Monday, January 26, 2009

Everything is Evangelistic: The Gospel Always Shines

On Sunday morning as our church gathered, Stu Alred preached one of the best sermons I've heard, from 2 Corinthians 6, the heart of which is very hard on the ears. Stu shares my vision of preaching, which really is very Piper-Edwardsesque.

DOWNLOAD MP3: Stu Alred - 2 Cor 6

We were presented with the grace of God and urged not to receive it in vain - who after all, wins the lottery and then bins the cheque - a call for Christians to not be unevenly yoked - in work, but chiefly in relationships. The great ruiner, "the highway out of the Christian life". Paul poses five questions to seal the argument, all implying a negative answer.
  • What partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness? None.
  • What fellowship has light with dark? None.
  • What accord has Christ with satan? None.
  • What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? None.
  • What agreement between the temple of God and idols? None.
The core of the persuasion though is an appeal to come and live with God who calls for a separation from such yoking (partnership). "Touch no unclean thing, then I will welcome you" - come and know the adoption of the father, his grace and promises. At T4G08 Lig Duncan said: "Hard words make soft hearts and soft words make hard hearts." - these words are hard on the ears, albeit delivered with immense sensitivity and care for the listener. Some object that people are converted by going out with non-Christians - Stu observed that though God is gracious we don't sin so that grace can increase. "What a ghastly thought!"

Such stories however are even more deeply contradictory than they at first seem, people say they want to see someone converted through the relationship, whilst blatently valuing the relationship over Jesus. Stu told the story of a friend who became a Christian through such a relationship and then found himself asking "Now I'm a Christian, do I really want to be in a relationship with someone who places higher value on going out with someone than on Jesus' word..." - striking! In the world people will abandon relationships for jobs and geography, we all always go with what we treasure most. What of us? I was affected by this message observing the evangelistic power of life and words. The gospel shines through lives. Paul says as much to Titus - lives either adorn or defame the gospel.Whatever my words, my life reveals what I love... Pure and holy let me be.

The previous Sunday was an evangelistic meeting for our church, at a baptism. As is fairly common in churches this prompted us off our normal preaching programme to have an "evangelistic message". And that bears some wisdom, to speak directly to the guests is courteous and opportune. This week we had a message that glimmered and gleamed with the sheer glory of the gospel. Because of this any guest who had come could not have failed to see that we were a people who set ourselves to prize Christ above all else, wrestling our affections as we go, prepared to surrender anything for that. Separating from sin, going deeper with God. Every week should be like that.

As I continue to reflect on 1 Corinthians 14, I notice the way that a prophetic church will be one where an outsider comes in, sees and hears what is going on, is called to account, has the secrets of their heart exposed, falls on their face, worships and says that God is among us. A church where the word is preached prophetically will, in that sense, always be evangelistic - holding up Christ to be seen and admired. As his light shines our darkness is exposed. Before the preach, sparked by prophetic words, we sang Matt Giles' latest song, Pure and Holy:
"Cleanse my mind, O precious Jesus, I so long to tire of sin. Trade my lusts for pure repentance, let your Spirit rule within.. Make my view of you more lofty, so to tremple at your wrath, then may I delight in mercy, shown to me upon the cross...
Pure and holy, king of glory, I will fix my eyes on you, show me all your matchless beauty, til my mind is made as new...
Break the heart that grows so hardened, every step from you it treads, use your word to bring conviction, til the old is left for dead...  Now we see in mirrors dimply, glimpses faint of what's to come, unveiled faces changed to glory, 'til at last we see the Son"


  1. Will there be an mp3 of the sermon?

  2. Yeah, usually online by end of today or tomorrow. I'll link to it.

  3. look forward to the mp3. I think the "hard words" quote was by John Macarthur not Ligon Duncan.

  4. Methinks you may be right. It's variously attributed.

  5. Post updated to include mp3 link.

  6. I know it's an old post, but I've been looking all over the place for an audio clip or the full recording of Matt Giles' piece, "Pure and Holy," but with no luck. I've found the piano score on his My Space page, but no audio. Any suggestions?

    Thanks! Tom

  7. Hi Tom,

    You'll find Pure and Holy at Honeycomb Music along with all the rest of Matt's songs.