Last week the Spurgeon Fellowship met again at Western Seminary. (For those of you who are new to this blog, the Spurgeon Fellowship is the brain child of Dr. Art Azurdia, the ministry professor at Western Seminary. 3-4 times a year several hundred preachers (all men) gather in the Western chapel to hear outstanding preachers and theologians both encourage and challenge the preachers.
For this session of the SF, Dr. Mike Jones was the speaker. Jones is a Western grad and has been the pastor of the Independent Bible Church in Port Angeles, WA for perhaps some thirty years. He is the most frequent repeat speaker that they have at the Spurgeon Fellowship and after hearing him I can see why.
Jones is well spoken, thoughtful and insightful. He is able to both challenge and encourage at the same time.
His theme last week was the power of the Gospel. He spoke to the problem that too often, while we believe firmly that the gospel is sufficient to save men & women, we do not behave as if we truly believe that the Gospel will change people We are too quick to push people into all sorts of therapy, as if therapy is more powerful than the Gospel. He says we are too quick to jump to a Plan B (which he calls horizontal methodologies) if change is not spontaneous. In doing so we imply that the gospel is actually weak and to that degree we are ashamed of it.
The theme of his two presentations was: The same Gospel that saves us is the Gospel that transforms us.
He then spent almost an hour exegeting Romans 1:16-17:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Jones noted that we live in an age of horizontal resolution. The apostle Paul states: “I tried those and they don’t work.”
Three things that trip us up in how we are to live:
- John 13:34-35
- Acceptance –I withhold judgment from you but will assist you
- Rom 15.7
- Marrying someone does not give you permission to change them.
- Forgiveness-I assume a burden that they are never able to pay. My forgiveness from God cost him everything.
- Eph 4.32
- Jones showed a powerful documentary on the power of the Gospel in bring forgiveness between the Tutsis and Hutus of Rwanda after the mass slaughter that took place there a few years ago. It was entitled “As We Forgive” and is based on a book by Catherine Claire Larson, which is based on a PBS documentary of the same name. It was not a “cheap” humanistic forgiveness, but one that was real, costly and absolutely necessary. (The trailer for the documentary is found here.) The clip is too long to use in the normal Sunday sermon (I believe), but is extremely powerful It would be interesting to know if he has used it as his church).
Most of us believe that God is powerful enough to save us. But…
- Is the Gospel strong enough to enable us to forgive?
- Is the Gospel strong enough to believe that it can change me/someone else?
It was indeed a powerful presentation. Western Seminary is fairly slow about getting their presentations up on the web, but they eventually do. So when this one comes up, I will give you a heads up, It is an important one to listen to.