Monday, 28 July 2008


Dr. Dallas Willard, author of THE GREAT OMISSIONThe Greek word for "Gospel" is evangel. Dallas Willard in his book, "The Great Omission", makes the point that there has been a change in what constitutes the term: Evangelical. Some people confuse the term "Evangelical" with "Evangelistic". While the two words are very similar and share some definitions, they mean quite different things. And this is something that Dallas Willard explores. His argument was that the two words used to mean the same thing. That is, both terms used to mean three things: (i) An awareness of sin, (ii) Spiritual conversion bringing forgiveness of sins, and (iii) Testifying to the work of God in a person's life.

But Evangelicalism has come to mean that a person (i) Believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, (ii) That Jesus Christ is divine, and (iii) There is salvation through no-one or thing, other than Jesus Christ. Dallas Willard says that this would be OK- if the Church was Evangelical AND Evangelistic. He lists the Church's general lack of applying the three traits of original Evangelicalism (conviction of sin, conversion to Christ by the Spirit, and testifying of God's work) as one of the great omissions of modern Christianity. He briefly surveys the history of Evangelicalism and makes the point that when the Church's preaching focussed on these three traits it often experienced what we now call "revival" or "awakening".
Mordecai HamHe cites the Evangelistic ministry of Mordecai Ham who influenced Billy Graham to become a Christian. Mordecai would often preach for weeks in a town before ever inviting people to accept Christ. He wanted to make sure that the town understood what sin was and that they felt deep conviction about it. Willard adds to this point by referring to John Wesley's method of preaching the Law first. "I must preach the Law first, then grace" said Wesley. He did this for same reason as Mordecai Ham. He wanted people to know that the Gospel was a solution- not merely an assessment of the problem.

¶ "What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
Romans 7:7

Willard laments that there are too many preachers who have made the Gospel about God meeting "needs" rather than about God. Our greatest need, he writes, is not to have what we want in order to be happy, but to be forgiven of sin so that we can have fellowship with God. This forgiveness of sin can only happen through regeneration by the Holy Spirit (this is what we call being born-again). When this happens, born-again (forgiven and transformed) believers testify to the world about God's work in their hearts. This is what Dallas Willard says is the essence of being an Evangelical Christian. This then becomes the launching pad for Evangelicals to transform society with their testimony. A vibrant Christian testimony will always transform a society.

"Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 5:15-16

I pray that we will be an Evangelical church that preaches the true Gospel which proclaims our true, raw, condition before God; but boldly declares His forgiveness through the work of His Son- Jesus Christ; and upon receiving this eternally good news, we will testify to all who ask for the reason of our hope.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
1Peter 3:15


Dr. Andrew Corbett

Monday, 21 July 2008


Christianity is the only 'religion' that has a Saviour from sin. All other religions promote the idea that people can earn God's forgiveness for their sins through their own efforts. Christianity is a grace religion. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation from sin. That's why we say that Christianity is not splet- "D O" but rather, "D O N E"- Jesus Christ is not only our Saviour (He has done all the work necessary for salvation), but our Atoning Sacrifice (He is not merely an example). God's grace in our hearts produces a spiritual revolution in our soul. This is called conversion, or being "born again". This is how you can tell whether someone has truly been saved. They live differently. They think differently. They speak differently. They spend differently. They love differently. Their priorities change. Their relationships are purged. All because they have been rescued by Christ for Christ.

But these changes, while commencing immediately, do not fully bloom immediately. They are seeds that must be watered, fed, nurtured and exposed to sunlight and wind in order to reach maturity. This process is guided by the Holy Spirit as He ministers the Word of God through the Body of Christ to the believer. In this sense, our growth in spiritual maturity is a work of grace.

