Sunday 23 November 2008

Preaching Feedback Form

Preaching Feedback: Did I preach a sermon that people will never forget?

1. The Importance of a Single Idea

· Was an unforgettable title used?
· Did the title communicate a single idea and did this shine through the whole sermon?
· Did the chosen text/passage fit with the intention of the single idea that was preached? Was the text relevant to the subject?

2. The Intended Meaning of the Text

· Was the wider context of the passage and its setting in relation to redemptive history made clear?
· Was the context of the passage given in relation to the rest of the book that it came from? Did the preacher understand the literary style of the book? Was the historical context and purpose of the book explained?
· Were other parts of Scripture understood in relation to the passage used (analogy of faith)?

3. A Clear Sermon Structure

· Was a natural and unforced structure used? Did it flow from the chosen text?
· How many points were used?
· Were clear headings used for each point? Did they harmonise with the title? Did you remember the points used?

4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Application

· Were doctrines correctly labelled and explained?
· Were easily understood and relevant, Biblical or contemporary Illustrations made for each point?
· Did the applications that were used for each point communicate a non-fuzzy way for putting the truths into action in real life?

5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience

· Was your speech and delivery clear?
· Were your explanations simple? Could a ten year old child understand your sermon?
· Did you connect with your audience all the way through the sermon?

Thank you: Kevin Bidwell

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Why Does'nt God Sort out the Mess that the World is in?

“Why doesn't God do something about the mess the world is in?”

Point One: Personal testimony of my Granddad dying of cancer and praying with seeming no answer.
· A good question? Philiosophical. Four views of the world for a student, however it is quite subjective.

Point Two: Different views as to whether the ‘world is in a mess’.

A. Could not care less: Hedonism (Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is of ultimate importance, the most important pursuit. The name derives from the Greek word for "delight" (ἡδονισμός hēdonismos from ἡδονή hēdonē "pleasure",
B. The world is getting better: Political optimism, evolutionary development
· The 20th century began with great optimism, expecting world peace and prosperity. They claimed regarding the Titanic ‘Even God cannot sink this ship”.

C. The World is getting worse: environment, wars, greed, famine
The twentieth century and two world wars teach that the world seems to roll from one mess to the next with a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. She’ll be right unless the problems affect me personally.

WW1:1914-1918 with over 11million casualties
WW2: 1939-1945 with over 58 million casualties (Russia 25+ million, China 11+ million, Germany 7+ million, Poland 6+ million).
Idi Amin: Ugandan Military dictator 1971-79, his rule was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings and the expulsion of Asians from Uganda. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is unknown: estimates from human rights groups range from 100,000 to 500,000.

The Killing Fields in Cambodia: The Kamher Rouge regime executed 200, 000 but as a result of their causing famine and disease 1.4-2.2 million died out of a population of about only 7 million.

Aids: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome where in 2007 AIDS is now a pandemic with 33+ million infected worldwide and killed about 2.1 million people of which 330k+ were children.

The Credit Crisis, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia….

George Santayana:
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

George Bernard Shaw:
We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.

D. The world has a problem called Sin and God is the answer.

True Christians should be sober as a result of their view of sin and the sinfulness of mankind.

Point 3: Sin explains the mess the world is in.

What is Sin? Romans 3: 13-15 (Not living for the glory of the Triune God)

Where did sin come from?

How does God view sin?

A new question: Why is the world not in more of a mess?

Point 4: Why Doesn’t God do something about the mess the world is in?
Answer: He has! These are historical facts and even ordinary shepherds saw him.

2000 years ago in Bethlehem

Luke 2:8 ¶ And in the same region there were [some] shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Sinless life

Pilate watched over the case and trial of Jesus and declared "I find no guilt in Him”.

Death, burial and resurrection

1Co 15:1 ¶ Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
8 and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

Personal Testimony at the University of Birmingham

Corrie Ten Boom: Illustration of the rug to explain the prisoner of war camp.

What is our response?

Mark 1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Preaching Sermons People Do Not Forget!

Preaching Seminar: Preaching sermons that people do not forget!

One of the highest compliments is when people come to you and say, “I will never forget that sermon that you preached on…” However all the glory must go to God because this can only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is vital in an age of information overload!

Why some preaching is boring and irrelevant, and some dynamic and exciting?
Why do some preachers connect with their audience while others do not?
How can we avoid preaching forgettable sermons?

Stuart Olyott; ‘Our Lord was a preacher, our Lord was an evangelistic preacher, our Lord was more than a preacher’.
Phillips Brooks; ‘Preaching is truth through personality’.

Five stages involved in preaching unforgettable sermons
1. The Importance of a Single Idea
2. The Intended Meaning of the Text
3. A Clear Sermon Structure
4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Applications
5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience

· These communication skills can be used in many areas of life but our primary focus is preaching
· A Preaching definition: A public proclamation of the intended meaning of a specific Bible passage or text in a way that the audience understands.
· Example of Stuart Olyott’s genius for explanation: How would you explain this to a child?
· Other aspects not considered like the godly character of the messenger, training at seminary, different gospel ministries.
Our Lord was a Preacher
Mark 1:14 ¶ And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

1:35 And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there.
36 And Simon and his companions hunted for Him;
37 and they found Him, and *said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You."
38 And He *said to them, "Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for."
39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

1. The Importance of a Single Idea
Many forms of communication have recognised the significance of the use of a ‘single idea’ in communication.
Aim for a single idea in preaching.
How do we develop a single idea? Through praying and preparation we think ‘What do we believe God wants to speak to a certain group of people? This can come through a specific Bible passage or a specific theme that you then search the Bible to find an appropriate passage. For example missions.
· Develop a title that communicates that single idea
· Often take your title from the Bible passage you will be using
· Develop your structure around that single idea.
Here are some examples of sermons I preached on the Doulos to capture the use of a single idea:
· Romans 8: 12-13, The Indwelling of Sin and the Holy Spirit in the Life of Every Christian (Pentecost sermon)
· Luke11:22-31,Ravens and Lilies (Theme was not worrying about the future)
· John 10:27-30,The Sheep of His Hand, Christians cannot perish and lose their salvation
Consider some Bible passages and write down what is the main theme and what title you would give a sermon from that passage
· 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
· Revelation 1:12-20
· Genesis 12:1-9
Explain the importance of a good title, one that communicates a single idea and also frames your sermon content.
2. The Intended Meaning of the Text
There are two words that need defining to help us understand our aim when preparing a sermon to be preached.
Firstly a sermon must always be taken out of the Bible by the reading of a passage and explaining what this passage means; this is called expository preaching. We must preach out of the Bible and not about the Bible in a loose way.
Secondly we must aim for exegesis and avoid eisegesis. What is the difference between the two?
Eisegesis= reading into a Bible text what is not there. For example, the use of mystical ideas, allegorical ideas etc.
Exegesis= determining the intended meaning of a text.
Here are three principles that can help us to accurately understand a passage:
· The wider context of the passage and its setting in relation to redemptive history. Give the illustration of a tulip flower to explain redemptive history.
· The context of the passage in relation to the rest of the book that it comes from. What is the literary style of the book? What was the historical context and purpose of the book?
· What understanding do other parts of Scripture shed on this passage (analogy of faith)?
The aim is to discover what a passage is actually saying.
Consider three passages and try to determine what these passages are normally explained to be saying? Determine what you think they are actually saying?
· The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
· Hebrews 6:4-6
· The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

3. A Clear Sermon Structure

· A natural and unforced structure that flows from the chosen text (like unwrapping an orange, the segments cleave naturally)
· Three or four points (like a three legged stool or chair)
· Clear headings for each point (they summarise the main point)
Here are some exercises from the book of Ephesians; determine a clear sermon structure from these three passages with a clear sermon title and three headings.
· Ephesians 1: 3-14.
· Ephesians 2:1-10.
· Ephesians 5:21-6:4.

