Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 2

spiritual-growth2

In my last post we saw the importance of the priority of prayer and the permeation of Scripture in spiritual growth. In this final instalment of of posts on resources for spiritual growth I will consider the final two: the power of the Spirit and the presence of fellowship. 

The Power of the Spirit
If we are going to serve the Lord with our highest love, reverence and obedience we are in need of Divine help. For this reason we need the power of the Holy Spirit. This power will help us apply what we learn in the word of God. Both the permeation of the word and the power of the Spirit work hand in hand. How does this power work? We need to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is a  straightforward command in Scripture, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word “filled” in this verse means “to make full” in the sense of permeation or control. The idea is that the believer’s life is to be under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. This control leads to conduct that is in conformity to the word of God (cf. Col. 3:16).

Continue reading Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 2

Calvinsim: more like Schmalvinism!

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Calvinism must be one of the most overused and abused terms going around in church circles. Much of what I say below I really mean, but it is rather tongue-in-cheek. Also, the way I box people into categories is very fluid, as I will explain later. Finally, I should also apologise to anyone who goes by the name Schmalvin; any confusion is completely unintended.

There are quite a number of streams of Calvinism. Each of the groups I describe below all locate themselves in the theological heritage of the French Protestant reformer, John Calvin. It is very confusing. I hope this helps. Continue reading Calvinsim: more like Schmalvinism!

BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE – be careful who you point your finger at

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Our Pastor’s tenure with us is coming to a close. As we approach his last month, I’ve reflected upon his many contributions to the spiritual growth of our church. In my opinion, I believe his primary contribution has to do with his zeal for the gospel and challenging us to be more gospel-focused.

By this I mean, he has made it a high priority that we actively pursue and create opportunities to tell others about Jesus. He has taken the focus off us and redirected it to the proclamation of the good news about Jesus to those not now part of our church – to friends, working colleagues, neighbours, and family members who are outside the family of God.

Continue reading BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE – be careful who you point your finger at

Evangelism

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Last night a group of 20 people met in our home to talk about evangelism. This wasn’t just a talk-fest – we were considering the best strategy for our church to proclaim the gospel to people who didn’t know Jesus.

We came up with a few simple definitions of ‘evangelism’. The two that I liked are; evangelism is explaining the gospel to non-Christians in a language they can understand, and evangelism is introducing people to Jesus. Simple!

We discussed the idea that while the Bible teaches that some believers are given the spiritual gift of evangelism, this does not mean those who do not have this gift are Continue reading Evangelism

A Foot in Both Camps

Why am I in danger every hour?  I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!  What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”     

Paul was in danger constantly.  He could say that he died every day!  He fought wild beasts!  His gospel ministry took him constantly into danger.

Why is Paul talking about this?  The Corinthians were denying the resurrection.  Paul wants them to be very clear on this: if there is no resurrection we should indeed eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.  We should not be risking our life for the sake of the gospel.  If we will not be raised from the dead, we should be partying!  Yes, folks, non-Christians have the right idea: if this life is all there is we should maximise our fun and partying.

But this life is not all there is.  If it was all there is, I can’t understand why Continue reading A Foot in Both Camps

30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Little Big Decisions – sweat the small stuff

Sometimes little decisions are much bigger than they may appear at first glance.  Let’s say that my boss at work wants me to stay back late, but it’s Bible study night.  Should I go to Bible study?  Or should I stay at work?

It seems to be rare that someone would fall away from the faith by making a one time decision that Christianity is not true.  Usually people drift away from the faith, slowly.

A friend of mine works in ministry to the medical profession.  He told me once that a survey showed that 70% of medical students who were Christian fell away from the faith.  That’s an enormous percentage.  The reason why this is the case is probably due to the fact that medicine is a career that is all consuming.  Enormous hours at all sorts of times are required.  Medicos can start to miss church and Bible study.  They can find it difficult to find the time to keep reading the Bible.  After several months they may find that they haven’t read the Bible or been to church, and it no longer seems to matter.  Slowly they drift off.

Of course this is not true of all medicos (there’s the 30%!).  And it’s not just doctors who are in such spiritual danger.  There are some law and accounting firms that seem to demand similar hours from their workers.  No doubt there Continue reading Little Big Decisions – sweat the small stuff

Anders Berhring Breivik (Norway Killer) – Christian Fundamentalist or Religious Tyrannist?

Our deepest condolences to the people of Norway as they struggle to cope with this national tragedy. It is our prayer that in their sorrow many will turn to God for solace and comfort.

The following is an article from Lighthouse Trails.

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The man who committed the atrocities on Friday, July 22, 2011 in Norway is being called a “Christian fundamentalist,” and already, stories are hitting the mainstream media telling the world to look out for Christian fundamentalists. Frank Schaeffer, son of theologian Francis Schaeffer, has likened the Norway killer to those who oppose abortion in his article on Saturday titled ”Christian Jihad? Why We Should Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway’s in the US,” saying ”the terror unleashed on Norway” is “the sort of white, Christian, far right terror America can expect more of.”

But is the Norway killer a fundamentalist Christian (someone who follows the fundamental teachings of the Bible)? The answer to this is a resounding Continue reading Anders Berhring Breivik (Norway Killer) – Christian Fundamentalist or Religious Tyrannist?

Christians and Passover

As a Jewish Christian I have often been asked by churches at Easter to speak about the Jewish Passover or to do a demonstration of one.  Churches seem fascinated by it.  Some Christians think that seeing a Jewish Passover might help them understand more about Jesus’ Last Supper and therefore Jesus’ death.

I think this is quite unlikely.

A modern Jewish Passover does not reveal some deep secret truths that will help Christians better understand their faith.  Paul is clear about this in : “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  The Jewish Passover meal is a shadow of the reality which we already have in Christ.

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16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

5 Easy Ways to Totally Spoil the Gospel

J. C. Ryle wrote well over two hundred evangelical tracts, of which more than two million were circulated, and many were translated into foreign languages. Throughout his ministry he remained one of the strongest defenders of the evangelical reformed faith within the Church of England. His faithful witness to the Gospel of Christ needs to be heard more than ever today.

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You may spoil the Gospel by substitution.

You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith,—Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place,—the Church, the Ministry, the Confessional, Baptism, or the Lord’s Supper, and the mischief is done. Substitute anything for Christ, and the Gospel is totally spoiled! . . .

Continue reading 5 Easy Ways to Totally Spoil the Gospel