Not resourcing the devout: raising the dead

Let me try out a couple of statements on you: Church is God's mission strategy for the world. Agree? Sure you do. Ok, what about this one - straight out of Romans 10: Preaching is God's normal means for converting the

Tweets Together

C S Lewis on the meaning of gender. (Perelandra, p.253)— Sam Allberry ن (@SamAllberry) February 18, 2015 Talking snakes is one thing. Talking slime is really something else. Talking slime

Dying to Live

Dev Menon's ascension sermon is the stuff of legend but these two Easter sermons from 2014 are equally rich feasts. Dev paints in such bold biblical colours - showing as the fleetingness of life, the horrors of death and the

Podcast: The Power of Words in Season

Sometimes just a sentence can change an eternity. This is one more way that ordinary evangelism can be "power" evangelism. SUBSCRIBE DOWNLOAD

Titus 2:1-10 sermon

The Good News produces the Good Life The Good Life makes the Good News look Good. SCRIPT DOWNLOAD

Tweets for my sweets

Top this people “@samcallard: Been enjoying @321Gospel on top of Cadair Idris #casual #LivingTheDream @glenscrivener”— Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) January 31, 2015 Some preaching

Little child, for you

On Sunday we are having Ruby baptised. Here are some reasons why 1. Because we are children of Abraham so we treat our children the way he treated his (Genesis 17). 2. Because the New Testament never retracts 2000 years

Daniel 5 Sermon

The Writing is on the Wall SCRIPT DOWNLOAD

Not resourcing the devout: raising the dead

Posted on by Glen in evangelism, pastoral theology, preaching | 2 Comments

Luther Preaching

Let me try out a couple of statements on you:

Church is God’s mission strategy for the world.

Agree? Sure you do. Ok, what about this one – straight out of Romans 10:

Preaching is God’s normal means for converting the lost.

Cool with that? Good!

So then, let’s put these truths together, and let’s say:

The Sunday sermon is absolutely central to our evangelistic task.

In other words, if we want to help our churches be evangelistic, the pulpit should be at the forefront of our thinking and practice.

I suggest that, often, this isn’t the case because we think of Sunday preaching as “resourcing the devout” rather than “raising the dead.” In this situation preaching is aimed squarely at “the saints” with the emphasis on saints (and not sinners). Preaching here easily becomes an explanation of our requisite beliefs and duties as Christians (plus some motivational prompts, perhaps). In other words our preaching is law.

Result? The congregation feels burdened, the Christians feel like church has nothing to say to their friends and if non-Christians find their way in they feel like it’s not for them. Perhaps even deeper than all this, the Christians go away feeling that the good news aint so good, that they need to try harder at this Christian caper and that therefore they’re not free to go out into the world because maybe this week their real job is to maintain their position on the holiness perch. All of this is deadly to evangelism – whether or not non-Christians are present on a Sunday!

How should we react to this? Well evangelism must spring from a deep love and appreciation for the evangel. So let’s think more deeply about the  gospel – we’ll go back to basics:

We are born in Adam according to the flesh.

We are born again in Christ by the Spirit.

Until Christ’s return we have Adam’s flesh and Christ’s Spirit.

We are in Adam by nature and in Christ by grace.

We know our Adamic reality by sight and our Christian identity by faith.

These are the realities behind the truth that we are simultaneously righteous and a sinner.

 These twin realities remain with us until Christ’s return – we will live with these tensions all our lives.

Certainly we must proclaim that Christ is stronger than Adam; the Spirit is stronger than the flesh; our righteousness determines us not our sin; grace triumphs over nature; we walk by faith not sight; etc; etc.

But even though God’s grace in Christ far exceeds our sinful nature in Adam, the tension is not obliterated in this age.

Therefore I can still be called a sinner, I still have flesh, I’m still an offspring of Adam.

My Christian identity comes to me while I remain in Adam.

