Friday 23 December 2016

What spiritual question would you like to be answered?: Use the Search Engine on this blog

The search engine on this blog can help you to get answers to vital spiritual questions. I began writing blog posts to sow the seeds of solid Evangelical and Reformed doctrines. In my experience as a Christian the church needs truth and the world needs truth as well.

Perhaps you have questions on topics such as:

+ A Bible book, such as Hebrews, Song of Songs, Revelation, Jude.

+ Specific theological topics such as the doctrine of the Trinity or why we should not use temporal analogies to describe the Triune God.

+ Certain men who have been used in the church such as John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and so on.

+ Matters of controversy surrounding matters such as worship, women wanting to be ordained in ministry, charismatic influences on the church, or new covenant theology.

+ Book Reviews

+ The doctrine of the church, the Westminster Standards or Presbyterianism.

As you find the time, try using the search engine for topics you may want answers on. I have found this blog to be a helpful means of conveying biblical truth from a biblical and Confessional perspective. I uphold the inerrancy of Scripture and fully subscribe to the Westminster Standards as part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales.

Monday 12 December 2016

Reformation Bible Conference, Sheffield, 2017.

This is the third conference we have had at Hill Top Chapel, Sheffield. The last tow have proved to be a great blessing to nourish and feed the Lord's sheep at the beginning of a New Year. It gives the opportunity for fellowship, while sitting under preaching.

The theme this year is Christ our head, husband and bridegroom. The preachers will be Richard Brooks, Warren peel and Kevin Bidwell.

The dates are are Friday 6th and Saturday January 7th, 2017.

The conference is free and there will be an offering of the Saturday to go towards the church planting work in Salford-Manchester.

For more information check out the Sheffield Presbyterian Church website at:

This has proved especially beneficial to the age group 16-25's as a time of meaningful and wholesome fellowship, however all age groups attend. We do not want to divide the body of Christ and all peoples, ages and nationalities are warmly welcomed.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Six Excellent Christological Sermons from the book "The Song of Songs"

I would like to commend "Five Excellent Sermons" by men who have preached on "The Song of Songs" from a Christological position.

John Flavel (1628-1691): This puritans preacher was a favourite from his writings with Archibald Alexander, one of the foremost theologians that the American content has produced, in my view. This sermon is found in Volume 6 of the Works of John Falvel published by the Banner of Truth.

A Coronation Sermon: Preached at Dartmouth to Celebrate the Coronation of William III and Mary II on 11th April 1689.
The text from The Song of Songs was 3:11 "Go out, O daughters of Zion, and look upon King Solomon, with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of the gladness of his heart".

Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-1843). These sermons are found in the book by the Banner of Truth "Memoirs and Remains".

Song of Songs 2:2-3 "Christ and the Believer".
"As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women. As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste".

Song of Songs 2:8-17 "The Voice of the Beloved", preached the first day he was in St Peter's Church in Dundee.
"The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains".

Song of Songs 3:4 "Holding Christ Fast".
"Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her who conceived me".

Song of Songs 4:12 "The Church a Garden and Fountain".
"A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed".

Song of Songs 5:6-7 "The Church Coming Up from the Wilderness".
"I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer. The watchmen found me as they went about in the city; they beat me, they bruised me, they took away my veil, those watchmen of the walls".

May these sermons help us all to rediscover the glories of Christ and the church in this amazing book of holy Scripture!

Monday 5 December 2016

Recovering "The Song of Songs" with a Trinitarian and Christological Approach

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love", Song of Songs 2:4.

"What is that coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?", Song Songs 3:6

During times of spiritual awakening in the church, the rich and immeasurable love of God is often magnified. Just think of these hymns as examples>

From the Welsh Revival

Here is Love vast as the ocean

By Charles Wesley in the 18th Century

Jesu' Lover of my Soul

Love divine, all loves excelling

These are just a sample. Likewise during times of what we may term revival or awakenings, an increased sense of God's love for us through Christ comes to the forefront of the church's experience. It is no surprise then, that at such times that the rich poetic expression of the book of the Song of Songs comes to be loved by the church in a renewed way. Its rich language of love expresses the divine love between Christ the bridegroom and the church, the bride of Christ.

Admittedly there are two lines of interpretation that are proposed. One is that this book is on a horizontal level about human love in marriage; the other is that it is primarily about our union and communion with Christ. I hold the latter view. The overarching theme of the Bible is that the Triune God's salvation plan is for the Father to redeem a bride for his Son, in the blood of the redeemer the Son, and she is gathered in by the Holy Spirit. This marriage is consummated eternally in heaven.

Some rich resources to consider are commentaries on this by Richard Brooks and George Burrows. Additionally sermons by Robert Murray M'Cheyne also follow this rich Christological line. I encourage you to read this book again with fresh eyes to consider our union and communion with Christ our head, husband and heavenly bridegroom.

Monday 28 November 2016

Personal Communion with the Lord and Good Daily Devotionals

It is important to cherish and nourish our personal communion with the Lord. How do you do this? Of course our personal communion is never a substitute for communion with the saints in the church. In fact the Apostles' Creed teaches "I believe in the ... communion of the saints". However, Jesus Christ explicitly teaches and exhorts all true disciples to walk in personal daily communion with the Living God.

Matthew 6:6 "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you".

This is an exciting invitation rather than a burden. Personal communion with the Living God. There are however some very good resources to strengthen us as as Christians in personal worship and also in family worship. Two books that come to mind are:

Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith: Daily Readings by C. H. Spurgeon

Daily Readings on the Gospels by J. C. Ryle

These cannot be props to substitute our personal reading of the Bible and mediation on key Bible verses, but they can support individuals and families significantly. I commend these two resources to you. If others know of other helps that you have found beneficial then do put a comment on this blog post.

Matthew 6:7-8 "“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him".

Friday 25 November 2016

Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to be at work in the church?

We recently had Iain Murray come to preach in Sheffield and it was a blessing. He helpfully highlighted the need of our dependence upon the Holy Spirit in the church. I am sure we all agree that our nation needs a spiritual awakening. Here are two verses for us to consider.

Luke 11:13 "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”.

John 16:13-15 "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you".

I have blogged on the church for years, preached on it and prayed for her. We must pray for our own congregation where we are a member, but also for the whole body of Christ as well. We are part of "one body".

The need of the hour in the United Kingdom is urgent and therefore let us pray for an increased effusion of the Holy Spirit. What will such an answer to prayer look like?

1. Additional blessing upon the marks of a true church; which are the preaching of the word of God, the right administration of the sacraments and church discipline, that is the church being well ordered.

2. The Lord's Holy Spirit will raise up elders who will uphold these biblical patterns. Acts 20:28 "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood".

3. It is common in times of awakening and revival, for there to be an increased sense of reverence and the fear of God among God's people. In Isaiah 11:1-3 we learn of the different aspects of the Holy Spirit and one of them is "the fear of the Lord".

These are just some points for us to consider. John chapters 14-16 show us some of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Holy Spirit, the one whom he calls the helper/comforter and the Spirit of truth. Therefore, increased effusions of the Holy Spirit in the church would lead to increased measure of holiness, comfort and truth.

How we need the blessed comfort of the Holy Spirit in such difficult days? May we pray for the good of the church. May we pray for the prosperity of Zion, as it were. Ultimately, the Lord's purposes are primarily outworked in the government of His church, with Christians in community together, worshipping the Triune God through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Current Trinitarian Discussion and Debate

I was reminded in recent days of the current storm around the doctrine of the Trinity. This has emerged in certain circles in the USA with Liam Goligher and Carl Trueman on one side as it were, with Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware on another. Perhaps of all things that has emerged, it is the overall weakness of Christians and churches in the West on the doctrine of the Trinity.

Grudem and others insist on a notion of the eternal subordination of the Son. This apparently supports their view of marriage and male headship, but does it? In my PhD, I observed that people quickly project on to the inner-relations of the Triune God what they would like those relations to be. In effect, to buttress their own views. Most commonly to support the ordination of women in ministry by asserting that the Triune God is eternally orderless. This is also wrong.

