Spiritual Transformation!

Posted in Spiritual Formation, Transformation with tags , , on August 12, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

3 Times in the Scriptures, the word “Transformed” is used (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18; Phil 3:21). The word ‘Transformed’ in the Greek translated through to English is the word, ‘Metamorphosis’ and it means a change of form or a change of character. In the study of Biology, it means “a process of change in structure that results in a change of behaviour.” The same word is used to describe the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly in a cocoon.

God intends each of us to experience a spiritual transformation as radical as the physical transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly…and then some. When a caterpillar enters the cocoon, everything about the animal changes, except the heart. When we are saved, we enter into the process of sanctification = being conformed to the image of Christ. This transforming work includes and centers on the heart. Hence why Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us to, “Guard your heart, for out if it flows the wellspring of life”.

I think the reality is we will all be transformed to one degree or another. The question is, in whose image will we be transformed into? We all become who we are according to the image we consistently behold. Gen 1:26-27 tells us we are made in the image of God but because of Genesis 3 and our rebellion against God, we are inherently selfish and sinful beings. Hence why we need to be saved and experience the transforming work of Christ on the cross and the help of the Holy Spirit.  What image are we pre-occupied with – Self or Christ?

Colossians 3:10 “Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

I think one of the reasons why spiritual transformation breaks down is because we lack vision of what a Gospel-centered life looks like. Without a vision of life in obedience to the teachings of Jesus we settle for a vision of our selves in a fallen world. The culture around us makes it easy for us to be focused on our selves and not on Christ.

Every single one of us, apart from Christ, is addicted to ourselves and we need to be set free from our self-sufficiency. Spiritual transformation is not a ‘life enhancement’ project that helps you become a better you. Sanctification is the process of developing the life of Christ inside of you that can only be sustained by the work of the Spirit inside of you as well.

Be the Change!

Build on Biblical Truth!

Posted in Bible with tags , , , , on August 6, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Let’s look at what building the future on Biblical Truth looks like from a practical point of view.

It looks like Daily Bible ReadingPsa 119:11 “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Commit yourself to a regime of daily bible reading. The church I lead is currently reading through the bible in 90 days. The point of the exercise is to establish a personal habit of posturing oneself before God’s Word and be transformed by the renewing of our thinking. You are not a bad person if you miss a days bible reading but if your relationship with Christ is going to grow strong, then like any important relationship, you and I need to stay in regular contact.

It looks like Preaching through Books of the Bible – In the early days of my preaching I tended to preach series based on felt needs rather than through book after book of the bible. In some seasons of a church’s life it’s good to touch on evident needs within the congregation but there is nothing like letting the bible speak for itself as you unpack what God’s ideas are to us. For many months we have worked through the Book of Acts and just recently we worked through the Letter of James and titled the series “Real Christianity”. This pattern of preaching is going to be a more regular feature of my ministry.

It looks like Teaching God’s Word to your Children – If you are a parent, you will know the importance of instilling within your kids values that will help them in their lives as they grow. There is no more important value to instill than a love for God and his word. You can’t force a kid to love God but you can set an example to them, pray for them and teach the bible to them. After most evening meals in our house, the kids get their devotional bible and we read a short passage and then pray for each other. It’s fun and all 3 of my kids look forward to listening to the bible story and sharing prayer requests with each other.

It looks like Ordering your Church’s ministry by God’s Word – Paul said to Timothy in 1 Tim 3:14-15 “I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” I’ve observed church’s adopting philosophies of ministry that reflect more of a corporate business model then a biblical model. The Scriptures give us clear guidance on how we are to approach eldership and deacon roles and what the various elements of church life should emphasize and include. The latest book may be helpful but it cannot replace the divine authority of God’s Word. It’s Christ’s church and he wants it ordered according to his Word.

It looks like doing Theology in Community – Because of the individualistic emphasis in our culture many western Christians develop their theology in isolation, not in community. It is important to do the hard work of shaping your theology through reading and personal study but we must also ‘flesh out’ our theology in the real world of community. As we rub shoulders with each other and hear each other’s reflections and perspectives on Scripture, it helps us to gain clarity on our own theology. I don’t think God intended our theology to be clinical and only reserved for the classroom. It needs also to be applicable to our daily lives. For us we prayerfully teach, study and discuss the Scriptures in connect groups on a weekly basis.