All of this upholds the vital truth that God’s justifies the wicked. (Romans 4:5)

As Luther says:

– Martin Luther (Luther, WA, 1.183ff).

Since this is so, here’s what follows…

God’s grace meets us in our sinful natures.

God addresses us as sinners in Adam even as He calls us righteous in Christ.

In ourselves we have sin, only in Christ do we have righteousness.

We are called, therefore, to live not by possession but by gift.

That gift comes to us by the Spirit in the Word.


Preaching means addressing sinners and proclaiming the grace of God to them in Jesus.

This does not minimize the “how much more” of God’s abundant grace, it is precisely the context for it.

Preaching is not resourcing the devout but raising the dead.

This is not simply about “evangelistic preaching” at the “revival meeting.” It is the true nature of all preaching.

If this is true…

The job of the preacher is not to top up the spirituality of Christians who have righteousness in their grasp and need to beef it up a bit.

The job of the preacher is to address people sunk in sin and failure and to tell them of a Saviour who is beyond them.

Crucially therefore the audience for the sermon is “the children of Adam.”

All of which means…

The Sunday preacher does not have to choose between two very different kinds of hearer for their message.

The congregation is not split between those who have made a one-off decision for Jesus and those who are yet to choose for Christ.

The Christian needs to hear of their sin and Christ’s salvation. The non-Christian needs to hear of their sin and Christ’s salvation.

The same gospel is for Christian and non-Christian alike.

If preachers actually believed this and actually preached like this I believe our churches would be transformed.

Christians would be saved from the hypocrisy Luther spoke of above.

Christians would know their sin and the grace of a gospel that meets them where they really are instead of their prettied-up Sunday best.

Christians would experience the grace of God more powerfully through a gospel that doesn’t merely strengthen their resolve but saves their souls.

Christians would hear a gospel that applies to the children of Adam and not just to the religious – i.e. a gospel that’s relevant to their Monday to Saturday existence.

Christians would get more of a vision for their vocation out in the world, realising that the Scriptures teach us how to live not just how to function as a Christian.

This will equip us for how we can address our friends with the same gospel. Because it really is the same gospel that answers our friends’ problems.

It might even inspire us to think “So and so needs to come and hear about this, we were talking about anger management (or whatever) just the other day.”

At the end of the service we might just “go in peace to love and serve the Lord” with gusto – not trying to top up our functional righteousness with a few more churchy practices.

Therefore, we might actually feel free to get out into the world, love our neighbours and maybe even befriend them!

And we could then feel that church is a place we could invite our friends – and maybe even do it.

Those are ten benefits of gospel preaching every Sunday and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that non-Christians will very likely be present and may just get converted!

So how about it? Tim Keller gives it a go and he does alright, don’t you reckon? So can we have a go too? Can we address the whole congregation as the children of Adam – every one of them needing Jesus desperately? Can we see the Scriptures as addressing the problems of life not just the difficulties of Christian piety? Can we do more than resource the devout – can we, by the Spirit’s almighty power, raise the dead through the gospel word? If we don’t aim for that I’m not sure we have the right to call ourselves gospel people.

Tweets Together

Posted on by Glen in tweets | Leave a comment

Talking snakes is one thing. Talking slime is really something else. Talking slime making fun of talking snakes is the real head-scratcher.

Christ, by His cross, is not an underwriter for sin. He’s an underwriter for God’s costly *forgiveness*. To *sin* He’s an underTaker

Available, Life-giving, Devoured by the world, Broken for you: Jesus is the Bread of life. #EnjoyYourDay

The paedo-baptist position does rely on 2000 years of church tradition I admit. But those 2000 years were BC #Genesis17

The blood of Jesus turns away wrath, purifies from sin, cleanses yr conscience, brings u near 2 God & speaks in yr defence #EnjoyYourDay

Some sermons address “failing Christians” to improve them through the law.
Real preaching addresses *sinners* to raise them in the gospel.

The gospel does not make us “better Christians”, it makes us *alive.*

Titus: Good churches = good leaders proclaiming good news that produces good lives which make the good news look good

Feeling suitably shriven today? God exalted Jesus to His right hand to *give* you repentance (Acts 5:31) #EnjoyYourDay

Through Jesus your sins are covered, carried and cancelled (Psalm 32:1-2). #EnjoyYourDay

Idea: A WordPress plugin that automatically closes blog comments after 2 weeks with the line “I don’t know about u guys, I just love Jesus.”

“I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). By His Spirit He is still among us. By His Spirit He still serves. #EnjoyYourDay

If ur not a Christian but looking into it, the question for you is not “Could I see myself as a Christian?” It’s “Is Jesus actually Lord?”

“We all love Irenaeus’s comment that the glory of God is a human fully alive. What we forget is that for Irenaeus that meant a martyr.” Behr

The greatest saint needs the blood of God. The worst sinner can claim the blood of God. We all stand forgiven at the cross #EnjoyYourDay

In our evangelism, do we communicate that Jesus is the icing on our essentially theistic cake? Or is He the flour, eggs and butter?

Life: you never (know what you) have till you lose it.
— Matt 10:39

Life: don’t assume, presume or consume it.
Entomb it.
God will exhume it.

Real life is freely received / freely given.
As it was in the beginning,
Is now,
And shall be forever.

No-one who ‘gives their life to God’ should feel proud to have sacrificed – only privileged to have shared the life of eternity.

The way of the cross is not the costly price of eternal life, it’s the glorious shape of it.

The one who takes up the cross does not hear “Well done for dying” but “Welcome to living!”

To focus on the Christ, the Son of God is to focus on the three Persons. In fact it is the *only* way to be Trinitarian.

Mission: Because God does not keep Himself to Himself.
#trinity #missiodei

You want to turn from Christ to concentrate on the Father? You may as well turn from the sunshine to concentrate on the sun.

Your God has gone to hell & back for you. Do you think He doesn’t love you? Hasn’t forgiven you? Won’t raise you to glory? #EnjoyYourDay

John Behr: According to Mark 8, Satan is whatever gets between Jesus and the cross.
Meaning Satan is the ultimate theologian of glory.

Life does not grind along according 2 impersonal laws. Yr Father plots, yr Brother reigns, His Spirit moves: minute by minute #EnjoyYourDay

Discernment means wisdom in the service of *love* (Phil1:9-11). We want to make better choices, Paul says pray for a bigger heart.

Far and away the most common word to describe Jesus’ feelings in the Gospels = “compassion”. ie gut-wrenching mercy #EnjoyYourDay

“I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit.” (Lamentations 3:55)
Or in other words…
“You had me at hell…” (Jerry M’aiah)

No-Pourri: Not to be sniffed at

Haven’t heard from Blue Boy since the 90’s. I guess when you lose your memory you don’t get the gigs.

“I’m only happy when It. reigns.” Caesar

If anyone wants some voodoo acupuncture just say, there’s a doll

My daughter was born with a rye little smile so we called her Maisie

Dying to Live

Posted on by Glen in sermons | Leave a comment

Dev Menon’s ascension sermon is the stuff of legend but these two Easter sermons from 2014 are equally rich feasts. Dev paints in such bold biblical colours – showing as the fleetingness of life, the horrors of death and the wonders of a God who would dive down into it, to swallow it (and us!) whole. Listen! (And don’t get distracted by the video he plays halfway through).


Dev Menon: Death Part 1 (Good Friday)

Dev Menon: Death Part 2 (Easter Sunday)


On the subject of death, these talks by John Behr are mind-stretching, heart-warming gospel proclamations: “Christ shows us what it is to be God in the way He dies as a human being.”

John Behr: Death the Final Frontier

John Behr: Taking Back Death (the follow up to his previous talk)


Podcast: The Power of Words in Season

Posted on by Glen in evangelism, podcast | Leave a comment

Sometimes just a sentence can change an eternity. This is one more way that ordinary evangelism can be “power” evangelism.




