Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Apostles' Creed Course?

Daniel Newman outlines a possible evangelistic or Christian foundations course based around the Apostles Creed, in seven parts it covers...
  • God as Trinity, and how it makes sense of the world.
  • Doctrine of creation, God’s purpose for the world, sin.
  • Christ’s full deity and humanity so he can be our saviour, the atonement, its consequences.
  • Assurance that sin and death have been defeated, Christ’s kingship, the coming judgement, the future hope of resurrection and life in the new creation.
  • Work of the Spirit in the life of the believer, making us how God intended us to be, renewing us, equipping us to serve him, what it means to live as a Christian.
  • Brought into a family that is set apart from the world, transcends all social, cultural and racial boundaries, public worship.
  • The need for personal response of trust in the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; baptism for those who want to do this who have not already been baptised; the need to re-affirm this for oneself if already baptised but have drifted.
I like the emphasis and shape of this. I like that it starts with Trinity and moves on to Creation and Christ, the Spirit, the Church and Christian life. At a glance I'm not sure what I'd omit or add to this. 

Preaching on 'Love the church'

Three weeks today I'm preaching at Reading Family Church on 'Love the Church' - I'm pulling together the material for the Saturday sessions fine, but wrestling at the moment with what text to preach on the Sunday morning to serve the church and stir their love for Christ's church. 'Fam' has a dear place in my heart after years serving the Reading churches through serving the University CU and through the friendship and partnership I've shared with two of their elders. The church should be treated well and I'm particularly keen to serve them helpfully. Ephesians 3:10 is top of the pile at the moment but the possibilities are multitudinous. Your prayers (and suggestions) appreciated this week.

Great time with our church family today, worshipping the Triune God together this morning, Christ the Holy, Holy, Holy proclaimed by Jon Fielder - wowed again by Christ's claims to be God, and the Jews knew it hence they tried to stone him for blasphemy. And then seeing the death and resurrection of Jesus proclaimed under the very sunny skies of Exmouth beach as we baptised two church members.

Peter Morris - chapter 5

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Been nice to have a couple of weeks off blog, not sure how much will be posted in the next few weeks (somewhere between nothing and lots) - got a bit of travelling and writing to get done as I move into the third quarter of my sabbatical. Enjoying it so far and just enjoyed a week away in north Devon with family and glad to be back in south Devon where it's still sunny enough to feel like we're still on holiday!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Off for a while

Taking some time off the blog. I suggest you read these three blogs instead if you want to:

When the Church meets... Reading the Bible

Adrian Reynolds has been putting together a great series on leading church meetings, and today's on reading the Bible is just an excellent primer on taking God's word seriously

30 Today

Don't cry for me. I'm 30 years old today. In 1979 I was born six weeks early, spending my early weeks in hospital. I've just taken some time to read my Mum's diary of those first weeks which she lent to me when our son was born. I can't help but be thankful for the life I've been given. I have parents and a sister. I've always had a roof over my head, been well fed and given a good education. I've travelled around many European countries and to the USA. Blessings have been poured on me, all of them undeserved gifts.

I've spent the best part of my 20s employed to bring the gospel to University students in the South of England, plus seven Relay and six Staff, which has been an immense priviledge and joy though rarely free from frustrations.  Reflecting on the last decade I'm elated to be sat here with my wife of almost seven years and our nine week old son who is gurgling and smiling.

Solomon considered 'having it all' (which I don't, but relatively speaking I do...) and said that it's meaningless, vapour, lost-hope, vanity. The stuff doesn't satisfy and isn't meant to. My 18 year old self (not a Christian) would probably be happy with the wife, son, job, house side of things and I hope would see a life that adorns the gospel but I suppose he'd be a bit bewildered. My 21 year old self would hopefully be glad I'm still a Christian, would be mad at me, though not surprised, at the time wasted in sin, surprised at the lessons I've learned and the ways I'd disagree with him. Both would query my lack of fitness but probably be glad that I'm on a curve towards being fitter rather than still going away from it as they both were... A mix of surprise, joy and disappointment no doubt.

It was perfect timing to have had my Relay worker Matt preach Ecclesiastes 2 last week at the Exeter ECU (I stole out of the sabbatical confines of my study to go and hear him). All the stuff is not god it is a gift. A gift from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who have given me themselves to know in this frustrated life. I'm happy with my lot, repenting of sin and thankful for the ocean of grace in which even my best efforts drown.

I suppose forty is the next milestone, if God permits. In May 2019 I'd love to find myself sat playing chess on the set my wife gave me for my thirtieth birthday, with ten year old Zach. And then to sit around as a family thumbing through the pages of the ten year old ESV Study Bible that was his gift that day... treasuring Christ together, reflecting on the good and difficult times He would doubtless have sent our way to make us more like Jesus over the previous decade... 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Big One: The 1 Chronicles 1-9 Genealogy

If we think Matthew 1:1-18 is offputting, try Chronicles which opens with nine chapters of genealogy...

Stephen Dempster writes:
"Chronicles, the last book of the Hebrew Bible...begins with the genealogy of Adam and moves through the genealogies of the tribes of Israel. In particular, the genealogy of Judah is placed at the front of the list, and David's ancestors and royal descendants are prominently featured. After the remainder of the genealogies, history begins in 1 Chronicles 10 with Saul's demise and David's rise. The capture of Jerusalem and the reign of David become the focus of the next nineteen chapters. Again it is as if all history has been waiting, in this case not for Abraham, but for David from the tribe of Judah. Or in the words of Walter Bruggemann, all history is regarded as a footnote to David..."
Stephen Dempster, Geography and Genealogy, Dominion and Dynasty, p73, Biblical Theology edited by Scott Hafemann
Ed Goode observes:
"...tells us something marvellous about God's plan and purposes being worked out. About the scepter truly never departing from Judah."

Five minutes with Richard Dawkins on death, being good and the point of life...

