Friday, 22 September 2017

THE ANSWER TO EVERY 'HARD' SCRIPTURE

WHY THE SCRIPTURES WILL SEEM TO GET HARDER

 BibleA ‘hard’ Scripture is a Biblical imperative that seems impossibly outdated, belonging to a by-gone and less-sophisticated era. These are the Scriptures which regulate gender roles, fashion, sexual expression, and respect for authority. 
After explaining the Gospel, the Apostle Paul begins its application in Romans 12. 
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-3
BibleThe Scriptures present the believer with a culture. We might call this, the Kingdom Culture. It is grounded in the teaching of Christ. It governs how we spend our time, use our money, apply our abilities, contribute, and relate to others. It directs us to live as a community of believers where we are taught, led, guarded, and cared for – and even commands us not to neglect this regular time together. It warns us not to be conformed into the thinking or ways of the world. And while I’m proud of our local church for how much we have improved in these Kingdom principles, I’m afraid that the big picture reveals we might be losing ground. 
..our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Second 3:15b-16
Disney_promoting_LGBT_to_preschoolersThe pressure from the world to conform to its godless standards is relentless. They target the lambs of the Kingdom first. Sometimes those who should be well-grounded in God’s Word and mature in Christ are only so by appearances. Those who succumb to this subtle pressure usually begin their compromising with the world by relegating the Scriptures down the list of their daily priorities. This becomes especially obvious when a Christian makes claims about what the Bible says – which even a novice Bible reader would know is not right. The Apostle Peter described this happening in his day and described it happening by people who were “ignorant and unstable” who were ‘twisting‘ the Scriptures ‘to their own destruction‘. I wonder what he would say today if he heard that some Christian ministers are advocating for what God expressly forbad? I wonder what he would say if he heard some Christians argue that Christ’s commands were only ever intended for Christians and do not apply to non-Christians?
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
Second Timothy 4:3

WHICH SCRIPTURES WILL SEEM TO GET HARDER

LGBT_militantsThe Bible is not an alternate view of reality, rather, it is a clear view of it. It reveals the hard truth about the human condition: that we are rebellious toward our Maker and treacherously self-deifing. This makes our fascination with God quite tense. On the one hand, we each want to know the answers to the great mysteries of life (How did the universe begin? How did we get here? Who am I? What is God like? What happens to me after I die?), while simultaneously objecting to any notion that God can demand our exclusive worship and thereby our utter obedience.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
John 3:19
The Scriptures which will increasing seem ‘hard’ for those believers who have not embraced the culture of Christ’s Kingdom pertain to sexual conduct, gender roles, authority, and the role of the church. 
SEXUAL CONDUCT
The culture of the world is that sexual conduct is a recreational activity. Any resultant unwanted pregnancies should be medically terminated. Any moral boundaries attributed to sexual conduct are purely artificially constructed by a prudish society.
bride-weddingThe culture of the Kingdom upholds marriage between a man and a woman as the only legitimate basis for sexual intimacy. God designed for the maximum sexual fulfilment for anyone to only be found in a loving, covenant of exclusive union with someone of the opposite sex. Sexual activity without this exclusive covenant is identified as fornication, and sexual activity beyond marriage is identified as adultery.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Hebrews 13:4
GENDER ROLES
The culture of the world is that gender roles are not actually assigned and that biology plays no role in a person’s gender. In recent times, attempts have been made to invent novel gender identities along the lines of sexual attraction. This has led to the notion of ‘gender fluidity’ where a person’s perception of their gender (not restricted to either male or female) becomes the standard for how they are to be gender identified.
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Couple-ReconcileThe culture of Christ’s Kingdom maintains that men and women are equal in worth, value, and divine access, but distinct in their roles. Men and women are different. They are at least physically (biologically) different. Men are called, and enabled by God, to assume certain roles within society, and especially their family, of protector, provider, and pastor. While many women often show greater competence than many men in these and other areas, women are generally called and enabled by God to nurture, support and administer. 
¶ Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
First Peter 3:7

AUTHORITY
The culture of the world is that any authority a person has is bestowed upon them by society. This authority is often bestowed on the basis of popularity rather than competence. Therefore it is often legitimate, according to the culture of the world, to be cynical toward those in authority and show them very little respect.
The culture of the Kingdom is that God appoints people to authority and their position should be respected. The introduction to divinely appointed authority is the home. In Kingdom culture, authority is not about power as it is about responsibility. God has ordained parents, pastors, politicians, and police. This is why it is doubly egregious when someone in such a position betrays the trust shown in them by those they are responsible for. 
¶ Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Hebrews 13:17

THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH
Being-a-Safe-Church23The culture of the world regards the church as irrelevant. Its views are inadmissible in the public square due to the principle of ‘separation of church and state’. While it may do some good in providing some social welfare administration, it generally financially extorts people, and often preys upon the vulnerable.
The culture of the Kingdom is that Church is called by God to be the salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14) of society as well the pillar and ground of truth for society (1Tim. 3:15). The Church is called by God to be a prophetic voice to the world (Matt. 28:18-19). It is designed by Christ to reveal His glory to the world. As such, all believers are called to make the weekly assembling together as the church for worship and attention to God’s Word, their highest priority (Heb. 10:24-25).
¶ Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

THE BEST WAY TO APPROACH HARD SCRIPTURES IS WITH A SOFT HEART

Bible-Read_MeIf you want to live in the Kingdom of Christ, then start by adopting its culture. This can only be done as you become familiar with God’s Word. Read it daily to be spiritually renewed. Study it regularly to better behold Christ, its Author (2Cor. 3:18). Worship God with it in the midst of your assembled local church by paying heed to the preached Word. Teach it to others to promote it. Take courses from qualified Bible teachers to enrich your understanding of it. And seek God prayerfully for the power to live it out. By doing this, you will be softening your heart and discovering that rather than the Scriptures being ‘hard’, they are in fact the gentle instrument of your strengthening in the midst of a world that strives to weary us of God and His ways.

Amen.
Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Uncomfortable Christ


The-Uncomfortable-JESUS


Jesus is still the most attractive man who has ever walked our planet. He is still, by a long way, the most Googled person on the internet. More books have been written about Him than any other person, and those who have followed Him, including the Apostle Paul, Augustine, and Martin Luther, have only achieved universal and time-less fame ranking books about them in the top most read biographies, because they followed Him and ended up bearing His resemblance.

¶ Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John 21:25

Jesus-artist-impressionIn His days on earth, He was the object of fascination by ordinary folk, military commanders, religious leaders, and royalty. Thousands of people flocked to hear Him. Women and children longed to be with Him and were usually granted unusual access to Him. Despite Him being on the gravest mission of all time, He took time to play with children and publicly sit with women.

¶ Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:13-14

But Jesus also had some people who didn't like Him! Mostly, these were people who were threatened by them because He condemned their abuse of others. 

¶ Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”
John 11:45-50

 At one stage, Jesus declared these religious hypocrites to be "whitewashed walls" (broken down walls rendered over to hide their true condition). 

¶ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
Matthew 23:27

Little wonder these people didn't like Jesus! He exposed them and called them to repent. Ultimately, these people whom Jesus condemned would conspire to have Him executed. Despite knowing this (Mark 8:31), Jesus continued fearlessly to declare the truth. Perhaps this is one of the most admirable traits about Christ: He feared no-one. Of those who were closest to Him, His disciples, He continually shocked them with how high His standards were. 

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

We read in the Gospels that Jesus was just like a caring doctor who had the best interests of his patients at heart. Rather than telling them what they wanted to hear, He always told them what they needed to hear, when they could hear it. The same is true today. As you come closer to Christ, the more uncomfortable you will feel. As a patient comes into the surgeon's rooms to be told their test results, there is great apprehension. The surgeon could lie to them because he fears that they would be distressed by the truth of their actual condition. But a caring surgeon who wants to see his patient healed will always tell his patient the truth. Being confronted by the truth is often uncomfortable. Christ uses His Word, His servants, and even His world to minister His truth to us - and it can be quite uncomfortable to be confronted with our true condition. Those who claim that Jesus never confronts and challenges those He loves to repent and forsake sin are promoting nonsense and a false Jesus. Those who have come to know Jesus and accepted His correction have found that they are beneficiaries. And to their delight, each one has found that Christ not only beckons us to come, He gives us the power to do so.  

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 8 September 2017

KiNDNESS

KiNDS OF kINDNESS

¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
First Corinthians 13:4
The God we worship can be described with many adjectives such as, holy, beautiful, glorious, and loving. Perhaps one of the least celebrated attributes of God is that He is kind.
The LORD is righteous in all His ways
 and kind in all His works.
Psalm 145:17

WORSHIP TRANSFORMS

Legana Southern Gospel ChoirAs we worship God and we “behold” His attributes, we are conformed closer to them. When a believer worships the God of the Bible (who is loving, faithful, generous, gracious, holy, and kind) they will increasingly develop these characteristics in their life. The same principle of worship applies to those who have a wrong God or wrong view of God. Those who see God as a War-Mongering Sheik, they will tend to display the fruit of terror toward others. For those who are beholding the God of the Bible, the fruit in their lives will be that their character is transformed into being more merciful, loving, patient, caring, tender-hearted, and kind.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18
    

ABOUT KiNDNESS

Being ‘kind’ is being friendlygenerous, and considerate. Kindness may be shown when there is an expectation that the kindness may be returned. This might happen when a work colleague gives another colleague a lift to work without seeking any payment, except the possibility that the favour may one day be returned. There is another kind of kindness which is more concerned with how others see it. A husband, who rarely (if ever), opens a door for his wife when no-one is looking, but shows door-opening kindness toward his wife when he takes her to a work dinner. And there is a rarer, Christ-inspired, kindness which is very generous, very costly, and given without any expectation of it being returned or viewed. 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23
Kindness is a preeminent trait of the Christ follower. There was once a husband and father who was also a soldier. He was sent to war which meant being away from his wife and children. During his time away, he wrote regularly to his family. As the conflict went on, the letters slowed, then stopped. Obviously concerned, his wife hoped and prayed that her husband was safe. Then the tragic letter arrived. It was from her husband. He told his wife that he would not be returning to her and the children because he had met and fallen in love with a local girl who had given birth to their son. His wife was devastated. She cried and cried out to God for answers. The years went by and life was a struggle for her and her children. Then, to her surprise, she receive a letter with a request from her ex-husband by mail. In that letter he told her that he had been diagnosed with cancer and only had a short time left to live. This would mean that his new wife and child would have no means of support. He was arranging for them to migrate to live as citizens in the country where his ex-wife was. His request? He asked his former wife if she would take them in and look after them. At first, his ex-wife was staggered at the request but after prayer she felt that despite her own meagre situation she should show kindness to this woman and her child. When they arrived, she welcomed them into their home and for the next few years gave them free board and lodgings. This was kind of that man’s first wife.  

THE CHALLENGE OF KiNDNESS

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
First Peter 4:13-14
The early Christians were noted for their kindness. One First Century Roman historian wrote about these odd Christians loving each other and those who were ordinarily despised. Historian Prof. Rodney Stark has stated –
“…what Christians did was take care of each other. Christians loved one another, and when they got sick they took care of each other. Someone brought you soup. You can do an enormous amount to relieve those miseries if you look after each other…
Abortion was a huge killer of women in this period, but Christian women were spared that…We’ve unearthed sewers clogged with the bones of newborn girls. But Christians prohibited this…Christian women also had “tremendous advantages compared to the women next door,” he said, adding that non-Christian girls could be married as young as 11, but Christian girls could wait until the age of 18.”
(Interview with Christianity Today, 2000)
“To cities filled with homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”
 Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force
To worship Christ is to increasingly become kind toward others. We could do it because we may have the kindness returned. We could do it because our kindness is on display. But we should do it because we worship a kind Saviour who when He was mistreated did not return the mistreatment, but instead, showed kindness. I suspect that in the days to come this aspect of our devotion to Christ may well be put to the test.
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
First Peter 3:9
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 11 August 2017

PROPHETIC PORTENDS THROUGH MY EYE-CUP

MY EYE CUP

First The Natural

But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.
First Corinthians 15:46
These days I rarely misplace things. I have learned the value of routines for such matters as putting things where they belong. But lately, and curiously, I have lost certain things which are not of great value but they are of great value to me. It’s embarrassing to admit that in these moments I pray for their discovery and return. This all seems to have commenced around the time we began construction on our new auditorium. Upon reflection, I can see yet another way God has been teaching me some valuable lessons about my relationship with Him through this construction project.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10
I won’t bore you with a catalogue of the things that I have lost over the past 14 weeks – which have nearly all been returned or found – but I will share about the latest one. A few days ago my eye-cup disappeared. No, I don’t keep my glass eye in a cup, partly because I don’t have a glass eye. An ‘eye-cup’ is a photographic term for the rubber and plastic surround to the view-finder on a DSLR camera. This seemingly insignificant bit of plastic and rubber is highly valuable to me because, (i) I use it everyday; (ii) the camera manufacturer doesn’t make them anymore. I looked “everywhere” for it without success. I began doing what I always do when I don’t know what to do. I prayed
The loss of my eye-cup was also particularly frustrating because I didn’t lose it. It wasn’t as if I took it off and randomly left it somewhere without being able to recollect where I put it. No, it had decided to run-away from home! Each time I have prayed for God to help me to locate what I had lost over the past 14 weeks, I have felt a degree of guilt. After all, God is extremely busy. He’s got a lot going on at the moment – what, with the situation in the Middle East, the various atrocities being committed by East African despots, and now the North Korean crisis. I could hardly think He was concerned with something so incredibly trivial as my eye-cup. 
But as He answered each prayer for such trivial losses, I began to realise something magnificent about our God. He is audaciously, gloriously, splendidly magnificent! No detail escapes Him. No task is too great for Him. I have discovered that the more I appeal to these facts about God, the more my soul appreciates His unfathomable magnificence and then the greater my confidence to pray every care to Him. This includes run away eye-cups.
¶ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
First Peter 5:6-7
Yesterday morning, I had someone, who is not a part of our church, drop in to see me. As they looked inside our new auditorium they said, “I have felt God saying that this is the place where the lost will be found! Keep being faithful and God will be glorified in this place by bringing and saving the lost here!” 
At the end of the day, after daylight had gone, I hooked up my trailer (which I had taken to church to removed some of the left-over building materials), and as I did I noticed my eye-cup just near my trailer’s wheel! I nearly cried as I worshiped the Magnificent God and thanked Him for His deep care for my trivial matters. But I was awash in the realisation that each of these lost-and-found moments had been portends, prophetic sign-posts, of what God was ultimately going to do. I have found that what the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians has a broader application than just the point he was making about the nature of the resurrection, when he wrote, “First comes the natural, then the spiritual.” 
As we open our building this weekend, may we indeed pray that many who are now lost will indeed be found.
Pastor Andrew

Saturday, 5 August 2017

For Goodness Sake

For goodness sake
There was a news report this week about the alarming increase in childhood obesity. It included an interview with a mother who told the reporter how food packaging was to blame. Each time she went shopping with her toddler he would see the culprit food and cry, “I want it!” The mother told how even when she said no, her child would throw a tantrum and scream until she gave in to him. “If the packaging wasn’t so attractive to children”, she reasoned, “they wouldn’t do that!” she told the reporter. After all, good mothers give their children what they want.

WHAT IS ‘GOOD’?

Whoever gives thought to the Word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
Proverbs 16:20
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked the young man. Good is one of those standards we all use to measure things, experiences, circumstances, and among other things, people. Unlike in the past, today we consider that good is in the eye of the beholder. Of course, if the Ancients held this new notion of goodness, the young man would have had no trouble immediately responding to Jesus with something like, “Good? I just reckon You are. It’s just my opinion.” But he didn’t, because the ancients didn’t view goodness as a matter of personal opinion. They regarded goodness as something independent of themselves and their opinions.
tantrum toddlerThere are many things, such as giving into a screaming toddler in a supermarket, that are considered (at least by all screaming toddlers) as good – yet, experience tells us they are not. There are usually not that many toddlers in a supermarket at any one time, but if all two or three of them decide to throw an I-want-that-lolly-pop tantrum, they make more noise than the dozens of adult shoppers who are also in the store! I reckon if we took a vote of those shoppers at that moment around 72% of them would vote that it would be good for the frazzled mother to give-in immediately to the tantrum-throwing toddler. (This would really be a vote for peace and quiet!) But I also reckon that if you surveyed those same people under different circumstances (while not shopping or listening to screaming toddlers) 72% would vote that it would be good for the mother to stand her ground and not give-in to her tantrumming-toddler.

Life teaches us that there are many things which most of us think are not good for us, but are actually very good for us. This includes things like exercise, constructive criticism, rest, attending church, and practising. But it also includes giving noisy people what they demand – such as giving screaming toddlers the lollie-pops they demand, even though it can lead to tooth decay and even obesity. This is one of the ways we know that some of the things called good are not because the consequences are universally bad. We should all pursue the universal good. It ensures the best welfare for all – which is surely what we want – even though tantrum-throwing toddlers won’t like it one bit! 
There are three issues facing our society at the moment which are not good. The consequences of these issues are devastating and literally deadly. These issues are: (i) The sexual abuse of the vulnerable (particularly children and women); (ii) Fatherless children (40%of Australian children now grow up without a father; teen suicides are 5 times higher from fatherless homes; around 75% of prisoners come from fatherless homes; boys raised in fatherless homes are more likely to commit rape; fatherless children fare worse academically and have the worst employment prospects); (iii) Deteriorating rates of mental health (one in five Australians experience mental illness each year; mental illness now accounts for 27% of all work disability in Australia; 14% of Australians suffer from anxiety attacks).
For goodness sake Australia, we should do all we can to address each of these three issues, and simultaneously do all we can to stop doing those things which matters worse. This at least should include-

  • Discouraging the sexualisation of women in the arts, advertising and media. It’s time now for us as a society to stop deluding ourselves that the public sexualising of women is morally neutral and confusing for most males.
  • Encouraging the raising of children by their married biological parents and encouraging potential parents to prepare appropriately for marriage not just their wedding. The research is overwhelming that children fare best when raised by their own loving married biological parents and we need to stop kidding ourselves that children can be raised by any two people.
  • Recognise that mental health outcomes and sexual morality are often connected. We should note which sector of society is more likely to suffer mental illness and its negative consequences (such as suicide), and find out what the common denominator is.

¶ Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1
Coming back to our original conversation between Jesus and the young man who called Him, “good”, the young man rightly assumed that Christ was good because of what he heard and saw. Amazingly, all religions and people acknowledge that everything Jesus taught about how to live was universally good. But at the same time, most religions and people don’t know what Jesus taught! I guess this is why we hear people say that Jesus said nothing about marriage, or nothing about sexuality, or nothing about mental health, or nothing about how men should view and treat women? 
Jesus shocked His original audience by declaring that a good life is not attained by obvious and external things, but by that which is invisible and internal, yet soon becomes apparent to all.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
Matthew 15:19
Rev. Sam Allberry, RZIMEach of the moral corruptions cited by Jesus are described in the Old Testament Law His audience was familiar with. This is why men like Rev. Sam Allberry, who has battled with same-sex attraction all his life, recognise that Christ taught that a person’s identity is not linked to their sexual attraction. Because of this, Sam acknowledges that Jesus, a man who never sex and never married, taught that sexual immorality would both immediately and eternally “defile” a person. This is why, he states, that he must battle with his same-sex attraction and live a celibate life, all for the sake of honouring his Lord and Saviour (watch). Before Sam, Dr. Henri Nouwen, a Catholic scholar who had come to the same conclusion as Sam, also prayerfully wrestled with his same-sex attraction because he too understood what Christ had taught about the matter. They battled for goodness sake. 

GO BACK TO GO FORWARD

I recently listened to Oxford Scholar, Os Guinness, describe how every major advance in culture, the Reformation – the Renaissance – the American Revolution –  involved “going back” in order to progress forward. Curiously today, those who identify themselves as ‘Progressives’ want to abandon the past and ‘move on’. Dr. Guinness showed how every culture that forgot the wisdom of the past was doomed to fail. For goodness sake, we in Australia need to remember that the things that do a society good are not always the things that tantrum-throwing toddlers demand – especially when, in those parts of the world where their demands have been met – those things which blight a society (abuse of children, sexual exploitation and abuse of women, increasing rates of suicide, deteriorating mental health outcomes) become even more widespread. 
¶ Thus says the LORD:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Jeremiah 6:16
Amen.
Pastor Andrew Corbett

Friday, 28 July 2017

A New Ministry

WHY I RESIGNED

A few years ago I resigned. That is, I resigned from my pursuit of majoring on being a great preacher. I think my motives were noble in this pursuit. After all, the Scriptures declare that preaching is the means of grace for people to come to salvation. It was reasonable then for any pastor to see the pulpit as their main responsibility.  But as I studied the life and ministry of Dr. F.W. Boreham I increasingly grew more in love with the pastorate than the pulpit. I stopped preparing sermons to preach and began to prepare sermons to pastor. Instead of the pulpit being my platform, it has become my tool for pastoring people. Sure, preaching can move and stir people. But unless it  leads people into worship of God it is failing both people and our Lord. That’s why the best preaching is really worship-leading!
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.
John 4:23

THE GOSPEL AND WORSHIP


Some people see the Gospel as simply the message of God’s grace in forgiving us of our sins and securing our eternal redemption. In that view, the Gospel can be reduced to four spiritual laws based on just four verses of Scripture from Romans. You might already know that the term “gospel” comes from the Greek word ‘evangel’ (euangelion) which means good news.
¶ Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
Romans 16:25
God Is The Gospel, by Dr. John PiperConsidering that God has given us more than just four verses of Scripture, the good news of the Gospel may not just be limited to four verses of Scripture or even just about God’s grace in saving us from our sins.This is why you will have heard me say that the Gospel begins at Genesis 1:1 and ends at Revelation 22:21. In this view, every verse of Scripture can be thought of as being like a pixel in a grand picture. What is this grand picture? It is the most magnificent picture of the most magnificently beautiful God. It is this picture of God which is the good news, the Gospel. This is why John Piper says, “God is the Gospel!” 
Salvation isn’t just about being forgiven of our sins. It’s about coming back into fellowship with God which begins with our sins being graciously forgiven by the Father because of what Jesus has done. It begins with this, but it doesn’t end with this. For the Gospel to run its course in the life of the redeemed there must be a transformation of who they are into the image of Christ.
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:29
This transformation into the image of Christ happens as we respond to the summons of the Gospel to surrender more of our lives asour worship to God. Of course, since Christ and the Father are in perfect union and share infinitely vulnerable love for each other, our transformation into the image of the Father’s Son involves us being drawn closer to God the Father as well. The process of coming closer to the Father and being transformed into the image of His Son is called sanctification. Our sanctification in this life can be seen by how much of our lives are offered to God in worship. Thus, something quite mystical happens to us when we worship – and especially when we worship in our local church – which often God ordains to involve humility on our part which invokes the rich blessing of God’s grace on us.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6
SAMSUNG CSCAnd the most profoundly mystical thing that happens to a worshiper is an increasing revelation of God’s beauty. Little wonder then, that the great worshiper, John Francis Wade, wrote the song, “O come let us adore Him!” (which we mistakenly relegate to the Festive Season!). For adoration is the most natural response to being in God’s presence and beholding Him.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18
The more we behold Christ in worship the more we willingly surrender to God and the greater the revelation we receive of the Father’s impeccability and beauty. The Father then becomes even more attractive to us and  the more we are attracted to Him, the more we want to surrender to Him in adoring worship. 
and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
Hebrews 12:28b
SAMSUNG CSCThis is why our worship is most beautifully expressed in singing and music together because it involves our hearts, our presence, and our attention. It most naturally leads to us worshiping God with our lives. This transforming worship is most evident by how we treat others, particularly those who know us best. They, of all people, have a window into the genuineness of the revelation of God we claim to have. Thus, the one who claims to be a worshiper of God yet displays little transformation into the image of Christ because they are continually angry, critical, offended, offending, or complaining, is displaying that they have not surrendered to the Beautiful One at all. Yet when those we love get up close to us and look through the window of our soul and they see a kind-hearted, forgiving, gracious, patient, generous soul, it is obvious to them that our worship of the Father has caused us to surrender in love to Him.
¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

PREACHING AS WORSHIP LEADING

Dr. Andrew CorbettBut how does preaching lead people to worship? The fact that we now even ask this question reveals just how far from the Biblical concept of preaching we have moved. Sound preaching not only unpacks the Scriptures. Sound preaching not only explains Christian doctrine. Sound preaching brings people to a clearer picture of God and summons people to worship Him! This is why every preacher should be a worship leader because they are leading people to worship the Magnificent One. This begins at salvation, continues through sanctification, and is completed in our glorification as we are united with the Father in Christ by the Holy Spirit for eternity. Since Christ calls pastors to shepherd people, that is lead people to a closer walk with Christ, the pulpit becomes the pastors most valued tool for achieving this. That’s why I resigned from simply preaching, and have focussed more of my energies on pastoring through preaching with the aim of bringing people into richer worship of our Heavenly Father. Thus, when I am preaching, I am now worship leading. Please join me in worshiping our Saviour. I’ll tell you why, this Sunday.
Pastor Andrew.