Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sinclair Ferguson on Archegos

Once again my miniscule knowledge has been exposed by the brilliant mind of a far wiser, far more intelligent man of God. It's Sinclair ferguson this time. Here is what he writes regarding Christ as Archegos (it's Greek).

Perhaps the most intriguing title for Jesus in the [book of Hebrews] is 'author.' He is called the 'author of...salvation' and the 'author... of our faith' (Heb. 2:10; 12:2, NIV)...

Adam was the first archegos. He was called to lead the human race in obedience, through testing, to the destination of glory. He sinned and failed, falling short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This world became a jungle where man and God, man and Satan, man and woman, man and beast, man and his environment, and man and his brother have all become entangled in hostility (Gen. 3:8-19; 4:1-12).

Jesus came as the second archegos, the second representative man (I Cor. 15:45-47). He entered the jungle. He broke through and subdued all its opposition to God. He dealt with God's solemn curse (Gen. 3:14, 17) and opened the way into God's presence for all who believe in and follow Him (Heb. 10:19-20).
The Son of God took our human nature and entered into our fallen, sin-ravaged environment. he lived a life of perfect obedience for the glory of God. Bearing God's judgment against our sin on the cross, he experienced the divine curse. Now divine blessing and restoration flow to us along the path of grace He has opened (Gal. 3:13).


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

C. J. Mahaney on Reading

One of my elders, thanks Andy, directed me to some absolutely enriching discussion(click here) between C.J. Mahaney and others on several topics relating to pastoral leadership.

The one I immediately was drawn to was their insights on A Pastor and Reading. I was not let down one bit. I have always said that for me personally one of the most beneficial contributors to my growth in desire for God and an ever-increasing love for Him has been reading. Mahaney powerfully and wholeheartedly agrees.
I thought I would just include a few confirming quotes
“[One reads to attend to the soul..] Abide close to the cross, dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard!'(A quote by Spurgeon)
“Create a library of men that attend to your soul- read and meditate on their works.”

“Most new books are just repetitions of what has gone before!”

“The best way to serve your soul, your family, and your church is to devote time to reading & study.”

“I view reading and study as one of the most important ways that I can serve a church… the most effective way. Because the best way I can serve a church is by responding to the charge to watch my life and to watch my doctrine!”

Take these words to heart, honestly you cannot and will not be able to feed those in your flock (those whom you lead) unless you are feeding aggressively yourself on rich, soul-expanding books.


Consumerism Insights

I am reading a thought-provoking, although rather difficult, book titled, ‘Consuming Religion’ by a catholic author, Vincent J. Miller. It is extremely insightful and eye-opening with regards to consumerism as a broad cultural phenomenon which has risen to the fore in the West. His desire in writing is to educate us about the consumerism/religion relationship. I thought I would share a brief quote found midway through the second chapter that is helpful in its summation of some issues:
“[Religious leaders often see things for which they criticise consumerism…] We see an explicit system of values that was actively disseminated though advertising. After centuries of negative connotations, consumption not only became a necessary dimension of the economy but was promoted in service of the common good. Acquisitiveness became a virtue. Individualism was intensified in a variety of ways. The nuclear family in its single-family dwelling became the new fundamental unit of society. The social isolation that this brought was assuaged through consumption. Appliances stood in for the labour once exchanged as part of the lives of extended family or neighbourhood relations. Individualism was also intensified through the narcissism elicited by advertising. Deprived of communal sources of identity, people were encouraged to invest in commodity-based self-enhancements. The economic structure of the single family forms political and ethical choices in a way that corrodes a sense of the common good. Finally… the shift from the extended to the nuclear family weakened our relationships to cultural traditions.”

The author goes on to expose the shallowness and ineffectiveness of the above general critique, but I thought it was a brilliant summary of the onslaught of the consumer culture that now drastically taints our faith.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Values Discovery

Had the most fantastic day on Saturday with the two other elders at the church we are moving to in Watford.
The whole purpose of the day was to seek the heart of God for the deep-seated things that we as a leadership love and cherish that may in turn become the CORE VALUES that define us as a people. Coffee was consumed, prayer was really enjoyed and then off we went.
Multi-coloured ‘Post it’ notes spread out on the wall, words flying, pens scribbling, hearts-racing and, yes, brilliant progress made. The outcome: Eight things that profoundly identify the DNA of who we are, and how we function as a church. The unity of mind and the clarity of thought was only outdone by the excitement of what God was doing in us as a leadership.

There is a long way to go of course, but it is so liberating to know that we have laid a foundation as to who God has called us to be and what will most identify us as a leadership team. I thought I would just put a little blurb here on the blog about why I think defining values is so essential. So give it a read, if you want.
Why Values?

Team, unity, synergy, togetherness, harmony, partnership, the absolutes of fulfilling the mission God has called us to are only possible through shared values. If we seek to pursue a vision that is not birthed out of our shared values it will never happen. Our vision must have (as the firm foundation supporting it) a set of core values that are shared by the ministry team.

Without a certain set of values we will not know why it is we have the vision we have. Without values we will not know who is meant to be on the team that battles with us to achieve what it is we are called to achieve. Without shared values we will not ‘die by one another’s side’ as partners in mission.

That is why values!


Unleashing the Church II

After part I of this series exposing God’s INITIATIVE to release ‘the city’ from bondage through the person of Christ, I guess people could quite sarcastically say, “Well where’s your Jesus now? Who’s God going to use now to sort out all the cr*p?”
They would not be the first to wonder about that (see Acts 1:6-9), but the answer is simple: The CHURCH!

Sadly, the church today is suffering a massive identity crisis!
If we the church do not know who we are then there is no way we will know what we are to do.

For us to flourish, for us to fulfill our call ‘to release the city so to speak’ we must reaffirm our identity. And I don’t think there is a more identity exposing passage in all of scripture than then I Peter 2:9-10… this is mind-altering, heart changing, passion-inspiring stuff.
This passage answers three questions:

1) Chosen People”- This is the first of four metaphors used of Israel that now describe who we are as the church.
We are a new race defined not primarily by colour, wealth, social status or place of birth, we are defined primarily by our being chosen by God to be new creations in Christ.
Read Jn. 1:12, 13.

“CHOSEN”See Eph. 1:4; Rom 8: 28; Jn. 15:16; II Tim. 1:9; I Pet. 1:3
2) “Royal Priesthood”- To understand this second metaphor more fully we must delve into the OT. Look at Ex. 19:6
WE ARE ROYALTY (The ‘glory’ of royalty is: 1) Honour of a Kingdom, 2) The possessions of a King, 3) The authority of a king)
We are co heirs with Christ! Gal. 4:6-7
PRIESTS- There is now no longer just one person once a year that is allowed access into God’s presence, WE CAN EACH ENJOY IT AT EVERY MOMENT! Heb 4:16.
What do we offer, what is our sacrifice? Rom 12:2 Lives dominated by the Holy Spirit, that bring joy and pleasure to God.
3) “Holy Nation”- We have a new citizenship Ph. 3:20.
The single greatest factor that distinguishes us is Holiness, we are a HOLY nation. This word means set apart. John McArthur explains:
“Holiness means that we have been set apart unto God. While that includes being set apart for service, the primary emphasis is our relationship with God…We are set apart not just from sin and hell, but to an intimate relationship with God.”

The fourth and final metaphor not only confirms our identity but gives us the answer to the 2nd question of how we get the identity we have.
4) “People belonging to God”- Here is where we must realize the beauty, the wonder the greatness of our identity. We are God’s possession, purchased for a price.
What Price? What price was paid? The blood of Christ; each drop of blood of the Son of God is of inestimable worth. It was shed for you!
Acts. 20:28; I Cor. 6:20; Tit. 2:14; I Pet. 1:18,19
“Received Mercy”-
“Called out of darkness into His wonderful light”-
Lazarus being called out of the tomb!
Eph. 2:1-7; Col 1:13, 14; 21, 22.

“Declare the praises of Him”- Note that we have 4 designations of who we are but just one purpose!
‘Declare:’ Only time in NT; advertise, publish, make widely known.
‘arete’- ‘Praises, Excellencies’: Heroic deeds, perfections, unparalleled love etc. of God.

“He has given us our identity in order that His identity might be proclaimed through us. God made us who we are so we could make known who He is… Therefore being a Christian and making the greatness of God known are almost identical”



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tim Keller at His Best

Have just finished reading the transcript of this video and man his insights are simply breath-taking. I am most captured by his strength regarding the importance of preaching. It appears to me that very few have this regard any more.

