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Archive for June, 2012

Yet More Twit-Bits

Some recent Tweets from me.
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When we blame “the media” and “size zero models” for our culture’s body issues, who’s being shallow?

Sermons don’t prepare you to meet your Maker. Sermons ARE meeting your Maker.

Preaching is not preparation 4 stg else (eg right living). It’s proclamation 4 here&now. God IS speaking presently &personally

I sigh for the day when sighing will be no more. Isaiah 35:10

The heavens are evil. Our creators are killers. We must make contact &sacrifice ourselves 2 save. #gospelaccording2prometheus

We are brilliant and broken. Trouble is we’re always trying to attach the word “uniquely” to one or other of those descriptions.

Don’t be man-centred, be Man-centred. God is.

Islam: the bad (Judas) dies for the good (Jesus). Christianity: the good dies for the bad.

I in Christ am put to death. Christ in me implants new breath. Galatians 2:20

Christian teaching on sex, pre and post marriage: Dirty, Dirty, Dirty, Dirty, DUTY

“It’s not good news, it’s the truth”- a friend’s summary of much conservative evangelical preaching. 2often 2true!

While u were His enemy He died 4u, cleansed u, justified & adopted u. Now that ur His beloved, will He dis-adopt & damn you??

Arguing 4 the necessity of hell is like arguing 4 the necessity of the devil. It’s real, eternal, fearful but not *necessary*

The Father’s bright Radiance is a light always going out into darkness to transform it (Matthew 5:38-48)

Divine Perfection = love 4 enemies, the wicked & the unrighteous. It’s mercy 4 sinners. His glory is His grace (Matt 5:38-48; Lk 6:36)

Look up all the words of “The Angel of the LORD” in the OT. Then ask: Is He Liar, Lunatic or Lord? You can’t have a mild opinion of Him!

Just imagine what might happen if we recaptured a true theology of the Word. #reformation

A good golfer can play the ball from wherever it lies. Jesus is like that – the redeemer from *all* harm: Gen 48:16. #redemption

Dear Preacher, don’t aim to strengthen the shiniest 20% – bind up the bruised and broken 80%. Actually the shiny ones are broken too!

Jesus ascended blessing us and He hasn’t stopped – Luke 24:51 :)

Don’t read me the recipe, serve up the food. Don’t preach *about* the gospel, give me Christ.

Look at any of the gospel events – incarnation, life, death, resurrection or ascension of Christ – & try telling me that God is self-centred

Christ doesn’t die for us *so* He can love us. He dies for us *because* He loves us.

All you’ve ever got is Christ’s righteousness. All you ever need is Christ’s righteousness. #EnjoyYourDay.

Preacher, pay attn 2the tone of the songs, prayers, confession &creed: Devotional, declarative, doctrinal. Does the tone of yr sermon match?

Brighton: home town of the older prodigals – a far country full of older brothers. Even the name’s an imperative: Be Right On!

Either live by the external Word or die by a thousand internal judgements.

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Happy Friday

During a week in which (I thought) Chloe Smith did the best she could to fight an indefensible corner, here are some cringe-worthy political interviews.

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After that mauling, I’m sure Chloe will love to watch this next video on repeat:

.The last one’s a comedy sketch.  Stunningly, the penultimate one was real!

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More cringe-worthy political interviews here

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More Twit-Bits

Some recent Tweets from me.
Subscribe here.

No-one can hang their faith on a conditional. Preachers must *actually* offer Christ.

In their rush to defend the ‘reality’ of hell (which is right), some end up speaking of the ‘necessity’ of hell (which is unwise).

The movie hero who says “I shouldnt even be here” is deeply messianic. Like David coming to a battle that wasnt his to fight.#thankyouJesus

Peter’s evangelism = the opposite of ours. It ended with *God* making Jesus Lord, not the hearers. #Acts2

Also, “what must *I* do?” was the hearer’s response not the preacher’s goal! #Acts2

Jesus did not say “You really ought to be my witnesses.” You *will* be my witnesses – Acts 1:8

God’s grace is not his “sweet side”! It’s His blood-earnest, irreversible decision to knit His being to ours in Christ.

Suffering well is the indispensible prerequisite for witnessing well.#1Peter

There aren’t so much ‘proof texts’ for evangelism because evangelism is not so much a duty as a life.

Evangelism flows out of the shape of God’s life, the shape of God’s people, the shape of God’s word.

Paul warned Ephesian elders “savage wolves will come in among u”. What do u imagine? I imagine *legalists*! Col 2; 1 Tim 4; ALL OF GALATIANS

Jesus is your standing with God.

