Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vikings!


Vikings
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

As I have previously said, last Friday we had no classes as term had finished, bit we were still in Dublin for the Community Weekend at College. After three years of anticipation, we finally went on the Viking Splash Tour!

The tour bus (see my Flickr account for a photo) is an amphibious American-built landing craft from the Second World War. The main part of the tour is around Viking and Georgian Dublin, with the driver tour guide pointing out features, telling stories and sharing jokes. Then the vehicle gets its water wings fitted, and the passengers get lifebelts, and it's off onto the water, for a quick circuit of the Grand Canal's docks and basin. There you can see the U2 recording studios and the regeneration work around the docks, where fashionable apartment blocks are being constructed.

All in all, it was a good hour and a bit. I managed to see things that I had never noticed before in Dublin, including a Huguenot cemetery on the corner of St Stephen's Green. But most of all, I got to wear a Viking helmet and roar at the 'Celts' walking along the footpaths of Dublin city centre! And don't worry - there is neither raping nor pillaging!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Older and Wiser?

Today I celebrated my 27th birthday, partly by redding out some of my old clothes (which went to a charity shop), partly by having an afternoon of photography around Comber, Nendrum, Killinchy and Saintfield, and partly by returning to Dublin to properly start studying tomorrow for the old exams.

I trust you are well, my reader.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Study Weeks

Well, the final week of term has passed, and my college experience is coming to an end. The essays have been handed in, the work has been done, and three weeks of study have opened up.

The last week of term was probably the most busy of the entire three years. There were some essays to finish. We had the Viva Voce. We had the final year students' trip to the RCB (Representative Church Body). We had the Downes Oratory Prize. We had the Viking Splash Tour. We had the Community Weekend. And it's all over now. Three study weeks, two weeks of exam and I'm out of Dublin.

Community Weekend was fun - it's the lot of the final year students to put on a family friendly weekend for students and their families. Friday night we did a barbecue on the lawn (thankfully the rain stayed away, and it was bearable enough - no one got frostbite!). Then we had some School Sports Day events - relay races and ball games. Saturday morning we had Adrian Dorrian speaking in the two sessions - looking at times and seasons in our lives, and thinking about the baptism of Jesus and the Lord's Supper. Free afternoon, and then in the evening we hosted a TV Quiz Show night - rounds of Catchphrase, Family Fortunes, Just a Minute, Mr & Mrs (where a couple who aren't a couple got a better result than the married couple!), The Price is Right, Countdown, and a Theme Tunes round. All went very well, but we got to see that some students are very competitive! This morning we had our Family Communion service where Adrian celebrated and preached. All weekend, we also had a Wii bowling competition going in one of the rooms which was good crack as well.

Tomorrow I'm going to hear Vaughan Roberts speaking in Jordanstown, which should be a good day. And so off to bed!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Downes in the Dumps (2008 remix)

The Downes Oratory Prize is one of the noble traditions in the Church of Ireland Theological College (CITC). Each year, there is a prize offered for a person in each year who shines in the art of oratory. In previous times this was in a preaching format, but last year and this, it has taken the form of a debating competition.

Tonight was the Downes Oratory for this year, and I came second. Out of two. But to be fair, Stephen is gifted in the art of debating, with a quick wit and meticulous preparation. I entered to ensure that he had to do something at least to win the prize!

The evening was very good, though, with some interesting talents displayed in the other years as well - I've never seen anyone singing their argument at a debate before, so that was a first! The craic was mighty, and well worth the evening away from studies.

Just one proper day of term left, and it's promising to be packed as well, and then the Community Weekend. Here we go!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Viva Las CITC!

How quickly our last week of term seems to be going! Tomorrow we have our viva voce exam - the oral part of the pastoral elements of the course. Fifty minutes to talk about the project, two submitted sermons, and the overall learning of the course. It's all assessed by the external examiner who conducts the interview, and goes towards half of the pastoral section, which is a third of the final mark. So by getting 50% tomorrow on the pastoral section overall (if I get that much), I'll go into the final exams with 17% of the total final mark already in the bag. Passmark 40%.

