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Showing posts from January, 2009

Brief Overview of Justification by Faith Alone: A Recommendation

J.V. Fesko has written a very helpful little booklet explaining the doctrine of justification by faith alone.  At only 32 pages this is a very accessible overview of the doctrine 'upon which the church stands or falls' (Alsted) and 'the main hinge on which religion turns' (Calvin). Fesko gives a clear explanation of the Biblical teaching, focusing on the Garden of Eden, Abraham, and the life, death and resurrection of Christ. He also deals with the objections raised by antinomianism and legalism. Overall, this is a sound introduction which could be used with inquirers or believers. It is quick and easy to read, but packed full of solid content. Book details: J.V. Fesko, What is Justification by Faith Alone? (Philipsburg: P&R, 2008)

Turnbull on the Apostolic Vision

T.N. Turnbull, one of the early leaders of the Apostolic Church, explains what being Apostolic is all about: The Apostolic Church is a body of believers who joyfully dare to stand for first-century Christianity, its faith, its practices and its government. The Holy Spirit at the beginning of this century planted a deep desire and particular longing in the hearts of many of God's people for the church of God as revealed in the Scriptures (both in the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline epistles) to be in operation today, and in answer to this desire and craving God has been establishing a body of people who are willing to embrace every aspect of Biblical truth and who have found restored among them the five gifts of the Ascended Lord, together with the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. As an Apostlic Church, we believe that God has committed to us a body of truth as is found in the Scriptures and as is now detailed in the Tenets of our Church. Briefly, the purpose of our fellowship

Preaching & The Eternal Purpose

Dennis Johnson explains what he calls 'apostolic preaching' in his brilliant book Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Philipsburg: P&R, 2007).  Although Johnson himself is not Apostolic, his 'apostolic preaching' is a wonderful model for Apostolic preachers. He even brings in God's Eternal Purpose, the key feature of Apostolic theology, showing its importance in preaching: The purposes of Scripture are not unrelated to each other; they are complementary reflections of God's manifold wisdom. The diversity and unity of Scripture disclose the marvelously diverse and unified plan of God for the whole history of the cosmos. Paul speaks of this purpose of God in Ephesians 1 ... Here is an over-arching statement of the biblical theology of history. History is under God's control, and is in fact the working out of his purpose (see vs. 11). His purpose is the unification of all things under the sovereignty of Christ...  At the most genera

Great article on D.P. Williams, W.J. Williams, the Apostolic Church & the prophetical ministry

Andrew Yeoman has written a great article on the Williams brothers and the early days of the Apostolic Church. Here's just a little excerpt from his conclusions: In as much as God visited young men in a powerful revival to restore truth and pioneer it aboard, He can take up vessels today and do the same, if not more! However, my feeling is that the popular claims today in Christian media, of a ‘new wave of Apostolic reformation’ would do well to be checked against a proper investigation of history, and a learning of what God revealed in that visitation from 1904 onward, and other similar moves.  From that, perhaps we should again with prayerful hearts search the Word. That way, we can learn from past mistakes and successes, and remain on course for an equally deep and anointed manifestation of it today. Today, I don’t want to experience the seemingly shallower versions, when Scripture and history set a higher and deeper standard! And more importantly, I don’t want some of the ob

What's the purpose of corporate worship? (Suggestions in Comments, please!)

I've been doing a bit of writing this week on corporate worship (the thing Christians do together on Sundays).  So anyway, I got to a point where I was writing about the purpose of corporate worship, and wanted a nice brief definition to sum it up. Yet, to my surprise, I couldn't find any nice short to the point (sound) definitions of the purpose of a worship service. Perhaps I've just been looking in all the wrong books. I can find book or chapter length expanations, but no nice summary definitions. So in the end I had to come up with my own: The purpose of corporate worship is that God be glorified both in His action by His Spirit through the means of grace and in our thankful response. Okay, I anticipate a few strange looks! (Perhaps I should anticipate a few gasps from those who don't think it sounds very pentecostal, but I'm trying to be optimistic.) By 'means of grace' I mean Word and Sacrament, and by 'Word' I mean the reading and preaching o

What makes a church a church?

What is a church? Probably our first response is to say the place we go each Sunday! But what makes the place to which we go each Lord's Day a church? Is it just the sign above the door? Or is it the day that makes the place; is it a church because we go there on the Lord's Day? Now, I do know that the Church is a people not a place, but telling me that 'We are the church' is not going to answer my question, for such a response is a confusion of categories. Indeed, we are the Church, but I'm asking about a church, not the Church. Capital letters and small letters make a difference! In theology typically a distinction is made between the invisible church and the visible church, between the church triumphant and the church militant, and between the church universal and the church local (NB these are three different distinctions!). The latter, in Apostolic terms, is the difference between the Body of Christ and the assembly. Yes, both the body of Christ and the a

