|Posted by Pastor Jono on June 1, 2012 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
‘ It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.’ - Lamentations 3:22-23
We sing much about the ‘mercy’ and ‘faithfulness’ of God. Those two words are often found as a pair in Scripture. For example; Psalm 89:1 - “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” Other notable instances of this word pair teach us about God's mercy and faithfulness even when we are afflicted and chastened by God (Psalm 119:74-75) and even when we are committing spiritual adultery against God (Hosea 2:19-20).
Our God is a God of mercy! So often He does not give us what we deserve. Instead when we sin He draws us to repentance with lovingkindness. This 'mercy' and 'lovingkindness' (the same word in Hebrew) should not be taken for granted! We should recognise these attributes of God, praise Him and sing of His mercies forever!
Our God is also a God of faithfulness. He does not change. He is completely and totally dependable. We never question whether the sun will rise again the next morning we just know it will. We never question whether winter will follow summer, it just does. God who made the sun and the seasons is faithful in the same way. His mercies are new every morning. His compassions fail not. His faithfulness is constant whether summer or winter, seedtime or harvest. We can say to the Lord - Truly, great is Thy faithfulness!
- Pastor Jono
|Posted by Pastor Jono on September 30, 2011 at 4:55 PM||comments (0)|
We have had an exciting few months here at FBC. We are getting ready to send a 4x4 to Theresa (see picture) in Malawi for her mobile medical clinics in October along with medical and orphanage supplies. Then the church has also entered into an agreement to purchase a property. There are a few hurdles to get over to obtain resource consent so we are just praying that if God wants us there He will work out all the details and provide.
Strangely, in the Christian life it is always a dangerous time when we are being blessed greatly. Blessing in the form of material goods brings the danger of complacency and lukewarmness. The classic Biblical example is the Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14-22 who had the attitude of 'I am rich, and increased with goods and have need of nothing' and were reproved by the Lord for their apathy. We could consider Lot, David and Solomon as others who fell through the complacency material blessing led them into.
No matter how greatly we are blessed, as individuals or as a church, we should recognise the danger that comes with that blessing. Though we praise God for his goodness to us, let us keep our eyes on Lord, our thoughts on things above, and our satisfaction in Christ alone!
- Pastor Jono
|Posted by Pastor Jono on August 31, 2011 at 6:45 PM||comments (0)|
I was shocked, as I'm sure everyone was, to see the extent and magnitude of the riots in London last month. The last time that many fires were burning in London was the Blitz in WW2! Listening to the talkback radio as I drove around town it was interesting to hear the variety of reasons proposed for why such a thing was happening. To me, some were viable possibilities, others were plain ridiculous. It was sad that no one commented on the spiritual causes that are a huge factor in the riots. When I studied church history I read of a statistic that has a great bearing on why the riots occured. It was this:
Percentage of Britons attending church regularly (most Sundays) in 1900 = 95%
Percentage of Britons NOT attending church regularly in 2000 = 95%
This staggering reversal in a statistic that is symptomatic of spirituality in Britain has a great bearing on why the London riots took place. Society has ignored God at its own peril and is now paying the price. An entire generation has been raised to think they are nothing but an accident of blind evolution, not unique creations of a loving but lawgiving God. This generation was then taught their 'rights' enabled them to live without deferring to any authority - parental authority was undermined, teachers were hamstrung in their efforts to exercise authority and governmental authority such as the Police force is routinely ridiculed in the media and by their own liberal court system!
Victorian England certainly did not have all the answers but the Biblical balance clearly seen in the New Testament of grace and truth which 'came by Jesus Christ' does. The Apostle Paul wrote of the last days in 2 Timothy 3:2-4, "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God."
What we saw in London was a demonstration of the truth of Paul's prophecy, a generation in love with themselves, covetous to the point of incontinence in their greed, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Someone once said, "God puts bright lights in dark places" - now more than ever Christians need to be bright lights to redirect a selfish generation toward God and re-educate a brainwashed youth toward truth.
- Pastor Jono
|Posted by Pastor Jono on July 26, 2011 at 12:19 AM||comments (1)|
It was with sadness that I watched the documentary by Bryan Bruce entitled ‘Jesus: the cold case’. My sadness was caused by the extreme bias of the documentary and the knowledge that in the world we live in there would never be a chance to have the opposite side of the debate presented. The end result is that the New Zealand populace has been exposed to theological indoctrination and any open debate on the authenticity of the Bible will be squashed by the censorship of political correctness. If this was a court case it would be unjust and the gospels have been subjected to trials by kangaroo court with no chance of having a defence attorney speak on their behalf. It is hardly surprising that this so-called investigation presented to the TV One audience was so one-sided when we realise the presenter has authored a book by the same name which he will stand to make much money from after its free two hour advertorial!
