Monday, 14 January 2019

January 2019 Pastors Conference in Uganda

This week I fly to African Bible University in Kampala, Uganda for a pastors conference. I will be travelling with a young man from the church in Sheffield and meeting up with a fellow pastor from EPCEW (Rev Drew Goodman) who will join in the teaching on the last day on Friday.

This Wednesday to Friday, pastors will join together on the ABU campus and we intend to teach on the 15 most relevant chapters in the Westminster Confession. We would love to teach all 33 chapters but time does not permit. We have many books on the Westminster Confession and on worship donated by Terry Johnson to give away to these hungry men.

Do pray that the Lord would "open eyes" of pastors spiritually, that Christ would interpret the Scriptures to them and show the men the sufferings and glories of Christ, just like Christ did to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24).

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:45-49.

We covet your prayers for long term fruitfulness. We believe that this teaching at this time to these pastors is a momentous occasion and opportunity. Do pray!!!!

Friday, 11 January 2019

2020 Reformation Bible Conference, Sheffield

The 2019 conference has just been completed and what a blessing it was! It was a "taste of heaven on earth" with excellent teaching, fellowship and the singing was so strong, I thought that the plaster would come off the ceiling. The newly expanded Hill Top Chapel worked really well, so much so that it is hard to imagine how we coped with the old facility, but I guess that you just do.

If you would like to listen to the talks, they are on the Sheffield Presbyterian Church website and here is the link:

Or you could access them via Sermon Audio as well. Andy Young's talks on "Why Creeds and Confessions" was wonderful, as was his final talk on "The Sacraments". Andy is the minister of the newly planted Oxford Evangelical Presbyterian Church. If you are considering going to University why not choose Oxford or Sheffield and you can come and join the EPCEW churches there and bring your support?

Rick Phillips from Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville in the USA, brought wonderful warm ministry with great Scriptural clarity on the roles of men and women, the sovereignty of God, God the Creator and also a valuable talk on a Christian worldview of dating; most practical.

The Chapel was packed and probably 40% of the room was under 25. We do not aim at young people, but they come and we make no apologies for that. All ages, backgrounds, nationalities and social situations attend, for which we praise God. I explained that though this was the fifth conference it had gone so well that we should consider a sixth conference in 2020. We will discuss this as elders here in Sheffield, but I had people queuing up to urge me to have another conference next year.

For 2020, the dates would be Friday 3rd (11.00am) to Saturday 4th January (finish at 4.00pm) 2020. Please pray for the right speakers and the right topics, for the organisation and for the Lord to bring the right people. It is a free conference hosted by Sheffield Presbyterian Church, and we have an offering to go towards Church planting.

To the Triune God be the glory!

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

2019 Reformation Bible Conference

This year's conference looks like it will be a spiritual feast. This conference began in 2015 and this will be the fifth conference. The purpose is to nourish the souls of Christians at the beginning of the year and it provides a great meeting place for like-minded believers. We have always had large numbers of young people as well from different parts of the UK. The format of the conference is based on straight-down-the-line preaching on topics of hoped for significance, from a biblical and reformed perspective. Each year the topics vary and here is the order of topics for 2019.

Venue: Hill Top Chapel, Don Valley, Sheffield S9 2AD (the home of Sheffield Presbyterian Church,

Dates: Friday 4th and Saturday 5th January 2019.

The Programme

Friday 4th January
11 am - 11.30 Arrive, Tea & Coffee Served
11.30 - 12.15 Session 1: Andy Young (Why Creeds and Confessions?)
12.15 - 12.30 Break
12.30 - 13.15 Session 2: Rick Phillips
(The Masculine Mandate)
13.15 - 14.00 Bring Packed Lunch
14.00 - 16.00 Group Walk
16.30 - 18.30 Carvery Dinner at
Restaurant (around £5-£8pp)
19.30 - 20.15 Session 3: Rick Phillips
(The Sovereignty of God)
20.15 - 20.30 Tea & Coffee Break
20.30 - 21.15 Session 4: Kevin Bidwell (Christ in the Old Testament)

Saturday 5th January
9 am - 9.30 Arrive
9.30 - 10.45 Session 5: Rick Phillips
(The God of Creation)
10:45 - 11.15 Tea & Coffee Break
11:30 - 12.15 Session 6: Kevin Bidwell (Christ and the Gospel in Ezekiel)
12.15 - 13.45 Lunch Buffet Provided at
13.45 - 14.30 Session 7: Rick Phillips
(Christian Dating)
14.30 - 15.00 Tea & Coffee Break
15.00 - 16.00 Session 8: Andy Young (Understanding the Sacraments)

You are welcome to come even if it is at last minute. There is no cost and there is no registration, just come along (The talks will be on the Sheffield Presbyterian Church Website after the conference).

Saturday, 22 December 2018

New Covenant Theology: Weighed and found wanting by Kevin McGrane

This book called "New Covenant Theology: Weighed and found wanting" is a welcome publication. I aim to write a review on this book and I have read it through once so far. This publication exposes an unwelcome theological error: a branch of anti-nomianism. New Covenant theology has gained huge traction in the last decade, especially in Baptist circles, and it has had a devastating impact. Why? Its teaching leads people away from a historic and confessional church position.