Nine Purposes of Biblical Genealogies (Marshall Johnson)

ht: Dan Roach, located in Andrew Hill, 1&2 Chronicles

"The basic purpose of the genealogy is to identify kinship relationships between individuals, families, and people groups. Marshall Johnson has isolated nine distinct functions that genealogies serve in the Old Testament"
  1. Demonstrate existing relationships between Israel and neighboring tribes by establishing common ancestors (e.g., the relationship of Lot’s descendants to Israel, Gen. 19:36–38)
  2. Connecting isolated traditions of Israelite origins into a coherent literary unit by means of an inclusive genealogical system (e.g., the toledot formulas in Genesis [5:1; 10:1; etc.])
  3. Bridge chronological gaps in the biblical narratives (e.g., Ruth 4:18–22)
  4. Serve as chronological controls for the dating of key Old Testament events (e.g., the date of the book of Esther in relationship to the Babylonian exile, Est. 2:5–6—although the selective nature of biblical genealogies may compromise the accuracy of the genealogy as a chronological device)
  5. Perform a specific political and/or military function, as in the taking of a census (e.g., Num. 1:3–46)
  6. Legitimize an individual or family in an office or enhance the stature of an individual by linkage to an important clan or individual of the past (e.g., Zeph. 1:1)
  7. Establish and preserve the ethnic purity of the Hebrew community, as in the case of the records found in Ezra and Nehemiah (e.g., Ezra 7)
  8. Assert the importance of the continuity of God’s people through a period of national calamity (prominent in Chronicles, e.g., the line of David in 1 Chron. 3:17–24)
  9. Express order, structure, and movement in history according to a divinely prearranged plan (e.g., identifying Haman, the son of Hammedatha, as an Agagite, Est. 3:1, 10).
[Marshall D. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988), 77–82.]

There may be other purposes but asking questions about each of these is a good start in taking seriously genealogy as a part of the Biblical texts. We don't study them because genealogies are fascinating in themselves, or to construct some super-biblical genealogy, but because 'all' scripture is God breathed, and when read with all of it included it makes us wise for salvation. Genealogies occur relatively frequently in the Biblical narratives and we're overlooking substantial portions of scripture if we omit them. It's not that we expect them to yield meaning in the same way that a sentence in a Pauline letter might, but because they contribute to the literature which God has chosen to use to reveal himself to us.

See also: Ed Goode on the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1-9

Dare to believe! (Tope Koleoso)

Dare To Believe God For Miracles - Tope Koleoso from Adrian Warnock on Vimeo.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summertime Tagliarini and Chocolate Brownies

As the early summer gets washed out just in time for my birthday (on Sunday), I dived back to Jamie Oliver and his Summertime Tagliarini with some ciabatta bread on the side. The beauty of this is that it takes under 10 minutes to cook, and is massively flavoursome.

Meanwhile, my wife decided to make Jamie's Chocolate Brownies, served here with ice cream. The beauty of this dessert requires no explanation.

These are good gifts from God and they were received with much thanksgiving for their ability to sustain us and satisfy our tastes. As the evening sun creeps through the breaking clouds, this seems the moment to cite from Calvin:
It is proper to observe the reason, that, in the use of various kinds of food, we ought to be satisfied with the liberty which God has granted to us; because He created them for this purpose. It yields inconceivable joy to all the godly, when they know that all the kinds of food which they eat are put into their hands by the Lord, so that the use of them is pure and lawful. What insolence is it in men to take away what God bestows! Did they create food? Can they make void the creation of God? Let it always be remembered by us, that he who created the food, gave us also the free use of it, which it is vain for men to attempt to hinder. God created food to be received; that is, that we may enjoy it. This end can ever be set aside by human authority. He adds, with thanksgiving; because we can never render to God any recompense for his kindness but a testimony of gratitude.

"You touch my church and I’ll smash your face!"

Michael Ots translates 1 Corinthians 3:17 with some flair and trembling.
John Piper adds: there are two ways to remove a foundation and destroy a church. One is to attack the foundation directly and break it up. The other is to slowly and subtly reshape the edifice so that its contours don't rest on the foundation any more. Paul says, If a teacher does that to a church he will pay with his eternal life

John Gill: "Him God shall destroy" body and soul in hell; for as their wicked principles and heretical notions are pernicious to others, they are damnable to themselves, and will bring upon them that judgment which lingereth not, and that damnation which slumbereth not.

Robert Jamieson: eternal death is the penalty of marring the spiritual temple—the Church
That's (a part of) what I call a love the church mentality.

This Jesus...You Crucified: The genealogy of Aaron and Moses (Exodus 6)

In Exodus 6:6-8 we see God's gospel. He will rescue his people out of slavery, with an outstretched arm and through judgement, so that they are redeemed, will know that he is the LORD, will be his people, and will be given an inheritance in the land. This is Christ's rescue of his people from sin's slavery, through the cross where his arms are outstretched and he bears the judgement that is ours, into the family of his people, the sure hope of the new creation in which we 'know the LORD'! 

Moses preaches this to his people but, v9, because of their broken-spirit's they do not believe. Will the LORD not then rescue them? No, he will do it! What's next? Moses must go to Pharoah. He protests once more because he says he has 'uncircumcised lips' (unbelieving lips?), nonetheless God give them words. Then comes v14-29 and then Moses protest is repeated in v30 - the narrative hasn't moved on. What's in the middle? A genealogy of Moses and Aaron. Why?

Afterwards in chapter 7 the LORD says to Moses that he will be as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron will be his (Moses) prophet to say what God commands. Pharaoh will be commanded to release God's people, the Egyptians will know that he is the LORD (this is all for God's global fame!) but Pharaoh's heart will be hard and though the LORD is clearly victorious (Aaron's staff swallows up the imitations of the Egyptians, swallowing up death in victory...) the Tyrant will not bow to the LORD.

Why the genealogy? Who's there? We given the 'heads' of the houses, the sons of Reuben, Simeon and Levi. From Levi we find Gershon, Kohath and Marari... then their sons.. including from Kohath, Amram... and Amram's sons by Jochebed are Aaron and his younger brother Moses (v20). And, v25, "these are the Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said: bring out the people... it was they who spoke to Pharaoh.. this Moses and this Aaron."

This genealogy serves to tell us exactly who these upstarts are who confront the mighty Pharaoh. They are not just any people. It establishes them firstly as part of Israel (though Moses is a long-term exile with a foreign [believing] wife) by listing from Reuben, Simeon and Levi. Secondly, it shows them specifically to be the sons of Amram, son of Kohath, son of Levi (who was, 6v8, son of Jacob son of Isaac, son of Abraham to whom the land of Canaan, three generations to which the LORD had promised the land). This was no random rebellion, they are locked into God's people and God's promise. It is this Moses who doubted Pharaoh would listen, and the LORD told him as much (v4) nonetheless the sentence of death had to be proclaimed against the Tyrant as part of God's salvation through judgement of his people.

These events happened, through This Moses and This Aaron, the story of God locked into space and time as is his ultimate salvation from slavery to sin, which Exodus both points to and proclaims. This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

The biggest problem for Studio 60 is that it's not The West Wing, it is Aaron Sorkin plus Josh Lyman, Joe Quincey and Danny Concannon (or at least, Bradley Whitford, Matthew Perry and Timothy Busfield), and the comfort of seeing credits with the names of Thomas Schlamme, Aaron Sorkin, W.G. Snuffy Walden etc.

We go behind the scenes at a Saturday Night Live style sketch show with Whiford, Perry, Busfield and Amanda Peet at the helm and some strong characters from D.L.Hugley and Sarah Paulson.

Whilst this is no Fawltey Towers I think it will benefit from being just one season, there wasn't enough material here to go on for years, but as a single boxset it's a perfectly interesting and entertaining enough look at hollywood and some fun characters.

The Thursday Reading - Daniel Szabo's Peter Morris - chapter 4, part 2

The Girl Nobody Wanted (Tim Keller)

Tim Keller on Genesis 29:15-35, The Girl Nobody Wanted
ht: JT: The Legacy of Edmund Clowney and Preaching the Gospel from all of Scripture

When worshippers get excited - no, really excited - What Would Jonathan Edwards Do?

Lex Loizides' trek through church history arrives at Jonathan Edwards on revival

The Thursday Reading - Daniel Szabo's Peter Morris, chapter 4, part 1

Christ is proclaimed in the Old Testament, not ‘pointed to’

The Christian reads Leviticus 16.
‘It is relatively unsurprising to me that the manner and circumstances of Jesus’ death line-up exactly with the gospel as proclaimed in the Day of Atonment. That is why the rituals were given.’ The direction of travel in interpreting these things is not to examine at the accounts of the crucifixion, then clasp our hands to our mouths when reading Leviticus 16. We should read the Pentateuch, and nod knowlingly when we reach the Gospels. Christ is proclaimed in the Old Testament, not ‘pointed to’;
And likewise, when Jesus preaches the Old Testament he preaches himself, when Philip preaches Isaiah 53 the Ethiopian wants to get baptised, when Paul preaches it he says I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen.

The Spirit and The Cry (CH Spurgeon)

Charles Spurgeon:
Now, notice, it is the Spirit of God that cries—a most remarkable fact. Some are inclined to view the expression as a Hebraism, and read it, he "makes us to cry;" but, beloved, the text saith not so, and we are not at liberty to alter it upon such a pretence. We are always right in keeping to what God says, and here we plainly read of the Spirit in our hearts that he is crying "Abba, Father." The apostle in Romans 8:15 says, "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father," but here he describes the Spirit himself as crying "Abba, Father."...The Spirit of his Son is crying "Abba, Father," when you are in the crowd or at your table among the family.... No stranger can understand the nearness of the believer's soul to God in Christ Jesus, and because the world cannot understand it, it finds it convenient to sneer, but what of that? Abraham's tenderness to Isaac made Ishmael jealous, and caused him to laugh, but Isaac had no cause to be ashamed of being ridiculed, since the mocker could not rob him of the covenant blessing. Yes, beloved, the Spirit of God makes you cry "Abba, Father," but the cry is mainly within your heart, and there it is so commonly uttered that it becomes the habit of your soul to be crying to your Heavenly Father. The text does not say that he had cried, but the expression is "crying"—it is a present participle, indicating that he cries every day "Abba, Father." Go home, my brethren, and live in the spirit of sonship. Wake up in the morning, and let your first thought be "My Father, my Father, be with me this day.
Adoption—The Spirit and the Cry

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Dawn of World Redemption

Nearing the end of studying Genesis, and getting moving on Exodus with our church I've been delving into some mp3s online. Blackham calls Exodus the biggest prophecy of the cross and rubs our faces into the text to catch what's going on. After Glen Scrivener's OT Law Seminar unpacked some cracking stuff in chapters 20-26 this gives some really helpful insight into the Biblical plagues.
Free registration required at

MP3: Unlocking the Gospel in the 10 Commandments and The Tabernacle

MP3: Glen Scrivener's seminar on the Old Testament Law has accompanied me on a short run and for a coffee in Starbuck's this week. In about 45mins He looks at the big picture from Galatians 3 and then zooms in to Exodus. The big picture is great, and the zoom in on Exodus 20-26 is particularly eyeopening. I highly recommend it

The genealogy of Esau!

Matt and I are studying Genesis 36-38 later this week in our ongoing journey through The Book of Genesis. It begins with Esau's genealogy. At the end of Genesis 35 Esau and Jacob are together burying their father Isaac. What should now happen? Genesis 25v23 - Esau should stick around and serve his younger brother as the LORD said should happen.

"These are the generations of Esau..."
  • But, (v2) he takes Canaanite wives (whereas his brother and father take wives from Ur rather than from Canaan) - another warning to Israel before they march into mixed-marriages and subsequent idolatry in Judges, Ruth etc.
  • ..and (v7) we land in the Lot-crisis again, there's not enough space for Jacob and Esau's families and so Esau goes to Seir in Edom... noted enemies of Israel (see Obadiah, Malachi...). Matthew Henry notes: "all things considered, it is better to have Canaan in promise than mount Seir in possession." 
  • From him comes many songs including (v16) Amalek from whom come the Amalekites who held up God's people in the wilderness, and whose descendents Agag and Haman further plagued them... the seed of the serpent keep multiplying, as do all the sons of Abraham. “If God blesses so abundantly those who are not chosen, what is the magnitude of His blessings for those who are chosen? If nonspiritual people experience such outpourings of merely common grace, how great must the special grace of the regenerate be!” (Boice). Though hated in election Esau is still loved, and to be loved by God's people.
  • Esau's prosperity increases the urgency of the coming of the Serpent Crusher.
  • Esau's line has kings before Israel (v31) which amounts to a rejection of God's kingship over them (1 Samuel 8v5), this should serve as a warning to Israel. Why be like the godless nations?
All of which are useful for Israel as they first read Genesis, and tie into the bigger picture of Scripture - which tends to fragment if the threads of genealogies are allowed to go AWOL in our Bible reading. It also serves within Genesis 25-36 to conclude the story of Isaac, Jacob and Esau just as Ishmael's genealogy wraps up the story of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael in Genesis 12-25. It is an ending but it drives us forward to to chapters 37-50 which speak "of the gospel of Christ punished, sold in slavery, exalted and placed at the right hand of the Pharoah"

Monday, May 11, 2009

MP3: God is really, really, really big (Rich Carding)

Rich is youthworker at St Neots Evangelical Church, a great friend, and has once in a while contributed to this blog:
Psalm 139 - Rich Carding at Walton Evangelical Church

Avoid genealogies?

