Remember the Poor by Simon Pettit

Remember the Poor

Simon Pettit

At an international leader’s conference hosted in the UK in 1998 an unsuspecting network of churches was about to undergo a powerful and lasting shift.

It was a moment that has left a younger generation of leaders saying, as one wrote to me, ‘I wasn’t there to hear Simon’s sermon, but I sometimes feel like I was, such is the ongoing legacy of that one message.’

It was a sermon that re-focussed the outreach of the Newfrontiers family of churches, and has generated conferences, think tanks, and a myriad of local church initiatives across the world.

It effectively united so-called ‘social ministries’ to the apostolic and evangelistic priority of a church-planting movement.

Simon Pettit preaching in Blantyre, Malawi

Simon Pettit and his family left England in 1990 for Cape Town, South Africa to lead the team at Jubilee Community Church. He served in South Africa and Africa for 15 years, before his sudden death from a heart attack in 2005.

This message comes from those years of living and learning in a context of contrasting wealth and poverty. He quickly realised that the church cannot merely preach a message of hope but must directly engage with the needs of the poor.

Some, while not doubting the need to serve the poor, questioned whether Simon’s exegesis of Gal 2:10 was correct. Did the apostles in Jerusalem intend a general care for the poor or were they only referring to the poor in Jerusalem? A fine answer has been given to that question here.

Simon’s legacy is not confined to one church, of course, but to the whole family of Newfrontiers churches. However, the multi-racial Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town, the local church where he learnt and taught, and which has continued to remember the poor in so many ways, remains the jewel in his crown.

Many of us still share the pain of losing Simon, not only in Jubilee, and South Africa, but also in Africa and in many other parts of the world. We feel Simon’s sudden departure was the loss of a genuine father in the faith.

I hope the inclusion of this message will stir you to ‘remember the poor’ where you are.

 

For audio you can listen or download here

Simon joking around just before speaking at City of God Church, Accra, Ghana

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Review

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In the Beginning God. A powerful message by John Lennox

‘The Biblical view is, to me, more credible than atheism, since it makes far more sense of reality, since it is supported by powerful evidence, both objective and subjective.’

Professor John Lennox

An input of intelligence and energy from outside the system
‘And God said: Each step [of creation] begins with a word of God, an input of intelligence from outside the system. This is the exact opposite, obviously, of an unguided, mindless process, proceeding from the simple to the complex. The complexity of life is not self-generated: there is an input of energy from the outside.’

If you have never heard Oxford Professor John Lennox speak before, this is a superb introduction.

John is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford.

He has debated Richard Dawkins twice. You can see the first debate here.

There’s such a pressure to keep quiet!
This message is essentially a sermon to a Christian audience in order to strengthen their resolve to stand up for God in their various walks of life.

‘Once a person’s faith in God is undermined their fundamental stabilities begins to erode. There’s such a pressure to keep quiet and keep your faith for the private sphere. You want to believe in Christ? Fine but do it privately. Don’t bring it into the public square!

Do we bring it into the public square? Science is the public thing.

And some scientists, more generous than others, like the late Stephen J Gould, say that religion is alright so long as we keep it separate from science. That sounds great until we look at the small print. And the small print says this: Science deals with reality and religion deals with everything else: fantasy like God, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

That won’t do will it?

The pressure to be silent is increasing but Daniel and his friends withstood it then and we are called upon to withstand it now…Daniel understood the basic doctrines of the nature of God and creation as taught in Genesis.’

Enjoy the message!
Click on the photo to watch the video

Click on the photo to watch the video

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Interview footage of Martyn Lloyd Jones – and FREE sermons!

The cover of the MLJ memorial edition of The Banner of Truth magazine, May 1981

What has continually struck me about Martyn Lloyd-Jones, since first discovering him in the 80s, is the note of authority in his preaching. Not fundamentalism. Not arrogance. Not self-promoting bravado. Not self-centred supernatural experience. Authority – and particularly the authority of the Biblical text itself.

He spoke with such conviction in his generation, that, even allowing for some areas of disagreement, his message still strikes a clear note, and pierces the conscience today!

I find his preaching encouraging and uplifting, and inclusive:

‘It seems to me that the great trouble in the church today is that she’s not reaching the working classes. The majority of the members of our church were working class men.’ D Martyn Lloyd-Jones on his ministry years in Aberavon, Wales (from one of the interviews on this video).

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones was loved by rich and poor, and acknowledged as making a significant contribution to the spiritual life of Great Britain.

