A new Ephesians recording

I know I kinda suggested I would make one a week of these, and have failed dismally to do that.  But since we’re about to leave the summer break and re-enter term time and our series on Ephesians this Sunday at King’s Church, I figured it would be handy to make a new recording for people.

I’m afraid it’s my voice again, but the reading is from the New Living Translation which is a little more straightforward in terms of the language it uses (more phrase-for-phrase instead of word-for-word in translation philosophy).

Feel free to listen here, or download with the link and listen at your pleasure elsewhere.

[ca_audio url=”http://peteandemma.co.uk/public/Ephesians-NLT-PeterWilliams.mp3″ width=”500″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player” autoplay=”false”] Peter Williams (NLT)

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What does the Holy Spirit do?

I am an avid reader of the Pyromaniacs blog, it’s filled with carefully thought through and Biblically sound writing about a plethora of different issues. I find myself almost always in full agreement with them, except on the issue of the Holy Spirit.

The writers are firmly grounded cessationists, and one of their favourite topics of conversation is what is so terribly wrong with the charismatic movements. Now, I actually still find most of their writing on this topic completely sensible and reasonable, because most of the time they are tearing down the hopeless mess that is prosperity gospel and “signs and wonders” movements in the US. Thankfully not something that is a huge thing here in the UK, because on the whole that stuff is a mess of epic proportions.

A post has gone up today on the issue again and Frank has written up a very helpful list of affirmations of the work of the Spirit, along with his perspective on what the Spirit does not do. These are well worth pondering… (full post here: An Interview with Frank Turk)

I affirm that Reformation theology requires the personal action of God the Holy Spirit for the life of the Church.

I deny that this work necessarily includes speaking in tongues (as in Acts 2 as well as in so-called “private prayer languages”), healing the sick or raising the dead by explicit command, prophecy in the sense that Isaiah and John the Baptist were prophets, or any other “sign-and-wonder”-like exhibition. That is: I deny that these actions are necessary for the post-apostolic church to function as God intended.

I affirm that miracles happen today. No sense in prayer and believing in a sovereign God if he’s not going to ever be sovereign, right?

I deny that there is any man alive today who is gifted to perform miracles as Christ and the Apostles where gifted to perform miracles.

I affirm that God is utterly capable of, and completely willing, to demonstrate “signs and wonders” at any time, in any place, according to his good pleasure and for his great purpose.

I deny that this activity is common, normative, necessary, nor is it in the best interest of God’s people to been seen as common, normative and/or necessary. God in fact warns us against seeking signs rather than the thing signified repeatedly in the OT and NT.

I affirm the real presence of the Holy Spirit in the church of Jesus Christ as Jesus said He would be present in John 13-15.

I deny that this means that all believers or even all local churches will be equipped with apostles called and equipped as the 12 and Paul were called and equipped. A telling example is the role of apostles in delivering Scripture to the church.

I affirm that the normative working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church begins with conviction of sin and regeneration, and continues through sanctification, and through the outworking of personal gifts (e.g. – Gal 5:22-23, 1 Cor 13:4-7) for the edification of the (local) church.

I deny that explicitly-supernatural outworkings, or events the Bible calls “signs and wonders” (e.g. – Acts 2:1-11, Acts 3:3-7, Acts 5:1-11, Acts 9:32-35, etc.) are either normative or necessary for the on-going life of the church.

I affirm the uniqueness of the office of apostle in the founding of the church.

I deny the necessity of apostles for the on-going life of the church.

I affirm that leadership in the church is a task wholly-empowered by the Holy Spirit to men meeting the scriptural qualifications, and that the objectives of this leadership are wholly-defined by the Holy Spirit explicitly through Scripture and implicitly as the gifts of leaders are applied to a real people in a local church.

I deny that church leadership is like business leadership — that is, a system of techniques that have outcomes measurable by secular metrics of success — and further deny that merely-competent management processes yield the fruit of the Holy Spirit

If in that you can find me somehow relegating the Holy Spirit to something other than what the Bible says He does to us and through us and for us, then you can lay on with the side-eye regarding whether or not I think God the Spirit is necessary for the church.

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It’s been a very long time since I wrote anything on my blog, and so I have decided to pick up and move it all to a new website and test out some fancy new facebook integration.

I’m now posting from peteandemma.co.uk/blog and have every intention of actually doing something with the rest of the domain too, other than just having a neat e-mail address for me and emma!

Anyway, to the point…

At King’s Church Leicester we have just embarked on a journey through the book of Ephesians.  It’s a short but very dense and exciting book full of amazing truths.  To help myself to digest it carefully over the coming months I am planning on a quick read through of the book every week.  This only takes about 20 minutes or so, and to make my life even easier I have started to gather recordings of the book being read so I can listen to it as well.