So, genealogies can lead us to the gospel - and I hope we'll see plenty of examples of that in the days ahead, but what about these warnings to church leaders, aren't they the best excuse to skip them altogether...
"I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless..." - Titus 3:9

"...charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love..." - 1 Tim 1:4
There is prohibition here but also positive instruction to stay true to sound doctrine and promote unity in the churches. No way Paul is telling Timothy and Titus to go for sound doctrine and to edit their scrolls to deliberately avoid parts of Scripture. Pursuit of sound doctrine comes from keeping Scriptural.

Pursuit of our own genealogies isn't something to get obsessed with, a Christian's genealogy in their new life is 'in Christ, son of the Father'. Ancestry doesn't define who someone is for good or bad. Obsession with who we're related to can certainly lead to divisions as we try and elevate ourselves or others, and the gospel stands opposed to that.

There are pitfalls in study of Biblical genealogy. Some of the lists tell us exactly why they're written as they are, some don't. Where they do that frames our study of them, it's not that there's necessarily a point to find in every name on the list. The point of studying genealogies is not for geeky knowledge gathering but to help us see the gospel more clearly, since the gospel is the subject of the Scriptures. Rightly studied genealogies help us to see clearly what is already in Scripture because they're a part of Scripture, they're no tool for wielding power but rather for advancing humility.

With those cautions in view I plan to turn to a few examples in the next few days.

Acts: A Formative or Normative Book?

Marcus Honeysett ponders how to read the book of Acts today.
Did stuff happen in Acts and only back then, or can we expect that sort of thing today?
mp3: Marcus on Acts 13
..and what then to do with the second half of Acts 13

The Gospel Question: Who's Your Father?

"Genealogy (from Greek: γενεά, genea, "descent"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.... often displayed in charts or written as narratives." (Wikipedia)
What do names from the past have to do with life today? For the Christian the answer is everything. God's story is essentially the answer to the question "who's your father?" 

Genealogy and The Gospel as Adoption
Someone did the research and I'm the 21st in a line of Bish's in Britain, a line traced back to 1269 and a guy called Johes de la Bysse, via five Henry's (surnamed Bysshe, Bishe, Bish...) one of whom was an MP in the 1600s, and there's one Sir too. Having a wierd name and access to a long family tree makes me just a little interested in genealogy. The same data tells me that the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, husband of Mary Shelley, is my seventh cousin, six times removed. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair...

On the one hand my dad is called Derek, but Jesus tells me that I'm either a son of the devil (John 8:44) or a son of the Father, adopted in Christ, (Galatians 4:6-7). This is an ongoing battle of genealogy tracing back to Genesis 3 with the line of the Woman and the line of the Serpent. Which line you're in matters eternally, but God's universe is one in which there is adoption and so we're not captive to our ancestry.

Genealogy and The Gospel of Jesus
Jesus' genealogy is the one that matters above all. He is, the Son of his Father, and that's how we know God. The Son signifies the Father, the Father is the father of the Son who images God to his world. And the Spirit is the spirit of the Son. We know the Trinity through the familial relationships of the Son of God.

We're also given more detailed genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 4. The 21st Century western reader tends to skip genealogies, and so Matthew's gospel tends to start for us at Matthew 1:19 and we find ourselves moving very swiftly through the second half of Luke 3.

Matthew's genealogy of Jesus
Matthew's genealogy emphasises two things about Jesus in a line from Abraham to his adopted father Joseph. It's a royal line that highlights Jesus as the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. The Son through whom blessing comes to the whole world (Genesis 12-25) who will send his disciples to all nations. Jesus is also the Son of the King whose Son would be the great king forever and God's son (2 Samuel 7). Graeme Goldsworthy calls him "great David's greater Son", with all authority to bring his teaching to the world, until the end of the age. Matthew's genealogy bookends his gospel along with the great commission.

Matthew's gospel is often called a Jewish gospel because of the amount of Old Testament fulfillments ("this was to fulfill what is written...") and the opening genealogy. Matthew's gospel is a Whole Bible Christianity, and turns out to emphasise the universal reach of God's salvation. Matthew tells us that Christianity is global, not just for Jews.

Luke's genealogy of Jesus
Luke's genealogy is different, it traces from Jesus, to his adopted father Joseph and then back to Adam the Son of God. Rather than following the royal line of Joseph of the tribe of Judah this has different names, perhaps his actual genealogy, and emphasises that Jesus is the true Israel (God's firstborn son) and is like Adam a Son of God. This is included prior to Jesus' temptation by the devil where he will not fail like Israel, and where his divine sonship will be tested. See Three Sons and the Devil by David Gibson for more on this.

Skipping out on Jesus' genealogies strips him of much of his identity, and robs us of riches of worship that we might give him. Losing Jesus' genealogies also detaches him from his Old Testament roots. And it's an insult to Matthew and Luke who carefully gathered their material to prove to us who Jesus is, and didn't make editorial oversights in including these genealogies. And further, an affront to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to presume that because genealogies don't easily satisfy fortune cookie Bible reading we can play "Jesus seminar" and overlook them.

To be continued - looking at some of the genealogies in the Bible, and their contributions to the books they're included in.

Also: on baby naming, ht: Challies

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Of genealogies

Today's sermon at church was from Exodus 6, a passage featuring the genealogies of Moses and Aaron (and some others). In the course of an afternoon punctuated by Nandos and cinema with brothers from church, I found my thoughts drifting on what we're to do with these lists of names which seem to be the least relevant portions of scripture to the casual reader?

I wonder, what profit might there be if we begin with the premise that this is deliberately written literature for a purpose, and not a jumble of random material to wade through? More reflections during the week...

Friday, May 08, 2009

More food from The Vicar's Wife and from Jamie Oliver

Continuing to cook new meals with Jamie Oliver's Old School Pork Chops from earlier this week. Plain old pork chops made tasty with apple and cheese and rosemary.

This evening we returned from Jamie Oliver to Elisa Beynon (The Vicar's Wife) and I cooked her Chicken with Boursin and Bacon with a white wine sauce, plus her Leeky Mash.

Followed by Elisa's Maman's Tarte aux Fraises, cooked by my wife at her insistence.

