Looking beyond the immediate – Jesus rises Victorious!

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection (ESV Heading)

Mat 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Mat 16:22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
Mat 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

I read this passage recently and realised I’d probably have said something similar to Peter. Imagine that! Peter began to rebuke him! Peter actually takes him to one side. It’s extraordinary. He’s ready to jump in, shooting from the hip ‘This’ll never happen’ etc. Think of it in terms of State relationships – the State can’t be allowed to do this…. And in a way Peter is right. The greatest injustice ever in all history takes place there in Jerusalem. The Son of God hangs upon the tree!

Awake, my soul, and rise
amazed, and yonder see
how hangs the mighty Saviour God
upon a cursed tree!
(William Williams, 1717-91)

I find myself being so negative. Why didn’t Peter say:
‘Wow! That’s amazing Lord! You mean, they are going to kill you, but you’re going to rise from the dead and defeat death! Praise God. That’s incredible. We’re with you.’

No, he didn’t say that, and neither would I. Shame on me. He couldn’t see the plan of God. I’m sure there are times to be negative (to appear so anyway), to point them out – but not then. A time and a place. That wasn’t it. And then he got rebuked because he couldn’t see beyond the immediate. More than that, the Lord Jesus tells Peter that he’s a hindrance to him. Wrong views are a hindrance.In our fallen world, of sin, and death, and despair, of a struggling and seemingly weak church, and of negativity, we look up and see Him seated at the right hand of the majesty on high (Heb 8:1). We see a Lamb standing, looking as though it had been slain (Rev 5:6). See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered (Rev 5:5)! Then, we see the plan of God. 

Then, we have the things of God in mind and not of man.

‘By that will’ The love of the Father for the lost

Heb 10:10  ‘And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.’

One of the things that happens, happens to me anyway, in the Christian life is that the reality, or the power, of certain verses (or it can be doctrines) from the Bible come to your mind and soul with such power that you never in some sense lose that impression. When this happens it’s often the case that you will remember quite vividly when and or where when that happens. It is true for the whole Bible that it is without doubt the Word of God and we will not be moved from that knowledge. But individual verses also have such a profound impression on us that nothing will move us from their reality.

This then, for me, is one such verse and is one of my favourite verses in the whole Bible. And I do remember where I was at the time. Especially the words, ‘by that will.’ At the time I was reading the AV so it was ‘the which will.’ Apart from the powerful impression this verse made on my mind, it is of course the truth of it. It’s the truth of these verses that gives them their power. As well as the kindness of God in showing us them in that way. And is why we will not be moved. I think Peter, for example, never forgot the when and the where of when he first realised exactly who The Lord Jesus Christ is. It doesn’t mean, probably like Peter, that we understand the full implications of the ‘revelation’ we receive but the impact remains. Jesus asked Peter who did he think he was (Mat 16:15). Peter’s reply is worth quoting:

‘Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mat 16:16).”’

Here’s the reply:

‘And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven…” (Mat 16:17).’

It seems to me that the ignorance of or the downplaying of the Father’s love is something the church should not be doing. It just shouldn’t be. Reading ‘The Whole Christ’ by Sinclair Ferguson has brought to mind (again) so much that I’m thankful for over the years. Frankly, I can’t quite say how I arrived at what I consider to be a happy position. I guess that’s one advantage of being a Christian for 40 years or so. A lot of theological trends come and go, and them come back again. That doesn’t mean ‘I’ve arrived’ or anything like it. I think the older I get the more I realise just how much I don’t know or understand. But the few things I do know and understand are exceedingly precious.

We have a problem that was highlighted once again for me the other day. It’s this. Jesus is such a lovely person, he’s a nice bloke, but that Father God of his is so wrathful and nasty. Even in the church the emphasis can be skewed towards the same attitude. Jesus is nice and the Father isn’t. But this verse serves as a reminder that it was God the Father that sent Jesus. We do not find, for example, Jesus saying to his Father ‘I’ve had a great idea….’ No. Jesus does the will of his Father. And it was the will of God the Father to send the Lord Jesus into the world. Yes, he came. He came willingly. But if I can reverently say, It wasn’t Jesus’s idea to come into the world. Obviously we are doing something here that didn’t happen in the way it would happen to any earthly plans. Within the Trinity everything is known. But in the economy of God it is the Father that does the sending. What does Jesus say in response to his Father’s will? ‘I delight to do your will (Psalm 40:8).’ and ‘“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; (Heb 10:9)’ ‘Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” Heb 10:7.“ ‘Behold’, says Jesus, ‘I have come to do your will (Heb 10:9).” And in John 4:34 ‘Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work….’

When we are tempted then to think God our Father is like some overseer looking on at what Jesus does in some sort of detached manner. Not at all. Realise that it was God the Father that willed your salvation. It was God the Father that sent his Son to die for you. It was God the Father that poured out his wrath upon his Son for you! This is no detached onlooker. Not at all! Our Father in Heaven is involved in the very details, in the nitty gritty of the salvation he has for us. Remember this: Jesus said ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms.’ Yes, Jesus goes to prepare a place for us, but it’s the Father’s house where he goes to prepare the room (John 14:1-3). God our Father willed our Justification, and our Sanctification. And the price was the sending of his Son. ‘By that will.’

Christian, do not doubt the Father’s love for you. He has invested a great deal in you. Even the blood of his dear Son.

‘And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb 10:10).’

Thoughts on Social Distancing and The Trinity

Social Distancing and The Trinity

Social distancing as I’m sure many have pointed out is not really a new concept. It was called isolation. And we find this in the Bible to contain the spread of contagious diseases such as leprosy. We read this in Leviticus.  The main and obvious difference is that it was the person or people with the disease (determined by the priest) that were to separate themselves from the rest of the community. That is a demonstration of the divine wisdom. It makes sense. Those who were clearly symptomatic were separated from the rest of the people. However, the difference now is that everyone is deemed contagious whether they show symptoms or not. Not only that, even those that have been vaccinated against Covid currently have to practice careful separation by distance, exclusion, including wearing a face mask. This, we are told, is to keep us all safe. Regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not.

I’m sure those that know about these things will be able to explain it all scientifically. But I have another explanation, and it’s this. We, all of us, have been created as social beings. Because of the fall there are clearly anomalies to this. Included in that are differing personality types and some forms of mental incapacity. But by and large that is what we are – Social Beings. Social distancing then, has a marked and serious mental consequence. We don’t do well when isolated. There are exceptions as I’ve said, but in the normal course of life isolation is not good. It was Jeremy Bentham back in the 18th Century that came up with the ‘Panopticon’ prison. This was a form of isolated observation. Why do you think isolation is such an effective means of torture? Divide and conquer. Isolation then, is weaponised.

One of Satan’s tactics against struggling Christians, or anyone else for that matter is to isolate them. And it is true of bereavement. The reaction is to isolate oneself, and we all know this is not a good thing. Some time alone to reflect is normal and necessary at such times of great distress. But isolation is something else altogether and is not good. We know this.

It might surprise some to realise or understand that God the creator is also a Social Being. In other words, within the Triune Godhead there is at the heart of the divine being, community. A better word for this is fellowship or communion. Within the fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is love and communion, not isolation. We can remind ourselves that the ultimate experience of the wrath of God was isolation, not communion. The cry of dereliction from the Cross by The Lord Jesus Christ was ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ Hell will be eternal separation, eternal forsakenness. Isolation in its most terrible and permanent form.

We can perhaps think about the Social Distancing in two ways then. In the first place:

Social distancing isn’t just an assault on the created order but on God himself. Where Social Distancing is enforced by the authorities it is, I think, another form of rebellion against God. The Lord of heaven and earth has set in his creation a certain order. And enforced isolation such as is being experienced during our current crisis strikes at that order and at the very nature of God.

But secondly, the isolation is a foretaste of the final judgement. The isolation we might feel during the lockdowns and the social distancing is only a temporary thing. For Christians the isolation is temporary. But for those that do not know God through Christ, the isolation to come will be intensified to an awful degree for eternity.

Social distancing tells us two important things about the Gospel.

  1. It tells us that by nature we are far off from God. Our sin has separated us from God and so deep within us we know something is not right. The Gospel tells us we are separated and at a distance from our creator. Social distancing powerfully demonstrates this.
  2. It tells us that God has done something about it and so by the blood of Christ we are have been brought near. When the Bible uses the word ‘know’ it’s often used relationally. For example, Adam knew Eve. So, in marriage we ‘know’ our husbands or wives. Marriage illustrates just how close the believer has been brought to God. Our relationship with God through Christ is one of great intimacy – the ultimate relationship. There is no isolation in Christ.