New Covenant theology is at its heart, a non-confessional position, regarding the use of the law for the church and Christians. Therefore, Confessions have to be sidelined when you hold this theology, because all Reformed Confessions uphold a biblical and balanced view of the law of God.

My favourite chapter in the book was Chapter 6: "Replacement Lawgiver, Replacement Law". My aim here is not to write a review of this book, but to simply commend this book, as one that you may want to order online and read over Christmas or early in the new year.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Predestination and Public Worship

Predestination, when it is rightly understood as framed by Holy Scripture, it has many lines of application. If we understand for example Acts 4:28 and connect this with Ephesians 1:4, then public worship will not be used as a tool to attract people to the church.

Acts 4:27-28 reads "for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place". Therefore what happened to Jesus was decided in advance by the heavenly Father (predestination defined). Similarly there are a fixed number of people whom the Lord will save, and they have been chosen in eternity.

Ephesians 1:4-5 "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will".

These truths are stable and unchanging. They can guard us from a numbers and results driven approach to the church. Numbers are not our primary focus, but faithfulness to biblical principles in public worship and also in expounding and hearing the truth of Holy Scripture. When results come we will be quick to divert attention to ourselves and instead give credit and praise to the glorious grace of God (Ephesians 1:6, 7, 12).

A fresh meditation on the truth and doctrine of predestination can grant us all fresh spiritual rest and renewed spiritual stability. We want the church to be outward moving and evangelistic, while always being rooted in the doctrine of predestination. This guards us from worldliness and worldly methods in order to gain success. True success and genuine kingdom growth, only comes from the head of the church who is the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18).

My desire is that predestination could be freshly discussed and considered as to how its truth can be relevant in application to the church at this time.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Predestination and the Atonement stand together.

At the heart of the debate at the Synod of Dort, the truths of predestination and the atonement belong together. To fail to understand and accept the doctrine of predestination will always lead to a defective and unbiblical view of the atonement. This is why the following verses on predestination MUST be read, discussed, preached upon and taught to the church.

Acts 4:28
1 Corinthians 2:7
Romans 8:29
Romans 8:30
Ephesians 1:5
Ephesians 1:11

This is the definition of the doctrine of predestination from the Westminster Confession of Faith (3:6):

As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,6 and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

The connection between predestination and the atonement is unmistakeable. The Trinity did not simply make salvation available but a definite number of people were definitely purchased and in due season brought to Christ.

Matthew 1:21 "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The heartbeat of redemption is the cross of Jesus and his sufferings at Golgotha. Let us read, study and discuss the atonement and here are some books to help us do just that.

Hugh Martin, The Shadow of Calvary.

Hugh Martin, The Atonement.

Frederick Leahy, The Cross He Bore.

Alec Motyer, Commentary on Isaiah (Read 52:12-53:12).

The Westminster Confession, Chapter 8 *Of Christ the Mediator".

Thursday, 13 December 2018

When was the last time you heard someone mention "predestination"?

The very word "predestination" can be a conversation stopper. It is a truth that is like "smelling salts" and it often provokes a sharp reaction, especially from those who are opposed to the very idea that Almighty God rules over all. In the light of the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort next year, the word "predestination" is coming to the surface again and this is helpful and necessary.

One's view about predestination often reveals our individual understanding of the Scripture, of the character of God, of salvation and of our needed thankfulness for the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. So, what is your understanding of predestination?

The Greek word is found six times in the New Testament and we will summarise now each occurrence and give a brief explanation.

1). 1 Corinthians 2:7 "But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed [predestined] before the ages for our glory". Here the word is translated as decreed, but elsewhere in the NT it is treated as the word predestined [prooriz┼Ź). It means to "determine beforehand" and here in 1 Cor 2:7 it is reference to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus by the rulers of that age. The death of Jesus was no mere accident of history. Surely no serious evangelical Christian would disagree with that.

2). We find the same truth and idea in Acts 4:28 but let's also hear the verse before to understand the context: "... for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place".

Again, the purpose of God was planned before hand, indeed it was in eternity that the Son of God was decided by the Father, to be the lamb slain (Revelation 13:8).

3). Romans 8:29 "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers". This verse begins what William Perkins called the Golden Chain of salvation. Note the first link is whom he foreknew, he then predestined, therefore the very act of the Lord's predestination took place in eternity, before time and before the Creation.

4). Romans 8:30 "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified".

Predestination means to simply decide beforehand the future eternal destination of every individual person in eternity. Some are predestined to be saved, by grace, and some are left in their sins. Here comes the offence for some people then. If it is God who chooses people to be saved and not us, then people get angry about the free will of man, but at heart that idea, is to then rebel against the teaching of Holy Scripture, and therefore to rebel against God himself.

5). "In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will" Ephesians 1:5.

Again, this reference is in relation to the church and who constitutes the true church. It is those who are predestined for eternal life.

6). "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" Ephesians 1:11.

So, this little, but powerful word called "predestined" is a central spoke in the wheel of biblical revelation. Let's start discussing predestination with one another again and to rejoice in this liberating truth.