Genesis (Ricky Gervais)

I'm starting to sketch out an evangelistic series on Genesis 1-4, obviously commentaries are helpful, but I've also found myself picking up Mary Shelley's Frankenstein again, the story of a man who turned god and made monster. I've been looking at John Calvin, Peter Leithart, Jim Jordon, Derek Kidner, Francis Schaeffer, Steve Levy and Ricky Gervais on Genesis. The latter is obviously not so much a technical commentary, but useful to consider how Genesis goes down with readers who aren't Christians...

The Narnia Code (repeat showing May 18, 7.30pm, BBC4)

C.S. Lewis wrote The Narnia Chronicles over fifty years ago, and they have never been more popular than they are today.

However, when they were first published, many critics thought them little more than childish scribblings, full of random characters and unexplained events. Even Lewis' good friend J.R.R. Tolkien thought them confused and misconceived.

Other scholars were sure that all this pointed to something more, something hidden beneath the stories, but although many tried, none could find this secret key of Narnia... until now.

The Documentary is worth watching for its content, the format isn't as imaginative and creative as the point its making, which is a shame, but still worth a look. I'm still waiting for Amazon to deliver the copy of Michael Ward's book Planet Narnia that I ordered three weeks ago...

ht: Michael Gilbart Smith

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ's past

Being a Christian isn’t a lifestyle choice, or Jesus helping us to live a better life. The shape of the Christian life is modelled on Jesus. The shape of the Christian life is death and resurrection. It’s about his past no our past. We call this ‘union with Christ’ – it’s about us being joined up with him. John Murray calls it the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation. John Calvin - as long as Christ remains outside of us and we are separated from him all he has done for us is of no value to us…. But, by the Spirit, we come to enjoy Christ and all his benefits.
Galatians 2:20 – "I have been crucified with Christ, the life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me." AIn the words of Left Ear in the remake of The Italian Job, hearing how much gold they've got: Say it again! Say it again!
We die in him. We live in him. Read Romans 6 which says much the same thing but will help us see where baptism fits in. V3-7: V5. United with him in his resurrection and V5. Crucified with him in his death, so that
V3 – who are we baptised into? we’re baptised into Christ Jesus
V3 – what we we baptised into? baptised into his death
V6 – which part of us has been crucified? Our old self
V6 – why does it need to die? To free us from sin
V4 – what are we able to do now? Live a new life

It’s not that baptism does this. Jesus does it through his death and by giving us faith.
Our baptism expresses this. It’s a visual aid of the gospel. Baptism says:

1. My old life is dead with Jesus.
Jesus died for me. My faith isn’t in me: he’s the object of my faith. When we doubt this we’re putting faith in something else, usually our own view of ourselves. We put our faith on Jesus and so we share in his death. Our sin punished in his death, our sin dying with in his death, our past no longer defining us. We're plunged under the water as a visual aid of this.

2. I’m living a new life in Jesus.
Jesus didn’t stay dead, on the third day he rose again.  He lives a resurrected life.  In him so do I. My plans don’t define me – his plan does.  So, we don’t leave you under the water – you come up into new life.

3. I’m following him.
Romans 6:11-14…. V 11. We’re dead to sin. We’re alive to God in Christ Jesus. V12. Don’t let sin reign by obeying its desires… and v13 don’t offer your body to sin… instead offer yourself to God as “those who have come from death to life” Sin isn’t our master – that life died with Jesus. Law isn’t our master – Jesus is. We live not under sin or under law but under grace!!!!! We don’t come to Christ to sort ourselves out but because he gives himself to us – we have him, his life, his abundance.

And so, Galatians 3:27baptised with Christ… clothed with Christ… we wear new clothes, and have the Spirit living within us, so that instead of worrying about sin and law we look to follow the footsteps of the Holy Spirit, to keep in step with him. So, baptism isn’t something for super Christians, but for Christians. It’s a visual aid of our death with Jesus and our resurrection in Jesus… The Ethiopian asked, Why shouldn’t I be baptised? Same question to us.

Sinclair Ferguson writes, "The determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ's past" (Christian Spirituality: Five Views, Zondervan, p.57) cited by Michael Horton in his article at Theology Network.

Adapted from part of Session 2: The ID Course, Frontiers Church Exeter by Andy Arscott.

The Thursday Reading: Peter Morris chapter 3 by Daniel Szabo

Peter Morris is the first novel, written in English, by my friend the French (English/Hungarian) author Daniel Szabo, Catch up on chapters 1 and 2.

Why Men don't like church?

The Daily Mail reports on a survey of men about the church saying that: 60 per cent of those who took part in a survey said they enjoyed singing - but added comments showing they preferred anthemic songs and 'proclamational' hymns as opposed to more emotional love songs. ...52 per cent did not like dancing in church... many did not like hugging, holding hands or sitting in circles discussing their feelings in church. Most were churchgoers... Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, said their favourite part of a service was the talk or sermon... Sorted managing editor and publisher Steve Legg said: 'Jesus recruited a bunch of 12 ordinary blokes before He began his ministry proper. They spent three years together doing stuff. He sat down and ate with them and built relationships.

Not that we pander to survey results... but there are some helpful challenges, and given that proclamation through singing and solid preaching didn't ought to be negotiable let's keep them high on the agenda... and if we must do some of the other elements let's beware that the only offence in the room on a Sunday morning should be the gospel. If men have to get over hand-holding and sharing their feelings to be part of the church family we've set the bar up a bit differently to how the Bible does.

ht: Matthew Hosier

Old Testament Gospel (William Cowper)

XX. Old Testament Gospel -
(Hebrews, iv.2)

1. Israel in ancient days
Not only had a view
Of Sinai in a blaze,
But learn'd the Gospel too;
The types and figures were a glass,
In which thy saw a Saviour's face.

2. The paschal sacrifice
And blood-besprinkled door,
Seen with enlighten'd eyes,
And once applied with power,
Would teach the need of other blood,
To reconcile an angry God.

3. The Lamb, the Dove, set forth
His perfect innocence,
Whose blood of matchless worth
Whould be the soul's defence;
For he who can for sin atone,
Must have no failings of His own.
4. The scape-goat on his head
The people's trespass bore,
And to the desert led,
Was to be seen no more:
In him our surety seem'd to say,
"Behold, I bear your sins away."

5. Dipt in his fellow's blood,
The living bird went free;
The type, well understood,
Express'd the sinner's plea;
Described a guilty soul enlarged,
And by a Saviour's death discharged.

