Sunday, June 29, 2008

Holiness Part 3


In particular—

(a) It is not Absolute Perfection, or the perfection which belongs to God only, and which can never be increased or diminished. Jesus referred to this when He said: ‘There is none good but one, that is, God’ (Matthew xix. 17).

(b) It is not Adamic perfection (sometimes called’ sin less perfection’), or the perfection enjoyed by Adam before he fell, when he, having powers uninjured by sin, could perfectly obey God’s perfect law. Such perfection is impossible to us, for the Fall has rendered us imperfect both in mind and body. God does not require what is impossible, but expects us simply to keep His law of love; in other words, to love and serve Him to the best of our knowledge and ability. Our best service is imperfect, but God is pleased provided it is prompted by pure love.

‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind .... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Matthew xxii. 37, 39).

(c) It is ‘/lot infallibility, or freedom from mistakes in judgement. This would require perfect knowledge, which no one but God possesses. Entire Sanctification does, however render people less likely to err in judgment, because they have the guidance of the Holy Spirit; they acknowledge God in all their ways, and He directs their paths.

‘The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’ (John xiv. 26).

(d) it is not freedom from bodily or mental infirmities.

Many of God’s choicest saints have been great sufferers. The blessing of holiness does, however, lead to a fuller sanctification of the afflictions and infirmities from which God’s people suffer, and often to the exercise of faith for their deliverance.

‘He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me’ (2 Corinthians xii. 9).

(e) It is not freedom from temptation. Jesus, although ‘without sin,’ was sorely tempted, and our First Parents were tempted when holy. The more advanced a man becomes in the life of holiness, the more likely it is that Satan will attack him. Entire Sanctification does not bring freedom from temptation, but victory over it.

‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him’ (James i. 12).
(f) It is not a state of grace from which it is impossible to fall. Satan fell from Heaven, and Adam from Paradise, and they were both perfect in a sense in which we never can be here. Entire Sanctification renders falling less probable, but the Bible reveals no state of grace attainable in this life from which we cannot fall.

‘What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch’ (Mark xiii. 37).

‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall’ (I Corinthians x. 12).

(g) It is not a state where further advance is impossible.

On the contrary, Entire Sanctification, by removing all the evils from the heart, makes growth in grace more certain and rapid than it would otherwise be. Clearing a garden of weeds is favourable to the growth of the plants. Curing a child of disease is helpful to his future growth and development. Entire Sanctification is purity — not maturity of Christian experience, but the way to it.

‘Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’
(2 Peter iii. 18).

‘Perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ (2 Corinthians vii. I).

‘The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day’ (Proverbs iv. 18).



1. WE BELIEVE THAT GOD’S PEOPLE MAY BE DELIVERED FROM ALL SIN AND ENABLED TO DO GOD’S WILL CONTINUALLY IN THIS LIFE. Many people do not agree with this, but maintain that they must go on sinning and repenting until death, although all admit that they must be made holy before they can enter Heaven.


(a) Complete deliverance from sin seems probable. Inward sin is always harmful and a serious drawback to God’s people, if only because it often shows itself outwardly in manner, conversation, arid action. Moreover, it brings condemnation and unhappiness; it damages influence; it renders very difficult the reproving of sin in others; it grieves and dishonours God. Hence God’s love would naturally cause Him to seek to remove sin entirely from His people, just as a father’s love would make him want to remove, from his child’s body, the whole — and not only part — of any poison that had entered it.

God does not always deliver His people from trouble, because trouble may often bring them great blessing, where as sin is never anything but harmful

(b) The Bible promises Holiness to those who seek it, and God would never promise what it
was impossible for us to receive.

‘The very God of peace sanctify you wholly .... Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it’ (I Thessalonians v. 23, 24).

‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness ‘ (I John i. 9).

‘Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you’ (Ezekiel xxxvi. 25).

(c) The Bible commands and exhorts God’s people to be holy, and a God of love would never
command what is impossible.

‘Be ye therefore perfect, even’ as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’
(Matthew v. 48).

‘As He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy’
(I Peter i. IS, 16, R.V.).

‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews xii. 14).

‘Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans vi. ii).

(d) The Bible records and encourages prayer for Holiness and we know that Christ and the
inspired writers would not have prayed for what is impossible. For example:—

i. Jesus taught us to pray —
‘Deliver us from evil’ (Matthew vi.13).

ii. Jesus prayed for His disciples —
‘Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth’ (John xvii. 17).

iii. Paul prayed for the Thessalonians —
‘The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (I Thessalonians v. 23).
(e) The Bible declares that to save His people from sin was the purpose of the life and death of Jesus Christ.

‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil’ (I John iii. 8).

‘Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins’ (Matthew i. 21).
‘Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works’ (Titus ii. 14).

‘Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it ; that He might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians v. 25-27).

(f) Many Bible saints undoubtedly enjoyed the experience. For example:—
Enoch, who ‘walked with God,’ and ‘before his translation ... had this testimony, that he pleased God’ (Genesis v. 24; Hebrews xi. 5).

Moses, with whom God spoke ‘face to face’ (Exodus xxxiii.11).

Job, who was ‘perfect and upright’ (Job i.1).

Stephen, who was ‘full of faith and of the Holy Ghost’ (Acts vi. 5).

Paul, who said ‘Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe’
(1 Thessalonians ii. 10).

(g) Many Christians since Bible days have experienced and testified to the enjoyment of Full Salvation.

Among such may be named Madame Guyon, a Roman Catholic; Charles Finney, a Presbyterian; John Fletcher, of the English Church ; John Wesley, William Bramwell, and other Methodists; The Army Founder, The Army Mother, and thousands of Salvationists.

(h) All truly converted persons desire Holiness, and feel that they ought to be holy. If Holiness were impossible the Holy Spirit would not create such desires, nor would Jesus Christ have promised, as He did, that they should be satisfied.

‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be
filled’ (Matthew v. 6).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Holiness Part 2

4. THE BIBLE DESCRIBES THE GREAT BLESSING OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION IN OTHER WAYS AND BY DIF FERENT FIGURES, thereby showing it in various aspects. Entire Sanctification is, for example, spoken of as—

(a) A clean heart, or inward purity.

‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me’ (Psalm li.10).

‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’ (Matthew v. 8).

‘Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned’ (I Timothy i.5).

(b) Holiness, or entire freedom from sin. ‘Holiness’ literally means wholeness, or spiritual health.

‘That we might be partakers of His holiness’ (Hebrews xii.10).

‘To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness’ (I Thessalonians iii. 13).

‘God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness’ (I Thessalonians iv. 7).

(c) Perfection, or perfect love. The words ‘perfect’ and ‘perfection’ are frequently used in the Bible in reference to Christian character; they denote being fully fit or quite ready for the purpose appointed, and God’s people are in this condition when filled with love. Christ made it clear that the perfection required is perfection in love, for, after showing that God, in His perfect love, sends sunshine and rain on good and evil alike, He said :—

‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew v. 48).

That is, if we are fully given up to lives of love and goodness in our sphere, and according to our ability, as our Heavenly Father is in His sphere, we shall be perfect before Him. Other Bible passages similarly urge perfection:—

‘That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works’ (2 Timothy iii. 17).

‘That ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God’ (Colossians iv. 12).

‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. ‘He that feareth is not made perfect in love’ (I John iv. 18).

‘Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness’ (Colossians iii.I4, R.V.).

(d) Living a blameless life. That is, a life in which God Himself sees nothing to condemn.

‘That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world’ (Philippians ii. I5).

‘Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (I Corinthians i. 8).

(e) Being the dwelling-place of God Himself, or being filled with God’s Spirit.

‘If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him’ (John xiv. 23).

‘Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit’ (Isaiah Ivii.15).

‘To know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God’ (Ephesians iii.19).

(f) Fulfilling the law; that is, doing all that God requires. ‘Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Romans xiii. 10).

(g) Following the Lord fully; that is, like Joshua and Caleb, wholly given up to God and fully trusting Him.

‘Caleb ... and Joshua … have wholly followed the Lord’ (Numbers xxxii. 12).

‘My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land where into he went and his seed shall possess it’ (Numbers xiv, 24).

(h) Being’ dead unto sin’ and’ alive unto God.’ That is, completely severed from sin (as a dead body is severed from all previous surrounding connections), and in living union with God (as a live person is in vital touch with things around him).

‘Reckon ye… yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God’ (Romans vi. ii).

‘He that is dead is freed from sin’ (Romans vi. 7).

‘That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness’ (I Peter ii. 24).

(i) Having sin, or the sinful nature, ‘crucified,’ ‘destroyed,’ ‘put off;’ that is, done away with.

‘Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed’ (Romans vi. 6).

‘Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds’ (Colossians iii. 9).

‘They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts’ (Galatians v. 24).

