Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Culture and Christianity the debate continues

Just yesterday Tim Keller wrote that the "Cultural Transformationists" and the "Two Kingdoms" adherent were getting closer in fairly representing and debating the issues than ever before, a good thing for Reformed Evangelicals. He clarifies the issues and it can be read here. As Keller describes it, Transformationists "Though different in significant ways, they all believe Christians should be about redeeming and changing the culture along Christian lines." Two Kingdom adherents "the opposite---that neither the church nor individual Christians should be in the business of changing the world or society"

Michael Horton doesn't agree totally with Keller's description of the "Two Kingdom's" view so that also needs careful persual read it here.

A must read is the article in Themelios by Dan Strange which is very thought provoking about these issues. However it is a footnote in this article by Strange that I want reflect upon in terms of considering a person's assumptions in the arguments the Culture itself presents as cogent, reasonable and "convincing".
Consider Stranges footnote #72

As Julian Rivers pointed out in 2004, ‘It may be that a culture deviates in some respect from the law of God to such an extent that some moral positions seem defensible to Scripture alone. We may rapidly be reaching that point in the Western world as regards sexual ethics’ (‘Public Reason’, Whitefield Briefing 9:1 [May 2004]: 4). One thinks here of a country like Switzerland currently discussing the decriminalization of consensual incest and the U.S. case of David Epstein, charged with having a three-year affair with his adult daughter. Epstein’s lawyer said to ABCNews, ‘Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so. At the same time, there is an argument to be made in the Swiss case to let go what goes on privately in bedrooms. It’s OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home. . . . How is this so different? We have to figure out why some behavior is tolerated and some is not’
To which I hope that we’d point out the assumption behind the thinking that ‘what is carried out in private is of no concern to anybody else’ is “that what I do in private doesn’t affect anybody else”. But this ignores how such activities affect one’s character and relationships in the public sphere. One cannot divorce their worldview that allows and condones such behavior from how they relate the rest of the time in public.
Just something to ponder.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why Twitter is an idol

Just recently I saw a great articles labeled iphone, ipad, idol -  apart from being witty it was pretty much right on.
It got me thinking when on the evening news there was a piece about twitter. If you reflect upon it, twitter is all about me. People tweet their latest irrelevancy, what I am eating, what I am doing this instant, where I am going, who I am meeting, my observation of some item of culture or news or fad or point of view in less than 140 characters.

In that sense alone it is an idol because that idol is ME.

Now perhaps people are looking for intimacy, for connection on a relational level. But twitter doesn't promote it because it is a one sided conversation - it is "one hand clapping" because it doesn't allow for interaction, it doesn't allow for another person to respond. At least in a blog people can comment and you can enter into a dialogue with them.

However, there's another reason that Twitter is an idol and that is very intimately tied to the medium. It is because Twitter, being limited to 140 characters, and being used by so many people to post unconnected irrelevancies that it provides no context in which to understand the person making them. You would need a person to post minute by minute their life and You, yes You would have to read them just to get a bit of the context of their life and experiences so that you would get some meaningful context for what is being said.
In the end, who is going to read such a one sided monologue with a twit on the other end :)

Now of course you could say that you already know the person however much of the tweets people love to receive are of people that they actually don't know all that well.

So let me encourage you, sit down have a coffee and talk together. Ask them something about them, instead of focusing on hearing your own voice. You will gain so much more from being other person centred.

In Christ,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How Mark Driscoll prepares his sermons is not something a pastor would want to emulate

Over at Sermon Central is the summary of Mark Drsicoll's facebook chat about Preaching and his Q & A. I hope pastors would be a little wary of trying to imitate Mark.
Mark Driscoll begins his discussion by admitting that his approach is both unorthodox and not something that others should copy. One asks then what is the benefit of talking then about his method? If it is merely to engage others and discuss helpful insights, OK, but he does spend a lot emphasizing speech and 10000 hours of preaching.

