Archives for February 2007

Do you need to return to the Lord (part 4)?

Over the last week, we’ve been considering some challenging verses in Amos, and looked at how they could apply to church groups and denominations, and also to local churches.

Again, it’s important when we apply Scripture that we don’t just apply it to others. Let’s not be guilty at pointing the finger and bishops and pastors, but not considering the truth of God for ourselves. How might these verses in Amos apply to us as individuals? Remember, the overall thrust of the passage is that God is warning His people by giving them difficulties and problems. He wants them to respond to the problems by turning to Him. So perhaps we could apply it like this:

“I gave you heartache and lack of peace in every way,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to you?

[Read more…]

Articles in this series:

  1. Do you need to return to the Lord?
  2. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 2)?
  3. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 3)?
  4. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 4)? <-- This article

Do you need to return to the Lord (part 3)?

Over the last two days I’ve made some suggestions about how we can apply some challenging verses from Amos to today’s church.

Today I want to explain further why blessings and warnings are often physical in the Old Testament, but spiritual in the New. The answer is very simple. It’s not that God was not concerned with spiritual things in the Old Testament. It’s just that the Old Testament is full of types and shadows of spiritual reality. So we understand, for example, that the cloud and fire that showed God’s presence during the Exodus is a type or shadow that points us to a spiritual reality in the New Testament. That spiritual reality is the presence of God by His Spirit today. What was a physical sign of a spiritual reality has become that spiritual reality.

So we took the physical warnings Amos gave to Israel, and applied them to today’s church. But we did so in such a way that applied mainly to denominations. That’s OK, but I’m not responsible for a denomination, and you’re probably not either. It’s easy to point the finger at others – but perhaps the Lord would like to point it at us. Let’s make sure the application can hit home to our own local church:

“I gave you half-empty evening services
and lack of souls in every prayer meeting,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“I gave you overworked Sunday School teachers
and lack of workers in many ministries,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“I gave you large expenses and lack of income
so your bank balance has sunk,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“I sent disunity among you as I did in the past.
I caused your young men to leave,
along with your recent converts.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your unhappiness,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“Many times I struck your sermons and bible-studies,
I struck them with shallowness and empty platitudes.
Secular culture devoured your understanding and spiritual growth,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

Now before I get into trouble, let me be quite clear. I am not saying that I am certain that the Lord is judging your church. I am not saying that if you are experiencing any of these things then that is definitely a sign that you are on the wrong road and are refusing to return to God.

But the Lord’s question is clear. When difficulties come, do we turn to the Lord?

There are too many churches who are struggling, but simply shrug their shoulders and claim that we live in hard times, and the day of small things, but they never turn to the Lord. I fear that the Lord will do even harder things so that the church returns to him. There are too many churches who are bowing to cultural demands, but simply shrug their shoulders and claim that it’s the only way to reach a post-modern generation, but they never turn to the Lord. I fear that the Lord will do even harder things so that the church returns to him.

Is the Lord saying to them and to us: “Therefore this is what I will do to you… and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God (Amos 4:12).

Articles in this series:

  1. Do you need to return to the Lord?
  2. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 2)?
  3. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 3)? <-- This article
  4. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 4)?

Do you need to return to the Lord (part 2)?

Yesterday I posted some challenging verses from Amos, and asked “How do these verse apply to God’s people today?”

It’s usually not possible – or at least very unwise – to give exactly the same application today as was given in the Old Testament. Too much has changed since then: language and culture for a start – not to mention the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and the gift of the Spirit!

One simple thing to do is to take what God says to national Israel, and look to apply it to the church. But if that’s all we do, then often that’s not enough. Theologically, too much has changed since then.

A helpful guide is to understand that the blessings and warnings that we receive are more likely to be in the spiritual realm than the physical. I don’t want to make the difference between physical and spiritual too great, it’s not as if there are only physical blessings in the Old Testament, and only spiritual blessings in the New. There is both physical and spiritual in both Testaments. But it is true to say that in the Old Testament, spiritual blessings and warnings tend to be expressed in physical ways.

