Thinking about...

The Bible is God's inspired message to mankind. It is a revelation of God's purpose for the earth and mankind, set down by chosen men who were guided in their work by God's Spirit. It is therefore an infallible and authoritative expression of His intent.
Peter, an Apostle of Jesus, affirms this when he wrote to early believers the following words:

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20, 21).

Likewise Paul was moved to assure a young believer Timothy with these words:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

To learn more about what is in the Bible, read it for yourself with the help of a free Bible Reading Guide and Planner. Copies may be requested by email using the link provided on this Web Site.

(Quotations are from the New King James version of the Bible) 


 

Over the garden fence.

Dan & Steve have been good friends and neighbours for many years – the hole in the fence has been their own personal communication channel for all that time. Whether it be the plight of Norwich City, the value of the pound or the price of property, they like nothing better than “chewing the fat” and putting the world to right...

Dan – peering through their hole in the fence - 'Hey Steve, what's with the long pointy branch you're waving around?'

'This is my own personal 2 metre social distancing measure – not bad eh?’

'That's never 2 metres Steve – looks as if you've thrown away the wrong end – I reckon that's just over a metre – anyway people will soon freak out when they see you coming towards them waving that thing'

'Actually I think you're right Dan – I have thrown away the wrong end...anyway, there's plenty of timber in the garage for Mk II.'

 'Did you look at those verses from the Bible I mentioned Steve?'

 'I did Dan – it's a huge book, a colleague at work  says it's all a waste of time though – fairy stories.'

 'Yeah, a lot of people take that view Steve...don't be put off though, you've already said that some of it seems to be making sense.'

'True enough – now I wrote those verses out somewhere – ah...here they are.  That's right, Psalm 115 verse 16 

 “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”  'Were they the ones?’

 'Absolutely – it's just making the distinction Steve that God lives in heaven and he's provided the earth for man – he created and prepared the planet so mankind could enjoy life and living in his presence – what about the other verses?'

 'Right - hang on, they're in this pocket...Psalm 53 verses 2 and 3 – here we are,

 “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

 'Surely that's not the way it is Dan, there are a lot of good people in the world – like my sister...she regularly works in the village charity shop and expects nothing for it'.

 'Of course there are plenty of good people Steve...people who make a difference for good; but you see, God who created and gave life, not unreasonably expects a certain attitude from those who enjoy that gift of life – he expects them to follow his advice and his instructions that would actually bring harmony and peace to the world - just like your father expected good and proper behaviour from you and your siblings...nothing wrong with that is there?'

 'No I don't suppose there is when you put it that way Dan, and in a away I can see why you said that as a result of mankind not behaving in a good way toward God, so much has gone wrong.'

 'Exactly Steve, we see in the world insurmountable problems, greed, hatred, violence, wars, riots, unrest, suffering...COVID-19, and much more – much of it has always been a part of human experience and suffering.  All of it has arisen from mankind's selfishness, pride and arrogance and the inability to manage the planet to the benefit of all – worst of all he has willingly turned away from God and has missed out on the good things the Almighty promises if they would simply seek him.'

 'Yeah, it does make sense Dan...but I really better get going, my shift starts soon – I still can't understand though how God can make someone from the dust of the ground – I think evolution makes more sense.'

'If you really start to unpick all that evolutionists say Steve it really doesn't make sense – things would never have 'arisen' or 'evolved' in the way people say they did; tell me this Steve, how and why did a random process that had no thought behind it provide us with all we have in nature today - apples, oranges, bananas, wheat, grapes, livestock for food and milk, potatoes, humming birds, woodpeckers, owls, and I could keep on all day listing things – why would a carrot or coconut just begin to form?'

'Yeah...see what you mean, I know one thing..I'm off to have a bowl of strawberries and cream before work...and no, I don't know why evolution would have come up with those either – see you Dan – and I will think about the question about creation for next time.'

 'Bye Steve...nice chatting...stay safe...'

 
To be continued...    
Dan & Steve have been good friends and neighbours for many years – the hole in the fence has been their own personal communication channel for all that time. Whether it be the plight of Norwich City, the value of the pound or the price of property, they like nothing better than “chewing the fat” and putting the world to right...
 
Dan – peering through their hole in the fence - 'Hey Steve, what's with the long pointy branch you're waving around?'

 

'This is my own personal 2 metre social distancing measure – not bad eh?’

