• What I wish I did when I planted Resolved part 1: Led more directly

    This week I will laying out some of the mistakes I made when we planted Resolved. Some of these mistakes I kept making until recently. I will also talk through some of the things that I am doing now to counteract these mistakes,

    The first mistake I made was with my leadership. I have always been an upfront, lead with strength kind of guy. But when I started Resolved something changed. I turned into a guy who wasn’t that upfront and this upfrontness diminished more and more. I let standards slip, I left people in the jobs they shouldn’t have had to begin with, I let people let us all down and I didn’t do anything.

    Why did this happen?

    I think I let these things slip because I was scared. You see when you start a church you want all the people you can get at your church. You want the people who are there to stay and so you think I won’t offend them by pulling them up on this or stepping them down out of leading this ministry because if you offend them they may not stay. So I did something I thought I would never do.

    I compromised and backed away.

    This has hurt our church to no end. Having the wrong people on the bus confused our vision and some ministries didn’t happen or didn’t happen like they should’ve. Compromising on standards meant that some people lost confidence in me and others as the leaders of Resolved and some even lost confidence in Resolved as a church and Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

    What I am doing now:

    Praying: I am praying that God would grant me wisdom, humility, love and courage. Wisdom to know what we need to do make Resolved the church we are called to be. Humility to listen and take on criticism and know what criticism to take on board. Humility also to remember that my job is not in the people pleasing business. Love for my people and the city of Sydney:  I want to love Sydney and my people so much that I do not compromise on the vision that God has given us for Resolved. Courage to make hard decisions, to lovingly confront issues and people, courage to lead and not coast.

    We are making sure we have the right people in the right seats on the bus: Having the right people is extremely important having them in the right positions is almost as crucial. I am excited about next year primarily because I think we are getting there in this area.

    Leading more strongly: That means having a strongly articulated vision and plans and not compromising on the vision and plans unless I am convinced we need to. That means setting standards and systems and making sure we execute.

    Preaching to myself: I need to keep preaching to myself that God is big and people are small rather than the other way around. When I get put off my game I have realised it is because I overvalue people’s opinions (negative or positive) of me and forgetting that I am playing for an audience of one.

    When I remember that I am playing for an audience of one I am the leader that I need to be. Please pray that I would play for an audience of one!

     

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  • 25 books every Christian should read

    Over at Patheos.com different bloggers are compiling their 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. So I thought I would do my own. Now mine does not have as many classics as it should. This is because I haven’t read a lot of things City of God by Augustine and I wanted to keep this list to books I have read in their entirety.  So here is my list in no order of importance
    1. Institutes of the christian religion – John Calvin
    2. The Bondage of the will – Martin Luther
    3. The Religious Affections – Jonathan Edwards
    4. The apostolic Preaching of the cross – Leon Morris
    5. On the Incarnation – Athanasius
    6. The cross of Christ – John Stott
    7. The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    8. How long O Lord – Don Carson
    9. Redemption accomplished and applied – John Murray
    10. Christianity and Liberalism – Gresham Machen
    11. Lectures to my Students – Charles Spurgeon
    12. In my Place Condemned he stood – Packer and Dever
    13. Cur Deus Homo – Anselm
    14. The Justification of God – John Piper
    15. Justification and Variegated Nomism – Carson, Seifrid and O’Brien
    16. The Reason for God – Tim Keller
    17. Gods greater Glory – Bruce Ware
    18. Washed and Waiting – Wesley Hill
    19. Hell Under Fire – Morgan and Peterson
    20. 9 Marks of a healthy church – Mark Dever
    21. Evangelicalism Divided – Iain Murray
    22. recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – Piper and Grudem
    23. Humility – CJ Mahaney
    24. Jesus According to Scripture – Darrel Bock
    25. Perspectives old and new on Paul – Stephen Westerholm

    What would be on your list?

    What have I left out?

    What can’ t you believe I missed/included?

