Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Change a society - Preach the Gospel!

Government, Laws, Regulations. God has ordained these as earthly graces to kerb the human heart from reaching its full potential, that potential of utter lawlessness, the opportunity for man to reach ravaging murderous fits of hellish proportions. If he was "let go", an unrestrained youth would achieved as much as Adolf or Stalin, if not more. I could not bear to think of the consequences.
But does Legislation or Policy that is friendly to the Christian Worldview foster a culture that makes the conversion of the unregenerate easier? This is a question worth asking.

Consider this scenario:
A feminist Member of Parliament is spending all her time putting forward bills to legislate rights for abortion, gay marriage and various other things consistent with that worldview.

Will she change her mind about this worldview if she is debated in parliament? Maybe? Stranger things have happened.

But what would happen if she was met by a Christian, witnessed to, the Holy Spirit convicted her of sin, righteousness and judgment. Then at home she fell on her knees before God with true contrition and sorrow for her offences to Him, and our Lord granted her repentance? Would she change her views about abortion? Or rather, would her heart be so changed, that she has new views and new desires? The desires that a Christian has.

Approaching the issues of Government and Gospel Biblically is essential. It also helps us to decide how we spend our time.

Dr John MacArthur has more to say:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Together for the Gospel

Essential Listening! The Sermon's delivered at this Pastor's Conference (2006 and 2008) are so full of wonderful truth's expounded from God's Word and application for the Christian, that you'll find yourself rewinding because you thought you'd missed one second. This Conference (not unlike the www.shepherdsconference.org or the Ligonier Conference) is sure to delight, exhort, encourage and uplift you. The "Together for the Gospel" conference comes highly recommended from Timothy Staff, go to:


All sermon's are free, please comment once you've had a chance to listen to some.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Contextualization or Capitulation? (Part 1)

by Dr Noel Due

Over recent decades (especially from the mid 1970s onwards) the concept of contextualization has moved to front and centre stage in the theatre of world mission. While the initial impetus and focus of the concept was cross cultural world mission, it has quickly migrated to find its home in every sector of Christian ministry. In reaching every age group, sub-culture or sub-group of society we are told that our message and method must both alike be properly contextualized.

There are a number of significant and weighty biblical and theological arguments in favour of contextualization, which we would be foolish to ignore. The most foundational of all is the fact of the Incarnation of the Son of God. He not only took human nature to himself in the act of Incarnation, but that human nature was expressed in a particular person and at a particular time and at a localized place in history. Jesus looked like his contemporaries; he spoke their language; ate their food; shared their life; and taught according to the prevailing methods of his day. Jesus’ disciples in many ways shared this ‘incarnational’ model, expressed eloquently by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

For this reason Paul had no problem in keeping his vows according to Jewish custom (e.g. Acts 18:18 cf. Acts 21:20-24); or using contemporary terminology, poets and themes to explain the gospel message in a pagan setting (e.g. Acts 14:8-20; 17:16-34); or feeling at home in the world of Greek and Jew alike, not least in terms of ‘table fellowship’ (e.g. the matter of eating meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Cor. 8 and Rom. 14). Moreover, it is clear that the Gospels and New Testament letters are written with particular audiences in mind, with the focus on particular questions that were needed to ‘contextualize’ the message in relation to the hearers. And, throughout the history of biblical revelation, God has accommodated himself to human thought forms and language, expressing himself in terms that ancient world cultures (for example) could easily understand. He is indeed the living God, who acts in history to reveal himself. Such revelation is entirely intelligible and perspicuous, to the point that it leaves no man without excuse.

On the other side of the argument, the impetus for contextualization comes from the desire to avoid any form of cultural imperialism and to ensure that cross cultural mission takes place without any clutter from the colonialist past. While (in my view) the “Christian missionary = cultural imperialist” argument is both overstated and simplistic, there have no doubt been many instances of cultural confusion and wrong cultural overlay in the history of Christian missions. We must indeed avoid any communication of the gospel that suggests that it is finally found in matters of eating, drinking, attire, manners or anything else that is associated with being western.

