Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Mark Driscoll

Question
What makes the best ‘case for God’ to a skeptic or non-believer,
an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?

Answer
Jesus.

Christianity is not first and foremost about a sacred place to pilgrimage to, a philosophical system to ponder, a moral code to live, a religious tradition to honor, or an impersonal god to experience. Rather, Christianity is about a person who claimed to be the only God and said he would prove his unprecedented claim by living without sin, dying for sinners, and conquering death through resurrection.

So, as Christians, our aim is not to convince people of some god in general, but to introduce them to Jesus in particular. And since he created us with the ability to communicate, think, love, and experience, Christians have always valued using every means by which the truth and love of Jesus can be revealed.

Helpful to this end is using the evidence for a personal Creator who handcrafted our world for human life by explaining the principles of intelligent design and such things as the fine-tuning argument and the argument for irreducible complexity. These show that our world is a gift to be enjoyed worshipfully and stewarded wisely.

It is also important that people learn to understand how God speaks uniquely and authoritatively through the Bible. Acts that can aid in this include giving away Bibles (along with helpful Christian books) as gifts for people to simply read, bringing people to church to listen to the Bible preached, inviting people to small groups and classes to ask their questions about the Bible, and recommending good podcasts that would bring the Bible into the daily rhythm of their commutes, exercise workouts, and the like.

On a more practical level, acts of truly selfless compassion–done not for fame, notoriety, or to merit God’s approval, but done out of love for someone–help to reveal a small measure of God’s loving, merciful, compassionate nature. In a world where people use one another far more frequently than they love one another, these kinds of acts can be signs pointing to the God who is altogether good. As one example, in our church filled mainly with young people, we have put much effort into weeping with and serving the hundreds and hundreds of victims of molestation and rape.

Thus, informing the mind about Scripture, explaining the world and our place in it under God, and extending a hand of loving compassion all help to give people a framework by which to interpret their life experiences. They can begin to see that God has made them, wants to speak with them, and desires restored relationship with them, relationship that otherwise remains broken through sin.

While each of these ways of informing someone’s understanding is important, none is alone sufficient. That is because what they leave us with is knowledge about God by revealing what he has done (creation), how he communicates (the Bible), and what he seeks (relationship). But we still do not enjoy that relationship.

This leads us to Jesus.

Christianity has always held, based upon the teachings of Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament and apostles of the New Testament, that in Jesus, the Creator has entered into creation on a rescue mission for the restoring of relationship, in fulfillment of Scripture. For making the three most unprecedented claims in the history of the world–that he was without sin as the only God and the only path to salvation–Jesus was treated without compassion. He was lied about, arrested, falsely tried, beaten, whipped beyond recognition, nailed to a cross, and lifted up for a crowd to mock, jeer, and spit upon. Jesus our Creator then, with bloodied lips, spoke the word “forgive” for his murderers. Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin as the greatest act of compassion the world has or will ever witness; the Creator died for his creation, to make enemies friends.

Three days later, Jesus rose, conquering sin and death and vindicating his claims. Subsequently, if Jesus is dead, so is Christianity. If Jesus is alive, so is Christianity. And so while there is no “best case” for presenting God, there are false ways of presenting God: as anyone in addition to or other than Jesus Christ. As Christians, our goal is never to lie to people by only telling them what they want to hear, or manipulating them to feel what they want to feel. Instead, we want to respect them enough to tell them the truth, and love them enough to do so in a way that is compassionate. We care more about the truth and the love than having the “best case.” We believe that there is power in the truth about Jesus that can unleash new life in people as they agree with the truth about him.

BY MARK DRISCOLL  |  OCTOBER 14, 2009

Mark Driscoll
FOUNDING PASTOR, MARS HILL CHURCH

Among America’s most prominent young Christian voices, Driscoll describes himself as “a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody.”

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“Be ready for responsive evangelism.”

Phillip Jensen (St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney) gives some great advice for all Christians on doing evangelism. This one of the best talks about this topic that I have ever heard. Vimeo lets you download this video if you follow through to the videos original page. The download link is on the bottom right of the page (you will need quick time player.)

As well as being extremely helpful, this could be a great resource to take to your bible study group and discuss how you might take on evangelism as a group. Its a long video (27min) but is real gold. I recommend that you watch it full screen (click the X-arrows next to the time line.) OK, start buffering, grab a coffee and enjoy.

“Make people hungry to know more.”

“Bring God language into everyday conversation.”

“Break out of the construction, that we should not talk about God.”

“We have found that people that go out on the streets and share the gospel are the ones that see their friends converted.”

Extra! Extra! Read all about it, Christ has lived, died and been resurrected! Read the news about what God has done! Listen to this foolishness (to those who are perishing) now.

Nothing that happens inside of you is good news, because the good news is about something that happened outside of you 2000 years ago. …The good news itself is strictly about Jesus of Nazareth; what God did in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.
Michael Horton, from The Front Page God (mp3.) Windows users, right-click ‘save as.’

