What’s wrong with Gospel-Centered Preaching Today?

“What’s wrong with Gospel-Centered Preaching Today?” – The latest 9Marks Journal has plenty of challenges for preachers.

God Be with Us till We Meet Again

“Can Christians and Christian churches remain faithful by not meeting together and all that is involved in congregational worship? Can Christians be faithful in this context?

The answer is yes – yes for some time with adequate justification.

Throughout church history, there are very rare instances where the people of God did not gather together regularly. These moments represented specific, overarching cultural situations that made it advisable for people in groups of any size to not gather together. COVID-19 is another example of a culturally singular moment that necessitates the decision for Christians not to hold their weekly church services and to do so knowing that they are not being unfaithful to the commands of Christ. …”

– Albert Mohler thinks through some of the challenges facing churches at this present moment.

Psalm 23:1-6. When fear goes viral, the gospel and COVID-19

A very helpful sermon from William Taylor at the Tuesday lunchtime service St. Helen’s Bishopsgate in London.

Great to pass on the link to others.

What do we make of the virus?

David Cook shares a Biblical perspective through the lens of the Book of Proverbs:

“We embrace humanity with love, we seek to relieve, be surprisingly creative in our acts of kindness, but our greatest purpose is to call on people to listen, repent and believe and so through Jesus have hope of a new creation to come.”

Read below:

Today I returned from overseas and I am self isolating for 14 days.

What do we make of this coronavirus?

I have been preparing a series on Proverbs and Solomon has much to say about what is going on.

The Bible’s wisdom writers are concerned to show us how we are to harmonise with reality.

Dick Lucas says that the aim of Proverbs is to help the young to keep from making fools of themselves in life, another preacher says that Proverbs is a directory of godly conduct.

In Chapter 1, King Solomon introduces the book by telling us in v.1-7, what the book will do for us; who it is for; and how to enter it, by ‘fearing the Lord’.

Then in v.8-19, he tells us there are always two voices in life, the voice of reality and the voice of deceit. In this case the realist is the parent urging the son not to join his peer group, ‘my son do not walk in the way with them’, v.15, and the voice of deceit, is that of the criminal gang, ‘come with us, let us lie in wait for blood’, v.11.

At v. 20-33, Solomon tells us history’s biggest lesson. There are always two voices in life, the voice of God and the voice of the serpent, the voice of reality and the voice of deceit.

The great lesson of history is that whenever God speaks, and is ignored, catastrophe results! It’s a lesson as old as Adam.

Proverbs 1:31 records this passive judgement of God on our deafness, ‘they shall eat the fruit of their way and have their fill of their own schemes’. This judgement is now being revealed, according to Paul, in Romans 1, God gives them over to the fruit of their schemes in Romans 1:24,26,28.

The world we live in is the world into which Adam and Eve were expelled, the world of pain, frustration and death, and is the fruit of their failure to listen to God.

This virus is part of that world and is God’s judgement on us all, and my isolation is a part of that judgement and a reminder of human stubbornness.

In Proverbs 1, Wisdom cries out, raises her voice and speaks and she does so in the main streets and malls. She is freely available, yet humanity refuses to listen, ignores and does not heed.

God personally teaches us this lesson, see His use of the third person pronoun, ‘they hated knowledge… they shall eat the fruit’, v.29-31.

God’s wisdom is our greatest treasure and yet we have become too cool, too self assured, too sophisticated to hear it. Many will be addressed but only some will listen and they will ‘dwell secure and be at ease without dread of disaster’, v.33.

This period of isolation, this pandemic, is a further clarion call to us to harmonise with the reality of our greatest treasure, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus and his word of wisdom.

We embrace humanity with love, we seek to relieve, be surprisingly creative in our acts of kindness, but our greatest purpose is to call on people to listen, repent and believe and so through Jesus have hope of a new creation to come.

‘For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster’. Proverbs 1:32-33.

(David Cook has served as Principal of SMBC and also as Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia as well as in parish ministry. Photo courtesy St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.)

Joy

Joy may seem to be a strange idea when so many are feeling uncertainty and fear.