[Read more…]

Articles in this series:

  1. Do you need to return to the Lord?
  2. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 2)? <-- This article
  3. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 3)?
  4. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 4)?

Do you need to return to the Lord?

I was preaching from Amos chapter four recently, and was particularly struck by these verses (Amos 4:4-11):

“Go to Bethel and sin;
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.
Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
and brag about your freewill offerings—
boast about them, you Israelites,
for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign Lord.

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
and lack of bread in every town,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

[Read more…]

Mac Video Help Needed

Adobe QuicktimeMany visitors to this site arrive because of my video presentation of S M Lockridge’s “My King” – it’s by far the most popular page on the site. And as a result, I’m frequently asked about a version of the video that will play on a Mac. I’ve done my best to accommodate this – even purchasing Quicktime Pro – but the uncompressed version of the video is 1Gb, and it crashes Quicktime (at least it crashes the PC version of Quicktime). I’ve also tried to output directly to Quicktime, but I can’t get the settings right, I’m left with a really poor quality end-result.

So, I need some help it getting this on a Mac format. Is there anyone who is familiar with Quicktime and Adobe After Effects, and is willing to try and make this work? If so, you can either suggest what settings for me to use, or I’ll send you the files you need to produce the video yourself, so that you can return a Quicktime video to me for uploading on this site.* If you’re familiar with video-effects software but don’t own After Effects, you can download a demo from Adobe which will give you 60 days to get the job done!

Several people have also asked me for a tutorial to get the video onto DVD. If anyone would like to write (or has written) such a tutorial, I’d be happy to publish it here, or link to your site. Ideally the tutorial should be simple to follow, and use only free software, though tutorials for the major packages such as Roxio and Nero would also be useful.

I’d be very grateful for any help.

* I have purchased several of the source images, and they are licensed only for my use, so I’m not able to allow others to use them in modifations or keep them for their own purposes, sorry.

Review: The Jesus Gospel, by Liam Goligher

The Jesus GospelIf the mark of a good book is that it causes you to worship your Saviour, then The Jesus Gospel is truly an excellent book.

The subtitle ‘Recovering the Lost Message’, demonstrates the book’s purpose – it’s a response to Steve Chalke’s The Lost Message of Jesus, which cause something of a furore in 2003. This was not simply because Chalke was denying the atoning work of Christ on the cross – countless numbers have done that over the generations – but that Chalke was denying penal substitution whilst claiming to remain evangelical.

Thankfully, Liam Goligher does not defend the truth of scripture by poring over Chalke’s work point by point. Instead (to paraphrase Spurgeon), he lets the lion out of the cage. The Jesus Gospel is no mere defence against liberal theology, it’s a glorious affirmation of the truths of the whole Bible in relation to the Cross.
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“The prophetic gift should continue in all the Church until the final coming”

The quote that heads this article is not a quote from me. It’s one from of the champions of cessationism, Eusebius. There have been several posts in blogosphere over the last few months giving the impression that the Church Fathers’ were almost entirely cessationist. That is only partly true. Notably absent from the discussion is the impact the Montanism had on the early church.

Montanus was a heretic, who believed he was a prophet and had new revelations from God. It is widely acknowledged that prophecy died out from the church shortly after the heresy sprung up. But what the cessationists don’t often tell you is how this heresy was dealt with. Take these extracts from that arch-opponent of Montanism, Eusebius (he’s quoting from fellow-opponent, Miltiades):

For if after Quadratus and Ammia in Philadelphia, as they assert, the women with Montanus received the prophetic gift, let them show who among them received it from Montanus and the women. For the apostle thought it necessary that the prophetic gift should continue in all the Church until the final coming. But they cannot show it… – Eccl. Hist. 5.17.4

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