'That's never 2 metres Steve – looks as if you've thrown away the wrong end – I reckon that's just over a metre – anyway people will soon freak out when they see you coming towards them waving that thing'

'Actually I think you're right Dan – I have thrown away the wrong end...anyway, there's plenty of timber in the garage for Mk II.'

 'Did you look at those verses from the Bible I mentioned Steve?'

 'I did Dan – it's a huge book, a colleague at work  says it's all a waste of time though – fairy stories.'

 'Yeah, a lot of people take that view Steve...don't be put off though, you've already said that some of it seems to be making sense.'

'True enough – now I wrote those verses out somewhere – ah...here they are.  That's right, Psalm 115 verse 16 

 “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”  'Were they the ones?’

 'Absolutely – it's just making the distinction Steve that God lives in heaven and he's provided the earth for man – he created and prepared the planet so mankind could enjoy life and living in his presence – what about the other verses?'

 'Right - hang on, they're in this pocket...Psalm 53 verses 2 and 3 – here we are,

 “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

 'Surely that's not the way it is Dan, there are a lot of good people in the world – like my sister...she regularly works in the village charity shop and expects nothing for it'.

 'Of course there are plenty of good people Steve...people who make a difference for good; but you see, God who created and gave life, not unreasonably expects a certain attitude from those who enjoy that gift of life – he expects them to follow his advice and his instructions that would actually bring harmony and peace to the world - just like your father expected good and proper behaviour from you and your siblings...nothing wrong with that is there?'

 'No I don't suppose there is when you put it that way Dan, and in a away I can see why you said that as a result of mankind not behaving in a good way toward God, so much has gone wrong.'

 'Exactly Steve, we see in the world insurmountable problems, greed, hatred, violence, wars, riots, unrest, suffering...COVID-19, and much more – much of it has always been a part of human experience and suffering.  All of it has arisen from mankind's selfishness, pride and arrogance and the inability to manage the planet to the benefit of all – worst of all he has willingly turned away from God and has missed out on the good things the Almighty promises if they would simply seek him.'

 'Yeah, it does make sense Dan...but I really better get going, my shift starts soon – I still can't understand though how God can make someone from the dust of the ground – I think evolution makes more sense.'

'If you really start to unpick all that evolutionists say Steve it really doesn't make sense – things would never have 'arisen' or 'evolved' in the way people say they did; tell me this Steve, how and why did a random process that had no thought behind it provide us with all we have in nature today - apples, oranges, bananas, wheat, grapes, livestock for food and milk, potatoes, humming birds, woodpeckers, owls, and I could keep on all day listing things – why would a carrot or coconut just begin to form?'

'Yeah...see what you mean, I know one thing..I'm off to have a bowl of strawberries and cream before work...and no, I don't know why evolution would have come up with those either – see you Dan – and I will think about the question about creation for next time.'

 'Bye Steve...nice chatting...stay safe...'

To be continued...    

Dan & Steve have been good friends and neighbours for many years – the hole in the fence has been their own personal communication channel for all that time. Whether it be the plight of Norwich City, the value of the pound or the price of property, they like nothing better than “chewing the fat” and putting the world to right.………..

Dan – peering through their hole in the fence

 '...so - King Cole has gone to heaven you say Dan?'

 'No Steve, I was making the point that whenever the Bible refers to the soul it's referring to living, breathing things – either animals of humans...just like we're told in the nursery rhyme “Old King Cole – he was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he”; it's describing what he was like when he was alive as a person, look, when the New Testament refers to Noah and his family being saved in the ark from the great flood we read of in Genesis, it says “the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

 It's simply saying Steve, that 8 people were saved, and throughout the Bible “soul” is mentioned in the context of living people or creatures.'

 'So Dan where does it say that we go to heaven when we die – I always thought that it did, most people believe it; so what happens to us all – if death is all there is, what's the point to life, I mean it's a waste of time if all you get is 70+ years and there's nothing to look forward to afterwards?'

 'I think we have to get back to basics Steve, existence and life came about as a result of God creating – he created and presented the earth to man, mankind was then expected to live life reflecting how God is – in Exodus we're told about God's character, he's merciful, gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth – but he also won't tolerate sin and all those things that are contrary to his nature – he expects mankind to acknowledge him for providing the wonderful opportunity to live, breath and enjoy his creation – in his presence.'

 'That's a bit selfish of him isn't it Dan, he's effectively demanding that we all fall down and worship him or he won't give us anything in return – sounds a bit dictatorial to me.'

