Tag Archives: Phil Colgan

Are you a Pharisee?

22 Oct

As yet another politician fell by the wayside recently because his private life did not match up with his wholesome public persona I was reminded yet again of Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees.  Everyone who has read the Bible knows that the Pharisees are the bad guys of the Gospel story.  They were the ones who hated Jesus and certainly Jesus reserved his harshest criticisms for them.  As a result, it is easy to condemn the Pharisees for their cold religion and hypocrisy.  However, even as I read about their failings, I fear that if I am honest the spirit of the Pharisees is alive and well in my heart.

Jesus’ major problem with the Pharisees was their hypocrisy.  They put on a show of religion, ostentatiously obeying all the laws and fulfilling all the important religious obligations, however, their godliness was only on the outside.  They were not willing to admit their sinfulness.  The outward appearance was white but their hearts were black.  As a result they refused to listen to Jesus.  Jesus famously said that he had come to heal the sick not the healthy.  Jesus’ message of salvation was for the sinner, not for the righteous.  Continue reading


one to one ministry

17 Oct

As I prepared to teach the recent one-to-one Bible reading course I did some searching through the Bible to find Bible references about the need to build ourselves up in the faith.  What surprised me a little was how few references I could find.  Instead, the constant theme in the Bible is that we are responsible for building other people up in the faith more than ourselves.  Of course there are reasons for this tied to the time that the Bible was written.  There was no such thing as a printing press so the idea of reading the Bible yourself each morning was not really an option.  However, there is more to it than just practicalities.   It is clear that God sees it as every Christian’s responsibility to teach, encourage, and sometimes even rebuke their Christian brothers and sisters.  Consider these verses:

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 1Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

 Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

 How does God build up Christian believers? 

He does it by using our Christian brothers and sisters to share his word with each other.  That is why reading the Bible together is the core of all Christian activity.  We do it in our Sunday services and in small groups but the purpose of this course was to challenge us to do it individually with one other person.  I challenged the people in the course to work out if they could meet to read the Bible with three different people – starting with their own family. 


Perhaps you could take up the challenge yourself?


Phil Colgan

Acts – Ends of the Earth

16 Oct

Thanks to those guys who put in questions out of my sermon on Acts 1 on Sunday night.  Here are my thoughts on a couple of them:

 1. Is it wrong to keep re-translating the bible? Some would argue we’re twisting Gods word.

I take it this is more a question in the light of our move to the Holman translation at church.  Though it is relevant to Acts also, because we saw that it is the Apostles witness in the New Testament that points us to Christ.

The short answer is, no it isn’t wrong to keep translating the Bible, In fact we need to keep doing it.  The Bible was originally given by God in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) with a little bit in Aramaic.  So, if we want to read it we need to do one of two things: learn those ancient languages or rely on a translation by people who know those languages.  But the thing is that over time our own language changes.  Some words mean different things in English than they did 300 or even 30 years ago.  So once in a while we need to look at a new translation.

More than that, sometimes people have different reading abilities.  So it is appropriate to have different translations.  The key point though is that even if translations might differ over the most accurate way to translate a particular word, none of the core message of the Bible is ever in dispute.  So while I might recommend the Holman translation I am happy for anyone to read the NIV, ESV, NRSV, NASB etc As long as we read the Bible in a language we can understand!

 (You might also like to see my earlier article on why we are moving to the Holman)


2. What about when others are referred to as apostles in the NT?

Great question.  I made the point that there are no more Apostles after the 12 (including Matthias) and then Paul.  They are the ones entrusted by Jesus with the incredible task of being witnesses to him of what they heard and saw Jesus do and teach.  However, there is a reference to Barnabas as an ‘Apostle’ in Acts 14:14 and he is not one of the 12?  How does that work?

This comes about because the word ‘apostle’ refers to someone who has been sent.  In that sense there are lots of apostles, as many people are sent for specific jobs.  In Acts 13:1-4 Barnabas and Paul are sent by their church and the Holy Spirit for a specific mission.  That is the sense that they are referred to as apostles in Acts 14:14 – men sent to preach Jesus.  In that sense we have lots of apostles (with a little a) but the point is that there no more Apostles (with a capital) who are explicitly sanctioned and given authority by Jesus.

Phil Colgan

Signs of a Healthy Church

15 Oct

Recently, I read a great book by Mark Dever (the Senior Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC) called What is a Healthy Church?

In his chapter on Biblical Discipleship and Growth he has a wonderful section on what ‘growth’ does and doesn’t look like.  I thought I would share that section with you this week (but I encourage you to read the whole book!).

“When you peer into the life of a church, the growth of its members can show up in all sorts of ways”. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Growing numbers being called to missions – ‘I’ve enjoyed sharing the gospel with my neighbours from South America. I wonder if God is calling me to…’ Continue reading

Time to get a new Bible!

9 Oct

Over the next couple of weeks we will be moving to a new Bible translation for our public reading in church – the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Our faith stands or falls on the trustworthiness of the Bible. The Bible is the inspired word of God and accordingly, it is our final authority in all matters of faith and conduct. The Bible is the centre because God speaks through his word.

We have to remember though that the original versions of the Bible weren’t in English. What we have are translations from the original languages of Greek and Hebrew. There are literally hundreds of English translations. Some of them are really concerned to be word for word accurate. Others are more concerned to be readable in modern English. As a result they sometimes paraphrase things to make it readable. However, often that means they have to make a decision about what something means rather than just using the words that the original uses. Continue reading

The Doubting Christian

5 Oct

At some point every Christian has doubts.  “Is this all true?  Can I really trust the Bible?  Is Jesus really the only way?”  At some point we all have these questions.  And sometimes we can think that we are alone in those doubts.  We go to church where everyone else seems so certain and so we start to feel like a hypocrite.  “Maybe I am out of place here? Church seems to be a place for people with no doubts?”  When we start thinking this way we have to remind ourselves (and each other) that nothing could be further from the truth.  All Christians at some time are like the man in Mark 9 who says to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  Sadly, often those with doubts withdraw from fellowship, when in fact the best thing to do is to work through their issues with other Christians.

I have recently read a very helpful little book on just this issue called Keep the faith: Shift your thinking on doubt.  This is a not a book about what we call apologetics.  That is it doesn’t seek to answer all those questions people often ask, like:

Can we trust the Bible?

What about the pygmies?

Why does God allow suffering?

There are many other books that answer those questions.  Instead, this book is about how we deal with doubt.  It shows us that doubting is normal but that there are helpful and unhelpful ways to deal with it. In that sense, I have found this book incredibly helpful.

Why not have a read?  And in a little while I am thinking of hosting a group to talk through some of the things it says.  If you would like me to get you a copy email me at phil@snac.org.au.  Otherwise you could order a copy yourself:  Martin Ayers – “Keep the Faith: Shift your thinking on doubt”

Phil Colgan

‘We’re on a mission from God!’

2 Oct

‘We’re on a mission from God’!

I’ve never watched all of the Blues Brothers (!) but somebody has told me that that is a line that the two men in dark suits say in the cult movie. ‘We’re on a mission from God’. Well whether or not they were, if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ you are on a mission from God. And that is what the book of Acts is all about.

In Acts we see Jesus give his commission to the Apostles and then every Christian who follows: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) That is our mission – there is nothing more important. We are to play our part in seeing the message of Jesus go to the ends of the earth.

Over the next few weeks at Church in the Bank come and think about how we can live out our mission from God together. Be encouraged and challenged by the fearlessness of the early Christians as they started the mission.