All this being said, however, there are elements in the carte blanche acceptance of contextualization that raise concern. The issues are doubtless complex, and any discussion of them immediately raises a substantial body of questions to do with culture, communication and the means by which the gospel makes its way in the world. I hope that we might address some of these matters in later blogs, and give some particular focus to passages that have become much used in the hermeneutics of contextualization (such as Acts 17), but by way of general introduction we may say the following.

Firstly, culture is not sovereign. In any culture we find not only elements that witness to the truth of God (a la Don Richardson’s Eternity in Their Hearts), but we will also find that cultures express an inevitable suppression of the truth which must be overturned. For this reason neither Jesus nor the prophets or apostles allowed culture to be elevated to the point of sanctity. While the incarnation brought the Son into our midst, he did not let us stay in the cultural mire of our sin and rebellion! He was one with his ‘own’, who ‘received him not’, but also was able to stand against his ‘own’ where the teaching, culture or ethical mores were not aligned with that of the Kingdom of God. To be one with us, does not mean that his incarnation allows us to stay where we are.

Secondly, in the desire for contextualization, we must not lose sight of the fact that the gospel actually creates new thought categories and challenges the content of existing cultural systems. It is my contention that every culture has a ‘cultus’ (i.e. a system of worship and sacrifice) at its heart, and that the surface expressions of culture in the artifacts and actions of any particular people group are but the outcrop of deeply held but unexpressed assumptions about the nature of the cosmos, the meaning of the world in which we live, and our place within it. The gospel does not leave this cultural core untouched, but rather exposes its idolatry and calls us to repentance.

Thirdly, there is an overarching conformity to which we are called. The Incarnate Son does not provide a mere model of ethical life to imitate, but the plan and purpose of God is that the whole of redeemed humanity would be conformed to his image. This image, then, trumps culture at every turn, and provides us with the parameters of what is legitimate contextualization and how it is to be done. The gospel will always be transformative because it will always bring to bear the power of the Spirit to conform persons and communities into the image of the Son of God, to the glory of the Father.

Fourthly, the matter of contextualization and the interface with culture often becomes a flash point for deeper issues. For example, in Antioch the issue was a simple one: should Peter continue eating with the Gentiles or should he not? The issue was not one of mere ‘table fellowship’. So significant was the theological issue at stake, that Paul had to oppose him directly because the cultural context had over shadowed the gospel reality. In like manner the related question addressed in Galatians and elsewhere is ‘Should Christian believers be circumcised, according to the Jewish law?’ The answer is ‘Yes, if you are Timothy’, but ‘Not by any means, if you are Titus’, and ‘Absolutely never if you think you are going to commend yourself to God by so doing’! In other words, the cultural expression (to circumcise or not) is tied to deep theological issues about the nature and meaning of justification.

(To be continued…)

Sermons by Sinclair Ferguson


Pastor Due send through the following link http://sinclairferguson.always.org.uk/

If you haven't heard Sinclair Ferguson before, you will be encouraged to keep the centrality of the Cross always in view. He comes highly recommended!

If you get to listen to some of his sermons, feel free to write your comments here on this blog!

Blessings brothers, earnestly contend for the Faith.

Timothy Staff.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This Coming Fellowship - 03/05/2008

For you "Timothy's":

Having received a "snail-mail" invite to this coming Fellowship, it's probably stuck on the fridge, or in your "in" tray. So for your convenience (since we seem to plugged in to the web these days), here are the details again:

When: Saturday the 3rd May 2008, 5.30pm till 9.30pm
Where: Sunset Rock Uniting Church, 34 Spencer St, Stirling.
Teacher: Rev. Dr. Noel Due, Senior Pastor at Coromandel Baptist Church (http://www.corobaptist.org.au/), Noel was previously Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Highland Theological College, Scotland (http://www.htc.uhi.ac.uk/).
Topic: Biblical vs Secular Wisdom: Counselling and Identity.

Any questions? Please email: timmyfellows@gmail.com

Watch this blog for for articles, sermon links, video links, book reviews, etc. coming soon!