The sampler has got me excited for the launch of the albums, which I’ll be looking to purchase and share soon enough. So if you’re into theologically rich worship (and if not, why not?!) and have a taste for some alternative musical styles, go take a look.
Archives For Theology
“This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.
The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age.”
I’ve run into this very quote and situation numerous times, each time the implication being that we need to be ‘actionally active’ and ‘verbally passive’, or something like that. It’s as if we read the book of Acts and ignore the great sermons (which to me seem to be the thrust of much of the book) and say that actually we just need to keep quiet and get on with it.
Of course, this isn’t true; the gospel needs to be preached verbally and through the effective preaching of the Word the Holy Spirit regenerates hearts to serve Him well too, providing another effective witness.
But our culture has for much part lost the value of words, and so little mantras like the one above (for it really is like a religious chant) slip in, sound cool, but if left unchecked can be quite dangerous, especially to a young Christian mind.
So let us continue in the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2) so we might use wisdom and discernment in dealing with the bombardment of ideas jumping our way, that we might sift out truth and discard error.
We’re in a shooting war and we can’t afford to put down the rifles that God has given us to advance his Kingdom. The preaching of the Word by the Holy Spirit is powerful, life-changing and glorious. He has promised the power of it to us (Isa. 55:11) and we have witnessed it ourselves. We must not get muddled and confused where God has spoken plain and clearly.
At last night’s service in Bath with Dr. J. I. Packer we were treated to a quick question and answer time before the main message (which incidentally was taken from Luke 1:67-80 entitled, “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment.”) From this Q & A session I want to highlight three questions and their answers that I found particularly insightful and helpful.
1. What advice would you give to Christians young in the faith?
- “Soak yourselves in Scripture.” Packer hit first and foremost the absolute neccesity that we need to be in the Bible often. Packer is in his 80′s I believe and he mentioned that fact that people don’t read their bibles as their fathers and grandfathers once did. What does that mean for me who could be his great-grandson?!
At this point he talked about the ESV Study Bible for which he served as Theological Editor and mentioned that is much more than just another study Bible, but rather it is, “put together as a resource for the Christian life.” That is, that the study Bible complete with articles, notes, charts, maps etc. was designed to help the Christian in all matters of their faith.
- The next point that he made was that we need to be in prayer. We were exhorted to, “practice prayer, both in company, and on your own.” As well as having a life of personal prayer we need to, “get into a prayer group.” Packer stressed the importance of the Christian walk being that as a walk of fellowship, and not isolation.
I thought that was great coming from a man who might actually be able to remember the beginning of modernity. I find that many among the crowd who want to do church in a ‘post-modern’ way seem to think that they have discovered ‘community’ for the first time. Ahh, but not so. Because it, as with other doctrines, have been dismissed by some in some generations in the past does not mean that it is a new or bold discovery.
- Dr. Packer also told us that we need to be actively seeking to discover what gifts God has given to us. When we discover our gifts we can then begin to use them! We are “saved to serve” and church is not a place to sit idly by without joining in and fulfilling our own unique role in the body (Col. 1:24 – verse added).
And what about Christians at the other end, those much older in their faith?
- “Remember that the Good Lord never changes.” I’m only 25 so I’m nodding appropriately and writing and thinking that hopefully one day this might mean a little more to me. All I can take it for is that when you have seen a lot of life, and a lot of change, we must remain strong and take heart in the Unchanging One.
- “Remind yourselves of the works of God.” This is one that I think is good for us all. We must remember to be thankful and give praise to God for the wonderful things that He has done in our lives.
3. For what can we pray for you?
Finally, the question was asked for what can we pray for Dr. Packer? As you may know, Dr. Packer and others from his church have been having a rough run of it of late. The whole sad ordeal to me highlights the state of some parts of the church. The glimmer of hope to be found is in the people who made a stand, take God at His word and take His Word very seriously.
It is a brave man who is still very much passionate about His God to stand firm, when He has been standing so strong for all his life. Dr. Packer in this regard is an inspiration to me and a testimony of the Holy Spirit’s grace that enables sinners to run hard, run strong, and finish well. My prayers will be with him and his church over the next few weeks.
Yesterday a new sermon series, The Cause, began at Bath City Church. This ongoing series, from Ephesians, should be quiet exciting. I’ll be studying the book over the next month or so myself and look forward to learning much from it.
R C Sproul jr. has written a wonderful short piece on what it means to be on the Reformed ‘team’. Too often it is easy to identify our walk by the shadow of another man. But all men are sinners, and all are fallen and finite. The only person we should seek to ultimately emulate and aspire to is Jesus Christ.
Calvinists should not be, as Sproul points out, simply followers of Calvin. But rather followers of truth, with the Bible as our guide and Jesus as our Lord. Calvin joins the ranks of others who think like this. We too, join alongside those gone before us in proclaiming the gospel and stand today marked by the same convicitions under the same Lord.
As Sproul also points out, we must never idolise our heroes by making them more than what they are: sinners saved by grace. No one is perfect, save one on this planet, and therin lies the distinction. In the light of that we can look to all the good that has been done by those that have walked before us, and also see the mistakes that have been made.
In closing, let me quote Sproul:
“As we this year celebrate the 500th birthday of Calvin, let us not fall into a hagiography that he himself would not approve, turning heroes into sinless saints. Let us not, on the other hand, however, succumb to revisionist history that would turn heroes into monsters. Let us give thanks for that Biblical theology that we sometimes call Calvinism, and give thanks for Calvin.“
I wanted a bit of a challenge, and now I have one. Reading the Bible, all of it, in 90 days. There’s a big push for this in the summer, called, The Bible in 90 Days. Actually, there’s quite a few resources at that site so take a look. There’s help for the church as a whole, as well as small groups, and Joe who wants to do it on his own.
I however, have jumped the gun. I found out about the whole thing through Twitter, linking back to this post. Instead of waiting til the first of June I’ve just started going. So the challenge was laid down; and the challenge has been accepted. As I reckon it’s day 3 tomorrow and Genesis will be all but done …
I started taking quotes seriously around Christmas 2005. I was in Thailand on my own and apart from my new Thai friends my books were the only things to keep me company. I found that a few good quotes to ponder through the day would keep my mind focussed
Today, there are two quotes that are on the back of my bedroom door. Both came from the same book by Francis Schaeffer. One is his own, the other from Martin Luther. They serve to help remind me of some of my duties.
“There is nothing more ugly than an orthodoxy without understanding or compassion.” – F. Schaeffer
“Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.” – M. Luther
I’ve just come across this post – Five Myths about Calvinism – and found more food for thought about the benefits of understanding many of Calvin’s principles. At the beginning of the article C. H. Spurgeon is quoted:
“There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer – I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it.”
Well said. And with that being said I thought the rest of article addresses several misconceptions of the label ‘Calvinism’ pretty well.