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Showing posts from April, 2007

"God says "Yes" to creation; he says "Yes" to life."

Daniel Blanche writes:"I am convicted that I need to out-feel those around me who do not know God, because unlike them I have reason to believe that my feelings are a response to real joys and real tragedies. I need to be involved intellectually and emotionally in all the real good and all the real evil of the world and of the lives of those around me. I need to laugh more. I need to cry more."Life is for living. Some say that to err is human. Others say thinking makes us human. We could speculate all day long, but we do actually already know. The first page of the Bible is often ignored because it's perceived to be controversial. Yet, most of the most important words ever said are on that page. The Guardian is publishing a 14 part series on Great Speeches at the moment - they really should include Genesis ch1. We get God speaking. We get God speaking and the universe-happens. Spaces are formed, and then filled. And his approval is stamped on it all - "good". G…

What a true evangelical should be...

They are
"warm-hearted ministers of the Gospel and I bear much love for them. They’re also all joyfully self-deprecating and full of good humour. Exactly what a true evangelical should be."
(Tim Suffield, on CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Lig Duncan and Albert Mohler)T4G-2008 VideoAll in it'd probably cost about £700-800 (double the numbers for dollars) to go to this from the UK... I don't have that kind of money. So, unless someone would like to help... I guess we'll just have to settle for 'NWA08' which is gonna be pretty good too and comes a week earlier.

Eating with leaders

BBQ with Reading CU leaders, and having preached on Titus 1 (mp3 quality is ropey for first 7 minutes but normal after that). My prayer is that they are and continue to be qualified leaders, people of godly character and gospel convictions.

After our church meeting ended and we went out into the Spring sunshine my friend Tony and I had a chat about two things. He challenged me to use more stories in my preaching. I think he's on to something. I feel a tension. I said about 1800 words in 24 minutes (recommended target 20mins.) More stories mean less of something else. I'm keen to do detailed explanation of the text. I included a fairly significant portion of direct application in this talk, and yet I'm left to wonder how much of the material really connected with those present. Some gave very positive feedback so I'm not beating myself up, nonetheless I'm keen to do this more effectively - not least because today's subject matter concerned how to encourage God…

Mend the fence. Build an ark.

Everyone has an explanation as to why there are fractures in evangelicalism. Everyone has their angle. I do. One blogger suggests it's about:"...boundary maintenance by conservative evangelicals who appear to have captured UCCF at the moment and are paranoid enough to feel threatened by those whose commitment to the gospel and scripture has some differences with their own..."Andii BowsherSitting the room, having breakfast with those concerned I'm not sure it shakes down that way. Sure, UCCF is a conservative evangelical movement - in that we're committed to contending (conserving) for the gospel (evangel). Looking at our history - tracked back to the lesser incident in 1919 (which was not over the truth of penal substitution, only it's centrality), it's certainly not about a movement being ' the moment' - we've not moved. The only thing that has changed is that we've become a bit better at communicating who we are clearly. Tha…

Today was sunny

Spent the day at Richard Cunningham's place, being much encouraged to be involved with a family who love the cross in all it's multi-faceted gospel glory and love God's people deeply. It was also very sunny, and that was nice too.

Church Times on the Word Alive issue

Atonement row gets personal as Evangelical partnership splitsPat Ashworth writes: "At the heart of the controversy over Mr Chalke’s views was his rejection of one understanding of penal substitutionary atonement... "Pete Broadbent seeks to bring clarification on the Spring Harvest position: "They’re trying to make it a big issue over Steve Chalke, which isn’t true. He’s one factor among many."

It's not a contradiction, it's wisdom

Some blogs have got a little heated recently over penal substitution and related events. As many have observed, Steve Chalke included, this is an issue that is vitally important. In his words: erroneous theology will always lead to dysfunctional missiology. When things matter we want to speak out. But one other thing each of us (myself very much included) need to consider are things like this.
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.From Proverbs 26. There's a time to speak and a time not to speak. A time to correct what we consider to be error, and a time to tame our tongues and say nothing. How we're supposed to know which one to do is 'wisdom'. The truth needs to be defended but there are days when it's good to say nothing, where responding enflames situations rather than providing clarity. And b default we think we need to speak, and the person we dis…

Our life depends on stories

"The specific, nitty-gritty, sometimes disgusting, sometimes beautiful things that God has done really matter. We're saved by faith alone, but faith needs facts. We need to believe in something particular and concrete. After Joshua and all his contemporaries died, we are told that "there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord" (Judges 2:10-11).

