Monday, June 02, 2014

Revisiting the Scripture 1

I find it constantly amazing (and a little amusing), that so much of what I thought I knew by way of interpreting scripture has been wrong! (Ouch!)
Often, my understanding of a particular passage has proven to be the exact opposite of that which culture or tradition has led me to believe!
Perhaps not so surprising I suppose; when you consider that we are talking about ‘an upside down kingdom’! Let me give you an example from Luke’s gospel.

Luke 15:2-7

2 And both the Pharisees and the Scribes murmured, saying, this man receives sinners, and eats with them. 3 And he spoke to them this parable, saying, 4 what man of you, having a hundred sheep, and having lost one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven over, one sinner that repents [Metanoeo], more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, which need no repentance [metanoia].

Jesus began his ministry by challenging all who would listen with the following:
“Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”.
Such a message often met with fierce opposition from the religious leaders of the day; let’s look at why it was that they were so indignant; let’s firstly examine the idea of repentance.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Revisiting Scripture 2

I find it constantly amazing (and a little amusing), that so much of what I thought I knew by way of interpreting scripture has been wrong! (Ouch!)
Often, my understanding of a particular passage has proven to be the exact opposite of that which culture or tradition has led me to believe!
Perhaps not so surprising I suppose; when you consider that we are talking about ‘an upside down kingdom’!

Let me give you an example from Matthew’s gospel:

In Matthew 28:19-20, we read:
19 Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to obey all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Firstly, let’s unpack the verse in the original language:

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Revisiting Scripture 3

I have long been uneasy as to the correct interpretation of this passage of scripture which follows and since it bears on so much of what the Church is all about I thought I would finally try to extract it’s meaning as accurately as possible.  All comments and contributions are welcome.

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

“… You are Peter”

Christ responds to Peter's emphatic ‘thou’ with another, equally emphatic. Peter says, “Thou art the Christ.” Christ replies, “Thou art Peter.” Πέτρος (Peter) is used as a proper name, but without losing its meaning as a common noun. The name was bestowed on Simon at his first interview with Jesus (John 1:42) under the form of its Aramaic equivalent, Cephas. In this passage attention is called, not to the giving of the name, but to its meaning.

“…you are Peter (Petros) -  In classical Greek the word means ‘a piece of rock’, as in Homer, of Ajax throwing a stone at Hector (“Iliad,” vii., 270), or of Patroclus grasping and hiding in his hand a jagged stone (“Iliad,” xvi., 784).

Friday, May 30, 2014

Revisiting Scripture 4

“Oh what a wretched man am I; who will free me from this body of death”?

Oh … how that scripture resonated within me some time ago!! I felt like shouting out loud:
“YES, Paul …YES; I ‘know’ where you’re coming from! But that wouldn’t help … or would it?
In researching Paul’s use of the metaphor of: ‘a body of death’, in Romans 7, I discovered something very interesting. (You may want to skip this next paragraph if you are a bit squeamish)

When a transgression was deemed severe enough to warrant prolonged and painful punishment, culminating in death; crucifixion was not the only means employed during Paul’s day. Apparently in such cases, a dead (and decaying) body was literally bound to the transgressor. Death by such means was sure, but incredibly slow; as the putrefying flesh ‘ate into’ the once healthy flesh and turned it into a … well you get the idea! In this way the transgressor literally carried around with them: ‘the aroma of death’ … until death … had its way; and the ‘flesh’ was finally defeated!

What an incredibly, graphic metaphor! This gives us some understanding of the agony Paul experienced in relation to his ‘flesh life’. Now while some may contend that Paul was speaking of his (then) current circumstances in this particular passage; I’m more inclined to believe that he was instead referring to his previous unregenerate state (Romans 7) and then, that of his new status as a child of God (Romans 8).

It is tempting however, to allow this metaphor to speak to the circumstances we sometimes find ourselves in as believers; especially, regarding our: ‘stinking’ thinking and subsequent ‘foul’ attitudes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Revisiting Scripture 5

I find it constantly amazing (and a little amusing), that so much of what I thought I knew by way of interpreting scripture has been wrong! (Ouch!)

Often, my understanding of a particular passage has proven to be the exact opposite of that which culture or tradition has led me to believe!

Perhaps not so surprising I suppose; when you consider that we are talking about ‘an upside down kingdom’!

Let me give you an example. In Matthew 28:19-20, we read:

19 Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. 

My understanding of this passage went something like this:

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Blessing of Betrayal

Another timely encouragement from the pen of H. L. Roush; written almost half a century ago...

