Every new generation must ask from their new cultural perspectives – How does God make us “at one” with Him through Christ, how can we understand this?

The Bible portrays four classic pictures of Atonement: each has a problem that it is addressing, each has its emphasis. Each is a picture, an analogy or metaphor if you will, and as such it shouldn’t be pushed to mean more than it sets out to do. These pictures are often summarised as : Ransom, Appeasement, Healing, Promise.

In EVERY one of these pictures of the Atonement, there are two separate aspects :

· Things about Jesus that are examples to us all to follow

· Things which only Jesus can do.

Preachers often represent the sacrificial substitution of Jesus – ‘gave his life as a ransom for many’ – as the ‘biblical atonement’, and they do so in terms of Appeasement, sacrificial blood. They do so as though it is the most superior picture – because it is dramatic and primal and legal-sounding. Yet all of these pictures are biblical, dramatic and important. Here is the big message – none of them trumps the others.

All ‘images’ can be like analogies that can be taken too far. Does it matter?

Late 20C lenses or assumptions make it hard to see this clearly:

· We see no blood, so we sanitise death, implying that sacrificial narratives are somehow ‘primitive’ distasteful.

· Secular humanism implies that we are of infinite worth and God couldn’t possibly hold anything against us

· Our strictly commerce culture does not get grace, sacrifices, covenants, fidelity; it just does deals or transactions.

· The transactional view paints God as one who murders his own son. This is a reduction of the paradox to only one of its parts – ‘is it a good thing or not?’. It seems to want to close out from the Trinitarian idea of a willing loving sacrificing serving ‘crucified God’.

· Some refer to the idea of ‘dying and rising gods’ in other religions. It is a very overstated comparison, if not downright silly, but that is another topic. We must return to the big picture view – what’s special about Jesus?

Put them all together, as illustrated, and there is a space in between them where the heart intuitively says ‘yes’ to the love of Christ. That ‘yes’ alone integrates these pictures. No thought can do it, no doctrine or concept can do it – There is no trump card except the response of a person in the Spirit, a heart believing in Christ is the only point where it all comes together.

By reading the verses in their four groupings, rough as they are, you can also read what responses the human person is expected to give and receive. It is good to read with fresh eyes and not just look for the word ‘belief’ but read to see how it is expanded. Belief is not about ‘beliefs in the head’ but a ‘responsiveness in the heart’. What sort of response? The core response that completes the atonement is represented by phrases like living ‘in him’, through Christ, say ‘Come’ (Rev 22.17), wait eagerly, hope for his appearing, lose your life, welcome Jesus, and so on.


· He was born of Mary, and rose from the dead

· He ransomed us from our slavery

· He healed us to love

· He restored us from a distance to be ‘face to face’

· He claimed us and holds us in Covenant

· He modeled Sacrificial not superficial love

· He promises New Life now and forever

These lists are prepared so that the claim about four themes can here be demonstrated and can be studied. Some themes occur together in the same verse, but here they are grouped under one heading only.

1.THE RANSOM – Mark 10.45

Ransoms us from slavery to Sin/Satan by swapping His life for ours. We go free.

Defeat of Satan in a contest: Christus Victor

Price paid to Satan? To God? Encourages silence towards evil?=Misses the point

The Problem? Do you know people who are captured by ‘Addictive’ sin, feeling unable to ever escape? People who feel worthless, rejected and useless? People whose sins are more than they can reconcile? Tell them about this Gift. Freedom from the over-whelming power and consequences of sin. Redeemed from enslavement. You are loved and wanted even at great cost.

Rev …inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

1Co 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption

1Co 7:22 For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.

1Co 7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

1Co 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

1Co 9:21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.

1Pe 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

1Pe 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2Pe 2:19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

Eph 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Gal 2:4 This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Gal 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Gal 4:5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Gal 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Heb 2:15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Heb 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

Heb 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Jas 1:25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

Jas 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,

Jn 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jn 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Lk 1:68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

Lk 2:38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Lk 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Lk 24:21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

Lk 4 to preach good news to the poor.

because he has come and has redeemed his people.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

to release the oppressed,

Mk 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mt 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

1Ti 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

2Pe 2:19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

Gal 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Col 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Eph 2:16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Ro 3:24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Ro 6:18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Ro 8:2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Ro 8:21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Ro 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies

Tit 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.


· The Cross satisfies the Wrath /Law/Honour/Justice of God. This is Legal-speak.

· The Gift= Debt fully Paid. In cancelling the cost of the crimes, someone else must pay, not the victim. Only a perfect sacrifice can perfectly satisfy.

· Public example of the lengths God will go to in order to uphold the moral law of Justice.

· ‘Is the Price paid to God’? Yes, to God by God, the sacrifice is a gift not a price.

· Reconciled, restored, brought close without fear. Face to face.

