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Archive for September, 2011

“God’s wrath is as eternal as God’s love!”

That was emblazoned on the first page of a tract being offered by some Christians at a literature table in town.  Can you believe it?  That’s the opening gambit!

When I pressed them on it, they said, Of course God is love.  But He also hates.

“Which is more eternal?” I asked.  They couldn’t say.

Well I can.

He is Father – eternally begetting (giving life to) His Son.

He is Radiance – eternally shining out the Light of His beauty.

He is Speaker – eternally revealing and communicating Himself in His Word.

He is Blesser – eternally pouring His Spirit onto and into Christ.

You can wind back the clock as far as you like into the depths of eternity and you will see life-giving, radiant, communicative blessing flowing out to the Other.  That is His eternal nature.  He is love.  He is light.  Scripture never says He is hate.

His wrath is a response to the alien existence of death, darkness and sin.   It is the response of love to that which would harm or demean His Beloved.  God’s wrath is not as eternal as God’s love.

What do they sing at that church I wonder?

Fly sinners, fly into those a-a-arms
Of everlasting wr-a-a-ath
Of e-ev-er-la-a-sti-ing wrath! 

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Happy Friday #84

 

Just hilarious!

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No PDAs

How do you respond to PDAs?

Cringe?

Tut-tut?

Feel superior?

What about PDAs for Jesus?

What if someone expresses costly, counter-cultural public affection for Jesus in your workplace, in your family, on the streets or even in church. Do you cringe?

alabasterIn Mark 14:1-11 we see a woman break open a jar of perfume worth tens of thousands of pounds. And she expends it all in a public display of affection for Jesus.

Jesus likes it.  He thinks, v6, it’s a beautiful thing. Verse 8 He says ‘she has anointed my body for burial’.  No-one would get the chance to do this after His death.  Jesus was an early riser you see.  So here the woman takes her opportunity in fulfilment of Song of Songs 1:12:

“While the King was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance.”

She plays the part of the beloved and the King thinks it’s beautiful.

Judas does not think it’s beautiful.  We know from the other gospels that he was the one leading the protest from v4: He thinks it’s a waste.  It could have been sold and given to the poor.

But of course Judas wasn’t going to sell the perfume and give money to the poor. He was going to sell Jesus and get money for himself.

But it’s a shocking contrast.  One follower of Jesus is moved to heart-felt, all-out devotion, centred on His death. Another follower of Jesus is repulsed by such devotion.  And this event is a significant tipping point for Judas to betray Jesus.

Prior to the moment of betrayal, Judas’s hard heart is never more exposed than here.  He kept up such a good pretence the rest of the time.  But here – in the presence of vulnerable abandonment and adoration – the true state of his heart is exposed.  Nothing threatens the impostor more than genuine love for Jesus.  He sees the woman’s devotion and he thinks the focus is all wrong.

‘Stop focussing on Jesus.  Go out and do stuff in Jesus’ name.  Go and be Jesus to the poor.’  That was Judas’s attitude.  Actual love for Jesus made him extremely uncomfortable.

So then, next time you’re tempted to disdain certain Christian music as ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ worship…

Next time you criticize some street-preacher’s unenlightened methods…

Next time you feel superior to some simple saint’s devotional sweetness while crediting yourself with getting out and doing the work…

Maybe, just maybe, that’s the spirit of Judas.

You must know that a Christian is nothing if they are not a lover of Jesus.

If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him.  (1 Corinthians 16:22)

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Sermon Audio

Nehemiah 3

What unites the Lord’s people?  What makes for real, lasting, binding unity among the Family of God?  Where do we find the kind of oneness that Jesus speaks of in John chapter 17.

 “May they [the church] be brought to complete unity.” (John 17:23)

How can the church ever be the answer to Christ’s prayer?

Some will suggest unity through institutions.  Be united under bishops, and archbishops.  Perhaps under the Pope – surely that’s one way of achieving unity.

Some suggest unity through dialogue and declarations.  Sit down with Christians and come to doctrinal agreements on as many things as we can.  Certainly there’s a time and a place for that.

