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Showing posts from January, 2013

Wednesday Words: Imputation

It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for another Wednesday Word, and today’s word is imputation . What is imputation? Well, imputation means counting something to someone’s account. It sounds a bit like something that goes on in the bank, so what’s it got to do with the Christian faith? Imputation is a very important concept in the Bible and Christian theology as it’s a word which tells us a lot about how God saves us. In the Bible there are three great imputations : 1) The imputation of Adam’s sin to us. Obviously enough, none of us were born when Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. None of us were going round eating forbidden fruit. It was our first parents who sinned in the garden. And yet, the Bible tells us that we are guilty of Adam’s first sin – ‘one trespass led to condemnation for all men … by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners’ (Rom. 5:18-19). We didn’t eat of the fruit, yet the guilt of that sin is reckoned to our account. That’s imputation.

The Trinity, Evangelism & Church Life: YEMA 2013 (Part 2)

A bit more from YEMA today (continuing on from yesterday’s report ). And as I mentioned before, if you want to hear the whole thing (including the Q & A session), then the audio is available to download from the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership site . So, today a summary of Mike Reeves on 'How the Trinity Shapes Evangelism' and David Meredith on 'The Trinity Applied: Church Life.' Mike Reeves’ second session was on ‘How the Trinity Shapes Evangelism’ . Reeves sees two main ways in which our evangelism is shaped by the Trinity. 1.) The Content of Our Evangelism In the pluralistic culture in which we live, the Trinitarian gospel which we share shows how different our God is. When witnessing to Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses, our faith in the Trinity shows immediately that the gospel is good news of a loving God. When speaking with atheists, the truth of the Trinity addresses their problems with what they think of as the character of God. The New Atheists think of Go

The Trinity and the Gospel: YEMA 2013 (Part 1)

Last week I was greatly privileged to get to go to the Yorkshire Evangelical Ministry Assembly, an annual conference organised by the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership and which took place right here in Leeds. The theme this year was ‘The Trinity and the Church’, with David Meredith, pastor of Smithton-Culloden Free Church of Scotland and Mike Reeves, head of theology for UCCF speaking. As I usually blog from AblazeUK each summer, I thought I’d write a little blog summary from this conference too (although, you don’t really need my summary, as the audio of the talks will be available on the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership website ). David Meredith spoke at a preconference evening on the Trinity and Worship , looking at how, not only is/should the content of our worship be shaped by the Trinity, but also how the reality of the Trinity impacts our approach and attitude to worship. It isn’t all down to us to make sure we get everything perfect – we simply can’t; but in Christ we are caught up

Baby Moses: Life out of death

Have you ever thought about Baby Moses, bobbing along among the bulrushes in his little ark? It’s a curious way that the LORD saved Moses’ life. You see, the river Nile wasn’t a very safe place for Hebrew baby boys. Before Moses was born, Pharaoh had ordered all his people to cast any baby boys born to the Hebrews into the Nile (Ex. 1:22), and not for some mass baptism or swimming lesson. No, what Pharaoh wanted was to kill all the baby Hebrew boys. Moses’ mum and dad didn’t want their new baby drowned in the Nile, obviously. So ‘By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.’ (Heb. 11:23). And yet, where do Amram and Jochebed end up putting their son? Into the Nile! The very place from which they had been trying to save him became the place they put him to save his life. The Nile was the place of death; and yet through it God brought life for Moses. God saved Moses thr

Wednesday Words: Propitiation

So, I thought I’d try to do a wee series on Wednesdays looking at significant biblical or theological words – sort of a brief, basic overview of what it means and why it’s important. And as with all good theology, let’s start at the Cross. So today’s first ever Wednesday word is propitiation . I love the word propitiation; it’s a wonderful word. And it’s not just because of how it sounds (although it does sound nice on this side of the Atlantic – it’s one of those words that’s a bit like tomato and aluminium which they say differently on the other side). No, this is one of my favourite words because of what it means. And there is no other word in the English language which means exactly the same thing as propitiation. So what does it mean? Well, a propitiation is a sacrifice which takes away the wrath of God. And so propitiation is a word that tells us about the effect of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross – Jesus, by offering Himself as a perfect propitiatory sacrifice on the Cross

He Is All My Righteousness

There's an old chorus that, despite it's failings, has an incredible verse. So incredible is this verse that I would venture to say that it's one of the greatest lines of any worship song I know: He is all my righteouness; I stand complete in Him What incredible truth! Jesus is ALL my righteousness. He's not just part of it. He's not just the initial righteousness I need to "get in". He is all my righteousness. You see, even though we believe in the imputation of Christ's righteousness in justification, we can still sometimes end up falling into the trap of divorcing that from the Christian life. We end up thinking of justification as being for the beginning (sort of like conversion), but then think that we need to go on from there.