With most things we're doing this week we keep remarking that 'that's the last time we'll ...' Strange how the time goes, and whereas the Dublin experience seemed new and daunting, we're now ready to move on, and are looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead. Yes, there are things I'll miss about the city and the college, but it's all in perspective.

Tonight we had the last College Fellowship of the year, and the guys were praying for us as we leave - it's interesting how people might say things in prayer that they wouldn't say in normal conversation or one-to-one. Reminds me again of the title of the book on Encouragement by Derick Bingham - 'Don't wait til he's dead!'

Still, it was encouraging to be prayed for. It felt as if we were being sent out by the Fellowship and their prayers go with us. Some verses were given to me as well, so I'll be reflecting on them again and again in the days to come, and maybe I'll blog a bit more about them.

For now, though, it's off to bed and hopefully a good sleep before the oral in the morning. Viva CITC!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Velvet Elvis

I read Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis a while back. I tried blogging about it at the time, but was never happy with the post. I was concerned about some of the stuff that he was saying, but didn't have the time to properly write it up. The other day I noticed a pastoral response to Velvet Elvis from Pat Abendroth, the pastor of Omaha Bible Church, through the Irish Calvinist blog (Erik Raymond).

I would mostly agree with Abendroth, as he hits the nail time and again where Bell seems to miss the mark. You can check out the whole text here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quote of the Day: Missionary Motivation

I'm currently reading Helen Roseveare's book 'Give Me This Mountain.' It recounts her experiences and things the Lord taught her as she offered herself for missionary work in the Congo. This piece of advice was given to her by Jack Scholes when she arrived in Congo:

If you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, or as the cream of your church, or because of your medical degree, or for the service you can render the African church, or even for the souls you may see saved, you will fail. Remember, the Lord has only one purpose ultimately for each one of us, to make us more like Jesus. He is interested in your relationship with Himself. Let Him take you and mould you as He will; all the rest will take its rightful place.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Linfield's Got The Blues

St Pat's 2 - 0 Linfield.

This evening I was just settling down to write an essay, when John came into the room, with a strong temptation. Linfield were coming down to play St Patrick's Athletic in the Setanta Cup. Could we possibly get tickets?

Initially, I was going to write the essay. But then the thought of watching the Irish League leaders in Dublin grew stronger, and I grabbed the car keys. Quick check online as to where they play, and a check of the map to see where to go, and we were off to Richmond Park.

Got parked outside the ground handy enough, and managed to get tickets in the home stand - after having proved that we were adopted Dubliners (by me producing my Trinity College student card). As a security measure, no one was allowed to buy tickets without proof of being non-Linfield fans.

So there we were, in the home stand - two seats away from me, and over the wall in the director's box was the Lord Mayor of Dublin (with a portrait of King Billy on his mayoral chain of office, nonetheless). Sitting right at the halfway line. Game on.

Linfield weren't at the game at all - maybe one chance in the first half, and a couple in the second half. St Pat's however were in a different league. The forwards seemed much faster, getting past the defenders time after time after time. After seven minutes, they were 1-0 but they should have gone in at half time leading by at least 10, the number of chances they squandered. At times it seemed as if the ball was simply refusing to go in for them.

Linfield started better in the second half, but soon St Pat's were back in their rhythm, with more relentless pressure on the Linfield defence. Near the end they got a second - a cracker goal from the edge of the box, with the Linfield keeper not even moving as he watched it fly into the net.

So a convincing win for the side that started the match bottom of the Setanta Cup group. All in all a great game to watch for the neutral supporter.

Just a few wee things were a bit troubling. During the game, some in the St Pat's terraces were chanting 'The IRA...' and waving a huge tricolour. That was at the other side of the ground from me, but it surely made me uncomfortable. the Garda operation at the end of the game was interesting, to say the least. When we made it out of the ground (well after all the Linfield supporters' buses had left), the Garda had erected a barrier across the road - with my car on the other side! A huge number of uniformed officers as well as dog handlers, horses and cops in riot gear were manning the barriers, and in the end myself and maybe twenty or so others were trapped between police lines when the riot cops moved in and drove most of the crowd back down the road (those wearing hoodies and covering their faces). Thankfully we eventually got through, but not before some of the other men in the crowd made their feelings very well known to the policemen on duty.