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  • How to have a pastoral conversation

    When I started Resolved I was thrust deep into people’s lives and what I found was their lives were like mine… very messy! I did have a course called pastoral counselling when I was at Bible College but I found myself having to read and train myself on how to have a pastoral conversation with someone. How do you talk with someone and help someone when they come to you for help. Here are the 5 things that I have figured out and still training myself to do:

    1. Don’t preach listen

    It is so easy to preach at someone especially when the solution is right there. The problem with preaching at the person is most of the time people want a feelings conversation not a solutions conversation (I have my wife to thank for teaching me the difference between the two.) People want to be heard and our job as pastors/friends/fellow Christians must be to allow them to air what is going on. That means that we have to do what I find very hard. I have to listen.

    2. Seek to understand

    But how do I listen? What am I listening for? When I listen to people I am trying to get at why they are doing what they are doing or why they in the trouble they are In. I am asking myself not what is the solution but what is the root cause. I am seeking to understand them and where they are coming from and then I am seeking to sympathise with them. For example, if I have someone who is deciding to go out with their mates and get drunk every weekend and they are feeling guilty I could say “You have to stop getting drunk!” But is that the Issue? Or are their feelings of belonging to a group of people and being accepted by them the real Issue? I want to listen and get at the root of the problem not the surface level problem and I want to ask questions so that the person I am meeting with will figure the root problem out for themselves Instead of me telling them that.

    3. Your only tool Is the gospel

    As a Christian I know that the gospel is the answer to all problems in the end. So I want to bring my friend back to the gospel and let the gospel inform how they are to deal with their situation. I usually ask the question “What is the gospel saying to you in this situation?” If It was my friend who was getting drunk I would be trying to get them to see that their Identity Is In Christ and their community Is the church and that Is what defines them and gives their life meaning not whether they are popular or not. This can take many meetings though.

    4. Pray with and for them

    I always want to pray for them In front of them. I want to show that their heavenly father still loves them and wants to hear from them. I also want to model through prayer that he Is In control and therefore we can trust him.

    5. Follow them up

    In the next few days follow them up. If you see them before you call them or email them ask how they are doing. Make sure you are on the front foot with this. I am bad at remembering to follow stuff up so I have to put It In my IPhone 2Do list app or it doesn’t get done. So remember to follow them up.

    As I said to begin with I am still training myself how to have pastoral conversations. Sometimes I don’t follow these steps/rules and every time I think that I should have.

    What’s your game plan for having pastoral conversations?

     

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  • Why young reformed guys suck at preaching hell

    There has been a lot of press on hell this year. With books by Bell, Chan and everyone else it seems if it is a hot button topic. It was weird when Love Wins by Bell came out because it felt like some of us young  Reformed guys had restate the doctrine of hell so passionately that it seemed like we were glad that people were going to hell.  I think this has to do with young guys (myself included) and our fight mentality. See, when people are attacking a biblical doctrine we want to fight back but in doing so we can come off sounding calloused and unloving. I think we young reformed guys generally suck at preaching hell. Here are three reflections on hell and our preaching of it:

    When I read the book of Jonah I am blown away by how much this book slaps us young reformed guys in the face. Here is Jonah who cares more about a plant than a whole city of people going to hell (Jonah 4:10-11). But we see in these same verses (and in the rest of the book) God has great compassion on the great city of Nineveh.  We young reformed guys suck at preaching hell when we don’t have Gods tears for the lost.

    Secondly, hell is neither the motivation nor the highlight of our preaching. Paul says it is the love of Christ that compels him (2 Cor 5:14). The love of Christ displayed in the gospel is not only the motivation for preaching but it is the thing we are trying to win people to. Do we preach hell? Yes we do but it is not our greatest weapon for converting people. Our greatest weapon is the love of God. We young reformed guys suck at preaching hell when we use hell as a stick with which we get people into the kingdom.