For those free-thinkers out there who would like to hear from someone with a differing perspective from Bryan Bruce, I will discuss the documentary chapter by chapter and offer you some food for thought. For the sake of brevity I have left out footnotes but I can point out the sources for my information to anyone who cares to ask.
The documentary clearly is based on a foundational presupposed theological position. This position is usually called Theological Rationalism and/or Liberalism. This belief starts with the premise that the traditional Theistic view of an infinite and personal God is wrong and, simply put, there are no such things as miracles, angels, special creation as an act of God or anything supernatural (outside the normal events of everyday life). All the theologians Bryan Bruce interviewed hold this view. It would have been nice to have a truly unbiased, balanced inquiry interviewing people from a different perspective – an inquiry one might presume an ‘investigator’ would carry out! So when Lloyd Geering is asked about the account of an angel telling some of the disciples Jesus had risen from the dead, Mr Geering chortles and informs us that the mere mention of an angel therefore tells us that part of the story must be myth and was made up. This tells us Mr Geering has a presupposed belief that angels don’t exist. If Mr Geering wants to put God in a box and say He is incapable of creating or sending angels that is his business, but don’t pretend that he holds to an unbiased position and his testimony can be trusted as impartial. Doesn’t anyone stop to think that when the gospels were written many of these characters who are said to have seen angels were still alive and could have professed that to be a fabrication? Remember these are all devout Jews who lived by the 10 commandments, one of which states, “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. Those same individuals were told by Roman authorities to recant from their testimony of seeing a risen Jesus yet they refused knowing that this would lead to death at the claws of wild beasts in a Roman arena. Why die for what you know to be a lie? The documentary repeatedly tells us to believe that these same devout Jewish Christians allowed lies and fabrications to be added to the gospels in opposition to the direct commandment of the God they died for! In summary, the theological pre-supposition and conflict of interest of the presenter ought to be kept in mind as we watch the documentary – this is no unbiased ‘investigation’ and it is in fact deceiving and misleading to name it as such!
The Crime Scene
Lloyd Geering states the followers of Jesus had fled (I assume he believes that snippet of the Bible narrative where it says the 11 disciples fled after Jesus’ arrest). Regarding the crucifixion he then asks “Who was there that was there to record it?” The Bible record is that John, the writer of the Gospel of John, was there at the cross along with several of the women who were followers of Jesus (John 19:25-26). It is interesting that in re-enacting the alternative rendition that Jesus was nailed to an olive tree (a method used in mass crucifixions such as took place when Titus sacked Rome in AD70) the documentary shows several women there witnessing the event – a total contradiction to Geering’s belief. There is a typical pattern used by Theological Rationalism on display here: when a minor Bible event (the dispersion of the disciples – Matt. 26:56) can be used to cast doubt on a major Bible event (the crucifixion) then that is counted as supporting evidence for disproving the major event. You can’t have your cake and eat it too Mr Bruce! If the gospels are untrustworthy then you cannot use recorded minor events to disprove major events! I heard this trick used at least one other time when one expert declared that Jesus’ family were “embarrassed by his preaching” – alluding to Mark 6:3 which occurred early on in Jesus’ ministry. This scripture is apparently trustworthy in the eyes of the Rational Theologian because it can be used out of context to reinforce his view but the rest of the chapter 6 which tells us He preached that people should repent of their sins and then He healed many sick people, miraculously fed 5000 and walked on water is discounted because the said Theologian has put God in a Rationalism box where miracles don’t happen!
The location of the crucifixion is also analysed. However Mr Bruce doesn’t investigate the alternative site for Calvary/Golgotha called ‘Gordon’s Calvary’. Nor does he mention that in 2000 years erosion and human activity would have altered such a site significantly! I thought this was an investigation??
The Early Years of Jesus
The investigator first mentions that the dates of Jesus’ birth and death are questionable and this is certainly true. It must be remembered that the gospels never declared the birth of Jesus to be the year 1AD! The Gregorian calendar we use today was applied over 1500 years later. So blame Pope Gregory for any anomaly there, not the gospels.
