Friday, July 07, 2006

From fear to faith

Ex-Relay worker Nathan Burley launches a new interview blog which will be interesting to follow.
When Nathan met... Liam Goligher:
Liam Goligher is Senior Minister of Duke Street Church, Richmond-Upon-Thames. He has also been involved in student ministry in the UK and eastern Europe, and has pastored churches in Ireland, Canada and Scotland. His new book, The Jesus Gospel: recovering the lost message, is published today.
"'Bible doctrine doesn't need to be reinvented for each new generation, it simply needs to be rediscovered. The best interpreters act like tour-guides who've lived in the area for a long time, know the language and local history, and can reveal surprises usually missed by day-trippers in a hurry. Liam Goligher is one such guide. He traces the blood-stained path of God's rescue plan for mankind, casting fresh light on biblical events and making the Cross stand out so ruggedly that you could splinter your finger on it."
- Greg Haslam, Westminster Chapel
This morning as I walked through the fields at 5.30am I was thinking about questions on my annual review. One of the questions is about my "training and development needs"... And I found myself thinking: I don't care all that much about Skills, I just want to be reminded of God's promises and encouraged to keep being a Christian from the Bible, and to pray the same.

Skills do matter of course, but I can't help thinking that my students will do better evangelism by loving God's grace than by learning two ways to live. Of course they need a deep and accurate sin-killing passion-enducing belief, which is the sort of thing that just overflows into evangelism and godliness and other things.

Likewise a person gripped by the gospel and gifted by God will preach God-exalting truth Some training in skills can tidy things up a bit, but as I've said before I don't think you can skill passion into people. Its a work of God's word and God's Spirit (which obviously coincide very strongly!).

I'm working through Mark 1-8 to write some cell group notes for Reading University Christian Union to use in the autumn. This morning was Mark 5, where Jesus casts out demons from a man. This man is told simply to tell people what the Lord has done for him, so he goes and tells people what Jesus has done for him. Its the outworking of discipleship. We tell people what God has done, in Jesus, in us.

Two quotes from James Edwards' Pillar commentary on Mark:
“Whenever the person and work of Jesus are highlighted, so, too, are discipleship. For Mark, the revelation of Jesus as God's Son is not an isolated datum that transpires in a vacuum. Jesus' self-disclosure occurs in the presence of insiders so that they may be enabled to hear, comprehend, and increase in faith. Who Jesus is lays a claim on what his disciples may become.”
And reflecting on fear and faith in Mark 4v35-5v45:
“Most people, if they were asked, would probably say that they would like to see a manifestation of God. But this story is a cold shower for such religious pipe dreams: when God manifests himself in Jesus most people ask him to leave”
The disciples are more scared by Jesus stilling the storm, than by the storm. The Geresene people are more scared by Jesus casting out demons, than by the demoniac himself.

When Jesus is revealed to us change happens. Either we become hardened to him, fearful of Jesus. Or, we recieve his word and have faith in him. Thats not a matter of methods, but of sovereign grace at work in our lives.

The thing about blogging is that its blimmin addictive
-well at least blogging for God's glory is.

1 comment:

  1. Hm, thanks for this Dave. God delights in using the despised word by his Spirit to stir up his church - often it seems he uses the least 'skilled' the most, to his glory!

    Perhaps our strategic thinking is too small... So often although loving preaching the Word and not just methods, in fact we can slip into only seeing the skilled and encouraging them in good methods. Rather we must serve God's sovereign grace at work in the lives of all. Strategic!

    "I can't help thinking that my students will do better evangelism by loving God's grace than by learning two ways to live." Absolutely, but it's an unfair dichotomy! Studying 2W2L can stir them up to love God's grace more - certainly I was privileged to witness that work of God's spirit when I took some Belgian students through studying it. It's kind of like a strange DIY thing in which you learn to appreciate the value and nature of the final object only by putting it together. The end product was on the surface that they should better know the gospel and how to explain it so do better evangelism; the overall goal was that they would be gripped afresh by God's grace in the gospel and so have a truth-founded passion to do evangelism. :)