Incoming Principal of Mary Andrews College, Rev Dr Katy Smith, writes one of Church Society’s Lent devotions:

“Walking onto the veranda of our church building, I see Kay standing by the entrance door smiling with genuine interest as she talks to another beside her. I smile to both ladies as I head towards the door, but Kay stops me to ask for a brief update about a particular ministry matter. I see a brightness and keenness as she listens and then responds, ‘I’ll continue praying.’

There is nothing extraordinary about this meeting, except that as I walk into the hall, I find myself thankful for her, with tears in my eyes. …”

Read it here.

There are other contributions from Australian friends (some already published, some still to come – including Claire Smith and Kanishka Raffel) listed on the Church Society’s ‘The Blessed Life’ page.

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

Church Society has been posting Lent reflections on the theme of the Fruit of the Spirit.

The latest reflection – on Peace is by Paul Harrington from Trinity Church Adelaide.

Other posts here.

Are we living out Romans 1?

“Practicing homosexuals — of which I was once one — may not be conscious of the larger, biblical meaning of their sin as outlined in Romans 1, but it would be to their betterment if they were. …”

– Rosaria Champagne Butterfield gives some very insightful comments at Desiring God.

Related:

An Atheist and a Pastor on Same-Sex Relations and the Image of the Self – Justin Taylor.

I gave my life to Jesus – Glen Scrivener

In his latest video, Glen Scrivener points us away from ourselves and our efforts – to the Lord Jesus.

Quite a challenge to a lot of preaching. 7 minutes.

How Jesus helps my fear

“Since the death of my paternal grandmother on 26 June 2018, my family has had to mourn the loss of three family members. Preaching at two of the three funerals, I have been forced to reflect on death personally more than I ever have before. …”

– At The Australian Church Record, Ben George points us to the big picture of God’s purposes.

“All statements about Christ … bear theological significance”

“Christians are defined by one primary mark: we believe in and are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. …

It is not enough to simply say ‘I love Jesus’ or ‘I follow Jesus.’ Many who say they love Jesus and follow Jesus do not follow Jesus as he has revealed himself in Scripture. As the confession reminds us, we must confess that we believe in ‘Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord’ – the Jesus whose true identity and mission is revealed in Scripture.”

– Albert Mohler has published an excerpt from his new book about The Apostles’ Creed.

Pursuing Sanctification – God’s work or ours?

“John Owen says Christians need to ‘be killing sin, or it will be killing you.’

Yet from my experience most Christians aren’t employing everything they have at their disposal to kill sin or to pursue sanctification in any regard. The most I hear about this is the throwaway line, ‘I’m struggling with X sin’ but upon further questioning often those who say this aren’t struggling at all with a sin; they’ve often simply identified that they have a persistent sin, and yet do nothing about it.

Then when I reflect on my own fight with sin, I’m ashamed to realise I too often fall into the same trap of identifying sin without fighting it. I started to consider why this is the case for me. Why is it that I know about my sins, but I don’t fight them? And I have come to the conclusion that I (and I suspect many others) don’t fight sin because I don’t know what my role is in sanctification.

In order to figure it out I had to understand three things …”

– Daniel Bishop writes on what should be of vital interest to every Christian – at The Australian Church Record – Part 1 and Part 2.

Reading Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21–24)

“Paul’s closing greeting in Ephesians is a good opportunity to summarise what the letter is all about and to remember why it’s worth reading and reflecting on it.”

– Our thanks to ACL Council member Lionel Windsor for a challenging and edifying series reflecting on the Letter to the Ephesians. Here is the last instalment.

How long, Lord, must we call for help?

“In light of the recent Australian bushfires, we perhaps cannot be blamed for asking, Why is God allowing such a thing to happen? How can God turn a blind eye to the devastation that has come as a result of these fires – the loss of property, animals, even human life? Why doesn’t God do something about it? Why does God allow so many to needlessly suffer?

It is these kinds of questions that the prophet Habakkuk also struggled with, roughly six hundred years before Christ. …”

– Ben George writes at The Australian Church Record.

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