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Showing posts from September, 2006

Theology for All Conference

Went to Theology For All conference at Duke Street Church, Richmond today. Also present were Nathan Burley, Rosemary Grier, Gareth Batten (2 sessions already blogged)and our speaker, Carl Trueman.

I'll blog some of the quality things he said in the days ahead as I process them! It was great to hear perspective on the church today from a church historian - I was very struck by the different angle this brings on theological issues. "A church without church history element is doomed to be irrelevant...". This was supplemented by a strong desire for a growth in humble orthodoxy in the church.

Today inspired me towards full-time study - too many problems occur because of doctrinal shallowness, and lack of grasp of church history. Though, this from David Field makes me query whether the CofE route would be the best option. The jury is out on that for now.

MP3s of Carl Trueman's lectures today will appear in due course. Given the ocpious notes that Grier, Burley and I were ta…

Advance to Go!

Preached tonight for Reading CU's pre-Freshers meeting. I gather an MP3 will be forthcoming. Whether this achieves its purpose will be seen in the rest of this week and beyond... God is sovereign and he speaks!
ADVANCE TO GO! Acts 4:23-33
It starts with a prayer meeting. But we're going to get this we need to rewind a bit. What was going on - we had Peter and John and the beautiful gate calling a man to be healed in Jesus' name. Peter then preached and was hauled up before the authorities.Think for a moment, why would this happen? How could any of God's people end up in front of the authorities for their preaching? One way is by being stupid, rude, foolish. That happens. Christians are sometimes really dumb and it gets us, quite rightly, in trouble. But that wasn't what happened here. This was different. The Saduccees had Peter and John arrested for preaching the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. Everyone had heard about the man they'd healed (in Jesus' name)…

Wealth Redefined

My ongoing thinking about money, for my book project, has left me with a stack of mp3's to listen to in the next few weeks. Among them several from Christ the King, Brighton (including this one by Tery Virgo: Planning your future - 8th Jan 2006), and this one from Matt Chandler...

Matt Chandler - The Letter to Smyrna - Wealth Redefined - 8th August 2005

"Because if people, here’s the thing, we’ve just been given this great mercy of being born in this country and so nobody in here knows poverty, Nobody. If you are homeless in here tonight and someone invited you in, by the world’s standard you’re still pretty wealthy*. You’re still pretty wealthy. Most of us ate something today. You tracking with me? Most of us ate something today.....Could you have great physical wealth, and be completely safe and comfortable, and have an impoverished soul that’s in danger?.... So what happens here is Jesus just redefines wealth for us... I want us to look at this idea tonight that wealth…

Taste and see! Life-giving theology

Gareth and I decided today that these books will probably be our core resources as we prepare our conversation about Calvinism and Arminianism at the end of October,to be held in Guildford for the benefit of our Relay workers. We'll centre upon the nature of God's sovereignty as we consider this issue - chiefly, how does God act sovereignly - how does he elect - how does his knowledge of the future affect things...

We want to keep it friendly as we discuss the issues involved. I don't want it to just be theoretical because theology is about who our God is, and its about how we live, its about whether God gets glorified or downgraded. I love Mike Reeves' definition of theology, he says it is what Gideon does in Judges 6, its about smashing up idols altars and restoring the worship of God in the hearts of God's people.

Theological issues such as this are not obscure and irrelevant... they're a matter of vital spirituality, faithful worship and Christian joy. Bad t…

My life is hid with Christ in God

Hebrews 2:5-3:6.

What is the world like? v15&16 tell us that the world is in lifelong slavery because of the fear of death. It doesn't always show, but things are not always how they seem. And this feeble power is wielded by the devil. He offers us the best he can and it is a pathetic life of slavery. And we buy it. He wants us to despair.When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.But then Jesus. Then Jesus! The one who is higher than angels. But for a time be became lower than angels. He became a man. In coming lower he tasted death and suffering for us - and is now in glory and honour. In doing this he becomes our perfect priest and sacrifice. The propitiation for our sin - God's means of becoming favourable towards man. On Jesus fell God's wrath that I deserved. God's justice satisfied.Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look…

Youthful Passions

What are the main sins of youth? Alcohol? Internet pornography? Flirting? Ambition? Self-centredness? As Paul writes to Timothy he has something else in mind that Timothy must flee to be a faithful minister of Christ. "Youthful passions".

2 Timothy 2:20-26.

Until earlier this month I'd presumed that the warning for Timothy to flee youthful passions meant that he should steer clear of sexual immorality - which is an issue in our day, and may well have been then.

Then Mo flagged something up at Relay 1 that suggests otherwise. Paul says, have nothing to do with foolish and ignorant quarrels... because ...the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his oopponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil.... Similar words are in view earlier as Timothy is instructed to be an unashamed workman, free from q…

Piper is bad?

Prayer: The Work of Missions

From John Piper, in 1988...In order to mobilize a movement of prayer in the church and in order to sustain a will to pray in our hearts, we must think and talk about other things besides prayer. This is the key lesson I have learned in recent years.

1. We must talk first about war. Because life is war. And it is utterly impossible for people to know what prayer really is until they know that they are in a war, and until they know that the stakes of that war are infinitely higher than the stakes in the Persian Gulf or in the Reagan-Gorbachev consultations.

2. We must talk about the Sovereignty of God. Because only from this great truth can we know that we will win the war. And only then will we have hope and strength to press on in a life of prayer.

3. Then, when we have spoken first about the war we are in and next about the sovereignty of God, then we can come to what I will call the awesome place of prayer in God's purposes for the world."The modern missionary movement did not…

glorying Christianity

"...we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human remains useless and of no value for us."
-- p537, Calvin ICR III.i.1

" can there be saving faith except in so far as it engrafts us in the body of Christ?"
-- p576, Calvin ICR III.i.39Calvin conditions his extensive discussion of Christian life upon union with Christ. The life set free from sin by grace is reborn united to Christ. He is now our life. Inseparably. He is counted to us as righteousness, and is our life. No mere lifestyle choice or shallow creed, but a new existence. Piper hits the mark when he asks us to consider the prospect of heaven without Christ - we would not be happy. Our eternity is not some self-indulgent hope, but forever face-to-face with Christ." is a token of the most miserable blindness to charge with arrogance Christians who dare to glory in the presence of th…


This is not the start of a 365 just some highlights of the last seven days in no particular order.Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. I really, really like this book.Coffee and conversation with Dad on Thursday.Hedge cutting. Though my arms now ache from it. Thanks for the tools Dad.Orlando. Saer not Bloom, talking about Jesus at Surrey CU.Freedom! Studying Galatians 1 with my Relays and with Ben.Junebug and Brick.PCC (Church Leadership Team) meeting. Quirky things to discuss at times, but great to partner with such godly people in God's work.Memorable (but not a highlight) is eating hot homemade curry whilst watching X-factor. The joys of being married to a music geek! But, why do these people's friends hate them so much that they don't tell them they are painfully talentless? I know I can't sing, which is why I'd never do that sort of thing. And there were even some Christians on the programme. Whoever is pastorally responsible for them needs to to…


(HT: Mark Crossley, reader of this blog)

Richard Dawkins is promoting his religion again with his usual bluster and inflamatory language: The God Delusion"they are religious idealists who, by their own lights, are rational. They perceive their acts to be good, not because of some warped personal idiosyncrasy, and not because they have been possessed by Satan, but because they have been brought up, from the cradle, to have total and unquestioning faith."

If we add the word "in science" perhaps these words are Dawkins' confession of his own creed.Dawkins may well be drawing on real believers who are lazy and brash with their use of scripture, but he hardly draws on the best examples, those who take the Bible as the literature it is, handling it with due care and attention - and careful doses of humility. We must take the Bible literally, as history where appropriate, elsewhere as poetry, law, letter or gospel.

What is plain is that Dawkins has failed to understand …

A thousand songs proclaiming the glories of Calvary

Bob Kauflin posts very insightfully here:Q&A - Are we forgetting the Cross ...summarising with 10 reasons why Christ Crucified is often lacking in the songs that we sing. May God raise up a generation of songwriters who are not ashamed to sing of the Lamb who was slain, who would rather plough their creativity into songs that boast in the Cross, than in themselves.

Christian Union (continued)

I'm reading and re-reading Richard Gaffin's essay in Always Reforming (Edited by A.T.B. McGowan): Union with Christ: Some Biblical and Theological Reflections which interacts strongly with John Calvin's writing in Book 3 of his Institutes of Christian Religion that deal with The Way We Receive The Grace of Christ. It's brilliant.

"Certainly, this Christ, his death and resurrection, including his ascension and Penetcost, as the culmination of redemptive history, are the heart-core of the gospel. They are, as Paul says, 'of first importance' (1 Cor 15:3). He and other New Testament writers make that abundantly clear. The controlling centrality of Christ's work is not at issue here.
But to punctuate the gospel, particularly its proclamation, with a full stop after Christ's death, resurrection and ascenion, allowing for his future return, does not do the gospel full justice, as 'thepower of God for the salvation of everyone who believes' and as t…


Matthew Parris at his witty best:

Lib Dem anarchists are coming – and they may have exploding mobiles

The Times - September 21st

Theology for All

I've plugged this before but thought I'd plug it again... also if you want an idea of quite how insightful and quality Carl Trueman is, listen to this interview - from - A sweeping conversation with Carl Trueman

"Church and Theology Today:
What is Really at Stake?"
Theology for All: Annual Day Conference
Saturday 30th September 2006
10.00 am - 4.00 pm

Speaker: Professor Carl Trueman,

Carl is currently Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He previously served on the Faculties of the University of Nottingham and the University of Aberdeen. A specialist in 16th and 17th century theology, he has also written extensively on contemporary evangelical theology, edits the student journal Themelios, and has a monthly column in the ezine, Reformation 21. Dr Trueman's books include Luther's Legacy: Salvation and English Reformers, 1525-1556; The Claims of Truth: John Owen's Trinitarian Theolo…


I like blogs to look nice, here's a few of my attempts at making the blogosphere look a bit nicer on the eye.

Young, restless and reformed

Christianity Today's Young, Restless and Reformed article is now online.
(HT Justin Taylor)

"Why would God choose any of us? You are so amazed by grace, you're not picking a fight with anyone, you're just crying tears of amazement that should lead to a heart for lost people, that God does indeed save, when he doesn't have to save anybody." - Joshua Harris

Coffeehouse Conversation : The Law

The conversation is ongoing, come and join in at The Coffee Bible ClubUnderstanding The LawThe effects of the Book of the Lawa new law: living Jesus' way by the SpiritThe Final Word on the LawThe Law helps us listen to JesusWhat Jesus demands from the world

Last night we began to study Hebrews at our homegroup. A light-bulb came on about the use of the law. See Hebrews 1v1-2v4.

When a parent disciplines a child it helps to prepare them for a teachers authority. When a teacher disciplines a child it helps to prepare them for the authority of employers, the law of the land etc. We see the consequences of infringing the authority of those with limited power to punish... and it helps us to listen to those who have greater power.

This lesser to greater argument seems to lie behind the seemingly bizarre argument of Hebrews 1v1-2v4. The writer initially seems to have a major Angels hang-up. He tells us how God has spoken definitively through his Son Jesus. The Son who holds all things toget…

Advance to go: Guildford!

Surrey freshers week is in full-flow. Tonight is the first Christian Union meeting. Christian Unions are Mission Teams, so when we meet the aim is to get equipped for mission. To hear what God has been doing, to pray - and then to have God speak through his word. And then to head back out together into the missionfield to live and speak for Jesus.

Orlando Saer is down tonight to preach from this, in Mark's gospel!Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life." Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.
Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, "Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God."

Jesus then to…

Christian Union

Where would you go to explain the gospel from the Bible. I can honestly say that Romans 7 isn't high on my list of places to try. But that was where Peter Kingston took us.... held within the context of chapters 6-8 of the same letter.

Romans 7:1-6

So the image is marriage. The union between people, a fading image in our culture but one that still does exist. The image needs to have remembered that marriage is supposed to be "until death us do part". Our culture might have forgotten that but take that as an underlying assumption for the sake of argument here.

So it starts with a marriage. Not with some way of living but a question of identity. And it starts with us married to law. Married to a bad spouse whose best guesture is to make us feel bad and guilty, and lead us into soul-destroying rebellion against God. And we're stuck in that marriage. Why? Because marriage is until death us do part, and that spouse ain't dying.

If we try to escape and live with Jesus we&…

You mean God doesn't want some people to repent?

I've spent this afternoon rubbing my face in the Parable of the Word in Mark 4. And then I read this by Dan Phillips: Doomed Evangelism. Makes very helpful, if sobering reading. The Parable-Principle in action as Moses meets Pharaoh in Exodus 10.

When Paul writes about this doctrine in Romans 9, with his own people group in view, he writes with devastation and tear-stained face. We struggle with this doctrine because we don't like the idea of people not believing when we preach. But the weight of Biblical evidence seems to be that God is active both in hardening as well as in showing mercy, in both cases for his glory.

Approached from a different angle

Preaching to Felt Needs. Mohler cites William Willimon: "Jesus doesn't meet our needs; he rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs, and he gives me needs I would've never had if I hadn't met Jesus. He reorders them."At Forum we sang Tim Hughes' song The Rising Sun which includes these words. "Almighty God, in every way
You are above and beyond understanding"
Its a decent song that captures something of the spirit of 1 Corinthians 2. If you'll forgive the slight critique the song misses the fact that our Almighty God has been revealed. The same niggling feature is found in Wonderful so wonderful. I really like both songs but seem to be missing something.

The gospel, the revelation of our God is beyond our understanding and invention. This is true. We would not come up with it. Freud was right that religion is a projection of our desires. But Christianity is not. No-one comes up with a God like the Trinitari…

Branding & Blogfinds

I spent yesterday at University of Surrey at the start of Freshers Week. It was great to meet Christian freshers who are keen not to waste their time at University, to catch up with the returning 2nd & 4th years. And many thanks to the Partridge family for dinner.

Pod introduces the official UCCF iPod nano's here. These are surely the official Bible's we should be adopting to remain under the rule of Pod. ESV TruGrip Edition

Meanwhile, Becci resumes 365. Thabiti feels like preaching. Ievin's is thinking about reprobation. Adrian Reynold's is excited by God's desire in salvation. At the Castle is worth a look for audio downloads. (HT: Dave K)

Making good arguments: Tom on Pope wades into fight, Albert Mohler on The Pope, the Prophet and the crisis of truth. John Mark Reynolds is on the same case: "The obvious question is to wonder about how easily our foes are baited by a very clever pontiff. Is there a radical Moslem with a sense of irony? When they threaten t…

Bread and Wine; who's on your mind?

Mark Lauterbach tells us about how his church has stopped making us the focus of communion, and instead started remembering Jesus more.Remembering Jesus - Part 1Remembering Jesus - Part 2Remembering Jesus - Part 3"There are two ways to see my sin -- I can look at Jesus through the filter of my sin or I can look at my sin through the filter of Jesus... at the foot of the cross I am remembering Jesus and applying that remembrance to my sin -- rather than starting with my sin!"

FAQ: Advice for Christian freshers

This time last year I wrote a list of 10 top tips for Christian Freshers, this is my list this year... basically similar but with a few changes and a dose of sunscreen style advice.

1. Sleep at night, and eat fruit and veg in the daytime. These will help you to study and live more effectively. Your body belongs to God, treat it well. Get a smoothie maker. Put fruit in it, and then consume. Budget well. If you spend everything in the first week you will have no money later. If you have no money you can't eat. You need to eat. A credit card is not free money, neither is an interest free overdraft. It all has to be paid back. Use it if you need to, not because you want to.

2. When you don't know, ask. This is called humility. A lot of time, particularly on my course, I didn't ask. This was pride. Because of that pride things quickly went over my head. In freshers week everyone looks self-confident. Most of these people wear it as a mask. They really are and feel as clueless as …

Bring my books...

The Pyromaniacs highlighht Spurgeon on Paul's request for his books! (HT: Etrangere - Amen & Woohoo! indeed!). Rosemary is looking for suggestions for good books.

Have a look at this review of James Sire's Why Good Arguments Often Fail. A good new book that points us back to Jesus."The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own." - CHSOver coffee we're begining a discussion on the law at The Coffee Bible Club. Come join the fun"

Also loving this from Spurgeon - on the breathtaking splendour of Jesus, in Hebrews 12 which I quoted today."“Where shall language be found which shall describe his matchless, his unparalleled love towards the children of men. Upon any ordinary subject one may find liberty of speech and fullness of utterance, but this subject lies out of the line of all oratory, and eloquence cannot attain …

Don't Waste Your Life

Script from student send-off at Cranleigh Baptist Church last week and Fresh at Reading today.

Jesus, in You're in the departure lounge. About to board your flight to University. About to fly off to a whole new world, waving your family off... En route to a whole new world... Some sit impatiently, they want to have already arrived. Others are looking for excuses not to fly. Some have heard about the risks of flying, about terrorism... they're scared. Others are lost somewhere in duty-free and haven't really connected with what is about to happen. Where are you?

My departure lounge experience for University was enough to shock me into becoming a Christian in the Summer of 1997. Waking me up from being a church-attender to believing that Jesus Christ is Lord.

University life has many exciting opportunities... a blank canvas waiting to be painted. Stories are told of unconstrained sin in the student world... but the reality is that sin simply mutates to fit its environment. Our…

The T-Shirt everyone wants?

Available soon from: The Jonathan Edwards Blog

... Much more profitable might be these notes by Edwards on Galatians: here. Or his Concerning Religious Affections and The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God.

Congrats to Dan & Steph

Union with Christ

Today at our UCCF South East Team Days Peter Kingston, ex-Wycliffe Bible translator in Brazil, came to teach us about World Missions. The missions stuff was cool - basically an overview of God's mission in the Bible and some stuff on being sensitive. It was good. But better, was session 1 on what is the gospel - a key question for anyone doing missions.

I'm too tired to type it all up but basically we looked at the start of Romans 7 and the surrounding arguments and concluded that the essence of it was Union with Christ which is of course won for us at the Cross. From this everything else flows - life in the Spirit, eternal security, reigning in life, not having to sin etc. All of which our dying sinful nature tries to thwart by tempting us back.

But, union with Christ is better that everything else - its not like Islam that can offer you 70 virgins, or Buddhism that might offer nothingness, or Hinduism offering a shot at paradise... this is guarenteed getting everything as a …

Mark 4 - Jesus' Powerful Word

Part 1 - Jesus' Parable of the Word (v1-20)
Looking at the parable and its interpretation....
What is the seed?
Where is the seed sown?
Who should the word be sown to?
What will our evangelism need to look like this year?

Part 2 - The effects of the word (v1-20)
Why is it not surprising if someone hears the gospel and doesn't believe?
What causes people to reject the word?
How does the interpretation of the parable give massive encouragement in evangelism?
How does this encourage us to sow the word in evangelism?

Part 3 - The purpose of parables (v10-12)
What two kinds of people are there?
What does Jesus say is the purpose of parables?
How will we respond to Jesus' hard words here?
What does that say about the kind of person I am?
Look at v21-25 - Is Jesus making it difficult for us to believe?
So, why wont people believe then - e.g. Mark 7v21-23?
How will this teaching affect the way we approach the word?

No Squirrels

Jared Wilson is reading the gospels... Here is my guiding principle for reading the Gospels: The point is Jesus. Every saying, every story -- Jesus. If the main point you're getting out of the story doesn't center squarely on Jesus, I respectfully suggest your aim is off. Example: Lots of people look at the story of Jesus throwing the moneychangers out of the temple and think this is about how it's wrong to sell stuff at church....the point of that story is not "commerce and temple don't mix," because up until that point, commerce and temple had to mix for the temple system to work. No, the point of that story is that Jesus replaces the temple system.

Example: The point of the parable of the man who built his house on the sand is not "be prepared" or "have a solid foundation" or "think ahead." The point is that building your life on anything but Jesus is making rubbish of your life.Elsewhere Caleb Kolstad has read the Christianity …

Enjoying the old, old story

Chris Pixley has been citing from .Daniel Block's essay in Giving the Sense (ht: Milton Stanley). I bought the book a while ago but never really got around to reading it, until now.

We're warned against rushing to preaching Biblical narrative, looking for points for personal application without carefully considering the text.

This stops us in our tracks when we're searching for immediate devotional application from small sections of narrative - sometimes we need to take more time, slow down, read bigger and longer and wait a while. Delayed gratification. Careful study will yield authoritative teaching from God's word.

Block makes a number of points but concludes with two very helpful tips:Read more, not less of the Biblical text. We're challenged to read plenty of the text. Get the Bible open and read plenty of it outloud. And read it well, with expression and right emphasis.Develop the sermon around the theological overflow that derives from the passage. Pay carefu…

Closed System

Countless ages and stages on history's pages
Walk down the street as the leaves are falling
The shops closed down to be restyled and rebranded
Can't lets us think the world is decaying
Maths geeks and mystics tell our future
They paint a facade, wise men pretending
The air saturated with what we want to hear
Afraid of our silence, paranoid dreaming

Free lunches and free money without faith to be happy
Find the hero within if you keep self-improving
Scarred by the memories of starving children
Progress can't keep us from killing
Silence the cries of the old man and the unborn
Ignore the fact that its happening
Numbed by confort and ease, walk around in a stupor
To hide form the pain of choosing

Trample all under foot so only the fittest survive
We learned to vaccinate against carying
The great and the good, the bad look the same
This dejavu wont stop repeating
Luke the glory of sunrise and its inevitable sunset
Can't keep our empires from falling
Space age or new age, reload another web page

What to do in the face of disaster

In light of 9/11, I thought I'd post this talk on Luke 12v54 - 13v9 about how we should respond in the face of disaster.

What do you make of what’s going on in the world these days? Maybe you think things are bad. There is the threat of terrorism, crime is on the increase, there’s no job security and can’t be sure that when we retire we will have a state pension. Perhaps though you’re not so pessimistic. You know there are problems, but see that we have warm houses, healthcare, access to food, freedom and prosperity.

Whether things are good or bad though depend on your point of view, the way you interpret the times. We have to interpret the times quite often don’t we to make good decisions in our life. For example, we try and work out which part of town is best to live in, what clothes would be appropriate to wear to work tomorrow or what company we should buy shares in to maximise our profit,

How is it we answer these kind of questions? Well, we look at the world around us, we under…