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When Your Husband is in the Line of Fire

Gavin Peacock

After the Twitter storm in January when I tweeted about male and female roles in marriage, my wife wrote an article, alongside one I did earlier, that has been published in today's Winter 2015 9Marks Journal.

Here's an excerpt from When Your Husband in the Line of Fire:

"No woman should want a coward by her side. Yet many women cultivate cowardly men when they usurp the roles God designed in headship and submission. As Christian women, we should instead stand with our husbands and pastors in the line of fire against the prevailing culture that erodes the biblical distinctions between men and women. If wives are called to be suitable helpers, we ought to be their biggest supporters on the battlefield. We can encourage and respect our husbands, drawing out their leadership qualities, by our speech and actions. And, as women, we can teach younger women biblical femininity, and what to look for in a man worthy to be her spiritual leader."

Twitter: GPeacock8

Four Truths About Complementarian Marriage

Gavin Peacock

My wife, Amanda, and I recently celebrated 25 years of marriage. As I reflect on the past quarter of a century, there are four enduring biblical truths about marriage that stand the test of time. Here they are in an article published by 9Marks for their upcoming journal.

The 9Marks Journal aims to equip pastors with tools for their trade, both practical and theological. Articles and book reviews cover everything from church discipline, to the missional church, to elder training, to marriage & divorce matters, to preaching Christ from the Old Testament, to much more. Click here for the 9Marks Journal.


Marriage: the modern day litmus test for inerrancy

Gavin Peacock

Biblical sexuality and marriage in particular has become the modern day litmus test of inerrancy. Marriage is so intrinsically linked to the image of God, the authority of God and the gospel that to deny it is to deny the truth about God. 
Marriage between one man and one woman, and sexual relations within that union, is God's idea, brought into existence by his Word in Genesis 2. Paul tells us that marriage was always pointing to the greater picture: Christ who died for his bride, the Church (Ephesians 5: 31-32). And this was foreshadowing the future glory of marriage: the Bridegroom coming to take his Bride forever (Revelation19). Affirming "same sex marriage" destroys that picture. But it is the fruit of denying the inerrancy of God's Word.
In other words, by the time a Church legitimizes "same sex marriage", it has already ceased to be a Church. The shift on a biblical idea of God and his Word has already happened and the result is a people who have created God in their own image, and whom he has given over to themselves so that they even approve of what is evil (Romans 1:32).
The whole article was published by Christian Today .

Love and Respect…and a Pair of Boxer Shorts!

Gavin Peacock

Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 5

In Ephesians 5:33, Paul calls husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. My wife needs my love, through my protection and provision. I need her respect through her willing disposition to receive my leadership and follow it. Now of course I need her to love me and tell me so and she needs my respect. But Paul brings out the primacy of these things in masculinity and femininity. Husbands, in their sin, tend towards unloving harshness or negligence in their leadership. Wives, in their sin, tend towards disrespectful manipulation and rebellion against that leadership. But the complementary picture is of a husband who loves his wife through sacrificial leadership for her flourishing, and a wife who submits to and gladly, intelligently encourages that leadership. They fit together in a Christ-Church, gospel picture and they function together as one flesh, harmoniously unified on God’s mission.

Where the rubber meets the road 

But what does love and respect look like on the ground…where the rubber meets the road? Here’s a fallible example. Say I come home and the house is a mess, the kids’ toys are everywhere and the dinner is not even on the go. Maybe it’s clear in this particular instance that my wife has been lazy and negligent. Now, I’ve had a hard day at work and my selfish, self-pitying heart tells me, “You deserve better than this. Look at this mess. Rebuke your wife.” Husbands, hear me clearly. You are called to die. Go down and start picking up the kids’ toys. Ask your wife how her day was. Show empathy. You will win her heart and her respect by your sacrificial, loving leadership.

Now consider a slightly different scenario. I come into the bedroom and throw my boxer shorts on the floor next to, not in, the wash basket (somehow they always manage to get back into the wash basket and back into my drawer washed and clean!) The sin issue is the same - laziness and negligence; but it works out differently in this scenario. I don’t think my wife is called to pick up after me. Better that she respectfully asks me to pick up my underwear and put them in the basket. “Honey, when you do that it makes so much more work for me. Do you think you could place them in the basket?” Wives, you will draw out the loving leader in your man by your respectful attitude and manner of speech. 

The more the Word of God transforms our minds, the more it will transform our lives and relationships. The more we practice godliness, these kinds of actions will become natural reflexes.

The illustration is humorous; the point I’m trying to make is serious. And it’s in every day circumstances like these where biblical masculinity and femininity is worked out in marriage. The Ephesians 5 primacy of love and respect can be shown in the small details of married life together … even though Paul probably never had boxer shorts in mind when he wrote it!

Thoughts on Expanding and Establishing with CBMW

Gavin Peacock

 A Sermon on Manhood 

The first sermon I heard John Piper preach was on Biblical Manhood. I remember thinking that I’d never heard preaching like it. Of course it was also the subject matter that gripped me. No one has spoken more clearly or passionately than John Piper on the issue of biblical sexuality over the past thirty years. He, along with Wayne Grudem and other pastors and scholars, formed the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 1987. Owen Strachan, who is the current president, now spearheads the movement. For a while now, I have admired Owen’s conviction, passion and bravery in accepting the leadership of CBMW and taking them forward in a time where complementarianism is being attacked on all fronts. In fact, as I have said previously, this issue is the bite point where the gospel is confronting culture today. Al Mohler has said that homosexuality will be the dividing line in defining the church in coming days. It is true to say that never has the culture or the church been so confused over these matters and so opposed to Scriptural mandate. Yet it is also true to say that it is far more common for churches to speak out boldly on social justice issues, like human trafficking or poverty, than it is to boldly, clearly and biblically speak into and model sexuality.

An Invitation and a New Role at CBMW

Recently Owen Strachan spoke at our Calvary Grace Church conference on The Goodness of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, after which he asked me to come on board as CBMW’s Director of International Outreach (here’s the announcement). This is a great honor and privilege, because CBMW’s role in supporting and equipping churches with the message of God’s good design for human flourishing in biblical sexuality is more vital than ever. Here the church has both the responsibility to stand for truth and the opportunity to engage in mission. CBMW have a good team of men and women who love the truths of complementarianism and will fearlessly stand on the rock of Scripture to defend and declare them. So CBMW’s ministry is vital as a clear public voice and also in resourcing pastors and their people so they are gripped, convicted, encouraged and equipped: 

Gripped by divine design, not personal preference, for human flourishing and God’s glory. God’s way is good and should be loved and celebrated.

Convicted not confused on the doctrines of biblical sexuality.

Encouraged and strengthened to declare and demonstrate these same doctrines.

Equipped to advance, casting biblical vision of and cultivating biblical obedience to complementarity.
Mine is a new role for CBMW. It is the role of expanding and establishing: 

1. I will work within the existing framework and ethos of CBMW to expand our reach to other countries and nations through preaching, teaching and writing. God’s plan is outward looking. It is to spread the fame of Christ’s name through the conversion of the lost and the establishment and growth of healthy churches. And key to a healthy church is a healthy vision of complementarianism. There are plenty of complementarian churches that need strengthening and there are plenty of others who don’t know what they believe, so conferences designed to set forth the teaching of Scripture on manhood, womanhood, and marriage will be high on the agenda. 

2. Also, I will be seeking to establish outposts, or “chapters”, in different countries, which would serve as a constant on the ground CBMW presence and national point of reference, in order to host conferences, convene important conversations and strengthen existing complementarian churches in that place. To begin we will be launching chapters in Canada and South America. We desire this to happen in the UK (I am travelling there in October), Europe mainland, India, China, and Australia. 

A Checklist Before The Battle

The expanding and establishing work of God’s kingdom always meets with resistance. We enter the realm of spiritual warfare in frontline, gospel centered ministry ventures. It will cost. So it is crucial to run through a checklist before the battle. Here’s mine:

Check the heart: whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God (Matt. 6: 9; 1 Cor. 10:31). Anything can be made an idol of the heart and soon distract from the gospel. Motivation for the battle is everything – it must be “hallowed be your name”. His honor is at stake.

