To follow is to leave.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Tim. 4.1-5
We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it... Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.
J. I. Packer, Knowing God.
'Laugh about things. Laugh at the absurdities of life. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your own absurdities. We are, all of us, infinitisimally small and ludicrous creatures within God's universe. You have to be serious, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything there is the risk of becoming solemn about yourself.Ramsey's words as quoted by John Stott.
“If He is not who he said He was, and if He did not do what He said He had come to do, the whole superstructure of Christianity crumbles in ruin to the ground.”
Stott, Basic Christianity
"The greater the problem, the greater the gospel.
The smaller the problem, the smaller the gospel.
"We need to be very clear on the problem, and its magnitude, to understand and be thrilled by the gospel that solves it... many heresies stem from having the gospel without a problem. To have a Jesus who is the ultimate answer, but to not understand the problem, means we come up a problem resembling whatever we think the world's greatest problem is."
So the question is if you want to be innovative: How do you get young men? All this nonsense on how to grow the church. One issue: young men. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. They’re going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate. They’re going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war, you get everything. You get the families, the women, the children, the money, the business, you get everything. If you don’t get the young men you get nothing. You get nothing.
Tearfund's president, Elaine Storkey, told BBC Radio Five Live that a lot of people would be unsure what to expect if they did visit. "The church for a lot of people is a very strange place these days. They're not familiar with what's going on inside the building, with the form of service, with the way people gather, with what they say, how they pray. "So the first thing they have really got to wake up to is that there is this big cultural gap between churched and non-churched." I've no doubt all of that is true. UK churches must seem incredibly weird to someone who hasn't grown up in that environment. Paul was concerned for the non-believer in the church gathering in 1 Cor 14, and so should we be. We should be only boasting in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; there is the foolishness.
More on the tearfund report here.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.
'Let us, then, have it fixed down in our minds that the sinfulness of man does not begin from without, but from within. It is not the result of bad training in early years. It is not picked up from bad companions and bad examples, as some weak Christians are too fond of saying. No! It is a family disease, which we all inherit from our first parents, Adam and Eve, and with which we are born.
'Search the globe from east to west and from pole to pole; search every nation of every climate in the four quarters of the earth; search every rank and class in our own country from the highest to the lowest—and under every circumstance and condition, the report will be always the same. The remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, completely separate from Europe, Asia, Africa and America, beyond the reach alike of Oriental luxury and Western arts and literature, islands inhabited by people ignorant of books, money, steam and gunpowder, uncontaminated by the vices of modern civilization, these very islands have always been found, when first discovered, the abode of the vilest forms of lust, cruelty, deceit and superstition. If the inhabitants have known nothing else, they have always known how to sin! Everywhere the human heart is naturally "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9). For my part, I know no stronger proof of the inspiration of Genesis and the Mosaic account of the origin of man, than the power, extent and universality of sin.
'Once let him see his sin and he must see his Saviour... We must sit down humbly in the presence of God, look the whole subject in the face, examine clearly what the Lord Jesus calls sin, and what the Lord Jesus calls doing His will. We must then try to realize that it is terribly possible to live a careless, easy–going, half–worldly life, and yet at the same time to maintain evangelical principles and call ourselves evangelical people! Once we see that sin is far viler and far nearer to us and sticks more closely to us than we supposed, we will be led, I trust and believe, to get nearer to Christ. Once drawn nearer to Christ, we will drink more deeply out of His fullness and learn more thoroughly to "live the life of faith" in Him, as St. Paul did. Once taught to live the life of faith in Jesus, and abiding in Him, we will bear more fruit, will find ourselves more strong for duty, more patient in trial, more watchful over our poor weak hearts, and more like our Master in all our little daily ways.
"Knowing and experiencing the grace of the Lord is the bedrock of absolutely everything else in the Christian life and in the church. It is the heart of the gospel.Living by grace in Galatians...
When our hearts overflow with the knowledge of his goodness to us and the experience of his favour, then we do all these ['good Christian things'] and many more, expecting to know more grace as we step out in his service."
There was only one hope for me – that the infinite wisdom of God might make a way for the love of God to satisfy the wrath of God so that I might become a son of God.
This is exactly what happened, and I will sing of it forever. After saying that I was by nature a child of wrath, Paul says, ‘But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ’ (Eph. 2:4-5 ESV). What a grievous blindness when a teacher in the church writes that the term ‘children of wrath’ cannot mean ‘actual objects of God’s wrath . . . [because] in the same breath they are described as at the same time objects of God’s love’. On the contrary. This is the very triumph of the love of God. This is the love of God – the ‘great love with which he loved us’. It rescued me from his wrath and adopted me into sonship.
5 tips for reading the whole Bible for Mission:
Reading it in light of:
1. God's purpose for the whole creation (guilty of rarely bringing this into focus)
2. God's purpose for all human life (not really thought-through this before)
3. The election and role of Israel in God's purposes for the nations (have barely considered this, apart from a glance at Romans 2-3)
4. The messianic identity of Jesus (often don't see this so tangibly)
5. The mission of the church to the nations (very often don't see the church like this)