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Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

Can’t resist one more quote from Piper’s Christmas devotional, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – discussing Hebrew 8:4-10:

First… Jesus fulfils and replaces the shadows of the Old Testament.
Second… God makes the reality of Christ real to us personally by the work of the new covenant when he writes his truth on our hearts. God moves powerfully into our hearts and minds to overcome our resistance to the beauty of his reality. He writes his will—the truth of the reality of Jesus—on our hearts, so that we see him for who he really is and are willing and eager to trust him and follow him—freely, from the inside out, not slavishly under constraint from outside.
That would be the greatest salvation imaginable—if God should offer us the greatest reality in the universe to enjoy and then move in us to see to it that we could enjoy it with the greatest freedom and the greatest pleasure possible… And that is exactly what he has done.
(Dawning, p. 67-68)

God does not send Christ into the world to die for sins and leave his salvation plan there. He goes the whole way, sending his Spirit right into our hearts and grabbing us and uniting us to the Son. God does not create a possibility of salvation or a system of salvation, he actually saves. This is one of those things where once you see it you start seeing it all over the Scriptures:

  • Acts 3:17-26 – from the suffering of Christ, foretold by the prophets, through to God grabbing us by our shoulders and turning us around;
  • Ephesians 1:1-2:10 – the Father choosing us before time, Christ bleeding for us at the Cross, God raising us from the dead and opening our eyes;
  • Titus 2:14 – cross and sanctification, Christ dies for a people to grab a people who he will make zealous;
  • Titus 3:1-7 – Christ and Spirit, justification and regeneration, the appearance of the Saviour and our personal salvation & transformation – wonderfully tied together;
  • 1 Peter 1:1-9 – from before eternity to last time, Father, Son, Spirit, death, resurrection, new birth, inexpressible joy.

He saves us
all the way
to the utmost.

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After Church I came home and turned on the TV to listen to a sermon by one famous Kenyan preacher.

It begun with the famous “This is my Bible… I am what it says I am…”

The Topic is ‘Power of God’s Word

The text is Luke 1:26 – 39, with a particular emphasis on v37 during the reading ‘For nothing will be impossible with God.

Intro:

“The word of God is powerful.”

“God confronts every disorder in your life with an order from his mouth.”

“The word of God talks about prosperity. Though you who is watching may not like that word but it’s what the word of God says.” He then goes ahead to quote a number of passages that ‘supports’ what he’s saying:

  1. Psalm 35:27b- “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
  2. Psalm 37:25- “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
  3. 2 Cor. 9:8 (though he said 1 Cor.)- “And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
  4. 4:19- “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
  5. 3 John 2- “Beloved, I pray above all things that you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.

[Context, Context, Context… was totally ignored here.]

“You see poverty is not a sign of humility. There are many poor people who are very proud.” [I totally agree with this]

The plan of God is for you to live a good life. Christ took the curse when he died on the cross, for it’s written ‘cursed is he who earns on a tree.’ Christ took that curse so that you may be blessed. There’s no one who is cursed here. All of you are blessed.”

“He says you shall be the head not the tail.”

“God’s word is powerful, whatever he says happens. I am wearing a black jacket but when God looks at it and says yellow, that’s it… it’s yellow… it changes. It’s yellow in God’s eyes… are you with me?” [Ok, I wasn’t with him at this point, I was still struggling with this black-yellow-jacket-thingy]

It’s the word of God that matters. It’s not what I say, don’t listen to my every word… have the word of God.” [I got lost a bit here… should I listen to you or not??]

40 Minutes Later:

“Let me now go to the text quickly”

“God sent his angel to Mary. I can’t preach unless am sent. How can they hear unless someone is sent? Just as the angel was sent to Mary, I am sent to you. I can’t preach unless I am sent.” [Mmmmh!]

“The word says that 1000 shall fall on your side, 10000 on your right hand but it shall not come near you. Power of the Word- even AIDS shall not come near you.”

“He is able to heal AIDS, even cancer. ‘He sent his word & healed your disease.’ This what you need to hear.” [Wololo!!!!]

