Archive | April, 2008


30 Apr

Isaiah's Lips Anointed with Fire

The last Old Testament book of my evangelistic books for a desert island is Isaiah.

What’s the book about?

Isaiah is an anthology of the prophecies of Isaiah. Its running theme is the failure of God’s people but the promise of salvation.

Why did I choose this book?

There are many passages from Isaiah that we are familiar with from Christmas and Easter celebrations. However, when I was reading through Romans I was amazed by how much Paul made reference to things in Isaiah.

If you love Romans get your teeth into Isaiah. Don’t be afraid of the 66 chapters it’s well worth it. Some things you’ll see are:

  1. Prophesies of Jesus’ birth and death.
  2. Prophesies of the New Creation.
  3. The judgement all nations (including Israel) deserved.
  4. The grace many actually received.

Isaiah is a massively important book. Yet there is a laziness today that means we never take the effort to plough through the Major Prophets. We need to get over it.

Read Isaiah. You won’t regret it.

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A Calvinist-Methodist’s Response to Two Cheers for the Resurgence of Calvinism

29 Apr

John WesleyArminian McCall gives an excellent article on the strengths and weaknesses of New Calvinism. Coming from the unique perspective of a Calvinist attending a Methodist church I’d like to offer some thoughts for Calvinists based on this article.

New Calvinism

McCall hits New Calvinism on the head. There is a desire for sound doctrine and holiness. Unfortunately many of his criticisms are valid too. Nevertheless, it’s not the New Calvinism I really want to discuss today. It is rather a New Weslyanism.

New Wesleyanism?

There are many problems in the Methodist Church, but I doubt they would be solved by me posting them. Instead I exhort Calvinists to offer the same prayers for Methodists as McCall offers for us.

Calvinists love the Wesleys. Despite them being being the chief reason for Arminianism’s success, we’ve never stopped singing their hymns and quoting their sayings (how many times have you heard that “Give me that book” quote?). Why?

Because they preached the Gospel. And very well too. So why aren’t we praying more Arminians will be like that?

I’d love to see Arminians come to see the great truth of the Sovereignty of God in salvation, I pray for it. Yet Arminianism is probably going to be here till Jesus returns.

If that’s the case I hope that there is a New Wesleyanism where the Methodists will preaching Christ, the Scriptures, faith and holiness with power again and bring many to Christ.

As head of Methodist Evangelicals Together this is my Dad’s aim. Calvinists, why don’t you pray for his success in reviving and reforming the Methodist Church?


29 Apr

Children singing PsalmsPsalms is the next book I would take to evangelise a desert island. Why?

What’s the book about?

Psalms is a book of songs and prayers, many written by David and other named characters and some by unnamed authors.

Why did I choose this book?

Psalms teaches us about how God’s people should respond to God and make requests to him. It contains Psalms on various themes:

  1. Praise for God’s actions in history
  2. Laments over the sad state of Israel
  3. Trust in God
  4. Petition
  5. Wisdom
  6. Confession of sin

Many of the psalms also point forward to the coming of Christ, either as King or sacrifice. It one of the most quoted (if not the most quoted) book in the New Testament.

Psalms are a great way for people to express their emotions to God. It is a pity they are so rarely studied, prayed or sung in the modern church.

If you would like to introduce Psalms to your church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland have made a metrical version of all 150 psalms in Psalms for Singing, with 21st Century lyrics. Well worth using.

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28 Apr

As I continue telling you ten books I would take to evangelise a desert island we come to Chronicles (1 and 2 were combined originally).

What’s the book about?

Chronicles tells the story of Israel from King Saul through to the release from Exile.

Why did I choose this book?

I view Biblical Theology (following the Bible’s own layout and searching it for truth) as much more important than Systematic Theology (the grouping of verses according to subjects, i.e. God, the Bible etc.).

One of the things that surprises Christians is the amount of narrative in the Bible. Both preachers and their congregations rarely consider it.

However, the story of Israel is key to God and to modern Christians. I chose Chronicles because it contains most of Israel’s history, and the islanders could do with knowing it.

In particular we learn in Chronicles

  1. That God’s people fail
  2. That God’s people deserve punishment
  3. That God can work in spite of people’s failure

I’d encourage you to start taking the narrative parts of the Bible more seriously. Maybe Chronicles, maybe you want to start elsewhere. But God shared Israel’s history for a reason.

If you’re interested in looking at the storyline of the Bible in greater depth have a look at God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts. A really easy read, it will give you a great overview of the Bible.

(Picture by Friends, Friends, Friend’s under the Creative Commons Licence)

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27 Apr

Slaughtered LambNext in my ten books I would take to evangelise a desert island is one of the most controversial on the list: Leviticus.

What’s the book about?

Leviticus is the death blow of “Read the Bible in a Year” programmes. Christians tend to get bogged down in this book and give up. It’s mainly about sacrifices, priests and the way God’s people should live.

Why did I choose this book?