To all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ to sincerity, and who have been wounded in the house of your friends for His sake. May this message be used in the hands of the Holy Spirit to help transform your crown of betrayal into the blossom of blessing. May the loneliness of personal rejection fade into insignificance by the warmth of His fellowship. May the Bride of Christ be made to know the reality of her union with Jesus - H. L. Roush

"The snow fell silently like drifting feathers and soon covered the drab and soiled earth with white. It had been snowing all night and I looked from my study window with a warm quiet heart on the first snow of winter. It was the day after Thanksgiving and the snowfall gave me all the excuse I needed to slow down my busy schedule to take the needed time to enjoy the fellowship of my family. We had much to be thankful for that year, as always. The hand of the Lord had been so obviously upon our lives and ministry that we could only bow before Him with grateful hearts and in the quiet knowledge that He had been the doer of it all. The precious calm of that morning was soon shattered by the insistent ringing of the phone. It was the first link in a heavy chain that was soon to bind me in despair and sorrow; for the voice on the other end of the line informed me that great trouble had just entered my life."

Circumstances had been brought to pass that now endangered my whole ministry, as well as the potential ruin of my personal and family life, It is amazing how quickly the whole world seems to change when our circumstances change.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Man God Uses

by H. L. Roush - From "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, March 1965

Once again, we have in the following, a timely reminder that those whom God chooses to serve Him will of necessity endure much in the preparation for such service. Please consider the following and allow the Holy Spirit to revitalise your spirit for the journey ahead.

"The Lord said to him, Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel; for I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:15-16).

There is no man on the face of the earth who lives such an unusual life as the man God would see fit to use for His glory and praise. If he is to be God's messenger, Christ's shepherd, the Spirit's vessel, then he of necessity must be an instrument prepared by the hand of God in any way needed to make it fit. The message he bears is a living message, for it is the life of Christ Himself. Since it is a living message he proclaims by the Spirit's power, then he, of necessity, must be made to "live" this message within the confines of his own experience. He may soar to the heights of Mt. Zion's glory today that he might proclaim that he has seen God's King on the holy hill of Zion, and tomorrow he might find himself sinking in the depths of despair that he might learn and reveal to others the sweetest LILY that ever graced the valley of defeat: JESUS! 

 He may meet with Jesus and Moses on the mount of transfiguration today and tomorrow be laid bleeding and dead in the streets of Jerusalem and made a gazing stock to a Christ-rejecting world, He may wax bold one moment among the philosophers of this world as he eloquently tells the riches of God's grace and in a moment's time be found in weakness and in fear and trembling, having contemptible speech and looked upon by others as a false apostle. All this... that God might mold in his soul an unshakable determination to preach Christ and Him crucified. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

Call to Anguish

The following plea from David Wilkinson (the founder of Teen Challenge - 1958) really convicted me towards concerted action birthed out of passionate, determined prayer.

The video speaks for itself ... I know what I heard and the ramifications for me ... but I wonder what this (God) message might say to you!?

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Cross is a Radical Thing - AW Tozer

A timeless reminder of the 'centrality of the cross' - from one of last centuries great advocates for Christ. A damning indictment on a Cross-less Christianity today ... God help us!

Excerpted from the above book - A. W. Tozer.

'The cross of Christ is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men'.
The cross of the Roman times knew no compromise; it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ, but slew Him the same as the rest. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross and completely dead when they took him down six hours later. That was the cross the first time it appeared in Christian history.

After Christ was risen from the dead the apostles went out to preach His message, and what they preached was the cross. And wherever they went into the wide world they carried the cross, and the same revolutionary power went with them.

The radical message of the cross transformed Saul of Tarsus and changed him from a persecutor of Christians to a tender believer and an apostle of the faith. Its power changed bad men into good ones. It shook off the long bondage of paganism and altered completely the whole moral and mental outlook of the Western world.

All this it did and continued to do as long as it was permitted to remain what it had been originally, a cross. Its power departed when it was changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is Tithing for the New Testament

Today I begin a series on the topic of Tithing where I ask the question: "IS Tithing for today?"

Old Testament Giving

While many people think the Old Testament required believers to give ten percent of their income to the Lord's work, this is not true. Old Testament saints were required to give far more!

Israelites were expected to give the Lord’s Tithe (Leviticus 27:30), the Festival Tithe (Deuteronomy 12:10-11, 17-18), and the Poor Tithe (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). In addition to tithes there were other giving requirements (Leviticus 19:9-10), miscellaneous taxes (Nehemiah 10:32-22), and offerings (Numbers 18:11-13; Exodus 25:1-2).

Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary).

The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel. Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government.

So the Levite's tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today's income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation.