6. Jesus, I love to trace,
Throughout the sacred page,
The footsteps of Thy grace,
The same in every age!
Oh, grant that I may faithful be
To clearer light vouchsafed to me!

ht: JT

MP3: Don't cry for me: Ecclesiastes

MP3: Matt Chandler has Coffee with Granddaddy, reflecting on life from Ecclesiastes (Part 9 of 16)

The Village Church Pastors Blog

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Front Edge: South East Conference (May 16th)

‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples…’ Jesus (Matt 28)

This Front Edge Conference is designed to inspire and equip you to become increasingly effective in personal evangelism and motivate you to play your part in building evangelistically minded churches which see hundreds of people come to Christ.

The theme of the conference is Authority:

The Authority of Christ: How much authority does Jesus Christ actually have? Is His mission in the world going to be successful? Does the name of Jesus really have authority over sickness and disease?

The Authority of the Believer: Do we have real authority as His followers – to heal the sick, to help those who are suffering and bring positive solutions to peoples’ lives?

The Authority of the Gospel: Is the gospel message still relevant and powerful? Can we grow in confidence as individuals so that the conversations we have and the friendships we build have a genuine effect?

Join us on Saturday 16th May, at the Kings Centre for a day of inspiration and equipping.

There will be guest services in Newfrontiers Churches throughout SE England on Sunday 17th May 2009.  Please click here to see the conference flyer, including booking form. To book, please print out the booking form and mail it with a cheque.

Seminars. There will be four seminars to choose from:

Seminar A. Leadership Seminar: ‘Missional Leadership: Learning to be missional as an individual, as a Leadership Team and as a local Church’ – Joel Virgo

Seminar B. Challenging Question: What about other religions? – Adrian Holloway

Seminar C. Leading People to Christ Effectively – Steve Hurd

Seminar D. Getting to know our Muslim Neighbours - Nick Chatrath
"What is Islam? What is the difference between various kinds of Islam? This seminar will attempt to answer these questions and will also be extremely practical, with lots of ideas for getting alongside and influencing Muslims.”

A bookstall with recommended books and resources will be at the conference. For directions to King's Church, please click hereParking: For the Front Edge conference and on Sundays car parking is available in Rathfern School, Rathfern Road. Please use this facility rather than parking in the residential roads surrounding the church. Please do not park on Catford Hill. For more information, please see the flyer or call 020 8690 4646.

ht: Lex

MP3: The charismissional spark of Church Planting (Acts 13)

MP3: Marcus Honeysett on Acts 13 on the first church that went on mission... use 27 minutes of your day to have a listen to this charismissional message... and enjoy the stories from Bill Lees too.

Marcus is elder for training and discipleship at Crofton Baptist Church, Orpington and Director of Living Leadership, developing leaders for the church.

Read The Book

Glen Scrivener says: read the Bible in 90 days, about 12 pages a day.. .
Read it like a book, which it is. You could start tomorrow, with Glen.
Ron Frost has help for the process...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Spreading through networks

The theory that everyone in the world is six friendships away from everyone else is regarded by many as a myth. So what happens when the theory is put to the test? The thought that all 6.9 billion people on the planet could be closely connected to one another through their network of friends has a long-held fascination. For decades, scientists have tried to prove that the world is made up of social networks that are ultimately interconnected.

And that's before you include Social Networking which can join up more dots, though in experiments I'd have to exclude a small proportion of my facebook friends who I've never actually met. In British Evangelicalism I reckon it's probably less than four degrees required - in theory two pastors and two UCCF staff could connect most of us. That's what networks do! Things like The Gospel Coalition: In The City further join things up... so too New Word Alive, Together for the Gospel, the regional gospel partnerships, the Newfrontiers family, FIEC etc. The value of networks is why I'm involved in Newfrontiers Bloggers and UCCF Bloggers. Orange say: "I am who I am because of everyone..." - perhaps not a sufficient description but my relationships with God and his people certainly say a lot about me, and define a lot of what I can do with my life.
The thought-provoking BBC Documentary Six Degrees of Separation (available on iPlayer til May 19th) says that the key to networks is hubs, whether through the internet, the spread of sexually transmitted infections or computer viruses. It's an interesting angle in applied mathematics.
Networks certain holds for the internet. I experienced that when hub-blogger Challies picked up my post about The Wayne Grudem Song in February 2008, suddenly over 1000 new hits in a day... In my own small corner this blog acts as something of a hub, particularly now it's hooked in through Twitter to 1200+ facebook friends and 190 tweeters. As you can work out, I think social networking is a good thing to be embraced. Why not? The 10,000 visits here a month is really miniscule compared to the traffic flowing through evangelical hubs like Between Two Worlds, Challies and Adrian Warnock.
On the subject of hubs flagging stuff up, do checkout the youtube novel Peter Morris by Daniel Szabo. He's my friend and I really think you'll be entertained. And maybe someone will notice enough to publish him.
Then we have Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and increasingly Newfrontiers looking at the importance of planting into cities - hubs of cultures from which further progress for the gospel can be made, defended from this kind of sociology but also from Paul's strategy in Acts. One could pursue this through targetting other key groups in society (such as students) which seems to have some merit as an approach, though the gospel has a way of defying those who try to be too clever and strategic. Somehow we want to break out of our own small worlds into the closed networks of other people. Big worlds can be made small. On the one hand networks and hubs are important, on the other hand the Father send his son to be born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth...

For them, it's joyous: The designer will design for clients that don't exist. The photographer will never leave home without a camera.

Alex Charchar at Retinart on Natural Talent:
"Those that may appear to be naturally talented are more likely to be those who are more inquisitive. They are more curious and are the ones who have an interest in a field that allows them to constantly ask questions.... 
So what? Doesn't mean they're talented... If we're all curious and apply our questions to a field of which we are passionate, the questions and thought isn't really work—it's fun and exciting and gets our hearts pumping and minds ticking. It gets us high and drunk on questions and knowledge.... 
The illustrator enjoys spending their free time working out how best to bring his subject to life, drawing the same lines over and over. The designer will design for clients that don't exist. The photographer will never leave home without a camera. It's constant practice. It's hard work. But it isn't work like most others would think of, not for them. For them, it's joyous... the constant asking, and more importantly, the constant attempt to answer these questions, means they are practicing their craft, even if they don't realise it or are doing so intentionally.When you sit down with a creative who is so good at what they do in spite of whatever predefined criteria you hold in your thoughts, remember they aren't naturally talented – they probably ask more questions of themselves."
Which is some of why I love to blog, why I often carry a Moleskine, why I like to drink coffee and ponder questions. And which, whilst I'm not quite on schedule with my study plan and am desperately missing my team, is why I am quite enjoying my sabbatical. 