    Hell is also used as a deterrent to sin. We are told that we should cut off our hand rather than face the fires of hell (Matthew 5:27-30). So hell is used as a deterrent for believers to sin. This means that we use hell in our lives to see the gravity of our sin and therefore our need to take drastic measures to stop sinning. We young reformed guys suck at preaching hell when we don’t see it as confronting us in our sin just as much as it confronts anyone else in theirs.

    Do we need to preach hell? Yes but lets have tears for the lost as we do it. John Blanchard in a book called Whatever Happened to Hell tells this story:

    Dense fog covered the M25 freeway a few miles south of London on 12th December 1984. The hazard warning lights were on but were ignored by most drivers. About 6.15 am, a truck carrying huge rolls of paper was involved in an accident. Within minutes the freeway looked like a bloody battlefield. Dozens of cars were wrecked. Ten people were dead. A police patrol car was soon on the scene. Two policemen ran up the freeway trying to stop the oncoming traffic. They waved their arms, shouting loudly, but most drivers ignored the warning and raced towards the disaster. The policemen were so exasperated that they picked up the traffic cones on the road and flung them at the windscreens of cars to warn the drivers of the danger. One policeman told of the tears that streamed down his face as cars raced past and he waited to hear the sickening thud of impact as they hit the mass of wreckage down the freeway.[1]

    When we preach hell we need to be like those policemen, pleading with tears in our eyes, praying and preaching so that our listeners will not go to hell. When we preach hell like that us reformed guys won’t suck at preaching hell.


    [1] John Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell? (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1993), 297

     

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  • Five questions every pastor should be asked

    Pastors need to be accountable. If they aren’t bad things happen. Here are five questions I am getting my elders to ask me when I am hanging with them.

    1. Is your wife happy?

    Ministry creates an enormous amount of stress on your family and your marriage. This is an issue because we want the people in our families and especially our wives to love ministry.  This is a good question to be asked because it pushes us to prioritize our family. If you are in ministry when was the last time you asked your spouse (if you are married) are they happy? If they are not happy what will you change so that they are happy that you are in ministry?

    2. Are you using your time well?

    There are a lot of ways pastors can waste time. You can read the endless number of blogs, keep up with the latest books that are ever coming out, catch up with every pastor you can or just fart around because, quite frankly, you are not entering a time sheet and you are your own boss. But we have only a short amount of time on this earth and every moment is precious and so we must use our time well. This question helps us analyse how we use our time and make adjustments where we need to.

    3. What’s your plan for fun and rest?

    Ministry is never ending. There is always another sermon to write, another person to shepherd and another thing to organise and plan. One of the first things that gets chopped out of a schedule is the pastors time for rest and recreation. But rest and recreation are essential if we want to perform at our peak. This question makes us plan out times for fun and rest.  This week I have 3 talks to prepare, one bible study to prepare, a preaching schedule to organise, a number of other things to plan for and 10 meetings to prepare for. But I am making sure that I have a few hours this week to go and play basketball with some mates as well as date night with my wife and a day off.

    4. How are you doing spiritually, emotionally and Physically?

    Ministry is tough work and Satan does a great job of making it hard. It is very easy in ministry to eat crap and not exercise and forget about bible reading, praying and reading theology. Ministry is also a job where we can get very down emotionally. I am an upbeat guy but even I find ministry to be depressing sometimes. It is good to have other people encouraging, coaching and pastoring us as we want to be in this game we call ministry for the long term.

    5. Are you emotionally or physically attracted to anyone other than your wife in an unhelpful way?

    Attraction happens in the blink of an eye. You see or interact with someone, they are good looking/ have a winsome personality and you think that they are hot or whatever. That is natural but the problem is when this attraction becomes more than that, it is an issue when your thoughts are lingering on that person. It is even worse when you start thinking about how much better they are than your spouse. If you are in this place you are in trouble and things need to change. Having someone ask you this question helps keep adultery whether emotional or physical at bay.

    It goes without saying that these questions will only be helpful if you are completely honest with the person who is asking them.