 'When you say it like that Steve yes, but looking at it another way, we should all be striving to be good, honest and upright; everything that makes up the character of God which was seen in Jesus should be admired by everyone – if not, how do people think they should behave, and in the end Steve you find that people don't so much have a problem with how the Almighty would like them to behave and live, but it's the fact that they don't want to surrender or give up their freewill – their opportunity to do whatever they feel they want to do.’

 'Yeah, but like I said Dan, there are a lot of good people out there, and what's so wrong in going to your local for a few pints with your mates – it doesn't seem right to me that what you're saying is that unless we all come round to God's way of thinking and get on his side we're all doomed.’

 'I agree Steve, it doesn't seem right when so many good and honest people die – FACT; but if you want to see fairness all round, it's not right either that mankind is quite content in using their freewill and the wonderful opportunity to have life that God has granted, to live and behave exactly how they want, enjoying the many blessings of God's creation, without any acknowledgement towards God or word of thanks or appreciation – it's a two way street Steve.'

 'Yeah, I can see what you're saying, I still think him upstairs should stop all the suffering and pain people are in – Madge across the way has just been diagnosed with cancer – why can't he take that away?'

 'If he was to do that Steve he would have to sort out the entire mess that mankind has been making of the planet for centuries – it's not time for that yet. He has promised a time though when he will send Jesus back to the earth to establish a worldwide kingdom; it will eventually replace all we see around us and then mankind's rule or misrule will be seen in its true light – for what it’s truly been - a truly unholy mess and dismal failure at so many levels.'

 'It really is as simple as ABC Steve, God created the earth for mankind; mankind was to enjoy the earth but ultimately in order to receive God's blessings and ultimately immortality man was to behave in the right way, towards God and towards his fellow human beings; if he didn't then blessings wouldn't come; it's not so much what has mankind done to deserve all the suffering and misrule that's come upon him; it's more to do with what good towards God has mankind done in order to receive his blessings, answer – NOTHING.'

 'Yeah alright I see your point Dan; I remember you said that Jesus shows us how to live and prepare for when he comes back – how does all that work, we can't walk around in sandals all day?'

 'No, he doesn't expect us to walk around wearing sandals Steve, but he would like to see us walking around and acting and behaving in a good, upright and Godly way preparing for God's coming Kingdom – anything wrong with that?'

 'No I don't suppose there is, but what I don't understand is why he had to suffer the way he did, why he had to die on that cross thing...then you say he rose to life again...can't really get my head round all that, I think you'll have to pop round and explain it all to me when all when this Covid stuff is over – it will be a good excuse to wheel the BBQ out.'

 'Not if you're thinking of sausages, bacon and burgers Steve – the good book speaks of burnt offerings and I had those last time I came round!'

 'I've improved since then Dan, you'll be in for a treat – barbecued chicken.'

 'Let’s hope it's not too barbecued! – see ya Steve – stay safe.'

To be continued...    

Dan & Steve have been good friends and neighbours for many years – the hole in the fence has been their own personal communication channel for all that time. Whether it be the plight of Norwich City, the value of the pound or the price of property, they like nothing better than “chewing the fat” and putting the world to right.………..

 Dan – peering through their hole in the fence

 ‘Figured it out yet Steve – you seem a bit....red in the face?’

‘No I haven't Dan – I've been on it nearly half an hour – I gave up after adding 44 to 43 - what was the question again?’

 ‘Taking no longer than 2 minutes Steve, what is the sum total of all the numbers from 1-100?’

 ‘It would take me at least 2 hours to add 100 numbers up – so what's the answer clever clogs?’

 ‘Well Steve, it's quite easy when you know the answer; first, you add all the pairs of numbers that add up to 100 – so, 1+99, 2+98, 3+97, 4+96 and so on – the last pair being 49+51. This simply means you have 49 pairs or 98 numbers already quickly eliminated. That equates to 49 x 100 equalling 4900 – agreed?’

 ‘Agreed.'

 ‘Then all you have left are the two numbers 100 and 50 as there is nothing to pair those with. Sum total is...5050!’

 'Oh, very clever Dan...I can't wait to catch my young nephew out with that one – so go on, you usually have a lesson for me after something like that – what's it this time?’

 ‘Actually Steve I hadn't thought of one, but I suppose, like any difficult questions we're faced with, no matter how hard they are to understand or unravel, once we know the answer it all makes sense and we're relieved when we know the answer; you do need two things though, firstly the desire to know the answer, and then you set about finding it; now you know the answer to the maths question it's all become clear, the question isn't so intimidating as you first thought.’

