Vaughn Roberts

Vaughn Roberts

 

I was vulnerable physically, spiritually, morally and emotionally and that things needed to change…

Leaders who last

Too driven? (book review)


SERVING WITHOUT SINKINGServing without sinking
How to serve Christ and keep your joy
By John Hindley
The Good Book Company. 123 pages. £7.99
ISBN 978 1 908 762 351

Have your lips ever said yes to something when your heart said no? Have you ever taken Jesus’s invitation to rest (Matthew 11.28) and wondered how it can become a reality, now, in our journey through life with God?

Serving without sinking is an important book and a necessary one. It exposes how driven we can be (at times subtly) – even in the name of God-honouring ministry.

Why am I doing this?

We can wrongly find significance, status and meaning outside of Jesus’s primary service to us, and that mistake enslaves us. The book exposes… (to read more click here)

Rob Iveson
Rector of St Wilfrid’s, Davenham

This article was first published in the January 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit our website or subscribe to en for regular updates.

The Bible and Our Daily Work: Work and personal property (Pt 7)


At the beginning of the 20th century the German social historian Max Weber published The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. He was trying to explain why, at that time, in many societies those with the top jobs were predominantly from a Protestant background.

Whether you can connect the Reformation of the 16th century easily with the rise of capitalism, mainly in the 19th century, is a matter of conjecture. But it is certainly true that as Reformation leaders like Luther and Calvin taught the Scriptures a new spirit of industriousness and an enthusiasm for daily work was generated. The question raised by Weber’s thesis is not so much to do with work as what we do with the fruits of our labours. Jesus had much to say about money and the use of wealth, e.g. Matthew 6.24; Luke 12.13-21.

The Creator’s Property
Scripture teaches that the one who creates is the one who owns. Work establishes property.
Thus God is called the ‘Possessor’ of heaven and earth, Genesis 14.19, 22.
See also for example Psalm 24.1; Psalm 50.9-12.
Many of Jesus’ parables concerning the Second Coming speak in terms of an owner of property returning and those to whom he entrusted it having to give an account, e.g. Mark 13.32-36.

Already we therefore see that a Christian’s attitude to property ought to be different from that of others. We are merely stewards of things which actually belong to God.

The legitimacy of personal property
In the context of everything ultimately belonging to God, the Bible goes on to teach the legitimacy of personal property. Under God, some things legitimately belong to us.
God is the worker who made the world and therefore owns it. We are made in God’s image, Genesis 1.26, 27, and therefore man too has a certain right to the things he has made.
The Decalogue with its commandments not to steal and not to covet what belongs to others makes the legitimacy of personal property explicit, Exodus 20.15, 17; Deuteronomy 5.19, 21.
The New Testament makes the same point, Ephesians 4.28.
But the Bible also emphasises that personal property is only legitimate if its has been obtained in a legitimate way i.e., justly. Paying people low wages because they are too weak to stand up to a master will bring God’s wrath, James 5.1-6

The dangers of personal property
Within a limited sphere wealth brings both freedom and security. Thus material wealth often goes hand in hand with forgetting God, Deuteronomy 8.10-18. This is what has happened in the prosperous Western world.
Thinking ourselves as having no need of God, fallen human nature sees itself as free to indulge its sinful desires. Thus the love of money becomes a root of all kinds of evil, 1 Timothy 6.10.
When we replace God by the love of wealth and material things, not only do we worship the creature rather than the Creator, Romans 1.25, but we plunge ourselves into destruction, 1 Timothy 6.9.

The responsibilities of personal property
The gift of personal wealth carries with it at least two responsibilities.

First, as we enjoy the material things that God has given us to enjoy we have a responsibility to thank him and love him for his kindness to us, 1 Timothy 4.4, 5.

Second, as God has prospered us we have a responsibility to use our wealth to help others. The apostle Paul tells us to use our money to be rich in good works, 1 Timothy 6.18. The apostle John tells us that practical love towards others through giving is a mark of true conversion, 1 John 3.14-18.

This series on ‘The Bible and Our Daily Work’ is taken from a sermon series given by Dr. John Benton at Chertsey Street Baptist Church in 2012.

Part 1 in the series is ‘Work and Creation
Part 2 in the series is ‘Work and the Fall
Part 3 in the series is ‘Male and Female in the context of Work
Part 4 in the series is ‘Work and Rest
Part 5 in the series is ‘Work and our Attitudes
Part 6 in the series is ‘Work and Ambition

A related post ‘7 Tips on handling stress in the work place’ can be found here.

