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Archive for November, 2011

Outgoing – Session 12

24 November 2011

Audio

Full Text


Problems of the heart

What stops us from being an outgoing people?

Discuss!


We want to feel ok with the world

But Jesus hits a conversation like a sack of bricks.

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We want to feel ok with God

So I don’t want to get too involved with ‘the world’

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We want to feel ok with ourselves

But frankly we’re spiritually dry and it feels like a duty.

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How would the Apostle Paul handle these objections?

2 Corinthians 5

V1-4 –            Our bodies are from Adam, our Spirit is from Christ

Therefore we groan!  But…

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V5-9 –            We have confidence through the Spirit

We look forward to seeing Jesus

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V10 –              Humanity will appear before Christ’s throne.

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Therefore…

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V11-13 –        We persuade people

V14-16 –        We are driven out by the love of Jesus

We see the world in the light of the cross.

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V17-19 –        To be saved is to be scooped up into His mission

His mission is proclamation.

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V20-21 –        We implore people.

We make an appeal to people

 “Be reconciled to God.”

This has happened cosmically

But it must happen personally

So how would Paul answer our fears?

We want to feel ok with the world

We want to feel ok with God

We want to feel ok with ourselves

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What can we do to share Jesus in our everyday lives?

Pray

Be human

Love them

Speak of Jesus

Open the Bible with them

Invite them into the community of Christ’s people


COMMON OBJECTION:  “You don’t really want to be my friend, you just want to gain converts!”

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Hot off the press – NEW KIDS SONG (though it’s not really for kids ;-)

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And, previously on Christ the Truth…

A song about the OT’s wait for Christmas…

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This one’s meant to be sung as a round…

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And here’s my favourite of all my little ditties…

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Mission is our ongoing life because mission is God’s outgoing life.

Work out (v12)

Shine out (v15)

Hold out (v16)

Pour out (v17)

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Audio

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Happy Friday [Belated]

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I preached Psalm 18:19  a while back.  And you know my first reaction as I was preparing?

Hmmm, tricky, how on earth should we understand this…?

I hope you’re all saying: But why Glen – it seems perfectly straightforward.

Well, there’s the slightly tricky part about how we take the verse on our own lips.  Clearly it’s Christ speaking of His Father.  But once we’re all happy to sing the Psalm in Christ then I hope you’re all saying to yourselves: Glen, it’s perfectly obvious.  The Lord saves us because He loves us. What could be difficult about that?

Ah, but you see I regularly fall into a foolish and horrible error – perhaps you’re the same.  I start thinking that Jesus died so that God could love me.  I imagine that God saves in order to love.  He cleans me up a bit and then gives me His grace.  His atonement leads to love, (rather than love leading to the atonement).  Do you see my error?

And so when Psalm 18 spoke of the Lord delighting in me and therefore rescuing me?  Well it seemed backwards.  And so I really had to let the word confront me again.

Because in the Bible God loves the world and so sends the Son to save (John 3:16-17).  In the Bible it’s ‘because of His great love for us that God makes us alive’, even when we were dead in sins (Eph 2:4).  In the Bible God demonstrates His own love for us in that Christ died for powerless, ungodly, sinful enemies (Rom 5:6-11).

Do you see what these verses are saying?  God loves and so He saves.  It does not say – God saves and so He loves.

Why’s that important?  Well for one thing it means that Christ loves me – SINNER THAT I AM. It’s not a case of Christ loving the saved me (though of course He does).  But it’s the radical gospel truth that Christ has loved me at my putrid worst.  He doesn’t clean me up in order to love me.  He loves me and so cleanses me through His atoning death.

Which means when I ask myself, ‘Does God love me?’ – I can look to the cross alone.  I don’t have to check my own saved status.  I don’t have to worry whether the cleansing has taken sufficient effect to allow me entrance into His affections.  I can simply look at Christ crucified and say – God loves me.  There is His demonstration – a love for sinners at war with Him.  He has not fixed His love on me at my best.  He has fixed His love on me at my worst.

My salvation – won through His blood alone – proves His love for me.  His love is not a bonus for the godly but is specifically aimed at enemies.  Such love is the very ground of all He does. If I’m looking at the Son lifted up on the cross then I’m seeing God’s love for me because there I’m seeing my salvation.  This salvation in Christ is infallible proof of God’s immovable, inexhaustible and unfathomable love for me.

He rescued me because He delighted in me. (Ps 18:19)

Christian, God speaks that word to you right now.  Believe it.

