Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The grand design of preaching

The word is called a hammer. Jer. 23:29. Every blow of the hammer is to fasten the nails of the building; so the preacher's words are to fasten you the more to Christ; they weaken themselves to strengthen and settle you. This is the grand design of preaching, no only for the enlightening, but for the establishing of souls; not only to guide them in the right way, but to keep them in it.
  -- Thomas Watson (from A Body of Divinity, pp. 1-2)

Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29 (ESV)

Image credit: "Thomas Watson (Puritan)" by Eugenio.Graziano - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 20 April 2015

I've never been to a mission before... or, have I?

Here's an excerpt from my latest prayer letter. See the whole thing, including pictures here!

Thank you for your prayers as I went on to my first College Mission. I had a great time with other college students and the local Christians at Gymea Anglican Church. I was able to participate in many evangelistic efforts with the church, and also learnt a few lessons I will remember for a long time.

I could tell you many things, but there is one lesson I really want to share with you. Before I went on the college mission, I was thinking that I had never been on any kind of mission and that made me feel quite nervous about the whole thing. Although I conceptually understood that the whole world was the mission field, for me, mission happened only in places like Pakistan, Peru, or at least somewhere in the Northern Territory. However, as I listened to many Christians at Gymea sharing their own experience of being marginalised at work or among friends because of their faith in Jesus, it dawned on me that Sydney was a mission field in a very real way. Sydney is a place where Jesus is not honoured and worshipped by many people, and there are plenty of people who are willing and capable of making evangelism difficult. I do not wish to minimise the unique challenges and greater difficulties overseas missionaries face. But it would be also wrong to think that Sydney is not a mission field. It is just a different mission field compared to one in Pakistan. It was as though the mission field has come home, rather than me going to a mission field.

One practical implication I realised is this. I should never assume a friendly reception of Christian message by the society in general. And they would not always warmly welcome the Christian living (of which evangelism is a part) that is a necessary consequence of the Christian message. Sometimes they may welcome our message and us, but by and large, the gospel message will be rejected and the gospel living will be scorned. And, that's okay. We are on a mission field! Oppositions are to be expected. In fact, it's only natural for people to reject the gospel. But the gospel is still powerful and saves everyone who believes. There is no other hope for the lost and dying people of Sydney than to hear that Jesus died and rose again to bring people home.

So, then. Shall we continue proclaiming that one Name that can save?