The language of subordination in relation to the Persons of the Trinity, is a term fraught with danger. It is not biblical, it is not confessional and it does not fit within the bounds of Nicene Creed Orthodoxy. For those who want to know more about the doctrine of the Trinity, without attempting to follow lots of online debates, then here is my suggestion for reading and in this order.

1. The Nicene Creed
2. The Westminster Confession, chapter 2 "Of God and of the Holy Trinity".
3. John Calvin, The Institutes, Book 1:13. This is a masterpiece of writing on the Trinity.

For a biblical study, work through Ephesians and Revelation 1:1-5 and chapters 4-5.

Sometimes we need a safe refuge to run to in order to acquire restored spiritual peace.

"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth" Rev 1:4-5.

Monday 14 November 2016

The Gospel according to Jeremiah

The gospel according to Jeremiah. I have preached through the first 9 chapters of Jeremiah in the morning services at Sheffield Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I have been joyfully surprised about how many gospel invitations there are in Jeremiah. In each chapter the Lord makes plain the folly of covenant breaking, idolatry and sin. In the descriptions of sin, I cannot think of a more contemporary book for British society. I think it was Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said "if one is biblical, one will always be relevant". I agree. If a preacher tries to be relevant, at the expense of biblical faithfulness, he will end up neither relevant nor pleasing the Lord.

Here are some assessments of sin by the Lord in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 5:23-24 "But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’

Jeremiah 5:30-31 "An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?".

Jeremiah 6:15 "'Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,' says the LORD".

However, in each chapter the call of the gospel comes which is the same from Adam until the end of the age. A call summarised by the Lord Jesus as recorded in Mark's gospel and elsewhere. What is it?

Mark 1:15 "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

We could call the book of Jeremiah, the gospel according to Jeremiah. The call of the gospel shines through as it always does from the Lord's message.

Here are some examples:

Jeremiah 6:16 "Thus says the LORD: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’ ".

Jeremiah 3:22-23 "Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.” 'Behold, we come to you,
for you are the LORD our God. Truly the hills are a delusion, the orgies on the mountains. Truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel' ".

I commend the Book of Jeremiah. I recommend that you make a start by reading the first 10 chapters of this wonderful book of the Bible. How we need a return to loving the Bible again! So many things can crowd out the written Word of God in our busy lives. May our ears, eyes, mind and lips be filled with biblical truth. May a love for the book of Jeremiah be recovered in our own day.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Is it Nothing to You? A Book by Fred Leahy

Having just read this book by Fred Leahy, let me recommend it. Fred Leahy who is now with the Lord, he seemed to excel in writing on the cross of Christ and all of its implications. This, I believe was his last book that he published (and it is by Banner of Truth) I believe. None the less it leaves a deep imprint, with respect to the glorious victory of Christ, in his Person and his work of redemption for us poor and needy sinners.

This is a short blog post to endorse a worthy book for the profit of Christians. This could also be used as an evangelistic book for someone seeking the grace of salvation. Over the many years I have been a Christian, I wonder where would I be spiritually were it not for the printed page. Not least for the printed page of the Bible.

Above all may we treasure, read and mediate much upon Holy Scripture.

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. Psalm 119:97-98.

Monday 7 November 2016

Pray for the United States of America

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1–4).

Colossians 4:2-4 "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

When I was a boy growing up, the United States was a pillar of fortitude, Christian values and an impressive "go get it" attitude. They placed a man on the moon and he read from the Bible. The Christian preacher Billy Graham was honoured all over the world and in the White House. Despite Billy's Arminian methods, he definitely proclaimed a message of the gospel and the phrase "the Bible says ..." showed his authority was God's and not from man. Today, how do people view the United States?

Sadly, when we think of the USA today, Christianity does not come to mind. They are the champion of liberty on all fronts, including the champion of the LGBTQ agenda, of aggressive business tactics, of huge national debt, of political infighting and the legacy of foreign interventions which casts a shadow. Not to mention the radical feminism, the promotion of the abortion of human lives in the womb up to 9 months old, which Hilary Clinton even boasted of in the last presidential debate.

Who could have believed that these many changes would have happened so fast? Furthermore, on a spiritual front, the church is in desperate need of prayer. The USA exports two of the most poisonous messages by cults, namely the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses, nether of which preach or teach a biblical message of salvation. They deny the Trinity, they promote a works-based righteousness, one which makes the Roman Catholics appear lukewarm. In addition, the USA spreads the prosperity message through TV and other forms. Joel Osteen and many other Texas based people deceive the masses with a deceptive message of lies wrapped in a thin Christian veil.

What should we do? I love the United States and I pray for that nation and the church there like never before. It is always humbling when such run-away changes happen, but whatever can be shaken will be shaken, so that only that which cannot be shaken may remain (Hebrews chapter 12 teaches this). No matter who wins the race to the White House this week, things are being shaken. The Bible's message is clear: "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes" Psalm 118:8-9.

There have been two Great Awakenings in the history of the USA and a third is needed urgently. Let me say as a British citizen that Europe is no better politically or spiritually. However, this blog post is intended to stir people to pray for he USA. Revelation 3:18-19 "I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent". I know of many godly churches and Christians, but in the big picture, they are becoming a minority.

Let us pray in faith, in love and hope as we call upon the name of the LORD, Amen.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Four Signs of Liberals in Evangelical's Clothing

There was once a time in the 20th Century when the fire of liberalism burned strong. The battle lines were drawn. People knew what the differences between liberals and evangelicals were. Indeed Gresham-Machen wrote a powerful essay called "Christianity and Liberalism". There he asserted that Christianity and liberalism are actually two different religions, and I concur.

However today, liberalism is on the rise again, but now it is within so-called Evangelical circles.

Here are four signs of contemporary liberalism:

1. To believe in evolution, instead of the Bible's account of Creation by the Living God and all in the space of six days.

2. To deny the historic Adam and to assert that he may have been one of the first of some hominids whom the Lord picked. Sadly these strange views concerning Adam have gained remarkable progress and yet those people still want to be called evangelical.

3. To promote women preaching and leading in public worship, contrary to the express teaching of Paul in 1 Timothy and the second chapter. These people get around the Bible by claiming that such a passage is cultural, but this is false. It is a summary statement to represent the whole Bible. Women are not allowed to read the Bible publicly in public worship, to teach or lead men in terms of worship and doctrine.

4. To claim that the 10 commandments are not morally binding for the church and to never mention them.

Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path".

Monday 31 October 2016

Do you have a realistic love for the church?

Christians are called to love the church. In a time when many organisations compete for our time and attention, this notion needs comment. While we do not disparage para-church organisations, such groups must not detract from the Lord's primary purpose in redemption. This is the love that the Lord Jesus Christ has for the church and in return any true disciple of His, must the love the church. That is if they truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who is revealed in the Bible.

Ephesians 5:24-27 "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish".

John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another".

One cannot love other Christians with a distant involvement in the life of other Christians. Love is a crucial part of New Testament Christianity, but we must ensure that our understanding of love is not based on our own flawed views of what love is. Commonly, when a couple embark on a path to marriage, there can be unrealistic expectations of marriage. Some ideas a couple may have may need tempering with genuine expectation and realism. Likewise we need realistic expectations of life as a church member in a local congregation.

Why is this? The Book of Revelation portrays seven New Testament churches with different flaws and imperfections. In three churches, the situation was so bad that, if the church members did not repent, then the Lord Jesus Christ was going to close down the church (These are the churches at Ephesus, Sardis and Laodicea). We need to realise that there is some aspect of these seven churches in most local churches, but we must also see our own need of grace and our own spiritual needs as well. Listen to the counsel of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Matthew 7:3-5 "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye".

These verses do not mean that we should lack spiritual discernment, but that we should be concerned about our own spiritual condition and be realistic about it. To be realistic about ourselves, is then a pathway for us to love the church as we should. Love includes consistency, commitment and an 'other preferring" nature. Church is not simply about me and my gifts. It is about worshipping the living God on his appointed day a day which is the Christian Sabbath.

