Saturday, December 20, 2008

Council Estate Christians 11: Why don't Muslims have this problem?

My last post on council estate Christians was about how the perception is often that Christians are middle class. For some reason this is not a problem for Muslims in London.

I often meet Muslims from council estates, but I don't often meet Christians from council estates. At a recent Debate between a Christian and a Muslim apologist – I couldn’t help but notice that most of the Christians were wearing suits or chinos and blazers – whilst most of the Muslims were dressed in street gear.

This is fascinating to me, because if you look at both the doctrines and the history of Christianity – it shouldn’t be this way.

So, if I grow up on a council estate today – what might I think? That if you’re from the streets – you can be a Muslim, but not a Christian.

Why do we have this problem?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Council Estate Christians 10: Christians are middle class

By the way, I think there are major problems in using the categories middle\upper\working class - but I'll write about that another day.

There is a common perception on council estates that Christians are middle class. This results in many people thinking:

1) They will never be accepted by Christians because of their background
2) Christians will never understand them.
3) They could never be a Christian - unless they changed their culture.
4) They need to change their fashion, venacular, and sense of humour in order to be more Christian.

I think there are a number of factors for this problem:

1) The majority of Christians in England are middle class.
2) The majority of Christians dress in a middle class manner. Some churches even have dress codes for the preachers that involve a shirt and tie (which is often perceived as a class marker).
3) The majority of Christians talk in a middle class manner.
4) The majority of Christian leaders are middle class - hence both their example, and their sermons come across as very middle class.
5) The majority of Christian authors are middle class.
6) The majority of Christians do not look into council estate issues, but rather focus on middle class issues e.g., How to evangelise post-modern university students.
7) Many Christians actually confuse middle class values with biblical values. Of course some mc values may well be biblical, but some, such as self-reliance are clearly unbiblical.

So, if you grow up on a council estate, you are not gonna see many Christian role models. And if you do see any, they might well be portraying the middle class lifestyle more loudly than the Christian lifestyle.

Some will want to become middle class, and will love the idea of wearing a suit to church, and getting a job in finance. But others, like myself, will want to know, what does a council estate Christian look like? What is council estate Christianity? What does the Bible say about protecting my family in an area where the Police don't seem to care? What does a regenerate christian from a council estate look like - surely its not a bloke who wears a tie to church?

I believe this is a major hindrance to the gospel in council estates. I hope that more Christians will be aware of this, and consider if there are things they can do to counter this problem.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New Bibleworks 8 Context feature

The Bibleworks blog has been doing a great job of writing about some of the new features in Bibleworks 8. Its not out yet, but from what I can see on the blog, it looks like a good upgrade.

My favourite new feature is the context one - here's why:

I sometimes use Bibleworks in group bible studies, and always use it when JW's come round. I love being able to locate a verse immediately, and to be able to see various English translations and the Greek all at once on one page. However, the limitation in Bibleworks 7, was that you could not see those verses in context, unless you toggled the view. Now, if I'm understanding this rightly, you can look up those verses, and then in the right hand column, see those verses in their context.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Council Estate Christians 9: Not being told the Gospel

In my last post on Council Estate Christians, I said that there are so few of us because of a lack of people going to council estates to plant churches, and preach the gospel. I also said I would later explain the relevance of my previous posts on council estate Christians.

Today, I want to talk about what happens when people try to plant churches on estates with the misconceptions I have been trying to address. This made up story is not about any particular person - but is a made up composite of what I have seen around different council estates:

The story sort of goes like this:
Tom is from a decent area, and he has recently been thinking that he would like to bring the gospel to people on council estates. He has been told that council estate people don't read much, and that they can't handle bible studies or expository sermons very well. So he starts trying to find ways that he can reach these people who will find the Bible too difficult to grasp. He decides in the end that the best thing to do is acts of service in the community, but not to worry about telling them the gospel - in the end they will work it out by just seeing his good example in the community.

The people on the Estate get to know Tom as a good bloke and a Christian. They used to think that Christians were stuffy middle class people, but now they can see that Christians are good people. In fact they would probably like to be a Christian themselves - except that they know they would never be good enough - they could never be like Tom.

The problem is:
Tom never told them what a Christian was. He thought that 'Justification by faith' would be too difficult a concept for them to grasp. In his efforts to show them what a Christian is without preaching the word - he inadvertently gave them a false view of what a Christian is.

It is commendable that he did such good to the people on the estate, and that he demonstrated that Christians are good people - but you cannot properly convey biblical truth without using the Bible. C. S. Lewis talked about this once - how different types of information need to be communicated through different mediums. For example, you don't give knee surgery instructions through a mime! Unfortunately Tom was doing a similar thing.

A second problem with this approach:
This approach not only results in people thinking they could never be good enough to be a christian themselves, but also in anesthetizing people to the true gospel. For example, sometimes I talk to young people from council estates, and I try to tell them the gospel, and they act like they already know the gospel. They don't wanna hear what I've got to say, because they've heard it all before - and it doesn't scratch where they're itching. Sadly many of them have not heard it before - they've just seen a mime of the Gospel - one that didn't properly communicate Christ's work on the cross to save sinners from judgment.

A 3rd Problem:
Some youths I talk to say they are Christians, but what they mean is that they are doing good work in the community like Tom. They are not trusting in Jesus, sadly they are looking to their good deeds rather than Christ's sacrifice.

All of this comes from misconceptions of Council Estate Christians, which is why my previous posts were so important.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Old footage of Dayper and Duncan rapping

I found this old footage today by accident. Its from 4 years ago, when Me and Dayper used to spend a lot of time in my living room either studying the Bible, or rapping.


Bibleworks 8 has just been announced!

I am very excited to report that Bibleworks 8 will be out in a few weeks:


Monday, November 17, 2008

Council Estate Christians 8: Why so few of us?

Recently, people have been asking the question, why so few evangelical churches on Council Estate? I hope that my previous posts on Council Estate Christians have helped to show that the reason is not because of learning styles, or a lack of book culture, or a postcode-dependent inability to understand texts. Instead I think there is a very simple reason that the Bible gives us:

Romans 10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 14 How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news." (NET Bible)

This text tells us that for people to believe in Jesus, they need to hear someone preaching to them. But for this to happen, they need someone to be sent to them.

In my humble opinion this is the main reason why there are so few churches on council estates. Very few people are sent out to preach the gospel on council estates.

I shall be exploring this further in the next few posts on this topic, and explaining how this links to me previous posts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NET Bible on Pocket PC

Since Easter its been possible to have the wonderful NET Bible on your pda with pocket pc.

Although I use pocket E-Sword, I actually use Olive Tree on my PDA for running NET Bible, but for those of you who only use Esword - this is a must have.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

James White at my mates' churches!

A James White extravaganza starts this week in London.
He's gonna be debating Muslims at Doug McMaster's church in Tooting, and Mike Gilbart-Smith's church in Fulham. Both of these churches are down the road from us so we're very excited about this. Also, Doug and Mike are great blokes, so it will be a good excuse to see them too.

I announced the dates last week in church and it took a long time, so rather than try and do that again -
Here's a link to the details,


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Piper on Justification and Christ's active obedience

This is a great sermon from Piper, and may be especially helpful to anyone wondering about the doctrine of Christ's active obedience.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Rodney Decker on Bible Translations

This is an interesting article by Rodney Decker.

In it he clears up some misunderstandings about translations, namely that:

1)Dynamic equivalence is not the same as Functional equivalence (they are often confused as the same thing).

2)Formal equivalence and Functional equivalence are not mutually exclusive - all translations include both.

Its a good read,

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Council Estate Christians 7: Absolute truth

Its been my experience (hence I could be wrong about this) that there is often more appreciation for absolute truth on Council Estates than in some other parts of English society.

Friday, October 31, 2008

What is fellowship \ Koinonia? Carson's view:

I'm preaching on Phil 1:3-8 this Sunday, the following quote from Carson is very relevant to the sermon, as well as being important because of common misunderstanding about the word 'koinoia':

“In common use ‘fellowship’ has become somewhat debased. If you invite a pagan neighbour to your home for a cup of tea, it is friendship; if you invite a Christian neighbour, it is fellowship. If you attend a meeting at church and leave as soon as it is over, you have participated in a service; if you stay for tea and crumpets afterward, you have enjoyed some fellowship. In modern use, then, fellowship has come to mean something like warm friendship with believers.

In the first century, however, the word commonly had commercial overtones. If John and Harry buy a boat and start a fishing business, they have entered into a fellowship, a partnership. Intriguingly, even in the New Testament the word is often tied to fiscal matters. Thus when the Macedonian Christians send money to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem they are entering into a fellowship with them.

The heart of true fellowship is self-sacrificing conformity to a shared vision. Both John and Harry put their savings into the fishing boat. Now they share the vision that will put the fledgling company on its feet. Christian fellowship, then, is self-sacrificing conformity to the gospel. There may be overtones of warmth and intimacy, but the heart of the matter is this shared vision of what is of transcendental importance, a vision that calls forth our commitment. So when Paul gives thanks, with joy, because of the Philippians’ ‘partnership in the gospel’ or ‘fellowship in the gospel’, he is thanking God for the fact that these brothers and sisters in Christ, from the moment of their conversion (‘from the first day until now’, Paul writes), rolled up their sleeves and got involved in the advance of the gospel. They continued their witness in Philippi, they persevered in their prayers for Paul, they sent money to support him in his ministry – all testifying to their shared vision of the importance and priority of the gospel.

D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers. (Leicester, IVP, 2004) p.13-14

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Council Estate Christians part 6: Reading books

There are all kinds of ideas at the moment on how to reach people who don't read much. I myself was very attracted to these ideas years ago. My own idea was to do bible studies using clips of the Simpsons. I soon found however that even if people can't read very well, its not very long before they can.

Here's the testimony of a former drug dealer and kru member whose reading wasn't too good when we first started doing Bible studies together:

I grew up on a council estate in SW London Roehampton. My Mother was a single parent at the time with 3 kids. We were un-churched and not highly educated. Although being read nursery books as a young child, reading was not a regular practise of mine when at home or not in school. The only book I can recall reading was a child’s fiction called ‘Goosebumps’ when aged 10-11. I dropped out of school at about age 13-14 because of a sinful lifestyle and the only reading done by me was the sport on the back of the newspaper. Then at the age of 17 there was one book that would change my life forever ‘The Bible’.

For no reason at all other than a mysterious guilty conscience I one day began reading the Bible, starting from the beginning ‘Genesis’ like you do with all books. I started going to a local Pentecostal church which encouraged me to continue reading the Bible. I had never read a Bible before and the first one was an old KJV.(that was only one in my house). God saved me and made himself known to me and it all started with me picking up and reading a Bible (Gods word is living).

After such an experience I became obsessed with Bible. I was given loads of books to read by my Christian friend but for the first 8 months of being a Christian all I read was the Bible. (Which I completed in that time). The strangest thing was my mum seeing her once drug dealer son up all nights on a Friday (party night) reading and studying the Bible instead of going out getting wasted with old friends, she couldn’t understand it.

Since than reading Bible has always been a priority in my life , because it brought me to God. My reading pattern since I’ve been saved has been to read 3 chapters of the O.T in the morning and 3 chapters of the N.T at night. A tradition I picked up from my early Pentecostal days. I now currently try to read the Bible still in this pattern and also read other books on the faith.

Here are some of my Personal favourite so far:

Desiring God by John Piper
Knowing God, God has spoken by J.I Packer
The pilgrims progress by John Bunyan
The Power to overcome sin and temptation, the death of death, and the Holy Spirit by John Owen
Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
How to read the Bible for all its worth by Fee and Stuart
Pierced for my transgressions by Ovey, Jeffery and Sach
In my place condemned he stood by J.I Packer and Mark Dever
Systematic theology by Wayne Grudem.

I firmly believe that it’s been Gods Grace that has made me want to reads so much; he changed my heart so that I want to know and love him more and this is why I read.
I hope I don’t sound like a well apt reader or prideful. When I first began to read I wasn’t that good at it, but as I read more I naturally get better. Its’ been Gods grace that has made me read.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Council Estate Christians part 5: The priority of knowing God over social transformation

As a child growing up on a council estate, I didn't even know it was a bad area (it was only later in life as I mixed with people outside of the estate that I realised this). The estate was normal to me, but not having a dad around was heart breaking. I did not need my estate to be transformed, as much as I needed to know God as my heavenly Dad. This knowledge later changed my life. The social improvement the local council brought to the estate has done little for me by comparison. I have helped a number of people on the estate through youth work (and believe this was right to do) - but the effects of this is tiny in comparison with knowing God as your father.

Over the years I have heard shock from some people about the social deprivation and crime of council estates, but this is not the greatest problem. Our greatest problem is not knowing God as our loving creator. Our greatest problem is that we live as enemies to God, and we need to be brought into a right relationship with God.

Carson writes:
We must always remember that: The Gospel is not admired in Scripture primarily because of the social transformation it effects, but because it reconciles men and women to a holy God. Its purpose is not that we might feel fulfilled, but that we might be reconciled to the living and holy God. The consummation is delightful to the transformed people of God, not simply because the environment of the new heaven and the new earth is pleasing, but because we forever live and work and worship in the unshielded radiance of the presence of our holy Maker and Redeemer. That prospect must shape how the church lives and serves, and determine the pulse of its ministry. The only alternative is high-sounding but self-serving idolatry.

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 2 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jesus making us acceptable

I was just reading Mark 5:21-34, where there is a woman who was bleeding for 12 years. In those days she would not have been unable to hang around in public unless she told people that she was ceremonially unclean - a very humiliating experience.

It says in v.26 that she
1) suffered much under many doctors,
2) spent all her money on them
3) actually gotten worse (v.26)

What a sad story, and how relevant today, when so many people suffer under the very people who they go to for help. Some people go to false teachers and false religions for help - but they just spend their money, suffer, and get worse.

