Christian Monotheist

To God Be The Glory Teaching Series – No. 1

To God Be The Glory
Teaching Series
‘A Biblical View of God the Father.’

No. 1 – Seeing God The Father in Holy Scripture.

Please click the following link:

Number ONE!

Christian Monotheist

To God Be The Glory Teaching Series – No. 0

Joel Hemphill has produced a set of 7 CDs:


To God Be The Glory
Teaching Series


  to go along with his book of the same title.

What follows are excerpts from the CDs
I have split ‘CD 1’ into two parts for the sake of facilitation: Nos.
0 & 1
No. 0 deals with Hemphill’s testimony whilst No. 1 deals with the topic of
God the Father in Scripture’

No. 0 – Joel Hemphill’s Testimony & Background to his book

Please click the following link:

Number ZERO!


Christian Monotheist

“I’m not a sinner!” by Hamilton Wilson

“I’m not a sinner!”

There is a modern perception that we are not sinners if we – live a decent life, pay our taxes, and show kindness to our neighbours. Do that, and we reckon we are “good”, not “sinners”. We tend to think of them as adulterers, thieves, murderers, and so on.

No Escape!

But we are all sinners, before God. The Bible makes that inescapably clear. Listen to this judgement passed in respect of Jews and non-Jews: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

There are different words used in the Bible for sin; for example, “transgression”. This word refers to something that is a deliberate “crossing over the line” – a wilful disobedience of God’s will, as, for example, Adam and Eve, who chose to do things their way, instead of God’s.

Then there’s the word translated “sinned” in the quotation from Romans above. The original Greek word means, as the rest of the verse says, “falling short”. It was the word used when you shot an arrow at a target and, simply through lack of strength or skill you failed to hit it – the arrow literally “falls short”. In other words, that is something wrong which does not happen deliberately, but which occurs through sheer inability, when we are unable to meet the high standard God expects of us.

Serious Stuff

So, the grave news is that we ARE all sinners, whether deliberately – by an act of will or simply through our human inability to meet the high standards of thought and behaviour that God expects of us. That could easily lead to despair, if God had made no provision for this happening. But he has made adequate provision – for all types of sin.

That has been accomplished through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ – the only man who never sinned. Jesus was righteous and totally obedient to God’s will – he never once deliberately transgressed against God or His commands, and he never failed to meet God’s high standard – he never “missed the mark”.

Because he was perfect, and because, despite sharing our human nature he overcame human weakness and sin, he is a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Consider this Bible teaching, which has such promise and hope for all of us:

“(God) made him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus was our “sin offering” (as one Version translates that verse). He died on our behalf, so that our sins can be covered and so that God can forgive us, and save us, for Christ’s sake. Take the first step in reconciliation with God by acknowledging that you are indeed a sinner. Then find out from the Bible how you can have your sins forgiven and covered, by accepting the sacrifice of Christ as a covering for all your sins.

Hamilton Wilson

Christian Monotheist

Have you Got the Plot? by Mark Vincent

The film director Stephen Spielberg is alleged to have said that to make a really good movie a director needs a plot he can hold in the palm of his hand. One of his most famous films, E.T. – short for “Extra Terrestrial” – is a classic example of just that: a boy meets and befriends an alien and helps him find his way home. It’s a simple idea but one that has proved to be very appealing to the film-going public.

The Bible’s Plot-Line

When we think about the plot of the Bible we are not thinking about a film or a work of fiction, but about reality. The Bible claims to be the Word of God, His unique revelation and message to mankind. Yet much of the Bible consists of narrative – an account of both past and future with quite a definite ‘story-line’ running through it. It’s not a fictional story, however, but the history of some people who were involved in His purpose given from God’s perspective. And in the process of explaining what happened to them, and what they were told, we come to understand God’s plans for the shaping of the future.

Because the Bible is such a big book and contains many parts, written in quite diverse styles, it can be easy for both beginners and experts to miss the shape of the whole. Readers of the Bible, both new and old, can easily miss the fact that the plot of the Bible and the message it contains is essentially a very simple one.

So what happens in the Bible, and what is still to happen, according to its predictions? What is the Bible about? And can its plot be held in the palm of one’s hand?

What’s it all about?

