Archive for the ‘gospel’ Category

How to waste 2012

3 January 2012

Here are 4 easy ways to waste 2012:

1. Refuse Jesus

2. Forget Jesus

3. Ignore Jesus

4. Isolate Jesus

To refuse Jesus is to think that you don’t need him at all. To think that life makes sense and has meaning without him. To think that you can manage life, and death, on your own.

To forget Jesus is to think that you only need him at the start of the christian life rather than the whole way through. To fail to preach the gospel to yourself each day looking to Christ in faith to meet all of your needs.

To ignore Jesus is to starve yourself and hold your breath. To neglect meeting and communion with Jesus in the word (food) and prayer (breathing).

To isolate Jesus is to not make the local church a priority. To amputate, as it were, parts of Christ’s body by not being a part of, accountable to, and involved in the local church.

So…don’t waste 2012. Look to Christ in faith, daily find all your needs met in him in the gospel, commune with him in the word and prayer each day, and crack on in your local church.

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What is the mission of the church?

18 November 2011

I’m about a third of the way through DeYoung and Gilbert’s book. In short, making disciples is their answer. Should we be surprised? It is curious however, if not frustrating, how many people take issue with that answer. Apparently DeYoung and Gilbert (both pastors of CHURCHES) are not qualified to speak on the mission of the CHURCH? I guess that is for other folks to figure out rather than those leading churches. Just be sure to let us know what to do guys, OK?

As usual, Trueman has some helpful thoughts on the topic, as does Horton in his contribution to the debate.

It is interesting how many people in church want the question answered, ‘What’s the church’s purpose?’ Part may be due to poor communication, but I imagine part (the bigger part) is symptomatic of the tilt within evangelicalism. Something hip, something new, something that is a game changer for the church and society in this world. Those aren’t necessarily wrong desires, but neither are they the mission of the church, or, I guess, that’s the question being debated. Neither are they things promised to God’s people. BUT, there is the promise of a city that is unshakable who’s builder and architect is God.

I’d like to think I’m too young to be old fashion, but then, my hairline condemns me each day. Guess I’ll stick to the old paths.

Rob Bell gets the gospel right…

28 February 2011

…unfortunately, it is what he is arguing against, not for.

Musing on the thought that someone said Ghandi was in hell, Bell says, “Will only a few select people make it to heaven?…How do you become one of the few? Is it what you believe, or what you say, or what you do, or who you know?…or something that happens in your heart…converted, born again? How does one become one of these few?”

Not bad really. I’d give an affirmative to most all of that statement (Matt 7.21-23 and John 3.3 among others).

Then discussing the traditional explanation of the gospel he suggests that believing this message distorts who God is “What is God like?…God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus…Jesus rescues you from God.” His point, who would want to believe in a God like that?

It’s interesting, if I remember correctly one of the studies that put Rob Bell on the map was his series/tour on Leviticus. I think that one of the most frequent words in that book is ‘holy’. Maybe that tells us something about what God is like and why Jesus does need to rescue us from God’s holy wrath.

His book is called Love Wins. I wonder how Bell defines love. Suppose someone has had a spouse murdered. The widow is in the room with the killer. How do I show love towards the widow? Do I treat the killer that same as the widow? Is that truly loving?

Love wins, but justice is exterminated. If there is anything people want in the world today, it is justice. And rightly so, because we are made in God’s image. If Bell’s video preview accurately reflects the message of his book, then there is no such thing as justice, and Jesus is not returning to judge the quick and the dead, and there is no need to repent, and, oddly enough, in his attempt to be generous and get everyone in, Bell will most likely offer some system of works righteousness and requirements instead of the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation.

You can read more about this HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Particular and Free

2 February 2011

It is always interesting to see scripture writers, and indeed Jesus himself, speak of the particular electing love of God and the free offer and invitation of the gospel. Perhaps one of the clearest places where these two are seen together is Matthew 11.20-30.

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:20-30 ESV)

Jesus speaks of God hiding and revealing, of his will that some be saved and others not, and then he invites everyone within earshot to come to him for salvation. Particular and Free.

