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Showing posts from June, 2012

What is Apostleship? Of Revelation & Authority and where they come from

'Just what is an apostle?' is a question that often gets asked but seldom gets answered clearly, but two words are often linked to apostles when an explanation is given: revelation and authority. That's all very well, but what exactly do we mean by linking apostles with revelation and authority? What sort of revelation and authority are we talking about?

Authority always has a source. A judge gets his authority from the Crown and the law. His authority is not his own, but an authority which he holds on behalf of the Crown. Parents, on the other hand, have authority due to who they are: parents. Theirs is not a delegated authority, but belongs inherently to them. And they can even delegate a measure of that authority to the babysitter.

So what sort of authority does an apostle have? Is it a derived authority (like the judge) or an inherent authority (like the parents)? It has to be a derived authority; for the apostle is not Head of the Church, Christ is. As the only Head o…

High Church Pentecostal?: On Worship, Communion and the Church

I have been accused of many things in my time, but the most puzzling of all was when someone suggested I was 'a bit high church'. It was after a Good Friday service, to which people had come from many of the nearby assemblies. I wasn't sure how to take it, as the service wasn't being criticised; on the contrary, the reason why the person was speaking to me was to tell me that they'd been blessed and how they'd encountered God in the breaking of bread 'even if it was a bit high church'.

So what was with the 'high church'  bit? I wasn't vested in alb and stole. (I wasn't even wearing a tie!) There were no candles on the altar (for, as a good Apostolic, there wasn't even a hint of an altar, just a simple wooden Communion Table). I wasn't assisted at the Table by deacon and sub-deacon. There was no incense, and no one genuflected. So, by any normal definition of 'high church', it was not a high church service. In fact, it wa…

What's so big about the Trinity? (Hint: Everything!)

I have a friend who, by his own admission, loves to wind up theologians. His latest method is to suddenly interject questions into conversations over meals regarding the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity. Even though I had been forewarned by others of his trinitarian antics, it still produced the desired effect when he tried it on me: at the end of a very long day and very large meal he had me springing to life, jumping out of my chair and bursting forth into very quick, very Northern Irish, irate defences of the cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith.

Now, I know my friend doesn't really disbelieve in the doctrine of the Trinity, but he did make one very pertinent point: what difference would it make to a lot of our ministries/lives if we didn't believe that God was triune? Well, let me tell you the answer: Everything.

Now, it's true that a lot of people in a lot of churches act as if the Trinity isn't really all that important. In comparison to the worship…

'Is that a thing?': On Teachers in the Body of Christ

The other day I was talking to someone about the calls made by Council this year. Apostles, pastors and evangelists all seemed straightforward enough, but when I mentioned that a teacher had been called, the response was the question: 'Is that a thing?'

Well, yes, that is a thing. So, for all of you who had the same question lurking in the back of your minds, here's why it is a thing.

For a start, there's Ephesians 4:11, the favourite Apostolic verse for pointing out the validity of apostles and prophets for today: 'And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.' Christ hasn't only given apostles and pastors to His Church, but apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Now, admittedly, some exegetes  have interpreted Eph. 4:11 to teach only four ministries, instead of five, combining the roles of pastor and teacher (notice how there's no 'some' in front of 'teachers')…

What's James 3:1 got to do with it?

I've been doing a decent amount of teaching of late. Not only in the local assembly, where I've been teaching on John's gospel, the Lord's Prayer, and the book of Esther, but also further afield: yesterday it was Christology,  recently Saturdays on Soteriology and Ecclesiology, and I've been spending today getting things ready for an upcoming seminar on the theology of prayer. No one seems too bothered about that. But then there came a call from Council, and all of sudden people kept giving me James 3:1: 'My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgement.'

Now, I'm glad about how seriously people around me take Scriptures like this. My question, however, is why didn't anyone give me this verse before? Why does James 3:1 suddenly kick in in our thinking after someone has been recognised as a teacher, but not beforehand, when they're doing a lot of teaching without the recognition of that call?

Y…

Jesus Ascended: Part 5 (Jesus Prepares)

All week we've been looking at the Ascension of Christ and seeing some its implications beyond merely a change of location. And today we've come to the fifth and final post in the series. So far we've seen that, as a result of His ascension, Jesus arrives, Jesus receives, Jesus gives and Jesus ministers. So what is the fifth and final point?, I hear you ask. Well, here goes:

5. Jesus Prepares

Jesus had already spoken to His disciples about the ascension even before He was crucified. And this was one of the things He had told them.
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3) Jesus told them He was going to prepare a place for them. For whom? For His disciples, for those who believe in Him. So that means for us who believe today as well. Jesus has gone to prepare a pla…