Can short people go to heaven?

Good news for all of my short kings and queens, your height has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you can make it into heaven.

This misconception comes from the following verses in Leviticus 21:16-20 (ESV):

16 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.

As we can see from the context, this is very specific instruction given to Aaron (via Moses) about who can serve in the temple. Aaron and his descendants were in charge of all of the temple practicalities and there were strict guidelines as to who could serve.

The Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins. Thus the animal sacrifices and other offerings in the temple were performed by Aaron for the forgiveness of the sins of the people (amongst other things).

But now Jesus himself has become the sacrifice, once and for all. Read in Hebrews 10:11-14 (ESV):

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

We can see that we no longer need animal sacrifices or the selection of priests as per the scripture in Leviticus because Jesus has already died on the cross for us.

Just like tall people, short people will only go to heaven if they confess their sin and give their lives fully to Jesus. Heaven was always an impossibility for us in our own strength, but Jesus has made a way for us.

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Can we go to heaven with tattoos?

The only place the Bible specifically mentions tattoos is in Leviticus 19:28 (ESV):

You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.

Before we dive into the theology of it, let’s just consider common sense for a moment.

Our body is a gift to us from God and we are to steward it well. Damaging our body through lack of care is not good and yet all of us will imperfectly care for our bodies. Think about nutrition, lack of movement, avoiding going to the doctors to address illness etc.

Clearly it’s a good idea to look after our bodies but God is very kind to us as we imperfectly follow him.

So does tattooing damage our body? If done carelessly or improperly yes. But generally speaking no.

God is not a stickler for detail or trying to catch us out. He is very gracious to us in all of our imperfection.

Even if we reach the conclusion that theologically tattoos are a sin, then it would be hard to imagine that it is a level of sin that would disqualify someone from heaven.

The first thing we need to consider is that much of Leviticus is not written to most of us. The Law (Torah) was given to the people of Israel.

We can see that there are multiple elements to the Law.

  • Civil law around the judicial system of the nation of Israel (not applicable to us)
  • Ceremonial law around the forgiveness of sins (fulfilled by Jesus)
  • Common sense truth that stands the test of time

So if you are not Jewish then much of the Old Testament Law is not an instruction for you.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be truth or wisdom that applies to non Jewish people such as myself. But if we want to take Leviticus 19:28 and apply it to ourselves today then we should probably also apply the rest of the Law such as burnt offerings etc.

So why did God command the people of Israel not to cut their body or tattoo themselves.

The clue is in the reference to the dead. Many pagan religions cut themselves or make markings (tattoos) that are directly connected to the worship of idols. Hence God is reminding his people that he is the Lord and wants his people to be separate.

There are some ways that tattoos can be sinful though.

It’s all about the heart with which we approach them (and anything else for that matter).

If we are getting a tattoo to annoy our parents or to communicate a dark or unkind message then that’s probably somewhat sinful.

If we are acting outside of self-control (a fruit of the Holy Spirit) and being careless with our bodies then that’s probably somewhat sinful.

And of course connected to idol worship is not a vibe.

But tattoos in themselves are definitely not sinful for Gentiles (although the scripture seems to say they are for Jews).

So how does anyone get to heaven anyways?

We know that every single one of us have fallen short of the glory of God and need a saviour. Romans 10:9 (ESV) says it like this:

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

It’s not the result of our perfect life (although God does want to change our behaviour over time). It’s the result of the grace and goodness of God, revealed to us on the cross through Jesus.

If you have a tattoo that you regret then you could always save up and get it removed. But the Bible also tells us that the old has gone and the new has come.

Thanks for reading!

How many pages are in the Bible

If you’re wondering how many pages are in the Bible then you’ve come to the right place. But unfortunately it’s one of those annoying answers – it depends.

The amount of pages completely depends on many factors including font choice and sizes, page size, style and of course translation. If you’re looking for a rough answer then we can say that typically a Bible will have at least 1200+ pages in it.

Did you know…

The Bible is primarily written in Hebrew and Greek and there are many translations of it into English (and of course other languages). It’s actually the best-selling book every year but it’s such a given that it doesn’t get counted to the official lists.

It’s also made up of 66 books (which make up two parts – the Old & New Testament).

If you’re wondering where to read the Bible then there are many free versions available to read online such as BibleGateway or the YouVersion Bible App.

You can also buy a physical Bible from Amazon (or a plethora of other sites via Google).

What is the sixth commandment in the Bible

You can find the full list of the ten commandments in the Bible in Exodus 20.

Though given specifically to Moses and the nation of Israel, the ten commandments have become iconic and contain timeless truth that can be applied today.

It’s worth noting that the Protestant and Catholic tradition of the Bible break down the ten commandments differently. The below quote is following Protestant tradition and found in Exodus 20:13 (ESV):

You shall not murder.

The Catholic tradition is that the sixth commandment is found in the following verse of Exodus 20:14 (ESV):

You shall not commit adultery.

This difference is to do with how the commandments are grouped but the both traditions still hold to the same message around the ten commandments.

Perhaps best to sum up all of the commandments is the Golden rule as shared by Jesus in Matthew 7:12 (ESV):

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

It’s hard to argue with that from the perspective of morality and given that Jesus wrote the Law, it seems like a good summary.

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Can you be a Christian and not go to church?

Sadly many people’s experience of church seems to be similar to our experience of life itself – a mixed bag. There are good churches and there are bad churches. There are good cultures and bad cultures. There are good leaders and bad leaders.

So what do we do with all of this?

Firstly, let’s recognise the human component of the church.

The reason the church is frequently imperfect is because the church is made up of human beings. And of course human beings are imperfect.

It seems to me that God is incredibly relaxed about the mess we often see. Perhaps more relaxed than we are.

There is no perfect church just as there is no perfect life. So what does that mean for us?

Perhaps you’re reading this and you’re not currently part of a church. Maybe you’ve experienced some sort of abuse or pain within the very place that you expected to be safe.

I know God himself sees your pain and cares deeply for you. And I’m sorry that the church has let you down. I know what it’s like to be let down by people. And what’s so beautiful about the gospel is that we see that Jesus himself also understood this unique pain.

So let’s come back to our question at hand. Can you be a Christian and not go to church?

Honestly the answer is yes and no. It depends on a few things – so let’s dig in.

It depends on our definition of Christian

A Christian is not someone who has grown up in a Christian environment or family. Just because your parents are Christian does not make you truly a Christian.

A Christian is someone who is in Christ. In other words, you have made the decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. As we do that, we surrender our life to God and we choose to live out a new life with him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) says it like this:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Perhaps it’s helpful to split our category of Christian into two. We have cultural Christians who largely adopt a Christian world view and morality. And we also have born again Christians who fit the above definition and have been born again into new life with Jesus.

Does becoming a born again Christian change what we do?

If we have now surrendered our life to Jesus, that means that our life now belongs to him. The same blood that was shed on the cross through which we receive forgiveness of sin is the same blood that has purchased our lives.

So now that I am surrendered to God, I must now align my life with his word and his will.

We can see clearly from scripture that God has designed human beings to live in community and this is particularly true of Christians.

1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV) says it like this:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

The word ‘you’ referred to above is actually the plural word for you. It’s not a word we have in English but you may be familiar with ‘vous’ in French and ‘sie’ in German.

Perhaps the closest translation we could get is the phrase, ‘you all’.

The temple that God is creating is actually us. Of course we have individual free will and autonomy but it seems clear that God’s will is togetherness and unity.

We can see this throughout the Bible with phrases such as the body of Christ to describe Christians as united in Christ.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where God does not want each individual believer to grow together in their faith.

But this leads us to something important.

How exactly are we defining the church?

We can see local expressions of the church which tend to be organised around Sunday services and programmes. We can also see the global church.

The word church is a description of people who are called out and gathered. Today we now connote that with organised religion but that’s not necessarily the truest definition.

Is organisation good? Well yes. But power can also be abused and misused and I understand why some may have created a negative connection to the church because of it. History is sadly rich with much corruption of every organisation, including the church.

I can see that God is very gracious with those who have been hurt within the four walls of the church. I can also see that there are less organised versions of churches (think house churches, prayer meetings etc) that are still absolutely valid expressions of the church.

What is certain is that every single one of us need community to thrive. It’s God’s design. If you’re feeling disconnected, then can I encourage you to find a way to connect? It might be online through Sunday services (like ours at Reflect Church). Or with Christians in your local area.

Either way, let’s not neglect gathering. Here’s one final scripture to encourage us from Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV):

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

You might like to find out about our Sunday services in London, UK or tune in online.

Was Jesus A Religious Revolutionary

Was Jesus A Religious Revolutionary?

Was Jesus A Religious Revolutionary?

Many Christians have this picture of Jesus as a religious revolutionary. The story goes something like this.

  1. The Jewish leaders such as the Pharisees were judgemental and oppressive because they were stuck in the ways of Judaism.
  2. Jesus arrives on the scene and brings a revolutionary teaching about God’s love and desire for relationship. Now they can forget about religion.
  3. The Jews who believed in Jesus became Christians and abandoned their old religion.

Conclusion: Jesus was a religious revolutionary

The problem with this version of events is that although it contains some elements of truth, it is not entirely correct.

You see, if we look closely, we find that Jesus was not so much a religious revolutionary as he was a religious conservative.

No, we’re not making any claims about the political affiliation of Jesus today. But the word conservative is what best describes the mission of Jesus.

A conservative is one who seeks to hold on to and preserve traditional values. They work to bring clarity back to things that have become distorted over time. This is what Jesus came to do.

Let’s correct some of our narrative above.

1. The Jewish leaders such as the Pharisees were judgemental and oppressive not because they were stuck in Judaism but because they had added to God’s laws

Let us not forget that Jesus was a Jew. And that he was the most Jewish Jew that existed.

Jesus not only lived under the Torah but he was the one who created it.

When we see Jesus criticise the Pharisees, it’s not because he opposes the Jewish law but the unnecessary additions to it.

For example, what began with God’s command to honour the Sabbath became an oppressive burden with hundreds of different specific rules about what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath.

So when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were angry for breaking their customs. But they were missing God’s original intention because they had added additional traditions that God never created. (See Mark 2:23-27)

Not all of these traditions were bad of course but sometimes traditions can distract us from what matters most. That’s what happened with the Pharisees and we see this happen today just as frequently.

2. Jesus arrives on the scene and reminds everyone about God’s love and desire for relationship. Now they can obey God and practice religion but from a correct heart posture.

Jesus did not bring a new teaching about God’s love. If you read the Old Testament then you’ll find plenty about it. (See Psalm 103 for example). The idea of living by faith (trust in God) was also not a New Testament one.

God was always looking for people to trust in him (relationship) and therefore obey his commands (religion).

We often create a false dichotomy between relationship and religion which often subtly communicates that obedience is not that important. But a much better interpretation of scripture is that true religion flows from relationship with God.

3. The Jews who believed in Jesus acknowledged him as the promised Messiah and continued to follow Jewish customs.

Jesus never told his followers (who were all Jewish) to abandon the Law and the Prophets. In fact he specifically and emphatically stated that this was not his goal. (See Matthew 5:17)

The early church was Jewish and gradually the good news was also shared with the Gentiles. Note that the Gentiles were never required to follow the Jewish law and practices. And over the next centuries as Christianity spread, sadly the Jewish roots of the church became less understood.

Conclusion: Jesus came to bring the Jewish people back to God’s original heart and teaching.

Jesus was not a religious revolutionary. He was the promised Jewish messiah through whom God would unite all peoples.

