Archive blog entries 02 2018

25th February 2018
The Lordship of Christ:

What are the most important values that we hold? This is one of the most difficult of all questions to answer. When everything is going well, it is easy to assume that the godly, Christ-honouring values we espouse or advocate are those which are most important. However, when things are going wrong or a great suffering enters our lives, deeper, more base, selfish values can emerge. It is at this point that whatever is truly foundational begins to emerge. As a Christian, one of the greatest values that we seek to affirm is the lordship of Christ. Jesus said that if we obey His commands & do them, then we are truly His followers. When we seek to implement His commands by how we live & work, life can get much more difficult. Nevertheless, it is still the right thing to ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart & lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him & He will direct your paths’ (Proverbs 3:5-6). This is not only acknowledging His lordship, but affirming His right to be our Lord & to direct our lives in righteousness & truth. Jesus being the Lord of your life is the best pathway to follow.

Imagine your life, & future, set out on two pieces of paper side by side. The piece on the right is your life with Christ holding the pen & you fitting onto His piece of paper. The one on the left is different - in it you want God to fit into your life only where you feel that you can safely let Him; in other words, God must step onto your page with you holding the pen. So often we want to be the one who holds the pen & determine what we do, & how we live. As a Christian, this is not how we are to live. There is a call to discipleship which is following Jesus & seeking to do as He wants us to do in any given situation. The great difficulty is that, unless you have met the Master, it is difficult to trust Him with what is best for your life. If a person has truly met Christ, then it is much easier to ultimately trust Him with the pen & step onto His plan for his or her life. Again & again the NT writers refer to Christ as Lord or the Lord Jesus. They understood more clearly than we who He is, & what His position should be in our estimation. He is truly glorious.

Coming back to core, foundational values which seek to affirm Christ’s Lordship in our lives, what should they be? Considering this question a little more, it occurs to me that they should include: 1 John 5:1-5, ‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. & everyone who loves the Father loves His children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God & obey His commandments. Loving God means keeping His commandments, & His commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, & we achieve this victory through our faith. & who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.’ Out of this passage we could: i. Confess our belief in Jesus as Lord & co-equal, co-eternal & co-existent with the Father; ii. Commit to truly love Father God through Christ; iii. Constantly reinforce the truth that obeying God is not burdensome but leads to true freedom; iv. To remember that, in Christ, we can defeat this world’s lure & pull.

Two of the greatest affirmations of His Lordship are: 1. To believe in Jesus; 2. To love our brothers & sisters in Christ. 1 John 3:23 presents these two together, ‘& this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ & love one another, as He gave us commandment.’ Others that help include: a. To be Spirit filled & daily to seek the Spirit’s fullness; b. Seeking to develop a good, sound understanding of God’s word in its entirety; c. Committing to develop a growing reliance on the Spirit to enable us to do the will of God; d. To bring glory to God & honour to Christ; e. To develop our Christian character & have morals shaped by the Bible; f. Seeking to obey the 10 Commandments & the Sermon on the Mount. These would be great values which would help us apply the Lordship of Christ to our lives & Church.
God Bless
Pastor Leslie


18th February 2018

Holiness & Godliness:
These two great biblical themes are wonderfully brought together in 2 Peter 3:11-12a, ESV, ‘Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness & godliness, waiting for & hastening the coming of the Day of God...’ The context is Peter dealing with the end of the world, some of the signs of its approaching, & how we should live in the light of it – of Christ’s Second Coming. He counsels believers to lives of holiness & godliness.

What is holiness? There are two slightly different meanings to the word ‘holy’ in both the Old & New Testaments depending on the context. One is to set apart for God’s service or use. Thus in the Temple certain utensils & objects were sanctified, or consecrated to sacred use. Only these objects could be used in the Temple. The Temple itself & the priests who would minister in it were also consecrated or set apart for God’s service & use – made holy. This is one meaning which is the basis for the theological concept of ‘sanctification.’ The process whereby we are gradually set apart from the world’s values, principles & foundations, by God’s Holy Spirit, the Bible & our faithful commitment to follow Christ day by day taking up our cross. In this sense we are being sanctified &set apart for Christ, His worship & His service, & can be holy as He is holy.

