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Showing posts from November, 2011

Follow ActionOverseas for Prayer Updates

ActionOverseas, the missionary arm of the UK Apostolic Church, now has a Facebook page for prayer updates about our missionary work. So, if you'd like to hear the latest Apostolic overseas mission prayer requests, then 'like' it. Apparently they're also on Twitter, so you can follow @ActionOverseas.

Desire Spiritual Gifts (Part 2)

Yesterday we looked at two important reasons why we should desire spiritual gifts (namely, because the gifts of the Spirit point to the Lordship of Christ , and because the gifts bear witness to the Gospel ). Today, let's have a look at a third reason to earnestly desire the gifts. The gifts of the Holy Spirit build up believers . The sixth Tenet of the Apostolic Church states that we believe in ' The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Church, which is the body of Christ. ' We don't just believe in the gifts, but we also believe that they've been given for a specific purpose; and that purpose is the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Body of Christ. Where does the Bible teach this? Well, in 1 Cor. 14:3 these three purposes are specifically attached to the gift of prophecy. However, prophecy is clearly not the only gift given for our edification: 1 Cor. 14:26 says that everything that's done in a church s

Desire Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to ' desire spiritual gifts .' It's an imperative, a command. And if we're commanded to desire these gifts of the Holy Spirit, that means they're necessary. But, why do we need the gifts? Well, firstly, the gifts of the Holy Spirit point to the Lordship of Christ . We can see this in 1 Cor. 12:1-3. Anyone who speaks by the Spirit of God will demonstrate the Lordship of Christ. How? The content of the gift highlights Christ's Lordship. The words that are spoken in prophecy will point to Jesus as Lord. But, not only does the content of the gift highlight Christ's Lordship, but the very manifestation of the gift itself points to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is He who is in control of the gifts, not us. We can't decide that there should be a gift in operation, only the Lord of the Church can. We don't determine the content of a spiritual gift, only Christ does through His Holy Spirit. (N.B. 1 Cor. 12:4-6 point

Reforming the "Spirit Filled" Church (Part 3): Authentic Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual warfare is real. The only problem is sometimes the ideas people have about spiritual warfare aren't real. J. Lee Grady's 3rd and 4th reforms for the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements both speak about people's perceptions of spiritual warfare. 3. It’s time for personal responsibility. We charismatics must stop blaming everything on demons. People are usually the problem. 4. Stop playing games. Spiritual warfare is a reality, but we are not going to win the world to Jesus just by shouting at demonic principalities. We must pray, preach and persevere to see ultimate victory.

Don't Outsource Your Discipleship

'There is a big difference between saying that pastors discharge an essential ministry by making us disciples and quite another to say that they are vicarious disciples, studying, praying, meditating, and witnessing in our place. We can easily assume that we have discharged our duty by paying "church workers" to be disciples for us.' Michael Horton, The Gospel Commission: Recovering God's Strategy for Making Disciples (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), p.19

Jesus is coming again! (Part 2)

Yesterday we were looking the importance of Christ's return and learning a few things about it from Revelation 19:11-16. We saw that 1. Jesus is coming as King , and 2. Jesus is coming as God . Let's look at two more things about His return from these verses today. 3. Jesus is coming as Judge. Revelation 19:11 tells us that ' in righteousness He judges and makes war ' (cf. 2 Tim. 4:1). First He pronounces the just verdict, then He goes to war. But there's no need to worry; the outcome of this war is certain. The victory has already been assured by the Cross. And how does He wage this war of judgement? With ' a sharp sword ' (Rev. 19:15). Does this mean He's going to hack at His enemies? To answer that, look at where the sword comes from: ' out of His mouth '. The sword with which He wages His war of judgement is what comes out of His mouth; it's His Word. Jesus conquers by the power of His Word!

Jesus is Coming Again!

The return of Christ is a vital part of the Christian faith. It's so important, that's not only people that have spoken about it: in Acts 1:10-11 angels spoke about Jesus' return. And when the angels spoke, they taught that Christ would return suddenly, visibly, personally and bodily. But the fact that Christ would return wasn't some new revelation that the angels were bringing, for Jesus Himself had spoken of it (John 14:3), as had the Old Testament prophets. So let's have a brief look at this cardinal doctrine. Revelation 19:11-16 describes Jesus' return to the earth, and in these verses we can learn four very important things about how Jesus is coming back.

Reforming the "Spirit Filled" Church (Part 2): Back to the Bible

Pentecostals love the Bible. In a typical Pentecostal church you'll see many well-worn and well-marked up Bibles. We place emphasis on knowing the Scriptures, giving our children plenty of memory verses to learn and often singing songs that are simply direct quotations of Scripture. Pentecostals love the Bible. Yet, it seems, sometimes our love of the Bible causes us to take it for granted. Sometimes there's very little Scripture read in our services. Sometimes those well-worn Bibles are carried to church, but don't need to be opened. Sometimes adults seem to think that all the memory verse learning was finished at the age of 11 when you left Sunday school. That brings us J. Lee Grady's second reform proposal for the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement:

The Wonderful Exchange

This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, becoming Son of man with us, he has made us sons of God with him; that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself (which oppressed us), he has clothed us with his righteousness. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion , iv.xvii.2

Of Royals, Reformers, and Romans (Or Remember, Remember the Fifth of November!)

