Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Here's wising my readers a very happy and blessed Christmas. I'm not sure what John Owen would have thought about the observance of Christmas, but in this meditation he brings us face to face with the glorious mystery of the incarnation:
But had we the tongue of men and angels, we were not able in any just measure to express the glory of this condescension; for it is the most ineffable effect of the divine wisdom of the Father and of the love of the Son, — the highest evidence of the care of God towards mankind. What can be equal unto it? what can be like it? It is the glory of Christian religion, and the animating soul of all evangelical truth. This carrieth the mystery of the wisdom of God above the reason or understanding of men and angels, to be the object of faith and admiration only. A mystery it is that becomes the greatness of God, with his infinite distance from the whole creation, — which renders it unbecoming him that all his ways and works should be comprehensible by any of his creatures, Job xi. 7–9; Rom. xi. 33–36.
He who was eternally in the form of God, — that is, was essentially so, God by nature, equally participant of the same divine nature with God the Father; “God over all, blessed for ever;” who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth, — he takes on him the nature of man, takes it to be his own, whereby he was no less truly a man in time than he was truly God from eternity. And to increase the wonder of this mystery, because it was necessary unto the end he designed, he so humbled himself in this assumption of our nature, as to make himself of no reputation in this world, — yea, unto that degree, that he said of himself that he was a worm, and no man, in comparison of them who were of any esteem.
We speak of these things in a poor, low, broken manner, — we teach them as they are revealed in the Scripture, — we labour by faith to adhere unto them as revealed; but when we come into a steady, direct view and consideration of the thing itself, our minds fail, our hearts tremble, and we can find no rest but in a holy admiration of what we cannot comprehend. Here we are at a loss, and know that we shall be so whilst we are in this world; but all the ineffable fruits and benefits of this truth are communicated unto them that do believe. (From The Glory of Christ, Works Volume 1, p. 330 - here).
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Here is an official summary of the 4,700 word document,
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
1.the sanctity of human life
2.the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3.the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defence, and to commit ourselves to honouring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The main body of the Manhattan Declaration is taken up with developing the three key points listed above; the sanctity of life, the unique dignity of heterosexual marriage and freedom of religion. It cannot be doubted that these are some of the most pressing moral and social issues facing Christians today. The culture may be increasingly hostile to what we have to say on these matters, but it is for us as Evangelical Christians to bear witness to biblical principles in public life.
The declaration garnered a fair bit of coverage in the American media, both secular and Christian. In the UK, The Guardian somewhat predictably dismissed the document as a “declaration of hypocrisy” as it makes no mention of the Iraq war, while the Christian Concern for our Nation website asks hopefully, “The Manhattan Declaration: An historic call to Christian Truths. Is the UK next?”
We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defence of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.
For Evangelicals involved in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement such as Chuck Colson, this approach is not at all problematic. ECT proceeds on the basis that, Evangelicals and Roman Catholics as those who "accept Christ as Lord and Saviour are brothers and sisters in Christ." (Reaffirmed in the most recent ECT joint-statement on Mary). However, so long as Evangelical Protestants hold that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone in accordance with the witness of Scripture alone, we have to say that the Roman Catholic Church does not preach the biblical gospel of salvation. The same goes for Orthodoxy.
Al Mohler has written to explain that his signature on the Manhattan Declaration does not involve acceptance of the ECT position. For him the declaration is all about the three key issues mentioned above and entails no subversion of confessional integrity. But as already pointed out, the document seems to imply that all signatories are Christians who proclaim the same gospel. Listen here for a revealing interview with Ligon Duncan, where he explains why although an opponent of ECT, he signed the declaration, HT Dan Phillips.
If the Manhattan Declaration had simply stated that as representatives of the Judeo-Christian tradition, leading members of Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Evangelical groupings had spoken out on some of the key moral issues of the day, there would be no problem. Indeed the declaration is a welcome clarion call for Christians not bend the knee to Caesar if the State should demand that we compromise our beliefs and values. Jesus Christ is Lord and it is to him we owe our ultimate allegiance. But regrettably, in the Manhattan Declaration co-belligerence appears to have trumped gospel faithfulness.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
If Carswell gives attention to the theological context of the gospel, Vaughn Roberts has a slightly different tack in his Missing the Point? Finding Our Place in the Turning Points of History, Authentic, 41pp. The Christian message does not come to us in the form of a set of abstract truths about God, ourselves, and salvation in Christ. The gospel is the culmination of the unfolding story of biblical revelation. Unless people have an understanding of the Bible's basic plot-line, the claims of Jesus will make little sense. Robert's approach is all the more necessary given the widespread ignorance of the Bible in our society. This user-friendly title takes the reader through some of the big 'turning points' in Bible history; creation, the fall, God's promise to Abraham, the Exodus, the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. With all this in mind, Roberts not only invites his readers to believe in Jesus and be saved, he also makes it clear that being a Christian involves serving the Lord in the context of church life. The booklet comes in an attractive format and manages to sketch out the Bible's main plot-line without leaving the reader overburdened with detail. An ideal evangelistic tool for helping the non-Christian get to grips with the greatest story ever told.
If you like the sound of these two titles, the good people at 10ofthose.com have a special offer for Exiled Preacher readers. You can get them for £2.50 per booklet or 10 for £25 or 100 for £125 (all prices include postage within the UK). Quote 'Exiled' when e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, December 11, 2009
2. Puritan attitudes to Rome
3. AV 1611
4. Preaching for repentance
5. The 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference
6. Andrew Bonar (born 1810)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Garry Williams - Director of the John Owen Centre
Monday, December 07, 2009
Calvin as commentator and theologian
1859 - A Year of Grace
I shall be taking my trusty notebook and pen and hope to post a report on the blog.
Friday, December 04, 2009
God’s giving is costly, disproportionate and extravagant: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). It cost the Father to give his Son to be despised and rejected by men, and ultimately to be made sin for us on the cross. All he demands from us by way of response is faith — and that itself is a gift he bestows as part and parcel of our salvation (Ephesians 2:8). Is this not totally disproportionate? God gives us his one and only beloved Son. In return, we give him our trust and he lavishes upon us the extravagant blessing of everlasting life. What can we say but, ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ (2 Corinthians 9:15). Clearly we cannot match the infinite and unrestrained generosity of the giving God. But Jesus said, ‘Freely you have received, freely give’ (Matthew 10:8).
Thursday, December 03, 2009
"I'm amazed at the amount of time people spend on the internet. I'm not against technology, but all tools should be used to their best advantage. We should be spending our time on things that have staying power, instead of on the latest thought of the latest blogger—and then moving on quickly to the next blogger. That makes us more superficial, not more thoughtful." (From World Magazine article on Packer, Patriarch).
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Paul David Tripp, Shepherd Press, 2009, 223 pages
The author uses the idea of a broken-down house to illustrate what it means to live for the Lord in a fallen world. The world has gone bad because of sin. Nothing is as it should be. Everything from the environment to personal relationships have been affected by the devastating effects of the fall. But that does not mean that the believer should fatalistically write off the 'broken-down house' of this world. God has called us to be part of his renovation work by living productively in a world gone bad.
Doing this requires a healthy dose of biblical realism. We have to come realise that we cannot change other people, let alone the world in our own strength. To think otherwise is a recipe for the frustration and bitter disappointment that so often seems to mar our relationships. Believers need to come to terms with their limits and rest in the sovereign power of God. We need to live in the light of eternity and learn what it means to actively wait upon the Lord. He alone is able to restore the broken-down house and transform those who live in it.
But that does not mean that we can do nothing. Fuelled by love for the Lord and empowered by grace we must reject passivity and involve ourselves fully in God’s redemptive community, the church. We have been saved to serve and having a ministry mentality will affect every aspect of our lives. Understanding this and living it out will transform our relationships within the family, church and society.
In the final chapter, Tripp urges his readers to examine their legacy. Can the people closest to us see that we are living for eternity with an eye for God’s glory, or are our goals altogether more earthly? Such questions force us to think about what really makes us tick. And that isn't a bad thing.
This well written book is full of telling illustrations and is characterised by pastoral honesty and sound biblical teaching. The believer is challenged to live faithfully and fruitfully in a fallen world that God is busy restoring. Read, reflect and act.