But then this woman touches Jesus' cloak believing that he can heal her (v.27-28). And he does! Immediately the bleeding stops (v.29).

What a wonderful man Jesus is! What a wonderful God he is! That he does what no-one else can do. That he can make the unacceptable person acceptable, that he can take away pain immediately.

Its also interesting that with her condition she could not go into the women's section of the temple. Like someone being unable to go to church today. But Jesus made it possible. In a similar way, we've seen people who we would never have imagined going to church, then going to church, simply because of God's grace.

Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Council Estate Christians part 4: Expository Preaching

Whilst some people think that expository preaching is too difficult for council estate people to grasp, it has been one of the key features of our council estate church.

Some of the reasons I hear for NOT doing expository preaching are:
1) Literacy is too low on council estates
2) People on council estates prefer to hear stories
3) People on council estates cannot remember expository sermons
4) Expository preaching is not a biblical concept, but a only a reformation concept.

I will give quick answers to these points:

1) Literacy does NOT have a lot to do with listening and responding to expository preaching. If it did, then surely we would also say that its not worth even having a conversation with someone of low literacy. Instead the Bible teaches us that it is people's hearts that stops them listening. When the spirit says, "Let him who has ears - hear" (Matt 11:15; 13:9; Rev 2:7)- he is not referring to literacy!

2) I did not know that we prefer to hear stories! Where does this idea come from?

3) Every other Thursday night our church meets together and discusses applications from the Sunday sermon - so it would appear to us that we are able to remember. Have any tests been made to show that memory is related to your postcode?

4) There are many responses to this, I'll just pick two: Firstly, Hebrews 13:22 probably means that the book of Hebrews was a sermon. Interestingly it takes about 50 minutes to read out loud. Our sermons range from 25 - 60 minutes so I reckon we're ok (yes council estate people can sit down for that long!). Secondly, read Chrysostom's expository sermons from the 4th century - long before the reformation.

Here are a couple of testimonies from people in our church about expository preaching:

From a former youth offender who was kicked out of school at 14, and got involved in drugs and robbery:
The effects of expository teaching on my life has had a profound afffect on me. For instance, teaching from the bible tells me about God and and his will for my life. The bible tells me that faith and grace alone justify me before God and it is only by grace that i can overcome sin.If it was'nt for expository sermons i would not know this. My sinful nature would tell me i would have to earn Gods favour or to make God love me more i would have to overcome my sin by myself. My emotions tell me during the sermon,that i need to cling to Christ and to examine myself daily, confess my sins daily and go back to the Cross. expository preaching teaches my heart to live for Christ while knowing everytime i fail i have a advocate with the father which is Jesus Christ.My faviourite preachers ( other than my own preacher) are Paul Washer and John Piper, But i know the Lord desires me to serve NewLife church and it is there i get my teaching, correction and sanctification. Peace and love

From a former single parent who left school at 15:
I have been listening to sermons for over thirty years. These have been ones delivered by Bible believing Christians in a wide spectrum of style. Whilst, I found these adequate at the time, I am surprised to find these last 3 years (hearing expository sermons)that I have been challenged to rethink my approach to hearing scripture. For the first time I am being challenged to rethink how I behave, and I am no longer comfortable with not changing to conform to the many injunctions of the Word of God. It has not been easy, or comfortable, but I feel God is doing His business with me and that makes me happy to please God.

At New Life Church Roehampton we greatly value God's word. It points to our wonderful saviour Jesus Christ. We are not looking to learn how to be middle class, or successful in the world, instead we want to learn how to glorify God with our lives. It is God's word that teaches us this, and it is expository preaching that best emphasises God's word, and minimizes a person's own helpful suggestions.

Perhaps one of the pitfalls that sometimes happens today in reaching out to the poor, is that well meaning middle class Christians (whom we love and value and need btw), try to help working class people by giving their own advice. I call this 'the manna of the middle class'. It can start with thinking that a drug dealer's biggest problem is that he sells drugs, and end with someone helping that dealer to find a decent job. All the while however this dealer needed the manna from heaven - Jesus Christ. This problem could have been avoided by expository preaching for the following reasons:

1) When done correctly it teaches the bible text rather than middle class values.
2) It shows the helper the correct way to help.
3) It shows the dealer Jesus as he is revealed in his word, rather than middle class values.

By the way, I believe there are many other reasons for expository preaching, but these have been covered by many others who are better qualified than myself, and are not restricted to council estates. I am just touching on a point that has particular significance for council estates.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Council Estate Christians part 3: Bible Studies

There is a myth that people on Council Estates do not like Bible studies. In our church however, Bible studies have been the main means of evangelism and discipleship.

Before we started as a church, we had 3 Bible studies a week. Some of the youth who came to these meetings, were not doing well at school (or not even going), yet they would come to bible studies, and engage in the text.

When we ran Gospel Nite (seen in the video below), there came a time when the youth were more interested in the Bible study than in the music, so we locked off the music, and just ran the Bible study. There also came a time, when we just did straight expository teaching for the youth.

During the last 4 years, we've consistently had an emphasis on bible study, yet seen people come and go. At times, God has brought large numbers of people to us, who get well into Bible study, at other times hardly anyone comes along. The reason for numbers decreasing has not been bible study itself, rather it appears to be people's hearts. In our experience, people from council estates are well capable of studying the bible, however as human beings - we often don't like what is in the bible. The biggest problem then with gospel ministry on a council estate then is not supposed difficulty with bible studies, but rather with hearts (as in any other place in the world). I'm not coming up with anything new here, this is all in the bible, check out the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.

Here's a video of Gospel Nite 3 years ago:

How to not fall away 1: Hebrews 2:1 'Pay Attention, Don't Drift'

Friday, October 17, 2008

Using the Greek New Testament for devotions part 13: John Piper's warning, and a possible solution

Having just started a new blog series, I am aware that I never got round to posting one final post on my Greek devotions series, or my exegesis series. So here is a post I have been wanting to write since T4G last easter!

In Kentucky I went to a John Piper Table talk session. Some of you know about my Keswick moment there! At this session, John Piper said that he used both a Greek and Hebrew text for his devotions. He did however warn that the downside of doing that is that you can get hung up on a grammatical question, and get sidetracked with that (that's how I interpreted what he said anyway).

Since, then I have been thinking about ways to deal with this potential problem, and experimenting with solutions. So far, here is my possible solution, one that I am still testing.

1) I'm using the McCheyne reading plan with an English translation (I tend to alternate between the NET, and the ESV for this). I don't do the full 4 chapters at the moment, instead I make sure I'm following at least one of the books, and maybe two.

2) I also read Don Carson's "For the Love of God" alongside it. This ensures I can have a quiet time reading an English text, without the distraction of grammatical issues.

3) When I'm reading a New Testament book as part of the McCheyne plan, I use my Net Bible / NA27 Diglot. This way, I can read the English on one page, and glance across to the Greek page when I am curious as to what it says in Greek.

4) Then, I read from a NT book in Greek, with a Greek reader - I prefer the UBS reader. I do this at my own pace - one day I might read a few verses without thinking much about grammatical issues, another day I might stop and think about a particular word, and do a word study in it, or an analysis of the grammar. I'll do this through a book, until I've finished the book.

