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Showing posts from May, 2012

Jesus Ascended: Part 4 (Jesus Ministers)

(Same series, different picture. The same picture cropping up again and again was making the blog look a bit boring, plus I've got a slight obsession with Instagram at the moment, combined with one last day of blue skies here in Leeds. Hence, voila.) Now, leaving the aesthetics aside and moving on to the theology, we've been looking at Christ's Ascension and seeing that it's about a lot more than simply a change of location. As a result of His Ascension, we've seen that Jesus arrives , that Jesus receives , and that Jesus gives . And today we're going to look at how, because of His Ascension, Jesus ministers. 3. Jesus Ministers Why am I using a vague term like ministers? Because there are a few different ways in which Jesus ministers to His people as a result of the Ascension. The book of Hebrews highlights two particular ministries of the ascended Christ. (i) Compassion Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens,

Meanwhile, Elsewhere (30/5)

Honour the Vanilla Men  - Carl Trueman "Lloyd-Jones put it pungently in Preaching and Preachers (page 172): '[I]f a Christian man, however able and learned and knowledgeable he may be, is not ready to sit down and listen to the man whom God has called, and appointed, and sent to perform this task, with joy and with keen anticipation, I take leave to query whether that man is a Christian at all.'" The Top 5 Things Introverts Dread About Church  - Chelsey Doring "And has anyone considered what that is like for people who have never stepped foot in that church, or any church at all? I’ve been in church my entire life, and this entire process ties knots in my stomach. I understand the rationale behind it (we want to be a friendly, welcoming community), but isn’t this accomplished in a less forced manner before and after the service, over donuts and coffee?" The Curious Case of the Unnamed Prophet  - Michael McKinley "What's the moral of the s

Jesus Ascended: Part 3 (Jesus Gives)

We've been looking of late at the significance of the Ascension of Christ, and already we've seen that Jesus Arrives and Jesus Receives . But today let's have a look at how, not only does He receive as a result of the Ascension, but He also gives. 3. Jesus Gives What does the Ascension have to do with giving? What does Jesus give as a result of His Ascension? The Bible answers these questions in two ways, because there are two distinct things which Jesus gives as a result of the Ascension. (i) Jesus Gives the Holy Spirit Ten days after His Ascension, Jesus baptised His disciples in the Holy Spirit. First He ascended, then He poured out the Spirit. And this was no mere coincidence. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter explained that the events of that day were a consequence of the Ascension: ' Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.' (Acts

Whitsun 2012

Sunday was Whit Sunday, the day when we remember the fulfilment of Pentecost when Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on the disciples and brought the Church into being. Perhaps it's because we're Pentecostals, but Pentecost is one of the high points of our church calendar. (And that's not really a new thing that came with Pentecostalism: historically the three major festivals of the Christian church have always been Christmas, Easter and Whitsun. And even the UK parliament has a Whitsun recess.) In fact, Whitsun is such an important occasion in the Christian year that it's one of only 4 times in the year that the BBC shows a full church service on national television (and more on that later). In Leeds we celebrated Whitsun with some visitors. Ps Dom Bird and Scott Jones from Sunnyhill Church (the Poole assembly of the Apostolic Church) joined us for the day, and, at the Breaking of Bread, Dom preached powerfully about the radical nature of God's grace. In the

Jesus Ascended: Part 2 (Jesus Receives)

We're having a look over the course of a few posts at five implications of Christ's Ascension. On Saturday we saw that, at His Ascension, Jesus not only left the earth, but He arrived in heaven, and how that's about so much more than simply a change of location. Today we're going to have a look at the second big implication of the Ascension: 2. Jesus Receives Philippians 2 tells us of Christ's humiliation (incarnation, earthly life, death and burial) and exaltation (resurrection, ascension and session). Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father . (Philippians 2:9-11) Here we see that Jesus has been highly exalted because of His death for us on the Cross (note the word ' therefore ' and

Jesus Ascended (Part 1: Jesus Arrives)

Ascension Day was 9 days ago. (I was away at May Council at the time, otherwise I'd have written something about it then.) I know it was 9 days ago, because tomorrow is Whitsun (Pentecost), which always falls 10 days after Ascension Day (which is 40 days after Easter Sunday). But this post isn't about mathematics or calculating feast days, but about the Ascension itself. Jesus' Ascension is about much more than simply a change of location, so, over the course of a few posts, let's look briefly at 5 implications of the Ascension. 1) Jesus Arrives The Ascension isn't just about Jesus leaving the earth, but also about Him arriving in heaven. The two aren't the same thing. Leaving the earth is a change of location, but arriving in heaven is much more than just that, for Hebrews 9:24 tells us that Jesus arrived in heaven, ' now to appear in the presence of God for us '. That means that not only did He live, die and rise for us , but He has also asce

What is Grace?

‘God’s free and unmerited favour, shown to sinners through the atoning death of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ .’  [1] ‘God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment. ’  [2]          ‘the active communication of divine blessings by the inworking of the Holy Spirit, out of the fulness of Him who is “full of grace and truth”’ .  [3] [1] J.B. Clyne, Asked and Answered: A Catechism of Apostolic Principles , 22 [2] Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine , p.485 [3] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology , p.427

His Righteousness My Righteousness

‘He has made His righteousness my righteousness, and my sin His sin. If He has made my sin to be His sin, then I do not have it and I am free. If He has made His righteousness my righteousness, then I am righteous now with the same righteousness as He. My sin cannot devour Him, but it is engulfed in the unfathomable depths of His righteousness for He Himself is God who is blessed forever.’ Martin Luther 

Meanwhile, Elsewhere (12/5)

Why Bible Study Doesn't Transform Us  - Jen Wilkin 'Much of what passes for Bible study in Christian bookstores and church resource libraries just isn't: while it may educate us on a doctrine or a topic, it does little to further our Bible literacy. And left to our own devices, we pursue a host of unsavory (and un-transformative) self-constructed approaches to "spending time in the Word." Here are several that I encounter on a regular basis.' The "Charismatic-Missional" Tension  - Andrew Wilson 'I’m not persuaded that the superficial analysis - that is, that being charismatic is entirely about encouraging spiritual gifts in meetings, and being missional means banning them - is accurate. I think the issues can be more subtle, and less explicitly biblical, than that. So here are a few areas where, in my experience, some of us can feel a tension between being fully charismatic and being fully missional.' What Augustine’s Baptism Can Teac

2 Passages, 4 Points (on Election)

When Ephesians 1 enumerates the spiritual blessings with which we are blessed in Christ, it starts off with our election: ‘He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace’ (Eph. 1:4-6). Here we learn that:  Election is something that God did before creation.   In Election we are chosen ‘in Christ’.   Election has a goal – we are to be holy, we are to be adopted as sons of God.   The reason for election is the good pleasure of God’s will.  This shows us that it is only the goal or result of election which will be seen in us. Both the timing of election and the reason for our election are outside of us. Being elected before creation means that we didn’t exist to do anything to get elected, and this is further clarified by the fact that the only reason state

The Biblical Pattern vs. Pragmatism

The Eternal Purpose is God’s purpose for His Church. He planned it and He has accomplished it in Christ. So if it's God’s purpose, then that means it's for Him to decide how it's to be outworked. Therefore it's God who directs us how His Eternal Purpose is to be fulfilled. How does God show us how His purpose is to be outworked? First and foremost, in His Written Word: the Bible. The 8th Tenet of the Apostolic Church states that we believe in ‘the Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.’ This authority of Scripture isn’t limited in any way; the Bible is authoritative on whatever subject it speaks. This includes when it speaks on the nature, mission and structure of the Church. This is what we’ve always aspired to: for our practice, and not only our preaching, to be as biblical as possible. Our desire to follow the biblical pattern for the life and mission of the Church is, of course, rooted in our strong commitment to the authority of God’s Word,

A Slippery Slope?: Theological Mediocrity, Pragmatism & Liberalism

I'm not sure if it's the pastor in me or the theologian, but whichever it is, a pragmatic mindset in church life annoys me. I want people to know why they're doing what they're doing, not just to be doing it because 1) that's the way it's done, and has been done since time immemorial (obviously!), 2) that's what works (obviously!), or 3) that's the latest church growth fad (obviously!). (I'm sure the 'obviously!' part of each answer is never verbally expressed, but it always comes across in the strange look on people's faces, which could equally be translated 'why on earth would you ask why we're doing this?'.) I suppose, by and large, we all do things every day without thinking too much about why, but, especially when it comes to the life of the church, I want to know, and I want people to know, the reasons for what we do. And, in church life, those reasons are often theological (and probably more often than we usually rea

The Doctrine of Unconditional Election in the Apostolic Church

There's a somewhat enduring myth that goes about claiming that Pentecostals are all Armininans. But it just isn't true. Now, I'm not claiming that Pentecostals are all Calvinists either (as that is very clearly not the case). But looking at the historical evidence, many people would probably be quite surprised.  Here's an excerpt from a prophecy given by one of the key leaders in the early years of the Apostolic Church and printed in the official magazine, Riches of Grace (the doctrinal mouthpiece of the movement).

How An Ungodly King Points Us to Jesus

Last week I arrived at a Bible study group to be told (on the spot as the meeting began),  'Pastor, we're going to study Esther.' Normally when it comes to a Bible study, I like a bit of time to prepare: do the exegesis, think of some questions that will get to the point of the passage, that sort of thing. But, as the meeting was already beginning, I was left armed with only 3 things: 1) The knowledge that ' All Scripture ... is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ' (2 Tim. 3:16), even the bits about wicked pagan kings; 2) Confidence that when the Bible says that Jesus ' expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself '(Luke 24:27), it really does mean ' all the Scriptures '; and 3) a prayer for the help and illumination of the Holy Spirit. And so commenced a study of Esther 1! Zooming in on the aforementioned confidence in Luke 24:27, how on earth does a chapter about a P

Meanwhile, Elsewhere (1/5)

Was Early Church Worship Reserved and Stoic?  - Zac Hicks 'So what about those arguments about "historic Christian worship?" Perhaps when we look to post-Reformational Anglican, Lutheran, or Presbyterian worship we see a more stoic model of corporate worship expression. But if we go back earlier...much earlier...we see a different picture which may surprise us. If, in our minds, we picture the early church at worship in homes and church buildings engaging in liturgy in formal, reverential postures with solemn faces and expression-less bodies, our picture is wrong.' Twystematics  - ' The whole of Christian doctrine, 140 characters at a time. ' Steve Holmes, baptist minister, senior lecturer in theology at the University of St Andrews and one of the editors of the International Journal of Systematic Theology , is attempting to tweet a systematic theology. The site hosts the loci he's completed so far, as well as some information about the project. H

Subscribing by RSS

A few readers have asked me recently about subscribing by RSS feed. That should now be possible and you'll see the option at the right hand side of the screen. But, if by any chance you had already subscribed before now (the option was there briefly last week), I think that you'll have to resubscribe now for future posts after this one, due to a technical change. (The feed can now be found at:  ). If you've subscribed by email, that shouldn't be affected at all. Sorry about that. Hopefully it will all work smoothly from now on.