2013-Another Year – part 1 – Week 1 / December 31st

2013Devotional

We are now on the eve of a so called New Year; actually this will not be a new year but just “another year.” how then should we live? Most certainly another year designates for all of us a continuing opportunity to serve Jesus and the kingdom of God. It is therefore worthy of note that for Paul the coming of Jesus was very close and thus how much more for the days in which we live. We must never take the seat of the scoffer  who discounts the soon coming of Jesus. The truth is we have another year, by the grace of God, to set our priorities straight and focus on the Lordship of Jesus.galilee_resized

To do this we should take another look at 2Peter 3:10-13:

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

We therefore note the following:

A. There will be an end
The events heralding the end are breaking in all around us all the time; so keep the pencil of your spiritual life well sharpened so as to be ready for it. Writing to the Church at Thessalonica Paul reminds his readers that the Holy Spirit will give them an understanding and knowledge of the day of Jesus coming. (1Thessalonians 5:1-4) Above all be assured of this; the present earth and all it’s works will be burned up!

B. There will be a right of passage
Those who go into God’s new heaven and earth will have to be compatible with His character. This is called godliness! And this can be attained to by the grace and ability given to us by Jesus. Jesus is the only “bridge” to a perfect new world wherein righteousness will be the hallmark of everything done and said there.

C.There will be a required attitude
That is; Jesus’ followers must focus their attention on their future destiny. This keeps them free from complacency and thus centered on the things that really count in life. The coming of another year provides us all with an opportunity to spend the days that are left to us making sure that our lives have significance. Hopefully we can therefore ensure that our days are well spent by bringing the love of God to all men.

To be sure the year now ahead of us will be just as dark, evil and foreboding as the last. Darkness will continue to cover the earth and Israel will face increased international pressure and antagonism. We must be a people of the word and prayer and fully clad in the armor of God. Our joy will not be found in ringing in the new year but in Jesus and only Jesus. So, having said all this may you have a very blessed 2013.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Another Year-2013 – part 2 – Week 2/3 / January 6th

2013Devotional

As we enter another year we must center our lives on the things that really matter as I have no doubt that the year ahead of us will have some serious challenges for the Body of Christ. Paul’s final greetings at the end of his epistles very often have some wonderful advice for us that we would do well to take note of and follow. All of scripture is inspired and God breathed and so we can most certainly profit from what at first glance appears to be insignificant. Our lives must have something temporal and eternal upon which to be built upon and therefore, time and again, Paul tells us that we must build our lives upon the foundation which is Jesus Christ. (1Corinthians 3:11) Jesus Himself self concluded His beautiful Sermon on the Mount with a similar exhortation as He said that our lives are like houses that must be built upon a rock. When storms, troubles and trials come they will remain standing. The “Rock” is His life living in us. This is the only way to arm ourselves for the year that is now ahead of us.

Paul’s final greeting at the end of 2Corinthians is therefore good advice that we should take!

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”(2Corinthians 13:11)

We should take note of the following:

1.    There is a time to say goodbye
Life does not go on forever in the physical realm of the present. Like Paul; there comes a day when we will all have to say “Farewell.” This reminds us that we are just one breath away from eternity and therefore we must be ready all the time. We must live every day for Jesus and as we begin a new year it is important that we resolve to do so. God can call you and me home at anytime and it would be a blessing to cross into eternity without regrets! Few are those, I believe, who do so!

2.    There is a time to grow into spiritual maturity
Paul exhorts his readers to, “Become complete.” That is; to grow up in Christ and reflect a behavior pattern that is Christ-like. The Corinthian believers were riddled with carnality and immaturity as regards their growth in Jesus and thus their church was a place of division and contention. Jesus wants “complete people’! These are people who are not easily offended, who are wise and above all loving and compassionate. This cannot wait and therefore resolve to clothe yourself with Christ in 2013.

3.    There is a time to reflect on the meaning of reconciliation
Sin alienates us from God and our fellow man. So, if the sin problem has been dealt with in our lives by what Jesus did for us on the cross we should demonstrate by our actions that we are right with God and right with our neighbors. Anything short of this is a contradiction of our claim to be a Jesus follower. This is a serious issue and therefore we must be encouraged, we must be anchored by well being or comfort and we must demonstrate unity and live in peace with all people.

These then are three very clear spiritual objectives that we should embrace fully in the year ahead. If we give ourselves to them Paul leaves us with an exciting promise; “The God of love and peace will be with you.” What more could I wish for myself and for you in 2013.

Happy New Year!

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The God Who Shines – Week 4 / January 21st

2013Devotional
“And the commandment, which was to bring
life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking
occasion by the commandment, deceived me,
and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy
and the commandment holy and just and good.”
Romans 7:10-12

sunset_mountains_resizeMoses and the Law
When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai his face shone with the glory of God because he had received the holy law of God that, if fully obeyed in all its aspects, brings eternal life. The Ten Commandments or majestic law is more than just a list of do’s and don’ts; it is the glory of God shining forth. This is why scripture affirms that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We can only understand what sin is in the light of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:20)Thus sin is rebelling against God’s character. Moses could not retain the glory of God so as he noticed this glory fading away he put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not see this fading process. By this action he actually deceived them into thinking that by attempting to keep the law, by their own power and ability, they could be saved. This deception or veil of unbelief persists until this day. (2Corinthians 3:18; 2Corinthians 4:6)

Definition:
The Law or Torah of God is the shinning forth of God’s character which is His glory. (Leviticus 18:5)

David and the Law
David had a high view of the law. His very first Psalm demonstrates this as does Psalm 119. Sadly the Church has a low view of the law today; very often mocking it! Jesus warned against this and stated that those who do this will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20) David longed for the day when the glory of God’s law would shine again over Israel. (Psalm 80:3) Notice the link between keeping the law and salvation in this verse.
Definition:
Salvation is being restored to the image of God reflected in the Majestic or Moral Law.