Titus 2:1-10 sermon

Posted on by Glen in sermons | Leave a comment

The Good News produces the Good Life

The Good Life makes the Good News look Good.



Tweets for my sweets

Posted on by Glen in pastoral theology, tweets | Leave a comment

Some preaching offers Christ – like a meal in a restaurant. Some preaching offers ‘biblical truth’ – like raw ingredients at a wholesalers

If you’re a Christian you are “in Christ”. And you can’t get closer than “in”. #EnjoyYourDay

When Christians protest: “Non-Cs will Never believe/understand THREE [or TWO or ONE]” I often find it’s They who don’t believe/understand it

If you are in Christ, even if He wanted to send you away, God would have to un-knit His own being to do so. #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus encamps around you, the Spirit fills you, the Father beams at you. #EnjoyYourDay

The Greek mind makes vertical contrasts: ideal is above, we are below
Hebrew thinking makes horizontal contrasts: ideal is later, we are now

When we think about the visible/invisible church, is our mindset Greek or Hebrew?

Anyone who says ‘Men try to fix things, women just want to talk it out’ has never spoken to an older woman about child-rearing ;-)

The Risen Lord cooks breakfast for total failures (Jn 21). He hasnt changed in 2000 years. He loves u just the same. #EnjoyYourDay

God is not just forgiving, He’s Father. You’re not just accepted, you’re adopted. #EnjoyYourDay

Adoption into the life of God, thru the blood of the Son! What kind of God do we have? One who gave everything to have us #EnjoyYourDay

Worship is 24/7, sure, but so is marriage. Setting aside special times to enjoy it does not undermine the ongoing reality – it sustains it.

Priesthood of all believers, sure, but Christ gives different gifts and roles to *help* our corporate priestliness (Eph4:11-13; 1Pet4:10-11)

“We’re saved by grace not rituals.” Exactly, so take communion every chance u get & let it proclaim to u that grace that u prize.

If minds emerged from purely Darwinian processes how did we ever arrive at a Darwin? Fitness to reproduce does not equal fitness to think.

If you’re looking for proof of this, ask yourself who at your high school was considered fittest to reproduce? The honours students?

The Good Shepherd has not retired. The One who gave His life 4u watches over, guides, feeds & protects u right now. #EnjoyYourDay

Good news: God has prepared good works for you to walk in today. (Try to look surprised when it happens). #EnjoyYourDay

Gnostic Gospels: Fan fiction from beyond the fringe.

Actually, as I’ve thought about it, it’s more like Frenemy Fiction

Last night on TV I saw a genuine marriage where the celebrant said “By the power of your love for one another I pronounce you husband&wife”!

Then again, I’ve also seen baptisms where the minister says “On the basis of your profession of faith, I now baptise you…”!

Jesus does not wish you well on your way to heaven. He is heaven. And you’re in Him. #EnjoyYourDay

Every word of Ps119:25 articulates the nature of the flesh & the Spirit:
My soul cleaves to the dust;
Give me life according to your word.

Jesus doesn’t merely give us a legal status, He IS our legal status. And not just legal- royal and familial and…dare I go further? 2Pet1:4

We say “We need more harvest.” Jesus says “You need more workers.” (Matt 9:37)

On the plus side, @Stephenfry’s comments remind us that we do Not worship Authority-writ-large. We too despise and reject the author of evil

For @StephenFry to treat Christianity without a Fall is not just straw-manning. It’s shooting the enemy and calling him “God”

One irony regarding Fry’s tirade: He rails against disease, decay and death but only ends up enthroning them as lords of the cosmos.

A much deeper irony: Fry takes aim at the author of evil and Christians rally to defend the monster.

