Theology on Fire – conference notes

October 5, 2007

As faithful evangelists we want to have a good grasp on theology. Here are Nathan’s notes from the Theology on Fire conference which he attended this year. It is hoped that by reading these notes you can get inspired by what the conference was all about.

Theology on Fire
Preaching the Living Word into the 21st Century
SMBC Biennial Preaching Conference – May 7-10, 2007

“This generation is profoundly Biblically illiterate”

“Good preaching is when God is central and not us” – Jenny Salt

“The preacher must also live what he believes – people need to see how he lives and do it”

Dr. Dale Ralph Davis

Joshua: Picking up Principles

– Joshua 21:43-45 Sums up everything so far.
– Usual OT pattern: Grace then demand for obedience
– Use the OT to interpret the OT (Josh 1; 7:21, 24-26)
– Accept the stress – Get the point of what the writer is saying. What’s his point? What’s he saying? (Joshua 2)
– Doctrinal bones covered with narrative flesh (See how to preach OT narrative).
– Go slow: Josh 3-4 – The writer wants us to savour the event, like eating a delicious dessert. We need to enjoy it and remember it. God’s finest works take time.
– Keep your eye on the odd God: God is the most interesting character of the Bible. He’s amazing! God surprises us, shocks us (eg. grace: salvation of von Ribbentroff, Hitler’s foreign minister “I’ll see you in heaven”). God does “insane” things to prove a point – that it’s his doing, that he does what we don’t do, that he does the impossible.
– Josh 5:11-12 God provides – be thankful even in the ordinary everyday things
– Josh 9:18-21 God’s people are sometimes called to live obediently and submissively amongst their own folly. Eg. don’t divorce even if your marriage was a mistake – stay obedient even amongst your own folly. Read the rest of this entry »

The Holy Spirit convicting the world of guilt

September 9, 2007


A light bulb flashed on for me during tonight’s sermon.

Previously I have felt a bit ashamed to speak too much about sin and guilt when presenting the gospel.  I have tended to want to major on “the positives” e.g.  adoption into God’s family, new life and eternal life.

Tonight’s sermon by Pastor John de Boer was titled “The Holy Spirit – Our Roommate”.
One of the points brought out was that the work of the Spirit is like a spotlight directed at Christ. One of the bible texts used was John 16: 8 – 11.

Unless I go away, the Counsellor (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

As I read “when He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement…”  it occurred to me that I have not seen the significance of exposing sin for what it is, or as I should have been seeing it.

There is a great temptation to play down the harsh offence of the cross, and make it more appealing.
This text shows that people can’t see their need for Christ till they are convicted of guilt.

The Bad News and the Good News (Gift of the Gospel – week 2)

September 1, 2007

…for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.
Romans 3:10-23
So What?
Looking in the mirror of scripture (James 1:22-24) what an ugly image we see reflected back. A miserable, mean, cruel, good hating creature that speaks evil, thinks evil and acts evilly in every way is before us, indeed is us. We are born in this state and without divine intervention in our lives this is the way we will be when we leave this life and face the good, righteous, just and holy God – a God who is angry with us for what we have done and who we have been all our lives (Psalm 7:11)

If you think you can make good with God by renovating your life, keeping the law to save yourself, then think again for you just read “ by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Indeed even if you could keep the law, which you can’t, you don’t and you won’t keep, you still owe God an eternal debt for all the times you broke His law in the past.

Your only hope, your only way to get right with God and avoid His judgment and punishment (Hell) is to have faith (v.22) in the sin offering, the sacrifice made by the one who is the revelation of God’s righteousness (perfect, holy and sinless) Jesus Christ. If you don’t enter the path to heaven by the door of complete faith in Jesus Christ’s person and atoning work and utter dependence on Him to make you righteous and good before God then you don’t enter the path to heaven at all. Jesus was emphatic “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Not a monk, not a minister, not anyone, no matter how nice they are, can get to heaven on their own merit.

Repent and believe in the sin offering. See your sin and your sinful condition for what it is – horrible and hateful to God, yourself and others around you. Stop trying to save yourself by being a better person. Turn to Jesus Christ and believe that He is who you need to pay for your sins and present you faultless before the just God of the universe. And then live. Live a life of thankful obedience to God’s word – listening to the voice of the Saviour, being empowered by the Holy Spirit and loved by God the Father. And have peace, hope and joy. Be eternally at peace with God, look forward in certain hope to eternal life with Him and being made like Him (1 John 3:1-3), and experience the joy of knowing that you possess more than all the money in the world could ever buy (Romans 8:18) – forgiveness and life.

A Walk in the Park

August 26, 2007

Arrived at the park today to find Daniel already in conversation with a lady Agalaia? sitting at a park bench. As I walked into the action, Daniel had opportunity to explain why we were meeting together in the park and what we were doing. This led to questions about her experience and knowledge of God, the Bible and Christianity and some lengthy discussion about whether she knew and cared about her sinful condition in relation to the Law of God.

She admitted she was sinful but thought it didn’t really matter that much because she wasn’t as bad as everybody else at which point we took the time to explain that Jesus said it did matter and that according to God’s standard a lustful look and a hateful thought are as bad before God as the acts of adultery and murder that can follow them.

She was sure that her asking for forgiveness each night would make her right with God and I asked her why she thought God would cancel her debt … if He’s a just God He can’t just ignore her sin and offence … just because she wanted Him too … she had no bargaining power with the God she had offended. I then explained that when a Christian prays, they have to acknowledge that they can only come to God “through Jesus” as their representative, acknowledging by faith that they need His righteousness and His payment for sins to be theirs. This seemed to sink in a little. I also explained that the fact that she prayed to God each night was of no use unless she came to the Father through faith in the Son … she might think she was praying to a God that would forgive her because “she wasn’t that bad” and they “were only little sins” but that to pray to a God in that way was only to pray to a God of her imagination. To pray to the holy, just and living God she needed to come through the person and work of Jesus. She accepted tracts and a Bible and seemed genuinely interested in hearing the gospel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Six Steps Update – week 3 – PRAY

August 21, 2007

question markWhat a great study today, once again. Texts were Titus 3:3-8, 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 and Acts 4:8-31. All about prayer in evangelism, God’s role in the person of the Holy Spirit and our role as announcers of the gospel.

We had a young christian in our group who missed last week’s study on the basics of the gospel, so we got into a few areas of fundamental doctrine. Lots and lots of questions, followed by our best efforts to explain things like election and the trinity, and how repentance is not a work that leads to our salvation but a response to what Jesus has done. Read the rest of this entry »

188 Hot Evangelism Links

August 20, 2007

Check out Monergism’s links on evangelism:


“God Loves You” Three Dangerous Words in Evangelism

August 4, 2007

I really want to get Christians thinking about how they present the gospel. I believe all Christians who really know the peace, safety, wonder and grace of a free and eternal salvation through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection will want to share this treasure and spread the good news with those they see walking on in ignorance around them. It is right and good and necessary to point others to Jesus, to warn them of their eternal danger and show them their spiritual state before God. As those who profess that Christ is sovereign or Lord over our lives and hearts I hope it is fair to assume that faithful representation of the gospel is as important an area of obedience and submission to His Lordship as are all other areas of life.

I am often discouraged and disappointed by the official and unofficial efforts of groups and individuals to evangelise using the trite cliché “God loves you”. Sounds innocuous enough at first reading. But I believe that this simple statement presents at worst a lie and at best a hopeful assertion based on little more than humanistic sentiment and a humanly contrived sense of how God “feels” towards all humanity or unknown individuals with no consideration for the infallible and open meaning of the words of Christ, the Bible.

God never asserts that he loves all men head for head in the Bible. John 3:16 cannot be interpreted in the light of its context to mean this. We really need to read what the Bible says, not what we want it to say.