Jesus and the Law
Jesus is the Law of God displayed in the flesh and He is thus the perfect outshining of all that God is. He is the God who shines! (Hebrews 1: 1-3) It is for this reason that, in answering an enquiry about how one gets saved, He said keep the Law, take up your cross and follow Me. (Matthew 10:17-21) Actually, the way of salvation has always been the same, even in the Old Testament period. Therefore, salvation was always based on the principle of faith. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, (Romans 4:2-5)  David the great King of Israel was also saved by faith, (Romans 4:6-8) Moses was also put right with God by faith (Hebrews 11:23-29) as were all the other servants of God of that period. (Hebrews 11:13) This is the message that Jesus preached as He ushered in by His death the New Covenant.

Definition of the New Covenant:
The New Covenant is that promised eternal life and blessing of God whereby, to those who embrace it, the principle of God’s Law or Torah is spontaneously lived out through them.

Jeremiah wrote:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a
new covenant with the house of Israel…………….But this is the
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days
says the Lord: I will put my Law in their minds, and write it on their
hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
 No
more will every one teach his neighbor and every man his brother
saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least
of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their
iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34

Paul wrote:

“For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh,
God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account
of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement
of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the
flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4

In other words the Law or glory of God was given through Moses but the ability or grace of God to live it out was given to the world by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

The Law Summarized
Both the New and Old Testaments sum up the Law by stating that it means loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 6:25; Leviticus 19:18) Jesus Himself affirmed this (Mark 12:29-31) and thus the work of the Spirit of God within us is to manifest this through our lives. (Romans 13:8-10) This is what it means to be saved! Those who allow this power of the Law to fill their lives because of what Jesus did for them on the cross are promised many wonderful blessings. (Deuteronomy 30:11-16; Romans 10:4-10; Ephesians 6:1-3)

Finally
The New Testament does not constitute a new revelation concerning the way of salvation. Rather it is a faithful exposition of the Old Testament and thereby demonstrates that salvation was always based on exercising faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. This is why, when Jesus caught up with the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, He demonstrated this truth by “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets” He revealed to them the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27, 44) Jesus is the Law of God shining into and out of our lives; He is the very Word of God; the God that shines!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Babylon – Week 5 / January 29th

2013Devotional

“Babylon the great is fallen….come out of her my people.”
Rev18: 2, 4

Origins

In the Book of Genesis Babylon is presented as the root of all that is wicked and evil. Though the region, where this city was situated is small, seeds were sown here that would in the end impact the world, deceive it and plunge it into conflict with God and, as a consequence, see millions of people placed on the “broad road” to destruction. This region known as the Fertile Crescent was not only witness to the fall that has caused all to sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans3: 23) but it also saw the birthing of a system that would one day impact the world at every level.

The Tower of Babel

This somewhat strange structure was in essence an attempt by Nimrod and those with him to challenge the existence, nature and sovereignty of God. (Genesis11: 1-9). Much has been written about this phenomenon and I will not here attempt to “re-event the wheel”. Nevertheless, a number of things are clear. The Tower of Babel was:

1.    A place of deception.
2.    A place of strong demonic power.
3.    A place of rebellion against the God of the Bible.
4.    A place that took advantage of the fallen nature of humankind so as to galvanize it in an effort to resist God.
5.    A place where the advantages for wickedness could be achieved through globalization.
6.    A place of judgment.

Let’s take a closer look at these six points:

1. A place of deception.

Babylon offered an alternative to the worship of the one true God. It was a place where, through its mysteries, religious deceptions of all kinds were introduced into the world. This deception was strengthened greatly because it was driven by powerful forces of darkness and in the end, just like leaven, it found its way into many religious beliefs that we know and recognise today. For instance the cult of mother and child began here, took root in Egypt and eventually impacted the Roman Catholic Church.

In addition the various strains of Luciferianism originated in Babylon and these strains have found their way into the Secret Societies of our world such as Free Masonry and its so called Grand Lodges of the Orient. Given that the fall of humankind took place in this region and that the area birthed, as a consequence, all of the above and more, it is clear that Babylon constitutes a very powerful demonic stronghold out of which a very strong deception has gone into the world. (Zechariah5: 5-11)

2. A place of strong demonic power.

A region that is capable of impacting the world with dark deception has a nerve centre of strong demonic power. It appears that this demonic power has the ability to influence and corrupt all who endeavour to grapple with the place! It is worthwhile noting that over the centuries there has been little Gospel impact in the area. It is a place of demonic darkness. A type of throne-room where Satan has immense authority and power and those then who attempt to assault it will be subject to this unseen but very real power. There should be a big Neon Sign place over the region that states:

“Beware strong demonic powers at work here; you enter at your own risk”

Satan has established these regions in the world and the Book of Revelation, for instance, acknowledges that Asia Minor is another region like this. Thus Pergamos is said to be the throne of Satan. (Revelation2: 13)

The message is then clear, those who attempt to engage this region had better be sure of the will and purpose of God in this regard. The American Administration has been bold enough to do this. As a consequence the demonic “dust up” is clear for all to see. Were they right to do so? I personally think that they were but the more penetrating question is, “Did they do so in the perfect timing and purpose of God?” The answer to this question we shall only know in the future. What is clear however is that a mighty conflict is in the process of being played out before our eyes and most of it is not physical and visible but unseen and invisible.