Friday, April 25, 2014

What the Bible Says About Tithing

Tithing is an interesting subject, and often one of controversy. While tithing is certainly a biblical concept, some churches teach that it is commanded of Christians, and some teach that it isn't. What does the Bible teach regarding tithing under the New Covenant?

In order to understand how tithing fits (or doesn't fit) into the life of a Christian, we must first examine tithing as it was originally commanded, it's purposes, and it's meaning. For this we go to the Old Testament.

The word "tithe" simply means "tenth," and as it is used in the Bible, it refers to giving a "tenth" to God. "A tenth of what?," you might ask. This will be discovered as Scriptures regarding the tithe are studied.

Abraham and Jacob Tithe Before the Law

The first time a tithe is referred to in Scripture is in Genesis 14:18-20, where we read:

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Abram had just returned from defeating several kings to rescue his nephew Lot who had been taken captive, as well as goods that were taken. When Melchizidek blessed Abram, Abram gave Melchizidek a tenth "of all." This "tithe" is not limited to income, but clearly includes a tenth of all of Abram's possessions.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ascension Gifts - Part 1

Before considering the 'ascension gifts' of verse 11, we will begin by examining the context in which they are found; i.e. verses 1-16. I suspect, that in doing so we will be want to 'de-emphasise' the 'ascension gifts', as we come to understand the main thrust of this passage.

Ephesians 4:1-16

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the calling with which you are called, 2 with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all. 7 But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Therefore He says, "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men." 9 (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same also as He who ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 13 And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 so that we no longer may be infants, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the dishonesty of men, in cunning craftiness, to the wiles of deceit. 15 But that you, speaking the truth in love, may in all things grow up to Him who is the Head, even Christ; 16 from whom the whole body, fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of each part, producing the growth of the body to the edifying of itself in love.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Ascension Gifts - Part 2

Ascension Gifts

In our last post, we undertook a preliminary examination of Ephesians 4:1-16. In this post, I intend to continue to explore the concept of 'unity', in order to understand the full intent of the passage under review.

Most contemporary bible scholars would agree that the main emphasis of verses 1-6 is that of Unity. However, when considering verses 7-16, most then seem to focus almost exclusively on the 'gifted' individuals of verse 11 and the [implied] early church leadership structure. Let's now examine these passages a little more closely.

We note that in verse 3 the reader is implored to: 'keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace'. This is clearly a Pauline concept, reminiscent of much of Pauls writings. [Cf Ephesians 2]. This also implies that such unity has already been achieved, since we are implored to 'keep' or 'maintain' such unity!

Yet, in verse 13; we find Paul, introducing a new 'influence' with regard to the topic of 'unity'; the so-called 'ascension gifts'; here, Paul implies that such 'unity' is something into which we grow?!

Such 'gifts' according to Paul are given in order to: "perfect the saints for the work of the ministry ... edify of the body of Christ ... until we all 'come into' the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ".

Paul has now taken us from 'unity', in verses 3 - 6; to the diversity of 'giftedness' in verses 7 - 11.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ascension Gifts - Part 3

In our last post, we undertook a further examination of Ephesians 4:1-16. On that occasion we continued to explore the concept of 'unity'; [the primary theme or 'focus' of the passage] in more detail.

In this post, I want to consider the term: 'Ascension Gifts' and its [many] implications. For example:

(1) If the term implies that the gifts which Christ bestowed upon the Church only occured at the time of his 'Ascension' then what must we conclude from that?

(2) If however the term 'Ascension Gifts' is meant to be inclusive of the period bounded by the 'resurrection' and the 'ascension', as Paul seems to argue when quoting Psalm 68:19 and expanding upon its implications; then we are forced to view the intent of this term quite differently.

(3) Another possible interpretation exists. Christ's 'Ascension' could refer to the culmination of his ascension - his arrival in Heaven. A possibility that Christ himself perhaps alluded to in John 16:7.

'... But I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you.

This particular interpretation would open a whole new panorama of possibilities.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ascension Gifts - Part 4

In this post we will begin to examine the 'gifts' of Ephesians 4:11 in greater detail.

Verse 11

11 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

'He gave ... ' Note: 'He', is emphatic. It is 'He' that gave. Compare Ephesians 4:7.
Note also, the word 'some'. 'Some' (churches or places), need one gift, i.e. an evangelist; 'some' (churches or places) need rather a pastor or teacher. Absolutely nothing in Christ's service is left to mere human judgment or self-choosing. Even an apostle was not permitted to choose his place of service. (Acts 16:7; Acts 16:8).