It looks like Meditating, Memorizing and Obeying God’s Word – God’s Word must get into our thinking and into our hearts for it to be transformational in our lives. Hearing truth is good, obeying truth is better. One must lead to the other. James 1:25 “The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Lead the Change!

rawgospel.com & Podcasting!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 5, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

RawGospel.Com is a new website we are launching in the coming weeks that exists to share insights on biblical truth to help pastors, leaders and followers of Christ in their lives and ministries. It will be interactive and consist of daily blog posts from a coalition of elder-pastors, lists of helpful books we are reading, video interviews with special guests and updates on key training events, including a preaching seminar with Ps Allan Meyer in March 2011.

We will give you more information just before we launch the new website. Also….

All sermons preached at our church will be available to download via podcast (iTunes and our website) as of Monday 9th August. We will be uploading our “James – Real Christianity” series and recent sermons from “Building the Future” series. Buy an iPod or an iPhone and start listening to raw gospel preaching. Otherwise you can listen to these messages via our website http://www.activatechurch.com

BE the Change!

Build the Future on God’s Word!

Posted in Bible with tags , , , on August 5, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

In our current teaching series on ‘Building the Future’ we are exploring what we are building the future upon. The first and foremost core value we are building the future upon is Biblical Truth. We are building the future on the truth of God’s Word, not the latest trend and technique. We are not building the future upon the popular ideology of the culture but a devotion to studying and living the truth.

In Matthew 7 Jesus contrasts the man who built his house upon the sand and the man who built his house upon the rock. Both men heard the words of Jesus but only one put them into action. When the wind and waves blew against the house, the substance or lack of obedience was revealed.

When we hear and obey the truth our lives are built on the rock of God’s Word and no matter what circumstances come, we are able to endure by faith, like a good servant of Jesus Christ (1 Tim 4).

We are building the future on Verbal Plenary Inspiration meaning every word in the original writings is absolute and inspired by the Holy Spirit, therefore making the Scriptures inerrant (meaning, it can’t be wrong).

How much authority does God’s Word have in your life? Do you presently have a hunger for the truth that sets you free from your addiction to your self-sufficiency? Does your heart wrestle over certain passages or do you just ignore them, because they’re too hard? You can only call yourself a follower of Christ if you are actually following Christ?

Tomorrow we will explore what building the future on Gods Word looks like.

BE the Change!

Preach the Word!

Posted in Preaching with tags , , , , on August 4, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

The Apostle Paul warned his protege Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“The time is coming when people will not endure sound (healthy) teaching, but having itching ears (yearning for novelty) they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth (Scriptures) and wander off into myths.”

I would suggest to you that we are living in these times that Paul is describing to Timothy. There are more conferences, books, churches and preachers and yet there seems to be more deception than ever before. You could liken some of our generation to the false teachers in Ephesus who were “always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”

How is it that we have become so deceived? Amongst other reasons, could it simply be that the RAW Gospel of Jesus Christ just isn’t ‘sexy’ enough for us anymore. 1 Cor 1:18 tells us that the “word of the cross is ‘folly’ to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” Repentance from sin and dying to self is utter foolishness to people who are perishing but to those whose hearts and minds have been illuminated with truth, it is pure and powerful.

Paul says in Romans 1:16For 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.” Paul wasn’t ashamed of the gospel, even though he knew it would be ridiculed and distorted by false teachers to accommodate the popular ideology of the day.

The only reasonable, rational and biblical response to such a time as this is 2 Tim 4:2 “Preach the Word, in season and out of season.” The phrase, “Preach the Word” refers to the Gospel, not just in the evangelistic sense but in the whole counsel of God sense that points us to Jesus Christ. The Gospel is outlined for us in 1 Cor 15:1-3 summarised as, “Jesus died, Jesus was buried and Jesus rose again.” Why is the Gospel so powerful because it bridges the gap between man’s sinfulness and God’s righteousness.

Romans 10:14-17 reminds us, “How will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’…So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”

St Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” I think many Christians have taken this as being their sole approach to evangelism and ignored Romans 10:14-17. Our actions and example are important and we are to be salt and light in the world we live in but sooner or later we need to open our mouths and declare the truth of the Gospel if ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.’

