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Showing posts from November, 2013

Moses, Eternal Life & the Old Testament Christians (Yes, Christians!)

Despite Moses’ greatness, he wasn’t separate from the people of Israel. Although he led them, he was one of them. Moses was an Israelite. Moses was an heir of the covenant the LORD had made with Abraham. Although God spoke His law and covenant through Moses, it wasn’t Moses’ word to the other Israelites, but God’s Word to them all, including Moses.  Why am I making this point? Because I want us to realise that Moses wasn’t some sort of super-saint who had a different sort of salvation to everyone else in Israel. Moses’ salvation was the exact same salvation as the salvation of all who believed in believing Israel. Moses was saved in the same way as all who believed in Israel. And that’s important because it helps us see that all who believed in Old Testament Israel were Christians – their salvation was found in Christ alone and received by faith in Christ alone. What?! How did I suddenly leap from Moses and the other believing Israelites sharing in the same salvation to sayi

Abraham Believed in Jesus

A few months ago I was sitting late one night deep in theological discussion with another pastor (which, believe it or not, is a rarity for me). Somehow we had gotten from the outright heresy of Oneness theology (i.e. denying the Trinity) to election and the nature of faith, and then from that onto the question of the unevangelised. (I’m convinced that the only response to the question of the unevangelised is to evangelise – to preach Christ to them.) Now my friend and I have our differences, but we’re both conservative evangelical pentecostals. As I was lamenting the arguments of some of a new wave of, shall we say, less conservative Pentecostals who say that explicit faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation, my friend suddenly stopped me and said, ‘But Abraham was saved without explicit faith in Christ.’ Needless to say, the night went on much, much later, for while my friend was adamant that Abraham was saved by faith in God, I was adamant that Abraham was saved by fai

Audio from the final preaching training sessions

On Monday we had the final few sessions of our Area pastors and elders preaching training. I've got the audio from the two teaching sessions here. (We had a third, more practical session, as well in the middle, looking at some examples of preaching and evaluating them on the basis of what we've been learning that preaching is - proclaiming Christ biblically.) In our first session on Monday night we were thinking about application in preaching, which took us into the realm of Law-Gospel preaching. And then in the final, short session , we had a look at some of the impact of our theology of preaching on our practice of preaching (in which we met Charles Finney and his unfortunate impact, looked at the role of the Holy Spirit, briefly touched on the Trinitarian nature of preaching, and thought about the relationship between prayer and preaching, as well as a very brief bit on Word and Sacrament.)

We're all either In Adam or In Christ

I've got another video answer for you today. Today's question is about what the Bible says about how everyone is either 'in Adam' or 'in Christ'. It's perhaps not something we speak about as often as we should - for in the Bible this union with Adam and union with Christ undergirds the whole of the doctrines of sin and salvation. So it's definitely a good question. So, in the video we take a quick run through the two major New Testament Scriptures which set out this parallel (Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15) and see that the bad news is that we're all born in Adam, united to him in his sin and guilt, but the good news is that Christ has come as the second Adam. And where the first Adam sinned, Jesus obeyed and through His life, death and resurrection for us He has become the Head of a new humanity and snatches us out of the jaws of death in Adam, uniting us to Himself instead to share in His life and righteousness. If you can't see the vide

Take 5 minutes to read Luther on 'What to look for and Expect in the Gospels'

Here's a must-read for you. It's really short, so it'll only take 5 minutes to read. But oh will those five minutes be worth it! I wish this had been my introduction to reading Martin Luther. It's certainly one of my favourites,  and it's definitely where I'd recommend anyone to start reading Luther. But not only that, it's just so good that even if you have no idea who Martin Luther was or why he matters, you'll enjoy and profit from the five minutes it will take to read "A Brief Instruction On What to Look For and Expect in the Gospels" . And even if the title might make you think he's only talking about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it'll soon become clear that he has a lot more in mind than just four books when he talks about reading the gospels. Here's a wee taster to whet your appetite: You must grasp Christ at a much higher level. Even though this higher level has for a long time been the very best, the preaching o

What is Faith? (Martin Luther's Answer)

Here's Martin Luther's explanation of what faith is, taken from the introduction to the book of Romans in his German Bible translation: Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. ``Faith is not enough,'' they say, ``You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.'' They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, ``I believe.'' That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn't come from this `faith,' either. 

