Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Faith: Obeying the Promise

At Digging Deeper this morning we were carrying on our Bible overview by looking at Genesis 12 onwards, focusing on the Patriarchs. It seems these chapters of Genesis are so rich in looking at stuff so important: again and again promises and faith, promises and faith.

For me, living after the cross event and waiting for God's Son to return for heaven, I need to be a promise-truster, and ultimately faith in God's promises shows itself in obedience to God's word.

'Faith is doing what God says, when everyone and everything around you is screaming 'Don't!' We sin when we don't trust God.'

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Biblical Dating...

Have been listening to an online audio discussion from 9marks with Al Mohler, Josh Harris, and co., talking about Biblical dating, marriage, courtship, singleness, etc. Refreshing stuff - thinking about the local church's role in training men and women up to be husbands and wives, growing them up in Christ.

There's definitely a lot of thinking going about that encourages the sort of consumer-relationship regarding the opposite sex. In our Augustine lecture yesterday we learnt that A thought that remaining celibate was the ultimate self-denial. He had a mistress and a concubine, yet thought ultimate self-denial was celibacy. Thank God that's not the case! In fact Paul writes in Ephesians that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... (Eph 5.25).

Ultimate self-denial! Loving one person as my own body, for if I love her I love myself. That's pretty cool huh! Pretty hard work too.

They also talked a lot about unrealistic expectations, distorted by culture's obsession with the cover model.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Be a God-pleaser...

Paul: didn't decieve, didn't use his title as 'apostle' to powertrip, didn't use flattering speech to win people over, didn't get phased by suffering, didn't try and please men.

Paul: spoke with boldness the gospel message that he'd been entrusted with, wanting to please only God.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A gospel that came in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit...

Was reading 1 Thessalonians 1 this morning, before having my first lecture in my Augustine and his Age module. It was simply an intro lecture to Augustine's upbringing, but we touched on his conversion. I figured it was pretty amazing that God chose Augustine - he was loved by God - (v4) and I'm sure if Paul had been living next door to him, he would have written about the evidence of faith, love, and hope (v3) in his life that was evidence of the gospel's life-changing power (v5).

What a great gospel! It has changed my life, and it changed Augustine's! I'm excited about learning more about Augustine and his writings, but more than that - praise God for a sinner saved, for grace at work!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Remember who you are...

This morning we hosted In At The Deep End, an event put on by the CU geared to encouraging Freshers to survive and thrive as Christians at Uni.

The first five verses of 1 Peter were opened up and explained: Remember who you are! Peter clearly believes in aliens as he tells God's elect they are 'strangers in the world'. Our identity is totally wrapped up in Jesus and what he did as he died on the cross was raised to life. Our identity is not bound by popularity in college, how much we can drink, how well we get on with the laydeez. No, our identity is in Christ Jesus.

And we're strangers in this world. This here is not our home (v1), for we are born into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (v3) - an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading! Heaven - the new creation!

Remember who you are! Remember your identity! Like the toothbrush holding cup in the bathroom, we too are set apart (sanctified) for a purpose - obedience to Jesus.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Announcing the Kingdom!

It was really cool to spend nearly two hours today looking at the gospel, the Bible, and evangelistic preaching, and to find that all three are totally inter-linked (as one might imagine if one thought about it!).

The Good News of God, the gospel, is that the time has come - the kingdom is near - because the King is here to rule, and salvation is possible in his kingdom through forgiveness of sins. It seems the gospel, the good news about the King, cannot be taught unless the rule of Jesus is taught.

And, as we announce the King, we look for repentance and faith: people are to change their minds about who's in charge for they recognise Jesus is King, and trust his promise to forgive them, thus abandoning any idea of self-righteousness.

So in evangelistic preaching, we aim to present Jesus as Lord and also as Saviour. Of course both have to be told, for if he is Lord without Saviour then we have on our hands a religion of works, and if we omit his Lordship then we have a state of being where we can do whatever we like (anti-nomianism?) - though of course if there is no Lord, then really we needn't be saved anyway.

Similarly we can't substitute repentance or faith - if there is no faith then there is no real trusting God for mercy, so actually repentance will not have been understood. Likewise, an understanding of forgiveness will include being ushered graciously into the kingdom, of which of course there is a King and kingdom life.

Paul firmly believes in the gospel, not a gospel, and that is the apostolic gospel. Is it a big issue? Well, in Galatians 1.6,7 Paul says he wishes that those who twist the gospel of Christ be accursed. Yet when we unleash the true gospel, it is the power of God to save - in it the righteousness of God is revealed, the true character of God.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The boat belongs in the ocean, but God help it if the ocean gets into the boat...

So there we were, at the Freshers' Fair, jammed tight up against the stage at the Student's Union with the latest Club Night being promoted through the medium of 'officially-too-loud-unless-you-have-earphones' dance anthems (according to the engineering students next door and their krazy sound measuring devices) and outrageously scantily-clad dancers on stilts.

I guess that's what being a Christian Union is about - ok, so the music was
very loud - but we were in the heart of the world. Lots of sign-ups is very encouraging, and hopefully over the next few days we'll be able to encourage Freshers to stand up for Jesus.

Freshers are very young and their perceptions of what Christianity is are all over the shop. I suppose they've every right to be all over the shop, given what's going on under the banner of 'Christianity' across the UK. I am excited about what the next year brings, and seeing disciples made.

As we were walking across town, we passed two old men in the marketplace who regularly give five-minute talks to the collection of people who are sitting on the benches for whatever particular reason. There really didn't seem to be any engagement going on between the men and the message, and those to whom they thought they were speaking.

I'm thinking now of our plans for the CU this year - we want to hold out the word of life, knowing that it is folly to the perishing, but we want people to be able to engage with what we're saying.

Where is that line? Do we change our vocabulary? Do we change our 20 minute address vehicle? Where does the apologetic distrust the power of the gospel to save?

Monday, October 02, 2006

God is Love

...God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. [Romans 5.5.]
"With a perversity as pathetic as it is impoverishing, we have become preoccupied today with the extraordinary, sporadic, non-universal ministries of the Spirit to the neglect of the ordinary, general ones."

Just been reading Packer's thoughts on The Love of God - it is the Spirit's ordinary work to give peace, joy, hope, and love, through the 'shedding abroad in our hearts of knowledge of the love of God'. It is Paul's prayer of Ephesians 3.14, it is John's statement of 1 John 4.7.

His love finds expression in everything he says and does, and we have assurance of this in the cross of Christ (Gal 2.20), so we can trust the promise of Romans 8.28 - everything that happens to us expresses God's love to us! That is it tells us that God is love; all that happens can be used as evidence that God is love, and love is how God defines it.

I grumble and moan at my circumstances, I become distrustful, I grow half-hearted in service of Him, I split my loyalties until their no longer loyalties. God's love is ultimate. And since God loved me I ought to love others.