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Showing posts from May, 2013

"Here is Something Marvellous"

"Here is something marvellous: the Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, he willed to be borne in the virgin's womb, to go about the earth, and to hang upon the cross; yet he continuously filled the world even as he had done from the beginning." (Calvin, Institutes , ii.xviii.4)

The Glory of Christ's Ascension: Some Listening

The Ascension of Christ is the culmination of His work of the Cross. That means it's really important. Yet, perhaps it's something you don't hear preached about all that often. So, here are a few sermons on the glory of Christ's Ascension (two from me, and one from someone better). First mine. Here's a sermon on the  doctrine of the ascension  from a few years ago. Then, here's a recent one on Psalm 24 . And while we're at it here's one of the most amazing sermons I've ever heard, which also happens to be on the ascension of Christ, preached by Dev Menon .

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit

It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for a Wednesday Word , and this week our word is actually more like five words (but Wednesday Phrase just doesn’t sound as good!): it’s ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’. You see, last Sunday was Whitsun, and I am a Pentecostal, so baptism in the Holy Spirit (or BHS for short) it is. Now, Pentecostals tend to be quite good at talking about BHS as an experience or about some of its effects, but we’re not always quite so good at talking about what it actually is. And that’s a problem, because when we don’t talk about what it actually is, it leaves people with all sorts of wrong ideas. So sometimes people end up equating the baptism in the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues (and let me say this right at the outset, the two are definitely not the same thing!) and other people think of it as power to do miracles or ‘the gateway to the gifts’. One of the ways people often describe it (boosted in popularity by some good and helpful work in the field of New Testa

The Trinity for Life

This coming Lord's Day will be Trinity Sunday, but the Christian faith isn't just about the Trinity once a year. You see, the Trinity isn't some complicated mathematical problem to touch on once in a blue moon, and then ignore for the foreseeable future. Nor is the Trinity simply a point on a list of doctrines to agree with in order to be 'sound'. No, the Trinity is Christianity. The Christian faith is the Trinitarian faith, and the Christian life is life in the Trinity. All of Christian life and faith is to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. So anyway, as it's coming up to Trinity Sunday (and hence the blog is getting tons of visitors searching for things to do with the Trinity), I thought I'd give you a few Trinity sermons, a couple links some older posts on the Trinity, some links to more substantial post by other bloggers, and finally a few book recommendations on the Trinity.

The Glory of Whitsun

I’ve been away at May Council all week and, although I managed to line up a few posts automatically for while I was away, I wasn’t organised enough to have a Wednesday Word ready in advance. But if I had been, it would have been linked to Whitsun (which is this Sunday by the way). Come to think of it, I’ll probably have a Whitsun linked Wednesday Word next week, but now before we actually get to Whitsun I want to write about what makes it so glorious. Near the end of Council I briefly remarked on the significance of Whitsun, and immediately regretted my choice of words. (It’s a lot easier to say what you want to say in writing than in a spontaneous remark on the floor of May Council!) You see, I had intended to highlight the glory of it, but on the spur of the moment fell into a few tired clichés. Now, there’s nothing wrong with our typical Whitsun clichés, they do express something of the truth, but the thing is, we’re so used to them that perhaps we miss the glory behind them. And

Why we still need church government in a 'post-denominational' age: A Biblical case for Council [Repost]

We live in an increasingly post-denominational world. Independent churches and loosely affiliated networks abound. 'Surely that's the way of the future', it might seem. But, there is one argument that can turn our attention away from what seems to be in vogue: the New Testament demonstrates a church government that doesn't stop at the doors of the local church. One way in which the New Testament shows church government going beyond the local is in the concept of Council. The word Council isn't actually used, but the concept is certainly there. The major biblical example of Council, is the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. The Jerusalem Council was held to decide upon an important matter of doctrine. Yet the actual manner of the convening of the Council is worth noting. Paul and Barnabas didn’t go up to Jerusalem for Council because it was May. (We don’t know what month it was.) They went up because there was a matter to be resolved. There was a major problem to be se

What is Apostleship? Of Revelation & Authority and where they come from [Repost]