On the Word of the Lord and words from the Lord (Part 2 - Prophecy is an Objective, External Word)

(See Part 1 here  and an Excursus responding to John Piper here .) As with every other form of the three-fold Word, prophecy does not come from us. It does not find its origin in us. It is God’s Word spoken outside of us, to us. And so, if prophecy is the Word of the Lord, that demands a very high view of prophecy. In her early years that, perhaps more than anything else, characterised the Apostolic Church as distinctive. Other Pentecostals frequently criticised our view of prophecy (particularly in connection with the office of the prophet). Why this criticism? To a large degree it was because we saw prophecy as the Word of the Lord coming to us from outside of us; it was because we saw the prophetic Word as an objective, external Word. Increasingly today people speak of prophecy as if it were an internal, subjective word – a word that comes (in some way) from us, and certainly from inside of us. And such a view can only lead to a low view of the gift of prophecy and of

John Piper asks 'What is Prophecy today?': But does he give the right answer?

Yesterday Desiring God posted a short podcast of John Piper talking about his views on prophecy today. In part he’s responding to John Macarthur and the Strange Fire thing by speaking about why he believes prophecy continues in the church today. But he’s also speaking about what he thinks prophecy is, and how his view of prophecy is different from what Macarthur is attacking. So John Piper spends the 8 minutes of his podcast giving 3 reasons why he thinks prophecy is not authoritative, but rather just speaking something that God brings to mind. (Basically he’s using Wayne Grudem’s definition of prophecy.) Well, as I’m in the middle of writing a series about prophecy , and as the next post in the series is about the problem with thinking of prophecy as (in the words of Grudem) ‘speaking merely human words to report something God brings to mind’, I thought this would be a good place to pause and respond to John Piper’s 3 arguments for his view of prophecy. So, here’s a summary of

Irenaeus on the Gifts of the Spirit

‘So also, those who genuinely are his disciples receive grace from him to perform miracles in his name for the welfare of others – all according to the gift which each has received from him [cf. Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:7, 10]. Some exorcize demons, and many who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits come to believe in Christ and join the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions and utter prophecies. Still others heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made well. Moreover, as I have said, even the dead have been raised, and have remained among us for many years. What else should I say? It is not possible to number all the gifts which the Chruch, throughout the whole world, has received freely from God, in the name of Jesus Christ (who was crucified under Pontius Pilate), and which she exercises day by day for the benefit of the nations, without practicing deception toward anyone, and not taking any reward from them for these miracles. A

The Beautiful Trinity

I've got the beginning of a new project for you today: a series of short videos on the Tenets of the Apostolic Church. They're only short, so they're not in depth teaching videos. Rather the idea is more to give a flavour of the theology and an invitation into a worldview. Maybe in the future I'll do something more in-depth - but for the moment, if that's what you're looking for, why not check out the Audio page at the top of the blog where you'll find mp3s of the first six hours of theology sessions I've been teaching in Castleford. There are another six hours to come too. (Don't worry, they aren't too scarily complicated - they're for all ages, with the current group stretching from about 15 to 80.) Anyway, here's today's video on Tenet 1: The Unity of the Godhead and Trinity of Persons therein . And below the video you can find a transcript of roughly what I said. (P.S. You can also find the video on Youtube , where you can sub

On the Word of the Lord and words from the Lord (Part 1 - Prophecy is the Word of the Lord)

I promised the other week when the whole Strange Fire thing was going on that I would write about the nature of prophecy, so here goes. Prophecy is the Word of God. True prophecy, that is. And all prophecy that is given in the church must be tested and weighed to examine if it is indeed true prophecy. Yet true prophecy is the Word of the Lord. But wait! Hang on a minute! If true prophecy is the Word of the Lord, how can we possibly believe in Sola Scriptura? If true prophecy is the Word of God, doesn’t that set up prophecy as an alternative to Scripture in terms of authority? Doesn’t that just open up the way to all sorts of problems of competition between prophecy and Scripture? No, not at all. Prophecy is the Word of the Lord. Yet prophecy is under the authority of Scripture. Prophecy is the Word of God. Yet prophecy is no threat to the supreme authority of the Bible.