4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Applications
Now we move from the example of the human body with the skeleton in place to putting flesh on the bone. The substance of the sermon to be preached needs to include doctrines, illustrations and applications.
In the New Testament letters, especially the epistles doctrine always comes before application. For example in Ephesians Paul discusses gospel doctrine for about the first three chapters but then deals with applying this in the daily lives of first century Christians for the next three chapters. This is a good pattern for our sermons to follow.
John Owen (From page 93 of JI Packer’s Among God’s Giants)
“It would be an uncouth sermon that should be without doctrine and use”

Illustrations abound in the NT, especially in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. For example read Matthew chapter 5-7 and the Sermon on the Mount and note how many illustrations he uses with following applications. Make a list of the illustrations used and then make a list of contemporary items that could be used for sermons in the 21st Century.

· Doctrines correctly labelled and explained (like coat hangers)
· Biblical or contemporary Illustrations for each point
· Applications for each point that are non-fuzzy

Now go through the three Ephesian passages again and for the three headings you have used, identify the doctrines, illustrations and applications you could use. Discuss these in small groups.
5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience
Well prepared sermons are greatly needed, especially ones that have been bathed in prayer. However a sermon only truly becomes a sermon when it is preached and Martyn Lloyd Jones often said that there are three people involved in the delivery of a sermon.
A. The Preacher
B. The attentively listening congregation
C. The Holy Spirit.
We must always pray for the help and power of the Holy Spirit, without which sermons will be lifeless and will not bear long term fruit.
Once I asked a man who had been training up preachers for decades to give me feedback on a sermon he heard me preach and he gave me a lesson to remember for a lifetime. He said that sometimes “I was more concerned in getting the sermon out that I had prepared than in getting the sermon across. Also that sometimes I connected with the congregation very well and other times I did not”. He explained that our aim must not be to simply give out what we have prepared but to ask ‘Am I connecting with my audience all the way through the sermon?’This is a valuable lesson for all of us.
Here are three questions to ask yourself before, during and after each sermon. Also do not be afraid to ask congregation members for feedback.

· Was your speech and delivery clear?
· Were your explanations simple? Could a ten year old child understand your sermon?
· Did you connect with your audience all the way through the sermon?
These three questions answered and applied honestly could transform most preachers and their preaching!
How do we close a meeting?
A song full of relevant Bible content related to the message and then a benediction taken from the NT. There are many but 2 Cor. 13:14 is most suitable for most occasions.
What about altar calls and forced responses?
Are they found in the NT? There is now problem in making yourself and others available for enquirers but not to demand a public show of hands or even worse to believe those who have responded are genuinely converted. Jesus said ‘By their fruits you shall know them’ and it takes time for fruit to grow and for others to know if a profession is genuine. However we must not sow scepticism concerning people’s profession of faith because we know of a certainty by the Holy Spirit that we are saved by the blood of Jesus.
In summary, there are been five main stages identified for preaching sermons that will not be forgotten. This goal may seem unattainable for many of us, but at least it is the right goal to prayerfully aim for. These stages are:
1. The Importance of a Single Idea
2. The Intended Meaning of the Text
3. A Clear Sermon Structure
4. Doctrines, Illustrations and Application
5. Sermon Delivery: Connecting with your Audience

Exhortation from Richard Baxter; ‘We must preach as a dying man to dying men and preach as if you would never preach again’.

W.H. Griffith Thomas on preaching; ‘Think yourself empty, read yourself full, write yourself clear, pray yourself keen, then into the pulpit and let yourself go’.

A time for questions…

Book recommendations

Preaching and Preachers Lloyd Jones
Puritans JI Packer
Puritans Lloyd Jones
To read any sermons by Lloyd Jones, Spurgeon, Calvin, Whitefield or Edwards.
The Reformed Pastor by Baxter
The Art of Prophesying by Perkins
Preaching Pure and Simple by Stuart Olyott
Ministering Like the Master by Stuart Olyott

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Jesus and the New Covenant

Dear all,

Last Sunday night I preached in Bull Creek Presbyterian Church in Perth, Australia on 'Jesus and the New Covenant' and the sermon caan be listened to online. The link is:

Search the site for the sermons section.


Monday 8 September 2008

Conference Registration for 'The Defence of Calvinism'

Dear all,

I am giving you all the first bite of the cherry to get booked in before I send this out more widely. If you are planning to come then please send the registration form off immediately and above all start praying for God’s grace to be over this time together. Feel free to invite friends also and to pass on this information.

The details for the mini-conference for men called ‘A Defence of Calvinism’ are given below. The initiative for this came from a number of young men who wanted the opportunity to explore the ‘nitty gritty’ of the doctrines of grace and Reformed theology. It was seen as a good opportunity to invite friends also who are theologically hungry for spiritual answers. The pattern of the conference will give ample space for discussion, questions, fellowship and prayer.

The conference theme comes from Spurgeon’s autobiography and the sessions will involve preaching, prayer and discussion. I will aim to take the main sessions and chair the whole thing; in addition some of the young men will prepare a short sermon and there will be the chance to give open loving feedback; this should be seen as preaching training for all of us. The fellowship should be precious and the conference facility is excellent and reasonably priced. Here are the details:

Conference Venue: Bawtry Hall, Doncaster (it is 35 minutes from Sheffield and our house. It is accessed by three airports; Leeds-Bradford, East Midlands and Robin Hood-Sheffield/Doncaster).
The website is

Dates: Friday 5th-7th December 2008


Friday 5th December

1pm Lunch

3-5.30 pm Session 1:
Introduction: What is Calvinism? (Kevin Bidwell)

7-9. 30pm Session 2:
· A Reformed Understanding of Justification- Marius Wahrlich (followed by preaching feedback)
· Calvinism and Preaching (Kevin Bidwell)

Saturday 6th December

9.30-12.00, Session 3:
· A Reformed Understanding of the Family- Andrew Graham (followed by preaching feedback)
· Calvinism and the Church (Kevin Bidwell)

The Saturday afternoon we will have time to relax and a game of football may be organised.

