The Difficult Road

Wendall Jones and Godfrey Eneas, hosts of The Platform, recently interviewed me and asked my opinion on some key theological and social issues. In this particular clip, Wendall Jones wants an answer for why it seems quite hard to be a Christian in our day. In my response, I attempt to demonstrate from the Scriptures that the difficult road should be the expected path for followers of Christ. We should not be deterred from this more difficult way given that this is the prescribed way for soul satisfaction and salvation.

Be Fervent

Below is the sermon audio & the sermon notes of Bryn MacPhail. “Be Fervent”, based on Acts 18:23-28, was preached at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk on October 31, 2010.

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It has been suggested from this pulpit in recent weeks that we ought not to pursue congregational growth. It has been suggested that we resist the inclination to follow a formula or strategy that is aimed at “growing” a congregation.

Instead, the challenge put forward has been to pursue that which advances our spiritual health.

The principle, or the reasoning, in play here is that healthy things grow.

Growth is not something we can manufacture. Growth is the natural course for something that is healthy.

Accordingly, if we want to see growth at the Kirk—if we want to see the expansion of the Kirk’s ministry in this community, our focus needs to be on our spiritual health.

Within this sermon series we have talked about some of the habits which will benefit our spiritual health. We’ve seen in the early church exemplary habits related to prayer, exemplary habits related to their study of the Scriptures, and how they gave priority to the Lord Jesus Christ in all things.

In our passage this morning, however, we don’t so much have a habit to engage in as we have a trait to pursue.

Following the example of Apollos, I submit that it is vital that every congregation, and every Christian, be marked by a discernable passion for the Lord Jesus Christ.

I realize that, as individuals, we have differing temperaments and personalities. Some of us are introverts, while others are extroverts. Some of us are extremely emotive, while others are as difficult to read as a professional poker player.

Nevertheless, relative to how God has wired us, there ought to be a discernable passion for the things of Christ.

Did you know that the Bible actually commands us to be zealous? Writing to the Romans, in chapter 12, verse 11, the apostle Paul gives the following imperative: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

So you see, fervency is not some optional add-on, but is fundamentally important to our health and effectiveness as a Christian, and as a local congregation.

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Be Desperate

Below is the sermon audio & the sermon notes of Bryn MacPhail. “Be Desperate”, based on Acts 17:22-31, was preached at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk on October 24, 2010.

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There were many religious people within the city of Athens in Paul’s day. And having observed the idols that they had crafted for themselves, Paul became provoked in his spirit, which compelled him to speak to these people about Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.

The people of Athens who heard Paul were, in turn, stirred by his teaching and requested Paul’s presence at their council meeting at a place known as Mars Hill (17:19).

As is often the case in Scripture, we do not have a verbatim account of the dialogue that took place that day, but we do have the highlight reel.

Contained within Paul’s message are concepts that are vital and relevant to our own understanding of the nature of God, and how we relate to Him.

Paul begins his sermon by commending the people of Athens for their attentiveness to the supernatural. Paul says, “I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining your objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD’” (17:22, 23).

Following this commendation, Paul makes a bold transition, “what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you” (17:23).

I do not regard Paul’s statement here to be at all harsh. The people of Athens, by their own profession, had a very ambiguous view of God. The people of Athens were unable to identify God in any particular way.

Paul then proceeds to use their own confession as his entry point to talk about the “Lord of heaven and earth” (17:24), and to talk about Jesus Christ, risen from the dead (17:31).

You could say that Paul’s method of evangelism was to scratch where the people itched. Paul began his message where the people were at. They believed in a god, but conceded that they were lacking information.

Every indication points to a similar dynamic prevailing today. Belief in God is the norm. Most statistical surveys have the percentage of atheists at less than 5%. I’m guessing that in The Bahamas that percentage would be even lower.

The vast majority of people in this world believe in God.

In The Bahamas, the vast majority of people believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Saviour of the world.

Could it be said, however, that there is often confusion over how our belief in God is supposed to affect our behaviour?

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