Jesus at the heart of every story in the Bible - by Chris Damant

What is the first question you ask when you read a passage in the Bible?
Often, we are tempted to quickly figure out where we fit in. How should I behave? What should I believe? That might be a good end point, but it's rarely a good starting point.
A better question is to ask: how does Jesus fit into this passage?
The whole Bible is about Jesus. Both the New and the Old testaments - it's just sometimes you need to think a bit deeper to realise it in the Old Testament.
This way of reading the Bible has really helped me to understand the Bible better. Even to enjoy it. One of my favourite passages is the story of David and Goliath. You can read it 
You will probably be familiar with the basics. It's approx 1000BC and Israel is at war with the Philistines. The deal is that the Philistines will put forward one person, the infamous Goliath, and he will fight with one soldier from Israel. Whoever wins their individual battle seals the fate for the nation: if Goliath wins, then Israel will become the slaves of the Philistines and vice versa. The question is, who will fight for Israel?
Enter David. A small shepherd boy. An uninspiring choice perhaps, but God had recently decided to make him king. David was outraged at the way in which Goliath "defied the armies of the living God". He persuaded the current King, Saul, to allow him to fight so that "the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel".
Sure enough, David kills Goliath with a mere stone from a slingshot. He puts the victory all down to God, making it clear that it was God who gave him the victory. When the Israelites see Goliath fall, they rise up and destroy the rest of the Philistines, winning a decisive victory.
So, what do you make of this? Remember: first think about Jesus, then yourself.
There are quite a few parallels between Jesus and one of the characters in this story. Indeed, the whole story can actually be seen as a picture of the Gospel. When you think of David as a shadow, or type, of Christ, I think this interpretation is quite compelling.
In this story, David defeats the enemy (Philistines) to lead his people (Israel) to freedom (temporary). On the cross, Jesus defeats the enemy (Satan) to lead his people (the Church) to freedom (eternal).
You can draw other parallels, too: David and Jesus were both weak in the eyes of the world, but won great victories through their humility. Perhaps you can think of yet more.
Now we're ready for the final question: where do we fit in?
If David in fact represents Jesus, not us, then who represents us? In the above parallel, I suggested that the people of Israel represent the church today. When you read the story of David and Goliath, I think it's best to view yourself as merely one of the spectators, one of the soldiers lined up for battle watching David going out with his sling.
Look closely at what they do. They do not volunteer to defeat Goliath. They do not run out with David to help him. They just watch as David runs out, presumably quite scared as they know that his defeat means their death. They're putting their faith in David - though we can't know how willingly they did so.
And then... David wins! Goliath is defeated! The Philistines are defeated! They react triumphantly and rush forward to claim the victory.
I see two things for us in this:
1. You contribute nothing to your salvation. The Israelites stood by and watched as David won the battle. You read of the victory of Jesus won for you 2000 years before you were born. If you think you need to do something to gain God's acceptance or forgiveness, it's sort of like demanding a rematch with another philistine yourself. Foolish, much?
2. We should respond with joy to Jesus' victory. Perhaps the spiritual battlefield we are on doesn't feel as real as the physical battlefield back then. Sometimes, the significance of the Cross can be lost on us. It's a bit hard to imagine David's victory being insignificant to the Israelites though, isn't it! Do you realise the significance of the Cross? Do you know the peace, security and joy it can bring? 

Maybe try to imagine yourself on the battle field. See the stone sink into Goliath's head. Watch him fall. And realise that as Jesus died and rose again, a far bigger victory took place. For you. Eternally.
Happy new year :)
Note: I am grateful to Glen Scrivener who first explained this story to me. You can read his blog here:


A better leader, a loving Saviour - by Kruger de Kock

I was coming home late last night when news of Nelson Mandela’s death came over the radio. As the details were reported I was suddenly overwhelmed by a sadness I couldn’t quite explain.

Madiba, or Tata as he was affectionately known occupies a very similar place in everyone’s minds.  He was the persecuted leader of an oppressed people, an elusive freedom fighter, an honourable martyr and, in the words of his old political adversary FW De Klerk, “a great unifier that showed a remarkable lack of bitterness”. The Guardian’s headline today reads “Freedom’s Father dies”, the Telegraph calls him “South Africa’s Liberator”, the Sun “The President of the World”. 

There is little doubt that he was a great man even if some of these headlines are a little over the top. Perhaps it is because deep down we all long for a real leader, a real freedom fighter and a real liberator.   