· The Problem? Do you know people who are held by Pride? their own victimhood? The feeling that God has abandoned them or is opposed to them or punishing them for their deeds? Tell them that all that punishment stuff was ended at the cross.

Phil 3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Rv 15:1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.

Mt 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

1Th 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Jude 1:15 to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

Jude 1:23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Ro 1:32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Ro 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Eph 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

2Pe 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;

Ro 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath , when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

Ro 2:8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

2Th 2:10 every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Jas 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,=S

Ro 2:12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

Ro 2:16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Jas 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Ro 3:5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) ARo 3:6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?

Col 3:6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

Jas 3:6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Lk 3:7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Mt 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Jn 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Jn 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

2Ti 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:

1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

1Pe 4:5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

2Ti 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Jas 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Ro 4:15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Jas 5:9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

1Th 5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ro 5:10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Mt 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Jn 5:27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

Mt 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Mt 5:30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

1Co 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

Rev 6:10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

Rev 6:16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

Rev 6:17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Lk 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Mt 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Mt 7:2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Heb 7:26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

Jn 8:50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.

Ro 9:22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?

Mk 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. Mk 9:45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. Mk 9:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,

Mt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Heb 10:29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

Mt 10:41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.

Ac 10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.

1Co 11:31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.

1Co 11:32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Lk 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Ro 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Heb 12:23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,

Jn 12:47 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.

Jn 12:48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

Ro 13:4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Mt 13:49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous

Rev 14:10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.

Ro 14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Lk 14:14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Rev 14:19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.

Rev 15:7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.

Rev 16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”

Mk 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Rev 16:19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

Lk 16:23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.

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

Mt 18:9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Rev 19:15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

Lk 19:22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?

Rev 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Rev 20:13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

Lk 21:23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.

Mt 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Mt 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Mt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

HEALING/SALVATION wholeness – Matthew 1.21

· Public example of the lengths God will go to in order to demonstrate His love for us and how He resist evil. Exemplary Atonement.

· This is inspirational, not a ‘deal’. This man is the most fully human.

· He was killed by empire and religious powers.

· The Gift: Awakes a love-response. “Love so amazing…”. This Love heals people and nations.

· The Problem? Do you know people who have no worthy role models, no parents to emulate, no way to rise above their background? Do you know people who are scarred from hurts and scared to hope? Tell them that while they cannot save themselves, Jesus has died for their healing and wholeness. And not only for them, but if they follow him, for the healing of the world. Politics and cleverness won’t do it – only a compassionate love can heal.

Ac 28:28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

Mt 24:13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Mt 27:42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

Jude 1:3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

1Pe 1:5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

2Co 1:6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

1Pe 1:9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

2Ti 1:9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

1Pe 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,

Eph 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

Heb 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

1Ti 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Ro 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1Co 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

Jas 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Mt 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Phil 1:28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.

1Pe 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

Heb 2:3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

1Ti 2:4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Eph 2:5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Heb 2:10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

2Th 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

Jas 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

1Ti 2:15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

2Co 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

1Th 2:16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.

Mk 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Ac 2:40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

Ac 2:47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Tit 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

Lk 3:6 And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ ”

1Co 3:15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

2Ti 3:15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2Pe 3:15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Ac 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

1Ti 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Jn 4:22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

1Co 5:5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

1Th 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

Heb 5:9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

Jas 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Jas 5:20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Ac 5:31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

Lk 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Jn 5:34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved.

Eph 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

2Co 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

1Co 7:16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Heb 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Lk 7:50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Lk 8:12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

Ro 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?

Mt 8:25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

Mt 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

1Co 9:22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

Lk 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

Ro 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

Jn 10:9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

Ro 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Ro 10:10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Ro 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Mt 10:22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Mk 10:26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

1Co 10:33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Heb 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Ro 11:11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

Ac 11:14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.

Ro 11:14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.

Ro 11:25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. Ro 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

Ro 13:11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Mk 13:13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Lk 13:23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

Ac 13:26 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.

Ac 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

1Co 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

Lk 15:7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Ac 15:11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Mk 15:30 come down from the cross and save yourself!”

Mk 15:31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!

Ac 16:17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”

Ac 16:30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

CAc 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Heb 6:9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation.

Lk 18:26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Lk 19:9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

Lk 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Mt 19:25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Lk 23:35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

Lk 23:37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Lk 23:39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”


Adam/Noah, Abraham, Moses, David

· The Problem? Do you know people who wonder how they could really rely on God? Can he be trusted?

· Blood is a Ritual Sign = a matter of life and death.

· The Gift: The promise of God written in blood. All who welcome him are welcome.

· God’s YES! What more could anyone ask for? Not a contract, it is the Law of Love.

· We are claimed and held for all time. Belong.

