Monday, 20 August 2018

Are you a student coming to Sheffield and looking for a church?

We would like to invite you to come and worship with us at Sheffield Presbyterian Church. Our website is: www.sheffieldpres.org.uk

Our aim is to be warm-hearted and serious minded. We have students every year from Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield University, both undergraduates and post-graduates. We have a car park and we are a few minutes from the Sheffield Arena tram station which is only around 9 minutes ride from the city centre.

This year we have a ministry intern who would be delighted to meet with you. Just go on to the church website and send us an email through the contact page. Why not listen to some of the sermons on the website also? This will give you a taster before you come.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Hearing Sermons Properly!

We think much about sermons because if we go to a church that is committed to preaching (Is there any other kind of church?) then we will hear sermons often. So the question is, how do we listen to sermons? My wife and I sat in an excellent seminar recently on listening to sermons and this theme needs emphasising. I am preaching from Mark's Gospel currently in Sheffield Presbyterian Church and yesterday I preached from Mark chapter four on the parable of the sower.

What title do you think I gave that sermon? It was a single word from Mark 4:3 where Jesus gives an imperative "Listen". However, when we examine this passage note the stress is placed by our Lord Christ on hearing. Look at the list of verses.

Mark 4:3 "Listen" (second person plural imperative).
Mark 4:9 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (this is a third person singular imperative).
Mark 4:12 "so that they ... may indeed hear but not understand".
Mark 4:15 "when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown".
Mark 4:16 "When they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy ... and they have no root".
Mark 4:18 "They are those who hear the word, but the cares of this world ...".
Mark 4:20 "But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold".

Seven examples of teaching on the importance of not just listening but "hearing" the word taught. Letting the Word of God address you as it is, God's word. Then we need to accept what it says. For some people reading this blog, you may be going to a church that is not committed to preaching. Therefore, you need to seek a church that is wholly committed to preaching sound doctrine. The high point of biblical worship is not singing, but sitting under the preaching of the Word of God.

May we listen carefully and diligently. Mark 4:24 "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you".

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Lincoln: Exploratory Church Planting Studies

Lincolnshire has around one million people across a very large and mainly rural county. The capital is Lincoln with around 100,000 people, with two universities. Lincoln itself is a beautiful city and well worth a visit. With the magnificent castle housing the Magna Carta and the splendid architecture of the cathedral.
Sadly, the gospel is not seemingly flourishing in this large county. It takes around 2 hours to drive from north to south in the county, from Grimsby/Cleethorpes in the North to Boston and Spalding in the south. It is very flat in many parts of the county, one with a huge coastline. And there is even an area in the south of the county called South Holland. However, there are parts of Lincolnshire which have some of the lowest church attendance rates in England. What a spiritual challenge!!

Sheffield Presbyterian Church (www.sheffieldpres.org.uk) have been enjoying people coming to worship with us regularly from the Lincolnshire area. As a result, we began in early 2018 exploratory church planting studies. These are on Friday nights each month from 7.00pm for 7.30pm at the following venue.

Bud Robinson Community Centre,
Maple Street, Lincoln, LN5 8QT.

The dates for the remaining of 2018 are:

Friday 7th September
Friday 12th October
Friday 9th November
14th December

Please forward this blog post to all who may be interested and pray for this church planting work. Please pray for the Lord to raise up labourers for Lincolnshire. A dry and spiritually needy county, one with historic towns, such as Boston, Louth, Market Rasen and many others.

Zechariah 4:6-10: "Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’ ”
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel".

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Why do we sing metrical Psalms in public worship?

Well here are several reasons as to why all churches should desire to sing metrical Psalms..

Ephesians 5:19-20 "Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".

1. It is biblically commanded in Scripture
2. It is required by those who are committed to the Westminster Confession of Faith
3. It strengthens the church in their understanding of true Christian experience
4. Singing psalms provides a much needed gravitas for the church in public worship
5. The Psalms teach Christ, reveal Christ and honour Christ. Why? The Psalms speak of Christ and he sang the Psalms in his earthly ministry.

One of the best discoveries in my Christian pilgrimage has been the singing of metrical Psalms. They come with different metres for the Psalms and you can then choose a tune in that same metre. One that fits the right mood. It takes time and practice but you can search on your computer Psalm tunes for a particular Psalm.