3. A place of rebellion against God.

Babylon and its seeds of wickedness have attempted to dethrone the God of the Bible and cast a smokescreen of deception over the revelation of who He is and what He has done for the world in Christ. According to the Bible Babylon has targeted God by taking aim at His people and the revelation they treasure, called the Word of God.

For these reasons, and because its deceptions have invaded the world, by the time we come to the Book of Revelation ,Babylon is a world system not any longer limited to the region that we call the Fertile Crescent. In short its impact is global! For this reason God’s people are called upon to come out of her. (Revelation 18:4)

This means, in the first place, that we get it out of our hearts so that we can then secondly get out of its many tempting snares. These snares are in every field of human endeavour and therefore the human heart has to be vigilant and close to God if it is going to survive. Those who fail in this regard will themselves be in rebellion against God. (James 4:4)

4. A place that takes advantage of humankind’s fallen nature.

Whenever fallen man unites he births evil and wickedness. God Himself acknowledged this when the first Tower of Babel was built. (Genesis11: 6). It is no coincidence then that globalization in our day has also birthed a new pressure upon the evangelical church to compromise its beliefs, including that which delares that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Is it also a mere coincidence that the buildings of the European Union in Strasbourg are constructed in the form of the Tower of Babel? This in itself should be a warning to all of us. To be honest it may just be a coincidence but it is not a spiritual one! What appears to be artistically novel and appealing is in fact contrived and planned by unseen evil powers. It all has to do with resisting God!

Now however this resistance is on an international scale. No wonder when Jesus returns He will come described as the Word of God. He will be unveiled finally for the entire world to see and this unveiling or revelation will be the Word of God. That is, the very thing that Satan in Babylon began to resist will in the end triumph.

5. A place where the advantages of wickedness are harnessed through globalization.

We have already noted how the unity of unsaved or unredeemed people fosters wickedness and evil. God Himself saw this reality and reversed it by dividing and thereby diluting the wicked intentions of men by means of language differences. (Genesis11: 6-7)

This judgment on what unredeemed men could do if united was reversed at the cross and demonstrated on the Day of Pentecost when those in the Upper Room spoke in other tongues and all nations heard them. (Acts 2:1-13) The confusion that Babylon brings and manifests in all manner of deception, wickedness and demonic power is finally and only reversed at the cross of Jesus.

The plunge of our present world toward globalization should be of grave concern to every Christian. It will end with the manifestation of a tyranny and of wickedness such as the world has never seen. This is the clear warning of Paul in 2Thessalonians 2 and of John in Revelation 13. A man of perdition or another Christ (Antichrist) is coming. He will come to power on the platform of a united world! So, globalization will be his “ladder”, Babylon will be his roots and Satan will be his power. (2Thessalonians 2:9-10)

Sadly the people of God, that is the Church, and Israel will be his target.

6. A place of judgment.

Though Babylon is awesome in its power and demonic origins it was judged and torn down by the God of Heaven. This too will be the end of the world system of Babylon. It will fall without repair and men will weep and wail as they see it crumble. (Revelation18: 9-20)

It has taken Babylon 2000 years to recover from its initial judgment that saw it fall. It will fall again and forever! Of this we can be sure but who will fall with it? There are far too many Christians who are playing around at its points of entry. Such foolishness could in the end “suck them in” and see them fall with Babylon. This is why scripture calls upon the people of God to come out of her.

The war unfolding now in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are evidence that a great unsettling has taken place in the demonic strongholds of ancient, but very real, Babylon. The very real threat of a nuclear armed Iran is a part of this. I believe that the God of the Bible is using these conflicts, and possibly more to come, to fulfil His purpose by heralding the beginning of the end of the throne-room of the Devil that has dominated the region and the world for too long. The world will and does see things differently but those of us who know and love the Lord can discern, not the hissing of the devil in this conflict but, the judging sword of the Lord!

For this reason we must pray as never before for the region and for all people, including Israel, who will now enter into a unique “Day of Destiny” in the forthcoming days. Either they will continue to be the instrument of God’s judgment or they will give in to world (global) pressure and domestic opinion and thereby turn away from what could be their greatest historical role and calling in terms of the purpose of God. This will be a sad day indeed.

In the end however Babylon will fall, the purpose of God will triumph, the evil well of Shinar, (Zechariah5: 5-11) which has been a source of wickedness for the entire world, will be closed forever and God’s real throne over the world will be set up in Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 3:17)

Finally, it is worth noting that Jeremiah fifty, that great chapter of the book that promises judgment on Babylon and all that it stands for, states that Babylon’s fall and destruction has something to do with Israel’s final regathering and spiritual recovery. (Jeremiah 50: 4-5)

Some may say that this passage refers only to the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile at the end of the sixth century before Christ. This is not entirely true because John, writing in about AD 90, quotes from this passage and therefore applies its teaching to the people of God some six hundred years later.

In the final analysis then; all that is happening in the Middle East today has great implications for Israel. These I believe are to be understood in the realm of the spiritual. That is, great spiritual strongholds of darkness and of evil are being pulled down and this will in turn bring in a day of amazing redemption and glory for Israel. May this day come quickly!