When Mandela, after 27 years incarceration finally walked through the open gates of Robben Island he never thought of himself as the Messiah the world made him out to be.  In one of his favourite quotes he often said: “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”  By his own admission, his failure to lift many millions of people out of the oppression of poverty should remind us of his human limits. 

But the world has seen another great leader - one not limited to the constraints of age or experience.  In many ways one could say that John’s first letter was his response to the death of this man he knew so well (1 John 1:1). Where David Cameron was last night saying about Madiba’s death that: “A great light has gone out in the world”, John would say about Jesus: “…the true light is already shining: (1 John 2:8). The more one is tempted to compare Jesus and Mandela, you realise that it is like comparing a shadow to the thing it represents.  To say it another way - everything we find admirable about Madiba is because it mimics in some weak way what Jesus did so perfectly. 

It’s most evident when we look at what it is Jesus came to to liberate believers from - a regime that is far more pervasive than political oppression - spiritual oppression.  John paints a simple picture of this oppression: a world divided simply into those that are free to love and those that are in bondage to hatred (1 John 4:7,8), those that are liberated by truth and others that are deceived by error and lies (1 John 4:6).  As this evil regime of the devil becomes more evident his letter forces you to ask on which side you're on. He gives us only two options: we’re either prisoners of the devil and his deception or liberated children of the living God.

Once you’ve realised that you’ve been born into the camp of the oppressed, that you too are by nature trapped in a world of hatred and deception you start to long - not for a political leader, or a freedom fighter, but for a loving Saviour.

Two houses - by Pete Norris

“Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house” – 1 Chronicles 17:10
Have you ever made a decision to “do something for God”? Perhaps started to serve in a practical way at church? Or gone on a mission trip? Or given some money to a needy cause?

Two houses
King David wanted to do something for God. He decided to build God a temple or “house”. He saw that he was living in a lovely big house whilst the ark of the covenant of the LORD still sat in a tent in Jerusalem.

Like David, sometimes we feel compelled to do something impressive for God. But the LORD answers David in a surprising way.

In effect, He says: “Thanks for the offer, but I’m going to build YOU a house, David.”

“House” here has a rich meaning. God is not talking about brick and mortar but about a legacy; a kingdom that will last forever.

God reminds David that he doesn’t need anything – He’s God! And He does what He pleases.

Often our efforts at doing something impressive for God come from a desire to impress Him or impress other people.

But we don’t need to impress anyone, God included. He has brought you into the Kingdom of His Son, not because He’s impressed by you but because He loves you.

Everything we have – gifts, talents, money – comes from Him. The only response to this is humble praise.

As David responded: “Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O LORD, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever” (1 Chronicles 18:27).

Your brother in Christ,

Peter Norris

Walking in Faith - by Henry Langley

Questioning yourself isn’t always helpful. We question why we’re in London, why we’re in the industry we are, why we do the things we do… and often the answers to these questions can lead to doubt.  Self-doubt.  If we’re not careful this can turn into bitterness, anger and cold-heartedness - robbing us of remembering who we really are in Jesus Christ.

But Christ does not want this for us. Surely not…why would someone who love us unconditionally want us to feel this way when we question the world around us? 

I was looking for answers on this and came across a profound statement in a sermon. It simply said “YOU MATTER”. I was wondering what this meant and how this could possibly help me in answering my doubts.

Simply said: we live from the heart.  What we think, what we believe about ourselves will eventually shape what we do and how we live. 

Now we know that we matter to God because he loved us so much he sent his son to die for our sins.  But do we really believe that we matter to him? When we don’t believe that we matter to him, that we are his treasured possessions we will never live the way we were supposed to live - we will never walk the way we are supposed to walk.

For this reason Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, ESV) 

See how easily we forget who we are.  Believers are citizens of God’s kingdom and glory but we need to be reminded - ‘exhorted… encouraged… and charged’.  These are strong words, because our instincts against God is also strong.  

But, Henry, why don’t I feel it sometimes? Good question…is it belief? Is it a question of faith? 

Remember, who you are in Christ.  You may never have heard it before. You may never have had someone look you in the eye and into your soul and tell you that you matter. But, God says this to us every single day when we remember the cross.  

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17, ESV)

The cross is proof that we matter.  Looking at our lives - where we live, what we do, what we earn - can lead to so much self-doubt.  But looking at Jesus’ life - where he died, what he did, what he earned for us - will lead to so much more joy and security. 

