Ministry and theology… like a ninja.

Posts tagged “John Lennox

Oxygen Part V – Lennox

Well I’m sitting in Sydney airport about to board a plane for Melbourne.  It’s been a grand few days.  The ‘One’ event at the Sydney Entertainment Centre was a great night.  Very challenges talks from Lennox and Piper, including Piper’s classic ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ sermon.  I’ll write up my thoughts from that later, along with the rest of my musings on the conference.  In the meantime, here is Lennox’s talk from Day 2, continuing his journey through Acts 1.  Especially watch out for his point about the fulfillment of the Jewish festival calendar.  Very interesting stuff! (thanks to Steph Mcardle for letting me copy her notes from the first part of this talk since I was busy editing my last post)


Session 5 – John Lennox


The world associates Christianity with the absence of thinking.

Faith from hearing from the word of God
The ascension: how can you believe the defying of the law of gravity?  But Luke was a scientist, the only scientist who writes in the Bible
People hate the supernaturalism of Christianity.

Luke speaks of angel coming to Zechariah to foretell the birth of John the Baptist.  Zechariah was a senior religious leader.  Believes in God, spoke with the angel but cannot believe he could have a son at this ages.  Couldn’t believe that science would be defied.

It is people in holy religious office that can’t believe in the supernatural dimension.
Luke is aware of what the challenges for Christians are, and yet starts his gospel with this
We don’t just face atheists who don’t’ believe in the supernatural
Ascension – he was taken up and he disappeared in a cloud
Luke stresses that it is visible

“saw” –  he was actual and visible


Deliberately visual b/c it was the same way as he’s going to return.  We can’t forget this, it is essential to gospel.
1 thess 1
Conversion is turning to God and wait for his return.

Need a well-balanced view of eschatology: wait for return & be involved in gospel work.  What a contrast to atheism: the hope that we will one day be with Jesus.  Acts starts by telling us he is returning.  There will be judgment.
How will you give an account of yourself?
How you measure other ppl you will be measured.

 The non-believer says to us:
‘Your Jesus never saved anyone’

Jesus rose from the dead.  His power was demonstrated and the disciples realized that he is invincible.  Because he used the ultimate weapon of the enemy against him and reversed it!

So the disciples think: ‘surely he will now take over!’
This raises lots of problems for us
Why didn’t he deal with pain and death right there and then?
Why are the nations still battling and tearing each other to pieces?

Luke 17:22ff

Disciples focused on outward and physical and missed the spiritual.
For us we can go the other way.  We can focus on the spiritual and miss Luke 17:23-24.  When he comes it will be utterly visible.

The very thing the atheists accuse Christians of – fermenting violence – is the same thing that Jesus was accused of and vindicated.

So the disciples ask the question.
And Jesus gives them the most powerful answer.

He left them.

So begs the question, where do we stand in history?  What do we expect to happen?
We are to get on with the gospel, in the power of the HS.


But there’s more to be said.  When Peter stood up he mentioned restoration. (3:19ff)

Calendar of Jewish festivals

Passover, First fruits, Pentecost, trumpets, yom kippur, tabernacles

Passover – found fulfillment in Christ’s death

First fruits – Resurrection: First fruits of them that slept (+ Col. 1:15)

Pentecost – coming of the Spirit


Still three to go!  Yom Kippur, Trumpets, Tabernacles

Tabernacles – Is 25 – messianic banquet

Why should we trust God?
There is a space between when Jesus came in the incarnation and when he will return
The existence of that space is going to raise many questions in our hearts that’s why Acts takes it so seriously.


The reality is that we live in a ragged and painful world that’s not yet restored.  Is there any reason to trust the whole thing to God?
The biggest reason is the cross.
The world has got a rottenness at its core.
If there wasn’t an interval between the first and the second we wouldn’t have got saved.

So no simple answer, but a window.

If that is God on the cross, it shows me that at the very least God has not remained distant from this question but has become part of it.  The festivals that have been fulfilled (Passover, First Fruits, Pentecost) become powerful evidence that the other will be fulfilled.



