Wednesday 28 February 2018

Recovering the Creed of Chalcedon (451)

The Creed of Chalcedon (451)

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

This creed is basically summarised in the eight chapter of The Westminster Confession of Faith called "Of Christ the Mediator". This creed and the statement in this Confession (8 heading are given) are in urgent need of being revisited. There is nothing new under the sun and current winds of doctrine, not least regarding teachings on the eternal subordination of the Son of God need to be refuted.

If people return to the Creeds, such as The Apostles', Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedon, it would save the church much harm and perhaps wasted energy answered new teachings. May you be blessed as you study these Creeds alongside the Bible.

Monday 26 February 2018

The African Bible University, Kampala, Uganda

I recently returned from a ministry visit to the African Bible University in Kampala, Uganda. I was invited to preach seven sermons during a spiritual emphasis week to the staff and students. I was impressed by the quality of staff and students.They provide a 4 year University degree, one that is taught which equips Christians for life. Some end up going into various professions, some set up schools in Uganda and some go into pastoral ministry, though ABU is not a specific seminary. The Bible verse that comes to my mind, regarding the long term work of this Christian University is:

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14 Did you note that it is the "knowledge of the glory of the Lord", something that was manifested through the gospel when the Son of God came to earth. It is this knowledge that it is to be dis-seminated broadly through the earth.

The website of this University is:

Do check out the website and show it to others. I wish that more British Christians had the opportunity to visit such a place in Africa. Such an experience is humbling and encouraging and it provides a wider lens for Christianity. I met many godly Ugandan Christians who had been left homeless through the death of their parents at a very young age; and they knew something of the Fatherhood of God which is refreshing. They taught me the value of suffering with joy.

James 1:26-27 "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world".

Psalm 68:4-6 "Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land".

Friday 16 February 2018

The Westminster Standards For Today: A New Book

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

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

Essays About the Westminster Standards


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

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


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

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

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

Family Worship and Church Government

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

The Westminster Standards and Church Government (Guy Prentiss Waters)

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

Monday 12 February 2018

A Federal Vision Spiritual Health Warning

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 10 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 5 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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