Archive | May, 2008

Are You a Hypocrite?

29 May

WorshipAn elder, Sunday School leader and generous giver; Dave is the model Christian. Except for one thing.

He isn’t one.

Despite all these good deeds, Dave doesn’t know Jesus at all. Could this be you?

In Amos 4:4-5, God attacks sin at Bethel and Gilgal (the religious centres). In this, we see common sins of hypocrites to test ourselves against. Do these sins describe you?

Hypocrites go over the top

They bring tithes every three days, well beyond the requirement. Are you one of those people who has to say the longest prayers and know the most theology?

Hypocrites disobey

Though it should be unleavened (Lev 7:12), the Samaritans offered a leavened offering. This small failing ruined the sacrifice.

For Christians, thanksgiving offerings are living God’s way (Heb 13:15-16).  Paul told the Corinthians, their leaven was malice and evil (1 Cor 5:6-8). Think of some “good deeds” you did. Were they tainted by evil motivation?

Hypocrites are proud

They proclaimed their freewill offering, wanting everyone to know of their good deed.

When you do good in private, do you instantly feel the need to tell someone?

Defeating Hypocrisy

Unfortunately there’s a little hypocrite in every Christian. What can we do?

  1. Confess sin: Come to Jesus the sacrifice whose death erases our sin (1 John 2:1-2).
  2. Look to Christ: Self-made rules are no help. If we fix our eyes on Jesus, we’ll want to put sin to death (Col 2:20-3:5).

What hypocrisy is evident in your life? How are you dealing with it?

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Equal Rights in the Minor Prophets

27 May

FemaleIn Amos 4:1-3 we come to meet Samaria’s rich women, “the cows of Bashan”. Some think women are overlooked in the Bible, but that’s not the case. In the Bible, both women and men have the right to be convicted of their sin.

Let’s see what word Amos has for the rich women of Samaria and how it applies today.

The Samaritan Women’s Sin

By using the word cow Amos is saying these rich wives are well fed and cared for.

They are criticised for two things. Firstly, oppressing the poor for their own physical comfort. These women laid back and lived the life of luxury at others expenses.

Ouch! How much does that speak of we westerners. We buy tonnes of useless toys but never buy ethically or give as part of our money to the poor.

Moreover, these women are pressurising their husbands to fund their luxurious lifestyle. Most women don’t realise the great influence they wield with their husband. He wants to do what’s good for her, yet this can easily lead him astray. The same can be true in any relationship, it’s very easy for all of us to influence others in wrong ways.

We all deserve their punishment

Have you fallen into the same sins as the Samritan women? They aren’t huge sins if you compare them to Amos 1:13. Yet God cannot stand sin and he will judge us all, male and female, for all our sins, big or small. If God counts these small sins against these women how much sin must be piled up for you.

Yet there is good news. On the cross Jesus took the punishment for all who trust in him, whether women or men. All our sins, big or small were brought to nothing on the cross.

Let’s stop being opressors and evil-influencers like the cows of Bashan. Yet most of all lets praise Jesus for the fact that all our sins are taken away.

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Why a God of Wrath is Good News

26 May

Rinjani-1994Though in Amos we see God acting in wrath, most Christians are uncomfortable with this idea. Therefore I want to explain why a God of wrath is good news for Christians:

God hates sin

We may be deceived by this world but God isn’t. He hates sin. He does not sit idly by and watch as people are murdered, raped and starved. He is seething with anger!

We are not. We would prefer everyone to get off scott-free. We wouldn’t have even thought the substitution of Jesus was necessary. Some even think God is evil for punishing sin! What idiots we are. God hates what harms us and that is a glorious truth.

God will destroy sin

If God hates sin he will not let it exist in his kingdom. It tells us in Revelation he will wipe every tear from our eye (Rev 21:4). All the evil that plagues us now God will banish forever. Utterly decimated, it will never to trouble us again.

God’s love overcame God’s wrath

Think of the passion shown in his anger towards sin. It’s massive. Yet he loves you more fiercely than he hates sin. What an amazing truth!

Moreover, God himself received wrath on the cross. Jesus Christ, God made flesh, was subject to God’s full wrath on the cross. He took all the punishment due upon us.

Christian do not hate the God of Wrath, rather praise him now for hating sin and loving you. Pray also that you may hate sin as much as he does.
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Response to a Post-Evangelical Manifesto

25 May

In response to the Evangelical Manifesto Raffi Shahinian wrote a Post-Evangelical Manifesto. Having read his document, and having read some helpful and challenging posts on Shahinian’s website, I want to make a few comments and ask a few questions which I hope Shahinian will respond to:

Dear Raffi Shahinian

I don’t write as one who has read the Evangelical Manifesto. I also confess yours is the only “post-evangelical” definition I’ve ever read. Yet there are some things that concern me in your Post-Evangelical Manifesto. Perhaps I have misunderstood them and if so I hope you correct me.

