Systematised propositional statements vs a Gospel story of salvation

When I became a Christian I thought I might be a theologian. My standard Gospel presentation reflects this. It’s a series of systematized answers to leading questions. Who is God? Who is man? Who is Jesus? What must I do to be save? The short answers are God is holy, man is sinful, Christ is the way, repent for the forgiveness of sins.

This past week I spent some time with two very different men at the Baptist Union of Southern Africa Assembly. Bradley Trout from Mountain View Baptist Church and Craig Duval from Pinelands Baptist Church.

Bradley’s a friend. He’s a bookworm. But he’s more than your average bookworm. He remembers stuff, simplifies stuff, and repeats it back in relevant situations. He is an interesting addition to any conversation and I wish I could have more conversations with him in the room. Anyway Bradley has been on my case to get into Biblical Theology this year so that I can give some thought to progressive revelation and a narrative view of Scripture.

Craig’s different. One evening at the Assembly I sat down next to Craig and introduced myself as a Reformed, Dispensational, Cessationalist and asked him a couple of questions. He graciously spent the next 5 hours giving me answers. The Theological can of worms aside, what I got from Craig was a story. He started in the garden and wove through to eternity to come. He talks of the people of the Bible, the places of the Bible and the God of the Bible. Rather than a series of systematise propositional statements about Scripture he tells the story of Scripture. Simple, compelling, replicable. A transfer mechanism for theological concepts to an audience with an attention deficit.

So with Bradley and Craig in mind I’ve been thinking about my own Gospel narrative. The diagram below represents the major events I think need to be highlighted and I’ve given some indication as to why in the key below. But what have I missed? What needs expanding?

1. Creation: Theology proper. Who is God? The Creator. Our Creator. And His creation is very good. He is perfect, eternal, transcendent and immanent.
2. Corruption: Harmatology. Who is man? Corrupted, conceited, cursed. In every faculty of his being. Sinful. Yet, in the midst of the curse you have God pointing to the cross.
3. Abraham: The People of God, elected and loved, despite their stiff-neckedness. And in the covenant promise of God you have a clear point to the Seed, Christ, the cross, and blessing to come.
4. Moses/Law: The 10 Commandments. The impossible standard, blessing on/curse received. The Law which can’t save but can drive to the cross.
5. David/King: The promise of an eternal throne and a righteous King to come.
6. Christ Died: Christology. The person of Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. The work of Christ, Saviour, God died for us.
7. Christ Rose: Victory. The sacrifice is accepted. Heaven’s gates flung open wide.
8. The Church: The Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the great commission, the bold proclamation. Repent for the forgiveness of sins!

Systematised propositional statements vs a Gospel story of salvation? That’s a ridiculous title. It’s not an either or answer. It’s a both and. Note how I crafted my Estcatology into the diagram. :). Maybe I will grow up to be the Theologian after all.


The Filling of the Holy Spirit (Part 4)

<— Click here for Part 3 Click here for Part 5 —>

Paul urges believers, “…be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Eph 5:18) Filling means we, “…should be so completely yielded to the Holy Spirit that He can possess us fully and, in that sense, fill us.” (Gotquestions 2010)

This occurs in two ways: Firstly as a sovereign act He fills some for particular purposes. This can be observed in the accounts of Peter (Acts 4:8), Steven (Acts 7:55) and Paul (Acts 9:17). Secondly believers are filled whereby the Spirit exerts influence and control in their lives (Eph 5:18). The filling of believers produce fruit in line with their salvation such as, “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance….” (Gal 5:22 – 23)

The filling of the Spirit is bound to the bold proclamation of the Gospel message (Acts 2; 5; 6; 11). Quite an indictment as we consider how feeble the visible church is in our day and age.

Whilst Ephesians 5:18 is an exhortation to be filled with the Spirit Ephesians 5:19 – 21 describes the result of that filling. We’re to praise God (Eph 19a), appropriately worship Him (Eph 19b), show our gratitude to Him (Eph 5:20a) and assent to one another (Eph 5:21).

<— Click here for Part 3 Click here for Part 5 —>

Sunday’s Point to Ponder

Today’s sermon at Midrand Chapel broadly outlined the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace as laid out by Paul in Romans. Chris didn’t spare a punch as he covered depravity (1:18 – 23; 3:9 – 22), election (8:28 – 30; 9:9 – 18), atonement (2:23 – 26; 4:24 – 25; 5:18 – 21), grace (19:25 – 32) and perseverance (8:1 – 11).

The quotable quote of the day had to be, “Man’s depravity is not a great obstacle to the Gospel, it’s an insurmountable one.”

Chris Woolley Midrand Chapel

Chris Woolley has been an elder employed at Midrand Chapel since 2005. He is married with six children, three of whom have been adopted. Chris studied mechanical Engineering at WITS University during which time he became a Christian and developed a desire be involved in missions and church planting. After initially working as a Maintenance Engineer he resigned to further his theological studies. He is a graduate of the Baptist Theological College in Randburg (DipTh) and the Masters Seminary in California (MDiv).

The King’s Message

Warren Wiersbe Harold Vivian special disarmament conference New York radio cable broke 250 volts

Here’s my thinking on why we blog, it’s all about introspection, interaction and impact. Click image to link to source.

One of my favourite authors, Warren Wiersbe, wrote this illustration in his newsletter, Prokope. It goes something like this, “Britain’s King George V was to give the opening address at a special disarmament conference, with the speech relayed by radio to the U.S. As the broadcast was about to begin, a cable broke in the New York radio station, and more than a million listeners were left without sound. A junior mechanic in the station, Harold Vivien, solved the problem by picking up both ends of the cable and allowing 250 volts of electricity to pass through him. He was the living link that allowed the king’s message to get through.”

Wow! What unbelievable dedication and commitment of this man. I almost couldn’t believe it so I went and did a bit more digging on Saturday night and came across this news article from The Huntsville Daily Times, January 21st 1930. The journalist writes, “His arms twitching with shocks from electric current, Harold Vivian, a young radio engineer, literally spliced with his body a broken link in the vast hookup and made it possible to listeners in on 59 North American radio stations to hear King George’s speech today…”

“…Vivian, chief control operator, grasped the wires together in his hands to restore the circuit. Leakage of current through his body to the floor shook his arms with spasms, but he held on without a break for 20 minutes until new wires could be connected.”

The king’s message got through; whatever it took! That’s how we get to impact the world

The Early Church was characterised by zeal for the message, “Christ died, Christ rose again and repent for the forgiveness of sins.” Nothing could hold them back, not persecution, not suffering, not even death.

Because of this constant bold proclamation of the Gospel to a world that stands in wilful opposition to it they faced hardships and persecution but they were unperturbed. They pressed on still harder because they knew they were the link between the king and the people, the chosen conduit by which our glorious Lord and Saviour chooses to make the message of the Kingdom known. They literally stood in the gap and picked up the cable.

Not so much us today. We’re apathetic with the proclamation of Gospel. We’re negligent in the study of the Word. We’re like uncommitted bystanders who expect others to do the heavy lifting. We’re no longer bold with the king’s message. Our impact is negated by our lethargy, our witness repressed by our slough.

Warren W. Wiersbe

Warren Wendel Wiersbe is an American pastor, Bible teacher, conference speaker and a prolific writer of Christian literature and theological works. Born on May 16, 1929 in East Chicago, Indiana, Wiersbe is perhaps best known for his series of 50 books in the “BE” series: Be Real, Be Rich, Be Obedient, Be Mature, Be Joyful, etc. and other theological works.

Report on the outreach to Olievenhoutbosch

<— Click here for Assignment 1
Report on the outreach to Olievenhoutbosch

Click here or on the icon to link to the pdf.

This isn’t as academic as the catagory I’ve stuck it in. Truth is it’s more of a report back on a prac.

I’d love to get constructive feedback or criticism as this is a skill I’m going to be using quiet a lot going forward.

You could click on the big icon on the left hand side of the page or click here (Adobe PDF) to link to the paper titled: Report on the outreach to Olievenhoutbosch.



Didn’t do too bad on the marks.

<— Click here for Assignment 1

To His glory God is working collectively with His people in Southern Africa

Annual Sola 5 Conference

I attended a session of the Annual Sola 5 Conference this morning.

I was excited driving home and quite probably wore Chris out with incessant chatter. We attended an Annual Sola 5 Conference session this morning at Brackenhurst Baptist Church and it rocked. I’d sum up my excitement in three ways: the topic, “By His grace God has called His people to Enriched Service”, the facilitation, “By His mercy God is doing great things with His people from further North” and the ethos, “To His glory God is working collectively with His people in Southern Africa”.

“To His glory God is working collectively with His people in Southern Africa”. What got me so fired up? Well, there was a Mozambique mission report back. The church plant described was small but the work going into it was very big indeed. It was the testimony of the missionary of church cooperation and partnership that is going on for the sake of the Gospel that really did it for me.

The church in Mozambique has been planted over many years. At different stages they’ve needed assistance and each time a church from the wider body of Christ has stepped in. Churches from Johannesburg and churches from Lusaka, churches from small towns and churches from big cities, churches with lots of resources and churches without much. All coming together to ensure that the believers in Mozambique are adequately equipped to grow in their faith.

There might have been as many as 15 churches which have stepped in at different times over a period of 10 years to render assistance. One organised architectural drawings for a church building and a hospital project. Another sent an elder for 8 months to project manage some construction work. Money, materials, resources, people… all coming together for the extension of God’s kingdom.

The body of Christ, together, working towards His goals and to His glory. What a testimony!

Paul speaking to the Philippians in chapter 1 says:

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

How do you see correct inter church cooperation? The previous post relating to the Annual Sola 5 conference can be found here.