A Tale of Two Kings (Part 3): Responding to God's Deliverance

Not too long ago we had a wee look at the desperate situation in Israel and Judah in 2 Kings 9-11 and how God intervened to turn the situation around through His word and His anointed. But even though both kingdoms were in a terrible state, and even though God intervened in the same way in both kingdoms, the final outcome was different in each kingdom. How? Because the two kings responded to God’s intervention in two different ways. God used Jehu to deliver Israel from the house of Ahab and the cult of Baal. ‘However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan.’ (2 Kings 10:29) Jehu continues to lead the nation in sin and God responds by limiting the reign of his descendents (2 Kings 10:30-31). Why did Jehu do that? What was he looking to? Jehu was looking to tradition. That’s what had been done before in the northern kingdom. That’s the way they worshipped in ‘the good old

Looking Back at 2012

I know we’re well into January now, but I hope you’ll indulge this quick recap of 2012. I want to point out a couple of excellent books to read, a song to sing, and something to watch, as well as a quick blog recap. But first of all I want to say thank you to everyone who’s read the blog over the last year. Thank you to everyone who’s interacted; to those who have commented, to those who have shared posts on Facebook, to those who have tweeted, to those who have emailed, to those who have suggested topics, to those who have texted questions (some of which I still have to get back to), to those who have discussed Apostolic eucharistic theology with me over coffee (yes, more than one person, in more than one country of the UK, but for some reason always in a Costa!), and to those who’ve introduced yourselves on the rare occasions that I’ve been out of Leeds. Thank you everyone! Thanks also to Lillian, who had the wonderful idea of setting up an RSS feed. Having had a bit of unexpec

Mike Reeves on Trinity, Gospel and Church

A TRINITARIAN GOSPEL from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo . That's a short video of Mike Reeves, author of The Good God and head of theology for UCCF speaking about the importance of the Trinity in our presentation of the Gospel as part of the Evangelical Alliance's 'Confidence in the Gospel' initiative. And if you want to know more, and grow in your delight in the Trinity, then Mike's book, The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit , is a good place to start.

Supralapsarianism: it's not a dirty word!

Now for something rather theological. Having in the course of the past year come out on the blog as both a believer in unconditional election and a complementarian (neither of which was much of a surprise to anyone really, and neither of which caused anywhere near as much controversy as this ), today I have another shocking theological confession to make. I am not an infralapsarian. Now, I imagine that last sentence may not make a lot of sense to a lot of people. What’s an infralapsarian when it’s at home? It’s not something that generally/ever gets mentioned in Pentecostal circles.  Well, I mention this because someone did mention it to me the other day. I was asked if I was an infralapsarian, and I realised that I had never had a discussion on such an issue with a Pentecostal before then in my life. So today I’m going to discuss it.

Healing at the Table

A few weeks ago I took the Table one Sunday morning in another assembly and spoke about the reality of the Lord's Supper. I say reality, because I want to make the point that it's not just an object lesson. It's not just a reminder. Something actually happens at the Table: the Bible calls it 'participation' in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). We feed upon Christ in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving.

A Tale of Two Kings (Part 2): How does God intervene?

Recently we looked at how bleak the situation was in Israel and Judah in 2 Kings 9-11; yet, no matter how bleak, the situation can never be too bleak for God to intervene and fulfill His promises in Christ. And God did intervene. He intervened in Israel and He intervened in Judah. In Israel God sent His prophet to Jehu. And the prophet took the Word of the Lord. That was the catalyst: the Word of the Lord. And God worked powerfully by His Word. God’s Word set everything in motion. God’s Word caused people to act. You see, only one thing had changed in Jehu’s situation, and that one thing was that he heard the Word of the Lord. Jehu didn’t suddenly increase in military might. He didn’t suddenly have opportunities that weren’t there before. No, Jehu’s coup was fuelled by the only by the Word of the Lord. That’s what God’s Word is like. It’s so powerful that it can bring down kings and governments. And yet, we often don’t even trust it with much less difficult things than

"He must speak it in my heart": Pray for the Spirit to accompany the Preaching of the Word!

As evangelicals, we rightly place a great deal of emphasis on the power of the Word of God as it is preached and heard. We trust that God does indeed work through His Word. And that's why preaching takes such a central place in church services and sermon prep takes (or should take) such a good deal of a minister's time. Seeing that God is at work to deliver Christ through his Word prevents us from thinking it's all down to us and our delivery. But neither is it all down to us and our prep. The preaching and hearing of the Word needs to be accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit. And if we want our preaching, or our minister's preaching, to be accompanied by the effective working of the Holy Spirit, we should pray! Let me just share a passage on what Luther had to say about this. The block quote Paul Althaus' summary, and the quotations within it are Luther's own words. The activity of the Spirit which always occurs through the word, must first be added

A Tale of Two Kings (Part 1): No Situation Ever Too Bad for God to Bring Life Out of Death

Over a few posts I’m going to take a look at 2 Kings 9-11. It’s rather a low point in the history of Israel and Judah. Both nations had abandoned the one true God. Both had turned to Baal. In Israel King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel had made the cult of Baal the state religion. And then in Judah, their daughter Athaliah had married King Jehoram and brought with her her parent’s vile religion. So, Jehoram of Judah ‘walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord’ (2 Kings 8:18). So, not only had the house of Ahab succeeded in turning  Israel to Baal, but now Judah as well. So now, in the Promised Land, there was no God-fearing king and no God-fearing nation. Indeed, this was a low-point. It looked as if the true worship of God had been done away with once and for all. It looked like God’s people were destined to be a dwindling, persecuted and insignificant minority. Bu

Picture of True Preaching

Here's a re-post from 2009 to kick off 2013. It's the second most read post on this blog (and far more interesting than the most read post!) Re-posted exactly as written. I came across a picture this week which fascinates me. It was painted by Lucas Cranach, a Reformation era German painter. Cranach knew Luther, and indeed painted the famous picture by which Luther's face is best known. But Cranach did not only paint what he saw. He also had a habit of expressing theology through painting. Often these theological paintings were for the decoration of Lutheran churches. The one I noticed this week was for the altar in St Mary's Church in Wittenberg (home town of the Reformation). This Cranach painting is in many ways quite simple. It consists of a large stone room. At one end, Martin Luther stands in the pulpit, looking straight ahead, with one hand pointing to the open Bible and the other hand pointing straight ahead. At the other end of the room are the congr