|1. Arguing for Expository Preaching|
2. Preaching and Pastoral Ministry
3. Preaching and Biblical Theology
Peter Adam, Principal of Ridley College Melbourne, Australia
Articles now at www.beginningwithmoses.org
The Spirit of LifeSome comment on large gatherings being a vision of heaven. I'm not sure that's really the point! However, when God's people gather and have their attention fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, then we do indeed have a glimpse of eternity!
1. Pete Woodcock on Romans 8. No condemnation. This is the song of the Christian. And all Christians have the Spirit. There is no such thing as a Christian without the Holy Spirit. And we should be Spirit-led. What does that mean? The Spirit leads us into battle against sin.
The Spirit of Truth
2. Dick Lucas on the Spirit and the Bible from John 16. This was the first time I'd heard Dick Lucas speak. He is warm, rigorous, careful and applied. In passing he very helpfully reminded us that Jesus isn't speaking to us in John 16, but to the disicples. And what Jesus says gives assurance that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the New Testament through the disciples. We cannot divide the Spirit from the Word. Dick observed that if he were the devil (which he isn't) then he'd "want to disarm the Holy Spirit but taking away his sword... suffocating the breath out of the Spirit". So, there is no separate gospel of the Spirit for the saints (as opposed to a gospel of Christ for sinners), there is no disjunction between Jesus and the apostles teaching: only one gospel. And there is no Christian Spirituality without a commitment to truth.
3. The panel was John Benton, Mark Birkill, David Peterson, Vaughan Roberts and Tim Thornborough. They tackled with clarity and brevity questions about prophecy, tongues and grieving the Spirit. John Benton spoke of his own experiences of the Spirit as a student. He spoke of how he had to search God's word to explain his experience - and concluded it was not the conversion experience of Spirit-baptism, but rather Spirit-filling. Further, he reminded us that not all speak in tongues, whilst saying that he himself does. Vaughan spoke well about prophecy in the local church. He observed that it does happen in small groups at St Ebbes and in their church council. However, he also said that he thinks we should focus on the sure word of God from the Bible in services (not sure I agree entirely). David Peterson was very helpful in speaking about worship in all of life, and also in terms of music. There was also comment on the apparent absence of joy in church music. The answer was mostly culture which I'm not sure really convinces me. Sure people can have "deep joy" but sometimes it needs to overflow doesn't it?
(Seminars ran at the same time as this giving more attention particular questions)
The Spirit of Holiness
4. Richard Coekin on Galatians 5. Very struck again by the reality that living by the Spirit is a battle.... the Spirit leads us into war against our sinful nature. I'm challenged to keep fighting. We were invited to daily delight in God's word... and to have absolute surrender to the will of God.... whilst remembering that there is no total victory over sin now. The sinful nature is condemned, the Holy Spirit would have us remember Christ.
Thank you Marcus for giving us expository exultation at Reading University Christian Union last night."Preaching is not talk, teaching, discussion, but the heralding of a message permeated by a sense of God's holiness and majesty. It can be any topic, but that topic must be taken into the blazing center of the holiness of God in the Word of God."
"Where will the weight of God's glory be felt if not in the preaching of the Word? If not from the man in the pulpit, where? God planned for His Son to be crucified and for hell to be terrible so we would have the clearest witnesses possible to what is at stake when the pastor preaches. What makes preaching seriousness is that the mantle of preaching is soaked in the blood of Jesus and singed in the fire of hell."
"The mission of the church, therefore, is to declare His glory to the nations. Nothing affects preaching more deeply than to be struck almost speechless (almost!) by the passion of God for the glory of God"
" The job of the pastor is to make the glory of God seen so that people are changed."
"The gospel is a message about the glorious God Himself as our final, eternal, all-satisfying treasure"
"The face and tone and life and demeanor, if dull or downcast, betrays the value of the gospel. If you do not value the gospel, you perish, no matter how many right thoughts you think."
We have the excellent newfrontiers Leadership conference and the proctrust Evangelical Ministry Asembly but can the gap be crossed and the circle widened to include more, without diluting the foundations of the gospel?"We are brothers in Christ united in one great cause -- to stand together for the Gospel. We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many churches and among many who claim the name of Christ... We are also brothers united in deep concern for the church and the Gospel. This concern is specifically addressed to certain trends within the church today. We are concerned about the tendency of so many churches to substitute technique for truth, therapy for theology, and management for ministry... that God's glorious purpose for Christ's church is often eclipsed in concern by so many other issues, programs, technologies, and priorities.... [there is] confusion over crucial questions concerning the authority of the Bible, the meaning of the Gospel, and the nature of truth itself... We stand together for the Gospel -- and for a full and gladdening recovery of the Gospel in the church."
Now to turn to the more contraversial evening celebration talks... Contraversial because Biblical teahcing is very counter-cultural. Contraversial because we're more culture-compromised than we realise. Contraversial because it probably didn't cross the cultural divide from middle-america to studentdom enough. Nonetheless there were some vitally important things for us to hear - and we should not let the difficulty of it excuse us from application of these things.Setting our hearts and minds on heavenly things gets firmly rooted into the day to day of relationships in the church community... in marriage, parenting and work. To look to our heavenly marriage to Christ is worked out in our relationships of today. Talk of married life in the student venue might have felt a bit too future-minded for most, but it needs thinking about in advance.
This really struck me - I've always tried to maintain that first and foremost I'm a husband, before I'm a Bible teacher or anything else... It struck me that we really need to view marriage as a high-calling in ministry terms. It is one to pursue. And in our culture men are not encouraged to love like Christ, nor women to submit... but we must stand against that by setting our hearts and minds on Christ.3. Wives submit (This bit was Barbara Hughes)
This is hard teaching to hear in our feminist culture but like teaching to husbands is vital if we are to let the gospel shine in marriage. Less and less people get married today and yet God values it highly. All this talk of marriage is not to play down the difficulty and challenge of it. Nor does it deny the challenges of singleness many face today (I wonder if that would be reduced a bit if we got more of a grasp on Biblical marriage and Biblical manhood...). Life is not simple, its messy - I think Kent and Barbara Hughes presented a very simple rosy picture with much personal testimony. I rejoice at God's work in them, but know that many of our lives are fraught with struggle, mess and difficulty in relationships.3. Children.
"A whole new worldWhen the apostles came to replace Judas among their number this was their task:
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I'm way up here
It's crystal clear
That now I'm in a whole new world with you
Now I'm in a whole new world with you"
Death is dead, love has won,
Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!
"Matthew Henry was once robbed by a highway man. When he got home he listed four things to give thanks for:
1) That he hadn't been robbed before
2) That although they took all he had, it wasn't much
3) That he still had his life
4) That he wasn't the one doing the robbing
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport. General opinion makes out that we live in a world of hatred and greed I don't see that.
Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy but it's always there. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, none of the phone calls from people on board were messages of hate or revenge, they were all messages of love.
lf you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.'
So says Hugh Grant's Prime Minister at the start of the film Love Actually. Is he right? Where do we find love? We want it, but what is love?
Is God love? Certainly people seem to think so. And we like the idea of God being love. No one is offended to hear that God loves them. In fact, rightly or wrongly, it makes us feel good. Whether we believe it, it appeals to us.
Others object. Does God really love us? Unlike Hugh Grant we can't brush greed and hatred and terrorism under the carpet. We see it. We experience it. If God is so loving why hasn't he done something about it!
Others say, Yes I get the idea. But I don't experience it. God seems distant. Isn't God indifferent to his creation? Not concerned for us? How do we really know God's love?
Look with me at 1 John 4v10.
Firstly – “God's love stepped in”
We wonder if God is too distant for love. Too “other”. Too “holy” for us to know love from him? But he isn't remote. God sent his Son into this world. Into this fallen, marred world. Into history. Into his world.
If I want to communicate and relate to you I could send you an email, I could write or phone. But the best expression would be for me to visit you in person.
And God has done that, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it wasn't just a gesture...
Secondly – “God's love saves”
The Son of God came into the world. And we didn't worship him. We didn't revere and celebrate him. We killed him on a Roman Cross. Why?
Was it a tragic mistake? No this was God's plan. He sent his Son into history for this very purpose. Sent to be a “sacrifice of atonement for our sins”. A what?
That needs some explaining! Two things:
We know it from sport – one player takes the place of another... But don't take the illustration too far – this isn't sport. Where then?
Jesus bears God's wrath. The NIV footnote defines the term for us helpfully. It means that Jesus is - “the one who turns aside wrath”.
Jesus takes our place under God's wrath. Wrath due because of our sin. Not petty or rash anger... but righteous anger. Wrath that is exactly what our sin deserves.
It is in the face of his own wrath that God's love is stirred. Love so amazing, so divine that he does not remain distant.
No, he comes into his world to save his people from his wrath. Opening the way for us to come to eternal life with himself. Eternity seeing and savouring the Son.
What is love? Love is not firstly our love for one another. Nor is it our love for God. We must turn away from ourselves and look to God's love sending his son to bear his wrath in our place.
What do we do with this?
"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. "We need the positive and negative of this:
"Science can't answer the why of the existing of the universe... that would require the mind of God"You can't reason the why of the universe. It has to be revealed by God. And it is. Everything is by Jesus and for Jesus. Everything to bring honour to his name... and only sustained by him. There are many greats... but no one compares to Jesus. Jesus the Only. Worship him, don't drift from him.
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God