5.00-6.00pm Session 4:
· A Reformed Understanding of the Office of Pastor- Ed Collier (followed by preaching feedback)

7.30-9.30pm Session 5: Vibrant Calvinism for Today (Kevin Bidwell)

Sunday 6th December

Breakfast and finish. Some may have to leave early, some may join me in our church service at 3pm in Sheffield where one of you will preach, or there may be opportunities for some to preach in other churches.

Brief Details of the Conference Participants

Kevin Bidwell: Currently doing a PhD on the ‘Church in the Image of the Trinity’ at WEST.

Andrew Graham: He was born in South Africa and trained via the Bible Institute in Cape Town. He is now a pastor in Wrexham.

Marius Wahrlich: Studying to be a teacher in Berlin. He came to a clear understanding of the doctrines of free grace while serving overseas on board the mission ship Doulos.

Ed Collier: He studied at LTS in London and he now serves as an assistant pastor in Sheffield.

Cost: £82 including accommodation, meeting room, all meals, tea, coffee etc (towels and bedding are provided). There will be a bursary fund set up for those who have genuine financial needs and need some support in travel or conference costs (The cost will be £55 if you are not staying for the Saturday evening). However let us exercise faith, in that as we move forward in faith, let us look to our Heavenly Father for provision.

This programme is provisional and will have some changes but it gives everyone a clear flavour of what to expect. A book table of excellent books with much reduced prices will also be available.

What next?

A registration form is attached for return as soon as possible and feel free to pass on these details to men who may be interested. The formal deadline for registration is the 14th November but it is expected that the conference will be booked well before that, on a ‘first come, first served basis’.

Yours for the gospel of free grace,

Kevin Bidwell

Please cut and paste this registration form and email it to the conference administrator.

‘A Defence of Calvinism’: Registration Form

Please complete this form and return to the email or land based mail below with the appropriate payment. There has been a good response so far and a minimum of 25 places have been booked. Please respond as soon as possible because it will be on a first come, first served basis.

Post Code:

Are there any special dietary needs (or any other special needs)?

Are you staying for both nights? Yes or No
Amount Enclosed:

Are there any other questions or comments you would like a response to?

Monday 25 August 2008

Preaching and the History of Redemption

The History of Salvation

This is a sermon outline preached recently but it is becoming so clear to me that it is vital to understand the unfolding of salvation history for preaching and exegesis to be faithful to the biblical revelation. Hopefully this will be a taster. A book by Clowney on Preaching and Biblical Theology is helpful for futher study.

This is the theme of the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation and everything connects to this. This aids our knowledge of God, the glory of the coming of Christ and the accurate interpretation of the Bible.
A Tulip coming into flower
The red lava on Mount Etna (which is over 10,000 feet and 40 km cone)
Galatians 3:6, ¶ Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7. therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, [saying], "ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU."
9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Background to Galatians and its troubles
The theme is Justification by grace through faith: this defended against the enemies of the Gospel.

1. Galatians 3: 7-9
· Verse 6 Believed God = believe the gospel and faith in his redeemer. How do we know this? John 8:56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw [it] and was glad."
· This is quoted from Genesis 15: 6 and this faith was before circumcision and before the law.
· Verse 7: Who are the sons of Abraham? Those who have faith in Christ as Saviour, Lord and Redeemer.
· God…preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham. The gospel is the message of salvation for fallen, sinful man and Christ is the central theme. ‘All the nations shall be blessed in you’… the focus is not on Abraham but on God and his plan. Abraham, the patriarchs, the prophets in Israel to the coming of the Messiah = God’s crowning revelation of Himself. Then the gospel overflows into the nations where the Holy Spirit gathers in the elect from every tribe, tongue, nation and people. Revelation 7.
· Blessed and verse 8 those who are of faith is a remnant. Faithful, elect, the true church and it is by grace, through Faith in Jesus are the ones who are blessed.
What is blessed?
Ephesians 1: 3. In Christ we have all the blessings of God known to man though Christ alone, by faith alone, though grace alone.
· Adoption
· Justification
· Forgiveness of sins
· Redemption
· Regeneration
· Eternal Life
The New covenant is not conditional blessings based on our obedience but unconditional blessings based on our faith in Jesus Christ. The aim is the glory of God, not obedience.

2. The Big Picture of Salvation History

Adam and the Garden of Eden
Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
Noah and the Flood
Abraham: Genesis 12: 1-3 and all the patriarchs
Isaac, Jacob and Joseph
Moses and the Exodus
Joshua, the Judges to Samuel
The Davidic Kingdom
2 Samuel 7:12 "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took [it] away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
16 "And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."'"
The rise and fall of Israel and Judah
Off to Babylon and Assyria
Back in the Land: Messianic Expectation
Malachi 3:1 ¶ "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.
Christ is the climax of God’s Plan
The Last days
The Triumph of the Lamb
Revelation: The theme of the book is ‘the victory of Christ and His church over Satan and all the enemies of the gospel’.
Rev. 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Revelation 12: 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night.
11 "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.

3. New heavens and New Earth

What are blessings? Spiritual blessings involving the whole benefit of redemption.

Some areas of confusion
· Healing confusion and eternal life
· Confusion regarding getting more so-called blessings
· Freedom from legalism
· Conference in Manchester: ‘You can cancel out your blessings’
· Leader in Sheffield: if you do not work hard to fulfil your destiny God will take it off you and give it to someone else’.

Monday 18 August 2008

Todd Bentley and Revivalism in Florida???

1John 4:1 ¶ Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Background to 1 John
· A book to test your assurance of salvation
· He distinguishes between true and false grounds of assurance and applies seven different tests
· One test of a true Christian and maturity is to know the difference between what is the spirit of truth and spirit of error.
· Chapter 4: Summary

1. John’s experience of truth and error
2. Test the Spirits
3. Keep in the love of God

1. John’s Experience of Truth and Error
A. Jesus
· Jesus distinguished between three categories of person; truly righteous, religious and unrighteous, ungodly and unrighteous.
· The Sermon on the Mount is an exposition of what is true compared to much false teaching by the Pharisees.
· “You have heard it said…but I say unto you”. Have you accepted some false teaching unknowingly? If Jesus were personally here what would he say to us as a congregation?
· Matthew 7: 15 “Beware of false prophets”, these are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
· The parable of the wheat and the tares.
· The cross was the result of false doctrine, error and the spirit of antichrist. Peter says in Acts 2 to the religious Jews “You crucified Jesus”.
· Matthew 23: Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees. Uses Woe 8 times and denounces them as hypocrites, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, you serpents, brood of vipers.
B. The Book of Acts
· Acts 15, the judaizers and the acceptance of the gentiles. The old covenant versus the new covenant.
· Paul comes to Jerusalem to discuss the ‘gospel’: The content of the message not methods in Galatians 2.
C. John’s Gospel
· John’s gospel and the background of Cerinthus who denied the deity of Christ in Ephesus. Story of the Bath house.