Don't worry, this post isn't actually about the finer points of the British constitution. Nearly 500 years ago Luther, Bucer, Calvin, et al . wanted to reform the church. Nowadays Messrs Cameron , Harper , Key , et al. (not to forget Miss Gillard ) want to reform the monarchy. Last week the Commonwealth heads of government met (along with Her Majesty the Queen) in Australia, a realm with both a female monarch and a female Prime Minister. In fact, even the Governor-General of Australia (the Queen's representative in the realm) is a woman. So perhaps it was fitting that Australia be the place where the Commonwealth Realms agreed to introduce (and coordinate) legislation to change the royal succession so that daughters are treated in the same way as sons. Yet, that wasn't the only change they agreed to the royal succession. The other change the Prime Ministers agreed was to remove the ban on a monarch married to a Roman Catholic. A few years ago Autumn Kelly co

Reforming the "Spirit Filled" Church (Part 1b): A bit more on Reforming our Theology

Well, this will do wonders for my PhD motivation! Last year a friend and I went to an academic theological conference. It was an academic event held in a secular university, yet nearly everyone there was a Pentecostal or Charismatic (as the conference was to do with Pentecostal & Charismatic Studies). It's the only time I've ever seen the laying on of hands and prayer for healing during a session of an academic conference! Yesterday we looked at how J. Lee Grady points to the need to reform our theology when it comes to the Holy Spirit. But today I want to take that reform further than Grady's suggestion. And that's what brings me back to the academic conference. Now, let me just say that it was a conference I very much enjoyed. My thinking was stimulated. I had refreshing discussions with serious Pentecostal theologians from all over the world. In one day I talked about the liturgy over breakfast with a Singaporean theologian, discussed patristic Trinitari

Another Song for the Lord's Supper

As a postscript to last week's post on songs for communion , here's one more. Zac Hicks has taken a communion hymn written by Joseph Hart in the 1750s and transformed it into a contemporary worship song on his new album, Without Our Aid . It's a great album, the aim of which 'is to combine the energy and vitality of the modern worship sound (made most popular by groups like Passion and Hillsong), with the depth, theology, and historical connectedness of Christian hymnody across time.' Lord I Believe is a communion hymn that includes both our feeding on Christ and the meaning of the Cross. Here are the last two verses: I eat the bread and drink the wine, But, O, my soul wants more than sign! I faint unless I feed on Thee, And drink the blood as shed for me. For sinners, Lord, Thou cam’st to bleed, And I’m a sinner vile, indeed. Lord, I believe Thy grace is free. O magnify that grace in me. The MP3 is available for free from Justin Taylor&#

Reforming the "Spirit Filled Church"(Part 1): Reforming our Theology

Martin Luther wasn't able to blog. Earlier this week I recommended J. Lee Grady's article ' It's (Past) Time for a Charismatic Reformation ' from Charisma . If you're Pentecostal or Charismatic and haven't read Grady's article yet, then please do: he's saying things that need to be said. In Grady's own words: 'I am no Luther, but I’ve grown increasingly aware that the so-called “Spirit-filled” church of today struggles with many of the same things the Catholic church faced in the 1500s. We don’t have “indulgences”—we have telethons. We don’t have popes—we have super-apostles. We don’t support an untouchable priesthood—we throw our money at celebrity evangelists who own fleets of private jets. In honor of Reformation Day, I’m offering my own list of needed reforms in our movement. And since I can’t hammer these on the Wittenberg door, I’ll post them online. Feel free to nail them everywhere.' Like Luther, I'm sure Grady isn&

Justification & the Possibility of Falling from Grace

Falling from grace is more serious! Justification is the doctrine ‘upon which the Church stands or falls.’  So we can't allow ourselves to compromise our doctrine of justification in order to over emphasise another doctrine.  Unfortunately, this is sometimes what happens with the doctrine of the possibility of falling from grace. Occasionally this doctrine is overemphasised in a way which distorts the Bible’s teaching on the subject and which does damage to the doctrine of justification.  This can happen when it is taught that sin causes believers to lose their salvation.  The biblical teaching is that believers are simil iustus et peccator (justified and sinful at the same time); in the words of 1 John 1:8, ‘if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’  Thus believers sin and will continue to sin throughout their earthly lives.  Our continuance in a state of having been justified does not depend on us or our works , but rather on Chri

Reformation Day Round-up

494 years ago yesterday, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg. He had no idea at the time, but that was to be the beginning of something big. Luther's announcement of a debate ended up sparking the Reformation, which is why the 31st October is remembered as Reformation Day. Rather than retell the story yesterday, I thought I'd wait until today and point you in the direction of some of the good things that have been written elsewhere to mark Reformation Day this year (with a few comments thrown in along the way). The Reformation isn't just history. It's lessons still need to be applied today. And for three good ways to apply some lessons of the Reformation today, have a look at  3 Ways to make the Reformers proud  (Clint Archer,  The Cripplegate). Here's a quick summary (but this is just to make you want to read the original!):- 1. Read more Bible than blogs! After all, the Reformation was all about getting back to the