If God is sovereign, King, Lord and first cause of all things then he is also sovereign over salvation. Will we have God to be sovereign over the whole universe including education and yet make him an impotent, unsatisfied dependent and weaker than human being when it comes to the crowning work of His cosmos in the salvation of His church in Christ?

Read the rest of this entry »

One of the world’s first female evangelists

June 13, 2007

In one conversation Jesus turns an outcast woman into a bold witness to his glory. Discover the principle of biblical evangelism in a sermon on John 4 v 27 – 42. This message was spoken by Fred van Hulst at The Branch earlier this year and it was something that I had never heard before. Get ready to be blown away as you discover the necessity of hearing Jesus in salvation. When I first heard this message I had to blog about it here. Now it is available to download and enjoy.

‘Right click’ and ‘save target as’.

Reformed Evangelism

June 8, 2007

The HighwayOn the weekend I found a great article that really helped me understand how reformed theology works in evangelism. I thought it showed very clearly how the reformed view of the atonement works with the free and universal offer of salvation. What follows is a summary of what I felt were the key points. To view the entire article please visit The Highway.

by Morton Smith

When we admit that we are unable to harmonize in our mind the limited atonement and the unlimited offer of the Gospel, we are not positioning that there is any inconsistency between the two. “The Gospel offer contains nothing that is not absolutely truthful. All who comply with its directions shall certainly be saved. If some will not comply the cause lies in themselves.
(Alternatively, if anyone does respond to the gospel in repentance and faith then the cause lies in God.)

How should we go about the task?

1. The first is that the Gospel message is about God. It is an announcement of who He is, His attributes, His standards and requirements for us. Involved in this, is also our relationship to Him as His creatures, made for His glory. As Packer says, “These truths are the foundation of theistic religion, and until they are grasped the rest of the Gospel message will seem neither cogent nor relevant. It is here, with the assertion of man’s complete and constant dependence on his creator, that the Christian story starts.

2. The second basic ingredient of the Gospel is the message about sin. Involved in this is the fact of our fall, and then our continuing in our guilty, filthy, and helpless state. Men need to be faced with the awfulness of sin, and to come to despair of any help in themselves. It is when they realize this that they are aware of the need of salvation. Packer emphasizes the fact that we need to bring men to a conviction of sin. He suggests three signs of true conviction. First it is an awareness of the wrong relationship with God. Second, there is a sense of guilt for particular wrongs done in the sight of God. Third, conviction includes conviction of sinfulness. It is a sense of one’s own corruption and perversity before God. Psalm 51 speaks of both the transgressions and the sinful nature (cf. vs. 4-6). In the Psalm the Psalmist confesses both as his own.

3. The third basic element of the Gospel is the message about what He has done. It is important for us in the presentation of the Gospel not to leave out either of these elements. It is necessary to point men to the person of Christ as the object of their trust, and also to that which He has done for them as the object of their faith. Jesus calls men to come unto Himself to receive rest from their labors (Matt. 11:28), and Paul points to faith in His blood as the means of our justification (Rom. 8:24-25).

4. The final element of the Gospel is the summons to faith and repentance. The demand of the Gospel is for both of these. On the one hand, it’s not sufficient just to turn from sin, or repent. On the other hand, it is not sufficient just to talk about faith in Christ without turning from one’s sin. Both are necessary. True saving faith involves Godly repentance. In this connection it is striking to see how often repentance is used as the primary word to call men in the Scriptures (cf. Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 17:30; II Tim. 2:25). Sad to say in our day and age this is all too often neglected. Packer says,
“Our task in evangelism is to reproduce as faithfully as possible the New Testament emphasis. To go beyond the New Testament or to distort its viewpoint or shift its stress, is always wrong. . . . ”

“The Gospel is not “believe that Christ died for everybody’s sins, and therefore for yours,” anymore than it is “believe that Christ died only for certain people’s sins, and so perhaps not for yours.” The Gospel is, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for sins, and now offers you himself as your Saviour.” This is the message which we are to take to the world. We have no business to ask them to put faith in any view of the extent of the atonement; our job is to point them to the living Christ, and summon them to trust in Him.

