Tag Archives: Gospel

Be a heretic and get past your fear

2769082212_296237de08Currently listening to Seth Godin’s ‘Tribes‘ on Audible and this quote hit me:

Dr. Laurence Peter is famous for proposing that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” In other words, when you do a great job, you get promoted. And that process repeats itself until finally you end up in a job you can’t handle.

I’d like to paraphrase the Peter Principle. I think what actually happens is that “in every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear.”

The essence of leadership is being aware of your fear (and seeing it in the people you wish to lead). No, it won’t go away, but awareness is the key to making progress.

He goes and says fear of failure is overrated! “What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism. … Fear of criticism is a powerful deterrent because the criticism doesn’t actually have to occur for the fear to set in.” After hearing or seeing others be criticised you hesitate and play it safe and escape the death that comes with criticism for coming up with something somebody didn’t like.

While Godin is talking leadership, I think there’s great insight to why Christians don’t seek to proselytize and do more evangelism. Oh sure, you may not be as successful as Billy Graham. But that’s not the real de-motivator. Will you be criticised for believing and saying something that somebody thinks is stupid / dumb / (fill in your own adjective here)?

Godin calls those who get past the fear of criticism, “heretics“. He defines them as “engaged, passionate, and more powerful and happier than anyone else.” They reach out to others and put their ideas on the line – they pin their 95 theses to the Church door.

Godin’s heretic has weighed up the cost of criticism versus the benefit to themselves and others of the idea they want to promote and decided that the criticism is worth it.

This seems to be what happens in the Gospels as the disciples listen to and watch Jesus. When Jesus explains that following him will invite ridicule, criticism and persecution they have to count the cost. In the Book of Acts the early Church figures this out and they decide the cost is worth it. In the eyes of first century Judaism and Rome they become heretics. Stephen is stoned to death, James is beheaded, Peter is imprisoned, and Polycarp (AD 130) is burnt at the stake. For 2000 years the blood of these martyred “heretics” has fueled the Church.

Will you count the cost of being a heretic to get past your fear of being criticised for sharing the gospel?

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Posted by on 17/07/2013 in discipleship


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An Embarrassment of Riches

How do we know that the New Testament has been reliably transmitted from the first century down to today? I lead a short seminar for HSC and Uni students today discussing this question in relation to the historicity of Jesus Christ. Some of the data, facts and figures on this topic are summarised in the below video by Dan Wallace.

Dan Wallace is Professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and a highly regarded scholar on ancient manuscripts.

Have you read the New Testament recently? Here’s a good place to start.

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Posted by on 10/12/2012 in Apologetics, Bible


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What is the gospel?

It’s good news and if you have just 4 minutes, this video will tell you exactly what it is.

HT: St Ebbe’s

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Posted by on 27/09/2012 in Evangelism, Gospel, Jesus


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The most terrifying thing about God is…

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Posted by on 22/11/2011 in Gospel


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How are you growing?

In a spiritual sense, as a Christian, how do you know if you or someone else is growing? For that matter, are you still growing or have you reached a plateau? What are the things you look for in your life to know whether it’s possible to grow any more or if it’s OK to not be growing?

A typical trajectory of Christian growth (as noted similarly by Andrew Hong) often looks something like:
New believers learn about Bible Stories, characters
Later: they study deeper doctrines, such as the trinity, predestination etc
Teacher: Then they get asked to lead a study, or have some regular involvement in a Sunday School or similar type of activity.
Leader: If they persist they might be asked to join a Committee or become a Coordinator of a Church ministry department.

At each stage, you acquire new skills and new information that need a kind of growth.

But, have you grown? Or have you instead, substituted information and skills for Spiritual growth?

In the region of ancient Galatia (near modern Turkey) some Christians in some Churches came to value external behaviour and theological knowledge more than internal Christ-like growth. This resulted in an elitism and exclusion of a sort that produced internal conflict and various expressions of arrogance in how they related to others that they didn’t consider to be on the same level.

After all, they reasoned, if you know more you must, of necessity, be more spiritual! To which the Apostle Paul replied, in the New Testament letter of Galatians – What a load of piffle! Well, actually he used much stronger language

You see, the idea that you can improve on the basics of the Christian gospel with superior knowledge or added religious behaviours was anathema. Paul considered it an abomination for any addition to the gospel, or anything that involved constructing a system that demanded people follow a particular process or behavioural code as the way to get God’s blessing and favour.

We don’t help God save us or change us. As soon as we do that, we despise and cancel out God’s grace and we are saying that Jesus died for no purpose whatsoever.

What’s all that got to do with growing?

Too often, too many defraud themselves by exchanging the life altering (& often painful) growth in holiness, Christ-likeness, and fruit of the Spirit for an educational experience. They are deceived into thinking that memorizing a few verses from the Bible or knowing a few fancy theological words somehow excuses them from a life of denying yourself and losing yourself to Christ and the gospel.

So, how are you growing?

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Posted by on 04/11/2011 in discipleship


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Mouthing Off

Paul describes those who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk as arrogant. Their arrogance is rooted in their firmly held belief (and the lifestyle that flows out of it) that God’s approval is given to them because of their outward behaviour – regardless of the true condition of their heart. They are keeping up appearances, maintaining the external illusion of peace, harmony and unity whilst inside are enemies of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

… the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power ~ 1 Corinthians 4:20

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” ~ Matthew 15:7-9

This is the place to address those who, having nothing of Christ but the name and sign, would yet be called Christians. How dare they boast of this sacred name? … The Apostle denies that any man truly has learned Christ who has not learned to put off “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on Christ,” (Eph. 4:22). They are convicted, therefore, of falsely and unjustly pretending a knowledge of Christ, whatever be the volubility and eloquence with which they can talk of the Gospel. Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and memory merely, like other branches of learning; but is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart. Let them, therefore, either cease to insult God, by boasting that they are what they are not, or let them show themselves not unworthy disciples of their divine Master. Calvin Institutes 3.6.4

The means to avoid this superficiality is provided in Jesus Christ through the gospel. As you deepen your delight in Christ, not in your performance and not in your ability to manage your external reputation, you move from “talk” to the “power of the kingdom of God.” Let him be your deepest delight and highest allegiance.

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Posted by on 06/09/2011 in discipleship, Gospel, Jesus


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Do you have all the answers?

‎”Jesus is asked 183 questions in the Gospels. He answers just three of them – and he asks 307 questions back.” (Don Everts and Doug Schaupp “I Once Was Lost” IVP, 2008)

Charles Stone also talks about the importance of a well placed question.

Good leaders ask good questions. What questions do you think are important? ;)

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Posted by on 04/08/2011 in leadership


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