Time for a Walk

Today I decided I needed to get out of the study and take a walk for an hour. Little Eaton is set in a valley with steep sides so there are some nice places to walk. Well here I am, prepared for anything:

Honest it was more enjoyable than it looks! Listening to Alistair Begg on worship.

Some views on the way:

Path to Duffield

Gate

Friendly Horse

It was pretty muddy…

Tyre Track

Perhaps too muddy!…

Muddy Boots

“When the road is rough and steep…”

Steps

Hot drink at the finish, then back to work – essay due Thursday!

Time for a Walk

Knock Them Down, One at a Time.

Susan was with a bunch of Woodlands people at a day seminar for youth workers on Saturday. It was organised by the Good Book Company entitled Understanding and Teaching the Sovereignty of God. How often do you hear a topic like that in youth work today?! I am increasingly impressed by GBC, the more I hear about them.

During our family devotional time later in the evening we got on to discussing God and science. (It didn’t have anything directly to so with the passage we were reading, but these times often function as an opportunity to discuss spiritual issues that are on my daughter’s mind.) Susan quoted someone she had heard speak earlier that day. Her paraphrase was something like,

There are no Laws of Nature, just acts of God.

What a great statement! I thought it was brilliant. What a great starting point for thinking about the world we live in, and about what science is about! Thinking like this stops us thinking there is “something else” out there to which we owe alliegance (i.e. physical Laws), alongside God.

In other words, it destroys another idol.

Knock Them Down, One at a Time.

Where Do We See Christ?

In one of his chapters in The Federal Vision, Rich Lusk notes how Calvin was accused by Westphal, a Lutheran, of teaching that one can gain assurance of salvation through the doctrine of election. This was a misunderstanding on Westphal’s part (and of very many since) of the real emphasis of Calvin’s teaching. But, Lusk notes,

For Calvin, Christ is the mirror of election (p.91)

This was one of these statements that made me smile (this is the real test of the pithiness of a statement!) because it captures something very important. Let me explain.

Christians want assurance. They look at themselves in the hunt for evidence that they really are in the faith. So they look at their lives and actions to see if they are really doing the right Christian stuff. But then they are rightly wary of a kind of works righteousness. So they look inwardly at the heart to see whether there is encouragement from their own faith, their own love towards Christ. But our hearts are not a source of comfort. There is much sin there still. Only the most arrogant and willfully blind people can gain any comfort from this exercise.

What Lusk does here in commenting on Calvin is to identify the right direction in which to look. It is not towards self but away from self, to Christ. This is where the metaphor of the mirror kicks in, because it is there, in him, as we look towards him that we see ourselves as we truly are, raised up, alive, seated with him. Then we gain assurance of election to eternal life. This made me smile.

Now, lest this bee seen as approval of Lusk’s chapter, I should note that the next lines in his paragraph go like this,

… and of course Christ is clearly seen in his ordinances… Calvin would have us start with the covenantal administration of baptism and work back to the decree.

To me, this seems to spoil the earlier statement quoted above. The natural corollary would be “and of course Christ is clearly seen in his word“. Now, Lusk does mention the word later in his essay, but it is a backdrop to the main act – baptism. I don’t understand why the word is absent from his view here.

Where Do We See Christ?

Away from Home

I was “playing away from home” yesterday. I had been invited to preach at Birstall Independent Baptist Church, so the family and I spent the day down there – it is about 40-50 minutes drive from where we live. We had a good time and were well looked after. The church is small (about 16 in the morning service, 10 in the evening) but encouraged and committed to the gospel. It must have been more draining than I realised, though. When we got home just before 9pm I was like zombie! I fought it for a while but eventually went to be bed before 10pm, which is unheard of for me.

Today I need to get to grips with Hebrew. I am studying Ruth. For the last few days I have been trying to break the back of it but my study of Hebrew grammar last year has not really sunk in. This means as I go through the text I am constantly having to revisit various chapters in Weingreen. It’s a slow process. Hebrew is easily the most difficult thing I have ever studied.

Away from Home

Scripture Memory

Recently while doing some evangelistic work I realised once again how necessary it is to have a good grasp of what the Bible says, and not just that, but also a good grasp of where it says it. So I did a radical thing – I got my memory verses out and started reviewing them again.

This was one of the benefits of getting involved with the Navigators in Glasgow when I was converted. Scripture memory was a big thing with them, and I have benefitted enormously from it through the years. Many of the verses I learned then are still with me now, clear as day.

I had a poke around the net in a spare moment and discovered this church website. They have taken the Navs’ Topical Memory System (a set of 60 verses covering a whole range of topics) and put them on to online flash-cards for memorisation. It’s a pretty good site, easy to use and well worth making use of.

Remember: review, review, review!

Scripture Memory

Behold, Your King!

Yesterday I preached on John 18:38-19:16.

Jesus is before Pilate. The crowd is outside baying for blood, stirred up by the chief priests. Read the passage quickly and the intensity of the scene passes you by. Dwell on it and you cannot but be overwhelmed. The irrational intimidatory cries of the crowd – “Away with him! Crucify!”. The calculating arguments of the priests towards one end – Jesus death – and culminating in the blasphemous statement, “We have no king but Caesar”. The gross hypocrisy of keeping themselves outwardly ceremonially clean when their hearts are intent on state-sanctioned murder. Pilate – a weak, vacillating, yet brutal fool – resorting to irony, even sarcasm, as his best shot at freeing Jesus. He claimed to have authority to Jesus’ face, yet lacked the moral fibre to use it. All of these things illustrate the moral depravity of the scene.

And yet one must marvel at Jesus! There he is at the centre of the commotion – pure, upright. The king, of a kingdom not of this world, a kingdom of truth. There are no surprises here for him. He knows the hearts of men and women. There is nothing coming out of them that he does not know was inside them all along. But it shocks us because we do not know our hearts.

John, the writer, displays for us the outworking of the purposes of God. Though the term “King of the Jews”, or “your King” are used in a mocking tone, John reassures his readers that, yes, this indeed was the king. He had to be hung on a tree and be accursed of God (Dt. 21:23) to win his people. Scripture must be fulfilled. He goes there as the champion of his people to cast out the ruler of this world (Jn. 12:31) and and draw them to himself. His weakness is necessary, for it is his true strength.

He takes the place of Barabbas – robber, murderer, insurrectionist, terrorist – who that very day, amazingly, would walk the streets of Jerusalem. Imagine this injustice! Yet here is the lived-out parable – Jesus takes the place of undeserving criminals. “Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood.”

It was a great passage to preach on, and to call all to come and bow before the King.

Behold, Your King!