Living by grace aint about lifting piety above practicality. Its about lifting Christ’s piety And practicality above mine!

“I CAN’T BELIEVE HE CHOSE THIS! DOES HE EVEN KNOW ME? I’D RATHER D.. Oh, it’s actually quite nice.”#everyepisodeofdonttellthebride

Avoiding legalism is legalism. Only Jesus saves.

Jesus aint the Bait, He’s the Bread. The Father aint the Hook, He’s the Baker.

The new birth is a theological reality not an evangelistic programme.

The new birth is a status not a step. And it’s as out of our reach as being forgiven, justified, raised, adopted, chosen, etc.

Aim for “new birth” and you get neither new birth nor Jesus. Aim for Jesus and you get both.

“Decision” is not the entrance to a new life. Decision *is* the old life. “Chosen” is both the entrance and the essence of the new life.

Christian life is not ‘decision’ + ‘discipleship’. If u’ve begun w decision yr discipleship wont be His life lived, only your life pietized

Resolve says “I refuse to be a sinner, Lord prevent me.” Repentance says “Surely I was sinful from birth, Lord have mercy.”

Ever heard teaching on pride that sounds just like that line from the worship song, “It’s not about MEEEEEEEEEEE”?

Look at modern evangelistic methods & “successes” and you’ll say what Luther said of Rome’s system in 1510: “who knows whether it is so!”

Num 13&14: we ought 2 spy out our inheritance guaranteed by Joshua’s firstfruits. Instead, Num 15:39, we spy out the lusts of our hearts & eyes

“Sin separates us from God” – so says every evangelistic presentation I’ve ever seen. Isn’t it the reverse? Our separation leads to sin!

Global evangelicalism is characterised by “our choice 4 God”- Diarmaid McCulloch. Theologically that’s backwards. Practically he’s spot on.

Christ is in the OT in Person, through Prophesies and by Pictures. The 1st is the foundation of the other two.

‘If you feel far from God, guess who moved?’ Jesus did. Right into God’s presence. And He carried you with Him.

Do you feel more free as a Christian than you did as a non-Christian? If not, maybe you’re living under law. Gal 5:1

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A little while ago I lamented a certain kind of evangelism that is all too common.  It’s basically the call to younger brother types to come to their senses, to wrench themselves away from the far country and to return to the father with a pre-prepared sorry speech.  The evangelist will even feed them a ready made, line-by-line repentance spiel – one with magic words guaranteed to effect a reconciliation.  The whole encounter goes something like this:

“We all know who God is don’t we?  He’s the Big Guy and you’ve been avoiding Him haven’t you?  Allow me to latch onto some guilt feelings you’ve experienced.  Let me call that ‘conviction of sin’.  And now let me promise relief from those feelings if you’ll only return to the Big Guy and bring this speech with you.  I guarantee it’ll work (becausetherewasthisthingcalledthecrosswhichyoudon’tneedtoknowaboutnow butIneedtocrowbaritinbecausethesewordsaremagic).  Anyway, the ball is now in your court.  It’s all down to you.  If you’re up to the challenge, carefully repeat this prayer after me…”

The whole paradigm is one in which “God” is taken for granted, Jesus is a helpful mechanism to fix the guilt problem but the real Name above all names is Decision before Whom all must bow in self-willed surrender.  Almighty Decision towers above you, are you equal to His call?

Let me suggest that the answer to all of this is (unsurprisingly) focussing on Christ.  Evangelism is speaking of Jesus.  It’s lifting Him up by the Spirit (which means Scripturally) so as to present Him to the world as good news.  So we say ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’  We basically hold out the Bread of life saying “Tasty isn’t He??”

Now if we approach evangelism with Christ at the centre, there are many advantages:

1) Jesus simply is the most interesting and attractive Subject.  You might have some cracking gags, moving anecdotes, contemporary illustrations and memorable catch-phrases, but they’ve got nothing on the power and beauty of Christ.

2) Faith is immediately seen for what it is – receiving Christ as He’s offered in the gospel.  Faith is not “banking the cheque” of forgiveness.  What does that even mean?  What do any of our illustrations of faith actually mean?   Far better simply to hold out Christ and say “Look and live!”

3) Decision is dethroned. We don’t so much tell the world to believe in Jesus.  Far more than this, we tell the world about Jesus such that they do believe (Steve Holmes).   Because faith is a response to contemplating Christ.  The spotlight does not fall on the listener and their willingness to summon up the necessary response.  The spotlight falls on Christ Himself.