5) Then I read a psalm (or part of a psalm) in the Septuagint - but I do this with a diglot, so I have an English translation in the margin, and can quickly refer to it to, rather than looking up a lexicon or a grammar.

This method gives me a balance of straight English reading, fast Greek reading, and slow Greek reading. I'm still testing this method at the moment, I may modify it in the future.

Hopefully there might be something in the above 5 points that may be of use to other Greek readers.

Here endeth the series on using the Greek New Testament for devotions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Council Estate Christians part 2: Learning Styles

Some people seem to think that people from council estates have a particular learning style. I have two problems with this view:

1) This is based on a misunderstanding of learning styles:

When I started teacher training for FE in 2001, the in-thing was learning styles. Supposedly, everyone had a particular learning style. I got very much into this idea, and was convinced that I was a visual learner. So much so, that I didn't listen to mp3 teachings because I thought that I didn't learn well by listening. Many students and teachers have subsequently taken learning inventories to find out what type of learner they are.

BUT then Prof. Frank Coeffield from the Institute of Education(IoE) pointed out that there was no evidence that learning style categories and inventories are valid in post 16 education. Students can take an inventory and find they have a particular learning style, but then the next find find they have a different style. Who Knew?

This is not to say that people don't prefer learning a particular way at seasons in their life, but it does strongly suggest that it is unwise to label someone as a particular type of learner. If we do this, we need to be aware of two things:

1) We do not have valid evidence backing our labeling (anecdotal stories are not valid evidence!).

2) Teachers may end up limiting their teaching to a way that they think suits the learner (when it may not), and students may limit themselves to only learning a particular way (when in fact they may benefit from being exposed to a whole bunch of learning styles). Fortunately, after ignoring teaching mp3's for a long time, I came to realise that I could learn things from mp3's and recognised that I was not solely a visual learner.

So, even before we consider how to teach people from Council Estates, we need to check if our understanding of learning styles is really correct.

2) This assumes learning styles are based on class / postcodes / schooling etc.:

My first point, almost makes this second point unnecessary. If people cannot be neatly categorized into preferred learning styles, then we certainly cannot do this by people's postcode. No valid independent research has been performed that shows Council Estate people to have a particular learning style.


The whole notion of learning styles for individuals is on shaky ground, yet has been surprisingly naively accepted (even by myself). To then apply this notion to Council Estates goes well beyond the evidence.

Council Estate Christians part 1

10 years ago, when I felt God call me to plant a church on a Council Estate (which I was born and raised on), hardly any Christians seemed to be talking about Council Estates. Recently however, it appears to have become one of the 'in things' to talk about. In these discussions, I have heard a number of things said about people from Council Estates that just don't make sense to me. Here are some of the things I have heard, that I just haven't experienced in my Council Estate, or in our church:

1) People from council estates don't read
2) People from council estates don't like expository sermons
3) People from council estates cannot engage with the biblical text well
4) People from council estates would never go to a middle /upper class church
5) Council estate people will only be won to the gospel if people change the lingo they use
6) People from council estates need to see miracles to be saved
7) People from council estates learn differently

BTW This is by no means an exhaustive list, this is just off the top of my head.

Any of you who have visited our church, or met us at conferences, know that these things are certainly not true of our church (all of our members were born and raised and still live on council estates).

From the many conversations I have had - it appears that a lot of the above points come about from people (outside of council estates) trying to answer the question:
"Why are there so few conservative evangelical churches in council estates"
This is indeed an important question. My concern however is that people are jumping to unfounded conclusions.

I'm therefore going to start writing blog posts about this topic, "Council Estate Christians." Hopefully this will help destroy some of the stereotypes of people from Council Estates, and help people get to understand Council Estates better.

If there are any Council Estate Christians out there, please contact me so that I can consider your experiences in these posts.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Hebrew Tutor Transliteration Font problem

If anyone else has been problems with Parson's Hebrew Tutor displaying unusual transliterations, I have found out that it is because the CD-rom (or at least the one I have) has a faulty transliteration font on it.

I found a new download of the font here, with instructions on how to install it.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

John Owen Hebrews commentary download

As I preach through the book of Hebrews, I have been consulting most of the top commentaries. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are stronger on the Greek text, but less on the explanation of the text, or the application.

John Owen's Hebrews commentary however has been a joy to consult. His commentary not only examines the Greek text, but also the logic of the author's arguments, and makes good observations and applications on these.

You can get hold of this commentary the following ways:

1) Purchase the 7 vol book set somewhere.

2) Download free scanned pdfs of it:

3) Purchase Owen's whole collection as a pdf for £8 from:
This is much easier to search through than the free scanned pdfs - but doesn't give you orignal page numbers.

4) Purchase it through logos (I think its on pre-pub at the moment).

Of all these, I like the pdfs the best, because now with acrobat reader you can highlight and underline text. Plus I find Libronix gets busy enough with all the things I have running on it, so I like to have Owen open in a seperate application.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My favourite Greek Study Bible

Okay, technically its not a Bible, just a New Testament. But its Greek, which is what I've been wanting for a long time.

The Expositor's Greek Testament was published (I think) between 1897 and 1910. With then intention "to do for the present generation the work accomplished by Dean Alford's in the past." W. Robertson Nicoll (gen ed.)

It contains 5 volumes spanning the entire New Testament. The Greek text at the top of the page, with cross references in the margin, and text critical notes beneath the Greek text. Underneath the text critical notes, are in depth notes on the text.

D. A Carson has this to say about these volumes:
"Though seriously dated, the five volumes of the old "Expositor's Greek New Testament" are still worth owning and reading, along with more recent works. Pick it up secondhand, as it is again out of print."
Carson. New Testament Commentary Survey. 2001, p.22

I love using it. For a long time I've wanted a study Bible where the notes were specific to the Greek text. The notes in this volume cover grammar, syntax, word studies, LXX similarities, and theology.

I've been reading through Hebrews with this, and God has used it to open my eyes wider to the great high priest we have in Christ.

I bought my copies through amazon, but you can also order them pre-pub in Logos at the moment. However, they are also available for free in pdf format at these links:
vol 1
vol 2
vol 3
vol 4
vol 5

One caveat: You may want to use a NA27 or UB4 alongside this, as the textual data does not include the papyri found since publication.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Our Church website had been updated

Elliot Wilsher of Calvary Design has just updated our Church website.

You can watch all our of sermons and stuff from there.

We'' be putting mp3 up there too over the next few months, plus our new series in Hebrews.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Essentials Teaching Video Series

After some problems with google video, we now have the essentials series back online.
You can watch the series here. We will update this from time to time, so you might want to bookmark this blog entry.
The 'Essentials' series are Bible teachings that we believe are essential to the growth of Christians in our local community. We invite you to search the scriptures to see if these teachings are true (Acts 17:11).

Essentials 01: The Purpose of Life

Essentials 02 What's man's problem?

