Friday, 31 October 2014

VAIN PURSUITS


 Albert Mohler provides us here an excellent article on the origins of Halloween. 

When I was a lad (which I hasten to add was not as long ago as all that!) this night's importance in popular culture was easily eclipsed by that of the upcoming 5th November celebrations commemorating the demise of the Roman Catholic plot to blow up our Protestant parliament.

 Nowadays though Guy Fawkes has almost completely surrendered to the ghostly battalion of ghosts, ghouls and goblins.

 This might be due to the increasing occultic influence in society or (as I suspect) it is likely more attributable to the relentless Americanisation of our culture, since "trick or treat" is an imported term altogether unknown to my childhood.

HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!




Thursday, 30 October 2014

LIGONIER SURVEY

This survey commissioned by Ligonier Ministries of the theological beliefs of Americans seems to have created something of a stir (though I suspect that it was intended to).

The stated aim was "to measure the theological awareness of adult Americans."

They say,

"Anecdotal evidence has shown an increasing lack of theological understanding in America, both outside and inside the church. Ligonier Ministries wanted to understand with accuracy the extent of the need to improve that understanding."


Well, Ligonier certainly got their answer.

Friday, 24 October 2014

CUT & PASTE FORGIVENESS



                         let no one deceive you with empty words” (Eph 5:6)


The fall out from Mark Driscoll’s resignation at Mars Hill continues.

 There is much that could be said about this saga but most of it has been said already by those far more capable than I am to address it.

 However there is one aspect of the drama that has especially struck me, and that I have never seen highlighted elsewhere, and is an issue that actually goes far beyond the problems at Mars Hill.  

Saturday, 18 October 2014

HILLSONG: CAN TWO WALK TOGETHER?

This has been simmering for a long while and must soon come to the boil

That Hillsong should run into trouble on the issue of homosexuality was as predictable as the ol' currant bun peeping its head over the horizon this morning.

The Hillsong brand is, and always has been, predicated upon the notion that Church services can be so dumbed down and made attractive to unsaved people that it is possible to assemble each Sunday morning a sizeable gathering of the unregenerate, whilst also also retaining just enough evangelical flavour to avoid losing all but a few of the genuine "little flock" of Christ to the Baptists' down the road.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

CLEAR FENCES BUT LOW




“Denominations are good, not bad, because they allow each church to follow Jesus according to conscience, and they keep strife between Christians of different convictions at bay… Keep clear fences but keep them low, and shake hands over them often.”
                                                                                                             Mark Dever

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

CHRISTIAN MISSION TO ISLAM (2)

In Part I we looked at the challenge faced by the Church due to the growing influence of Islam in the UK.

In Part II we consider the opportunities that are presented to us for the propagation of the Gospel.



Dawah & the Opportunity for Engagement
As we have said, Islam is a missionary religion. The Qur’an exhorts Muslims to call people to God “with wisdom and good exhortation” (Surah 16:125).  This call to Islam, termed dawah, is a mixture of what we would call witnessing and apologetics and every Muslim is commanded to perform it.[i]  Because of the Quranic injunction we will discover that most Muslims are open to religious discussion and will engage very respectfully with Christian beliefs. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

STATEHOOD NOW!

The vote in the House of Commons yesterday has once again turned our attention to the Middle East & to the gross abuse of human rights that we witness there every day.

While the world watches and does nothing, a stateless, oppressed people continues its long struggle for freedom and self-determination.

Effectively prisoners in their own land - a land in which they have dwelt in continuously since biblical times- they remain subject to a brutal occupation and an increasingly punishing siege of their territory.  

  Long-denied the basic human rights that the rest of us take for granted - secure borders, free elections, even access to basic food and medical supplies - they continue their pitiful struggle against oppression.  

 Outgunned and outnumbered by their foe they still struggle on, all the time seeking only a just peace and the right to live free of persecution and the grinding poverty which blights their daily existence.

But sadly British MPs, like trendy Church of England clerics, the BBC, and indeed much of the rest of the world, appear completely uninterested in the plight of the KURDS.



Sunday, 12 October 2014

ONE MIND, ONE PURPOSE



"The organic unity of the Scriptures proves them to be the product of one mind. They were not only so united that we cannot believe one part without believing the whole; we cannot believe the New Testament without believing the Old; we cannot believe the Prophets without believing the Law; we cannot believe Christ without believing his Apostles; but besides all this they present the regular development, carried on through centuries and millenniums, of the great original promise, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.”