2. Test the Spirits
A. Should I be Critical as a Christian?
Love teaches believe the best of every person: explain the difference between discernment and a critical spirit.
V1 ‘do not believe every spirit’
B. What does it mean ‘Test the Spirits’?
Test= prove or test like £ 50 notes or diamonds in a jewellers shop. Illustration!
Test the spirits =whether something is truly from God, therefore avoid personalities or preferences.
V2 confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh: Islam, Jehovah’s witnesses,
V2-3 Spirit of God versus spirit of antichrist (now is in the world)
V5 They are of the world: prosperity teaching, money centred teaching, success and Christian motivation conferences.
V6: Spirit of truth versus spirit of error.
V 10 Christ is our propitiation: Steve Chalke and the denial of a substitutionary atonement to avert the wrath of God.
V 15 Confesses Jesus is the Son of God.
C. Why should we test the spirits?
V1 many false prophets have gone out into the world
2 Peter 2: 1-3 many will follow them. But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
3 ¶ and in [their] greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

· Brings destruction
· Sensuality =the senses, explains Florida
· Do miracles lead to faith? The example of Israel in the wilderness proves this is not the case.
· The way of truth is maligned
· They exploit people.

3. Keep Yourselves in the Love of God (Jude21)
Encouragement; 1 John 4: 4 Greater is He!!
The thread of love: ‘Let us love one another’ (V 7): do not unreasonably write people off.
Love is used 19 times in this one chapter:


Self examinationEncouragement
Searching questions

Closing Prayer

Closing Song; The Lord’s my Shepherd (with descant)
Benediction: Jude 24-5.

Thursday 14 August 2008

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13: 44)


· There are 7 parables here taught: Sower, Wheat and Tares (or weeds), Mustard seed, leaven and three together; hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, the parable of the net.

· Why did Jesus teach in parables?

Matthew 13:44 ¶ "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.

Three key words:

Kingdom of heaven

Treasure hidden


The picture of the parable relates to how people saved their expensive goods against the Romans or foreign armies. Explain.

1. Kingdom of heaven; also kingdom of God relates to the king, the Lord Jesus.

1Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Trinitarian rule by all three persons.

2. Treasure hidden

How precious is the gospel? How valuable is salvation? How wonderful is the sacred truth that Jesus is God’s promised saviour?

Heb 2:1 ¶ For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away [from it.]

2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense,

3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,

3. Joy

A fruit of the Spirit and a gift of the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1: 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Psalm 51: Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 [Then] I will teach transgressors Thy ways, And sinners will be converted to Thee.

Closing Song: Tell out my soul

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Women Bishop's?

Understanding Biblical Authority Structures
(The Roles of Male and Female)

I have deliberately used the phrase ‘authority structures’ rather than the much used term of leadership because I believe it more accurately explains the biblical perspective on the all important roles of men and women in the body of Christ. The whole ‘leadership’ phenomena can often be a smoke screen that obscures what the bible makes absolutely clear in this area. Our starting point must always be to look at what the bible teaches on a given subject before we progress to application in our many different situations.

Lessons from the Garden of Eden.

· Genesis 1v27 teaches that male and female are both made in the image of God and are both of equal value to the Lord. The New Testament also endorses that with respect to salvation and being born again male and female must both come to God the same way, through the cross. Hence Galatians 3v28, ‘There is neither male nor female’.
· Genesis 2v15-25 tells us that God created the man first and then the woman who was made as a helper for him and this divine order is very important. God gave His word and command to the man in Genesis 2v16 before the woman was created. Adam was responsible for passing on the command to the woman. Note she was not called Eve until after the fall.
· Genesis 2v18 reveals to us that it is not good for man to be alone. This should be an encouragement that God has called us to loving, joyful fellowship between male and female.
· The fall took place as a result of the woman being deceived and the man transgressing. This lesson is repeated through the bible and that where we get female authority out of harmony with clear biblical guidelines it leads to disaster. Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, Ahab and Jezebel in 1 and 2 Kings are clear examples.
· The summary is that God has placed his authority and headship upon the man who is responsible to be a breadwinner and to go to work (2v15), to be a steward of the Word of God and to enjoy loving communion with his wife and family. The wife is to be a helper to the man, to be one flesh with her husband and to enjoy the role of support, mother and wife. Children and other women are her prime area of authority and responsibility.

Headship in the Family is Male. 1 Corinthians 11v3

The divine order is God, Christ, man, woman. The whole concept of headship is essential to our understanding and Ephesians chapter 5 explains that God expects twice as much from the man as the woman in marriage.

The Responsibilities in Marriage

Read Ephesians 5v21-33
One joint responsibility is to submit to one another in verse 21

Men have eight responsibilities.

Husband accept responsibility as head of the marriage verse 23
Understand that the husband is under authority with Christ as his head verse23
Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her verse 25. Sacrifice and dedication.
Sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word verse 26. The ministration of the word of God in the marriage. The husband is the pastor in the family.
The goal is to present the wife to Christ as a glorious bride verse 27.
Love their wives as their own bodies verse 28
Nourish and cherish his wife verse 29
Leave and cleave verse 31

Wives have four responsibilities:

Wives submit to your husband as to the Lord verse 22. Notice it does not say Christian husband
Accept your husband to be the head of the union and support him in this. Verse 23
Wives be subject to your husband in everything verse 24
Wives respect your husband verse 33.

The Family Structure is the Model for Authority in the Church.

The name for positions of authority in the church, are Elder (Also called Bishop, Overseer, Pastor, Shepherd) and deacon. If we read in 1 Timothy chapter 3, Titus chapter 1 and 1 Peter 5v1-5 on the New Testament teaching, church leadership is male as in the family. No where from Genesis to revelation is a woman given the title Elder, also neither is a single person.

Spiritual Ministry in the New Testament

There is a clear difference between the work of the Lord and the authority of the Lord and the bible has clear boundaries for us. Many people try to explain things away that they do not like and say ‘It was cultural’ or similar things. The issue then moves to a higher level to deal with the question as to whether we accept the authority of scripture or not.

The issue of male and female leadership was obviously arising in the church in Ephesus and Paul raised this in his letter to Timothy. With respect to the public assembly the apostolic command is clear.
‘Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man but to be in silence.’ 1 Timothy 2v11-12. If we are really honest we do not really need a commentary to understand this simple statement. God wants women within the assembly ‘to learn’ but not to be preaching or teaching the bible to men. This also includes leading meetings with men included. One person said to me recently that two thirds of the world’s population are woman and children and this is a glorious field of service for godly women without trying to exercise dominion that is only given to men.
Paul under apostolic command repeats this again in 1 Corinthians 14v33-35. This is to prevent confusion in the assemblies and possible role reversals taking place but the scripture does not forbid women praying, prophesying and testifying in the public assembly. (1 Corinthians 11v5)

Objections Raised

Prophesying is preaching, therefore women can preach to mixed congregations. This is not true, read 1 Corinthians 14v3. Would Paul contradict his own teaching?
In Romans 16v7, Paul says that Andronicus and Junia (Both ladies) are of note among the apostles. In the work of the Lord this was true but they did not exercise authority over men. Jesus chose 12 men whom he gave the authority and title of apostle. Women were part of the team but they were not given that role of having authority of men. If Jesus did the same today would he choose 10 men and 2 women to be politically correct? No he would not because this model of government is never taught in the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
In Romans 16v3 the wife’s name Priscilla is used before the husbands Aquila. Some claim this means we can have Female pastors and ordain women. I hope with what I have laid out that I do not even need to answer this objection because that would overturn the clear, glorious authority plan of Almighty God.