 ‘That's true Dan, I remember asking you the other week about how Jesus fits into God's purpose, I'm coming round to seeing how evolution wasn't the way life appeared on earth and that God created life and gave mankind the opportunity to experience life in his presence – I get that. I also get the fact that man hasn't done a very good job as “caretaker” – so to speak in looking after things; what about Jesus though, and if he's coming back as King, why did he have all that hassle with those Pharisee types and the like who eventually killed him?’

 ‘Wow Steve – you have been doing a lot of thinking, but slow down there's still a lot to think about first.’

 ‘Too right there is Dan, it's like that number question you gave me – I WANT AND NEED TO KNOW THE ANSWERS – NOW!’

 ‘Well I admire your thirst for knowledge Steve, so I'm going to start with this very helpful passage in the New Testament – it's from Romans chapter 5, it's a long one Steve and a bit heavy going so I'll read through it slowly:

 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world” (that was Adam Steve), “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ). Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”’

 ‘Phew, that was intense - a lot to take in Dan; I think I managed to get bits of it, but I have to say most of it went over my head – it seems that it was showing a contrast between Adam who introduced sin that brought death to all men – because we all sin - and Jesus, who seems to have undone or rectified all that bad stuff – is that right?’

 ‘Yes it is Steve, there were some difficult bits, but essentially you're right; because of the sinless life of Jesus, and because he demonstrated total obedience to God's word – ultimately when he died death couldn't hold him – after all, death was a punishment for sin, as the passage said “we all have sinned.”

 You see, it was important for mankind to be consistently obedient and to uphold what we could term God's righteousness – or everything that is right about and from God, Jesus did that, Steve, and he became a top notch example for believers to follow and emulate – it will be how people behave in God's kingdom.’

 ‘What about that lot in the gospels Dan who were always going on at him, who were they and you haven't mentioned why he had to die yet?’

 ‘Jesus had to live the life he did Steve and then die in order for him to destroy the power of death and the grave and to enable God to justify – or make right and look favourably on sinners.’

 ‘That sounds a bit complicated Dan...what does it all mean in layman's terms?’

 ‘Well, I suppose you could say that the Almighty desired someone who would demonstrate complete obedience, someone who would effectively say “this is the only right way to live and behave”; and by being obedient unto death Jesus declared that what God expected from man was right. His life though wasn't easy, he suffered many things, not only from the authorities, but because he shared the same nature as we do, he had the same temptations as us; it took a lot of strength and determination to put aside his own natural inclinations in order to elevate what was right, good and true.

 Like his followers today Steve, he underwent a learning process; it says in Hebrews Chapter 5 -

 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him...” (verses 8 & 9).’

 ‘So you mean Dan, Jesus wasn't always perfect and yet I thought you said he was sinless.’

 ‘”Perfect” in the Bible Steve, means mature or fully grown, Jesus didn't know all there was to know about life's ups and downs from the very beginning and learning was important for him just as much as it's still important for us, it doesn't mean that until one is mature (perfect) that they are of little or no value. Think of a sunrise Steve, at whatever stage you look at one it looks wonderful, awe inspiring and brilliant, so too Jesus, although he developed and learnt along the way, at any stage he was always “altogether lovely” as the Bible describes him.’

 ‘I think I can see how it's all working out Dan; Adam failed and he brought in sin and death; sin passed through all men so we all die – right?’

 ‘Right – keep going Steve.’

 ‘Jesus then comes along, an upstanding example who does God's will and as a result God raises him from the dead because the grave couldn't hold him - because he didn't sin. He then becomes the example for all believers to follow and although they are still sinners, if they believe they are favoured by God – or justified I think is the right word – made right – they become acceptable to God on account of their belief. They then follow Jesus's example and prepare for his coming and his Kingdom – phew, at last some things are making sense to me Dan.’

 ‘You're getting good at this Steve, there was another aspect to why Jesus had to die and that involves sacrifice but I think that's for another time. We've used some broad brush strokes on this one, but next time we chat I'll tell you more about why the Pharisees and others saw Jesus as a threat – it all has to do with the Old Testament you know.’

 ‘Yeah, I've been wondering how that part ties in with Jesus, I was flicking through it last night Dan, it's a big chunk of the Bible – looks bigger than the New Testament in fact, at least in my Bible anyway - but I suppose because it's called the “Old” I'm guessing it's defunct now, out with the old and in with the new eh – am I right?’

 ‘Well, yes it is a big chunk Steve, but you're wrong about it being defunct in some way; it's still very important and is very much a part of God's word and what he wants to tell us...I'll explain next time...see you soon...stay safe.’