Check the doctrine: the only weapon that Christians have is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17 cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). But it is a sword, which must be rightly used. The battle is a doctrinal one. It is a battle for the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God, the character of God and the gospel of God. God defines himself, and men and women. Therefore, we must know what God’s Word says, love what God’s Word says, and live what God’s word says. If we are not convicted by it, others won’t be.

Check the power: nothing can be achieved if God is not the power behind it. We need the right people, we need the right money and we need the right strategy, but more than that we need the right power. Therefore, prevailing prayer must undergird and sustain any new work (Eph. 6:18). People can be moved and ground can be taken in the battle only by the power of God. When Moses’ arms were raised in prayer Israel advanced, when they lowered, they lost ground (Ex. 17:11). The ground we need to gain is the ground of human hearts, turning them towards God and holiness. So we need to pray and we need prayer warriors engaged in this specific battle. Prayer is tough, tiring and taxing. It expresses dependency and humility. But God loves to answer prayer for his own praise. So we can expect great things and attempt great things because we have a great God.

Check the time: part of biblical wisdom is to know the times in which you live and see the key issues to address, like the men of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32). Biblical sexuality is where the battle for the authority of God’s Word rages most. In any battle, there is a time to defend and a time to attack, but there is never a time to be passive. At the right time, Christ came and went towards the cross for the sake of God’s glory and the good of his people (Ro. 5:6). He redeemed his church and he redeemed masculinity and femininity. Divine love moves forward. The time to act is now!


The Loss of Spanking is a Failure of Fatherhood

Gavin Peacock

The anti-spanking brigade are not progressing parenting they are impoverishing it. This morning I wrote an article for Christian Today on the catastrophic effects of the loss of biblical spanking and its link to fatherhood. Read it here!

Understanding the Fatherhood of God rightly, and his discipline of his children, is key to recovering biblical fatherhood. Our repugnance at spanking is often because of a wrong view of God, and often because of our own sin. We have fooled ourselves into thinking it is unloving to spank, when truthfully it is because we are unprepared to do the hard thing for the sake of our children's salvation and sanctification.

Fathers who administer wise, biblical, age-appropriate corporal discipline to their children are not anti-gospel, they are loving. They are training their children to know the character of God who hates sin and will punish sinners in Hell. And yet because of his great love and mercy he has provided a Saviour in his Son who became sin for us. Fathers like this are doing the best for their children.

Fathers must take a lead in discipline (Eph. 6:4). Not to spank our children, if needed, is unloving and unbiblical. Our first port of call is not spanking, but if proper warning and instructions are ignored, it is necessary.

For a further treatment of this subject I recommend  Andy Naselli's article.

Twitter: @GPeacock8

First ever CBMW complementarian conference in Canada at Calvary Grace Church of Calgary

Gavin Peacock

This past weekend saw Calvary Grace, the church where I serve as a pastor, host a conference on The Goodness of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. We ran a men's pre conference track which featured, Clint Humfrey, Jeff Jones and Terry Stauffer.  And Jodi Ware, the wife of Bruce Ware, taught the women's track. Owen Strachan, the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, was our plenary speaker and spoke three times, here, here and here. I also gave a message in one the main sessions.

Never has there been a conference in Canada with this teaching on biblical sexuality from a complementarian worldview. This was pioneer stuff and was well attended and well received.

We believe that the area of biblical sexuality is where the gospel is confronting culture today (see here for an article I recently wrote for Christian Today). We also believe that complementarity should be seen as a worldview. God is a complementarian triune God, who creates a complementarian universe in which men and women fit together in a complementary way, physically and functionally. God has designed it this way for his glory and the flourishing of single men and women, marriages, children and all churches. Our desire is to embrace, promote and publicly confess complementarian manhood, womanhood and marriage.

For further reading and articles go to

Twitter: @GPeacock8

The Battle for Biblical Marriage is a Mission Moment That Will Define the Church.

Gavin Peacock

The battle is the bite point

Speaking about Martin Luther and his confrontation with culture about the key issues of his day Elizabeth Rundle Charles wrote,

“It is the truth which is assailed in any age which tests our fidelity. It is to confess we are called, not merely to profess. If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”

Never has there been an age in recent times where the sanctity of marriage has been more under fire inside and outside the church. Biblical sexuality is where the battle for the authority of the Word of God is raging in our culture. If you like, the battle is the bite point. The bite point (as Tim Chester has articulated) is where the gospel challenges the culture and offers truth and calls for repentance. The bite point is where the gospel is most starkly different from the surrounding culture, thus providing an evangelistic opportunity. The bite point is where the battle rages most clearly in culture so that the church cannot simply profess Christ but must confess Christ as Elizabeth R. Charles says above.

The battle is reaching fever pitch in the U.S. as the Supreme Court decided on Friday January 16th to review arguments and then likely rule on the legalization of same sex marriage by the summer.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, "This case could potentially transform the cultural landscape of America. We should pray for the court, that they will not seek to redefine marriage. Marriage was not created by government action, and it shouldn't be re-created by government action.”

"And even more than that," Moore said, "we should pray for churches who will know how to articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage as the one-flesh union of a man and a woman in the tumultuous years ahead."

The battle is for the truth of complementarian marriage

To be more specific, complementarity is the biblical and historically Christian position on marriage. So the church must articulate a complementarian understanding of manhood and womanhood and must embody a complementarian picture of manhood and womanhood.

Owen Strachan, the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, says, “If the church gives up its overwhelmingly-held historic position–being complementarianism–then it will no doubt, with tremendous speed, endorse both homosexuality and transgenderism as not only viable for believers, but good.”

The church must conserve biblical gospel displaying marriage even as it commends biblical gospel displaying marriage to a watching world. And there is no better time for Christian marriages to display the grace of the gospel than in a culture, which is redefining marriage. The light shines most brightly in the darkness.

Those who want to redefine marriage as a union between two men or two women tell a lie about the gospel. But only in biblical complementarian marriage is this gospel clearly portrayed. Which makes marriage a primary issue for the church.

When we embrace biblical headship and submission we explain the gospel (Eph.5: 22-33). A husband, who sacrificially loves, protects and provides for his wife shows that Christ is a leader, who dies on the cross for his Bride, the Church, and is worthy of trust from everyone everywhere. And a wife, who gladly, intelligently submits to her husband and follows him, as the church follows Christ, shows that submission to and trust in Christ is not begrudging duty but it is delight.

This is a hard calling for both husbands and wives who are sinners. Which means that biblical headship and submission is impossible apart from grace. When people observe a husband and wife in grace filled headship and submission, it confronts the culture with the grace of the gospel.

The battle is public

Churches must not only proclaim this but also confess this publicly. This means pastors equipping the saints for the work of ministry to one another, and to a watching and desperate world. The battle is public. Christ was crucified as a public spectacle (Gal. 3:1); Christians are to be salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13-16); Christians are to show the world we are disciples by the way we love one another (John 13:35) in the household of God and in those distinct relationships (marriage being one) in that household (Eph. 5 and 6). The Christian faith and life is not private because the gospel is not a private affair. So complementarian marriage must be publicly proclaimed and confessed in speech and lifestyle. We cannot back down.

The battle is a mission moment

I am not saying that the mission of the church is to publicly undertake social justice issues. The mission of the church is to make disciples, by preaching the gospel, baptizing them and gathering them into churches to be taught. But disciples must be equipped for mission by having a gospel-centered understanding of all things. They enter the world for mission, not as politicians, but as cross-shaped theologians, able to recognize the bite points where the battle rages, bold to enter in and speak the truth of the gospel.

Homosexual marriage is not the issue. Sin is the issue. Same sex marriage is a sin issue in a key area of life, which makes it a gospel opportunity. At the very worst of times, when Satan seems to have the upper hand, God is using it for victory. Just look at the cross. Marriage being redefined in culture is the perfect opportunity to confront the culture with real marriage and the gospel it pictures. It’s a mission moment.