Please look up the scripture references quoted with a humble attitude. We all tend to defend the position we hold and the experiences we have inherited even if they do not agree with the ‘whole counsel of God’. Some may feel angry or frustrated as they read this, but may we all come to a place of freedom in Christ to enjoy our roles and take up our God ordained responsibility as men or women without crossing the Lord’s clear boundary lines.

Sunday 6 July 2008

A Fresh Look at the Book of Revelation

A Fresh Look at the Book of Revelation

This study was motivated by a number of reasons. Firstly someone from Norway called Haldis was on one of the Intensive Discipleship groups that we ran, and she asked me to give an introduction to the book of revelation. In some ways this is a delayed answer to that question. Secondly a book called ‘Are we living in the End Times?’ By Tim Lahaye caught my attention because he gives 20 reasons why Jesus could come back in our generation. (That is the rapture before the second coming). Thirdly for a number of years I have come to doubt the supposed two stage second coming that many Christians hold as a precious doctrine. I absolutely believe in the second coming, but that Christ will come once and all the descriptions of his coming (Including 1 Thessalonians chapter 4) all describe the one event. Fourthly was because I was recommended a commentary by a man called Hendrickson on Revelation called, ‘More Than Conquerors’. I had wanted to read this for a long time.

Let us look at the book as a whole.

Before we get lost in the details of this book I think we need to ask ourselves some fundamental questions that will help us to have a right understanding. Let us give some insight to these questions before we look at parts of the book.

1. What was the purpose of this book?
· To encourage and correct the 7 churches in Asia Minor.
· To give them strength during difficult times.
2. What were the conditions of the early church that received this letter/revelation?
· Persecution including being fed to lions among, a dark pagan idolatrous world with generally small congregations scattered around in a world controlled by the Roman Empire.
3. Is there a main theme that we must not lose sight of as we work through this book?
· The main theme is Jesus Christ (See Rev 1v1), not end times the anti-Christ etc. This affects the way you interpret the book. If I was to give a one line summary of the theme it would be, ‘The victory of Christ and His church over Satan and all the enemies of the gospel’. Two key words are overcome and wrath!
4. Who wrote the book and where?
· John the apostle while banished to the Isle of Patmos and he received these visions towards the end of his life.
5. What is the Old Testament foundation for these visions? (Note, it is not just the book of Daniel)
· Note the OT quotations through the book. Here are some examples. Compare Rev 4v8 with Isaiah 6, Rev 6v16 with Hosea 10v8, Rev 18v2 with Isaiah 21v9 etc.

There are seven parts to the book of Revelation

As I understand this book there are seven sections to this book that basically explain what will happen between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. With this in mind we do not need to keep changing or updating our interpretation in the light of world events. This would be an orthodox view from the Reformation and church history. However you need to know that Tim Lahaye, many denominations and bible teachers do not see the book of Revelation this way.

They believe Chapter 4-19 is the time of a seven year great tribulation and that the church is raptured (Caught up to heaven) before this because of the wrath of God being poured out. Multitudes are saved during this period and then the church comes back with Christ in Revelation 19. They say that God will not subject his wrath on Christians? I have a number of questions on this line of interpretation.

I do not believe the visions of revelation can just be interpreted as single literal events. For example in chapter 16v13, it speaks of three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon. This is symbolic language.
The seven-year period of tribulation and God’s wrath has very little evidence except a verse in Daniel 9 and there is no evidence to say most of Revelation must take place during this 7 year period.
If this interpretation was true then almost all of the book of Revelation was irrelevant and of no comfort to Christians through the ages if it is almost all to be fulfilled at least 2000 years later. Jesus spoke nothing of a 7 year Great Tribulation. Note Tribulation means pressure and Christ said there would be a time of great Tribulation (Matthew 24) but he did not call it The Great Tribulation.
These people claim that it would not be righteous for God to pour out his wrath on the church but then Tim Lahaye says there could be billions of people saved in what he calls the Great Trib???? Then this contradicts the interpretation because God’s wrath (As they see it) is still poured out on the righteous anyway.
Finally whatever we believe will affect the way we live our life. Apart from the fact that I do not believe the scriptures teach a two stage second coming, this rapture/ escape teaching reminds me of prosperity teaching. Suffering free Christianity with an attitude of who cares about the world anyway because we are leaving before it gets difficult, rather than a sober longer term view where we are prepared to be salt and light in every area of society in every generation and be prepared for a single sudden coming!!!!

The Seven sections revealed in the book of Revelation.

These seven sections give different summaries of the time between the first and second coming, but remember to keep in mind the big picture and do not get lost in the details.

Section 1: The Revelation of Christ to the church. (1v1-3v22)

The seven churches represent 7 literal but different churches and these are examples of 7 different types of congregations through the ages to the second coming. The letter was written primarily to these congregations in modern day Turkey. Some people say that each church represents what happened to the church up to the rapture. I would say the bible does not teach this for a number of reasons.
Firstly this is what is called Eisegesis (Reading into the text what is not there) and secondly the Chinese would greatly disagree that we are living in the lukewarm church age before the second coming. Here we see the common danger of interpreting world events from a western perspective. I think sometimes these bible teachers could do with 2 years on the Doulos to show them that the world exists outside of Europe and America.

Section 2: The throne of God and the Seven Seals (4v1- 8v5)

The key to understanding the seven seals is to examine who the rider is on the first white horse in 6v2-4. After closely looking at this over many years I have come to the conclusion that I believe this is Jesus (Compare Revelation 19) going forth with his gospel into the nations. Many teach this is the anti Christ but I do not agree with this interpretation. If we remind ourselves about the introduction and purpose of the book, it is all about Christ and his sovereignty not about the Antichrist taking center stage.

First seal =Christ
Second seal = Persecution of God’s people
Third seal = Injustice and economic hardship suffered by believers because of their testimony of Jesus and the Word of God.
Fourth seal = Universal death for all humanity (Christians and the world)
Fifth Seal = A fixed number of saints to be martyred in the history of the church
Sixth seal = the second coming of Christ as a day of vengeance and wrath. The language is found in Matthew 24v29-30 and this is categorically the second coming after a time of tribulation (pressure) in those days.
· A great earthquake
· The sun becomes as black as sackcloth of hair
· The moon becomes as blood
· The stars of the heaven fall to the earth
· The heaven departs as a scroll (See Psalm 102v26)
· People hide themselves from the wrath of the lamb. (Second coming)

Seventh Seal = Fire cast to the earth (8v5) and this is the destruction of earth by fire as prophesied by Peter in 2 Peter 3v10-12.