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From Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Swansea

Doctrine Day on “Life is for Living”

Pentateuch part 1a

Pentateuch part 1b

Pentateuch part 2

Knowing life as a human being (Creeds)

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I’ll be self-publishing the King’s English as a daily devotional in four quarterly instalments.

Hopefully it will be available very soon on Amazon, STL, and through me.  Just in time for Christmas.  Just in time for all those New Years Bible-reading resolutions!

Tell your friends!

And thanks so much to James Watts for a great cover design!

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Audio

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Outgoing – Session 11B – 17 November 2011


Questions, Questions…

Coming to Christ is like getting married…

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You do ask questions before you’re married

But that’s not the primary way you get to know each other

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You get to know each other by living in each other’s worlds and by telling stories.

And once you get married, then you start asking big questions.

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It’s the same with coming to Christ:

Questions are important but they’re not the main way you get to know Jesus.

You get to know Jesus as His story is told.

Therefore it’s not about taking questions on their own terms.

We must use questions to proclaim Christ.

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Reframing, Reflecting, Revealing…

We reframe the questions around the Bible’s definitions.

We reflect the question back because they too must answer it.

We reveal the gospel focused on Christ and Him crucified.

 

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DISCUSS

1)    If God is all loving, all knowing and all powerful, how can he allow suffering?

2)    If God knows everything, why pray?

3)    Religion causes wars


Recommended Reading: Galatians 1-6

What is the gospel?

What does it mean to live by the flesh?  And by the Spirit?

What is the biggest threat to the gospel


 

Next Week: What’s stopping us

Why don’t we evangelise?  The real reason is fear, pride and spiritual dryness.  The solution?  Return to the Fountain!

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Audio

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Outgoing – Session 11A – 17 November 2011


Problems of the head?

The Link Between Knowledge of God and Salvation by God

Fallen humanity does not know God

1 Samuel 3:7; Psalm 14; Matthew 7:24-27; 11:25-26; John 1:5; 1:18; 5:37-38; 7:28-29; 8:19; 14:17; 15:21; 17:25-26; Romans 1:18; 3:10-18; 8:7; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2:11-14; 3:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:17-19; Colossians 1:21; 2:6-8

To know God is to be saved by Him

Proverbs 1:7; Matthew 11:25-30; John 1:10-13, 18; 14:6-9; 17:3; Rom 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; Eph 4:17-21; 1 Tim 2:3-4

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We’re not saved by works but by God’s grace alone

We don’t know God by our wisdom but by God’s revelation alone

Our knowledge of God is just as much a gift as our salvation by God.
If this is true, what are the implications for evangelism?

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What about Romans 1? 

God is maximally revealed in the world

God is maximally suppressed in us

Something decisive happened with Adam

Though we knew God we exchanged it for foolishness.

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What about Acts 17?

Paul is obsessed with Jesus and the resurrection which seems like strange gods to the Greeks.

Paul says the one thing they know is that they don’t know God.

He begins again with the story of Adam and Christ.

He does not build on their supposed knowledge, he subverts it.

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What would convince the world to believe?

The world demands wisdom or power.

What does God give them?  The cross!

1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5

The cross splits the world

We mustn’t attempt to mend the tear by our own power/wisdom

A Cross-Shaped Message

 

 

            A Cross-Shaped People

 

 

            A Cross-Shaped Messenger

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People look for power and wisdom

They are frustrated by the message of the cross.

Yet some believe.

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James 2:14-26 sermon

Many of my sermons, for one reason or another, don’t get recorded.  Not only was this sermon not recorded I can’t find my script for it either!  So here is my Powerpoint.  And here’s a sketch of what I said…

…How about this for a show of faith:

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.  He shouted at the top of his voice… Jesus, Son of the Most High God!

Don’t you want faith like this?  He’s whole-hearted.  He’s full-throated.  He’s clear on the identity of Jesus and he doesn’t care who knows it.  Do you want faith like this?

I hope not.  This is Legion (Mark 5:6-7)

James wants us not to have demon faith (James 2:19)!  Can such faith save? (v14)  Perish the thought.

James wants to knock on the head ridiculous ideas about being saved by faith.

You see, it’s not as though our faith saves us rather than our deeds

Faith isn’t some commodity that gets us across the salvation line.

Neither do deeds “top up” faith, as though together “faith + deeds = salvation”…

No that would be ridiculous.  Neither deeds nor faith save us in that sense.

Actually Christ saves us, and faith is being united to Him.