Be alert to the battle but don’t panic

So we must be alert to the battle, but we must not panic. God is in control no matter what it looks like out there. Christ reigns. He will work things for his glory and the good of his people. Christians have always suffered and will be persecuted for standing on Christian truth. Don’t be surprised when the trial comes. For this battle we need Christians who are passionate but sober minded, who think biblically and pray earnestly.

Silence is sin but love must speak in the battle

The Supreme Court may or may not pass the bill legalizing same sex marriage. But the real issue is whether the church will be silent. Many Christians are not emboldened because many pastors are not emboldened. They might sometimes speak on biblical sexuality and then only vaguely. They might teach complementarity but not thoroughly. So their people are ill equipped to live it out and defend it theologically in the public square. Pastors need to equip the saints but must also be first over the battle lines themselves. There are good men in the pastorate who perhaps need to find their voice. So people must pray for, support and encourage their pastors in holding to this truth.

The cry must come first from the pulpit but the echoes should be heard from the pew to the workplace to the park bench.

But men sin by their silence who are silent on the sins of their culture, because the silence of Adam was at the heart of the fall. Adam didn’t speak up in the Garden when Satan was attacking his wife and undermining God’s truth. Adam was passive, he and Eve fell and the universe was fractured. The church must not be silent for fear of imposition and offence.

The Bible starts with a marriage in Genesis 2 and ends with one in Revelation 19. God made complementarian marriage good and it was always made to point to the good news: Christ and his saving love for the church (Eph. 5: 32). That’s what everyone needs: those in government, those who are heterosexual, transgender or same sex attracted, because everyone is a sinner before God.

The stakes are high in defending and defining marriage and Christians must speak out of love for God and love for people. Love must not hold its tongue. How can those who have been forgiven much not speak for the sake of souls? There are only two enemies, Satan and our own sin. Not those who oppose biblical marriage. We don’t want to destroy people; we want to win them. But to do that we must speak truth and live it out and for that we will suffer. Battles test what you believe and what you love. The battle for biblical marriage is a mission moment that will define the church. It will test evangelicalism.

This battle is to preserve gospel truth, and we must contend for that contra mundum. But it is also the battleground where souls can be won for Christ. This battle is raging. And “where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved”.

This article was posted by Christian Today

Owen Strachan will be speaking at my own Calvary Grace Church of Calgary, at our upcoming conference, The Goodness of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, beginning this Friday 23rd January. Details can be found here.

Twitter: @GPeacock8

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is Good

Gavin Peacock

Changing culture and changing definitions of manhood and womanhood

It seems that recent tweets I made about biblical manhood, womanhood and marriage have gained attention in the UK. Several national newspapers picked up these tweets and there was reaction from both Christians and non-Christians. Some people were very upset; others were very encouraged. 

Indeed this is a sensitive issue today, like never before. Definitions of what it is to be a man or a woman and definitions of marriage are changing in society. But they have not changed in the Bible. I am a Christian and a pastor of Calvary Grace Church of Calgary and we believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, which is sufficient for all things. We also hold to a “complementarian” view of the Scriptures when it comes to sexuality. Complementarity is the view that God has assigned different and complementary roles to men and women within marriage and the church. In this view, men bear a unique authority and responsibility before God for leadership.

Biblical marriage

It is a sad thing that a changing culture thinks it can determine what God has decreed from the beginning of time and the creation of man: namely, that marriage is a gift from God; that it is the joining of a man and a woman in a covenant relationship; that sex should be enjoyed only within the marriage relationship, so that all sexual activity outside of it transgresses God’s Word; and that it is ultimately given by God for the husband and wife to display God’s faithful relationship with his people by their different roles.

Marriage between man and woman is a beautiful thing created by God for our good and for his glory. Both men and women are of equal value in the sight of God. So the difference in roles is never a question of competency, it’s always a question of God’s design. Biblical manhood and womanhood is good.

However there is a common misunderstanding many people hold (even within the church) that equality means sameness. Well it’s clear that men and women are not the same physically for a start. And just because a wife follows her husband’s lead and respects his God given authority it doesn’t make her any less of a human being. In the home the parents should be the authority over the children, with the husband taking the primary lead in instruction and discipline. So it’s also clear that roles are not the same.

A husband is called to be a Christlike leader to his wife. He must provide for and protect her spiritually and physically. This is called headship in the Bible. It reflects Christ’s sacrificial love for his Bride, the Church. He took the initiative to die for her. What man who hears the sound of a window smashing downstairs in the middle of the night would send his wife to investigate? Is it not written on a man’s soul to protect and provide for her? And yet such are the distortions of masculinity and femininity in our time that we send our women to fight on the frontline in war, all in the name of equality.

Equally, a wife is called to respond to this leadership by her respect for and voluntary affirmation of his leadership. This is called submission in the Bible. She comes alongside him as his helper in the marriage. She respects his position as head of the home and uses her gifts to encourage her husband as they partner together in what the Bible calls “a one flesh union”. Jesus submits to his Father's authority, so it is equally divine to submit as it is to lead.

Authority is the issue

And here we come to the issue behind the issue. It is a question of submission to authority. There is a natural suspicion of authority in society, yet authority is a good thing designed by the one true authority, God. We must look to his Word to define our society and us. If there is not an objective authority to which everyone must submit then you are left with anarchy. Everyone just does what is right in their own eyes. They do what they feel like and they justify it in the name of love. Truth becomes subjective and relative. And we spiral down into moral declension. 

So in education there are no unalterable truths. Novelty, relativity and expediency is enthroned over conservative, absolute, moral truth. This lack of absolute authority spills over into the moral realm of society. Pop music, TV shows, magazines and whatever else is out there begins to promote what they see fit. After all who is to say whether they are wrong or not?

Sexual confusion reigns

And so we have confusion reigning in sexuality. Categories of male and female have been blurred. People have no idea what it is to be a man and not a woman or vice versa. Husbands are not leading wives well. Parents are not leading children, who are consequently not being taught or lovingly disciplined in the homes. They are the decision makers, rather than the ones being led.

Sexual fidelity and permanence within marriage is hardly on the radar. It is morally acceptable to live a homosexual, bisexual lifestyle. Marriage is being redefined according to cultural preferences and cultural changing truths. So in many places marriage is not husband and wife, but wife and wife or husband and husband. Rather than holy matrimony it is now unholy pursuit of what seems right to the individual. In the UK, homosexual “marriage” is now legal and constitutional. Marriage has been redefined with a changing law. Yet marriage is something God defines and creates not humans.

And the problem lies first within the church, which, in many quarters in the UK has lost its trust in the Word of God and has been shaped by culture instead. There is a great need for preachers to actually preach God’s word with sensitivity, yes. But also without fear of what people will say. I believe this will be a key dividing line over the next, few years which will determine who is Christian or not. The church must stand firm on this.

Many Christian women who support a biblical view of masculinity and femininity came out in public support of my comments yesterday. They are not oppressed. They are free to be who they were created to be. They will tell you that biblical submission is not weak but strong. They will tell you that biblical leadership is not harsh but loving. In my church I serve in leadership as a pastor alongside humble men who love and lead their wives, and who love God and our people too much not to teach them his Word for manhood and womanhood. We have seen marriages blossom as men have stepped up to the challenge to lovingly lead their wives, and women have gladly respected and submitted to that leadership. Women are flourishing as strong, intelligent wives who joyfully affirm their husband’s leadership. Single men and women are obeying God’s pattern for sex and sexuality and growing as people of integrity. And in our marriage through 25 years my wife Amanda and I have tried to embrace this biblical pattern because it brings God glory and it does us good.

Abuse of authority is unacceptable. Slavery is deplorable.  But a husband leading his wife as Christ leads the church is not slavery by any means. True, there have been abuses of male authority with the chauvinistic flavor of the 50’s and 60’s. Rape and sexual mistreatment of women is evil. But this is not the biblical picture, not God’s design. There have and always will be abuses of authority. But abuse doesn’t mean disuse of right authority.