     

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  • 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
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  • Every church must do social justice part 4: The witness of History

    The early church in Greco roman world were notorious for bring stingy with how they gave their bodies away sexually and promiscuous about how they gave their money away. The Pagan Emperor Julian said this about Christians and their charity “Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity . . . These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agape . . .”[1] Did you see what has happened because of Christians attitude to the poor the emperor is proclaiming the merits of the Christians!

    This kind of promiscuity with money and possessions was preached in the puritan era of the church. Jonathan Edwards, a man whose preaching was notable in its orthodoxy and whose theology is a passionate and yet extremely balanced and carefully weighted exposition of biblical truth nevertheless can say this “Tis the most absolute and indispensable duty of a people of God to give bountifully and willingly for the supply of the wants of the needy.”[2] For Edwards, one of the ways the church (notice the language of a people of God) displays the gospel is in its attitude to the poor. For Edwards it is the riches we behave been given in Christ which forms the basis of why we give generously to the poor. Speaking of Jesus Edwards says: “Consider that silver, and gold, and earthly crowns, were in his esteem but mean things to give us, and he hath therefore given us his own Son. Christ loved and pitied us, when we were poor, and he laid out himself to help, and even did shed his own blood for us without grudging. He did not think much to deny himself, and to be at great cost for us vile wretches, in order to make us rich, and to clothe us with kingly robes, when we were naked; to feast us at his own table with dainties infinitely costly, when we were starving; to advance us from the dunghill, and set us among princes, and make us to inherit the throne of his glory, and so to give us the enjoyment of the greatest wealth and plenty to all eternity. Agreeably to 2 Cor. 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” Considering all these things, what a poor business will it be that those who hope to share these benefits yet cannot give something for the relief of a poor neighbour without grudging! That it should grieve them to part with a small matter, to help a fellow servant in calamity, when Christ did not grudge to shed his own blood for them!”[3]For Edwards, as well as for us, the basis for social Justice is the Gospel it is not in competition with the Gospel!

    The last person from the history of the church I want to look at is the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  Spurgeon was known as the prince of preachers by many who heard him and yet he was no mere orator. He was a man who was possessed by the gospel so much so that he not only preached it with passion and compassion but he defended the truth of the gospel like a young lioness defends her cubs.[4] This is significant because here is a man of very strong reformed theology who defends the truth but when found in the midst of the squalor of inner city London in the 19th century Spurgeon not only preached the gospel but he also did many started many organisations that cared for the poor and needy. Here is a list of the works Spurgeon started:

    • An almshouse for needy Widows[5]
    • A free school for poor children[6]
    • A theological college to train young men who couldn’t afford to go to university
    • In 1867 an orphanage for young boys[7]
    • In 1879 An orphanage for girls[8]
    • A fund for the poor [9]
    • A Sunday school for the blind[10]

    So alongside his preaching and defending of the gospel Spurgeon showed a deep concern for the poor which overflowed in social justice.

    This all too brief survey of church history shows that Social justice and the gospel go hand in hand and therefore we cannot say that if we do social justice we will neglect the gospel because that statement is historically unfounded. We have also seen that the church throughout the ages has cared for the poor as an outworking of its adherence to the gospel


    [1] Quoted in Keller, Ministries, 108

    [2] Edwards, Jonathan, Christian Charity: or, The Duty of Charity of the Poor, Explained and Enforced. In The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 163

    [3] Edwards, Christian Charity, in Works,

    [4] See Murray, Iain. The Forgotten Spurgeon. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1966),

    [5] Dallimore, Arnold, C. H. Spurgeon: A New Biography [Moody Press: Chicago, 1984)],125

    [6] Dallimore , C. H. Spurgeon,125

    [7] Dallimore , C. H. Spurgeon, 126

    [8] Dallimore, C. H. Spurgeon, 129

    [9] Drummond, Lewis A. Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1992),437

    [10] Drummond, Spurgeon, 438

     

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  • Every church must do social justice part 3: Social Justice and the Gospel

    The problem with just stating that the bible commands that we are to care for the poor is that it is a cold hard law which will either make us fall into despair because there is always poor and we can’t help them all or we will be proud because we are doing more then the next Christian or church. Christians need to be motivated by grace first and foremost. As Jerry Bridges says “We are brought into God’s Kingdom by grace; we are sanctified by grace; we receive both temporal and spiritual blessings by grace; we are motivated to obedience by grace; we are called to serve and enabled to serve by grace; we receive strength to endure trials by grace; and finally, we are glorified by grace.  The entire Christian life is lived under the reign of God’s grace.” So if this quote is true then the ministry of social Justice must be motivated by grace but how is this so?

    The bible gives us a great example in 2 Corinthians 8, in verse 1-5 Paul tells us about the example of the Macedonians who out their poverty they want to give money and be abundantly generous. But Paul Gives us the theology that motivates their giving Paulstates “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). The motivation for their giving is the fact that Jesus gave up his riches and made us rich. Once you were poor, once you were spiritually destitute and Jesus left behind the riches of heaven and became so poor for you. It is in the cross we see the great exchange that Paul describes here in economic terms. Because of the cross we are able to give our money away because Jesus has given us the example of how to treat riches just as he gave his riches away, we, like the Macedonians, are free to give our money to help those who are poor. Therefore it is because God has been generous towards us in Jesus and the cross that we can be generous towards those who are needy and suffering in our world.

     

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  • Every church must do social justice part 2: The Biblical Witness

    The Biblical Witness

    The words of Jesus are meant to shock us, one of the most shocking things Jesus did was tell stories that seem harmless but under the surface they snare us in a loving trap which is meant to show how we as people fall far short of the mark when it comes to living as God would have us live.

    One of the most loved stories of Jesus is the Parable of the Good Samaritan which is found in Luke 10:25-37. The story is preceded by an interchange between Jesus and an expert in the law. The   expert in the law tries to test Jesus by asking him “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). The expert is trying to trap Jesus by minimizing the role of the law in salvation. So Jesus replies by pointing him to the law and asking him how he reads it. He replies by quoting a mash up of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Jesus replies “Do this and you will live (Luke 10:28). Now we have to realise what Jesus is doing. He is not saying that you can do the law and be saved; no he is trying to show the impossibility of doing the law. Because neither you nor I nor this man could possibly love God with everything we have and love our neighbours with the care and the passion for their dignity that we show ourselves. This is a trap that Jesus has set to show the expert that he has no inherent righteousness of his own. The expert should have replied in the same way that Nathan Cole a farmer from Connecticut replied when he was converted in the 1740 after hearing George Whitefield preach ‘And my hearing him preach gave me a heart wound; by God’s blessing my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me’[1] As Christians we need to see that we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), only once we see that we can see that Jesus death bring us forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7) and his righteousness ( 2 Corinthians 5:21).

    But the expert in the law didn’t see his own righteousness wouldn’t save but he sought to justify himself (Luke 10:29). He asked the question “who is my Neighbour?” (Luke 10:29)The demand to love neighbours as yourself was a huge command and demanded a lot so in asking this question “he wished to soften the demand and not feel the obligation to respond.”[2] “He wished to define the second commandment in such a way to make its requirements reachable”[3] Then Jesus tells us a story most people know. But we need to be careful, Jesus is not telling us that we can saved by imitating the good Samaritan but he is trying to humble us by showing the love and action that God requires with the result that we see the impossibility of living this way and then accept the forgiveness that God offers.

