How can I be glad in God’s anger?

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"How do you reconcile the angry, wrathful God of the Old Testament to the loving, good God of the New Testament?" It's a question that I've wrestled with and am often asked about so I've decided to compile a small list of resources to address it. These are sermons I've preached to our assembly. I pray they will be of assistance to you. God bless you.       Series: The Gospel of God: Paul's

Why I still believe in the local church

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An old friend recently asked my thoughts on the local church and it occurred to me that I'm odd. If anyone should hate the local church, it's me. I grew up in an extreme wing of Christian Fundamentalism. My childhood pastor—my Dad—is currently in prison. My world is full of casualties of the unspeakable evils that occurred, not just in the church, but because of the church. And I can honestly say that the greatest

What’s so good about being nice?

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Nice isn't good; mean isn't bad. There. I said it. You've long suspected my heresy. Now you have proof in black and white. But it's true. Nice isn't good and our unshakeable conviction that it is, is making us bad. Let me explain what I mean. Imagine you're walking down the street and you see a guy manhandling a woman. You have several options. One of your options is to be nice. Nice might do

What is marriage?

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I sat down this afternoon to consider a question of increasing importance in modern life. What is marriage? What exactly is marriage? What follows is a collection of my thoughts on that question. It is not my goal to outline what a marriage should look like. Or what is Christian marriage per se. But rather, my goal is to get to the very fundamental core of what constitutes a relationship as a marriage. Biblically. These

The Jesus who was and is

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Resurrection! Life! He is risen! These are the joyous exclamations of the season. The realities we celebrate during the holy week are truly glorious. Stunning. Even staggering. So staggering, in fact, that we can easily sail straight past such stupendous outcrops without taking the mental energy to notice their sheer magnitude and grandeur. If you'll allow me, I'd like to point out a few of these landmarks we know so well we sometimes forget to

The honest epitaph

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Funerals are awkward things. At a time when people are most attuned to the hard realities of truth, we often sigh as speaker after speaker tries desperately to make a halo fit around the horns of the dearly deceased. I've often thought, therefore, what it would be like if someone could invent a tombstone that gave an honest epitaph. You know, the real one. Such an innovation—alas a mere invention of my fancy—would be at

Good change is not inevitable

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My friend, Good change is not inevitable. It seemed for years that the battle against slavery in the British Empire would be lost. Those who fought to abolish the evil of slavery—men like John Newton, William Pitt, and William Wilberforce—felt at times a sense of the impossibility of the task. They knew that this change would not happen by accident. It must be fought for. And there would be a price to pay. William

How “(500) Days of Summer” could help you make sense of the gospels

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It may be classified as a "romcom," but the subtitle corrects any such misconception: "This is not a love story. This is a story about love." The 2009 film, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, is indeed an odd commentary on love. I say "odd" because the "(500) Days" of their relationship that the film covers aren't in order. The film starts on day 290 when [SPOILER ALERT!] main characters Tom and Summer break off

Did the Jesus of the Bible exist?

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My earlier post asked the question did Jesus exist? This post addresses a slightly different question. Did the historical figure Jesus whose existence is attested by secular history resemble the Jesus which is described in the Christian Scriptures? We could ask this question in several different ways. Is the New Testament historically credible or is it merely a ragged collection of ancient myths and legends? Were the historical accounts of Jesus' life edited and manipulated

Christians and war: The innocence of horror

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War is hell. At least that's what those who've seen it say. If my vicarious experiences of war via Hollywood are anything resembling realistic, I'm inclined to agree. Many Christians over the years have considered themselves pacifists. I do not count myself among them. Still, there is something fundamentally broken about war. No other human dynamic is so perfectly tuned to bring out the worst—occasionally the best, but usually the worst—in human nature. I remember

When church discipline is sin

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We all know intuitively that there is a line between giving your child a smack and physically abusing him. While we may draw our lines in slightly different places, all decent people understand that there is a line and crossing it is evil. Church discipline is similar, but when it comes to church discipline, where is the line between loving confrontation and abusive harassment? Recent decades have seen a resurgence in the practice of biblical

Do I have enough faith?