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Biblical Community – Week 7 / February 12th

2013Devotional

“…and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a
garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band….”
“…the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”

Revelation 1:13, 20

The Bible is clear about the fact that the people of God are a Kingdom under the dominion of God Himself. In the Hebrew Scriptures this took the form of a theocracy. The nation was to be a holy nation, separate from all other nations and regulated by a priesthood and sacrificial system. (Deuteronomy 7:6) In the New Covenant this changes as all nations are called into the household of faith and they are to be part of a gathering of believers called the ecclesia or “called out ones”. The temple is now not brick and mortar but people who have embraced Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on the cross. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Their main purpose in life is threefold:

1. To be conformed to the image of Christ….and,
2. To be witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection in the world.
3. To give glory to God.

Their social interaction is transformed by Jesus living in them which means that they love and care for one another. Their mutual life together has no set structure other than that they should gather regularly for prayer, bible study, breaking of bread and fellowship. (Acts 2:42) This they can do in a building especially built for this purpose or they can gather in a private dwelling. However they gather they should and must be “set in order” meaning that they are under the spiritual protection and authority of ordained elders and gift ministries designated as Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Evangelists and Teachers. (Titus 1:5)(Ephesians 4:11-13)(Acts 13:1-2)

The Church in every generation is subject to pressure and persecution. (2Timothy 3:12) This may, as it did in the book of Acts, drive them together, for survival purposes, to live in closer proximity. (Acts 4:32-37) That is, in shared housing of some type. The early church in Jerusalem was forced to do this but elsewhere, as it took root, it structured itself differently. The style of housing is not important! Rather the purity and preservation of the believing community is. It is true that a Church in persecution and living in shared housing is more holy but it is equally true that a Church living in shared housing but free from persecution can end up in cultic and controlling behavior. Both of these insights are true.

What matters is not the housing style but the preservation of the life and witness of the church to Jesus. Some huge Churches, housed in big buildings are a great blessing filled with God’s life. This we cannot deny. On the other hand, as in China, the Church has grown and multiplied in homes. Its very existence was dependent upon it. In all aspects the rule of thumb is that we should not neglect our gathering together and we should assemble with those who uphold biblical faith and office. (Hebrews 10:19-25)

Here the writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us that being a member of a local church means:

1. Drawing near to God together (V22)
2. Drawing strength from our corporate confession (23)
3. Drawing on the life of Jesus in one another (V24)……..and;
4. Drawing on the strength that we get together when we focus on the return of Jesus. (V25)

A Church, so called, gathering in a house without ordained leadership is as much a problem and a contradiction as a Church in a fancy building without properly ordained leadership. Both problems exist. A Church “housed together” is a shelter from the storm but it could also be a breeding ground for manipulation and brain washing and thus a “storm in a shelter.” Our calling is to read the signs of the world that we are living in and structure the Body of Christ in a manner that enables the people of God to worship freely, be conformed to the image of Christ and bear testimony to the world of Jesus resurrection in the most appropriate manner.

Above all we should never devalue the importance, significance and power of the local Church. When it is properly constituted it becomes an indestructible force in the world because Jesus is in the midst of her. Even the gates of hell will be torn down by her! (Matthew 16:18)

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

ISRAEL – LAND AND PEOPLE – Week 8 / February 18th

2013Devotional

“I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Genesis 17:7-8

The debate that rages over Israel’s modern day restoration is undoubtedly a heated one and there are good, honest Christians on both sides of “the divide”. It is crucial and important for us to make this observation because it is highly dangerous to treat each other with disdain and disrespect because we do not agree on this issue. Our salvation is not regulated by issues like this, but by our personal repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, all based on His finished work on the cross.

The Heart of the Matter

mt_olives_resizedSome Christians see no biblical significance in the modern day restoration of Israel. For them the State of Israel is just like any other. The national destiny of the Jewish people in the “Promised Land” has been lost since the time of Christ because of their rejection of His Messianic credentials. They believe this even though the Scriptures affirm that the promise to them in this regard is an everlasting one! Consequently the church is exclusively the “New Israel of God” (The new Promised Land) and the only hope for all men, be they Jew of Gentile, is the acceptance of the Gospel.

From a certain perspective I must say that the latter statement is true. There is indeed “no other name give among men, under heaven, by which we can be saved”. We cannot and should not be dual covenant by belief! (Acts 4:12)

But is this the whole truth? I think not. The heart of the matter or the real issue is; has the everlasting promises of God in the Abrahamic Covenant bequeathing the land of Canaan to the Jewish people been revoked? And if so, what evidence of this “revoking” is in the Bible? In other words, the debate is about what one thinks of the Abrahamic Covenant. This alone is the heart of the matter!

The Nature of the Covenant

bible_resizedFirst mentioned in Genesis 12:1-3 and reinforced time and time again throughout all of Scripture mostly, in fact, in the New Covenant Scriptures, the Abrahamic Covenant sets aside a people and a land for the blessing of the nations. “In you all the nations of the earth will be blessed…” For the Apostle Paul this was one of the earliest proclamations of the Gospel. (Galatians 3:8) Thus, the Abrahamic Covenant is that great covenant of the Bible that promises salvation to a world lost in sin. It is made with Abraham and his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:7) It is, therefore, “the covenant of decision” and all the other great covenants of the Bible flow out of it. So, John the Baptist and even Jesus come into the world because of the promises made to Abraham in this covenant. (Luke 1:54-55; 72-75) The Jewish people, as Abraham’s descendants, are chosen as the servants of the covenant. In other words, the nation of Israel is not brought into existence as an end itself, but as a means to an end – the salvation of the world. They are the means by which God delivers His redemptive initiative to the world.