Relationships then reflect the very nature of God. And it’s that relationship, that close relationship within the Godhead, that we are invited to experience, and to experience for all eternity.

I’m sorry to say the Vaccine is offered as a poor substitute. The adverts tell us that the vaccinations bring hope. It’s a lie in its ultimate sense. Only through knowing the Lord Jesus Christ will any of us experience real eternal hope not the temporary ‘fix’ of the vaccine.

All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown,
he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

Wherever you are right now, God is inviting you with all your doubts and fears to trust in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

‘some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.’ Psalm 107:10-13

Lost and Disorientated? Follow Christ

Last evening (actually, early this morning) I (that is, we) had the most disorientating feeling. In spite of the mist we decided to drive to Ynyslas beach to watch shooting stars. A bit crazy, but we hoped it might be a bit clearer there. We ended up on the beach in the pitch black and in a mist. (Plus I wasn’t sure if the tide was in or out. So we also had to try not to drive into the water. I then checked as we left. The tide was in.) I’ve been there several times but when I got out of the car to try and work out where we were it was hopeless.  The car ended up facing a line of posts with a couple of No Entry signs (The posts and signs can just about be made out in the picture). That was impossible I thought. We had gone, so I thought, in the other direction. I decided to get out of the car again and walk back to where I thought the entrance / exit should be (given the signs) despite thinking how impossible it was that we’d gone in completely the opposite direction. With the torch on my phone I found the exit. I walked back to the car and said ‘Turn round and follow me.’ That’s exactly what happened. I then got back in the car and we drove home.

Ridiculous I know, but it was really a very very uncomfortable feeling albeit briefly. What amazed us was how quickly we were effectively lost and completely disorientated. There was no one else there. There were no lights, no points of reference and completely pitch black and in a mist with water out there somewhere!

It’s not perfect, but there’s an obvious Gospel application here. We’ve no idea how it happened but we were facing the wrong way. We’re born facing the wrong way. We live our lives with no reference point. Then comes the time we realise we are lost in a dark uncomfortable world. We need a guide. We need light. We need to turn round (repent). If we don’t, there’s no getting out. I could say all sorts of things like how the No Entry signs represent the law of God and tell us we’re wrong, but I won’t. Instead, I simply want to say this: The Lord Jesus Christ through the Bible is our true guide.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.

Update / Site problems

I’ve had a problem with my site which meant I had to update and it hasn’t gone well. My header has disappeared for a start. The carrot is not my idea. It might mean buying a new theme. Not sure how long it will take to sort. Hopefully, not too long so I can get going again. In short, it depends how soon I can work out what I’m doing.

Don’t be a ‘lost’ celebrity

A recent news feed came through with a heading that said something like ‘Year in Review 2017: Remembering those we lost this year’. Roger Moore and Hugh Hefner were mentioned specifically. It’s always surprising how many celebrities have died each year and how many I’ve not heard of and also how many I didn’t realise had died. It struck me that they used the word lost. It made me think.

I’ve written previously that I’m unhappy about using the phrase ‘lost’ for those that have died in Christ. I’m not happy about those that have died outside of Christ either. But the terrible reality for those that have died without Christ is they are truly lost in every sense of that word. How many of those celebrities are truly lost I have no idea. I’m glad I don’t know but with some (as with non-celebrities) we fear the worst.

There’s a lovely verse in the Bible that says ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10 ESV). We don’t need Christmas to remind us, that Jesus came, and that He came to seek and to save the lost. There is no specific season to remember the grace of God – we can remember that every day.

Death and sin are the great levelers. The great and the good as well as the poor and the not so good will know these realities. It doesn’t matter how large or small a person’s ‘send-off’ is. Or whether in poor simplicity or with great pomp; they are equally dead just the same. The real question isn’t whether they are lost or not as we simply do not know. The real question is whether you are lost or not. If everyone were to be saved there would be no need for the Son of God to do any seeking. But He came, not only to seek, but to save. The wonder is by the Holy Spirit He is still seeking and saving. That doesn’t sit very well with our modern ‘can do’ independent sensibilities. But it’s something we are familiar with. Recruitment agencies ‘Headhunt’ the best candidates, usually for high-end positions. The Son of God is seeking sinners. That’s the only qualification He’s looking for – a realisation of sinfulness and of lostness.

Thankfully our lostness can be turned into foundness by the saving power of The Lord Christ. Many will know the first verse of John Newton’s hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. But if not, here it is:

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

One of the most well known stories Jesus told is the Prodigal (wasteful) son and how this son went into the far country. But his father looked for his son and eventually embraced him exclaiming, ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate’ (Luke 15:24).

The theme of being lost and being found is a wonderful redemptive theme. Its wonder is found in the reality of what The Lord Jesus Christ has done for sinners. The Prodigal son was aware of his great unworthiness as he fell at the feet of his Father. It’s a great picture of poor lost unworthy sinners coming to Christ for salvation. And it’s to Him, and only to Him, we must come. As the Bible says ‘… there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). No one else has done what Christ has done to redeem sinners, and no one else is mighty to save.

It’s unlikely a celebrity will be reading this, but if you are one, then you too along with the poorest most unlikely sinners may and must flee to Christ. Then trusting only in His great Redeeming work upon the Cross like John Newton, and every other Christian through the ages, you may also be found instead of being lost.

From Glory to earth He came!

While at a funeral recently we were told that now the deceased is experiencing the Glories of heaven they would not want to come back to this life. It makes perfect sense. Who in their right mind after living in this world of sorrow and death would want to come back after knowing the fullness of joy in heaven. I’ve heard this said many times at funerals. ‘They wouldn’t want to come back here!’ And yet, this is exactly what The Lord Jesus Christ did. Completely in His right mind He purposefully and deliberately left heaven to dwell among sinners. But much more than that. This was no sightseeing visit. The Bible says ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (Paul). This is what the Incarnation is about. God came in the flesh (took a human body) not to visit but to die. We tend to sentimentalise it and lose the impact and the truth of what God was doing through The Lord Jesus. Although we remember and celebrate that He came down from earth to heaven, if we keep Him in the manger then the purpose of His coming will be lost on us. The Wise men and the shepherds worshipped the King of glory. They weren’t worshipping a baby. Not only did He come to die, but in dying – and rising – He secured eternal salvation (the forgiveness of sins and peace with God) for all those that believe on The Lord Jesus Christ. Unless your faith is in what Christ has done, it won’t matter how much you enjoy Christmas you’ll be lost. Perhaps Christmas is all humbug to you and is for you just a time when silly Christians try to sing carols. Just because you think it all stuff and nonsense has absolutely no bearing on its truthfulness or your need of a Saviour. Whether ‘religious’ or not, this Saviour who is born Christ the Lord must be your Saviour for there is no one else to whom we may go.

Thank You David: An Encouragement to Pray

Years ago I used to play snooker regularly at a local club and spent a lot of time in that smoke filled room. One of the men I played with a lot was a man named David. David was an epileptic and often could be seen drooling down his beard. Not a pretty sight. He was a regular at the club and from memory I had the impression he was tolerated more than befriended. I got on with him ok and would have a few frames with him. The detail is a little hazy as is the order of events. Nevertheless, at some point after becoming a Christian David told me he had been praying for me. Whether his comment about praying for me didn’t register I can’t remember but I do remember trying to find David to thank him. I asked in the Christian Bookshop. I enquired at the snooker club. David was not to be found. I never saw him again. But I have not forgotten him. I have never forgotten that when I was lost and without Christ David prayed. For me.

Now here’s the point, or points.

1. What’s remarkable is that I’m quite sure David never spoke to me about The Gospel or about The Lord Jesus or of my need of a Saviour. He never ‘witnessed’ to me. Others did, but he didn’t.

2. Despite the fact he never spoke the Gospel to me I had a great sense of thankfulness, even making several unsuccessful attempts to find him.

3. David as far as people went was a non-entity (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) He would have been overlooked and passed by. But God heard his prayer.

4. The Bible says ‘faith comes by hearing’ (Romans 10:17) and so it does, but it also says ‘the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:15). I don’t know how fervent David’s prayers were for me. But I do know our feeble attempts at prayer go through our Great High Priest – The Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, for all our feebleness, our great God has decreed the use of means. In this case the prayers of an epileptic non-entity called David. Isn’t that wonderful?

What’s encouraging is the fact that after nearly 40 years as a Christian I’m still filled with a sense of thankfulness that David prayed for me. Not that he pummelled me with the Gospel, invited me to Church or any of the other ‘means’, but that he prayed. Some people are very gifted at speaking the Gospel. And we need them. But don’t ever be tempted to think that all you can do is ‘simply’ pray.

May we all, like David, pray, and God will work. Thank you David.

Abortion – 50 Years of Shame by Dr John Ling

The article below is reproduced (copied) here with the kind permission of Dr John Ling. It’s quite a disturbing piece that should be read. John writes ‘It is exactly 50 years ago today (Friday) that the 1967 Abortion Act was passed.  Attached is a piece I have written, Abortion – 50 Years of Shame, to commemorate that dreadful event.

Abortion – 50 Years of Shame.

 Anniversaries are how we mark out our history – some are welcome, others are not, some are humdrum, others are special. This year two are extra special – a 500th and a 50th. Both changed our world. The first is when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in 1517, which ushered in the wonderful Gospel freedoms of the Protestant Reformation. The second is the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, which ushered in the hideous practice of legally killing unborn children in England, Scotland and Wales. The story of the Augustinian friar has been retold many times, the slaughter of the defenceless pre-born is a more veiled story.

How did we get the 1967 Act?

The history of UK abortion law is long but simple – for many centuries abortion had, by and large, been a criminal offence. And even today, abortion remains, perhaps surprisingly, illegal in the UK. This is primarily because sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act still make it a crime for anyone, using any means whatsoever, ‘to procure the miscarriage of any woman’. The 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act further extended this prohibition to a child ‘capable of being born alive’. In other words, for a 100 years and more there was an explicit and widespread public condemnation of abortion, severe penalties for those illicitly involved, as well as genuine protection for the unborn and their mothers.

So what happened in 1967? How did we acquire just about the most liberal and ruthless abortion law in Europe, even the world? Pre-1967 statutes allowed abortion only for the preservation of the mother’s life and health. For some, this was never enough. If the door to abortion was slightly ajar, they wanted it ripped off its hinges. Yet no British government was willing to grasp the nettle. Several MPs had introduced abortion-liberalising bills, but they had all foundered.

Then in May 1966, David Steel MP drew third place in the ballot for private members’ bills and he introduced his Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill into the House of Commons. Its first reading was on 15 June and a protracted and arduous debate began. Days and nights were spent arguing, rewording, lobbying and generally manipulating events in both Houses. It was all quite legitimate – the Bill’s supporters simply seized their opportunity. Eventually, with parliamentary time being given by the Labour government of the day to ensure its success, the Bill passed its third reading on Friday 14 July 1967 after an all-night sitting in a half-empty House of Commons by a majority of 167 to 83. It received the Royal Assent on Friday 27 October. Six months later, on 27 April 1968, the Act came into operation – the legalised killing started.

One year later, its sponsor, David Steel, speaking at a meeting of supporters, said that the Bill was successful because ‘The right men were in the right place at the right time.’ By contrast is the dismal fact that the number of evangelical Christian leaders who ‘saw the issue’ and stood up and spoke out against the Bill can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Effective opposition was too little, too late.

What is the content of the 1967 Act?

The Act was not only a compromise, but also a poorly-drafted piece of legislation. This may have suited the purposes of the pro-abortionists, because over the years most of its intended legal boundaries have been ridden over roughshod. During the next two decades, no fewer than fifteen attempts were made in Parliament to revise the Act either by tightening the criteria for abortion or lowering the upper time limit. All failed.

In outline, the 1967 Abortion Act did not legalise any abortion. It gave no right to a woman to an abortion and it did not provide ‘abortion-on-demand’. Also, it imposed no duty on any doctor to carry out an abortion. Nevertheless, it did offer a legal defence against the charge of attempting ‘to procure the miscarriage of any woman’ under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. Thus it did, according to section 1, protect from prosecution a ‘registered medical practitioner’ who performed an abortion, as long as two such doctors certified that, in their opinion, formed in good faith, the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, on one or more of six statutory grounds, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated. After 50 years, 97% of all UK abortions are now performed under ground C, the so-called ‘social clause’. It specifies the ‘risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman’. In effect, this criterion is as long as it is wide – almost any pretext will do.

What is the effect of the 1967 Act?