The Bible and Our Daily Work: Work and ambition (Pt 6)


Is it wrong to seek promotion and advancement at work? Is it right to have ambitions? Christian people can be faced with decisions in their business or professional careers where such questions are pertinent.

1. WHEN HAS AMBITION NOT GONE FAR ENOUGH?
In 1 Thessalonians 4.11, 12 the apostle Paul sets out some basic ambitions connected with our work which should characterise all Christians. Not to desire these goals is to be astray. We are to eagerly seek to achieve at least three things:

To work
The context of that work is to be a quiet life – but the great ambition, if we are physically and mentally able, must be to work, v11.
Note again that there is no disparagement of manual labour in the NT. Paul commends working ‘with our hands.’
Leisure is not intrinsically better than work. It should not be our ambition to be on perpetual holiday. This is what the world so often aims for. Laziness is condemned throughout the Bible, Proverbs 12.24; Titus 1.12.
The Christian is to desire to be useful, productive and to make a contribution to the common good. This is the so-called ‘Protestant work ethic.’ God made us to work and we can find a degree of fulfilment and satisfaction in our work. As Christians our work becomes an act of worship, Colossians 3.23.

Through our industry to win the respect of unconverted people
The background to Paul’s remarks in v12 is in v9, 10. Some of the Thessalonian Christians were so zealous in their love for brothers and sisters in Christ that some people were taking advantage of that and had given up work and were living on hand-outs from the church, cf. Titus 3.14. Such behaviour brought the name of the Lord Jesus into disrepute.
We need to add that ‘success’ at work is not the only way to win respect. It may be that ordinary people will be directed to Christ by the way our faith enables us to cope with crises or drudgery or other difficulties, Philippians 4.12, 13.

Through our work to be dependent on nobody
In v12 Paul commands the Thessalonians to aim at earning their own keep. The New Testament is keen to help those in real need but it will not allow an able-bodied Christian to become content to live from other people’s charity.
Our first ambition should be to support ourselves. This takes priority over whether or not we like the job, 2 Thessalonians 3.11-14.

2. WHEN HAS AMBITION GONE TOO FAR?
God has given us all some set of abilities. If those abilities cannot find an outlet we become frustrated. It is therefore good to have ambition to use our potentials to the full, Ecclesiastes 9.10. But this must be in the context of seeking a contented godly life, 1 Thessalonians 4.11;1 Timothy 6.6. With this in mind here are six indications of when our ambitions have goner too far.

  • When our ambitions are greater than our abilitiesScripture commands us to have a proper estimate of ourselves, Romans 12.3
  • When we are prepared to compromise Christian principles to get promotionThe ‘end justifying the means’ is never God’s way, Psalm 23.3
  • When promotion is pursued for self-exaltationAmbition is not condemned but selfish ambition is always condemned, Philippians 2.3
  • When ambitions are pursued out of the love of moneyJesus told us that we cannot serve both God and money, Matthew 76.24; Hebrews 13.5;
  • When ambitions are pursued out of envy and discontentThe spirit of the world is that ‘the grass is always greener,’ James 3.14-16
  • When ambition is pursued at the expense of our responsibilities to othersWe are to put the needs of others before our own, Philippians 2.4; Ephesians 5.25
  • When ambition is pursued to the neglect of the needs of God’s kingdomLocal churches are a priority. We are to seek God’s glory Matthew 6.33; 1 Corinthians 10.31

‘Right ambition consists not so much in wishing to be promoted, but in wishing to deserve promotion’ Matthew Henry

This series on ‘The Bible and Our Daily Work’ is taken from a sermon series given by Dr. John Benton at Chertsey Street Baptist Church in 2012.

Part 1 in the series is ‘Work and Creation
Part 2 in the series is ‘Work and the Fall
Part 3 in the series is ‘Male and Female in the context of Work
Part 4 in the series is ‘Work and Rest
Part 5 in the series is ‘Work and our Attitudes

A related post ‘7 Tips on handling stress in the work place’ can be found here.

The Bible and Our Daily Work: Work and our attitudes (Pt 5)


Here we consider the broad sweep of the New Testament teaching concerning our daily work. We do so under two headings and find that the teaching focuses around the Lord Jesus Christ.

