Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Christ, the Trinity, and Saving Faith

The various aspects of the benefits of redemption are inter-connected to assurance of salvation in a range of ways. Assurance is a far too neglected topic in the church in general. Paul writes that we are to examine ourselves (2 Cor 13:5), but also there is the necessity for strengthening the faith and assurance of the elect of God in the church of God at the same time.

Chapter 14 of the Westminster Confession of Faith is concerned with the subject of saving faith.

Here are seven basic truths concerning true saving faith.

1. It is gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10)

2.We should use the phrase more often “the grace of faith” (Hebrews 10:39). This would place emphasis then on a God-centred aspect of faith, rather on presenting a man-centred concept of faith. It is the grace of God which gives us faith in Christ Jesus.

3. Faith is strengthened through the means of grace; the Word, the sacraments and prayer

4. The Christian believes in the authority of God revealed in the written Scriptures.

5.The authority of the word of God is from the whole Trinity and the Christian has faith and confidence in the revelation of God.

I. The Scriptures are from God the Father: John 17:17
II. The scriptures are from God the Son: John 1:1 The Son is the Word
III. The Scriptures are from God the Holy Spirit: John 16:12-15 and 2 Peter 1:21

6. Marks of true saving faith are:
I. A yielding obedience to the commands of Scripture (Romans 16:26)
II. Trembling at the threatenings (Isaiah 66:2)
III. An embracing of the promises of God for this life and that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8)
IV. Accepting, receiving and resting in Christ alone for salvation (Acts 15:11 and John 1:12)

7. Faith can be in degrees of weak and strong, it will be attacked but true faith will get the victory (1 John 5:4-5), Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus.

I hope that this little study could provide some people a brief outline for 30 minutes of personal Bible study in order to strengthen your faith.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

9th November 1989: On this Day the Berlin Wall Came Down!

One of the great symbols of change and answered prayer in my lifetime was the end of the Cold War. The East German government agreed on this day that the Berlin wall could come down on this day. This symbol of separation and division. This icon of atheistic communism. This wall that seemed to be of iron came down virtually in a day.

Christians around the world had been praying for years about the Cold War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall ... and then it happened. It was momentous, but the reality is that a whole generation have passed who almost have never heard of communism.

This answered prayer should be something of an "Ebenezer" monument to remind the church that "Till now the LORD has helped us" (1 Samuel 7:12) and to expect great things from the LORD. To walk by faith with godly expectation is the fruit of a truly reformed life. Our doctrine and faith are both to be shaped by a living reality of leaning upon the covenant LORD.

Since the Berlin wall came down, sadly much atheistic materialism from the West has engulfed former communist states. There have been advances in places like Albania and other countries but much mission work is needed. Do you pray for the strengthening and growth of the church in Poland, Former East Germany, the Balkan countries, Romania and so forth. If not, the do so.

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

Isaiah prayed also "Here am I send me!"
We need Christians and ministers to offer themselves again in large numbers to serve the LORD in our own generation.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Concordances, computers and the church

This may seem like an odd blog post title. Well, if you are thinking that, then at least I have got your attention. My involvement in writing this blog a few years ago, began with a desire to simply encourage Christians to move along a more doctrinal and reformed understanding of Christian things. Quite often, people do not know where to turn to get answers to their spiritual questions. Interestingly, there is a search engine on this blog and if you want to get answers on something specific, such as the Trinity or whatever, just use the search engine for your profit.

However, back to our subject; one of the blessings, but also dangers today for Christians can be computers and the internet. Through the internet you can gain access to resources that are simply amazing. Many people move along a biblical, reformed and doctrinal pathway with the help of computers. However, many people come to a reformed understanding of things through self-study and then they think, either consciously or sub-consciously, that they do not need the church or that the church simply supplements their pursuit for self-study.

Here lies an ever-present danger. Self-study is often without people and the challenge of living in relationship with people in the church. Books and blog posts do not argue back, or you can close them if you get fed up. You cannot do that with the church and people in the church, or at least you should not if you are a genuine Christian.

On a different note, I would like to commend something for personal Bible study for everyone. This is a concordance, hard bound copies are the best. I was given a Young's Concordance as a newly converted Christian many years ago and going through key topical themes was a source of huge delight and spiritual growth for me personally. Do you have a concordance? Strong's is another popular one. It may seem slightly antiquated, but one of these would be a great present for someone at Christmas or a birthday. With an open Bible and the concordance, along with a sheet of paper or a laptop, you could spend an evening researching a given topic such as the fear of the LORD, waiting on the LORD, or the imagery of the lamp stand in the Bible for example, and have a wonderful evening of spiritual profit.

Personal study of the Scripture is invaluable, especially in an age of distractions. However, in all of your personal study, do not neglect the church. Do not neglect praying with the saints in prayer meetings, do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together and in sitting under biblical preaching. Preaching is intended primarily to be a "face to face" dynamic. Be encouraged and keep running the Christian race!

Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near".

"The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord" (Acts 13:44).

Friday, 3 November 2017

Pro-life Awareness and Information Meeting in Sheffield

Psalm 139:13-16

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them".