To be continued...    

Dan & Steve have been good friends and neighbours for many years – the hole in the fence has been their own personal communication channel for all that time. Whether it be the plight of Norwich City, the value of the pound or the price of property, they like nothing better than “chewing the fat” and putting the world to right.………..

 Dan – peering through their hole in the fence.

 'HEY...don't throw that out Steve...I can use it - after all...one man's scrap is another man's treasure.'

 'Why on earth would you want a piece of carpet remnant...it's not even square...more...trapezoid shape?'

 'That's a big word for you Steve...but you're right, this my good man is going in 'the man shed'; I'll place it under the rocking chair, dulls out the sound of me relaxing!'

 'It's alright for those who can relax – I've got heaps to do before I go back to work – still...no rest for the wicked Dan.'

 'Except in the grave Steve.'

 'Oh very good, here we go, I walked into that one, anyway you were going to tell me why the Old Testament isn't so old after all?'

 'Well it still is old Steve, the events it speaks of go back about 6000 years, and if you just flick through the pages or look at the index you'll notice a whole lot of stuff being mentioned.'

'I know Dan, I had a rifle through the pages last evening; I hadn't heard of some things like Leviticus, Esther, Ezekiel, a whole load of book names that I can't remember – or pronounce – oh but I had heard of some of the folk who get mentioned – Samson, him with the long hair, Noah and his ark, Moses, Jonah who got swallowed by a big fish and I remember from Sunday School, David who fought that big chap...now what was his name...?'

 'Goliath...David fought Goliath Steve, and won...against all odds because God was with him.'

 'So there seems to have been some weird and wonderful stuff going on Dan, how does it all tie in with God or are they just stories and 'tall tales' strung together?'

 'Well Steve, when you begin reading the New Testament, you'll often find references back to a lot that happened in that 'weird' Old Testament as you call it. The New Testament mentions Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, the flood, Joseph, Moses, the period of the Judges, Kings of Israel, David, Joshua, Isaiah, Daniel and many other things. In fact the Old Testament is referenced throughout the New Testament in relation to so many things.'

 'Like what Dan?'

 'Like the birth of Jesus - his work, ministry, parables, miracles and rejection by the nation, the nation of Israel is mentioned and how God worked with them; there is also mentioned something that hasn't happened as yet – God's Kingdom that will fill the whole earth; so, plenty there Steve and the Old Testament serves as a reminder as to how God is, what he's like, how he works with and for people; it records so many things he has promised, that not only did happen later and throughout the New Testament, but things that have yet to happen when he sends Jesus back to the earth.'

 'I'd better not throw that part away yet then Dan...sounds as if it could be an interesting read.'

 'It is Steve, you see after the creation spoken of in Genesis – the first book of the Bible - the Old Testament became a record of God's relationship with mankind – you remember that he gave mankind the gift of life along with the opportunity to live in a good way in his presence, so how did that pan out? Well the Old Testament shows us, along the way we meet all kinds of people who responded very differently at times when faced with the reality of God.

 It goes without saying Steve, that some came to believe and accept what the Almighty was all about, but many – even entire nations and races of people, chose to go their own way, and all that has developed into the way the world is today is simply a continuation of God's relationship with his creation – this really is the only way to satisfactorily understand the world around us, why we're here, the purpose of our existence, the turmoil in the Middle East, religion and so on and why the world is so broken.'

 'So it's been like a huge stage Dan, like the plays I go and see, the entire history of the world has been enacted almost as it were in front of God – he's like the audience.'

 'Actually Steve there is a passage in the Psalms that illustrates what you've just said, in Psalm 33 verses 13-15:

 “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.”’

 'That's interesting Dan, I've never viewed history like that, I've just viewed it as a whole series of events that have been a part of mankind's progress throughout the ages...you know...his world...how he wanted to shape it.'

 'Thing is Steve, although mankind has forged his own way throughout history, God has been in control and has always had a plan and purpose with the earth. If the Old Testament is about anything it's about the way in which God will ultimately have things the way he intended them, regardless of the mess things are in currently.

 For a long time God worked closely with the nation of Israel, they became his special people, they became his witness to all of the nations around them and so the Old Testament centres on that part of the world and mostly about people connected with the nation.'

'So all those stories about battles, kings and all those prophets coming and going were tied in with God's dealings with the nation at the time – so why did Jesus's own nation reject him when he came Dan?'

 'Well Steve, believe it or not, 400 years separate the Old and New Testaments; by the time we get to Jesus, the Jewish nation was a well-oiled machine when it came to religious worship - but their worship wasn't directed towards God. They had become very self-righteous about all the good they did, they neglected what it really was that God required of them – being only intent on doing things their own way Steve – you know how it is, none of us like being told that we're wrong. But this is exactly what Jesus told them, he warned them that God's judgments were going to come upon them because they were way off what God expected.

 So Jesus became a threat to them, they knew who he was and what his message was all about but they didn't want him 'spoiling the party' so to speak, so they had to get rid of him – and so they tried to, by false accusations and getting the people behind them; they rejected the very man who had come and who would have been a great king over them.'

 'So, their days were numbered Dan?'

 'Sadly yes Steve – 40 years or so after Jesus rose from the dead and went to heaven, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and for the next 2000 years or so the Jews underwent terrible persecution, that ultimately saw them going back into their own land at the end of the 19th century.'

 'What happened to his followers Dan?'

 'When Jesus rose from the dead, he commissioned the disciples or apostles to preach the Gospel and to baptise people – people who believe God and his promises, the early church was formed and pockets of believers sprang up, all sharing the same hope that Jesus would one day return to the earth and set up God's Kingdom of which they could be a part – that continues today Steve, people can read the Gospel message and if it's for them take it on board and prepare with others.'

 'That sounds fair enough Dan, I think you said once, that it will be in Jerusalem that Jesus will reign from – it's certainly been a bone of contention for as long as I can remember and much longer – it's very rarely out of the news; I've got to go now Dan, but you mentioned a word again that you've mentioned before – baptism, maybe next time you can tell me all about that – but it is all very interesting – anyway see you Dan.'

 'OK Steve...stay safe and next time baptism it is.'

To be continued

Dan & Steve have been good friends and neighbours for many years – the hole in the fence has been their own personal communication channel for all that time. Whether it be the plight of Norwich City, the value of the pound or the price of property, they like nothing better than “chewing the fat” and putting the world to right.………..

 Dan – peering through their hole in the fence

 'Did you see it alright last night Steve?'

'Did I sleep alright last night – of course I did, why do you ask?'

 'No, I said

'Oh yes I did Dan, sorry – looked huge – and so bright.'

 'That was an classic example Steve of how it helps to listen properly to what someone says.'

 'I can feel a lesson coming on here Dan – anyway...it could have been that you were slurring your words.'

 'Yeah right Steve, but I think it more likely you had your mind elsewhere! It's important to hear and listen to what God has said throughout his word Steve – we really have to take our time with it and find out what he expects from us.'

 'So what's all this about baptism then Dan, you said you would explain it – why can't we all just be good people and then enjoy God's Kingdom - when it eventually arrives?'

 'It would be nice if it was as straightforward as that Steve; but that means the world would just go on as it is – you know, ignoring God and his word. A part of the preparation for this great Kingdom that Jesus will be King over, is that those who believe and who really want it to come, have to live lives now that demonstrate they want that; otherwise if there wasn't a need to prepare many people might reject it when it does come. When someone accepts the Gospel message they begin a new life of discipleship – and that begins after baptism.'

 So Dan, you're saying in effect we're no good to God unless we believe and then get baptised – that's a bit selfish of God isn't it?'

 'Not really Steve. Remember how we've seen that essentially there are two paths – Jesus terms them the 'broad and narrow' ways. The narrow way is the way of belief, baptism and preparation; the broad way is the way which the world is currently travelling on and has been since it all went pear shaped in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. It all has to do with choice – what we choose in life. There's a passage in Deuteronomy Steve that records the choices God gave to the nation of Israel before they went into the promised land. It's Chapter 30 verse 19:

 “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live...”

 Effectively what the Almighty was saying Steve, was that he had promised them great things once they would enter the land – a land flowing with milk and honey and so much more – if they remained faithful – if they behaved Steve, just as parents want their children to behave.'

 'OK fair enough Dan, I get that, but what about baptism – I'm sure I was baptised when I was a nipper – am I covered then?'

 'Not according to Bible teaching on baptism Steve; it's clear from all the cases in the New Testament that those who were baptised were of an understanding age and had heard and understood the Gospel first. Nowhere do we read of babies or very young children being baptised who had no knowledge of what they were doing.

 This is because of the significance of baptism; baptism for the believer involved them being completely covered in water for a brief moment and then coming up out of the water, there is no mention of anyone having heads sprinkled at a font Steve, it was full immersion in water, maybe in a river or the sea, that sort of thing.'

To be continued