Joseph is next to endure the Bryan Bruce Inquisition under the Chief Inquisitor John Shelby Spong, perhaps the most prolific author in the Rationalism camp. Bishop Spong says he doesn’t believe in a Theistic view of God which actually makes him more of a Buddhist than a Bishop! He claims Joseph was a fabricated character added later to fill out the story but is implied to have been much older than Mary and therefore did not have marital relations with her. He then mentions the Catholic doctrine that Mary was perpetually virginal. The Biblical narrative at no point implies Mary was perpetually virginal. Mary and Joseph are stated in the gospels to have gone on to have children of their own but it is agreed upon by Biblical scholars of all persuasions that Joseph probably died before the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Bishop Spong then states that Mary herself is a minor character, though not as minor as he makes out. He is right in general – however once again, there is no onus upon a Bible believer to deify Mary and make out she is a major character – that is a claim Catholic tradition makes, not the gospels.
The Dates of the Gospels
Bryan Bruce gives four sets of dates for the writing of the four gospels and claims that Biblical scholars have settled on those dates. In actual fact only those scholars who subscribe to Rationalism use Mr Bruce’s dates. Many other, just as credentialed scholars have earlier dates for the writing of the gospels. This is mainly because Rationalism as a foundational presupposition denies the possibility of predictive prophecy whereas other scholars have all the possibilities on the table including the possibility that God actually could know the future and choose to reveal it. Initially German Rationalism tried to date the gospels as written in the 2nd century and therefore not at all written by actual disciples of Jesus or companions of those disciples. The finding of the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls and other manuscripts such as the John Rylands Fragment of the gospel of John have forced the Rationalists to admit that the gospels were written in the 1st century.
Paul knew the major outline of the gospels as the scholar F.F. Bruce acknowledges “The outline of the gospel story as we can trace it in the writings of Paul agrees with the outline we find in the four gospels”. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because they record in a chronological way the ministry, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The gospel of John deals more with the teaching of Jesus and the personalities involved in the story.
There is some debate over who wrote the first gospel. The key to dating the gospels is Luke who in his prolegomena states that he used eyewitness accounts and earlier written accounts to compile his gospel. Given that Mark and Luke share so much in common, it seems reasonable Luke used Mark as one of his earlier written accounts. Luke subsequently wrote the book of Acts about the early church after the resurrection and ascension of Christ. Acts finishes with Paul in Rome and still preaching when we know Paul was martyred in AD67. This was a major event that would have been included in Acts if Luke had written after Paul’s death. So Acts and therefore the gospel of Luke were both written before AD67 and Mark was written before Luke. The premise presented by the documentary is that the gospels were written much later and embellished because there were no eyewitnesses when in fact that is demonstrably untrue. Luke writes as a historian, gathering sources and interviewing eyewitnesses as we read in Luke 1:1-4, Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
It is interesting that according to a personal acquaintance of mine who studied both history and theology at Auckland University, the History department regard Luke’s Gospel and Acts as historically accurate yet the Theology department (fundamentally Rationalist) regarded them as unreliable!
John writes in the letter of 1st John 1:1,3, That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life (JESUS); That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.
It sounds to me like the gospels were written by or dictated by eyewitnesses!
There is much I could write about some of the other points raised by the documentary but I don’t want to make this too long for a web post! Let me finish with the concluding point Bryan Bruce gave regarding the holocaust. This was shameful on the part of the so-called investigator. To taint the gospels with blame for the holocaust is totally unfounded. Simply put, there is no single verse of scripture to point to that would endorse the persecution or murder of Jews. In fact, I could point out a hundred verses and more that denounce such a thing as a great sin. Even if someone tried to say the gospels were altered to make the Jews look worse and Romans better, this is totally unproven. There are around 6000 surviving manuscripts of the gospels going all the way back to the 1st century and they agree to 99%. This means out of 100 words, 99 will be exactly the same in meaning and intent. You cannot find a first century portion of John’s gospel, such as the John Rylands fragment, which reads more than 1% differently from the same portion in a 10th century copy. To state that any gospel was edited over time is simply an unfounded and totally unproven theory. One would think an ‘investigator’ would have discovered such facts. Perhaps he should have interviewed or read up on some scholars who are more open-minded than those who would endorse his book he is trying to sell. Scholars such as:
- Dr. Norman Geisler Ph.D in Philosophy
- Dr. Thomas Arnold – Professor of modern history at Oxford
- Dr. F.F Bruce – Linguist and Professor of Biblical Criticism University of Manchester
- Dr. Josh McDowell – author of 77 books including bestseller ‘Evidence That Demands a Verdict’
- Dr. Peter Kreeft – Professor of Philosophy at Boston University
- Dr. John Montgomery – Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought at Patrick Henry College and human rights lawyer
- Dr. Gleason Archer – held degrees in law, classics, philosophy and theology from Suffolk University, Princeton, and Harvard
But then, this was never really intended to be a balanced investigation was it? If that is the case it should not have been presented as impartial and could at least have refrained from inaccuracies, false or misleading statements and especially slandering the gospels for leading to the holocaust!