Acts 29 UK/Europe

Steve Timmis moves from his responsibilities The Crowded House Church to head up Acts 29 Church Planting in Europe.

Scott Thomas writes: " answer to a prayer that began in London after numerous men begged for help in establishing a gospel-centered work in their part of the world. “Go and make disciples of all nations” was the authoritative command of Jesus. We had no more excuses. We are honored to have Steve Timmis join our network as a proven pastor, trainer, church planter and author. We pray that he will be a movement leader through Acts 29 that will help assess, train and send out hundreds of church planters into a post-Christian world that needs the gospel desperately."

Acts 29 London Bootcamp, June 9-10, 2009

Steve Timmis is the co-author of Total Church with Tim Chester. Last week Adrian Reynolds reported that he'll be leaving his role with Yateley Baptist Church to take on new responsibilities at The Proclamation Trust. Sometimes the best thing for a man to do is to entrust his local church to someone else to serve in a wider role. "Parachurch" at it's best, working to build the local church.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Creation Ex Nihilo? Creation Ex Christo...

I don't know the original languages so can't really test this, but how about this as a way to translate the start of the Bible:
“At the head (Christ) God (the Father) cut the heavens and the earth (by the Spirit)”
Has the feel of being right. All things start with Christ and find their end in him. And then we can start reading Genesis 1 onwards as Christian Scripture. This week I'll be spending some time working on some initial outlines for an evangelistic series in the early chapters of Genesis (part of my Sabbatical), rather than get stuck in debates about origins it'll be refreshing to think about Christ.

I'll also be starting in Genesis 36-50 to conclude the journey through Genesis with Matt. And I'll blog the last part of chapters 25-35 sometime in the week.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

T4G 2010 The (Unadjusted) Gospel

I was very generously taken to Together for the Gospel in 2008. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Can't see me making it to T4G10 but it's looking like another good conference.As in 2008 Anyabwile, Piper, Duncan, Mohler, Mahaney, Dever, MacArthur and Sproul are the speakers.

ht: JT

Update: T4G10 clashes with NWA10 though if anyone wants to buy me out of a week in Pwllheli to spend a week in Louisville I really wouldn't object at all...

Exodus 4: Sonship Received (3 of 3)

Download MP3 - Dave Bish - Exodus 4 at Frontiers Church Exeter

There is a great revelation of the victory of God Almighty and his firstborn son in Exodus 4. But, don’t miss the impact. The LORD: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals to Israel that they are adopted as his firstborn son. A new humanity among all humanity, adopted as God’s firstborn. Is your Christianity good news enough for that?

Our firstborn, Zach, is six weeks old. As our son he has a unique relationship with us, and Biblically speaking as our firstborn son he would be the chief inheritor of our estate. Similarly, God’s adopted firstborn will inherit all of God’s estate.

You know, there are times Zach wakes up and looks around and it seems to me, is overwhelmed by the world – all the colour and noise just engulfs him. At least, that’s my interpretation… Big things do that to us: A pregnancy. An engagement. A sporting victory. A new job. Israel should similarly be overwhelmed by bring call the firstborn of God.

Just as the defeat of Egypt here points to the final defeat of evil by Christ, so this revelation of sonship, points to something greater, someone greater. Yes, Israel is God’s firstborn son, but the True Israel, the True Son of God Almighty is Jesus Christ, the firstborn over all creation, the supreme son, the one to whom all things belong. The son par excellence. Everything is about Christ! All eyes on him. And now look, just as the LORD adopts Israel, so in Christ, we’re adopted as sons. Is your Christianity good news enough for this?

Paul tells us in his letter to the churches of Galatia that a Christian is someone dressed up as Jesus,
so that when the Father looks at us, he sees Jesus. And a Christian is given the Spirit of the Son so that when the Father turns his ear to the Christian, he hears Jesus. So that, to all intents and purposes, the Christian is Christ. Joel Beeke :“the apex of God’s salvation”. You are God’s son, not because of what you do, not because you beat evil, but as a gift because of Jesus. Richard Sibbes: “All things are ours by our adoption, we are Christ’s, Christ is God’s. There is a world of riches in being sons of God. We have the ear of the king of heaven and earth, favourites in the court of heaven.” Let your heart sing, stop to feel the thrill of this. Is your Christianity good news enough for this?

But, look, this is not the kind of revelation that leads us to go searching for a mirror so we can gaze upon ourselves. Instead, this above all else, turns our heart to Christ –

  • to Christ to see his wonders, his healings, his provision for the hungry and above all his resurrection which declares his victory.
  • to Christ to hear his word, in his teaching, in the universe that he created, in the scriptures that testify about him, in the life that he gives his people.
  • to Christ to revel in his supremacy, with an authority that exceeds all the power of Pharaoh and every other dictator. He wipes the floor with all evil.
  • to Christ to rejoice in his grace, that he has given us sonship, he has given us the gift of himself – to stand in him as favourites of heaven.

In this great story, all eyes are on Jesus Christ.

We began asking why should anyone believe that God is really among us here? The 19th Century preacher, Charles Spurgeon asked the same question… “how are we to recognise the presence of God?” "Wh[o] is the Spirit which shall enable us constantly to feel [him]? The presence of electricity is very soon discovered by those bodies which are susceptible of its action. The presence… of iron in a vessel is very soon detected and discovered by the magnetic needle. There is an affinity between them. That [those who aren’t Christians] should not discover God here I do not wonder at: that they should even say, "There is no God," is no marvel, because there is nothing in their nature akin to him, and therefore they do not perceive him. They lack all the affinity that can discover his presence. If you would feel God's presence, you must have an affinity to his nature. Your soul must have the spirit of adoption, and it will soon find out its Father.

Come receive God’s adoption as a son, in his firstborn son and you will know. And you’ll never truly see God anywhere else until you see him in his grace, until you see him in Jesus. We asked, is there good reason to believe God? Yes. God has acted and God has spoken. This isn’t fairies at the end of the garden.

The Apologist Amy Orr-Ewing says she’s a Christian for two reasons. Firstly, because it’s intellectually robust. I agree, it makes sense up here to be a Christian. Her second reason is that it’s existentially satisfying. It thrills the heart. Believe. Believe that the story of Christ, as CS Lewis would insist, exceeds Narnia. The story of Christ isn’t just winter passed and guilt forgiven, its evil defeated and sonship received. How great the grace, how sweet the song!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Generosity: Generous Christians enact the gospel story

You may be aware that a couple of years ago I was thinking of writing a book on money. The project eventually fizzled out somewhere along the way, though not so dramatically as the economy has.

