Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Why I love this book

Yesterday I heard the 5 minute religious slot on BBC radio 2, the guy seemed nice, what he said was also nice but it just wasn't biblical. In his understanding, God doesn't even see bad things in humanity and sin doesn't exist. This understanding is very common outside of the church and is becoming increasingly common in the wider evangelical church. What a breath of fresh air then are Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck with their deep commintment to the faith once delivered to the saints and their deep commitment to the local church. In their latest joint work, 'Why We Love The Church', In the closing chapter, Deyoung shows that our greatest need is not contemporary services, nor seeker sensitive services but continuing to deal with a real Saviour who saves sinners.

Deyoung writes:
The nice thing about the doctrine of original sin is that it focuses our attention on issues that are a little more timeless. People will always be sinners. So our main problem is not lack of integration on balance, or lack of success or education, or even poverty and injustice, as serious as these problems can be. Our main problem will always be sin. And, hence, we are always in need of a Savior. This doesn't mean we can be blissfully ignorant of the world around us, but it means our focus will be squarely on the gospel. We can forget about being the church of what's happening now, and relearn to be the church of Christ, and Him crucified. p.216-17

This book is a book that is honest about the church and its faults but still believes there is no salvation outside of the community of faith that is the universal church expressed locally in a vibrant bibe centred Christ exhalting local church. The Church is the bride of Christ and will one day be presented to Christ, in all His glory with no spot or blemish and looking perfectly radiant as it radiates the beauty of Christ.

Stephen <><

Friday, 2 April 2010

What's good about Good Friday?

I didn't grow up in a Christian home, my parents are agnostic at best, living with no thought to the big questions about God and why we are here. Yet as a small child I knew without anyone telling me that there was a God. In our home we did celebrate (in a very secular way) both Christmas and Easter, and I knew that Christmas was a celebration of Jesus' birth and that Good Friday was a celebration of Jesus' death. This confused me so I would ask people 'what is good about Good Friday' or 'why did Jesus die'. My dad told me it was so people didn't have to get cancer, I knew that wasn't the answer as it didn't make sense. I remember asking the local Anglican vicar but I didn't understand his answer. When I got into my teens the question moved to the back of my mind, in Senior School I met an Evangelical named Glen, Glen was a nice guy but I had no idea what an Evangelical was. All I knew was that he wasn't C of E like me (and the rest of my non-believing family) so maybe he was in a cult or something. Glen and I would have philosophical/ religious discussions from time to time and sometimes I felt like I had the upper hand (although I had no clue what I was talking about). By this time I still believed there was a God out there and I even prayed but it didn't effect the way I lived my life. My language was pretty bad for a teenager, I would also steal stuff for the fun of it, worst of all I messed around on Quiji boards. I was about as far from God as any teenager could be, but God was at work.

When I was 15 years old my family went to the North of Wales for a vacation during the summer holidays from school. I was so pleased that early in the first week I bumped into Glen so I had someone to hang around with. On the Wednesday night I was with Glen and we were having another one of our philosophical/ religious debates and I sensed that I was losing. Having asked lots of people the question about 'Why did Jesus die-what is good about Good Friday' and never getting a good answer I thought I would throw that in as a spanner in the works, so that I might get the upper hand.
What a thunder bolt from heaven- Glen shared with me something I had never heard before.
He told me that God exists in three persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He then told me something that had never dawned on me, that I had sinned against this Holy God, in word , thought and deeds because I was a sinner. As a sinner Glen said, you deserve to go to hell. Yet God the Father sent his Son into the world to become a man and life a perfect live. Jesus never sinned, he was without sin and didn't deserve to die. Yet he died in your place so that if you turn from your sin you can have eternal life with God. As Glen spoke in a very tender voice, for the very first time in my life I realised that even though I believed in God's existence and prayed ,I wasn't a Christian. I knew that if I died that moment I would rightly go to hell, and it felt like to do this I would just need to step backwards as though hell was under my feet at that very moment. Yet it wasn't the fear of hell that grabbed me, but the love of Jesus. At that very moment Jesus was the most wonderful, most attractive, most desirable person in the universe and I wanted to know Him. So right there and then as we walked a cross a railway bridge I asked God to forgive me of my sin for Jesus sake, and to take me and change me and use me for his glory. I realised later that I crossed another bridge, the bridge from death to life. That moment I felt no flashing lights, heard no angels sing but had a sense of peace. The next morning when I woke up I realised I was a new person, I had never felt empty but now felt that I had a purpose in life. I never felt dirty but now I felt clean, I described it at the time like I had taken a bath on the inside. I was born again and my life now belongs to God, over the years God has kept me and I know that He is and that His love is the most awesome thing you can have. Nearly 2000 years ago on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem three guys hung on a cross. Two of them for the crimes they had committed against humanity, the other one dying for the crimes of humanity against God. God forsaken by God, bearing the wrath that we deserve so that we can be forgiven. What is good about Good Friday? That though we have offended a Holy God we can know forgiveness because His Son, the just laid down His life for the unjust.

Praise be to God for His wonderful love!
Stephen <><