Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmaths


If we are to avoid heresy we need to get the maths of the incarnation right.

The incarnation of Jesus was an act of addition not subtraction. He did not become the Son minus his divine glory when he became man. He added to his divine glory a lowly, yet perfect human nature. 

If the incarnate Son was less than fully divine, he was not the final revelation of God. Only one who was fully God and fully man could reconcile man to God through his sacrifice of infinite worth. 

But the Son did not add a human person to his divine person. The person of the Son entered into union with a human nature, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin's womb. 

There is no merger of the divine and human natures of the Son so that 1 (divine) x 1 (human) = 1 Christological hybrid. The divine and human natures of the Son remain distinct, unconfused and unmixed. 

There is no division between the person of the Son and his human nature. His humanity has no independent existence or identity. We do not confess that the human nature of Jesus died for our sins, but that the Son died for us in his humanity.  

The incarnation will never be reversed by the Son subtracting his human nature from his divine person. Our great high priest who has passed through the heavens is the Son of God, who, in his humanity is able to sympathise with us in our weaknesses. 

Confessional postscript 

The Definition of Chalcedon (451 A.D) sets out the mathematics of the incarnation with great precision and care.  It should be required reading for all preachers. Not that it says all that there is to say about the wonder of Word made flesh. But as with all good creeds and confessions the Definition erects a fence around the mystery to save us from erroneous thinking and speaking about the incarnation of Jesus.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Foundations Autumn 2011


Just in time for Christmas, the 'Autumn 2011' edition of Affinity's Theological journal Foundations has just been posted online. 

Articles include: 

Not Ashamed! The Sufficiency of Scripture
for Public Theology  
Dan Strange

So Who Is My Neighbour? 
John Legg

Evangelical Mission Organisations, Postmodern 
Controversies, and the New Heartbeat of Mission 
Thorsten Prill

Did Turretin Depart from Calvin’s View on the 
Concept of Error in the Scriptures? 
Ralph Cunnington

Review article: Trinitarian Theology  
D Eryl Davies

Also, several book reviews including my review of Bread of Heaven by Eifion Evans, complete with Yoda reference, a first for Foundations?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bread of Heaven: The Life and Work of William Williams, Pantycelyn, by Eifion Evans


Bread of Heaven: The Life and Work of William Williams, Pantycelyn,
Eifion Evans, Bryntirion Press, 2010, 409pp

It is reckoned that a worldwide audience of two billion people tuned in to watch the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton, making the service one of the most watched events in TV history. Of the three hymns sung in the service, two were by Methodists, Love Divine All Loves Excelling by Charles Wesley and Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah by William Williams. Strains of Williams’ most famous hymn will often be heard at Welsh international Rugby matches, “Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more”.

For many, even in Christian circles, all that is known of William Williams is that he penned that hymn. One of the reasons why his life and other achievements have been shrouded in obscurity is that Williams has lacked an up-to-date biography in English. Yet, alongside Daniel Rowland and Howell Harris, the hymn writer was one of the big three leading figures of the Evangelical Revival in 18th century Wales. Howell Harris has been the subject of a recent major study, Howell Harris: From Conversion to Separation 1735-1750 by Geraint Tudur (University Press of Wales, 2000). Eifion Evans’ biography of Daniel Rowland is justly regarded as a spiritual classic, Daniel Rowland and the Great Evangelical Awakening in Wales (1985, Banner of Truth Trust). Now we can be grateful that with the publication of Evans’ volume on William Williams, that the remarkable life and work of the preacher will be more widely know and appreciated.

William Williams was a physician by trade. He was converted in his early twenties in 1738 under the preaching of Howell Harris. Williams was ordained as a Church of England curate, serving first of all in Llanwrtyd and then working alongside Daniel Rowland in Llangeitho. He was a key leader of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist movement.

Williams was a fine preacher and his ministry was much in demand in Wales and beyond. Towards the end of his life he calculated that in over forty years of preaching, he had travelled 111,800 miles, the equivalent of four times around the world. Thomas Charles testified that Williams’ “oratorical gifts were considerable; his preaching was evangelical, experiential and sweet”. He lived to proclaim salvation by the free grace of God on the basis of the finished work of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The first generation of Calvinistic Methodists were loyal members of the Church of England. They had no wish to leave the Established Church unless thrown out by the authorities.  But this created a problem. How could new Christians be nurtured in the faith if many Church of England clergymen did not preach the gospel and were not at all sympathetic to Methodism? Societies or groups of believers were set up to operate alongside the parish church system. William Williams helped to organise these societies and the local and national Associations that oversaw them. In the societies believers were encouraged to share their experiences of the Lord and their struggles in the life of faith. It was in these groups that Williams’ gifts as a soul-physician really came into play. He wrote a book, The Experience Meeting as a manual for society leaders and to commend the value of societies to Methodist converts.