Perhaps we should pursue unity through ecumenical services where we put “give and take” into action in our worship.  Maybe that can be an expression of unity.

In Nehemiah 3 we see the people united in an incredible way.  Men and women.  Adults and children.  Nobles and servants.  Different tribes. Different cultures.  Different occupations working as one towards a common goal.  There were hardships, there were set-backs, there was serious opposition, but through it all, the gracious hand of God was upon them and in 52 days they did what seemed impossible.  They rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem.

And that’s what unites the people of God.  And you say “What, a building project?”  “Brick-laying is the key to church unity?  Urban planning is the great ecumenical hope?”  No, but let’s think what building up Jerusalem means. (more…)

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Some talks

Mike Reeves on Just Jesus – three talks on the incomparability of Christ.  His self-giving sets Him apart!

Rich Owen on Colossians 1:3-14 – “We need Jesus more today than we did yesterday”.  Amen!

And I’ve just spotted Rich’s Colossians 1:15-23 sermon.  Haven’t listened to it yet. But very much looking forward to it.

UPDATE: See also Michael Luerhmann’s sermon on Colossians 1:1-2  (ht Dave K).

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Outgoing Session 3 – 22 September 2011

Full Text of Session 1

Full Text of Session 2

Powerpoint


The Surprising God

The Question is always Which God?

It’s not about Theism versus Atheism

It’s a god eat god world out there and it’s every god for himself!

Everyone believes.  Everyone has a god.

We proclaim Jesus – the Surprising God.

 

Jesus is God-Sized.  And God is Jesus-Shaped.

 

Matthew 11:25-30

Only through Jesus are we let into the Family Secret

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Without Jesus are there other ways of knowing God?

Let’s examine: Reason, Religion, Old Testament and Creation.

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Alternative Paths to God?

Reason

Proverbs 3:5-7
Romans 8:7
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
2 Corinthians 4:4
Colossians 1:21
Colossians 2:8

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The god of philosophy looks nothing like the God of the Cross!

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Religions

Numbers 33:50-53; Deut 7:1-6; 12:1-3; 29:16-18; 32:15-21; Psalm 96:4-5; 106:35-40; Isaiah 41:21-24; 44:6-26; Jeremiah 16:19-21; Romans 1:23-25; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; 10:20.

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The gods of the religions look nothing like the God of the Cross!

Old Testament

John 1:1
John 1:18
John 8:56-58
John 12:38-41
John 5:37-46

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Jesus has always been the Way to God

Abraham, Moses and Isaiah trusted Christ.

Jesus simply is the Lord God of Israel.

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Creation

Psalm 19
Romans 1:16-20
Colossians 1:23
John 12:23-24

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Jesus is Lord – Creation’s Voice Proclaims It!

The creation reveals a very great deal about God

It does so by revealing Christ!

But unless our eyes are opened through the Spirit and His Word we will miss it.

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Jesus really is the One Image of God!

He should be the One Subject of our conversation.

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Common Objection: Isn’t it a bit narrow to say that Jesus is the only way?


 

Recommended Reading:

John 13-17

How are the three Persons of the Trinity described?
How do they relate to each other?

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Next Week: The Triune God

The Trinity is not a problem in evangelism.  It’s the solution!

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PREVIOUS SESSION

AUDIO

FULL TEXT


Christ must be proclaimed biblically.

John 5:37-47

My job is not to speak about the bible.
My job is to speak about what the bible speaks about.

We don’t minister the word in order to give a “take home point.”
We offer a take-home Christ!

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Christ must be proclaimed biblically

The Bible does not need experts, it creates Heralds.

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Christ must be proclaimed biblically.

The Bible is not given to individuals for their personal piety.
The Bible is given to the church to proclaim Christ to the world.

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A minister of the word is not capable of speaking of Jesus.
They are incapable of doing otherwise!

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Jeremiah 20:9; 1 Corinthians 9:16; 2 Corinthians 4:13; 5:14-21

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If this is true how will it affect the content
of our word ministry?

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