Jesus Christ is the answer

Look around you. See the sin and suffering, the sexual and relational dysfunction, the rebellion against any authority. See it in the home, schools, workplace and society at large. And recognize that this stems from a natural rebellion against the authority of God’s Word in all of us. When we disobey God, carnage ensues. Recognize that you need forgiveness of your sins and that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came as a man to live a perfect life of obedience to God that no-one can live and died on a cross to take the consequence of sin for those who will place their trust in him and have their guilt removed. That’s the good news of God’s love. Recognize he has risen from the dead and will come again. Life is short. What are you living for and where are you going? How do you know what’s right or wrong?  The main issue is not marriage or manhood or womanhood. The main issue is that people need to get right with a holy God and find their identity in Jesus. He is the only way to God, salvation and personal happiness. With the main focus right, the rest of life can be lived in accordance to his Word, because what he says is good for us. It gives purpose and meaning to everything.

The key verses in the Bible that support the view of marriage I am speaking of are: Gen. 1: 26-27; 2: 18-24; 1 Cor. 11: 2- 3; Ephesians 5: 22-33; Colossians 3: 18-19; 1 Peter 3: 1-7.

See the response of  Owen Strachan  President of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 

Twitter: @GPeacock8

Forgiveness (Part 2)

Gavin Peacock

Forgiveness (Part 2)
Christ came to save people from their sins “because of the tender mercy of our God” (Lk. 1:78), which means that forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel. Therefore, it is a necessary fruit and vital sign of a regenerate person that they have a merciful and forgiving heart: “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7), “and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 5:12; cf. 5:14,15).
Last week we defined forgiveness. But practicing it is not that easy, especially if the other person is selfish, a habitual sinner, or even abusive.
(ii) Practicing Forgiveness
“Until we die or Christ returns, we will have to practice forgiveness in our relationships with others. But words of forgiveness such as, ‘I was wrong. Will you forgive me?’ and ‘Yes, I forgive you’, are rare.” (Tim Lane)

A few points on practicing forgiveness:
Don’t ignore the sin: 
  • “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you” (Matt. 18:15). Matthew 18 speaks as a whole about dealing with sin in the body of Christ. Vv. 1-5 speak about having humility; vv. 6-9 speak of the seriousness of sin and dealing with it violently; vv. 10-14 speak about having compassion for the lost; vv. 15-20 speak about confrontation and church discipline.
Love a habitual sinner wisely:
  • Wise love does not act in revenge (Ro. 12:17-19). It goes the extra mile and shows desire for reconciliation (Matt. 5:38-42), but doesn’t make it easy for someone to sin against you. Therefore, wise love involves others (Matt. 18:15-20) and sometimes even civil authorities (Ro. 13).
Be forgiving: 
When you have been sinned against, the key is to deal with your own heart first. There are two axes of forgiveness: vertical and horizontal.
  • Deal with your heart attitude towards the other person vertically before God: Mk. 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
  • Then deal with the horizontalforgiveness. The horizontal dimension is only possible if the offender repents. But even if that person doesn’t repent, the one offended can maintain a forgiving attitude towards that person before God (vertical). The offender’s failure to admit their sin and ask for forgiveness is not an excuse to hold onto anger.
Ask for forgiveness:
  • Saying “I’m sorry” is not the same as, “I was wrong about ______. Please forgive me.” “I’m sorry” usually gets the response “that’s okay”.  Firstly, the person has not named their sin. Secondly, sin is never “okay”. Asking someone for forgiveness about the particular sin you have committed also requires the offended person to actually forgive you to complete the transaction. They must make sure they are right before God and not harboring bitterness and they must offer mercy, even as you ask for mercy. That way, both parties are humbled before the cross and God extends grace to both.

A few reasons we don’t forgive:

You don’t believe you need it:
  • When you don’t forgive you say, “I can’t believe that he did that to me. I would never do something that bad.” Like the unforgiving servant, you forget that you have been forgiven infinitely more than you can ever forgive another person.
You don’t believe you are forgivable:
  • There is often great shame in our own sin and it takes time to realize the grace of God’s forgiveness has overcome it. This might be true for you but it may also be true that there is hidden pride, which says:
My sin is too big. Pride hides behind humility. In your mind, you are bigger than God.

I don’t want to rely on God’s mercy. I’d rather believe there is some good in me or I can merit forgiveness in some way.

I can’t forgive myself even if God can. You take the place of God, set yourself up as judge and pronounce yourself guilty or innocent. 

The joy of forgiveness has grown dim:
  • Daily life, with its trials and temptations plus a lack of time spent in communion with God causes the flame in our furnace for God to burn low. We must meditate daily on the gospel and ask the Lord to restore to us the joy of our salvation.

It takes God’s supernatural grace working in us so that we offer and receive forgiveness. To say either, “Will you forgive me?” or “Yes, I forgive you!” is a sign that the Holy Spirit indwells you because Christ absorbed the cost of your sins. When you practice biblical forgiveness, you powerfully express the love of Christ.

My notes are taken from “Forgiving Others: Joining Wisdom and Love” by Tim Lane (New Growth Press).


Gavin Peacock

Forgiveness (Part 1)

Christ came, “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God…” (Luke 1:76-78). The birth of Christ in Bethlehem was always about the death of Christ at Calvary. Therefore, forgiveness, which brings relational peace between God and man, is at the very heart of the gospel. However, forgiveness is one of the most difficult things for Christians to understand and to practice.

Christmas can be the best of times for us to bear witness to the gospel, but it can also be the worst of times. Extended families are thrown together into a relational slow cooker, which often simmers and then boils over in anger or impatience towards one another. Mercy goes out the window.

But forgiveness is the key to unity in the church, marriage and all relationships. So over the next two weeks we will (i) define what is forgiveness and (ii) what the practice of forgiveness looks like.

Christian counselor Tim Lane says,

“Until we die or Christ returns, we will have to practice forgiveness in our relationships with others. But words of forgiveness such as, ‘I was wrong. Will you forgive me?’ and ‘Yes, I forgive you’, are rare”.

We must practice it but first we must know what it is.

(i) What is Forgiveness? 

Forgiveness cancels a debt.
  • In Matthew 18:21-35 and the parable of the unforgiving servant we see a man who is forgiven an irredeemable debt by his master. Where there is debt, someone must pay. Either the one who owes must pay back or the one who is owed must absorb the cost. If I break a vase in your house, either I pay or you let me off the debt and pay yourself.
  • It is the same with forgiveness. Either the one who sinned must make amends, or the one who has been sinned against must bear the pain and cost. The sin cannot be ignored or minimized.
Forgiveness is an act of compassion and mercy.
  • The master “out of pity” released him and forgave his debt (Matt. 18:27).
Forgiveness is a threefold promise.
  • “I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you.” We raise the offense with the offender for reconciliation only, not vengeance.
  • “I will not bring it up to others in gossip, or malign you because of it.” It is easy to slip into gossip when we keep re-telling the event to others and establishing blame again and again.
  • “I will not bring it up to myself and dwell on this offense.” I won’t play the videotape of the offense over and over in my mind.
Failure to forgive turns victims into victimizers.
  • We feel justified in our anger and take the place of God as divine judge, dishing out our own form of punishment. Like the unforgiving servant we forget the infinite debt God has forgiven us and we “choke” the one who owes us. We might lash out violently leading to murder, or we might murder them by treating them as if they were dead. We act as if the offender doesn’t exist, by giving them the silent treatment or by cutting off the relationship.
  • A root of bitterness forms and this can grow and cause all kinds of pervasive evil, slander, divisiveness and so on (Heb.12:15).
Consistent failure to forgive has eternal consequences.
  • The unforgiving servant went to Hell (Matt. 18:34).
  • Consistent failure to forgive shows you are not forgiven (Matt. 6:15; cf. Matt. 5:7)
Forgiveness is both an event and an ongoing process. It is unlimited.
  • “I forgive you” is one time. But it is also ongoing when I remember that offense. How many times? “Seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:21-22). 
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
  • When God forgives our sins he does not forget them. God says in Jer. 31:34, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” But God is omniscient. The word “remember” here refers to “covenant”. In the new covenant, God promises not to treat us as our sins deserve but chooses to absorb the cost himself in the person and work of Christ our Lord and Savior.
  • God will ultimately judge a person’s sin either on the cross or in Hell. You can forgive and mercifully confront sin and point a person to the gospel.
Forgiveness is not peace at all costs.
  • Forgiving someone does not mean you become a doormat.
  • Love is holy and demands appropriate confrontation, from individuals and in corporate church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20).
My notes are taken from “Forgiving Others: Joining Wisdom and Love” by Tim Lane (New Growth Press).

