Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Jesus Parables

Glen's doing a great series yet again
this time of identifying Christ in all the parables!

The parable of the hidden treasure & pearl

The parable of the Good Samaritan

The Prodigal Son

Saturday, 27 September 2008

You've gotta love Spurgeon....

‘A merry heart doeth good like a medicine’
Thursday, September 25th, 2008

‘What a bubbling fountain of humour Mr. Spurgeon had! I laughed more, I verily believe, when in his company than during all the rest of my life besides.’ That’s what people said about Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth century ‘prince of preachers’.

A 19th century cigarette card of Spurgeon. The text reads: ‘When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm refreshing sleep obtained by a Cigar, I have felt grateful to God and have blessed His name.’

There was laughter everywhere with Spurgeon, too much so for some. Someone once complained about all the gags in his sermons, to which Spurgeon said ‘He would not blame me if he only knew how many of them I keep back.’

His love of cigars provided a steady stream of giggles. While he would enjoy a cigar en route to his church so as to prepare his throat, others felt this to be unchristian behaviour. ‘Mr Spurgeon, tobacco is the devil!’ said one outraged contemporary. ‘Yes, that’s why I burn it!’ replied the preacher. (Lest the reader is worried, he once told a fellow preacher that if ever he smoked excessively, he would quit smoking immediately. The suspicious colleague asked ‘What would you call smoking to excess?’ ‘Why, smoking two cigars at the same time’, replied Spurgeon.)

Such humour was an effective way of bringing to the surface the real issues in the people around him. One day, for instance, a rather pompous gentlemen loudly exclaimed to his face ‘Mr Spurgeon, I don't agree with you about religion; I am an agnostic.’ ‘Yes!’ he replied, ‘that is a Greek word, and the exact equivalent is ignoramus; if you like to claim that title, you are quite welcome to.’

At other times, there wasn’t much of a reason, he just enjoyed the joke. During a heated few months when he debated some theologians who believed in baptismal regeneration, he quietly had a baptismal font installed in his back garden as a birdbath. ‘The spoils of war’, he called it

All this is made rather pertinent by the fact that Spurgeon used to suffer from terrible attacks of melancholy. More than anything else, his humour was a weapon for his own heart. He knew the truth of Proverbs 17:22. As he put it when preaching on Philippians 4:4, ‘I want you to notice, dear friends, that this rejoicing is commanded. It is not a matter that is left to your option.... You are commanded to rejoice, brethren, because this is for your profit.’

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Boaz - in Him is eternal life

Here's the really fast Christ focused commentary on Ruth

- the condition of the time of the judges is spiritual anarchy
- this is represented by the life of Elimelech (my God is King)
o They reject their God who is King
o they marry into the despicable practises of Moab
o the results are Mahlon and Chilion – famine and pestilence
o indeed there is no bread in Bethlehem (the house of bread)
o Ultimately it will take the death of the God who is the King of the Jews to kill famine and pestilence and restore bread to Bethlehem
o this is the time of the beginning of the barley harvest - Passover
- After the death of the King,
o there is return to the house of Israel
o this time not just the Jews – Naomi
o but also the Gentiles, Orpah & Ruth
- The Jews advertise Israel to the Gentiles
o many love it – but they do not know the cost and are not prepared for it
 indeed they are Orpah (stiff-necked)
 so they cannot turn away from worldy things and sinful darkness
o a few will follow despite the cost
 they are Ruth (companion)
 the bride of Christ, partners of the church
 they know that it will cost them their whole lives, and they are ready to die for the resurrected Messiah
- The Jews initially think that it is a bitter thing – Naomi becoming Marah (bitter)
o that the Lord has dissolved their family, their people, their possessions
- The Gentiles upon following Christ find it a hard thing
o faith in the beginning is often impoverished
o crawling with God, gleaning the crumbs that fall off the Jewish table
- Yet the Lord of the Harvest – Boaz – the One in whom is Life
o He will come and assure them
o He will build us up and feed us
o He will give provision for us
o He will invite us to the King’s table to commune with Him bread and wine
o Those who were far off are brought near, adopted sons and daughters, equal partners with their Jewish Christian brethren
- They now have an equal share in the crop
o here also can be an allusion to maturity of faith, growing from crawling to walking side by side with our Messiah, as those who have gone before us
- They have ample blessing
- Their share in the gospel convicts the Jews that the Lord has not deserted them
o indeed He is the risen Lord who has not forsaken the living or the dead
- This resurrected Christ calls in the whole harvest
o it is the time of the end of the harvests – Pentecost
o The Lord sits enjoying the fruit of His work, resting from His daily work of redemption
o He takes out His winnowing fork and separates the wheat from the chaff
- The bride is now prepared, Rachel and Leah, Ruth and Naomi
o She waits for Him at His feet with eager expectation, knowing it is now but a little while
- He will not delay
o He is the redeemer-kinsman
o the Saviour who is one of our own
o He grants her the deposit that her wedding is assured (?)
- He claims the birthright from the ‘legal owner’
o the hairy man Esau/Adam who has spurned his inheritance for Mammon
o Indeed he is the un-sandaled one who deserves to be spit out of the mouth of God
- And so Israel claims His people
o and indeed His people are Rachel and Leah
- Boaz being only the symbol
o the true Messiah will come from the people of God, from Israel
- He will be of the red line of Perez – the scarlet thread that is the blood of Christ
- In the end of days He will restore all things, He is the true King to come, the true David

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Living like Jesus & Speaking about Jesus

Just received another update from Farm Fellowship @ Preston

These are the commitments every member of that church has signed up to:

1. Everything we do and think begins with Jesus (Col 1:15-20)
2. The Bible rules our thinking and doing (2 Tim 3:16)
3. Jesus represents us in the highest heaven, so every day we talk to our heavenly Father (Heb 4:14-16)
4. We give 100% of our money and possessions to Jesus. We carefully and prayerfully decide how much of His money we should keep for our own uses (1 Tim 6:6-10, Luke 14:25-35)
5. Everything we have is the shared possession of the Christian family (Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-37)
6. It is our duty and privilege to care for all those in needs, beginning with the Christian family, and reaching as far beyond as we can (James 1:27, Gal 6:10)
7. Everyone is welcome in our community, there are no pre-requisites to follow Jesus. (Matt 7:1-5, 1 Cor 5:9-3)
8. We seek refreshment in Jesus and His family. Not in money, drugs, alcohol, exex, religion, sport, etc... (Ps 42)
9. In order to remind us that Jesus is more important than food, we fast. (Matt 4:2, 6:16-18, 17:21)
10. Personal holiness is essential and the fruit of the Spirit vital for all, regardless of personality type. (Gal 5:22-23, James 1:19-20, Mark 11:25, Matt 18:21-22, etc)

Good local church creed isn't it?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Simple Theology of Evangelism

Right, so evangelism is basically light & darkness
Creation proclaims this to you everyday - first there is evening, then there is morning

You are in darkness, the Son comes, there is the light, the darkness & the light separate:

Matthew 4:15-16 15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned."

- those that want to follow the Son, STAY in the light
- those that do not want to follow the Son, resist the Holy Spirit & flee into the darkness - why? because they love the darkness


So then.. how do I carry out effective evangelism?

1. Make the light shine clearly
- preach the gospel
- live a holy life like Jesus
- do this corporately (e.g. John 13:34-34)

The more we talk about Jesus, talk like Jesus, do what Jesus does, and the more people that do it, the brighter the light shines

Now if that fails - what do I do next?

2. Make the darkness be seen for what it is
- in some sense this is already done by you living a holy life - opposing the wicked lives of others
- God blinds the minds, the hearts, sends the fallen angels, the law, etc...
- all to make hearts darker - so that the light may shine brighter
- ex-communication is a handing over to Satan - this follows the same logic
- you are sent to stumble not so that you fall, but so that you repent

Ephesians 5:7-11 7 Therefore do not associate with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
- think John the Baptist & Herod
- Robert Murray M'Cheyne - "The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness"

What not to do:
- do not attempt to make the Light similar to 'worldly lights'
- this is cultural evangelism
- if you make Jesus seem really 'cool' and 'relevant' - you do not make Him shine brighter, in fact you make Him invisible!
- you end up with no one coming to Jesus and churches full of people who will not stand on the day of judgement!

Arguments against this way of thinking:
1. Jesus was culturally relevant to the Jews
- this is ridiculous because the Jews are a culture created by God for God - totally 'separate' from any other nation!!

2. Paul's speech at the Aeropagus
- this is hardly an attempt to pander to culture, in fact it is a rebuke of culture if anything
- the early church fathers practised only one type of apologetics - the offensive type - they would study every practise of the culture around them to show them HOW WICKED IT IS and to convict them of hypocrisy and sin!

3. 1 Cor 9:20-22
- as far as I know, all Paul means is that he does not unnecessary push people away - i.e. He upheld the law by the gospel to prove to the Jews that the law was about the gospel, He showed the Gentiles that they don't NEED the law to get to the gospel, He showed the weak Christians that he would not force them into his mature faith but was prepared not to let them be, but to encourage them to grow

Why is it Christians don't just go and preach the gospel?

1. We don't want to live holy lives - the cost is too great
2. We fear man not God
3. We don't actually love our neighbour - i.e. we don't actually love God
- so as an excuse we put all the pressure on techniques and church buildings and on paid workers so that we don't actually have to go and love people - a thing that should be our joy

People die & are sent to Hell for all eternity