“Just as he sent his angel to Mary, he’s sent me (as his angel) to you. He’s sent me to tell you that there’s no sickness/condition that has plagued you that God can’t reverse.”

“He’s sent me to tell you that there’s no sickness that he can’t heal. He sent his word & it healed their condition.”

“He’s sent me to tell you that he’s going to turn your situation around.”

“He’s sent me to tell you that the wealth of the wicked is going to be released into your hand.” [I am so nervous here… I don’t want that ‘wealth of the wicked’]

“The angel said to Mary ‘’you are favoured among women.’ It can be anyone but it is you. Just as the Lord sent the angel to Mary, he’s sent me to prophesy favour to you.”

“Favour isn’t deserved. Favour isn’t earned, you don’t qualify for it.” [what is it?]

“Favour will give you a cheque written in USD”

“Get ready to build a house in a place you never thought you would.”

“Get ready to drive a car of your dreams.”

“Favour will do it all.”

“You are favoured among women. What you are about to carry in this season shall be great… just like Mary.” [By this time am totally lost]

“Mary then asks ‘How shall it be since I do not know a man?’ I am not connected, I don’t know people! It’s not about who you know, it’s about what God is doing.”

“I decree that what men can’t do, God will do. I prophesy that where there’s disconnection, they shall be connection.

I come as an angel to decree promotions, abundance, overflow… can I get an Amen.” [The congregants were on their feet throughout the whole sermon & he had to tell them to sit down at least twice.]

Joseph is irrelevant in what God is about to do. [This is serious ‘mis-preaching’ if there’s such a word.] The bankers, the oncologists, are all irrelevant. This thing shall not be about who you know.”

 

“In your walk with God, you must come to a time where man disappoints. God will cause men to disappoint… that’s the time when God shall step in. Where men have disappointed you, that shall be God’s appointment.” [where does this come from?]

 

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you. I sense the Holy Ghost walking on your situation. *Rababoboshaka*”

“When the Holy Spirit starts to move, this is the result *calls Fidel- name withheld (one of the pastors) for everyone to see him & witness what the Holy Spirit can do*”

“Tell your neighbour ‘This is not your auntie, your uncle, or the politician, or the person you know. This time it shall be the hand of God.’”

Conclusion:

“I prophesy as I come to an end that you shall carry that miracle- that baby. And Mary said ‘Let it be according to your word.’ I decree according to the word of God that you shall get that tender, that contract that was cancelled shall be yours. I cancel death (you shall not die but live to see the goodness of God in the land of the living). I cancel that cancer, I cancel that cirrhosis… even if you are in the ICU, I declare that you shall live… shout yeah!”

Then in conclusion “If you are watching on TV and you are not saved, say this prayer…” [Oh dear, what exactly is this prayer about? In response to what?]

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

What a sermon!!!! Was it:

  • Clear
  • Cutting
  • Christ-Centred
  • Careful
  • Compassionate

You tell me!!!

 

 

 

 

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u course brochure front

  • If you don’t know what this is all about click on the image above to see the new brochure.
  • And check out the U-Course blog.
  • And spread the word on social…

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Mark-of-the-Beast

Since 2009 there has been a ‘warning’ going around through chain emails, blogs and social media claiming that ObamaCare will force all Americans to have a microchip implanted in order to access healthcare. This is often also claimed to be a fulfilment of Revelation 13 – Obama being the beast and the implant being the mark of the beast.

I wouldn’t bother to respond to this if it wasn’t for the fact that:

  1. Genuine, sincere brothers across the world are forwarding these messages and being worried by them.
  2. In some forms this rumour suggests that if Christians don’t know about this ‘satanic plot’ and have the chip implanted then they will ‘not make it’ when Christ returns / the rapture occurs. This strikes at the heart of the gospel. It is no longer ‘Christ alone’ it is Christ plus knowledge of a particular fulfilment of prophecy (strangely particular to America).
  3. The message sometimes talks about passing on this warning to all your contacts as ‘doing the work of an evangelist’. That makes my blood boil. This has nothing to do with evangelism.