They didn't know God, and this led them into sin. They didn't know God because they hadn't learned about the things he had done for them in the past. Their parents neglected to tell them the stories. They didn't know that God chose Abraham to be the father of his chosen people, and he gave him Isaac. Isaac had two sons--Jacob and Esau. Esau was given the hill country, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt. Later, they were enslaved, but God led them out of Egypt and saved the…

Clear heads, passionate hearts

"Just as one of the mottos of the Reformation was semper reformanda, being radically biblical is going to involve us in the same dynamic process of trying to order more and more of our lives and thinking in line with the will of Jesus Christ. We’re going to go on being radically biblical. I would say this, though: that we want to be a college which is known for its students growing in faith. Faith is in an interesting idea. It captures, in its biblical sense, both knowledge and trust. It’s something that involves both the head and the heart and so we want to be a college where people are grounded, confirmed and increased in what they know of God and his will through his word, but where their hearts and affections are correspondingly warmed towards him. Faith involves both. It would be wonderful if our graduates took out into the churches where they are working that kind of faith: clear heads that know the truth and hearts that are passionate about Jesus and making him known."…

The Wright Impression of Penal Substitution

NT Wright - The Cross and Caricatures
Steve Chalke - Redeeming the Cross
Don Carson reviews Wright on Evil & Suffering
The Oak Hill boys respond to NT Wright's critiques
Just before Easter 2007 Dean Jeffery John went on the public record to say that as far as he understood penal substitution (which was crudely simplified) it was insane, rejecting any notion of it. A month on from that Bishop NT Wright lays into the man from St. Albans, quite rightly. He notes that John cites Isaiah 53 in part but then says... "if you get one part of Isaiah 53 you probably get the whole thing, and with it not only a substitutionary death but a penal substitutionary death, yet without any of the problems that the caricature would carry"Which is interesting not least because we find Steve Chalke (in Redeeming the Cross) cite the start and end of Isaiah 53 but without the bit in the middle that he doesn't like. It's a danger we all have to be wary of - wanting to use scripture to jus…

New UCCF website goes live

Amidst the blogosphere storm about penal substitution we're still getting on with contending for the gospel in the student world. The new release of the UCCF website is a vital resource for serving Christian Unions as Mission Teams...

Especially see...
Jobs: Reading and Guildford Christian Union Staff Worker (CUSW)
Deadline : May 24th

Press Release: Response from UCCF to the SPRING HARVEST decision to end the Word Alive Bible teaching week after 14 years

Issued today by my employer, UCCF.
FOR the past 14 years, the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship and Keswick Ministries have been delighted to partner Spring Harvest in organising Word Alive, one of Europe's top Bible Study weeks with a vibrant student track aimed at young people. Widely recognised, orthodox Bible teaching has been the hallmark of the event.In 2003, the Revd Steve Chalke, one of the Spring Harvest Event Leadership Team, and a member of their Council of Management (trustees), wrote The Lost Message of Jesus. In it, he promoted unorthodox views over the nature of the Atonement, and hit national media headlines over his controversial and graphic description of Penal Substitution.The Word Alive committee, of which UCCF is a part, believed such views to be contrary to orthodox Biblical teaching and as such, decided that the Revd Steve Chalke could not teach from a Word Alive platform.The Evangelical Alliance (EA) held a Theological Forum at which various the…

A mighty feast with Mike Reeves

You need to register to download these for free... doing all of this in one weekend is pretty ambitious and classic Reeves.... The sound quality isn't great but the content is tasty.

A six-course feast for your soul.

Proverbs... Thinking theologically... life through the cross.. Job...Psalms... Song of Songs... Ecclesiastes

More about the All Souls weekend itself from someone who was there

Who knows the future?

Premiership predictor at BBC News
I have to say I didn't give it a great deal of thought as I typed in a few scores... but here's how it panned out (see picture - what would yours look like...) Reality is I don't know how it will go. I can think about possibilities and permutations, I can make plans and predictions but I don't actually even know if tomorrow will happen. Scientifically speaking it ought to but just because something has happened before doesn't mean it will again.3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By …

Seven Days

MP3 of the WeekMatthew Sleeman at Arborfield on Titus 1v1-4 - Message & Ministry.
I've not done this for a few weeks...

1. Freeway & Caroline Bridges

Saturday evening gig at The Swan, Arborfield. Most enjoyablel
2. Discovery
I'm convinced that Mark Lauterbach is one of the most thoughtful bloggers. Now some of his sermons can be found at Sermon Cloud.
Mark has made one of the most helpful posts related to the word alive story.3. Gareth
Final supervision with South East Team Leader Gareth Davies. I've worked with Gareth for a little under six years since he joined UCCF in September 2000. He's been a godly example of care for the gospel and care for people. Notable for his shirts, his liturgical dancing, his Forum seminars on Unity, his infamous sale of Systematic Theology, his work with the NUS and many, many things. He moves on at the end of this month to work for Care who "provide resources and helps to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public…

The word is out...

The temperature is rising on a sad but essential parting of ways. Last month Pierced for our transgressions was published by IVP as a thorough and warm defence of the glorious doctrine of penal substitution. I'm currently reading a copy I managed to borrow - since the first print run sold-out quickly. IVP assure me that the second print run will be available by the start of next week!

Gospel-loving blogger Adrian Warnock is writing extensively about penal substitution and his path meandered to the launch of New Word Alive: "New Word Alive has managed to confirm a fantastic line-up of main preachers: John Piper, Terry Virgo, and Don Carson will all be speaking at the event. Not much wonder that the New Word Alive Facebook group has jumped to almost 900 members already! If they will have me, I may just have to try and go along with my whole family and live-blog, like I did at Together On A Mission 06."This is a conference specifically designed to be cross-exalting and life-…

The Preachers Heart

Are you called to preach?

HT: Ed Goode

And Jonathan Thomas:"This morning I started the new book ‘pierced for our transgressions’ and was nearly bouncing off my chair with excitement when I read their explanation and application of Exodus 12. Then I moved onto John Piper ‘Future grace’ and my heart felt strangely warmed as I read and re-read the fact that I am saved by grace and I will be kept by grace. To see that Christ’s grace is sufficient for today, tomorrow, next week, and all the way into glory was a real encouragement –particularly for a natural worrier like myself. Then I spent some time looking at the ‘reformation study Bible (ESV)’ and really enjoyed it. But it only gets better. I put my iPod on and started listening to ‘songs for the cross centred life’ (SGM) and had all these great truths applied not only to my head but to my heart."

First dance with Velvet Elvis

Dancing with Velvet Elvis you inevitably look cool. It's a good looking book to be reading on the train. The cover is cool. The typography is cool. And many of the things that Rob Bell has to say are also cool. Some of them are not cool. Really not cool. I plan to write several posts interacting with this very popular book. I want to be positive about it's strengths but also robust in some of the areas where I think he's made some bad false steps.

Bell is in with the cool kids from the start because he wants to buddy up to Martin Luther. Luther rocks - theologians who love the Bible and love beer are worth hanging around with. We're warned against thinking that our living of Christianity can be set in stone. That's a good point. We shouldn't say we've got it all figured out, we inevitably have errors in our beliefs and our behaviour. Reformation is necessary. Freezing the faith is not clever.

However, Bell seems to think that the point of reforming is to be r…

Pastoral Refreshment

Talks from 2007 Pastoral Refreshment ConferenceDave Burke - Psalm 103, pt1

Dave Burke - Psalm 103, pt2

Dave Burke = Psalm 103, pt3

Philip Warburton - Faith & DoubtPastoral Refreshment Conference 2008
5-7 February 2008 at Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire

Come and join us for the Pastoral Refreshment Conference 2008. This year’s theme is “Enjoying the Grace of God in Leadership”. If you are in Christian leadership or are married to a leader this conference is for you.

The Pastoral Refreshment Conference is an opportunity for spiritual refreshment specifically tailored to those involved with ministry. It combines inspiring preaching, corporate worship and plenty of encouragement from others with an atmosphere of care, prayerfulness and receiving together from God’s grace.

We are pleased to be able to offer places at the Pastoral Refreshment Conference 2008 at £99 for those who book before the end of October (£150 after that), a reduction of £50 on last year’s price. Publicity will be available…

Seven Days

MP3 of the Week
Steve Abery - Get on the train to God's new creation - from our all-age service this morning.I've not done this for a few weeks...

Been injured since Thursday, but almost recovered now.
2. Cell notes
Very enjoyable experience of working on my final set of cell notes for Reading CU on 2 Chronicles & Esther.
3. Walking in the sunshine.
Days off with my wife. Sunny skies. And lunch from the Wellington Farm Shop. Summer in April is great. Global warming? Woop.
4. Church
We'd missed the last two meetings with our church here and it was nice to be back home with them. Also exciting to have visited Trinity Church last week... maybe we'll be there next year...
5. Entertaining.
Good friends visiting us for dinner. And visiting others for dinner. Friends are a precious gift. As is food.
6. Evie Morgan.
Dedicated on Sunday.

7. Pic of the week:

What Andy did to Tom's room... I imagine Relay 1 will be a riot next year... More of them on facebook

Theology 101 (Trinity)

What if all our theology started with Trinity... not character of God... not doctrine of Scripture... but TRINITY. What difference would that make? And what would trinitarian thinking about God's character, about church, about Scripture, about salvation look like...

Tim Chester on Trinity:"made in the image of the Trinity as we are, human personhood is realised through relationships just as divine personhood is. The doctrine of the Trinity shows us that relationships are essential for personhood."

"The church is the new humanity being re-made in the image of God. “The manifest
inadequacy of the theology of the church,” argues Colin Gunton, “derives from the
fact that it has never seriously and consistently been rooted in a conception of the
being of God as triune.” Instead we think of the Trinity as “one of the difficulties
of Christian belief”. But, in neglecting it, we fail to appropriate “its rich store of possibilities for nourishing a genuine theology of community”.&…

Burn the pews?

“They have these so-called untouchable brown wooden pews. But why not rip them out and burn them? “Country churches can only survive if they are repossessed by the community... Like farmers’ markets, bring and buy sales, for the schools, for meetings. For the village community to be secure the church once again needs to be at its centre.”
Sir Roy StrongThe church owns lots of buildings that hardly get used and cost lots of money. It makes perfect sense to use them for other purposes.What should be noted is that buildings are not special at all - church buildings are just halls, some of them well designed other not. They're not holy places. They're not sancturaries. Just walls and roofs. And it'd be good for the communities in which they stand to realise that they can come inside.The second thing to note is that it would probably help if those who lead the tiny congregations in these places started faithfully preaching the good news about Jesus a bit more - because then thes…

"do not lie about the value of the gospel by the dullness of your demeanor"

John Piper:"Woe to us if we do our exposition of such a gospel without exultation—that is, without exulting over the truth we unfold. When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,” the word he uses for “proclaim” is kerussomen—we herald Christ as Lord, we announce Christ as Lord. The kerux—the proclaimer, the “preacher”...may have to explain what he is saying if people don’t understand (so teaching may be involved). But what sets the herald apart from the philosopher and scribe and teacher is that he is the herald of news—and in our case, infinitely good news. Infinitely valuable news. The greatest news in all the world. The creator of the universe, who is more glorious and more to be desired than any treasure on earth, has revealed himself in Jesus Christ to be known and enjoyed forever by anyone in the world who will lay down the arms of rebellion, receive his blood-bought amnesty, and embrace his Son as Savior, Lord, …

Overcoming sin and temptation

Phil Johnson on spiritual warfare. Who is to blame for our sin and how to overcome it...

"I asked about the nature of the attack he was under. He said he was finding it impossible to get along with his mother. He said the two of them hardly ever spoke a civil word to one another, and it was destroying the peace of their household. He said he found it hard to study the Bible or grow spiritually as long as evil tension ruled the home environment. He was hoping I would tell him how he could get Satan out of his household.

I first asked him what made him think this problem was uniquely Satanic. As he described it to me, it sounded much more like raw carnal pride on both his part and his mother's. They were constantly saying unkind and unloving things to one another. He admitted that he purposely did things he knew would annoy her. He spoke disrespectfully to her. He stated quite clearly that he couldn't stand her and didn't like being around her. It sounded like an unbridle…

Union with Christ and the Cross

Daniel Newman reflects on some wise words in Pierced for our transgressions dealing with a common criticism of penal substitution... concluding:
"In the family photograph of Christian doctrines, let us bring union with Christ towards the front, where it rightly belongs. "Union with Christ is a beautiful and life-giving doctrine that we need to pay much more attention to. One good place to get a grip on it is to take a read of Ephesians... notice all the in Christ's...

Not so much about union with Christ but nonetheless outstanding is this by John Piper on the Cross hosted by the PFOT guys:
‘God Vindicated His Righteousness’ (Romans 3:21-26)

"where is the Spirit of Jesus?"