Hallowed Be Your Name

Gavin Peacock

"How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go back to their former crimes!" - Matthew Henry.

Matthew Henry is commenting on Genesis 11 and the story of the Tower of Babel. Read it for yourself. The root sin of man is the desire to make a name for himself. How quickly, even after judgment and warning, we revert to the old man and seek our kingdom and our fame and not God's kingdom and his glory.

Lord forgive me, Lord protect me from the schemes of the evil one and the sinful lusts of my own heart and Lord preserve me and motivate me with the amazing grace of the gospel that I may no more be that old man but that I would be what I am, a new man in Christ being conformed to him. May my heart cry be, "Hallowed be your name".

Reading Biographies (4)

Gavin Peacock

Reading Biographies: Ann Judson

By: Gavin Peacock

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

For my last series in reading biographies I choose Ann Judson, the wife of Adoniram; the book, Ann Judson, Missionary Wife by Arabella Stuart.

Biblical femininity

Adoniram was the first foreign missionary to be sent from America in the early nineteenth century. For a woman to travel as well was considered by many to be absurd, even foolish. But Ann counted the cost and considered it prudent to give away her life in order to gain it. Rarely will one read of a woman who displayed such “biblical beauty, femininity and strength” in the face of unspeakable sufferings on mission to the unreached of Burma. Stuart says,

“Ann’s desire to take the gospel to the unreached was rooted in her own personal call to missions and was realized through her ministry to her husband.” (45)

Note that her call was first from Christ, but her ministry was first to her husband then to the unreached. Physicians attribute her death to the strain of ministering to her husband when he was imprisoned for two years.

“She gave her life for him and the spread of the gospel among the people of Burma” (45).

Ann supported her husband in the field not primarily out of love for the unreached Burmese but out of love for Christ, and a desire to fill up his afflictions for the fame of his name amongst the nations. She was willing to let goods and kindred go, to give up the comforts and social delights of American Christianity and look to a higher treasure and labor for an imperishable reward (Heb. 11:35).

“Ann displayed a feminine strength that is not absurd, but precious in the sight of God. Her devotion to the Lamb and willingness to follow him wherever he led made her radiate his beauty and display his worth” (20).

She was a great example of biblical womanhood.

Suffering alone

What is most remarkable about Ann Judson, however, is that she was willing to suffer…alone. Who does not know the agony of suffering alone? Sufferings are hard enough when shared with others, but will test a person’s faith to the maximum when there is no one but Christ to turn to.

She was alone in the missionary call. That she was the first woman to accompany her husband in the mission field was a lonely prospect; the harshness of the climate, social crudities, a lack of female companionship and what would be the loss of two of her three children while she was alive meant that only grace from God would uphold her.

She was alone at sea and abroad. For various reasons Ann spent four years apart from her husband for the cause of the mission work. Her heart ached to be with him. It ached for female companionship. While she was away she received news that three women whom she had in her Burmese Bible class had converted to Christ. Nevertheless, her goal was, “To have a female praying society consisting of those who were once in heathen darkness is what my heart earnestly pants after and makes constant subject of prayer” (26).

She was alone in her death. Ann suffered much from ill health brought on by the stress of the mission and the lifestyle in Burma. She eventually became ill when Adoniram was away. Her last words to her cook were, “I must die alone and leave my little one; but as it is the will of God, I acquiesce in his will. I am not afraid of death but I am afraid I shall not be able to bear these pains. Tell the teacher (i.e. her husband) that the disease was most violent and I could not write; tell him how I suffered and died” (31).

“Yet I am not alone” was her constant refrain. Ann was an ordinary woman with fears and weaknesses just like all of us. But she was a woman able to fall into the earth and die in order to bear much fruit; fruit she wouldn’t see in her lifetime. Why? Because she was motivated by the greater worth of the gospel of Christ, weakened by suffering so that she knew Christ and sustained unto death by her union with the living Christ.

In the words of John Flavel she was “never less alone than when alone”.

Ann Judson, Missionary Wife, Vol. 1 of The Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons,Arabella Stuart, (Corner Pillar Press, 2011)

Reading Biographies (3)

Gavin Peacock

Reading Biographies: George Mueller

By: Gavin Peacock

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Ps. 50:15).
The Lord’s instructions are simple. You pray to me and ask. I will supply you with what you need to bring you through. You will praise me. The part we play is to ask for and receive help. The part God plays is to provide in response and receive our praise. The provider gets the praise the receivers get the reward of God’s help.

George Mueller’s life (1805-1898) is a testimony of a man who lived out this text from the beginning to the end of his ministry. His ministry as a preacher extended to serving, loving and teaching over ten thousand orphans with no money or resources apart from the inexhaustible treasury and supply of a Heavenly Father. His ministry spread to the nations in missionary work beginning in his 70’s.

This week I’m recommending A T Pierson’s biography on George Mueller. Pierson knew Mueller personally and he skillfully discerns the biblical principles by which he lived. The book is called “George Mueller of Bristol; His life of Prayer and Faith”. Prayer as the outward expression of inner faith in God is what marked George Mueller.

4 lessons from Mueller for prayer:
  1. Mueller had a high view of the sovereignty of God so every day his great aim was to get happy in God. One preacher has said that there is prayer with your boots on and prayer with your boots off. Boots-on prayer is workmanlike intercession and supplication for the things promised in scripture. Boots-off prayer is simply seeking pleasure in God for Himself and what he has done in Christ for us; to enjoy him and trust him. We need to get alone with God and happy in God every day! (314-15)
  2. Mueller sought every supply from God. Because of this high view of the character of a merciful, all-powerful and wise God, he went to him first for every need. Mueller said, “It is written in Job 36:7, ‘He hangeth the earth on nothing’- that is no visible support’”. He then says of his ministry, “It hangs upon no human patron, upon no endowment or funded property, but solely upon the good pleasure of the blessed God” (295). He patiently waited upon the Lord for help in any trial.

    Nothing is impossible for God. Don’t judge by what you see. Sometimes we hear about God’s power and sovereignty and go straight out and live in the arm of the flesh. Why would you not go to him if all power and all things are his and he delights to give you what you need according to his Word?
  3. Mueller read the Bible on his knees. His prayerfulness manifested itself in the practice of reading the Scripture on his knees. The outward posture reflected the inner disposition. This he learned from George Whitefield’s life of desperate dependence upon God to give power to understand the Scriptures for his life and power to apply it to other lives in conversion (138-9). Only through meditative prayer can we grow in Christlike compassion and be used for powerful evangelism!

    Note: More than any other books apart from the Bible, Mueller was influenced by three biographies - A. H. Francke, John Newton and George Whitefield; it’s good to read biographies!
  4. Mueller pleaded the promises of God in prayer. In the style of Abraham and Moses, Mueller built holy arguments in prayer. At one time of great need he piled up eleven reasons from God’s own mouth why he should and would send help (148). Learn how to pray like this!

A T Pierson says, Mueller’s “one supreme aim was the glory of God; his one sole resort, believing prayer; his one trusted oracle, the inspired Word; and his one divine teacher, the Holy Spirit.” (212)

George Mueller died in 1898 having led a prayer meeting the night before. How apt for the man! It was Ps. 50:15. Calling upon God to the end. Delivered through this life into eternal bliss. Glorifying God forever.