It is vital that we include an urgent and solemn offer. The case is made here that this is the only offer of grace that men shall have. There shall be no second chances after this life. “O children of the house of hell, close with the offer of adoption into God’s family! I beseech you to accept it, nay, I charge you to come out from among them this day, and enter into God’s family through Jesus Christ, under the pain of God’s eternal displeasure.

How does Reformed Evangelism differ from Arminian Evangelism?

First, the Arminians deduce from the offers and invitation of the Gospel that man has ability to respond. The Marrow-men, in contrast, asserted the distinction between what a man may, and ought to do, and what a man can, or will do. “They affirm God’s right to call and command, but also man’s sinful inability to repent and believe. None taught human depravity more clearly than Boston and the Erskines.”

A second difference is that the Marrow-men held with Reformed theology that the Holy Spirit is necessary to make the external call of the Gospel efficacious in the heart of men. The Arminian view is that there is sufficient grace given to all men.

The third difference is that Arminians set forth a universal atonement, whereas the Reformed view asserts that the atonement is designed only for the salvation of the elect. The Marrow-men “affirmed that while the Gospel offer expresses God’s revealed purpose to save all who believe on His Son, it does not express God’s unrevealed and sovereign will as it relates to election and the extent of the atonement. Although God’s secret will regulates all His dispensations towards its creatures, it forms no part of the rule either of our faith or of our duty. The unconverted are not called upon to believe that they are elected or that Christ died for them in particular.”

The fourth difference has to do with the love of God. The Arminians hold that God loves all men equally and alike. The Marrow-men affirmed that the universal expression of God’s benevolence and compassion contained in the Gospel offer was not the same as His electing love. If one tries to deal with the question of whether the doctrine of election excludes the free offer, the answer must be given that the Scriptures teach both the general invitations of the Gospel, and the particular and special work of Christ. God has not chosen to reveal clearly how both truths are consistent with each other. “A minister should preach a full, unfettered Gospel because God has commanded it to be preached to every creature. He has forbidden His ministers to exclude any man from his offer.”

The sole ground or warrant for man’s act, in offering pardon and salvation to their fellowman, is the authority and command of God in His Word. We have no other warrant than this; we need no other; and we should seek or desire none; but on this ground alone should consider ourselves not only warranted, but bound, to proclaim to our fellowman the good news of the kingdom, and to call upon them to come to Christ that they may be saved.

Christ died for sinners

June 6, 2007

After writing my previous post I did two “phrase limited” Google searches and this is what I found:
“Christ died for you” 31,100 results
“Christ died for sinners” 802 results

Obviously the message that “Christ died for you” is more emotional, personal, popular and appealing but its not biblically faithful. I just want to share what I found in the first Google results for “Christ died for sinners”:


Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption)

Limited Atonement is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, “for whose sins did Christ atone?” The Bible teaches that Christ died for those whom God gave him to save (John 17:9). Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28). Specifically, Christ died for the invisible Church — the sum total of all those who would ever rightly bear the name “Christian” (Ephesians 5:25).

This doctrine often finds many objections, mostly from those who think that Limited Atonement does damage to evangelism. We have already seen that Christ will not lose any that the father has given to him (John 6:37). Christ’s death was not a death of potential atonement for all people. Believing that Jesus’ death was a potential, symbolic atonement for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes Christ’s act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of specific sinners. Christ died to make holy the church. He did not atone for all men, because obviously all men are not saved. Evangelism is actually lifted up in this doctrine, for the evangelist may tell his congregation that Christ died for sinners, and that he will not lose any of those for whom he died!

Extract from, CRTA

A more detailed article can also be found on this subject at