Lead the Change!

Current trend of Preaching!

Posted in Preaching with tags , , on August 3, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

I recognize that my voice isn’t the only voice in the Church today and that there are many dedicated pastors and preachers faithfully serving God and preaching the Gospel but as I have travelled and preached in many churches, conferences, bible colleges, seminars, small groups and events of all shapes and sizes across Australia and overseas, I have observed some alarming trends regarding contemporary preaching.

Unfortunately, the current trend of preaching today has spiraled down to accommodate plural culture. It seems to me that the ‘Sacred Desk’ has been replaced by the ‘Therapy Couch’. Do preachers have to be more like Dr Phil than they do Charles Spurgeon in this day and age?

It seems like we no longer have voices crying out in the wilderness but what we have are many voices clamoring for people’s attention and willing to dilute the gospel message to make it palatable to the masses. I’m finding the more I preach the Gospel, the more people respond 1 of 2 ways: They either repent of sin and follow Christ or they reject the Gospel and stay addicted to their self-sufficiency. The same happened in Jesus day – some responded in faith and some walked away because it was too hard.

Too much preaching is triumphalistic and conceals the reality of suffering when you follow Christ. Ephesians 1 emphasizes the spiritual blessings we have in Jesus Christ but Paul gives the other side of the story to Timothy in 2 Tim 3:12 when he said, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.” None of us wants to be persecuted or suffer for our faith in Christ but there will be times when suffering accompanies following Christ and we have to be willing to tell people the whole story.

Preaching today suffers from a lack of confidence in God’s Word. Their has been so much critique of God’s word that preachers are afraid to declare their position on certain texts and hesitate to call people to stand firm on God’s Word.

Preaching today suffers from embarrassment before controversial bible texts. We preachers get awkward around certain texts in light of pop culture and try to explain them away as being cultural and not literal for our day and age.

Preaching today suffers from the emptying of biblical content. Stories, humour and creative elements are good and helpful but it seems like entertainment is more important than salvation or sanctification. I know of some pastors who think that keeping their sermons light on biblical content but heavy on stories and fun is what people want. I’m all for laughs and drama but at the end of the day, it’s not what people want, it’s what they need. What they need is to be transformed by God’s Word.

Preaching today suffers from a focus on felt needs. More and more sermons are focused on giving you the 3 steps (all starting with the same letter) to getting ahead in your career or improving your financial situation then it is on the Gospel.

Preaching today suffers from an absence of the gospel. I’m not talking about the Gospel only in an evangelistic sense but in the whole counsel of God sense. All Gospel preaching should point us toward Christ and be Christologically centered. Genesis 1:1 introduces us to God and Revelation 22:21 introduces us to the hero of the bible JESUS CHRIST!

Lead the Change!

Unhelpful Fruits of Postmodernism

Posted in apologetics with tags on August 2, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

There are 5 unhelpful fruits that postmodernism has produced. They are:

  1. Death of the META-NARRATIVE = Postmodernism puts to death any ultimate truth. The bible is the ultimate universal truth, which includes: Creation, fall of mankind, redemption of sinners and promise of eternal life for the saved or death for the unsaved.
  2. Demise of the TEXT = If meta-narratives are dead then the bible is dead. Because the bible represents a threat to feminists, liberationists and the homosexual community then the truth of the bible must be deconstructed  to fit their ideology.
  3. Dominated by THERAPY = Categorising some human behaviour as SIN is rejected as oppressive and harmful to self-esteem. We want people to feel good about themselves’ and sign up to the kingdom of God without repenting of their sin.
  4. Decline of AUTHORITY = All authority is to be rejected as oppressive and limiting self-expression. Preaching is tolerated as long as it doesn’t inject divine authority into it and preachers are to be more like Dr Phil and Oprah than the Apostle Paul or John the Baptist.
  5. Displacement of Morality = Postmodernism not only permits but celebrates alternative lifestyles. There is a reversal of morals that has taken place.

Tomorrow we will explore how some contemporary preaching is accommodating postmodern culture rather than challenging it.

Lead the Change!