So far I have a recording of myself reading it, and of Mark Loxton, and I plan on bugging more people to record it for me as time goes by.  I am gathering all of the recordings on the blog, you can find a permanent link to all of them (all available for instant listening online, or to download) here: Ephesians recordings

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Sheffield Fun

I know I said that I would update on my time here in Sheffield last night, but it turns out finding free time to sit down and write is quite tricky when you’re staying with friends!

After a busy day of thinking hard we got back to Iain and Liz’s last night to be told that we were going out to a Kurdish restaurant shortly for dinner. So after a brief sit down we were out again and at this wonderful little place which served fantastic Kurdish kebabs. I was absolutely stuffed by the time we finished eating and it was a real joy to meet the owner of the place, who is a good friend of Iain and Liz (hence why we went).

Then when we did get back for the evening, Iain and Liz went out to their home group and left me and Richard, who is also on the summer school and staying in the same place, to our own devices. This resulted in us having a long and winding discussion about all sorts of theological things (as if a working day full of Bible study wasn’t enough!), including predestination, the nature of God’s sovereignty, and the destiny of the Church.

Anyway, other than all the fun at my hosts house, we have been spending the last three days working our way slowly and carefully through the book of 1 Peter. I came expecting some specific training on preaching, but what we are actually doing as a group is careful study of the Bible, and that’s all. The day is broken up by lunch and a morning and afternoon coffee break, but the rest of the time we are simply reading a little bit and discussing it in detail, ironing out exactly what Peter was saying to the Church at the time, especially focusing on more difficult words and phrases in an attempt to fully understand accurately what Peter meant. Then some of our discussion is also focused on the question “how would you preach this?”.

It’s been an eye opening experience, and an immense amount of fun. In three days we’ve just managed to get to the start of 1 Peter chapter 4, and we might even manage to finish the book tomorrow (our last day here). I feel that my understanding of the book is clear, and I would be readily able to explain it to other people now which is excellent. More than that though, I feel that I have invested a week of my life into making great friendships with a group of likeminded people, with the express intention of understanding the Bible together. This has been such a wonderful experience, and the truths we have been studying have deeply effected me already, and I know will continue to long after this week is over. More than anything it has reawakened in me the desire to really properly study the scriptures, in particular with other people and not in isolation.

When I’m back in Leicester I really look forward to grabbing my friends and wrestling with scripture together with them.

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Summer school

Just a quick post to day that I’m currently in sheffield for the new frontiers preaching summer school. During the few days I’ll be up here we’re going to work through the book of 1 peter together, exploring what it means and how we might preach through it.

I’m posting this from my mobile whilst curled up in a very comfy bed, so that’s about all I have to say tonight, but I will borrow iain’s laptop tomorrow and write up something a little longer.

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Wonderful conversion

When I arrived back at our B&B on Saturday I put 5 live on for a bit just before we went to sleep, and was rather pleased to hear an interview with David Hamilton, a former loyalist paramilitary member from northern ireland who became a Christian.

The interview is fascinating and heartwarming, and you can listen to it here:

It begins just after 1:39.

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Mobilise Thursday Video

Had to sort this out in the morning because yesterday was a crazy long day and we didn’t get to sleep until around 3am, with no time to sort out the video editing.

Anyway, here it is, highlights from thursday:

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Mobilise Wednesday Video

Me and Aaron share our highlights from today.

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Mobilise Wednesday Morning

This morning was the first of the mobilise sessions, followed by the first set of mobilise seminars. For me there was a really clear theme running through those morning sessions of relying totally on God.

In the main session Tom Shaw spoke on John 5:16-18, sharing how we should do nothing without the father. Our attitude should be one of total humility, total acceptance of our inability to act on our own initiative. And from that position of humility and surrender we are then able to do what we see the father doing.We are able to follow and imitate him totally, not on our own initiative but following his.

Key to this is to take time to pause in our lives and observe. Lay aside time to rest in Gods presence and just listen and watch him to see what hes doing. I was massively challenged that my life is full of activity and busyness, and that I leave little room for just hanging out with God, seeking his will.

This theme was massively carried through to the seminar I went to on Biblical leadership. The essence of the seminar from Mike Betts was that true Biblical leadership is the act of responding and reacting to the promptings of God. Leadership should be reactive based on what God promises us and what he initiates in us, not proactive and from our own strength and desires.

Mike really helpfully encouraged each of us that one of the greatest challenges to aspiring leaders is that of being unknown and obscure. This is a challenge that we must wrestle with and overcome, because some who feel called to leadership will in fact remain obscure for most or perhaps all of their lives. Its up to God to decide if and when to initiate positions of leadership for us, and until that happens we simply need to trust in him.

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Mobilise Video Update Day 1

A quick video of reflections on day 1

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