Posts Tagged ‘Grace’


August 13th, 2018
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Before we go through John 8 there is a question about the story of the adultress women. Was it in the original gospel or was it added later?

We will discuss this as it is informative of how scholarship works in these matters.

In most of your Bibles, you notice that John 7:53 to John 8:11 is either set off in brackets or is in a footnote. The reason for this is that most New Testament scholars do not think it was part of the Gospel of John when it was first written, but was added centuries later.

For example:

Don Carson, who teaches at Trinity, and is a respected conservative New Testament scholar, writes, “Despite the best efforts . . . to prove that this narrative was originally part of John’s Gospel, the evidence is against [them], and modern English versions are right to rule it off from the rest of the text (NIV) or to relegate it to a footnote (RSV).” (The Gospel According to John, 1991, 333)

Bruce Metzger, one of the world’s great authorities on the text of the New Testament until his death in 2002: “The evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the periscope of the adulteress is overwhelming.” (The Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1971, 219)

Australian Scholar Leon Morris: “The textual evidence makes it impossible to hold that this section is an authentic part of the Gospel.” (The Gospel According to John, 1971, 882)

Andreas Köstenberger: “This represents overwhelming evidence that the section is non-Johannine.” (John, 2004, 246)

And Herman Ridderbos: The evidences “point to an unstable tradition that was not originally part of an ecclesiastically accepted text.” (The Gospel of John, 1997, 286)

What are the reasons given for this Section not to be in the original to John’s Gospel?

The evidence goes something like this:

1. The story is missing from all the Greek manuscripts of John before the fifth century.

2. All the earliest church fathers omit this passage in commenting on John and pass directly from John 7:52 to John 8:12.

3. In fact, the text flows very nicely from 7:52 to 8:12 if you leave out the story and just read the passage as though the story were not there. (READ)

John 7:52

They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.’


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

4. No Eastern church father cites the passage before the tenth century when dealing with this Gospel.

5. When the story starts to appear in manuscript copies of the Gospel of John, it shows up in three different places other than here (after 7:36; 7:44; and 21:25), and in one manuscript of Luke, it shows up after 21:38.

6. Its style and vocabulary is more unlike the rest of John’s Gospel than any other paragraph in the Gospel.

Where does this information comes from?

The Science of Textual Criticism

The New Testament that we know was originally written in Greek. The first printed Greek New Testament — that came off a printing press — was published by Erasmus in 1516. It turned the world upside down.

This means that for 1500 years the manuscripts of the biblical books were passed down to us through handwritten copies. This is how we have access to the actual words that the New Testament writers wrote with their very hands.

So the books of the New Testament were preserved for us by faithful, hardworking copyists.

Some of these copies were in a script called uncials (referring to manuscripts with all capital Greek letters), others were in a script called minuscule (referring to manuscripts with small Greek letters).

A smaller number are called papyri because they are very early and written on the special paper-like material made from the Papyrus plant that was prevalent in the Nile Delta.

One last group of manuscripts is the lectionaries — which were collections of texts for reading in public worship.

What’s Simply Staggering

Now here is what’s amazing. The abundance of these manuscripts of the New Testament, or parts of the New Testament, as compared to the number of manuscripts for all other ancient works is simply staggering.

There are 10 existing manuscripts of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars (composed between 58 and 50 B.C.). And all of these date from the tenth century or later.

There are 20 manuscripts of Livy’s Roman History written roughly during the time when Jesus was alive. Some fragments from 5 th century. Most copies are from 10th century or later.

Only two manuscripts exist for Tacitus’s Histories and the Annals which were composed around A.D. 100 — one from the ninth and one from the eleventh century.

There are only eight manuscripts of the History of Thucydides who lived 460-400 B.C. And all of these date from the tenth century or later.

Compare those numbers with the manuscripts and partial manuscripts for the New Testament. These numbers are from the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Muenster, Germany, which is the most authoritative collection of such data in the world. There are:

322 uncial texts, 2,907 minuscule texts, 2,445 lectionary portions, and 127 papyri, for a total of 5,801 manuscripts.

These are all hand-written copies of the New Testament or parts of the New Testament preserved in libraries around the world and now captured electronically.

No other ancient book comes close to this kind of wealth of diverse preservation.

What that wealth does is create problems and solutions at the same time. These copies do not all agree on what the wording was in the original manuscripts. So the more manuscripts you have, the more variations you find.

On the other hand, the more manuscripts you have, the more control you have over which readings are the original ones. The more manuscripts you have the more variations you find, and yet the more they tend to be self-correcting.

For example, if you had only two ancient manuscripts of the Gospel of John and one has the story of the woman taken in adultery and the other doesn’t, you would be hard put to choose.

But if you have a hundred manuscripts of John, even though you may find more variations, you will be able to tell by the number and age and geographical diversity of the manuscripts whether the story was there or not.

This is what the science of Textual Criticism has done with hundreds of variations in the manuscripts.

Here’s the way F.F. Bruce put it a generation ago:

If the great number of manuscripts increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is . . . in truth remarkably small. (The New Testament Documents, 19).

But what is most significant for the reliability and authority of the New Testament is that the variations that Textual Critics are unsure of are not the kind that would change any Christian doctrine.

For example, in our passage from John 7:53–8:11, no truth that this Gospel teaches is changed by omitting this story.

Bruce says :

The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affects no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice (The New Testament Documents, 20).

In 2006, Paul D. Wegner reaffirmed F.F. Bruce’s assessment (A Student’s Guide To Textual Criticism of the Bible, Downers Grove: InterVarsity):

It is important to keep in perspective the fact that only a very small part of the text is in question. . . . Of these, most variants make little difference to the meaning of any passage.

Then he closes his book by quoting Fredric Kenyon:

It is reassuring at the end to find that the general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable Word of God. (Frederic G. Kenyon, The Story of the Bible, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 113, quoted in Wegner, 301).

We can be thankful that God has, in his presence over the transmission process for 2,000 years, ordered things so that the few uncertainties that remain alter no doctrine of the Christian faith. That is really astonishing when you think about it, and we should worship God because of it.

So how do we use this text?

Read more…

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First Service Ulladulla

October 13th, 2017
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Our tradition at the Ulladulla Festival is to rehearse last year’s messages.

Grace can sound like a wishy washy word. Very religious without much meaning. But at last years festival we learned how powerful it is. When one stands in the presence of a mighty waterfall, we sense the power –like an irresistible force that overwhelms all around it.

Ulladulla 2016

The Mighty Water Fall of God’s Grace
Where sin increased grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20(b))

We want to be assured that nothing can stop God’s grace achieving his purpose on this earth and the entire universe. And grace isn’t just a force or a quality of God. He is grace. Sin will not be able to resist who God is.

Andrew Purves:

Romans 5 Paul talks about grace. Overflowing. Three times he says, “Grace overflows.” perisseia Again he says grace overflows, and the third time he puts it in the superlative—grace super-overflows hyperperisseuō —it’s a Niagara Falls of grace, not just a little trickle-down effect. It’s with this huge grace so that sin has no chance.

But the really big question is “Is God’s grace really sufficient to take care of our sinful nature? Can God put right us and the world right when sin abounds so much?”

In his Son God provides the human faithfulness that we have failed to provide.

And so the human faithfulness of the man Jesus is the superabundance of the grace of God.

Thus in the place where sin abounded – within Israel itself –as they mocked and crucified their very Creator – he became the true Israelite who in his faithfulness to God, even unto death became the suffering righteous servant who by bearing their iniquities justifies many.

Colossians 2:6-7

“6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

The Christian life is a life overflowing with thankfulness.

We watched three messages from Cathy Deddo on the subject of Grace.

The first one showed that grace is a lot bigger than undeserved pardon. Jesus Christ is grace and through him God is extending his love to his creatures and drawing them into his life. God initiates grace. Grace is not just his response to our sins. In Christ the fullness of God’s grace breaks into time and space.

This changes reality forever. His grace makes everything right. God’s love wants perfection of the beloved. His grace is who he is.

Kerry spoke about how we can have a false response to grace like anything goes, or the opposite, we are motivated by fear. But it is the kindness and goodness of God that leads us to repent – to think again about our life. Grace in us is the life we live because he made us acceptable to him— not so that we are acceptable to him. We live out of a desire to know him better, to please him, to have a friendship.

Godspell: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, to follow thee more nearly, day by day.

We rejoice because God rejoices. We are receiving this good pleasure of God to give us the kingdom. We saw the delight of Jesus in the healing of the leper.

Our friendship with God rejuvenates us –to be relaxed, informal in our faith. Just delighting in being with God.

God’s grace is like a river of life, cascading, never ending, healing, rejuvenating.

Cathy Deddo said we are receiving everything. We are only here because God is gracious.To receive with thanksgiving. God is already here, faithful, knowing what is happening. He already knows our children. Thanksgiving helps us to receive the truth of who God is. Receiving God’s grace is to be free no matter what happens in life.

Helen Callaghan spoke on growing older in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is not good to get anxious about growing old. It is like we want to avoid it—we see suffering. The Bible does not put down older people. It respects the hoary head. Those that walk with God have learnt humility and patience. Death is a bridge we all have to cross to reach our final goal. A lie is that older people are irrelevant. We miss out on the elders by the label elderly.

Our hope is in the resurrection. It is not longevity but faithfulness that matters. We can waste away, but we are not worried about looks, strength. We are renewed.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

We remember throughout our life his blessings, his presence, his constant love with us. Our story is in him: his suffering, death and resurrection is our story. Only the grace of God can lead us gracefully into our senior years. Suffering does not break up our story. We are gathered up in to the grace of God in to a pain free, no more death and suffering for eternity.

Cathy Deddo gave a concentration camp story: I am willing to stay here for the rest of my life only if I know you better. Sanctification is receiving and living in God’s love. We are to abide, never moving from a position of receiving. Always looking to Jesus. We can be tempted to live in anxiety, guilt, past sins and mistakes. Our perfection is perfectly received. The more we receive the more perfect we become. Too often we are more concerned about what God is doing through me. God is concerned about what he is doing in us. Every day God’ s grace is at work, giving us his life, his ministry. We can see where he is working and join him. His grace is always sufficient and full. He is fully present. He breaks in and reminds us I am here – deeper than ourselves. He is faithful and nothing can separate us.

Randal Bourchier said we need to know our limitations with one another. We need to bring matters to our High Priest. He lives forever. Fully human he is the leader of our worship.


He says,
‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.’

As Jesus leads us in our worship to the Father, he reveals the Father to us. We are filled with gratitude for what he has and is doing in our lives. We offer the entirety of our lives and share in the life and work of our High priest. We have the freedom of standing in the wonder of the only acceptable offering to the Father.

Kerry Gubb asked if our focus is on the process of salvation with its pain or the joy of the outcome? When we look at Jesus prayer in John17 we see him presenting us as a finished product.


6 ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

This is the mind who is judging us.

13‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

The joy of the done deal, very intense. This is the one who intercedes for us. And the whole world will be put right. This joy will flow over the whole earth until God sees his image in us.

Drew Garratt referred to

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    ‘I find no pleasure in them’–

Remembering requires action. Don’t waste time. Build a habit today to serve his people. What can you give to others. Strong, healthy, understand technology, have a license, can speak clearly –use whatever you have to serve.

We concluded with another emphasis on the Superabundance of God’s grace in three areas:

God ‘s grace can offend – we saw that in the parable of the workers and Jonah’s reactions.
Jesus is the superabundance of God’s grace.

God is restoring beauty into this world. His weaving his beautiful tapestry. God is beautiful. Humans are beautiful, the Gospel is beautiful and Jesus is the most beautiful life. At the cross we see the beauty of God’s inner life.

The superabundance of God’s grace includes all. He has broken down the barrier that separate Jew and Gentile to God and to one another.

The superabundance of God’s grace is at its most glorious in this new reality.

Ephesians 2:15(b) -22

15(b) His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

All have sinned. Grace superabounded in the very place sin abounded. And if both Jew and Gentile needed this superabundance of God’s grace it removes any human superiority and resultant hostility to one another. By removing the hostility with God, by the peace of reconciliation, he destroyed the basis of hostility between Jew and Gentile.

18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

The key to all of this is the Holy Spirit. There is an unifying fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This was the evidence to accept uncircumcised Gentiles into the people of God.

The Holy Spirit works in a way that brings glory to Christ as the Saviour of all mankind.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

To view a song by Chris Tomlin Waterfall about the outpouring of God’s grace over our lives please click here.  

Message for the Day

Ulladulla Last Day Part 2-Restoration of God’s beauty into this world

October 23rd, 2016
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The fullness or superabundance of grace in all its beauty is revealed to us in a very pivotal moment in history.

Jesus on the cross

There’s a particularly poignant line in the account of Jesus’ death which says that, when he died, “the veil in the sanctuary was torn from top to bottom.”

What the gospel-writers are saying is that, at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil that sits between us and the inner life of God was ripped open so that we can now see what God looks like inside.

I think it is important to remind what was said last year on this:

The cross shows us the beauty of God’s heart – what his inner life is like. How is this so?

We see Jesus, the Son. What’s he doing? He’s suffering and dying, but in a particular way. He hangs on the cross in anguish, dying, but he also hangs there in trust and faithfulness, giving his life away without resentment, recrimination, and bitter questioning because he knows and trusts God even when God seems silent.

Luke 23:34

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

We see Jesus on the cross, but we see him there clinging to someone else with a trust that turns hatred into love, curses into blessing, bitterness into kindness, recrimination into understanding, and God’s seeming silence into faith. On the cross we see one person, but as being held and empowered by somebody else.

Less visible, but clearly there as the recipient of this trust, present as the one about whom this drama is ultimately about, is the Father. He is suffering with the son, holding the son in this darkness, showing himself worthy of trust, and trusting the son not to short-circuit the tension so that God’s response, the resurrection, can be what it should be, not an act of vengeance, nor a bullying definition of whose in charge, but an act of unfathomable redemption, understanding, forgiveness, and love, an act that, more than anything else, defines God. The Father is there too at the cross, suffering, waiting in patience, empowering another to trust.

Finally, the Holy Spirit is also at the cross, uniquely generated and released by what unfolds there. As the drama of the crucifixion, this deep interplay of giving and receiving in love and trust, is taking place, a forgiving warmth, a healing fire, and an unfathomable patience and understanding are being produced, revealed, and released.

Hebrews 9:14

 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

When the veil inside the temple is torn, what we see, what flows out, is only forgiveness, patience, gentleness, understanding, and warm invitation.

The cross defines God as love and gives us a picture of what that kind of love looks like.

Andrew Purves described:

Romans 5 Paul talks about grace. Overflowing. Three times he says, “Grace overflows.” Again he says grace overflows, and the third time he puts it in the superlative—grace super-overflows—it’s Niagara Falls of grace, not just a little trickle-down effect. It’s this huge grace so that sin has no chance.

Sin has no chance. All that despoils and makes ugly God’s good creation doesn’t have a chance. If these living waters are flowing into our lives, sin doesn’t stand a chance.

John 4:14

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

On the last day of the Feast

John 7:37-38

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them

Being under the reign of God’s grace means we are restorers of God’s beauty wherever we go. What we saw on the cross is meant to flow out of us as living waters.

We have been called to participate in the restoration of God’s beauty into this world. We can live today in the reality of this beauty.

An analogy I heard several years ago was that God was weaving a beautiful tapestry.

God is weaving throughout history his beautiful tapestry that will be for eternity.

What is Beauty? And how do we respond to this in our appreciation of God’s tapestry? And how does this liberate us from the anxieties that can naturally surround us in this mortal life?

We see beauty in the Hebrew word shalom.

Many people know that this word is usually translated as “peace” but it has a much richer meaning than this. The Old Testament uses this word to describe the ultimate goal and end of history and all that God is doing– peace. Now, when we think of peace, we usually define it negatively- no fighting, no war, no hunger, no pain.

But this word in the Hebrew carries with it the meaning of reknitting the very fabric of the universe. It paints a picture of a world that is made up of an infinite number of “strands” of sorts, and shalom is when these strands are re-woven together into a sort of tapestry.

Let’s think about what we know as beautiful.

Just think of God. He is the perfect and complete tapestry within which all things are woven together in the first place. He is peace. He is shalom. He is Beauty.

Seeking to enjoy the Beauty of God protects us from becoming careless in our worship or tempted to limit God to be like us.

We need to see our humanity as beautiful.

Psalm 139:13-16(a)

13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16(a) your eyes saw my unformed body.

Humans are the crown of God’s creation. In the opening chapters of Genesis you see that with each day of creation what God creates grows increasingly complex and nearer to the heart of God, until you reach that final creative act, where God intimately makes humans in his very own image. What an honour to be God’s image bearers!

God loves all humanity, and so should we. Being God’s image-bearers gives us all innate worth and innate beauty.

The Gospel is Beautiful.

God, being rich in mercy, though we have abandoned God’s beauty and our own true beauty, God has not abandoned us. He loves his Beauty. And he loves the Beauty of His creation.
The ultimate, infinite, precious, all-consuming, King of Kings and Lord of Lords takes on the form of a child born in a manger. Oh the humility. Oh the beauty in this act we call the Incarnation, where the infinite God takes on finite humanity. That is beauty.

Thus our definition needs to make God the most beautiful Person in the universe, it needs to make the cross the most beautiful event in history, it needs to make Jesus the most beautiful man who lived the most beautiful life this world has ever known, and lastly, it needs to make the Gospel (or the message of Christianity) the most beautiful thing anyone could ever hear or believe.

And history revolves around this cross. Because at the same time that Christ, Beauty Itself, was literally being torn apart, he was reconciling all things to himself.

In other words, he was taking every stray strand in the universe – every bit of evil, suffering fallenness there will ever be in history and he was making himself the common glorifying thread that would reknit the broken fabric of a broken creation. And so we live now in the process and story of God putting all those strands in their proper place.

This is the beauty of being baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

And we, His people are his Bride,

Revelation 19:6-8

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

Those that are “in Christ” are woven into that tapestry that is the new heaven and the new earth.

We’re not just going to live in it, we are part of it. 2 Corinthians 5:17, reads: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

We are the new creation. The new tapestry. The good news of our salvation is that all that has been ugly with the world and in ourselves has been conquered. Beauty is here, and Beauty is ever increasingly filling the earth, and this Beauty is our salvation from ugliness and sin.

And we receive this salvation by seeing its Beauty, turning our affections toward this God, and trusting that we cannot reknit our own lives but Christ has reknit them for us.


Message for the Day ,