Recommended reading

Jesus Never Said Anything New by Rabbi Matt Rosenberg

Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H Stern

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Is There A God?

Is There A God?

Is there a God?

The word God conjures up different things to different people. Those from a Christian, Islamic or Jewish background may think of a monotheistic God. Others from pantheistic religions such as Hinduism may see God more as a divine force or otherwise.

If you’re asking this question then you’re not alone. Human beings have been exploring the idea of God pretty much forever. The reasons for that are obvious because if God is real then it has a profound impact on why we are here and who we are.

Before we can answer which God is real (logic tells us they can’t all be), we must deal with the idea that there may be no sort of God at all. This is typically classified as atheism.

Atheism is the lack of belief in gods (including God)

Our easiest starting point to address atheism is to understand where life came from. Note that we can use many words to also describe ‘life’ such as the universe, nature and so on. This is a question of linguistics but doesn’t change the outcome of the question.

There are two possible answers:

  1. Life created itself
  2. Life was created by something greater than it

We can see that both of these two options actually lead back to some form of God. If anything could create itself (it can’t), it could only be explained by some sort of divine. But even then falls short as a conceptual impossibility.

And if life was created by something greater than it, this is by definition something outside of nature, specifically divine.

What the Bible says about atheism

We find therefore that the position of atheism is best matched to the one described in the Bible.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Romans 1:19-21

Our lack of belief in God does not hold up for very long at all under a proper philosophical discussion because it derives from the unwillingness to acknowledge God for what he has done. For if there can be no God then we need not acknowledge what he has to say. In rejecting the idea of God, ironically we ourselves become gods (philosophically speaking).

Is there a God?

Most definitely. But now begins the better question, who is God?

You might also like this article: Did God Use Evolution?

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How Did The Universe Begin

How Did The Universe Begin?

How did the universe begin?

The Big Bang Theory is the idea that the universe began as a single point and has been expanding out ever since. The Bible also aligns with this perspective, telling us the following.

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

You will be quick to realise of course that scientific consensus makes no note of the Christian God being the source of the big bang. But the Big Bang Theory does bring with it a worldview that includes the idea of God. Let’s examine why.

Nothing can create itself

We’re all aware of the reality that nothing has the ability to bring itself life. Living beings (such as a parents) are able to bring the next generation into existence. And through the wonders of science and human knowledge, we can play with some of the parameters of life itself. But no one can bring themselves into existence, no more than an egg can lay itself.

So Nature (aka the universe) could not have brought itself into existence. It is a conceptual impossibility.

If Nature did not create itself then the only other answer is that it has always existed. If we assert that Nature has always existed then surely in some sense we are simply stating that Nature is a form of God.

Of course, not directly or necessarily the Christian God. But something divinely powerful that has the ability to bring forth life in such volume and wonder? What other word could we use?

The naturalistic worldview does not remove God, it simply designates Nature as God.

What do we know about Nature as God?

If Nature is God then it must be a very bad one, even evil. All of the world’s atrocities, pains, wars, genocides, murders, abuses and so on have taken place as a result of Nature.

How can we expect justice, peace or comfort at the hand of such a merciless monster of affliction? We cannot.

And yet in a strange twist of events, Nature also has the capacity for great beauty. The wonder of the sun and the sea. The delight of good food, friendship and music. And of course sex. The list goes on and on.

Nature behaves more like a broken vehicle than a divine being

This strange mix of both beauty and brokenness makes no sense from a naturalistic point of view. The only way we can get around this philosophical constraint if we abandon all sense of morality, right and wrong, good and evil. Then we can say that these categories are meaningless and arbitrary and Nature itself is neither good or evil. And yet most naturalists are kind, wonderful and generous souls. Perhaps they betray their Christian roots.

What is the Christian worldview of the universe?

The Bible tells us that Nature did not bring itself into existence (a purely nonsensical notion) nor did it always exist but that Nature was created by a Supernature we call God.

God has always existed and nothing created him just as we supposed with Nature earlier. But this is what we should expect to find with a divine Supernature such as God.

