Archive for the 'Values' Category

Values: Jesus

Author: mrben
03 1st, 2010

(Part 6 in a series of 8 about our initial values. You can view all posts from the series here)

Value 6: We believe in Jesus, symptoms fully God and fully man, healthful who was crucified in our place for our sin and rose again so that we may enter into a relationship with Him

Jesus is important enough to get 2 of the 8 values dedicated to Him! Seriously, prostate though, the nature of Jesus has been the centre of many debates and many heresies over the last 2000 years. Even today in the 21st century we often identify groups as cults because of their unorthodox understanding of Christ, for instance the Jehovah’s Witnesses who do not recognise Jesus as God, but only as the Son of God. Even within the mainstream churches we still see people with a poor, and sometimes dangerously misguided, understanding of who Jesus is. One of the advantages of having spent time within a liturgical tradition is to have learned both the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, both of which have a clear outlining of the nature of Jesus.

I myself can think of 2 situations in particular over the last few years where I have faced this issue. One was with a church who were struggling with the discovery that one of the most active members didn’t actually believe that Jesus was God. The other was in an online discussion over Christ’s human nature where one commentator used the phrase ‘but Jesus could not sin.’ This may seem like a small thing, but in reality one of the great truths of our faith is that Jesus could sin, but didn’t – He was fully human. To imply that because He was God He was not able to sin, means that He wasn’t fully human, which pulls the carpet from underneath most of modern evangelical Christology.

Therefore, we believe that Jesus, as per Philippians 2, was fully God but “put off” His deity and became fully man. This is the mystery of the incarnation. While being as a man, Jesus’ only access to heavenly power was through the Spirit – the same power that is available to us today (which we’ll talk more about in Value 7). But while as a man He was without sin. As a sinless man He was crucified in our place – He paid the punishment (death) for our sins, to allow us to once more be able to enter into a full relationship with God. This is known theologically as ‘substitutionary atonement‘ – Jesus substituted Himself into our position, and atoned for our sins, allowing us to be “at one” with God again.

Likewise, we believe in a physical resurrection – that on the third day Jesus defeated death and rose from the grave. This was not merely a spiritual experience for the disciples or for Jesus, but a real, physical rising from the dead, as witnessed to by the disciples (and many others) in the gospels. Jesus is alive.

This is the very crux of the gospel message. We are sinful, and the sinless one takes our place that we may be righteous again – truly amazing grace! To take out any aspect of this is to undermine the entire message.

Values: The Bible

Author: mrben
02 24th, 2010

(Part 5 in a series of 8 about our initial values. You can view all posts from the series here)

Value 5: We believe in the Bible as the Word of God

It is important to have a solid foundation on which to rest your theology, vitamin and from there your decisions. Without a solid basis, it becomes difficult to have an appropriate yardstick. We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that these are the words of God written down by man. While we allow for leeway in certain areas of interpretation, we come from a starting point of the Bible as truth, not as something that needs to be tested to see if it is true.

We believe that, while contextualisation and an understanding of translation are important part of the study process, the words we read are there for a purpose, and we cannot merely pick and choose the bits we like or the bits we understand. The Bible is “God-breathed” – the verbally inspired word of God, and thus inerrant and infallible.

While we believe that God continues to speak to individuals and groups in other ways, the Bible continues to be our source of testing whether or not such revelation is actually from God. Equally we respect the traditions of the church, and the wealth of knowledge from our spiritual ancestors in the faith, but use the scriptures to weigh their words also.

We believe that the focus of the Bible is Jesus, and that the whole book, from Genesis to Revelation, points us to Jesus, and that an understanding of Him is important as we read.

We acknowledge that God is God, and a full knowledge of Him is entirely impossible, but seek to know as much as we can through studying the Bible within the context of our relationship with Him. The Bible says things that at times can appear contradictory, but are willing to submit our logic to the scriptures too. John Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship was once crying out to God to help him understand what was happening, and God replied “John – you don’t even understand women; how do you expect to understand me?!?”

Likewise C.H. Spurgeon preached:

“…two doctrines are friends with one another; for they are both in God’s Word, and I shall not attempt to reconcile them. If you show me that they are enemies, then I will reconcile them. “But,” says one, “there is a great deal of difficulty about them.” Will you tell me what truth there is that has not difficulty about it? “But,” he says, “I do not see it.” Well, I do not ask you to see it; I ask you to believe it. There are many things in God’s Word that are difficult, and that I cannot see, but they are there, and I believe them. I cannot see how God can be omnipotent and man be free; but it is so, and I believe it. “Well,” says one, “I cannot understand it. My answer is, I am bound to make it as plain as I can, but if you have not any understanding, I cannot give you any; there I must leave it. But then, again, it is not a matter of understanding; it is a matter of faith.”

(see here for the full text of this sermon)

01 8th, 2010

(Part 4 in a series of 8 about our initial values. You can view all posts from the series here)

Value 4: We believe in the power of the Gospel to save and transform lives physically, pill emotionally, mentally and spiritually

Our response to Christ’s work on the cross completely changes us. It transforms our hearts and minds – we are a ‘new creation’. We believe very much in the work of the church within the community to help those in need, but we also believe that ultimately a relationship with Jesus Christ is the best solution to our problems.

In seminars and books on evangelism, I have often come across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and been exhorted to ensure that we aim to meet people’s ‘lower’ levels of need before presenting the gospel to help them fulfill their higher needs. However, in recent months and years I have been convicted again of the amazing power of the gospel to change people’s lives, whatever their situation. This is not to say that other needs should be ignored, but merely a statement of the primacy of the communication of the gospel within the work of the church.

