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Showing posts from April, 2009

Review: Words of Life

Timothy Ward, Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God (Nottingham: IVP , 2009) This is the book I've long been waiting for someone to write!  As Ward notes, sometimes evangelicals have turned their doctrine of Scripture ( Bibliology ) into something more methodological than theological: too often we divorce our statements on the nature of Scripture from its relation to our Triune God.  Ward redresses this concern with his recent book Words of Life , tracing the doctrine of Scripture through the Bible itself and through the larger theological context of the work of the Trinity, before looking at the more traditional attributes of Scripture (Necessity, Sufficiency, Clarity & Authority) and finally applying the doctrine of Scripture to the Christian life. Ward upholds the inerrancy of Scripture (contrary to a number of recent ostensibly evangelical publications). Yet inerrancy is not the be all and end all of his doctrine of Scripture; rather Ward hel

The Holy Spirit & The Cross

'The Holy Spirit always guides us to Calvary; pointing out the way He exalts the blood of Christ and manifests Himself only where the Atoning and Substitutionary Death of Christ is fully and humbly recognized.' from W.R. Thomas, The Paraclete (English Translation; Cardiff, 2004)

Latest Issue of Themelios

The latest issue of Themelios came out today. You can read it here on html, iPaper or PDF.  If you're not familiar with Themelios , it's a theological journal edited by Don Carson and primarily aimed at theological students (hint, hint) and pastors. Be sure to read Carson's editorial on what the gospel is and isn't, and Carl Trueman's 'Minority Report: A Lesson from Peter the Barber' .

The Need to Read

From Spurgeon's Sermon on 2 Timothy 4:13 We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them.  Even an apostle must read . . . . A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had writt

At the start of a new term ...

As the Easter Term begins today at CTS, with students resuming their studies after the Easter holidays, John Calvin's 'Prayer on Preparing to Go to School' seemed very appropriate: O Lord who art the fountain of all wisdom and learning, since thou of thy special goodness hast granted that my youth is instructed in good arts which may assist me to honest and holy living, grant also, by enlightening my mind, which otherwise labours under blindness, that I may be fit to aquire knowledge; strengthen my memory faithfully to retain what I have learned: and govern my heart, that I may be willing and even eager to profit, lest the opportunity which thou now givest me be lost through my sluggishness. Be pleased therefore to infuse thy Spirit into me, the Spirit of understanding of truth, judgement and prudence, lest my study be without success, and the labour of my teacher be in vain. In whatever kind of study I engage, enable me to remember to keep its proper end in view, namel

The Gospel at the Heart of the Church

That's the heart of the ministry of the church; it's what gives rise to everything we do in the church. If we cannot somehow trace everything that we do in the church to its source in the gospel and its effect in bringing that gospel to a world that desperately needs it, then it just doesn't need to be done, at least by the church. Michael Horton on The Whitehorse Inn , 'Gospel Driven', 19 th April, 2009

Encountering God in Scripture

Whenever we encounter the speech acts of Scripture, we encounter God himself in action. The Father presents himself to us as a God who makes and keeps his covenant promises. The Son comes to us as the Word of God, knowable to us through his words. The Spirit ministers these words to us, illuminating our minds and hearts, so that in receiving, understanding and trusting them, we receive, know and trust God himself. Timothy Ward, Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God (Nottingham: IVP , 2009), p. 97

An answer to the question

(If you don't know what the question is, read:  An Important Question ) The answer that immediately sprung to mind was FOCUS.  If we want to see fruit from evangelism, we need to be focused on the gospel. When I was at university there were some very big evangelical churches with very large numbers of students in attendance. These churches were growing because people were being saved. These churches ran Christianity Explored courses. They had regular evangelistic events. Moreover, they encouraged their members to be involved in personal evangelism. They preached expository sermons through books of the Bible which proclaimed Christ crucified from all the Scriptures. These churches were gospel focused. We also had one of the country's biggest Christian Unions.  It too was very gospel focused. Our slogan, which appeared on all our posters and flyers was simply this: CICCU exists to make Jesus Christ known to students in Cambridge . We had gospel talks every week, as well as r

An Important Question

People at church say many things to me. They make lots of comments and ask lots of questions. Sometimes I forget what they say too quickly. Sometimes it's only relevant in the immediate circumstances. Yet sometimes what people say is fixed permanently in my mind; I can remember it as if it had just happened. I remember not only the words, but exactly where they were said and on what occasion. This post is about one of those questions that I have never forgotten, and hope never to forget.  I remember all the details of when and where it was asked. It happened about a year ago on a beautiful Spring afternoon. It was the end of a church weekend away and I was helping carry cases up the drive to the coach when a lady came along to ask a question.  During the weekend we had been looking at our identity as a church: focusing on what it meant to be Evangelical, Pentecostal and Apostolic.  I had done some Bible teaching on the distinctives of each. Evangelical and Apostolic seemed to go

Evangelical High Places Concluded

Kevin DeYoung has concluded his series on Evangelical High Places ( see earlier post for his first 3 high places ). The last two blind spots are: Lack of Church Discipline Prayerlessness The whole series has pointed out some very important issues in contemporary church-life.