I have books in my office written by Spong, Geering and others of a similar persuasion and have read such works but I guess I remain unconvinced and am still among the uneducated such as messrs. Geisler et al named above! The fundamental reason for my position as a believer in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is that I have decided because of the evidence I see around me that God cannot be put into a box that disallows Him the power to work miracles, the knowledge to foretell the future and the right to manifest His divinity in the form of Jesus and the Bible. I allowed for that possibility and with that open-mindedness have been subsequently convinced that the ‘historical Jesus’ is in fact the Biblical Jesus and I unashamedly own Him as my Saviour and my God.
Pastor Jonathan Millar
|Posted by Pastor Jono on June 14, 2011 at 9:29 PM||comments (2)|
"He hath done all things well; He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak." - Mark 7:37
This month through the various sermons we keep our 'Eyes on Christ'. If we carefully watch the Lord in the gospels we can clearly see all His amazing attributes. If we need particular instruction and tuition on any given Christian quality, we can find it perfectly demonstrated by our Lord.
Zeal, loyalty, love, mercy, longsuffering, righteousness, forgiveness, compassion, holiness and so much more. Jesus shows us how to express these emotions, live out these ideals, possess these qualities and reflect these attributes.
There is no greater Subject to preach, no worthier Person to present, no more arresting Object upon which to gaze than Jesus Christ, for, "He hath done all things well"
- Pastor Jono
|Posted by Pastor Jono on April 12, 2011 at 5:05 AM||comments (0)|
I remember hearing a message years ago entitled, 'The buzz of busy-ness' - the point being that the voice of God can be drowned out in the buzz of our busyness we can create around ourselves. It has certainly been a busy last month here at FBC but we must now be still for a moment and recognise what God has been doing in all of this activity. What a blessing to be able to send off our first missionary - Mother Theresa to Malawi. I am so encouraged to see so many people from our church, other independent Baptist churches in the country, and in the nursing and Zambian community supporting what God has called Theresa to do. We are excited and priviliged to be a part in this whole project. Theresa will be using her skills as a key part of a church planting ministry team in Malawi, Mozambique and perhaps further afield in south-eastern Africa. See our missions page for more info and the photo gallery for pics of the service.
God can be seen to be working in orchestrating the support for Theresa. It is such a joy to see the independent Baptist churches, independently working together (!) to further the Great Commission.
We also recently enjoyed the visit of Ben and Kerianne from the States who got to experience some Kiwi adventures and also could witness first hand various ministries here in NZ. Ben came along to our Father-Son campout and had a blast, shooting and eating the local wildlife. This campout is a brief wilderness experience for our fathers and sons to bond together with the preaching and teaching of God's word and team building exercises to practically apply the spiritual truths learned.
Also, I am so thankful for the servant-hearted folk who did such a great job looking after the church ministries so faithfully while my family and I had our annual vacation (thanks to the Savages for letting us stay at their beach house!).
Please be praying for the ministries coming up in the next three weeks: Christchurch follow up, Easter, Missions conference, teen camp, our AGM and a special meeting at Maranatha Baptist Church.
To God be the glory! - Pastor Jono
|Posted by Pastor Jono on March 6, 2011 at 1:59 PM||comments (2)|
We have arrived back safely after a a crazily busy week. In summary I estimate we must have knocked on a thousand doors in three suburbs offering help, distributed several thousand dollars worth of supplies we provided as well as the relief packages from the relief centre that were provided by other organisations. We passed out hundreds of litres of safe drinking water, and several large pots of hot soup were enthusiastically consumed by locals. Along with the physical supplies we passed out we also distributed over a thousand tracts and John & Romans booklets with every relief package or water bottle. And our church van has collected several million particles of fine liquefaction silt! You can see a short youtube clip of the video footage we took - the quality of some footage is poor due to the equipment being used, filming while driving, and the howling wind on some of the days!
Thank you to all the churches and individuals who supported this effort. For us, this was just stage 1. The church in Christchurch and other churches must now take up responsibility for the follow up work. There is still much to be done!
Thank you to the team who were such a blessing:
- Tim, Neels, Hannah and Serenity from Calvary Baptist in Auckland
- Pastor Piper, Rex, Trevor, John and Grant from Rotorua Bible Baptist Church
- Cameron and Pierre from Fellowship Baptist Church in Hamilton
- Pastor Grove, Stephen, and the soup makers from Victory Baptist Church in Ashburton
- Carly-Rose, Jason, Eric, Kimberly and Pastor Boersma from Christchurch Independent Baptist Church
There were many others who helped in printing tracts, packaging water bottles, lending shovels, and a thousand other ways. Thank you to all who helped play a part in this ministry to the people of Christchurch. Keep praying for the city!
|Posted by Pastor Jono on March 3, 2011 at 2:31 PM||comments (1)|
It is Friday and we are getting ready to leave, we just have a few more jobs to do for residents here to help an elderly couple then we will make our way back north.