Jesus said “salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22) Paul wrote that “they are the custodians of the oracles of God” and from them come the prophets, the giving of the law, the covenants and the Messiah who is God blessed forever.” (Romans 3:1-2; Romans 9:1-5)

It is truly hard to believe that the covenant has been replaced in the light of all this, because if it has, then the decision to bless the whole world with salvation has also been replaced!!

The Nature of the Debate

The debate over Israel’s modern day restoration is over the continuing power and existence of the Abrahamic Covenant. In other words, has this covenant been abolished or reconstructed and if so, what biblical evidence is there for it?

Firstly, the “abolitionist theory”, (the total removal of the covenant) is not possible because of the New Covenant. For instance, in Galatians 3 we are told that “if we are Christ’s, then we are Abraham’s children according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29) Moreover, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law “so that the blessing of Abraham” might come upon us by faith. (Galatians3:14) The writer of the book of Hebrews insists that the wavering messianic believers can trust God and His promises in the New Covenant because he is faithful, completely, to His promises made in the Abrahamic Covenant. (Hebrews 6:13-20) Hence, there is absolutely no hint whatsoever that this covenant has been in any way disempowered, replaced, or abolished. On the contrary, it is affirmed and established, and this after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials! Indeed, in Galatians 3 Paul argues that it cannot be annulled, (Galatians 3:17) and in Romans 3:3-4 Paul clearly states that Israel’s rejection of Jesus has not in any way altered the faithfulness of God to them and, finally, in Romans 11 he argues that Jewish unbelief has not removed from them God’s calling and purpose. (Romans 11:11, 29)
Secondly, then there is the more popular “reconstructionist theory”, otherwise known as Replacement theology, that claims that the Abrahamic Covenant has been altered or adjusted because of Jewish unbelief. This is an argument from silence, but it must be made by those who see no significance in Israel’s modern day restoration to what was called Palestine. Given the New Testament evidence, that is overwhelming, they inadvertently accuse God of lying! (Romans 3:4) A covenant that promises the world salvation and promises everlasting possession of the land of Canaan to the Jewish people is not trustworthy! This is truly amazing when one considers that John the Baptist and Jesus came into the world because of this covenant and that our embracing of the Lord Jesus as Lord and Saviour places us in the promises made in it. The God we serve does not lie! (Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:9) Actually, according to Romans 15:8, Jesus came to confirm the promises made to the fathers and not to reconstruct or replace them. For the reconstructionists the words of Paul in Galatians three, attesting to the promise of God in Abraham, as applying to the “seed” (Christ) and not to the “seeds” (many) is taken to support their reconstructionist thesis. They are wrong because the Abrahamic Covenant makes a promise to both; the seed (Genesis 22:18) and the seeds! (Genesis 17:7-8) Paul’s point is that God’s ultimate plan of salvation brought to the world by the people of Israel is appropriated by faith in Jesus and not by the works of the law. (Galatians 3:15-18)

The Nature of Evidence

It has to be acknowledged by all in this debate that Jesus returns visibly and physically to Jerusalem; (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4) that is, in terms of the context of scripture, to the Old City of Jerusalem. Indeed, in a mysterious way, He links this return to Jewish acceptance of His Messianic credentials. (Matthew 23:39) He also Himself stated, in His Olivet Discourse, that one of the signs of His return is the return of the Jews to East Jerusalem. (Luke 21:24) When we add to this the interesting conversation that He had with His disciples on the Mt. of Olives concerning the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, (Acts 1:6) the picture becomes clear. That is, a latter day return of the Jews after 70 A.D. to Jerusalem is expected! On what grounds? Clearly as the New Testament everywhere affirms, on the grounds of an everlasting promise made to them in Abraham (Hebrews 6:13-20)
Those embracing the “reconstructionist”, or replacement, view of the Abrahamic Covenant not only have to grapple with the weight of evidence in the New Treatment, but also with the weight of evidence in the Old Treatment. Exile and correction are always followed up with a promise of restoration. (Amos 9:9-15) On what grounds? The answer is the promises of God given in the Abrahamic Covenant. (Haggai 3:14-15; Psalms 105:7-15; Deuteronomy 30:1-10)

It is precisely here that the “reconstructionists” misuse Scripture. That is, in contradiction of the context of Old Testament Scriptures, which in most cases, in this regard, is literal they affirm that the passages, in this regard , have to be read allegorically! In short they wrest from scripture its own authority and they assume to themselves this authority and therefore they will decide what Scripture means. As a consequence they debunk any literal interpretation of scripture pointing to a physical restoration of the Jews to the land of Canaan and instead assert that the Church is now the new Promised Land or Canaan. This assertion is totally unacceptable as a method of exegesis. The truth is; we are not literalists or spiritualists (the allegorical method of interpreting) but “contextualists.” The context of Scripture will alone decide our exegesis of it. If we follow this erroneous method of exegesis to its logical end we can equally assume that Jesus’ death on the cross was not literal! In fact an early church heresy did precisely this. There is nothing new.