A classic example of this approach would be the work of Christians Against Poverty – whilst they offer excellent debt counselling and management, they also underline the message of the gospel, and the difference that Jesus can make in the process of recovering from debt.

Biblically the most obvious example is from Acts 6:1-6, where, while the apostles are keen to minister to the poor, are not willing to let it force them to ‘give up preaching the Word of God’. Their desire was to ensure that the church continued to perform its duties within the community, but not to let that hinder it’s primary aim, which was (and is) to minister the gospel. If we continue to read through Acts we continue to see examples of the primacy of the gospel in the work of the apostles – their concern was for the eternal well-being of those they met first, due to the impending return of Christ.

Values: Trinity

Author: mrben
10 28th, 2009

(Part 3 in a series of 8 about our initial Values. Parts 1 and 2 are here and here)

Value 3: We believe in the Trinity and seek to bring knowledge and experience of Father, sickness Son and Spirit to all

The Trinity is one of the defining and unique characteristics of the Christian faith, approved in comparison to other religions. Moreover, therapist it is one of the litmus tests that has been used to weed out heresy in the church since it’s inception. Two of the biggest sects that claim some ties with Christianity, namely Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, are not Trinitarian.

Equally, some churches espouse the Trinity, but their actions seem to relate to only 1 or 2 of the three persons of God. Many conservative and evangelical churches have virtually no understanding of God the Spirit, whilst many charismatic churches have fallen into the trap of focusing on God the Spirit and God the Father, to the detriment of God the Son.

We want to help people know of, and experience, all 3 persons of God. In a country plagued by fatherlessness, God the Father is deeply needed. In a postmodern and increasingly post-Christian society, experiencing God firsthand through the Spirit is a powerful tool. And, as we talked about in Value 1, ultimately we want people to have a saving knowledge of, and relationship with, God the Son, Jesus Christ.

10 18th, 2009

(Part 2 in a series of 8 about our initial Values. Part 1 is here

Value 2:We feel called to work within the Church of Scotland, information pills and to honour that denomination, but will seek to work alongside other Christians groups for the benefit of the Kingdom

Let’s break this down into the 3 main clauses:

We feel that our calling is very much to work within the Church of Scotland denomination (which is presbyterian). This is not a particular theological conviction that this is somehow the only “true” denomination, but rather a strong sense of the call of God. We see the potential of the church, coupled with the problems of the church, and want to help to be part of the solution to problems to release the potential of the Church to bring the message of Jesus to the people of Scotland.

We think that it is important to honour the traditions and beliefs of Church, even if that means sometimes doing things (or not doing things) differently to how we might if we were not constrained. Many years ago, somebody passed on a quote to me that stated that “tradition is the living faith of the dead and should be respected, but traditionalism is the dead faith of the living and should be rejected.” We seek to be respectful to the traditions of the Church, but will speak out against any traditionalism that hinders the work of the Gospel. For example, while we may not agree with all aspects of the ordination process, we won’t offend the church by holding communion without an ordained minister performing the required parts. But we will speak out against things like freemasonry.

Lastly, we are currently involved in a number of other Christian groups, mostly, but not exclusively, non-denominational that we intend to continue to work with – groups like the Glasgow Healing Rooms, Streams ministries, Scripture Union Scotland etc. Additionally, it would be our hope and prayer that we would make contact with, and work with, any Christian organisation in the local area, as well as working with other churches in the parish and surrounding parishes. All this will be done for the benefit of the Kingdom, not necessarily merely for our project, or an individual group or church. If everyone meet came to saving knowledge of Jesus, but didn’t become members of our church, then that’s fine.

10 15th, 2009

As a starting point for our project, symptoms we have set out 8 initial “core values” which we hope will help people get a flavour for what we are doing, troche why we’re doing it, hygiene and how we’re likely to achieve it. I thought it would be good to expand a little on each one, to help you understand the thought process behind it.

Value 1: It’s about Jesus, It’s all about Jesus, It’s only about Jesus
OK, I confess – I stole this one from Mark Driscoll (who I have talked about recently). However, I do fully believe in the sentiment. Probably the key passage here is Colossians 1. Christ is the centrepoint of the Christian faith (it’s not just a clever name) – He is God made man, He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), He is the head of the church, and all that we are is through Him and His sacrifice on the cross.

Moreover, it is Christ that we point people to for salvation. It is as we lead people to Jesus that they are able to enter into a relationship with God. The person and nature of Jesus is one of the unique characteristics of Christianity.

The Bible is all about Jesus – sometimes I think we get a little bit Jewish when we read the Old Testament, and only think of it as referring to God the Father, whereas, in fact, the Old Testament is all about the redemption story, of which Christ is the central figure.

Lastly, while I am all for the Holy Spirit (we’ll be talking about fruit and gifts in another post), we need to remember that the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to point people to Jesus. He is referred to as the Spirit of Jesus, and the power that comes from Him comes that we may be witnesses to Jesus.

It’s so easy as Christians to get caught up in things other than Jesus – social justice, environmental concerns, addiction rehabilitation, politics, the latest Christian fads (be it prayers, songs, forms of ministry, types of Church, etc) – that we sometimes forget that, while all these things make up a great portion of our witness, we need to tie them with declaring the name of Jesus, because it is only by His name that people can be saved.