• 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?

     

  • God has given you this life therefore be disciplined

    You only have one life and you only have an allotted amount of time. So how will you use that time most effectively?

    One of the things we need so that we would use time most effectively is discipline.

    Discipline is being able to do and say the right things at the right time no matter what. So you know you need to do that work but you would rather watch The Big Bang Theory. The difference between you watching the show and you doing the work is whether or not you have discipline.

    We have choices every day which require discipline. If we were disciplined with every choice we make what would we be able to achieve with our lives?

    Discipline is also being able to figure out what not to do as we live our lives. Disciplined people take as many distractions as they can out of their lives so they are focused on what they need to be focused on.

    Paul was a man who was extremely disciplined. Check out this passage that we looked at yesterday:

    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

    1 Corinthians 9:24-27

    He has a goal which could be summarized as to die knowing that he glorified and preached Jesus as much as he possibly could. But did you see the metaphors he uses? He is a runner and a boxer.

    I can’t think of two more gruelling sports than marathon running and boxing. Paul is saying his life is like those two sports.

    They are two sports that take a huge toll on you but they are also two sports that require huge amounts of self discipline.

    He is urging us to be self disciplined

    You only have one life

    Are you self disciplined?

     

  • God has given you this life therefore be intentional in all you do!

    Why do you do the things you do?

    Do you have a reason for doing the things you do?

    Some people meander through life. If you were to ask them why they do the things they do or how do the things they do now help them get to where they ultimately want to go they shrug or they come up with some reason that is not thought out.

    Some Pastors meander through their jobs. Why did they preach that last sermon series? Was there thought, planning and preparation behind it? Why did they meet up with that person? How are they training those people?

    The issue that a stops a lot of people from becoming good or great leaders is that they have not learned to be intentional.

    Intentionality is doing or saying everything for a reason. It means that you have to have thought about what you are doing long term and figure out a way to get there. Then from this plan it means that every conversation, presentation, action and every meeting has intent and that you are prepared for all these things.

    What would happen to your organisation or church if every meeting you were prepared with an agenda (either on your head or on paper), desired outcomes and a plan for following up on those outcomes? I think you would lead a lot better and there would be momentum in your organisation or church.

    What would happen if you planned your preaching/teaching series one year out and then you were intentional about spending a few hours each week preparing for that next sermon series? I think your preaching would improve.

    I heard a very successful man say that the difference between a successful person and a failure is that successful person has drive, discipline and is intentional.

    I want to be successful in what counts (Luke 12:13-21). I also know that times is short, limited and one of the most precious things God has given me and I should use it well (Psalm 90:12).

    Therefore I want to be intentional with everything I do. Every blog, every tweet, every meeting, every phone call, every sermon has to have a specific purpose and desired outcome.

    I want to make my life count and therefore I will endeavour to be intentional about everything.

    What about you are you intentional?

    How do you discipline yourself to be intentional in everything you do?

     

  • Vibe part 3: What kind of vibe should we be going for?

    If you go to a number of different churches you will experience that each church has a different vibe.

    Some have the vibe of a rock concert, others have the vibe of a 16th century church service, other churches will have a mystical vibe, some churches people are seated on couches and the list could go on.

    So many things that we could list change the vibe of a service. Whether it be location, lighting, music, what people wear etc. All these things change the vibe.

    But if we focus on these things and we think if we get these right we will have a great vibe to our service we will be completely unbiblical.

    The other day I did a blog called A biblical theology if vibe. In it we saw that God is loving and holy and we want the vibe of our churches to reflect these attributes.

    With that in mind what kind of music we have in church or what I wear in church is, to a certain extent, peripheral.

    What we need to be going for is a loving vibe, one where people have the space to reflect on the holiness and love of God.

    A person going away feeling loved and knowing that God is holy and loving is far more important and impactful than if we have a great artificial vibe.

    This vibe is all about people and Gods word not about fashion.

    This vibe is about letting the gospel permeate every aspect of what we do and being intentional about that.

    This is the vibe we want

    But can we get this vibe?

    How can we encourage our churches to be a church which has this vibe?

     

  • Vibe Part 2: A Biblical Theology of Vibe

    When we think of vibe and we think of theology they rarely mix do they? People strong on theology don’t really think about vibe and people who are good on vibe don’t really think theologically. Or so the story goes…

    As Christians we need to think theologically about everything, especially the vibe of our meetings. The big question I want so ask is “Do our meetings reflect the character of God?”

    What is the character of God?

    You could write a book on it.

    When I think of God and his character I keep coming back to two words, loving and holy.