The Queen greeting Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones

So the message this month is not really a message, but some video footage which traces his early ministry and introduction to London, interspersed with some television footage (you can spot a young Joan Bakewell in the mix too!)

Enjoy! Click on the photo below

Martyn Lloyd-Jones' television interview

or paste this into your browser:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TolCoC_44AQ
Free Sermons!
The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust has just announced that it is making its complete MLJ library available online free of charge (free registration).
Click either of the links below for your store:
http://www.mlj.org.uk/shop

http://www.mlj-usa.com/audiolibrary

There is a wealth of material there so don’t waste time!
Read Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ comments on Evangelist Howell Harris here

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

JP Moreland – Defender of the Faith!

Introducing JP Moreland

JP Moreland

JP Moreland is one of the most refreshing defenders of the Christian position currently taking part in debates with non-Christian intellectuals.

He is himself an intellectual giant, razor sharp, humourous, passionate. In this debate on the existence of God he covers the standard Christian arguments, namely,

1. The Origins of the Universe

2. Inference from Design – The Fine Tuning of the Universe/Information in DNA

3. The Existence of Objective Moral Law

A charismatic intellectual and an intellectual charismatic!
In addition, he argues passionately for the reliability of the New Testament, and, unlike almost every other Christian apologist I’ve heard, he argues that part of the evidence that verifies the Christian position is the current reality of physical healings taking place.

He refers not only to things happening globally but also in his own home church. The impact of this on his opponent, Clancy Martin (Prof and Chair of Philosophy, University of Missouri KC), is striking.

One could argue that JP is presenting a more rounded, balanced and Biblical defence by bringing in contemporary examples of God’s power in the experience of Christians as evidence for God’s existence.

But you be the judge. Have a listen and feel free to leave a comment.

Click here for audio of JP Moreland and Clancy Martin in debate

JP is distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, California. For a full list of his extensive academic achievements click here

He is the author of many books including:

  • Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (1987)
  • Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Examination (1989)
  • The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Time (with Norman Geisler, 1990)
  • Does God Exist?: The Debate Between Atheists and Theists (with Kai Nielsen, 1990)
  • The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for An Intelligent Designer (1994)
  • Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (1997)
  • Body and Soul: Human Nature and the Crisis of Ethics (with Scott Rae, 2000)
  • Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (co-editor with William Lane Craig, 2000)
  • Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (with William Lane Craig, 2003)
  • Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power (2007)
  • Consciousness and the Existence of God (2009)
  • The Recalcitrant Imago Dei (2009)
  • The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning (2009)

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Suffering, Sickness and Healing

PJ Smyth

Message of the Month – PJ Smyth

How should Christians respond when they are suddenly struck down with an illness? In the midst of suffering, are we to run away from medicine and trust only in prayer, or should we view prayer merely as a means of psychological comfort whilst trusting only in the prognosis of the medical professionals? Or, is there a faith-filled position which embraces both prayer and scientific medicine? And what about the Devil’s role in all this, and the role of vigourous resistance?

This message is by PJ Smyth who leads GodFirst Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was preached at the Newfrontiers ‘Together on a Mission’ conference in England in 2011.

It’s not a message on healing as such, but rather covers the broader range of pastoral issues that arise when we face serious sickness – including the source of sickness, and how we handle our approach towards recovery.

But it’s not merely academic. PJ was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, which was successfully treated. He tells the story in the message.

In terms of an overview of the Christian approach to the challenge of sickness and healing I think it is probably the best message I have heard on the subject, and which, in my opinion, reaches the correct conclusions.

But what do you think?

For the Video click here

For the Audio click here

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

How can we be sure the four Gospels weren’t just made up?

Simon Gathercole, Dirk Jongkind and Peter J Williams in Edinburgh

(Photo by Andrew Robertson from the ‘Tapes From Scotland’ website)

We may be convinced that the New Testament documents are based on reliable sources – that we have what was originally written from an early date – but do we know that what they contain is reliable? How do we know they weren’t just made up?

Dr Peter J Williams, Warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge University, attempts to answer the question of the reliability of the Gospel record by looking closely at both non-Christian sources and detailed material within the Gospels themselves.

He draws on research which strongly suggests the implausibility of a claim that the four canonical gospels were clever fakes.

Were these stories made up at a later time or written from a different place, or do they include such a wealth of incidental information that was available only to the ‘close-up’ gospel writers, and which points to their authenticity?

Peter presents the material with wit and precision and we’re left with an extremely convincing case that the four gospels were indeed comprised of genuine eyewitness accounts. You’ll enjoy this!