Mt 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Lk 1:69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us Lk 1:71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— Lk 1:72 to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, Lk 1:77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,

Lk 2:30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

Heb 13:20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

2Ti 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

Lk 1:17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Ro 1:17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Eph 2:12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Ro 2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Jas 2:21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

Jas 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

Ac 2:39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

2Co 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Eph 3:6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Gal 3:11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”

2Pe 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

2Co 3:14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.

Gal 3:17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

Gal 3:18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

Gal 3:19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.

Ro 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Ac 3:25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’

Ro 3:25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

Gal 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

1Ti 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

2Ti 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Ro 4:13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Ro 4:16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

Gal 4:23 His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

Gal 4:28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

Ro 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

Mt 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Heb 6:13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself,

Heb 7:22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Ro 8:4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Heb 8:6 But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. Heb 8:7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.

Heb 8:9 It will not be like the covenant

Heb 8:10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel

Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Mk 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Heb 9:1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.

Ro 9:8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

Ro 9:9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”

Heb 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Heb 9:18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.

Heb 9:20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”

Lk 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Heb 9:28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Heb 10:16 “This is the covenant I will make with them

Heb 10:38 But my righteous one will live by faith.

Mt 10:38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

Heb 11:11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.

1Co 11:25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Ro 11:27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Heb 12:24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Mk 14:24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.

Lk 14:27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Mt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Mt 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Lk 22:20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Col 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Col 2:14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.


In this church on this day we confess again our faith.

Jesus, Saviour of the world,

through your death,

the sins of humankind have been forgiven.

Can it be true?

We can barely grasp such a great salvation.

You gave your life as a ransom for many.

You liberated us from the grasp of sin and death

by giving your own life as a ransom,

Your perfect life was swapped for the lives of our imperfect,

once and for all.

You defeated Satan in a contest of wills –

through love you endured all the humiliation and pain.

Before God the holy and sovereign one,

our willful ways were an insult and a rebellion so great

that only a perfect sacrifice could satisfy.

The wages of sin is death

but you, Jesus, being both God and man,

were this only possible, only perfect sacrifice.

You paid the price, and bore the curse upon the tree.

See what lengths God will go to

in order to uphold the beauty of holiness.

See what lengths God will go to

in order to uphold the law of love.

Your salvation is healing us

as we come to the foot of your cross.

By this great act of love

we can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

By this great brutality against a perfect man

we see evil for what it really is and are impelled to repent.

We know we can do this for, in Jesus,

God took on human nature and lived free of sin.

Christ did not die to appease an angry and wrathful Father,

but to change us so that we may become more like God.

Christ also suffered our physical pains, illnesses, anguish,

temptations, emotional turmoil and depression,

so that we can know he walks with us

and intercedes for us as one who has “been there”.

Thanks be to God for such a great salvation.

God loves us like crazy.

All this is coming to us, step by step,

through this God, this Man, this cross,

for this church, at this time, once and for all.


A Sermon for the Ordination of Andrew Broadbent

22 Feb 2015 Wesley Central Uniting Church in Perth Australia

Come stand with me

Bible Readings: Matt 28.16-20, Luke 4.14-21

Preacher Rev Dr Ian Robinson

Come stand with me and see what I can see in these gospel readings. From the 21 century grandstand, we’re watching the village square at tiny first century Nazareth.

See the limestone walls and flat rooves, a few stalwart donkeys with flies in their ears and their lead trailing to the ground, plots of market gardens scattered around steep green hills. Can you see a bunch of believers waiting for a quorum that will turn the village square into the village synagogue? The ark of the Torah scroll has been rolled out ready. See that man by the almond tree who just joined the waiting? That’s his family over there, Mary and her lot, but I don’t know those strangers.

Something about him, isn’t there? His eyes are bright but he is very thin, a bit ragged even. Hang on, it looks a bit like, can it be, Yeshua, Mary’s oldest? He used to run his dad’s building business here but he left town quite a while ago. So, he’s come back home again, Mary will be pleased.

The synagogue ruler starts proceedings and Yeshua has been asked to read, Very appropriate – a favourite son has returned from God knows where. What’s he going to read?

Read Luke 4 Vv18-19.

I wonder if you realize what you just heard?

The people who were there that day had the same difficult that we have in hearing it. They hear the text of Isaiah as ancient.

But Jesus says it is TODAY. “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (v 21).

That is, the life of faith is no longer a long hope or an ideology, no longer an impossible dream. This scripture is the agenda for the Kingdom of God TODAY. Does it sound like the agenda of the last church meeting you went to? Has it described your week?

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Where does Jesus get this immense sense of assurance from?

This young man Jesus has just spent forty days and more in the desert of the northern Aravah region, probably the most rigorous possible act of spiritual discernment. He has been held, marinated, in God’s loving presence

in ways that we only sniff from time to time. He has returned from prayer and fasting having lost probably a third of his body weight. He has discerned god from Satan, discerned power from service, sifted PR from proclamation, sifted welfare from healing, sifted church-agenda from the reign of God.

