Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Browsing the internet, I came across a site from a Mennonite group called Rocky Cape Christian Community.

Now, something with those words “Christian Community” will always grab my attention.


Simply because I think that one thing, 'community”, is what Christians of the later centuries have become experts at destroying.

In the above mentioned site there are quite a few articles, worth reading, under the heading “A Cloud of Witnesses”, where I found an article entitled “The Seekers”.

The writer begins by saying,”English people despaired of finding rest for their souls in the 1640s. 'How shall we find our way to heaven,” they asked, “while some say this, others say that, and all seem equally lost?'”
Having spent 60 years involved with Christians of many flavors,I suggest that statement is very true for today!
The majority just haven't had time, and head space, to realize it in the frenzy of religious activity, the busyness of programs, rites, rules and regulations, as well as the self appointed duty of ecclesiastical sheriffs, and a myriad of other soul consuming activity.

Let's read the rest of the article, taking particular note of the last paragraph:

For generations the rulers and churchmen of England had struggled to establish its religion. First the Anglican church separated from Rome. Among Anglicans, some fought to keep elaborate rituals. Others, known as “Puritans” pushed for simpler worship and a  moral lifestyle. Some wanted to separate from the state church and became Presbyterians or Congregationalists. Several kinds of Baptists disagreed with one another about God’s election to salvation. Besides them, free thinkers and independents of many descriptions made claims and disputed the claims of others. Some had small followings. Others believed it was wrong to have a following.
  All religious people in England disagreed with one another how to baptise, when to baptise, how to hold communion, which commands of God to obey (in the Old and New Testaments) and who had the last word. Scottish Covenanters supported Parliament. Both fought against the King. From Canterbury, Archbishop Laud thundered denunciations in the name of Christ, until thrown into the Tower of London, and beheaded. King Charles also lost his head, after switching sides and joining the Scots against Oliver Cromwell. All felt equally certain of being in the right. All used Scripture to support their positions, and everyone contributed in one way or another to the civil war that drenched England in chaos and blood.
  More than a hundred years had passed since Sir Thomas More wrote his book, Utopia, describing the triumph of reason over senseless strife. But Thomas More had lost his head too. Strife had increased, and reason seemed further from triumph than ever. Many English people, in fact, began to doubt whether anyone knew the reason for anything they did.
Then they heard a still, small, voice in the storm.
  It was the voice of a few who stopped struggling and disputing to wait, in silence, on God.
Here and there, during the 1640s, men and women discovered that true peace never comes from without. It is not a matter of outward circumstances. It does not come through outer rites, nor through words and actions that one can hear and see. Neither obedience to the laws of God and men, spiritual gifts, personal righteousness, participation in the sacraments, Bible reading, belief in Christ’s atoning work, nor the promises of God, bring true peace.
  All these things have their place, but true peace is a treasure one only finds within—when Christ becomes a friend of the soul. 
  R. Wilkinson, one of the men who sought true inner peace—“Seekers” as people began to call them—wrote in 1648:
I would not have any think that I deny Scriptures, Ordinances, Christ’s coming in the flesh, or his kingdom after death. . . . What I want is to set all things in their proper place, and bring souls to see their true centre. . . .
The rest of the saints is not in any of these [outward] things. But he who is the sum and substance of all—that is, Christ in the Spirit coming in us, to be life, light, happiness, and our hope of Glory—is the rest of the saints.
In this time God is uncovering what is false and stripping his creatures naked. God is bringing men to see the great mystery of who they really are. He is taking away what is outward and visible and bringing them to spiritual death. He lays the mountains low . . . even to a loss and silence, confusion, and darkness. The life of men becomes darkness, their wisdom folly, their life, death . . . now they are made to wait in silence, as well as the author of this book was made to do.[1]
  Instead of accusing God for stripping away their outer securities—all they had known, believed, and depended on—during the English Civil War, the Seekers thanked him for it. They thanked him for letting them come to utter helplessness and silence within, for there one may find God.
  Even when they did not find God, the Seekers learned to wait on him. Then he gave them rest.
  The Seekers withdrew from religious and political strife. “Dead to self” they stopped grasping for the religious superiority of the Puritans. They stopped trying, with the Baptists and Anglicans, to discern the “correct” way to administer the sacraments. They stopped discussing theology with the Presbyterians. In their meetings they simply waited on the Word of God (Christ) to come to them. A Seeker, Sarah Jones, wrote:
  Sink down in the eternal Word and rest there, and not in anything visible the Word has created, for it is the Word of the Lord and shall endure forever. This is the eternal Word that was before the visible, and this Word rejected by the builders is become the head of the corner.
  Reason not with flesh and blood, nor with the voice of the serpent, for if you do, you will darken the counsel of God in yourselves. Rather, shut [the evil one] out in the power of the Lord. If Eve would have done this she would not have been overcome.
Stand still and see the salvation of God which is the light of his covenant. . . . Cease thy mourning, thou weeping babe that mourns in secret for manifestations of thy beloved . . . for I can tesify unto thee by experience whosever thou art in that state, that he is bringing thee nearer him. Those manifestations were but milk which he fed thee whilst thou wert weak. Now he will feed thee with the Word from whence that milk proceedeth.
Live at home with Jacob—that is, retire daily into thy mind—though the gadding, hunting Esau persecutes thee for it. Then thou shallt receive the blessing! The glorious day of the Lord God hasteth to be revealed to those who are kept faithful in his Word.[2]
  All over England groups of Seekers began to meet and wait on the Lord together. When inspiration came, they shared it. Congregations formed in London, Bristol, and other cities where men like Richard Farnworth, Thomas Aldam, and William Dewsbury served the Word. In Sedbergh, in northwestern Yorkshire, Francis Howgill led in the affairs of a large group of honest Seekers.
  The Seekers did not profess to know all the answers. They did not make the persuading of others their priority. But in their humble emptiness they made room for the Spirit of Christ and his body took shape among them. 
Main source: Gwyn, Douglas, The Covenant Crucified, Pendle Hill, Wallingford PA, 1995

[1] From The Saint’s Travel to Spiritual Canaan
[2] From This is Light’s Appearance in The Truth

Thursday, May 10, 2012


A series of articles for Christians who aren't afraid of truth, and examining themselves and their beliefs .

The conclusion hasn't yet been written, but there is plenty of brain fodder to exercise a diligent mind of a Berean kind (Acts 17:11).

Check it out here:  http://vtmbottomline.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/is-male-gender-authority-biblical.html

Continue to read the series with titles such as,   EGALITARIANISM, TEXTS TEEMING WITH TRUTH.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


The scribes and Pharisees were, literally, anti-Christ. Not only were they enemies of the Gospel, but of Jesus Christ Himself.

Importantly, that fact made them enemies of those receiving the good news of the Gospel.

Speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus accused them of being “ blind guides” . He also described their attitude as “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about having “the appearance of godliness, but denying its power”.

The scribes and Pharisees were just such people, making public displays of their religious practices and knowledge. Their concern wasn't for the souls of the people they instructed, but for their own reputation as the religious gurus of the day.

Paul counselled Timothy to, “Avoid such people.”

The amount of gnat straining about peripheral matters, and self promotion, amongst “leaders” of so many different brands of the religion of Christianity, causes me to wonder!

There is an obvious battle raging on many fronts, sometimes heated and ungracious, about systematic theologies, rules, regulations, legalism, authoritarianism, and an umpteen other isms, as well as about who is interpreting Scripture the most accurately, and whose turf another is infringing upon.

So much heat, and energy is being expended on matters which are causing division, broken relationships, severed fellowship; and this, amongst those claiming to be Christian.

Even worse, for many of those to whom the Lord, Jesus Christ,is unknown, this very real battle, is making His cause a matter of mirth and derision, and undermining the opportunities, which are rare enough, to share the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

It is extremely sad when professed believers in the finished work of Christ seem to remain aloof from the rest of their brethren, but for them to function in a way that repels others from opportunities to hear the Gospel. The fact that those who profess to believe Gospel are so obnoxious, and lacking evidence of grace, is reprehensible, to say the least.

As Jesus was overtly opposed by the scribes and Pharisees with their demonstration of mere show and an empty form of godliness, so Jesus is being opposed, be it ignorantly, by many who have high profiles, in what those observing, understand as “the church”.

Sham piety, so long practiced, by leadership has become normal, both to practitioners, and those those who follow them. As Jesus made very clear to the Pharisees of old, the pretence of righteousness is obnoxious to Him.

There is huge effort, and expense,expended to coerce people into particular religious camps, which is professed to be for the glory of God and the good of souls, but much like the Pharisees, the motivation is that the practitioners receive kudos for their “making of converts”, and the gains which accompany them.

Jesus had severe words about such behaviour, fastidiousness and precision regarding the matters of “law” that Pharisees focussed on whilst they, neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others”.

My upbringing, and later training, for what was supposed to be Christian ministry, was very strict and precise in smaller matters of the law, very scrupulous in “straining a gnat” but in the process, both myself and my peers became expert in “swallowing a camel”. We were trained to “clean the outside of the cup and plate”.

Perceptions were more important than reality!

Jesus showed the scribes and Pharisees that what we truly are, inwardly, no matter who we are,is of major importance to Him.

The spiritual debt of all who are truly living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” was carried to the cross on the shoulders of the Lord Jesus Christ,to the cross, to account for the sin of all who trust His finished work, but the show and pretence of righteousness of so many today, like that of the scribes and Pharisees reminds me of what an undertaker friend of mine used to do, dressing up dead bodies, for viewing by the deceased, solely for show.

Have you ever thrown a stick in a flowing body of water? Closer to shore, the stick moves slowly, and ,as it is drawn more and more into the current, it begins to move faster, until it becomes one with the flow.

That's exactly what happens when our outward righteousness is to make a good impression, and keep criticism at bay.

Under our tutors we become very careful that what we really are is masked by the outward show, little realising that by unthinkingly, and uncritically, receiving their teaching and lead we have been thrown into the stream, in the still waters near the shore, and, imperceptibly at first, we move into the current, and move more easily into the flow of pretence,even deceiving ourselves that the deception we are in is not sinful.

Paul, in Romans I 24-25, wrote God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!”

We have no trouble applying that to the pagans of Paul's day and agreeing that God is just to give them over to their hearts' desires, and their insistence in gratifying those desires, but great difficulty in applying any question regarding ourselves.

Causes me to think deeply about what we are seeing today in much of what is professed to be Christianity.

The question I ask myself: Is God giving us up to our lusts, revealing our true characters?