Saturday, February 27, 2010

God speaks through his Spirit, who dwells in us

One of the most precious things I learned in ministry under an experienced senior minister in the 1990's was his desire to listen to God.

God speaks to his people. This is found frequently from Genesis to the prophetic writings in the Old Testament. People in the earliest church continued to hear God's voice, as the book of Acts illustrates. People like John Wesley and Hudson Taylor also seem to have heard God speak to them.

In my own experience I have never heard the audible voice of God. (But I know people who have.) But often I hear him speak to me. Mostly he speaks to me on matters relating to my own life and my loved ones. But not infrequently God speaks to others, with me being the deliverer of the message.

To me, the Bible remains the only reliable source of God's revelation, and it's the primary means by which God speaks to me. But in my own prayer life my experience is that God speaks to his people.

God speaks to us, and it's comforting and empowering. He gives us understanding of the Scripture, and guides us in our daily life.

As Gordon Fee says, the Holy Spirit is God's empowering Presence in those who are in Christ.

Heaven is important, BUT...

Here is a quote from N T (Tom) Wright.

"Heaven is important, but it's not the end of the world."

Tom Wright's books Surprised by Hope and Resurrection of the Son of God explain this concept.

My two articles on Easter also explain this a little bit. (Just click on the title to go to the article.)

A matter of life and death
Rethinking resurrection

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rethinking resurrection - An article

I have recently written an article entitled Rethinking Resurrection. A quick summary here:

  • To prepare for Easter some have decided to fast from iPods and social networking.
  • Future bodily resurrection (not disemboided bliss in heaven) is the true Christian hope.
  • The proclamation of Christ's resurrection is counter-cultural, both in Paul's days and in our world today.
  • The hope of future resurrection has everything to do with how we live here and now.
  • Standing in solidarity with the poor is an outworking of our Christian hope.
Click here for the article.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alarming trend regarding our desire to read and study the Bible

I have spent the past 15 years attending, studying and teaching at a number of Bible colleges in Australia, especially the ones that have been growing in enrolment. One alarming trend is the declining interest in studying the Bible itself. There are many students enrolled in leadership and ministry subjects. But often there are only a handful of students doing subjects that focus on studying the Bible. And I am not referring to subjects that involve highly technical Bible analysis. Nor am I referring to subjects taught by boring lecturers. These subjects are, for example, book studies on selected books in the Bible, and are taught by lecturers who try their best to make the Scripture relevant to daily life and ministry.

This is, to me, an alarming trend. How can our future leaders and pastors (and indeed Christians who are sincere enough about their faith to study at Bible colleges) not be interested studying the Bible itself? What future is there for the church? What's the point of being a good 'leader' without some basic skills to study the Bible?

As I speak with the lecturers in the Bible colleges, I am told that the students they get in recent years do not have the basic Bible knowledge they used to have. College lecturers find themselves having to do the job that normally local churches do - ie. to help Christians to pray and learn how to read the Bible.

(In my previous post, I referred to Cheryl Catford's observation on the decline of biblical literacy. Click here to see the reasons Cheryl outlines.)

How can we be authentic followers of Jesus if we do not diligently study the Scripture that Jesus himself loved and upheld when he walked on earth?

Friday, February 5, 2010