- Henry Langley

Three Miracles - by Tom Waters

Luke 8:22-25; 40-56

In the 8th chapter of Luke's gospel, we are given an account of several miraculous events. Let's look at 3 of them - the calming of the storm, the healing of a woman, and the healing of Jarius's daughter.

In the first, the disciples wake Jesus up who is sleeping on the boat they're on. They are frightened because of the storm. Jesus calms the storm, and asks them, "Where is your faith?"

In the second, a woman with a long term bleeding pushes through a crowd around Jesus to touch his cloak. Jesus immediately realises this, and asks who touched him. When the woman identifies herself, Jesus replies, "Daughter, your faith has made you well."

Finally, Jesus is asked by Jarius, the ruler, to heal his daughter who is sick. After being distracted by the bleeding woman, someone tells Jarius to leave Jesus alone as the daughter is dead. But Jesus implores them to not fear but, "only believe", and she will be made well. They don't in fact believe, but Jesus heals her anyway.

What's common in these three passages is that they all refer to the faith of those involved. In the calming of the storm and Jarius's daughter, the people don't believe, but Jesus saves nonetheless. In the case of the bleeding woman, she does believe and Jesus says that's what saved her.

Is this passage making a point about whether non Christians can be physically healed by God? I don't think so. It tells us something about faith. Jesus reaches out to us even when we don't believe, to bring us to know him (you can see this in the calming of the storm and Jarius's daughter, where the disciples and the parents are amazed at him after the miracle). But we also see in the case of the bleeding woman that it is faith that saves.

Jesus reaches out to us even when we don't believe, so that we might have faith in Him. And it is through that faith that we are saved.

Meeting Jesus - by Peter Norris

“Clothed and in his right mind” – Luke 8:35

When I was reading Luke 8 recently, this phrase stood out to me: “...they found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.”

It stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking. Being clothed and being in one’s right mind are simple states of being that we take for granted. But they are not easily come by.

We may not be possessed by demons like this man was, but he symbolises our state before and after meeting Jesus.

Without Jesus, we are ‘naked’. We’re exposed to the evil influences of the world and have no protection against them.

Deep down we feel shame at our nakedness. We don’t want to be exposed for who we truly are.

When Jesus meets us, He deals with our state of mind and our state of being.

He takes away our shame and clothes us with righteousness. Not just any righteousness but His perfect righteousness.
He now protects us both from the evil powers of the world and God’s wrath to come.

He sets our mind straight by revealing Himself to us as the kind and gracious Lord of our lives. We don’t need to fear Him, only trust Him and know that He works for our good.

Be thankful today for these simple things: you are clothed and in your right mind. And it’s Jesus who has made you that way and will keep you that way.

Your brother in Christ,

Boasting in Weakness - by Tom Waters

2 Corinthians 11:21-30

Do you know someone who boasts a lot? Usually when people boast they are saying how great they are, what talents they have, and so forth.

But in this passage Paul takes a very different perspective on boasting. He is writing to the Corinthian church, who have been visited by impressive sounding teachers who in fact are promoting a false gospel. Paul writes, "But whatever anyone else dares to boast of - I am speaking as a fool - I also dare to boast of that." Sure, whatever these teachers can do, he can do better; but to think that he 


 boast about them is to speak as a madman.

He then lists off his incredible set of labours and toils for the gospel, and sure enough, it is pretty impressive. Shipwrecks, betrayal, stonings, whipping and more.

But despite all this, he considers it to be crazy to think of himself as a better servant of Christ.

Instead of boasting in his achievements and sacrifices, Paul says that he will "boast of the things that show [his] weakness." Why? Because all those things he has done will not save him. He is helpless to save himself - totally weak - but that shows just how mighty Christ is to save.

Let's imitate Paul in this regard. Our weakness shows how awesome Christ is. Rather than boasting about our skills and achievements, let's boast about what Christ has done despite our failings.

Why worry - by Henry Langley

Do you ever find yourself dwelling on these things:

  • Do I have real friends?
  • What if I don’t get that promotion?
  • What if I never find a spouse?
  • If I do find someone will they be faithful?
  • Am I worth marrying?
  • Will I be able to have kids?
  • If I have kids, how will they turn out?
  • What about my health? Friends and family I know have cancer, could that one day be me?
  • What if I develop Alzheimer’s and perish unable to even recognise the people I love?

I do ... most of them actually. I suppose it’s normal to feel this way. But, how do I fix it and why do I feel this way?