NEW! UPDATED video link. Click on the image below:

Peter Williams

 

© Church History / Lex Loizides

Free Book on the Church History Blog

Michael Licona

Mike Licona - Apologist and Evangelist

Have you ever got frustrated with a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon who interrupted your day by knocking on your door?

Have you been tempted to become impatient with them and dismiss them without actually caring about helping them understand the New Testament teaching about Jesus Christ?

Well, if you have, and you want to be equipped to engage them in conversation, then this might just be the book for you.

Instead of a ‘Message of the Month’ I’m putting this superb free e book on the Church History Blog.

It’s by apologist Mike Licona and is humourously titled, ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock’!

I read it over two days and thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the first section on having conversations with Mormons, which contained material that was new to me.

Also, helpful is how to answer the often repeated claim that the Bible is unreliable.

I hope you enjoy reading it! And leave a comment if it helped you.

For more resources by Mike check here: http://www.risenjesus.com/

© 2011 Lex Loizides / Church History

Message of the Month John Piper

Working for your Joy!

John Piper

The search for genuine joy in the battle of life is a search that concerns every person.

The soul’s thirst for satisfaction drives men and women, Christian and non-Christian, to try a myriad of promises – and often leaves them feeling empty, short-changed, duped.

In this compelling message, John Piper argues that the chief aim of the Christian leader is to make joy the ultimate aim of each person – by pointing them to the only ultimately satisfying source of joy: Jesus Christ.

Joy in Christ is the goal of the Christian life – Joy, Piper asserts, is not just the icing on the cake, it is the cake!!

John Piper - working for the joy of all peoples

The link below is to a video, but if you don’t have access to fast internet (as most people don’t yet), then there is a link on the page to an mp3 version of the message.

The context of this message was a 300 leaders conference in London, hosted by Newfrontiers Pastor Tope Koleoso. I hope you enjoy it.

The Message (click the link): Working for your Joy

© Church History / Lex Loizides

The God Delusion Debate

Message of the Month – The God Delusion Debate

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

In 2010 I hosted two big screen video debates between Oxford University Professors John Lennox and Richard Dawkins. Hundreds of non-churched folk as well as members of various churches attended. There was very real interest.

I had already met John Lennox in Oxford although I was, at that time, unfamiliar with his work as a speaker. Having lunched with John, and having listened to several hours of Richard Dawkins in various contexts I was beginning to feel a little guilty that I hadn’t actually read The God Delusion.

Making Money from Religion
I’m not suggesting you buy a new copy of the book. Richard Dawkins has already made a massive amount of money from religion. Rather, if you want to read it, go and benefit your local second-hand book store by purchasing it there.

This is not a review of the book. I am not going to focus on how Dawkins misses the mark because he doesn’t have a clear grasp of key issues etc. Others have said those things already. I will point you to the Lennox/Dawkins debate.

But I do want to make a few comments which I hope will be helpful:

1. An Extended Rant. I genuinely enjoyed reading The God Delusion. It’s not often that a book keeps me completely engaged from beginning to end. There are maybe two sections that I felt should have been edited down, but this is, essentially, an extended rant and it’s fun to listen!

2. Not faith-shaking. I was surprised that there are no power punches in The God Delusion. There’s nothing here that shakes the Christian faith. Perhaps I was naive, but I had expected something more formidable. There are lots of little jabs and digs – but no substantial intellectual obstacles presented. So reading the book is more like being back in the sixth-form common room arguing about Christianity with your school mates. Digs, pokes – yes, lots of them – but certainly no knock-out punch.

3. Dodgy Examples. Irritating for the discerning reader and perhaps deceptive for those who don’t spot them are the occasions where Dawkins acknowledges that the research/item/example he is giving is probably not conclusive/trustworthy yet he goes right ahead and uses it anyway. He does this a lot. In one case he even gives a footnote saying ‘It is unclear whether the story is true’ but still uses it as a ‘typical’ example of how Christians behave. It’s all carefully worded so he escapes the charge of deliberately deceiving but my guess is that many readers gloss over the ‘this may be unverified research but…’ qualifier and get straight to the example he then uses.

4. ‘Raised Consciousness’ a delusion? Also slightly alarming, or comical, depending on your mood, are Dawkins’ suggestions that those who accept Darwinian evolution, and particularly biologists, have had their consciousness ‘raised’. And that some, particularly those poor physicists who concede that the fine tuning of the universe might suggest some ‘intelligence’, have yet to have their consciousness raised! In fact, this is his response to those who are sceptical of the so-called multiverse theory: ‘People who think that have not had their consciousness raised by natural selection.’ (p.175) Cheeky banana!

5. Shot by Both Sides. Those Christians attempting to syncretise evolutionary theory with Genesis, and hoping it might win them some intellectual credibility with non-believers will be disappointed by the response of this famous non-believer. They are given no respect whatsoever by Darwin’s most loyal devotee. He apparently does not believe your consciousness has been raised far enough and understandably (from his perspective) suggests that the literal death of Jesus for a symbolic sin by an allegorical, non-historical Adam is ‘barking mad’.

So, you can see how this is an entertaining book.

The God Delusion Debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox

The message I am recommending in connection with the book is The God Delusion Debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, filmed by The Fixed Point Foundation.

It’s over 2 hours long but it is superb, and a great resource for churches to use to generate civil discussion around some of these issues. John Lennox is brilliant.

Fixed Point also have several other filmed debates on sale. Amazingly, they have provided this full-length video free of charge!

Here’s the link: The God Delusion Debate

I also enclose a few quotes from book reviews of The God Delusion, for your entertainment

TGD review snippets

‘This big, colourful book is mostly tendentious tosh.’ – The Independent, UK
‘Despite his pious promise not to attack soft targets, that is precisely what he does, at some length.’ – The Independent, UK

The London Review of Books review was entitled ‘Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching’ and begins by saying, ‘Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.’

Dawkins ‘can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false.’

Antony Flew, the British philosopher and former atheist wrote,

‘What is much more remarkable than that economic achievement [from The God Delusion sales] is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot.’

In referring to Dawkins’ references to Einstein, Flew writes, ‘(I find it hard to write with restraint about this obscurantist refusal on the part of Dawkins) he makes no mention of Einstein’s most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it.’

‘This whole business makes all too clear that Dawkins is not interested in the truth as such but is primarily concerned to discredit an ideological opponent by any available means.’

Click here for the complete transcript of Flew’s response, and which includes a rebuttal to Dawkins disgraceful claim that certain Universities are not ‘proper universities’ conferring ‘real degrees’.

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month – William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town

It was a genuine privilege for us, as a local church, to host William Lane Craig as he debated with a local Muslim apologist in Cape Town in 2010.

It was a pleasure to meet him and his wife as well as to see such a large gathering of Muslims in a Christian place of worship (about 500 of the 1000 or so that were present that night).

It has been equally instructive to hear him on other issues as well as to read some of his excellent materials.

In this ‘Message of the Month’ (delivered at the European Leadership Forum in Hungary), though, I am hearing a heart-cry – almost a prophetic call.

This is an impassioned plea for rigourous academic engagement to help create credibility for Christian perspectives in both the University and ultimately in the wider culture.

While some of us may be unable to (or are not called to) take up his challenge, I hope that by posting the message here, God may call some of you to take seriously (very seriously) Craig’s prophetic summons!

Click here for the message

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month Tom Woodward and David Berlinski

Tom Woodward

Tom Woodward is President of the CS Lewis Society in Florida, USA, and is Research Professor of Theology at Trinity College.

Tom hosts a radio show called ‘Darwin or Design’ and interviews scientists and apologists who are involved in a growing trend amongst academics to openly criticise the Darwinian theory of evolution (macro-evolution).

David Berlinski

David Berlisnki is one of the coolest Academics you’ll encounter. He resists the idea that science speaks with a uniform voice on the issue and is outspoken in his criticism of Darwinism. He decries ‘the glaring inadequacy of so much that passes as scientific discourse today.’ He appeared, relaxed and authoritative, in the movie ‘Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed’.

Berlinski is an academic philosopher, author and is an agnostic, not a Christian.

Dawkins on Berlinski

Even though Berlinski rejects the Darwinian theory of macro evolution, Richard Dawkins did him the honour of acknowledging that ‘David Berlinski…is certainly not ignorant, stupid or insane.  He denies that he is a creationist, but claims strong scientific arguments against evolution.’

I enjoyed this interview, especially as Tom Woodward tries to get evangelistic with Berlisnki and Berlinski just waves the moment aside: ‘I cannot give my assent to those doctrines. It’s a flat out point of scepticism.’

That certainly strengthens the assertion that not all Intelligent Design Theorists are Christians, or Creationists etc.

This is a fascinating interview which should at the very least make us think.

Go to the interview in itunes (Click on Track 8:David Berlinski): Tom Woodward and David Berlinski

For more on David Berlinski click here

For Tom’s Radio Show click here

For an article by Tom Woodward in Christianity Today click here

Enjoy!

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month Vishal Mangalwadi

Message of the Month – Vishal Mangalwadi

Vishal Mangalwadi

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve had a kind of love affair with India for most of my adult life.

Nevertheless my admiration for Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi is anything but sentimental. I am genuinely impacted every time I hear him speak. It’s the same kind of impact I felt when I first read the works of Francis Schaeffer.

Somewhat guided by his notes (!), but also peppered with stunning digressions and off-the-cuff insights, his teaching energises me every single time.

Vishal's book about the role of the Bible in creating the West

He is currently working on a book about the central influence of the Bible in the development of the Western World, which, coming from an Eastern perspective, is intriguing.

This message is part of his material for that book. To be honest, I could have chosen any one of these messages but I thought the title alone might grab your interest.

The Message – Vishal Mangalwadi: ‘Why are some so rich while other are so poor?’

For more on Vishal Mangalwadi click here

Vishal’s stunning book ‘India – the Grand Experiment’

Other books for sale by Vishal

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Message of the Month Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel

I have enjoyed hearing messages by Lee Strobel for many years now. His blend of journalistic enquiry and evangelistic awareness make him one of the better communicators of the gospel in our generation.

In recent years Lee has become something of an apologist. He humbly presents himself as an investigator and then presents the evidence he’s found.

This message serves as a basic introduction to the argument that science points toward, rather than away from, the God of the Bible, and is drawn from his book The Case for a Creator.

He is humourous, well informed, and is able to make information that is sometimes difficult to grasp easy to understand. That’s a real gift – both to those attempting to learn and to those attempting to teach.

Enjoy!

The message is 40 minutes long followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.

It was delivered at Cherry Hills Community Church in Colorado, USA

Click here to listen

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Audio Message of the Month Dirk Jongkind

Dirk Jongkind, New Testament textual critic

If you’ve never heard anything about the background work that’s being done on the New Testament manuscripts, or on the reliability of the NT,  or on discoveries of ‘new’ old NT fragments then listen to this!

When I first heard this interview I was moved with gratitude to God! I don’t think I am an over-emotional person but I was moved and inspired by the following:

  • Dirk is now one of the world’s leading authorities on the New Testament manuscripts, and he describes his personal journey into textual criticism which came from a common and genuine concern: is the NT reliable?
  • I was impressed by the blend of curiosity and clarity, of pursuit and precision, in Dirk’s analysis of the material that ultimately led him to confidence in the trustworthiness of the New Testament
  • I was grateful to God that the process of scholarship behind the compilation of the New Testament manuscripts, is governed by such a high level of integrity. We’re not trying to hide or cover up anything. The integrity of the academic discipline behind the New Testament commends itself to the conscience, and caused me to give thanks to God!

OK, so enough with the emotive introduction. I trust you will enjoy this interview with Dirk Jongkind very much.

Dirk is Research Fellow in New Testament Text and Language: Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge

Annoyingly, ‘Textual Criticism of the New Testament’ is temporarily unavailable…

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Audio Message of the Month Terry Virgo

The Qualities of a Christian Leader – Terry Virgo

Terry Virgo

Terry Virgo is one of the great Bible teachers of our generation. His influence has gone far beyond the local church he pioneered in Brighton, England.

His ministry has resulted in literally hundreds of churches being planted and cared for in many nations.

Arguably the British successor to Martyn Lloyd-Jones as a passionate and authoritative expository preacher, Terry has championed the life of God in the local church in the context of global mission.

This powerful and touching message was preached in 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa on the occasion of the appointment of three new elders in Jubilee Community Church.

Enjoy!

Click here for the link

For the work of Newfrontiers, the family of churches led by Terry’s team, click here

To read about how 18th century church leader Jonathan Edwards would have been helped by having an Eldership Team click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Audio Message of the Month! Michael Green

‘Confidence in the Gospel’ by Michael Green

Michael Green

From time to time you hear a fantastic message. Something that is so inspiring and uplifting, challenging and energising! Something that you wish everyone could hear.

I’m going to introduce a new feature to The Church History Blog which, while not necessarily relating to history, will inspire you to make a difference in your world today.

I’m starting with a message delivered by Evangelist Michael Green at the 2010 European Leadership Forum, called ‘Confidence in the Gospel’.

It is a superb overview of answers to various objections to the Christian Faith which will not only equip you to know how to answer others but will also strengthen your own trust in our wonderful gospel!

If you’re anything like me, one of the immediate outcomes will be worship!

Enjoy! LISTEN HERE

 

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides