Do you ever wonder if there’s something more to the Christian life? Maybe you’ve heard of or know people who tell you about having some sort of amazing God-experience—whether it’s been intense feelings of peace and joy, some kind of ecstatic excitement, maybe even visions or voices—and you wonder if you’re missing out. You hear about these things and you think to yourself “I want more”. (more…)
The birth of your first child is always momentous. For me, it was also scary. We were expecting twins, and the labour did not proceed well. Karyn was wheeled off for an emergency caesarean, with me running alongside. I was then left standing at the thick red line by the nurses’ station. And the door closed. (more…)
‘Spirituality’ is a term of great confusion today. Both inside and outside Christianity, people use the word in ways quite different to the Bible. This not only confuses Christians in what to expect from the Spirit of God but also confuses non-Christians about the work of God’s Spirit and the teaching of Christianity. For when Christians, in our confusion, misrepresent God’s word it is no surprise that non-Christians do not understand our message.
Non-Christians today commonly describe themselves as being ‘very spiritual’ while having nothing to do with organized religion or Christianity. This spirituality is a way of saying they are not materialistic atheists but it rarely has any theological content other than a vague mysticism. If it has any intellectual content it tends towards an anti-rational experientialism—feelings, experiences, awareness, asceticism, ascetics, pantheism, meditation and miracles. It also tends towards tolerance inclusiveness of all religious experiences and intolerance towards any theological propositions or exclusive claim to truth. It is naturally quite hostile to Biblical Christianity with its clear expression of theological truth claims about the uniqueness of Jesus and his way of salvation. (more…)
October 2013 saw the Strange Fire conference—and some ensuing controversy—take certain portions of the online evangelical world by storm.
Taking its name from the unauthorized offering to the Lord by Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron (Leviticus 10), John Macarthur of California held the conference to address what he sees as similar abuses of worship of God in pentecostal and charismatic Christianity.
I’m compiling a reading list for the bookstall on our church conference (camp, house party or whatever you call it!) on the topic of holiness and santification. (more…)
I’ve been thinking a lot about emotions recently. This, of course, may be precisely my problem. I shouldn’t be thinking about emotions; I should just be feeling them. (more…)
The Holy Spirit
Sinclair B Ferguson
Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham, 1996. 288pp.
“Why are you scared of the Holy Spirit?”
“The Trinity you believe in is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Bible!” (more…)
Who would you regard as the more significant influence upon your Christian life and thinking: John Stott or Mark Driscoll?
In Sydney, where I live, nearly everyone over the age of 40 has only one answer to that question: through his books and articles, and his occasional visits over three decades, John Stott shaped a generation of Sydney evangelicals. If we add other names like JI Packer and Dick Lucas, it is uncontroversial to say that English evangelicalism has had a profound influence on the thinking, practice and ‘culture’ of Sydney evangelicalism over the past four decades—much more influence than, say, North American evangelicalism, even including the contributions of men like Billy Graham and Bill Hybels. (more…)
I’ve been enjoying Paul’s series on lousy arguments. At the risk of stealing Paul’s thunder, I’ve got another argument to add to the mix: the Argument from Silence. The Argument from Silence is rather simple, often wrong, but sometimes spot-on. The Argument from Silence happens when you listen to a speaker, or read a blog or book or article, and notice that they don’t mention some particular topic. You conclude that, since they didn’t mention that topic, they are ignorant of it, or it’s not important to them. To give an example that I’ve been thinking about recently, what should you conclude when you don’t hear much about the Holy Spirit in your church’s preaching program, your Bible Study series, your favourite podcast, etc.? (more…)
If someone asked you to teach your church about the Holy Spirit, where would you go in the Bible? And when was the last time you taught, or were taught, about the work of the Holy Spirit?
If the gospel is the true revelation of God’s goodness, then why do we often feel so uncomfortable about speaking it? Phillip Jensen suggests that perhaps we’re looking for empowerment in the wrong place. (more…)
It is a word used both inside and outside Christianity. But it covers such a wide range of phenomena, we often don’t know what people mean by it.