Read the seven churches in Revelation from Chapters 2-3 in the Bible. And then get planted and rooted in a church, one that bears the marks of a true church, so that your Christianity can be worked out in a loving context. I have preached through the seven churches in Revelation recently and I have really enjoyed it. If you want to listen to these sermons, here is the website:

Friday 28 October 2016

William Tyndale's Definition of the Gospel

William Tyndale writes in his essay called "A Pathway into the Holy Scripture", this powerful definition of the Gospel. (This is found in Volume 1 of the Works of William Tyndale, published by the Banner of Truth, p 8).

“Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifies good, very, glad and joyful tidings, that makes a man heart glad, and makes him sing, dance and leap for joy; as when David killed Goliath the giant, came glad tidings unto the Jews, that their fearful and cruel enemy was slain, and they delivered out of all danger: for gladness whereof, they sung, danced and were joyful. In like manner is the Evangelion of God (which we call Gospel, and the New Testament) joyful tidings … ".

This is the "balm of Gilead" that is spoken of in Jeremiah 8:22. The Lord Jesus Christ is the great physician and we need this message of good news to be preached every Lord's Day to a lost and dying world.

Monday 17 October 2016

Mentoring and "Sola Scriptura"

This mini blog series on mentoring is an important one I believe. This is the third post on this subject in recent weeks. Perhaps the most important aspect that I am trying to elucidate is an individual's responsibility to seek out godly mentors. When you read the gospels you see people coming to the Lord Jesus to ask questions. Usually, the asking questions is a sign that good things are happening spiritually, except of course the Pharisees who were always asking questions to be divisive. Let's avoid the latter. An individual seeking out godly Christian mentors, is often a mark of humility and a recognition that you need help. This attitude is the opposite of pride, an approach which thinks it knows most of the answers and therefore that person has no interest in seeking other opinions. Which attitude best describes you?

"Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment, Proverbs 18:1".

However, my main point here is an essential point, one that all Christians, both mentor and mentee (a person trained advised or counselled by a mentor) are to be wholly submitted to the authority of Scripture. What does this mean in practice? One of the watchwords of the Reformation was that of "Sola Scriptura". This means that the written Scriptures are our baseline for authority and the church is to submit to God's wisdom revealed in the written Scriptures. If this does not happen in the church and in a mentoring relationship, then things will go sour, they will become unbiblical and at worst, the relationship could break down into carnal manipulation.

Sola Scriptura means:

I. The written Scriptures are our source of wisdom, faith and direction. The question has to be asked continually: "What does the Scripture say? (Romans 4:3), and not what does my mentor say?

II. The written Scriptures are to be accepted as final and sole authority. This closes the door to revelations outside of Scripture, such as personal prophecies, extra-biblical words and so forth. It is sad, when in a mentoring relationship, when it spirals downwards so that extra-biblical words begin to be used to manipulate people in an unbiblical direction, or worse still in the direction a mentor thinks is right. Perhaps another blog post should be written on: "mentoring and the danger of manipulation".

III. We want to avoid the "Ah but ..." syndrome when we come to Scripture. What is this? Well some people who find aspects of Scripture which they do not like or they struggle to submit to, sometimes say "Ah but ... that part of Scripture is cultural or it does not mean x, y and z". If this is done to rightly understand Scripture, then it is acceptable, but if "Ah but ... " is said to escape submitting to the Lord, then there is a real and dangerous spiritual problem. Our sinful nature does not easily submit to authority and that includes the full authority of Scripture.

Much, much more needs to be said on Sola Scriptura, but I wanted to raise this doctrine in the context of mentoring. Let me stress that mentoring relationships are never to be a substitute for sitting under preaching in the church, nor for searching out counsel from the church's elders. Here is a danger also. None-the-less let us seek out godly mentors who are wholeheartedly committed to the authority, finality and sufficiency of Scripture.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work". 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Recommended reading: "The Scripture Cannot be Broken: Twentieth Century Writings on the Doctrine of Inerrancy", edited by John MacArthur, published by Crossway.

Saturday 15 October 2016

James Montgomery and his life in Sheffield: 1771-1854

For those from Sheffield, they will be familiar with a place called the Montgomery Hall. However, it is surprising how few Christians in Sheffield, never mind further a field have little idea of the godly Christian influence of this man.

Perhaps if I mention two hymns by him then you will recognise them.

Angels from the realms of Glory
Holy, Holy, holy Lord, God of hosts, when heaven and earth ...

James Montgomery was born in 1771 and he died in 1854. He was from Scotland but the son of missionary parents, he spend most of his life in Sheffield. He was the editor of a newspaper, a kind of Wilberforce of Northern England in his protest against slavery, a supporter of much work of Christian benevolence and a principled Christian man. There is a statue of this man by the side of Sheffield Cathedral today.

Day One Publications have published a fine book by Paul S. Taylor called "James Montgomery: A Man for all People". It is an excellent book!

What can we learn from his life? He advocated for the anti-slavery movement, because true gospel knowledge will always produce a reaction to the evils of present-day society. We must never take the values of a society as absolutes for morality. History teaches us that this is foolish and collective views (sometimes called a consensus) do not necessarily direct towards what is right. In fact due to the sinfulness of men, the opposite may be the case. It is the Bible which provides the only standard for right and wrong for all of humanity, yes all of humanity.

The Ten Commandments are clear for all people: "You shall not murder and you shall not steal". 19th Century slavery was a form of man-stealing, never mind a breach of human rights. However today, we face the silent wickedness of providing abortion as a means of contraception and women are rarely given an informed choice of the truth that she is carrying a human being, a baby, and not a mass of impersonal human cells. It is time for men and women to begin to sensitively and boldly support a modern day cause of Pro-Life. There was a time in this nation when the life of a baby was upheld. Today, in the UK and in many countries, perhaps the most dangerous place to be is in the mother's womb. I believe that men such as James Montgomery, were they alive today, that they would passionately speak out on this issue. It is up to Christians today to do what is right, to speak out and to stand up for what is right even if it is not popular.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:13-14.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" Psalm 119:105.

Thursday 13 October 2016

Is it True? Evidence for the Bible by DayOne

Someone just gave me a copy of this splendid booklet which only costs a pound. It is a survey of the archaeological confirmation of many peoples, places, names and kings. Apparently it is being sold by the British Museum, but I recommend it for every Christian and it could be used in family worship as well.

I loved the chapter describing the historical records of crucifixion in Roman times and therefore the significant stigma that there would have been to have preached that the Christ was crucified. You could only be assured of this message by the work of the Holy Spirit and the same is true today.

It is very well presented book and an up-lifting read for any committed Christian. I encourage you to read it! It could also be used as an evangelistic booklet as well.

Psalm 12:6 "The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times".

Ps The authors are Clive Anderson and Brian Edwards

Wednesday 12 October 2016

J. C. Ryle "Prepared to Stand Alone" by Iain Murray

We had Rev Murray preach for us in Sheffield Evangelical Presbyterian Church last Lord's Day. What a blessing it was and do check out the website to listen to the sermons (

However, a friend of mine told me today that he has heard that the latest book by Iain Murray on J. C. Ryle is apparently outstanding. I commend this book, though I have not read it yet and also check out other books authored by Murray on the Banner of Truth website.

Two books to note written by him are "Evangelicals Divided" and " The Forgotten Spurgeon".

Happy reading!

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Mentoring should take place in three directions: which directions are they?

"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath" Proverbs 15:22-24.

We need good and godly counsel if we are to succeed in life. However, we must determine what success is in the sight of the Lord. In the sight of the Lord success includes that we must seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), we must seek to support the Lord's church and be in good standing with her (Ephesians 5:; we must pursue living a life of holiness, one that is submitted to the written Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

I hope that the previous blog post on mentoring has got people thinking. Thinking to be actively praying for and seeking out good mentors, while avoiding the influence in one's life of people who should not or are not able to mentor people. Not all mentoring is helpful, in fact false teachers are always seeking to mentor people, but in wrong directions. We must seek out and pray for discernment. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 "but test everything; hold fast what is good". 1 John 4:1 "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world".

This blog post is intended to emphasise mentorship in three directions.

1. To be mentored by those who are more mature than us, more experienced Christians than us.

2. To develop peer level mentoring and mutual encouragement with friends. These are relationships where you are exhorting one another to remain on the "narrow path" in following after the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. To seek to encourage others who are less mature than you or younger in the faith than yourself.

Mentoring is never to be a way of controlling people or some unhealthy co-dependency relationship. We must beware of this because the flesh and Satan soon want to spoil things. We must always note that mentoring among Christians is never to substitute the counsel of godly elders, nor is counsel to be spiritually divisive for the church; these things happen!

Having said that, I hope that I have widened the scope of mentoring so that we can consider these three directions for mentoring. Ask yourself, how am I doing in these three directions of mentoring? I would suggest that if you are not planted in a church, then do not seek to be mentoring anyone until you get yourself sorted out. However, pray for mentors in the first and second category. Godly friends are a precious gift on our pilgrimage.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" Matthew 7:13-14.

A good book is called "Friends of Calvin" by Michael A. van den Berg published by Eerdmans.

Monday 3 October 2016

Who mentors you and whom do you seek out to mentor you?

Paul the apostle spoke in a very insightful way, when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:14-17 the following:

"I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church".

Imagine this! Paul says to the Corinthian Christians that though they have "countless guides" ... "you do not have many fathers". He may have been referring to the many travelling sophist teachers who were travelling around or he may have referred to some of the early New Testament preachers when he thinks of "countless guides". Though his statement is hyperbole, the point is taken. The need is always there for spiritual fathers and I dare say also for spiritual mothers as well.

However, in this blog post, I would like to lay the stress upon us as individuals; it is that we need to take responsibility to seek out spiritual mentors, those who can help us in our pilgrimage. Whatever season in life you are in, you need people with greater maturity, spiritual experience and wisdom than you possess, in order to help you as a Christian. Sometimes we are perhaps too passive to pray for the Lord to give us spiritual mentors. We may also be too passive to seek out spiritual mentors to ask the questions such as what do you think?; Could you advise me?; and what blind spots do I have on a particular matter? These kinds of questions demonstrate humility and teachability on the part of an individual who asks them.

So back to our initial question. Who mentors you? Whom do you seek out to mentor you? So, how do you answer these two initial questions? My aim in this blog post is chiefly pastoral. We of course do not want to seek people out, who will just tell us what we want to hear or those who will give us wrong advice. We want to seek out Christians who are in good standing with a church, and those who have a track record also of godly wisdom. I hope that this blog post can help many people, because we hopefully can seek out more than one person to mentor us. Of course potential mentors should never be a substitute for the counsel of the Lord's ministers and elders, but we need a variety of mentors to help us in the marathon race of Christian living.

Here are three verses to encourage and help us in the endeavour of praying, and for seeking out godly mentors.

Hebrews 12:1-2: "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith".

Proverbs 11:14 "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety".

Proverbs 24:6-7 "For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth.

Saturday 1 October 2016

The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them

This book co-authored by Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock was warmly commended to me recently by Rev Dr Bill Schweitzer. Bill is the minister of Gateshead Presbyterian Church and if you live near there, I recommend that you go and worship with them (

However, my main point is that Western society and British values basically promote confusion and blurring regarding genders, that is male and female. While a world without the spiritual compass of the Bible maybe confused, the church MUST never be. We must not allow the world to shape the thinking of the church: besides on all matters the world's opinions constantly change with fresh winds of contemporary ideas.

Psalm 11:3-5 "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The LORD tests the righteous".

The foundation from the Bible regarding gender differences and gender role differences in the church and family must not be confused. Hopefully, this book can help some, including those wanting to build a marriage based on Holy Scripture.

Happy reading!

Friday 30 September 2016

The urgent need of the church today is its understanding of the true work of the Holy Spirit compared with what is false!

Perhaps one of the greatest needs of the church today is for the church to revisit what is the genuine work of the Holy Spirit? I mean to revisit this in the light of holy Scripture, sound theology and church history. There is so much confusion with women preaching in pulpits all over the place (and leading church services), even though Scripture forbids this (1 Timothy 2:12). The church has flooded its so-called worship with worldly methods, until some people cannot discern between being moved by a rock band in singing versus a genuine work of the Holy Spirit.

What more shall we say of churches using alligator shows, fashion shows and dramas to try to lure in non-believers. Having just read the Book of Acts, the simplicity of the apostolic method is astounding. It was persuading people out of the Scriptures of the sufferings of Jesus of Nazareth, his resurrection and his message that all men everywhere must repent and believe the gospel.

But, what about the true work of the Holy Spirit? I have two books on my shelf that I would like to mention on this subject. First is a small book by John Owen "The Holy Spirit"; second is by Octavius Winslow called "The Work of the Holy Spirit". If people know of good biblical resources on this topic then do add a comment on this blog.

Of course there is the helpful book by John MacArthur called "Charismatic Chaos" which deserves a hearing or his book called "Strange Fire" also.

May we search the Scriptures to learn of Christ more fully by the Lord's grace.

"The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men".

Acts 17:10-12.

Thursday 29 September 2016

A New Hebrews Commentary by Richard Brooks

Evangelical Press have again published another excellent commentary! This time it is on the Book of Hebrews by Richard Brooks and it is called "Hebrews: The Name High Over All". Brooks is not only a wonderful preacher, but he is also an excellent writer. His past works include commentaries, ones with a strong devotional dimension, on the "Song of Songs" and "Revelation" as two examples. This latest book could be read by ministers for helps in preaching this vital book of the Bible or by any Christian who wants to know more of Scripture.

A wife, mother and homemaker that I know, intends to read this book as part of her personal devotions and growth in grace. Hopefully some readers of this blog will buy the book, read it and profit from it. It is available via Amazon and other online outlets.

Happy reading!

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Rev Iain Murray is preaching at Sheffield Evangelical Presbyterian Church

Iain Murray, as most know, is the founder of the Banner of Truth book publishers of Reformed literature. He has contacts in Sheffield which go back a long way and he has very good contacts with our denomination the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales.

On Sunday (the Lord's Day) of the 9th October 2016, he will be preaching and leading our worship in both services at 11.00am and 5.00pm. In addition, he will teach in our catechism class at 10.00am. Anyone is welcome to come to Hill Top Chapel to hear him and to enjoy worshipping the Lord. For details of the location, then check out our church website:

See you there,
Kevin Bidwell

Monday 26 September 2016

Serving in Sardis

A good friend of mine Ben Franks wrote an excellent blog post called "Serving in Sardis". It his reflection of the state of the church in USA.

The blog post link is:

I recommend that you read this and reflect how his insights impact our view of the nation in which we live.

Monday 19 September 2016

The Dignity of Hard Work

"Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work ...".(Deuteronomy 5:12–14).

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man".
(Proverbs 6:6–11).

This may seem like an unusual blog post, but I believe that it is an important one. Within Protestant Christianity there has been historically what was known as the "Protestant work ethic" and it is shaped by such verses as I have cited. There is dignity in work and especially in hard work. The small creature the ant is esteemed in Scripture as a noble part of Creation, due to its diligence, hard work, orderliness and preparation. We are to learn from this example and we as Christian people are to shun laziness.

The working week is shaped by Scripture in that we are to rest one day and worship the Lord and the other six days are for work. Therefore, in the sight of God, work is esteemed as a dignified task. Work is not to be shunned and indeed if we do all things to the glory of God, then our working life should reflect this. Our contemporary Western society rarely esteems the work that we do, unless it provides large amounts of income, so that we can spend it on ourselves for leisure and pleasure.

Another point to be considered is that in many Christian circles today, the idea of vocation has been virtually lost. What do I mean by this? Our vocation is our job or career and sadly many talk today about "our secular job" which then inserts an unnatural sacred-secular divide. Some professing Christians wrongly think that Christian activities are more holy than our vocation. I learned a number of years ago to drop the phrase "what is your secular job?". I did this deliberately to shun the idea that a Christian's job is somehow lacking in nobility, it is not. For example if a Christian does a mission trip, this is commonly seen as more holy, than someone working hard in their regular job. Another example is among Christian university students who may be exhorted to forsake studying hard, to give all of their time to the Christian society on the campus.

As Christians who are committed to the Bible and shaped by it, we should seek a biblical model of hard work. I do not say that we should not have work-life balance which is indeed very important. However, our approach to work and indeed hard work, should be shaped by Scripture and this may require our minds to be renewed, our attitudes to be changed and our life-patterns to be changed.

For those who know what "hipsters" are, there are many in Berlin. A German friend said to me recently that the "hipsters wear their grand-dad's clothes, but they do not have grand-dad's work ethic". The idea of hanging out endlessly in coffee shops, drinking real coffee and playing on your Apple with social media, may be trendy, but in the end is this life-pattern going to produce satisfaction? A Biblical model to life should include hard work as well as rest as a God-given means of satisfaction and in living our life for the glory of God.

Monday 5 September 2016

Some good resources on the Book of Revelation

Revelation 1:1 "The revelation of Jesus Christ ...".

The book of Revelation is often either neglected or greatly misunderstood. John Calvin did not write a commentary on this book and this may have meant some in Reformed circles have downplayed its significance. I was urged by a fellow minister to preach on it, as I considered a new series and I am thankful for that encouragement. I have now begun.

The opening title of Revelation in 1:1 explains the title, it is a book that is all about Jesus Christ. Therefore, who would not be interested in this book? I was wrongly told as a new Christian that eschatology was a secondary matter and yet all the whiles many people considered a complex range of end-time views which seemed to dominate their whole vision of Christianity. How about you? What dominates your main Christian vision? Is it about Jesus Christ, end time events or perhaps even yourself? If your Christian vision is not primarily about the glory of Christ Jesus, then perhaps you need a corrective to your thinking.

Here are a number of resources that you may find very helpful in order to better understand the Book of Revelation.

1. William Hendriksen "More than Conquerors". This is a MUST read for those seeking to grapple with the structure, overview and main purpose of this book.

2.Richard Brooks "Revelation: The Lamb is all the Glory".

3. Philip Edgcumbe Hughes "The Book of Revelation: A Commentary".

Happy reading and as you also read the Book of Revelation remember that the main theme is "the victory of the lamb and the church over the devil and all of Christ's enemies". To God be the glory, Amen.

Monday 29 August 2016

The Late J. Alec Motyer: 1924-2016

A few days ago the minister, theologian and shepherd of souls Rev J. Alec Motyer went on ahead to heaven. He died on August 26th 2016, but for many he may not be overly known about. Rev Alec Motyer was ordained in the Church of England and was probably the foremost Evangelical theologian in their denomination fold during the last half of the last century, in my opinion. While I am no expert on all of Motyer's works, I can confidently say that he was a theological mind committed to the infallibility of Scripture, one of the first order.

The influence of Motyer upon myself has been primarily his commentary on Isaiah which is by far the best commentary on my shelf on this most important Old Testament book. Isaiah is replete in citations in the Book of Romans and elsewhere in the New Testament, therefore a comprehensive understanding of this book is pivotal to grasping the gospel. I believe that there is also a daily devotional on Isaiah by him, which many have found most useful. While Motyer wrote other commentaries, this one on Isaiah is perhaps his life's work. I cannot commend it highly enough!

I did not know Alec Motyer personally, but I know two men who trained under him at Trinity College, Bristol and they were marked for life with a deep love for Holy Scripture. They have both served as faithful ministers of the Word of God in the church for decades. Does a love for the Scriptures also infuse your soul? This is what Geoff Thomas wrote about Motyer on the Banner of Truth website (

Now retired as principal of Trinity College in Bristol, England, Motyer has spent his professional career studying the Bible. However, he learned to love the Scriptures at his grandmother’s knee in Ireland. “Grandma was, in worldly terms, a comparatively uneducated lady,” Motyer says, “but she was a great Bible woman. Biblical studies have simply confirmed that which I learned from Grandma – that the Bible is the Word of God – and made it a coherently held position.”
He adds, “I had a conversion experience when I was 15, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love the Word of God.”

Motyer loved "all of Scripture" I believe, but he was specially gifted to make the connection across Scripture. Justin Taylor ( has commented on the life of Motyer in recent days and he makes this helpful observation:

I will always remember his answer to a question about the relationship of Old Testament Israel to the church (I can’t remember if R. C. posed it to him or someone from the audience). After saying something about the discontinuities, he insisted that we were all one people of God. Then he asked us to imagine how the Israelites under Moses would have given their “testimony” to someone who asked for it. They would have said something like this:

We were in a foreign land, in bondage, under the sentence of death. But our mediator—the one who stands between us and God—came to us with the promise of deliverance. We trusted in the promises of God, took shelter under the blood of the lamb, and he led us out. Now we are on the way to the Promised Land. We are not there yet, of course, but we have the law to guide us, and through blood sacrifice we also have his presence in our midst. So he will stay with us until we get to our true country, our everlasting home.

Then Dr. Motyer concluded: “Now think about it. A Christian today could say the same thing, almost word for word.”

It is a delight for me to give honour to a spiritual father of the calibre of J. Alec Motyer. How should we respond? We should pray for the Lord to send out labourers into his harvest and to include a new generation of men of the calibre of humility and giftedness as J. Alec Motyer.

Monday 22 August 2016

Christian Triathletes

With the closing of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, here is a Bible knowledge question. Which three Graeco-Roman sports are in the New Testament? The answer interestingly is running, wrestling and boxing. I have preached on these three sports and their spiritual parallel over this Summer, including at our Christian Young People's camp. Have you ever considered that you were enrolled into these three sports, spiritually speaking, from the day you were converted, that is if you are a Christian?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2.

There are three things to consider. First, we are to dress for action which means to run light, that is without "weights" or the "sin which clings so closely". The latter refers to original sin which always presses us and to tempt us into sin, but we must not succumb. Second, "let us run" means we are not competing against fellow Christians but we are to run and encourage one another; the "us" is plural. Third, a key word is "endurance and indeed "endure or endurance" is found three times in the first three verses of Hebrews chapter 12. How do we learn endurance? It is by enduring. Do you pray that your spiritual ability to endure would glorify God?

The aim of this sport is to win by strength and by deceiving your opponent to get them onto the floor. One cannot die wrestling, though you can get bruises, wounds and become winded. Christianity is not easy and we should expect bruises but have a forgiving spirit for those who hurt us, while recognising that we also hurt others.

However, this sport is used in reference to the "schemes of the devil" against the church and we we must wrestle to win and not quit.

Ephesians 6:10-13 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm".

The primary action required here is to "stand". If you get wrestled to the ground then get back up and keep standing. Be encouraged O Christian to endure and to stand and to keep standing.

This is a sport which I knew little of until I noticed this sport in the New testament. I have discovered that there is a lot of skill required in this sport.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified 1 Cor 9:24-27.

Chapter nine of First Corinthians is a chapter filled with questions by Paul the apostle. Asking the right questions is a very important teaching method and all are skilled teachers are good at asking the right questions. However, did you notice here the connection to boxing. Boxing; what a sport! It is a sport which was fist fighting and in New Testament times I am told there was just one round where you boxed until your opponent could not respond.

Paul uses boxing in two main ways. First, he says "I do not box as one beating the air". Paul served and lived his Christian life with purpose, with deliberate aims and so must we. Second, he turns on himself and he says that he "disciplines his own body" which is what all olympians do. The whole life of an olympian is subjected to the final goal of winning a gold medal and likewise the whole life of a Christian should be in subjection to the aim of finishing your Christian life for the glory of God. Is that how you live your life?

