• Fight for your Holiness

    Christians believe that we are right with God, forgiven and cleansed by the death of Jesus. We also think that we are sanctified or made holy by what Jesus has done. These are things that no biblical Christian would want to deny.

    But as we rightly remember that Jesus sanctifies us through his death do we also remember on the other hand that we are to fight for our sanctification?  Take Paul in 1 Timothy 6 for example:

    11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12

    Notice the verbs Paul is using here. We have to pursue, fight, take hold. They are all active verbs. Meaning, that we are not to sit back on our laurels but we are to fight to be more holy, more Christ like.

    Or take Paul in Philippians 2 for example:

    12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

    Notice what he is saying. He is saying that God works in us and we are to work out salvation. Now what does it meant to work out our Salvation? I think it means that we are to strive to live as a Christian because a Christian is one who is saved. So I think Paul is saying work it out, live it out. Live life like you are saved.

    So Christians are meant to fight for our holiness. We are meant to battle sin. We are meant to walk away from the internet when we are tempted. We are meant to work hard at seeing the good in others so that we don’t gossip. We are meant to fight to read our Bible  and fight to be encouraged by it. We are to labour in prayer. But we do this all because we have the power from God to do it!

    Here is what Martyn Lloyd-Jones say about our fight for holiness:

    “The New Testament calls upon us to take action; it does not tell us that the work of sanctification is going to be done for us. . . .We are in the ‘good fight of faith’, and we have to do the fighting. But, thank God, we are enabled to do it; for the moment we believe, and are justified by faith, and are born again of the Spirit of God, we have the ability. So the New Testament method of sanctification is to remind us of that; and having reminded us of it, it says, ‘Now then, go and do it’.”

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones Romans:Exposition of Chapter 6: The New Man, 76

    How do you fight for holiness?

    You may also like:

    Is trying to be cool making us unholy?

    How Christians get holiness wrong

    What people need most from their pastors

  • You don’t want to be a dead pastor at 55, do you?

    I have always considered myself quite fit and healthy. That was until a few weeks ago when I went to the doctor. He did a pretty routine checkup and then said to me words I will never for get. He said:

    “Hans, if you keep eating like you are and not exercising you will be morbidly obese by the time you are 55! You don’t want to be a dead pastor at 55 do you?”

    Well, to say the least, these words  shocked me into action. I now go to the gym three times a week and have started out on a diet. I have already seen results and my energy has increased dramatically.

    Pastors have a lot on their plate. We have sermons to write, leaders to train, people to visit, our families to tend to and so many other things to do. Our schedule means that taking care of ourselves is put way down our priority list. So a lot of us eat badly because bad food is quick and we don’t exercise because we don’t have the time.

    This kind of living poses two theological problems:

    1.  Stewardship: God Has given us two things that are extremely precious. Firstly time and secondly our bodies. How we use our bodies affects how we use our time. If we eat well and are fit we will use our time more effectively because we will have more energy. So whether or not we exercise or eat well becomes a stewardship issue. Are we stewarding the resources of time and our physical bodies that God has given us well?

    2. Character: Character is doing the right thing at the right time no matter what it costs and no matter what we feel like. If we are not exercising or eating well it says something about us as individuals. It says that we are lazy when it comes to the important but not urgent things in life. This is theological because it is God who calls leaders to have great character (1 Timothy 3).

    What changes do you have to make in these areas?

    • Have you ever thought about planning out what you will eat for a week and sticking to it? So much of the time we eat junk because it is convenient.
    • Have you put times in your diary where you are going to drop everything and exercise? If you have do you keep them?
    • Have you got someone holding you accountable to your eating and exercising?

    Brothers and sisters, God has given us one body and one life. Let’s steward these resources well.

  • What are you looking for in a church?

    At Resolved we have many people coming through looking for a new church. When I ask them what are they looking for in a church there are a lot of different responses. Some are legitimate some are selfish. Most Christians these days change churches every 5-7 years so we need to know what to look for when we are finding a new church.

    Here are the things you should look for when finding a new church:

    1. Expository preaching – Expository preaching is where the sermon is derived from a text of scripture. Expository preaching is not where we take a verse from Habakkuk and verse from Romans and then a verse from Colossians and make points from each passage. The main job of an expository preacher is to help you see what the biblical text says and apply it to your life. Expositional preaching is key to a good church because the expository preaching is the best kind of preaching if you want to hear God speak in his scriptures.
    2. Biblical theology – Biblical theology is where every scripture is seen as part of the rest of the Bible and so every story, verse, and word is meant to be interpreted as part of the whole Bible. This helps us interpret the Bible rightly because we see the Bible as one whole big story that reveals who God is and what he has done and not a collection of stories or sayings in which we find a hero to model our lives on or a verse to inspire us. The Bible is primarily about God not us and biblical theology helps us see this.
    3. The gospel – The gospel is the message that we have been created in the image of God but we have sinfully rejected God. In his great love, God sent his son to die on the cross in our place, taking our punishment so that through faith in Jesus we could be forgiven. This is the gospel. This is the thing that should be emphasized in the pulpit every week, in fact this is the thing that should drive the church. If you go to a church that consistently muddies up the gospel, either by preaching a message which sounds like an Anthony Robbins talk or denying an aspect of the gospel, you need to find another church because this is not a church which is teaching you about God.
    4. Leadership – Leadership is important and the Bible is very clear on what biblical leadership is and isn’t. If you are unsure of what biblical leadership looks like, read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. If the leadership in the church you are checking out doesn’t reflect the leadership that is modelled in the scriptures then it is not the church for you.
    5. Discipleship – Discipleship is the process where you grow in your knowledge and love of God. If you are looking for a new church you have to ask if this new church has a discipleship program or process. Of course expository preaching is central to any discipleship strategy but there are many other ways where discipleship can take place.  Make sure you are going to grow in your love of Jesus at the church you join.
    6. Service – Have you got avenues to serve? This doesn’t mean that they will ask me to serve in the way that I want to serve. For example you shouldn’t just go to a church if you want to play guitar and they need a guitarist but you should be going to a church where you can pitch in and help.

    Is there anything you would add to this list?

     

  • Starving pastors can’t feed their sheep

    Last year was a dark year for me. My father passed away from cancer, the culture at my church was toxic and to top it all off I was going through a very dry time spiritually. I wasn’t making an effort to read my bible and pray. I wasn’t speaking with people who encourage me.

    I was dry.

    Now dry times happen to all Christians but it seems like so many of the stats I read say that pastors feel spiritually dry more of the time than they feel spiritually vibrant. Therefore, it is no surprise that a lot of pastors don’t spend quality time caring for their own souls. This is where I was at for a significant time last year and my church took a hit. My preaching lacked power and depth and was largely ineffective. Sure God did move but I could discern that my preaching didn’t have the power it should have.

    I realised this year that I was starving. I hadn’t been feeding on God’s word and when I did read it I read it either to tick a box saying I had done it or I was reading it to prepare for something. The thing is starving pastors can’t feed their sheep. As pastors we are to be people who watch our life and doctrine (1 Tim 4:16). Carson says about this verse says that there should be a discernible growth in life and doctrine because of our feeding and meditating on the word. Whenever I think about that I am always challenged.

    I want to feed my sheep. I want to be able to preach with passion and vitality. Therefore I need to be feeding on God’s word in a way where I am satisfied in it.

    Are you a starving pastor?

    When was the last time you had a satisfying time in God’s word?

    What steps do you need to take so you are refreshed by Gods word?

     

  • How to forgive your Pastor

    Pastors can be the most disappointing people in the world. I know because I am one. We disappoint ourselves; we let down people in our congregation sometimes by forgetting something and sometimes by a hasty word or action.

    We all can recount times when we have been hurt or at least frustrated by a pastor. This hurt or frustration if left unchecked can fester and destroy our respect and love for our pastors and can even destroy our faith

    What is the solution?

    The Gospel is our solution. Nothing more nothing less.

    Sorry to disappoint you that I didn’t come up with something new and hip but the Gospel is the solution for the following three reasons:

    1. The Gospel teaches us that all people are sinful. Pastors are called to a different standard of Character (e.g. 1 Timothy 3). But we pastors are still sinners, we do make mistakes and we will do in the future. The gospel teaches us to expect this and not to subscribe to some wrongheaded notion of “Pastor Perfect”. Now this can’t be an excuse for pastors and if there is sin your pastor’s life he, just like you, needs to be made aware of it and helped with it in loving and helpful ways. If we recognise that our pastors, just like us, are sinful then we would be more able to forgive them. It also gives us pause to think about what sin I have brought into the relationship that I have with my pastor.

    2. The Gospel teaches us that we have been forgiven. You have been forgiven for everything, how amazing is that? Have you ever thought about how much your God loves you and how much he has forgiven you? When we compare what we have been forgiven to what we need to forgive the two are incomparable. We have been forgiven infinitely more than anything we should forgive. When you pastor sins, upsets you, disappoints you remember forgiveness and how much you have been forgiven and see your pastors sin in this light.

    3. The Gospel teaches us that God is in control. God wasn’t surprised by what happened between you and your pastor. God is not in heaven thinking “I didn’t see that one coming!!” No, God works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) and so God is working what just happened for your good and his glory. If you knew this would it be easier to forgive your pastor?

    The answer is always the gospel nothing more nothing less.

     

  • Pastor Fashion?

    Pastor Ed Young Jr. has a new website for Pastors it is called Pastor Fashion.com. (No I am not lying click the link!)

    Here is the first blog on the site:

    “Pastors aren’t typically known for their fashion. Most people don’t think of the runway leading up to the pulpit. But why not?! Why can’t the men and women of God set the standard for the rest of the world in fashion as well as faith? That’s why we’re launching PastorFashion.com. We want to set the trends.

    Check back with us regularly, as we’ll be posting things like what not to wear, fashion tips, the latest trends and so much more!