William Williams was the leading writer of the early Calvinistic Methodists. Eifion Evans gives us a flavour of his many and varied prose and poetic works. Williams published an epic poem of 1,360 verses, A View of the Kingdom of Christ, setting out the supremacy of Jesus in creation, providence and redemption. In The Life and Death of Theomemphus, the writer used Bunyanesque fictional characters to portray the trials and triumphs of a typical Calvinistic Methodist believer. His most ambitious prose effort was Pantheologia: A History of All the Religions of the World, printed in seven parts. It is fair to say that Williams’ multi-volume work of comparative religion was not the most popular of his publications. But he wrote with the laudable aim of giving Welsh Calvinistic Methodism more of an intellectual edge.

Welcome attention is also devoted to William Williams the hymn writer. His hymns give expression to all that was best about the Evangelical Revival in Wales. They are steeped in sound biblical doctrine and allude to Bible themes such as the believer’s pilgrimage to glory. But in addition, Williams’ compositions are the overflow of the heart of a gifted poet with a deep experience of communion with God. They are also enriched by the author’s intimate knowledge of the struggles of the life of faith. Evans offers fresh translations of some of Williams’ lesser know Welsh hymns (lesser known at least to English speakers).

The 18th century revival in Wales was not without controversy. Some attacked the revival from the outside. Williams defended the awakening against the charge of enthusiasm or fanaticism. He found Jonathan Edwards’ writings such as The Religions Affections helpful on this score. The revival was also rocked by controversy from within. Some adopted Sandemanian views that reduced saving faith to an intellectual assent to doctrinal propositions. Others advocated antinomianism and rejected the law of God as a rule of faith for believers. Williams refuted these errors in his writings. He also translated into Welsh works that addressed Sandemanian and antinomian false teachings.

An altogether trickier matter was Howell Harris’ adoption of aberrant Moravian views. Harris revelled in the “blood of God” to such an extent that it seemed he was teaching “patripassianism”, the view that the Father suffered on the cross. Daniel Rowland and William Williams argued for the orthodox Trinitarian teaching that at the cross Jesus the Son offered himself to God the Father through the eternal Spirit. Harris’ unorthodox teaching and erratic behaviour in the late 1740 and 50’s led to a division in the ranks of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism. Although married, Harris took a female companion with him on his preaching tours. He proclaimed Sidney Griffith a “prophetess”. The obstinate exhorter would not listen to the reproving voices of Rowland and Williams and so the old friends were forced to part. They were reunited in the 1760’s, when Wales experienced a fresh outpouring of the Spirit.

Eifion Evans has produced a most helpful, informative and stimulating biography of William Williams. He has shown that in his multidimensional ministry, Pantycelyn was much more than a hymn writer. However, Evans can sometimes pull his punches when it comes to criticism of his hero. Williams mistakenly took the appearance of the Northern Lights as an indication that the last days were at hand (see chapter 25). He was so keen to defend the revival against detractors that he was too willing to take leaping and dancing in Methodist meetings as an evidence of the presence of the Spirit. Jonathan Edwards was more cautious in his approach, insisting that effects on the body were no certain evidence of the Spirit’s work. Sometimes Evans’ style can be a little odd. Witness this sentence, almost worthy of Yoda, the syntactically challenged Star Wars character, “It was in this context that Williams forged for the Methodists this manual” (p. 263).

Anyway, I think we can learn a number of lessons from William Williams and Welsh Calvinistic Methodism.

1. Calvinistic doctrine needs to be wedded to the empowering presence of the Spirit. Evans devotes a couple of chapters to Williams’ doctrine. He held to Reformed theology alright, but it was theology on fire.  We have witnessed a welcome recovery of Reformed doctrine in the last fifty years or so. But we have not yet seen a widespread outpouring of the Spirit in revival. Truth must be experienced and its power felt.

2. The need for discernment in times of revival. At the best of times, the devil is at work sowing seeds of doctrinal confusion and goading people to fanaticism. What happened to Howell Harris in the 1740’s and 50’s is a case in point. A revival must not be dismissed on account of the presence of errors and disorder, but neither should revivals be judged uncritically.

3. There is no contradiction between spiritual life and organisational structures. The Calvinistic Methodists had their local societies and national assembly. Independent Evangelicalism often lacks appropriate structures that enable gospel churches to pool their resources and work together. A task for Affinity, perhaps? 

4. The value of believers meeting in small groups. William Williams was a great advocate of societies. Today the equivalent would be Housegroups. But may our Housegroups not simply be for the purpose of Bible study and prayer, but also an environment where believers are encouraged to share their spiritual experiences.

5. A new generation of hymn writers has much to learn from Williams’ ability to mix biblical truth with heartfelt experience of the grace of God.

6. The Church of England could not contain the new wine of Calvinistic Methodism and so the Presbyterian Church of Wales was founded in 1811. But the revival did start in the Church of England. Should such a movement of the Spirit suddenly begin in today’s Church in Wales, or the Church of England, how should those of us who have separated from the mainline denominations react? I trust that we would be generous minded enough to recognise the work of God for what it was and do all we could to support those involved.

7. Evans’ biography is written from an unashamedly Christian standpoint. Unlike the case with some recent works by Evangelical historians, Evans attributes the Evangelical Revival experienced by William Williams and others to the Holy Spirit rather than to merely human factors. His account is all the better for that. May reading this volume stir us up to lay hold of God for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit in our day.  

* Reviewed for Autumn 2011 Foundations.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Something extra from Calvin for Christmas

In his book, John Calvin's Ideas, (Oxford, 2004), Paul Helm devotes a chapter to The Extra (p. 58-92). Helm defines Calvin's extra, or the extra Calvinisticum like this: "the view that in the Incarnation the Son retained divine properties such as immensity and omnipresence and therefore Christ was not confined within the limits of a human person". It would have been better for Helm to have said, "within the limits of a human nature", but I'll let that pass for now. The main point is that Calvin was especially clear on the fact that the enfleshment of the Son entailed no change in his divine being, 
They thrust upon as something absurd, that if the Word of God became flesh, then he was confined  in the narrow prison of an earthly body. This is mere impudence! For even if in his  immeasurable essence the Word was united with human nature into one person, we do not imagine that he was confined therein. The Son of God descended miraculously from heaven, yet without abandoning heaven. He was pleased to be conceived miraculously in the Virgin's womb, to live on the earth, and hang upon the cross, and yet he continually filled the world as he had from the beginning. (Institutes II:13:4). 
As Helm points out, Calvin's "extra" was not in fact distinctive to the Reformer at all. A similar emphasis can be found in Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas and other notable Doctors of the Church. Here is Augustine,
And we think that something impossible to believe is told us about the omnipotence of God, when we are told that the Word of God, by whom all things were made, took flesh from a virgin and appeared to mortal senses without destroying His immortality, His eternity, or diminishing His power, or neglecting the government of the world, or leaving the bosom of the Father, where He is intimately with Him and in Him! (Letter to Volusian, cited in John Calvin's Ideas, p. 59).   
Also along these lines, my attention was recently drawn to a hymn by Joseph Hart (1712-68),

1    The Lord that made both heaven and earth,
            And was himself made man,
        Lay in the womb, before his birth,
            Contracted to a span.

    2    Behold, from what beginnings small
            Our great salvation rose;
        The strength of God is owned by all;
            But who his weakness knows?

    3    Let not the strong the weak despise;
            Their faith, though small, is true;
        Though low they seem in others’ eyes,
            Their Saviour seemed so too.

    4    Nor meanly of the tempted think;
            For O what tongue can tell
        How low the Lord of life must sink,
            Before he vanquished hell?

    5    As in the days of flesh he grew
            In wisdom, stature, grace,
        So in the soul that’s born anew,
            He keeps a gradual pace.

    6    No less almighty at his birth,
            Than on his throne supreme;
        His shoulders held up heaven and earth,
            When Mary held up him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did Jesus leave his throne when he became Man?


Christmas carols often claim that the Son of God "left his throne" when he became man. A few examples,

There was no room in Bethlehem
for Him who left his throne

Thou didst leave Thy throne
and kingly crown

The Lord of hosts, the God most high,
who quits His throne on earth to live

The trouble is that I'm at a loss as to what all that is supposed to mean. When he became man, did the Son abdicate his role in the lordship of the Trinity, ceasing to rule the cosmos together with the Father and the Holy Spirit? What does such a construction do to our doctrine of the Trinity? Besides, Scripture bears witness to the fact that the Son was involved in upholding and guiding the universe before and after he was made flesh, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:3. And Hebrews 1:8, citing Psalm 45:6-7 insists that the Son's throne is "for ever and ever". 

The nearest Scripture gets to the idea that Christ "left his throne" is in using spatial language to describe the incarnation. In the Gospel According to John Jesus often testifies that he came down from heaven to earth, John 3:13, 6:51. But even here, we need to understand that this language is figurative, accommodated to our capacity as creatures constrained by space and time. Being of the same divine essence as the Father, the Son is omnipresent. He was not shorn of his immensity when he became Man. In the words of Augustine, Jesus  became was he was not - fully human, without ceasing to be what he was - fully God. The one who was born in Bethelem  was at one and the same time filling heaven and earth, unconstrained by the restrictions of created space. When Scripture speaks in terms of the Jesus coming down from heaven, this language is intended to convey the dazzling height from which he stooped when the Word was made flesh. 

But still, even as he was born of woman, born under the law, Jesus was the sovereign Son, ruling over all things together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Rather than depicting Christ as surrendering a throne at the incarnation, the bible insists that he came to claim his crown as the Redeemer-King of the people of God, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:31-33. The incarnation was not an act of dethronement for the Son, but of further enthronementBecause he who was the form of God took the form of a servant and became obedient to the death of the cross, God exalted him to his right hand in glory.  Jesus is the Lamb in the midst of the throne, worthy to reign because he redeemed us to God by his blood, Acts 2:36, Philippians 2:8-11, Revelation 5:5-6, 9-10. 


Well might angels sing in wonder
as they herald forth his birth;
even they can scarcely ponder 
why God's Son came down to earth.
See Him now, enthroned in glory,
earth awaiting His return.
While our hearts recount the story
may these hearts within us burn.
(Graham Stuart Harrison) 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Blogging in the name of the Lord: Jonathan Hunt


GD: Hello Jonathan Hunt and welcome to Exiled Preacher. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Born 1977, born again 1992, called to preach in 2005. Married since 2002, to Clare, with one step-son, John, who is 14. I have a degree in English Literature from the Open University. For the last three years I have been full-time carer for my wife who has MS, and I have served as Preaching Elder at Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church.

GD: You blog at Pastor’s Pen. How do you view blogging in relation to the pastoral ministry?

A word of explanation, perhaps. I have blogged in various incarnations since 2004. Upon accepting the new Pastorate, I decided that I really could not continue to blog as a private individual. I do view blogging technology as useful, though, and so I will be continuing to 'blog' using a part of our new church website, www.mortonbaptist.org. This will mainly be a means of placing online the pastoral letters, articles and book reviews which I write for our monthly church magazine, the 'Morton Messenger'.

GD: You are about to become Pastor of Morton Baptist Church, Thornbury. Describe your call the work of the ministry at Thornbury.

It was a great suprise. Although Clare and I had the sense that we were open to a move somewhere, we could not see how it would work out as we needed to stay in Cheltenham for at least another 18 months. I had been aware of the church for about three years, having attending various preaching rallies there, and preached on a few Sundays. In May 2011 I attended such a rally meeting, and I was taken aside by the Church Secretary afterwards. 'May we register an interest?' he asked. I came home and discussed it with Clare, prayed, and the next day agreed that they could take it further. I was 'interviewed' by the Secretary and former Pastor, and then preached with a view twice one Sunday at the end of June. I also understand that various references from experienced ministers were taken up. On Friday 1st July, the church members extended an unanimous call to me, which I have (obviously) accepted, and I commence formally on 1st January 2012.

GD: And the Induction Service is when?

Let's get this straight - the Ordination Service AND the Induction Service are BOTH on Saturday 14th January 2012 at 2pm.

 GD: That's clear, then. What are your hopes and fears as you contemplate your first pastorate?

My hopes are many. Primarily that the Lord will be pleased to bless our ministry to the salvation of many in the area, but equally that He will bless and encourage the saints who have been bruised and battered by some considerable troubles and unexpected bereavements. Secondarily I hope as ever that I might grow in grace and be a blessing to others. I continue to be amazed that someone like me could be used in this way. A minor hope is that we might sing some more Psalms! My fears? All about myself. Jesus Christ never fails - but I know that I do! I also fear that if there is blessing, praise will be wrongly attributed to me rather than to Almighty God.

GD: Where did you train for the pastoral ministry and what did you find most helpful about your training?

Mostly in the school of experience. The past few years have seen me do pretty much everything that arises pastorally, apart from a wedding. I did attend the London Reformed Baptist Seminary for four years but I freely confess that whilst I completed full attendance and (I hope) did all the reading, I didn't manage to submit all the assignments. I continue to train myself and I am trying to study some greek now. If there was one thing most helpful about LRBS, it was the series of 'Book overviews' given by various pastors who brought out the chief themes, opportunities for teaching or evangelistic preaching, and schemes for covering the contents, in all the books of the Bible.

GD: Who has had the greatest influence on your theological development?

Peter Masters. This is the obvious truth, because he was my pastor for 24 years. I owe Dr Masters a great debt - and if I could have two attributes of his - his passion for the lost and his desire to make the scriptures accessible to everyone - then I would be very happy. I would just add that in the ten years that I have been away from London, I have continued to develop theologically, and some of my positions would now be a little different from his - although I would still affirm the 1689 confession with very minor variations.

GD: If time travel were possible, which figure from post-biblical church history would you like to meet and what would you say to him/her?

It is corny but I cannot get beyond Mr Spurgeon. I would love to know what his voice sounded like. What would I say? Nothing. I would be listening.

GD: What is the most helpful theological book that you have read in the last twelve months? It is a must read because...

A small one. 'Singing the songs of Jesus' by Michael Lefebvre (Christian Focus). Helpful because it is the best theological presentation of why we should sing the Psalms in worship. A must read because it explains so plainly why the Psalms are Christ's songs which we may sing WITH Him. It avoids the pitfall of arguing for exclusive psalmody (without saying whether that is right or wrong) and this makes the case for the singing of the Psalms in public worship all the stronger.

 GD: Care to share your top three songs or pieces of music?

My tastes are very broad. Thanks to Gary Brady (he posted a link to youtube on his blog, Heavenly Worldliness) I do enjoy the music of Adam Young, better known as 'Owl City'. A professing Christian, his lyrics are clean, the music is fun and there are many spiritual messages in the songs. My favourite track is the multiple-platiunum hit 'Fireflies'. That's only really one answer isn't it? I'll probably say  Handel's Messiah if that isn't cheating, and also 'I was glad' by Parry.

GD: What is the biggest problem facing Evangelicalism today and how should we respond?

A lack of corporate prayer. That is simply my own personal observation. Empty church prayer meetings, long silences, people praying about pet theological issues, and next to no pleading for God's blessing and help, particularly in evangelism. How we should respond is fairly obvious to my mind - make much of corporate and private prayer, encourage and exhort people to pray, and give the lead to the people we serve.

GD: And which blogs do you most enjoy reading and why?

Not very many. I use an RSS reader which allows me to see what is available at a glance. Apart from your good blog, I would say that the top five I visit every day are David Murray's Head Heart Hand, Brian Croft's Practical Shepherding, Jeff Lyle's Transforming Truth, Jeremy Walker's The Wanderer, and for politics and current affairs, Archbishop Cranmer. Very many good blogs have fallen into dis-use in recent times, I note.

GD: Thanks for that, J. Every blessing with your new ministry

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Lord of Time


Chosen in Christ
before time's dawn;
not for my works,
but in your grace.
Sovereign Lord,
I praise you.

Redeemed by Christ
in time's fullness,
his blood shed
to set me free.
Loving Lord,
I praise you.

Crucified with Christ,
a time to die.
Baptised into death,
sin reigns no more.
Mighty Lord,
I praise you.

Risen with Christ,
a time to live.
Fullness of life
from empty tomb.
Living Lord,
I praise you.

Seated with Christ,
a time to reign
in heavenly realms,
more than a conqueror.
Exalted Lord,
I praise you.

Made like Christ
at time’s end,
raised immortal
by his voice.
Jesus, Lord,
I'll praise you.

Monday, December 05, 2011

On listening to Mendelssohn's Elijah

Augustine once said, "I want to know God, my soul and nothing else." When asked what music I like, I often reply, "I listen to William Williams, Radiohead and nothing else." Admittedly that's a bit of an exaggeration, but what I mean is that I don't much like what passes for contemporary Christian music. By that I don't mean hymns by modern writers like Stuart Townend, you understand, but Phatfish and stuff like that. Not that I've listened to a lot of Phatfish. In fact I can't remember ever doing so. But that's beside the point. I don't like their music in the same way I don't like custard and that's that. 

I enjoy listening to hymns, whether old or new, Radiohead, Coldplay etc and nothing much in between. But even that isn't an especially accurate reflection of my musical tastes, because I'm also partial to a bit of classical music; Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Bruch, Elgar, Mahler, Shostakovich, the usual stuff. 

Anyway, on Sunday I preached away at Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church. I went on my own and fancied listening to some music while driving. Being a it of a Sabbatarian I don't play Coldplay on the Lord's day, or even Radiohead, so I dug out my copy of Mehdelssohn's Elijah. Welsh bass baritone, Bryn Terfel sings the part of the eponymous prophet, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the baton of Paul Daniel. Being on my own I could turn up the car stereo really massive loud, which I can't usually do because it gives my wife 'a headache'. 

I had played the CD many times before, but the effect of listening to Elijah on full blast really blew me away. Mendelssohn's oratorio brilliantly captures the highs and lows of the Elijah's ministry, from his triumph at Mount Carmel to his despair at Horeb, the mountain of God. Terfel is amazing in the lead part, singing with great skill and a deep emotional empathy for the prophet. You  sometimes feel that he is almost sing-preaching, as he thunders against the prophets of Baal. 

It all ends by directing the listener to a new Elijah, in the form of John the Baptist with an allusion to Malachi 4:5-6 cf. Luke 1:17. Of course, John the Baptist's role was to point people to Christ. The libretto picks this up, having the chorus sing a catena of biblical quotations, including Isaiah 41:25, 42:1 & 11:2. A quartet exhorts the listener to come to the Lord, Isaiah 55:1, 3, before the chorus concludes the piece with a rousing doxology, "Thou fillest heaven with thy glory. Amen."

Mehdelssohn's Elijah ends where Handel's Messiah begins, with John the Baptist as a new Elijah, preparing the way for the Lord. Mehdelssohn's tremendous Elijah serves as a forerunner for Handel's more excellent Messiah.

I know that the Latin for "take and read" is toll lege. I don't know what the Latin is for "take and listen" so I'll just have to say it in English. Take and listen to Mendelssohn's Elijah. If you've never done so before, what are you waiting for? If you have do so before, do it again. Soon. You can catch the Terfel version on Spotify

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Lamb in the midst of the throne


Revelation 5:6

God’s sovereignty is mediated through Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became man and redeemed us by his blood. In his humanity Jesus has been exalted to God’s right hand in glory. Jesus Christ is Lord. God’s sovereignty has a human face. “The dust of the earth is on the throne of the Majesty on high” (Rabbi Duncan). In Revelation 4 God, reigns in unapproachable light, and in absolute power over all things. We might be overwhelmed by the majesty of it all, even the angels were, Revelation 4:10-11. But in the midst of the throne is a Lamb that once was slain, the Christ of Golgotha, who knew pain and suffering, who overcame by the shedding of his blood. He is no remote potentate, who cares little for the suffering and struggles faced by his people in the world. He looks down upon his church. He sees her fighting not to lose her first love, fighting against temptation, fighting against error, facing suffering. He is able to sympathise with her. He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. In all our affliction he is afflicted. The sovereignty of God is tinged with the sympathy of Christ. The Lamb is in the midst of the throne.

LAMB of God, Thou now art seated
High upon Thy Father's throne;
All Thy gracious work completed,
All Thy mighty victory won:
Every knee in heaven is bending
To the Lamb for sinners slain;
Every voice and heart is swelling,
"Worthy is the Lamb to reign".

Lord, in all Thy power and glory,
Still Thy thoughts and eyes are here;
Watching o'er Thy ransomed people,
To Thy gracious heart so dear;
Thou for us art interceding;
Everlasting is Thy love;
And a blessed rest preparing
In our Father's house above.

Lamb of God, when Thou in glory
Shalt to this sad earth return,
All Thy foes shall quake before Thee,
All who now despise Thee mourn;
Then shall we at Thine appearing,
With Thee in Thy kingdom reign;
Thine the praise, and Thine the glory,
Lamb of God for sinners slain.

(James George Deck, 1802-84)