I ask these questions as a brother in Christ and in the spirit of love, desiring we both come to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ more as a result.

Post Evangelical?

My first question is: if evangelical means “Gospel person” why would you want to be post-evangelical? You may want to reform the way Gospel people behave but surely you don’t want to be post people having the Gospel at the centre?

Evangelicals Never Unpacking Truths?

No Evangelical I know recites their doctrinal basis never unpacking those statements in full. Most evangelical churches preach through the Bible, preaching each passage (Old Testament or New) in light of Jesus’ great work and then applying it to the congregation.

Here is the metanarrative set out as God has ordained. In light of this I’m very interested to know what you think Evangelicals have missed out in their unpacking of these brief doctrinal statements.

Fighting Yesterday’s Battles

In some ways I would say Evangelicalism is too obsessed with the “big issues” of the day. We spend more time talking about homosexuality and women preachers than we do talking about the things that actually matter to average Joe. Which big issues do you think we miss?

A Political Christianity?

I heard someone once say “In the Koran I find no guidance for Muslims in the minority. In the Bible I find no guidance for Christians in the majority”. The Bible assumes we will be despised for the Gospel (2 Tim 3:12).

The nearest we get to politics is Paul saying we should pray we might be able to live a quiet life (1 Tim 2:1-2). That’s hardly a call to arms! Whilst obviously Christians in politics must act in a Christian way, I am unsure that we are called to act firstly on politics.

Love beyond tolerance

I emphatically agree that we must have a love beyond tolerance. What is love? Jesus bearing our sins (1 John 4:10). Thus it is essential for us to preach the Good News of sins forgiven and the way to God open that some in the world may come to know him and make it to the next. Excellent point!

Jesus saved all creation

I agree Christ saves creation as well as me, but evangelicals constantly remind me of the corporate nature of church and salvation as well as the individual. Maybe evangelicals in your area are different. Yet the individual should not be missed out. It is essential to the whole: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19)

Shaped by postmodernism!?!

You say that post evangelicalism is “shaped by the postmodern critique”. It scares me you are shaped by anything of the world. When the church has associated with the world it has always turned out bad:

  • When associated with Modernism the authority of Scripture was undermined by Liberalism.
  • When associated with Gnostic thought “secret knowledge” and an opposition to God the Son made flesh developed.
  • When too close to Judaism the Gospel to the Gentiles was hindered (Gal 2:11-14).

Christians should engage with and evangelise our postmodern culture with Scripture, but I would never say we should be informed by postmodernism

Do forgive me if I have misunderstood your points I welcome clarification. Apologies also for my brevity which may limit the usefulness of my comments.

May we both glorify the name of Jesus in our culture.

Yours in Christ

Tim Wilson

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What Every Non-Christian Must Know (Amos 3:11-15)

25 May

Are you worshipping a god other than the God of the Bible? So did the Israelites. In Amos 3:11-15 God tells them what the result of that decision is:

God will destroy

God constantly says “I will” (v13-14). He will punish you. You can’t run from him, you can’t withstand his power, you can’t defeat him. Choose to go against him and your destined to defeat.

God will destroy your strongholds

The Israelites felt strong in their land and defences, and God destroyed these things (v11). Modern people rest in the security of their home, wealth and job. Yet we all know these can disappear far too easily and they will definitely disappear on the day of judgement.

God will destroy all you love

Yahweh destroyed what the Israelites loved. He destroyed their places of worship (v14) and he destroyed their material possessions (v13, 15). All you enjoy on Earth is destined for destruction, your false gods and all your possessions.

God will accept Jesus in your place

How can you escape this fate? Trust in Jesus.

Jesus was punished on a cross in place of all who trust in him. If you trust him your punishment will fall on him. He offers freedom from punishment for nothing. Not only that, he gives you eternal perfect life with him. What a deal!

Trust in your gods and everything you love will be destroyed.

Trust in Jesus and everything you need will be yours.

It’s got to be the easiest decision you’ve ever made.

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Turning Traitor on the World

24 May

I read a post today defining the word repent as “turning traitor”. While having little knowledge of Greek, there is definitely something more to repentance in the Bible than saying sorry.

We are shocked when Jesus told a man he couldn’t bury his father before following him (Matt 8:21-22) because we’ve never worked out Jesus is worth so much that “turning traitor” on the world is expected.

The Bible puts it up as a test of true faith:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:15

We can add that repentance doesn’t save us, Christ does, and that we need the Holy Spirit to effect this change. All is true. But the fact is: true Christians turn around.

It’s so obvious that the Church isn’t leaving the world behind. We bring in ideas that we bring our  idols into church life. Obsession with human rights, law, feminism, homosexuality, sexual liberty, pride, intellectualism, wealth, classism, racism: all of these things have coloured Christian doctrine and ethics rather than Jesus.

Before we rant at others, why don’t we take a look at ourselves and consider whether we’ve truly surrendered the world for Christ. What are your idols that you need to turn traitor on? Feel free to post them below.

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Amos 3:9-10 – Living and Repenting for God’s Glory

23 May

Repentance is EssentialA few days ago we considered God’s Passion for His Glory. Now lets consider some applications of this passage.

Seek God’s Glory

If you aren’t a Christian you should be extremely interested in the Glory of God. God saw it worthy to send his own people into exile so that everyone may see him clearly. Mustn’t he be worth seeing?

Join us on this blog as we look at Christ’s glories. Get a Bible. Talk to a Christian friend. See the God whose very nature is worth that price.

Live for God’s Glory

If you’re a Christian God sees good conduct as essential to his people’s witness. We must live lives that proclaim him faithfully.

Consider your actions around unbelievers. When you laugh at that joke, talk about that friend, tell that little lie are you really showing the people around you what a great God you have?

Repent for God’s Glory

It is essential that non-Christians not only know when you get it right but also when you get it wrong.

God felt it necessary to proclaim widely the sins of his people we should too. When we get it wrong we must confess. Our sins could be doing God a great injustice.

Revelation of God’s Glory

However, we also must remember this: Christ is the true Israel. He shows the glory of the Father better than any other. He never had to repent of sin. Let’s thank God he gave us such clariy in Christ.

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Amos 3:9-10 God’s Passion For His Glory

20 May

Glory Revealed 1 - 30D_Cloudburst_1A Terrible Irony

Israel should’ve revealed God to the nations. Unfortunately, they became ones to look down on:

Proclaim to the strongholds in Ashdod
and to the strongholds in the land of Egypt,
and say, “Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria,
and see the great tumults within her,
and the oppressed in her midst.”
“They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord,
“those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.”

Amos 3:8-9

God’s Passion for His Glory

Why does God hold up his special people for derision. Doesn’t he love them?

God is passionate that people know who he is. These people acting sinfully does not show who he is so he must proclaim their evil clearly that all may understand.

A Vain God?

Isn’t this vainity? No. God is the only one who actually deserves praise. Any good we have is from him. The conscience, commands, hands, air and existence we need to do good all come back from him, so he alone deserves praise.

If someone is bad-mouthing someone who deserves honour it is our instant reaction to butt in “That’s not fair. Jan is an excellent member of the team, it’s her department that let her down”.

In the same way God deserves praise and if he is being bad-mouthed he must be vindicated. So God vindicates himself here, so the nations know truly how great he is.

I’ll give some applications for non-Christians and Christians in a future post. For now just remember the God alone is worthy of praise and consider how that affects your relationship with him.

(Picture by Daniel Y. Go under the Creative Commons Licence)

Having Time for Christ

19 May

Watch

The Great Sin

God’s greatest revelation is in the Gospel. For me not to live with this at the centre of my life is a massive sin.

Consider Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Galatians. The Corinthians had gone insane. There was drunkeness at the Lord’s supper, Christians suing each other and even incest. Yet Paul still had time to pray a prayer of thanksgiving.

With the Galatians, however, Paul (and of course the Spirit) was all guns blazing. He launches into a full scale attack. Why? Because they turned to another Gospel. This could not be tolerated.

Our Idol-Sins

In our lives there are sins we think are worse than all others and these demonstrate our idols. Is the worst sin intolerance? Is it homosexuality? Both are sins but neither are the greatest.

It challenged me to think to myself that though if I committed sexual immorality I would be absolutely devastated, yet I can let days go by with legalism, immorality or sheer forgetfulness of the Gospel.

It’s time I go Galatians on my soul and it’s time you did too. To neglect the Gospel is the worst thing I can possibly do. This doesn’t mean I can be sexually immoral. It should appal me just as much as it does. Yet neglect of the Gospel should be a massive concern.

Every day I must make it my greatest work to never let go of the Gospel. This is the greatest aim my life can have.

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Having Time for Caring

18 May

Helping HandThis morning a visiting preacher (whose name escapes me) came to Hardwick and preached on this passage:

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:26-27 (ESV)

The preacher noted that Jesus, whilst facing the unmeasurable pain of separation from his Father, was still caring for his mother.

We often complain we are too busy to care for those in the Church, even our families. Yet this is not a Christian attitude. John would have had plenty to do (being an apostle) without caring for an elderly woman. Yet “from that hour” he cared for her.

Do we assume we’re too busy doing “spiritual” things to care for our families and the Church? We’ve got it wrong. Jesus was paying the price for our sins, yet still found time to care.

We need to find it too.

So today take that time to talk to the lonely member of the church, invite the new person for dinner or send that encouraging email. We must always have time to love other people.

Yet also how great is Christ that he never was too busy to care. And he will not be too busy now if you need him to help you, especially to help you with your greatest need, separation from God.

(Picture by nicdalic under the Creative Commons Licence)

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