The Bible speaks often in terms of trees…

Living faith always produces works.

It is “faith alone” that saves, in the sense that the reformers meant it.  But  such saving faith is never alone.  This is what James is getting at with his examples of Rahab and Abraham.

In both instances the faith that saves inevitably produces good fruit.

But think of Abraham’s case.  There’s a lot of disobedience in there too!

The faith that saves works.

Hear Luther on the subject:

It is a living, busy, mighty thing, this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are any good works to do, but before the question rises; it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them. He who does not these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works. Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God’s grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace; and thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire.  (Luther’s preface to Romans)

And finally Jesus:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:1-5

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Is Acts 17 really a model for ‘contextualization’?

Is being a “law unto oneself” a bad thing?

Is “hope against hope” shaky grounds for future confidence?

God forbid!

More here.

 

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Happy Friday

Note to the Editor: The Fast Show works by being Fast.  Quicker edits please. Nonetheless, good to see it back :)

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In January our Church plant will be starting on a three year programme of Reading the Bible Together.  It is the simple plan of reading the Bible that Steve Levy has developed at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Swansea.

Beginning with Matthew in January, Romans in February and Genesis in March the whole Church family will read the books of the Bible asking the questions that the Bible itself tells us to ask.  Instead of reading the Bible with all kinds of frameworks, formulas, books, charts and diagrams we will read the Bible as if the Bible had been written in the best possible way with the ordinary church member in mind.  Yes, many of the details are beyond most of us the first time we read through the Bible and there are all kinds of questions and problems that we face; yet the Ultimate Author and the character, work and glory of Jesus shine through.

What causes such excitement about reading the Bible is the LORD Jesus Christ Himself.  There are endless articles and conferences in some circles that complain how hard they find it to preach or even read the Hebrew Scriptures.  Down the centuries the Church has found such freedom and joy in all the Scriptures when we see the glory of the crucified Christ in them all – in all the many and various ways that He encountered the Church from Genesis to Revelation.

Steve Levy’s RBT programme has been so helpful to many different churches. As I go around the UK I find that more and more of us are trying it out.  Even The Briefing has provided an article about one church that has taken Steve’s RBT method with a few modifications.  Steve has provided a very helpful response here.

The fact that Pete Woodcock is running a version of RBT, and acknowledges his debt to Steve Levy, is great.  Pete is such an outstanding Bible teacher.  My son Jonathan has been to two of the Contagious summer camps and has become a huge fan of Pete.  Every time I say anything at all about the book of Revelation, Jonathan gets out his notes to shows me exactly what Pete said and then explains how Pete preached it so much better than I have done.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery so Steve Levy presumably is very flattered that his RBT programme has been re-marketed in The Briefing as TBR [The Big Read].  I’m sure this was done as a helpful tribute to Steve’s work, and it is great that another network of churches is getting into this pattern of reading whole books of the Bible.

There are some great new features in TBR, and to be honest, I think I’m going to use some of these when we start up RBT in January.   The Experience Bible has been a fantastic resource produced from a top team of black Christians, and it is by far the best dramatized Bible reading out there.  Reading long sections of the Bible out loud is an overdue return to the patterns of local church worship from apostolic times.

However, there is one key way in which TBR falls a little short of the original RBT.  Steve has explained in his response on The Briefing website how the opening question is a question about myself rather than a question about Jesus, and as Steve says, we need so little encouragement to think about ourselves.  My own experience of group Bible studies is that we are all too willing to talk about what the passage made us feel or think, but we often miss out on the original author’s intent.

My own main concern is with TBR’s fourth question and the different Scripture that is used – “How is Jesus previewed/revealed? (Luke 24:27)”  The original RBT question is “What did you learn about Jesus? (Luke 24:45-47)”

First, I’m not convinced that it is helpful to introduce the language of “previewed/revealed”.  I understand that some churches are committed to the idea that Jesus is previewed in the Old Testament and then revealed in the New Testament, so I can see why they might want to build that scheme of Bible overview into the question.  However, it seems to impose a limiting scope to the question.  Yes, there are all kinds of ways in which we might talk of Jesus begin ‘previewed’ in the Hebrew Scriptures – from Abel’s offering, the Passover lamb, the day of atonement and David’s defeat of Goliath etc etc.  However, there are other ways when the LORD Jesus Christ is actually present, as the pre-incarnate Eternal Son/Logos – as the Angel of the LORD, the Son of Man, the LORD who is seen, the Commander of the Angelic Host etc etc.  There are other times when the prophets and psalmists just speak directly about Him – “The LORD said to my Lord…”, “The LORD’s anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps”, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” etc etc.