The other meaning is that which is found in the thrice Holy designation of God in Revelation 4. It is also the meaning for the title of the ‘Holy Spirit.’ In this sense, ‘holy’ can only be used of God. Only God: Father, Son & Spirit are truly, perfectly distinct, truly holy. There are no spots or blemishes in their characters, no inclination to sin nor can they be tempted by evil, no action which is inconsistent with their character & nature. Christ was the spotless Lamb of God, The Holy Spirit is the completely pure Spirit of God, & the Father is glorious in holiness.

Thus, when we speak of this form of ‘holy’ we are speaking of one of the communicable attributes of God. In other words, an intrinsic quality that it is impossible for humanity to partake fully off, but which can be shared, by God, with the people who come into His very presence. Thus when Moses came down from the meeting with God, His face shone brilliantly because of His close proximity, on the mountain, to the holy God. When Solomon’s Temple was dedicated to God, & Solomon had concluded His great national prayer, the Shekinah glory filled the Temple & no-one could minister any longer. God had come down in His glorious holiness & man was forced to recognise the purity & majesty of His presence.

Godliness is linked to piety & therefore is a reflection of God’s nature & character. Thus godliness is an outcome of sanctification. As we walk away from self, the power of sin diminishes, the love of the world loses its attraction because the love of Christ becomes a greater attraction within, & Satan’s temptations are then set in the context of our higher life in Christ. In this sense godliness is linked to righteousness.

Righteousness is an adherence to God’s law. Only Christ fulfilled all-righteousness. Therefore, when we are in Christ, His righteousness is accounted to our relationship with Father God & we have open access to the Father as a result, Justification by Faith. However, our sanctification includes a partnership with the Holy Spirit, God’s word & our devotional life. As we practice the Christian Disciplines including prayer, worship, giving, fellowshipping, meditating on God’s word, fasting etc, then the Spirit imparts, through these, more of Christ’s righteousness leading to Christ - His nature, love & character - being formed in us. At this point it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.

Summing up what I have said above: Piety & godliness result from maturing in the faith following Christ whole-heartedly. Holiness is imparted by our time in the presence of God. The more time we spend in His presence, the more of the Shekinah we carry away with us, & therefore, the presence of God is felt by others becoming more tangible & evident to them through us. Godliness is an ever clearer reflection of the character & nature of Christ, & an outcome of the process of sanctification. In this sense we are holy as He is holy. It is receiving imparted righteousness daily from the Spirit, consciously walking away from self & the lure of the world, & speaking, thinking & acting as Christ would do in any given situation. It is a result of maturing discipleship. On the other hand, Holiness, includes the setting apart for God’s own worship & service, but also, in its other meaning, can only be carried by us from the presence of God. May we live lives of holiness & godliness. Amen
God Bless
Pastor Leslie


12th February 2018


Human Pride:

When Descartes wrote, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ in the 17th Century, in a sense he became the father of modern philosophy, & hugely important to the modern development of mathematics & science. His statement had a huge impact on subsequent philosophers, mathematicians & scientists. Descartes himself reasoned from a place of doubt dismissing much of the philosophy & the methods by which his contemporaries sought to understand humankind’s place in the wider world. He believed in the power of the human intellect to discover, seeing human doubt as a central means to question everything then known in order to discover truth.

At that time in Roman Catholic Europe, Scholasticism was the predominant lense by which educated people sought to understand the world. Basically, scholars would take a book by a great medieval author, say Thomas Aquinas, learn it thoroughly, & then engage with that text. One person would present a view about something in the book which someone else would then argue against. The source book would then by commented on, written about extensively, & highly regarded. This continued the rise in the importance of the writings of Christian authors & churchmen which were part of a section of high regarded books, & the Decrees of the Catholic Church which made up Church Tradition. This view put Church or Sacred Tradition, with its great Christian books, plus the pronouncements by both the Pope & the Council of Catholic Theologians, Bishops & Churchmen known together as the Magisterium, on a par with the authority of the Bible.

Saying that Church or Sacred Tradition should not be so highly regarded was one of the main arguments used by the Protestant Reformers against the Roman Catholic Church’s view of the Bible. They believed that Scholasticism had elevated human writings onto an authoritative equal with God’s inspired Word. It was only the Bible that contained the words whereby the knowledge of salvation could be gained, & only it had the power, contained in God’s words within it, to actually bring about salvation within the individual; hence, sola scriptura, their great Doctrine of the ‘Bible Alone.’  