The Bible is about God and mankind, and about their relationship. God made man and woman and has always been in charge of everything that happens. Yet he gave Adam and Eve free will to choose what they would do -whether to live in harmony and obedience to God, or to choose their own direction in life. Unfortunately, they chose to go their own way, thinking they knew better than did their Maker. Because of this mankind gradually descended into a spiral of moral decadence and selfishness that the Bible calls ‘sin’.

The consequence of such choices is still very much in evidence in the world today. Sin lies at the root of all the problems of society at large and individual men and women face in the world today – including pain and ultimately death. This is the problem, the ‘bottom-line’ which humanity must face. We are left under no illusions about our nature or condition; the reality is stark.

What’s God’s Solution?

There is the possibility of a solution – a way back to God. Throughout history, God has been calling people back to him, holding his hand out, as it were, and inviting them to return. He did this to Abraham and his descendants the Jews, and much of the Bible uses their relationship to teach a wider audience what God’s invitation and expectations involves. God’s requirements are not easy in one sense – it’s hard trying to please someone else rather than oneself – yet the rewards are vast. God makes tremendous promises about the future to Abraham and his successors – promises which are available to all who hear and respond to the gospel message.

Unfortunately, by the end of the Old Testament (two thirds of the way through the Bible), God’s people Israel have by and large rejected God’s offer, just as man and woman had originally done (human nature doesn’t easily change). So in the New Testament there is a dramatic development. God sent his Son to show how much He cared and how much He wants men and women to come back to him.

Unlike everyone who had lived beforehand, the Lord Jesus lived a perfect life – a life which he ultimately gave in the greatest and most perfect sacrifice ever made. Jesus died to show what men and women are capable of as sinners (inflicting such suffering on an innocent man), and what sin deserves (death).

That very same act also showed that God’s love and capacity to forgive are even greater and more far-reaching. God is wonderfully able to overcome the evil of sin. God loves us so much that He has given us the most precious gift possible – His only Son – so that we can be forgiven and can have a hope of life. As the Bible says:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16,17).

What Next?

Because Jesus had done no sin, God raised him up to new life, never to die again. He had conquered sin and temptation. In his death and resurrection lies the hope for everyone who receives the call of the gospel to die (as it were) to their old way of selfishness, and to live to God. This is the challenge God invites us to take up. But this is not the end of the story.

In the future God will send Jesus back to the earth again to renew the world, now wracked by problems, and to establish His kingdom upon earth. Then all the wrongs of this world will be put right, and Jesus will reign for God as King.

From Bad to Good

Conceptually, most of the above is not difficult. As a plot-line (and even more so, as reality), it is brilliant because it involves the transformation of the worst story man has ever known (his own demise) into the best (his salvation). It would be easy to open out each part of the plot and to add in many others – exploring for several hours each aspect in turn. But just summed up in a few short paragraphs this glance at the Bible’s overall message has shape and meaning. The apostle Paul put the message even more succinctly when he said:

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Note the way in which the apostle involves himself in his own summary of the gospel message. The story of the Bible is even more poignant because, as human beings, we are each actors in the unfolding drama of history. You and I are personally caught up in the wonder and the challenge of the Bible’s tale. This is what Paul meant when he said that he was the chief of sinners. The Bible’s message is not a story at arm’s length. Each of us is involved and caught up in God’s plan for the world.

Can we grasp it?

Let’s return finally to the question of whether one can hold the plot of the Bible in the palm of one’s hand. We have seen that in an important way the answer to this is ‘yes’. The Bible’s message is not complicated; a child can understand its basic story, its themes, and its plans for the future. Yet the answer is also ‘no’. To know – and to really grasp – the message of the Bible is to know something of the mind of God himself. And how can a mere human hope to do that? As the apostle Paul once again expressed it:

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:34).

Expanding and attempting to understand God’s purpose is a lifetime’s study and more.

Yet Paul’s final conclusion is not one of frustration – that he can never truly understand his God. Paradoxically Paul goes on to explain that God has made known His mind and His plan to us – though He is infinite – by His Spirit. He has done this in His Word the Bible. This is why the plot of the Bible – simple and yet utterly profound is so important to everyone of us.

Mark Vincent

Christian Monotheist

What is Your Life? by Dennis Gillett

What is Life?

The Apostle James has a very plain statement to make about the nature of man, in fact he asks and answers the very question – “What is your life?”. Is it an immortal force from God that can never be extinguished, come what may? Or what? Here’s the apostle’s answer:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

How strange those words sound in relation to the permanence and indestructibility expressed in the popular conception of the nature of human life. But they are perfectly consistent with the teaching of the New Testament as a whole.

Jesus the Teacher

Here are some of the teachings of the Lord Jesus on the subject:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36,37).

These words are not intended to describe the value of a man’s life in the whole scheme of things but, rather, the value of his own life to himself. They teach that it is foolish for men to sacrifice their lives to obtain something which, without life, they can neither possess nor enjoy. For, when Jesus spoke of the “soul”, he meant the “life” of an individual, and that life is our most precious commodity because it gives us the opportunity to get to know God and the Lord Jesus. Here’s another example from the lips of the Master:

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…”

Without a doubt this passage, as far as it goes, tells us that those who are able to kill the body are not able to kill the soul. We should, however, be led very far astray if we left it at that for, when we read on, we find that the sense of the passage is quite changed when it is completed.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Once again the word “soul” here means ‘life’, as it is translated in many other passages in the New Testament. God is able, Jesus was teaching, to utterly destroy our existence in … “hell” (or Gehenna“, as in some other translations) has reference to a certain locality where the carcasses of criminals and animals were destroyed near Jerusalem. For the Jews of the First Century it was a place of destruction … If you are concerned that Jesus was talking about eternal torment in Hell, notice that the emphasis is on destruction, not on torment or torture.

If it be asked “Who is it that can kill the body and cannot destroy the soul, or the life?”, the answer must be that there have been many persecutors, over time, who have tried to eliminate the followers of Jesus. But they cannot destroy the life force from God, because He – and He alone – can do that, if He chooses. But if God wishes that life to continue, He has the power and the means of remaking that person, by resurrection, and granting them the gift of everlasting life.


The God of Abraham

Sometimes there are references back to the Old Testament that need some thinking about. For example, the Lord Jesus once referred his adversaries to what had been said to Moses at the burning bush:

“… about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:31,32).

These words most definitely challenge the popular view concerning the afterlife. Jesus used them to the Sadducees to prove the resurrection of the dead; for this Biblical teaching was something they denied. He said “God is not a God of the dead – but of the living”. Now if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were, in fact, not dead but alive in heaven, how would the fact that God called Himself their God have proved to the Sadducees that they were to be raised from the dead?

The whole point Jesus was making was that, in spite of the fact that they were dead and buried, God still called Himself their God – because he was going to raise them from the dead at the appointed time. Therefore, said Jesus, He is not a God of the dead – the eternally dead – but of the living, for they will live again in the resurrection of the just.

Apostles’ Doctrine

If we turn to the letters in the New Testament, we find there many enlightening passages in relation to the nature of man. In the popular conception of man’s nature, death is set forward as unpleasant, while it lasts, but something that ultimately confers great gain. For many, the grave is seen as the gateway to a new and fuller life in heaven, it is thought of as the way of escape from this ‘vale of tears, fears and sorrows’.

The Bible does not use such language. Instead, death is spoken of as something which is to befall all men as the result of sin, not a means of escape. It is the great enemy of man which threatens all his aspirations. Indeed, it is called “the last enemy”.

Reflect upon the tone of these passages and ask yourself how well they fit the popular conception of the nature and effect of death.

“(God) has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”
(2 Timothy 1:9,10)

“In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality” (Romans 2:5-7)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

“For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Corinthians 15:16-18)

This, then, is part of the testimony of the New Testament concerning the nature of man. What your conclusions will be as a result or reflection upon the passages to which your attention has been directed, I cannot tell. But it is a vitally important topic for each of us, if we are to understand the peril that faces us once this mortal existence is over.

The Lord Jesus Christ has brought “life and immortality” to light, through the gospel, and we need to know and find out about that. Immortality will not just happen; it is not something automatic, inherent or intrinsic.

It is something about which we really need to know. And we can only know about it – given that it is beyond our immediate experience – by reading God’s Word and believing what that teaches us.

When the serpent said to Eve “You shall not surely die”, he was lying. We surely will cease to exist for ever unless we find out about God’s offer of salvation, and make that our own.

Dennis Gillett

Christian Monotheist

Dead Men – and the Tales they Tell! by Mark Sheppard

The human brain is incredibly complex. Like a super-computer, it controls
all the functions of the body. Certainly, when other parts of the body, such as the
heart, do not function as they should the brain is also affected. Should the heart
stop altogether the brain begins to die, and the process can produce strange
effects, which can be remembered when the heart is restarted by resuscitation.

Remember Anything?

Recently there has been a lot of interest in what people remember of the times when their heart stopped and they have almost died. An investigation is planned to try and discover more. Will this help us understand what happens when we die? Sadly, the money will be wasted. For those whose hearts have stopped have not died. Not yet.

For a person to die their brain must also cease to function. When that happens it is impossible to restart the heart. The Bible records nine distinct accounts of men and women who died but were subsequently raised from the dead. A careful examination of the Bible accounts tells us all we need to know about what death is like. It is very instructive to look at the records.

Elijah the Prophet

The first record of anyone being raised from death is during the work of Elijah the prophet. During a famine in Israel, Elijah was staying with a widow in Zarephath a village then in the north of Israel, in what is now known as Lebanon.

When the son of the widow died, she felt it was in some way connected with Elijah’s visit. The dead son’s body was taken to his own room, and whilst praying to Yahweh God, Elijah stretched himself over the body of the boy. We are then told that God heard Elijah’s prayer and the boy revived. There follows the touching account of Elijah taking the boy to his mother. The record tells us:

“Then the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of Yahweh in your mouth is truth’ ” (1 Kings 17:24)

There is no record of what the boy himself said. If the Bible is a true account of these miraculous happenings, as indeed it is, we can be sure that nothing of consequence was said by the first person ever to be raised from death. Evidently, there was nothing worth recording for future generations.

Elisha the Prophet

The next record of resurrection in the Bible is a similar account in the time of Elisha, the prophet who succeeded Elijah. It is found in chapter 4 of the Second Book of Kings. Elisha had stayed with a woman and her husband in Shunem. Later, whilst their son was out in the fields with his father he apparently caught sunstroke and died. At the time, Elisha was over 20 miles away at Mount Carmel, a long journey for the distressed mother. But she made it with determination.

The boy had been an unexpected arrival to older parents, bringing an added happiness to their home, and now he was gone. So, his mother travelled to find the prophet. At first Elisha sent his servant back to Shunem with detailed instructions of what was to be done when he arrived. Presumably the servant was younger and would travel faster; but that was to no avail.

It was not until Elisha himself arrived and virtually repeated the prayerful process used by Elijah that the boy came back to life. The joy must have been immense, but no words of the boy or his mother are recorded, only Elisha’s rather terse command to “Pick up your son”, and the fact that the lad sneezed seven times (2 Kings 4:35,36).

Elisha Again

The third account of resurrection followed Elisha’s death. His grave was close at hand when the mourners spotted a marauding band of raiders from Moab, and hurriedly bundled another corpse into Elisha’s grave, upon which the dead man “revived and stood on his feet” (2 Kings 13:21).

This time we know nothing more of the man, not his name nor where he lived; and there is certainly no record of anything at all that he said. Once again, the Bible is telling us that he had nothing important to say, or it would have been recorded.

Jesus Raises the Dead

There are three accounts of resurrections performed by the Lord Jesus. Two are recorded by the gospel writer Luke, who presumably was the one referred to as the “beloved physician”. We might expect him to have a particular interest in the way the Lord Jesus could achieve what doctors could not. And he is known as a very careful observer of detail, which he accurately records.

  • The first account concerns the raising of a widow’s son in a little village called Nain. Read the account with particular care and you will note that the funeral party were taking the body to be buried when the Lord Jesus intervened. Luke tells us that the young man sat up and began to speak, but he does not tell us anything that he said (Luke 7:15). Clearly there was nothing that Luke, who carefully traced these events and was guided by the Holy Spirit, felt worth recording.
  • A little later the Lord Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the local synagogue. Jairus had a difficult task finding the Lord Jesus and getting back through the crowds to his home. When he did so his daughter, gravely ill when he left, had died. Moments later the Lord Jesus raised her but, again, nothing is recorded of what the young girl said. The only record is the command by Jesus that she should be given something to eat.
  • John’s account of the raising of Jesus’ friend Lazarus, there is a lengthy record of several conversations which took place before they went to Lazarus’ grave.

Lazarus had been buried four days previously (see John chapter 11). At Jesus’ insistence they took away the stone which had closed the tomb and John is careful to record the prayer which the Lord Jesus prayed to his Heavenly Father, followed by the simple command, “Lazarus, come forth.” Lazarus emerged from the tomb but, apart from the Lord’s brief instruction to remove the grave clothes, nothing else is recorded. Even though Lazarus features in the narrative on a later occasion, still nothing is said of his post-death ‘experiences’.

Apostle Peter

The same is true later when the apostle Peter is instrumental in raising Tabitha – sometimes called Dorcas – nor when the apostle Paul raised a young man called Eutychus. Neither, it would seem, had anything to say.

It would seem that dead men, and women – those who really are dead – tell no tales, even when they are raised to life again.
Scripture is totally silent on what it is like to be dead. It all goes to confirm what the Bible says elsewhere, that:

“in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks?” (Psalm 6:5).

They said nothing because they had no recollection of the period when they had ceased to exist.

Yet One More

That is not quite all. Of the nine who are specifically identified in the Bible as having been raised from death, we have so far looked only at eight.

The ninth is the Lord Jesus himself, and he was the only one who had anything to say after his resurrection. In fact, he had very much to say, which is clearly recorded for us. He was raised from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, so he was dead for three days.

Significantly he has nothing to say about those three days; he, too, is silent about the time in the grave. Instead his focus and concentration is entirely on what now lay ahead for him and his disciples. For example:

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:20-21).

Not surprisingly, the disciples were glad because their Lord was alive, and they now focused their whole attention on what he wanted them to do. It was not a time for looking back, but for looking forward, to what would need to be done when the Lord Jesus was directing operations from heaven. From that exalted position, the Lord Jesus conveyed a revelation to his followers in all ages, which included this declaration:

“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am he who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:17,18).

The Bible is quite clear all the way through. Death is just that, total oblivion. The hope of the believer in the Lord Jesus is to be raised from the dead, when He returns.

Mark Sheppard



Christian Monotheist

Mortal or Immortal? by Dennis Gillett

Human & Animal Existence

In the Old Testament Scriptures, people and animals who perished in the worldwide flood at the time of Noah, are joined together in the phrase “All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life … died”.

This is a clear indication that the Word of God views the constitution of men and animals as fundamentally identical. The breath of life in every case appears to be the motive power of life, in both men and animals. It is as though there is no difference between the nature, or existence, of man or animals.

According to the Genesis account in the Bible, we are all alive in much the same way. This is so radically different a view from what is popularly conceived that we need to check up with other Scriptures, too. Here are a few statements about what death is like:

“Return, O Yahweh, deliver me! Oh, save me for your mercies’ sake! For in death there is no remembrance of you; In the grave who will give you thanks?” (Psalm 6:4,5);

For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun … Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going
(Ecclesiastes 9:5-10);

“Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Yahweh his God” (Psalm 146:3-5);

Sheol cannot thank you, death cannot praise you; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise you, as I do this day; the father shall make known your truth to the children” (Isaiah 38:18,19).

After Death – What?

Thus, both in the wisdom and prophetic sections of the Bible, we see the same understanding expressed. Life is the time to serve the Lord, and Death is described as a state of unconsciousness and utter inactivity. Yet, it is also clear that faithful men, who had cause to think profoundly about the purpose of life, realized that things are in a sorry state indeed if there is nothing else after death – they would have no hope of continuance. Consider Job, who spoke in the extremity of his sufferings:

“Are not my days few? Cease! Leave me alone, that I may take a little comfort, before I go to the place from which I shall not return, to the land of darkness and the shadow of death, a land as dark as darkness itself, as the shadow of death, without any order, where even the light is like darkness” (Job 10:20-22).

Or David:

“Hear my prayer, O Yahweh, And give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with you, a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Remove your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more” (Psalm 39:12,13).

Escape from Death

Both these faithful men came to realize that there is something that can happen after death, that the soul – the life force from God – need not be lost for ever. There were indications of that prospect. Both Job and David were inspired to utter words that looked forward to the prospect of resurrection. And, as God’s purpose unfolded, there were actual indications of people being brought back from the unconscious state of death, like the miracles done by the prophets Elijah and Elisha.

Events like that gave hope to people in the Old Testament who knew there was only one solution to the inescapable problem of death. But what other indications were there?

“Laid to Rest”

Some have seen the promise of continued life immediately after death in the expression concerning those in the Old Testament who were “gathered unto their fathers” when they died. But this is not a fair conclusion, for, as a little research will show, the expression means simply ‘to be buried’. For example, God said to faithful Abraham: “You shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age” (Genesis 15:15).

That could hardly mean that, after death, his soul would go to dwell in peace with his ancestors in heaven, for they were idolaters, who had worshipped strange gods. The true meaning of this is made clear in the New Testament where the apostle Paul, speaking in similar terms of King David, says:

“David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption” (Acts 13:36);

whilst the apostle Peter says:

“Let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day … David did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:29,34).

Plainly, going to one’s fathers means being buried in the grave, and that agrees precisely with the comment of Solomon that: “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust” (Ecclesiastes 3:20).

Wherever you look in the Old Testament the message is the same.

Dennis Gillett

Christian Monotheist

LIFE AFTER DEATH? by Nigel Patterson

I have been to more than one funeral where the Minister has given comfort to the bereaved family by ‘suggesting that their loved one is now in some state of happiness and peace – generally believed to be Heaven.

Yet at a later point in the Service the same man has read part of the apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians – which focuses on the resurrection of the dead. It’s difficult to see how these two ideas go together.

Are We Immortal?

The assumption that Heaven is our natural destination is closely linked to the idea that we have some divine and indestructible spark within each of us that survives death – often called an “immortal soul”. Now, the Bible has nothing to say about such a thing because it has never heard of it. It was never part of the original Christian message. The first written statement of Christian belief in an immortal soul is dated about 150 years after Christ.

According to this teaching, anybody and everybody is heaven-bound. The gate to the entrance of a village church near where I live in Cornwall, England, has written over it: “Death is the gate to life”. That may be a clever thing to write above a gate but it just cannot be! For it would mean that eternal life, or immortal existence, comes about without any effort on our part.

This is where we need to bring Bible teaching to bear. And we find that every comment from Jesus of Nazareth emphasizes that eternal life is not automatic. We are expected to make some effort if we are to attain it. Nothing happens for nothing.

Of course God is a God of love; that’s certainly Bible teaching. His love is beyond our comprehension and I readily acknowledge my complete dependence on it. Yet the Bible makes it very plain that it is a love with a standard. “The Lord is… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3: 9). Notice: all must come “to repentance”.

And the verse which is perhaps best known for its expression of God’s love makes a similar point: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life”. The word ‘perish’ is a desperate word – it means oblivion – so it really matters that this verse also makes eternal life conditional, not automatic. We have to “believe” or perish!


No Tree of Life

Without belief and we all perish – there is no afterlife! It was a death sentence handed down to all Mankind in the Garden of Eden. You may remember that God’s decision resulted from Adam and Eve’s flagrant breach of His command that they should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they both had eaten, God said:

“Behold, the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”
(Genesis 3:22).

Have you ever asked yourself ‘What is the point of this prohibition if they were already inherently immortal?’ The only sensible solution is that they were mortal, not immortal; and so are we.


Writing to believers in Rome, the apostle Paul promises that God:

“will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality” (Romans 2:6,7).

How shall we understand these words unless we are to be actively involved in our own quest for immortality? There is certainly no sense of inherent immortality here. It was the work of the Lord Jesus to undo the harm Adam had brought, thus it can be said of him that he:

“has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

No Jesus – no gospel; and there would be no hope of immortality. The inescapable truth is that whenever the apostles spoke of eternal or immortal life, they were always thinking of the resurrection of the body [or better still, the resurrection of the dead]. This was the truth at the heart of their message, and the false idea that we have an immortal soul which goes to heaven – or hell – at death destroys all that Christ has done through his resurrection.  

The physical resurrection of Jesus underpins the whole of the Christian message and hope; if the tomb was not empty all the claims of Christ become empty and his effectiveness to save men and women from permanent death is destroyed. But the tomb was empty for the Lord had risen!

Bodily Resurrection

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the passage that is often read at the graveside, Paul makes it abundantly clear that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is absolutely crucial to the Christian hope. It is the clear explanation contained in this chapter that makes any supposed survival of a conscious existence in Heaven such an obvious contradiction. For, Paul says:

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:13,14).