Section 3: The Seven angels blowing the seven Trumpets (8v5-11v19)

Trumpet 1 = A judgment upon trees and grass of the earth
Trumpet 2 = Judgment upon the sea that becomes blood with sea creatures and ships destroyed ( A modern example would be the 2004 Tsunami)
Trumpet 3 = Judgment upon the rivers and fountains of waters (A modern example would be the floods in New Orleans). Waters also become bitter and many men die because of this.
Trumpet 4 = Sun moon and stars are effected.
Trumpet 5 =Torment and death on all those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. (These are true Christians. It is interesting that in the Tsunami in Sri Lanka they told me that Christians were not so affected). Men will seek and desire death. Linked to Apollyon (Literally a destroyer)

Trumpet 6 = war, armies and the judgment of seven thunders in chapter 10 (Compare Psalm 29). The two witnesses and a great earthquake in Jerusalem (Compare Zechariah 14)
Trumpet 7 = the second coming where in 11v15, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms or our Lord and of His Christ. This is followed by worship before the throne where they declare the ruler ship of God and the time of wrath through final judgment.

Section 4: Christ versus the dragon and his allies (12v1-14v20)

Chapter12: Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and coronation with Satan hurled down from heaven. This whole chapter gives an excellent exposition of Genesis 3v15 (And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.) of the war between Christ and His seed with Satan and his seed.

Chapter 13: This reveals the two main enemies of the gospel.
A. The Beast out of the sea, possibly symbolizes anti-Christian government through the ages and will culminate in the Anti-Christ, the man of sin. 13v1-10, note especially the horns and crowns in 13v1=government
B. The beast out of the earth probably symbolizes Anti Christian religions, wisdom and philosophies between the first and second coming. Examples are Islam, Buddhism, Communism, Evolutionism etc.

Chapter 14
· The 3 angels declaring in verse 6 the world wide preaching of the gospel (Compare Matthew 24v14) in verse 8 the fall of Babylon and in verse 10-11 the second coming as wrath and judgment on the unrighteous.
· Verse 14-20 records the second coming of Christ as a day of wrath when the door of salvation closes. Christ returns as judge!

Section 5: The Seven bowls of the Wrath of God 15-16

Bowl 1: Grievous sores on those who did not have the mark of the beast

Bowl 2: Judgment on the sea where it becomes as blood and every living thing in the sea died.

Bowl 3: Judgment on the rivers and fountains of waters. Judgment on those who have killed Christians with the voice of the martyrs rejoicing

Bowl 4: The sun scorches men with fire and heat. God has power over the plagues

Bowl 5: Judgment on the seat of the beast and his kingdom. The people blaspheme God and will not repent (16v11)

Bowl 6: The Euphrates dries and armies come with a gathering of the battle of Armageddon in Israel before the second coming.

Bowl 7: The second coming with the fierceness of wrath and the end of the world

It is very interesting to note the similarities with the seven seals and the seven trumpets and how they all end with second coming of Christ in wrath and the end of the world. Again with one and only one second coming!!

Section 6: The fall of the Dragon’s allies 17-19

The judgment of Babylon (the woman and the beast)
The marriage is prepared before the second coming 19v1-10
The one and only second coming of Christ who defeats the antichristian forces (See Zechariah 14v1-9)
The beast and false prophet were finally judged and cast into the lake of fire (19v20)

Section 7: Victory through Christ.

· I still want to think through more concerning the millennium however when we consider the main part of this book deals with the time and events between the first and second coming this probably represents in 20v1-6 a time when Satan’s authority is limited to enable the spread of the gospel through the world (See Malachi 1v11)
· For the third time this book teaches there will be a final war before the second coming, this time it reveals Satan is involved in 20v7-10 but he is defeated and cast into the lake of fire.
· The end of the age again is recorded as final judgment and here is a detailed view of the great white throne.
· The book of revelation finishes with the last two chapters describing our eternal dwelling place, The New Jerusalem on the New Earth in the New Heaven. Our dwelling is with God and the lamb!!! Meditate on these 2 chapters often.


In the light of what I have outlined please search the scriptures because we none of us have the whole picture and we are all on a pilgrimage towards what Bunyan called in The Pilgrim’s progress, ‘The Celestial City’. However what we believe, affects the way we live and we must be watching, working and waiting eagerly for the second coming, knowing that Christ may not come back for another 500 years or he could come today!
A lot of what I have outlined would be what most of the church have believed regarding the second coming through the ages with the detailed rapture ideas really only promoted from around the 1850’s. These ideas are mainstream evangelical thinking today but let not the traditions of man hide the truth of God from any us on any biblical subject.

Yours in pursuit of the whole counsel of God and in need of your prayer for this,

Kevin Bidwell

Monday 23 June 2008

The Importance of the Local Church (Part 3)

The Importance of the Local Church (part 3)
The plan: Biblical theology without leading people along a certain track.
Ac 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"
41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 ¶ And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
44 And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common;
45 and they [began] selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
46 And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
47 praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

What happened to the 3000 converts?

Background and context of the new church in Jerusalem

Tense and hostile
Pioneering and feeling their way forward
Added to the church
Struggles with legalism, the law, Judaism, circumcision, the temple, feasts and the issue synagogue versus church, Jewish Sabbath versus The Lord’s day.
Primarily Jewish unlike Antioch with centuries of tradition and baggage.
The importance of the book of Hebrews

Verse 41, received Peter’s word, the gospel
Were baptised as adults
Added to the church, about 3000 + 120 = a large group in a small city by today’s standards. Population in Jerusalem was about 60,000 people therefore this was not done in a corner.
Verse 42, continually devoting themselves;
i. Apostles doctrine/teaching
ii. Fellowship (koinonia)
iii. Breaking of bread. This is used in two ways in the NT. Firstly as eating food (Luke 24: 30) as on the road to Emmaus and secondly as the Lord’s Supper as in Acts 20:7. It is likely that as Calvin suggests that in Acts 2: 42 that it refers to the Lord’s Supper and in verse 46 to eating meals together. Either way it is not explicitly stated so caution is needed.
iv. Prayer
Verse 43, a sense of awe (fear of God) and signs and wonders were done through the apostles.
What is an apostle?
i. A personal commission from Jesus (John 20: 21)
ii. Have seen the risen Christ to witness the resurrection (Acts 1: 21. 1 Cor. 9:1, 15: 8)
iii. Signs, wonders and mighty deeds (2 Cor. 12, 12).
Can there be apostles today? No, the apostles and prophets in Ephesians 2: 20 refers to the old and New Testament ministries fulfilled through Christ.

Verse 44, had all things in common= not a form of Christian communism living in community. Community is an over-used word in post-modern expressions of the church. Verse 45 sharing with those in need, selling possessions etc.
This diaconal ministry continued throughout the NT to help support the poor saints in Judea under occupation and persecution.
Verse 46 Temple and house: eating meals together.
V 46-47. Gladness, sincerity of heart, praising God, having favour with all the people (except the religious hierarchy)
V 47, the Lord was adding to their number daily!! This is the Sovereignty of God.

Is the Jerusalem Church an Ideal Model?

Yes or no?

Yes, because it is clear that this held a unique place as the home of the ‘apostles and elders’ as in Acts 15 and as a mother church for the Jewish and gentile world as new congregations were established and as a centre of doctrinal authority (Galatians 2: 1-10).

