Friday, 16 February 2018

The Westminster Standards For Today: A New Book

For the last four years we have been working on producing the Westminster Standards in Modern English. As we teach it in our catechism class, people have commented that the language in places is antiquated and hard to understand. We need to do all we can to make the truth as plain and understandable as possible. A team of people over four years have worked on light editing, but without any change to the substance of the text of the Westminster Confession and the two Catechisms.

It is being published soon by The Evangelical Press. There will be a hardback version with essays and a paperback which just contains The Westminster Standards. Whatever we can do to disseminate these truths far and wide, will surely be profitable for the church. We do not want these truths contained in these documents to be restricted only to a narrow circle of Reformed Christians. These documents are some of the best in the history of the church and they need to be widely read.

Essays About the Westminster Standards

History

Extraordinary Providences of an Enduring Standard (Richard D. Phillips)

The Westminster Standards in the Making: Stanley Gower, a Westminster Divine (Kevin J. Bidwell)

Worship

The Westminster Standards and Public Worship (David E. Gilbert)

The Westminster Standards and the Christian Sabbath (George Swinnock, with an introduction by Kevin J. Bidwell)

The Westminster Standards and the Sacraments (Andy J. Young)

Family Worship and Church Government

The Westminster Standards and Family Worship: Maintaining True Religion in the Home (Chad T. Bailey)

The Westminster Standards and Church Government (Guy Prentiss Waters)


It is not published yet and I will post a further blog post when the exact publication date is known. Do pray for this publication and its distribution and for spiritual fruitfulness.

Monday, 12 February 2018

A Federal Vision Spiritual Health Warning

Federal Vision is basically based on hyper-covenantalism. It is a fluid movement and therefore it does not easily lend itself to simple definitions. Its false teaching includes teaching that children and infants should be fed the Lord's Supper, even though they have not given a credible profession of faith. Some supporters seek a highly liturgical worship style and other such matters. One of the best books that unmasks this movement is by Guy Prentiss-Waters. It is called "The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis".

The main leaders of this movement (according to Guy Prentiss-Waters) are based in the USA, and they are:

James Jordan
Douglas Wilson
Peter Leithart
Steve Schlissel
John Barach
Ralph Smith
Steve Wilkins
Rich Lusk
Joel Garver
Mark Horne

May we all be aware of spiritual pride which can blind us all. Perhaps one danger is the desire to be super-reformed. If you have been influenced by these teachers then I suggest that you read the book by Prentiss-Waters to ensure that you stay on the historic path of Christianity.

Jude 21-23: "Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh".

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Has the church lost its way in communicating to the "plough boy"?

Has the church lost her way in seeking to communicate to the ordinary man and woman? William Tyndale (1494-1536), the genius reformer and Bible translator, earnestly laboured to communicate the Bible in the "vulgar tongue" (the language spoken by ordinary people). In his case he laboured to translate the Bible into the English language and he no doubt shaped the English language more than any one individual apart from Shakespeare.

However, this blog post is not about exalting Tyndale, but about learning from the heartbeat of the Reformation. This is encapsulated in a quote by Tyndale, who while at Little Sodbury Manor (in Gloucestershire, England), he stated to a fellow priest, that "he would make a boy who driveth the plough know more of Scripture than the priest himself". The aim of his life was to communicate so that a ploughboy could understand the gospel.

Well, let us ask ourselves, is that our aim in the church today? This does not mean diluting the truth of the Bible, far from it. But it does mean communicating in a clear, simple and succinct way, so that all people can grasp the truth. If I look at my bookshelves and the many Christian books being published, it seems that an academic approach is gaining significant in-roads, but not always in helpful ways. We are not striking a fundamentalist note either here, one that looks down on academic theology, far from it. Men training for ministry, men in ministry, elders and all Christians need to consider whether they are preaching and communicating in a way that Tyndale would approve of.

How many Christian books today are simple yet profound? Not many. Let us all labour for clarity and simplicity. Let us learn from Jesus Christ of whom it was said in Mark 12:37 "... and the common people heard him gladly". Christ's teachings were with vivid and astounding simplicity that is so memorable. Just think of the parable of the sower.

Monday, 5 February 2018

In what way is the new covenant superior to the old covenant?

This question is a very important one. Quite often people ask a different question, which is: "In which way is the new covenant different to the old covenant?". Many times people holding to classical Baptist theology, they attempt to maintain that there is a gulf of difference between the old and the new covenants. This is done to uphold their view of believer's baptism which has no shadow in the old testament for them in their understanding. We hold to a covenantal view of baptism for the baptism of adults who profess faith for the first time and the children of believers. It is important to know that the old testament covenants are the same in substance to the new covenant, but different in their administration.

Which book of the Bible especially handles the old versus new covenant question? It is the book of Hebrews. Note I called it the Book of Hebrews and not the epistle to the Hebrews. It is deliberate because it does not bear the hallmark of an epistle. As a side note I am firmly that convinced that Paul was the author, which is how the church father's understood the authorship of this book also.

Hebrews mentions the word better of Superior many times and this book teaches us that the New covenant ratified through Jesus Christ is superior in every way.

A key word is Superior or better which is κρείττων. It is found in Hebrews:
1:4 Christ is superior to angels
7:7 Melchizedek is superior to Abram
7:19 a better hope
7:22 a better covenant
8:6 better promises
9:23 we are purified with better sacrifices that the old covenant
10:34 a better possesion and an abiding one
11:16 a better country
11:35 a better life
11:40 God had prepared something better for us.
12:24 the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel


Let us rejoice that we have the covenants fulfilled from the old testament fulfilled through Jesus Christ God's Son in the new covenant. If you would like further reading, may I recommend O. Palmer Robertson's Christ of the Covenants.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Praying for Reformation and Revival

Once each month in Sheffield we hope to pray for reformation and revival. The first such occasion is this week during our midweek meeting. My eschatological position is A-Millenial, but I still believe that we should pray for revival. It is normally people with a Post-Millenial position who are more renowned for praying for revival generally.

Anyways, whatever our theological position, few of us really understand biblically and in reality what revival is. This definitely includes me. We will use the book "Lectures on Revivals" by W. B. Sprague as a base point for information and teaching. Another good book is the book "The Ulster Awakening" by John Weir which has some good pointers. If people know of other good resources, then do put a comment on this blog post.

Above all, we trust that the Sovereign Lord will hear our cry for help across Europe and especially for England. In some areas of our nation, the situation is spiritually desperate. We also pray for the Lord to raise up labourers.

Matthew 9:37-38 "Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Joy of singing Metrical Psalms

As a younger Christian and also now, I have always loved the Book of Psalms. Despite reading and singing it for years, there are many uncharted areas of discovery for me in this lifetime from this divinely inspired book. It was such a precious discovery for myself and our family to begin to sing the Psalms. We sing them in family worship and our congregation includes two metrical Psalms in each worship service.

The tunes are most often designed for congregational singing. I have four metrical Psalm books on my shelf. Sing Psalms (published by the Free Church of Scotland), The Psalms for Singing (Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland), Trinity Psalter (PCA in the USA) and The Book of Psalms for Worship (Reformed Presbyterian Church in the USA).

The one we use mainly is Sing Psalms. It is a huge joy to sing Psalms also for personal devotions and to think the church have done so for 3000 years. This does not exclude the singing of hymns with great biblical content. I hope that you can discover the joy of singing metrical Psalms.

Colossians 3:16-17 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him".

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Salford-Manchester Presbyterian Church: Regular Services begin!

As of Sunday 28th January 2018 there will be morning and evening services which will begin. We are all excited and thankful for this momentous development. Rev Chris Statter is the church planting minister who leads the work and he is really looking forward to preaching morning and evening every week.

The meeting place is River View Primary School, 1 Wheater's Street, Salford M7 1QZ.

The services are 11am and 5pm.

Do pass this information on to people who may be interested.

The church website is: http://salfordepc.org.uk