I suppose one answer is in Luke 12:22-34 (you know, the one about the ravens who do not sow nor reap and are still fed. The one about the lilies and how they grow in all their glory and how God clothes the grass and if He does this to all things He loves, how much more will He bless you … the thing He loves most).

What is Jesus saying here and how does this relate to the 21st Century in a first world country where we seem to have everything at our disposal? 

This got me thinking about the fundamentals of worry. This might sound bad, but it stems from greed. In our consumerist society we are fed images of wealth and prosperity and one can easily start to believe, by means of clever marketing, that this is what it means to be happy. I am sure you know what I mean, but this stems from greed. The marketing tells us we need these things and we develop “covetous greed” (I want my share of this) or “complacent greed” (I already have this so I don’t care about other things anymore). These two “greeds” rob us of a relationship with Jesus Christ and for what we were made for and cast us into a world of worry and anxiety. 

However, I now ask myself, why do I worry? Why do I dwell on these things? I discovered an answer to this by asking “What is it I am worrying about?” Selfish things, right? All directed at my covetous nature! Also, partly the illusion that I think I can control these things which I worry about and that by dwelling on them I can somehow come up with a plan to solve my worries. By understanding I cannot control these things, the alternative Jesus offers becomes very, very precious.

Jesus points out to us in the last sentence of the passage that life is uncertain yes, but more importantly He is pointing to something within all us. “O ye of little faith”. Remember, this does not mean “No faith”. I agree, we have to work to survive and need money to live our lives comfortably, but we don’t need to make this our life objective. Everyone in the world wants these “covetous” possessions. It’s human nature. But Jesus says to us “Your Father knows you need these things. But seek first his Kingdom and all these things will be added to you”. 

A BIG statement right? One author describes this “lack of faith” like a flashlight flickering in the darkness. When we want (or have) these things to alleviate our worries we lose sight of God. You might say that you still pray and ask for these worries to be lifted, but is that really what you want from your God? To basically be a miracle maker to solve your problems? Perhaps, we are missing the point?

We have this illusion that once we are married, have a house, have kids, have some savings, have a job, have health, etc. that all will be ok. But are we not storing our treasures in the wrong places? Are we not building our houses on sand, where what we treasure most is so vulnerable and can be taken away and destroyed, that we actually set ourselves up for anxiety?

But Jesus promises us so much in Luke 12:22-34. Here they are:

Your life is worth SO much more than (insert your worry here)! Think about money, Jesus says that if your life is made by money, it will be unmade by lack of it. Jesus says look at the world around you and how he provides for the ravens (a bird not very liked and associated with death). Even if he will provide for a bird that even the Old Testament views as dirty and a thief, imagine how much MORE he will care for you! Jesus also says, “which of you by worrying can add a cubit to his span?” a cubit being a form of measurement and one’s life being viewed as a journey we walk through, how does worrying “add” to your life journey. The distance you will go in life. It adds nothing…you won’t go any further in life if you always worry.

Let’s look at the lilies section of the verse. Slightly different to the ravens. This time jesus talks about being clothed. Not being clothed in physical clothes (we covered that in point (1)). This metaphor talks about being clothed in nothing less than radiant glory. He says here “Why do you worry about what to wear?” God clothes you in His own Glory. “Why worry about your health” God will raise you from the dead to eternal life. “Why worry about money” God says you will inherit the Earth. “Why worry about people liking you” God will make you live in the Kingdom of His love. “The Father knows you need these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you”. Jesus reassures us that if we get the big things straightened out, we will have what need in the little things. What everyone else in the world is obsessed with God makes a distant second. He will give you what you need to live on, if you need Him in order to live.

This is a complex way to look at worry, but in the end if you forget everything else I wrote just remember that God loves you so much he sent his only Son to die for us so that we may be forgiven and that there may be no more death, fear or anxiety in our lives and that we are liberated from sin. 

This is huge, so NEVER forget that it is your Father’s PLEASURE to give you the kingdom. God is our Father and delights in us. So don’t worry ;)

You brother in Christ

If Christ Has Not Been Raised, Your Faith is Futile - by Tom Waters

 Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:16-26

Paul makes a big statement: If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. Let’s look at three quick reasons as to why that’s true:

If Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins

We have all ‘died in Adam’ (v. 22). All of us, like Adam, have turned our back on God and sinned against Him. We deserve judgement. But God made a perfect sacrifice for us: Jesus Christ. When He died on the cross, he wiped our sins clean. But if it’s the death that paid the sacrifice, why does Paul point to the resurrection of Christ, rather than His death?

