The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.
A friend's excellent dreadlocked Bishop says the Anglican church is in a 'perfect storm' and something HAS TO change or it'll all be over. It's a crisis but in a lovely English way no one likes to mention it.
In planting a church I have come to understand something very quickly. If the church is to grow people have to be saved and that will happen in two ways:
1. Through preaching the gospel, hearing the gospel and people receiving Jesus
2. Through people in my church (who are fantastic) thinking that this matters and, indeed, that nothing else is more important than encouraging people into the way of Jesus. It's all for me about making disciples who are able to make disciples of others and are passionate about doing it.
Tonight thirty of us start Following and fishing. I'm excited. Do pray. We're eating Lasagne...
A pal told me that he's just got a brilliant new Spiritual Director who is a Charismatic nun. It made me chuckle.
One person who may not I suspect have a Charismatic nun in this life is Dr Johnny Hunt of Woodstock Church in Georgia. He is a tub-thumping Baptist preacher who has more fire in him than all the clergy in the Church of England put together. You see he knows deep in his bones that those who are not yet saved (salvation has to be a 'saved from...' experience to have any true reality) are destined for eternal separation from Christ and torment in hell. I know some of you may be annihilationists but I have always thought whether you will be vapoured or tormented is something of a detail and neither sound that great. Hunt states that his life purpose is the preach the gospel and to take as many people to heaven with him as he can. He a barn-storming, fire-preaching, Bible shouting megaphone of a man. Love him. He's doing a pretty good job of his life mission too by all accounts.
Listen to his excellent story From the poolroom to the pulpit and it's here for the podcast (Sermon 11)
Here is your homework class....
For the preachers:
Ask yourself if the sermon you will preach next Sunday is likely to see anybody saved? Do you even desire that and believe that people will be (Spurgeon said expectancy is crucial)? Have you prayed and asked very specifically that people would be born again. When was the last time you called people to repentance and faith in Jesus not at some time in the future or through a ten week course but right in the here and now? In the 'kairos' moment rather than the 'chronos'. And when you preach, do you preach with the conviction that those who are listening's lives depend on it. Learn from how Hunt uses the truth of Scripture, his personal conversion story and listen to his fearlessness and catch a bit of it I pray. Learn from how he so clearly and powerfully presents the gospel from Romans- its stunning. Also pray for some courage and boldness that you might do the same.
Now for all my other readers. Some of you may be saved and some may not. Why not listen to this amazing testimony and when he prays at the end why don't you pray too. I did. I was born again again For some of you this might happen for the first time. And why not burn the talk on a CD and give it to a friend or neighbour or post it on your Facebook wall.
We've got to get on with it church. Time is running out.