Thursday, 28 April 2011

What Theological or Pastoral Questions do you Have?

I have noticed on the statistics of my blog that there around 500-800 hits each month and people view from the USA to Russia, and from Sweden to Australia. This blog is small compared to many, but it tells me that there is a real interest from some people for some serious answers to theological questions.

If there is a specific theological or pastoral question that you would like an answer to, then post your question to this blog post and I will do my best to answer them. If not, I will continue to plod on, doing my best to see the 'ancient paths' of biblical and reformed theology recovered.

Kevin Bidwell

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Preaching that is Contemporary!

Within evangelical and reformed circles there appears to be the usage of the word 'contemporary', as a broad umbrella term, to express the desire for the evangelical and reformed church to move forward, advance, and to see real growth. These may be noble aims, provided that they remain anchored in sound theology. We must not become contemporary at the expense of Scriptural commands. In this discussion I think that 2 Corinthians 4:5 can help us all. What does it say?

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.

Firstly, Paul says that we 'proclaim', that is 'we preach'. Preaching is propositional, it is declaratory, it is not intended to simply stimulate discussion. Now let us think for a moment. Postmodern man does not like preaching, in fact, sinful man hates preaching because it is God's method and it confronts sinful man with God's claims to repent and believe in the gospel. Sadly, I see moves toward downplaying the necessity of preaching in the advance of the church. The word preaching is often replaced with 'speaking', 'giving a talk' or even 'sharing'. This attitude belies a theological downgrade. The apostles Paul and Peter, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley and Whitefield were all preachers: and so must we be, that is those who are called to this office.

Secondly, I hear in some men's preaching, a desire to be contemporary communicators and the way they set out to achieve this is by using a particular style to keep the congregations attention. They read a passage, then they give a bite-sized 'gospel explanation' followed by a story, often about themselves, then a bit more Bible explanation, followed by another relevant story about themselves. What is the problem? Paul states firmly: For what we proclaim is not ourselves!

This trendy method is seriously flawed because in an attempt to be a good communicator, it has ended up exalting the preacher with the many illustrations of himself. For those who would like to read further on this matter: Martin Lloyd-Jones, Sermon on Romans 1:9, For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son.

Thirdly, our message should be filled with truth concerning Jesus Christ our Lord: He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. The Lord Jesus Christ should be the beginning, end and the thread throughout our sermons. If we want illustrations, then why not search the Scriptures for illustration material, but avoid mentioning yourself often, in the sermon. We dare not draw the minds and hearts of worshippers away from Christ to ourselves! Let all those of us who are preachers, examine ourselves and consider 2 Cor. 4:5, in order to reform our preaching according to the pattern of Scripture.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sheffield Presbyterian Church (April 2011 Update)

In Sheffield Presbyterian Church we have now been conducting our public worship services on the Lord's Day for over 6 months, and Lord willing, on Easter Sunday, Rev. Brian Norton of Durham Presbyterian Church will be leading the worship and receiving the initial membership of the church. He will also administer our first Lord's Supper, as this new church plant will be constituted. What a joyful day we hope that this will be!

At a time when there is much bad news and spiritual decline, we rejoice in the grace of God and the work of God in this church plant. Many people testify that their spiritual needs are being met, as they are being fed on a diet of 'straight down the line worship (without entertainment)' and carefully prepared exegetical sermons.

Check out our website You are welcome to come and join us for worship. Above all, let us join together in praying for an evangelical awakening in England!

Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:3).