And, he continues, with never-ceasing logic:

“If the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (15:16-19).

This is a remarkable passage. If there is no resurrection then Christ is still dead and if that’s the case the Christian faith is worthless – we are still in our sins! It is his resurrection that makes the difference and demonstrates the merit of his shed blood to save sinners who believe. Paul now expresses the true Christian hope, the one we all must make our own:

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (15:20).

Don’t miss out on this genuine offer of salvation!


Nigel Patterson

Christian Monotheist

The Challenge of the Empty Tomb by Pauline Clementson

 Enlightened Testimony

Consider these words written by someone who was once violently opposed to the teaching that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. As one of the most active opponents of the emerging faith, Saul the Pharisee was convinced that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. He was utterly convinced. But later he wrote:

“If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith … And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:14,17).

There’s no mistaking what the Apostle Paul – as he became – is saying in these verses. If Jesus hasn’t been raised from the dead, then the Christian faith has no credibility, and preaching about it is a complete waste of time. The whole chapter makes interesting reading, for it is all about resurrection. There were some at Corinth who thought there was no such thing, and Paul was absolutely convinced that they were wrong.

1 Corinthians 15 is a wonderful chapter of hope for believers, but only if Jesus really did rise from the dead. For Christianity is totally dependent on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. So, how sure can we be that he really did rise from the dead?

Was Jesus Really Dead?

That’s the obvious question. Was Jesus really dead when he was taken down from the cross? The gospels record in some detail the final hours before Jesus was placed in the grave. He was arrested at night, and subsequently subjected to terrible physical suffering. Here are some of the things that happened:

  • During his first trial, Jesus’ accusers spat in his face; they punched and slapped him (Matthew 26 :67-68).
  • Several hours later, the governor Pilate had him flogged (Matthew 27:26).
  • Pilate’s soldiers then made Jesus wear a crown of twisted thorns, and repeatedly beat him over the head with a staff (Matthew 27:27-30).
  • Next, he was led out to the crucifixion site … (John 19:16-17). By this time Jesus was so weak, because of his injuries, that he was unable to carry the cross … and somebody else had to carry it for him (Matthew 27:32).
  • Then he was crucified – fixed to the cross by nails through his hands and feet, and hung there for several hours.
  • Two others crucified with him, had their legs broken, to speed up their death, but as Jesus was declared dead already, a spear was thrust into his side instead (John 19:31-37).

Killed by Experts

 The Roman soldiers were experts in crucifixion, and they would have known when a man was dead. Even supposing the ones who checked up on Jesus were mistaken, the spear thrust in his side would have been fatal. The eye-witness record says that water {or serum) and blood flowed out when it happened.

  • When Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus, Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead. He sent for the centurion to confirm the death and, having been assured, gave the body to Joseph, who buried it in a rock tomb (Mark 15:42-45). Centurions did not make mistakes, especially when the governor wanted the matter checked.
  • A large stone was rolled across the entrance (Mark 15:47).
  • The Jewish authorities, remembering that Jesus had said he would rise again the third day, went and asked Pilate to make the tomb secure. They wanted to make sure the disciples couldn’t steal the body, and then pretend that he had risen. So, the tomb was sealed, and guards posted outside (Matthew 27:62-66).

The first century Jewish historian Josephus confirms the gospel accounts, by recording that Jesus was executed by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. And the apostle Paul says of Jesus that: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

The fact that he died is a vital part of the true Christian faith. No death – no forgiveness!


Did Jesus Really Rise? 

  • Early in the morning, there was a violent earthquake, when an angel came down from heaven, rolled the stone back and sat on it. The guards were utterly terrified, as were two women disciples who had gone to the tomb (Matthew 28:1-4). “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said, Come and see the place where he lay’ “
    (Matthew 28:5,6).
  • Peter also went to the tomb and found the burial cloths, but no Jesus (John 20:6,7).

What Next?

So, the tomb was empty of Jesus’ body, but what had happened to him? The gospels not only tell us that Jesus was alive again, but also report some of his appearances to his disciples.

  • Jesus joined two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:1-35).

  • In John’s gospel, we have the moving reunion of Mary Magdalene with her Lord, when at first she mistook him for the gardener.