Essentials 03 The Substitute

Essentials 04 Redemption

Essentials 05 Justified

Essentials 06 Adoption

Essentials 07 Conversion

Essentials 08 Unable to come

Essentials 09 Drawn by the Father

Essentials 10 Chosen by Grace

Essentials 11 New Life

Essentials 12 Baptism

Essentials 13 NOT MADE YET

Essentials 14 NOT MADE YET

Essentials 15 The Trinity

Essentials 16 Did Jesus claim to be God:

Essentials 17 NOT MADE YET

Essentials 18 Evangelism

Essentials 19 Church Membership

Essentials 20 NOT MADE YET

Essentials 21 Providential Preparation

Monday, September 01, 2008

Matt 26:1-56 The Centrality of the Cross

The cross is the central theme of our faith, and Christ is the hero, not us.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How can Arminians and Calvinists get along?

This is the conversation Charles Simeon had with John Wesley. I read this a while back and really wanted to put it on the blog, but didn't want to type it out. Fortunately today I saw it on the logos website, so here it is:

[Simeon:] Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

[Wesley:] Yes, I do indeed.

[S:] And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

[W:] Yes, solely through Christ.

[S:] But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

[W:] No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

[S:] Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

[W:] No.

[S:] What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

[W:] Yes, altogether.

[S:] And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

[W:] Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

[S:] Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (from Charles Simeon: Biography of a Sane Saint)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kicking a woman in the face doesn't shock church leaders - Todd Bentley's affair does!

Todd Bentley's website yesterday revealed that
Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff.

A number of church leaders who endorsed Bentley have expressed shock at this 'emotional affair' and separation from his wife. It is amazing to me that church leaders would be shocked by this, but were not shocked by his self glorifying teaching, angel worshiping antics, and violent attacks including kicking a woman in the face, knocking a man's tooth out, and leg dropping a pastor? (as can be demonstrated if you look through this blog under 'false teaching').

What does it say about the present state of affairs when church leaders will endorse a false prophet such as Todd Bentley, and are only disturbed when they hear he is cheating on, and has separated from his wife ?(I consider an 'emotional affair' is still cheating). It seems that they view marriage as more important than the gospel. How sad that so many put up with hearing a false gospel, as Paul said to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (ESV)

I think we need to ask the question, which is worst? Preaching a different Jesus, and a false gospel? Or breaking up a marriage? Scripture says that both are sins, but the former is far worse.
Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (ESV)

Preaching a false gospel is worse than divorce, worse than adultery, worse than abortion. Scripture teaches:
Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (ESV)

Some say that right now is not the time to point the finger at Todd Bentley. Some say we should just pray. But this kind of thinking implies that marriage is more important than the gospel? Of course we should pray, and especially for Bentley's young children. But we should also evaluate our priorities. Is the Gospel as important to us as it was to Paul? Do we believe that those who preach a false gospel should be accursed! If so, then we should pray for more than Bentley's marriage. We should pray for his soul, and we should pray for all of the church leaders who endorsed him, and all of those leaders who kept quiet for fear of unpopularity. And we should pray for those who have taken part in this revival - that they would know the truth, and that the truth would set them free. And we must contend for the gospel, and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ who died and rose again.
Jude 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (ESV)

Friday, August 15, 2008

'Prophetic Movement' insider shares his thoughts on Todd Bentley

Here are some really interesting videos by someone who used to be involved in what has been called "The Prophetic Movement". He shares on why he left the movement, and Todd Bentley's ministry.

It is very interesting to hear the view of an insider. It is also encouraging to hear someone define 'prophetic' as preaching repentance like John the Baptist did. I wouldn't share his view of Finney as a model for preaching, but I certainly found his videos interesting and encouraging.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Video 4:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The significance Todd Bentley and his wife separating

The sad news of Bentley's marriage separation:

It is always sad to hear of marriages breaking apart. Todd Bentley's website has announced the following:
Todd and Shonnah Bentley are presently experiencing significant friction in their relationship and are currently separated. We want to affirm that there has been no sexual immorality on the part of either Todd or Shonnah, nor has there ever been.

A local Florida newspaper has also reported:
Bentley announced to his staff Monday afternoon that he and his wife, Shonnah, had separated. The Bentleys have two daughters and a son, and are Canadian citizens. Under Canadian law, separation is a preliminary step in divorce proceedings, lasting nine months.

So why am I blogging about this?

Is it to gossip or to gloat? No, It is tragic that a life long covenant has been broken, and that children will now be desperately trying to work out why this happened and possibly thinking it is their fault. I blog about this because it is significant in assessing the Lakeland Florida phenomena, especially as many of its defenders claimed we should just look at the fruit.

Look at the fruit:

A number of times on this blog I have explained how Todd Bentley's ministry is not a biblical ministry. I have used scripture to demonstrate this. Many other people around the world have done the same. Yet the response that people often give is, "Well just look at the fruit!" For this very reason it is significant that Todd Bentley has separated from his wife. Bentley has 'enjoyed' this so-called revival for 100 days, and the fruit from being 'drunk in the spirit' so much, is that he has now sadly separated from his wife.

Jesus does indeed warn us that we will know false prophets by their fruit:
Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit... 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

So, what kind of fruit should a true prophet exhibit?

The New Testament teaches us that leaders are to manage their family well:
1 Timothy 3:4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?
And that a loving marriage is a result of being filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit ... 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord... 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, ... 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself... 31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
Sadly in Todd Bentley's case, there is evidence that his marriage has been so unloving that they now have seperated. This then is evidence that Bentley is not living as someone filled with the Spirit, or as a leader.

But didn't King David have bad fruit too?

Of course, people will refer to King David, and remind us of his sins, but notice the context:

1) David was not leading a revival at the time. In contrast, he was avoiding his duty as King and neglecting to go to war:
ESV 2 Samuel 11:1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.

2) David was living under the Old Covenant, today under the New Covenant, after Pentecost something is different to David's day. I am not saying that we are saved in a different way, just that the Spirit has been poured out in a different way:
ESV Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Should we only look at fruit?

Having looked at the fruit, it is important to note that this is not the only way we discern false prophets. The Bible teaches us to weigh things up by looking at the doctrine taught, the gospel preached, the Christ proclaimed, and the fruit. Therefore it is incorrect to ignore the first three, and then claim we must only look at the fruit. Without looking at the fruit, there was enough evidence that Bentley was not a prophet of God. However to those who do just want to look at the fruit - here is the fruit: A man who led this phenomena in Lakeland, and who supposedly enjoyed its blessings every day, has just separated from his wife. Very sad, but hopefully this will help people to see that this was not a true prophet.

Finally lets pray for the Bentley family.

If you would like to read John Piper's thoughts on this, check out his blog:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our Study Bible comparison

On Sunday after church we did a little study bible comparison to see what study bibles people preferred in our church. It certainly was not an extensive comparison, but it was interesting:

We got a bunch of different study bibles and passed them round, and let eveyone spend time reading the notes their bible had on John 1:1. After a few minutes we would pass on our study bible to the person next to us, and then read the notes in the new study Bible we had been passed. We kept doing this until everyone had read each study bible.

Before I give the results, I should say that this was by no means an exhaustive test. We only looked at one verse, so our results do not give a fair representation of each study bible in its entirety.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to post our findings:

1st: The ESV study bible was the favourite. We had to use an on-line pdf for this as it hasn't been published yet. This was favourite because it gave a good bit of information in lay-men's terms, with an attractive layout.

2nd: The Reformation Study Bible: This was a close second, with some people wavering between this and the ESV study bible. One person thought the notes on John 1:1 were slightly better than the ESV study bible, but each one contains little bits of info that the other didn't. A number of people use this already in our church.

3rd) The MacArthur study Bible: This came in third. The strength of this one was how the notes were arranged phrase by phrase so it really came across as an exposition.

4th) NIV study bible: The notes on this were brief, which pleased some, but didn't please others.

5th) NET Bible: The notes on this were the most scholarly, but assumed an understanding of Greek, and so not everyone understood it.

Within the group there were certainly differences, and these were mainly based on the level of study people were most comfortable with. For example, one new believer preferred the NIV study bible because the other notes seemed too complex.

Personally, I think that in terms of study, the NET Bible is probably the most useful - but it does presume prior learning. I really like the Reformation study Bible, which I often recommend to people (am not so keen on its article on baptism though). I am interested to see the diagrams that the ESV study bible has (which may give it the edge over the Reformation Study Bible), plus to see how its notes on baptism and gifts of the spirit will be. Clearly MacArthur is a tremendous blessing to the church worldwide, but I am not so keen on the idea of a study bible written by one author. I like the array of scholars the NIV study bible contains, however it is brief.

Above all, I think it is really important to be able to read study bible's recognizing that the top bit is the word of God, and the bottom bit is just people's notes on the word of God. No study bible's notes are infallible. I hope that any of us that use them are able to be fully confident in the word of God, and at the same time, recognize that the notes at the bottom are sometimes correct, and sometimes incorrect.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Matthew 24:36 - 25:30 Be Ready

What does it mean to be ready for Christ's return? What should we do?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Todd Bentley is obsessed with angels - but Jesus is better

I've been studying Hebrews 1 this week, which speaks about Jesus being better than angels. Before Jesus came, God spoke to his people in many ways, involving prophecy, and even through angels. But then amazingly he sent Jesus and spoke to us in his son! (Heb 1:1-2). The revelation of the son far surpasses any angelic appearance (Heb 1:4-14). The son is the exact imprint of God, HE is the radiance of God's glory (Heb 1:3), therefore we look to him and not to angels. Furthermore, it is the message of the son to which we must pay more attention, unless we drift away (Heb 2:1).

Jesus is better than angels, yet Todd Bentley has encouraged many people to focus on angels, rather than on Christ. To desire manifestations of angels, and to love their appearance, rather than focusing on the message of the Son. This is very dangerous, as it can cause people to drift away from faith in Christ (Heb 2:1).

Look at the following video clip, and notice what the scripture says in Hebrews chp. 1, and the following scriptures:

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (ESV)

Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (ESV)

Colossians 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Let's cling to Jesus instead of being obsessed with angels

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why only members take communion in our church

Being a member of a church is about recognizing two things:

1) our status as Christians,

2) our obligation as Christians

Our status, is that we belong to Christ and his body, the church.

Our obligation, is that we live in accordance with belonging to Christ and the church.

The bible tells us that we must recognize these things if we are to take communion:

ESV 1 Corinthians 11:29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
“Discerning the body” in this verse means “recognizing what characterizes the body as different.” or “recognizing our status and obligations as Christian believers” [1]

In the Bible times, some people took communion without recognizing their status and obligations, and God judged them, and some got sick, and some died.

ESV 1 Corinthians 11:30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Therefore, if we make sure that only members (people who recognize their status and obligations as Christians) take communion, then we protect people from getting sick and dying.

At the same time, we welcome visitors and new comers to our church to become members. The membership process is not difficult, and is designed to reflect what the bible says a Christian is supposed to do in a church.

[1] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 897.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Why we have church membership

A good friend recently asked me what my reasons were for believing in church membership when I used to be against the idea. Here's why.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our first ever PodCast!!! Should we keep going?

We now have a PodCast set up.
You can click here to get our PodCast thru itunes or whichever software you prefer.

If you have any problems getting itunes to work, you can go to our channel at
where you will find a button to auto subscribe to itunes.
Alternatively, click on the PodCast button (that looks like an ipod) on the bottom sermon player to the right of this window.

If enough people say they want us to carry this on, then we will endeavour to upload as many mp3s as possible here.

Let us know, or we'll stick with videos.

Peace, D

Our first ever mp3!!! Should we keep doing them?

After 3 years of videos, we have finally made our first sermon mp3!!!!
No one has ever asked us for mp3s, but we thought we'd try it.
If you have been wanting us to do mp3s then please contact us and let us know so that we know to continue this.

This mp3 is a sermon from 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 entitled "What should we tell people?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Matthew 24:32-35 What's the next big thing?

Has anyone ever told you there was a new thing coming? A new wave? A new blessing?
What does the Bible say the next big think is?
And what does the Bible say will be happening in the meantime?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Best UK price for The UBS Greek New Testament - A Readers Edition

This is a great Greek New Testament to own.
This is the best price I have seen it for in the UK:

- You'll have to type in "Greek Readers" in the search window to get it up.

You won't regret buying one of these (if you are a Greek student that is!).


BTW The spines on these are not very strong, and I would reccomend using a cover for these to make them last longer. I have a really beautiful leather one to sell if anyone is interested.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Are you too holy to read the bible?

Recently, I cannot get away from the fact that our daily reading of the word, and the weekly preaching of the word is so essential to submitting to God.

In Isaiah's day, Israelites were saying to God:

“Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Is 65:5.

They were following a form of religion that made them feel good, and made them feel holy. In fact they felt so holy that they didn't need God to come near them. The language is reminiscent of when God gave his law in Exodus 20, and the people wanted God to speak to Moses rather than themselves, because they were afraid. Here in Isaiah however, the people don't want God to speak to them because they are too holy for him! In other words, they do not feel the need to submit to God's words, because they are okay. Today, many people act the same way, when they neglect to read scripture because,
"I know it all"
"I've read the bible before"
"I don't get much out of reading the bible"
"I just focus on my relationship with God instead"

In contrast to this, God wants us to have an attitude that trembles at his word:
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Is 66:2.

The Israelites were still making sacrifices, yet because they would not listen to God's word, their sacrifices were disgusting to God:

“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; 4 I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.”
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Is 66:3-4.

This means that it is possible to be involved in religious ceremony, worship meetings etc. and yet because of a failure to listen to God's word (the Bible), our actions can be disgusting to God.

Recently, I've been studying Charismatic and Pentecostal movements of the last century, and something that has concerned me, is that so many so-called movements have placed more emphasis on worship music, and less on the ministry of the word.

As Don Carson says,

In every generation, what ultimately distinguishes the true from the false among God’s people, the blessed from the cursed, is faithfulness or unfaithfulness to the Word of God.

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 2 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.