Oxygen Part II – John Lennox

After a break we have the first talk from John Lennox – mathematics professor, super apologist and person voted ‘person most desired as grandfather’.  His talks are on ‘The Church in the 21st Century’.  The first part contained a big challenge to stay faithful to the Word of God in believing it to be the God-inspired message of salvation.

‘A flame that spreads – the word and the spirit’

Problem: the undermining of faith and confidence in the message, so people are tempted to give up.

Acts 1:1-11

Acts is a story of the beginning of what Luke describes as what Jesus continues to do and teach through his spirit.

We see a pattern in the 6 sections of the book.

Luke defines Christianity in the context of opposition.
As Christianity goes out into the Gentile world it faces opposition as it confronts pagan religion, politics, and Christianity insists it’s different from all of it.
However, Christianity gets accused of causing violence and turning the world upside down.

Our world today is not so different from the 1st century Roman Empire.
Rome had a legal system that was not so favourable to Christanity.  It got accused of lots of things.  The Roman world was very libertarian and Christian ethics clashed with it.  That raised many questions then, as it does now.

So why did the apostles insist on saying things that they new would raise criticism?  Why do they insist that there is no other name?  Only one way?  Why couldn’t they just leave people alone?  What were the issues that they stood for?  Why were they so important?

The simple fact of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

We need the same courage and the same resource.

The message hasn’t changed, nor the world.

The word of God was the catalyst

The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:7

You will not get the church going without the word growing.

Today we are claiming that God has spoken.
But we are tempted to ask, ‘has he really?
This is where the attack against us is at its worst. If this is shaken, then everything is undermined.
Doubt is sown. The issue at stake in all of our hearts is a matter of certainty. Faith is a dynamic thing. As you look back over your life does certainty increase? Has the word grown?
Luke writes to give evidence on which his faith can rest. The atheist cries ‘where is you evidence?’ We need to get evidence out into society. The world needs to hear that there is evidence.

Richard Dawkins says, ‘The only difference between the Da Vinci and the gospels is that one is ancient, and one is modern.’
But that’s not true!  There is evidence!  So people need to know about it because people are following Dawkins and Hitchens!


Now Lennox turns to the resurrection account in Acts 1.

Vs. 3 – he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs

The birth of Christianity is an enigma for any historian who doesn’t take seriously Christianity’s own testimony – the resurrection. Either it is the supreme fact of history or a hoax. If it isn’t true then the whole of Christianity is a fraud. Dawkins said in  a debate with Lennox about the resurrection, ‘how petty’.

Well it’s only petty if not true.

As Christians we believe it to not only be true, but to be the most significant event in the history of the world. But do we still believe it?  Or has our belief been undermined?
Notice what Jesus did.  He presented himself alive.  That’s not the same as discussing the resurrection.  Their experience of Jesus’ teaching over 40 days was an experience of the one standing among them who is the resurrection and the life.
As pastors we get under pressure.  The very thing that ought to be a priority, reading the Bible, becomes a bundle of notes for sermons preached, talks given.
But we can’t just study Scripture to do our job, we must study scripture to get to know God.  Soak your mind in the word of god until you hear the voice of God.

If God doesn’t speak to authenticate himself what else is going to do it?
Paul constantly reasoned for the gospel but in the end if God doesn’t authenticate himself through his word there’s a problem.

As a young man, Lennox had a problem with the inspiration of scripture.
It wasn’t that he didn’t believe it, but that he did.

Technical belief in inspiration is a precarious situation for life.

We must not let the enemies on the inside or the outside shut us up.

We will not get the church growing without the Word growing.

Me @ Oxygen

Couldn't resist posting this very top-covered young Piper

So unless you are:

A. Living under a rock

B. Not living in Melbourne or Sydney (under, or not under, a rock)

C. Not a Christian (in various spatial relationships to one or more rocks)

…you would probably know that John Piper is appearing at the Engage and Oxygen conferences in Sydney over the next 5 days.  I’ll be representing the ‘quite enjoy John Piper, but more excited about spending a few days with heaps of cool people’ party at Oxygen.

But I should probably at some level engage (hah) with what Piper (and John Lennox of course) have to say, so for your reading pleasure I’ll be live-blogging through all the sessions!

I’m sure both of my readers are uber excited by this.