George Mueller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith, A. T. Pierson, (Kregel, 1999)

Reading Biographies (2)

Gavin Peacock

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:11b-12)

Paul’s Spiritual Secret

In all circumstances, good or bad, he learned to be content (Phil. 4:11b). So Paul had joy whatever the circumstance. Then, the apostle says that he has “learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need”. What’s the secret? In every situation he has learned to rely on the power that comes from Jesus Christ: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). So when we abide daily in our union with Christ and the power of the Spirit, the product is joy, no matter what. This is the secret. Jesus calls it abiding in the Vine – that is, himself (Jn. 15).

That is a daily default position of apprehending the new covenant reality of being a new creation “in Christ”, and then to continually rely upon his work for us and trust his word to keep and guide us. I think this is the hardest thing for Christians to grasp. Satisfaction in Christ alone means that we can have joy in suffering knowing he is working for our good and his glory. We can also have joy in plenty, knowing that it is a gift from him. And better than the gift is the giver himself. This reality needs to be learned. It grows over time and through trials.
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret written by Howard and Geraldine Taylor is the next book I’m recommending in this Reading Biographies series. Taylor was a husband, father, preacher and missionary to China in the 19th century, and the founder of the China Inland Mission. Taylor learned the secret that Paul learned, and it changed and empowered an amazing life spent for God on mission.

Hudson longed for more of Christ, a more experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Who doesn’t want more? In fact, we are commanded to press on to know the Lord (Hos. 6:3) and abound more and more in love (Phil.1: 9). He wrestled with a holy dissatisfaction for Christ.  Here’s a taster from the book at the turning point in his spiritual life. Speaking about the impact of a letter from his friend John McCarthy he said, “When the agony of my soul was at its height a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes and the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before.” The line read, “ But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith but byresting on the faithful one.”

Taylor remarks, “As I read I saw it all! ‘If we believe not he abideth faithful’ (2 Tim. 2:13). I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that he had said, ‘I will never leave thee’ (Heb. 13:5)” (p.122). Resting in, not striving for union with Christ was the key.

Taylor was influenced by the Keswick Movement, but did not make the mistake of its excesses by searching for experiences of a “higher life” that do not last or the passive approach to holiness that gives birth to a “let go and let God” attitude. His was active rest in Christ, active abiding in the Vine. Here’s the twist though: We struggle often with how to abide more. The secret is resting, trusting and believing that Christ will keep us abiding because we are one with him and he will supply all our needs, especially faith. The overflow of this secret that Taylor learned was personal joy in Christ which drove him to risk all, suffer much, and work harder than any to further the cause of Christ to the nations.

John McArthur says of Taylor, “he lived so much in the presence of Jesus Christ that he began to feel the great heartbeat of Jesus for the lost souls.”

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Howard and Geraldine Taylor(OMF International, 2010)

See also John Piper's treatment of the life of Hudson Taylor in the 2014 Desiring God conference on Union with Christ. Note Piper’s careful treatment of the Keswick Movement’s influence on Taylor, and his brilliant illustration of how Taylor rested in Christ (minute 43:20-48:36)

Reading Biographies

Gavin Peacock

William Carey

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

In the text above I believe we have a biblical mandate to read Christian biographies. Remember that Hebrews Chapter 11 gives the example of heroes of the faith, which is then meant to encourage us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Heb.12:1). It behooves us, therefore, to remember past leaders who still speak God’s word to us as we consider the course of their whole lives. In the pages of a biography we can consider their lives and doctrine and we can see the power of Christ working through weak men and women like ourselves. This Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8). Their God is our God, and their lives should inspire us to imitate their faith in him. So, for the next month I’ll be writing to encourage us all to read Christian biographies.

I begin with John Appleby’s “I Can Plod”, a book about William Carey, the great missionary to India. Carey lived from 1761-1834 and was known as the “father of modern missions” and the founder of the First Baptist Missionary Society. Appleby is well suited to write this book. He served the Lord in India for many years.  Finally, he was supported by his wife Eileen throughout his own ministry in India and can well empathize with the cost of discipleship for Carey and his wife Dorothy when they left the shores of England in 1793, never to return home.

Two key lessons for us emerge from the book: 1. Carey thought hard, and 2. He believed hard.

Hard thought

Carey thought hard and he solidified enduring missiological principles in two pieces of key documentation. First, he wrote his famous Enquiry in which he answered the arguments raised against mission, examined former missionary efforts, provided the first ever statistical global survey of world Christianity ever published, laid out the obstacles, and set forth the obligations of Christians to pray and to go. It was remarkable biblical thinking! The second piece of documentation that was important was the Form of Agreement of 1805, which sets out the biblical principles that had shaped the work of his successful mission in India. In other words, the Enquiry was written before he went and the Form was written in light of the experience of the mission itself. Carey thought rigorously and used means.

Hard belief

But above all he believed hard. Carey was a man of great faith in the power of a great God to save souls and reform society. He was a man who could “plod”. To put it another way, he could persevere because he continued to trust in the strength that God supplied. He needed it because in the course of his ministry he suffered trial after trial. It marked Carey’s life. It was over six years before he saw the first indigenous convert (186). He lost his son, Peter, to dysentery, his wife to instability of mind, and he lost an able translator, whom he had to dismiss because of lack of integrity (164). Still Carey continued to persevere and hope in the  “promise power and faithfulness of God”[1] (166). Suffering was God’s means to display his power through Carey’s ministry. It made Carey a man of fervent, persistent, believing prayer, which underpinned his mantra, “Expect great things; attempt great things.”

So whether you are married or single, working in the home or the marketplace, Carey should inspire you to greater thought, greater faith, greater expectation, and greater faithfulness to the Great Commission.

I Can Plod: William Carey and The Early Years of the First Baptist Missionary Society, J. Appleby, (Grace Publications, 2007).


[1] This is from a letter to Andrew Fuller, ‘We can only desert the work with our lives. We are determined to hold on, though our discouragements be a thousand times greater. We have the same ground of hope as you in England- the promise power and faithfulness of God’




Keep your Eye on the Brevity of Life

Gavin Peacock

My football career was over in a flash. I remember as a young professional player, 21 and newly married to Amanda, being taken under the wing of an older teammate at my club. He was 27 and had a lot of experience. I remember thinking “27! If I make it to that age as a player…no if I live to that age…I can die happy!” Of course, I was 27 very soon, then 30 then retiring at 35. It was over. Professional sport is a microcosm of life with huge ups and downs… and then the end.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, said in 2005 at a Stanford Commencement address, “Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Of course your heart will lead you astray unless your heart is directed first to God. The goal of life is to glorify God and take joy in him above all else.

Don’t lose perspective by getting dragged into the business of life and forgetting that it will be over soon. At any age that’s hard to imagine, especially when you’re young. We all have a feeling of invincibility. Keep your eye on the brevity of life because it reminds you of what is truly important, it gives you perspective in trials, and it reminds you of your own limitations. You are not God. You are not immortal. You are a man or woman who will die. Ps. 90:12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

Today I travel back to the UK for my uncle’s funeral. He died age 73 after a battle with cancer for the past ten years. My uncle was in my life all my life. He followed me all over the country to watch me play football. I had great affection for him. He was a professed unbeliever, but in his last weeks I was able to send him a letter from Canada and lay out the gospel; that because of God’s great love for sinners he sent his son Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, to live a perfect life for us and who went willingly to die in the place of us taking the punishment we deserve for our sin against a holy and just God. This Jesus historically lived, died and rose again so that anyone who has faith in him shall not die under God’s judgment and go to Hell but will have forgiveness and everlasting life and joy with our heavenly Father. This is good news to all people everywhere, and my prayer is that in his last days, maybe in the small hours of the morning, my uncle remembered that letter and the gospel, and like the thief on the cross in Luke 23 he repented and believed. I know the God of the universe will always do what is just and I also hope I will see my uncle again.

Be wise: keep your eye on the brevity of life. In 100 years you will just be a fleeting memory in human history. Don’t go to your deathbed and realize you lived for a wrong thing. Achievements and good works won't save you, only Jesus will. And if he has, your life will reflect his reign in your heart. Look to him.