Leviticus foreshadows some big themes in the new Testament:

  1. God is morally pure (or holy) and will destroy anything unholy.
  2. If we’re not holy, a life must be taken in our place.
  3. A priest must mediate between us and God.
  4. God’s people must live in a way that honours him.
  5. God’s people willingly offer sacrifices in thanksgiving for their salvation.

Leviticus is a difficult book, but read in light of the fact that Jesus is our sacrifice and priest it can be a life-changing book.

Thinking about the Old Testament sacrifice system helps me to love Christ more. Thank God I am not separated from Him as I deserve, but through Jesus I am his son!

Leviticus is a hard book and you’ll need a road map. Go to the At the Castle website. At Christmas 2005 Justin Mote gave spoke on Leviticus, and I found it immensely helpful. Have a listen, and I hope this book will be as much a blessing to you as it has been to me.

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26 Apr

Moses with stone tabletsContinuing the series of the ten books I would take to evangelise a desert island with we come to our next book, the book of Exodus.

What’s the book about?

At the end of Genesis God’s people are in Egypt. In Exodus, God frees Israel from captivity. After they’ve been set free, the Israelites are given the 10 commandments and the tabernacle, a meeting place with God.

Why did I choose this book?

Like Genesis this book is essential to understanding the Bible and introduces some key ideas:

  1. The name of God (Yahweh).
  2. God saving his people from a sinful world (setting free from slavery).
  3. God’s people being saved by the blood of a sacrifice (passover).
  4. God living with his people (tabernacle)
  5. Certain laws must be kept if God’s people are going to live with him.
  6. God’s people inevitably fail to meet God’s standards but he loves them nevertheless.

These ideas will be essential for the islanders to get. I’m sure they will be a great help to you too. If you haven’t read through Exodus have a try. As with all Old Testament books, they’re more important than you think.

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Christ-centred Icebreakers

25 Apr

When you meet a Christian you want to get beyond the worldly with them. However, most Christians struggle to get into deeper discussions, especially with strangers.

Below are some Christian icebreaker questions. I have used all of them and all led to edifying conversations. They’re great to use with strangers and especially great when meeting Freshers.

I’d encourage you to probe for reasons and other answers the person considered. This’ll give you great insight into how the person really works.

If they find it hard give your answers, making sure you give thorough reasons as this will model for them how to do it.

So the list is:

  1. How did you become a Christian?

  2. What’s your favourite Christian song or hymn?

  3. What ten books would you take to a desert island?

  4. What are you studying in your quiet times?

  5. What church background are you from?

  6. If you could meet one character out of the Bible, other than Jesus, who would it be?

  7. If you could meet one person from Church history, outside of the Biblical, who would it be?

  8. If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take only ten books of the Bible to use to evangelise the savage tribes on that island what would be your ten?

  9. What truth has challenged the way you live recently?

  10. What have you learnt about Christ that has amazed you recently?

And my all time favourite, a quote from my friend which I have never used but probably should have. Going up to a non-Christian he said:

“So, Bill, why aren’t you a Christian yet?”



25 Apr

I promised to tell you why I chose these ten books to take with me to evangelise a desert island’s savage tribe. First up is Genesis.

What’s the book about?

Genesis means “Origin” or “Beginning”. It chronicles how God made the world, how human beings managed to mess it up and how God chose the nation of Israel as a means to save the world from sin

Why did I choose this book?

This book lays down the foundations that are essential for the whole Bible:

  1. God exists.
  2. He’s in charge.
  3. We are rebels against him.
  4. He will punish us for that.
  5. We cannot save ourselves.
  6. God is going to save us.
  7. God’s plan to save is via a special person.
  8. God’s plan to save is via the people of Israel.

I’d advise all looking into the faith that this is one of the books you need to read (though not necessarily the first) and it’s definitely a must for believers to understand.

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Which God Are You Talking About?

24 Apr

In his talk at New Word Alive, Mike Reeves discussed how Christians fail to get to the question of “Which God are you talking about?” quick enough.

Everyone assumes when we say “God”, we mean the same thing as they do. Most Christians seem to agree. Yet this is ludicrous!

Knowledge of God is never going to be intuitive! We are fallen! What our minds create is inevitably going to be an idol.

We need to get to the trinity as quick as possible to dethrone the West’s common idol.

What is the common idol in the West then?

Tune in next time and find out!

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If I Took Ten Bible Books to Evangelise a Tribe…

23 Apr

At New Word Alive I had the pleasure of sharing a room with Ed Yates. After asking the typical “If you had ten books to take to a desert island” I came up with this corker:

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take only ten books of the Bible to use to evangelise the savage tribes on that island what would be your ten?

Here is my ten:

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Chronicles (we allowed ourselves the Hebrew two books count as one)
  5. Psalms
  6. Isaiah
  7. Mark
  8. Romans
  9. Hebrews
  10. Revelation

I’m unsure about my denial of Acts, I may have swapped it for Chronicles/Revelation in retrospect, but overall I’m pretty happy with my choice. Over the coming days I’ll try and post my reasons.

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