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Showing posts from December, 2013

For Christmas Eve

A communion hymn for you for Christmas Eve. The words are by Margaret Clarkson, and you can listen to it here to music by Nathan Partain . Gathered 'round Your table on this holy eve, Viewing Bethlehem's stable we rejoice and grieve; Joy to see You lying in Your manger bed, Weep to see You dying in our sinful stead.   Prince of Glory, gracing Heav'n ere time began, Now for us embracing death as Son of Man; By Your birth so lowly, by Your love so true, By Your cross most holy, Lord we worship you.   Bethlehem's Incarnation, Calvary's bitter cross, Wrought for us salvation by Your pain and loss; Now we fall before You in this holy place, Prostrate we adore You, for Your gift of grace.   With profoundest wonder we your body take laid in manger yonder broken for our sake Hushed in adoration we approach the cup Bethlehem’s pure oblation freely offered up Christmas Babe so tender, Lamb Who bore our sins, How shall sinners render praises due Your Name?

Christmas Good News

We had our Carols by Candlelight a bit early this year, so here's my Christmas sermon from Luke 2:10-12 on What's so good about who's in the manger? This is where I do the job of a Christmas angel and tell you 'good tidings of great joy', which, in a nutshell, is that: A Saviour is Born Christ is Born The LORD is Born He's Born For You!

Systematic Theology: An Apostolic, Trinitarian, Evangelical, Pentecostal Perspective

Over the last few months I've been teaching a course in Castleford assembly on basic theology, and as a result, here's a twelve hour (well a bit less really, as I've cut out the group discussions) introductory audio course for you on Systematic Theology. (The 12 MP3s are near the bottom of the post.) Now, of course it doesn't cover everything about everything. In fact, for a lot of these sessions there was a lot more I wanted to say, but just didn't have time to say it. But hopefully it will be of a bit of use as an introductory overview. I've taught systematic theology before, but my approach this time has been a bit different. When I've taught it before (and in my experience, this is usually the case in our evangelical circles) I've rather approached it as a series of lectures on discrete doctrines. But this time I've done things a bit differently and tried to show how all the doctrines hang together (it really is "systematic" th

The Holy Spirit and the Heart of Christ

And this Spirit is still in our preaching and in your hearts, in hearing, in praying, etc., and persuades you of Christ's love to this very day; and is in all these the pledge of the continuance of Christ's love still in heaven unto sinners. All our sermons and your prayers are evidences unto you, that Christ's heart is still the same towards sinners that ever it was, for the Spirit that assists in all these comes in his name, and in his stead, and works all by commission from him. And do none of you feel your hearts moved in the preaching of these things, at this and other times? And who is it that moves you? It is the Spirit who speaks in Christ's name from heaven, even as himself is said to 'speak from heaven' (Heb. 12:25). And when you pray, it is the Spirit that idites your prayers, and that 'makes intercession for you' in your own hearts (Rom. 8:26), which intercession of his is but the evidence and echo of Christ's intercession in heaven. T

Praying Advent 2 (The Bible Collect)

It’s the second Sunday of Advent, so here’s the second Advent Collect: BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. This week’s Advent prayer is all about the Bible – we pray for ourselves as we come to God’s Word, and we pray for the Word to do its work in us. 1) Scripture is written for us Our Blessed Lord has ‘caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning’. He inspired the Scriptures for us. That means, when we read the Bible, we’re not doing God a favour. Bible reading is something that we do for God, rather, the giving of the Bible is something God has done for us.

It's Father Christmas' Day! A Day for High Christology and Punching Heretics

A repost from this day last year. Today is St. Nicholas' day. If you're in Belgium, or many other countries for that matter, you'll be putting out your shoes on the doorstep to be filled with presents from the good saint. Now, in English-speaking lands you may know St. Nicholas better as Father Christmas or as Santa, but back in his youth, before he moved to the North Pole and discovered the wonders of travel by reindeer, he was a Turkish bishop. Back in the days of Nicholas' bishopric, there was a Council. Now this Council was not quite like our May Council, for it's a Council that's effects are still being felt today, 1687 years later! Anyway, at this Council (called the First Council of Nicea by the way, and hugely important), there was another chap (actually there were rather a lot of chaps, but we'll just stick with those who are relevant to our Father Christmas gone wild story), and this chap was called Arius. Nicholas was merely a bishop, but Ari

Some Antidotes to the Problem of Preaching

A few months ago I wrote about The Problem of Preaching and ever since I've been meaning to post some good preaching as an antidote. So, at long last, here goes. But before launching into the sermons, just a brief note on what makes a good sermon good. True preaching is proclaiming Christ biblically, so a good sermon that will serve as an antidote to the problem of preaching must proclaim Christ biblically. And good preaching doesn't just talk about Jesus, but it offers Him to us as God's gift. So that's the sort of thing you'll hopefully find in these antidotes to the problem of preaching. Let's start in Singapore. Dev Menon preached this sermon on the Ascension of Christ a few years ago, and you've probably never heard anything quite like it. It's biblical, he preaches Christ, and in fact, does exactly what Martin Luther said about true preaching: 'To preach the gospel is nothing else than Christ's coming to us or bringing us to Him.

It's not Christmas yet! (Some songs for Advent)

Christmas doesn't start for another four weeks, so in the meantime, here are some songs for this time of the year - for Advent. We don't really sing an awful lot of Advent Carols in church, but here are three that we do sing each year. First up is probably the most famous Advent song of all - O Come, O Come Immanuel . At somewhere between 800 and 1200 years old, it's one of the oldest songs we ever sing in church (and also one of the most popular with some of our teenagers).

What’s all this about Jesus in the Old Testament? And does it really matter?

In the wake of last weeks' posts about Abraham and Moses , a friend asked me about why I think the Old Testament is a book about Jesus. Now, when I say the Old Testament is a book about Jesus, I don’t mean in the vague ‘all OT sermons have to eventually get to Jesus in the last three minutes’ sort of way, but as in really a book about Jesus. (For some reason lots of people are quite alright with the former option, but think that the idea that the Old Testament would actually be a book about Jesus is rather exotic.) Anyway, I thought it was, not only a good question, but an important question, so thought I’d lay out my case today. 1. Luke 24:27  On the day of His resurrection, Jesus walked to Emmaus with two of His disciples, and as He walked, ‘beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself’ (Luke 24:27). Jesus didn’t just point out a few Messianic prophecies, but rather He taught His disciples about H

Praying Advent (The Advent Collect)

Last year for Advent I blogged through the O Antiphons (think ‘ O Come, O Come Immanuel ’), so this year I thought I’d blog through the Advent collects, starting with the collect for the first Sunday of Advent (which is THE Advent Collect). Here it is from the Book of Common Prayer : ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen. (This Collect is to be repeated every day with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Eve.) First of all, this will all make a bit more sense I suppose if I explain what a Collect is (after all, they’re not very Apo!). Basically, a collect is a particular form