I think the reason probably is that if Christ had not been raised, He could not have been God. If He wasn’t God, then He was just another man, and not sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world. So, if Christ has not been raised, there is no sacrifice to take the punishment of your sins.

If Christ has not been raised, you cannot be raised

Paul says that when Christ returns, He will raise everyone who “belong to Him”. He will defeat all His enemies, including death (v. 26). If Christ has not been raised, death has not been defeated and so you cannot be raised.

If Christ has not been raised, you have no hope for the future

Paul writes that, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If Christ hasn’t been raised, then there is no point to our faith beyond the end of this life. It is impotent. Those who have died as Christians are lost (v. 18). There is no hope for eternity, or for anything beyond the end of our years here.

But, Christ has been raised! If you trust in Him, you are no longer in your sins, you will one day be raised with Him, and you can trust that you will spend eternity with God.

Praise the Lord!


Fighting the good fight - by Stuart Ramsay


"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Last week, I was cycling from Maidenhead to Bristol with my brother over three days. On the first day, my brother got slightly tired of my constant requests to stop and rest, or to stay at the cafes or pubs en route a bit longer. But when we rolled in to Newbury that first day, where we were to stop for the evening, I felt a flood of relief and accomplishment.

The next two days, neither of us wanted to stop for rest as much, even though we were as tired as on that first day. We persevered, ploughing on despite it being hard. We were much more focussed on getting to our destination, to finish what we had set out to do that day. We knew the relief and rest that would await there!

In 2 Timothy, Paul is writing, perhaps for the final time, to Timothy, his protege. In this last chapter, Paul describes the Christian life as a race to be run and a fight to be fought: it is - as many of us may know well - often hard and tiring. We may face ridicule, persecution, or simply frustration and exhaustion.

But as he comes to the end of his life, Paul delights in persevering, even though it is hard. Why? Because of what awaits, the crown of Righteousness which will be given to him by Christ Jesus on the final day (verse 8).

It's when we know what awaits that we can persevere in spite of the journey being hard. As we understand more of the rich inheritance that is in store for us in new creation, the joy of seeing Our God face to face, we are spurred on. Though the race is hard, we endure pain and discomfort, knowing what awaits at the finish.

Keep going!


The Church As One Body? - By Tom Waters

Read 1 Cor 12:12-31

People at Canada Water Church come from different countries, backgrounds, jobs, ages, and interests. Yet, in verses 12-13, Paul says that we are all one body:

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink - 1 Cor 12:12-13

Why? What does that mean?

In one Corinthians, Paul is writing into a context of disunity and division. The Christians in the church of Corinth were suing each other (chapter 6), and those with plenty did nothing to help those who were starving (chapter 11).

But this is not the way God's church was designed. In verses 25-26, Paul says that, "But God has so composed the body... that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honoured, all rejoice together."

So, part of being the body is to love one another, and to look after one another!

Different roles
"If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?"

Paul explains that different people bring different skills and abilities to the church. Some are teachers, others prophets, others administrators, he says. We might add a few others - musicians, website managers, cooks. But all these different people are needed for the body to work.

Sometimes it's easy to think that your role in the church is unimportant. But Paul explains that, "on the contrary, the parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable." When we play our role in the church, we serve its other members, and glorify God.


Fighting Guilt - By Pankaj Singh

Guilt: We’ve all gone through it at some point of our lives. But for a depressed person, the feeling of guilt is always in their minds. A mind overburdened with guilt is pushed towards depression, which in turn leads to further guilt. This vicious cycle of ever worsening shame and self hatred is what pushes most people with depression towards self harm.

For a Christian, guilt could be especially debilitating. It tears us down, makes us feel unworthy and dirty, robs us of our confidence and faith in Christ. The more ashamed we get of ourselves, the more we feel distanced from God. We feel unworthy of God’s love and try to run away from it. This of course, further compounds the problem.

The first thing to remember is that one is not alone in their struggles with sin and guilt. Even Paul struggles with it in Romans 7:18-19, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” We need to remember that we are all sinners, and we will always continue to battle with sin.

Despite this our God loves us and forgives all we do. Salvation is in grace, and through grace comes forgiveness. If we realize what Christ achieved on the cross, we can never feel guilty. All our sins have been washed away in Christ’s blood. Then what can we feel guilty of? The truth is that Christ died for our sins, setting us free of guilt now and forever.