This blog post is a brief introduction to three metaphors for the Christian life which are rich, extended and worthy of further meditation. However, though these metaphors extend to the Christian life that is sanctified, they first point to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who ran, wrestled and boxed with perfect success. He ran his race to the cross and purchased a perfect redemption, he wrestled against the schemes of the devil and Jesus Christ prevailed. He also boxed with aim and everything he did defeated false teaching and in redemption the LORD Jesus Christ defeated sin, death and Satan. The Lord Jesus Christ is our real sporting hero, one that has eternal spiritual consequences when we put our trust in him for salvation.

Friday 12 August 2016

The Church must reject all Unbiblical and Extra-Biblical Revelations

“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it" (deuteronomy 12:32).

"Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:5–6).

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19).

One of the prime reasons for the LORD's judgments upon the people of God has been, is and will continue to be for the sin of covenant unfaithfulness. One of the ways that this happens is by a turning away from the written infallible Word of God. For example King Solomon either neglected the written Scriptures or he wilfully denied them by multiplying wives and with that with foreign wives. Judgment came and a rejection of God's Word, it always does. In Jeremiah 1:16 the LORD teaches Jeremiah that judgment is coming upon the house of God because of their "evil in forsaking me" (1:16).

How about sections of the church today? A serious error has crept into sections of the professing Protestant church in accepting unbiblical revelations and even more serious is a quest for unbiblical revelations. The Canon of holy Scripture is complete and there are no more revelations from heaven. The Holy Spirit is powerfully active in raising up preachers to proclaim the written Scriptures and to expound them, to convict of sin, to bring about the miracle of the new birth and to teach people to walk in God's ways.

However, in what ways has revelation ceased?

1. There are no more apostles. This office ceased with the death of the last apostle who was John.

2. There are no more prophets. This office ceased by the end of the New Testament apostolic era.

3. There are no longer extraordinary gifts of men who perform miracles likes Moses, Elijah or the apostles. Though the apostles did not operate on the level of the LORD Jesus Christ and in the Book of Acts, the supernatural signs begin to wane as the church got established.

4. There is no such thing as people being taken to heaven to have visions of heaven.

5. The last person to have a direct revelation of the Lord Jesus was John the apostle on the Isle of Patmos. How did he respond? Revelation 1:17 "When I [John the apostle] saw him [the glorified and ascended Lord Jesus Christ], I fell at his feet as though dead". There are some people today who claim to meet Jesus Christ and it is in a most casual way. However, it is false. He does not reveal himself to people outside of Scripture and that includes to people of other faiths. Some Christians get excited about supposed claims of Muslims having visions of Jesus Christ. We have no biblical evidence that this is a method that the LORD will ever use and yet some naively accept such claims and some Christians get very excited at such possibilities.

6. Supernatural tongues have ceased. However the tongues on the Day of Pentecost were unique, where men spoke the gospel in languages they had never learned. This is not found today and it certainly is not the Pentecostal gift of tongues today which is nothing short of speaking "gibberish", possibly as some sort of soul-excitement. I do not doubt the experience of speaking in tongues, but I doubt its validity and I assert that it has no biblical basis whatsoever. In the New Testament "tongues" were simply languages and if someone spoke in Latin to a Greek congregation, then the apostles insisted that it must be translated so that all could learn and understand.

In conclusion, with this short blog post, let me finish with the words of John Owen. Owen had to contend with the Quakers who became obsessed with extra-biblical revelations and he taught helpfully that: "If their private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree, they are false".

Monday 1 August 2016

The Historic Adam: Holding Fast to Basic Truths

I can no longer assume that Christians hold to the most basic Christian doctrines. A friend and I were discussing the matters of Creation and the historic understanding of Adam, last Lord's Day evening. As we fellowshipped together I mentioned to him about the defective views of the late Rev John Stott on these matters. Stott is revered to be one of the greatest Anglican theologians of recent decades, however his views on Creation and Adam are to be rejected. Now many people will be aware that Stott promotes an intellectually credible view, but it is one that seeks to mix a confused idea of Creation with evolution.

Where does Stott teach these things? It is in his commentary of all places on the Book of Romans and on the fifth chapter of Romans where Paul the apostle teaches that there are only two heads of the human race: Adam or the Lord Jesus Christ. However, Stott takes the opportunity in commenting on this chapter to digress and to promote his flawed views on Adam. What does he say?
These are excerpts from John Stott "The Message of Romans", IVP, 1994, pp 162-166.

1. He makes an unwarranted statement on the historicity and death of Adam: "The narrative itself (Genesis chapters 1-2) warrants no dogmatism about the six days of creation, since its form and style suggest that it is meant as literary art, not scientific description" (p 163).

2. Without biblical warrant he then asserts that "the evidence of Genesis 2-4 is that Adam was a neolithic farmer" (p 163). He then extends his narrative to claim that the earth was filled with pre-adamic hominids (up to 2 million years before Adam) who became Adam's contemporaries (p 164).

Now once the biblical narrative is rejected, which Stott does, in a way that can only be described as Liberalism; to assert that these chapters of Genesis are "literary art", then flawed logic has to be used to counter-act the biblical narrative.

3. Almost unbelievably, Stott suggests: "Adam, then, was a special creation of God, whether God formed him literally 'from the dust of the ground' ... or whether this is a biblical way of saying that he was created out of an already existing hominid" (p 164). What literary fantasy, one without any biblical warrant! But wait for it, it gets worse.

4. He claims that death already pre-existed Adam in "the cycle of blossom, fruit, seed, death and new life was established in the created order" (p 165). He asserts that animal death existed too. Therefore Adam's fall was: "Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate waits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal" (pp 165-166).

For a pastor-theologian which Stott was, his false interpretation of Genesis 1-3, Creation, Adam and the Fall is shocking in my opinion. However, it means that followers of Stott may well have bought into this narrative and we should ask people plainly: What is your view of Creation, the length of days, the historicity of Adam and the Fall? In the case of John Stott he denies the day length and ends up with a false account of the origins of all things. He exalts the supposed evidence of The Natural History Museum in London, above the Bible.

Here is the plain historic account, not one of literary art, but of the unfolding events as historically recorded in Genesis chapters 1-5.

Genesis 2:1-3 "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation".

Genesis 2:16-17 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”.

Genesis 5:1-5 "This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died".

Let us hold fast to the truth, refute error and do not assume that God's people hold to an orthodox view of Creation, Adam and the fall. John Stott did not. May our Lord's grace uphold us in the face of virulent unbelief, atheism and liberal currents.

Tuesday 26 July 2016

The Importance of a right doctrine of Creation in the church

What may seem obvious is not as obvious as one would hope. This is true regarding a right doctrine of Creation. There are many inroads from many directions, one's that seek to undermine a sound biblical doctrine of Creation. Genesis 1:1-5 frames the theme of the whole of the Bible.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

There are several points to reaffirm at the outset.

1. The universe did not begin with an unknown and unexplained or even random "big bang", but indeed God the Creator of the heaven and earth is the founder, architect and Creator of the whole created order.

2. The opening line of Genesis frames our whole theology, one that a God-centred one; this should be true whether we are discussing salvation, the church, worship, evangelism or whatever. In the beginning God ... Is that your opinion also? That is that all things must be God-centred.

3. The first day ended with evening and morning and light existed before the sun or suns were created. An important question concerns the length of days of Creation. A plain reading of Scripture, along with the comparison of other plain Scriptures make it clear that these six days were, six literal, 24 hour days. In some circles in the Evangelical and Reformed world there are surprising attempts to suggest that these days could be an allegory to explain Creation or a Framework hypothesis to define a creation model of days of undefined length.

However, why are such suggestions made and do they stand the weight of the Biblical evidence?

4. Comparing Scripture with Scripture in order to come to the single correct line of interpretation is necessary and essential to come to the true and right doctrine of Creation. While it may be true that that there are different ideas on Creation, one's that exclude theistic evolution, it is not correct that all ideas are correct and true. The Westminster Confession (1:9) most helpfully teaches that:
"The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly".

Therefore, only one possible view is permitted and this is that the Creation was completed in six, 24 hour days. Hear the words of Scripture from Exodus.

Exodus 20:8-11 clarifies that the length of days in Creation were 6, 24 hour days.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy".