But the disruption wasn't too bad, and didn't spoil a good night of football, when Linfield truly had a bad case of the blues...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Passing on the Baton

Tonight was the House Meeting in College, my last engagement as Senior Student. Don't worry, there were no tears or anything like that. In some ways, it's nice to be able to stand down and let someone else run with it.

The new Senior Student will be well known to anyone who knows my blog and Flickr buddies - Robert Ferris. I wish him God's richest blessing as he takes on the new responsibilities of the post, and leads the student body in the year ahead.

For me, the House Meeting is another sign of the nearness of the end of time in college - just one more full week of term left after this one, and then three study weeks and two of exams. It's less than nine weeks now to my (DV) ordination, and less than 14 to our wedding!

Where have the three years of college gone? Will the next three years go as quickly in Dundonald? Here's to the future, all in God's hands and God's plan.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jesus the Shepherd. A sermon preached in Ballyward & Rathfriland on 13th April 2008. John 10:1-10

I’m pretty sure that you have heard these words of Jesus before – ‘I am the gate for the sheep’ and (in verse 11) ‘I am the good shepherd.’ Some of you will even know sheep a lot better than me – and it’s at this point that I should probably confess that I’m a townie. So what can we really learn from our passage today? Jesus says that he is the gate and the shepherd. These words may immediately trigger pleasant thoughts and comfort, from knowing the shepherd, but I hope that you won’t stop listening because you think you know what the passage is all about already.


Or perhaps at the outset, you’re a bit confused as to what Jesus is saying. Don’t be discouraged – verse 6 tells us that his first hearers didn’t understand either.


Before we look at the passage itself, it’s vital to look at the context – to see where it fits in the Gospel of John. If you’ll look at verse 1, you’ll see that Jesus is continuing on what he’s saying from the previous chapter, so we need to remember what has happened there.


In John chapter 9, Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. There was a huge uproar among the Pharisees at this, because they didn’t know how Jesus had done it. But there was also fear and a closing of wagons – 9:22 says that the Jews had decided that those who acknowledged Jesus as the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.


After all this has happened, the man Jesus had healed finds him again, and worships him as his Lord. Jesus then says that he has come into the world for judgement – to turn things upside down so that the blind see, and those who see will become blind. Some Pharisees who hear him challenge him, and it is in Jesus’ response that today’s reading comes.


Jesus has already called the Pharisees blind, and here, it is clear that he also regards them as the thief and the robber of verse 1. Remember that these words of Jesus were not spoken to believers, but were rather spoken in judgement against the false ‘shepherds’ and leaders of God’s people. As we listen in to Jesus confronting the Pharisees, we will hear what a wonderful comfort they are to those of us who know him.


As we consider the passage, therefore, let us remember three words throughout. Shepherd, gate, and life.


In verses 2 – 5, Jesus shows that he is the shepherd of the sheep, in contrast to the thief and the robber, who climb in by some other way. Here, Jesus is using a extended metaphor, to help us to see some spiritual truth, and as he does so, uses a scriptural point of reference.


You see, in Ezekiel 34, God speaks out against the shepherds of Israel. These were the leaders of the people, but rather than pastoring the flock and caring for the weak sheep, the shepherds had only taken care of themselves, making sure they were well fed and clothed. But as the chapter develops, God goes on to say that he will raise up a new shepherd to guide them. ‘I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.’ (Ez 34:23).


Jesus, in John’s Gospel, is saying, in effect, that’s me. In contrast to the thief and the robber, the Jewish leaders who were blind guides, Jesus is the true shepherd of God’s flock, God’s people.


If Jesus is the true shepherd, then, what does this actually look like? Well, look at the passage with me. Verse 3: ‘The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls out his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.’


The image is that of a sheep pen, where there would be several flocks of sheep. But when the shepherd comes and calls, his own sheep know his voice and follow him out. More than that, though, the shepherd knows his sheep, and calls them by name. Jesus is speaking about the personal relationship, that special bond between the shepherd and his sheep, so that they will listen and obey his call. Have you heard the voice of Jesus call on your life? Have you obeyed the call?


