Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Written for the FIEC Website
A growing children’s work
Praying for Dornoch
Monday, January 16, 2017
Friday, January 06, 2017
Like many others the start of another January means the start of another read through of Genesis (six days in and so far so good. Honestly? I got to May last year before getting into major arrears).
Once again though, in those opening chapters of the Bible we see the foundations of humanity being laid out – its origin, its purpose, its potential, and its limitations. Man (i.e. Adam) stands upon the earth but he is alone – a situation that is first identified by God Himself as not being good (Gen 2:18). The solution we are told is that he needs ‘a helper suitable for him’.
The animals are paraded by but despite all their variety none of them can be what Adam needs – ‘no suitable helper was found’ (v19). So God provides Eve – someone of whom Adam can say, ‘This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ (v23). Eve is the ‘helper’ suitable for Adam.
But what exactly do we mean by ‘helper’ – after all such a title could be interpreted as being a little condescending – a bit ‘second fiddle’, a support act to the main event – the man! For me such thoughts arise thinking back to ‘helping’ my Dad do DIY – that is, me standing holding a packet of screws while my Dad did the important and interesting stuff like using the power drill. So is Eve (womankind) an afterthought of God’s – hastily put in place to provide an extra pair of hands. Well of course, if it was just about some extra manpower then some extra men would have sufficed.
Actually the title ‘helper’ tells us more about Adam than it does about Eve. So throughout the Bible ‘helper’ is a title given to God Himself, ‘The Lord is my helper’ (Heb 13:6); ‘The is with me; he is my helper.’ (Ps 118:7); ‘My father’s God was my helper’ (Ex 18:4). And let’s be clear that God is no-one’s sidekick or go-for.
You see in saying Adam needed a ‘helper’ – God is not so much commenting on Eve but making the point that Adam is not sufficient for the task He has been given. The issue being highlighted is Adam’s lack and incompleteness not Eve’s. Adam’s problem was that without Eve (and vice-versa) he could never have fulfilled humanity's calling and purpose.
Crucially, Eve is like Adam but different from him – equal but not the same. As John Piper put it you could write a list of all human attributes and two have columns against them, one for Adam and one for Eve, and put in the scores for both against those attributes. They might score differently on each individual attribute but the totals at the bottom of each column would be the same(i). Thus it’s only in male and female together that humanity is complete. Distinct but complementary.
The helper we all need
In the same way, to say God is your ‘helper’ – is not to claim superiority but to admit that you need help! It is to declare that I cannot be and do what I need to be and do solo – I’m just not up to that job alone. It means that if God isn’t your helper you’re doomed to fail and come up short in fulfilling the point of your existence.
Tragically just as pride and self-sufficiency created disharmony between the sexes it isolated men and women from God. So lives are lived dependent on ‘me’, my abilities, my good fortune, my self-belief – all of which is a very fragile basis for life and which leaves us hanging by nothing more than a thread of our own making.
So in 2017 you need a Helper – you need God. You need what only Jesus Christ can provide – a Saviour and Friend to enable God’s purpose and calling in your life to be fulfilled.
First published on CHRISTIAN TODAY
Andy Hunter introduces us to the ministry of FIEC (The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches) – a grouping of more than 550 churches across Great Britain.
It’s essential to have a vision for the gospel.
That is, a godly ambition to see the gospel of Jesus Christ flourish in our day and setting. That desire for better things and better times helps drive us on in making Jesus known and serving the church with the best of our energies.
It stops us from settling for second best and becoming complacent or even negligent in our Great Commission calling.
So we serve, we plan, we expend our energies, we invest our money, we go out, we speak up, we keep pressing forward. Why? Because we want to see people reached with gospel, become disciples and live for the glory of Christ.
Everyone agrees on that kind of vision and the need to be active if it’s to be realised. But equally we also know that to be achievable it needs to be broken down into bite sized parts.
Three Questions for Independent Churches
1. Does your vision include seeing the next generation of gospel workers being raised up and equipped for service in churches like yours? Would you want your next pastor to be well trained and have a genuine and tested call for such service?
2. Does your Vision include seeing gospel workers in churches like yours being well supported, cared for and in good fellowship with others in similar positions? Would you want pastors and leaders to have some of the pastoral back-up enjoyed by those in formal denominations?
3. Does your Vision include seeing unreached communities of Great Britain being evangelised and having their own gospel-centred churches? Would you want churches (like yours) to be encouraged in that task, and in the mission of church planting?
If the answer to those questions is ‘Yes’: what are you doing to make that Vision a reality rather than just a godly sentiment?
Is it even possible for an Independent Church to have such a vision? After all, how can a local church in the north of Scotland help a struggling pastor in Devon, or contribute to training an evangelist in Liverpool, or be assisting a church plant in Glasgow – and vice versa? It’s not feasible, is it? Isn’t Independency the poor relation of large centralised denomination when it comes to thinking big?
Well actually many Independent churches who have a big vision are actively making it happen. They’re involved in supporting hundreds of pastors across Britain, helping to raise up and train scores of men and women for gospel service, and enabling dozens of new church plants to become established. They do so by being part of FIEC – a family of more than 550 churches, who work in partnership to make possible what they simply couldn’t do alone.
It means that an Independent church of whatever size or locality can say, ‘We’re contributing to the care of gospel workers; supporting church revitalisation and church planting; providing guidance and training across the nation’.
Because of their FIEC affiliation a potential women’s worker is receiving financial support to go to Bible college, a sick pastor is getting care and practical help, a church plant is getting legal advice on its new Constitution, and a trainee pastor is learning how Independent churches govern themselves. These are just some of the ministries that simply wouldn’t exist were it not for the commitment of FIEC churches to turn a big vision into concrete reality.
Of course there are other ways to express such vision but for many Independent churches it is belonging to FIEC that enables them to realise a big vision for the nation.
What about your church?
Andy Hunter is the Scotland Director for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) and you can find out more about their work and ministry at fiec.org.uk