THE DIGNITY, SANCTITY AND NECESSITY OF LEGITIMATE WORK
For work to be legitimate it must fulfil two criteria. A). The job itself must not entail violating God’s law, e.g. that of a thief Ephesians 4.28. B). The context of the job must not violate God’s law, e.g., a locksmith (legitimate) who makes keys for thieves (illegitimate) etc. The Lord Jesus was the ‘son’ of a carpenter Matthew 13.55, and up until the age of about 30 years old worked at that trade himself, Mark 6.3. This teaches us three important lessons.

  • Legitimate labour, of whatever form, is never to be despisedJesus not only worked as a carpenter / builder in Nazareth he was prepared to do the work of a slave, washing the disciples feet, John 13.1-17. If God incarnate engaged in the lowest menial tasks he has stamped heavenly dignity upon such work.
  • It is possible to maintain the closest communion with God in the toil of everyday workJesus did ordinary daily work with its humdrum routines and difficult customers. He faced all the same difficulties and temptations that we do, Hebrews 4.15. And yet within the carpenter’s shop he grew in favour with God and man, Luke 2.52. His spiritual growth as a human being did not take place during years of solitude and desert contemplation. It took place in the midst of daily work. It is a mistake to use the demands of our work as an excuse for failure to grow spiritually.
  • By his life we see that work is the normal God-ordained means of meeting our needsIf anyone had the right to be exempt from work, if the world ever owed anyone a living, it was Jesus the world’s creator, Colossians 1.16. But he wanted to set us an example, so he worked. He who multiplied the loaves and fishes for the crowds never seems to have done that to provide for himself or his family. He went to work.

Thus we find the apostle Paul is stern with those who refuse to work, 2 Thessalonians 3.6-10.

THE ATTITUDES AND MOTIVATION WHICH ARE TO GOVERN OUR WORK There are a number of New Testament passages which address the subject of daily work, Colossians 3.22-4.1; 1 Thessalonians 4.11, 12; 1 Peter 2.18-25 etc. We will sketch the main considerations which should govern the Christian’s attitude to work from Ephesians 6.5-9.

  • The Yoke of ChristIn v5 Paul speaks of ‘earthly masters’ and so implies that we have a heavenly master for all our daily work. He makes this explicit in v9. When you became a Christian you voluntarily took upon yourself Christ’s ‘yoke’ taking him as your master, Matthew 11.28-30. He is your master at work. This means there is no sacred/secular divide. Secular work is full-time service for Christ.
  • The Love of ChristYour heavenly master is Christ who has died for you and who loves you, Ephesians 5.25. If he has given himself like that for us then we feel motivated to do our best even with the worst jobs once we see them as done for Jesus. Unlike the world the Christian has reason to be enthusiastic about even the lowest jobs. Our motive is not first of all money, it is serving Christ, v5-7.
  • The Eye of ChristBecause of our sinful nature there is a temptation to do only the minimum amount of work required. But the Christian can be saved from this as he/she realises the we live forever in Christ’s presence v6.
  • The Throne of ChristWe are working for Christ in that all legitimate work which the Christian does is pleasing to Christ and will be rewarded by him at judgement day, v8. This is true whatever our status. Especially we will be rewarded for the times when we have suffered unjustly because we are conscious of God and his ways, 1 Peter 2.18-20.

We conclude there can be no right relationship to work without a right relationship to Jesus and there is no right relationship to Jesus if it does not issue in a right attitude to work.

This series on ‘The Bible and Our Daily Work’ is taken from a sermon series given by Dr. John Benton at Chertsey Street Baptist Church in 2012.

Part 1 in the series is ‘Work and Creation
Part 2 in the series is ‘Work and the Fall
Part 3 in the series is ‘Male and Female in the context of Work
Part 4 in the series is ‘Work and Rest

A related post ‘7 Tips on handling stress in the work place’ can be found here.

The Bible and Our Daily Work: Work and Rest (Pt 4)


Overwork destroys joy. It leaves no room for wholesome fun or stillness. When we never stop to relax or reflect we tend to lose perspective. Overwork can lead to burn-out.

Genesis 1 and 2 tell of God spreading out his work of creation over 6 discrete days. But why did this take a period of time at all? He is God, he could have created it all in an instant had he chosen to do so.

