Showing posts from August, 2007

How Evangelism Now 2?

In my previous blog I purposefully left out one utterly pivotal dimension; namely, the corporate witness of the local church. We tend to think individually about evangelism; us telling others one to one the gospel, or one person preaching to a crowd etc. This is all good and has its place; but, the corporate witness of the body of the Christ is an indispensable element of evangelism in any age and context.

We are the body of Christ and collectively, as we express our humanity and faith with the Spirit flowing through our veins (metaphorically), Christ witnesses through us to the world. None of us is Christ, but collectively we are to be Christ to the world. Some will be more evangelistic than others. But as a unit we demonstrate Christ to the world.

Jesus said this when he called for his followers to love one another and declared, 'by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another' (Jn 13:35). Our unity, love, compassion, care for each other, provis…

How Evangelism Now?

So the above blogs establish, at least for me, that evangelism is an utter imperative. Essential to being Christian is the call to share the faith with all humanity. God's purpose is that all live in eternal relationship with him. Those of us who have found him are to pass on the story to others, speak the gospel, proclaim the gospel, so that others can join us in God's family and experience the joy and wonder of living eternally with God.

The question is how? How today? This is where it gets a little tricky.

There are some things that I think we can take into account:

1. Pray: God has covenanted to answer prayers. When we ask him for his power, his leading, increased effectiveness etc, he answers. Luke records how the first disciples, after being told to stop preaching the message, prayed passionately for more passion for the task and for God to do wonders among the lost. The room was shaken and the result was unbelievable fellowship, passionate proclamation, people converted an…

Why Evangelism 8?

So far I have looked at the explicit text to determine whether 'we' are to do evangelism. The evidence to me is overwhelming; essential to Christianity is the imperative to share the gospel with the lost. This is seen in the sweep of the OT narrative, the ministry and teaching of Christ, the ministry of the first Christians through Acts and Epistles.

There are also theological strands that come together to reinforce this point:
1. Fall, sin, death and eternal destiny: it is clear through the NT that Christ, Paul and the other apostles worked from the premise that the Fall of humanity in Gen 3 led to all humanity being separated from God, under sin, facing physical death, and eternal destruction. There is only one solution in the bible given, Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection is God's solution to the problem of the Fall. He was without sin and died resolving the problem. He reconciles us to God. He redeems us. Through his death we are declared righteous if we believe. …

Why Evangelism 7?

When we hit the other epistles there is not a great deal of mention of evangelism. Peter tells his recipients in the churches of Asia in 1 Pet 3:15 that they are to be prepared to answer the enquiries of unbelievers. This is what some call apologetic evangelism, responding to the questions of seekers. The sentiment is the same as Col 4:5-6 where the believer is to know how to answer the questions posed to them. This presupposes a readiness to preach the gospel when the opportunity arises (cf. Eph 6:15). That believers are the recipients of evangelism is found in references to those who came and preached to the recipients of Hebrews (Heb 4:2, 6; 1 Pet 1:25; 1 Jn 1:1-3). This suggests that the process will go on although this is not directly expressed.

Jude 23 is one of the clearest expressions of evangelism. Jude encourages his recipients to be merciful to those who doubt, those who are struggling in the faith. He then encourages believers to 'snatch others from the fire and save th…

Why Evangelism 6?

Then we come to the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Undoubtedly Paul was utterly motivated to preach the gospel. Luke tells us in the accounts of his conversion (Acts 9, 22, 26) as does Paul himself in Gal 1:15-16 that he received a call to take the message of God's salvation to the non-Jewish world (the Gentiles) when he was converted. He was seriously devoted to this task, declaring that he deserved God's curse ('woe to me') if he did not fulfill his commission to do so (1 Cor 9:16). He felt an incredible internal obligation to preach the gospel to all peoples (see Rom 1:14).

There are a number of evidences that Paul envisaged others working in the same business of sharing the gospel with the lost.

Firstly, he saw the gospel as the means by which people found salvation i.e. for people to be saved, they must hear the gospel, which is God's power for salvation (see Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18; Eph 6:17; Eph 1:13-14). So, the gospel must be preached for people to be saved. Thi…

World U19 Lacrosse Champs

The World Women's U19 Lacrosse Champs were completed today. USA won the final comprehensively, beating Australia 18-3. The bronze was a surprise with England toppling Canada 9-8.