In simple terms, the answer is that an estimated 8.8 million unborn children have been aborted in the UK during the last 50 years. Such a colossal number is almost beyond comprehension. The annual figures remain enormous – during 2016 there were 190,604 abortions performed in England and Wales, plus another 12,063 in Scotland. This total of 202,469 is approximately the entire population of Bournemouth or Swansea or Aberdeen. It is equivalent to 770 unborn children every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Have you grasped the enormity of abortion, on your doorstep?

Legalised abortion was never envisioned to be like this. Back in 1967, abortion was intended for the poor, overworked, struggling woman with several children, living in squalor with a useless drunken husband. It was regarded as a last resort. Today, 50 years on, abortions are typically for young, single women, in good health, in decent housing, with a regular income, carrying healthy unborn children. What are we doing?

Over the years the 1967 Act has been tweaked so that the upper time limit for abortion is now typically 24 weeks. However, if disability, such as Down’s syndrome, is suspected then the upper limit is birth, yes, 40 weeks. However, what has not changed in the last 50 years is the physical and mental toll on mothers, fathers and, of course, the unborn. For many parents, the aftermath of abortion is often shadowed by guilt and regret. Such symptoms of post-abortion syndrome are denied by many medical authorities but are familiar to those involved in pro-life counselling.

What is the future of the 1967 Act?

For some, the reach of the Act is still not enough – they want more than 200,000 abortions each year. And there are now serious calls to decriminalise abortion. Indeed, in March of this year, a Ten-Minute Rule Bill was presented to Parliament. Its purpose was to remove all legal restrictions on abortion by tearing up sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, the 1967 Abortion Act and probably the 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act too. Alarmingly, the Bill was passed by 172 votes to 142. The second reading was set for 12 May, but in the meantime, a General Election was called, Parliament was dissolved and the Bill fell. Nevertheless, this episode should jolt the consciences of MPs and us.

Furthermore in September, the 33 Council members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) voted to change the College’s position from neutrality to supporting decriminalisation. The RCOG’s president, Lesley Regan, has said that abortions should be treated no differently from other medical procedures – including something as simple as removing a bunion. While most abortionists are members of the RCOG, its full membership of 6,000 was not consulted. A similar ethical stance has also recently been taken by the British Medical Council and the Royal College of Midwives. The latter’s chief executive, Cathy Warwick, who incidentally is also the chairwoman of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s largest abortion provider, also did not bother to consult her members. There is clearly an alliance of radical pro-abortionists currently pushing their extreme agenda. Decriminalised abortion for any, or no, reason, at any stage of pregnancy, performed anywhere would be a truly disturbing prospect.

How are you affected by the 1967 Act?

Since an estimated one in three women in the UK has now had an abortion before the age of 45, you, your family and your friends, may well be directly affected. Indirectly, we are all affected. Because the lives of more than 8 million unborn children have been terminated in the UK in the last half-century, we should all be dismayed. It is our 50 years of shame. Evangelical Christians have, for too long, been equivocal about abortion – shame on us especially! If you have not shed tears about its practice and aftermath, you have not yet understood abortion.

We are the people who should, above all others, understand such life and death issues and respond with principled compassion. Have you responded at all? Do you still hold ‘a moderate view’ on abortion? What hinders you from upholding a wholeheartedly pro-life position? Is it the issues of disability or rape or underage girls? Perhaps you need to ponder anew what it means to be ‘created in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27) and to be ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:13-15). Abortion is a direct rebellion against the God-given gift and dignity of the unborn.

What must we do about the 1967 Act?

Christians have an onerous task here. We have been entrusted with both the diagnosis and the cure. The Christian worldview possesses rugged answers to difficult questions and then it calls us to engage and care for all those entangled with abortion and its consequences.

So, have you prayed for, given of your energy, time and money to help those caught up and suffering? They are all around you. Perhaps now, on this heinous 50th anniversary, is a good time to pledge to respond more biblically. Abortion has been called the greatest genocide in history. As the great anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce, once declared in another context, ‘Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.’

Dr John Ling is a trustee of Life, the largest pro-life charity in the UK. His latest book, Bioethical Issues, is published by Day One. His personal website is www.johnling.co.uk

Reformation Lecture – Holding Fast, Pressing On

On Tuesday 31st October we have a Reformation Day Lecture that will be given by Pastor Jeremy Walker of Maidenbower Baptist Church.

Where: Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth.

Time: 7:30

If you can make it, please come.

I’m told it will be recorded.

Artwork / Illustration by Chris Iliff