Video of Marjoe faking a revival and confessing to it

Marjoe Gortner was a remarkable preacher who pretended to be a Christian for years, leading revival meetings, supposedly "slaying people in the spirit", praying in tongues, and praising Jesus.

At the end of his career, he made a documentary showing his revivals,and revealing \ confessing how he tricked people.

This clip (that someone else has put together) shows
1)Marjoe telling his camera crew how they can pretend they are Christians.
2)How Marjoe faked being a Christian
3)Marjoe leading a revival
4)Marjoe explaining why he came clean

This next clip shows
1) how Marjoe was trained by his mother to work a crowd.
2) how Marjoe prayed for people to be "baptised in the Holy Spirit" and speak in tongues.
3) How Marjoe got money
4) How another preacher gets money off women

Q. Why were so many people fooled?
A. Surely it's because they did not test things with scripture. Instead they saw amazing things happen, and assumed that they were from God.

Interceeding with humility

I just read these wonderful words from D. A. Carson on intercession from Isaiah 64:

Three other elements of Isaiah’s intercession must not be missed. First, no one recognizes more clearly than Isaiah that the God to whom he is appealing is also the Judge whom we have offended. “But when we continued to sin … you were angry. How then can we be saved?” (64:5), he asks. That is the heart of the dilemma—and the hope. Second, not only does Isaiah understand that sin separates us from God, he also identifies himself completely with his sinful people: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (64:6). The greatest intercessors have always recognized that far more connects them with the common lot of sinners than what distinguishes them—and in any case they do not hesitate to plead with God on behalf of those who will not plead for themselves. Third, Isaiah deeply understands that if God rescues us, he must do so out of grace, out of mercy, out of pity—not because we have any claim on him. That accounts for the moving tone of 64:8–12.
When have we last prayed with such insight and passion?

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 2 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A former "revivalist" explains why people fall over at "revival" meetings

Way of the Master radio interviewed Mark Havel who used to do the type of stuff Todd Bentley does.

In the interview Mark Havel reveals that people will fall over "slain in the spirit", and feel like they have been temporally healed, due to hypnosis.

He explains that hypnosis is often understood, and can occur through long worship sessions, flashing lights, dancing around, crowd dynamics, and the belief that the person at the front can do something for them.

He also reveals that this type of thing happens all over the world in different religions, such as Hindu Kundalini. In short, he says that someone could pray for you in the name of Homer Simpson, and you would experience these things.

So how did Mark Havel realize that what he was doing was wrong? Through reading the bible.

Let's encourage our friends who are into this, to read the bible.

Hears the link for the mp3, Mark Havel's interview starts at 37:29 minutes into it.

"Sharing testimonies" instead of preaching the word is a bad idea

Yesterday morning I wrote the post about the beauty of the Bible before I headed off to church. I am in the USA at the moment and was visiting a church. Sadly, although I had my bible with me, and had deeply enjoyed reading it earlier, I never once opened it during the service.

Instead of a sermon, the youth shared on recent Todd Bentley type experiences they had had. Then someone said that they now needed to be doing what Todd Bentley does, and there followed a time of prayer for this Todd Bentley stuff. There was supposed to be a sermon, but it was canceled as this other stuff was going on for a long time. Now a lot of the youth seemed really sincere, and my heart goes out to them. But for me, this was a tragic event to witness. the Church ignored the leading of scripture, and replaced it with the leading of individuals' subjective experiences.

Today I read God's command to Joshua before he led God's people into the promised land:

7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but myou shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jos 1:7-8.

Here, it is made clear that meditating on God's word day and night was the means God had ordained for Joshua to not go astray.

We see the same in the Psalms:

Ps 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ps 1:1-4.

God's people are characterized as those who mediate on God's word day and night, whereas those who do not do this, are the wicked.

In the New Testament we see that preachers are to preach in season and out of season:

2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 2 Ti 4:2-4.

So there is a danger that people will just want to hear things that their itching ears want to hear, and so it is the pastor's job to preach the word instead. Yesterday in church, a number of people shared about prophecies they were given, and they said, "It was exactly what I needed to hear." This worries me, as its very subjective, and the listener becomes the judge of what they need to hear, rather than the pastor. This means that not only is God's word circumvented in the whole process, but an individual's heart (which is sick and deceitful according to Jer 17:9) is the determining factor of what that person receives. In other words, their "itching ears" become the control of the food they live off.

So what should our approach be instead?

Firstly, the bible teaches that we as individuals should be meditating on God's word day and night (Jos 1:8; Ps 1:1). In the same way that we depend on physical food like bread, we should depend on God's word:

4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 4:4.

Secondly, our pastors must teach us the word, so that we are not blown about by the many new teachings that keep coming our way:

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Eph 4:11-14.

Thirdly, if someone shares something in church that is not from scripture but perhaps a prophecy, or maybe just someone sharing their own subjective experience of something, then we test it by scripture:

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything;

Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Fourthly, if what is shared promotes a different gospel of the gospel preached by the apostles in the Bible, then that message, and the messenger must be rejected:

Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

This whole process will only work however if the church and the pastor are steeped in scripture. Sadly the Todd Bentley message at the moment is that God will bypass the usual sanctification process (which is heavily dependent on the bible), and instead will give you years of sanctification through a spiritual experience when you get prayed for and "slain in the spirit." What I heard in this church yesterday echoed that. The truth is however that if God's people neglect mediating on God's word day and night, being taught from the scriptures each week, and testing "testimonies" from the front by scripture - then God's people will end up being,

Ephesians 4:14 tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The beauty of God's word

I really want to share these words from Don Carson's "For the Love of God" vol.1.

Deuteronomy 32; Psalm 119:121–144; Isaiah 59; Matthew 7

one of the great themes of scripture, and one that surfaces with special frequency in Psalm 119, is that the unfolding of God’s words gives light; “it gives understanding to the simple” (119:130) in at least two senses.
First, the “simple” can refer to people who are foolish, “simpletons”—those who know nothing of how to live in the light of God’s gracious revelation. The unfolding of God’s words gives light to such people. It teaches them how to live, and gives them a depth and a grasp of moral and spiritual issues they had never before displayed.
Second, God’s words expand entire horizons. A few paragraphs earlier the psalmist wrote, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts” (119:97–100). The psalmist is not saying that he has a higher IQ than that of his teachers, or that he is intrinsically smarter than his enemies or brighter than all the elders. Rather, he is claiming that constant meditation on God’s instruction (his “law”) and a deep-seated commitment to obey God’s precepts provide him with a framework and a depth of insight that are unavailable to merely brilliant scholars and well-trained political leaders.
One of my students may serve as illustration. He barely staggered out of high school. He had never been to church. When he asked his father about God, his dad told him not to talk about subjects like that. He joined the United States Army as a lowly GI, and lived a pretty rough life. At various times he was high on LSD. Eventually he joined the Eighty-second Airborne, and started carrying his Gideon Bible as a good-luck charm to ward off disaster when he was jumping out of airplanes. Eventually he started to read it—slowly at first, for he was not a good reader. He read it right through and was converted. He went to one of the local chaplains and said, “Padre, I’ve been saved.” The padre told him, “Not yet, you’re not”—and inducted him into some catechism. Eventually he found a church that taught the Bible. He came off drugs (and six months later many of his army drug pals were busted), eventually left the army, squeaked into a college, grew mightily, and is now in the “A” stream of Greek in the divinity school.
He was absorbing the words of God. It transformed his life, and gave him more insight than many of his teachers. The unfolding of God’s words “gives understanding to the simple.”