Bible Dictionaries

Someone asked me for some recommendations of good Bible dictionaries in English, so here goes... Marshall, I. Howard, et al , eds., New Bible Dictionary , 3rd ed. (Leicester: IVP , 1996) This is the most highly regarded English language Bible dictionary from an evangelical point of view. The contributors are respected scholars in their fields and have produced a reliable and highly useful dictionary. Brand, Chad, et al ., eds., The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary , (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2003) A strong second choice and probably the most staunchly evangelical dictionary available. Bromiley , Geoffrey, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia , rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans , 1988), 4 vols. At four volumes in length, this is much more comprehensive. This is the one usually recommended for students who are going into the ministry. The IVP Bible Dictionary Series: Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch; Dictionary of the Old Testam

Forthcoming Books from Michael Horton

Michael Horton may come from a very different ecclesiastical background than I, but I love reading his books. Not only is he an excellent writer, but his works are always theologically provocative. Even where we disagree, Horton always gives me something worthwhile to think through. So this week I am delighted to hear that he has two more books in the works.  This October should see the publication of The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World . In Christless Christianity Horton gave us the bad news, and this is the book he then promised to offer the solution. It's already available for pre-order from both Amazon and The Bookdepository (which helpfully notes that there are '164 days to go' until publication). Then in 2010 Michael Horton is due to release a one-volume Systematic Theology...

CT on Northern Ireland Evangelicals

The Christianity Today (CT) blog has been talking about evangelicals in Northern Ireland . It's somewhat strange to see a foreign (American) perspective on evangelical Christianity in my home country.  The piece makes some brief comparisons with American evangelicalism (that being the perspective of CT after all), contrasting the 12% of the population of Northern Ireland classified as evangelical with the 40% of Americans. As a Northern Ireland Evangelical I'd like to offer a few comments of my own.  Firstly, I think a comparison with the rest of the UK would be more helpful than a comparison with a different country .  According to Operation World, 8.5% of the British population are evangelicals. That means that there are significantly more evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland than the rest of the kingdom. Also, the 12% figure actually marks a decline in the evangelical population in Northern Ireland which not that many years ago stood at about 18%. Northern Ireland

Evangelical High Places

Kevin DeYoung has been posting a series on High Places - blind spots that evangelicals tend not to realise are disobedient. Anyway, the series so far is well worth reading. His first three High Places are: The Lack of Psalm Singing in Our Churches (It seems I'm not alone in my thinking this week.) Worldliness in Entertainment The Idolatry of Youth The series is not finished yet, so there are still a few more blind spots to be pointed out.

Keith Getty Interview (by Adrain Warnock)

Keith Getty - Co-Writer of In Christ Alone from Adrian Warnock on Vimeo . While we're on the subject of music, have a look at this interview with Keith Getty. If you don't know who Keith Getty is, you might be more familiar with some of his hymns. He's responsible (along with Stuart Townend ) for such great modern hymns as 'In Christ Alone', 'This the power of the Cross', 'Speak O Lord' and 'See What a Morning', among others. You can find lyrics and some audio samples on his site  (click on 'Hymns'). Here he talks to Adrian Warnock (of adrianwarnock .com ) about such things as writing modern hymns, inter-generational worship, and the role of theology in the songs we sing in church. The interview is well worth watching. Many thanks to Adrian Warnock . (His blog's worth reading too.)

Some Resources for Psalm Singing

Okay, after a theological post on Psalm singing, it's time for a practical one. How can we go about singing Psalms? Well, first you need a Psalter, of which there are many. In the UK the Scottish Psalter of 1650 is probably the best known (that's were you'll find 'The Lord's My Shepherd' and 'All People That On Earth Do Dwell'). Although it may be over 350 years old, it is a good translation of the Psalms and metrical tunes are easy enough to sing. So, if you're used to hymn singing and the King James Bible, the Scottish Psalter should be no problem. They're also easy to find and cheap, or even available for free online . If you don't speak King James, then there are more modern alternatives. The Free Church of Scotland published a new translation in 2003 called Sing Psalms . It's supposed to be very good, as well as being in modern English. I've been waiting for ages for a copy I ordered from an internet bookshop, but if you live i

Psalm Singing

I come from a country that has a rich heritage of Psalm singing. Presbyterianism is the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland and as a result has had a big impact on our culture. Scottish metrical Psalm singing is part of our cultural heritage. Everyone knows at least the 23rd Psalm (sung to the tune Crimond ). Old 100 th ('All Creatures that On Earth Do Dwell') was our school hymn, sung on all special occasions (like prize-giving). Yet Scottish (and Ulster) Presbyterians were not alone in their Psalm singing. At the time of Isaac Watts, his hymns were controversial. No one sang hymns in church in Britain. Only Psalms were sung (hence Watts' Christological Psalms).  Anglican Chant was developed for Psalm singing.  In fact, the Book of Common Prayer calls for a lot of Psalm singing (or at least reading). Today, however, the Psalms seem largely absent from much of our worship. The village church at home back in Northern Ireland only sings Psalms (they'

Easter Hymn (by Martin Luther)

A few days late, but nonetheless... Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, For our offenses given; But now at God’s right hand He stands, And brings us life from Heaven. Wherefore let us joyful be, And sing to God right thankfully Loud songs of Alleluia! Alleluia! No son of man could conquer Death, Such mischief sin had wrought us, For innocence dwelt not on earth, And therefore Death had brought us Into thralldom from of old And ever grew more strong and bold And kept us in his bondage. Alleluia! But Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, To our low state descended, The cause of Death He has undone, His power forever ended, Ruined all his right and claim And left him nothing but the name, His sting is lost forever. Alleluia! It was a strange and dreadful strife When life and death contended; The victory remained with life; The reign of death was ended. Stripped of power, no more it reigns, An empty form alone remains Death’s sting is lost forever! Alleluia! Here the true Paschal Lamb we s

Colloquium Paper

As a few people have asked for a copy, here's a link to my paper from the recent Theological Perspectives Colloquium at CTS.