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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.

Dr. J. I. Packer

When stopping through my local Christian book store yesterday I came across a leaflet promoting a talk next week from Dr. J. I. Packer. Naturally, I was very excited. Now, Dr. Packer has been made known to me chiefly through so many book endorsements. Along with this, he was also the general editor for the English Standard Bible (ESV), of which I am recently enjoying the study version. However, it was his book, Knowing God, that has impacted me the most and I am grateful for the wealth of insight that he has brought to me and to many people who have discipled me.

Dr. Packer will be speaking at St. Bart’s Church in Bath, at 7:30pm  on Thursday 21st May. For more information, see the Bath & Wells Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship website.

ESV Study Bible

May 6, 2009 — 5 Comments
ESV Study Bible

The ESV Study Bible

It was a long time ago that I heard that Crossway would be putting out a new Study Bible. The pre-publishing buzz really got me quiet excited. The Bible came out and I thought, “OK, I don’t really need it, I can wait until Christmas.” Christmas came and went and alas, no big hunking book in my stocking.

Then came the good news; The Gospel Coalition were handing them out to those who attended the conference in Chicago. So I counted down the days until the conference and was duly rewarded on the opening day with my not-so-portable Study Bible.

I managed to get the said Bible back to England and now I have the opportunity to enjoy it. To be honest, I’ve already been using a friend’s copy when I was with YWAM in Maui so I knew what I was getting myself into.

So my thoughts so far. The book is big. Bigger than most. And all that excess is in-depth articles and commentary on the text. There are great intros to the books, as well as guides to the literature. There are also some great looking maps and charts. I’ve been going over 1 and 2 Peter quite thoroughly again (as inspired first by Tom Osterhus in my YWAM days, and later Mark Driscoll) and I’ve found the notes incredibly helpful in my understanding of the text.

I don’t feel as if I’m simply reading the footnotes either, as I’m prone to do with some commentaries, but rather that the footnotes keep me in the text and help me to dig deeper in my study. John Piper stressed at the above mentioned conference that we young teachers need to ‘wrestle’ with the Word of God, to really stress over the words used. I’ve found that the ESV Study Bible helps me to do that.

As well as all this, the whole Bible – with notes, articles, maps, charts etc. – is online and open to all who have purchased a copy of the Bible. The book is big, and so if you’re travelling somewhere and don’t fancy lugging it along then you can look things up online. This is much more than a gimmick – it’s a really useful addition that will be of great help.

I’ve found so far that the ESV Study Bible has been greatly helpful to me. I’d recommend it hands down to anyone who a) doesn’t have a Study Bible, b) wants to add another tool to their library, c) anyone with £30 to spare.

The ESV Study Bible is availble for sale on Amazon and all good Christian bookshops.

The Septuagint

March 7, 2009 — Leave a comment

“In what language were the Scriptures written at the time of Jesus?” This question came up in the DTS recently, during the Apologetics class, and we looked at the answer last week.

During the intertestamental period (400BC to 0AD) the Jewish Scriptures were translated from Hebrew into Greek, and we call this translation the ‘Septuagint’ (from the latin word for seventy, septuaginta). There are different theories for why this translation was undertaken, but what we do know was that the Greek language was fast becoming a widespread language during the expansion of the Roman Empire.

So when Jesus came along we find that the Jewish leaders, and the Temple, were using the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures to teach from. When we see Jesus quoting the Old Testament (e.g. Matthew 4:4) he would have been quoting in Greek. Also, the writers of the New Testament were all writing in Greek (albeit in different forms) and would use the Greek translation of the Old Testament when making reference to or quoting from it.

More Information

The ESV Study Bible has offered an online trial version of their complete Bible for the month of March. Along with a stellar reference Bible there are several great articles. Two articles of use here are: