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True Humility and the Christian Sportsman

Gavin Peacock


    Sports people tend to live on edge because they are under pressure to perform. You have, maybe a ten year career at best, maybe a two or three year contract as security. But you could get injured in the next training session and lose your place in the team or even be dropped through bad form. In many ways sport is a microcosm of life, bringing into view intense highs and lows in a short space of time.You are the hero on a Saturday and lauded by the press and by Tuesday you are the villain ridiculed by the same press and in danger of losing your place in the team. Worry, fear and anxiety haunts the sportsman so much. The subsequent depression leading to suicide, alcoholism, and other addictions in football have been much in the news lately.

1 Peter 5:6 says,  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
    So what is the connection between humility and being free of anxiety?

    “Casting anxieties” is not a new command in addition to “Humble yourselves”, it is a participle. It enriches our understanding of what it means to humble oneself. It defines it. Humble yourselves…BY casting your anxieties on God.” The way that we become humble is by casting our anxieties on him.
   Humility is not just the act of self denial and servanthood. That is its outward form seen in our actions towards teammates. It is primarily the inward positive action of living dependence upon God for help with everything. After all he gives grace to the humble. He is the God of all grace (v. 10)
   It makes sense to say then that pride would keep us from trusting God with our cares and burdens. Pride is unbelief; lack of faith, trust. Trust or God dependence is then the essence of humility. Casting your anxiety on God is depending on God.  Casting your anxiety on God is not something you do after you humble yourself. It's something you do in order to humble yourself, or as a means of humbling yourself.
   Now why is that the case? Why is freeing yourself from anxieties, cares, burdens, fears, worries the pathway to humility before God and others?
  The answer is that the great stumbling block to putting others ahead of ourselves and considering them more important than us is the concern of who will take care of you? What about my problems, my suffering, my loss, my pain, my needs. Who’s going to meet them?
  And of course the answer to that question is, God will. True humility is an inward disposition of dependancy upon God to meet all of your needs, because his hand is mighty and because he cares. When you humble yourself under God's mighty hand by casting your burdens upon him, it frees you to serve others out of fullness.
   That’s the seed of true humility; absolute God dependence. And the sign of that is when people pray.  Because prayer is that inner trust turned outwards to God in words.


   Worry is rooted in unbelief. To the anxious person, God either is not able to carry your burden or he does not care enough. "Why don't we pray? Our view of our own might is too big and our view of God's might is too small. Humility says "I am not able but God is able. Let God have the glory as the giver and may I have the help as the needy one."

   For the Christian sportsman, true humility is found in God dependency not self sufficiency. It is also truly freeing to be able to let God carry the concerns of fitness, form and the unknown future. So grow in humility as you cast your anxieties that each week brings upon the mighty and caring God who did not even spare his own Son for your sins.

Tension that Strengthens the Fibres of Faith

Gavin Peacock

Tension that Strengthens the Fibres of Faith



_______________________________________________________________________
“The great danger in a crisis is to rush to do things, and then just to be satisfied with our actions. Being busy subdues the mind, the heart, and the conscience, and gives us a feeling of relief. We feel, therefore, that just because we are doing something, we are dealing with the problem. The result is that we avoid the problem. Lessening the tension in a crisis is not of itself a good thing. Indeed, it can be altogether a bad thing. Morphis lessens the pain and tension but it does nothing to cure the illness. In short, the big danger today is to rush into dealing with the signs, the symptoms of our religious illness, rather than discovering and treating the true cause of all these signs.”

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times, Religion Today and Tomorrow, 26.
“Lessening the tension in a crisis is not of itself a good thing." Why? Because we can be tempted to rush in and deal with the symptoms without discovering the cause. Lloyd Jones is speaking in the context of true conversion as opposed to simply moral and philosophical reform.

But whilst this premise is true for salvation it holds true for sanctification. In trials and conflict and suffering of various kinds our first inclination is to get out of the situation. We naturally want relief. But actually what we need is to grow in faith. God's sovereign design in the trial is to strengthen fibres of faith. Suffering often reveals remaining indwelling sin. It also squeezes us that we might turn more to God for mercy and grace and be less self-sufficient. The divine intention is always that God would show his compassion in and through the trial itself. The trial then becomes a means of grace to the believer.

Let me take it further. How about when there is tension in conflict with your spouse? Rather than quickly just wash over it, say sorry and move on, letting the tension remain and prayerfully examining one’s own reactions and attitudes will perhaps reveal sin on your part for which you can repent. If both parties do this then reconciliation will be deeper and gospel soaked rather than superficial and moralistic.  It will be heart change rather than simply behaviour change. The same is true of parenting. We must always seek to gospel our children. Behaviour modification will only produce Pharisees and harden children to the gospel.

The Doctor uses a medical example to illustrate his point, “Morphis lessens the pain and tension but it does nothing to cure the illness.” I will use a sporting analogy. You never get fitter if you are always training in the comfort zone. You must push your body to distress in order to grow. Muscles need to be stretched and under tension. It hurts and our inclination is to give up or slow down or lessen the load so that we get relief. But muscles only grow when put under stress. We need to stay in the tension. Because in the pain is the gain. And so it is with God and trials. It is in the tension and through the suffering that often sin is revealed and repentance is found and Christlikeness formed as God strengthens the fibres in our muscles of faith.

Reflections on "Special" Niddrie, Church Planting and the Great Commission

Gavin Peacock

     
     If you want to see the power of the Gospel according to the Great Commission go to Niddrie Community Church (http://www.niddrie.org).  I say "see" because Gospel transformation is so evident there. In my ten days with their pastor, Mez McConnell, his leaders, and the people of the area, I saw three come to faith in Christ. I did Bible studies with  men and women who are recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol but, more importantly, who have been cleansed of their sin by the blood of Christ. I preached to an evening congregation who sang with passion and joy to a merciful God, and with a gratefulness for forgiven sin that was refreshing. You see they understand grace in Niddrie because they know they have been forgiven much. The doctrines of sin and Hell are not disputed, so the doctrines of grace are more gladly received. The veneer of middle class life which covers up so many people's sin so that it feels like there is no need for Christ is not prevalent there. In Niddrie, people have experienced the effects of sin from the outside through poverty, suffering and abuse and, in many cases, through the consequences of their own misdemeanours. Though not perfect, there are no masks. What's the point? The masks don't look that good anyway. So that leaves people free to make much of Christ and the robe of his righteousness, knowing that God smiles upon us in him.

      So why is this happening here? What's so "special" about Niddrie and Mez McConnell's ministry?
Well, I certainly think God has raised up a man like Mez for a time such as this. Anyone who knows Mez knows that he was a man on the wrong side of the law who was saved by the Gospel of Christ through the faithful ministry of Christian men who came into his life. (Check out his testimony here http://t4g.org/media/2012/04/testimonies-mez-mcconnell/).
He also understands the schemes in which he ministers. The local people respect him and give him a hearing. He is profoundly theological yet able to convey the truth in an understandable way. There is thought and structure below the organic nature of weekly routine in Niddrie, through the preaching, Bible studies, Recover groups, and life on life ministry. People may see a tough guy in Mez, but I see a family man who loves and leads his wife and two daughters, a man who has deep deep compassion for the lost and the deprived in this world and a man who loves God above all else. I have made a good friend in Mez and hold a deep affection for his people. But lest this article turn into hagiography, the key is that in Niddrie new converts are being made. There are twenty people waiting to be baptized. This is not a place of Christian "shuffling" where believers are moving from one church to another. Here God's Spirit is moving and indigenous people are coming to the Lord. Hence Mez's initiative to plant/revitalize 20 churches in 20 schemes by raising up men and women to do the work (http://www.20schemes.com).
   
     Jesus says in Matthew 28:18-20 that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. This is the ground for us to go and make and grow disciples of all the nations. He also says that he will be with us to the end of the age. What's the link between Christ's authority that tells us to go and the promised presence of Christ with us?
Don Carson puts it this way: "It is not surprising that as we discharge this commission, the promised presence of Jesus is cherished all the more. Because we know him and his transforming presence in our own lives, we evangelize, baptize, instruct, disciple- and know him all the better, and experience all the more his transforming presence in our own lives. His promise to be with us to the end of the age is thus the matrix out of which we obey the Great Commission, simultaneously the ground and the goal, the basis and the reward. How could it be otherwise? We serve him because we love him and long to hear his blessed "Well done!" at the end of our course"

       Belief in the saving and transforming power of the Gospel Christ is what makes Niddrie Community Church a living church and it is why 20schemes will succeed and it is how the Great Commission will happen. The sovereign power and presence of Lord Jesus is then the ground and the goal for Church growth, church planting and the ingathering of the elect from all the nations. He will build his church and the sheep will hear his voice and come when they hear the Gospel.

     Satan couldn't care less whether you are rich or poor as long as you ignore Christ. It's just that it's hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom. Many may look at a deprived area like Niddrie with an "us and them" mentality, all the while secretly and damningly saying with the Pharisee, "God I thank you that I'm not like other, extortioners, unjust adulterers, or even like this tax collector" (Luke 18:11). But the Gospel levels the playing field and strips back any veneer to reveal the desperate state and poverty of each human heart before a holy God so that all fall short and need Christ and all are equal in his sight. What's so special about Niddrie?  Ultimately the "special" thing about Niddrie is a sense of God's holiness, and a sense of sin, and a sense of grace, which gives rise to a faithfulness to fulfill the Great Commission by proclaiming the explicit Gospel of Christ. The Gospel community testifies to the surrounding unbelieving community by Gospel proclamation. And transformed life on life missional living lends authenticity to that proclamation.  So Niddrie Community Church is an imperfect community of grace. Imperfect, yes. But a community knit together in love by the Gospel grace of God in Christ. We need more churches like this in which you can already hear the echo of a divine, "Well done".
 




UK Ministry Trip: The gloriously grueling task and the particular burning verse

Gavin Peacock


       In a recent article John Piper writes that the "...particular glories of God are seen and enjoyed not mainly by gazing over the whole dazzling landscape of redemptive history, but by focusing on some particular thing God did or said inside the story."



       Of course you need to understand the verse in its historical grammatical context within the canon of Scripture. In other words you need a grasp of the full sweep of redemptive history from creation to consummation.  However, what Piper wants to highlight is that this big picture exists to also reveal the particular ways and glories of God with his people inside of that story.

       This often happens when he burns a particular verse of Scripture into your heart. That can be ongoing or it can be for a specific time.
       One promise which God has currently burned into my heart comes from Acts 18: 9-10:
 "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you or harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people." 
        
         I have just arrived in Edinburgh for 10 days of ministry amongst some of Scotland's poorest in the most deprived areas. I expect to serve and to learn much. I'll be staying in Niddrie with Mez McConnell, who is doing some amazing Gospel work there and seeking God's blessing upon a new initiative to plant 20 Gospel churches in 20 housing schemes. Now that is a gloriously grueling task: Glorious because it is for the fame of Christ’s name and grueling because of the difficulty of the work. But how will it be accomplished?

       In the other chapters around Acts 18 Paul is going around the churches "strengthening" them by his ministry (14:22; 15:41; 16:5; 18:23). Surely the task of any visiting minister is to strengthen the saints whom he serves. Yet in Acts 18 an aspect of an awakening ministry is in view. We see Paul in Corinth given a promise from God not to fear but to boldly proclaim the gospel because there are people of God in that city who need to hear the word and be saved. Christ has already purchased his bride on the cross. To put it another way, Christ has other sheep that need to be brought into the fold through the preached and received word.  All we need to know is that God is sovereign and he is with us as we go. If he is sovereign there is nothing that can happen to us outside of his will and if he is with us then how can our task fail? At some stage someone is coming out saved, "I have many in this city who are my people".

      That's the promise that is strengthening me as I go to strengthen and by grace awaken others. That's the particular burning verse that church planters in the 20 Schemes initiative would do well to embrace for this gloriously grueling task. So as they suffer for Christ sake they will be strengthened by God's word.

     Mez and I chatted over the phone a couple of days ago and I Iet him in on my burning verse. He informed me that he had just taught a Bible study on it that morning! By the way, there is a Church Planting Conference in Edinburgh next week which we will attend called, wait for it, " In this City 2012". Oh, and in Piper’s article, the particular verse that sustained him through the years? “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa.41: 10).