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The strength of your faith is not the big deal you might think it is. Jesus made it clear that even the most minuscule amount of faith (think mustard seed) is enough to move mountains. The issue is not the quantity or quality of your faith. The issue is the object of your faith. For instance, if you are at sea in a typhoon, the issue is not the quality/quantity of your faith in your

Why TR-onlyism is necessarily rooted in Ruckmanism

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Those who hold to a TR-only position like to think that they hold a moderate position. They typically repudiate the extremes of Ruckmanism in the strongest terms while repudiating the "extremes" of contemporary texts/translations just as firmly. It is my intention in this post to explain why I believe it is impossible to build a reasonable TR-only position without rooting it in 1611. In other words, I want to show why you cannot distance yourself

But that’s so dogmatic…

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That's how my friend responded to my gospel assertion. "How can you be so absolute?" he continued. "There are no absolutes." His pluralistic confession came as we sat on the concrete chatting in the car park after a long day's work. Without getting too philosophical, pluralism which is similar in many respects to relativism, is based on the word plural (as opposed to singular) and refers to an epistemological system (a conception of the nature/structure

Why the approval of God OR the wilderness is a false dilemma

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In Mark 1:11, Jesus rises from the waters of baptism and is greeted by God the Holy Spirit and God the Father who states simply his deep pleasure in his son: You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. The struggling, faltering believer hardly dares to hope for a similar approval from God, and yet Romans 8:38-39 is direct: I am sure that... [nothing] will be able to separate us from the

Did Jesus exist?

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Someone recently told me "I have no reason to think your Jesus ever lived or died." The comment seems absurd to those who live within the orb of Christianity, but are there grounds to question the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth? The question really entails two questions. The first question has to do with whether this character named Jesus did indeed live two thousand years ago. If he did, the second question has to

Why Independent Baptist mission is failing… and some thoughts on fixing it

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Recently, an American pastor, Jeremy Wallace, got a lot of attention when he addressed the topic Why Independent Baptist Missions is Failing. I encourage you to read the whole post. An excerpt follows: Something must change with how we do Independent Baptist Missions.  The current process is a colossal failure... We must be good stewards in the area of missions. Currently, we are not. The process of deputation is simply too long and too costly.

When it rains…

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It's that time of year. For some that might mean perpetual darkness. Or perpetual cold and snow. Or perpetual heat. In the Far North, it means perpetual rain. Of course up here we don't flood. Or where we do, it's little surprise and about as much drama. Not all of Australia is so blessed. "That time of year" is often associated with discouragement. Incidence of depression increases during the long night at the poles, during

Can I take a Christian to court?

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Living in a broken world is messy. It would be nice if everyone saw eye-to-eye and problems were easily resolved. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Even believers sometimes find themselves in bitter disputes with other believers. This raises the question: Is it ok to take another believer to court? A common answer to this question is a straightforward—and sometimes emphatic—no. The Apostle Paul addressed the question directly in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. 1 Corinthians 6 1When

Lost for words

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Have you ever found yourself at that point where you're lost for words? You've tried everything, you've done everything you can, and things still turn out bad? What should we do when we come to that place? Here are some meditations. 1) Move to the centre. When we can't explain it and we can't make sense of it, that's the time to move to the core of our faith. It's easy to be distracted by

A common enemy

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It is a universal principle that people need enemies. Loud protests notwithstanding, people need enemies. It is fundamental to modern politics. The left has the right. The right has the left. The people have the politicians. And the politicians have the people. We all have enemies. And we have them because we need them. Every sports team has its opponents. Every nation has foes. Every city has its critics. Every ideology has its counter. Every

The scandals of that silent night

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Silent night, holy night... The song brings to mind images of moonlit fields and starry skies; shepherds laughing around a cosy fire; an awestruck husband and a contemplative new mum. We're warmed as we recount the comforting joys of that night so long ago. Our hearts become settled, peaceful, serene... But underneath the serenity were some ugly realities. For starters, the common notion among family friends and relatives was that Joseph was the dad. Jesus

The NIV and the deity of Christ

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I wrote this post about six years ago while I was in Bible college in Sydney. It was a study that I did for my own benefit, and have not published until now. The purpose of this paper is to briefly critique the theory that the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible destroys the biblical basis for the doctrine of the full deity of Jesus Christ. It is not my intention to promote the

Five great theological themes of the gospel: Regeneration (part six)

