• Why we Sydney Evangelicals need to be a bit more charasmatic

    I preached on these verses over the weekend:

     “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

     “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

    Matthew 7:7-11

    As I was preparing the text I found myself thinking “But there are some things that this doesn’t apply to.” I was thinking about asking God for fancy cars, money and general bling. All of which I am still sure this text doesn’t apply to. But as I kept thinking I found myself rationalizing this text away. I was thinking that there were so many good things I was saying this couldn’t apply to.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for revival in our land he would do it.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for healing of this sin or sickness he would do it.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for spiritual renewal in our church he would do it.

    I mean those things seem so big!

    I know what you are thinking “In his sovereignty God may or may not bring those things to pass” Totally and 100 percent agree.But,  have we used God’s sovereignty to negate us asking big things of God? Have we, in our cultural and theological conservatism, really undermined this text and undermined the character of God as revealed in this text?

    Our charismatic brothers and sisters seem to believe this text more than I do. They not only believe it intellectually but they believe it in action and prayers. We see this in the things they try to do for God and the types of prayers they pray.

    I need to learn from my charismatic brothers and sisters in this area.

    Do you too?

  • How to talk with a Christian who wants a divorce

    This Sunday at Resolved I am preaching on Matthew 5:27-32  where Jesus talks about lust and divorce. I am nervous to be speaking on such important and potentially painful topics. I have never preached on divorce before and have been reading widely on it this week. In my reading I found this brilliant piece of pastoral wisdom from John Stott about speaking with someone who wants to get divorced:

    “So, speaking personally as a Christian pastor, whenever somebody asks to speak to me about divorce, I have now for some years steadfastly refused to do so. I have made the rule never to speak with anybody about divorce, until I ahve first spoken to them with him (or her) about two other subjects, namely marriage and reconciliation. Sometimes a discussion on these topics makes a discussion on the other unnecessary. At the very least, it is only when a person has understood and accepted God’s view of marriage and God’s call to reconciliation that a possible context has been created within which one may regretfully go on to talk about divorce. This principle of pastoral priorities is, I believe, consistent with the teaching of Jesus.” 

    John R.W. Stott, The Message of The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5-7 pgs.98-99

    What do you think? Is he right? Would you follow his advice?

  • How should Christians respond to sin in their own life?

    When we sin in our own lives how should we respond? Jesus’ answer to this question in Matthew 5:29 are very graphic and confronting:

    “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” 

    But what does that mean? What does it mean to tear out your eye and throw it away? Read the sane application of these verses by John Stott:

    “What does this involve in practice? Let me elaborate and so interpret Jesus’ teaching: ‘If your eyes cause you to sin because temptation comes to you through your eyes (objects you see), then pluck out your eyes. That is, don’t look! Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes and flung them away, and were now blind and so couldnot see the objects which previously caused you to sin. Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation come to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off. That is: don’t do it! Don’t go! Behave as if you had actually cut off your hands and feet, and had flung them away, and were now crippled and socould not do the things or visit the places which previously cause you to sin.’ This is the meaning of ‘mortification’.”

    John R.W. Stott, The Message of The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5-7 pgs.89-90

  • Every church must do social justice part 5:The priority of Preaching and the mission of the church

    Because of the reality of hell and the nature of the cross by far the biggest concern for those of us who are Christians needs to be the eternal fate of those who do not know Jesus. So therefore the priority of our time, money and planning should go to making sure that the most people hear the gospel as possible. At Resolved we see Social Justice and evangelism as distinct expressions of the outworking of the gospel. We agree with Stott who writes that social Justice and evangelism are “partners the two belong to each other and yet are independent of each other.  Each stands on its own feet in its own right alongside each other.  Neither is a means to the other, or even a manifestation of the other.  For each is and end in itself.  Both are expressions of unfeigned love.”[1] This is not to say that evangelism won’t be done because of social justice or that we will be trying to both evangelise and do social justice in every situation. We see both evangelism and social justice as necessary and yet distinct outworking of the gospel. But that being said, as we have noted because of the day of Judgement we put an emphasis on preaching of the gospel. Because that is what we are called to do (c.f. Matthew 28:18-20)

    This brings us nicely into the question about the mission of the church. Is Social justice part of the mission of the church? I would say no. The mission of the church is outlined by Jesus in the above quote from Matthew’s gospel. The mission of the church is to make disciples, baptize them and teach them to obey everything that Jesus commanded them. But social justice is part of what Jesus taught and so as pastors and leaders it is our duty to help people see the need for social justice, equip them to serve the poor and displaced and to provide opportunities to do so.