The Nature of the Divide

While the Abrahamic Covenant promises salvation to the world (Galatians 3:8) and land to Israel as an everlasting possession, the Mosaic Covenant (Moral Law), that flows out of it, demands from Israel that:

1. She live out the light and blessing of God that she gives to the world (Exodus 19:1-6)
2. She live out the heavenly demands of justice and righteousness (Micah 6:5-8; Exodus 23:11; Isaiah 5:7)

Failure in these two areas would lead to correction, judgment and exile, but not loss of possession, only loss of domicile! In all honesty, Christian Zionists fail in these areas. That is, they stress the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant but ignore the commands of the Mosaic Covenant or Moral Law. They thus stray into political Zionism! Israel’s spiritual condition matters to God and determines her borders.

How sad it is that the church can never find balance. We always think that “the other side” is wrong when in reality we are both wrong and both right. Scripture is therefore clear that Israel’s possession of the land of Canaan is unconditional and everlasting (Exodus 32:13) but her domicile (privilege of living on the land of Canaan) is conditional. That is, conditional upon her righteous behaviour. This includes treating the stranger with respect and justice. (Two devastating exiles in her history have proved this point well.) In this regard the Church and the Christian Zionist world should find its “voice.” For Arabs, Palestinians, Christians and other minorities living in the Holy Land this is the issue. The failure of Christian Zionists to address these issues has prevented these minority groups from hearing their message. But equally, the failure of Christians who champion these issues to address the consequences of the Abrahamic Covenant adequately has diminished their voice in the Jewish world. The truth is; we all need to “grow up” and be more balanced.

In the End

holy_spiritIn the end Scripture affirms that Israel will exist forever as a nation before God and He will not cut her off because of all that she has done. (Jeremiah 31:35-37). Scripture clearly implies that her long historical journey will be characterised by two exiles and two returns. (Isaiah11:11) She will finally return a second time in unbelief (Ezekiel 36:24-28) and, through a process of affliction and correction, be spiritually recovered (Hosea 5:14-15; 6:1-3) Paul saw Israel’s “interlude of unbelief “as a time of the salvation of the nations to be followed by Israel’s spiritual recovery. The Deliverer will “come out of Zion.” (Romans 11:25-27) It is surely no co-incidence that we have now witnessed the second return of the Jewish people from exile. We are all “caught” in this unique transition point in history trying to make sense of it all. This is much like the early Church trying to make sense of gentile inclusion in the Church. It is a challenging process requiring grace and much love from those who tackle it. It is deeply troubling when Christians use Scripture as a weapon against each other. I do not write in this vain. I believe that in the end we must all acknowledge that there are great Christians on both sides of this debate. I have set forth my position in this devotional paper. A position I believe to be true. More true than all of this however, is faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Trials and Troubles – Week 9 / February 25th

2013Devotional

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the
fiery trial which is to try you, as though some
strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to
the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings,
that when His glory is revealed, you may also be
glad with exceeding joy.”

1Peter 4:12-13

Definition
Trials and troubles constitute unexpected and challenging events that impact upon our short-term and long-term futures.
For the Christian, in right standing with God, we may adjust this definition by writing:
Trials and troubles constitute unexpected and challenging events that impact positively upon our short-term and long-term futures.
Paul exhorted and comforted the saints in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch by saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter into the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) To put it another way, “Through many tribulations we enter into the rule and reign of Jesus over our lives.” The message is clear; trials and troubles are very much part of the Christian journey and experience.

1. The cycle of trials and troubles
Job wrote that, “…man is born for trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) Sparks emanating from a fire always fly upwards and never downwards. The lesson is therefore clear; trials and trouble will be a vital part of the Christian’s journey; just as it was with Job. The breaking in of trials and troubles to our lives very often leaves us bewildered, desperate and even frightened because we sense that we have lost control of our lives and have therefore become vulnerable to uncertainty. We must however remember that God is always with us just as He was with Daniel’s three friends who were cast into the fiery furnace. The God we serve never leaves us!

2. The blessing of trials and troubles
James writes that we must “consider it all joy when we encounter trials.” (James 1:2) As with Job, we need to learn in our hearts the great truths of God’s love, sovereignty, character, care and watchfulness over us. These truths have to gravitate from our minds to our hearts and therefore become a real unshakable part of us. Trials, and more correctly, our responses to them, reveal to what degree this has happened. This is their blessing! If we become “unhinged” and full of panic and anxiety we reveal that we have not, as we should be, been grounded in the great truths of Who God is. Our lives must be settled on the bedrock of Who God is but sadly; there is so much “carnal debris” in our lives that Jesus, through trials, has to sweep this away and thereby anchor us more fully in Himself. This is a blessing and cause for joy!

3. The purpose of trials and troubles
While much could be said about trials and troubles we limit our “discussion” to that which Paul, James and Peter have to teach us about them.
Paul (Philippians 1:12-21) teaches us that troubles enable us to reach people who would otherwise never be reached for Christ. Paul’s godly behavior in a Roman Jail stood out amongst his fellow inmates and caught the attention of his jailers. In like manner, the unsaved are watching your life and particularly so when you are encountering troubles to see if you are just like them or different. If you are different they will conclude that indeed there is something real about becoming a Christ Follower. Paul also writes that when the believers saw how God was caring and providing for him in jail they were emboldened to preach His good news as well. Your attitude in the face of adversity is an encouragement to your fellow Christians. Finally, Paul concedes that trials and troubles have played a part in transforming his life into the image of Christ. This is so because in these times we seek Him more, read His word more and embrace Him more. All this amounts to godly change.

