How Real Is Your Religion?


Human beings are all religious. Whether we admit it or not. Religion is defined as “the belief in and worship of a supreme power or person”. Our world has an estimated 10,000 distinct religions. The sheer variety and number of religions is bewildering and confusing.

The question we must ask is whether we our religion is true, real, and transformative of our lives or false, powerless and damaging. 

Is Religion Dying?

We are told that the western world is turning away from religion. But history shows that humanity wants and needs some form of religion. We all believe in and worship something or someone in our lives e.g. celebrities, sportspeople or social media influencers.

Why Are We So Religious?

It seems we need something higher, bigger and better to believe in. It’s the way we are as limited human beings. We have a desire to look beyond ourselves, to admire, to dream of something much, much better. To believe in a Saviour.

We also need a set of values, morals and ethics. Imagine a world where there was no right and wrong. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes, the law of the jungle! Sadly, there have been times like this in the world’s history.

We are also wired to admire, love, to believe and worship. Even if we try to turn away from formal religion, the evidence shows we merely replace it with something else.

We are as well eternal beings, as we all know death is not the end. An afterlife has been programmed into our thinking. It’s why the Egyptians built the enormous pyramids; to prepare for the afterlife. They saw death as merely the beginning of a journey to another world. Many fear death e.g. not waking up after an anaesthetic and the effects of the ageing process on their health. We know death isn’t the end.

So which religion is real and what should we believe in?

Does our religion transform our life for good?

It stands to reason that if there is a God and a real religion, then God would reveal Himself clearly and carefully to all people, regardless of where they live or when. The Bible tells us He has.

Nearly every religion has sacred writings, recording Divine revelation for humanity. If there is a God, He would reveal Himself powerfully and personally to all who seek the truth and give evidence for His existence and make Himself available to all. The Bible tells us He has. 

If there is a real God and a real religion, He will change lives for the better. His laws for life will be holy and He will be able to deal with the dominating problem of the world: the human heart and its sin. The Bible tells us He has.

This is exactly what Christianity teaches. It reveals a real, personal and knowable God. One who has revealed Himself through Creation. Has made Himself knowable through the coming of Jesus Christ to earth, and in the Bible.

As a Holy God, He tells us we must live holy lives. He also shows us we don’t and can’t because our hearts are sinful. This is the real problem of the human heart – sin which is not following God’s perfect way.

The Lord Jesus Christ came to solve the greatest problem of the world. He promises to give eternal life freely and cleanse our lives from sin. To remove the fear of death. He gives what the Bible calls “new life”, real, spiritual life in Christ Jesus.

Jesus Christ made a staggering statement when He said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me” John 14:6. No other religion promises this. 

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War & Suffering: Who’s To Blame?


This is a question Christians are often asked. Those who claim not to believe in God ask it and blame Him. Without any other credible explanation they leave this troubling problem at the door of God, the One they claim not to believe in. Yet the answer is clear. The Bible tells us that this is a fallen world. All of us are sinners. The world is therefore under a curse which shows itself by “man’s terrible inhumanity to man”.

Why so much war and suffering?

War has been a constant feature of history. It has caused loss and suffering on a huge scale. Some 60-70 million died in the 1st and 2nd world wars.  Even in the 21st century, with amazing science, all the incredible technology available and our collective wisdom, we have been unable to prevent war.  The United Nations and other valiant efforts have mostly failed. Some 2,000 years ago, The Lord Jesus Christ powerfully and accurately predicted this. 

In Matthew 24:6 The Lord Jesus Christ said: “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars; but be not troubled, these things must come to pass. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, there will be famines, diseases and earthquakes. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”  This is exactly what we have seen and history records in the 2,000 years since.

What’s wrong with our world?

The problem is worse: it’s not just war. There’s conflict also between individuals. A dominant theme of ‘soap operas’ and the entertainment industry is conflict in personal relationships and business. The less visible war which tragically causes intense pain and suffering for many people. There is a cruel, heartless streak to life. Why are our lives blighted like this? What’s wrong with us? The answer is how we choose to think and what we desire. Surely, this is the real problem.

What is the solution to war and suffering?

There is no easy, man-made, global solution to war and conflict. No political programme is radical enough to make the required difference to human lives.  Politics will not solve the problem; in many cases, it makes it worse.

Science and technology, ‘progress’ and more ‘education’ will also not change us sufficiently to stop war and prevent suffering. It’s no good saying society is advancing or becoming more tolerant, the trends show it isn’t. The solution must be within us. A change from the inside out. It starts with the human heart.

Who’s really to blame?

On 21 October 1966, a mountain slope above the Welsh village of Aberfan collapsed suddenly. Heavy rain led to a build-up of water in a coal slag heap which slid downhill. It killed 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed Pantglas Junior School and a row of houses.  Who was to blame?

At the time, many asked the question “how could a God of love allow this to happen?” But, as a subsequent investigation concluded, the tip was the responsibility of the National Coal Board and specifically nine employees.

There is only one answer to this question of who is to blame. Strangely the atheist lays aside their unbelief and blames God. But if you believe in God you will want to know what He says about war, and suffering. The answer is plain: look in the mirror. What do you see? We are to blame. It is our collective fault.

The  root cause of war and suffering is a moral and spiritual problem within us. Our ‘heart’, our bad choices, our selfish desires, and our foolishness.

To solve this great problem requires heart surgery. A total transformation is required. Our old “heart of stone” must be taken away and in its place, we need The Lord Jesus to “give us a new heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). This is what the Bible calls being born-again, saved or converted to Jesus Christ.

Come and hear the Gospel, every Sunday at 6.30pm

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Can God Forgive Me?


Deep down, all of us know that we are sinners. Some try to deny the fact of their own sin, hide it, or pretend to be good. But the Bible tells us, that there is none righteous, no, not one. Sin is the breaking of God’s laws, and it leaves a stain upon us which we call guilt. The question is not whether we are sinners, but can God forgive me and how can I be forgiven?

We all break God’s laws

Why do we need God’s forgiveness? Because we do bad things. Why is that a problem? Because our thoughts, words and actions all have consequences. They determine what kind of people we are. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Have you lied or cheated in a relationship or even worse? God is never deceived. He sees us. He knows all our actions and motives. One day we will be held to account for everything we have done and what we are as a person.

Sin is the breaking of God’s moral laws, which are written on our hearts. It includes things we shouldn’t have done and things we should have done but haven’t. The greatest sin of all is ignoring and disobeying God. Some try to deny their sin, hide it or excuse it. Our good actions will never undo or cancel our bad actions. Deep down our consciences tell us we are all sinners before God and must and will be judged. Romans 3:10 “there is none righteous, no, not one”. The human world is in a bad way and that’s because of my sin and the sins of all other people who are just like me.

Sin makes us guilty

Sin leaves a guilty stain on heart and mind. Our guilt is a deeply uncomfortable feeling that we may carry through life if unremoved. E.g. Brooding over a broken relationship with someone who has now died or secrets from our past. Sin is a very big issue. It corrupts and then it contaminates. The tragedy is continuing to carry this guilt of personal sin when we could be forgiven.

How can God forgive Me?

The Bible teaches us about the forgiveness God gives. Psalm 130:4: “there is forgiveness with God”. He ultimately is the One we have all sinned against. Yet He has provided a way of escape that deals with sin and its guilt. The penalty of sin and the burden of guilt can be removed by His Son, Jesus Christ. He willingly took the punishment for our sin and removed the guilt of His people on the cross.

Forgiveness begins with heart-felt prayer that asks God to heal our hearts. We find a quiet place and pray to Jesus Christ, as Lord and Saviour. He is the only perfect human being ever to have lived. He came from heaven to live and die as our substitute on the cross. He rose again because death could not hold Him. He took our rightful punishment on Himself. He now calls all people everywhere to turn to Him and turn from their sin.

If we do this, He promises free-forgiveness and eternal life.

Forgiveness transforms our lives

When we are forgiven, we will know that our guilt and shame is gone. It is replaced by real inner peace. 1 John 1:9 gives this promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Forgiveness is transformative. It is the gateway to eternal life. Once forgiven we will want to follow Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and leave our old life behind us.

Come and hear the Gospel, every Sunday at 6.30pm

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Assurance of Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ


“If I receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. This is the witness of God which he hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” 1 John 5: 9,10

How can I be sure I am a Christian?

A question often asked. One we must answer clearly and objectively to encourage those who are unsure or those who have doubts about their personal salvation.

  • It’s relevant for those who believe but have no evidence of salvation => a false convert
  • It’s also relevant for those who believe but have no assurance => a true believer

How can I be sure that I am a true believer? Is it even possible to know with clarity? Perhaps I am just one of those who will go through life never really knowing?

Assurance => confidence based on clear evidence for my personal salvation through the work of Jesus Christ; the Apostle in 1 John writes 16 times “we know”  about salvation.

However, in the Bible’s order of the steps of salvation ~ assurance does not come first:

  1. We are first Awakened to feel our need of a Saviour and salvation from sin.
  2. We then come under personal Conviction of our sin and feel our guilt before God.
  3. We come to Christ in Repentance and Faith by prayer; we turn away from our sin, and trust in Christ’s shed blood and His substitutionary righteousness, offered on the cross.
  4. We will be given by the Lord a measure of Assurance and peace when we are converted; but as we grow more like Christ so we will experience a growing assurance of our faith.
  5. We will be Glorified when Christ returns; then we will be made gloriously like Christ.

We must encourage all true believers; but some who may be struggling to know where they stand; until now they may not have any real assurance. You may already have been awakened by the Holy Spirit, come under conviction of sin, repented of sin and exercised faith in Christ, yet not experienced real joy and peace.

7 Objective Tests: To be used to establish where we stand before Christ and if we are saved:

  1. ATTITUDE TO SIN: Do I hate my personal sin? Do I have a love for God and want to pursue life as He commands? (1 John 2:15, 29; 3:18, 19, Acts 2:37,38)
  2. UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE: Do I love God’s word? Does it give me understanding and growing light? (1 John 5:11-13, Acts 2:42)
  3. A FAMILY BOND: Do I desire to be with God’s people in fellowship? Do I seek a covenant relationship with them? (1 John 3:13, 14, Acts 2)
  4. PRAYER: Do I pray and know answers to prayer? Do I know God’s blessing when I ask in child-like faith in accordance with His will? (1 John 3:22, Acts 2, Galatians 4:6)
  5. TELLING OTHERS: Do I want to confess Christ as Lord and Saviour to others? Do I walk with the Lord in obedience to Him? (1 John 4:15)
  6. A NEW HEART: Do I have a new heart which seeks to live a pure life bearing real fruits of Godly character? Do I hate the world and its ways? (1 John 3:3, Acts 2:46-47)
  7. ATTACKS: Do I experience doubts sometimes? Do I also believe that Christ has overcome Satan and the world and so will I, if I  trust in Him and pray for His help? (1 John 4:4)

If we can answer yes to these questions, it will give us assurance that Christ does indeed already live within our hearts. We can be sure we are saved = the witness of God within.

Come and hear the Gospel, every Sunday at 6.30pm

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What is Worship?

Based on a Bible Study by Dr Scott Aniol
Given at Providence Baptist Chapel Bedford – March 2022

What are we really doing when we gather for worship? This is a vital question we must answer from the Word of God. A question answered in many ways by different believers and churches (consider Hillsong, Bethel, Vineyard, Jesus Culture, Elevation churches across the world today and their diverse forms of worship). Why such a variety?


  • Some believe the main purpose we gather to worship is to attract unbelievers
  • For others the purpose might be spiritual revival
  • For some we gather for fellowship and to experience a sense of community
  • Others see the goal being to express praise to the Lord for all that He is and has done
  • Others want some sort of emotional experience
  • Some simply see worship as a duty to perform or a ritual

What does the Word of God identify as the central goal of our worship?  Ephesians 21:11-22 beautifully pictures God’s intent. It helps us to understand what we should be doing as we gather. In Paul’s letter, he describes the nature of the gospel. People that come to faith in Jesus Christ, from Jewish or Gentile (non-Jew) backgrounds are brought near to God and into communion with Him. They are then being built into a habitation for God and being changed into a holy temple to the Lord. Why does Paul use this metaphor, a temple, to describe the church? The temple metaphor is not coincidental.


The gathered New Testament church is the dwelling place for the Spirit of God today, in the same way that Israel’s temple was God’s dwelling place in the Old Testament economy. The Bible also teaches that we as individual Christians are a temple of the Holy Spirit, but in Ephesians 2 the focus is on the collective church. Notice what Paul says in 2:21 “in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord”.


This description of the gathered church is not unique to Ephesians 2. Paul says something similar in 1 Corinthians 3:19 “we are God’s temple”. We note that in Ephesians 2 and 1 Corinthians 3 the pronouns are plural. He’s talking about Christ’s church (see also 2 Corinthians 6:16). Peter says something similar in 1 Peter 2:25. Each of these texts describe the gathered church as a spiritual house, as a holy temple unto the Lord.


So why do these New Testament authors all use the image of a temple to picture the gathered church? What happens in a temple? In this living temple, built by the Spirit of God and indwelt by Him, worship takes place. Worship is not a duty to perform out of obedience for God. It is not simply expressing our hearts in praise to the Lord or having an emotional experience.  

A Hillsong Church Service in Los Angeles

The Old Testament temple was first called a tabernacle, then later the Lord called it His sanctuary. He told Moses in Exodus 25 “let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell in their midst.” This communicated the idea of something consecrated and set apart to protect the holiness of God from the uncleanness of everyday life.  No uncleansed or uncircumcised person could enter the holy sanctuary. He gave crystal clear, specific instructions for how His sanctuary was to be built, cared for and what was required before a person entered. All the elements had to be regularly cleansed by the priests and sinful worshipers must offer sacrifices of atonement before entering. God specifically commands this in Leviticus 19:30 “you shall reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord.”


The idea of set-apartness is at the core of what the sanctuary was. It is then extended to the church, as God’s living temple. Ephesians 2:21 calls the church a holy temple in the Lord; 1 Timothy 3:15 then establishes a particular way to behave in the church because it is set apart. The assembled church, as Christ’s temple and as His sanctuary, requires a unique kind of behaviour, different from all other behaviours of life.  As individual Christians we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and must behave in ways that are holy and pleasing to the Lord.


As the gathered church, in a special and distinct way, the sanctuary is to be the place where God’s presence is known, and His people behave differently. It is vital that what we do in the church, is regulated only by God’s clear instructions in His Word.  The worship that takes place when we come together is not about a building or place. It is about His gathered people, the holy temple of God.


This description of the temple not only carries the weight of it being the sanctuary of God, but also helps us recognise another clear description of the temple. In the Old Testament several passages called it the house of God and His dwelling place. Many passages use the same language to describe the temple e.g., 2 Chronicles 3:3: “Solomon built the house of God”.  The temple is where God dwells with His people. Jacob called the place where he met with God Bethel, which means ‘house of God’. A house is a place where you meet with someone, dwell with them, and where you fellowship with them. This emphasises that not only was Israel’s temple a sanctuary it was also a dwelling place for God. A place where they met with him.


Unsurprisingly the New Testament also refers to the church as God’s house e.g. 1 Timothy 3:15 calls the church “the household of God”. In Galatians 6:10 Paul calls it “the household of faith” and in Hebrews 10:21 “the house of God”. It’s why in Hebrews 10:25 “we must not forsake the assembling of ourselves together”. The Lord Jesus also told His disciples in Matthew 18:20, when teaching of the nature of the church and discipline, when the church gathers “where two or three are gathered in his name there Christ is in their midst”. Before Paul calls the church God’s holy temple, he says we are fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God, being built together for a habitation of God.


Therefore, these three principles establish the nature of what the gathered church is:

  1. We are a holy set apart people, a dwelling place for God;
  2. We gather as the church and as God’s temple; and
  3. We gather to meet with God for communion and fellowship.

However, a problem emerges if the church is God’s temple, the dwelling place of God, and God’s holy sanctuary. How can sinners enter?  Ephesians 2 addresses this issue. Paul connects the condition of unbelievers with the uncircumcised in the Old Testament, who were unable to enter Israel’s sanctuary. He contrasts them with those who are “nigh”. This is a term he used to indicate those who are able into enter the sanctuary as opposed to those who are far off and cannot enter. But in 2:13 he says: “in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ”.  This is the language of the gospel, where we find forgiveness of sin, and come near to God, able to enter His presence, and His sanctuary. Christ came and preached peace to you who were far off and to them that were nigh.

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Ephesians 2:18 is a beautiful test. “For through him, that is through Christ, we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father”. This is the central message of the gospel. We sinners who were far off now have access to the presence of God, through faith in the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ. The gospel and the church’s worship are connected.  See Paul’s logic: we sinners were once far off, unable to draw near to the sanctuary of God’s presence, but now through Christ in the Spirit we have access, we can draw near. We are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God. There’s the phrase again, signifying the place of meeting with God is in His temple, His dwelling place. The emphasis in Ephesians 2 is even more than having access to the actual presence of God. The goal of the worship is to enable us to draw nigh unto God and into His presence, in His house, in His temple, where we are then able to have open and free fellowship and communion with God. That’s the nature of what we’re doing when we gather for worship. Hebrews 10:19 “having therefore brethren boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way with which he hath consecrated for us through the veil that is to say his flesh and having an high priest over the house of God let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith”.  The author deliberately uses Old Testament worship language to describe the nature of the gospel. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and because He is our high priest, we can draw near to God and fellowship with Him. The goal of the gospel is to form a temple where God’s people meet with Him. This is only possible through the sacrificial atonement of Christ. The primary purpose when we gather for worship is to fellowship with God through Christ’s sacrifice. This understanding of our purpose has very significant implications when we come together to worship as His church.
  1. Worship is primarily for believers
Corporate worship is for believers, those whose sins have been forgiven and been given access into the presence of God. Those who can draw near to God are members of the household of God and are part of the temple.  Only believers can truly commune with God. This doesn’t mean we forbid unbelievers from gathering with us. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 that believers gathering to meet with God is profoundly evangelistic. Unbelievers see that we are meeting with God and when the Holy Spirit works in their hearts, they will acknowledge “The Lord is among you”. When unbelievers come, they come as witnesses, to hear and be exposed to the gospel. They don’t come to participate in worship because they are not in the presence of God, unable yet to gain access into His presence. Perhaps even more relevant in our present age, we must never design corporate worship based on what unbelieving people want. We are not to take a poll of unbelievers and say what do you want the church to be like. No more than what took place in Israel’s temple was based on what the uncircumcised pagans wanted. No, corporate worship is for believers to meet with God, according to the instructions that He has given to us in His Holy Word.
  1. Worship is relational
Based on this imagery, corporate worship is also relational. We don’t gather simply to go through a series of rituals. We meet to cultivate, nurture, and grow our relationship with God. This is the emphasis of Ephesians 2. The whole passage is a description of God building a temple, by His Spirit, and it expresses these realities in relational terms. The gospel that results in this temple is not just a legal transaction, or a ticket to heaven. It is a reconciliation of our relationship with God. We gain access to God, through Christ. We are then welcomed into His presence. When we gather, we come to develop and grow that relationship that we now have through Christ.
  1. Worship is formational
Corporate worship is also meant to be formational, for the edification of our souls, even as believers who have access to God through Christ are members of God’s household. We are members of His living temple, even though we freely admit that our relationship with God is not perfect. It is still growing, maturing, and deepening. We must continually work to cultivate and mature a closer relationship with God. We allow His Word to correct us and to sanctify how we approach and respond to Him. We are to do this through personal bible study and prayer, but corporate worship is also given to help to mature our relationship with God. The Word of God is inspired scripture and “profitable for teaching and correcting us and reproving us and instructing us in righteousness”. It is the gospel that continues to sanctify us.  Paul teaches in Titus 2:11-12 that the grace of God is the saving grace that shows salvation to all people.  The gospel of grace also commands us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly and righteously in this present age.  The gospel that saves is also the gospel that sanctifies. The gospel that reconciled us to God, enabling us to draw nigh unto God, is also the same gospel that continues to grow and cultivate our relationship with God. The gospel must be prevalent in our corporate worship. When we gather for corporate worship, we are renewing ourselves in the gospel.
  1. Worship is covenant renewal
Historically Christians often referred to corporate worship as “covenant renewal”. A way for believers to renew their covenant with God. We are to renew our covenant promises regularly. The image of a marriage perfectly depicts this, as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and His church.  A man and a woman commit to one another on their wedding day, in a way akin to our salvation. God makes a commitment to save us, out of His great love. We make a commitment to love and serve Him. Baptism (and Church Membership) are like our wedding vows where we formalise that covenant relationship in the presence of witnesses. Once the two are married that doesn’t change until death parts. But the relationship between a husband and wife rises and falls over time. Many things can harm that relationship and many things can rekindle it. Your personal devotional time with the Lord each day, your reading of the scriptures and prayer is like a husband and wife having a conversation with one another. It’s very important to renew and grow that relationship.  Some married couples renew their wedding vows from time to time, repeat the same vows to one another. Those vows don’t get them married again but by repeating them they help to remind and renew their love for each other. In a very similar way, corporate worship is like renewing our gospel vows to Christ. Corporate worship renews our vows and assures us of pardon through the sacrifice of Christ. When we come together for worship, we come to reform our hearts and renew our relationship with God.  The hymns chosen, prayers prayed, and scriptures read should all help to express worship to the Lord absolutely, but also to form our hearts, to grow our hearts, to mature our hearts. Everything about the service is meant to edify, to form, to convict, to comfort, but in all cases to grow our relationship with God.   Scott Aniol, PhD, is Executive Vice President and Editor-in-chief of G3 Ministries and Professor of Pastoral Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He is a teacher of culture, worship, aesthetics, and church ministry philosophy, he lectures around the country in churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries, and he has authored several books and dozens of articles. He holds a masters degree in Theological Studies, a masters degree in Aesthetics (NIU), and a PhD in Worship Ministry. #worship #worshipwars #adoration #bedford #churchmusic #worshipsongs #reformedworship #music #hymns #psalms #worshippers #trueworship #worshipleader #bedfordchurches #bedfordchapel

Come and hear the Gospel, every Sunday at 6.30pm

Or join us on You Tube

Providence Baptist Chapel, Rothsay Rd, Bedford     

What is The Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Has anyone ever told you what the Gospel is?

Perhaps you have lost a loved one, and you look back with regret. You never mentioned that “you loved them”. It lingers in the mind, but it’s too late.

The Gospel is Good News to a fallen, broken world. A message of the love of Christ, who is the perfect Son of God for sinners, that’s all of us. ~ A loving personal call from God.

He loves all humanity, by creating and sustaining our lives. But He has a special love for those that will listen and respond to His call, turn from their sins and seek Him as their Lord and Saviour. They will be rescued from sin and given new life. We call this being born again or becoming a Christian. ~ A message of Good News which needs to be heard.

Today you are one day nearer to eternity, when you will stand before the Lord to give a personal account of your life’s thoughts, words, and deeds. Before then, you must know i) of God’s exclusive, free offer of salvation; ii) of how your soul can be right with God; and iii) that all who remain unrepentant must be punished by God, who unlike us is pure and Holy.

1. The Gospel is: Good news. “O Zion (His people), that brings good tidings (good news); lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; cry unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God” Isaiah 40:9. The gospel of Christ is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” Romans 1:16. “O taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8.

Everything about this message is good. A contrast to this world, where the daily news is so often about disease, discrimination, and death; of sorrow, struggle, and strife. Sadly, these things are commonplace in this world that we live in, and we each contribute to this sad backdrop.

The Bible calls itself “The Gospel of peace” and “The Gospel of truth”. We don’t want to hear of war, or anger, envy, or of lies and fake news. We want to know things that are reliable, true and good.

2. The Gospel is: Exclusive and Eternal. Two bold claims to make. But The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes unto the Father but by Me” John 14:6. You cannot get more exclusive: no other way, truth, no other access to heaven but through Christ.

It is also an eternal Gospel. The One who rose from the dead offers to us eternal life. Before time began, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit agreed that the “problem of sin” could only be solved by God. So God sent His Son, who willingly came from eternity into time as a human being.

He lived a perfect life, so that we can be forgiven. The Holy Spirit now individually opens our hearts and eyes to understand and see our need.

3. The Gospel is: a call to: “Behold your God”. The Bible has a simple way of explaining profound things. We do not want to look to God, or listen.

But God in three words gives the solution. Look not to an impersonal spiritual force, but to The God that made you and can be known. The word “behold” means look carefully and intentionally: away from self, from every thought you might have that you can solve your problems.

Away from other sources of help, and from thinking that you have one percent goodness to give to God. ~ Look to Him alone.

We are all accountable: e.g. to parents, teachers and employers. To pay taxes and obey laws. But also morally to God. We will stand before Him one day to give account. Our problem is we have a backlog of sin. John Bunyan of Bedford called it a burden; we must bring the burden to God and ask Him to remove it: to cancel our massive mountain of moral debt.

4. The Gospel is: a call to look to Jesus Christ. The book of Isaiah, written 800 years before Christ, contains vivid, detailed prophecies about Christ. Isaiah looked into the future, seeing Christ in his mind’s eye.

Christ is an indisputable, historical fact. We cannot see Him today, with physical eyes. But tens of thousands of people heard Him speak and saw what He did, when He was a man. Also hundreds saw the resurrected Christ. ~ History shows us more evidence for Christ, than for Julius Caesar.

5. The Gospel is: a call to come to The Good Shepherd. We are like sheep who are always going astray, going this way and that, into the rocky outcrops, and getting lost. We are in constant danger. Our souls will not be gathered unless Christ, The Good Shepherd, comes and gathers us. “He shall gather the lambs with His arm, with His strong arm”.

This is Christ ‘s arm, who is strong to save, will gather and carry us to safety.

We cannot save ourselves from sin, or come into the fold by our efforts.

He needs to come and find us, rescue and gather us, then carry us home to Himself. This is a message about a Good Shepherd; the Shepherd who does everything for us. We must accept our need and that Christ alone can save us. I do nothing but repent, and then by faith as soon as I hear His voice calling me, trust the Good Shepherd.

He gathers, carries, feeds and leads the lambs. Simply put, The Gospel is the timeless call of the perfect Good Shepherd to lost sheep. He comes looking for us, and He promises to gather us, but only if we will hear Him and ask Him to. “He shall gently lend those that are with young”. He also gathers the youngest.

6. The Gospel: is a call to look to the Cross. Christ is not only the Good Shepherd, but the One who lay down His life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd became the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world on a rugged wooden cross. I cannot lay down my life to earn Heaven. He must do everything by bearing the awful and just punishment for my terrible sins.

In Christ’s life on earth, He had no disobedient, or selfish and impure thoughts. He did not look upon anyone else with pride, jealousy, or anger in His heart. He lived a perfect life. Pontius Pilate said of Christ: “I find in this mnn no wrong”. There were two men hung either side on the cross. One of the men testified “This man did nothing amiss”. Christ had lived a perfect life. He died a perfect death so that we can be forgiven, cleansed, and pardoned from sin and He rose again. “God commends His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”; the just Christ, for the unjust sinner.

7. The Gospel is: the dividing line for all eternity. When Christ was on the cross, one of the men who hung next to Him feared God and one would not. They both heard the same words of the Lord Jesus. They both mocked Him. But one heard His offer of forgiveness, and believed it and feared God. He trusted Christ as his Saviour, the other would have none of it. Which of these two are you like? Will you fear God in your heart and seek His forgiveness; and trust Him by faith, or will you push Him away? One thief heard: “Today you will be with me in paradise”, the other thief died in his sins.

Think carefully about this personal call. Come to Christ by praying, trusting by faith and repenting of all your sin. He promises to hear you and change your life for good.

Come and hear the Gospel, every Sunday at 6.30pm

Or join us on You Tube

Providence Baptist Chapel, Rothsay Rd, Bedford     

Searching for Meaning in Life

“Vanity of vanities; all is vanity”


Based on a message given at Providence Baptist ChapelBedford on 2 May 2021


Vanity of Vanities” is the famous phrase and timeless truth that was written by King Solomon some 3,000 years ago. What a bold statement to make. Without God, life has and can have no meaning. The big questions of life simply will not be answered. Questions like: Why am I here? What is life all about? Where am I going in life? Is there any purpose and meaning to life? Without God, our search for meaning will fail.

Human cells under a microscope

Many Scientists today tell us, in their opinion, we are just made up of billions of cells. Cells that are responding to predetermined rules, or algorithms. A predictable code, which has appeared by chance. Atoms and molecules that apparently behave predictably, because of chemical programming. Surely that cannot be!

What about human consciousness, our emotions, and feelings? What about our vast potential for creativity, our inner thoughts, and unique personalities? There must be more to life.

King Solomon

Solomon lived in 848BC and became king over ancient Israel at the age of just 12. History tells us that he was the wisest and richest person of his time. He knew three thousand proverbs and could recite them all. When visited by the Queen of Sheba (from Ethiopia), she was recorded as saying the “half had not been told her” about his wealth and glory. His conclusion about life is worthy of consideration. He concluded that life is empty and not merely one part of life, but all of it is ultimately vanity. The totality and completeness of life is all just a vapour.

Before coming to this wide-reaching conclusion, Solomon conducted a series of ultimately failed experiments. He used his extraordinary wealth, riches, and wisdom, to test his thesis thoroughly. He created, as it were, a chemistry laboratory of life and tried out various life experiments:

  1. Comedy and laughter. If only I can laugh, he thought. If only somebody would make me laugh and laugh and laugh. That would give me satisfaction and joy. Sadly, experience shows that often the clown is the most unhappy person.
  2. He turned to wine and to alcohol. This will relax me. A bit more, just a bit more, but a habit was formed and there was no lasting pleasure.
  3. He tried property, real estate, and DIY. Perhaps one more project, a bigger palace, an extension, that will do it.
  4. He turned to all kinds of entertainments, music, and drama. But they gave no ultimate pleasure, just a few hours of superficial fun.
  5. He developed many relationships, with hundreds of wives. Many try this still today, in our promiscuous Western society.
  6. He sought to build a reputation for himself to make a legacy. If only people will look at me and consider all that I have done and achieved.
  7. Finally, he got hold of everything his eyes lusted for. All the possessions he wanted to buy, and he did not hold back.

All of these experiments failed for Solomon, just like they do still today.


The Fairground of Life

There is a poem written by Rosemary Clooney, which analogizes the essence of Solomon’s experiment. It tells of a teenage girl who went to a fair, what John Bunyan called ‘Vanity Fair’.  She stayed too long and found out the reality of life. 

I wanted the music to play on forever,
Have I stayed too long at the fair?
I wanted the clown to be constantly clever
Have I stayed too long at the fair?

 I bought me blue ribbons to tie up my hair
But I couldn’t find anybody to care.
The merry-go-round is beginning to slow now.
Have I stayed too long at the fair?

 I wanted to live in a carnival city,
With laughter and love everywhere.
I wanted my friends to be thrilling and witty,
I wanted somebody to care.

I found my blue ribbons all shiny and blue,
But now I’ve discovered them no longer blue.
The merry-go-round is beginning to taunt me,
Have I stayed too long at the fair?

There is nothing to win and no one to want me.
Have I stayed too long at the fair?”


Vanity in Word Pictures

Life is vanity, Solomon says. The same Hebrew word for vanity is translated with many other contrasting English words. All of them are helpful descriptions of what Solomon had in mind. Life is like a breath. I can’t get hold of it. I know on a cold day you can see your breath, but there is no substance to it.  It is also a delusion. We delude ourselves with one more possession, one more night out, one more friendship, one more relationship, one more bottle. We are mistaken.


Vanity is called emptiness. Like a vessel that we thought would have something in it, but it turns out to be empty. It is also a fraud. We are deceived. It turns out to be just a failed promise. Like buying something on the internet, but it never arrived. The word is translated as futile or pointless and like idols. There was something there, I think I can see it. But it can’t hear, smell, or speak. It can’t move. It was nothing. It was useless. It is like a vapour. The kettle boils and we see what comes out, but we can’t touch it. Finally, vanity is translated as worthless. Life has no value without God.


God Has Given Life

Imagine you open a present. The present arrives and you decide for some reason you later regret to throw the envelope away that was attached to it. Your present gets mixed up with some other presents. it was wrapped up beautifully, but you have no idea who sent it to you. The envelope is gone. It contained both a letter from the one who gave you the present and the instructions for the gift. But you threw the envelope away. You don’t know who and why the special present was given. It could be from anybody.

God of course is the giver of life and your soul is the special gift. God’s gift to you only has a real meaning and purpose if you know who the giver is, if you know why He gave it to you.  When things go wrong with the gift, you need the instructions to put things right. Life without God is like a present with no giver to explain about it. It is abstract, meaningless, pointless and void of anything worthwhile.

Find the envelope (the Bible) with the Maker’s instructions and open it.  Learn what He is like and why He gave you a soul. Know what He has said to you. Inside He has written a love-letter.


The problem is that as soon as we open the present things have already gone wrong. We fail, we sin, we fall short of the glory of God. We develop twisted characters and veer from the best pathway for life. We need to go back to our Creator, who alone gives us the instructions, in His Word, open it and read it.


Remember your Creator while you are young

Life does not have to be like this. When Solomon’s experiments were over, he said “remember”. Remember thatyou have a Creator. Come before your Creator, ideally while you are young, or as soon as you hear the Creator calling you. “Remember, now, your Creator.” It doesn’t have to be meaningless and pointless.


Solomon also gave a warning. Be careful, because “the evil days will come”. The end years of life will draw near. Life’s experiments will fail.  You will say “I have no pleasure in my life as it is, without God, without my Creator. While the sun, nor the light, nor the moon or the stars, be not darkened nor the clouds return”. You will see the dark clouds do come down in life. Illness comes suddenly. The sunlight goes away. What seemed to be pleasure is gone. The music at the fair stops. The merry-go-round doesn’t go round anymore. Isn’t this an accurate picture of life without God?

Renzo Piano

If I gave you a book and you opened it, you would probably ask who is the author? If I showed you a wonderful painting, you would say, who is the artist? If you look at the tallest building in Europe, the Shard, you might ask who designed it. It did not just get there. It was designed by an Italian man called Renzo Piano. There is an architect, an artist, an author, somebody that wrote the software, and knows the JavaScript to code it. Of course, there is a Creator. Do you know your Creator? Have you remembered Him? Or have you been trying to forget Him?

We often see on the News, some actor or actress, or a popular musician, who has fame in their world. A rap artist with fifteen million social media followers but sadly dies suddenly. There does not seem to be an explanation for why the individual life has ended. No illness is mentioned. Then the inquest into the death comes out some weeks later. It becomes clear, yet again, that they tragically took their own lives. The fame and millions of followers were empty of meaning. Life was lived without God.

We also hear of people who grow up not knowing their mother or their father. They were brought up in a different home and family. At the age of 3 months or 3 years they were fostered or adopted. We feel for them. But sooner or later, when they get to 16 or so, their heart inevitably cannot wait any longer. They have a longing desire to re-connect with Mum or Dad. They cannot live not knowing who their father or mother is. So, they reach out, desiring to re-connect. “Who are my parents what are they like?” They cannot live without knowing. Wouldn’t you rather know your Creator? His purpose, reason, and explanation for life and the soul.

Abundant Life

In John chapter 10, The Lord Jesus is speaking about life, its meaning and purpose. He says, “the thief comes to steal”. He wants to steal your life; this is referring to Satan. He wants to ruin your life so that it has no potential meaning and purpose. He wants to destroy your life. But Christ says, I am come from Heaven to this earth of sin, this earth of emptiness. “I am come that they might have life”. There is no life in our souls without God, as Lord and Saviour. It will be empty, futile, meaningless. But Christ says “I am come” to fill up your empty vessel. Fill it until it with abundant life.

Christ says, I am come to give you the reason I made you. You are living your life completely differently to the way I want you to live. You have gone this way and you have gone that way. I am come so that you can be reconciled with me. When the merry-go-round stops in life, then you will see it has just been a Vanity Fair. It won’t give you pleasure, meaning, purpose, you were looking for.

The testimony and experience of true Christians is this: it is not that we found life. It is not that we worked it out. It is not that we were intelligent. Christ calls us as The Good Shepherd. He comes to find the lost sheep. He says, this is the way you come to Me. “I am the door”.  I am not a thief. I never came to make your life poorer. I never came to make your life more restricted or be a kill joy. I am come that you may have abundant life. 

What a contrast this is to Satan’s way. He wants to rob you of lasting joy. He wants you to have no confidence in God. But Christ has come to give real life. Do not travel through life scratching around on the surface, looking for meaning. “Remember your Creator.” He designed you and gave you a soul. Your soul cannot be satisfied with all these other things, only by Him.

Fear God and obey Him” were Solomon’s final words. God’s command is for us to go and seek Him and to ask for this new and abundant life. He will give it to you. He will fill up your life and it will over-flow, with joy and peace. You will know forgiveness of sin and all your guilt taken away. Do not wait till the music stops. Don’t wait for the carnival of life to end.  Come to Jesus Christ. There can be meaning, and purpose in our lives. But only if you will seek the Lord by coming in repentance and faith.

If you wish to find out more about the Gospel or would like to speak to the Pastor then please e mail on


Pastor Oliver Wyncoll     

What is The Gospel?

Based on a message given at Providence Baptist ChapelBedford ~ 24th January 2021

What is The Gospel?

O Zion that brings good tidings” Isaiah 40:9



What is The Gospel? What does that word even mean? If you tried to answer these questions, asked your neighbours, or colleagues, would you or they get anywhere close to understanding The Gospel’s true meaning in the Bible?

Sometimes we hear a friend tell us of a relative of theirs who has died. But to make it worse, they didn’t even have time to tell their loved one what they wanted to. They wanted to say something vital. “If only I could have told them, that I loved them”. But now they bear the thought of if only. A regret lingers in the mind. The opportunity was not taken and is now snatched from them, and it’s too late.

The Gospel is about the love of Christ for lost sinners, me and you. If you read this, then I will have no regrets. I need to tell you of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for every single person that has ever been born. There is a general love of Christ for all people. But only those that listen and respond will be rescued and gathered by Him.

We have a great need to hear The Gospel. Never has the world needed The Gospel more than now. We are one day nearer to that time when each of us will stand before the Lord God and give account; one day nearer to eternity, one day less than yesterday to turn and repent of our personal sins. The Gospel needs to be heard. Yet society (us) often has no time for it. Will you hear it by reading this?

If you hear no other message about The Lord Christ, you need to know about God’s exclusive salvation. About your soul and its need to be right with God. Of the consequences of sin, and God’s holiness. About an eternal future away from God for every sinner who is unrepentant, remains unforgiven, unwashed, and unpardoned.

1. The Gospel is: Good news. “O Zion (God’s people), that brings good tidings; O Jerusalem that brings good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God”. Isaiah 40:9

In the New Testament the word Gospel, evangelion, is mentioned 145 times. It means “Good News”. There is another term in the Old Testament that also appears in the New Testament; “Good Tidings” and it is used twice in above verse and 130 times in all. That’s a total of 275 times that the words for Good News are mentioned in God’s Word.