Do you sift your agenda this rigorously? Did you think it impossible?

And now he stands beside us in this church, “in the power of the Holy Spirit” Luke records, with a read-out of the agenda of God.

At this ordination service, this passage is the crux of future church. For Jesus says, this is what it looks like when you live under the Reign of God in a contested world and a contested church.

Agenda Item 1 The Spirit of the Lord is on me

Item 2 Because he has anointed me, sent me,

3.To preach and proclaim

4 good news to the poor

5 freedom for the prisoners,

6 recovery of sight for the blind

7 To release the oppressed

8 Announce the year of the Lord’s favour,

9 Before he finishes, where the old text goes on to urge revenge on their enemies, Jesus conspicuously omits that part. The crowd don’t miss the omission, though we too would like to. It immediately gets the proud home crowd confused and upset.

What have we just heard?

I don’t want to concentrate on any one item just now (read books), but ask you to get your head around it. It is nothing less than this – Coming from the most disciplined desert discernment to the fullness of the spirit, this gospel of Jesus is the single clearest lens by which to read the entire Bible and act upon it.

The agenda is not:

Liturgically correct eucharists and ordinations, pretty meetings with tailored words, ancient histories with philosophical critique, powerless endless meetings, progressive speculations sparring with conservative ethics, the security of our institutions around a hierarchy of clergy and councils, etc.. Wait, I know our agenda looks like all that and more besides. Sorry to have to say it, but these ways are wrong and do wrong even in the church.

We simply must change, must sift, reject these terribly interesting but false influences that are all unsustainable luxuries. Jesus would later say to his followers. “Beware of the influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16.6).” I think we have been too nice to be wary and been sucked in badly by both.

The agenda is:

· Have we been Spirit-led and spirit filled? Or following good ideas that are not God’s-ideas? Or are we proud of our minds? Or of our passion?

· Are we being desert-formed, discomforted from the primacy of wealth, peace-making where peace needs to be made?

· Are we spiritually assured of your calling (and then throwing your whole self at it)? Or are we just another organisation?

· Did we share the good news of God’s reign this week? (including, remove all the obstacles that silence us, address all the fears that freeze us over, tackle the media that drown the good news in compost.)

· Did we hang out with the poor, (building relationships of oneness there)? Or did we consult on the “issues”, talk about the “marginalisation” and read books on “best practise”.

· Did we go down to the jail to visit the broken, OR go make a nuisance of yourself in our underwear with the officials (release the oppressed on Manus Island) saying Love Makes a Way?

· Against the bias in our commerce and culture, how can we relocate ourselves to the social scrapheap of our market towns? (Go find the blind and lame and disabled and different and make sure that they know, in their raw vulnerability, that they have place and a purpose among us. OR, as I used to do, do we drive by too scared to stop.

Those of us who are doing Ok just don’t realise how oppressed others can be, how quickly the tide of oppression is rising, and therefore how nasty we are if we remain silent with the volume up in our shiny privileges. That’s why Jesus says ‘go’ looking, connect, live as a gospel community and proclaim the Jesus way.

This is not left wing nor right wing but forwards into all the world. He says it starts today, not tomorrow.

What about today?

a.This agenda is the single clearest lens by which to read the actions of any group we work with.

b. You can know whether you do it or not. These are our KPI’s.

c. Other people maintain other agenda and, be warned, if you insist on this agenda you will scare their budgies. Jesus speaks about such blessed conflict. But remember this – In the painful contest of ideas, as Desmond Tutu said, THIS is the winning side.

d. Another beautiful thing about this agenda – it is not too heavy for us. Not just for radical types or clergy types or idealistic types or any other types. You are not being handed a ticket to conform or to be a soloist, a hero.

e. That is because, lastly, there are varieties of humble ways to do all this, so let’s hear it again:

· The Spirit is on me – that sounds like the charismatics

· anointed me – now he sounds Pentecostal

· To proclaim good news to the poor – there’s the good old evangelicals

· freedom for the prisoners – there’s the social justice workers

· recovery of sight for the blind – there’s the global healing ministry both medical and miracle

· To release the oppressed and announce the year of the Lord’s favour – that’s a prophetic ministry, maybe exorcism, maybe public theologians who announce with hope to the rich that there is a better way.

There. We all have a place whether you like them or not. We are all sent out into all the world with a gospel to proclaim. We simply start doing it somewhere somehow anyhow anywhere with whomever whenever in the Spirit of Jesus. We don’t have the time and don’t have the money and yet we are sent forwards with this agenda.