UK Ministry Trip: 4 Theological Truths from Job 1 and 2

Gavin Peacock


    The theme was "The Gospel and Suffering", and four theological truths emerged from Job 1 and 2 which I preached at Brixton Church, London on Sunday:

  1.      God is sovereign. We need a high and majestic view of God;

He governs all that happens in heaven and on earth. He is sovereign over Satan’s work and is the ultimate cause: 1:21; 2:3,10; 42:11.
  • God admits it: "You incited me against him to destroy him without reason…"
  • Job’s says it: "The Lord gives and takes away...Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil…"
  • Job’s family and friends recognize it in Ch. 42- “showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him”.
  •  Which means that Satan is on a leash (1:12, 2:6). He is the immediate agent and plays his part but has limited power and God uses him to unwittingly accomplish his purposes. Evil tries to destroy our faith and witness through suffering and God permits him to try it and then designs our suffering to be the means by which our faith is strengthened and God’s name is upheld.


      And that’s good news! That’s good news that a sovereign and wise and good God is in control and not Satan, or evil dictators or any government or even the natural elements, which are left to run amok while God stands by helpless. Our sovereign holy God is ruling over all things, people, nations and events and nothing can happen to you outside of his control- even suffering. God is sovereign over all angels and demons, nations and nature, diseases and death, comfort and calamity and he is sovereign over your suffering whatever that is today. This means that he is with you and for you. His sovereignty guarantees that Satan has been conquered and his sovereignty guarantees that one day all suffering everywhere will cease.

Know this and believe this. Theological truth number 1, God is sovereign.





       2.  Man is sinful and man has limited vision in suffering. We need a low and humble view of man:
              
              Job was a repenting man who lived by faith in a merciful God. Your biggest problem and mine is not our suffering in this life its our sin.

        Francis Schaeffer was once asked the question, "What would you do if you met a modern man on a train and had just one hour to talk to him about the gospel?" Schaeffer replied,
"I would spend 45-50 minutes on the negative, to really show him his dilemma—that he is morally dead—then I'd take 10-15 minutes to preach the gospel. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear, simply because we are too anxious to get to the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness, which is true moral guilt in the presence of God."

       Our problem is not that we have done a few things wrong our problem is that we are morally dead, guilty before a holy God and deserve eternal punishment and the wrath of God: that is Hell. What we most need is the mercy and compassion of God.

       You also don’t see the full picture in your trials. Job didn’t. You may see three or four things, but God is doing hundreds of other things behind the scenes that you are not privy to yet. Maybe your trial is the means by which another person is saved. Your suffering is not the whip of an angry judge it is the knife of a loving surgeon. The eye of faith looks beyond the pain to the goodness of the one who ultimately causes it.

“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?”
A. W. Tozer

Theological truth number 2: Man is sinful and man has limited vision

   

          3.    God’s purposes in suffering are manifold: They are always good and all wise.

  • Purity of faith is proven under heavy affliction.    
         Job’s faith was proven and strengthened through the trial as he was left to live off God alone.


1 Pet. 1:6 – In this you now rejoice, though now for a little while if necessary you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuiness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”

  • In all trials God aims to magnify his worth and Satan aims to destroy your joy in God.

         God aims to strengthen faith; Satan aims to ruin faith. And the mirror he chooses to show it in is the enduring faith and joy in the hearts of his people, even though they lose everything on this earth.
         The pain of suffering is very real and very deep at times. The Bible doesn’t ignore that because God doesn’t. If he ultimately ordains your pain, he knows your pain and is with you in you pain. 

  • Suffering causes us to look to God for mercy

         Writing to encourage a church under persecution listen to James lifting up Job as an example of faith persevering through suffering,  “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (Jas. 5:10-11) James is showing the church that suffering is God’s means of showing himself to his people and to the world.

Theological truth number 3: God’s purposes in suffering are manifold.

Which leads to:
      4.   God’s ultimate purpose in suffering and the ultimate reason suffering exists is to exalt the glory of his mercy and compassion, in the sending of his Son to suffer for sinners so that sinners would not suffer for eternity.

        Job’s biggest problem and ours is not Satan or our suffering or trial of this hour. It is our sin that is an offence to a holy God and leaves us under the just condemnation of his wrath.  
Job trusts in a sovereign good and wise God’s mercy for his righteousness. He shows the need for a mediator between God and man in the prayers and sacrifices for sin that he makes for his family (1:5). He cries out in Job 19:25 in the midst of prolonged suffering. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth.”
His heart cry was for a vindication from God.

        Well for Job the Redeemer was to come and for us He is past. God was to send his son Jesus Christ, the one truly innocent sufferer, to die for  guilty sinners like us.

Theological truth number 4: The ultimate purpose that suffering exists is to exalt the glory of the Son of God who suffered for sinners so that sinners would not suffer eternally.


UK Ministry Trip: Biblical Manhood and the Crowded House

Gavin Peacock



           I was encouraged by the response to a message I gave on Wednesday to the men of the Crowded House Church in Sheffield on Biblical Manhood. They were receptive, thoughtful and eager. This is a church of biblical health. 

Principles of a complementarian view of manhood and womanhood can be taught from the pulpit and verbally affirmed, but many marriages are functionally egalitarian. In other words, application of the truth is the issue.

That is why it was good to have a question and answer time where the men could press into the “what does this look like on the ground?” stuff.

One particular question raised by Steve Timmis (co-founder of The Crowded House and Director of Acts 29 Europe) was this:

“Would you make a man an elder if, although he was complementarian and sought to lead, protect and provide for his wife, she was pushing back and was strongly egalitarian?”

This is a good question, and one where manhood and womanhood, marriage and church leadership intersect. The couple are both believers, he wants to see headship and submission lived out, the church are teaching it, he is praying for her and loving her but is aware that he should not force or coerce her. Would you make this man an elder?

My response in short was, “No, wait”. I base my answer on the following:

 a.)    1 Tim. 3:4: An elder “must manage his household well with all dignity, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household how will he care for God’s church?” Paul relates the managing of the family household to the managing of the church household. There is a divine design and order that is good for us in both households. Roles are not interchangeable. Husbands possess ultimate authority (though rarely should need to exercise this!), as do elders in the church. So if there is not a willing submission to that authority in the family household, assuming it is being exercised in a biblical way, then a man cannot be considered ready to manage the church household.

b.)   An elder must be an example for the flock (1Cor. 11:1; 1Tim. 4:12; Ti. 2:1:2, 3:5; 1 Peter 5:3). In his essay “The Church as Family”, (Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Grudem and Piper, 244), Vern Sheridan Poythress says:

“…fathers” of the church stand out. Mature, sober, sound, godly men with exemplary family lives are the natural leaders in this extended family. First, the whole church naturally treats them as fathers and perceives the leadership abilities they exercise in their own immediate families…church leadership in a situation of family intimacy is like family leadership-a matter not primarily of laying down formal rules but of setting a good example that naturally engenders admiration and that people attempt to emulate.”

How could a man be an elder in a church, which is teaching the importance of headship and submission as a creation issue and a Gospel issue, and yet it not be modeled in his own marriage?


        So waiting gives time for the situation to change and for God to work through the continued prayer and leadership of the husband, plus the counsel of the elders who should be brought into the picture at some stage. A conflict of approach to headship and submission will bring up conflict in the home. If submission is being taught in the church and a wife refuses to subscribe to it, then she resists giving submission to her husband’s headship and the leadership of the church. Remember, this is a central issue for the church. So elders have a responsibility alongside the husband to lovingly teach and correct the wife.

            One may argue that it seems harsh to delay the appointment of this man as an elder, because it is not his fault if he is ultimately doing all he can. Well, one must also be apt to teach to be an elder; that aptitude is not there with every man, and that’s not his fault either. The glory of God is what matters most, and the church is central to that because she is the Bride of Christ. The Bride must be led and protected and nourished. When you make headship and submission in the home and the church a God thing, it switches the focus away from “self” and “rights” and towards the Gospel.


UK Ministry Trip: Scougal, Suffering and the Saviour

Gavin Peacock



       Today I was reading the Scottish Puritan, Henry Scougal, in preparation for an upcoming ministry trip, where in London and Edinburgh I will be preaching on Suffering and the Gospel. He writes an essay entitled The Necessity and Advantage of Early Afflictions on the basis of Lamentations 3:27-28:

"It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him."

     Scougal was known for his purity humility and kindness. He died at 28 from tuberculosis. He knew suffering at a young age. He speaks of a sovereign, good, wise and loving God who ultimately causes our suffering. He writes: "The crosses we meet with are not the effects of blind chance, but the results of a wise and unerring providence which knows what is best for us and loves us better than we can do ourselves."

And this, he says, is most advantageous when we learn it early in life.

      I was 26 when my wife Amanda and I experienced an acute dispensation of suffering when our son Jake was born with only one hand. It was unexpected -we only had one prenatal scan in those days. I was captain of Newcastle Utd and only weeks before had been on the top of a bus going round the city with 150,000 worshipping Geordies chanting our names. Life was good. I was young. Then, it seemed as though a Job like experience hit us and left us reeling and confused. "Why?", we asked.
"Oh, a one in ten thousand fluke event" some said. We, however, believed the doctor who told us: "This is the body God has given your son. This is Jake."
There it was. Instant sovereignty of God spoken into our lives. God ultimately did this and he is in control, and he is good and all wise. Both my wife and I can say, "It was good for us to be afflicted in our youth, that we may know God in this way."


Five realities drive the message I will deliver in London and Scotland:


1. Suffering is a biblical and pastoral reality: It comes from Acts 14:21-22. Paul having just been stoned in Lystra is coming back visiting the young church with Barnabus: The text reads, “…they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch , strengthening the souls of the disciples , encouraging them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” So Paul’s way of discipling believers, to strengthen and encourage them, is to tell them, “You must suffer”.


2. Suffering is a global reality: 50,000 people contracted HIV last week alone, malaria kills a child in the world every 45 seconds, one in two people will get cancer, hundreds of thousands have been killed in earthquakes in Haiti and China, and in recent tsunamis and cyclones. And 150, 000 people die every day in this world- 60 million this year.

John Piper brings home the stark reality:

“One hundred [people] are dying each minute. If you could hear them all, you’d hear so many screams you’d go insane. Only God can hear them all and not go insane. God parcels out our awareness in small amounts lest we go under. How can you live in a world like that as a loving person and rejoice in the Lord?”


3. Suffering is a personal reality:· There is day for everyone when disaster strikes and a child is abducted (think April Jones), or a parent dies or cancer is diagnosed. If you live long enough, you will suffer a moment like this. It can be unexpected, unfathomable, and seem unjust.

Many of you reading this are experiencing real trials, real pain and real hardships at this moment and are looking for light darkness. It may be bereavement, sickness, loneliness, relational strife, depression, financial concerns …you fill in the gap. God is no respecter of persons when it comes to suffering. Everyone suffers.


4. Suffering is a missional reality: In Col. 1:24 , Paul rejoices in suffering as in his flesh he is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions". He doesn't mean that Christ dying and suffering on the cross was insufficient. He means that we, his church, his body, his people must suffer as a way of proclaiming and presenting to the world the one who dwells in us. We actually identify with Christ in his sufferings. The gospel spreads through suffering.


5. Suffering is a Gospel reality: And it can only be rightly understood when we see that the reason suffering exists is so that the Son of God could come and suffer to save sinners from eternal suffering. The cross is the lens through which to view all suffering. And when Christians treasure the hope of Christ in the Gospel more than what they lose through their affliction, faith is proven and Christ is raised up as most valuable and most worthy.

     Our son, Jake, along with our daughter, Ava, are now teenagers who are growing in their faith. As their father I want build into them the theological steel of sovereign grace; to teach them that life is not about comfort here and now, but about knowing your sin and your knowing your Saviour and having minds set on things above; to show them with Scougal that their crosses are "... the results of a wise and unerring providence which knows what is best for us and loves us better than we can do ourselves".

     So when they "bear the yoke" in whatever trial comes their way I will tell them that it is ultimately from God and it will be somehow for their good, because he has sent his Son to come and suffer to save sinners from eternal suffering.


UK Ministry Trip: Biblical Manhood

Gavin Peacock


  
       People often ask me what I most miss about playing professional football and they are surprised when I don’t say “playing!” I had a long and blessed career and God has now placed a specific call on my life as a minister of the gospel ( I currently serve as Home Missionary Pastor at a church in Calgary). But there are two things that I tell people I miss. One is being super fit. The other is being with the guys in that dressing room. There is something special about men gathered together and playing for a greater cause where the cost is high and the reward is great. As a pastor I have a burning desire to build men for the body of Christ.

       When Adam and Eve sinned by taking the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, God said, “Adam where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). He says to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Gen. 3:17). It doesn’t matter that Eve sinned first. Adam was held primarily responsible. Adam abdicated his responsibility to lead his wife when the serpent usurped the created order by first approaching her and not him. She bit, he was passive, they both fell and creation was fractured. The role of male and female, created equal in the image of God but different in role by design, is one of the crucial issues of our day. Where Satan has blurred the distinctions and subverted the roles we have a society, which cannot answer the question, what is it to be a man, and not a women, or what is it to be a woman and not a man.

       During my upcoming ministry trip to the UK I have been invited by Steve Timmis to speak to the men of the Crowded House Church in Sheffield on October 17th http://www.thecrowdedhouse.org/to the men of Beacon Church London on October 20th by Owen Hylton http://beacon-church.org/ and  to the men of Cornerstone Church Liverpool on October 30th by Steve Robinson http://www.cornerstonechurchliverpool.org/ .

This is one of the crucial issues of our day:
1. Because it relates to the character of the triune God  and to the very core of our personhood created in his image male and female, and 
2. Because it relates to the Gospel which is depicted in marriage between man and woman.
This is not a call to be macho but a call to lead and to love.  May God raise up a new generation of men in his church in the UK.

Niddrie Ministry

Gavin Peacock

          From October 26th - November 5th I'll be in Niddrie, Edinburgh. Niddrie is number 31 on the top 50 most deprived housing estates in Scotland. Unfortunately, it ranks number 1 in the city of Edinburgh! God has providentially brought about a friendship between myself and Mez McConnell, Pastor of NCC (Niddrie Community Church). Mez has invited me over to minister in a number of contexts from pulpit to recovery groups to evangelistic outreach events...oh and of course a football match for Niddrie F.C! As Home Missionary of Calvary Grace Church in Calgary where I currently pastor, this is also a great chance for our church to both serve and be served by Niddrie as Gospel partnerships are formed. Mez is launching 20 Schemes, a church planting initiative to plant 20 Gospel churches in 20 of Scotland's most deprived housing schemes: http://niddriepastor.com/2012/10/03/20-schemes-gospel-churches-for-scotlands-poorest/

          One of these areas is West Pilton, into which Andrew Scott , his wife Susan and son Daniel moved a few weeks ago. I will be visiting Andrew and West Pilton to do some Gospel outreach ministry. There is no church plant yet, but Andrew and his wife are praying and you can join them. http://crosstaker.org/  

          What God is using Mez and guys like Andrew for is rare in the UK. Who is going into the schemes or housing estates and planting Gospel churches? Mez wrote a convicting post about this recently: http://niddriepastor.com/2012/10/01/where-will-our-future-leaders-come-from/
Where are the men of God? Where also are the women of God? For though men will lead in planting and pastoring, women will be alongside them all the way.

         Only a clear understanding of the Gospel with a high view of a sovereign, holy God, a true view of sinful, lost and Hell-bound mankind and a glorious view of slain and risen Savior who has  ransomed  a people from every tribe and tongue will inspire a new generation to forsake the comforts of this world and count the cost and say, "Here I am send me!"

         Only seeing God's purpose in suffering will cause a man to choose to suffer and set aside his "rights" for the furtherance of the Kingdom in hard places. Only seeing the purpose for which sin and suffering exists to be that the Son of God could come and die for sinners to save them from eternal suffering, will inspire a man to go towards the pain of mission in the schemes of Scotland. Only seeing purity of faith and strengthened hope in Christ as God's purpose in suffering for believers will lead a man to move his family into the area in which Satan has a foothold and opposition is great.
        
         Where are the men like Adoniram Judson, who wrote the following letter to his prospective father-in-law to ask for his daughter, Ann's hand in marriage before setting off to Burma never to return?

“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next
spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to her departure to
a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life?
Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence
of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation,
insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the
sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of
perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent
to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown
of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her
Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”
Adoniram Judson, letter to Mr. Hasseltine

          Where are the men? Those who will be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong and let all that they do be done in love (1 Cor. 16:13-14)! Well maybe God is raising up a few in Edinburgh and maybe he will bestow his favor again on a land once a bastion for the Gospel in the days of John Knox. And maybe the fearless preaching of the Christ who was slain for the salvation of many sinners will resound from the pulpits once more. And maybe thousands will be saved as he continues to build his church for the praise of his glorious grace. This is my prayer for Niddrie and for Scotland.


UK 2012 Preaching Trip

Gavin Peacock

I am arriving in the UK on July 19th for a three week speaking/ preaching trip. My ministry will be a combination of preaching in church, men's events, youth events and men's prisons. With the advent of the Olympics to the UK there has been a concerted effort by many churches across denominations to come together and use this opportunity for gospel outreach. My hope is that the biblical gospel is proclaimed clearly, and the unique message that the church is commissioned to take to the world is not sidelined by the events themselves. With the best intentions in these occasions we can sometimes emphasize unity, social justice and mercy ministries and not tell the gospel. However, it is the gospel that is the power of God for salvation to all the nations.

The Gospel message is explicit; It's the good news of a holy God who, in love, intervenes in history to save sinful and hopeless mankind by sending his son, Jesus Christ who willingly satisfies the justice his holiness demands on the cross by making propitiation to His Father for sin. On the cross Christ shows God as a righteous Judge, having dealt with our sin against him. Simultaneously, as a substitute providing forgiveness and righteousness and all the new covenant blessings for those who would repent and believe in him, Christ shows the grace of God. In this way God can be both just and the justifier of those who would have faith in Christ. The resurrection of Christ is the vindication of who he is and what he did. This is the heart of the Gospel from which, by union with Christ through faith, we are adopted into a right everlasting relationship with our Father - now children of God and heirs freed from guilt, bondage to sin and Satan.