Mark 1:1 “In the beginning of the Gospel, of Jesus Christ the Son of God”. The Bible claims, and it undeniably is, a book of Good News. There is even a Bible (not a very good translation), but it has a very good name, called The Good News Bible.

Psalm 34:8 says: “O taste and see that the Lord is good”. This is God’s Word, it is about Him, it is His message. Everything about it is good. You cannot find one verse, one chapter, one book in this Bible that is not good. What a contrast to the world we live in! The news we read, things we talk about are often not good news: disease, discrimination, divorce, depression, death: that’s just five D’s. Then there is sorrow, sickness, strife, separation, and sin: that’s five S’s. Sadly, those ten things cover the majority, of what we contribute to, suffer from and experience in this life.

We do not want to be gloomy, but we must assess the real world we live in. The world up and down, east to west. It is like this as the consequence of our individual human hearts. The direct result of what I say, I do, you say, you do. It has always been like it. This is the world we live in. A world that desperately needs Good News, and so this message: “O Zion that brings good tidings”; is a message we need to hear.

The Bible describes this message as “The Gospel of peace” and as “The Gospel of truth”. Don’t you want to hear of peace and truth? We don’t want to hear of war and strife, anger and envy. We don’t want to hear of lies and fake news. We want to hear things that are true and good and right. This is a message of really good news.

2. The Gospel is: Exclusive and Eternal. Hang on! That’s two very broad claims. Exclusive; O yes, it claims so itself. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes unto the Father; but by me”. You cannot get a more exclusive set of claims than that: no other way, no other truth, no other access to God the Father, but through Christ: one way, one person; the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is also an eternal Gospel. It always has been. There only ever has been one way to heaven. It is the same way promised from Genesis 3:15 to the final chapter of the whole Bible. Yes, in the Old Testament there were shadows, types and figures (sacrifices of animals, altars etc), used as pictures. But they were just sign-posts. Not to John O’Groats or Lands’ End, but signposts pointing to our need of a Saviour.

One way; and it always was one way to God. It had to be. There cannot be two ways, or a hundred ways; they would contradict. No, one way, and the way must be decided by God Himself. And He has, when the three Persons of the Trinity, before time began: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit agreed that the problem they could foresee, in time and space, could only be solved by God. So God the Father would send God the Son, and God the Son would willingly come into time and He would be a human being, just like me and you, except with no sin. He would live a perfect life. So that me, a fallen person, could have the forgiveness of my sins. The Holy Spirit is the one that opens our hearts and eyes to see and understand our need of the Saviour. There only has ever been one way. It is exclusive and it is eternal.

3. The Gospel calls us to: “Behold your God” Isaiah 40:9. This is the Good News, the glad tidings. The Bible has such a simple way of explaining something which is so profound; the human heart is in rebellion with God. The human heart does not want to look to God, does not want to listen; God says just three words through the prophet Isaiah; “Behold, (look), your God”. Look not to an impersonal spiritual force, but The God that made you and me.

The word “behold” means look carefully and intentionally: look away from yourself, look away from every thought you might have that you can solve your problems, and will be okay eternally. Look away from every other source of help, look away from thinking that you have one percent goodness to give to God. Look to Him alone.
One snowy night in the 1850’s a young lad heard this verse being repeated again and again: “Look unto me, all the ends of the earth; and be ye saved, for I am God; and there is none other”, another exclusive claim. The teenage lad walked off into the street. The verse had arrested his heart. It seized him. He went home and was never the same. His name was Charles Haddon Spurgeon. His sermons have since been read the world over, by more than any others outside of the Bible. “Look unto me”; it’s much the same as this verse: “Behold your God”. It is a call. The exclusive eternal call of God to lift up your eyes, and to look unto your God.

Afterall, you are personally accountable to Him. We are accountable to parents, or spouses, and bosses at work. Accountable to the Government to pay our taxes. But also accountable to God. We must come before Him. We must bring our “soul account” with us. An account that is in deficit, overdrawn. We have such a burden of sin; we need to bring it before God and ask Him to cancel our debts: not look to anyone else, not think we can cope with this mountain of debt alone. Please, do not ignore Him any longer, do not push Him away, do not close your ears.

4. The Gospel is a call us to look to Jesus Christ. The book of Isaiah was written 800 years before the Lord Jesus Christ. It says: “He shall feed his flock, like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs”. This is a prophecy about Christ. Isaiah is looking way into the future. He sees the Lord Jesus Christ in his mind’s eye, as the only hope: he sees Him feeding His flock, gathering lambs one by one, to Himself.

This message, this Good News, this Gospel, is about a person, Christ. He is an indisputable, historical fact. You cannot see Him today, not with your physical eyes. But you can with your spiritual eyes. Tens of thousands of people heard Him, saw Him, saw what He did when He was a man. There is more evidence for Christ today, than there is for Julius Caesar. There is more evidence for Jesus Christ being real, being a human-being that walked on earth for thirty-three years than there is for any other ancient historical figure. There are more books written about Him. The Bible has sold more copies than any other book. Historians at the time attested that the Lord Jesus Christ is who He says He is. Isaiah points forward. “He shall feed His flock”: this is Christ, this is the Good News, this is The Gospel.

5. The Gospel is: a call to One who is a Shepherd. He calls Himself the Good Shepherd; He calls Himself the One that gathers. You see, we are like sheep which have gone astray, we have gone this way and that, gone off into the rocky outcrops, and got lost. We are now in great danger; our souls will not be gathered unless He comes and gathers us one by one. “He shall gather the lambs with His arm, with His strong arm”. When the Bible talks about the arm of Christ: it is His message and His power to save. 

He shall gather the lambs with His arm and He will carry us. We cannot walk on our own, we cannot save ourselves from sin, we cannot come into the fold to be with Him. He needs to come and find us, rescue us, gather us up, carry us and bring us to Himself. This is a message about a Good Shepherd; the Shepherd who does everything for us. I accept my need and that Christ alone must save me. I do nothing but repent and trust, as soon as I hear His voice calling me, the voice of the Shepherd.

He gathers, He feeds, He carries, and He leads the lambs. That is me, that is you, if you will seek Him, stop resisting Him any longer. The Gospel is a call from the Good Shepherd. He comes looking for you, looking for me. He will gather you, if only you will hear and ask Him. The Good Shepherd: He calls us, He gathers, He feeds, He leads and He carries. “He shall gently lead those that are with young”. He gathers even the youngest to Himself if they will hear Him.

6. The Gospel: is a call to look to Calvary. Jesus Christ is pictured here not only as the Good Shepherd, but as one who will lay down His life for the sheep. I cannot lay down my life to earn Heaven: He must lay it down for me. He must do everything. He must bear the terrible, just punishment for my sin instead of me as my substitute.

In Christ’s life, He had not one thought of disobedience to His parents, not one lustful thought. He did not look upon anyone else with pride, jealousy, or anger in His heart. He lived a perfect life. How do I know that? Pontius Pilate said: “I find in this man no wrong”. There were two men hung either side on the cross. One of the men testified: “This man did nothing amiss”. He lived a perfect life. He died a perfect death so that you could be free, forgiven, cleansed, washed, and pardoned from sin.

Have you been forgiven? Do you have your sin upon your record still? Do you have guilt upon your heart? Can you feel it? If the Lord was to call you this day: would you still feel that guilt, on your “soul account”, unwashed, uncleansed, unforgiven; the Gospel calls you to look to Calvary; the only place where you can be cleansed: “God commends His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”; the just Christ, for the unjust you and me, if you will hear Him.

