Saturday, February 2, 2013

First to See the Light

Ann and I are in New Zealand visiting our eldest daughter. They live about 10 minutes from the small city of Gisborne on the east coast of the north island. The city’s motto is “First to See the Light,” based upon their location: closest city to the international dateline.

So we see the sun come up before anyone else in the world—although the distinction is rather artificial—that’s where the dateline was placed by the early British “time travelers,” 180 degrees across the planet from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in England.

But it was significant enough for a 30 minute TV segment from Gisborne to be broadcast around the world at the turn of the millennium. And real enough that I get up before any of you on any given day while we are here! Of course, that may be comforting—you get to lie in!

However, that is not the end of the Gisborne light story. The light here is different! I first noticed this as it begins to get light: white surfaces exude a phosphorescent glow. Heather, our daughter, tells me the surrounding grassy hills produce a glow in the half light.

Later, a photographer told me that photographers from around the world come to New Zealand as the light produces enhanced colours. Not something the naked eye or a common photo taker can see, but a sufficient difference to be professionally recognized.

Why? Clearer air; reflections from the south polar icecap? No-one seems to know. A bit like Jesus’ description of the wind—you can’t tell its origin or destination, but you can feel it and see its passage through the trees.

The presence of God is like that—indefinable, unexplainable, but at times unavoidable. It defies empirical evidence, yet is common experience. Above all, the illumination of the Holy Spirit gives insight to spiritual things unobtainable anywhere else.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Rallying Cry

Historic Christianity has always affirmed the deity of Christ and salvation from sin only through His redemptive crucifixion and resurrection. In fact, non-Christian sects have always been defined by their rejection of the full deity of Christ.

Central to Christ’s identity is the proclamation by Peter on the Day of Pentecost: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Paul takes up Peter’s cry: “Jesus is Lord” (Romans. 10:9, 1 Corinthians 12:3).

To call Jesus “Lord” was dangerous. First, it substituted Jesus as the final authority in place of Caesar and was construed as treason—bad for both Christians and Jews. But more to the point for the Jews, the Lord, Jahweh, was their God and Lord of the Old Testament—bad for the Christians.

So right from the start, Christians identified Jesus with the Lord God the creator: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)—a direct reference to Genesis 1:1, and Jesus as a member of the Trinity.

Those who stray from this concept of Christ, simply deny this testimony of the apostles Peter and Paul, the claim of Jesus Himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), and the wider declaration of Scripture.

This denial calls into question the Bible record—which casts doubt on the words, even the existence of Jesus Christ—and encourages—in fact, needs—alternate routes to reconciliation with God. But the greatest loss is the assurance of salvation and peace with God the Bible constantly declares.

This does not make Christianity a private club. God’s message through Jesus the Lord is an open invitation to all humanity. “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). 

You might want to check my book: Jesus: Is He really God? Does It Really Matter? Available at Amazon and