We come to part 4 of Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. This week we're in Genesis 11:1-9 where we see 'The Pride of Babel and the Praise of Christ.'
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Monday, 30 May 2011
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.This means that as Christians we need to constantly on our guard lest we drift. Paul calls Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16). The author of Hebrews calls his hearers to pay much closer attention to the gospel message that they heard, lest they find that they drift from it (Hebrews 2:1). We need to be constantly watching ourselves and constantly returning to the gospel. If we don't we shall find ourselves drifting further and further from the gospel and from the godliness that comes from applying the gospel to ourselves.We need to constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves and to examine closely our Christian walk.
This is also why we need one another as Christians. That is why it is so vital that we are stuck in at a local church. We need one another. We need to continue to speak the gospel to each other and to challenge one another to lives that are in line with the gospel. We cannot do this by ourselves. We need other brothers and sisters in Christ who will love us enough to point out when we've gone wrong, both in our beliefs and in our living, and to call us back to embracing the truth of the gospel and to living that is in line with the gospel. We need to surround ourselves with those who will constantly be encouraging us with Bible truths. If we do not have this we will gradually find ourselves drifting further and further out to sea.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
There are two key areas that come under this heading:
i) Training the local church. Every member of the church is a partner in the gospel; they are all gospel workers with a unique part to play. We need, therefore, to be thinking about how we can be equipping the members of the churches we serve to serve faithfully as members of the body of Christ. This will mean training them as Sunday School teachers, Youth Group leaders and Bible Study leaders etc.
ries). On a larger level, it would be helpful to think how we could be doing such training on a country-wide level. Perhaps an annual conference for training members of the local church in the various ministries they are involved in their local church.
ii) Training full time gospel workers. As well as training those in our congregations to serve in our congregations, we also want to be training others to be sent out to serve in other parts of the harvest field. If we are to see Ireland and beyond reached with the gospel, both in our lifetime and beyond (if Christ has not come before then), then we will need to be working hard about raising up a new generation of gospel workers.
4) Supporting Gospel Workers
The work of the gospel is not something that we can do, or should attempt to do, alone. We need the support and accountability of others. It has been said that ‘lone-rangers are dead-rangers’. The more and more we isolate ourselves the more danger we put ourselves in of making a shipwreck of our ministries, causing great damage to those we serve and bringing the gospel into disrepute. Therefore, it is essential that we are thinking carefully through how, not only can we raise up gospel workers, but also how we can give ongoing support and accountability to one another for the whole of the ministries that God has given us.
There are many ways that such support can happen. Here I want to mention just a few.
Secondly, on a slightly larger scale, in order to keep us fresh in our preaching and teaching, a local preacher’s workshop would be of great value. This would be where pastors in a local area come together on a regular basis to sharpen one another up by listening to and giving feedback on one another’s sermons. This could also include keeping one another fresh in our thinking by reading good meaty books and discussing them together.
Fourthly, printed resources can be a great support to gospel workers. There are many great magazines and periodicals available which are aimed at keeping gospel workers fresh. However, what about such a magazine written from and for an Irish context, aiming to keep us going and thinking through how we do gospel ministry in an Irish context?
Previous Posts in this series:
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
We come now to part three of John Piper's series Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. This week we're looking at Romans 5:12-21, where we see 'The Fatal Disobedience of Adam and the Triumphant Obedience of Christ'.
Monday, 23 May 2011
Friday, 20 May 2011
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
If we simply stayed at defining the boundaries, which is crucial, we would not have gospel partnership. Rather, we would have a gospel agreement, a group of people who agree on the gospel. This is different to gospel partnership. Gospel partnership has a purpose; it is a partnership for the sake of the gospel. That is, it is working together to see the gospel proclaimed and lived out.
But what will this working together for the sake of the gospel look like? There are a number of key areas involved in this, with much overlap between them. We shall look at the first two of these areas in this post, and shall examine the rest in the next couple of posts.
Further, we will need to defend against it. It is much easier to do this in the context of a partnership of brothers and sisters who are committed to the gospel, than on our own (especially if there are many who are being blown by this wind of new doctrine). Partnering together to defend the gospel will mean continually reminding one another of the gospel and helping one another to grown into a deeper knowledge of it, as well as helping one another to grapple with the issues that are thrown up by new winds of doctrine and articulating a clear biblical response to it. Not only that, but also helping the churches we serve to stand firm in the gospel and not to be swept away by any new teaching, whether it be through helping each other address it in our preaching and teaching or by producing resources for the average Christian in the churches we are serving.
The best way to defend the gospel is to proclaim it. This moves us on to a second key area: Proclaiming the gospel.
2) Proclaiming the Gospel
Under this heading come a number of things. This is a broad category which encompasses proclaiming the gospel locally, nationally and globally. The faithful, clear and prayerful proclamation of the biblical gospel is the heart of gospel partnership. It is what will shape the rest of gospel partnership.
ii) Nationally it will mean thinking, working and praying together about how we see the whole of our country (across any borders or boundaries there might be) brought under the sound of the gospel. This will mean that we are doing the above in supporting one another in different local areas across the country. It will involve working together to send out mission teams to different areas of the country. It will involve working together to see churches planted in areas where there are none presently. It will mean going or people to go to these unreached areas.
But what will this look like on the ground? For a start it will mean partnering with gospel workers and churches in different parts of the world in the ways that we have already outlined (obviously being adjusted to make allowances for the geographic limitations).
Further, it will mean that as partners together in the work of the gospel in our own country, we are working together to send missionaries out to all peoples. As well as raising up workers to send to various parts of our land, we are committed to raising them up to go even further afield and providing the resources to do so (training and resources will be discussed in a later post). This will involve working with existing missionary organisations, and thinking through how we ought to relate to them. But it does not mean assuming that this is the job of the missionary organisations, and that our churches need not play too much a part. The church is the primary means for the sending out of missionaries, and we must not abdicate our role. We need to be active in preparing and sending workers into the harvest field.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Monday, 16 May 2011
I'm not suggesting for a moment that lust and gossip are not sinful and abhorrent to God. They are. Neither am I suggesting that we should not be seeking to put to death the sins of lust and gossip. We should. Rather, what I want to show is that we can avoid sin and still be sinning. We are not necessarily being godly when we are avoiding sin.
Let me explain. If we avoid looking lustfully at a woman or guard or tongue from gossiping because we are concerned about our reputation before others, because we want to be known in the eyes of others as godly, then we are simply replacing one sin with another. We are simply replacing the sin of lust or gossip by the sin of people pleasing and pride. We are battling sin with sin. We are letting the love of one particular idol keep us from sacrificing at the altar of another idol. In this case, our love for our reputation before others keeps us from lustful glances or gossip.
If we battle sin in this way, we may convince others and even ourselves that we are being godly. However, the truth is that we are decieving others and we are decieving ourselves. We our letting our love for one particular idol blind us to the reality of our sin. We may think that we're being godly and putting sin to death, when we are in fact letting sin flourish, we are letting a particular idol (e.g. the idol of reputation) shape our actions.
This means that as we seek to battle sin and put it to death in our lives, we need to carfully examine our motives for doing so. If we want to be godly in killing sin then we need to get our motivations right, otherwise we will only end up decieving ourselves that we are honouring God when we are not. If we are not killing sin out of a love for God which shows itself in a love for others (Matthew 22:37-40) then we are simply replacing one sin with another. A love for God which drives out a love for the world (1 John 2:15), must be the engine which drives our battle against sin. If this is not the case, then we decieve ourselves that we are being godly in our battle against sin. If we are not doing it out of a love for God, a zeal for His glory, then we will be doing it out of a love for something which is not God. This is idolatory.
The way that we cultivate a sin-killing love for God is through the gospel, as revealed in the Bible. It is by the gospel that God transforms our hearts to love Him more and more. It is as we see the glory of God in the face of Christ as revealed in the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6), that we are changed to reflect that glory more and more, because the more we see Christ, the more we will be transformed to be like Him (1 John 3:2), the only One who has perfectly loved God. As the gospel changes our hearts to love God more and more, it will simultaneously change us to hate sin more and more. This means that we will be genuinely putting sin to death and not merely replacing sin with sin.
Saturday, 14 May 2011
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
By Augustus Toplady
Friday, 13 May 2011
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Because God decides who we can and cannot partner with this means we must look to what He has revealed to define the boundaries in which gospel partnership can take place. This means that we must let the gospel, as revealed in Scripture, define these boundaries. It is not denominations (as important as some of their distinctives may be), nor pragmatics, nor cultural identity that marks out who we can work with, but the gospel. One of the implications of this is that we must see our identity primarily as found in the gospel, rather than as being bound up with denominations, cultural background or anything else which shapes who we are.
This will mean that we need to think and work hard about articulating the biblical gospel and what are the things (both doctrinally and in practice) that have direct implications on the gospel. We need to work together on defining these gospel boundaries and articulating what we must not compromise on at any costs, and what areas we are free to be flexible in. This is the basis for partnership.
We are not the first to have to face up to this issue, the historic creeds and confessions of the church down the ages have been formulated partly to serve this purpose, and the statements of faith of more recent times have been doing the same.
Previous Posts in this series:
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
We begin a new series of Tuesday Teaching posts this week. Over the next seven weeks we shall be working our way through John Piper's series Spectactular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. This week we begin in Colossians 1:9-20 as we see "All Things Were Created Through Him and For Him."
Monday, 9 May 2011
1) Read the Bible for your own soul first. Even it eats into prep time don't think that studying to preach is enough to feed your own soul.You can read the whole of the article here.
2) Read and pray with a pen in your hand - both to capture thoughts and jot down distractions to be dealt with later. I write myself a prayer every day based on what I have read.
3) Use Bible helps judiciously. You're a pastor for goodness sake - don't get caught into the "I can only read the Bible with a commentary" trap
4) Nothing beats an early morning. I learnt this reading chapter 20 of Book 3 of the Institutes [Calvin's Institutes] which is some of the warmest stuff I have ever read on prayer. Google it.
5) Pray for your people deliberately and by name. Better to pray for one or two well than 5 in a bland way. Don't focus on felt needs, pray in what you are reading for your people. Pray that what you are learning they will learn and tell them about it next time you see them.
6) Tear up your prayer diary every few months. I find routine is a life-killer, so I have to tear up my routine and refresh it regularly.
7) Singing to yourself is not a sign of madness. I sit in the morning with an open hymn book and take one a day (which, by the way, opens my eyes to some beautiful and lovely words from the past)
8) Develop prayer as an attitude not a diary slot. We all know it. Practice it. A few minutes here and there. A cry when you reach a really knotty part of Scripture you're struggling to prepare.
9) Don't be afraid to use helps in dry times. I find Valley of Vision a real help when I struggle to pray (I use the leather version, not much more, nicely laid out and it doens't fall apart with use).
10) Cry out with honesty for your lack of thirst. Admit your sin. Repent of it. Use the psalms to align yourself with Christ once again.
Friday, 6 May 2011
Thursday, 5 May 2011
In all unbelief there are these two things—a good opinion of one’s self and a bad opinion of God. Man’s good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God’s favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the sinner’s opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by an excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.
But the inquirer denies that he has a good opinion of himself and owns himself a sinner. Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is—such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy a man’s good opinion of himself; how difficult it is to make a man think of himself as God does! What but the almightiness of the Divine Spirit can accomplish this?
Unbelief, then, is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. Accept, then, the character of God as given in the gospel; the Holy Spirit will not give you peace irrespective of your views of God’s character. It is in connection with THE TRUTH concerning the true God, “the God of all grace,” that the Spirit gives peace. That which He shows us of ourselves is only evil; that which He shows us of God is only good!
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
In this series of posts I intend to outline each of these three areas in turn. First up, in our next post we shall look at what it means for our partnesrship to be founded on the gospel.
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
London is a city FULL of de-churched people and most cities around the UK are running to catch up. In this sermon, from 2009's Advance Conference, Matt Chandler helps us and challenges us to recapture our first love for the sake of those who have been completely turned off the gospel!
Monday, 2 May 2011
And, reader, you may rest assured that Paul was right. Depend upon it, the cross of Christ,- the death of Christ in the cross to make atonement for sinners, - is the centre truth in the whole Bible. This is the truth we begin with when we open Genesis. The seed of the woman bruising the serpant's head is nothing else but a prophecy of Christ crucified. This is the truth that shines out, though veiled, all through the law of Moses, and the history of the Jews. The daily sacrifice, the passover lamb, the continual shedding of blood in the tabernacle and temple, - all these were emblems of Christ crucified. This is the truth we see honoured in the vision of heaven before we close the book of Revelation. "In the midst of the throne and of the four beasts," we are told, "and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain." (Rev. 5:6) Even in the midst of heavenly glory we get a view of Christ crucified. Take away the cross of Christ, and the Bible is a dark book. It is like the Egyptian hieroglyphics without the key that interprets their meaning, - curious and wonderful, but of no real use.
Reader, mark what I say. You may know a good deal about the Bible. You may know the outlines of the histories it contains, and the dates of the events described, just as a man knows the history of England. You may know the names of the men and women mentioned in it, just as a man knows Caesar, Alexander the Great, or Napoleon. You may know the several precepts of the Bible, and admire them, just as a man admires Plato, Aristotle, or Seneca. But if you have not yet found out that Christ crucified is the foundation of the whole volume, you have read your Bible hitherto to very little profit. Your religion is a heaven without a sun, an arch without a keystone, a compass without a needle, a clock without spring or weights, a lamp without oil. It will not comfort you. It will not deliver your soul from hell.