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If you've ever played paintball, you're probably familiar with the idea of regeneration.1 After a player has "died," he must make his way to the "dead zone." After a set time has passed, he is regenerated and may re-enter the field of play. Spiritual zombies In order to understand why regeneration is necessary, you have to understand that man is born dead. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said to Nicodemus "you

Five great theological themes of the gospel: Justification (part five)

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To justify is to defend as right... or just. Justification, then, has to do with the means by which we who are anything but just, are declared by God to be just. We the unjust The reason justification is necessary is that we are not just and we cannot be just. We have rebelled against God and we do rebel against him. The godliest saint has a deep-seated bent toward rebellion.1 God hates sin. His

Five great theological themes of the gospel: Imputation (part four)

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The word "impute" means to credit, attribute, or assign. In imputation, something is assigned to something else. The Christian doctrine of imputation is closely tied to the atonement and to justification. The atonement is the value that is assigned. Justification is the result of that assignment.1 In a sense, imputation is the mechanics of how the atonement works. For instance, how can Jesus cover my sin by his death on the cross? How can his

Five great theological themes of the gospel: Propitiation (part three)

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If I had to sum up propitiation in one word, it would be "satisfaction." In propitiation, the wrath of God is satisfied. An angry God We may underestimate the importance of propitiation until we have a proper estimate of the wrath of God against sinners. The Scripture teaches that God "feels indignation every day."1 That "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness"2 and that this wrath is not passive

Five great theological themes of the gospel: The atonement (part two)

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Australia's T. C. Hammond, principal of Moore Theological College in the middle of the twentieth century, had this to say of the atonement: If the student has insufficient time for an attempt to master the other important sections of Christian Doctrine, let him, at least, have a firm grasp of this, which is the very heart and core of the Faith.1 Indeed, the atonement is "the very heart and core" of our Christian faith. Every

Five great theological themes of the gospel: An introduction (part one)

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The wise old apostle is bent over the desk as he scrawls the final words of his letter in the gathering darkness. "O Timothy," (the words are warm, but solemn) "guard the deposit entrusted to you."1 If there is one passion that should be characteristic of every single believer, it is this passion to guard the truth which has been entrusted to us. It is a solemn thing to hold the truth in trust. And

The Fire Starter

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I scarfed down my last bite and dashed toward the car, grabbing my stuff on the way out. Within a few minutes I was walking into the room where the others had already gathered to pray. As I sat down, my thoughts were scattered, my emotions rattled, and my heart anything but warm. If you wanted to compare my spiritual condition to a fire pit at that moment, the fire would have long burned out

His weakest moment

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It's a funny thing about life. It's easy to judge someone... until you know them. We were living in close quarters and he really got under my skin. He wasn't likeable like the others were. He didn't go with the flow. He wasn't fun to be around. He had issues. And he annoyed me. It was easy to judge him. Then I sat next to him as he poured out his story of brokenness and

On reading ancient books

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Ligon Duncan, in his excellent session at T4G 2010, read out this selection from C. S. Lewis. The quotation is taken from his introduction to Athanasius' work On the Incarnation. I copy it here for your edification and discussion. There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as

Is Judaism Christian?

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I have been amazed in recent years by the strong influence of Judaism within Christianity in Australia. I recently heard of an Independent Baptist church publicly celebrating Passover. I regularly hear of itinerant speakers who teach Jewish ceremonies and encourage their practice within the Christian community. In my travels, I've spoken to many Christians who are caught up in these Jewish religious practices, especially believers from country Australia. My question Is this fascination with Jewish

The Translators to the Reader

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oday I present to you a document of great import: The preface to the King James Version. Along with the writings of the early fathers and the creeds, confessions, and catechisms, this document is one of the great surviving treasures of the Church of Jesus Christ. Not only is it a treasure, but it is a primary source for historical information. While I could explain these things to you in my words, for clarity, for

Separation

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Matt Chandler, Together for the Gospel 2010: "Just because somebody speaks at this or that [conference/church/event] doesn't mean they're a sell-out. If they get the opportunity to open up the gospel, even in shady areas, they would be fools to not take advantage of that. They'd be fools to not take advantage of that. So you can share the stage with theological craziness if what you're doing then is opening up the word of God

KJV: No honour in error

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Over the last several weeks I've published three posts celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version. KJV: Shape of my life KJV: Literary masterpiece KJV: Still translating These posts express my genuine respect for this monumental translation. I have experienced great joy in writing them. I could have written many more and may still do so at some point. But it is with great soberness that I compose this fourth