'Just what is an apostle?' is a question that often gets asked but seldom gets answered clearly, but two words are often linked to apostles when an explanation is given:revelation and authority. That's all very well, but what exactly do we mean by linking apostles with revelation and authority? What sort of revelation and authority are we talking about? Authority always has a source. A judge gets his authority from the Crown and the law. His authority is not his own, but an authority which he holds on behalf of the Crown. Parents, on the other hand, have authority due to who they are: parents. Theirs is not a delegated authority, but belongs inherently to them. And they can even delegate a measure of that authority to the babysitter. So what sort of authority does an apostle have? Is it a derived authority (like the judge) or an inherent authority (like the parents)? It has to be a derived authority; for the apostle is not Head of the Church, Christ is. As the only Head

Singing the Bible's Song of the Ascension

Tomorrow is the Sunday after Ascension Day, and as Ascension Day (the greatest Thursday in the year!) isn't a holiday in the UK and most of us don't have Ascension Day services on a Thursday (alas), the Sunday after Ascension Day is a good time to dwell upon the glory of our Ascended Saviour. So, here are two completely different takes on singing the Bible's own song of the Ascension - Psalm 24. First up, here's Sons of Korah's version of Psalm 24 with words taken straight from the Bible (NIV I think) and in contemporary worship style.

Of worship and Jesus (with John Calvin, Hillsong, and Sydney Anglicans thrown into the mix!)

I imagine Hillsong and Calvin don’t often make it into the same article. But here goes! As Monday was a bank holiday, I got to do a bit of fun reading (which just so happened to be Book 2 of Calvin’s Institutes ) and I could do a bit of leisurely clicking on twitter links too (one of which happened to be about Hillsong). So since then, I had a strange combination of Calvin and Hillsong going round in my head! Book 2 of the Institutes is good, because it’s about Jesus. Yes, there’s a good bit of discussion about the sinfulness of human nature, the relationship between the Testments, and the Ten Commandments, but the overall theme of Book 2 is ‘The Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ’ . And at one point, as he’s discussing our need of Christ as Mediator, Calvin writes, ‘No worship has ever pleased God except that which looked to Christ’ (Inst., ii.vi.1). Now, Calvin’s particularly thinking backwards at this point to the Old Testament; true worship in Old Testament Israel was n

On Ascension Day

A Song for Ascension Day. Or, here's the traditional tune on the piano with the original words below.

Wednesday Words: Ascension

Tomorrow is Ascension Day. It’s a day that easily slips by unnoticed (after all, it always falls on a Thursday). And perhaps the ascension is also something that easily slips by without getting much attention, as we look on either side of it to the cross and resurrection and to Christ’s return. Yet, the ascension is important, very important. The ascension is the end and culmination of Christ’s earthly ministry and the outcome of the Cross (Acts 2:23-33; Eph. 4:9-10). And, Christ’s ascension has significant implications for us too. A Bodily Ascension Jesus didn’t leave His body behind. Nor did He get rid of it. The Incarnation wasn’t just a temporary thing: Christ is still fully God and fully Man. So, in the ascension it was the God-Man, the Incarnate Christ, who was taken up into heaven. And so now in heaven we have ‘one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus’ (1 Tim. 2:5). Ascended to Heaven Jesus didn’t just disappear into the clouds; He went to heaven (Luke 24:5

A Fantastic Introduction to Theology with a Difference: A Review of Life in the Trinity by Donald Fairbairn

Donald Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009) The next time I teach an introduction to theology, this is the book I’ll make my students read. At less than 250 pages, Fairbairn’s book is far from a complete Systematics and, in fact, it bears very little resemblance to other comparably sized introductions (like Frame’s Salvation Belongs to the Lord or Grudem’s Christian Beliefs ). Life in the Trinity isn’t a bite sized overview of all the individual doctrines of systematic theology, but rather a glorious glimpse of the big picture, a big picture well summed up in four words in the title: Life in the Trinity.  For some reason, many evangelicals seem to have a bit of a fear of the church fathers, so Fairbairn’s subtitle, ‘An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers’ might seem a bit scary. But it shouldn’t. As the influential evangelical leader John Stott once put it, ‘to be