Such a straightforward acceptance of the length of days as taught in Genesis chapter 1 and Exodus 20, excludes any notion of evolution, it excludes any ideas then, that Adam is anything other than the first created man and it excludes the idea of man-like hominids pre-existing Adam; something not found anywhere in the biblical record. We must be clear and the church must give clear testimony to the biblical record. To fail to do so is to open the door to agnosticism (do not know what you believe) or atheism (to deny God as existing and as the Creator). Our position in the church should be one of clear and consistent faith.

After many years of contemplation on these matters, I have resolved that it is essential for the church to confess the Triune God to be the Creator of all things, and that so in 6 literal, 24 hour days, whereby he rested on the seventh day. This day of rest is now to be honoured by worship and rest as the Lord's Day, on the first day of the week, since the Resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Monday 18 July 2016

The Victory of the Lamb by Frederick S. Leahy

Reading good books can really help your spiritual progress. This summer I have been enjoying a small but punchy book by Professor Leahy. The author is now with the Lord, but his writings are here for our profit and this book is one of a number written by him which are worthwhile reading.

I think that there is a present general deficiency in the presentation of the gospel. What is that deficiency? Generally speaking the atonement secured by the Lord Jesus is one that is primarily seen by many as only the victory of Jesus over sin. However, Fred Leahy rightly explains that actually it is the victory of Jesus over "sin, death and Satan". Is this how you understand the atonement? This little book is well worth reading and I commend it to Christians, elders and ministers. Its message will expand your vision of the victory of Christ and equip the church to stand firm (Ephesians 6).

Revelation 20:10-15: "And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire".

These are verses that we should all meditate upon and contemplate. It is my joy to urge Christians to read good books. There are so many books that sometimes carry the name Christian, but one wonders at times what type of Christianity do they represent? This book by Fred Leahy represents Christianity of the first order. A gospel of power and victory but of reality in this fallen world. Read it, enjoy it and recommend it to others.

Monday 27 June 2016

The Propagation of the Reformed Faith in England

Acts 20:27 "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God".

I am very much enjoying reading the Collected Writings of John Murray this year. I am doing this for my own personal edification and one essay that grabbed my attention recently is from Volume 1 and it is called "The Propagation of the Reformed Faith in New England". Professor Murray served on a committee which sought to pursue church planting in New England in the USA and there are congregations which still exist today from this endeavour.
John Murray explains in this essay:

"It is for the propagation of the Reformed Faith, and that means simply the propagation of the whole counsel of God as it respects faith and life. Its purpose is the evangelism which is not only consistent with the Reformed Faith, but the necessary expression of it wherever it really exists as the controlling thought of mind and passion of the heart. In these times there is evangelism that is clap-trap, much so-called evangelism that does not have the gospel, and much also of evangelism that, though evangelical in its general spirit and result, is not true to the whole counsel of God. It is the aim of this committee to foster and further evangelism that will not be dependent upon the sensational for its appeal or success, but evangelism grounded in the conviction of the absolute sovereignty and efficacy of the grace of God, evangelism among the degraded, ignorant, the indifferent and hostile, that does not fear to declare the whole counsel of God and to proffer men lost and dead in sin the full and free salvation that is in Jesus Christ our Lord".

It is very important that we do not lose the vision for the propagation of the Reformed Faith as John Murray explains. This label as it were, is not and should not be a badge of division, but instead we should be unashamed in our pursuit of sound doctrine, sound care of the sheep and sound reverent public worship. There are so many unbiblical "winds of doctrine" in our day in England. Solid ministers and elders are urgently needed, men who "hold fast" to expounding the "whole counsel of God" is the urgent spiritual need of our day. It is the Reformed Faith as explained in documents such as the Westminster Standards which are needed to be applied and that so without amendment.

Will you join with us in this noble and demanding task in prayer? In Sheffield we are working on a new church plant in Manchester to do just what I have written about, and in Sheffield too we continue to work in Sheffield Presbyterian Church ( to further strengthen the work. Please contact me through our church website if you are excited about such a vision and to find out how you can be further involved.

Monday 20 June 2016

Sermons and Talks from the Jonathan Edwards Conference 2016

The Jonathan Edwards Conference this year was most helpful. As a minister of the gospel, I returned home greatly refreshed, sharpened and exhorted. The theology of Jonathan Edwards is rich, expansive, Calvinistic and stimulating. I was asked as part of panel 'what is one thing that stands out in my mind of Edwards' theology?'. I could have said more, but his sermon titles stand out as a memorable feature. Just consider this. 250 + years after he preached it, titles such as "The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners"; "Heaven is a world of love" or "Hypocrites deficient in the duty of prayer" are still remembered and discussed. Now this is remarkable and I cannot think of many other preachers in church history where we can say the same of their sermon titles. This alone is a marvellous feature that should stir contemporary preachers to choose theologically rich titles, ones which in themselves convey a world of truth.

The talks and sermons from the 2016 conference are now being downloaded onto the website and the link is as follows:

I hope that these talks will stimulate further study of holy Scripture and with that the reading of the works of Jonathan Edwards. I have been informed recently that all his works and sermons are available online through Yale University and the link to these free resources is:

This is a canonical index of Edwards' sermons.

We live in an age of information overload, therefore we need to be good stewards of our time and of our minds, to guard what comes into our soul to influence us. I commend the fresh reading of Edwards to strengthen you spiritually and to promote personal and church holiness.

Ephesians 5:15-16 "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil".

Monday 13 June 2016

The Claims of Truth upon the Church

At the beginning of the first volume of the "Collected Writings of John Murray", we find a summary of Murray's thought. This fragment found among the papers of John Murray, it succinctly summarises his thought on the importance of the claims of truth upon the church. Before I cite these three paragraphs, we all need to consider the basics of Christianity once again.

There are three primary components to truth.

1. Holy Scripture as it relates to God the Father: John 17:17 "Sanctify them in the truth; your [God the Father] word is truth".

2. The Lord Jesus Christ: John 14:6-7 "“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him".

3. The Holy Spirit: John 16:13-15 "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you".

We can mentally assent to these biblical propositions and yet still fail to lay hold of the truth and to walk in the truth. Do you consider yourself, that you are seeking to walk in the truth? The error of post-modern thought has invaded the church and we must be warned against it. This prevalent contemporary thought teaches that there are many truths. This is untrue. Jesus said "I am the truth". What does it mean then to walk in truth?

Firstly, you have to accept that the Bible is the basis for absolute truth. Secondly, you must then submit to the truth of Scripture even when it conflicts with your private interpretation and thirdly you must recognise and acknowledge that there is a single correct line of interpretation on church doctrine, worship, government and ethics. This is a demanding process that elders especially, have to undertake, along with church members, in order for the church then to walk in this REVEALED truth. Revealed as in the teaching of the written pages of holy Scripture, and not some private revelation.

Now then, how do you assess yourself on these three points? Have you erred from the truth unknowingly? The Westminster Confession teaches so on holy Scripture in Chapter 1:9:

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

Now hear the wisdom of John Murray on this matter.

The claims of truth are paramount. That is why Westminster Theological Seminary was founded. As members of the Faculty we should not be here if it were not for the claims of truth upon us.
But the battle of the faith is oftentimes focused in the inward travail of soul which the claims of truth demand. There are so many temptations to allow the claims of truth to become secondary.
Mental laziness is one of those temptations. We have become accustomed to a certain pattern of thought and conduct. It may be surrounded by the halo of sanctity derived from an established family, social or ecclesiastical tradition, and we are not willing to bring this pattern or conviction to the test of those criteria which the truth demands. Or perhaps after persuasion to the contrary by the evidence of truth, we are not willing to let truth have its way, just because it means a breach with the convenient and the conventional.
The temptation may come in the opposite way. Convenience or opportunity may dictate the renunciation of former conviction, and the renouncing is dictated by convenience rather than by the claims of truth. We must beware of that temptation also.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Outstanding Theology: Collected Writings of John Murray, Volume 1

There is a mis-conception that is common today. It is that theology is only for theologians. Theology is the study of God and therefore this line of study belongs to the whole church. While it is true that we cannot distil Christianity down to simply a desire for personal study, none the less studying the right materials is a valuable aid to nourish the church. Christ Jesus has ordained that he sends teachers to his church and we all need to be taught. Indeed we should want to be taught and we should pray to be teachable.