No, because the church in Acts chapter 2 is embryonic and is only a snapshot of early church life in Jerusalem. For a complete model we need the whole of the NT with all of the information pieced together. In church history the church in Geneva has become a valuable prototype for many movements since the sixteenth century and continues to be today in the twenty-first century.

What is the Apostles Doctrine?

C. H. Spurgeon states in 1855 upon reprinting the 1689 Baptist Confession.

This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone."
What is the apostles’ doctrine?

An interconnecting body of truth that is consistent, systematic (ordered) and faithful to the Bible. An understanding of this body of truth enables sound exegesis and is commonly known around the world as ‘reformed teaching’. The headings of the confessions include about 32 articles that relate to:

God and Creation
The Trinity
God’s decree, providence
The fall of man

God’s Covenant
Free will
Effectual calling
Saving Faith
Repentance, faith, good works
Perseverance of the saints
Assurance, the law of God and the gospel’s extent

Church, the fellowship of the saints
Baptism, the Lord’s supper
Civil Governement

The Future
Resurrection of the dead and the last judgment

A Summary for handling the scriptures:

C= Context
I= Intended meaning of the passage
A = Apostles’ doctrine

Let us close in prayer together.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

The Importance of the Local Church (Part 2)

Part 2: The Importance of the Local Church
Mathew 18:15 ¶ "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
16 "But if he does not listen [to you,] take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.
17 "And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
18 "Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19 "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst."
21 ¶ Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus *said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Review of Matthew 16
The example of Upper Chapel and Hanover Methodist are warnings.

1. Central House Church: Review in the Post-founder Era

A. Summary of where the church is at after almost 40 years (personal fellowship with Peter since 1995).
i. Calvinistic in doctrine; explain the TULIP confession.
ii. Baptist in government and immersion of adult believers
iii. Independent and autonomous, but not averse to an association of churches
iv. Non-charismatic following the cleavage after Toronto, that places it in an Evangelical position that adheres to:
· The sufficiency and final authority of Scripture
· The primacy of preaching for the church and evangelism
· Proper caution of manifestations
· Placing doctrine before experience
· Maintaining a desire for the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst of conversion of sinners, a desire for righteousness among Christians and genuine godly living.
· The definition of prophesy to be explored: Preaching and public praying.
The church is Calvinistic, Baptist and evangelical.
An encouraging lineage includes:
John Bunyan
William Carey
Andrew Fuller
Charles Spurgeon
They would trace their doctrine and church model to Calvin and Geneva and claim continuity with the early church, the apostles and Christ Himself.
Note: No room for any form of pride.

2. Discipline in the Local Church
Discipline is;
a. Moral as in 1 Corinthians 5 and the sexual immorality
b. Doctrinal as Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Timothy 4: 15) who strongly opposed apostolic doctrine and preaching. Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Timothy 2: 16-19), note God’s firm foundation stands.
Step 1: V 15 Brother = the church
‘in private’ and the aim is to ‘win your brother’ not a blazing row. Note ‘if he listens to you’. The art of good listening ‘he that has ears’.

Step 2: V16 Take one or two more: the basis for this is Deuteronomy 19: 15-21 and there is a clear OT blueprint for ‘judges’ that being spiritual leaders.
Note: ‘that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses’. We are dealing with evidence by witnesses, not speculation, gossip or opinions.

Step 3: V 17 ‘Tell it to the church’ but must go via the elders. (Congregational versus elders)
Step 4: Excommunication and treating them as a non-Christian.

If people do not follow these steps then they are subject to discipline themselves.

· Quote and explain the 1689 Baptist Confession of faith, section 26 on the Church, point 12 and 13.
12.____ As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15 )
13.____ No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church. ( Matthew 18:15-17; Ephesians 4:2, 3 )
There are only three reasons why someone does not partake of the Lord’s supper;
a. They are not a Christian, or unsure of their salvation.
b. Under church discipline and it is withheld
c. They are proclaiming that they are in wilful disobedience and unrepentant sin.
3. Confessions of Faith
Who wrote them?

Calvin and the French confession
Luther and Melancthon and the Augsburg confession
The English Puritans and the Westminister Confession
John Owen and Thomas Goodwin and the Savoy Declaration used by Independent churches
1689 and the Baptist Confession for Calvinistic Baptists.
Belgic, second Helvetic, Scots, Welsh Calvinistic Methodists confessions etc.

Are they Biblical?
Acts 2: 42, the order is the apostles doctrine first and to be devoted to it

They Provide an open document ‘in the light’ for churches to believe and practice

Are they above the Bible?
Absolutely not, but they are a marvellous summary of the apostles doctrine.

Why have one? Or Why not have one?

Illustration: Train tracks and the train

To not have one is to depart from historic Christianity, leaves the door open to subjective private interpretations and provides little basis for the unity of the faith.

Who am I to depart from Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, Calvin, John Knox, John Owen etc.
· For the up building of the church (the truth sets one free)
· For a well ordered church practice (Lord’s supper)
· Guard rails for preaching and putting someone into office
· Defending against heresy and bringing doctrinal correction
· Helping Christians find their identity
· Connected to church history

Why reinvent the wheel?


Tuesday 10 June 2008

The Importance of the Local Church (Part 1)

The Importance of the Local Church

1. Some Principles for Biblical Interpretation

In an age where there is an explosion of ‘private interpretations’ it is necessary to lay down some ground rules for this important subject. There are two terms that require a definition to aid our understanding:

Exegesis= the intended meaning of Scripture
Eisogesis= reading into Scripture something that is not there.

As can be deduced from these two terms, our aim must always be to investigate the intended meaning of Scripture, while desperately avoiding the superimposition of our thoughts, opinions and traditions (some traditions can be as new as post 1970) upon the inspired writings.

Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation and this subject considers the rules that are applied for interpretation. Here are three rules that were recovered by the Reformers following much mystical handling of Scripture during of the Middle Ages.
1. The analogy of faith (Sacred Scripture is its own interpreter, we should compare Scripture with Scripture because it does not contradict itself as one united mind of God). Confessions of faith have attempted historically to summarise the key biblical themes.
2. Determine its literal sense (one interpretation, many applications). This involves determining the literary genre: Is a book history, wisdom, an epistle etc? Different rules apply at different times; for example Jesus ‘I am the door’ (John 10: 9) but this is metaphorically, not literally).
3. Grammatical-historical analysis; this considers the historical context in which the inspired words, verbs, nouns etc. were given in Hebrew and Greek language settings.
A method that was commonly used by Martyn Lloyd Jones in his preaching was something he learned from the world of physicians, namely the ‘skittle method’. This involves the identification of all the different views on a passage and then by the process of elimination using biblical analysis, the one remaining is the correct one.
2. The Teaching of Jesus on the Church
Wayne Mack states that ‘there is nothing outside the Trinity itself that God loves more than the church for which He died.’
Our starting point must always be to turn firstly to our Lord Jesus Christ and there are two direct references to the church in two passages in Matthew’s gospel. This gospel was written primarily for the Jewish Christians and contains a lot of OT references to give continuity with the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets.
Matthew 16: 13-28
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He [began] asking His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
14 And they said, "Some [say] John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."
15 He *said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal [this] to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.
19 "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

This marks a different season in the ministry of our Lord at the end of the Galilean ministry and Christ interestingly uses the word church or ekklesia for the first time. Two key points that impact our doctrine of the church are our understanding of the word church and the rock upon which the church is to be built.

