The greatest need in the American (and British?) Church!

When I was a pastor in London during the 90’s, we had a visiting preacher one Sunday called Colin Smith. Now Colin is the Senior Pastor of Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is also a member of The Gospel Coalition Council.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Colin was raised in a Christian family and felt the call of God to pastoral ministry from an early age. He trained at London Bible College where he received a B.A. in theology and later an M. Phil. for his work on Calvin’s doctrine of justification in relation to the sense of sin and the dialogue with Rome.

I was very impressed with Colin’s exegetical skill and careful pastoral application.

For the last nine years Colin’s primary focus has been on preaching, and his ministry is shared more widely through a radio program called Unlocking the Bible.

The ministry of Unlocking the Bible grew from a two year journey of preaching and reading through the whole Bible that was shared by the congregation at Arlington Heights in 2000 and 2001.  The aim of these materials is to help people grasp the big picture of the Bible story.

In answer to the question, “What is the greatest, most crying need in the American church today?” Colin writes,
“I am convinced that the American church has in large measure lost its grip on the gospel, and hence on the doctrine of conversion.”

“Becoming a Christian is too often seen merely in terms of a decision or a commitment. Losing sight of regeneration by which the Holy Spirit creates new desires and capacities in a human soul, we find ourselves in a strange world of unbelievers who are convinced that they can live the Christian life, and believers who are equally convinced that they can’t. This pessimism among believers results in a long and usually extra-biblical search for the “how to” that will make the Christian life work.”

What is the greatest, most crying need for the American church today?

The greatest challenge for the church today is to recover the biblical gospel, and so experience newness of life in Jesus Christ. We will move in that direction as we pursue:

i. A return to the Scriptures, allowing the Bible to speak in its own terms, rather than using it as a source book for inspiration in relation to felt needs.  The Scriptures reveal God as He is rather than as we conceive Him to be. The entrance of God’s Word gives light, and delivers us from our miserable preoccupation with ourselves

ii. A rediscovery of the radical nature of sin in all its dimensions as the fundamental human problem that can only be addressed by the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

iii. A renewed confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit
to bring new life in individuals and churches through the Word of God.
to sustain believers and churches through the pressures and struggles of life, and
to fulfill God’s purpose in the world through human weakness rather than human strength so that God may be glorified in all things.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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