home > Pastor’s Desk > 2017 > February 17th >​ What You Believe Can Help You But What You Trust Can Save You



This week I had the occasion to speak to three individuals about the difference between Christianity and other religions. While all religions have certain beliefs which generally qualify a person to be an adherent of that religion, Christianity is starkly different. Of course there are some essential beliefs that define Christianity, but simply believing that these things are true is not what qualifies a person as a Christian. The reason is that belief is often confused with faith. And unlike all other religions, which are built on their Creed (set of beliefs), Christianity is a Faith with a Creed, not just a Creed. This distinction is not insignificant. It literally has eternal consequences. The three individuals whom I shared this with this week were each at a point in their life-journey where perhaps for the first time in their lives they could appreciate the gravity of the distinction. You see, each one had recently been confronted with the frailty of their own humanity. One of them had been told by doctors that they had only weeks left to live. The other had an incurable disease. The third had just come out of critical care. Here’s what I told them. 



After listening a bit to the first person’s story and having them tell me that they only had weeks left, I gently told them, “I want to help you to die well.” 

“Thank you” they replied, “I am a Christian, but I’m not one of those church-going Christians.”

“Many believe what Christianity teaches to be true,” I responded, “but they often confuse their understanding of three key words – belieffaith, and trust.”

I explained that a belief was simply an acknowledgement that something was true. Faith was being persuaded by the reasons that a claim was true and had implications for the believer. Trust was the result of that implication.

“For example,” I said, “one may believe that a plane can fly. You can even have good reasons to have faith that a plane can fly. But trust is boarding the plane to fly!”  

This was, I explained, how Christianity was different from all other religions. While religions have sets of beliefs, common to all of them – except Christianity – is the belief that if a person does enough good they can outweigh the bad and qualify to enter Heaven after they die. Reaching for one of the Legana Passports, which will be used in our KiDS Church over the next three Sundays, I drew the analogy that each time we did something wrong it was like receiving a blemish stamp in our life passport. No matter how many merit stamps we may get in our “life passport”, they could never cancel out the blemish stamps. It was like a convicted murderer being shuttled to the court for sentencing when on the way there a school bus laden with children falls over the edge of the bridge. Somehow, the convicted murderer breaks free from his chains and escapes to dive off the bridge and begin rescuing all twenty-eight school children from drowning. After saving their lives, Police once again secure him into the back of the van and take him to court. The Judge declares that this murderer has been found guilty and should be sentenced to the severest punishment. But the convicted man interrupts and says, “Not so fast your Honour! On the way here this morning I rescued twenty-eight lives, so I think we’re even now – in fact, I think you owe me!” As noble as the man’s actions were in rescuing those doomed children, no fair-minded judge is going to be persuaded by this appeal because when the man violently took the life an innocent human being it was a crime with capital (life-long) consequences. How much more then are we guilty when we sin against an eternal and infinitely good God?

Reaching for the other Legana Passport on my desk I continued.

“Imagine if when we die we stand before God with our blemished life-passport and have Him examine it. We cannot bear to look up into the face of God because our guilt and failure is obvious and undeniable. In that moment we know and accept that as the Judge of the Universe we are about to be sentenced and condemned for eternity” I told them. “But then Jesus comes over to us and offers us His perfectly unblemished Passport and tells us that with this Passport we have unfettered access to the best that Heaven offers. He then offers it to us. What would your response be?” I asked.

“Thank you” they replied.

“Precisely. And this is exactly what Jesus Christ did on the first Easter when He died as our Substitute on the Cross.”

 “This is why” I went on, “we spell ‘religion’ as D, O, – it’s all about what you do. And it’s why we spell ‘Christianity’ as D, O, N, E, – it’s all been done for us by Christ.”

The question now is, I offered, whether you will move from belief to trust and get on the plane (Jesus)?

I had a colleague tell me that he had a man who had come to him and say that despite attending his church for over three decades he felt that something was missing in his life. The pastor listened to his story and then startled the man with, “I don’t think you’ve ever truly become a Christian – because what you are describing is someone who believes it to be true but has never actually put their trust in Jesus as their Saviour.” The man’s response to this was equally startling. “Thank God then, because if this was true Christianity I don’t want it because all I feel is empty!” The Pastor led the man to put his faith into action and to trust in the Saviour. The difference from that point was also startling! 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  ¶ And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
Second Corinthians 5:17-18


Your Pastor,


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The One who spoke the world into existence entered materially into His World and “split time in half”. He came to rescue the world because a great betrayal occurred. One of His chief agents was filled with self-deception and conceited envy and manipulated a serpent to his bidding in destroying the very last and highest of the Lord’s “very good” creation. Disappointingly she fell for it – and her husband who supposed to protect her failed in his most basic of responsibilities. Their fall from innocence and into grace plunged that was momentarily and formerly under their vice-regency. The world had now gone rogue. When the Eternal Son of God submitted to His co-LORD, the Holy Spirit placed Him into a virgin’s womb by uniting his consciousness and sinless essence with the ovum of this young virgin. In doing so, Immanuel relinquished none of His sovereign power or prerogatives but chose to lay aside His glory and become fully human. And for those who came to recognise who He actually was, it ever caused them to fall down at His feet in adoration, or shrink back from Him in terror. The side-effect of those who who adored him was a new ability to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because of worries, you too can discover how an acquaintance with the Lordship of Jesus the Christ can also help you to sleep better. 


Today, “Jesus Christ is Lord” sounds like a bumper sticker or part of an ancient church liturgy but when Christianity was founded if someone uttered these words it could literally mean death! ’o christos ’o kurios “Christ is Lord” was a risky thing to declare when the only safe thing to declare was ’o kaiser ’o kurios “Caesar is Lord”! Yet it was upon these words that the earliest confession of the Church was founded. For the early Christians, this was not a glib, throw-away line uttered during a church service or something stuck on the backside of your donkey (or chariot if you were wealthy).  


I really dislike the expression ‘moving forward’. So many people say, ‘moving forward’ from the meeting, the experience, the…. whatever! Has anyone stopped to think that time continues. We can’t go back. Even if we are reflecting, or for that matter mulling, we are in the continuum of time, and unless we have a mythical time machine, we just can’t go backwards in time. Our only option is to ‘move forward’.


I have long said that my primary role as a shepherd-pastor is to help people to die well. To do this, as I have often said, requires that we learn how to live life well. Of all the normally uncomfortable subjects that Christians find it difficult to talk about, death should not be one of them. But it is. This is because, of all the world religions, only Christianity has a positive view of death. After all, we have a divine Saviour who confronted and conquered death. As a result the original apostles mocked death.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
¶ The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.”
(First Corinthians 15:55-56)
These apostles refused to be intimidated by death which was ultimately evidenced by their martyrdoms. The apostle Paul could look forward to his death with the obvious lament that he would no longer be available to help those he had led to the Lord (Phil. 1:23-25). But he could face his impending death with the assurance that it would mean that he would immediately be in the presence of his Lord — and so should we! And like Paul, we too should be be able to talk about death in a very different way to those who do not know what we know.


A suburban home in Australia is shrinking in land size even though the average house size is headed in the opposite direction. What hasn’t changed is fencing around the block of land in order to separate it from a neighbour’s property. Broken fences, overgrown hedges and pets jumping fences are a known source of conflicts. We value our privacy. Those fences are boundaries. To go over them without permission will be trespassing. Renting, owning or owned outright – our home is our safe haven. When we chat with neighbours across the fence, there is a sense of security that comes with standing on our own patch of land. A little piece of Australia over which we have custody, albeit temporal.


Each of these uncomfortable topics in this brief series of articles are uncomfortable because there they carry a sense of embarrassment or even shame attached to them. But this particular topic also carries a good deal of pain associated with it – in addition to any feelings of embarrassment or shame. This pain may involve a sense of failure, betrayal, rejection, and humiliation. Divorce rarely effects just the two people involved in ending a marriage. Divorce can scar people like little else can. It can scar socially, financially, emotionally, relationally, and even a person’s physical health – and sometimes do so permanently.


All of us feel sad at some point – even people who are usually happy most of the time. Usually though for most people there will be some understandable reason for it. This might include the loss of a loved one, a certain disappointment, an accident, or sympathy for someone. This kind of sadness is temporary. But there is a kindness of sadness that lingers which leaves a person drained, teary, thinking dark thoughts, and feeling desperately lonely. This is usually when we consider someone is experiencing ‘depression’ and it is one of those things that Christians find difficult to admit to or even talk about.


There are some things that Christians can’t and don’t talk about – but probably should. So, I would like to pastorally share some thoughts about this taboo topic of doubt in what will be part 1 in this short series of pastor’s desk articles of four taboo topics that Christians can’t talk about.


Resilience was one of the predominant character traits of the early Christians. They called it being steadfast. For these early Christians being ‘resilient’ meant being able to keep going despite set backs, discouragements, betrayals, unforeseen circumstances, lack of energy, motivation, and resources. Like a weary hiker looking down a long road that leads to the mountain range they must walk over, being resilient in life means putting one foot in front of the other, and then doing it again, and again, and again, and so on. God knows that today, in what many are describing as “Post-Christendom” (and the resilient among us prefer to think of as Pre-Christendom) to be resilient is to live with a purpose, to stay focused, to live for others, and to strive toward a good, honourable, goal. With so many reasons to lose sight of the true purpose of life the tendency is to be tricked into believing that life right now is too hard. But the truth be told – people need to know how to be more resilient. Leaders especially need to be resilient right now. Churches assuredly need to be resilient at this time. With the recent interference into churches by government through the measures they said was “to keep people safe” — it has actually depleted people’s ability and willingness to be resilient! Here’s what leaders, people, and churches can do about it.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2023 > July 21st > COME ON IN AND JOIN USSome people think of ‘church’ as a place of religious rituals. To them it a place where sermons are preached, hymns are sung, weddings are conducted, funerals formalised, and babies are...