  • 'Apostles...' Christ's ministers [servants] are gifts to His people. Compare 1 Corinthians 3:5, "ministers as the Lord gave;" also 1 Corinthians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 3:22. The distinguishing features of an apostle were, a commission directly from Christ: being a witness of the resurrection: special inspiration: supreme authority: accrediting by miracles: unlimited commission to preach and to found churches.
  • 'Prophets...' Preachers and expounders ... under the immediate influence of the Spirit, and thus distinguished from teachers. (1 Corinthians 12:10).
  • 'Evangelists...' perhaps best seen as: Travelling missionaries.
  • 'Pastors and teachers...' Pastors or shepherds. The verb 'ποιμαίνω' to tend as a shepherd, is often used in this sense. See 1 Peter 5:2; see Matthew 2:6. The omission of the article from teachers seems to indicate that pastors and teachers are included under one class. The two belong together. [No man is fit to be a pastor who cannot also teach, and the teacher needs the knowledge which pastoral experience gives].

We'll begin by examining the function of an apostle in more detail. Firstly, the question of the criterion for inclusion in this group needs to be examined.

We have already noted (verse 11 above) that the distinguishing features of an apostle were, a commission directly from Christ: being a witness of the resurrection: special inspiration: supreme authority: accrediting by miracles: unlimited commission to preach and to found churches.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ascension Gifts - Part 5

The Gifts of Christ and Unity - A Summary

We have seen, that the passage under review, focuses not so much on the existence of the 'ascension gifts' as such; but rather on the contribution that those who are 'gifted' by Christ [inclusive of 'the saints', not just the 'ascension gifts'] make toward strengthening the ties between all believers in the community towards 'true' Christian unity thus ensuring that the message of Christ remains true.

We have also looked at some of these gifts, and how they benefit the unity of the church. The NIV does a better job than the AV in getting us to feel the emphasis which Paul lays on the subject of the opening statement of v. 11. The Greek uses the emphatic autos. "It was he who gave some to be apostles…"etc. He, the descender and ascender. He who "led captives in his train." He is the Giver. Here Paul does not mention all of the gifts the exalted Christ bestows on his church.

For a more complete catalog see chapter 12 of Romans and First Corinthians. Here he points only to those gifts which have a direct bearing on the unity of the church. "Some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers."


The apostles were called personally by Christ. From the account of the election of Matthias to take the place of Judas (Acts 1:21-22) we have also seen what other qualifications they had to have. They had to be eye-and ear-witnesses of the public ministry of Jesus from the baptism of John until the ascension. These apostles had the gift of inspiration.


That there were many prophets in the early church is evident from the many warnings against false prophets and from the special gift of discerning spirits which Christ bestowed on His church. Jesus warned against false prophets (Matthew 7:15) and foretold their feverish activity as Judgment Day drew closer (Matthew 24:11). John repeats the warning and urges his readers to "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1).

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Saint Must Walk Alone

What follows is an excerpt from the book: 'The Dwelling Place of God' written by A.W. Tozer. It is a timely reminder, that those used most of God, are often the least understood, and invariably the most lonely of His followers.

MOST OF THE WORLD'S GREAT SOULS have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.

In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation) that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.

Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.

Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men.

Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There alone with a horror of great darkness upon him he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favour.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Preaching That Hinders - A.W. Tozer

What follows is an extract from Chapter 5 of A.W. Tozer’s 'Paths to Power'. The original work was published in 1911 however, the content is timeless!

"To any casual observer of the religious scene today, two things will at once be evident: one, that there is very little sense of sin among the unsaved, and two, that the average professed Christian lives a life so worldly and careless that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man. The power that brings conviction to the sinner and enables the Christian to overcome in daily living is being hindered somewhere".
It would be oversimplification to name any one thing as the lone cause, for many things stand in the way of the full realization of our New Testament privileges. There is one class of hindrances, however, which stands out so conspicuously that we are safe in attributing to it a very large part of our trouble. I mean wrong doctrines or overemphasis on right ones. I want to point out some of these doctrines, and I do it with the earnest hope that it may not excite controversy, but bring us rather to a reverent examination of our position.

Fundamental Christianity in our times is deeply influenced by that ancient enemy of righteousness, antinomianism. The creed of the antinomian is easily stated:

• “We are saved by faith alone;
• Works have no place in salvation;
• Conduct is works, and is therefore of no importance.
• What we do cannot matter as long as we believe rightly.
• The divorce between creed and conduct is absolute and final.
• The question of sin is settled by the Cross; conduct is outside the circle of faith and cannot come between the believer and God.”
Such, in brief, is the teaching of the antinomian, And so fully has it permeated the Fundamental element in modern Christianity that it is accepted by the religious masses as the very truth of God.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Root of the Righteous - AW Tozer

The following is an excerpt from the 'Root of Righteousness', Chapter 12; and is entitled: "Faith Is a Perturbing Thing."

Here, once again the prophetic warning sounds loud and clear ... and very much needs to be heeded in today's post-modern Christian maze.

"... something has happened to the doctrine of justification by faith as Luther taught it. What has happened is not so easily discovered. It is not a matter of simple fact... It is more elusive than that, and very much more difficult to come at; but what has happened is so serious and so vital that it has changed or is in the process of changing the whole evangelical outlook.

If it continues it may well turn Christianity inside out and put for the faith of our fathers something else entirely. And the whole spiritual revolution will be so gradual and so innocent appearing that it will hardly be noticed. Anyone who fights it will be accused of jousting against windmills like Don Quixote".
The faith of Paul and Luther was a revolutionizing thing. It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether.

It laid hold on the life and brought it under obedience to Christ. It took up its cross and followed along after Jesus with no intention of going back. It said goodbye to its old friends... It had a finality about it... It captured the man and made him from that moment forward a happy love-servant of his Lord.

It realigned all life’s actions and brought them into accord with the will of God... It made him little and God big and Christ unspeakably dear. All this and more happened to a man when he received the faith that justifies.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Old Cross and the New

A W TOZER ... although he died in 1963, his life and spiritual legacy continue to draw many into a deeper knowledge of God. Tozer lived life in a relentless pursuit of God and his writings today still beckon those who hunger and thirst after God. What follows, from Tozer's pen, still stirs the heart of every true seeker of the Living God!

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment.

It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

Following Hard After God

From the book "The Pursuit of God" by A.W. Tozer, comes another great challenge for those of us who are 'Following Hard After God'!

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
Ps. 63:8
Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man. Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow.

We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. `No man can come to me,' said our Lord, `except the Father which hath sent me draw him,' and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for he act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: `Thy right hand upholdeth me.' In this divine `upholding' and human `following' there is no contradiction. All is of God, for as von Hugel teaches, God is always previous.

In practice, however, (that is, where God's previous working meets man's present response) man must pursue God. On our part there must be positive reciprocation if this secret drawing of God is to eventuate in identifiable experience of the Divine. In the warm language of personal feeling this is stated in the Forty-second Psalm: `As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?' This is deep calling unto

Friday, February 07, 2014

Sermon Outline - Breaking the Silence

Just prior to the first Advent of Christ...

The time between the testaments was one of great ferment and upheaval - a time of the realignment of the traditional power blocs and the passing of a cultural tradition that had been dominant for almost 3,000 years.

(Not unlike TODAY)

· In biblical history, this span of 400 or so years; separates the time of Nehemiah from the birth of Christ and is known as the intertestamental period (432 - 5BC). It is sometimes referred to as the 'Silent Years'.

(Do you sense the Lord about to speak?)

· God had not spoken or moved in any significant fashion for over 400 years.

(Creating a spiritual hunger among his people)

· These were years of great oppression and internal strife.

(The Lord was disciplining, refining and preparing his people for a monumental turn of events)

· Many powerful groups had arisen and were predominant during the period just prior to the birth of Christ.

(Take a look around today!)

· The time was ripe for Heaven to speak!

(Need convincing?!)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Kingdom of God and HIS Church

Consider the following as both a summary and a launching point in our further exploration of: ‘the Kingdom of God and the Church’.

1. God is the Eternal King.

He is an infinite, unchangeable Spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, goodness, justice, power and love. From all eternity He exists as the One Living and True God in three persons of one substance: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, equal in power and glory.

2. God the King: The Creator and Ruler of All Things

God's kingdom is everlasting. From His throne, through His Son Jesus (His eternal Word), God created, upholds and governs all that exists: the heavenly places, the angelic hosts, the universe, the earth, every living thing and mankind. God created all things.

3. Counterfeit Kingdom: Satan and Demonic Hosts

Satan, originally an angel, rebelled against God, taking a host of angels with him. He was cast out of God's presence and, as a usurper of God's rule, established a counter-kingdom of darkness and evil on the earth.

4. The Kingdom in the Creation of Man, the Fall & The Doctrine of Original Sin

God created mankind in His own image, male and female, for relationship with Himself and to govern the earth. Under the temptation of Satan, our original parents fell from grace, bringing sin, sickness and God's judgment of death to the earth. Through the fall, Satan and his demonic hosts gained access to God's good creation. Creation now experiences the consequences and effects of Adam's original sin. Human beings are born in sin, subject to God's judgment of death and captive to Satan's kingdom of darkness.