KJV: Still translating

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When it comes to the translation of Scripture, the King James Version set an ideal that every literal translation since has sought to emulate. Still, in order to have an accurate understanding of history, the KJV must be viewed within the broader context of English translation of Scripture. The translators of the KJV say it best: "Zeale to promote the common good, whether it be by deuising any thing our selues, or reuising that which

KJV: Literary masterpiece

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It is no presumption to elevate the King James Version to the level of masterpiece.1 Indeed, the voices raised in praise of the King James Version during this 400th anniversary celebration are myriad (BBC, NPR, More NPR, Buckingham Palace, major newspapers around the world, etc.). The KJV, along with the works of William Shakespeare, has had more of an influence on the English language than perhaps any other work. Fundamentalist historian David Beale exclaims "The

KJV: Shape of my life

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I no longer have my first Bible. I'm not sure what happened to it, but it was one of those KJV gift and award Bibles (I probably won it in a Sunday School contest) and I think it took a fair beating. On my ninth birthday, I received my first proper Bible. It was a large King James Version Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible. Not long after, my mum took me to a Christian bookstore to

When can’t I reach you?

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We're used to saying "when can I reach you?" But the ubiquity of technology has made the inverse just as relevant. When can't I reach you? Is there a time in your day/week when I can't reach you? A time that you've set aside exclusively for other priorities? There is nothing about our culture that will encourage you to do so. In fact, the marketers still assume we're just sitting around wishing we had some

Quadricentennial Celebration (1611-2011)

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We're just over a month now from welcoming 2011. Whatever else 2011 brings, it also marks four hundred years since the translation of the Authorised King James Version in 1611. This is a notable landmark for the Church of Jesus Christ and I hope to see it marked by celebration and a renewed focus on God's providential preservation of his Word throughout the ages. Already Thomas Nelson and Hendrickson have published commemorative editions of the

No more days of goodbyes

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Every now and then God brings someone into your life that blesses you. You feel a connection with them as you share together of God and life, the ordinary and the profound. And every now and then the time comes to say goodbye. I hate saying goodbye. Goodbyes make me sober. They make me reflective. They make me sad. Goodbyes make me think of heaven. They make me want heaven. They make me long for

Evangelical Christianity (From the End of the 19th Century to the Present)

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Recently, a friend was asking me about modern church history. By the time I'd finished explaining bits and pieces of it, I had the broad scheme of Evangelical Christianity over the last century—at least my take on it—scribbled on a scrap of paper. Discerning that there could be value in graphing the history of modern Evangelical Christianity, I set to work. The graph Below is what I came up with. I present it here for

Environmental Management, A Christian Perspective

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Is our planet warming? If so, is global warming man made? What should we do to protect the environment? These are questions Australians are asking every day. As followers of Jesus Christ, what should our attitude toward environmental matters be? If we are going to answer the questions of our day, we need to have a Christian view of environmental protection. Let's start by looking at the secular view. Secular environmentalism The secular environmental protection

8 Marks of a Dangerous Church

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I have, over my lifetime, had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of churches around the world. I've seen some wonderful, healthy churches. I've also seen some dangerous churches. Here are some marks of a dangerous church. . Mark 1: The leadership structure has a lot of similarities to a totalitarian regime. This is the church where one leader has absolute power. He usually surrounds himself  with weak men who rarely contradict or question him.

On the leader’s personality

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1 Samuel 16 Saul was anointed while seeking asses; David while tending sheep. The kings came from things commonplace. "God looketh on the heart" (v. 7). Skill, fine features, pleasing manners—"personality"—can be had by external imposition, and God cares little for such. His eye is on the heart. Now external effects are not bad—David had them: cunning, courageous, clever, and comely. But what was important was that "the Lord was with him" (v. 18). When

The spiritual discipline of rest

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We're all comfortable with spiritual disciplines like prayer, fellowship, and Scripture reading, but rest? This afternoon I faced a decision. Usually this only happens in hypothetical situations, but today it was real life. You see, I'm at a stage in my life where I am once again very busy. I have the care of managing two businesses and overseeing dozens of employees. Add a regular preaching schedule and ministry opportunities on top of that, and