It seems that God used this timescale specifically to teach us that we need rest. God himself does not require rest. His strength is inexhaustible. But he thus gives us, made in his image, Genesis 1.26, 27, a pattern of work and rest to copy.

God made us to work. But he also indicates that rest is essential for us as finite creatures.

THE FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF WORK AND REST
In Genesis we find that as God makes the world two basic rhythms of work and rest are established.

  1. In Genesis 1 we find a daily cycle of work and rest with evening and morning, Genesis 1.5; 1.8; 1.13; 1.19; 1.23; 1.31 (cf. John 9.4). God appears to work during the day but cease in the evening until the next morning.
  2. In Genesis 2 we find a weekly cycle of work and rest established. The pattern is of six days work followed by a day of rest, Genesis 2.1-3.

In Genesis 2.1-3, Moses draws attention to the special nature of the 7th day in several ways. First, although 2.1-3 belongs with Genesis 1 there is nevertheless a break from the ‘And God said…’ pattern introducing the previous 6 days. Second, the day is emphasized in a way the other days are not. Each is mentioned only once, 1.5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. The phrase ‘the seventh day’ is repeated three times in 2.2-3. What is more the Hebrew phrase occurs in three separate sentences each composed of 7 words. Third, though the word ‘Sabbath’ is not here, yet the word for ‘rest’ used in this verses is virtually the same word (Shabbath compared with Shabath). Fourthly, God is said to ‘bless’ the seventh day. Implied is the thought that those who so rest from labour one day in 7 will be blessed. Fifthly, we are told God ‘made it holy,’ a day set apart for God. Sixthly, the ‘evening and morning’ formula is abandoned for the 7th day (hinting at God’s salvation provision of an eternal Sabbath in Christ?).

There are those who try to deny that the day of rest is a creation ordinance, arguing that it was first revealed at Sinai, that it was for the Israelites only and was part of the ceremonial law which is now gone in Christ. But as we see from the wording, to deny a reference to the Sabbath in Genesis 2.2, 3 would be to be pedantic in the extreme. Furthermore, Moses specifically explains in the 10 commandments that the Sabbath is does go back to creation, Exodus 20.11. So to try to restrict the one in 7 day of rest to it being solely the covenant sign of the Mosaic covenant with Israel won’t wash.

The 4th commandment is part of the moral law. It is wrong to try to make people work 7 days a week.

REST IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The great emphasis of the NT is on the spiritual rest of salvation to be found in the Lord Jesus as we cease from relying on our works to put us right with God and trust in Christ alone, Matthew 11.28-29. Believing in Christ opens for us the prospect of heavenly rest, the eternal Sabbath which still remains for the people of God, Hebrews 4.9, 10; Revelation 14.12, 13. In this sense it is true that Christ brings to fulfilment the rest pictured in the Sabbath.

But to say that because we already enjoy something of this spiritual rest we no longer require the physical rest of one day off in seven would be as ridiculous as saying that because Christ and the church fulfil the true meaning of marriage, we no longer require marriage between men and women.

  • The Lord Jesus, while rejecting the man-made rules of the Pharisees concerning the Sabbath, confirmed that confirmed the pattern of one day of rest in 7 as a good gift of God for mankind and declared its place within the sphere of his Messianic Lordship, Mark 2.27, 28.
  • As Lord of the Sabbath he encouraged the first Christians to meet together on the first day of the week rather than the last through his resurrection appearances and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost which was a Sunday, John 20.1, 19; Acts 2.1.
  • No other day, except the first day of the week, is singled out for special mention in the NT showing it had special significance for Christians, Matthew 28.1; Mark 16.2; Luke 24.1; John 20.1; Acts 20.7.
  • Paul’s words of  apparent ‘indifference’ towards ‘special days’  Romans 14.5,6 and ‘a Sabbath day’ Colossians 2.17, occur against a Jewish influence in the church and should not be generalised. Paul himself saw ‘every first day of the week’ was special, 1 Corinthians 16.2. And the apostle John certainly thought Sunday was special, calling it ‘the Lord’s day,’ Revelation 1.10.

This series on ‘The Bible and Our Daily Work’ is taken from a sermon series given by Dr. John Benton at Chertsey Street Baptist Church in 2012.

Part 1 in the series is ‘Work and Creation
Part 2 in the series is ‘Work and the Fall
Part 3 in the series is ‘Male and Female in the context of Work

A related post ‘7 Tips on handling stress in the work place’ can be found here.