Interview with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Gavin Peacock

Check out my recent interview with Aaron Cline Hanbury for CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood). The article can also be read the CBMW website

NOTE: As CBMW President, it’s my pleasure to introduce a brand-new project of the organization: CBMW Longform. We love the current trend of telling great stories at the length needed to get to know a person, and so we’re beginning this exciting initiative to tell the story of complementarianism–and complementarians. Theology, after all, is not made for a holy wax museum. It’s made to be lived, and loved, and embodied. We have future pieces in the works, written by a cadre of talented young journalists–our next one will profile a faithful and gifted young woman–and we’re thrilled at the chance to not only make the case, but share the narrative. Too often debates over gender roles obscure the glorious reality that the gospel and the body of sexual ethics it creates has changed many lives.
In this terrific lead-off piece by Aaron Hanbury, we meet an international soccer star-turned-BBC-broadcaster who gave it all up to preach Christ and train men. Meet Gavin Peacock of beautiful, wintry Alberta, and enjoy the debut of CBMW Longform. – Owen Strachan

The Peacock family uprooted their lives and moved in order to study the Bible and prepare for ministry. All of the sudden, the family traded a glittery, global city, for the cold, rocky Northern Exposure-reminiscent town of Canmore, AB, Canada. Early in the morning, Gavin Peacock would drive from Canmore to nearby Calgary, AB, in order to attend classes at a little seminary. As an older student, he first needed — like an every-day dad — to ensure his two kids arrived at school on time. As a minister, this husband and father preached an unpopular message in a hard, dark place.
Several years earlier, and nearly 4,500 miles across the Atlantic in another geographic and cultural world, Peacock agavin 1ppeared anything but an everyday dad. On a given weekend, three or four million people across the United Kingdom viewed him discussing football (American soccer) on the BBC. He appeared widely in the BBC’s coverage of the country’s favorite sport, including the 2006 World Cup in Berlin, which broadcasted his personality across the English-speaking world. Commentating, too, was a second career for Peacock. Prior to his life as a pundit, he played in the British Premier League for 18 years and appeared in more than 600 games. At one point, Peacock was the most popular player for Chelsea Football Club, and, in the 1980s and 90s, perhaps the most famous Christian professional footballer in the United Kingdom. In a 2010 interview with the Independent, Peacock said, “I left England after Euro 2008, when I had been working as part of the TV team for the BBC. And not long after, I was living in a small town in a strange country, getting up at seven in the morning to study Hebrew at eight, followed by ancient Greek at 10. And I wondered, ‘What have I got myself into?’”
A few weeks ago, I talked with Peacock about his two lives, one in the limelight of the U.K.’s sport of choice and the other under the shadowy mountains of west Canada.
Gavin Peacock’s Big Moment
In 1994, Peacock rode around Newcastle sitting on top of a bus with hundreds of thousands of fans cheering from the sidewalks. He had earned a promotion as captain for the Newcastle United Football Club — a massive accomplishment in and of itself — and was weeks away from signing with the Blues for a then-staggering transfer fee of £1.25 million. With Chelsea, Peacock reached the peak of his playing career. Most notably, he scored two goals — one at home, one away — against the ever-dominant Manchester United Football Club. His goals gave Chelsea the only winning record against Manchester United since the start of the Premier League. The Blues met the Reds a third time in the 1993-94 season, this time in the 1994 FA Cup final, which the biggest domestic cup competition in the world. The game provided everything fans want in a final: 100,000 fans in attendance, blue versus red, north versus south, David versus Goliath. There on the sport’s biggest annual stage, Peacock was the main attraction.
His big moment arrived just before the half. Peacock shot from about 25 yards. United’s six-foot-four, Danish goalkeeper backpedaled but the ball beat him. “It’s in; it’s a goal; we’ll win,” thought Peacock, during the hour-seeming seconds while the ball was in flight. But his attempt struck the crossbar of the goal, inches away from putting Chelsea on top of Manchester United in the cup final. In the end, United won. Still, even though he shot high in that moment, the season as a whole — especially those two league-play goals — proved to be his moment, placing him in an elite category. This year, even, a sports writer discussed Peacock’s place in the folklore of Chelsea football, now 20 years later. “In the 1993-94 season, [Peacock] was the creative outlet for [Chelsea manager and future hall-of-famer] Glenn Hoddle’s side and the scourge of Manchester United,” writes Charlie Skillen of the Daily Mail.
After 18 years of football, Peacock entered the world of sports broadcasting, which he’d done with success as a player. He began with brief radio commentary spots for the BBC, and quickly became a go-to football pundit on BBC television. With his depth of commentating — detailed, experience-heavy analysis of players’ thought processes — Peacock developed, perhaps, into a better-known pundit than player. He told me what he tells reporters often: he was a better broadcaster than player.
Gavin Peacock’s Bare Moment
Peacock also told me that “all [he] could ever dream was becoming a professional footballer.” Born in Kent, just outside of London, Peacock grew up in a football family. His dad, Keith Peacock, played 17 years with Charlton Athletic — interestingly, the last club for which the junior Peacock played. After his dad took a coaching job with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 11-year-old Peacock spent two years playing with teams on the west coast of Florida. Because of his dad’s work, he interacted with world-class professional footballers such as George Best and Johan Cruyff. When he returned to the United Kingdom in 1982, his career progressed rapidly. Two years later, he achieved the highest honor for a footballer his age: he made England’s under -15 national team. He was one of the top 20 players in the U.K. So in one moment, he played football in front of 60,000 people, then in another he attended school like any other 15-year-old the next day. On the cusp of his 17th birthday, Peacock signed with a professional club. “That’s what every boy wants to be: a professional footballer,” he told me. “So I’d achieved the goal. And, it didn’t quite satisfy.”
Typically, Sundays in the Peacock home centered about football — a day to play for him and a day off for his dad. But one Sunday night, for no apparent reason, Peacock went along with his mother to church. Peacock said she knew “a few lines on God,” but he describes them as “more superstition than anything else.” Nonetheless, they went that night. (In place of these previous two lines could you put, “She was not a Christian but had been along a few times”) And, afterward, the preacher invited Peacock over to his house for a meeting of the church’s youth. He accepted. “I walked into that youth meeting at his house as someone who the world says has got everything: I had money in my pocket. I had the career. I had fame and reputation. I had wealth. I had a nice car. … I had everything the world says is success, but inside there was this turmoil.”
At the preacher’s house, six students — “None of them were the ‘in’ crowd,” Peacock told me — gathered to study the Bible and pray. “They started to speak about Christ. And they started to pray. And there was reality and joy in what they were saying.” Peacock realized that those students had something that he didn’t. The pastor taught the gospel. “And then my eyes were opened, I realized I was a sinner, I was in need of a savior, and God, in his grace had provided that in Jesus Christ, and I repented and believed.” And in that moment, Peacock told me, “football just fell into its right place,” he said. “And suddenly, though there were still the difficulties, I was able to move on and had a career with the right perspective on God and sport. Christ was my surpassing worth and I played football, I hope, to the glory of God.”
Once his faith became public, Peacock endured seemingly requisite hazing from teammates — they called it “mickey-taking” — and some teammates outright opposed his Christianity. “It’s difficult to be a Christian in every profession and wherever you are, because the nature of man is the same,” he said. “There is always opposition and persecution and your own sin to deal with. The difference in the world of professional sport is that it is so public.” But he remained open, speaking at evangelistic rallies and events, and telling the gospel to as many people as he could during his 18 years as a professional footballer.
Gavin Peacock’s Manly Moment
Peacock said that during his time as a TV pundit, the church of which he and his family were members began to shift theologically away from the Bible. Around the same time, he started reading through the Pastoral Epistles in the New Testament, where the apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 4, calls church leaders to preach the Word. Peacock said that, through his church experience and readings in the Bible, he increasingly felt a desire to preach. A few years ago, he explained his desires to the Independent: “When I was called by God to enter the ministry I knew that’s what I was meant to do. I felt compelled to do it. I was in my study reading my Bible when it seemed someone had highlighted the words on the pages. I suddenly felt the urge to preach.” He spoke with the leaders of his local church and he began preaching as occasion allowed, which confirmed for him — along with the affirmation of those around him — this new calling. “Not only do I get joy from doing this; but I must do it,” he told me. Because he was too high profile of a personality to study quietly in London, Peacock and his wife decided to move in order to prepare to preach and work in ministry.
gavin 5Because of some familiarity with the area, they chose Ambrose Seminary in Calgary. So, in 2008, the Peacock family moved to rural, western Canada. One headline in theTelegraph announced, “Gavin Peacock departs for religious journey.” Looking back, Peacock described the move as the hardest decision of his life — he was 40 years old, moving countries with two kids and lives tightly sewn into London. In another interview a few years ago, Peacock said, “I could have studied in England but we had been out here on holiday a few times and we thought, What would it look like if we made a real break away from everything?’” he said “Coming to Canada was like stripping things back. In leaving home, family and career God squeezed us to rely upon him alone”
In 2011, after completing a master’s degree at the seminary, Peacock joined the pastoral team of a 180-person church in Calgary, Calvary Grace Church, where he is one of five pastors — each of whom preach and teach — and particularly leads ministries for men, missions and marriage. These three areas reflect Peacock’s particular burdens for manhood, particularly how biblical structures play out in day-to-day life. Football, Peacock told me, is a microcosm of culture. And so his years playing and working around the sport showed him shifts in manhood that, he thinks, reflect shifts in culture at-large. “I saw from the 80s to the 2000s, a difference in men,” he told me. “When I came in as younger player, it was: ‘I’m the new guy; I have to earn my stripes.’” He remembers cleaning out senior players’ sweaty, bloody equipment. “Men were men at a younger age then,” he said. Conversely, Peacock sees many of today’s footballers carrying a sense of entitlement and a lack of respect for teammates and for the process of developing. These young footballers, for Peacock, are paradigmatic of a broader phenomenon. He sees a “lack, too, of men in the church, a lack of men who know what it is to be a man of God and a pillar of the local church.”
Peacock told me he learned on the pitch the unifying power of a common goal among men. “There something about men being together, fighting for a greater cause,” he said. And, like the problematic shifts in manhood, he wants to connect this sport-reality to men in the church and foster it in his ministry. “We need divines, not dudes,” he told me. “We need men of weight like the divines of old, not light-weight men.” According to Peacock, weighty men look beyond — but not over — horizontal realities like manliness in family and work to a manhood in the created order, to living as God’s image in the world.
In his (rapidly growing) ministry, he regularly teaches on biblical manhood and preaches the gospel outside of his church in Canada and abroad all around the UK. And he emphasizes structures and relationships among the godhead that overflow into church leadership that, in turn, overflow into and men leading families and homes — what Peacock calls a “rigorous view” of a “consistent complementarianism.” In his teaching, Peacock makes the “connection between manhood and the authority and glory of God, which finds its apex in the gospel of Christ,” he told me. “When men get gripped by that vision and what they have been redeemed for, then, we must help them to see what this actually looks like on the ground in the home, church and workplace. Manhood is not about being macho its about being mature; it’s for sportsmen but it’s for all men in any walk of life. And it’s those kind of Christlike men that God will use to further his mission in the world.”
I could think that Peacock’s trajectory is away from manhood, somehow decreasing from the Gillette-commercial manliness of high-dollar spots on London television and the bloody-grass toughness of the Premier League. But, listening to him tell his story and discuss his passions, I actually think his quieter steps are his strongest. And maybe, now, his would-be trading card pictures manhood clearer than ever. Perhaps now is Gavin Peacock’s manliest moment.