(j) Being made altogether good, and hence having a ‘conscience void of offence.’

‘Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit’ (Matthew xii. 33).

‘For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to youward’ (2 Corinthians i. 12).

‘Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men’ (Acts xxiv. (6).

(k) Walking with God; that is, enjoying continually the friendship of God and communion with Him.

‘Enoch walked with God; three hundred years’ (Genesis v. 22).

‘If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John i. 7).

‘What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?’ (Micah vi. 8).

(l) Rest of soul; that is; rest from inward conflict and from anxious care.

‘We which have believed do enter into rest’ (Hebrews iv. 3).

‘Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me: for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls’ (Matthew xi. 29).

‘Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls’ (Jeremiah vi. 16).

(m) Likeness to God in character.

‘Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son’ (Romans viii. 29).

‘Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world’ (1 John iv. 17).

‘Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness’ (Ephesians iv. 24).

(Complete and unabridged from the 1922 Doctrine Book)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Holiness Part 1

There seems to be both a hunger for and a confusion about holiness. So over the next few days I'm going to blog Chapter 10 of the old Doctrine Book - enjoy :-)



Section I. — ITS NATURE.

1. THE SANCTIFICATION OF GOD’S PEOPLE MEANS THEIR SEPARATION FROM SIN AND THEIR DEVOTION TO GOD. The word ‘sanctification’ always includes the two fold idea of separation and dedication (or devotion).

The frequent use of the word in the Bible, with regard to both people and things, illustrates this. For example:— Concerning the Sabbath, we are told that ‘God ... sanctified it’ (Genesis ii. 3); that is, separated it from other days and dedicated it to His service.

With regard to the priests, Moses was commanded to ‘sanctify them’ (Exodus xxviii. 41); that is, they were separated from ordinary toil and dedicated to the work of God’s house.

Concerning the vessels of God’s house, God told Moses to ‘sanctify them, that they may be most holy’ (Exodus 122 xxx.29); that is, they were to be separated from common work and dedicated to Tabernacle service.

In many passages God’s people are said to be ‘sanctified’ (see 1 Corinthians i.. 2, and vi.11), the word including the two ideas of :— Separation from sin, as in the command-

‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you’ (2 Corinthians vi. 17).

Dedication or devotion to God; that is, being set apart for Him, as the Psalmist says:—

‘The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself’ (Psalm iv. 3).

2. SANCTIFICATION IS LIKE REGENERATION, in that it is the changing or purifying of man’s nature ‘and is a work done within him (see Chapter VIII, Section III, paragraph 2 (d)).

(a) Man’s sinful heart, nature, or disposition (sometimes called ‘inborn’ or ‘inbred sin,’ or ‘the principle of sin ‘) may be compared to the root of a tree, his sinful acts (or ‘actual sin’) being like the fruit. Hence, man has a double need—his sinful acts need pardon; his sinful nature needs cleansing, changing, purifying. When a man is saved, by Justification he receives forgiveness for his sinful acts, and by Regeneration a change of nature. But, as already explained, the change effected in Regeneration is incomplete (see Chapter VIII, Section III, paragraph 2 (f))

(b) Sanctification begins at Regeneration; in fact, Regeneration is partial Sanctification, or holiness begun. The Bible, as well as the experience of Christians generally, shows that Regeneration, although a very great change, is not the complete purifying of man’s nature; thus Paul writes to some of his converts :—

‘And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ’ (I Corinthians iii. I).

When a man is converted or regenerated (see Chapter VIII, Section III, paragraph 2) he receives from the Holy Spirit power to conquer outward sin, yet sinful feelings and desires may still be present; the love of God is shed abroad in his heart, but love, mingled with lingering love of self, is not yet perfect; his chief purpose is to please God, but sometimes self-pleasing is uppermost. He enjoys the presence and help of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit has not always full control, and consequently cannot fill the soul. He becomes a partaker of God’s nature, but ungodlike inclinations and tendencies may still remain,

(c) The inbred sin, or inclination to evil and selfishness, which still exists in converted people, is apt, unless over powered by divine grace, to rise up and produce actual sin. Such sin needs forgiveness, for no one can continue in the favour of God who allows sin to remain unforgiven or who goes on committing sin (1 John iii. 8). But the forgiveness which God grants to His people for failures of this kind does not deal with the sinful nature from which the wrong acts spring; that nature needs fully cleansing or purifying-in other words, it needs entire sanctification.


‘God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect’ (I John iv. 16, 17).

‘The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be pre served blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (I Thessalonians v. 23).

‘Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all, filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ (2 Corinthians vii. I).

(a) The chief difference between Partial and Entire Sanctification is that— i. Partial Sanctification takes place at conversion and is deliverance from outward sin and the love of it. ii. Entire Sanctification usually takes place after con version, and is deliverance from both inward and out ward sin-from sin in disposition as well as in deed.

(b) Entire, Sanctification does not usually take place at conversion because few then see their need for it. God gives light gradually as people are able to bear it, and most seekers after Salvation are absorbed with the gaining of pardon. Later on, when they discover the true nature of inward sin and earnestly seek deliverance, God sanctifies them entirely.

(c) Unconverted, Converted, and Entirely Sanctified people thus differ from each other as regards their relationship to sin.

i. An unconverted person is under sin. He may see sin to be evil, hate it, and struggle against it; but still he is under its power, and forced to obey it. This explains why unsaved people make resolutions and break them directly. ‘I am carnal, sold under sin’ (Romans vii. 14).

ii. A converted or partially sanctified person is over sin. He is delivered from the power of sin; by the power of God he is able to conquer sin. But sin still exists as a principle or disposition in the soul; it is there, though it does not reign. ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you’ (Romans vi. 14).

iii. An entirely sanctified person is without sin— ‘freed from sin’ (Romans vi. 7). He is delivered from all sin; his disposition is entirely purified; inward sin is done away with or destroyed. ‘Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life’ (Romans vi. 22).

(Reproduced from the 1923 Salvation Army Doctrine Book complete and unabridged)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Holiness IS conditional

I've been involved in a lively debate recently on an internet forum recently.

In the end I had to withdraw because I've was being accused of arrogance and even rudeness by some of my potractors.

It is very difficult to debate when you possess the truth and it is impossible to sound anything other than arrogant when that is the case!

However, on this occasion I was right and everyone else was wrong!

The debate was whether holiness is conditional or not. I stated that it was. Others argued that it was all the work of grace and that no contribution from us was required. Although I chose my words very carefully I was accused of saying that consecration is holiness whereas what I actualluy said was that holiness is conditional upon consecration.

The 1923 Doctrine Book (the whole chapter on sanctification can be found at says the following:



1. THE BESTOWAL OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION, as with every other gift of God’s grace, IS CONDITIONAL — it depends upon the whole-hearted co-operation of the person to be benefited.

Assuming that conversion has already taken place, the necessary conditions are: Conviction, Renunciation, Consecration, Faith.

7. SANCTIFICATION IS THE WORK OF GOD. Man’s consecration and faith do not sanctify; they are simply conditions upon which God’s sanctifying grace is given.

I think the phrase is QED!

I am deeply worried that covenanted Officers in The Salvation Army do not understand this most basic of doctrines!

Love and prayers


Monday, June 23, 2008

The Wisdom of Solomon

This is Solomon and I in the London Offices of his church in Canmberwell. Solomon founded his church in 2000 with nothing and now has a congregation of over 300.

Solomon's church rescues prostituted people from the red light district in Abidjan in Cote'D'Ivoire. Solomon was introduced to me by my good friend Carol Young ( who recently visited his church there.

Solomon already provides security and a loving home to prostituted people - guess what he wants to do next? He wants to open up a feeding station - his philosophy is simple 'I can't preach the gospel to hungry people' (Sound familiar?) Then he's going to open up a training college to send out church planters.

Solomon asked Carol and I what he needed to do to merge his church with the global Salvation Army - we gave him the email address of the under-secretary for Africa.

Thank God for people with the wisdom of Solomon!
Love and prayers - A

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Courage brother it is still God's will to save our nation!

It’s 2:27am and I’m in Dartford Salvation Army Hall in the middle of an all night of prayer. The Computer’s been left on and logged onto the internet so that people can send emails, look up quotes, search the bible, play midi files or whatever they feel led to do.

I’ve just stuck pins in a map of the world a pin in Melbourne (prayers for Steve, Danielle and Xander) a pin in Sydney (Prayers for Andrew Stringer and his clan) a pin in Vancouver for Jonathan and Olivia – I’ve prayed for all you guys!

We’ve just prayer walked Dartford High Street, picking our way through the drunks (who all look too young to be out at 1am let alone out drinking.) I knelt down outside a busy pub, on the very spot where 100 years ago this year 3 Salvationists were arrested and sent to prison for preaching the gospel. Together with my friends we reclaimed Dartford for Jesus and spoke out against the strongholds of alcohol, gambling and prostitution which so obviously hold the town. Jesus was with us and we sensed the heavenly hosts twitch with excitement, swords at the ready and eager for battle!

I have such an overwhelming sense tonight that God is so ready to act. Already in Dartford we have felt those big heavy splashes of rain that precede a storm – revival is on its way – I feel it in every spiritual cell of soul.

You know we have some Officers in the UK who think we’re living in the last days, a time when the bible predicts decline and apostasy – so they’ve given up on evangelism! They tell me that we are the church of Laodicea. I disagree – I violently disagree! We are the church of Sardis and God (hallelujah) has not completed his work in us yet!

God can do immeasurably more than all we could ask or even imagine – how? by the power that’s at work in us. I was reading the Soldier’s covenant earlier and the Officer’s covenant – you know if every soldier and every Officer got up tomorrow morning and kept their promises it would transform our Army overnight – in fact I reckon that if only a tenth did that we could conquer the world for Christ within a year.

Friends, we must pray, fast, repent, fight for social justice, become a voice for the silent and make the invisible visible. We must once more make Isaiah 58 our benchmark then we could again rise like the sun and rebuild the broken places.

Comrades – let’s do it!

No more compromise or excuses no more measuring ourselves against each other. Let’s measure ourselves against God’s word and then when we realise how poor we are let’s allow God to make us rich, when we realise how weak we are let’s allow God to make us strong and then let’s conquer the world for Jesus.

The Salvation war still rages, reinforcements are needed, give everything you have , surrender all and do or die for Jesus.

“Courage my brother it is still the will of God to save our nation” (GSR)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

prisoners asking for prayer like pigeons after seed!

A few years ago, before we were Officers, Tracey came home from the Salvation meeting one evening with Ricky in tow. Ricky was a drug addict with nowhere to sleep and so Tracey had invited him to stay with us! Ricky was with us for 5 days until we were able to find him more suitable accommodation.

A couple of years later Ricky rang me from prison and I arranged to go and visit him. During the visit (with the able support of Neil Webb) I prayed for Ricky had a really powerful encounter with God the Holy Spirit.

Once again we lost contact with Ricky and the last I heard was that he had settled down, come of the drugs and linked up with a local church… that was until last week when I had a call from Haris, TSA’s chaplain at Brixton Prison in South London. Ricky was back inside and was asking after me and Tracey – so this morning I went to pay him a visit. He was looking well and I accepted his story that things had been going well for him, he was still off the drugs and voluntarily reducing his dosage of methadone. I also accepted that this short stay in prison was the results of one of the many muddles that Ricky seems to get himself into – ignoring letters, missing appointments, being in the wrong place at the wrong time etc.

We had a good chat and I prayed with Ricky and you could see that lovely Holy Spirit glow come across his face once more. I’m going back to see him again in two weeks.

But that is only a bit of what I want to blog about.

What was absolutely amazing and completely took me by surprise was how many of the men on his wing saw my uniform and immediately wanted me to pray with them. They were hovering like anxious soldiers at the end of the Sunday morning meeting desperate to catch the Officer’s ear. In addition to Ricky I prayed for two other men – including a Muslim who wanted to know if Jesus could rescue him from heroin.

The only experience I can liken what happened to, was standing in Trafalgar Square as a young boy with bird seed in both hands and suddenly finding myself swamped by pigeons! This was the same experience, the uniform seemed to convince these men that I had the seed and they flocked around hoping to get some.

It was a tremendously humbling, moving and empowering experience and one that I will never forget.

The fields are still very much white unto harvest we just have to visit the right ones!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

World's leading atheist changes his mind!

World's leading atheist changes his mind: there is a God!The photo is upside down - that's how it appears on the cover of a recent book by the most influential atheist over the past fifty years. So-called 'new' atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have stood on his shoulders in debunking the existence of God. But Professor Antony Flew's thinking has recently been turned upside down - or maybe right side up! He now believes in a Creator.

The book's title declares: THERE IS NO GOD - but the 'NO' is scribbled out and replaced by an 'A'. And the subtitle adds, How the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind.

Antony Flew engaged in debate with C.S. Lewis at the Oxford University Socratic Club in 1950, when he presented a paper called Theology and Falsification. This became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last century. The Socratic principle emphasised by this club - of following the evidence wherever it may lead - became a guiding principle throughout Flew's career.It was that principle, he explains, which led him to change his mind about God after more than sixty years of atheism and a distinguished career as a philosopher. In a chapter entitled Atheism calmly considered (following John Wesley's sermon, Predestination calmly considered), Flew describes his various debates with theists over the decades. Some were attended by thousands. The professor found himself confronted in debate with increasing evidence of an intelligent designer behind the universe.

Big Bang cosmology, implying that the universe had not always existed, had pulled the rug out from under some of his key arguments. Other developments in modern science too seemed to point to a higher Intelligence."In one report it was said that of all the great discoveries of modern science, the greatest was God!"

In May 2004, Flew was invited to participate in a symposium at New York University, to debate with Israeli scientist Gerald Schroeder and Scottish philosopher John Haldane. All were greatly astonished when he announced at the start that he now accepted the existence of a God. The scheduled debate thus became a joint exploration of the implications of recent scientific discoveries. In one report of the event, it was said that of all the great discoveries of modern science, the greatest was God!Asked that evening if recent work on the origin of life indicated creative Intelligence, Flew answered: 'Yes, I now think it does... DNA (investigations have shown)... that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.'

Atheists, he explained, were fond of appealling to the idea that given enough time, chance could produce anything, even life. But Schroeder impressed Flew by debunking the so-called 'monkey theorem': that enough monkeys banging away on enough keyboards could eventually produce a Shakespearean sonnet. Or, by analogy, that life could emerge by chance.Schroeder referred to an experiement conducted by the British National Arts Council, in which six monkeys were put in a cage with a computer. One month and fifty typed pages later, not a single word had been produced by the monkeys. Not even the single-letter words of 'a' or 'I'. Actually, argued Schroeder, the likelihood of getting a one-letter word was one in 27,000. What chance then was there of getting a fourteen-line Shakespearean sonnet by chance? Schroeder did the maths and came up with 10 to the 690th.

To get that in perspective, the number of particles in the whole universe-protons, electrons, and neutrons-is a mere 10 to the 80th! For Flew, this was a convincing display that the monkey theorem he and others had often used to discount any intelligent Creator was simply 'rubbish'."Look and follow the evidence wherever it may lead."Flew calls his discovery of the Divine a pilgrimage of reason, not of faith.

He claims no personal experience of God or any experience of the supernatural or miraculous. Yet he includes as an appendix in his book an article by Bishop Tom Wright arguing the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Introducing the article - 'by far the best case for accepting Christian belief that I have ever seen' - Flew states: 'I think that the Christian religion is the one religion that most clearly deserves to be honoured and respected whether or not its claim to be a divine revelation is true... If you're wanting Omnipotence to set up a religion, this is the one to beat.'

The book's other remarkable appendix, by Flew's collaborator Roy Abraham Varghese (The Wonder of the World), is a critique of the 'New Atheism', represented by Dawkins (The God Delusion), Sam Harris (The End of Faith), Lewis Wolpert (Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast), and others. Varghese accuses these 'atheist evangelists' of ignoring the very phenomena relevant to the question of God's existence. These are: rationality, implicit in all our experience of the physical world; life, the capacity to act autonomously; consciousness, the ability to be aware; conceptual thought, the power of articulating and understanding language; and the human self, the 'centre' of consciousness and action. All the evidence we need is in our immediate experience, argues Varghese; only a deliberate refusal to 'look' is responsible for atheism of any variety.

Flew's book is a powerful challenge to all to 'look' and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

Love and prayers


Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Matrix (no not that one!)

In the UK Territory we have something called a ‘Qualitative Questionnaire’ that is used to produce a ‘qualitative matrix’ (nothing to do with the film!) This matrix is supposed to show you whether a Corps is static, in decline or growing.

On the whole the questionnaire is a good document because it forces you to sit down and statistically analyse the performance and spiritual health of the Corps.

The period covered by the questionnaire I have just completed covers the six month period before we arrived and the 10 months that we have been here and the results are really quite encouraging.

You’ll have to forgive me if the following sounds a bit like I’m reading from a ‘bank balance sheet’ but that is the way the questionnaire is designed to work. It certainly isn’t meant to be self praise either – there is a lot of room for improvement and in terms of evangelism we haven’t really started yet.

During 2007/08

More than 25 people have attended worship for the first time and 7 have subsequently attended worship more than 6 times (and they are still attending)

In the last 10 months we have seen 21 new people (or lapsed attendees) start to attend the family worship service on a Sunday morning.

During this time 4 people have come to faith.

30 plus people have shown a noticeable increase in there passion for the Lord in the last 12 months.

The Mercy Seat (which hadn’t been used since 2001) has been used 31 times in the last 10 months.

In the same period 9 people have become friends, 2 adherents, 1 a soldier, and there are 3 recruits about to start recruits classes. In the same time we have seen 5 Junior Soldiers enrolled and have 2 JS recruits currently going through classes. In addition 9 Junior Musicians have been enrolled. We have seen the band resurrected and a Singing Company formed.

On the financial front, fund raising has gone up by about £1000 per month.

During the same time over 20 people have started to use their gifts or engaged in new areas of service within the Corps.

Now this is hardly revival! But maybe it is those first few heavy splashes of rain that fall just before a storm breaks. It's not just happening at Dartford either, I’ve also heard of other Corps where similar ‘splashes’ are being felt.

Will it become revival?

That will all depend on the holiness of the participants, if holiness is pursued, obtained and maintained then revival will be the natural outcome.

As I have always said, holiness will prove to be the Salvation of the Salvation Army!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian is one of my favourite books in The Chronicles of Narnia.

I like it because it is about apostasy and revival!
In the story, the Pevensie Kids, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are transported from a country railway station to an island in Narnia. It is 1000 years since they were last there, talking beasts are just myths, Aslan is almost forgotten and the castle where they reigned when last in Narnia (Cair Paravel) is in ruins. The real heir to the Narnian Throne Prince Caspian is at risk from his wicked Uncle King Miraz, a tyrant who murdered Caspian's father.

What I love about this story is that no one believes in the old days anymore, the old magic and the old ways are rejected and almost forgotten. But there is a remnant, a band of ‘primitive Narnians’ Glenstorm the Centaur, Trufflehunter (a loyal badger) and Reepicheep (a wonderful almost Railtonian mouse!) who help the true King reclaim his throne.

The story is such a good metaphor for the church of today - in an early battle, the Narnians make strategic mistakes, many animals die, and they are forced to retreat…. But of course later on Aslan appears and renews the land. He calls forth the dryads (tree spirits) to dance again; he awakens the river god, who then destroys a massive man-made wooden bridge over the Fjords of Beruna.

It’s released in the UK from June 27th and there are some great suggestions as to how the film can be used to generate opportunities for mission here (Thanks to Matt C for pointing this out!)

Revival comes when the remnant starts believing and obeying, hallelujah – let’s do it!

Love and prayers


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Answers on a postcard please…

I had an illuminating experience today!

For some time I have been trying to curb my coffee and tea (caffeine) intake. This isn’t the easiest thing for a Salvation Army Officer to do as everywhere you go you are offered either tea or coffee!

If you work at the hall (as I do most of the time) then well meaning soldiers bring you mug after mug of either one of these devilish brews! It's hard to explain why you don't want it without coming across as self righteous.

Just around the corner from the quarters is a quaint sandwich bar, run by a Turkish Cypriot name ‘Tony’. Tony serves the best espresso in Dartford (possibly Kent) and also does a mean mustard, cheese and ham toasted sandwich.

I’ve tried to limit my visits to Tony’s to no more than once a week. However, today, I popped in. Tuesdays is an early start for me and I am usually out of the house by 5:30am – today I had one task after another and didn’t get any chance to have a break until 2pm when I found myself (by sheer coincidence) close to Tony’s. Under the circumstances I felt no guilt at all in popping in for a quick coffee and a sandwich.

Imagine my surprise when Tony said to me “I want to volunteer to help The Salvation Army, I want to go to bed at night knowing that I have done something for God’ – well you could have knocked me down with a feather. I promised Tony that I would pray about his offer and try and come up with something useful that he could do.

I always thought that people who said they were going to Starbucks to ‘network’ were simply using a euphemism for ‘idling’ but maybe there is something in it after all? Maybe being in these places (in uniform) once a week, far from being a sin, is actually part and parcel of incarnational ministry.

Answers on a postcard please…

Love and prayers A

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hell and damnation!

The other day while I was standing in the High Street selling ‘The War Cry’ the penny dropped (and I don’t mean into my tin).

I was watching people walk by, praying for them and trying hard to catch their eye and at the same time was wondering about their eternal destiny. The early Salvationists had no doubt whatsoever that the world was lost; such a sentiment is reflected in our doctrines ‘we believe that all men… are justly exposed to the wrath of God”. Yet in today’s world of tolerance where political correctness encourages me to ‘live and let live’ the thought that the people walking passed me “are hell-deserving sinners” is a difficult concept to get my head around, or at least it was until the penny dropped.

It is Satan that takes people to hell not God. Indeed the bible clearly shows that God has done everything he could possibly do (short of revoking free will) to prevent people from damnation and he is as committed today to saving them as he ever was. Every man and woman has free will and a life to spend in anyway they want. The Devil, wanting them to suffer as much as possible, will use any and every means at his disposal to take them to hell. There is an escape route for all who want it.

My job as a Salvation Army Corps Officers is to warn people that without Christ there is no guarantee of an eternity outside hell and offer them (in a way they can understand) the good news that Jesus wants to save them.

Of course it remains true that both we and the devil will be surprised on judgement day just who does (and who doesn’t) make the grade – scripture makes it quite clear that there are some surprises in store. However, God’s right to determine who is righteous and unrighteous doesn’t excuse us from our mission to save as many as we can.

Maybe we need to resurrect the biblical concept of a real devil and a real hell into our preaching and witness in order to rediscover that urgency that was once the compassionate engine of The Salvation Army.

Love and prayers


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Consecration or compromise? holiness or hell?

Jesus reduced the complex Jewish legal system down to just two simple straightforward commands:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two.”

Jesus was able to do this by simply removing the word ‘not’ from the end of ‘thou shalt not’ and thereby turning reactive legalism into proactive righteousness. By replacing a list of what we couldn’t do with a list of what we ought to do Jesus was able to condense the entire Jewish law into just two short sentences.

At the same time he did this he also reduced the list of sins for which a Christian can be condemned to just one. The only sin a Christian can ever commit is the sin of compromise.

The greatest commandment demands the active surrender of all that I have and the second commandment gives me back the time and space I need to satisfy the needs of family and friends. Beyond meeting my ‘neighbours’ needs every minute, every penny and every influence I have must be entirely dedicated to God.

Just before William Booth died he was asked what had set him apart from other men, was it the fact that he had given all he had to God? The old man replied that there was nothing remarkable in such an act of devotion and that many people had given their all to God; the founder went on to say that what made his personal consecration remarkable was that he had never taken anything back.

Holiness – that supreme love that gladly gives all I have to God – is the only way forward for the Christian, but sadly, most Christians having laid all on the altar keep returning to take bits back – like a child chipping away at an Easter egg they are supposedly saving for later, in short they compromise.

Compromise is the killer of radical Christianity, there can be no such thing as primitive Salvationism without a constant, hour by hour consecration of all I have to God. The only reasonable act of Christian worship acceptable to God is a ‘living sacrifice’ – nothing else will do.

‘Without holiness none shall see the Lord’ not in our own lives, in our Corps, in our Division, neither in our territory nor indeed throughout the Army world.

There is only one choice - consecration or compromise, holiness or hell, there is no middle ground.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Need encouaging then check this out!

Need I say more?

If you haven't surrendered all then do it now!

There is no greater existence than 'holiness enjoyed'.


Love and prayers


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mosque Attenders to outnumber Church Attenders in Britain in a generation

According to the Times on May 8th (the date I got saved hallelujah!) in an article given to me by my CSM Colin, Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation.

The fall - from the four million people who attend church at least once a month today - means that the Church of England, Catholicism and other denominations will become financially unviable. A lack of funds from the collection plate to support the Christian infrastructure, including church upkeep and ministers’ pay and pensions, will force church closures as ageing congregations die.

In contrast, the number of actively religious Muslims will have increased from about one million today to 1.96 million in 2035? No doubt some of them worshipping at the London Central Mosque pictured on the right above.

Now what can we learn from Islam?

They never push their religion, they don’t wear old fashioned clothes that make them stand out, you never hear them berating moral decline in the west, they are generally moderate and nominal hardly ever extreme, they take a gentle line on contemporary sins like abortion on demand and homosexuality and they are hardly ever in the papers. In addition they are passionate about making sure their religion and the way they present is culturally relevant.

In truth Contemporary Islam seems to contain many of the traits that post modernists within the church declare are holding us back and creating barriers to recruitment. Of course there is much, much more to Christianity than these outward characteristics but there is a point to be made none the less.

I think the truth is that people today are looking for something that seems to be authentic and most Moslems appear more authentic than most Christians.

God bless the children of Abraham whether they are Christian, Moslems or Jews and may our passion for the God of Abraham lead us all to the feet of Christ and the kind of uncompromising faith that will win the world for him.

Love and prayers