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Showing posts from February, 2015

Isaiah, Cyril and the Gifts of the Spirit

Cyril of Alexandria, just in case I somehow haven’t mentioned it before, is one of my favourite theologians of all time. So, anyway, as I was preaching a few weeks ago on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from Isaiah 44 , I thought I’d have a look at what Cyril had to say about it in his commentary on Isaiah, and when I did, I got a bit of a surprise. You see, Cyril was convinced that when Isaiah prophesied: For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring (Isa. 44:3) he wasn’t just talking about the Spirit being poured out, but the gifts of the Spirit as well, specifically the ones mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:8-10. I’ve always taken the promise of ‘My Spirit’ and ‘My blessings’ as an example of Hebrew parallelism, with both halves referring to the same thing, the Holy Spirit. But Cyril notices something: it doesn’t say ‘My blessing’, but ‘My blessings’, and so it’s talking about

Toward a Pentecostal Theology of the Lord’s Supper (A Review)

Review of Chris E.W. Green,  Toward a Pentecostal Theology of the Lord’s Supper: Foretasting the Kingdom  (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2012) Chris Green’s book is fascinating, stimulating, encouraging and challenging all at the same time. It’s also astonishingly brave: Chris manages in one book to write on Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies, historical theology, New Testament Studies, hermeneutics, and systematic/constructive theology, and all with the odd bit of liturgical studies here and there for good measure. (To be fair, more theologians should do this, but more often than not we stick to the safety of our own chosen sub-discipline.) And, although it is an academically rigorous work (it’s the published form of his PhD dissertation), he writes for the church, and particularly for Pentecostal churches. Dr Green has demolished once and for all the erroneous, but sadly frequent, claims that Pentecostals have a low view of the sacraments (or that they don’t believe in sacram

Christ's Triumph

Christ is dead. But in Death He is made alive! By His Life He has abolished Death. He walks down to its lowest caverns. He hurls open the gates of death and takes away the Keys of Death and Hell from the god of the underworld, Satan. Before the rising of the sun, behold, to the amazement of all His disciples and acquaintances, He is risen, and is alive for ever more. All His declarations concerning His triumph and victories have been actually fulfilled. He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. His Father vindicated His Life and Death. By His atoning sacrifice on the Cross, He vanquished all His enemies, He satisfied infinite demands of justice on the other. The law had no right, no claim to His life, but, having come as a Substitute for sinful men, He atoned for them, in order to be their salvation. The Law demanded His life as such Substitute and Surety, therefore the curse of the Law fell upon Him. He obeyed even unto death (Gal. 3:13). ‘Christ ha

Calvary is Older than Everything Else

Calvary is the basis and ground of human hope and Divine purpose. It is the axle of the whole universe. Not only is Calvary the centre of the created universe, but Calvary is the centre of the Divine Nature. Calvary is tabernacled in the heart of God. Calvary is older than the universe; before the mountains were brought forth, before the stars were rolled into their wondrous paths; before the first ray of light shot through the gloom, God had fore-ordained the Lamb in the Eternal counsels of Eternity. In other words, the idea of sacrifice stretches forth from eternity to eternity. It is not an after-thought of God because of the calamity of sin. Calvary is older than everything else. Calvary is not built on Leviticus; rather, Leviticus is built on Calvary. During the forty days Moses was on the Mount, God revealed to him the Eternal Reality and Substance; He revealed Calvary and all that it meant. Then as he came down and built the tabernacle, and established the priesthood, all was

The Promised Outpouring

When Jesus speaks to His disciples about the baptism of the Holy Spirit just before the Ascension, He calls it the Promise of the Father (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). So this wasn’t some new promise Jesus was giving then; it was an old Promise which had already been made long ago. The promise goes way back into the Old Testament, where the Lord promised to pour out His Spirit. And we can learn quite a bit about this outpouring of the Spirit from the Old Testament prophecies. One of those Old Testament prophecies is in Isaiah 44:1-8 where the Lord not only promises to pour out His Spirit, but also tells us about what will happen when He does. So, if you’re interested, here’s a sermon from Leeds from Isaiah 44:1-8 on this Promised Outpouring.

The Baptism in the Spirit, Justification, and Serving God

Sometimes the way we tend to talk about things as Pentecostals isn't all that pastorally helpful. Sometimes the way we often talk ends up heaping extra burdens on people's shoulders, rather than pointing people to the One whose 'yoke is easy' and whose 'burden is light'. And one area where this problem comes up again and again is when we talk about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and serving God. You see, so often we want to emphasise the importance of the baptism and the difference it can make to our service that we end up either making others feel reluctant to serve, or else feel guilty about serving. We love to quote verses like Luke 24:49 ( 'tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high' ) as a carrot, without realising how easily it turns into a very big stick. Anyway, this has been on my mind a bit for a few reasons. One was a pastoral conversation over coffee in a church plant on the continent. One was a prophecy