Having left the sheep pen, the shepherd and sheep are going on a journey – to the next pen, perhaps, or for better pasture. So how does the shepherd take them where they are going? Does he climb onboard a 4by4 and get the dogs out to chase the sheep along? No, in contrast to how farmers do it today, the Middle Eastern shepherd walked in front of his sheep, and they followed him. And why is it they follow him, according to Jesus? It’s because they know his voice.


Having heard the voice of the shepherd to come out of the sheep pen, the sheep must then continue to hear and follow his voice as they travel together. It’s not that you just need to listen at the start of the journey, and then sit back and relax – the voice of the shepherd continues to call the sheep, and guide them along the way.


This is on contrast to the strangers. No matter how long or hard they call out to the sheep, the sheep won’t follow, because they don’t recognise the voice. The sheep only have ears for the Master. How about you?


Do you only have ears for the Lord? You see, sometimes it’s so easy to miss the Lord because we’re deafened by the world around us. It’s so easy to hear the voices of the strangers, which seem so friendly, calling on us to turn aside from following Jesus, to think about ourselves, or to enjoy a little forbidden pleasure along the way.


That’s why we need to always take time to hear the shepherd’s voice. It will help us stay on course, and keep us close to him. As the hymn, ‘O Jesus I have promised’ says:


O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self will.
O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.


Jesus then goes on to ‘mix his metaphors’ to an extent, by then describing himself as the gate for the sheep. You might think this an odd thing, for Jesus to describe himself as a gate, but we’ll see what he means as he says this.


Imagine, if you can, a sheep pen, which is a circle, but the walls don’t join up. There’s a gap in the wall, obviously where the sheep can come in and out. But there’s no gate on the wall. Rather, when the sheep are inside at night, the shepherd himself lies in the gap of the wall, and becomes the gate of the sheep. He keeps the sheep in, and the predators and thieves out.


But more than that, in order for the sheep to be safe within the sheep pen, they have to enter by the gate. The shepherd therefore makes sure that his sheep are saved and protected from harm.


So I want to ask you today – have you entered by the gate? There is no other way to be saved than by coming through Jesus. As he says himself in John 14: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6). And as Peter declared, ‘Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12).


You might be thinking, though, why you would bother being saved. What benefit is there? What’s it all about? Jesus says that ‘He will come in and go out, and find pasture.’ Pasture for the sheep is everything that the sheep needs – grass, water, rest. This is all available to the sheep who enter by the shepherd. Jesus makes it even more clear in verse 10, again stating a contrast. ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’


As we thought earlier about the false shepherds of Israel, we saw how they only wanted to look after themselves. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were still doing that, throwing people out of the synagogue for following Jesus. Their results were negative and oppressive.


Jesus, in contrast, offers life, and life to the full. Or, as another version puts it, ‘abundant life.’ Jesus knows what you need, and is the shepherd for your journey, if you will just follow him. That’s what Jesus is declaring here, and it’s also why John records it here. This is clear from the ‘mission statement’ of John’s Gospel – the very reason he wrote his Gospel: ‘These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ (John 20:31).


That’s the offer of the gospel in a nutshell. Jesus offers life and peace to all who will hear his voice, believe in him, and follow him. Will you hear and follow today?

Friday, April 11, 2008

His Nibs - Neil Cowley Trio



I'm not quite sure how or why, but I always seem to discover music I like a long time after everyone else has discovered it. One example was Muse - for years I had heard young Dave going on about them, but had never heard them myself. Then one day I did, and have liked their music ever since - as well as trying to work out what they're really saying on themes of sin and justice etc.

Well, the same has happened with the Neil Cowley Trio. I rarely ever watch Jools Holland, except maybe the Hootenanny Special on New Years Eve, but last week when Lynsey was home, it was on and I saw them play this track. I think they're great!

I've since discovered that they had their debut album out in 2006, and a new one just last month, but until I get them I've been listening and watching on youtube and the usual places.