It's an exclusive message because Christ is the only way, and it is an inclusive message because it is free for anyone who will call upon the name of Christ. It's an offensive message to many but it's good news for those whom the Spirit gives ears to hear.

My church, Calvary Grace (Calgary), where I am currently Home Missionary, send me out to this event. So please pray that I would boldly proclaim the Gospel in truth and love. Pray that many unbelievers would be given ears to hear. Pray that Christians would be given new affections and deeper desires as they make Christ their greatest treasure. Pray for the many Gospel partnerships that will strike up during this Olympic event. Pray that the ripple effect of these partnerships would result in fruitful missionary labor in taking the Gospel of Christ to the 2000 plus people groups who are still unreached and have not heard of him. And pray that the sovereign Lamb of God who was slain to gather a people from every tribe and language and people and nation would receive the full reward of his sufferings.

I attach a schedule below:





Saturday 21 July   - Men's Breakfast @ Jubilee Church, (Enfield, London) - 10 a.m. -12 p.m
                                
                              - Speaking at a prayer meeting @ Brixton – 7.30 - 9.30 p.m.

                               

Sunday 22 July     - Preach @ Beacon Church, (London) - a.m.

-       Q and A after church

                               - Preach @ Emmanuel Church, (Greenwich) - p.m.



Thursday 26 July    - Speaking @ Brixton Prison, (London) – 9.30 am- 5 p.m


Sunday 29 July     - Preach @ More Than Gold combined church service (Medway, Kent) – 11- 12.30 p.m

                               - Preach @ Kings Church (Medway, Kent) – 6.30-8.30 p.m


Friday 3 August      - Speak @Magilligan Prison (Belfast) - p.m

Saturday 4 August  - Speak @ Men's Breakfast a.m. (Ballymena) - a.m.
                                 
                                - Preach @ Youth event  (Whitewall Metropolitan Tabernacle, Belfast) - p.m.


Sunday 5 August    - Preach @ Bangor Elim (Belfast) - a.m.
                    
                                - Preach @ Orangefield Presbyterian- p.m.


Ministry position

Gavin Peacock

I have recently been called to a position as Home Missionary at Calvary Grace Church in Calgary where  I will have some preaching, teaching and mentoring responsibilities. The church will also be supporting ministry work that the Lord has developed here in Canmore with groups that I lead and with some potential seminars etc. Calvary Grace will also be the church sending and supporting me in itinerant evangelistic speaking events as they arise, including a return to the UK this summer for a speaking/preaching trip. I will be in London from July 20-22; in Kent from July 27-29; and in Belfast  from August 3-5. There are one or two other potential dates and I will post more accurate details of each event in the next couple of months. Please pray for this ministry in the UK and for the ministry of Calvary Grace as we seek to proclaim Christ crucified and make disciples. May we remain true to the Gospel of God, the only hope for all the nations (Mal.1:11). Worship of the Lamb is the goal (Rev. 7:9-10).

What is The Gospel?

Gavin Peacock

     The Church in the West has departed from the Word of God and God's presence has departed from the Church. The reason we find ourselves in a spiritual mire is a theological one. We must believe rightly before we can live righteously. In the name of unity we have lowered the standard of truth in the Church so that more may be included in "fellowship". In the end you must ask, however, in and around what do we have biblical fellowship? When the Church drifts away from sound doctrine then idolatry and apostasy follows closely. Superficiality and nominalism in the church is down to the fact that the Church has not got its own house in order. And the reason it has not got its own house in order is because it does not believe rightly.

    The importance of doctrinal precision and confession to what one believes has given way to a tolerance of many views for the sake of ecumenism. It comes down to the fear of man rather than the fear of God. We live in such a man-centered age. The need of the hour is humility, repentance and prayer as we are returned to God himself through the Gospel. But in order to do that we must understand the Gospel.

   To define the Gospel carefully will bring conflict. But it is "The Gospel" that is the power of God for salvation, and let me assert that there is only one Gospel.

   In recent times it has become increasingly obvious that professing Christians cannot explain the Gospel. People I ask, struggle to articulate the essentials of that to which they claim to hold fast. This casts serious doubts as to whether many are converted and further to that how then will we take the message of salvation to others in personal evangelism and missions if we don't know and live by the message? Paul says, that the Gospel is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Ro.1:16). The word "believe" is in the present tense and in the Greek indicates ongoing action. So the Gospel is not just the power of God to create faith but the power of God to bring us to final salvation through a life of enduring faith. We need to live by the Gospel daily. We must return to God's word and the biblical Gospel for the sake of the church and God's name amongst the nations.

   So what is the Gospel? I invite you to tell me.

Thoughts on Gary Speed, life and Christ.

Gavin Peacock

I played against Gary Speed several times through the 90’s and would echo the chorus of fans and professionals who have lauded his talents and professionalism both on the field and off it. Though I did not know him personally, there is a certain respect that one has for another professional in the game- an unspoken bond that you share as it were, by virtue of the fact that you know what it takes to do what you do, and to step into that arena each Saturday through good and bad.
So I was saddened and shocked to the core as many were on the hearing of the news of his death and apparent suicide this weekend. My condolences go to all of his loved ones, fans  and friends. These are difficult times for them all. The death of someone we know has a very sobering affect on us. The world of football displayed this on Sunday. The Twitter pages were alive with sentiment, sadness and celebration of a life cut short. These things often turn our minds to ponder the meaning of life, the purpose for our existence.
There is a verse in the Bible which says this; “Come now you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15).
James reminds his readers that life is short and God is sovereign. Pondering our ignorance of many things and thinking about the brevity of life should turn us to the sovereignty of God.
Let us submit to him, to acknowledge him in all our ways and trust in the one Savior we have, Jesus Christ, who by faith in him and his work on the cross, guarantees us eternal life and forgiveness of sins and hope eternal, even in the midst of the darkness that envelops us in this life. If you have Christ you have everything. You have hope when all fail around you, including football, friends, family and health. It’s a win win situation for the Christian, and even through tears we can say with Paul, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”!!