This Psalm plainly teaches that a baby is knitted together in the mothers womb. Yes, it is a baby and not an impersonal mass of cells as is often assumed and deliberately projected. From the age of at least 12 weeks everything is there in miniature for the baby. And yet, since 27th October 1967, over 50 years now, millions of babies have had their little lives terminated in the UK alone. It is now accepted by society in general that it is fine to terminate a baby's life, if any sign of defect is found, but what authority is there for such screening and such action. Imagine that baby with a defect was you! The Bible says plainly that "you shall not murder".

Yes, we need loving compassion and clarity to tackle this matter. In one of many steps being taken around the world right now, tonight (3rd November 2017) at 7.30pm at Hill Top Chapel, Sheffield, there is a pro-life awareness and information evening. This will cover matters theological and practical. We need the Bible to undergird us, but for Christians to take responsible action to save the lives of babies, to minimise regret among women, and to present a Christian worldview for life.

Please check out website. This website is for women who need advice and do forward it to people who may need to access this loving service:


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Book of Titus: A fitting Tribute to the 500th Year of the Reformation

What is the day today? "It is not ground-hogday". Nor should we want it to be, that is in reference to the 31st October 2017. This day marks 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. Under God, this became the fuel for the long awaited work of church reformation. Bringing the church back to its biblical foundation and a biblical pattern.

There is no book of the Bible more fitting, in my view, to recommend, than Paul's letter to Titus which he was to take on his mission to Crete to set things in order among the groups of believers (1:5). This is needed in every generation. Paul wrote to Titus, an experienced co-labourer: "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine (2:1)". He taught sound doctrine in terms of salvation, church government, order in the family and in discriminating between those who had a genuine profession of faith and those who did not.

There is so much more in this gem of a Bible book.

Furthermore, there is a book published by the Banner of Truth recently called John Calvin's Sermon on Titus. This includes seventeen sermons by Calvin on this book. As Paul wrote Titus towards the end of his life, so Calvin preached on the Book of Titus toward the end of his life. Both give insights into mature Christian thought. I commend them both.

How about reading the Book of Titus either today or this week? How about praying for the help of the Holy Spirit to understand the truths in that book and how they need recovering again in our generation. We look backwards to church history but we also look forwards in expectant prayer for a further work of reformation and revival around the world.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Humility, first, second, third, and always!

John Calvin wrote in his second book, two of four, in “The Institutes of Christian Religion” about "The Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ". In Book 2:2:11 he expounded concerning true humility that gives God alone the honour and he wrote:

“A saying of Chrysostum has always pleased me very much, that the foundation of our philosophy is humility. But that of Augustine pleases me even more: ‘When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, ‘Delivery, delivery, delivery’; so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third and always I would answer ‘Humility’ ”.

1.Humility (at home)

We need to display humility in the home and among our family.
Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them”.
Loving our wives as Christ loved the church requires humility, first, second and third in the home. A man who is willing to admit he is wrong and says sorry is indeed to be respected. 1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant”. Pray for humility in your life at home.

2. Humility (in the congregation)

We need to learn to practice humility in the congregation where we are planted. Nothing is more dis-tasteful than pride. The proud person is often the last person to see their own pride, because their personal pride blinds that individual's discernment to their own problems. Have you ever heard a proud Christian saying that my problem is my own spiritual pride? No, because their pride cannot stoop so low, because such an individual wants to project something of grandeur and apparent spiritual success, instead of giving the Covenant LORD the honour and glory.

James 4:6 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Philippians 2:8 “he [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross".
Our Christian lives should reflect the humility of the crucified Christ in our receiving the preached Word, in our prayer lives and in living as part of the flock with other Christians.

3. Humility (with the elders)

Humility needs to be displayed in the way we relate to elders in the church. The Scripture requires humility by elders and humility and godly submission by church members as well.

Acts 20:18-19 “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me”.

We need to pray to walk in all humility before your elders and with fellow Christians, but most of all before the LORD. Humility needs to be a lifelong pursuit.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Remembering the Reformation in its 500th Anniversary Year

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; Psalm 78:1-7

It is remarkable how silent the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church are this year, regarding the anniversary of the 500th year of the Reformation. That is, since Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Saxony. There are five principles of the early Reformation which are called the five Solas meaning "alone" in Latin. There are that salvation is:

Scripture Alone
Faith Alone
Grace Alone
Christ Alone
To the Glory of God Alone

However, the further work of the Reformation in the succeeding generation was far more than that. John Calvin and others sought to work out the early implications of the Reformation, which then led to the church's worship, doctrine and church government being subjected to the scrutiny of the Word of God. Psalm 78 as cited above, exhorts us to pass on the history of the church as revealed in the Bible, to future generations. This also includes the history of the church from the last 2000 years.

One of the momentous events that was guided by the Holy Spirit, occurred 500 years ago. This Reformation has not led to the perfection of the church to bring in her into a perfect state in this world; that will have to wait until heaven. But, the gospel has been liberated and taken out of the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. Everyone who professes Jesus Christ, then needs to be guided by "Scripture Alone", and not simply holding a bunch of private interpretations. This was the purpose of the Westminster assembly, in order to pen down precise statements of doctrine, for the church to subscribe to uniform doctrine.

For those who may be interested, there are some very helpful talks/lectures on the Reformation from a recent UK based conference called Ref500. Here is the link to them: http://presbyterianseminary.org.uk/resources/reformation-500-lectures/