Hope you like them too!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It Is Finished - John 19:30 (CITC Exegesis Class)

Famous last words. It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person by their last words. Some famous examples include Oscar Wilde – ‘either that wallpaper goes, or I do.’ Or what about the General killed during the US Civil War whose last words were: ‘They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…’



As we look at the last words of Jesus, then, what do they tell us about how Jesus dies? In verse 30, we read: ‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished”, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.’


It is finished. Was this a cry of defeat, of frustration? Was Jesus saying merely, that his earthly life was over, ending in defeat? Remember that he was dying as a condemned man, on the cruel Roman cross, deserted by most of his followers and friends.


Just a week before, he had entered Jerusalem to the shouts of the crowd, welcoming him with cries of Hosanna. Now, he dies to the cries of crucify, crucify. Was it all a failure? I’m always struck by the sense of hopelessness and defeat in the words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus – ‘But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.’ (Luke 24:21) did Jesus cry out in despair as he died on the cross?


By no means! When Jesus said ‘It is finished’, this was his shout of triumph, the first proclamation of the gospel. The shout of Jesus is good news, because of why he dies, for you and me.


The hours of darkness had finished, Jesus had borne our sins in his body on the cross; he had suffered for our sins. And that suffering was over, complete, finished. You see, because he has taken the burden of our sins, because he was pierced for our iniquities, then we cannot suffer for them ourselves, if we trust in him.


In some of the shops in Dromore, there is a nail that sits on the counter. When you take your bill to the counter, and pay for your goods, then the manager of the shop takes the invoice and puts it on the nail. Once it is on the nail, he is in effect saying, this has been paid; you won’t have to pay again for this.


In a similar way, Jesus paid for our sins, and took the punishment we deserved, held by the nails of Calvary, so that we can go free, and not have to pay for our sins ourselves.


I remember a chorus from holiday Bible Clubs when I was growing up which says this:

He paid a debt He did not owe;
I owed a debt I could not pay.
I needed someone to wash my sins away;
And now I sing a brand new song.

Amazing Grace the whole day long
For Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.’

As Don Carson says, “‘It is finished’ captures only part of the meaning (of the Greek word tetelestai), the part that focuses on completion. Jesus’ work was done. But this is no cry of defeat. It refers to fulfilling one’s religious obligations. And so, on the brink of death, Jesus cries out, ‘It is accomplished!’"


Jesus’ shout was one of triumph. So let’s pray that we all will know God’s forgiveness, and the joy of sins forgiven, because Jesus has borne them in his body on the cross, and it is finished!



===
In Exegesis Class today, we were filmed preaching a short sermon, then in the next class we will watch it back to see what we look like!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fellowship in the Gospel - Romans 1:8-15

Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome. It seems that he has wanted to visit for a long time, but hasn't been able to make it yet. In the meantime, he writes a letter to them, setting out the gospel, and also encouraging them to stand firm in the faith.

The Roman Christians are famous. Their 'faith is proclaimed in all the world.' Rightly so. These were the people who were standing out in saying 'Jesus is Lord' in the very centre of the empire, which said 'Caesar is Lord'. In Caesar's capital city, they defy the emperor to honour the King of Kings.

Paul longs to be with them, to come and see them. To that end, he says that he never ceases to pray for them, mentioning them in his prayers - with God as his witness. What a testimony, to be so confident of saying to someone that we never cease to pray for them - people he has never even met! How does our praying stand in comparison? Sometimes it can be so easy to say to someone, yeah, I'll pray for you, or I'll pray about that - but do we always remember?

Paul wants to see them, not just because of their faith, but also so that he can impart some spiritual gift to the, to strengthen them. What is it that Paul wants to give them? Nothing more than mutual encouragement, the sharing together in a common faith, being built up by hearing the faith story of fellow Christians. I love 1:12 - 'that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.' For so many of us, we see fellowship as the holy huddle after church, or a chance to catch up on the week's gossip, or maybe a game of ten-pin bowling. But for Paul, this gathering together, this meeting up with other Christians would be about encouragement, and being mutually encouraged. How do our times of fellowship stand in comparison?