We don't need to bring up past sins and worry that they were too terrible to be forgiven. God's mercy is real and it is final: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)

In psychiatry, it is believed the best way to overcome guilt is to talk about it to someone who can understand it well. Who better to talk to than our loving Heavenly Father, who does not judge us and forgives all our transgressions. Confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness should be a huge part of our conversations with God.

Psalm 32 is a very beautiful study. Although David had sinned terribly, he found freedom from both sin and guilty feelings. He dealt with the cause of guilt and the reality of forgiveness.

Guilt cannot touch us in a negative way if we remember that God’s forgiveness is complete and eternal because Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sins and “not for our sins only, but the sins of the whole world”.

What is Holiness? - By Peter Norris

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” – Isaiah 6:1-7


Holiness is something we often read about in the Bible, but what does it actually mean and why does it matter?

This record of the prophet Isaiah’s encounter with God’s holiness gives us some answers.


You can tell a lot about God’s holiness by the way people react when He approaches them. 

One theologian talks about the ‘creature-feeling’ that God’s holiness evokes in people – a sudden awareness that their existence depends on something other than themselves; a sense of fear, vulnerability and danger.  You can see it here in Isaiah’s cry: “Woe is me! For I am lost” (or “undone”) (verse 5).

When we encounter God in His holiness, we’re reminded that He’s the Creator. He’s not dependent on anything else for His existence. He’s completely self-sufficient. And He’s His own master. No one can tell Him what to do. He is Sovereign.

These truths make us feel very small.

We like to think we don’t depend on anything else for our existence.  We like to think no one can tell us what to do. But an encounter with God’s holiness reminds us how wrong we are.

We’re completely dependent on God to keep us alive and He has every right to tell us what to do because He made us.

God draws near

Now, this might all seem a bit stern, especially when people often say God’s holiness refers to his “separateness”. But that’s not the whole picture.

You see, we only get to encounter God’s holiness when he draws near. God always wants to be close to His people. Whether that’s with Adam and Eve in the garden, with the people of Israel in the tabernacle, or with all believers in the New Jerusalem.

God knows that we’re not pure enough to be in His presence but He makes a way for it to happen. He took Isaiah’s guilt away with a burning coal from the altar (verses 6-7). He takes away our guilt by sending His Son from heaven to bear our guilt on the cross.

We’re cleansed so that we can draw near to God and enjoy Him in His awesome holiness. The Creator. The Sovereign One.


That you may know that you have eternal life - by Tom Waters

1 John 5:6-13

How do we know that we're saved and will live for eternity in heaven? Perhaps you have sometimes worried that you might not. This passage has an encouragement that we can be confident in the saving work of Christ.

In verse 8, John describes three ways that 'testify' - the Spirit and the water and the blood. Verse 11 tells us that, "this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." Let's briefly look at the three ways that testify.

The blood
If you have accepted Christ, you can be confident that you have eternal life, because Jesus has paid the sacrifice. It's not about whether you have "worked hard enough" or even "been good enough", because Jesus Christ has done enough. His death is sufficient for our salvation: job done.

The water
'The water' seems to refer to baptism. When we're baptised, we signify the washing off our sins and thereby being made fit for heaven. Just as the blood of Jesus testifies to him paying the price for our sin, baptism testifies to the fact that we now are free of sin.

The Spirit
As John says in verse 7, the Spirit is truth. When we accept the Holy Spirit, He works in us to make us confident of the truth of Christianity. This doesn't happen overnight. But when we pray, read the Bible, and hear it preached, the Holy Spirit helps to make us confident that we are saved. Sometimes you might not feel that confident, and every Christian has ups and downs in their faith. I confess to not knowing any quick fix to this; but the lesson from this passage is to look to the saving blood of Christ, which has wiped our sins clean.

Finding Hope by Pankaj Singh

We are all familiar with the word “depression” and yet strangely unfamiliar with what a depressed person goes through every day. It is quite difficult for someone who has not gone through depression to understand a life without hope, full of emptiness and fear.  What begins as just a general tendency to feel “low” rapidly snowballs into an avalanche of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, tiredness and helplessness, burying the sufferer deeper each day.

Perhaps no symptom is more debilitating and pestilential as “hopelessness”.  Nothing is worse than believing that you cannot get what you want, that things are not going to be alright, that there’s no way out of that quicksand of anguish and despair.  This feeling distances us from God, and with that comes nothing but further lack of hope.