7. The Gospel is: the dividing line for all eternity. In Luke 23:39 there were two robbers, two thieves on either side of Jesus Christ on the cross. One would fear God and one would not. They both heard the seven sayings of the Lord Jesus on the cross, pleading with His Father for the people in the crowd to be forgiven; people who had hurled insults and abuse at Christ, and mocked Him. The two men both mocked Him, but one heard His words; words offering forgiveness, and believed and feared God. He trusted that Christ would be his Saviour, the other would have none of it.

What about you? Are you on the left or are you on the right? Are you with God or are you against Him? Will you fear God in your heart and seek His forgiveness; and trust Him with faith in your heart, or will you push Him away? Have no fear (respect) for God, just a cynical mocking? If you do not fear God, you mock God; if you don’t fear God, you push Him away, don’t do it for your eternal soul’s sake.

There is only condemnation for those who reject the love of Christ. One thief heard: “Today you will be with me in paradise”, the other thief died in his sins. What will it be for you? With God forever: because you fear Him, trust Him, believe in Him, and have repented of your sins. Or will you stay as you are? With that dividing line for all eternity in front of you, not behind you.

Hear the call of The Gospel. Come to Him in prayer, trusting by faith and repenting of all your sin. If you really mean it, He will hear your cry and change your life.

If you wish to find out more about the Gospel or would like to speak to the Pastor then please e mail on


Pastor Oliver Wyncoll     

Truth Decay in a ‘Post-Christian’ World

Has the Western world finally and conveniently rejected the concept of truth? Or is it still possible to discover real truth, a comprehensive, consistent reality?

Before the Lord Jesus Christ was handed over to the religious leaders, and the will of the gathered crowds, Pontius Pilate famously washed his hands of all personal responsibility. After cross examination, he rightly concluded that “he found no fault in Him”. He was right.

Pilate needed to appease his uncomfortable conscience. A conscience that had been challenged by the words of the Lord Jesus. He had told Pilate that “He was born and came into the world to bear witness to The Truth, and that everyone that is of The Truth would hear His voice.” What did Christ mean by The Truth?

Truth up for grabs?

It seems as never before, in the Western world, the concept and existence of objective truth is up for grabs. What is it and why do we even need it?

Former President of the US, President Obama, spoke recently not of tooth decay, but “truth decay”. He was highlighting that in the West, the existence of a universal concept of truth, is rapidly disappearing. 

The oft-mentioned expression of President Obama’s successor, President Trump, was a new term “Fake News”. He challenged head-on the power of social media and news channels to spread stories, that in his opinion, had no basis of truth or legitimacy. Ironically, social media has now responded by posting notices disputing many of his claims and seeking to ‘fact-check’ them.

Another evidence of the concept of objective truth being challenged is the current popularity for crazy conspiracy theories.  They circulate on social media, and are believed by many, but no meaningful evidence is ever provided. Whether it be the health risks of 5G or Bill Gates’ apparently long held ambition to micro-chip the world, via a compulsory global vaccine, if such a thing were even possible.

It seems that we are in the middle of a ‘truth crisis’. One that threatens the authority of politicians and the safe and efficient functioning of society. People no longer know what to believe anymore. No wonder there is so much uncertainty. Sadly, this comes when certainty is desperately needed. 

Post-truth in a Post-Christian era

We should not be surprised. For seventy years, there has been a growing rejection of the concept of objective truth. This rejection of truth has coincided with the West moving into what is widely called the “Post-Christian” era. 

It was highlighted in Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones 1951 book “Truth Unchanged, Unchanging” based on lectures he gave in 1947 at Wheaton College. The foreword reads: “What is man? What is wrong with the human race?” Unless we answer these questions correctly, we cannot hope to solve the problems in our world.

In this new Post-Christian era, a vacuum has been created. Caused by the shift away from a largely universally accepted body of consistent objective truth. Truth and values held securely by lawmakers, leaders, and society for centuries.

We have rejected a time-tested, consistent set of absolutes. Absolutes like the intrinsic value and sanctity of life, the necessity of transparency and honesty, submission to the authority of the God-given institutions. These and many others are bedrock truths of the Bible. The changing laws on abortion and the re-defining of gender are examples of this shift from absolute standards, to the truth of relativism and convenience.

Alternatives to truth

Instead we have replaced Absolutes with many versions of the truth. What is filling this vacuum in the Post-Christian era? Firstly, it is the ‘law of the jungle’, which is no law, or at best a constantly moving view of what is right and wrong. A mind-set which is individually determined, and therefore inevitably inconsistent. A set of relative values. ‘What’s good for me, now in this situation’, rather than what is essential and right for everyone always. “

In the absence of truth, “power is the only game in town.” said Richard John Neuhaus. The extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany proved the utter fallacy of this position.

An elevated new role has been given to experts, whose views and opinions we are asked to accept as truth. Afterall, they “cannot be wrong, they are globally renowned in their narrow field”.

The problem with so-called experts is that very often they do not agree. Or their advice shifts and contradictions and inconsistencies creep in. This is entirely understandable as the information they are responding to, and their personal knowledge of it, is at best limited and itself changing.

A further alternative is the new role that data is playing in our everyday lives. The data that comes out of social media ‘likes’, focus groups and the surveys. The Data cannot be wrong, they say.

But this is the same data which then feeds the algorithms, which feeds our personal news flow, which shapes our opinions, which feeds the focus groups, and so the circle goes on. It is just another version of the contradictory law of the jungle.

What is Truth?

We need to come back to the question that Pilate cynically asked, “what is truth.” He gave it as a cynical answer, more than as a question. An excuse, and an attempt to get away from the facts he had been presented with.

Like him, we too do not want to face up to the statements of the Lord Jesus Christ. We would rather question and pour scorn on the existence of something called truth, than to face up to the consequences for each of us individually.

In order to get an understanding of the defining characteristics of the truth, we must go to the Bible. There is only one place to find such a definition, and we believe that is the Word of God.

Before we go there for a definition, why does the Bible have any  authority to define truth?  Three points will suffice. First, it claims to be The Truth. “Thy word is truth” John 17:17. Second, it has stood the test of time. Third, it is totally consistent, which is unsurprising, as it is divine revelation from the changeless God who cannot lie.

The Bible has been helpfully defined as:

A reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report to us supernatural events that took place in fulfilment of specific prophesies, and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.”

When the Bible uses the word truth (alethia), it means “that which corresponds to reality, what is factual, absolute, not relative”. This kind of truth has a number of inherent characteristics which define what it is, and why it is liberating, desirable and necessary.  Here are just 7 of its essential features: 

  1. God is Truth and Truth is God: it comes from Him, is defined by Him, and He is the embodiment and personification of truth through Christ Jesus.
  1. Truth is Consistent: it cannot contradict itself; if it does, logically one part will either be true and the other false or vice a versa.
  1. Truth is Timeless: if it is not true from the beginning of time and to the end of time then it never was and never will be true.
  1. Truth is Proven: in order for it to be universally accepted it must have been tested repeatedly and evidenced to be true in order to be the Truth.
  1. Truth is Comprehensive: it is a set of holistic principles dealing with and applicable to all areas, phases and facets of life.
  1. Truth is Objective and Real: it conforms with reality as opposed to being purely subjective and dependent on what I feel or think.
  1. Truth is Universal: it must be true in every situation and in every place, and for every person.

The Bible tells us that The Truth is embodied in and revealed by a person. Not an abstract, unknowable force or set of inconsistent opinions. But in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

In this Post-Christian age of uncertainty, relativism, and truth decay, may many discover the timeless truth, revealed in the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ Himself, who tells us that “The truth shall make you free. “ John 8:32

Whose Authority Are We Under?

But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us’.

In the parable of the Ten Pounds, The Lord Jesus Christ tackles the age-old problem of establishing the “ultimate authority” in life. He uses the relationship between the citizens of the world and a certain nobleman or landowner. The imagery used is very clear. The nobleman is the Lord Jesus Himself, who is the One we must look to.  The citizens are all who choose to reject His “ultimate authority”.

The crescendo of the parable is Luke 19:14, where the stubborn minds of the citizens are vocalized brashly. They absolutely reject any notion that they are under his authority. With added pathos the tone used includes a large element of contempt, we simply will not have “this man” to rule over us, they say.