Sport and morality

Gavin Peacock


The Lord is the giver of all skill, intelligence, knowledge and craftsmanship. In the construction of the tabernacle, men and women with skill were active in the completion of that which would glorify God (Ex. 35:10, 25, 31; 36:1). God graciously gave skill to his people in order that they would use it for his glory.
In professional sport the principle is the same. God gives the abilities, in order that the expression of these gifts would echo to the praise of his name. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). So how do we do this, “all to the glory of God” within the rules of a competitive sport, which is very much about beating the opposition and winning the prize? Well it may be all right to say that as long as you play hard and play fair and obey the rules you are playing in a God honouring way. But there is a deeper issue at stake. What is the motivation of your heart before you step into the arena? Is it to glorify God win or lose? Oh yes, you want to win, but does that desire outweigh the desire in your heart that your Father in heaven is glorified in all aspects of the game you play this day. You see sport lays bare the inner person, because in the moment you do not have time to think about your actions or words on the field, they just flow out in the heat of battle and what will always surface is the disposition of your heart. Is it set on God or set on self? Is your heart disposition towards God that his name be hallowed in all you do and say? Your life of word and prayer during the week will dictate your manner on match day.
One high profile incident in the boxing world recently brought to light the issue of morality in sport. Floyd Mayweather beat Victor Ortiz in a controversial knockout in the WBC welterweight fight in Las Vegas last month. Ortiz had landed an illegal and dangerous head butt on Mayweather. Having been penalised by the referee Ortiz came together with Mayweather to apologise and touch gloves. But as Ortiz backed off Mayweather quickly hit him twice in the face knocking him out. Fight over! Mayweather won! The crowd were booing! However, it was technically allowable. The fighter mantra is protect is “protect yourself at all times”. Mayweather then proceeded to publicly call for the firing of  an experienced broadcaster and boxing reporter who questioned his actions . Was Mayweather right or wrong?
Right or wrong is always defined by how it relates to God. Actions and words like this do not glorify God because although they may be allowable in the rules they proceed from a heart that is not right with God and not within the true spirit of the sport. Jesus says that our hearts are the source of sin from which flows wrong words and actions (Matt. 15:18-20).
To my knowledge Mayweather is not a Christian but for Christian athletes, you must not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Ro. 12:2). Mind and heart in Scripture are closely paralleled. They both denote “attitude” or “motivation”. Christ purchases, this new heart, mind, motivation or attitude in the new covenant, by his death on the cross. He says in Luke 22:20, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” What is this new covenant? Ezekiel says it is a new heart and the Spirit within that causes the obedience of faith (Ezek. 36:26). Christians have this new heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit so that they can obey God and please him and discern what is good, acceptable and perfect in all areas of life. It took the grace filled death of the Son of God to accomplish that. Live in light of that mercy with a heart of gratitude.
Sport played well is designed by God ultimately to redound to the glory of the One who gives the talent. There is a way to play to win so that you are a valuable member of a team, yet with a heart and mind set on people seeing your skill and glorifying God. If God has gifted you in the sphere of sport then seek to please him first and the distinctive character of a Christian sportsman or woman will be formed in you. In this way you will be effectively used in your unique mission field for his glory and your joy. Your life is not your own. You were bought at a price to serve the Lord in sport as much as any other sphere of life. For whether it is natural or spiritual gifts it does not matter. “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7).

Biblical womanhood

Gavin Peacock


During a time of national turmoil, the nation of Israel was served by the men of Issachar, men, Scripture tells us, according to 1 Chronicles 12:32, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” We are all to some extent the product of our culture. But we need to understand the times we live in. The Feminist lie says that you can be what you want to be. You can define yourself, the world and God. We live in a time where men are not men and women are not women. Where the distinctions between the sexes have become so blurred that homosexuality is a cultural norm, bi-sexuality is flaunted across the magazines and promiscuity is considered acceptable. Just look at any soap opera today and see if these are not the essential ingredients to make it successful.
But God tells us that fulfillment does not come through pursuing what we think will fulfill us. Fulfillment comes through pursuing the purpose for which we have been created and that is to trust in God’s good purposes no matter what the culture tells you is good for you. In the garden the serpent called Eve to pursue what seemed good to her. After all, she saw that the tree was "good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise" (Gen 3:6). She grasped at what the serpent told her would be fulfilling and rewarding and Adam instead of leading his wife away from sin, stood by passively and went with the flow.
Eve said “no” to God’s word and God’s design. The result was a usurping of the created order and fracture of the universe. The mystery of the gospel however begins with a young virgin being visited by an angel and told that she would be the mother of the Son of God. Mary had no ambition but the will of God and her response unlike Eve was a “Yes”. “ I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). She didn’t know how it would all pan out. She could probably imagine the risks the losses the interrupted plans. But she trusted God .The result: salvation for the world.
Whether you have biological children or not, you are all spiritual mothers to somebody, and you can be praying—single women, childless women, women with a quiver full of children, women who’ve never had any children—God has put you in the position of being true women for children in his kingdom. To raise a future generation of warriors for Christ and missionaries who will take the gospel to the unreached peoples.
The older are to teach the younger. The older can pray for the younger. The bigger family is the family of God- the church of Christ, his bride. Whether they be biological, friends, adoptive, foster or someone you are praying for over the other side of the world, ask the Lord to bring you someone you can be a spiritual mother to, someone you can nurture and teach the gospel truth to, and watch the Lord act.
So whether male or female, we praise God for womanhood because "true womanhood is a distinctive calling to display the glory of the Son of God in ways that would not be possible had God not created womanhood" (John Piper). So embrace it. Say yes to God and his designs for you. The stakes are high. The calling is great. True biblical womanhood was made for the glory of God.
N.B. I thoroughly recommend "Voices of the True Woman Movement"- Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Inc. Piper, Kassian, Eareckson Tada, Parshall) http://www.truewoman.com/.  Manhood and womanhood are  primary issues for the church. God's design in masculinity and femininity is intrinsic to his purpose in creating the universe, that is the display of the glory of his grace, ultimately seen in the Bridegroom dying for His bride. Male and female display the gospel in both unique and complementary ways. 