Click Here


Monday, October 6, 2008

Final Preach

October 5th was my final preach at New Community Church, a really intensely emotional moment for me actually. I cannot actually articulate why? I am one of those guys who feel things at a depth that it takes me a while to draw out the content of what is going on ‘in there.’ I have two more parts of my ‘Unleashing the Church’ series in Watford and then a final Sunday here at New Community on the 2nd of November; a stage of life is coming to an end.
Here is the skeleton of my final preach here:
We have started a preaching series through the book of Acts called ‘The Pioneering Church’ and I had the great privilege of preaching from Acts 3. I entitled it “The Message of the Pioneering Church: The Gospel.”
In Acts 2, the day of Pentecost, the church was equipped with the power to continue the ‘Mission of God’ (Missio Dei) which is our mandate as the church.
This is a mandate that we must respond to! In Acts 3 we the message of the mission is unveiled. In verses 1-11 we have described a powerful attention-grabbing miracle that would leave any contemporary Christian pleasantly satisfied.

Surely Peter could walk away pleasantly pleased at this powerful display of healing. NO! Peter is abundantly aware that the church’s participation in culture is not just the initiation of social justice; the church is more than a social help agent solving our societal ills. He must stand; he must declare the message of the pioneering church. He must declare the message that God has given the church to bring about the restoration of all reality and the reconciliation of relationship with the offended creator God and self-destructive mankind.

The gospel is our message for the mission, it is a stunningly beautiful multi-faceted jewel that the church is commanded to use and capture the attention and hearts of a lost world in which we are immersed.
Here are just 5 stunning facets of this message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, revealed in the verses 12-26 of this passage:

GOSPEL THAT MUST BE ANNOUNCED: We must notice that what Peter and John have just accomplished in the healing of this man was not enough for them. These men were filled with the Spirit of God and knew that this moment was one to be seized to announce the Gospel.
This message is not a new message! This message is not one plucked out of thin air. This message is one with ancient testimony. Listen to what a commentator writes on Vs. 24, “From the inception of the prophetic office down through the whole order of the prophets, all had spoken of ‘these days’, which had found their ultimate fulfilment in Jesus Christ.”
GOSPEL ABOUT JESUS CHRIST- (Vs. 6, 13-16, 20) Tim Keller: “Irrevocably Christological”. Listen to Peter in Acts 4:12; Jesus Jn. 14:6; Rom 5:1,2 & 6-8
There may be nothing more important to us than coming to understand this truth. If only Jesus’ righteousness and obedience and goodness is acceptable to God the father. Nothing, NOTHING we do or seek to achieve will achieve acceptability before God.
Note these verses Rom. 3:21-26; 28 ‘faith’, ‘faith’, ‘faith’.
This is the extremely unpopular bit, this is a concept virtually unspoken of in current Christianity. But it is central to the gospel. Why? Because we don’t just have a loving God we have an offended God.
Check out these verses: Is. 55: 6,7; Mt. 1:17; Mk. 1:15; Acts 2:38; Acts 17: 30-31; Acts 20: 21; Heb 6:1 (‘foundational teaching of the faith’).

The Gospel: It is the best story ever told, the truest truth, the power of God to save; it is a stunning jewel.

Spurgeon on Repentance

Now, a repentance which makes me weep and hate my past life because of the love of Christ which has pardoned it, is the right repentance. When I can say, "My sin is washed away by Jesus's blood," and then repent because I so sinned as to make it necessary that Christ should die—that dove-eyed repentance which looks at his bleeding wounds, and feels that her heart must bleed because she wounded Christ—that broken heart that breaks because Christ was nailed to the cross for it—that is the repentance which brings us salvation.

Again, the repentance which makes us avoid present sin because of the love of God who died for us, this also is saving repentance. If I avoid sin to-day because I am afraid of being lost if I commit it, I have not the repentance of a child of God; but when I avoid it and seek to lead a holy life because Christ loved me and gave himself up for me, and because I am not my own, but am bought with a price, this is the work of the Spirit of God.
And again, that change of mind… which leads me to resolve that in future I will live like Jesus, and will not live in the lusts of the flesh, because he has redeemed me, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with his own precious blood—that is the repentance which will save me, and the repentance he asks of me.
…He asks you to weep and wail because of him; to look on him whom you have pierced, and to mourn for him as a man mourns for his only son; he bids you remember that you nailed the Saviour to the tree, and asks that this argument may make you hate the murderous sins which fastened the Saviour there, and put the Lord of glory to an ignominious and an accursed death.

Preached July 1862

Wow! I think those words need to pierce our heart like an arrow to imbed this central tenet of the Christian faith.