"The process of conformation to Christ," as might more appropriately call it, is constantly supported by grace and otherwise would be impossible. But it is not therefore passive. Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort. In fact, nothing inspires and enhances effort like the experience of grace."
Dallas Willard, "The Great Omission", page 80

In First Timothy 4:7 we are told to "train yourself for godliness". Dallas Willard suggests that the process of God's grace working in our lives is most often achieved through a training process.
"For example, if I find, as most do, that I cannot by direct effort succeed in 'blessing those who curse me' or 'praying without ceasing,' in putting anger aside or not indulging the covetous or lustful eye, then it is my responsibility to find out how I can train myself (always under grace and divine guidance, we must never forget) so that I will be able to do what I cannot do just by trying in the moment of need."
Dallas Willard, "The Great Omission", page 114

Grace empowers work. This is achieved through practice and training. Do you want to be able to forgive others? Train yourself and practice forgiving. Do you want to have more friends? Train yourself to be a friend and practice friendship (not just friendliness). Do you want to be more generous? Train yourself and practice. Do you want to pray more? Train and practice. If it all seems too hard, remember that your ability to train and practice is made possible by the grace of God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
Titus 2:11-12

The Bible says that only those Christians who have laboured, trained, and practiced godliness can enjoy the solid food reserved for the spiritually mature-
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:14

The goal of Christ for us is to make us like Him. For this goal to be achieved He gives us His grace which enables us to practice those things that will make us more like Jesus. This requires work and training. But its work and training made possible only by the grace of God. As a church being shaped by the grace of God we can expect that our workload will increase- but we can ask God to train us and help us to carry out this work.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

Andrew Corbett
Discover What The Book of Revelation Means!

Saturday, 5 July 2008


What can we expect in the days to come for our churches? We can probably expect "more". More in the sense that what we are experiencing now, we will experience more of into the future. We can expect an increasing number of people accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord. We are currently seeing people who are broken turn to Christ and find healing and wholeness. By God's grace, we are helping to strengthen marriages. We can expect more of this into the near future. But we can also expect more of less positive things as well.

1Peter 5:8 ¶ Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.

Peter tells us that we can expect our spiritual enemy to try and attack us. He warns believers to be careful, or, on their guard. This means that it is not inevitable that we will be victims of the Devil. We can guard ourselves against his attacks. As our churches grow we can expect that the Devil will try to find some victim candidates from among our number. But we shouldn't assume that every difficulty we face will be a direct attack of the Devil. Churches face difficulties because-

  • 1. We live in a fallen world which is riddled with sin and sickness

  • 2. Church growth built upon young and new Christians always presents challenges (note the principle of Proverbs 14:4)

  • 3. Knowledge and Competence Challenges

  • We could perhaps apply Peter's fatherly warning to the church in each of these three areas. The enemy can distract us from Jesus on the Throne by whispering into our ears that all the affects of the fallen world, which we are all ocassionally afflicted by, is his doing- as if he, the Devil, has some ability to random afflict people. As we grow we can expect more injuries, sickness, pain and suffering- because this is the world in which we live! It is not necessarily the Devil's doing. We should never abandon God just because these inevitable things happen. Neither should we give up on God's ability to heal. But some churches who begin to experience growth become distracted by the affects of the fallen world. May God help us to keep our gaze on Him in the midst of afflictions.

    Peter tells us to be on guard; to be careful. Consider each of these areas where difficulties can arise for a church and ponder how our church will experience these things as we grow. For some people, any growth that brings more difficulties is just not worth it. But God thinks it is. He wants us to grow. He wants us to "overcome" difficulties. Would you please pray for our churches to be growing, overcoming, churches? Would you please pray that when we experience difficulties we will have the grace to hold onto Christ? Would you please pray that we will do all we need to in order to minimise or even prevent the consequences of living in a fallen world? Would you please pray that we will have caring and understanding partners in our churches who will patiently help any new or young Christian in their walk with Christ? And, would you pray that we will grow in our knowledge and competence to help and care for people so that they grow in the walk with Christ?

    Finally, would you pray that we continue to grow the Kingdom of Christ and that we are not easily disuaded from serving the Lord in the churches that He has placed us in?

    Andrew Corbett