There. I hope I have upset everyone by now, just as Jesus did on that day in Nazareth. If Jesus is the fullness of God who in the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit says that this is our list of KPI’s, then how can we not make sure that our meeting agenda looks like this, our diary looks like this, our Christmas newsletter, our radio interviews, and our Facebook posts. (Probably not twitter feeds – they don’t look like anything. J)

f. To continue with the analogy, if we do not have this lens we lose focus. If your church has lost its way it is because it has lost this lens, and made much of other things that are way too tame. Tame predictability is ‘the wide road that leads to destruction’.

My bones burn with hope at what the Jesus-movement could achieve now. In the sad and sandy slippage of the mainstream churches, I am excited to be alive right now. Why? The only way left to go is up. After death comes the resurrection and that promises to be a fun rollercoaster!

Among all the things we cannot know and cannot do, cannot understand and feel frustrated by, our leadership and our servanthood is that TODAY we are the community where God reigns. We have tried to be the church but our clear calling is to be Jesus.

Let’s give up trying to be church and be Jesus together. Church will then look after itself, as it always has. Truly, deeply, simply, clearly this village synagogue tells us how.

If you have been standing next to me to peer across Nazareth’s back fence, and if you have heard this word of the gospel, and if you want to push aside all other edifices and the agenda of church as institution, why not stand with me in prayer. If you have never prayed a prayer like this before, you can see me afterwards for some post-operative care.


Lord Jesus Christ, send us out today in the power of the Spirit to fulfil our part in your agenda. In every today, throw us open whenever and wherever we construct some other edifice.

In the love and way and beauty of Christ, Amen.

Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion

A rising tide of restrictions on religion spread across the world between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum

on Religion & Public Life. Restrictions on religion rose in each of the five major regions of the world – including in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, the two regions where overall restrictions previously had been declining.

Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

At the same time, the new study by the Pew Forum also finds that roughly one-in-six people around the globe (1.1 billion, or 16%) have no religious affiliation. This makes the unaffiliated the third-largest religious group worldwide, behind Christians and Muslims, and about equal in size to the world’s Catholic population. Surveys indicate that many of the unaffiliated hold some religious or spiritual beliefs (such as belief in God or a universal spirit) even though they do not identify with a particular faith.

And there is much more on geographic distribution, age profiles and majority/minority status.

Rev Dr Ian Robinson

Uniting Chaplain

University of Western Australia

BEST PHONE TO TRY 0417 687 746

OR +618 6488 5895 (office)

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FIND ME in the flesh:

M302 University of Western Australia

Stirling Highway , Crawley, Western Australia 6009

OFFICE: Room 1.14 First Floor, Guild Building, above the Apple store

I acknowledge the traditional owners of country and their continuing connection to land, sea and community, especially the Noongar Boodja where I live. I offer my respect to them and their cultures, to the elders past and present, and to those who were removed as children from this deep connection.

Authentic Community Engagement


1. Church planting in a public housing estate, I discovered that my excellent historical theology had to become ‘this minute, today’. First, casting myself on the mercy of God to catch me, I learned with their kind help and support for my Oxford ways, to respond today to the leading of the Spirit. Second, we did things only in the way that the locals did, and required of the denominational rules that they be the ones to conform. Thirdly, we learned to live the beauty of a healed and holy life, not the harshness of holiness. So, a small church flourished, miracles happened, lives were changed and new music was born.

2. Commencing a new beach mission up the coast, the team were good at praying and preaching, not great at agreeing theologically, and lousy at connecting and sharing with holiday makers. I think we were so busy that we spoiled everyone’s holidays. As a leader I had to find a way to empower their hearts for authentic witness. We did it by accident. Our efforts at exercises that actually helped would later become ‘Makes You Wonder’. We cut down the programme and made spare time, rather than add one more programme and then another. By our second year, we had more adult conversions than all other WA beach missions put together. This approach would later empower people in 22 languages of Australasia and the Pacific. It is still working.

3. Hanging around street kids and mothers groups, seniors lunches and business breakfasts, everyone without exception loves to be heard on their deeper yearnings. Most people also value a positive word of reframe and encouragement for their journey. It must be done such that their autonomy is respected, e.g. “it is up to you what you do with this but what I am hearing is this…” but it must simply offer help for the journey.

4. At a Stolen Generations Conference one year, one of the Aboriginal elders asked for me to close the national meeting in prayer. It triggered a traumatic response, based around the abuse of the missions to which most of thousands of children were taken. Later she said that she had asked for prayer because she had recently decided to forgive the church for what they had done to her mother and her siblings and herself. I told her she had made my day, made my decade in fact, I was standing on holy ground. Seven years of walking together in compassion and justice without asking for a right of reply, had proven my heart, and I was not too proud to represent the church saying thank you for forgiving us.