    We see God’s love in the verse we all know John 3:16

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

    We see in Revelation 4:8 a picture of a holy God:

    8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

    “‘Holy, holy, holy

    is the Lord God Almighty,’[a]

    who was, and is, and is to come.”

    If we are going to think about who God is and let that shape our vibe we need to think about how our vibe contributes to people going away knowing that God loves them and that he is so holy .

    I think if we are to say that God is a loving God we need to show that we love the people who come to our Churches. It would be pathetic if we say that God loves people and we didn’t show it.

    But holiness is much harder. How do you shape the vibe of your service so that you communicate that God is holy?

    Now I must be clear, God is a speaking God and the main way we communicate his attributes is by speech. That is how God has set it up and I am not saying we should go mystic or catholic But I want to have the vibe of the service match what we are saying.

    In the Bible we see that God is loving and holy. The question is how do we shape the vibe of our service so that our vibe is consistent with what we are preaching and saying?

     

     

     

  • Vibe part 1: A definition and why every Pastor needs to think about it

    Vibe can be a dirty word in some church circles and in others it can be thought of too highly. Over the next few days I will be blogging about vibe, how we should think about it, what vibe we should be going for and how to get a good vibe going.

    But first what do we mean by vibe?

    Here is my definition of vibe: Vibe is the atmosphere of a person or place as felt by people in that space or interacting with that said person.

    If this definition is in any way correct then everything has got a vibe. You can have boring vibe, a relaxed vibe, an angry vibe. This vibe can refer to places or people.

    But you may say, “What does this all have to do with church and leadership?”

    Well have you stopped to consider that your church has a vibe and you as a person have a vibe? But what kind of vibe does your church have? What kind of vibe do you have?

    What kind of vibe do you want your church to have?

    When people love a church they usually talk about things that add to the vibe i.e. the music, the welcoming people, the preaching. These all add to the vibe and give your meetings a certain flavour.

    Conversely when people say they are leaving the church sometimes they talk about vibe. They talk about how the people were not friendly, it was boring, how it was disorganised etc. These all add to the vibe.

    So as pastors we have to think about vibe carefully because it is all around us. We have to think whether the vibe we are putting out there is in sync with the gospel we preach.

    Two questions that I think we need to ponder:

    1. What vibe do you as a person give off?
    2. What vibe does your church have?

     

  • The Enemy is Within part 3: The threat of the New Perspective

    Every generation has to deal with an attack on the biblical doctrine of Justification. In the current generation this attack comes squarely from group of scholars that are arguing for a new or fresh perspective on Paul, the law and justification. Here is their argument:

    1. We Protestants (but especially Martin Luther) have got first century Judaism wrong. First century Judaism wasn’t a religion of works but of grace. It was grace that made a person come into the covenant community and it was works that kept them there.
    2. Therefore because we have read 1st century Judaism wrong we have got what the Bible says about the law and justification wrong. Paul wasn’t arguing against that you can be saved by works because no one believed that, Paul was arguing against the Jewish Christians using circumcision and the law as a boundary markers that distinguished them from their gentile Christian brothers. Justification is therefore not targeting a salvation by works but Jewish national pride.

    As you can see this changes not only how we interpret the Bible but also how we preach the gospel and it has profound implications for the mission of the church.  But these two arguments don’t hold up:

    1. Have we got Judaism wrong? In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells of a Pharisee who was self righteous and thought he was right with God by his works (18:11-12). For Jesus there was a problem of salvation by works in Judaism. Additionally, there is still a problem in the way advocates of the New Perspective talk about first century Judaism. If you were in the covenant by grace and then you were kept there by works then works still have a large part to play in your salvation. Biblical Christianity,  first century Judaism and Catholicism all believe that you are saved by grace in some sense but the question is are you saved by grace alone? If you are not saved by grace alone then can you say you are really saved by grace at all? This is the problem that both Paul and Martin Luther were fighting against in their respective times.
    2. In the Bible, the underlying Greek word for justification comes from a word group that is a group of words that speak about morality/immorality (e.g. righteous, unrighteous etc.). So to say that justification is about covenantal relationships is to ignore the Greek text and what the words really mean. If we take the Greek text on its own we see that justification is about being in a right relationship with God.

    As you can see the New Perspective muddies the Gospel by taking things that are in the foreground (justification being about right standing before God) and putting them in the background and taking things that are in the background (the Gospel brings about unity between Jew and Gentile.) and making them central.