The law: legalism or antinomianism

31 January 2011

There seems to be confusion surrounding the matter of the use of the law. This is a critical issue and one worth some serious thought and study. You can see some of the to and fro around the web last week. Frank Turk wrote a letter to Michael Horton about a perceived imbalance. Horton responded, as did Scott Clark (to which Turk then replied). And quite apart from these interactions CT had an article about antinomianism.

There is not time or space to interact here with all that has been said, but in reading Matthew 11 this morning something stood out to me.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:18-19 ESV)

So John was branded a legalist, and Jesus was branded an antinomian. My guess is that they both got things right and the response probably had more to do with those making it than with the accused. The fountainhead of both legalism and antinomianism is the same, void of the gospel of grace.

Now back to The Marrow of Modern Divinity.

Why read the marrow?

10 January 2011

The Marrow of Modern Divinity. It’s been in my ‘to read’ pile for a few years now. This seems a good  time to work through it, with some thoughts and musings of others.

It’s had a remarkable place in the history of the Scottish Church. And a year or so ago Christian Focus brought out a wonderfully re-typeset edition, which makes it even more valuable as it is now able to be navigated by any reader.

Why read it, you ask? This is from Fisher’s forward:

O sir, if the truths contained in this dialogue were but as much in my heart, as they are in my head, I were a happy man; for then should I be more free from pride, vain glory, wrath, anger, self-love, and love of the world, than I am; and then should I have more humility, meekness, and love, both to God and man, than I have. Oh! then should I be content with Christ alone, and live above all things in the world.

If you want a head start and an historical context to set it in, I can do no better than recommend Sinclair Ferguson’s essential lectures on the marrow. Worth listening to each year. (It is in 3 parts: part 1, part 2, and part 3 – unfortunately the audio is poor. You can also purchase them from Westminster Seminary – not sure the audio quality of these)

The Nativity on BBC

24 December 2010

This year the BBC did a 4 part series retelling the nativity. Overall it was better than I expected. There’s a fair bit of artistic liberty taken, but there were also a number of things I appreciated. Without giving too much away I’ll give the good and the not-so-good (I’ll keep the discussion general so there are no plot spoilers if you decide to watch it).

The good:
– The social stigma of an un-wed pregnant woman at the time was shown quite well. Jesus was not just born in a humble setting (laid in a manger) but in low (questionable, to onlookers) circumstances as well.
– There is a fair bit of scripture used throughout, particularly with the angel Gabriel.
– I liked the way they developed the shepherd in the story. I think this captured shepherds’ place in society and the social/national aspects of the time.
– The shepherds and the magi worshipped the baby Jesus.

The not so good:
– Too many blue eyed actors/resses (I thought is was only Hollywood that did this!).
– The magi’s route was altered from the biblical account, as was their guide (they also seemed a bit absent minded?).
– I think the biblical account would put Gabriel’s appearance to Joseph at a different time.

This arrived in the post yesterday

22 December 2010

I’m looking forward to reading this. HERE is a brief review of the book. It’s not often that a book is dedicated to one of my good friends.

Here is a preview of the book:

Looking for assurance?

20 December 2010

So Paul would not go to someone suffering from a lack of assurance and hand them a book about assurance; that would be an almost fatal mistake! He would preach the gospel to them: preach the freeness and the fullness of justification in Jesus.

~ Sinclair Ferguson, ‘The Preacher as Theologian’

If I was interviewing Brian McLaren

7 April 2010

for church membership. Let’s see…

When I interview folks and ask them what it means to be a Christian, if words like ‘faith,’ ‘grace,’ ‘cross of Christ,’ etc. are missing and all they talk about are the works that they do, then I generally share the gospel with them. I realise this probably isn’t McLaren’s comprehensive definition of being a Christian, but it is telling. In his latest quandary about why evangelicals are upset with him (which, by the way, if he doesn’t understand why folks are unhappy with him then he doesn’t understand Christ and Christianity) he says, “I’m a Christian. I love God, Jesus, the Bible, prayer, worship, serving others — the whole package.” Lots of works mentioned there, but nothing of faith, grace, and the work of Christ. So, what would I do if I were interviewing him?

The glory of the gospel is that it is all of God’s grace. When people get rid of God’s grace, trying to sneak their well intentioned works in, everything collapses.