This one is on my buying list for when I finish my study from Moore Theological. For all 4 audio sermons visit the Gospel-Driven page at Monergism. To order your copy of the new book visit the Gospel Driven Life book page at Monergism

Advice for seekers

Posted: September 9, 2009 by Daniel in apologetics, Christianity

city_landscapeThe great things you propose to do, these works of yours, what comparison do they bear to the blessing which you hope to obtain? I suppose by these works you hope to obtain the favour of God and procure a place in heaven. What is it, then you propose to offer? What could you bring to God? Would you bring him rivers of oil, or the fat of ten thousand animals? Count up all the treasures that lie beneath the surface of the earth; if you brought them all, what would they be to God? If you could pile up all the gold reaching from the depths of the earth to the highest heavens, what would it be to him? How could all this enrich his coffers or buy your salvation? Can he be affected by anything you do to augment the sum of his happiness, or to increase the glory of his kingdom? If he were hungry he would not tell you. “The cattle upon ten thousand hills are mine,” he says (Psa 50:10). Your goodness may please your fellow-creatures, and your charity may make them grateful, but will God owe anything to you for your gifts, or be in debt to you for your influence? Absurd questions! When you have done everything, what will you be but a poor, unworthy, unprofitable servant? You will not have done what you ought, much less will there be any balance in your favour to make atonement for sin, or to purchase for you an inheritance in the realms of light.

C.H. Spurgeon read more…

You can subscribe, assent or intellectually attach to a creed.  But a gospel is a message and it must be told.  We’ve been given a gospel, a message that is intended to be communicated to everyone.  That’s what Jesus said.  Yes we have creeds to govern the truth of that message but the essential thing is the message (truthfully held) and the continued proclamation of that message.  In the end our effectiveness as gospel bearers comes down to two main criteria: BELIEF and VALUE.  Let me explain.

It’s been raining a lot lately so let’s use rain as the analogy.  When it’s cloudy, the weather forecast says it’s going to rain and you start to feel the first few drops on your nose ( I think mine must stick out a way cause that’s where I usually feel it first) you believe it’s going to rain.  Your BELIEF is so strong that it causes you to act according to what you VALUE.  You value the dry clothes on the washing line so you bring them in off the line.  You value the upholstery in your car so you shut the windows.  If you’ve missed the rain for such a long time and it’s breaking the drought then you’ll probably go out in it and let it soak you to the skin (praise God for the rain).  You BELIEVE that it will rain, you BELIEVE that it is raining and you act on that BELIEF according to what you VALUE.

So back to the gospel.  The message that came to you.  God’s revelation of His purposes, His attitude and your only hope.  Let’s be more specific.  God told you that He is going to make it rain.  The storm is brewing.  The rain is judgement, fire and hell.  Devastating rain.  Jesus presents himself as the only fire proof umbrella, the only hope for you or anyone and you say you believe.  I say I believe.  But do I really believe?  Does it make you act on behalf of the things that you value?  Does it make you get out of your comfort zone and bring that message of  judgement and salvation to the sea of souls drowning all around you?  Does it make me pray about my neighbours, my family, my friends, my country, my leaders and ask for opportunities to tell them the message – to pass on the gospel?  Or do my actions prove what I really believe and value.  Does my obsession with what people think of me govern my words, the way I dress, who I hang out with?  Does my addiction to pleasure whether sinful or legitimate make me choose fun over edification and evangelism?  Does my insatiable appetite for comfort, security and ease drive me to spend every waking moment thinking how I might turn this conversation, or this activity or this person into another part of my ever expanding kingdom when really I should be thinking how I might turn all these opportunities to the service of my King Jesus.

What do you believe?   What do you value?

What are you going to do about it?

May we be humbled by God to see the weakness of our belief – the amazing grace of our saviour and the pressing needs of  everyone who has not heard the gospel.  It’s the most important message and if we believe it’s true, we need to tell it to those we value.

Westminster on the Sabbath

Posted: August 14, 2009 by Daniel in christian living, Christianity, church

Of late I have been challenged by a brother via email, who has a different view that me in regard to the day on which the sabbath should take place. Neither of us have moved from our initianl positions. I continue to hold the same position as the Westminster Confession, where it says:

As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: (Exodus 20 v8, 10, 11; Isaiah 56 v2, 4, 6, 7) which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, (Genesis 2 v2,3; 1 Corinthians 16 v1,2; Acts 20 v7) which in Scripture is called the Lord’s day, (Revelation 1 v10) and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.(Exodus 20 v8,10, with Matthew 5 v17,18)

This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts, about their worldly employments and recreations;(Exodus 20 v8; 16 v23, 25, 26, 29, 30; 31 v15–17; Isaiah 58 v13; Nehemiah 13 v15–22) but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.(Isaiah 58 v13; Matthew 12 v1–13)

It has been good for me to sharpen my understanding of this commandment and the importance of glorifying God through our work and our rest. One last link that I would like to share that has a comprehensive handle on the subject is from Brian Schwertley at Reformed Online, The Christian Sabbath Examined, Proved, Applied