5. In the desert, the majesty of the stars and horizon is very present, and people feel both small and special at the same time, cherished and at risk. Life is on the edge, not of the abyss of European thought but of the fullness of fragile life. The current almost universally held ecological meta-narrative is a great opportunity for us that the New Age was not. Connecting with Creation and Creator removes the consumption addiction, sets up the bigger intimate questions and scripture answers those personal questions with a personal invitation, another question if you will, and not with objective proof. People are enlarged into this good news, not judged. In a pluralistic environment the lived life of Jesus can easily hold its head up above the rest without having to be try hard or a put down.

6. We were surprised to receive a modest bequest for evangelism, so we decided to do something of lasting experimental value. We would run a Christian Information Service advertising for enquirers in the newspapers. We tried all kinds of ‘relevant’ approaches e.g. ‘do you want to know the meaning of life?’, ‘are you troubled by something’, etc and each of these approaches received some enquiries. We printed colour booklet which was itself a very popular outcome from the experiment. Then we tried ‘do you want to understand Jesus?’ and the response rate immediately doubled. Being both human and God, both historical and present, he is already relevant and accessible. There is the main focus. Not church, not a better life, nor the various idealisms of the liberal elite. I cannot overstate this – our goal must be NOT to be like the church BUT to be like Jesus. Speak like Jesus about Jesus. Live with all the passions of Jesus.

7. Even when people are empowered for witness, all is not well. The task of evangelization belongs to all of us and other parts of the church have other gifts of service. One essential role, as both Scripture and Basis of Union attest, is the gift of the Evangelist. Church people can learn to witness in their own words with their own faith in their own world – if they are willing but reach their limit. They need an evangelist in their midst not visiting from interstate! Two questions: How will you find yours? What will you do to form them into maturity? On the latter, we have a course work outline below, but as usual it is not the reading that forms them. More exposure and experimentation is required. Methodists have profited from organising ‘Lay Witness Weekends’. On finding those ten percent of Christians who might be evangelists, they are hard to find:

· firstly because they prefer not to be with the church people, but with the yet-to-be churched people.

· Secondly they are not patient of the casualisation of church, preferring adventure and enthusiasm to procedure and caution.

· Thirdly, the Uniting Church has so privileged caution and concensus that now no one’s gifts are named and formed. Blend is our recipe and bland is our style.

· Fourthly we have too narrow an image of what an evangelist is. – a ‘Billy Graham preacher’ or someone who corners the unsuspecting into a prayer of repentance, or… Anyone who helps others to find faith in Jesus or to commence the path of Christian discipleship. Look for anyone who is enthusiastic, outlooking, expressive, hospitable and centred in Jesus in their personal life.

8. I am a bit shy. I do get around though and a lot of my contacts are valuable, appreciated but too brief. I resolved to resource the ongoing conversation by starting a web site or two that was resource-rich and introductory. Here is the outcome, and let you be the judge:

Chaplains’ Web:

Ian’s Blog:

Max Doubt:

Interfaith Online

They get over a thousand hits each year., which is more than I expected.

9. In our small presbytery when I was first ordained, in the first decade there was only this – let us not attract more people like us, let us evangelise and church plant as our first funding priority. In ten years the denomination tripled in size. So, because I am still concerned to mirror the mission of Jesus, I know that healthy growth can happen.

I conclude by asking honestly what will review MY evangel? I am not very good at this. I see too few conversions. So what has been my response?

· I pray that God will lead me each day to someone with who I can share his influence in my life. And he does.

· I see very many conversations with lots of community contact. They are food and drink to me, as to our Lord in John 4.34. There are times when I run dry and start again. Perhaps join me in that prayer- “Please God lead me today to someone with who I can share your influence in my life”

· I know it gets through to some. Every month someone says to me something like: if I had known you earlier in my life I might have been a Christian (to which I say ‘it is time for us all to start fresh’).

· Within me, I have a very divided mind but I have cultivated by spiritual discipline a heart that is deeply passionately simply for Jesus. That is my essential base for avoiding secondary issues. My daily, weekly, annual calendar reflects that cultivated task. I would be dangerous without it.

· I would like to be supported by a church that spoke up that Jesus was not a white man and repented of the atrocities of the enlightenment and colonialism.

· I would like tools that I didn’t have to invent all the time.

· I would like congregations, to take people to, which are not glorified singalongs.

· I would like to have confidence that my colleagues are not going to let me down and water down either the blessedness or demands of discipleship.

I see the different parts of the task rejoicing together: John 4.34-38. The Message

34-35 Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time!

36-38 “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.”

That’s my church.

The Animals Went in Two by Two, According to Babylonian Ark Tablet

Recently translated Old Babylonian flood tablet describes how to build a circular ark

Noah Wiener • 01/29/2014


The so-called Ark Tablet, recently translated by Irving Finkel, is an Old Babylonian (1900-1700 B.C.E.) account of the flood in which the god Enki instructs Atrahasis–the Babylonian Noah–on how to build an ark. The twist? This Babylonian ark would have been circular.

We all know the story of Noah’s Ark. Ever since George Smith’s 1872 translation of Babylonian texts similar to the Biblical Deluge (see “George Smith’s Other Find” below), we’ve also known about echoes of the Genesis narrative in pre-Biblical Mesopotamian texts. A recently translated Old Babylonian (c. 1900–1700 B.C.E.) tablethas literally reshaped our vision of the Babylonian vessel used to weather the storm and builds bridges across the floodwaters dividing the Biblical and Mesopotamian accounts of the flood.

The Babylonian Flood Tradition

Babylonain flood traditions have been familiar material for BAR readers since the early days of our magazine. Tikva Frymer-Kensky’s 1978 feature “What the Babylonian Flood Stories Can and Cannot Teach Us About the Genesis Flood” introduced the Sumerian Flood Story, the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic and the Atrahasis Epic:

The Babylonian flood stories contain many details which also occur in the flood story in Genesis. Such details in the story as the building of an ark, the placing of animals in the ark, the landing of the ark on a mountain, and the sending forth of birds to see whether the waters had receded indicate quite clearly that the Genesis flood story is intimately related to the Babylonian flood stories and is indeed part of the same “flood” tradition. However, while there are great similarities between the Biblical and Babylonian flood stories, there are also very fundamental differences, and it is just as important that we focus on these fundamental differences as on the similarities.

The Babylonian accounts differ from each other. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the god Enki tasks Utnapishtim to save the world from the flood, and for his good deed, he is granted immortality (and subsequently, Gilgamesh’s envy). Later discoveries revealed that the account was an abridged and modified version of the Akkadian Atrahasis epic, a similar flood myth that was copied and adapted for centuries in the ancient Near East. Memories of an antediluvian (pre-flood) period were preserved throughout Mesopotamia: The Sumerian king list includes antediluvian kings, and reliefs of antediluvian sages known as apkallu figures (winged genies) lined the walls of Assyrian palaces and remain one of the most iconic forms of Mesopotamian art to this day.

How to Build an Ark


The Ark Tablet describes a gufa or coracle–a round boat that would have been familiar to Mesopotamian audiences. Unlike the boat shown above, Atrahasis’s gufa would have had a base area over 35,000 square feet, with 20-foot-high walls. Picture from Atlantic Ship Model.

With such a well-documented Mesopotamian flood tradition, why is this newly translated cuneiform tablet making waves in our understanding of the Babylonian flood myth? The so-called “Ark Tablet”—a cell-phone sized piece of clay inscribed on both sides—is essentially an ark builder’s how-to guide, according to its translator, British Museum scholar Irving Finkel. Enki gives Atrahasis instructions on how to build an ark, but the resulting boat isn’t what you’d expect. According to Irving Finkel, this boat was round. In an article in The Telegraph, Finkel writes:

The most remarkable feature provided by the Ark Tablet is that the lifeboat built by Atra-hasıs— the Noah-like hero who receives his instructions from the god Enki—was definitely, unambiguously round. “Draw out the boat that you will make,” he is instructed, “on a circular plan.”

The text describes the construction of a coracle or gufa, a traditional basket-like boat that would have been familiar to Mesopotamian audiences. Of course, this is no average coracle—Atrahasis is to build a boat with a diameter of close to 230 feet across and 20-foot-high walls. The boat is made out of a massive quantity of palm-fiber rope, sealed with bitumen. This isn’t exactly the same ark that Noah built—or Utnapishtim, for that matter:

Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet XI, 54-65On the fifth day I laid out her exterior. It was a field in area, its walls were each 10 times 12 cubits in height, the sides of its top were of equal length, 10 times It cubits each. I laid out its (interior) structure and drew a picture of it (?). I provided it with six decks, thus dividing it into seven (levels). The inside of it I divided into nine (compartments). I drove plugs (to keep out) water in its middle part. I saw to the punting poles and laid in what was necessary. Three times 3,600 (units) of raw bitumen I poured into the bitumen kiln, three times 3,600 (units of) pitch …into it… Genesis 6:14-15Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks.

The Animals Went in Two by Two


This reconstruction accompanied the Telegraph article by Finkel. Photo: Stuart Patience @ Heart Agency

At first glance, it would seem that the Ark Tablet, while extremely descriptive in its instructions—it features twenty lines just describing the waterproofing of the vessel—is describing an ark narrative that differs more from Noah’s than its other Babylonian counterparts. However, according to his Telegraph article, Finkel was shocked by the rare cuneiform signs sana in the passage describing the animals on the boat. Sana is listed in the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary as “Two each, two by two.” Compare this with the Biblical text:

And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive.”