D.P. Williams knows what he's talking about

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost has caused some to rely and be absolutely dependent upon the promptings of the Spirit for illumination and utterance; they think there is no need of searching the Scriptures and comparing passage with passage; that premeditation and systematic marshalling of facts and arguments are unnecessary : they maintain that they have only to open their mouth and the Lord will fill it. Undoubtedly the Lord has graciously and wonderfully met His messengers who desire to witness for Him, time after time, in their need, in order that they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them. To support their contention, the verses spoken by our Lord to His disciples are often quoted:-'But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.' (Mark 13.11) They forget these words

Singing the Ascension

See, the Conqueror mounts in triumph; see the King in royal state, Riding on the clouds, His chariot, to His heavenly palace gate. Hark! the choirs of angel voices joyful alleluias sing, And the portals high are lifted to receive their heavenly King. Who is this that comes in glory, with the trump of jubilee? Lord of battles, God of armies, He has gained the victory. He Who on the cross did suffer, He Who from the grave arose, He has vanquished sin and Satan, He by death has spoiled His foes. While He lifts His hands in blessing, He is parted from His friends While their eager eyes behold Him, He upon the clouds ascends; He Who walked with God and pleased Him, preaching truth and doom to come, He, our Enoch, is translated to His everlasting home. Now our heavenly Aaron enters, with His blood, within the veil; Joshua now is come to Canaan, and the kings before Him quail; Now He plants the tribes of Israel in their promised resting place; Now our great Elijah offers double portion of

Books on the Tenets 1: The Trinity

I thought it might be useful, now and again, to post on some book recommendations on the Tenets. So today we start off with some books on the first Tenet: 'The unity of the Godhead and the Trinity of persons therein'. Bruce Ware, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles & Relevance ( Wheaton : Crossway , 2005) 173 pages. This book is short and easy to read, and yet still written by a great theologian.  Bruce Ware manages to write a book on the Trinity that should make sense to ordinary christians , and show them the    importance of this central doctrine. John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God ( Phillipsburg : Presbyterian & Reformed, 2002) 864 pages. This is a big fat book that thoroughly treats the doctrine of God. Wayne Grudem says that it is 'a magnificent treatment that will be a standard work for decades.'  Despite it's size, it is quite easy to read. Firmly rooted in Scripture. Robert Letham , The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, Histo

Resource Pages

Over on the left-hand side, you can now find some links to my resource pages. For the moment they're still a bit minimalist and experimental, but already you can find a few interesting/useful things there. The page of Apostolic Theology Resources is to be the home of a (hopefully growing) number of permanent resources on Apostolic theology. Already it is home to the Tenets of the Apostolic Church and has sub-pages containing The Fundamentals of the Apostolic Church and some sermons on the Eternal Purpose (the heart of Apostolic Theology) by Ps . Warren Jones, former national leader of the Apostolic Church in the UK. There is also a page of resources for my seminary students . There I have some very useful links, including, but not limited to, a few good online journals. There are also pages for some specific classes. Some of these are rather bare at the moment, but the Philosophy of Religion page should be expanding in the coming weeks to be of service to my Spring Term Phi

Useful Research Tools

I've just come across a very interesting blog on 'Electronic Resources for Biblical Studies' . Now, I'm not really very tech-savvy, but some of these electronic resources look too good to miss out on. There is actually a free piece of software which will add bibliographic entries and footnotes automatically from your catalogue (or even from Amazon!) in the style of your chosen stylesheet (for those of you at CTS , that means Turabian ; just imagine saving all that time you spend on the dreaded Turabian formatting of footnotes before handing in essays!). There is also some free software that allows you to search documents that you have scanned in to the computer. So if you've read 32 different articles on a similar topic, and then whilst you're in the middle of writing suddenly remember something very useful from one of said 32 articles, but no longer remember which one, you can type in a search term and voila - the requisite reference! (Providing, of course yo

Read Calvin in 2009!

In case you didn't know, 2009 marks the 500 th anniversary of John Calvin's birth. So what better motivation could there be to read Calvin's Institutes from cover to cover! Over at Reformation 21 they're 'Blogging the Institutes' to help keep people disciplined in their reading. You can get a reading plan here , breaking up the Institutes into bitsize chunks to be read in (just under) a year. If you didn't start on the 5 th January, don't worry: some strange American holidays have no readings, nor do weekends, and the plan ends on 18 th Dec; so all that should give you time to catch up.

The Regulative Principle & The Elements of Worship

So, what are the elements of worship (the things that make corporate worship worship)? In fact, the list is not very long.  I've added a few Biblical references (not exhaustive), seeing as we're talking about things found in Scripture. The Sacraments (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; Matt 28:19) The public reading of the Scriptures (I Tim 4:13; Rev 1:3) Preaching and Hearing of the Word of God (Acts 2:42; II Tim 4:2) Prayer (Acts 2:42; I Tim 2:8) Gifts of the Spirit (I Cor 14:26) Singing of Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs (Col 3:16; I Cor 14:26) The giving of Tithes and Offerings (I Cor 16:2; Heb 7:8) So, if these are the elements of worship in the New Testament, that means that these are the only things God commands in worship.  God has revealed in His Word what is necessary for us to worship Him and expects us to pay attention to what He has revealed.  That means that we can do these things 'in church'.  In fact, not only can we do these things in the worship of God, but, m