What we like about Steve’s original RBT questions is that the horizon is wide open to any and every way in which the LORD Jesus Christ is shown off in the Scriptures.

Second, notice the different Bible references given for each question.  The original RBT question refers us to Jesus’ own mini Bible overview – “He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  Here Jesus sets the expectation that  the heart and soul of the Hebrew Scriptures is that He would suffer, rise from the dead on the third day and that this resulting change of life and forgiveness is for everybody in the world.  This allows the Bible to set the horizon of expectation as we read it.

The Bible reference given in TBR is Luke 24:27 – “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  It’s a good verse, but on its own it doesn’t tell us much about what to expect as we read the Bible.  On its own, out of context, we might be wondering what kind of things Moses and the prophets had to say about the LORD Jesus Christ.  If we were to include the preceding two verses we would get a much clearer picture – “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Why does this matter?

If we used Luke 24:25-27 or Luke 24:45-47 we expect the Hebrew Scriptures to teach us how Christ had to suffer and then rise on the third day.  Recently I actually heard a leading evangelical speaker say that Peter fell into Satan’s deception in Mark 8:32 only because the relevant information had not yet been revealed.  In other words, the speaker said that Peter could not have known about the suffering of Jesus Christ and that is why Peter rebuked Jesus.  The speaker said that the idea that the Christ would suffer was a new idea that was concealed in the Hebrew Scriptures.

We might think that Peter would want to excuse himself, but in his letter Peter specifically affirms that the Hebrew Scriptures do in fact teach the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow – 1 Peter 1:10-12.

If we are going to run either the original RBT or the new TBR, why not leave more room for all the ways that Jesus is presented in the Bible and for the whole scope of His Person and Work, including His Cross?

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Here’s a couple of older Dawkins’ articles reposted…

 

dawkins_southpark

I think, actually, [Richard Dawkins is] a pre-Christian atheist, because he never understood what Christianity is about in the first place! That would be rather like Madonna calling herself post-Marxist. You’d have to read him first to be post-him. As I’ve said before, I think that Dawkins in particular makes such crass mistakes about the kind of claims that Christianity is making. A lot of the time, he’s either banging at an open door or he’s shooting at a straw target.

Terry Eagleton (via Halden)

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But before we feel smug.  Let’s allow him (and others) to critique a knee-jerk theism that too often passes for Christian apologetics:

[Conservative Evangelicals] despise Richard Dawkins while actually believing in the kind of God he rightly rejects, as if the existence of God were, in principle, demonstrable, as if the proposition “God exists” were a hypothesis to be affirmed or denied, as if God were simply the hugest of individuals.

Kim Fabricius (I object to his other points, but this one has a lot of truth to it).

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One God furtherDawkins himself says that all he does is stretch his disbelief one God further than the Christians.

Which is absolutely right.  Both Dawkins and the Christian reject Thor and Vishnu and the Flying Spaghetti Monster and any other super-being you care to imagine.  The task of the Christian apologist is not to establish a deity but to proclaim the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Mike Reeves recommends – the question for the atheist is ‘Which God don’t you believe in?’

And once they’ve described it, the response to have ready is ‘I don’t believe in that either, let me tell you about the cross.’

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And in this article Dawkins was asked, “Where does evolution leave God?”  He answered:

“Before 1859 it would have seemed natural to agree with the Reverend William Paley, in “Natural Theology,” that the creation of life was God’s greatest work. Especially (vanity might add) human life. Today we’d amend the statement: Evolution is the universe’s greatest work. Evolution is the creator of life, and life is arguably the most surprising and most beautiful production that the laws of physics have ever generated. Evolution, to quote a T-shirt sent me by an anonymous well-wisher, is the greatest show on earth, the only game in town.

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“Where does that leave God? The kindest thing to say is that it leaves him with nothing to do, and no achievements that might attract our praise, our worship or our fear. Evolution is God’s redundancy notice, his pink slip. But we have to go further. A complex creative intelligence with nothing to do is not just redundant. A divine designer is all but ruled out by the consideration that he must at least as complex as the entities he was wheeled out to explain. God is not dead. He was never alive in the first place.”

Again ask the question – who or what has Dawkins taken aim at?  He’s railing against a divine designer entirely dependent on its own creation.