    The issue here is that there are preachers in Sydney who being influenced by some or all of this new view of justification. This influence worries me because it muddies the gospel in their preaching.  This threat to the gospel is significant

    You may also like:

    N.T Wright and the Gospel

    An Interview With Tom Wright on Paul, Justification, Critics and New Books

    Do You Have to Believe in a Historical Adam to Believe the Gospel?

  • The Enemy is Within Part 1: Setting the Scene

    When I listen to some leaders from within Sydney evangelicalism speak about what threatens the gospel in Sydney  I hear things like Catholicism, liberalism and the Charismatic movement. These things are touted as what is going to move the evangelical church in Sydney away from the Gospel. The way they talk about these three movements gives the impression that the biggest threats to evangelicalism are from outside the camp.

    But history doesn’t point us that way.

    History points us in a different direction. The most dangerous and subtle challenges to the Gospel usually come from within the evangelical church. For example take the now-dead Emergent church movement. Tony Jones, Doug Padgitt, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, etc all have evangelical backgrounds. It was their wanting to reach out the postmodern world that caused them to have a look at their theology and change it. It was them, who from within evangelicalism, who have now become liberal. But we see this in other times also. Take Spurgeon and the downgrade controversy in the late 1800’s. His opponents were once rank and file evangelicals who went liberal. Or take Fuller theological seminary, a seminary that was started by evangelicals now has a president that endorses Rob Bell’s latest book, a book where Bell openly flirts with, if not capitulates to, universalism.

    If history is any guide or teacher we are kidding ourselves if we think that the threats to Sydney evangelicalism are outside our fold.

    With this in mind I will be blogging about this all week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I will be blogging about what I see the three biggest threats to Sydney evangelicalism and then on Friday I will be talking about what we need to be doing about these threats.

    But to get the conversation started I have two questions:

    1. Do you think my assessment of history is correct?
    2. What do you think are the biggest threats to the gospel in Sydney?

     

  • Christian girls, Facebook and sanitized pornography

    Recently I sat down with a young dude who is struggling to be a Christian. Not struggling because he has some doubt or struggling because he has gone through pain in his life but struggling because he has sin in his life.

    He has the sin all guys struggle with. He has the sin of lust and that sin creeps up every time he goes on Facebook. You see the girls he is friends with on Facebook seem to have their profiles laden with photos of their latest trips to the beach where they are in their bikini’s or photos where they are posing provocatively for the camera.

    I want to ask the question: why if you are a Christian girl why would you put a photo on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet of yourself in a bikini or a provocative pose when you know it is going make a brother in Christ stumble?

    Sure, my friend has a lot to work on. He needs to work on his theology of sin and atonement as well as working on having a huge dose of self control as well as a revved up prayer life.

    But really girls do you need to have that photo on Facebook?

    Do you need to prove to the world how sexy you really are?

    God loves it when women dress modestly.  (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

    That doesn’t mean unfashionably.

    That just means that you realise that your body is not your own and you are to honour God with your body(1 Corinthians 6:20). You also realise that your body is meant to be for your future spouse not for every person to ogle at.

    Girls and guys please lets us not cause our brothers and sister to struggle. Go through your Facebook photos and please delete any pictures which could cause someone to stumble

    Do this because you love your brothers and sister in Christ and you want to honour God with your body!

     

  • How to steal sheep well….

    One of the biggest issues with growing churches is what to do with people who rock up to your church but who are members of another church.

    If the person hasn’t been going to another church for a while or they have moved into the area there is really nothing to do. Welcome them and start ministering to them.

    But what happens if they come and they don’t like their old church? Or what if they just want a change?

    I know of some pastors who as soon as they get a new person from another church they try to integrate them into the life of their church straight away.

    But should they do this?

    I am not too sure they should.

    I think if we have a new Christian who comes to our churches we must do the following:

    Discern as to whether there was a specific issue(s) for leaving their last church. This is crucial because if there was an issue(s) at their old church we need to see if there needs to be reconciliation between them and members of their old church. We also need to know what kind of baggage (sin or other baggage) they are coming to our church with because, as we know, everyone has baggage.

    We also need to notify their old pastor of them coming to our church. This is so that the pastor knows that they are being cared for but also to get insight on how he, as their former pastor, pastored this person. This also brings clarity to a situation that could be fraught with charges of sheep stealing.

    At an appropriate time, we need to talk with them about being part of their new church. We don’t want Christians who do not commit and so we want to encourage this new person to be fully committed to their new church. Therefore, we will encourage this person to commit to doing our membership course, committing to a bible study,  and supporting the church prayerfully, financially and by serving.

    What do you think? Have I missed anything?