James (James 1:2-3) teaches us troubles and trials “prove us” and thereby equip us better for service in the Kingdom of God. Trouble is therefore self instructive in that we learn about the true nature of our spiritual maturity and strength as Peter did when he denied Christ three times. Peter was not as brave as he verbally asserted that he was and after his troubles at Jesus’ trial he certainly corrected his weaknesses.

Peter (1Peter 6-8) teaches us that trials and troubles enable us to more powerfully reflect the image of Jesus from our lives and characters. Just as gold is refined by fire and the “scum” removed from it, so it is, by the fires of trials and troubles, God removes the scum (impurities) from our lives. We will all be subjected to this process at some time in our spiritual journey and, though it is not pleasant, it produces the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in us. (Hebrews 12:7-11)
So, in the end, our response to trials and troubles should be that of repentance, surrender and patient endurance. The God we serve loves you, cares for you and will never fail you as you walk with Him through times of trials and troubles. Nothing can separate you from Him. (Romans 8:35-39)

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Harlot, the Beast and the World System – Week 10 / March 7th

2013Devotional

“So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.”
Revelation 17:3

This passage of scriptures requires careful scrutiny because it introduces us to three important end-time concepts the first of which is:

The Harlot
This Harlot or Woman ( V1) is a picture of a global apostate church that has moved away from the purity and holiness demanded of her by scripture. She embraces theological positions that compromise the true faith and she is proud of it because thereby she wins the favor and approval of the world. Not only does she walk step in step with the world system but she paves the way for the arrival of the Beast.

More astonishing still is the fact that she ” cloaks herself” with the appearance of all things Christian but is in fact responsible, through the centuries, for the murder of God’s people! (V6) Today much of the global church, even so called evangelical ones, have moved away from the truth of the Gospel and from the clear biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality. In the name of love these age old biblical norms are being abandoned with glee and those who defend them are being branded as radicals and bigots. The truths of the Gospel are being neglected since preaching on sin, the wrath of God and hell is considered negative and insensitive and may well offend people! Even the notion that Jesus is the only way of salvation is being questioned and subsequently we hear more and more of interfaith meetings where all the gods are validated and prayed to. The “new church” is politically correct and is paving the way for a new global religious system that will be presided over by the Beast.

The true followers of Jesus must take note, strengthen their hearts and recognize that difficult days lie ahead.

The Beast
This Beast is the head of a global system that will bring to the world a tyranny never seen before. The Beast is an individual, like Hitler, that will hate Israel and all things truly Christian. He will be destroyed by Christ at His second coming and therefore his arrival awaits us but his spirit is everywhere in the world today and is preparing the nations of the earth for his coming. He will be likeable, pragmatic, smart, articulate and he will do remarkable things for the global economy and will solve the Middle East conflict. In short he will achieve in a short time what world leaders could not do in decades. The world will adore him, follow him and worship him. He will thus herald the arrival of a new age and world order and vast segments of the visible Church will endorse him and thereby become his “useful idiot.”

Once again the true and faithful followers of Jesus must take note and strengthen their hearts because very difficult days lie ahead.

The World System
John sees the beast having seven heads and ten horns. This is the world system that is anti-God and dominated by the same evil that lurked behind the Tower of Babel and the Empire of Babylon. It will destroy those who sell their souls to it and it seeks to gain control over every individual on the planet. Globalization with its remarkable technology is more than sinful humanity can cope with; we are therefore moving toward a world where we will be monitored every moment of the day, where transponders embedded in our bodies will be our right of passage to medical treatment, banking facilities and travel and where the true Gospel of Jesus will be outlawed. These things are already in place and just waiting to be implemented.

Once again the true and faithful followers of Jesus must take note and strengthen their hearts because very challenging days lie ahead.

This is the teaching of God’s Word and we must know it but not be frightened by it because our Savior will never leave us and greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Death of Jesus – Week 12 / March 19th

2013Devotional

At this time of the year our thoughts turn, as they should, to the tragic and yet glorious events that surrounded the crucifixion of Jesus. Understanding these events transforms the cross from an instrument of execution to one of a glorious and only pathway to heaven. Paul saw the implications of what Jesus did on the cross as something amazing, glorious and worth telling to the whole world. The message of the cross is good news indeed and no passage underlines this more than the first two chapters of the book of Hebrews.

Jesus, through whom God made the worlds

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in
time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these
last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed
heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
who being in the brightness of His glory and the express
image of His person, and upholding all things by the word
of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat
down at the right hand of the Majesty on high……………..”
Hebrews 1:1-3

The writer’s focus here is upon the glorious credentials of Jesus. He is perfect God and perfect man; a Godman who was not born into the world but begotten. (John 1:14) Jesus pre-existed with God from all eternity, is His express image and was the instrument by which His Father created the worlds. He not only created the worlds but also upholds them by the “word of His power!” It is this One that purged or wiped away all our sins on the cross. That is, our past, present and future sins have been removed from our lives thus freeing us from their awful consequences and enabling God to see us sinless and perfect in Christ. Our past sins were deliberate but, as Christians, our present and future sins are by default or unintentional. (Hebrews10:26-27) If we then confess them “He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Jesus, crowned with glory and honor

“For in that He put all in subjection under him (mankind), He
left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet
see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made
a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned
with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste
death for everyone.”
Hebrews 2: 8-9