A few months ago, I set out to read the "Collected Writings of John Murray: The Claims of Truth, Volume 1". This reading has been for my own personal spiritual nourishment. While Murray is not new to me, these writings have been fresh to my soul in recent times. I commend this particular book and any books by John Murray because he is probably one of the finest and most faithful Reformed theologians of the last century.

John Murray (1898-1975) was from Sutherland, Scotland, but he spent his life-labours teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary in the USA. He was ordained with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and he has had a continued and profound impact on those who have studied him. The particular volume I am recommending has superlative teaching on the "Moral Law and the Fourth Commandment". Chapter 43 on "The Importance of the Westminster Confession" is a classic and perhaps I need to say more on chapter 18 on another blog post on "The Propagation of the Reformed Faith in New England". We need the propagation of the Reformed Faith in Old England in our own generation.

Perhaps by reading this volume by John Murray, it can help some to be much clearer in their theology, ideas about worship and also the doctrine of the church. We need to find a church which is faithful to the Reformed faith and then to support it. May there be a recovery of sound doctrine, sound preaching and sound churches in our own day.

'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes: “ ‘The LORD bless you, O habitation of righteousness, O holy hill!’ And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. 25 For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:23–25)'.

My desire is for a return to the "ancient paths" in the church so that our Lord's flocks are nourished. We long for our LORD to restore the fortunes of the church. May we pray for the good of the LORD's church.

Monday 30 May 2016

The Westminster Standards for Today

In my view, the Westminster Standards are the best summary of the Christian faith in
the English language. Quite possibly, they are one of the best statements and symbols
of the church’s faith in the whole history of the church. So, why are they
comparatively neglected today in terms of a working knowledge of them, within
family worship, public catechising and in their use by elders?

These Standards comprise three main documents: The Confession of Faith, the Larger
Catechism (196 questions) and the Shorter Catechism (107 questions). Two common
questions which are often raised, relate to their usability and relevance. The language
of the Standards is still published mainly in seventeenth-century Elizabethan English.
I will seek to answer these two questions in this article, while also introducing an
exciting project which aims to provide these dynamic Standards in modern English,
for the English speaking church.

In Sheffield Presbyterian Church (EPCEW) where I minister, we have a weekly
Lord’s Day catechism class at 10.00am to teach the truths found in the Westminster
Standards. It is ironic, that though the Westminster Assembly met in London,
England, that today confessional and evangelical Presbyterianism is so little-known
in England. We pray and work for this to change. The Westminster Larger Catechism
was specifically designed for public teaching by ministers and its doctrine envelops
the doctrine of the church. We do well to remember the famed comment by Samuel
Rutherford as to the necessity for two catechisms instead of one; he contended at the
Westminster Assembly for two, because he believed that it had been very difficult “to
dress up milk and meat both in one dish”. In other words the church needs to know,
use and teach both catechisms for its spiritual vitality. The question remains though:
do we use both for the church?

A side-note is my own personal affection for the Westminster Larger Catechism.
Having taught through it several times to church members, my admiration for this
peerless document and the eternal truths it expresses so well, only grows. As to its
relevance for today’s church, Psalm 100:5 exhorts us that “For the Lord is good; his
steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations”.
In short,
biblical truth and their doctrines are timeless and the Larger Catechism has an
enduring quality about it for that reason. None-the-less its accessibility, along with
the Confession and Shorter Catechism will be significantly enhanced if they are made
available in modern English. Over the last 2-3 years we have been working in
Sheffield with a team of members here, under my oversight and leadership, to put
them into modern English, in the original British edition (instead of the American
Revised edition with changes on the Civil Magistrate). It includes no revisions at all,
but where difficult words are found we have included square brackets occasionally
with the modern English equivalent.

Here is short quiz for lovers of words. Can you guess what these ancient words mean
which are found in the Westminster Standards: Vouchsafes, supererogate; contemn,
oblation; keeping of stews. They mean: promises; go beyond duty; disdain; offering;
and keeping of brothels. This updating of language should “iron-out some wrinkles”
and enhance their usability. Evangelical Press have agreed to their publication and
ongoing work is continuing to this end. The first edition will include seven essays at
the back of the book and these are for the purpose of encouraging all branches of the
church as to their usefulness.

The planned essay titles are: Ligon Duncan “The Westminster Assembly: A
Successful Failure?”; Kevin Bidwell “The Westminster Standards in the Making: A
Spiritual Portrait of one of the Westminster Divines, Stanley Gower”; David Gilbert
“The Westminster Standards and Public Worship”; Iain D. Campbell “The
Westminster Standards and Preaching”; Andrew Young “The Westminster Standards
and the Sacraments”; Chad Bailey “The Westminster Standards and Family
Worship”; Guy Prentiss Waters “The Westminster Standards and Church

In answer to the their relevance and usability. This new production will hopefully
dispel all questions. A local proverb in Yorkshire is “once tasted, never forgotten”. We
pray and look to the Lord for the wider use of the Westminster Standards in the years
ahead. If this project and production can stimulate a recovery of biblical doctrines for
preaching, the right administration of the sacraments, prayer, church government,
public and family worship, then much progress will ensue for the gospel and the
glory of God.

Kevin J. Bidwell is the minister of Sheffield Presbyterian Church (EPCEW). He is
married to a Dutch wife Maria and they have two daughters.
Our church website is

Monday 23 May 2016

The Geneva Bible: Why did it become known as "The Breeches Bible"?

I have to say that I have received much positive interest regarding my earlier blog post on the Geneva Bible. How we need a richer knowledge of church history! The Geneva Bible has an esteemed history and its influence upon the Reformed and Protestant world has been incalculable. It was the main Bible exported by the Puritans to North America and there it took on the unusual nickname of "The Breeches Bible". Does anyone know why?

Its translation takes on much of Tyndall's thought and I cannot say if this is from Tyndale, but it is certainly memorable. In Genesis 3:7 in record of the Fall of Adam and then indeed mankind, we read this from the Geneva Bible:

"Then the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches".

Breeches meaning an old English term for trousers. These would have covered their private parts and thus covering their nakedness. It is certainly a bold and memorable translation, we have to say.

Well, at least you are informed on something that is more than mere trivia. When we consider the nickname of the Geneva Bible we are then constantly reminded of the Fall of Man. Listen to Paul the apostle speaking of this Fall in Romans chapter 3:9-20.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

We may wonder then, what hope is there? Romans 3:21-24 supplies the answer.

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus".

Monday 16 May 2016

Praying for the next Generation of Called, Trained and Godly Christian Ministers

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he [Jesus] 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 labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38.

There is a danger of complacency in conservative evangelical churches. It is a complacency that manifests itself by failing to take seriously the imperative of the Lord Jesus Christ here, to pray for competent labourers to be raised up in the church. There is a vain assumption that Christian ministers are always available, as it were "on tap". This is wrong. The church need to pray for, identify, train, equip and support competent and called men for Christian ministry.

From a biblical and Reformed point of view we need an educated ministry where men are trained in essay writing in a range of systematic and historical topics, the biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew, and with front line pastoral internships to ensure that they are 'rooted and grounded". Essay writing is an important skill as it helps a man to argue a point which is what preaching involves, though preaching is an oral event. A man needs to have proven himself in the church, not least to be able to preach before he can consider ministry and this testing process is vital and it should be carried out responsibly by local elders and a presbytery.

Do you pray for labourers to be raised up? Do you cry out to the Lord of the harvest for shepherds to be called and sent forth? If not why not? It is costly to train men in terms of time, money, sacrifice and the energy involved, but what happens if we shrink back in this area? I preached a sermon yesterday on this subject and the link is:

If you sense a call to Christian ministry in a solid doctrinal context, then I would love to hear from you and please contact me via our church website (