    The story describes a man who has been beaten and robbed he has been stripped naked and left for dead. (Luke 10:30) Which means that, as a Jew, this man shouldn’t be touched. You shouldn’t touch a man who was dead because you would become ceremonially unclean. But more than that you couldn’t see whether this man was Jewish because just like today clothing showed who you were so if you were a Jew or a Samaritan it would show by the clothes you wore so him being naked it wouldn’t have been clear where is he was from and if a Jew came into contact with a foreigner they were ritually unclean. The other thing is to note the road, on this 27 kilometre long road you went from Jerusalem which is 2700 feet above sea level to Jericho which is 800 feet below sea level the road was well known as a place where robbers and thieves abounded[4] and so to stop and help this man would leave you open to be beaten and robbed yourself! So in every way this man was, at best, a major risk to help because, as a Jew you’re standing in the community if not your life was at risk. But the thing that shocks is the characters especially the hero.  The hero of the story is not a Jewish man as you would expect but a Samaritan. Samaritans were the most hated people by Jews. So Jesus takes the most hated and he makes him the hero of the story who helps the man physically and materially. But the significant thing is the way Jesus inverts the expert’s question. Jesus was asked “Who is my neighbour?” and Jesus ends the parable with a question who was his neighbour? The expert doesn’t even mention the word Samaritan he says the one who helped him. Jesus command is to go and do likewise. Jesus is saying that a person who follows him loves those around him by seeking “justice for, and offer assistance to, those in need, regardless of the group to which they belong.”[5]

    As we have seen there is a strong command from Jesus to care for those who are suffering and this is a common teaching in the rest of the Bible. In Leviticus 25:35 we read: “If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.” We see the priority of caring for the people of God first but what is implied is that when a foreigner came into the land that the Israelites would take care of their needs.

    In the book of Galatians, Paul is commissioned to preach to the gentiles and then is commanded to that they “should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10). It is striking that in a book which is so concerned about the gospel and getting it right that there would be a commission from the Jerusalem church to Paul to care for the poor. So as Paul was to be a missionary he was also to care for the poor.

    We could go to many other places in the bible to show that the God intends us to show concern for the poor[6] but this brief survey is enough to show us that God wants us to care for the poor. But you may ask “How does the gospel fit into social Justice?” Is the Gospel Separate to social justice or does social Justice Spring from the Gospel? We will turn to these questions tomorrow.


    [1] As quoted in Keller, Timothy. Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road (P&R Publishing, 1997), 37

    [2] Bock, Darrell L. Luke. (Downers Grove, Illinois : Intervarsity, 1994)

    [3] Keller, Ministries, 38

    [4] Snodgrass, Kyle, Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2008), 345

    [5] Snodgrass, Stories, 361.

    [6] E.g., Deuteronomy 27:19, Proverbs 14:31, Isaiah 3:14-15, Ezekiel 22:29, Amos 2:6-7, Malachi 3:5, 1 John 3:17-18

     

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  • Every church must do social justice part 1: Setting the Scene

    Social Justice seems to be one of the sweeping fads in contemporary Christianity. We see movements like the” I Heart Revolution” and “Make Poverty History” being championed by churches and Para-church organizations. On the other hand there seems to be a reluctance to see social justice as part of what the church does. This may be for one of two reasons:

    Firstly, people see the core task of the church as proclaiming the gospel of the Life death and resurrection of Jesus and anything else is not necessary.

    Secondly, there seems to be a reluctance to do social justice because of fear of becoming liberal of abandoning the gospel. This fear, put bluntly, seems unfounded but when we have a look at churches that seem not to preach Jesus there is a strong emphasis on social Justice as the Gospel and because of the abandoning of the gospel Social justice is avoided.

    But is it that cut and dry? Can you preach the Gospel and do social justice? Can you believe in strong reformed, evangelical doctrine and be committed to seeing people saved from Hell and still seek to alleviate the earthly suffering of those around you? This week I will be blogging about social justice and I will argue that you can preah the gospel and do social justice. in Tomorrows blog we will first examine the Biblical witness and see that one of the marks of discipleship is the care for the poor. Then we will see how the gospel is the grounds of social justice, then we will turn to church history and see that Christian since the early church have sought to relieve the suffering of those around you because of the gospel not in spite of the gospel. And finally we will wrap up with some seeing how evangelism and social justice relate to each other and then offer some conclusions.

    I hope that you will see how the gospel and social justice arent opposites but both are to be employed by every gospel centered, reformed evangelical church.

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