Rail away Richard.  Christian theology does a far better job, but if it makes you feel better – go for your life.

And if you want to lay the smackdown on some god-of-the-gaps who is posited simply to explain the inexplicable, then please don’t let us stop you.

And if you’re invigorated by venting splenetic rage on a god ‘ruled out’ by the logic of its own creation well Richard, who isn’t?  I’m regularly energized by such disdain.  And we certainly have no wish to spoil your fun.

While you heap adolescent contempt on those gods, we’ll be over here – stoning modern-day Paleys for providing you with such irrelevant and idolatrous targets.

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By the way – if you read the Dawkins quote and thought to yourself ‘Aha, but who created the laws of physics!?’ – you are Paley.  And I’m coming to get you.

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Outgoing – Session 10 – 10 November 2011

Sorry no audio!

Full manuscript

Powerpoint


Proclamation People

John 20:19-23  As the Father sends Jesus, so He sends us.

This doesn’t mean we are sent to save the world.  John 19:30!

It does mean that we proclaim the forgiveness He won.

How?

 

John 20:24-31  A Thomas Experience versus The Scriptures

It is more blessed to meet Christ in the Bible

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 This is our method – as a priestly people,

we bring Christ to the world biblically

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How do you think of the phrase “WORD OF GOD”?

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Genesis 15:1-6
1 Samuel 3:1,7, 19-21
Psalm 18:30
Psalm 33:4-6
Jeremiah 1:4-10
John 1:1-3
Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:49; 19:20
1 Thessalonians 1:8-13
Hebrews 4:12; 13:7

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The Threefold Word

Christ

Scripture

Proclamation

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Matthew 10:40; Luke 10:16

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When are my words God’s words?

When Christ is proclaimed biblically.

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Discuss:  If this is true, how should it affect the manner of our evangelism?

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Christ must be proclaimed biblically

 

John 5:37-46

Luke 24:44-49

 

Our job is not to speak about the Bible.

Our job is to speak about what the Bible speaks about:  Christ!

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The essence of evangelism: “I offered them Christ.” (Whitefield)

When we don’t, we offer them….

 

  • Cool
  • Credibility
  • Creeds
  • Courses

 

Why?

 

1. We think these are more attractive than Jesus.

 

2. We imagine the gospel’s a process not a Person.

 

3. We don’t think people will become Christians.

 

4.  We don’t believe in the Holy Spirit.

 

5. We refuse to be as vulnerable as the Lord we proclaim.

 

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Christ must be proclaimed biblically

 

Acts 17:11

 

1 John 4:1-3

 

We don’t just open the Bible – we open it to feed on Christ!

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Christ must be proclaimed biblically

 

Jeremiah 20:9

1 Corinthians 9:16

2 Corinthians 4:13

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

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The evangelist is never capable of speaking of Christ.  They are incapable of doing otherwise.

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Common Objection:  I’d believe in God if He showed up in awesome power.


 

Recommended Reading: 1 Corinthians 1-3; 2 Corinthians 4-5

How does Paul evangelise?

Why does Paul evangelise?

 


 

Next Week: What’s stopping us

 

Why don’t we evangelise?  Is it really because we don’t have all the answers?  What’s the relationship between ‘reason’ and ‘faith’ anyway?

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Me and Pete, side by side, speaking to the issues of the day
.  Well we’re consecutive articles on a protest blog anyway…

I rambled with a lot of nonsense, and wasn’t as gospelly as I’d like to have been.  But there are no retakes, a mic gets shoved at you and you say what you say.

Live and learn eh?

The direct link to my soundbite is here.

 

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Emma writes a vivid account of some mundane but murderous marital bullying she overheard.

…For almost forty minutes, he ran her down. Criticised her appearance, complained about the coffee she ordered (and brought to him), repeatedly insisted that she was stupid and useless. When she went to get some groceries, he greeted her return with a volley of anger and abuse. Nervous and bowed, she fluttered like a tiny bird, trying to appease him. But to no avail…

As terrible as I find this gross assault, I recognise the bully in me.  Here’s an older post of mine about how men and women use words.  Verbal intercourse is just like the other kind – and attended with all the same abuses (see here for more).   I think addressing ‘words that pierce’ (Prov 12:18) should be front and centre in marriage prep.  And something to revisit time and again…

 

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The centre of the Christian life is not your personal relationship with God.  The centre of the Christian life is Christ’s personal relationship with God.  But the good news is, you are in Christ, the Man after God’s own heart.

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