Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Conversation or Authoritative Word

Last week Steve Chalke a British Evangelical came out in favour of giving God’s blessing to homosexual relationships.
There were a few problems with his arguments….
1. He referred to his pastoral concerns being a guiding influence. I understand these concerns, but the reality is that this amounts to nothing more than deciding what’s right or wrong by the way you feel over an issue and is an extremely dangerous approach to ministry (interestingly Brian McLaren has moved in the same direction). The problem is that our feelings however strong are the wrong place to decide what is right and what is wrong, whoever you are, whatever your desires might be. Feelings are very subjective, not only that, they can fluctuate. What I feel is right and wrong you may not. These things need to be governed by something or someone higher than ourselves. For the Christian that means they must be submitted to and governed by the Word of God. The abandonment of the Christian values found in the Word of God by the world has led to relative moralism, sadly, it’s now entering the church.
2. Steve Chalke referred to the Bible as a conversation between God and man that is still in progress, and as time goes by we are learning what’s right and wrong for our generation, adapting and changing as our understanding progresses. Now this is not what Christians and churches have believed down through the centuries. For the majority the Bible has been the God breathed, authoritative word, totally sufficient for faith and conduct, something that we submit our minds to, rather than stand over it in judgement.
3. His so-called thorough examination of what scripture teaches was anything but, it was more a dance around some scriptures, drawing in anything that he could lay his hands on that might be used to bolster his argument, rather than looking at the subject in detail. In many ways it is reminiscent of cult teaching where we keep moving to maintain the argument, but don’t stop to examine the subject in detail.
These are serious things, perhaps it’s part of a wider problem, where we speak of the scriptures as the Bible rather than the Holy Bible; where the Word is not read and listened to as God’s Word. Where it is no longer preached and expounded as the authoritative Word of God but a place of good ideas.
Studying scripture recently I was amazed at how much the Word played in the revivals/renewals of the Old Testament, not by making them feel good and right about themselves, but how they had sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.
Brothers and sisters, have we become so ‘free’ that we’ve forgotten what it is for the word of God to search us and convict us?
Have we forgotten what it is to ‘tremble at the Word’? (Isaiah 66:5)

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Fellowship of The Three

I wonder what resolutions you've made, if any? I wonder what your hopes and aspirations are, even your prayers for yourself and others? Are they just need based, problem solving, helping etc.?

Paul's pray for the Ephesian Christians was the opening of their eyes that they may know God (1:17).
God, you say, haven't they come to know him? Isn't it obvious?

The reality is no it is isn't:
1. Some have started out with false or inadequate images of God,
2. The enemy is always contending it, and
3. Many of God's people stall in their knowledge of God. It's like getting saved and knowing I will go to heaven when I die, is it, a transaction. Oh, and we can pray, as if God were there just to respond to needs, requests etc..

Fact is, there's a whole lot more to it than that. God saved us not only that we might live with him eternally, but that he might live with us in time - wow! Staggering thought! Staggering truth! He's not way over there, out there somewhere, as it were, in some other dimension, but he's right here, we can know him in this dimension. God had always designed to dwell with man.

Jesus said that he came not only to bring us salvation and reconcile us to God but that God might come and dwell within our very hearts. Paul in his letters to the churches speaks of both the individual and the corporate body of believers as the temple of the Spirit, the dwelling place of God, both a sobering and an exhilarating thought/truth. The question is what do we know of it?

Too often it can be just words, whether in song or creed, affirmations of what we believe about God, but not personal experience, not relationship - God known and encountered day by day.

If there's something I would want to encourage as a new year resolution or prayer, it is growth in the knowledge of God, not as an intellectual exercise (and yes that will be part of it), but as a very real experience. Growth and relationship with God especially as Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

That means we need to be open to all God's word (are you - or do you read the sections you are comfortable with?), and open to all his personhood - Father, Son and Spirit. In the measure that we close off part of our experience of God, so will our worship and walk and well as our relationship with him in some measure be affected or restricted.

Do you find yourself just praying to one member of the Trinity? Do you find yourself using the names interchangeably (as if they are all the same)? Do you struggle with the idea of God as Father? Do you know the continual saving power of Jesus? What about the Holy Spirit - are you scared off by what you've heard?

"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him...." (Eph 1:16-17)