4) You don’t have to worry about offering cheap grace.  You’re not offering ‘a blank cheque’ for free, you’re offering the Lord for free. To receive the it of grace/forgiveness/a ticket to heaven is entirely different from receiving Him – the LORD our Righteousness.  In this way conversion and discipleship are held together.  The one who simply receives Christ has unmistakably received a new Master.

5) You don’t sell Christianity on the back of some abstract fringe benefits.  Instead the preacher says “The one thing you get for receiving Jesus, is Jesus.  But if you’re seeing things clearly, the one thing you want is Jesus.”

6) Because of this, you don’t have to fence all your promises of forgiveness and freedom and new life with ‘…if you really, truly, ruly believe’.  Since faith is receiving the Christ who is offered there’s no chance of the listener trusting an abstract promise in vain.  Those who receive Jesus receive Jesus.

7) The decision time at the end of the talk is de-emphasized.  It is not the business end of proceedings.  The real business is holding out Christ by the Spirit (and therefore in the word).  The listener receives Christ as they are won by the gospel preaching.  They can trust and receive Christ in their seats during the preaching.  It’s not about a form of words that they must parrot at the end.  If you want to pray at the end that’s fine.  But it’s only confirming a receiving of Christ that’s occurred during the preaching.  Faith comes by hearing.

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Surveying the Scene

Go on and fill out  this survey to improve Christian websites.  It only takes a minute.

And, just so you know, the answer to question 9 is: “Rants against Christ-less theism, legalism and burdensome theologies of glory.”

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Galatians 3-4 Sermon

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…This was how the Galatian believer saw the history of God’s people from Adam onwards.

Now for them, Christ’s coming and dying was very important: We must realize that these Galatians were not denying the centrality of Christ or His cross. But, they thought, surely the law comes first – the law is foundational.

The default way in which God relates to His people has surely been law.  From the garden of Eden, surely – He commands and we are to obey.  And when Moses went up Mount Sinai surely he was given the law of laws – He was given the very commands of God, written by His finger on stone.  Surely these words, being God’s words, express His eternal will for the people of God.  Bottom line – there is a law, law is to be obeyed.

Now, in this timeline, the cross is important, and Jesus’ dying is central because we need His sacrificial death for all our failures at law-keeping.  So there is an understanding of Gospel here.

The Gospel comes and helps us out when we fail to live up to the law.  But, basically, what God wants is legal obedience.  That is the bottom line for being a Christian.

Now this view of history was a big problem for the Galatian church.  Because they thought like this, when preachers came and told them that they needed to obey the OT Law of circumcision to be a proper Christian, they fell for it.  Why? Because, they have gospel and law running along together, side-by-side, in their minds and hearts.  They have faith in Jesus AND legal obedience in their thinking about what makes someone a Christian.

If you have this understanding in your head about Law and Gospel then you will fall for false teaching time and again.  You will seek your Christian identity in duties and observances and not in Christ.

So we need to over-turn this telling of history.  And thankfully Paul does that for us in chapter 3, beginning at v6.

First thing he does is he under-cuts Moses.  Paul goes back in Israel’s history and leap-frogs over Moses and says ‘think about Abraham. Think about when there was no Mosaic law to be obeyed, not even the covenant of circumcision, think about the life of the people of God before there were any commandments at all.  What made Abraham a fully-fledged believer?’  Answer (v6):

“He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.

In verse 8 Paul describes this faith as faith in the Gospel.  We are children of Abraham when we trust the Gospel, because that’s what Abraham trusted.

So the history of the people of God does not begin with law at all it begins with Gospel

Now the Gospel promises spoken to Abraham were about the Seed (v16) and that Seed, that promised offspring, was Christ.  That’s why I’ve got the Gospel stretching right back to the time of Adam because the Seed who was promised to Abraham was first promised to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15.  Right from the garden of Eden, Jesus was promised as the Seed of the woman.  He would crush Satan’s head but at great cost to Himself.  Right from the beginning, Christ’s incarnation and death and resurrection, His victory over Satan was preached.  And people trusted this gospel – people like Abraham – and they were saved.

So this Gospel is how God relates to people.  Gospel is God’s bottom line.

But if that’s true – where does the Law fit in? It begins 430 years after Abraham (v17) and it lasts until (v19) the Seed had come.

The Law begins at the mountain of Sinai and ends at the mountain of Golgotha.  That is the Law’s place….

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10000 Comments Later

Over the past 5 years there have been a few milestones along my blogging journey.  But perhaps my favourite was passed today.  10 000 comments!

Far and away the best thing about blogging is the feedback from you guys.  So a big thank you to all of you who comment.

And to those lurkers who haven’t yet braved the blog’s under-belly, why not leave a message below?

 

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