The cuneiform wedges were pressed into Babylonian Ark Tablet a full millennium before the Genesis narrative was written down, but the two bear a strong thematic resemblance in their treatment of the animals. However, this tablet describes how to build an ark, and the resulting vessel couldn’t be much more different from the Biblical boat. Would a round gufa-style boat weather the Deluge? Irving Finkel points out that a pointed ship may be easier to sail to a particular destination, but Atrahasis’s ark had nowhere to go—it merely needed to support its human and animal occupants for the duration of the flood. He told The Telegraph:

In all the images ever made people assumed the ark was, in effect, an ocean-going boat, with a pointed stem and stern for riding the waves – so that is how they portrayed it. But the ark didn’t have to go anywhere, it just had to float, and the instructions are for a type of craft which they knew very well. It’s still sometimes used in Iran and Iraq today, a type of round coracle which they would have known exactly how to use to transport animals across a river or floods.

Click here to read his account in The Telegraph.

Learn more about Irving Finkel’s book The Ark Before Noah.

10 Things Christians Should Say More Often

Huffington Post Posted: 09/01/2013 8:26 pm

By Christian Platt

I had a series a while back about the Christian Cliches that we should drop from our lexicon, and since then I’ve had people ask what they should be saying instead. So here’s a list of handy phrases to help bring followers of Jesus into a post-Christendom, 21st-century world.

1. "I’m Sorry." – There’s plenty of hurt in the world related to Christianity, and even though we may not personally be responsible for that damage, it’s amazing how far an apology will go. Even if we’re only acknowledging the hurt and disenfranchisement, we should show some regret that something of which we are a part has contributed to someone’s suffering.

2. "How can I help?" – Sometimes we have a bad habit of diagnosing problems and coming up with the solution without actually sitting down and talking with the folks we’re supposedly helping. Though well intended, this can come off as arrogant, and can also end up being a waste of time and resources. Yes, it’s more vulnerable to ask an open-ended question like "How can I help?’ since the answer might require much more of us than we planned on. But that’s the risk of doing real servant work.

3. "I don’t know." – I’ve listed this one before, but it bears repeating. Some of us have been raised with the misapprehension that we always have to have an answer to every question having to do with our faith. But better than pat, rehearsed (or worse, pulled-out-of-our-asses-on-the-fly) answers is the humility of admitting we have no idea sometimes.

4. "I could be wrong." – This goes along with #3, as one of the most damaging things in any faith tradition – or in any cultural system, for that matter – is the idolatry of certainty. When we hold so fast to an idea that the people involved take second chair to our certainty, we’ve created a space where pain and alienation are sown, rather than compassion and reconciliation.

5. "What do you think?" – A third in this theme of what Tony Jones calls "epistemic humility," when it comes to scripture at least, though asking people their thoughts on the Christian faith, the Bible or anything else is a healthy practice for all involved. In fact, I learn more about my faith sometimes from non-Christians than I do from those who are so close to it (like me) that they become blind to the problems, right in front of us. Any good Christian should keep some non-Christian friends on retainer to help keep them in check and lend them some necessary perspective from time to time.

6. "I love you." – We have the best of intentions when telling others about God or Jesus, but unless this is already a central theme in your life, talking about how God loves you can come off as strangely abstract and a little bit crazy. Rather than speaking for God, it’s best if we take the risk and simply speak for ourselves. It sounds nice to say "God loves you," but it’s a real and important risk to say "I love you."

7. "Tell me more…" – Showing genuine interest in the lives and stories of others is the foundation of Christ-like family. So often we sit right next to people – be it at church, work, school or elsewhere – whose stories we know little or nothing about. Whereas in the past, Christendom’s aim was mainly assimilation, a post-Christendom world requires us to be willing to be changed as much as we seek to affect change in our relationships with one another. It’s no longer about eradicating differences, but rather, it’s about cultivating a love that is stronger than those differences.

8. "That just sucks." – This goes along with the Christian compulsion to try and fix everything. But if I’ve learned anything from thirteen years of marriage, it’s that solutions don’t always go as far as empathy.

9. "Let’s give it a try." – Along with presiding over decades of prolific growth (both numerically and institutionally) many Christians began to believe that they were primarily stewards and guardians of the institution rather than preparers of the way for a divinely-inspired kingdom on earth. It’s in the nature of institutions to resist change, however, whereas preparation is all about making room and clearing space in anticipation of something new. As Paul says, our faith requires a childlike "What’s next?" kind of openness, rather than leaning so heavily on the spirit-killing mantra of "But we’ve always done it this way."

10. Say nothing at all– Filling awkward silences with chatter is endemic in our entire western culture, but Christians are particularly guilty of whipping out the cliches when there’s dead air. Sometimes the best prescription is simply to be present, or maybe to listen. Just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we have been commissioned with fixing everything. We could start by adding intentional silence more often into our own spiritual practices, just to get used to how it feels.