Sunday, 26 February 2017

The SBC and the 21st Century

I should begin by admitting two things, firstly I got this book for free from B and H academics, I don't have to give a positive review. Secondly, I got this by mistake I thought it was a book about Southern Seminary. The picture on the cover looked to be like Southern, I was initially somewhat disappointed, especially when  I started reading Thom Rainer's chapter dealing with statistics about parts of the Southern Baptist Church that I had never heard of. Yet even in this chapter Rainer hits home hard, 'While programmatic evangelism may have lost its luster in our churches, we must find ways for our members to be intentionally involved in sharing their faith in today's culture'. This isn't just an issue in the SBC or even in the wider American evangelical culture, it seems it is a western problem. As Baptists we often argue for the priesthood of all believers but then expect the minister to do the work for us. 

My father in law loves Billy Graham and people of that generation, I found the history of how Billy Graham was involved in Al Mohler's call to Southern encouraging. In a similar way I was surprised to find Carl Henry being a driving force in getting Mark Dever to Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Two ministries I have been greatly blessed by, it is true that one generation commends the work

David Platt's chapter on mission was passionate and heart warming, reminding us that 'mission must not be our life. Instead, Christ must be our life and missions must be the overflow of lives that exist to exalt him'. He goes on to say with the same passion that the call to mission isn't for the select few it is for every Christian, it isn't an extra option but a command that must be obeyed. However this flows out of a heart that is devoted to Christ. Again this isn't just an issue for the Southern Baptists but for every denomination we are far to comfortable with our vast resources that God has given us to fuel mission rather than keep buying stuff. A big challenge! 

As a non American,  I have heard of the SBC for years and as a Baptist it's always been interesting to hear about this large Baptist denomination. This interest has grown as my in laws are part of a SBC church and I've gotten to preach in one, albeit in the basement.

This book is well worth a read for anyone interested in the history, present and future direction of this great denomination.

God Bless

Monday, 20 February 2017

John Flavel- favourite Puritan

Reading John Flavel this morning, it isn't for nothing that he is my favourite Puritan:

'Mercy runs nimbly to help, when souls are ready to fall under the pressure of sin'

'Grace never appears Grace until sin appears to be sin'

'Christ is not sweet till sin be made bitter'

'If once God wounds the heart of a sinner, with the stinging sense of sin, then nothing in the world is so precious, so necessary, so vehemently desired and panted for as Christ Jesus'

All in just one page of John Flavel, Method of Grace sermon 9.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Engaging and faithful

I'm not long back from a men's breakfast and it set me thinking, I knew of the speaker, he is from the local Charismatic church. I didn't know he was the speaker or I probably wouldn't have gone. He stuck to type, he quoted some sociological study, a Franciscan monk  and a couple of quotes from the Bible. He didn't have an open bible or expound any passage.  He reminded me of a quote from John Stott in his Contemporary Christian book, that some churches try to be relevant but they never open their bible's so are not actually relevant. Stott rightly though points out the reverse is also true, there are churches where the word is opened but not applied so they are faithful. I left with the challenge that I think about often, how to be confessional, or if you prefer biblical faithful and yet engaging. I desire in my preaching to be bang up to date culturally and  faithful to the Word. I suppose Stott again is helpful in this in his lecture on crossing the bridge from the world of the Bible to our world it's easier said than done though.

Seeking to be faithful and relevant

God Bless