Three Psalm books (Psalters) that I use are:

Sing Psalms (Published by the Free Church of Scotland)
The Psalms for Singing (published by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland)
The Book of Psalms for Worship (crown and Covenant Publications, USA)

I am reading an excellent book currently, called "Anthems of a Dying Lamb" (Psalms 113-118) by Philip S. Ross. It is very helpful on many levels and I commend it to be read. In Sheffield Presbyterian Church, we sing two metrical Psalms in each service and by doing so adds gravitas and reverence to our approach to the Triune God in worship. This is what the Christian minister Martin Luther wrote of the Book of Psalms in the Bible:

"It could well be called a “little Bible” since it contains, set out in the briefest and most beautiful form, all that is to be found in the whole Bible".

"The sum of all is that if you wish to see the Christian church depicted in living colours, and given a living form, in a painting in miniature, then place the book of Psalms in front of you; you will have a beautiful, bright, polished mirror which will show you what Christianity is".

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Reformed Dogmatics by Geerhardus Vos: Volume 1 Theology Proper

These new series of books by Lexham Press are most welcome. Most pastors have loved Vos's book called "Biblical Theology" and have longed for more of his thought in print. This series is well presented and volume 1 is where I am beginning with personally.

I love the word "dogmatics" for the description of systematic theology. Our world at this moment in time, seems to repudiate the idea of dogmatism, but propositional truth from Holy Scripture is dogmatic in many places. It is also unyielding to the currents of culture and postmodernism.

“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25.

My attention has gone immediately to the chapter on "Creation" and Vos holds a straight six literal day view of Genesis Chapter 1. He rules out a mythical and an allegorical view and instead he proposes the historical view that Genesis 1 is simply historical narrative. It would follow then, that Vos would also reject the literary framework view that has recently been proposed by Meredith G. Kline. Every systematic theologian has to have a clear view on Genesis 1. Furthermore, they can be Reformed and hold to a literal six day approach, without being labelled a fundamentalist.

The recent book by Richard D. Phillips "The God of Creation" walks on the same pathway as Vos. I am reliably informed that the two Old Testament teachers at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia hold to a historical six day view.

May this new series on Dogmatics by Vos strengthen the church on many levels.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Use the "Search" facility on this Blog

I began this blog around 2008 and there have been many posts since then. There are blog posts and book reviews on this blog which may answer spiritual questions for you.

If you type in your search request, in the top left corner of the front page, then see what comes up. For example, type in a favourite preacher or church group or a specific subject. They could range from:

The Westminster Standards
Justification
Are women permitted to preach and hold office as a minister?
The sufficiency of Scripture

Or almost any topic that you are interested in ...

I hope this search facility can help you,

Kevin J Bidwell

Monday, 2 July 2018

Living with the "River Jordan" in Sight

Psalm 114:1-8
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

This majestic Psalm is sandwiched by Psalms 111-113 and then followed by Psalms 115-118 which emphasises the theme of "Praise the Lord". The phrase "Praise the Lord" interestingly is a plural Hebrew imperative to praise, spoken by the covenant Lord Himself. It is, in other words, a call to worship. Every time you read that phrase, ask yourself, am I praising because it is habit or in obedience to the Person of the Covenant Lord himself?

We notice two main themes of redemption described here, both of great importance.
I. The Red Sea was supernaturally parted
II. The River Jordan was supernaturally parted.

These two historical events paint for us on the canvas of redemptive history the two events for the salvation of every person. First we must be delivered from sin, death and judgment through the new birth which is likened to the parting of the Red Sea; Second we pass through the River Jordan as we die in the Lord (assuming that we are born again and in the Lord). That means that our lives in this world are likened to the journey by faith between the Red Sea and the parting of Jordan.

My application is that we need to spend more time in the church through preaching, pastoring and encouraging one another to prepare for the day of our death. None of us know when that will be. Think of some of the great hymns.

The last verse of Henry Francis Lyte's (1793-1847) "Abide with Me":
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heaven’’s morning breaks, and earth’’s vain shadows flee:
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Or the hymn "Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah" by William William's:
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death, and hell’'s destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’'s side;
songs of praises
I will ever give to Thee.


Notice how long ago these hymn writers lived, they had death as a greater reality than we do today. We must think and prepare for the final day of judgment. May this note be found in the preaching we hear, the exhortations we give, the songs we sing.

Romans 14:8-9 "For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living".