The Father IS Love, the Son IS Grace, the Spirit IS Fellowship (2 Cor 13:14). You have everything you could ever need or want. #EnjoyYourDay

When our champion wins, we celebrate. Thank God we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor15:57) #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus does not hit “Snooze” on your sins, to revisit them later. He’s hit “Dismiss”, once and for all. #EnjoyYourDay

What surrounded Jesus’ gospel preaching? Matt9:35-38
LOVE 4 the lost,
FAITH to see their true condition,
HOPE for a coming harvest,

All that harms & perverts comes from a defeated enemy. Your victorious Friend brings fullness & life: even thru this harm. #EnjoyYourDay

Let persecution be our context not our complex.

Arguments about the length of days in Genesis 1 don’t get very far. Much better to talk about the *kind* of days they were: “good”.

Father, Son & Spirit means Fullness, Poured-out & Poured-in. Divine Fullness is Poured-out for you and Poured-in to you. #EnjoyYourDay

To say “Jesus is the only way to God” is only superficially Christ-centred. Far more fundamentally: “There IS no God except the Jesus-God.”

Without the eternal Word of God it’s not simply that we lack the vocabulary to speak of God. Without Christ there is no God to speak about.

We can’t imagine ourselves into a world w/o suffering since WE wouldn’t exist in this other world. More importantly the LAMB wouldn’t exist

The god the New Atheists decry certainly does not exist. #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus is not ‘the only Way’ like a bridge is the only way 2 an island. He’s the only Way like a light beam is the only way 2 see the source

You have nothing to bring God but weakness & failure. Yet this is exactly what He accepts thru Jesus our Saviour #EnjoyYourDay

Whatever you’ve done this weekend, whatever you will do this week, God’s love is as free as the sunshine. (Matt 5:45) #EnjoyYourDay

Reminder to self: Videos don’t go viral. People go viral.

As Abraham precedes Moses so the new covenant is older than the old. Galatians 3

Christians are new covenant not old covenant people. This means we are children of Abraham not of Moses. Galatians 3

He’s magnetic, heroic & this world’s true Champion. He knows u by name, prays 4u constantly & longs to see u face to face #EnjoyYourDay

If you like building personalised lighthouses that’s your own lookout.

At our bespoke undertakers, our motto is: It’s Your Funeral

Marmalade: for when life hands you marmals

I respect the makers of colonnades even more when I remember what life has handed them.

Cuba’s big problem has been finding a successor to Castro but no one wants to play second Fidel

I told them “You must stop snorting marijuana” because sometimes you have to say what’s right even if it puts joints out of noses.

Your list of passive-aggressive tactics made a glaring omission

If it’s all the same to you I’ll call you a monist

If it means nothing to you I’ll call you Niall

The Spanish must be constantly overwhelmed by their todo lists

Let the dish run away with the spoon, it’s the fork that counts.

-I’ve had no help in thinking up a girl’s name.
-Sure, or handle, appellation, sobriquet, whatever. I’m just saying noone’s helped

I just made a bad karma joke. It got what it deserved

Warning: there are some bad karma jokes going around

“There’s only 1 word to describe my failed attempt at a prosthetic testicle” Shambolic.

Is it worth catching up with the #GreatBritishSewingBee if I haven’t seen Great British Sewing A?

I like comparing historical periods now and then

Face facts people: the average Briton is mean

In gritty Channel 4 documentaries, 8 out of 10 youths say they refuse to become a statistic.

Compulsive talking is a bore I must say

Little child, for you

Posted on by Glen in baptism, pastoral theology | 80 Comments


On Sunday we are having Ruby baptised.
Here are some reasons why

1. Because we are children of Abraham so we treat our children the way he treated his (Genesis 17).

2. Because the New Testament never retracts 2000 years of Biblical practice regarding households and the covenant sign.

3. Because the covenant sign (even the sign and seal of “justification by faith”) is explicitly for children of the covenant to grow up into (Romans 4:11)

4. Because sacraments are visible words and we want to tell her God loves her.

5. Because we want to surround her with every gospel promise.

6. Because we want to raise her as a Christian.

7. Because she’s not a Muslim, a pagan or a neutral. She is ours and we are Christ’s.

8. Because “as for me and my *household* we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15)

9. Because in the Bible when households rejoice in the Lord, households are baptised. This household rejoices in the Lord.