This feeling is not just a state of mind. Deep depression is embodied emotional suffering, affecting one’s physical abilities as well. The all consuming feeling of despondency pervades every cell in the body, and the body reacts as the mind believes.

The only thing one needs to overturn all that is hope. Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when one knows what one hopes for most and holds it like a light within, one can make things happen, almost like magic.

And there is no more hope anywhere than in our loving and caring God. He clearly intends for us all to live joyful lives, as Paul says in Romans 15:13:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Whenever we are down, feel like we cannot make it, or are spiraling towards complete despair, we should think of Psalms 34:18:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit”

God can inject hope in every hopeless situation.

Hope comes by knowing God, who is the author of everything, including hope itself. The more we walk with Him, the more we understand his wills and desires concerning us. He fills us with peace in His presence, giving us the ability to be content and joyful in every circumstance.

We should make sure we are staying in the Word, even if we don’t feel like it when all hope is lost. Emotions can lead us astray, but God's Word stands firm and enduring. We must maintain strong faith in God and hold even more tightly to Him when we undergo trials and tribulations. Remember,

“that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).


Desiring God, Desiring the World - by Tom Waters

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

John tells us to not love the world or the things of the world. What does that mean? Why should we not love the world or the things in it?
Not from the Father. John says that the love of the world is incompatible with the love of the Father. Another way of stating this would be: we cannot have two masters. What happens when one master tells you to do one thing, but another master something different? You can only obey one; similarly, when following God conflicts with chasing the things of this world, you can only do one.
The world is passing away. John says that "the world is passing away along with its desires." When Jesus returns, the idols of this world - money, fame, power, popularity - will disappear. In Matthew, Jesus says:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
In the end, following these idols is futile, because they will all pass away.
What does it look like? In practice, what does it mean to not love the things of this world? Most clearly, it means making sure that our lives are lived in accordance with the God's perfect commands in the Bible - even when it means not indulging worldly desires. But at a deeper level, it means an attitude of holding things of this world lightly; being prepared to accept it when we don't get the things we want, and always giving thanks to God when we do.

Why do we take the Bible seriously? - by Stuart Ramsay

On Wednesday, we held the first of our Big Small Group Seminars, on the topic of "Why do we take the Bible seriously?".

Our services together on a Sunday and our small groups on a Wednesday are centred around the reading, studying and careful application of the Bible. We regularly pray that God would speak to us through His Word, and change us as a result of what we hear. But why do we do church like this? Why do we take the Bible so seriously?

A great answer is given by Paul in 2 Timothy. Here he is writing to Timothy, his protege, explaining what the foundation of the church will be. And he points Timothy to the Bible:

" have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

What does this passage tell us about the Bible?

(1) It's written by God, as well as by humans (v16)

Paul teaches that the Bible is breathed out by God. We also know, though, that it was written by human authors. But we don't have to choose between the Bible being written by men or by God: it is written byboth, by God speaking through the human authors. We affirm the bold claim: what the human authors of Scripture say, God says.

This should lead us to two complementary sets of attitudes:

Written by MEN: so we should read the Bible critically, looking for genre, context, audience and purpose.

Written by GOD: so we should read the Bible reverently and humbly, like we would no other book.

(2) It's written for a purpose (v15b)

God acts through His words. And God is doing one big thing, and lots of smaller things through His Word:

 - One big thing: the Bible is able to make us "wise for salvation through Christ Jesus". God presents Christ to us, that we might place our trust in Him.

 - Lots of smaller things: when the human authors write to encourage, to warn, to comfort, to promise, to rebuke...this is also God presently encouraging, warning, comforting, promising and rebuking us. God is presently accomplishing these acts through His Word, and by His Spirit, who grips our hearts and applies God's word to us powerfully as we read it. This is why we say that God's word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).

(3) It's sufficient (v17) and authoritative (v16)

Sufficient just means that the Bible is enough for us.

 - The Bible tells us what we need to know about salvation (v15b) and what we need to know about holiness, how we live as Christians (v17).

 - It's also enough in the sense that we don't need any more written, breathed-out words from God. Our faith was "delivered once for all the saints" (Jude 1:3). God is not going to add or change his breathed-out written words, and other revelation needs to be tested against God's sufficient Word.

Authoritative means that the Bible is the way by which God exercises His authority.

 - God already has all authority in heaven and earth. And he exercises His authority by His words: to disobey somebody's words is actually to disobey them

 - This authority is not authoritarian: it's exercised lovingly, to shape us more into Christ's likeness

 - The Bible is authoritative over our minds (what we believe), over our wills (what we do) and over our hearts (our attitudes and desires)

Let us make time to sit under God's words, as he supremely presents Christ to us; actively speaks to us by His Spirit; and rules over our hearts and our lives with His all-sufficient Word. Might we echo the Psalmist as he exclaims: "In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your preceptsand fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word." (Ps 119:14-16).

The Sovereign, Self-giving and Saving God - by Stuart Ramsay

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." Isaiah 43:25

I was thinking yesterday about God's character and his actions. In one sense, God is of course completely free, completely sovereign: he is all-powerful and there is nothing that can restrain Him or His decisions. But what God chooses to do, his will and his actions, flows out from Who He Is - from His unchanging character.

This verse from Isaiah comes from the middle of a long passage where God is reminding the Israelites of their own sin, and his mercy towards them. In this verse he explains through Isaiah that He blots out (completely covers over) their trangressions (or sin, or disobedience).

But God's glorious act of salvation in Christ is not an arbitrary choice of His, as if from nowhere. In a sense, it couldn't be any other way. Why? Because that is who He is ("I, even I, am he...", v25)! Our God is the God who blots out trangression, who completely covers over sin by giving of Himself that we might share in His righteousness and goodness. He fundamentally is a saving God, and His plan and action of salvation is the outflowing of His eternally unchanging gracious character.

This is hugely assuring for us. Sometimes I think we wonder if God's promises will really hold: is God's forgiveness just on a whim? Will he change his mind? No: God is a saving God, the God who blots out transgressions. He is completely sovereign; but completely consistent with His character. Our salvation is secure because God is unchanging. And so too, it makes us reflect on the God whom we love and worship. God's plan of salvation is not merely a decision of his; it reflects Who He Is: a self-giving, saving God.

Living in the City - by Robin Brodie

At our wonderful sunny Canada Water Church weekend away in the welcoming and beautiful environs of Otford Manor in Kent a few weekends ago we had a discussion session on "Knowing the City".  We also looked at the effect the City has on our personal and church lives.

First we heard some quotes from Timothy Keller's book "Center Church" on the challenge of sharing the Gospel in the City and learned that already 70% of the world live in the world's megacities, one of which is London.

The book quoted missionary theologian Roger Greenway who writes-:

It may be helpful to those who harbour misgivings about cities to reflect on the  fact that urbanisation as a present fact for most of the human family is a reality under the providential control of God. In Acts 17 v26-27 the Apostle Paul observes "God determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.He did this so men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him" Viewed in light of these verses, city growth can be perceived as part of God's providential plan in history. God's redemptive purpose behind urban growth is that "men should seek him and reach out for him."

Through worldwide migration to the city God may be setting the stage for Christian mission's greatest and perhaps final hour."

In the discussion that followed here are some of the ideas expressed:

who you surround yourself with in the city is very important, as we all live in small tight communities.

- the church community gives you great opportunity to meet people from all over the world. We currently have 29 different nations represented in our CWC!

- the city provides many temptations and distractions to keep us from following Jesus so we need to be very focused on giving time to our Faith and church community.

- although relationships in the church can seem quite temporary because of people constantly moving on, they are still very worthwhile as they can actually be continued long term (even for a lifetime) through email, facebook and easy travel etc. 

- we need to be quick, open and intentional about making contacts and friendships in the church or people may be gone and our opportunities for life changing friendships and growth in faith may be missed.

- the church is all about relationships, firstly with God and then with each other- we need to ask God to help us make time in our busy lives for both these vital relationships.

- we want to make our church a model of faith, love and care which those moving to other countries want to follow when they get home.

- because the church is all about deepening relationship (based on the deepest relationships of all between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit at the base of the whole Universe) we must not underestimate the suffering for those who remain (especially Kruger and Stephanie and family) when others move on.

Paul, who has recently come to our church and Big Small Groups from India (via the Channel Islands) suggested as key verses to summarise our discussions on how to live in the city Ephesians 5v15-16:

"Be very careful then how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

May we grow together in Christ and in fellowship with each other.


Radical Christian Sacrifice - by Ben Ramsden

This audio clip is amazing, John Piper works to bring to life what it means to make radical sacrifices, and what our motivation to do them would be. Often I find him shaking me up and cutting to my heart so that I'm not stuck in a malaise of comfortableness in life, he makes me sure of what the only true purpose of my life is. 

When you have time, stop whatever else you're doing, and get a load of this.