Manhood and Womanhood: "Going Public" with Holiness

Gavin Peacock

In Isa. 43:6-7 God says: “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made”

Men and women were created for God’s glory. That’s our ultimate purpose. But what is the glory of God? Listen to John Piper:

“I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we're created in his image, and we're trusting his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy.”

In other words, the glory of God is the “going public” of his holiness.

Issues of manhood, womanhood and marriage are key issues in our day because they are primarily about the glory of God. This is crucial to grasp. Many people think that it is important to recover biblical manhood and womanhood because of the breakdown in families and absent fathers and escalating divorce. That’s true, but that’s the horizontal effect. It’s primarily about God’s glory. That’s what makes it so important; it’s a vertical issue.

Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). However, man was created male and female, equal in personhood but different by divine design and different in particular roles. And the purpose is to image forth or “go public” with God’s holiness. As we image forth something about God’s triune holy character specifically as men and as women, we tell the truth about who he is. This is ultimately how we glorify him. When you see your maleness and femaleness tied to the ultimate goal of God’s glory, then the roles have infinite value. As a consequence, the difference in roles is not burdensome but beautiful.

Therefore, biblical manhood and womanhood is a question of holiness because we are created specifically male and female to image forth something of his intrinsic worth in our masculinity and femininity. And when we “go public” in the world and trust God’s vision for us as men and women, then we fulfill our roles and glorify God. As new creations, our manhood and womanhood has been redeemed by Christ and he has equipped us by his Spirit and by the Word and with the church to become the men and women that we were created to be.

What it is to be a man and not a woman, and what it is to be a woman and not a man is tied to the very glory of God.

Easy Street and Vanity Fair, or the Road Less Traveled

Gavin Peacock

The “easy” or “broad” way

“The signs along this wide avenue read, “Welcome to each of you and to all your friends, the more the merrier. Travel as you wish and as fast as you wish. There are no restrictions.”

That quote was from William Hendrickson and his commentary on the “easy” or the “broad” way in Matthew 7:13-14:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

This word “easy” or “broad” (v.13) means “wide, spacious, broad”. Beware of this way! It is the way of the world. It is the way, which is easy to find. In fact it is the way on which people naturally walk apart from God’s kingdom rule in their lives. It is the way that says, “I define what I do, say and think. I am lord of my own life in terms of the plans I make and the places I go.” “Easy Street” is the road of selfish desire, ambition and self-preservation.

Vanity Fair

“Easy Street” is the address of Vanity Fair in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, “a fair where they would see all sorts of vanity, and it should last all the yearlong. Therefore at this fair are all such things sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts, as wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.”

Oh, how easily we can be distracted, gaze, and drift towards “Easy Street” and Vanity Fair.

The “hard" or “narrow” way

But enter the narrow gate and you travel a hard way. The sides of the road are defined by God’s will. There is a restriction to it, and trials, opposition and persecution mark it. This is the way of the Christian. The word for “hard” (v.14) or “narrow” has the sense of pressure or tribulation. The same word is used by Paul in Acts 14:22, “…through many tribulationswe must enter the kingdom of God.”

In contrast to the easy way, the way of a Christian is hard. However, the former leads to destruction (v.13) while the latter leads to life (v.14).

Decisions declare our way

The allure of Vanity Fair will be great for every one of us this week. Just look at the list in Bunyan’s description and fill in the gap for yourself. We will get up in the morning and be bombarded by the distractions of work, family and pleasures of many kinds that will take us away from communion with God and time in his Word. The stand we take on human sexuality - manhood, womanhood and marriage will set us in opposition to the world and we will be ridiculed. We will risk rejection and isolation if we tell the gospel to a family member, neighbor or work colleague.

We may make big decisions about where to live, what job to take and what to do with our money, or smaller ones concerning what we watch on TV. Time and money spent on our children’s sports is a big issue for parents today. These smaller everyday decisions are significant gospel moments that shape us for the bigger decisions. They are not easy, but the decisions we make determine the way we walk, and the way walk declares whether we are Christians. Decisions declare our way.

So the question is what will govern our way this week? Will our decisions be controlled by what is most glorifying to God and his church, and displays his kingdom rule in our lives? The majority walks down “Easy Street” to Vanity Fair. However, the Christian walks on the road less travelled; the narrow road constrained by God’s word; the road to Calvary and marked by tribulation, but the road that leads to life. But remember that on this road we follow a person, Jesus Christ. He is the way the truth and the life. Love for who he is and what he has done for us in his death and resurrection, will sweeten the trials along the way and bring clarity to the difficult and costly decisions we make.