His first disclaimer is that the Bible speaks very little on preaching, however that is not helpful at all in that what it does tell us is very instructive for our preaching and is adequate to know what things are central in Preaching.

You can read volumes on Preaching and it’s basis in Scripture.

When someone says this we need to take a second look and see what Scripture says on this matter. It tells us from the OT for example that the Scribes read the Word and gave it’s sense to their hearers. Too little is said in this “discussion” regarding 1. That we are called to faithful teach the Scriptures and 2. Preachers model to the flock by their preaching how to interpret God’s Word and then apply it.

Mark talks about how his early preaching was terrible, but to say pragmatically that if you get to 10000 hours of preaching you will be quite better misses the point. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a better preacher, that is, one faithful to the Word, it just means you’ll be a better speaker, more comfortable with your “presentation.” But our calling is to faithfully and accurately divide the word and declare its sense so that people may apply it to their lives.

Mark has a degree in speech and there is no doubt he is a good speaker and captivating communicator but that does not mean he is necessarily a good exegete making clear the Scriptures and applying them to his hearers. I remember his sermon on worship from the book of Revelation chapter 5 where he is novel in his interpretation and not consistent with the text. Doesn’t he realize in his preaching he models for the flock his method of interpreting and applying the Scripture? This is a serious and lofty calling, to preach the Word of God.

Does that mean we always get it right? No, but because we are accountable to the Lord we deal carefully with the Word of God and secondly, being accountable to the flock including the elders we are able to be corrected and come back to the flock to say I was wrong at this point, or need clarification what I was trying to say.

And what does it say of your regard to the flock when we hear you say all my early sermons were terrible until I got my hours up? If you mean your delivery was painful, ok, but surely Mark you are not suggesting that your exposition of the text was wrong.

Be aware my friends of these things and don’t treat such comments lightly. You just cannot equate prep time with the amount of time you spend preaching it. No matter how many books you read or write. Now we may be too harsh at this point, after all he did say “for various projects ( perhaps we should understand here ‘sermon series’ ) I am reading and studying all the time” which implies sermon preparation is actually longer than the one hour or so he starts off mentioning. If this is so, then we need to understand, that this time of study is actually part of the prep time for a sermon.

I do hope at this point he also means he is considering the passage in context and doctrinally as well as considering the original languages and what they point out.

In this case preparation for most preachers just cannot be done by most people in about an hour no matter if they have a photographic memory or not.

Just a few thoughts to ponder

In Christ,


Friday, November 4, 2011

Shane Hipps don't think much about hell either

I am so glad Shane Hipps is not my teaching pastor!
He is Rob Bell's replacement at Mar's Hill but his understanding on Hell shows no Biblical understanding at all.

His "argument" is predicated on truth being what someone experiences. perhaps he is a poached egg but hasn't experienced it yet.

What these guys so blatently neglect is the Authority of God's Word the Bible. They want to pick and choose what suits their Reason, but they fail to see that it is only in the Scriptures that we are told to trust that Jesus' death on the cross makes you rught with God.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Radical Guilt free Evangelism

For many of us, evangelistic classes on how to evangelise fill us with guilt. We are even tempted to say
"Hey let's leave that to those gifted in evangelism". How is it possible then to have guilt free evangelism?
Simply by have a changed life, a transformed life where you are being made into the image of Christ.

The Scriptures actually teach this. All of 1 Peter talks about your identity in Christ and having different attitudes and behaviour to the world around. Being different to our culture. This is seen in the submit to those in Authority, slaves submit to your masters ( a principle applied today in our workforce ), wives submit to your husbands, husbands care and nurture your wives. Then some radical attitudes in 3:8-12. "finally all of you ( no one is left out here ) live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love the brethren, be humble"

And even the most famous passage of all that speaks of apologetics, giving a defense for your faith in 1 Peter 3:15f is predicated upon living a changed life so that when people ask of you Why you live this way you have an opportunity to answer them with the truth of the Gospel.

Josh McDowell understands this well. He was asked in an interview why young people still flock to hear him, and it was clear that it was because it is evident that he really cares for them.

1 Peter tells us to understand who we are in Christ and to display changed attitudes and work on our relationships within the Church. When we change people will ask us What has happened.

Now that's provoking isn't it?

God Bless

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The quickening pace of the downhill slide of Wycliffe and SIL

I have already made brief comment on this blog about Christ's sonship in the context of Islam, but now Wycliffe and SIL reveals a foreign worldview at work than the Scriptures in their translation of those very Scriptures.
In my mind they have been captivated by the vain philosophies of this world.
Read World Magazines fair report and a highlighting of the issues involved.
In Christ alone,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dominionism, journalism and careful research

There is an excellent piece in 'The New York Times' by Ross Douthat talking about an article by Ryan Lizza on Michele Bachmann's intellectual formation in the New Yorker.
Douthat correctly points out the weaknesses in the article and gives a much more balanced report on what Francis Schaeffer thought. For those interested in politics, Schaeffer's understanding in regard to Christian involvement in the world is so enlightening.
When I first read the Lizza article I was astounded he could label Schaeffer a domionist. If Schaeffer is a dominionist then every preacher who preaches on Genesis 1:26 and points out that mankind is commanded by God to have dominion over the earth would be a dominionist. However the label dominionist is a restricted theological label referring to those who say that man can work to make this world christian ready for Christ's return. And not just that but such an earthly kingdom should be governed by Old Testament law. It is a theological position best put forth by R J Rushdooney and people of his ilk like North. It seems to me that Lizza did not know the distinctions when writing his article.
Douthat rightly points out these deficiencies and in so doing gives Christians a helpful reminder of Schaeffer's worldview basis, involvement in culture and his exhortation to Christians, as well as indicating to journalists and reporters alike the importance of balanced and informed reporting.
I certainly hope more Christians will now through these articles be spurred on to reconsider Schaeffer.
God Bless,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Gospel in Jonah and why Israel should have taken notice

Many of us know the general story line of Jonah. After all it is a favorite of so many Sunday school teachers and has even made it onto the screen.

Yet how many of us have picked up on the import of the book of Jonah for the nation of Israel? We all know that Jonah was a very reluctant prophet and ran away in the opposite direction when God told him to go and deliver a message to that great wicked city of Nineveh. How many of us though have reflected on the book and noticed the really significant literary markers?

For example have you noticed that in chapter 1:1 it uses the Covenant name of God YHWH, translated Lord and it consistently uses that name for God until Jonah himself gives an account of who he is to the sailors in 1:9. Then he says "I fear the Lord, the God of Heaven." In other words, his God is both one who forms a relationship with Israel, first up through Abraham, and also the All powerful Sovereign Creator of the Universe.

In dealing with Jonah, God comes to him as the Covenant making God, the one who makes relationships with man. It is the covenant God of Israel, the Lord who made covenant promises to Abraham about his descendants being more numerous than the sands, and not just that but that their role was to be a light to the Nations. They were to "evangelise" the Nations and bring them to God. Over and over the nation Israel failed in this duty given them by God. They neglected it and as Jonah symbolises, sometimes they went to extreme lengths not to give that light to the nations of the world.

And where in the Scriptures that the Lord God gave to his people Israel do we first read of the two names of God as Elohim ( transl God ) and YHWH ( translated Lord )? It is in Genesis 1&2. Not two creation stories as such but an account of Creation by the All powerful Sovereign Creator, in Genesis 1 and then in Genesis 2 we see He is the one who makes a covenant relationship with mankind, first up in Adam and Eve.

How does this use of the name of God play out in the rest of chapter 1 and chapter 2?

The sailors could not throw Jonah into the sea to his death as they did not want to be culpable before God for that. so they tried to row to shore but couldn't. And importantly it is said of them that they called upon the Lord. And after Jonah was tossed into the sea, they offered sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
Miraculously we read that the Lord provided a great fish so that Jonah would indeed not die, and the sailors would not then have been culpable of his death.

What we have seen is that even in Jonah's running away, gentiles, the sailors come to know the Lord God and sacrifice and make vows to Him. Exactly the duty of Israel and the Jews as we read about in Genesis 12.

We need in our study of God's Word that He is very precise in the words that He wants His prophets to write down for our benefit. And secondly we need to see thematic markers that link back to earlier doctrinal truths such as Israel's duty to being a light to the Nations as expressed in Genesis 12. This will bring God's Word to bear much more on our lives as they are illuminated by the Scriptures themselves.

Next I will look at Jonah 3. You might like to consider it with the above in mind.

God Bless.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Romans 8 and When will the Creation be released from bondage

In a few fascinating verses in Romans 8 we read about the Creation. Is it not the physical earth that was subjected to a curse due to Adam and Eve's sin in Genesis 3? And yet here in 8:21 that "the Creation itself "(emphatic ) "will be" not maybe, or symbolically, "delivered" ( just as we await the certainty of a resurrected physical body ) "from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God"

This is mind boggling. We know from context that the children of God are those who call out to God "abba Father" 8:15. It is all those who are heirs with Christ, who have received adoption. It is hard not to make it any clearer, Paul says in 8:17 "if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together."

And in all this God has subjected the Creation in hope!

And in verse 21 Paul links the Creation's release from bondage with the presence of the children of God, their glorious liberty or release.

So the question that arises for me is "when shall this occur?"

Certainly we do not yet see the Creation released from bondage. It is indeed groaning as he says in verse 22. and then he goes on to speak of the first fruits of the Spirit. An investigation of this use of "first fruits" could indeed bring forth fruit! Paul has used the term in 1 Cor 15 to draw a very apt implication about Christ's resurrection body and our physical resurrected body as guaranteed by His resurrection. For in the Old Testament the first fruits were the first ripe sheaf of the harvest that belonged to God and were to be offered to Him before the rest of the Harvest could be used. Lev 23. And furthermore it was offered the first day after the Sabbath during Passover, which we know was the very day Christ rose from the dead. So is Paul suggesting something along similar lines here in Romans 8? Here in the Spirit we have downpayment, one who helps us while we are yet still awaiting redemption of our body, who helps us in prayer and himself makes intercession regarding the content of what we pray.

Now some may argue that this deliverance from Bondage of the Creation that Paul is referring to is when God creates a new heavens and a new earth. That could be so, but it requires quite a bit of solid argument. When Paul compares the bondage of the earth, he says it "was subjected" and then clearly says that God himself is the one who will release it from bondage. That nature won't restore itself but it is God who will restore it, the very same one 'who long ago subjected it to corruption and futility' as MacArthur says.

This suggests to me it is not speaking here of the new heaven and new earth , though admittedly that whole topic needs fleshing out, still I take it the restoration is of the present creation, not the making of a new one.

And in that case I ask, when will this release from Bondage happen? Will it be on Christ's return as Judge of Heaven and Earth, and as Amillennialists suggest in the quick few seconds or hours that occur before all is wrapped up?

Is it not intriguing that the chapters that many Amillennialists struggle with, namely Romans 9-11 come immediately after this passage? The continuity of thought from Romans 8 on should provoke us to investigate more carefully what is being said in Romans 8 and how that relates to Romans 9-11.

As for me, it seems thoroughly consistent with a 1000 year millennium where Christ as the second Adam reigns as King, fulfilling those great offices of Prophet, Priest and King. A King who fulfills perfectly the role of Adam to be viceregent over all the earth, which Adam gave up in the calamity of Genesis 3.

The peace of a restored Creation are perfectly pictured in Isaiah's picture of the wolf and the lamb lying down together, at peace with one another. Isaiah 11:6

In Christ,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Queensland false Messiah - AJ as Jesus

Our news has recently been awash with reports on the new reincarnation of Jesus in the person of Alan John Miller 47 in Kingaroy Queensland.
Not only does Alan Miller claim to be a reincarnation of Jesus the Christ, but also his "wife" Mary Suzanne Luck is a reincarnation of Mary Magdalen. So just as Luck would have it, they meet in a town in Queensland, Australia out of the 6 billion people on this planet. Coincidence? Well highly improbable but it's not on those grounds we dismiss him as a cult leader and deceived.

My daughter, just 13 years old observed, well that's easy to show as false - all you need to do is look for the holes in his hands and feet and in his side. But as I explained to her, although she is going down the right track, it would be dismissed by Alan and Mary because they are claiming to be reincarnations of Jesus and Mary.
Yet we as Christians can on at least two grounds dismiss this claim.
First it contradicts the Bible directly, and the Bible is the Word of God which Jesus himself gave full authority to. After all, his answer to the temptations from satan were "It is Written". In Hebrews 9:27 it says man is destined to live once, and after that face the judgment. This life is all one has. Reincarnation is a false teaching.
But secondly, Jesus with holes in his hands and side and feet as seen by the disciples after his death and resurrection, ascended to the right hand of God where he awaits the time the Father has determined to return in the second coming. He did not die to be reincarnated as someone else. He is at the right hand of the father - living! He with his resurrected body which reveal the scars of the cross will return in that same resurrected body at His glorious appearing.
So on two grounds this fellow Alan is mightily deceived and leading others astray in demonic deception.

We do well to know why this is deception and a cult, and be able to answer enquiries from unbelievers. And then to pray for these people to be convicted by God's Holy Spirit and find Christ, and in him eternal life, and life to the full.

In Christ,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Being on time - An African addresses this issue for us - will we listen?

I have observed that in our Australian culture it is becoming more evident that Christians don't worry at all about being late for anything.
And when it comes to Church, well it seems we ought to be grateful that they at least turned up!
Leaving aside the doctrine of Church, I recently had a discussion, very short mind you, with a friend about African time. And how many Africans they know are never on time for anything and their comments were that it was "a cultural thing". I observed that perhaps as Christians this was something that needed to be changed, and now it seems that we in Australia are also in need of that change.
I came across this blog by Pastor Conrad Mbewe where he addresses 'Africa time'. Have a read and see if you are not challenged by what he has to say.

your sometimes late, brother in Christ,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Osama Bin Laden a Narcissist

So much care needs to be taken when surfing the blogosphere. It is so easy to read a quote about something someone else has written out of context isn't it?
Take this quote for example,

Most of us, thank God, will never approach the wickedness he unleashed on the world. But all of us will wrestle with the same root pathology. That’s because, left to ourselves, we all share the same religion as Osama Bin Laden. It isn’t Islam; it’s self-worship.
When one reads that by itself, you might be tempted to say, hey yeh sure, but we cannot ignore that there was more to Bin Laden than self-worship. He was we must admit deceived, there was demonic deception involved in his adherence to Islam.

Yet in his intriguing blog on 'Osama bin Laden and the Terror of Narcissism' Russell D Moore astutely draws our attention to one pathology we all share with Osama. Indeed it is self-worship.
In a time when it's easy to delight in the death of a wicked man, that earthly justice has been carried out, we are aptly reminded of our own sinfulness out of which we have been redeemed and that the Gospel is there for each and every person, like Osama, like me, like you, to hear, if we will but proclaim it.

In Christ,

Saturday, April 30, 2011

God's Word is not open to changing by leaving out Son of God

If you read Christianity Today back on Feb 2011 you would have noticed an article called The Son and the Crescent. It dealt with a new translation that would make it easier to reach Muslims with the gospel since they have an aversion to understanding Jesus as the Son of God. The major reason Muslims find it offensive the article claimed is that it suggested that God had sexual relations with Mary. To say that in Arabic the word ibn "son of", carries biological connotations is really just to point out the inadequacies and frustrations from limitations in translating to other languages, which in the end need to be corrected in teaching what that particular phrase means. We do the same with the English translations using the word love from the Greek which can mean agape, phileo, eros and storge.

Furthermore, this is a poor reason I believe to change Son of God to "the beloved Son who comes ( originates ) from God." It creates more problems in regard to truth than it solves in regard to correcting an error of perception by some Muslims.

We could ask what is meant biblically by originates, as in one sense all Creation originates from God as He made it. As to the lesser word "comes", well Angels also come from God, in that they are sent.

Worse in my mind is that the originators of this bible are in fact adding to by subtracting from God's Word. It is not merely a translation issue as replacing the English word charity with the English word love as being more accurate, as some would want to claim. This is to translate a phrase "Son of God" as something else. It it to replace a Title with a description of an event! and that changes meaning.

It effects our whole doctrinal, that is biblical teaching about the Christ. Apart from it's subtle impact on the doctrine of Trinity, it implodes real sonship. Jesus alone, as the early church recognised is truly Son of God, we can only call God Father in that we are adopted through Christ! And that is why giving the sense of Scripture is a required job of the preacher.

And this understanding of the sonship of Jesus the Christ, is no where made more explicit than in Gal 4:4, but then you must read the whole of it's context there to feel its force. Whereas no one elses sonship could achieve anything, it was the Son of God who alone wrought redemption. In the end, that fact is offensive to Muslims just as it is offensive to unbelievers in general who are in rebellion against the Lord God. That reality is offensive to any religious person because they are in need of redemption and it cannot be a work of themselves for they are dead in their sin!

Many years ago I had a friend who was a convert from Islam to Christianity and who "evangelised" in a Muslim country where his life was on the line continually. But the religious and political leaders often would invite him to explain this Christianity to them. He never once watered down what Scripture taught and his hearers were able to discern the sense in which Scripture laid out Truth, and they didn't refuse to countenance what was said because of their preconceptions. Some of them were even converted by the Spirit of God.

Lastly, we must ask a serious question, quite apart from adding to or subtracting from the Word of God which is serious enough by itself, and that question is will we then water down for all to whom the word of God is offensive? Will we suddenly say leave out the bit about gluttons and adulterers and homosexuals not entering the Kingdom of God?

Friends, Wake up. It is God who transforms people and brings them into His Kingdom. It is the Word of God which is a powerful sword. It is not our wise words or worldly wisdom but God alone who must be set apart as Lord in all our endeavours.

In Christ,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

For whom the Bell Tolls - the reality of shipwrecking the Faith

Here's a laughable parody of Rob Bell's new book 'Love wins'.

Robbed Hell - C.A.S.T. Pearls Presents from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Most sad is the heresy of Rob Bell and his real failure to understand God's word. It is clear evidence of a shipwrecked faith.


in Christ,

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Eureka Covenant

For all Australian Residents only,
Let's all try and make our elected representatives in Parliment take notice of what they ought to be doing.
Join the Facebook Cause 'The Eureka Covenant', use the following listing of State emails and paste into the TO field of your emails.

Then copy the Facebook Causes 'The Eureka Covenant' intro and positions into the body of the email.

NSW State Parliment:


Australian Federal Politicians


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Meaning of Life Video

Check out Randall Niles The Meaning of Life Video found at all aboutworldview.org

Amusing ourselves to death

John Stonestreet of summit.org makes an astute comment
We live in an age of entertainment so that people think Christianity is about Christian entertainment.

Ponder that and you will reaslise why so many who role up at Church seek not to be fed by the Word of God, not to have their thinking extended so that their actions may follow right thinking but rather to be entertained.

In Christ,