NZ came in 10th of 11th which sounds unimpressive, but in fact was a brilliant effort. NZ lost all but one game, beating Germany in the play-off for 10th and 11th (8-6), their first win, after losing by 1 to Germany in the first round (10-11). They were competitive in every game, unlucky not to beat the Czech Republic after having 22 shots on goal to 11 but being thwarted by the brilliant Czech goalie.

It was an impressive effort all up when one considers that NZ is new to the sport, this being their first U19 effort after debuting at the senior worlds in 2005. There are also a number of quality players at home who could not make the trip because of injury, other sporting commitments or cost. Of course such trips are not funded, each player spending $6000 for the trip!

The top NZ team would have potentially …

Why Evangelism 5?

So then we hit the sequel to Luke, Acts. I like to call Acts, Luke 2 to illustrate that it is really a continuation of the same story on a fresh scroll. Acts is built around evangelism expressed in 1:8 in which Jesus tells the first disciples that they are to wait in Jerusalem to receive the Spirit which will empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The story that unfolds speaks of this happening; chapters 1-8:4 centring on witness in Jerusalem; chapters 8-9 on the spread of the gospel through Judea and Samaria; 10-28 speaking of the spread of the gospel into the Gentile world and all the way to Rome.

Acts is especially important because Luke tells us how the disciples sought to live out the injunctions of Christ which are found in his first volume, Luke. We see from the first that evangelism was a priority which was not to be sacrificed at any cost. For them it was a non-negotiable element of being Christian. This is seen at a numb…

Cross Country Champs

Tributes to the winners at the NZ Cross Country champs in Wingatui Dunedin on the weekend. Of note were the senior winners including Edwin Henshaw and Maria Akkeson from Auckland.

The race of the day was the M19 race with Dominic Channon winning by 2 seconds from Matthew Mildenhall with Terefe Ejigu only 1 second back! 3 across the line in 4 seconds is one heaven of a finish. The W19 race was won well by Ruth Croft from Haley Green and Katie Wright from Auckland. Katie is recovering from glandular fever, so this was a special effort.

Esther Keown won the W16 race from Nicki McFadzien and Hannah Newbould. This was Esther's first national cross country title in schools or provincial after podium finishes in 5 previous races. She has recovered from a lay off with a hip injury so it was a special win. Nicki and Hannah remain very consistent, Nicki having 2 seconds this year at schools and provincials.

Promising Margot Gibson ran the W14 race. It would have been interesting if she had run…

Why Evangelism 4?

There is more to be said concerning Jesus in this blog. If we are to do evangelism, then we will find that Jesus not only did evangelism, but that he encouraged his disciples to do the same. Furthermore, there would be evidence that he wanted evangelism from believers in the post-apostolic era.

The first set of data then is what Jesus said concerning evangelism to others.

It is clear that he did ask his followers to take on the task. This is seen at a number of points.

At the call of the first disciples in Mk 1:16-20 which is retold by Matthew in Mt 4:18-22 the call included the statement that Peter, Andrew, James and John would fish for people. This means a shift of vocation from literal fishing to netting humans for the kingdom i.e. evangelism. In Luke's account of the call in Lk 5:1-11 of Peter the same emphasis is seen. Just as the disciples in this story take in an enormous yeild of fish from the deep water, the disciples will take in an enormous yield of human followers for Chr…

Rugby Part 3

Yet more of rugby's problems spring to mind.

15. The absence of free to air broadcasts: another problem is that lack of rugby on free to air. Some would bemoan this and say that if you are serious you would get sky. Well it is $64/month to get sky. That is a lot for a family like ours with three teenagers with all the costs and the costs of life. Currently what is there is on Prime and not all get it and if your place is like ours, the reception sux. For rugby to hold NZ's interest it must be the sport of the people, available to all, free. A slight delay is not an issue if that keeps Sky happy. But it has to be there, for people to view. This has the effect of people losing touch with the game. The teams of full of names they do not know. The shift from Super 14 to NPC becomes confusing for the fringe supporters and other interests take that place. Knowing the players, knowing the teams are basics.
16. Night rugby: night rugby is supposed to enhance crowds, but does it? In the …

Violence against kids, consistency, abortion!

