Saturday, 28 February 2009

Is Israel God's Unfinished Business?

It's become a multi-billion dollar industry. There's a lot at stake! God help anyone who dares challenge this belief. It is a belief that is promoted by powerful Washington lobbyists, very prominent journalists, the most powerful TV preachers. Anyone who even questions this program is labelled as an Anti-Semitist or worst still- a heretic. It comes in various forms (or extremes) but nearly all of its proponents deride their opponents as promoting "Replacement" Theology. But what if those who promote the preeminence of Israel and the validity of the Old Covenant being "their" covenant for today are actually the true promoters of "Replacement" theology? Is Israel really God's unfinished business? Read full article

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Of First Importance

Andrew Corbett in Charlotte, North Carolina
During my recent ministry trip to the USA I was once again impressed at how diverse the Body of Christ is. Not only are there cultural influences of a nation upon a local church there are also several other factors that define why certain churches do what they do the way they do it. In just under three weeks I tasted many distinct church cultures that led some churches to open their service with a countdown clock, another to open with a drum solo, another to blow the shoffar, and another to commence two hours of singing before the preaching of the Word. Some of these churches believed they were in dark, evil, perrilous times, other churches believed they were in increasingly glorious days where the best of what God has for them is yet to come. The worship styles were different. The venues were different. The leadership structures were different. The way (and the why) they decorated was different. But they all had one thing in common: they were committed to the Gospel of First Importance. They each affirmed the absolute necessity of preaching Christ as Saviour to a world of sinners through the sharing of God's Scriptures. They each affirmed that a relationship with God was only possible because of the finished work of Christ. They each affirmed that a believer came into fellowship directly with God without the need for any other Priest other than Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we can look at churches that do things differently to the way we do things or believe what we consider to be quirky things and either withdraw from them or worst still, slander them. I think we need to understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he described the things of "first importance" in First Corinthians 15:3. There are certain non-negotiable Gospel truths revealed in the context of Paul's statements that we should be able to distinguish from what we might call secondary issues. These include-
  • The exclusive saving work of Christ
  • The dire need of all mankind for a Saviour
  • The unique authority of the Scriptures
  • The centrality of the church to the plan of God in God places every believer into fellowship (and work)
    1Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

    The basis of our Christian fellowship is grounded in the Gospel of First Importance and each of its implications about Christ, us, God, the Scriptures and the communion of the Body of Christ. As our church fellowship grows there will be people who bring to our church opinions, ideas, and even beliefs that are really secondary issues not First Importance Issues. And when it comes to Secondary Issues we should be mature enough to disagree without dividing. I think this is something that God Himself has to model when He chooses to have fellowship with you and me. It is my prayer that we can in some way reflect the heart of our Father and model this kind of grace to each other and those the Lord adds to our church family.

    Rom. 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

  • Friday, 13 February 2009

    For God's GLory

    Last Sunday I preached in Saint Leonard, Maryland. We had a great time. Plenty of laughter. Lots of warmth. But best of all... several people giving their lives to Christ for the first time! Praise God. I shared with the church something I believed the Lord laid on my heart from the Epistle to the Romans. I took the last few verses and showed how this thought about living for the glory of God was the theme and thread of the Book of Romans. Everything we do should be for God's glory. When we don't measure up we have "fallen short of God's glory". Before we do anything, we should make sure that we are doing it for God's glory- no matter how trivial or mundane. Living this way means that we don't separate "spiritual" activities from "secular" activities, rather we view all of our lives as opportunities for God to be glorified.
    Rom. 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

    But it also means that when it's hard to glorify God we must depend on Him to help us. By asking God for the faith to live the way we should, we are ultimately giving Him glory. When we find it hard to love, hard to forgive, hard to be prayerful, hard to be holy, hard to be pure, hard to be passionate- all of the 27 things listed in Romans 12:9-21. . . we need God's help. And when we acknowledge that it is God who is strengthening us, He gets the glory.
    Rom. 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.


    Tuesday, 10 February 2009

    Preaching in America

    Ps Shawn Holcomb introducing me to his church by showing them where Legana, Tasmania, Australia is on Google-Earth~

    Preparing to minister at the great Crossroad Christian Church in St Leonard, Maryland-

    Preaching Sunday February 8th at Crossroad Christian Church, St Leonard, Calvert County, Maryland, USA-

    Praise God for this church! They were extremely warm and receptive and showed me great hospitality. We were blessed this morning with 7 first time commitments to Christ.

    I covet your prayer for the remainder of this trip which will be to New York for some mid-week meetings, then over to Charlotte, North Carolina. I thank God for my good friend Ps Mike Berry who is organising my trip and looking after me wonderfully well.

    Friday, 6 February 2009

    Of Lasting Value

    Andrew Corbett with Peter Marshall Jnr.
    I'm writing from the United States. When I was Australia we were aware of the looming economic crisis. But here, it seems that everytime I look at a newspaper, hear a radio station or turn on the TV, it is not a looming economic crisis for Americans. On my first preaching appointment, a man shared how his bank was trying to foreclose on his mortgage. He shared that he was several payments behind in his mortgage because he lost his job and the Bank had demanded immediate payment or else they would sell the house from under him. As I attended a pastors conference in Virginia, over and over pastors shared how the economic crisis was affecting people in their churches.

    To help curb and perhaps correct the economic crisis, President Obama announced yesterday that he was going to cap the salaries of CEOs and other Executives of Finance Providers (Banks, Lenders, Mortgage Companies) to $500,000 a year. This has sparked an outcry here. Some of these CEOs and Finance Company Executives are on annual salaries of $20,000,000 plus bonuses! Many of these same Executives received company bonuses of millions of dollars while their companies literally lost billions! It seems that more and more Americans are realising why they are in an economic crisis when their business leaders have glorified hyper-avarice!

    American Christian Media Guru, Phil Cooke, notes that many of these executives who have been layed-off from their Wall Street jobs are now looking to enter into Christian ministry and finding it a huge shock-

    2) Non-profits don’t have the cushy perks businesses have. We turn our own lights off, our benefit plans are smaller, and most important - our resources aren’t as big. I know one manager who was so used to having a huge staff, that when he transitioned to a non-profit he quit within a month. He actually had to get his own coffee and open his own mail. Shocked, he couldn’t handle it...4) We work long hours too. But we don’t have the incentive of bonus pay (even overtime), or a car service to take us home after hours.

    Phil Cooke

    What lessons can we learn from what's happening in America? How can we as a church minister to people who will be "victims" of this economic crisis?

    1. Model what Jesus taught in Luke 12:15(And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”)

    2. Demonstrate that we regard our relationship with Christ and His church as our source of significance
    (Romans 15:7)
    3. Avoid debt for unnecessaries and build reserves
    (Romans 13:8)

    4. Show hospitality(Rom. 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.)

    5. Demonstrate trust in God
    (Proverbs 3:5)

    As a church, I hope we can model these 5 points corporately (together) and individually (as individuals and families). We are greatly blessed as a church in that we have worked hard to ensure that we do not have any debt and that we are about to commence a major building program hopefully without debt, and yet we are seeking to advance the Cause of Christ by taking some big steps of faith this year. And in all that we have done and will seek to do, it is our intention that we demonstrate that we aren't placing inappropriate value in stuff, but rather we are placing higher value on the "things" that really matter.

    Luke 9:25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?


    Sunday, 1 February 2009

    in the usa

    I'm currently near Washington DC. The importance of this city both historically and geo-politically probably cannot be overstated.

    Just a little more than a week ago, this whole area was crowded with an estimated 2,000,000 people who had gathered for the inauguration of their new President. I pray that he is a better President than he is a Biblical exegete.

    Annapolis is the capital of Maryland. It is a very historic city. It's initial commercial success was built upon the slave trade.
    Annapolis Dock, Monument to Alex Haley