    I put social justice on the same level as pastoral counselling. Christians are commanded to love each other and provide support for each other but is pastoral counselling the mission of the church? If we take the mission from  Matthew 28:18-20 then we conclude no it isn’t.  But the church would be disobedient if it didn’t partake in caring for each other.  That is the same with social justice. Is it part of the church’s mission? No it isn’t but it is commanded by Jesus and the bible and so we must do it if we are to be bible believing Christians. This being said I do believe that there is far more scriptural support for pastoral care then social justice. But this doesnt negate my point about them both not being the mission of the church but being necessary things the church does.

     

    Over the past few days we have looked at social justice form a variety of viewpoints and we have seen that even though social justice isn’t part of the mission of the church it is so biblically waranted that for a church to ignore it that church would be ignoring the teaching of Jesus. So let all churches and all Christians care for the poor because of the gospel and for the glory of Jesus!


    [1] Stott, J.R.W, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1975), 27
  • Baptism: The Gospels

    Summarising everything that the gospels say about Baptism in the space of a blog is going to be very hard but here goes:

    The majority of times that the Gospels mention baptism it is usually in connection with John the Baptist (Mark 1:4-9, Matthew 3:1-16, Luke 3:1-22.)What was John’s baptism? It was a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4) and also it was a baptism that, along with John’s preaching, was to prepare the way of the Lord (Matthew 3:1-3).  If we take these passages together, John the Baptist’s ministry and preaching was one where repentance was crucial. He wanted people to repent and, for John, baptism was a sign that a person had done just this.

    The other major passage that mentions the practice of Baptism is Matthew 28:19. Now if we look at the Greek of Matthew 28:19

    πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες

    αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνοματοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,

    We see in this clause the main verb is “make disciples “(μαθητεύσατε). It is imperatival in its force meaning that as Christians Jesus is commanding us to make disciples. The other verbs “go” (πορευθέντες) and “baptising” (βαπτίζοντες) are participles meaning they are subordinate to the main verb which is to make disciples. This means that baptising and the verb go is defined in some sense by the main verb “make disciples”. So Christians “go” to make disciples and they baptise those disciples.  Therefore here, as in the preaching and baptising ministry of John, baptism is strongly linked with repentance and being a disciple of Jesus. To put it more strongly, Jesus is linking Baptism with repentance in a way which says to have a legitimate baptism the person must have become a disciple.

    Now we do see Jesus interacting with Children (e.g. Matthew 19:13-14). But not once in the four gospels do we see Jesus (or anyone else for that matter) baptising a child. This surely makes us pause to at least reconsider whether infant baptism is legitimate.

    In conclusion, the evidence from the gospels is that a person believes and repents and then is baptised. This makes repentance and belief precursors to baptism. Therefore the gospels are in favour of believers baptism and silent on infant baptism.

     

  • God has given you this life therefore be loving

    Have you ever thought “Why do I have air in my lungs?”

    Have you ever thought “Why do I have that meal in front of me?”

    Have you ever thought “Why do I have the education I have?”

    Have you ever thought “Why am I living?”

    Why do you have those things? It is because God has given those things to you.  He didn’t have to give you life or breath or food or education or friends but he did. Why did he give you these things?

    Because God is the God who gives good gifts

    “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! “

    (Matthew 7:9-11)

    Did you notice the character of God in these verses? God is better than a loving father who knows how to give gifts. This is because God is compassionate and loving.

    If God has been compassionate and loving towards us we should be compassionate and loving towards others.

    “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

    1 John  4:10-11

    If you have only one life and Jesus gave his life for you what should your attitude be to the people around you?

    Love and compassion

    What about those people who are unlovely? What about those people who get on our nerves? What about those people who hate me?

    Did you see 1 John 4:10? God loved you so much that he sent Jesus as an atoning sacrifice. He loved you and I when were unlovely, when we were his enemies and he has infinitely more reason to turn his back on us. So our response to his love is to love him and everyone else.

    Who do you have to pour some love on today?

    You have only one life therefore be loving