  • Then follows an account of Jesus going to the room where his disciples had locked themselves in because they were afraid of the Jews. “Jesus came and stood among them and said ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19,20).
  • Thomas was missing on this occasion, and John tells of Jesus’ return visit a week later, to convince … Thomas of his resurrection.

Paul gives us information not found in the gospels. After telling of Jesus’ appearance to the twelve disciples, he continues

“After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep .. and last of all he appeared to me also …”
(1 Corinthians 15:6-8).

Alternative Theories

Several alternative suggestions have been put forward by those wanting to disprove the resurrection. It’s important that we consider them, when the truth of the Christian faith is at stake.

  • Only Unconscious?

    One theory is that Jesus wasn’t really dead, but only unconscious. In the cool of the tomb he came round, rolled away the stone, and went to his disciples telling them he had risen.

    … Is it really plausible, that, after such traumatic injuries, Jesus would have been capable of rolling a heavy stone away three days later, breaking the seal, overcome or terrify the guards, and then persuade his disciples that he was risen and was alive for evermore?

  • Body Stolen?

    This theory is actually related in Matthew’s gospel. What a problem the empty tomb was to the Jewish leaders who had arranged for a guard to be posted outside it, to avoid this very possibility. When the soldiers fled from the garden, what cover story could they concoct?

    The best they could come up with was to bribe the guards to say “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep” (Matthew 28:13).They also had to pacify the guards, by promising to speak to Pilate if he should hear that guards had been asleep on duty. The whole thing was obviously a cover-up for what had really happened.

  • Wrong Tomb?

    Some have suggested that the disciples went to the wrong tomb, and that Jesus was still dead in another one. If the disciples had been confused, the authorities wouldn’t have been. They knew which tomb had been guarded, and would have been delighted to show the disciples their mistake.

  • Conspiracy?

    There are several other ideas which suggest that perhaps Joseph of Arimathea, or maybe either the Jewish or Roman authorities moved the body. Matthew tells us (27:57), that Joseph was a disciple, and he had nothing to gain from moving it, as we’ll see in a moment. The authorities would hardly have wanted to contribute to the resurrection story by hiding the body.

    Others suggest that Mary Magdalene really did meet the gardener, not her risen Lord. Even supposing she did, that meeting is only a very small part of the picture. Some say that the disciples never visited the tomb, and made the whole story up. Let’s see if this could be a possibility.

    Had the disciples known about Jesus’ body, and then made up the resurrection appearances, they would have been preaching something they knew to be a lie. But, the great change in them after the resurrection isn’t consistent with such a view. At his arrest, Jesus’ disciples fled. Peter followed at a distance, but then denied his master three times. We’ve already seen that the disciples locked themselves in for fear of the Jews. They were really afraid for their own lives. They were dispirited and thought Jesus’ death was the end of their hopes.

    But what a different story afterwards! They preached Jesus boldly, despite suffering for it. Some were martyred for their beliefs. Is it likely that they would risk their lives for a hoax? Hardly! The most reasonable explanation is that God really did raise Jesus from the dead.

Victory over Death

If Jesus had only lived for a few years after his crucifixion and had then died again, Christianity could still offer nothing for the future. It’s because he was the only sinless man and was therefore raised to live for ever, that we can have any hope . We’re all sinners and under sentence of death but, through belief in Jesus, we too can be raised to everlasting life. Here’s the apostle Paul again:

“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him”
(1 Corinthians 15:21-23).

God’s Guarantee

Note that Paul says “when he comes”. At the moment, Jesus is in heaven, but he will return, to raise the dead and set up God’s kingdom. How can we be certain that this will happen? God has given His guarantee.

“He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

Pauline Clementson

Quotations from the NIV


Christian Monotheist

A Righteous King by Peggy Rawson



A Righteous King
[ISAIAH 32:1-2]

There’s nothing right with the world;
Can there ever be so again?
For the one ingredient that’s required
Is a righteous King to reign.

A King with heavenly powers

Who has no selfish aim
Who feels for the meek and lowly in heart,
And seeks no worldly fame.

All cruel and deceitful people
Must be slain with a mighty hand;
And those who do not heed God’s Word
Will be banished from the land.

Then abundance of peace shall be in the earth
Like the garden of Eden restored,
For Jesus will reign in righteousness
And blessings will be assured.

Peggy Rawson