    We’re not trying to be like the world…we just want to be fashionable while we try to change it! Have fashion tips, things you’ve seen done (whether right or wrong)? This is the place we’ll keep the conversation going and the trends growing!”

     

    Now a couple of reflections are worth considering:

    1. There is really nothing inherently wrong about pastors wanting to look good or giving each other advice about what to wear or not wear if that is what floats their boat and as long as looking good doesn’t define them. In fact I have seen in some churches Pastors dress down as much as possible in reaction to a tradition where pastors have to wear a dress and a collar. This is an overreaction which communicates more than dressed down pastor wants to communicate.

    2. What we look like communicates a hell of a lot. If I go to church in my daggiest clothes what is communicating? If I rock to church in a suit or robes or a footy Jersey what is it communicating? What I wear communicates how I want people to treat me, what I think of myself and in some sense what I think of God. If drag some clothes off the floor and sniff them to make sure they don’t smell too bad and then put them on and go to church I may be seen to be saying “I don’t care about how I look” Or “I have no self confidence” or “Meeting with God and his people isn’t a big deal”. Conversely, if I wear a really expensive suit I may seem to be saying “I care a lot about what you think of me” Or “My God is a blingy God who will bless you!” What we look like communicates a hell of a lot.

    3. In the Bible women are told that they shouldn’t be known by what they wear but their inner character (1 Peter 3:3, 1 Timothy 2:9). This command surely has to be applicable to men also. What a website like pastor fashion does is take our attention off what the bible says should define us as pastors (godliness, theology, love for people etc) and put the attention onto the very thing that shouldn’t define us i.e. what we look like. So even though we have to be careful that what we wear communicates the right things about us we cannot fall into the trap of making something that should be far on the periphery come to centre stage.

    4. It is a sad day when one of the most well known pastors in the world launches a new website for pastors and it is not about theology, joy in God, pastoral skills or something else that God is concerned about but fashion, which is something that the world is deeply concerned about but which God doesn’t care about. But this gives us pause to reflect on our own lives. If one very intelligent pastor who wants to reach people for Jesus is spending his time talking about periphery are we doing the same?

    What do you think?

     

     

  • Why I am not an Anglican

    I get asked all the time “Why aren’t you an Anglican?” The questions could be posed as “Why aren’t you insert denomination of your choice here?” Because Resolved is an independent church. But the reason I get asked why I am not an Anglican is because I grew up in an Anglican church, I have been a member of five Anglican churches and I went to an Anglican theological college.  So it is a good and right question to ask.

    But before I get to the reasons why I am not an Anglican I want to say I am so thankful for my heritage. I am thankful I went to the churches I went to as I learnt a lot from each one of them. I am thankful that I went to Moore College. I wouldn’t change the experiences I have had in Anglicanism for the world. They have shaped me in a profound ways.

    But that being said, like a good sermon, I have three points as to why I am not an Anglican.

    1. Evangelical Anglicans are compromised because of their affiliations
    2. Infant Baptism
    3. Church government

    Evangelical Anglicans are compromised because of their affiliations

    Yes it is a very provocative statement. But if we have a look around the Anglican communion you have people that are flat out denying crucial aspects of Christianity. The Resurrection is denied, penal substitution is attacked, people argue against the reliability of the scriptures. These people aren’t on the outer wings of Anglicanism they are the leaders of various branches of the church. Now the main argument for staying an Anglican is that that evangelical Anglicans are changing Anglicanism from the inside. But is this true? In 1966 Martin Lloyd Jones at the National Assembly of Evangelicals organised by the Evangelical Alliance issued a call for evangelicals to come out from within denominations that had both Liberal and Evangelical congregations. John Sotto used his position as the chairman to publicly rebuke Lloyd Jones and say Anglicans were staying in effect to make a concerted effort to turn the ship of Anglicanism around. But has this happened? Is the Anglican ship turning around? Have we made any progress in the last 40 years? I think the answer is no, therefore, I think we need to be very careful at being in the same communion with people who are obviously not Christians.  I do not want to be in communion with people who are arguing against the gospel therefore I am not going to be Anglican.

    Infant Baptism

    I came into college believing in baptising children. But I studied the scriptures and other arguments and I have not found a convincing biblical or theological argument for infant baptism. If I was an Anglican I would have baptise infants which I think is unbiblical therefore I not going to be Anglican.

    Church Government

    When I look at the Bible I think church government is clear. There are elders who are pastors of the church and who lovingly lead the church (Acts 20:17,28-31, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 2 etc. ). There is not just one elder but a clear plurality of elders. So when I see Anglicans with a parish council/ warden/ Priest system of church government I see this as denying what I the plain teaching of the Bible and therefore I am not going to be an Anglican.

    These are the three main reasons I am not an Anglican I hope you can see that they are biblical/theological in nature. But I want to say very strongly that I consider Anglicans who are evangelicals as brothers in Christ who do preach the gospel ad for that I am very thankful.  I will also work with my Anglican brothers and sisters in the gospel because we have unity in the gospel.

    What do you think? Are my reasons legit?