God's Sovereignty and Suffering

Gavin Peacock

One of the most important issues in the life of a Christian is the place of God’s wisdom in their suffering and that which they see around them in the world. In recent times we have seen disaster in Haiti, war in the Middle East and an escalating tragedy in Japan. Add to that the unimaginable daily pain that people struggle through due to illness death disability and so much more. 
With all this said, one of the most important jobs we have as pastors is to prepare our people for the day of calamity that will come to everyone; that day when disaster strikes and a child is abducted or a parent dies or cancer is diagnosed or finances are stretched or persecution is received and depression takes hold of an individual’s life. And the thing is that it can come at the most unexpected time and we cannot work out why-it seems so unjust.
David Wells says, ‘This moment of tragedy and evil [referring to 9-11] shone its own light on the Church and what we came to see was not a happy sight. For what has become conspicuous by its scarcity, and not least in the evangelical corner of it, is a spiritual gravitas, one which could match the depth of horrendous evil and address issues of such seriousness. Evangelicalism, now much absorbed by the arts and tricks of marketing, is simply not very serious anymore.”
The problem for so many Christians is that God is simply not big enough, not magnificent enough, not majestic or holy or powerful or righteous or merciful enough to fit their senses, their categories of thought about Him. In the western world and our day of such relative ease and comfort we have become desensitized to hardship and so we are quite simply not ready to suffer as we follow the Lamb of God along the Calvary road. 
We must return to a biblical vision of our God.  In the middle of a rebuke against his wicked people in Psalm 50:2, God says, "You thought that I was one like yourself". You see we have a tendency to reduce God down to our size when we depart from the Word of God and his self revelation. We have seen this very recently with Rob Bell's unfortunate book Love Wins. Bell makes God what he wants him to be and what is palatable to an anti-God society. In fact Bell fits David Well's description of modern day evangelicalism very well. Let this be a warning to us as pastors to labor hard to present the truth of Scripture to our people. That is the best way to love them. Give them God as he really is. God decides what God is like and he is glorious.
And so the question we must ask ourselves is how can we put theological steel in backbones of our people, and build into them this sense, this vision of a completely sovereign God who works all things ‘according to the counsel of His will’ for our good and His glory? Well first we must see the vision and savor it ourselves.

 N.B. Read Kevin De Young's Review of Love Wins-http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/03/14/rob-bell-love-wins-review/

Living by Grace Today- Practical Holiness

Gavin Peacock


The purpose of the grace of the gospel of the grace of Christ is a holy people who display him to the world. On the cross he purchases a people for himself who are to be zealous for good deeds. Christians eager for the things of God; believers hungry and thirsty for righteousness and who mourn their sin; those who seek his kingdom first; who have a poverty of spirit knowing daily their need for new fillings of his grace that others might see their good works and give glory to their Father in heaven.
Practical holiness is the displaying of Christ to the world. That’s what the church has lost because it has lost its grip on the doctrine of grace. The church in Crete was ungodly because it had been taught by teachers who had departed from the gospel of grace- teachers who had become man-centered in their thinking and teaching and behavior (Titus).
So what is practical holiness?  You don’t just ask Jesus to help you do good works as if you are asking him to aid your own efforts. Living by grace in the present is when you look to the past you trust by faith in all that his grace is for you on the cross and when you look to the future you trust by faith in all his promises in his word to you.
When you trust in the grace of his righteousness imputed to you and saving work on your behalf, you know that you don’t have to earn God’s love or forgiveness of your sin. Then when you receive Christ’s future promises as yours by faith, it enables you to live by grace through faith in this life. So you say with the apostle. ‘By the grace of God I am what I am and his grace toward me was not in vain. Nevertheless, I worked harder than any of them but it was not I but the grace of God with me’. 1Cor. 15:10



For Christians in Sport

Gavin Peacock

When I played professional football for 18 years I saw and experienced the futility of man's achievements. The day's headlines and victory was fish and chip paper the next. Trophies and medals are nothing, sportsmen and women! Be good at what you do. In fact do all to the glory of God, even drinking a cup of water. But the point is, 'Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break  in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also' (Matt. 6:19-21). Professional sportspeople live on fear. Fear of losing; losing the game, losing their fitness, fear of losing their place in the team or rankings or their livelihood. So Christians in sport, work hard to win, play for the prize but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven where the real prize lies and which no-ones can take from you. Then when your heart is where it should be, you can really play your sport with no fear!

Nominalism

Gavin Peacock

I am increasingly concerned that nominalism is a central problem in the church. There are many many who are Christian in name only. Jesus died that we - the church- might live the Sermon on the Mount. Yet we are not distinct enough in the West. We are too much like the world, so how will the world be attracted to us. We are not characterized by righteousness and justice. I believe Martin Lloyd Jones was a prophetic voice in the mid twentieth century when he published his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount because of the superficiality that he saw in the church. In his famous speech "Evangelical Unity" in 1966 at the Evangelical Alliance he called evangelicals out of the what was becoming an increasingly lukewarm church in the UK and was not heeded. We have emphasized fellowship ahead of doctrine. If we don't have truth first what are we unified in? It was 'evangelical' unity that Lloyd Jones wanted - unified around the truth of orthodoxy.

Christ calls us to a radical discipleship that is impossible to do without him.  He says "Do what you cannot do". This at once both discourages us and gives us great hope. It discourages us because we cannot do it, but that's just the point he brings us to the end of ourselves so that we may not boast and drive us to him and to trust and reliance on his promises and commands so that he gets the glory. I think the reason that the church is in a poor and powerless state in the West in general is because we are not holy. We have departed from the Word of God. We are lukewarm and Jesus will spit that out. He wants the church to be refreshing, either hot or cold. Jesus loves his church and calls those who are his to repentance. Let us hear his voice today.

I am interested in any thoughts on the problem of nominalism. It is multilayered and complex in both its causes (note Simon Cragg's comments on my post Across to Bears) and its definition.