Warner's TheoBlog

Thoughts from a disciple who writes


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Testimony to the light

There is a basic question in Philosophy which, when all is said and done, is pointless. “If  tree falls in a woods and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a noise?”As far as I am concerned, if a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, it does not matter unless there is an impact and a witness to that impact. Noise is irrelevant. It might be that the tree falls on a house when there is nobody to hear it. Then, the noise matters not a jot but the fact that a person witnesses the crushing of their home and the loss of their possessions is of huge importance. What matters is the effect of the tree.

What matters is the witness. If the tree falls, whether it makes a noise or not, and there is no witness to its effect, then it is does matter at all what happens. The fall of the tree is only given significance by the witness to it; it’s effect and impact. Without a witness, the whole world will be ignorant of the tree’s effect and life will go on as before.

“[John] himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light” (John 1:8)

Jesus is the light of the world. His effect on the world is incredible and has a huge impact. He came to illuminate the truth about the sin of humanity which stops us knowing God. To save us from our sins, so that we can be reunited with God our Father and have an inheritance of life instead of death. John too was saved by Jesus because he was subject to sin, and it is this that John witnesses to. The coming of the light of the world. The messiah and saviour of the whole human race appears and the world is changed forever.

“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9)

John is a witness to the light of the world. Seeing who the light was, pointing to Him, encouraging others to follow Him. The impact of Jesus, the light of the world, is witnessed because it changes everything. Jesus leads people out of darkness and into light and truth. As Isaiah 9 says, the people of the world are walking in darkness. Yet with Jesus they see a great light. And those who do not see the light hear John, together with the apostles, the disciples, Christians, you and I, pointing to that light and crying out, “LOOK!”

“John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’” (John 1:15)

“John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”” (John 1:29)

If we do not point to the light of the world and exclaim His existence and work, there are huge numbers of people who will miss Him. Like a tree falling in the woods, they will carry on life regardless because they neither saw nor heard its impact. People NEED to hear about the light of the world. Why? Because they live in darkness. We need to shout and point to the light of the world. Why? Because we have seen the light.

The people of the world do not need to be told that they are lost in darkness. They need to be shown the light so that they can see the darkness.

(Christmas cogitation part 6)


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Sent by God

In the UK, there is no easier method of evangelism and outreach that carol singing at Christmas. Wrapped up warm, we can open our lungs and blast out all of the old favorites. Hark the Herald, In the bleak midwinter, Joy to the world and all the rest.

The sad, but interesting , thing is that many Christians seem to overlook the significance of the carols and the opportunity.

All of the Christian carols contain a clear gospel message about the rescue of the world by Jesus. The familiar songs declare the Lordship of God, the salvation of the Lord, the redemption of Creation and so much more. What other time of year will unbelieving members of society voluntarily declare and hear the truths of the gospel? At any other time in the UK, one would be met with, at best, ambivalence, and at worst, derision.

The message that we sing at Christmas is nothing new. It is, to put it very simply, the message of the gospel. Declaring salvation for the lost, rescue for the captives, life for the dead and so on and so forth. Our message for December 25th is no different from our message for 3rd April or 35th August. It is the message of the gospel.

“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John” (John 1:6)

When John the baptizer was preaching and dunking, his message was no different from the message of the Bible. It was the same as the word of Isaiah and the Psalms of David. “Prepare the way for the rescue of God! Confess to God and be made clean”. John declared the truth.

“He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” (John 1:7-8)

John pointed unapologetically and definitely to Jesus, the Messiah. He was sent by God to declare the truth of God to a dark world. “Look to the light of God! Find salvation in the chosen one of God!” It was a message that any of the religious leaders of the time might have preached, yet it was only John who had the courage and faith to preach. He even preached it to the king of Judea who lived in a sinful relationship and had the power to kill him.

The message has not changed. It is as simple as it has always been, yet as hard to stand up and preach as it has always been. It takes REAL faith to stand and declare the coming saviour to a world that is lost in darkness. It takes enough faith to believe that it is more important and urgent to declare salvation in Jesus than it is to avoid the opposition and hatred of people who do not want to hear the truth.

We are the ones sent by God as witnesses to the light. At Christmas, but also at all other times. Sent to declare the gospel with courage in words, deeds, attitude and by the Spirit of God. My name is Nigel and I am sent from God. The question is this; do I have the courage, conviction and, most importantly, faith to declare the truth of light in a dark world. Is it important enough to me to declare the truth despite the dangers and darkness that will oppose the truth about the light of the world? Is the light more important to declare than not?

(Christmas cogitation part 5)


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The light is a mystery

Christmas cogitation part 4

We live in a fallen and suffering world. It is not God’s fault, but ours. The world was Created as a place of perfection, where the beings that God Created to share in his presence were able to walk side by side with Him. Yet, we have fallen. Sin ruined the world and we live with the results everyday.

One only has to turn on the news to see that the suffering in the world is central to experience of the vast majority of the human race. No matter how hard we try, it is simply not possible to prove that human nature is essentially good. Our choices and decisions have led us to where we are at. At the same time, there is the seed of eternity in the hearts of humanity that allows us to yearn and hope for a world that is perfect and fair. We desire and work for the world to be a better place.

Has anything worked? Is there any philosophy, politic, discovery, conception, invention or idea that has actually made the world a lastingly better place? Perhaps light comes for a time and for a small minority, but everything we do simply brings a new set of problems and a new darkness.

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:5)

We look for light and work for the good, yet all we achieve is a different quality of darkness. Alone, we are simply incapable of bringing light to the world, because we are not the light of the world.

The world was never meant to be illuminated by the human spirit. Our spirits are not sources of light, they are reflectors. All we can do as human beings is reflect that which we look towards for our life. If we spend our lives looking towards and following something that cannot give us light and life then we will simply reflect darkness and lifelessness through our lives. We can work as hard as we like to persuade ourselves that what we are doing is shining a light, but in time the evidence will simply prove that we make no lasting impression on the world. Even religion, which is humanities effort to create an alternative to the real presence of God, brings darkness to the world.

THE ONLY REAL LIGHT IS THE REAL PRESENCE OF OUR FATHER GOD! The only source of REAL light in the world is the Creator of light. God is light. Unless we look to God for our light and salvation, we will never reflect transforming light into the world. Only a different quality of darkness.

As human beings, we twist and turn and try to persuade ourselves that we are carriers of light, but it is ultimately a delusion. If we do not understand that Jesus is the light of the world then we simply do not understand the nature of light.

At Christmas, the light shines into the darkness. The REAL light comes into the world, born as a human child to open the door once more to the real presence of God so that light not only shines in the world, but floods the entire creation.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end… The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7)


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Let there be light!

The funny things about light is that we cannot see it. Yet, without it we cannot see.

Before anything else was made by God, there was light. The Creation of light on the first day was necessary for there to be the Creation of everything else that followed, including the sun, moon and stars (that were not created in the Genesis narrative until the fourth day).

It may be that the Creation of light before the creation of the celestial orbs gives credence to the concept that Genesis is an allegory, but that is a discussion for another day. It seems clear that the light here is not the light of physics, but the light of truth. The true light is the light by which human beings navigate through life. Our decisions in life are shaped very much by the way that we see the world and the light by which we see it.

“God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us form all sin” (1 John 1:5-7)

Simply put, light is the presence of God and the dark is His absence.

Christmas is the coming of light, once more, into the world. The light that humanity turned away from in our pride moves evidently and clearly into our sight. It illuminates the world and makes everything perceivable by the presence of God. Jesus is the light of God’s presence in the world. This light brings life. A re-Creation of humanity so that the light of God becomes the central reality to our existence once more and the union of His presence is open to us. Jesus’ birth into this world brings new life; full life; God’s life.

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:3-5)

This is my Christmas cogitation part 3 – perhaps you would like to read the others?


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Before the beginning there was Jesus – Christmas cogitation part 2

Jesus was not a new idea. Whilst he was born into the world as a child, a new human being, he was not a stranger to this world. He was the Word that began creation and he was there when time and space began.

“He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:2)

Before the Creation came to its full maturity, God was. In relationship, in eternity, outside of the time, God existed. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am not going to try and explain it here (partly because this is a blog and a full explanation would require several libraries and partly because I want to think about Christmas).

Jesus was with God, in God, part of God, God… right at the start.

Before humanity was formed and walked with God. Before the first sin of pride led to the expulsion of humanity from the garden and the destruction of the relationship that gave everyday intimacy as we walked with God. Before everything, God.

It is vital to believe, even if we find it hard to understand, that God was and is and is to come. He is not simply pre-existent, He transcends existence and time. It is the reason that the name of God is, I AM.

“In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1)

Were it not so, Christmas would be nothing. God is. Jesus is.

Christmas is not simply a party to celebrate humanity and niceness. Christmas is about a reconnection with the eternal God through the eternal Son by the power of the eternal Spirit.

Before the beginning of time and perception there is Jesus, who submitted to the limitations of mundane existence for the sake of the rescue of lost humanity. Christmas makes sense without this truth… but it has no real meaning.

It needs to be said and, by faith, accepted as true. Jesus is God. Christmas is about the birth of God into human experience in order to offer re-Creation to the human race.

Jesus was and is and is to come. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. And he was born.


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The Word – Christmas cogitation part 1

As we head toward Christmas there is more to consider than cards, gifts and food. As a Christian, Christmas is the festival that celebrates God interceding in the life of the world. The book of Genesis shows us the Creation of the world and the Christmas story shows us the beginning of the re-Creation of the world.

God Created the human race to live in relationship with him. The human race were blessed to walk in the perfect garden with the Creator of the universe, to name the animals and live in total freedom within that relationship. Yet humanity fell, when it chose the action and path of independence over dependence, and sought equality with God rather than unity with God.

This is the inconvenient truth that resides behind the Christmas story and makes Christmas necessary.

The Creation of the world began with a word.

“And God said, “Let there be light”” (Gen 1:3)

From the word of light came the context within which everything else could come into being. Without the light of the presence of God, nothing else makes sense.

The re-Creation of the world also begins with a word.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Gen 1:1)

The Word, which is Jesus, is the instigation and beginning of the re-Creation of the fallen world.

The solution to the problems of the world cannot be found in politics or philosophy, which are simply ideas that find their root in the separation of humanity from God. It is in the Word of God that the world, and therefore the relationship between God and humanity, is re-Created. Without the Word there is no light to lead us back to intimate relationship with the Father, Creator God.

The person of Jesus is the only path to reconciliation with God. A Word from God is the only thing that can begin Creation and, therefore, the only thing that can begin re-Creation. Thus… the Word of God!

The birth of Jesus was the plan of God for the salvation of the world. It is through the Word that the world is re-Created. Let there be… LIFE.


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Burned out on Religion

In my work as a funeral celebrant, the phrase that I hear most regularly is, “we are not religious”. In fact, almost all of the funerals I officiate at are understood, at least by the families whom I serve, to be non-religious. Yet they request prayers, Bible readings, a brief message of hope in the grace of God, and a hymn with words that give honour and glory to God.

When families tell me that they are “not really very religious”, they do so with a sense of apologetic determination. As if they are saying, “we are not really very religious and we are not going to be persuaded otherwise”. As I dig a little deeper during our discussions, I find that people have often been put off of the church, by their experience as children or by a kind of assumed cynicism. They may not be ‘religious’ but they have a suspicion of faith in God.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

As I sit with them, I tell them the truth. I am not very religious either.

I believe that religion sucks the life out of faith in Jesus. To be religious is as helpful to faith as making formal rules for the conduct of love. As if a love affair can only be a ‘real’ love affair if one uses specific words, visits particular venues and involves only prescribed movements to acceptable pieces of music.

We all know that pretty much every love affair involves certain elements: words that declare love, dates where couples hold hands, sofas where they canoodle, physical touches that send shivers down the spine, all done to a soundtrack that, when one hears it years later, engenders sharp memories of a time of sweetly sharp love. Love affairs do not need to be formalized and controlled, they need to be given space and minimal boundaries.

Religion is rubbish! It is the codification of our relationship with God. Religion turns our relationship with God, that would otherwise be a love affair, into a stuffy meeting over afternoon tea. It takes all of the vibrant reality out of faith in Jesus, telling us that it is only the prescribed methods of spending time with Him that are unacceptable. Religion makes the love of God into something that it should not be… a contract.

Faith in God is supposed to be unfettered, unrestricted, and wonderfully real. We should not dread and avoid our encounters with Him. We should be excited to be early, so that we waste none of the time we spend in His company as possible. Our desire to be with God should be a reflection of the overflow of a forgiven soul. We are the recipients of His grace, welcomed into union with Him by His open arms, desperate to squeeze every moment out of our joyous time together.

Going to church, praying, singing, reading God’s word; none of these should be a bind or a chore. They should be a wonderful overflowing pleasure. And it is almost impossible to make them so, unless one has a very specific taste, through codification and formalization. My time with my beloved wife is not characterized by our prescribed words of devotion and strictly timed liaisons, but by our sheer pleasure in simple having opportunities to sit, laugh, talk, touch and love.

That is not to say that there are not boundaries in both love and faith. The boundaries of a love affair have to do with restricting the expression of passion so that it does not become destructive to ourselves and those who are witnesses to our love. The boundaries of faith expression are similar, having less to do with what we practice and more to do with what might be destructive.

I am not Religious. I am deeply, passionately, breathlessly, sincerely, seriously, amazingly, desperately in love with Jesus who, when I was lost in destructive sin and far away from my Father Creator, paid the price so that I could be reconciled and reunited with Him. I love Him. And I want to tell Him that I love Him. I want to be with Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit and close to my Father. I don’t need prescribed words and movements to do that, although there are times when it is a little help, I need space and opportunity and desire. I WANT to spend time with God, so that is what I do. Freely and lightly, as an overflow of my very forgiven, renewed soul.