Posts Categorized: God

Commit Fewer Abominations

I’ll readily admit that, from time-to-time, Dr Lloyd-Jones was a little too trigger-happy with his use of the word ‘abomination’. (Few would agree that collecting illustrations on index cards for use in sermons is truly abominable.) But his resolute determination to live and preach and pastor as though God is real is often the underlying motive behind his strong language. He had no time for methods in ministry that were more reliant on human ingenuity than any dependence on God to act.

This is a Biblical concern. Just before Ezra makes the vast and dangerous journey back to Israel from Exile with his companions and resources to start the rebuilding we read this:

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Ezra 8.21–23

Ezra tells Artaxerxes he doesn’t need his protection, and he does so as a statement of faith and confidence in God.

This impulse is seen in many stories in the Bible — the resolute desire not to rely on men but to prove God by taking a decision in which, if he doesn’t act, failure is certain.

If I had to articulate one hope for Grace London it would be something down these lines. A passionate desire to demonstrate that God is true to his word, that his gospel works, and that it’s enough. There are few things that dismay me more than churches where the fruit is so explainable to a watching world. I’m not sure God is glorified when churches grow through our clever marketing, entertainment, and watered-down gospel-lite. Perhaps this really is an abomination to God.

Anyway, I attempted to explain a little more of this last Sunday and the summary of the message is here.

God chooses the weak

At times you can feel painfully aware of your inadequacies and weaknesses. In facing the prospect of church planting, I feel that now more than ever. It’s because of my awareness of everything that could go wrong, and of all that we lack. It’s knowing that Jesus was right when he said, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing‘. It’s also because of a keen awareness of all the fake success that churches can enjoy, which is little more than wood, hay and stubble.

This paragraph leaped out at me as I read Jim Hamilton’s outstanding little book, What is Biblical Theology?:

“In the mystery of his wisdom, God chooses mostly weak and insignificant people as his own. He wants no humans boasting (1 Cor. 1.29), and he wants us relying on him, not ourselves (2 Cor. 1.9). When God sets out to make a great nation of one man’s descendants, he starts with a man whose wife is barren. When he wants to choose a king, he picks a young boy whose own father didn’t think he would be king, and so when the prophet comes to anoint one of his sons, Jesse doesn’t summon David until Samuel has passed over David’s older brothers (1 Sam. 16.10-11). When God wants to save the world, he sends his Son to become a baby, born to a peasant girl in questionable circumstances, and he sends him not to a great world capital but to a small town in Galilee. It’s almost as though God repeatedly gives a head start to the opponent who will never outrun him.”

There is sweet comfort in knowing that our weakness actually qualifies us for service.