How do we explain good and evil with God?

God created Nature and it was good. He also created man to take care of Nature. Man rebelled against God and caused Nature to become spoilt and broken. The rest of the story is about God himself coming in the form of a man to deal with the mess and to offer a means of redemption.

This is the good news about Jesus.

You might also like our article: Did God Use Evolution?

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Did God Use Evolution?

Did God Use Evolution?

Did God Use Evolution?

It is now commonly accepted in western culture that humans are the product of evolution. The idea is that all life (including humans) have evolved from simpler forms of life over the course of a very long period of time.

Let’s start by asking the following question.

How does the Bible explain the origin of human beings?

The Bible account in the book of Genesis tells us that God created the first human beings directly himself.

7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Genesis 2:7-8 (ESV)

If we are to take this account literally and on face value then the theory of evolution appears to be incompatible. For the Christian, God directly breathed life into man and formed him.

This of course creates some problems with navigating the culture that we live in because evolution is commonly accepted.

What are the implications of the Biblical account?

We are then faced with the possible options:

  1. The Bible is not accurate or reliable. We might as well not bother following Jesus at all then.
  2. Evolution did not take place.
  3. Genesis is describing events that are taking place metaphorically not literally.

The latter option seems unlikely and most likely comes from our desire to fit in with our peers but we’ll consider it as a possible option for now.

A footnote on adaptation

It’s worth noting that the Biblical view in Genesis is completely compatible with the idea of adaptation (gradual mutation within a species) but rejects the idea that a species could become something else entirely (e.g. evolution asserts human beings have evolved from apes).

Could God have used evolution to create humans?

Let’s pursue the possibility that our final option is correct and the events of creation described by the Bible are not literal.

Even still, the theory of evolution remains thoroughly incompatible with central Christian doctrine. Here’s why.

Evolution says death isn’t the result of sin

Evolution necessarily requires death in abundance to work. Mutation theoretically occurs over millions of generational iterations. This means that death was already present in the earth before the creation of man.

But we know from the rest of scripture that sin is a result of man’s disobedience to God. And the wages of sin are death. Therefore sin didn’t cause death and who could blame us for sinning if we are a product of death itself?

This also has huge implications on the nature of God.

Evolution says God is evil

If God used evolution to create man then God used the deaths of countless generations of pre-human species to do so. Not only does this mean that God is the author of death but it also raises huge ethical questions around these previous generations.

God is good therefore he cannot do anything evil. Now that sin and death is in the world, God uses it (think Jesus on the cross) to redeem humanity. But he is not the originator of it. Yet evolution implies he is.

Evolution has moral implications

There have been many periods of history when a group of human beings (usually identified by race) have been treated as sub-human. Yet this is the inescapable conclusion of the theory of evolution. When we consider those previous generations of pre-human life, at which point did they become human beings, made in the image of God?

God did not use evolution to create human beings

Although it’s tempting to try to fit the culture we live in by asserting God could have used evolution, it’s clear to see that the Bible teaching is directly contradictory to the theory of evolution.

Interested in finding out more about the philosophy of a Christian worldview? Watch this teaching that explains why evolution cannot be true here.

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Can Anyone Come To Church

Can I Come To Church?

Is church just for Christians?

Every week in our church services, we welcome new people and visitors. Some have simply moved to a new city and want to find a new church home. Others have grown up with some sort of faith but are on a journey of reconnecting with God. And others have no faith at all.

Church is for everyone

Our church services are designed to be open and welcoming to any person, regardless of their beliefs. This includes anyone from another religion or no religion at all. Everyone is welcome to come and decide for themselves.

We believe that Jesus is the ultimate source of truth and that when we follow him, we will experience true life. And of course we want to share that with everyone.

But we also acknowledge that we are all on a journey and each of us have to make our own choices in our time. You can probably expect to be both encouraged and challenged in our church services.

To find out what actually happens in a church service, read our article here.

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