                                                                                                        Charles Hodge

Friday, 10 October 2014

WHAT GOD SAYS AGAIN...AND AGAIN




“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language,’ Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,  delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you  to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

                                                                                                (Acts 26:12-18 ESV)

          Why three accounts of the Damascus Road conversion?


Our Wednesday night bible studies continue in the Book of Acts.

This week saw us dealing with Paul's account of his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 26: 12-18). Luke has already furnished us with versions of this same event in chapters nine and twenty-two, making this one of those relatively rare events which the Holy Spirit has provided to us on no less than three occasions.

  A notable Old Testament example of the same is the siege of Jerusalem under Sennacherib (2 Kin 18:13-37; 2 Chr 32:1-22; Isa 36:1-37:38), and of course it is seen most obviously in the Synoptic Gospels where diligent study of the parallel accounts found there always yields great rewards.

 We may often wonder why such repetition should occur in the Bible at all, and I am sure we are sometimes tempted to move on quickly past a story that we think we are already familiar with. But that would certainly be a mistake in this present instance, since there is information found here that is not divulged in either of those two earlier accounts.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

I AM WHAT IT SAYS I AM


                 "This is my Bible,
                       I am what it says I am,
                        I have what it says I have,
                          I can do what it says I can do"

"For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim 3:2-5)

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim 4: 3-4)

"...walking according to their own lusts, and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage" (Jude 16)





Wednesday, 8 October 2014

CHRISTIAN MISSION TO ISLAM (1)

                       The Challenge & the Opportunity in the UK today

                      Material originally presented as a position paper in 2013

The Demographic Challenge
When the Apostolic Church UK was founded Islam was a religion of people who lived on the other side of the world. Today it is the religion of people who live on the other side of the street.


The demographic sea-change in recent decades was evidenced in the Census statistics for 2011 which showed a rise in the number of Muslims in England & Wales, with the proportion of the population standing at 4.8%, that is 2.7 million, up from 1.65 million in 2001.i This expansion is mirrored in most other Western countries and has led many Muslims to claim their religion to be the fastest-growing on the planet. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

THE REAL UNITARIANS




“…but out of the desert, from the dry places and the dreadful suns, come the cruel children of the lonely God; the real Unitarians who with scimitar in hand have laid waste the world. For it is not well for God to be alone.”

                                                       G K Chesterton The Romance of Orthodoxy

Saturday, 4 October 2014

DIVIDING WORD FROM FLESH

A superb 22 point demolition here at the 9Marks blog of the Multi-site Church model which seems so popular in the US.

These two especially hit it out of the park for me.


7. Multi-site churches which use video preaching unwittingly communicate that singing is more significant for Christian growth and closer to the heart of worship than hearing God’s preached Word. After all, how many multi-site churches stream their music over video from a central location? A church wouldn’t dare import the music, it’s thought. People need to engage with a live band. People need their music authentic, personal, enfleshed. But preaching? Apparently, it can be imported from afar.


20. In an age which wants authenticity and reality, multi-site is ironically anti-incarnational: it divides Word from flesh.



Friday, 3 October 2014

BEST LEFT BEHIND

(sigh) Here we go again.

Just when you think that a particularly pernicious little doctrine may finally have breathed its last, somebody comes along and tries to give it the kiss of life via the blockbuster movie treatment.

It is worse still when it is a movie that has a (former?) Hollywood A-lister in the lead role and so is likely to attract more than the usual amount of interest from the wider cinema-going public.

I suggest it might be former A-lister because the cynic in me wonders if Nicholas Cage would be seen dead in a Christian movie unless his career was on its uppers. But I digress.

The movie, of course, is Left Behind which is released in the UK tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

GROOVES IN THE SAND

Writing the previous post reminded me about this...




Original image at @Fred_Butler on Twitter


HOW MANY "FEAR NOTS"?

      
    "There are 365 "fear nots" in the Bible- that's one for every day of the year."


I'm sure that we' ve all heard it said a hundred times before, but I have to admit that right from the first time I heard the statement I have been more than a tad sceptical about it.

The Bible is a big book but that 365 figure always seemed to me to be a bit on the high side.

 After all it works out at an average of 5.53 occurences per book and, having checked, I know for a fact that some books (like Obadiah) don't contain any "fear nots" at all!