Descartes, although deeply religious himself, also rejected the religious authority enshrined in Scholasticism & instead sought to discover scientific & philosophical knowledge leading to a clearer knowledge of God. In essence, whereas the Refomers went back to the text of the Bible as their basis for understanding the world, humanity & our purpose in life through Christ, Descartes went another, essentially humanist route seeking enlightenment through the power of reason, thought & his doubt. His doubt was his badge of honour as he sought to discover what reality was without relying on The Bible’s view of it. Whereas, its view is that apart from God’s Spirit, & the gift of grace through Christ, we are all lost in the darkness of sin, spiritual death & human pride. For at the heart of human doubt in God’s revelation in the Bible is the old enemy, ‘pride.’

It is possible to argue that it was Descartes’ pride which led him to become a rationalist, one who holds to the power of the human intellect to understand humankind & the world around us. This view undervalues the place of Revelation through the Bible. From Descartes onwards, with the Age of Enlightenment & Reason, confidence in human intellectual ability grew. It was thought that in order to understand truth & reason out philosophy & science, one just needed to ask questions, doubt what the previous generations thought to be true, & seek to prove was what real by philosophical & scientific methods. It wasn’t long before the Rationalists, & the thinkers of the Enlightenment turned their gaze on the Bible & started to question its authority, & to reject much of it as unprovable. This continued through Form Criticism which sought to classify units of Scripture – thus breaking the Bible’s inherent unity; & Textual Criticism which sought to determine the origins of each verse of the Bible to see if what was written were later human additions or could be proven to earlier & written by the prophets & apostles – thus attacking the divine inspiration & authentic origins of Scripture.  At the heart of this was human pride. May God deliver us from the power of human pride. Amen
God Bless
Pastor Leslie


5th February 2018

Members of a Local Church:


Nationally, the Elim Pentecostal Church holds to twelve key beliefs which are foundational to who we are as a Movement - Please follow this link to see what they are. These beliefs are the bedrock from which Elim sets it parameters for ministry, church governance & its witness to the world. Elim came out of the early-mid Twentieth century Pentecostal Revival which blazed across many countries. Elim as a Movement grew in the UK primarily, initially, from the ministry of George Jeffreys & the Elim Evangelistic Band. After WWII, others such as Percy Brewster took up the mantle & continued to see amazing works, miracles & conversions take place as they preached & ministered for Christ in the Spirit’s power.

This is what Elim’s national website says about the reason for their success: ‘Elim leaders held the same beliefs as other Christians, but with one important difference. They believed that God’s promises in the Bible about the Holy Spirit & healing were for Christians today. In other words, miracles didn’t stop after the Bible was written. The Elim pioneers had rediscovered God’s power, promised in the Bible to all who would completely commit their lives to following Jesus. It was a ‘re-discovery,’ not a discovery because it was nothing new. God had worked in power through different Christians throughout the centuries, right back to the dramatic miracles of the early Church so frequently mentioned in the Bible. Elim’s foursquare teaching highlighted this rediscovery: it stated that Jesus is the Saviour, the Healer, the Baptiser in the Holy Spirit & the Coming King.’ https://www.elim.org.uk/Groups/243050/About_Elim.aspx

As a Local Elim Church we adhere to the Movement’s Twelve Foundational principles of belief. This morning, five people became new members of our Church. This is wonderful. May they ‘faithfully participate in the Church’s ministries by their prayers, their presence, their gifts, their service & their witness;’ (www.umcdiscipleship.org) seeking thereby for Christ’s Kingdom to come & God’s will to be done in & through our Church.

May the following eight principles be their experience, & of all who are a part of a local Church:
1. Develop a great love for God’s house & people, & be faithful to Him & their local Church.
2. Through their membership, be committed to preserving the Gospel witness in & by their Church.
3. Help to affirm the Gospel’s Kingdom values & seek to live these out each day.
4. Be fully committed members contributing by prayer & service to the spiritual life & growth of the Church.
5. Commit to disciple & encourage others in obedience to Christ’s Great Commission.
6. Share the Gospel by being salt & light, by their lives & their words.
7. Be accountable to God for their conduct & lifestyle recognising the Church, its leaders, & its members in how they listen, speak, & do in their Monday to Saturday lives.
8. Commit their time, resources & energy to further Christ’s Kingdom here.

Being a part of a vibrant local Church is a wonderful privilege. May God help us to be such a local Church leading to the extension of Christ’s Kingdom here. Amen
God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 

 


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