A. What is the meaning of the word ‘Church’?
Ekklesia is the Greek word that the NT uses for church and it means a ‘called out assembly or congregation’. In contemporary Greek culture it was used for a governing assembly in a city but there is an OT usage. The OT was translated into Greek to produce the Septuagint (LXX) and therefore key Greek terms can be traced more easily. The concept of church as an assembly or congregation is not a new concept in biblical thinking; a congregation in the name of Jesus, the messiah however was new. This was to be God’s new congregation and fulfilment of all the law and prophets.
OT usage means ‘to meet or come together at an appointed place’ (qahal) and was rendered church or synagogue in the Greek translation. An example is Deuteronomy 4: 10
"[Remember] the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people (qahal is used here) to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'
Some contemporary Misunderstandings of Church

I. An individual states that ‘I am the church and I do not need to go to a church.’ This is foolish, just as any individual British citizen who may claim that, ‘I am the United Kingdom’. This is a corporate term.
II. Again rampant individualism rears its ugly head when it is asserted that someone does not need to go to ‘church’ because three or four people meet for Bible study in someone’s front room. The church is an organised, public assembly. The dividing line between a group of disciples and a church appears to be the ordination of elders
Acts 14: 21-23 And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and [saying,] "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.)
Watching Christian TV or going to a Christian conference does not represent the church in pure biblical terms.
III. Sometimes people imagine wrongly that the church here refers to the universal church. Christ refers to each individual local assembly, together constituting a part of the whole church that gathers in the name of Jesus. It is an unbiblical myth to claim to be a Christian who belongs to the universal church, who refuses to join oneself to be rooted in a local congregation. This is an unbiblical licence for doing ‘your own thing’ and it represents an ignorant and blatant rejection of the call to NT discipleship.

B. What is this Rock (Matt. 16: 18)?
Four potential interpretations:
1. Peter was the first Pope
This has to be rejected immediately because there is no evidence that the Roman Catholic church is the direct spiritual lineage of Peter or indeed that is what is being taught by Christ here.
2. The Church is built on the individual’s revelation from the Father and the subsequent confession ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’
This confession is to be accepted as a foundational part of the church but not as the intended meaning of Rock here.
3. The rock is Christ.
There has been much made of the difference between Peter (Petros meaning stone) and Petra meaning ‘rock’ in reference to Christ. However this is not the natural sense of the teaching of Christ here.
4. The rock is Peter.
This is the natural force of the teaching of Christ here that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built, that being that Peter is the God ordained instrument of God for the founding of the church. This harmonises with grammatical use applied to Peter in this passage: I will give you the keys; whatever you bind etc.
C. How do we apply this teaching of Christ?
The first twelve chapters mostly involve Peter’s leadership, preaching and pasturing as a God-given gift to establish the church. Here are some aspects of Peter to consider;
· He was renamed Peter from Simon by Christ in John 1: 42. We should expect leaders in the church to be ‘rocklike’.
· Peter was called, trained and equipped as a lively preacher of the gospel (Acts chapters 2-12). The church grows with the primary means of the preaching of the apostolic gospel.
· Peter was an evangelistic preacher (Acts 2: 38 ff); the keys open and close the doors of the kingdom through gospel preaching and discipline to close the doors (1 Cor. 5: 1-5, 2 Cor. 2: 8).
· Binding and loosing represents spiritual authority not spiritual warfare: Hendriksen explains that this refers to forbidding and permitting and relates to delegated authority to get the job done.
· Peter was more than a preacher; he was a leader sent to the church by Christ. We must pray for these workers to be sent into the church (Matthew 9: 38) and the church is founded on this foundation (Ephesians 2:20) and it is Christ who sends men to the church as pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4: 11 ff).
· Preaching elders with leadership gifts and the grace to shepherd the flock is the rock upon which the church is built in every generation. Calvin stated that ‘the chief sinew by which the whole church is knit together is the office of pastor.’
Next time, the Lord willing, we will look at Matthew 18 and our Lord’s next use of the word church in the New Testament.

Sunday 1 June 2008

A Sermon Outline Preached Recently

A King’s Invitation

Mark 1:14 ¶ And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,

15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

  • The language of invitation by a king.

    1. The Gospel of God and preaching
    2. The time is fulfilled
    3. Man’s Duty: Repent and Believe the Gospel
    4. God’s Mercy

  1. The Gospel of God and Preaching

William Tyndale: the gospel is glad tidings.

‘The Gospel signifies good, merry, glad and joyful tidings that makes the heart of man glad and makes him dance and leap for joy.’

The gospel is a message of good news that is preached.

  1. The Time is Fulfilled

Personal testimony and Revelation 3:20 and the reality of God’s punishment and hell.

Now is the day of Salvation.

The biblical imperative of Today: Today if you hear God’s voice do not harden your heart.

Do not worry about tomorrow.

Deo Volente

Builder’s dream: Wayne Jacobs.

3. Repent and Believe the Gospel

Calvin “The gospel contains nothing else but repentance and faith.” (Ezek: II: 174.)

Change of mind; illustrate Gordon Brown with biblical repentance.

Mind is the entrance to the heart, ‘hearts and minds.’

Acts 20;21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Aim is toward God not sin but we need the work of the Holy Spirit.

Assurance; explain Romans 10:9, maybe there are people who are saints but feel the need for a dramatic experience before assured of salvation. Ask yourself questions from Romans 10:9.

Ac 5:31 "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Saviour, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Comment on ‘You must be born again!’ This is not a gospel imperative; explain.

Thomas Watson, explaining repentance:

  1. The sight of sin
  2. Sorrow for sin
  3. Confession of sin
  4. Shame for sin
  5. hatred for sin
  6. Turning from sin

Calvin; “Repentance throws men downwards and faith raises them up.”

    1. The Mercy of God

Gifts of God: Repentance, Acts 11:18, 5:31.

Faith: Ephesians 2: 8-10

Romans 9: 14-18

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!


16 So then it [does] not [depend] on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.


18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

God does not have to accept you, need to be broken in repentance and cry out for mercy in desperation. Childbirth is not generally painless.


This is a charter for personal evangelism.

Repent and believe the gospel.

Tyndale’s description

The Danger of delaying repentance:

  • The time is fulfilled the kingdom of God is at hand.
  • Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart. Do not deceive yourself by delaying, cf. Sales offers.
  • Thomas Manton “Whoever delays his repentance does in effect pawn his own soul with the devil.”
  • Thomas Watson “by delay of repentance, sin strengthens, and the heart hardens. The longer the ice freezes, the harder it is to be broken.”
  • Thomas Fuller “You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late.”

There is nothing better than being a Christian.