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 1 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998), June 27.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Todd bentley claims violence can be a prerequisite for God's Spirit to fall

In this disturbing video we see that Todd Bentley has kicked, punched, strangled, ran into, and leg dropped people on his stage. He claims that God tells him to do this, and that this results in the "gift of faith" or the "power of God" falling on people.

I have two major problems with this:

1) The Lord's servant is to not supposed to be violent, but is supposed to be self-controlled:

1 Timothy 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, ... sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, ... 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

Titus 1:7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught,

2) The Bible clearly teaches that the Spirit works through the preaching of the word.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.

Acts 11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.

Ezekiel 37:4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.

3) Some have defended Bentley's actions by saying that Wigglesworth used to punch people when he healed them. This means nothing. We are not supposed to discern what Bentley is doing by looking at Wigglesworth - instead we are supposed to look at scripture.

4) Some have defended Bentley's actions saying that Jesus put mud on the blind man's eyes (John 9:6), and so this is precedent for what Bentley does. There are 2 clear ways to refutre this thinking:
a) Look at points 1 & 2 above.
b) Study the story of John 9:6, see what it is about, see why Jesus made the mud, and then see if that relates in any way to what Todd Bentley is doing.

Todd Bentley claims a 13th person has been raised from the dead and praised him

This video below is very revealing as it demonstrates who is being praised, and glorified at the Lakeland outpouring. I have put some comments below.

1) Throughout the video I hear mention of the revival, but not much mention of God. The focus appears to be more on the lakeland outpouring, than it does on God. It is interesting that we don't see anything like this in the book of Acts. The focus in revivals in Acts is always put onto Jesus, his crucifixion, repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

2) The person who is reported to have been raised from the dead (in an unverified email), started praising God AND Rev. Todd Bentley. It actually says he was praising Todd Bentley. The Bible tells us:

ESV Deuteronomy 5:7 "'You shall have no other gods before me.

Matthew 4:9 And he [the devil] said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

So why did not Todd Bentley read that part of the letter in shock? Why did he not tell the people, "You must not praise me." This would have been a biblical response:

Revelation 19:10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God."

3) The letter says that Todd pulled him out of heaven. Not only is there no biblical warrant for saying this, but doesn't it seem to pit Todd against God? And doesn't it seem to portray Todd as more powerful that God?


I watch this video and I cannot see Christ being glorified. I do not hear of the crucifixion, or repentance, or of forgiveness of sins. I hear God's name used merely as an auxiliary for talking about Lakeland and Todd Bentley.
This scares me as I think about God's words:
Isaiah 48:11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

Todd Bentley claiming Jesus would come and set foot on the stage

Two weeks ago Todd Bentley publicly said these shocking words on stage that Wendy Alec from God TV told him. I believe that these words conflict with the Bible. You can see him saying it in the video here, and read some of the transcription below:

Let me tell you the prophetic word that, that Wendy gave me ...
...if you live in ... and you're local... and you can be here ... Sunday night...
The Lord just spoke to me and said, "This is what will happen tomorrow night. The King and the King's anointing falls tomorrow night. The 8th June the anointing of the King of Glory falls. Jesus said, 'I am coming in person.' The king is coming in person. I sense so strongly there will be a personal divine visitation of the lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ to the revival tomorrow night. He will come in the clouds in his chariot surrounded by a great angelic host ...the king of glory is coming to visit Lakeland to visit the revival...tomorrow the king of glory sets foot upon the stage in divine personal one to one visitation."
Todd Bentley

I believe that the Bible contradicts this message. I shall below outline some of my main thoughts off the top of my head. I'm sure that if you search the scriptures yourself, you will find plenty more reasons.

1) Todd Bentley is inviting people to be in that building to experience Christ coming. This is something that Jesus warned us to stay away from:
Matthew 24:23 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

2) Todd (or Wendy Alec) inappropriately uses language that the Bible reserves for Christ's second coming:
e.g., "will come in the clouds," "surrounded by a great angelic host" and "I am coming" these phrases from Wendy Alec are too similar to:

Matthew 24:30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

2 Thessalonians 1:6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Revelation 16:15 ("Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!")

Revelation 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

All of these verses refer to the 2nd coming, was Wendy saying that the second coming was going to come then?

Just when you're sure she's saying this, Todd stops reading out what she wrote, and then adds his own bit, saying that it will not be a physical flesh Jesus appearing. Well in a way its good to hear him say that - but then again it seems to make God confused. God writes in his word that Christ will return one day on the clouds, with his angels, and "I am coming soon". Then supposedly God speaks through Wendy Alec using the same language, now saying it will be June 8th - but as Todd clarifies, this will be a spiritual visitation. My question then is, why would God use the same language in a prophecy today that he has used in scripture, to talk about a totally different thing? Why didn't he clear this up in the prophecy? Why did he leave it sounding like the second coming, needing Todd to step in and explain?

3) Even if Todd's interpretation of Wendy's prophecy is to be considered - nowhere in scripture does it suggest Jesus is going to spiritually mimic his 2nd coming before the real thing.

4) The Bible clearly teaches that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33), he made it clear to his disciples that he was leaving the world (John 16:28), and that when he left, the Spirit would function in his place (John 16:7-11). Then scripture tells us that one day he will return one day the same way that he left (Acts 1:11). In the meantime he is seated at the Father's right hand, and the Father has even told him to seat then until its time to consummate his kingdom (Heb 1:13). He is not going to be setting his foot on anyone's stage in the meantime.

5) Whilst it is true that the Apostle Paul saw Jesus - it does not say that Christ actually came down and set foot on the earth (not even in a spiritual sense). Rather it says that,
ESV Acts 9:3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

Notice that a light flashes from heaven. It may be that this light was the glory of Christ. Paul's experience here is compatible with the rest of the scripture that says Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, because Christ can still be there - and let Paul see him from the ground. Paul's experience is different to Wendy Alec's prophecy.

6) Some might think this so-called prophecy is backed up by Matthew 18:20, but the context there is church discipline (see Matt 18:16) and God's presence in judicial decisions, not a prayer meeting where Jesus suddenly turns up.

7) Jesus' words in Matt 28:20 show us that Jesus has always been spiritually present with his church (shown in John's gospel to be through the Holy Spirit). Therefore it would be incorrect to view Christ as suddenly turning up spiritually, as Christ has never left us spiritually.

I have tried my best here to respond to what I think is an unbiblical prophecy. Obviously blogging is an instantaneous even that lacks the thought and care that goes into bible studies and sermons. Please check what I have written with scripture, in case I have made mistakes. Search the scriptures, and know Jesus through them! And look forward to his real return!