These verses have been about fellowship - about Paul finally coming to Rome, so that he can meet these famous Christians, and be mutually encouraged. The thing that has really struck me in these verses, though, has been the final purpose of Paul's coming to Rome. I think it's also at the heart of fellowship.

Paul wants to come to Rome so that he will have some harvest there among them, as he has seen among the Gentiles in other places too. This is his obligation- his purpose - his duty - the task he has been called to fulfil - to preach to both wise and foolish. But look at verse 15 - 'So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.'

Remember that Paul is writing to Christians, and yet he is eager to preach the gospel to 'you' who are in Rome. I've consulted my commentaries, and no one really seems to comment on this at all, instead focusing on Paul's eagerness or readiness. I think it's significant that Paul's method of fellowship, the way to mutually encourage is to return again to the gospel, to tell again the 'old, old story' and to preach the gospel. As we'll see soon, the gospel is the power of God for salvation. It's the secret of true fellowship.

So, then, how is your praying? How is your fellowshipping? And how is your gospelling? These three together will mutually encourage and build up the Body of Christ like nothing else can.

In the Newsletter

Readers of the Newsletter (which claims to be the world's oldest continuous daily newspaper), may have spotted an article on Saturday about my book - Journeying Through Irish History. For those who missed it, they have a much shorter version on the website. Didn't know it was going to be in there until I got an email from the WTV office on Friday!

Copies are still available - from myself or from the West Tyrone Voice office.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Jesus is the Son of God - Romans 1:1-7

What is the resurrection all about? Why the big fuss about Easter? The fact is that there is more than one answer, it's like a diamond with multi-faceted sparkles. As you consider each side in turn, you see the different individual aspects, but together they sparkle together.

I began re-reading Romans last night, and was smacked in the face by Paul in the opening words. You know the way you know some things, but then when you revisit them, you come to see them again for the first time? The introduction of Paul's letter to the Romans was like that for me last night.

Had you asked me for a summary of Romans 1, I probably would have launched into the section on God's wrath. But there's so much more in Romans 1. In fact, there was so much in the first sentence (which lasts for seven verses!), that it was all I read last night. One sentence, I hear you say, that's not much of a Bible reading! Check out the text some time. Romans 1:1-7 is one sentence! Commas are littered through it as Paul moves from one theme to another.

Notice the development of the theme. First Paul, his identity as a servant of Christ and an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. The gospel which was promised by God beforehand in the Scriptures through the prophets. The Gospel is about God's Son - descended from David, and declared to be Son of God through his resurrection. He's Jesus Christ the Lord.

Through Jesus, Paul (and others) have received grace and apostleship to bring the obedience of faith for the sake of his name - not just among Jews, but among all the nations, including the Romans who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. So it is to the Romans he is writing, loved by God and called to be saints. It is to them that he sends, brings, wishes, grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wow! What a sentence! Paul packs so much into the sentence that you could never exhaust the glorious truth of his words.

Briefly, however, we notice some of the key themes we will find in Romans being mentioned in this opening sentence. Notice that it is God's gospel - the gospel, the good news is all the work of God from start to finish (Rom 3). Further, the gospel is centred on Jesus, man and God - which is all about the resurrection (Rom 6). Thirdly, notice the importance of what Paul is seeking to bring about in his preaching and apostleship - 'the obedience of faith.'

The obedience of faith. So often, we can detach those two concepts. We may think of faith as the intellectual assent to certain truths or statements about God. But actually, faith is the active trust in God, as opposed to trust in oneself to secure salvation. This faith is expressed and outworked in obedience - firstly the obedience to God who has commanded the gospel to be preached and obeyed, but also in obedience to the commands of God (Rom 12-14).

To put it all together. Jesus has been raised from the dead. This is the good news. It is also the proof and sign that he is the Son of God. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. the only adequate response is in the obedience of faith, as we are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Will you trust, obey, bow down, or will you continue on your way in disobedience, rejecting Jesus as your King? What's the big fuss about Easter? Jesus is Lord! Jesus is King! Jesus is alive!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008