The intention of God in creation was that humankind would rule over or have dominion over the earth. The original man, before the fall, was a superman! His calling was to tame the world, give it order and allow it to thrive and become even more beautiful. This was God’s plan for men and women. We cannot even begin to imagine the capacity that we have and that has been marred by our sinfulness. Quoting from Psalm eight the writer of the book of Hebrews laments the fact that humankind never fully entered into its destiny; “We do not yet see all things put under him (humankind).” However, we do see Jesus in this place of dominion and His death for every person on the earth guarantees a place of full restoration to all those who repent and accept Him as Lord. The write exclaims, “He tasted death for everyone” meaning that, potentially, all of mankind has an opportunity to recover its place of dominion. Now we are embracing the life of Christ in order to overcome the effects that sin has had upon our lives but one day, when Jesus comes, we will be like Him and with Him we will rule the worlds! His death is the only pathway back to the place that God originally intended for us.

Jesus, through death destroyed the devil

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood
He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He
might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime
subject to bondage……..Therefore in all things He had to be made
like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High
Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins
of the people.”
Hebrews 2:14-17

Strangely the power of the devil over our lives was the character of God. Sin, rebellion and wickedness separates us from the life, presence and protection of God. We were thus “cut loose” from God’s care and left prey to the devil and his demons. (Ephesians 2:1-3) We could only return to God if the demands of His character could be met. This we could not do but Jesus, by virtue of His sinless life, satisfied the demands of God’s character fully on our behalf when He died on the cross. This is what the word “propitiation” means. The way is now open for all peoples to return to God in Christ and the devil cannot stop this! The devil’s jail house has been plundered, the gates are unlocked and we can all walk free! (Revelation 1:18) It is this message that we have to preach and which the devil seeks to keep blinded from the world. (2Corinthians 4:3-4) Our Father now invites us “home” and welcomes us just as the father welcomed his wayward son in the story of the Prodigal. (Luke 15:11-32)

This then is the story of Passover and the one that we should focus upon as we approach Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Meditate on these wonderful things and make them your own.

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Paul’s Faithful Sayings – Week 13 / March 24th

2013Devotional

In Paul’s letter to Titus he gives us three remarkable sayings that are indeed worthy of our attention and contemplation. Around these he builds a letter that instructs Titus to give attention to the important matters having to do with leaders, godly family living and the pursuit of good works. In this devotion I wish to draw your attention to his, “Faithful Sayings.”

Jesus, the hope of eternal life

“Paul, a bondservant of God and an Apostle of Jesus
Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the
acknowledgment of the truth that accords with
godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who
cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in
due time manifested His word through preaching,
which was committed to me according to the
commandment of God our Savior….”
Titus 1:1-3

The message that Paul brings, and which we have also received, is one of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. We have this eternal life now and it shines through our lives by reason of the fact that we live differently to those who live and work in our sphere of influence. Truth without godliness is a farce! This truth is God’s word that existed before time began, is embodied in the person of Jesus and is made known chiefly by preaching. Preaching constitutes a powerful declaration of things that are true and beyond dispute. It is knowing this that imparts authority when it is done. We should do so boldly and ensure that our lives demonstrate it.

Jesus, the coming Savior

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared
to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and
worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and
godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope
and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior
Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might
redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for
Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Titus 2:11-14

The grace of God alone sent Jesus into the world to die for us all on the cross. We have received God’s unmerited favor or we have been the recipients of God’s riches at Christ’s expense. We are thus saved from a lost eternity and are reconciled to God. This grace lives in our hearts by the life of Jesus and it teaches us to live upright and godly lives. Thus, we all have a Shepherd inside of us telling us what is right or wrong and God gives us Pastor/Shepherds, outside of us, to make sure that we listen to our inner Shepherd and do not resist His ways. This “Inner Shepherd’ also urges us to get ready and be prepared for Christ’s Second Coming. Those then who tell us not to be concerned about end-time events are thus contradicting the very work of Jesus in us. His soon coming is our blessed hope because by it we will finally be fully transformed, body, soul and spirit, into His image and we shall be with Him for all eternity in a “world” that is far beyond our comprehension of what true beauty is.

While we wait for this day to break in upon us let us live lives worthy of His name and characterized by good works. This indeed is a faithful saying!

Jesus, the One Who pours out the Spirit

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward
man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing
of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured
out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having
been justified by His grace we should become heirs of eternal life.
This is a faithful saying.”
Titus 3:4-8

In all of these faithful sayings Jesus is set before us as “our great God” or as “God our Savior.” He has done so many wonderful things for us that our hearts want to burst with thankfulness, praise and worship. We do serve a great God and He has, by Jesus Christ, poured our His Spirit upon us in abundance. The true Christian has undergone a major inner heart renewal in that he or she has been regenerated. That is, totally renewed and filled with God’s redeeming love. In addition we have been given assurance by this renewal, not only of our salvation, but of a unique inheritance reserved in heaven for us. All these things being so, our lives should be overflowing with the blessings and praises of God. This is a faithful saying because it is true and therefore every Christian should be regularly reminded of these things. Also, given all of this, how can we possibly live such defeated and sub-standard Christian lives? It is truly time to awake from our sleep, put on Christ and be filled with the joy of the Lord!!

Paul thus gives us three faithful sayings that are most worthy of being repeated in our churches and homes. Blessed be God our Savior!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries