Some Links…

This is quite beautiful to watch in high-def, full screen for a few minutes.

This congregational (i.e. not choir) singing is quite beautiful to listen to – crank the sound up!

A couple of articles by our own (though not for much longer!) Matt Holst on Gerhardus Vos and the Law, here and here.

David Anderson reflects on two years as a missionary in Eldoret in Kenya, here and here. Some fascinating thoughts, especially relevant to those of us who think we are supportive of our missionaries!

Finally, the Rev. Ian Hamilton speaking on the dangers that face Christian ministry. This is one not to be missed. Get it from this page, under “Officers’ Training”. (I found there is something strange about the link to the mp3. The file seems to be called “The” only! However, press on and download it, then add a “.mp3” to the file name and it will then be fine to play.)

Some Links…

We Share with the Son in His Justification

We are familiar as Christians, no doubt, with the concept our own justification. However, less familiar, and perhaps a little odd-sounding, is the idea of Jesus being justified. “Wasn’t he perfectly sinless and righteous?” we might say. “Why did he need to be justified?”

Yet it is there in Scripture:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16, ESV)

Did you spot it? If you know that “vindicated” is a translation of the same word for “justified” then it is clear. Jesus was justified by the Spirit. (I have no doubt this is a reference to his resurrection cf. Romans 1:4. But that’s another discussion!)

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, preaching in Dundee in 1839, picked this up while speaking about what it means to have fellowship with the Son. So, he says:

Once Jesus was unjustified; once there were sins laid to his charge, – the sins of many. It was this that occasioned his agony in the garden, on the cross. His only comfort was, “He is near that justifieth me.” He knew the time would be short. But now the wrath of God has all fallen upon Him. The thunder-clouds of God’s anger have spent all their lightnings in his head. The vials of God’s wrath have poured out their last drops on Him. He is now justified from all the sins that were laid upon Him. He has left them with the grave clothes. His fellow-men and devils laid all sins to his charge; He was silent. Do you believe this record concerning the Son? Do you cleave to Jesus as yours? Then you have fellowship with him in his justification. You are as much justified as Christ is. There is as little guilt lying upon you as there is upon Christ. The vials of wrath have not another drop for Christ, nor another drop for you. You are justified from all things.

(from a sermon on 1 John 1:1-4 in Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Andrew Bonar)

His teaching was simple: because the Son was justified, we share with him in his justification. Behind it, it seems, was an understanding of the doctrine of union with Christ (so he says, “Do you cleave to Jesus as yours?”). It is when in that union that a Christian receives Jesus’ own justification. There is not another drop of wrath for us.

We Share with the Son in His Justification

Donkeys in the Pulpit

It is a great encouragement to receive positive comments about one’s preaching from some who were in the congregation. But, how easy it is to let it go to one’s head!
A friend of mine, who used to be in our presbytery but is now across the Pond, posted the following quote on an email list a few days ago which explodes any false notions. I am not sure where Richard Wurmbrand’s words start and my friend’s stop, so here is the whole comment:
Richard Wurmbrand (Romanian evangelical minister & founder of Voice of the Martyrs) was once rebuked by a monk because of his pride as a young, popular preacher. The monk told him this story: “On Palm Sunday, when the Lord entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, He was received with shouts of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ and with the waving of palm branches. That evening the donkey told his fellow donkeys in the stable: ‘If only you could have seen with what honor I was acclaimed in Jerusalem! They called me “Son of David, King of the Jews.” I had never before known the name of the donkey who was my father. I was very pleased to find out that he was called David. And the crowd seemed very determined to make me king! They threw their clothes before me on the road in order that I might walk on softness. I suppose they will come tomorrow to enthrone me. I imagine that when a donkey becomes king, he gets plenty of hay and is not made to carry burdens anymore!'” The monk finished. He looked at me [Wurmbrand] significantly. “There are quite a few such donkeys. Young pastors are prone to believe that the honor they receive is for them.”
(From: Richard Wurmbrand, “Preaching for Eternity,” Ministry (July 1994), 16)


Donkeys in the Pulpit

Know What the Bible Is

I had a good day today down in Maesycwmmer in Wales meeting with some welsh brethren. Good to see fellow blogger Guy Davies among them.

We were there to hear Richard Gaffin give three lectures on Biblical and Systematic theology, Christ in the Old Testament, and The Resurrection in the Theology of Paul.  All excellent and I may make some more detailed comments at a later date.

Amongst the many things learned today, it was good to be reminded what Scripture is. It is the record of the history of revelation where it describes what God has done and it explains why he did it. It really is the drama of redemption.

I mention this because it struck me with some force that failure to understand what the Bible is, especially with reference to the OT, makes it impossible to interpret it properly. The OT  is not part of a systematic theology manual, delivered to us in a higglety-pigglety state which we have to sort out into a system, as though God had not quite got round to it.

Nor is the OT  a repository of moral examples to follow or avoid, with a few prophecies that relate directly to Christ buried away. This simply leads to a form of nugget-hunting which is at the same time baffling and unsatisfying.

It is important to note that neither of these approaches bear any resemblance to the way Jesus and the apostles looked on the OT.

I’ll write more later.

Know What the Bible Is

Website Wisdom

I bet, like me, through one thing and another you have found yourself at a church website which makes you say out loud, “Oh, no… no”. Or at least cringe. Pale pastel background, comic sans font, text across the whole width of page, pictures that are so huge they take ages to load, early 90s clip-art graphics – a combination of any of these will do.

I am convinced that many churches have a website because someone else said they should. Their heart is not in it. But like it or not, increasingly the first point of contact for people looking for a church is through an online search engine. We need to face the fact that, great though the church may be in many respects, people most likely won’t come if all they know about us us a crummy website.

I say this as a pastor of a start-up church for which >90% of its physical visitors to a Sunday service first encountered our website. We could have set up a web presence for virtually nothing (and I have done in the past) but we decided this time to spend a few hundred pounds on it. That is not a great amount by any means – we could have spent thousands –  and our website is not the greatest – there is plenty of room for development and improvement, but it has been worth it. There is more to be done and it is a developing field, so it is worth someone in one’s church keeping on top of it.

Anyway, to the point: Drew Goodmanson has recently done some research on church websites and there are some useful pointers in his Christianity Today article. You can get a pdf of it from here: Website Wisdom – Goodmanson.

Website Wisdom