The issue of what is rightful and legitimate authority has been an underlying theme throughout 2020. As Governments across the globe have battled with Covid 19, respective nations have been subjected to an oscillation of policies. No lockdown in Sweden was championed initially at least, full lockdowns in several countries and regional lockdowns elsewhere have been trialled. This has generated growing tensions, as another characteristic of human nature has been prominent, our innate tendency to compare ourselves.

Through the pandemic, Governments have chosen to resort to a cadre of “Scientific Experts and Advisors” trying to re-assert control and augment their apparently waning authority. The Experts have been given prominent platforms, to shift the focus from the politicians. The problem with this approach is that the Experts don’t often agree.

Protests in Europe and the US have been frequent from those who do not accept Governmental authority. Ironically, these protests have probably spread the virus more rapidly. But essentially, they raise the same questions: Who is in charge of my life? What right have they (the respective Governments) to tell me what to do?  It’s all a question of authority.

Collision of Two World-views

The fundamental difference between Biblical Christianity and the world-view of the “citizens of this world”, is that Christians have reached a position in heart and mind of willingly surrendering to the righteous, just, kind and internally consistent authority of our Maker. The Christian is now “under new management” so to speak. In the above parable one of the servants did nothing with the pound that was given to him. His reason for doing nothing was that the “Nobleman is an austere person”. The Greek word translated as austere, means dry, hard and stiff. Or we might say severe and oppressive. The reality of course with The Lord Jesus Christ is the exact opposite. The Nobleman had given to the servants and money. He had trusted the servants. But he had expected them to use what he had given to them by investing and trading with his money. The parable is teaching us that as human beings we are beholden to a higher authority in life. We are to live  for and under the rule of another, but until our hearts and minds are opened, we will not want to submit to the Lord. The old saying goes “only two things are certain in life, death and taxes” (originally accredited to Daniel Defoe, in his ‘The Political History of the Devil’, 1726). We are beholden to the Giver of life, which the Bible demonstrates is God, who is able to give and remove life. We are also beholden to delegated authorities, such as the Government of the nation that we are living in, to whom we are to pay our taxes.

Clearly there must be multiple right and legitimate authorities in order for life and society to function more smoothly, in a fallen world. There is the Boss, line manager or CEO at work, the Headteacher at school, our parents or an older sibling, the Police. We may not always like the rules made, or agree with them, but society would simply disintegrate without any of these authorities and institutions.

To take it to the extreme, in order to prove the point, without these authorities no taxes would be collected, there would be few hospitals, children would be orphans, schools would be chaotic and not educate, roads would be even more lethal.

But in many ways the disintegration and disrespect for authority we are seeing is exactly the path that we are pursuing in the Western world. One by one the God-given and commissioned institutions of government, family, marriage are being rejected, ignored, or undermined. Self-rule is now the only rule, it seems to many. Having largely rejected God and His just rule as a nation, it is inevitable that we will eventually reject all delegated authorities.

It was Erasmus who said: “in the street of the blind, the one-eyed man is called the Guiding Light“. When all the institutions have lost their powers, eventually we will wake up and see that the old ways were indeed the right ways after all. Proverbs 14:34 says “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Mother Church?

For centuries in Europe a battle was waged for supremacy, between Church and State. Who is the ultimate authority, Church or State? The Catholic Church argued it was Mother Church, with the Pope being its supreme leader. The Church of England argued Church and State are to be closely connected. Still today the Archbishop of Canterbury is ultimately appointed by the Queen in the UK.

Over the years, wars were fought over such issues and 1,000s of Christian Martyrs were put to death.

Ridley and Latimer martyred in 1555

The Ultimate Authority

The position of the Bible is clear. Christians are under the rule of God. He is our chosen ultimate authority. He sets the length of life and one day we will appear before Him to give account for how we have lived our lives. “For it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement.” Hebrews 9:27

He sets the rules for life, for society and for His Church, not us. But He also delegates and institutes certain other powers. In His kindness and mercy He has organised the world to establish systems and controls. These limit the disorder and chaos that would otherwise result. “He changes the times and the seasons: He removes kings, and sets up kings: He gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:” Daniel 2:21

Who is ultimately in charge of my life? As a Christian the answer is Christ. He governs us by His Word the Bible, a revelation of unchanging and ever relevant truth. Revealing to us timeless principles which are to be taught and applied to every situation in life.

Authority Clash

What happens when there is a conflict between authorities? What if we do not agree with or like the authority we are under? The answer is inevitably tension and problems, which we have seen this year.

The Bible helps us to resolve these problems. God wants His people to obey the laws of the land and the appointed leaders of His churches, if they teach from His Word. He requires us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”.

In the Covid pandemic, governments have chosen to enforce lockdowns on various sectors and organisations in society. This has resulted at different times on places of worship being closed. Only time will tell if this was right and wise. This begs the question, does the right to practice one’s faith transcend the God-given authority government has?  The answer must be yes. In the US it is enshrined in the 1stAmendment.

There must on very rare occasions be exceptions. What if in the opinion of government, the practice of gathering together for public worship of any kind risks loss of life, such as in war or as in a pandemic? Or, if the law says we must have a fire safety certificate for a building before it can be opened to the public, to demonstrate it is safe, would it be right to meet anyway and endanger lives by disobeying the law of Government?

Some feel in the UK Covid lockdown, and with credible reasons, that there is a risk that the Government could either over-step its God-given authority in curbing public worship or set a precedent that could be abused in the future by singling out true churches for restrictions.

As several have highlighted, the Puritan Richard Baxter helpfully dealt with just this issue 350 years ago, in another time of plague. The following is an excerpt from The Practical Works of, Volume V, in his Christian Ecclesiastics, where he answers nearly 200 questions dealing with Christians and matters of conscience. He said: “If the magistrate for a greater good, (as the common safety) forbid church-assemblies in a time of pestilence, assault of enemies, or fire, or the like necessity, it is a duty to obey him.”

He goes on helpfully to establish a vital principle. “There are times when public safety must take precedence over religious observances, and since the civil magistrate is charged by God with upholding public safety, he can in principle make this call.”

Baxter points out that there is a fundamental asymmetry between divine commands and divine prohibitions. “When God forbids adultery, no conceivable situation or subsequent human command could justify disobeying this prohibition. This command is binding always. But when God commands us, say, to give to the needy, we are not commanded to be giving at every moment; indeed, that would be impossible. Sometimes we ought not to give, if we need to preserve limited resources for other God-given responsibilities. So, if we are commanded by the magistrate to do that which God forbids, we must obey God rather than man. But if we are forbidden by the magistrate, for a time, to do that which God generally commands, we may obey man without disobeying God.

Not worshipping physically together for a time is unnatural to sincere Christians. We may not agree with such restrictions or consider them to be disproportionate to the risks to health involved.

However, as Christians we are to be under government rule. Governments have certain God-given rights e.g. protecting life (as set out in 1 Peter 2:13-17). Where governments rightly seek to protect life (in accordance with the 6th commandment) this is surely permitted and reasonable. In effect there is a hierarchy established. Worship, which is a command for all, may for a limited time come behind the protection of life.

This rule though must not be abused to curb real religion, which is where some rightfully have concerns at the present time.

The blow of not being able to worship publicly is though cushioned to some extent by modern technology. So the need to starve and be isolated from worship is reduced. We can still meet in Spirit and in Truth. It is harder yes, and it is different, for sure. It is inferior as well and requires additional concentration and must not be used beyond valid reasons to be absent from worship.

In all this, we must remember true worship is not about a building or a place. It does not require a threshold number of people, two or three are sufficient. It requires us to come into the presence of Almighty God. To open His Word and be under His authority. To take to heart and mind His unchanging truth. Adoring and worshipping Him. Thankful for what He is and for what He has done to deliver us from the tyranny of self-rule and Satan. He has done this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of all who willingly choose to come under His gracious authority and rule.