I agree entirely with the rising chorus against violence against children now with the recent problems with baby Nia etc. It is time for NZ to get its act together. We need to see children as precious, to be loved and nurtured, treated with gentleness and not harshly. We need to educate people to know how to raise children. We need to promote programs which give parents training. We need greater support for families and parents.

But again the outcry raises questions for me in terms of consistency. In May I blogged about abortion and again I find myself getting annoyed that people want to rise up and stop the beating of children yet we kill 17,000 children a year in the womb! People cry out against this on the basis that children are defenceless and need our protection and love; it is a child's inalienable right to be raised with love and never the victim of violence. Yet, we continue to kill them when they are at their most defenseless in the womb of their mother.

The justifications…

Why Evangelism 3?

I am of the view that the practice of Christ lays the foundation for the practice of the church. We are the body of Christ through whom Christ by his imparted Spirit works to continue and complete the ministry he began in incarnate form. So it is essential to consider Jesus' ministry.

Interestingly the accounts of Jesus begin with the witness of the proclaiming prophet John the Baptist who in the prophetic tradition of Israel proclaimed God's impending salvation. There it is again, the divine dabar or logos proclaimed to humanity. He pointed his people to Jesus. That is evangelism. I love his statement; 'I must decrease, he must increase'; that says it all!

Jesus is baptised by John, receives a fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit and is led by the Spirit into the desert to be tested. He wins the battle proclaiming the Word of God to Satan to defeat him.

He then is propelled by the Spirit into ministry. His ministry as I see it involved four dimensions: calling all people …

Why Evangelism 2?

The whole issue of evangelism begins in the OT with the premise that we are created in the image of God. While this means more than just this, it definitely means we are made for relationship with God. The kind of relationship that is one of love, best understood perhaps by the parent-child analogy; in an ideal sense. Then this relationship was ruptured through the fall of Adam and Eve that brought corruption and fragmentation. Our relationship with God was marred and we need redemption.

From this point on humanity needed saving. The whole story of the OT is the first part of God's great plan to restore that broken relationship built on the call of Abraham, the establishment of the people of Israel as his people, and the up's and down's of their relationship with God based on the Sinai covenant. The call of Abraham concerned not only his family, but the whole of the world, all nations blessed through him.

This suggests from the beginning that mission is utterly central to th…

Rugby Part 2

More on rugby crowds and the problem with rugby.
12. Violence, feminisation and injuries: another issue for rugby generally is the injury toll and physical challenge of the game. This is a turn off to many moderns in an urban western situation. Women in particular often do not want their kids to play the game. While the game has been cleaned up it is still essentially physical and confrontational and this is a turn off for many.
13. Disappointment: the failure of recent AB rugby teams at world cups has not helped the image of rugby. Loyal fans will die for the game but the fringers find it tougher and tougher to support a team that blows it.
14. Disillusionment with professionalism as it is playing out in NZ rugby: I cannot see why the ABs have to be rested for tournaments, have weeks off, reconditioning bla bla bla. We need to get into the real world of professional sport and realise that being a professional athlete will involve a long season of earning one's money. It is a job. Wh…

The problem with rugby

The discussions of the last few days relate to the crowd sizes at rugby games which are down on previous seasons. I am not surprised at all. I think that there are good reasons for the decline in interest in many urban centres
1. The Stop Start Nature of the Game: The scrums continually collapse. The break down is a constant disaster. Time is continually wasted with line outs, scrum resets, discussions between the ref and players, TMO decisions, discussions between refs and lines men, injuries upon injuries. The game must be sped up with far less time spent fluffing around with line out calls, injuries etc.
2. The Congestion of the Game: Rugby players are faster, fitter, stronger and able to last longer with contemporary fitness models. Yet the fields are the same size, the number of players the same, and the game is a 22 man game rather than a 15 man game. The game used to break open due to fatigue but can not do so with two even fit teams. The fields could be enlargened, the number of…