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Showing posts from March, 2015

Ministry Matters: The Gospel - Part 5

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Knowing the basic Christian message (the gospel or good news) is key to being a Christian, being a church and sharing the message as Jesus taught us, which means it's a good place to start when considering the life and ministry of the church.
In earlier article I've suggested this brief outline of the gospel:
God – our loving creator, who we are accountable to. Us – we have sinned against our creator and face judgement. Jesus – God sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross taking the punishment for our sins. Us – we need to trust in Jesus and his death for us to be saved.
Now we come to the final part of this outline – our response to the message.
1. The Response Required by Jesus and the Apostles
Jesus himself summarises what our response to him should be right at the start of his ministry.
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15 NIV)
Both Peter and Paul pick up the same call as they begin to p…

The Easter Message

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My Easter church magazine article:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV)

The story of Easter, is the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul tells us in the verses above from 1 Corinthians that it is this story, which is of first importance. In fact, when he went to Corinth, he tells us that:
I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2 NIV)
Paul's point is, that the message of the apostles, of Jesus and of the Scriptures is focused on that three days surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection. If we don't understand those three days, then we've missed the whole point. How does Paul summarise it?
1. Christ died for our sins God's king came to die in our place, taking the punishment for…

Christians, Language and Authority

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I think we quite often laugh at some of the extremely odd ways Christians use language.  What has been called Christian-ese. Whether it's the clich├ęs we pray in or the odd phrases we talk in that would make no sense to someone who was not a part of the church.
Sometimes those things are pretty harmless - the theology may be good even if it's presented in a kind of Victorian English!  Other times it can be more serious.  In particular, I'm thinking of those times when people use language to express a power or authority to what they're saying.
I think I first noticed this in the early nineties, when at university and mixing with Christians from various backgrounds in the Christian Union and found many from a more charismatic viewpoint talking about what God had "said" to them, or what God had "told" them.  That hadn't really been a huge part of my background or experience before and, at a theological level, I didn't quite know what to make of…

Book Review: God Speaks - Hearing, Connecting, Relating

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A book review for the church magazine.  This is an excellent book to get into the hands of many people in your churches.

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Our first hot topic service at the start of February covered the question of whether the we can really trust the Bible. We have had articles in the magazine about Bible reading and opportunities in church to take home some Bible reading notes to get started. We often talk about the Bible as “God's Word” and, if it is what God says, then presumably we ought to take it seriously. But how does it all work? How does God speak to us? How do the Bible, Jesus and the Holy Spirit relate to each other?
If you've ever wondered about any of these questions then God Speaks by Rich Aldritt and Ash Carter (both Church of England ministers) is the book for you. They describe their intention as being to write “a little book, to give people, that explains how God speaks to us.” (p.15) And this book is just that.
They summarise the message as follows: “God speaks. B…

Ministry Matters: The Gospel - Part 4

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Knowing the basic Christian message (the gospel or good news) is key to being a Christian, being a church and sharing the message as Jesus taught us, which means it's a good place to start when considering the life and ministry of the church.
In an earlier article I've suggested this brief outline of the gospel:
God – our loving creator, who we are accountable to. Us – we have sinned against our creator and face judgement. Jesus – God sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross taking the punishment for our sins. Us – we need to trust in Jesus and his death for us to be saved.
So far we have, in a sense, seen the bad news. We are all accountable to our creator God and because we are all sinners we justly face judgement and hell (follow the links for those articles). This bad news is the vital prelude to the good news, which came in Jesus and which we turn to now.
1. The King Has Come
The gospels present Jesus as God's king bringing in God's kingdom. The Israelites were wa…

Hating Sin

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My March church magazine article
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Hatred is a strong word isn't it. We teach children not to say “I hate you!” When we hear the word used in phrases like “religious hatred,” it's always negative.
However, if something is truly terrible and evil, then presumably hating it is acceptable. For example, I can hate abuse, or slavery, or injustice. In that light, the Bible talks about God hating sin, i.e. rebellion against God and his good rule over us. For example:
Do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this," declares the LORD. (Zechariah 8:17 NIV)
And speaking of the sinful practices of a group called the Nicolatians in the early church Jesus says:
But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:6 NIV)
Because God is a holy God and because evil is such a terrible offence to him, he hates it. And because we are called to be holy like God (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:1…