10. Because we want to pray and worship with Ruby and foreigners to the covenant cannot do that.

11. Because we want to declare to her, to the church, the world and every principality and power that Ruby belongs to Jesus.

12. Because she belongs to Christ’s body.

13. Because nothing says “Gospel” like declaring Christ’s love to the powerless.

14. Because we want her personal response to Jesus to be a personal *response* to Jesus.

15. Because we think faith is so vital that we must do everything we can to elicit faith – therefore we drench her in God’s promises.

16. Because to be credo-anything, the promise must come first. And baptism is a promise.

17. Because we don’t so much dedicate Ruby to Jesus, He claims her for His own.

18. Because Jesus said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” (Matthew 19:14)

19. Because, as regards our simple trust in Christ, we are meant to be like children, not the other way around. (Matthew 18:3)

20. Because faith does not earn gospel promises, gospel promises elicit faith.

21. Because sacraments are not our declarations to God but His to us. The arrow comes down – and it comes down to the unworthy.



Daniel 5 Sermon

Posted on by Glen in sermons | Leave a comment

The Writing is on the Wall

writing on the wall



Podcast: The Power of Church

Posted on by Glen in church, evangelism, podcast | Leave a comment


Are Evangelists a Christian version of the SAS, swooping into dangerous territory to rescue sinners all by themselves?

What is the role of church in evangelism?

What exactly are we inviting non-Christians to?

This is the second episode in our series: Power Evangelism. Andy and Glen discuss the Power of Church. Maybe it should be the body of Christ that reaches out? Maybe it should be the body of Christ we invite people to?

Radical ideas!





Posted on by Glen in creative, culture, evangelism, marriage, My videos, poetry, videos | 7 Comments

It’s the fairy tale we all believe in – connection, completion, love without parting. The merest glimpse of it captures our hearts. But is the fairy tale real? Is there such a thing as endless bliss, unconquered love and a happily ever after?

Countless failed relationships and a beckoning grave cry out No. Love does not seem to have the last word in our lives – decay, disease, divorce, depression and death does. Can we really believe in love?

The answer is Yes, but only because there is a love despite our deserving, a love stronger than death, a love beyond this world. Jesus makes the fairy tale true – not just for bright-eyed young couples on their wedding day. Because of his blood-earnest, death-defying love, Jesus can bring us all into the ultimate romance. Whatever your relationship history or status, this bliss is for you!



beside me.

Me: beside myself with you.

Beyond myself in you,

Become myself anew,

Belongs, this self, to you.



behold me.

Me: behold the world in you.

Besotted with the view,

Bewitched by all you do,

Beguiled by guileless you.



believe this:

This bedtime tale

Though countless fail

Though pride derail

Though death curtail

We believe this.

This bliss

Beseiged by hatred’s hiss

Beset by graves’ abyss

Betrayed despite our kiss

We believe this.


But is this bliss true?

Or only for the few

And then sinks from view

Is it true?

Beneath the tale,

Before we fail,

Beside what’s frail,

Beyond death’s vale?

Is it true?

Not only for the few

And then sinks from view

Is it true?



Beheld me.

Me: deep held in my disgrace.

He bends now face to face,

Becomes me in His grace,

Befriends me, takes my place.



Betrothed me.

Me: bestowed the world for free.

Bequeathed by royal decree,

Beloved eternally,

Become as one: He with me.


This, beneath all other glories

This, beyond the bedtime stories

This, beside your marital station

This, love’s sweetest consummation.

This is true.

Never to sink from view.

Not only for the few.

This bliss is for you.