It has been a long and tiring week but a great blessing to be able to demonstrate the love of Christ and let our light shine to the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).
Yesterday we had been working until nearly 6pm and were driving back to the relief centre when we passed an army truck passing out boxes of something we couldn't see. At the relief centre i was interviewed by a reporter from the press who told me that the Army were passing out thousands of chemical toilets. I told the reporter that on our first day working in Aranui Tim Cronin had knocked on the door of a man whose leg had been amputated, Keith, who was desperate for a chemical toilet. Tim even gave the reporter his address. We then left the relief centre, found the army truck again and Tim sweet talked the soldiers into giving us one. When we arrived back at Keith's house Tim wlaked in with the toilet and there was the reporter and photographer! Keith was very excited to see Tim with the toilet for him and was hugging him, the photographer was snapping pictures and wow, what a scene! Keith came out and thanked all of us, the reporter left and then we spent the next hour fixing Keith's roof and fence. Keith had read the tract we had given him and i was able to have a good conversation with him about the Lord and we left him smiling from ear to ear! That is just one small way in which we helped here in Christchurch and shared the love of Christ, practically and spiritually! And maybe you'll see some pictures of it in the Christchurch newspaper www.thepress.co.nz
Love to you all and God bless,
|Posted by Pastor Jono on March 2, 2011 at 4:55 AM||comments (1)|
It has been a crazy few days here in Christchurch! We had the amazing experience of leading a short service commemorating the 2 minute silence in Wainoni Park with around 300 people attending. Bro. Tim Cronin from Calvary Baptist Church led the singing of the national anthem, I did a Scripture reading from Psalm 23 and spoke briefly before Pastor Ron Boersma from Christchurch Independent Baptist Church led in prayer. It was a touching service and we had many opportunities to talk with local people afterward. Footage of the event was screened on TV3.
Tuesday night we served hot meals from the same park and passed out essential supplies and bottled water with gospel tracts that Marlborough Bible Baptist Church provided.
Wednesday we have been busy working with a relief centre based in Aranui Primary School. They packaged emergency supplies in a box or bucket and we systematically knocked on doors in the worst hit suburb we have seen so far, Buxley deliver them door to door to whoever was still home and needed them. Some houses are left with their doors open swinging in the wind, their possessions lying all over the floor inside. One house had the door ajar and when Carly-Rose Garner opened it to call out there was no back wall to the house, she was looking out onto their backyard! Some streets are so bad the van can't get down them. The big challenge today was the dust storms. Dust gets everywhere in the van, through your hair, in your eyes, in your ears etc. There is a little humour along with the situation here though - some residents on one street had come up with funny signs to put on their liquefaction piles outside their homes such as 'free landfill, bulk quantities available' or 'mount doom'.
Wednesday night we ran another soup kitchen from the relief centre we were working from today and then we had a prayer meeting with the people from Christchurch Independent Baptist Church at the same location because their building is now condemned.
Thank you for your prayers! We have survived the day because of them! I am having a great time ministering here but i must say, i miss my wife and family
Time for bed...
God bless, Pastor Jono
|Posted by Pastor Jono on February 28, 2011 at 4:28 AM||comments (1)|
After 16 hours of driving or being on the ferry we arrived at Christchurch this afternoon. Had a quick look around before heading to the prayer meeting i had arranged ahead of time for 6pm with several pastors and many other volunteers from around the country. We had a great brainstorming session and time of prayer. We have decided to begin our ministry with doorknocking in two suburbs that have been among the hardest hit but are the least financially equipped to deal with it.
Tomorrow there is a 2 minute silence being observed at 12:51 to mark the two minutes of the earthquake striking at 12:51 last Tuesday. We will visit homes in those suburbs inviting people to come and observe the silence at the local park where we will have a tent set up. Also on the invite will be an announcement that we have a team of people committed to helping in the area and to let us know what needs we can help with and we will do our best. From that same park we will be serving soup and having prayer meetings at 6pm every night. As the week progresses we will be working in the community each day and having prayer meetings in the evening.
Parts of the city are truly like a war zone. A lot of needs here but where to start? I believe this is the best way to start and we will see what the Lord does from here.
Thanks, and please pray for this startup effort tomorrow. How effective we will be in serving the Lord in this community will depend on tomorrow!!
I will try to get some video up tomorrow sometime!