John Piper:"Oh that the rising generations would see that the world is not overrun with a sense of seriousness about God. There is no surplus in the church of a sense of God’s glory. There is no excess of earnestness in the church about heaven and hell and sin and salvation. And therefore the joy of many Christians is paper thin. By the millions people are amusing themselves to death with DVDs, and 107-inch TV screens, and games on their cell phones, and slapstick worship, while the spokesmen of a massive world religion write letters to the West in major publications saying, “The first thing we are calling you to is Islam . . . It is the religion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil with the hand, tongue and heart. It is the religion of jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah’s Word and religion reign Supreme.”5 And then these spokesmen publicly bless suicide bombers who blow up children in front of Falafel shops and call it the way to paradise. This is the world in whic…

In defence of expository preaching

Peter Adam writes:

(1) Preaching through the books of the Bible, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, respects and reflects God’s authorship. God did not gives us a book of quotable quotes, nor a dictionary of useful texts, nor an anthology of inspiring ideas. When God caused the Scriptures to be written the medium that he used was that of books of the Bible. If that was good enough for the author it should be good enough for the preacher.

(2)Expository Preaching reflects God’s respect for human authors. One of the most beautiful features of the Bible is the way in which God causes his truth to be written and yet does not over-ride the individual writer, but respects their place in history, their vocabulary, their spoken and literary style. If God is so careful to respect the human authors of the Scriptures we should endeavour to do the same by reading, studying, preaching and teaching their books in the order in the way in they wrote them.

Read the other thirteen reasons and more in Pete…

Preaching the Cross

Preaching The Cross

This is the Together for the Gospel 2006 book by Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Jr., C. J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, John Piper and R. C. Sproul.
And I'd really like a copy of it.

HT: Tim Challies

Your blood speaks a better word

The core content of the gospel is always underfire but that has particularly been the case in recent years with attacks by Steve Chalke & Alan Mann and Jeffery John on the glorious doctrine of penal substitution.

Richard Cunningham addressed taught the cross clearly at Word Alive this year from Hebrews 9, something that must continue to keep mission agencies like UCCF in safe hands.

And Adrian Warnock is on the case:

Does the cross of Jesus matter
Quotes from Leon Morris
Attacks on penal substitution
Historical Background
The mission of Jesus
Quotes from Jim Packer

IVP sold out of Pierced for our transgressions but I finally got hold of a copy last night. Temporarily I have custody of Ed's Word Alive Review Copy.

At we've added some new articles on the cross this month:

Dan Strange - The Many Splendoured Cross
Mark Meynell - The Shedding of Blood for a Sin-ravaged World

See also

Mark Dever - Nothing but the blood

"a nominal Christian is happy to pr…

Loving the church

Hebrews help...

This summer I'm doing five talks from the book of Hebrews (one from chapter 3 and the rest from chapters 10-12). I've done some work on all these passages for prior talks but I'd like to take a fresh run at them. I only have the BST commentary which hasn't been particularly helpful... I can't afford the time or money to get more than one or two new commentaries so what would people recommend?

The Holy Spirit... in Galatians

The Holy Spirit is all over Paul's letter to the Galatian churches. Grace and law might be the dominant issue but the answer is completely tied up with the Holy Spirit.3v2 - How did you receive the Holy Spirit? It wasn't by obeying the law it was by hearing with faith!3v3 - So you started in the way of the Holy Spirit (see v2) but you're now going a different way? What's with that?3v5 - How did the Holy Spirit's miracles happen among you? By hearing with faith not by law obeying!Christianity that takes the Holy Spirit seriously is centred upon hearing God's word with faith. That means listening to it and believing what God says. No other doing of stuff has anything to do with it.

Then we find that this is the same way that Abraham was taught. Hear with faith and you get counted righteous by God. Hear with faith and you get blessed! And the big shocker - 3v14 - that promised blessing was "the promised Spirit". The great pay off of the gospel here and no…

Life is for living: going the extra mile

Leadership matters

Four years ago Jeffery John was withdrawn from appointment as Bishop of Reading. John had said publicly that he was a celebate homosexual and the campaign against him was centred on this. I said at the time that this was not the reason to exclude him from office. Rather, he failed to qualify because he adopted a celebate lifestyle to follow church teacher rather than because he accepts what the Bible says. He is a 'liberal', meaning it's not God's word that rules his life, but his opinion. It's dressed up in religious clothing but really it's not Christianity.

He stepped down and the campaign subsided. Perhaps the campaign had no further authority - but it remains that what disqualifies someone to be a bishop also disqualifies from being a dean or a vicar or anything else in leadership until proven repentant. In it's wisdom the Church of England proceded to make this man Dean of St. Albans...

The Bible lays out many qualifications for leadership. One of the k…