In terms of the specific facts of the matter, the rumour seems to have been sparked by an earlier version of the ObamaCare bill that was voted down and never passed into law. This version (America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 HR 3200) included a provision to take data from implanted devices but did not enforce mandatory implants. The version that did successfully pass (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act HR 3590) had even the data retrieval section removed.

The other impetus, besides a particular politics, is a particular reading of the Book of Revelation. It is not so much that it is an overly literal reading, though that is part of it. More importantly it is simply not a very careful reading of Revelation. Read Revelation 13:11-14:13 for yourself and see if this is really about Obama and microchips. Have the children of God got his name and the name of the Lamb implanted as a chip under the skin of their foreheads (Rev. 14:1)? Do you see worshippers of the Lamb being tormented eternally because they have failed to notice a mark has been forced on them (cf. Rev. 14:9-10)? No. You see those who have been redeemed by the Lamb, sealed with his name and the name of their Father, singing a song of praise, rejoicing in the eternal gospel – the gospel of the Lamb who has been slain for them, the gospel of the One who has drunk the cup of God’s anger that they should have drunk.

That’s the message we should be sharing.

Some resources:

 

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Doctrine of Scripture 2014

Highlights from the first full day of ministry training course for the new apprentices @ the new and upgraded Halfway House, Sigona. With particular thanks to Harrison, Fidel, Mercy and Christine. If I knew how to use Twitter these would be tweets…

The battle for the mind is not to set your hope fully on your dreams but on real events – Cross & Coming (1 Pet 1:13-21) #GospelReality

You can believe the Bible is authoritative and not be evangelical… if you put other sources of authority on the same level. #SolaScriptura

We don’t worship the Bible. The Bible is a witness. To Jesus. (John 5)

It was written *for* you not *to* you. (Rom 15:4; 1 Pet 1:12)

Fear is part and parcel of ministry. It’s v natural when ur dealing with the Word & people. <– maybe Timothy was not so unusual (2Tim 1:7)

All the power of God, his glorious might, is there to strengthen us… for endurance, patience and suffering (Col. 1:11; 2 Tim 1:8)

What went wrong btwn the East Africa Revival and panda mbegu. A failure to guard the gospel.

The saving gospel is what happened 2000 years ago (1 Cor 151-11; John 20:10-31) not what happened 2 years ago

so a story of God’s work in my life *even when it is Christ-exalting* is not the right foundation 4 anyone’s faith. #SubtleDanger

Hire Character. Train Skill. (Peter Schutz)

Servant: faithful, reliable, teachable, available, motivated

colouring, collections, snacks, singing… The ever-present need for Acts 6:1-7 in children’s ministry

Teaching children takes more preparation than teaching adults. Without it you’ll either communicate nothing or lies #LetThemCome

The most important, most foundational thing children need to know is that they are children of Adam #LetThemCome

 

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what is the gospel

We have welcomed about 16 first year apprentices to serve with us for the year 2014/2015. We thus have a workshop to clarify expectations, introduce the whole idea of Apprenticeship and get them excited about the year ahead.

We’ve moved to our new premises in Zambezi, several hundreds metres from Sigona on the Nairobi – Nakuru Highway. It was quite a rush trying to kill two birds with one stone- planning for induction and moving offices! It’s still work-in-progress but thankfully it seems we are pulling it off!

We started with Bible Study from Philipians 1:1-30 where we saw the joy of partnership in the gospel.

Andy did exposition of Titus 1- Knowing the Truth that leads to Godliness. The saving God promises even before creation to save a people for Himself and it is in knowing this truth, holding firmly to it, living it out and teaching others also. But coupled with that is refuting those who contradict the truth.

James then took us through ‘What is the Gospel.’ It was a wonderful reminder that it was not about us saving ourselves or starting the process of salvation but it’s God who initiates it.

Man at his best, rejects God. As Stephen Seamands puts it in Give them Christ,

In our determination to be autonomous & independent, to be our own gods, we would go so far as to get rid of God so we could take His place. Here we see not “Sinners in the hands of angry God,” as Jonathan Edwards put it in his famous 18th Century sermon, but “God in the hands of angry sinners”. The cross reveals how hell bent we are & how heinous and horrible sin is.’ But that is the heart of the gospel.

Sammy then took us through the iServe Africa concept. Basically, if you take iServe Africa and squeeze and the gospel doesn’t come out then there’s a very big problem. We are big on gospel- learning to handle the word faithfully and being servant of the word. We are not trying to be professionals but to be faithful servants for, as John Piper says in Brothers, we are not Professionals,

“the pursuit of professionalism will push the supernatural center more and more into the corner while ministry becomes a set of secular competencies with a religious veneer”.

Harrison and Lydia then took us through Communication, Partnership Development and Expectations.

We then finished off the day by watching Distant Boat the movie. It’s such a great way to welcome the incoming team on board and have them think about mission. One comment after the movie was ‘I can’t believe Kenya can produce such quality stuff. This movie resonates exactly with my situation. Am encouraged.’

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There’s a lot of debate at the moment around issues of hypergrace theology, sanctification and accusations of antinomianism. In America it has most recently surrounded the removal of Tullian Tchividjian’s blog from the Gospel Coalition website but there was already a lot of discussion prompted largely by Joseph Prince’s teaching. I’m aware that it is an issue in Uganda as well with one or two large city churches seeming to preach a message that ‘You’re saved so sin all you want’ or ‘You’ve died in Christ so you’re free from all responsibilities to this world’. Some groups seem to be linking this with the false teaching that ‘You are gods’, thus exponentially increasing the poison of the error.

Let’s be clear for a start, ‘Saved to sin’ is wrong and ‘Saved by works’ is wrong. ‘We no longer sin’ is wrong and ‘It doesn’t matter if we sin’ is wrong. Reading through 1 John (as I’m doing at the moment) makes that very clear. As the great African theologian Tertullian is credited with saying, just as Christ was crucified between two thieves, so the doctrine of justification is constantly accompanied by two opposite errors. (It may be that Tertullian was originally referring to Christological controversies rather than justification and that the errors in question were of saying Jesus is the Father versus saying Jesus is only man, but his picture works well for legalism and license too.)

The problem is that in trying to refute one error you can very easily fall into the other one. As the Puritans used to say, you mustn’t correct an imbalance with an imbalance. How we argue these things matter. These are deep waters and I feel very ill-equipped to swim in them but these are also very important questions (e.g. is just preaching Christ enough? what do we mean by ‘just preaching Christ’? what is the place of the law? how do Christians change? is telling Christians to do things always moralism?) so we need to at least wade in a little way.

To start things off, here are a few posts from others that I’ve found very helpful:

  • Obedience: not a dirty word – “It’s true that there is a slavery on the near side of sonship and that is spiritual death.  But there’s a slavery on the far side of sonship and it is life and peace.”
  • Grace aint a carrot, sanctification aint a stick – commenting on the Tullian Tchividjian debate.
  • Gospel preaching: preaching to the converted – is the gospel ‘repent and believe’ or ‘what Christ has done’?
  • Gospel preaching: the third way – the options for progress in the Christian life are not simply 1) obedience / self-effort or 2) knowing our identity in Christ / remembrance of salvation / gratitude – there is a third option.
  • Gospel preaching: the third way (continued) – “If the gospel doesn’t transform a life, do you balance grace with effort?  Do you preach grace more boldly?  Or do you make sure your preaching of the gospel of grace goes beyond gratitude to the dynamic relational and spiritual union of being one with Christ?”
  • God sanctifies his people – very helpful message by Piper explaining from 1 Thess. 5:23-24 how sanctification is both something that is promised as the work of God and something commanded which we need to pursue.
  • Extravagant Grace – Dane Ortlund’s very helpful review in Themelios of Barbara Duguid’s important book building on John Newton’s understanding of sanctification.

This is all really challenging me to think things through more carefully…

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