Antinomian No More ~ Pastor Andrew

Growing up, I loved having my grandparents as next-door neighbours.  After school, I savoured having tea and cookies with Grandma before sauntering home.  I realized that if I spent enough time with them, I could delay my piano practice while enjoying some television and food.  Grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandchildren, and I revelled in this safety zone where the rules of home didn’t reach me. For many, the way we relate to God in the New Testament is akin to how a grandparent and grandchild enjoy their relationship: a lot of grace, no law. This ‘grandparent’ view of avoiding or disregarding any rules has a theological name: antinomianism.  To be antinomian is to be “against” (anti) “the law” (nomos). Today, most people live against the law.  For some, the rules don’t apply.  For others, they avoid the rules.  Another group filters rules through a grid of what they feel is okay but doesn’t stifle their lifestyle.  Still others just don’t care about rules – they were meant to be broken. Even Christians claim that they are “under grace and not under law.”  The Old Testament laws are seen as culturally irrelevant and therefore do not need to be followed. God is more like a grandparent – lovely to visit, but always soft and cushy when it comes to rules. The New Testament, however, does not free us from ethical demands.  Neither does it dismiss Old Testament laws because of a distance from the Ancient Israelite culture.  Rather, the commands of the New Testament often exceed the requirements of the Old.  “You have heard it was said to...

Father Knows Best ~ Gary Prickett

I know some of you like to guess which pastor is writing the e-bulletin so I apologize about giving the game away with a reference to a certain far away grandchild you may have heard of. Norah is undeniably cute and dear to my heart. Linda and I anticipate and appreciate our weekly Sunday Skype calls to stay in touch with our children Hannah and David, and marvel at the new tricks the amazing Norah picks up week to week. Did I mention she is cute? So cute, in fact, that we call her “Anorable”. Sadly, she is also undeniably human. Last Sunday we got to witness an eleven-month-old sized tantrum. As such things go, not too noteworthy, other than to completely affirm her humanity – the girl likes to get her way. And don’t we all? Our prickly pride causes us to bristle when we are told what we ought to do. More and more in our culture personal dignity is equated with autonomy, rather than that which is given us as children of God. This Sunday Pastor Andrew will be preaching from the challenging chapters dealing with family and personal sexuality, specifically chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus. We are in now in a long section of Leviticus referred to as “holiness codes” through which God lays out how the people of God ought to behave given they are his children. Please pray for us as pastors and teachers, and for yourselves, as God’s timeless Word ministers to our church. Chapter 18 starts with a short, but critically important preamble. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,...

Christ in the Old Testament ~ Pastor Andrew

For almost a decade, I studied French.  Three to five times a week over 10 years, I learned paradigms, vocabulary, songs, and skits.  When I was 24, I spent some time in Quebec on holidays and discovered that 10 years of language study had not made me conversant in French.  Rather, I felt like I was hacking the language to bits. I grew up studying the Bible in the same way as I learned French.  I knew the characters and events of the Bible in Sunday School. Friends and family taught me well, but I realize that there were significant gaps. Laws.  Genealogies.  Wars.  Ancient rituals.  Sacrifices. The Old Testament can feel quite daunting.  And some stories were selected and taught over and over.  David and Goliath.  Sampson.  Jesus calms the storm. I remember reading the Bible as a boy and thinking, “I don’t like the Old Testament.  It’s so complicated.  I don’t understand it.”  My dad encouraged me to press on and read more, but I didn’t have the tools to put the Bible together.  The accounts seemed disjointed, disconnected, and I didn’t know that I needed to put the Bible together as one grand history of redemption. The problem I faced was that I grew up reading the Old Testament with selected portions given to me, but no one ever helped me to put the entire Bible together.  We never talked about Ehud’s sword disappearing into the fat of Eglon or Jael putting a tent spike through Sisera’s head.  What would mom think if I brought home a picture of brains splattered across the page?!? The problem...

The Goal of Creation and the Goal of God ~ Pastor Andrew

What is the pinnacle of creation? Recently, I received a gift that had that infamous “some assembly required” sticker on the box.  For my enjoyment, my family had given me a patio set.  When I opened the package and began assembling each piece, I realized that there would be a few hours of work ahead of me. Slowly but surely, things took shape.  And when it was all said and done, I looked at my gift and was quite pleased.  It was done!  It was complete!  The cushions were on, everything was sturdy, and there were no left over pieces! But it wasn’t complete. When God created the heavens and the earth, there is this idea that on the sixth day, when God made man and woman, they were the pinnacle of creation.  Six days God created, and on the seventh day he rested.  So isn’t the high point, the final piece de resistance of creation humanity? I used to think that everything had built up to this moment – God making humanity in his own image, male and female.  But then it struck me: the goal of creation is never the completion or final piece de resistance, but something more profound: enjoyment and rest. When God created humanity, he made us to enjoy the pinnacle of his creative work and glory – the Sabbath.  This seventh day was to be one set apart, a day where God himself rested from his work and enjoyed his creation. Before humanity ever got to enjoy that Sabbath rest, we are told that they sinned.  They failed to enter into his rest. ...

What’s so Good about Good Friday? ~ Pastor Andrew

Have you ever stopped to consider how bizarre it is that we call this day “Good Friday”? As much as Christmas is wonderful, it can be confusing to see the good on this day. On the day of Christ’s birth, the night sky was lit bright with heaven’s praises.  Angels rejoiced.  Shepherds were filled with joy.  A mother pondered.  And glory shone around. On the day of Christ’s death, the day sky was dark with hell’s fury.  Death looked victorious.  An innocent man was tortured.  The guilty man went free.  And injustice seemed to abound. Judas exploited him.  People mocked him.  Soldiers beat him.  Pilate delivered him. But what people meant for evil, God did for good. Your good.  My good. On that Friday so long ago, God said “Good!” on the single worst day in human history.  And so, there is not one single day, nor week, month, year, not even a lifetime of suffering — not one pain, not one tear, not one loss, not one sorrow – over which God cannot say “Good!” for you in Christ Jesus. Today is good, even though we live in between the times.  We feel the sting of death.  We grieve over loss.  We lament at a world gone awry. But we do not lose heart.  We wait for a better day, a day where death has been swallowed up in victory, where death is defeated and laid in its grave, never to be seen again. Today, we say it is a “Good Friday” because in Christ Jesus there is hope for all who believe in God’s vindication and victory....

Christ, the Kingdom, and the Choice ~ Pastor Andrew

I remember reading this quote back in 2005 and still ponder it often: “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?”* This question might seem a little strange to us.  For Moses, it was a real test. Recently, I was reading through Exodus and came to the account of Israel’s worship of the golden calf.  God had delivered his people out of slavery and was taking them to a land of milk and honey.  He had just given Moses instructions on how to build the tabernacle, the place where he would draw near to his precious people.  And what did the people do?  Break the first two commandments that God had just given them. Moses heads up the mountain again to see if God might have mercy: “I will ascend to the Lord.  Perhaps I can make atonement for your sin” (Exod. 32:30).  Arriving in God’s presence, Moses pleads their case: “Now if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book” (Ex. 32:32).  Just as humanity had been blotted out in the days of Noah (Gen. 6:7), Moses offers his life in the place of rebellious Israel. The Lord’s response, however, is fascinating.  His Presence will not go with Israel into the...