’t turn off!
His servant and yours,
Pastor Paul Gibbesh
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
"A Precious Secret of Prayer From that great man of prayer: “Praying Hyde”
Mr. Hyde had a wonderful experience to which he owed, I believe, his power with God, and therefore with man. He used to speak of it as one of the most direct and solemn lessons God had ever taught him. He was up in the hills resting for a short time. He had been burdened about the spiritual condition of a certain pastor, and he resolved to spend time in definite intercession for him. Entering into his “inner chamber,” he began pouring out his heart to his Heavenly Father concerning that brother somewhat as follows:
‘O God! Thou knowest that brother how--’ ‘cold’ he was going to say, when suddenly a hand seemed to be laid on his lips, and a Voice said to him in stern reproach, ‘He that toucheth him toucheth the apple of Mine eye.’ A great horror came over him. He had been ‘judging’ his brother. He felt rebuked and humbled before God. It was he himself who first needed putting right. He confessed his sin. He claimed the precious Blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin. ‘Whatsoever things are lovely… if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” Then he cries out, ‘Father, show me what things are lovely and of good report in my brother’s life.’ Like a flash he remembered how that brother had given up all for Christ, enduring such suffering from relations whom he had given up. He was reminded of his years of hard work, of the tact with which he managed his difficult congregation, of the many quarrels he had healed, of what a model husband he was. One thing after another rose up before him and so all his prayer season was spent in praise for his brother instead of in prayer. He could not recall a single petition, nothing but thanksgiving! God was opening His servant’s eyes to the highest of ministries, that of praise.
Mark the result also on that brother’s life! When Mr. Hyde went down to the plains, he found that just then the brother had received a great spiritual uplift. While he was praising, God was blessing. A wonderful Divine Law, the law of a Father’s love. While we bless God for any child of His, He delights to bless that one!
This was the secret of John Hyde’s power with God; he saw the good in God’s little ones, and so was able to appreciate God’s work of grace in that heart. Hence he supplied the Heavenly atmosphere of praise in which God’s love was free to work in all its fullness. This, too was what gave him power with men. We are attracted to those who appreciate us. All our powers expand in their presence, and we are with them at our best. Hence they call out all that is good in us, and we feel uplifted when with them. When we look at people’s faults we shrivel up their energies, they are at their worst. In a word, we encourage their faults by thinking about them.
Let us remember above all else that God’s people on this earth are in the making. This is His workshop and souls are being fashioned and formed in it. The final polishing touches we will not receive in the present life, but when this body of our humiliation has been transformed… suppose you go into a carpenter’s shop and begin to find fault with his unfinished chairs and tables! You say, “How rough this is! What an ugly corner that is!’ The carpenter will doubtless get angry and say, ‘Bear in mind that I am still making these things. They are not yet finished. Come and see the pattern after which they are being fashioned. See, this is what they will be yet like when I have done with them.’ He shows you beautiful chairs and tables-- shining, perfectly formed, polished to perfection! Is the carpenter not right? Is the critic not in the wrong? The one looks at the things that are lovely and eternal; the other at those which are unlovely and, thank God, fleeting.
How often Mr. Hyde excused men who had been unkind to him. ‘They do not understand,’ he said. ‘I know they do not want to be unkind,’ he once replied when he was asked to defend himself against a bitter and unjust attack. A friend even offered to write and explain, but he quietly said, ‘This is my cross which He wants me to take up and carry for Him.’
What if we all had this spirit -- misunderstandings in mission stations, etc., would cease… Oh, these petty quarrels, jealousies, and misunderstandings among the dear children of God! How can they be done away with? I think that Hyde’s way is sure to succeed. Be MUCH IN PRAYER; let any slight or even insult be an occasion to pray for the very persons who do these things, and praise God for the privilege of being permitted to bear these things. I think it is Madam Guyon that used to say when she was insulted or persecuted, ‘Thank you; Father; you saw I needed just this humbling.’
But we need a life of prayer to be able to do this, not a spasmodic spurt, but a habit of prayer, to live in communion with Him…
The secret of Hyde’s power with God and with men -- ‘Giving thanks in everything.’
This is God’s command to those who would be full of the Holy Spirit, and no one I have ever known obeyed this command more faithfully than John Hyde. It was one great source of his joy and therefore of his attractive power. Again and again he would declare that if we want to know why trials are sent us, let us begin by thanking God for them, and we will doubtless soon see why they have been sent. We had among ourselves a phrase, ‘Praising God through shut teeth:’ that meant praising God in the face of the greatest troubles and darkest hours of life. This we can always do, for we can never doubt that He is our Father in Heaven, and so all must be well for us at all times and in all circumstances.