I've been able to pull some of it together and hopefully it's sufficiently founded in scripture to remain applicable in change times. The first article is now on Theology Network: Generosity, and the second on Contentment should follow soon.

The Vicar's Wife's Cook Book by Elisa Beynon

Making pesto with Elisa Beynon's recipe, but then with sweetcorn and bacon instead of her recommendation of prawns.

All very tasty!

Since I denied my wife the opportunity to be a Vicar's wife (what you think about infant baptism and some other matters has its consequences!) I thought I'd buy her this Cook Book, and then cook from it for her.

Buy The Vicar's Wife's Cook Book from Amazon

The Evangelical Dress Code

Just had to think about whether I have a lounge suit to wear to a wedding in June and then comes a barrage of posts on church dress codes from the trendsetting Adrian Reynolds and Ant Adams.

Adrian observes the three options available to the well dressed evangelical and Ant's Style Blog reports on how things looked at The Gospel Coalition

Exodus 4: Why was Zipporah so afraid of Moses’ failure to circumcise his own son?

When I preached Exodus 4 last weekend I made no reference to the bit about Zipporah, partly because John Peel of Waterfront Church Plymouth had preached this for us recently. Jacky Lam writes on this:

"To begin with, this is a character-building experience for Moses to not over-spiritualise the gospel and fail to complete the sacraments. He himself was most likely circumcised before being put in the ark, being born in the tribe of Levites. If Moses was going to be the man to tell the Israelites about the Law, then he must take the law entirely seriously. The Angel (v.24 - “the LORD met him and sought to put him to death”) was very angry with Moses because of this failure to circumcise his son. Did Moses forget Genesis 17?

At least Zipporah did not. Apostle Paul understood the truth of taking the sacraments seriously (1 Corinthians 11:29-32), so why shouldn’t Moses? Zipporah, his Gentile wife, had at least a Christian understanding of the sacraments. She immediately circumcised his son, and touched the LORD’s feet with her son’s foreskin. When this sign of blood is given to the Angel, Christ, He does not kill Moses. Zipporah then worships Christ as her “Bridegroom of Blood”. The ESV among other reliable translations seem to translate this with some misconceptions, because the Hebrew does not say “Moses’ feet” in v.25 - it simply says “his” feet. If you follow the context, v.25-26 - “Zipporah took a flint and cut of her son’s foreskin and touched his feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone.” The grammatical syntax doesn’t really make sense if you say that Zipporah cut the son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it, because v. 26 refers the “he” to Christ, not Moses. The point of Zipporah touching Christ’s feet is to enable Christ to let Moses alone - that is why v.25 goes on to v.26. Any other translation (even offered by ESV/NIV etc) will fail to make sense of these two verses.

Zipporah’s theology is rich here - she actually understands the Second person to be the bridegroom of blood, in effect putting herself before Christ as the bride of blood. She understands the Second Person’s role in the Trinity, and understands her role in relation to the Second Person’s blood covenant. She is no daughter of a priest of foreign religion; she is the daughter of a Christian priest*, and wife to a Christian husband who is struggling with his understanding of the sacraments."

* See Exodus 18 for Jethro: The Christian Priest who instituted both a Trinitarian modelled-church, and headship in one go, stemming from his understanding of God

Friday, May 01, 2009

Free MP3s from Westminster Theological Seminary

Access for free: Lectures from WTS... E.J. Young - Cornelius Van Til - John Murray - Edmund Clowney - Sinclair Ferguson - Richard Gaffin - Vern Poythress - Darryl Hart - Timothy Lane - Tim Keller - Paul Tripp - William Edgar - David Powlison - Ed Welch!!!

I'm particularly excited at getting access to more of Ed Clowney on Preaching all Scripture Christianly, and David Powlison's work on the Dynamics of Change amongst other things. Dive in!

ht: JT and James Grant

The disciplines of gospel-repentance

PDF: "Repentance is the way we make progress in the Christian life. Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus... in the gospel the purpose of repentance is to repeatedly tap into the joy of union with Christ..."

What's the alternative? Stick with irreligion and do whatever our sinful hearts desire? Or, pursue religion. The latter is described by Paul in Galatians 2:21 and 5:2-4 as nullifying grace, nullifying the cross, severing ourselves from Christ and 'falling from grace' - which ironically is what we normally call pursuit of irreligion. Since neither is the gospel way, what's the difference?

Instead - the call is to keep in step with the Spirit, repenting again and again to the cross of Christ.

Keller article ht: Milton Stanley
See also: Michael Horton on Union With Christ at Theology Network.

The Bible is given to us as a gift to feast on, rather than a project to complete before judgment day

Dan Hames writes at Theology Network: We will find we go to it to savour and enjoy, and when we miss a day we might feel hunger pangs, but we could never feel guilt, fear, or condemnation. In the same way that skipping breakfast is more of a missed opportunity than a morally dubious choice; not going to the scriptures for nourishment is not a matter of calling down the anger of God, but of omitting to take advantage of his good gifts to his children.

From the new Bible Reading section of Theology Network which also features David Gibson's great article on why we believe the Bible is God's word, and Mike Reeves' excellent Transformission 2008/9 preaching on The Word of God

See also Dan Hames' blog

More on The Song of Songs: The Song of David's Son

Iain Campbell interviewed at Reformed Forum who observes the temple imagery in The Song, and it's redemptive significance, since "Scripture is about Christ" and searching for a Biblical Theological approach calling it The Song of David's Son...
ht: Rosemary

See also Dan Bowen on Peter Masters approach to the supreme and most beautiful song ever composed.

IN CHRIST ALONE: National Day Conference Uniting Theology & Music

Wycliffe Hall, Oxford , in partnership with Passion (USA), Worship Central (HTB & Alpha) and Getty Music invite you to a day conference to inspire, inform and refresh.

IN CHRIST ALONE: National Day Conference Uniting Theology & Music
Wednesday June 17th, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, 10-4:30pm

Speakers: Louie Giglio (Passion Ministries USA), Tim Hughes & Al Gordon (Worship Central & HTB), Keith & Kristyn Getty, Martyn Layzell (Survivor), Steve James, Charlie Cleverley, Vaughan Roberts and many more.

ht: Chris Oldfield