Monday, 19 March 2018

The Portrait of Christian Love

I am currently preaching on 1 Corinthians in the evening services at Sheffield Presbyterian Church. We have now reached Chapter 13, the famous love chapter and we intend to linger on this important passage. Perhaps I will preach 2-3 sermons on this chapter, we will see! Why is it so important for us? This chapter is a magnificent description of the love that is expected to be manifest among Christians in the church. Does this chapter describe you and your love for fellow Christians?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

There are 16 qualities of true Christian love described in this passage.

I. Christian love has 2 primary qualities which are patience and kindness.
II. Love is not or does not = 8 things, for example love does not envy or boast
III. The all things love = 5 things beginning with love rejoices with the truth
IV. Conclusion: Love never fails or ends

These characteristics are found in a similar way with the ninefold fruit of the Spirit in Galatians chapter Five, but the two descriptions are not identical. Here it has do with practical Christianity and in the relationships with one another in the church.

Each of these are perfectly found in the life of Christ and they are produced in the church by the work of the Holy Spirit.

One book I recommend to unfold this subject further is "Christian Love" by Hugh Binning in the Banner of Truth Puritan Paperback series.

One question we should ask according to 1 Timothy 1;5 is this: Is our goal in teaching that of love? If not then we are missing the goal.

1 Timothy 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (ESV). The New American Standard Bible translates this as "But the goal of our instruction is love".

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Rev John Cotton and the Purity of Public Worship

Rev John Cotton (1585-1652) was the minister of St Botolph's in Boston Lincolnshire. He was originally from Derby and he was educated at Cambridge University; he later exercised a powerful ministry in Boston, England. Thousands of people would come from afar to hear his preaching from the Bible, in the then, wealthy town and port of Boston, Lincolnshire. However, it was clearly a time of revival, one that was a work of the Holy Spirit. People hungered for the "milk of the Word" and sometimes the sermons would be five hours long. It would be a plain misunderstanding if people were to interpret this as people then, having nothing better to do with their time. They were hungry for the truth of the Word of God.

The minister Rev John Cotton and also the congregation members, they were firmly persuaded of Protestant principles, not only for doctrine, but also for public worship. Non-biblical practices and Anglo-Catholic traditions such as kneeling before images, making the sign of the cross, genuflections before the communion table and other such things were firmly rejected at St Botolph's in Boston. However, the senior Church of England officers and probably no doubt King Charles I, were not happy with this man's ministry. He came under increasing pressure to compromise.

In 1632 legal action was taken against him and this led him to make the bold step to escape to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1633, where he became the teacher of the church there. This colony was eventually renamed Boston. It was not only John Cotton, but also a large percentage of that town which moved to the New World in the hope of Christian worship untainted by the world. Cotton became one of the most influential Christian leaders in the early development of worship and theology in New England and the roots of what became the United States. For some he is known for his congregational form of church government which he developed once he arrived in the New World. Though I do not hold to his congregational principles for independency, we must not overlook the principles for public worship which he and others held.

In our own day, many churches seem to think that worship practices are simply a matter of personal taste and preference. But is this the picture of the Bible? No! The Holy Scriptures teach us about the attitude of the church in worship, the content of public worship and the necessity for purity in public worship.

The attitude in worship should be that of simplicity, thankfulness, reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28-29). The high point of Christian worship should be the reading of Holy Scripture with reverence and the preaching of the Word of God by ordained and training teachers for the church. Novelties and the inventions of men are not to be practiced in public Christian worship. May we pray for a recovery of biblical, reverent and pure worship in our day.

"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you". 1 Timothy 4:13-14. The gift Timothy had was to preach the gospel of God.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

A New Presbyterian Church Plant in Oxford, England

Earlier this year, the presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales voted for Rev Andy Young to be a church planting minister in Oxford, England. Andy is currently the minister of Naunton Lane Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Cheltenham. He continues there as minister until the Summer and his family will move to Oxford and regular church planting studies will move "up the gears" from late Summer. This potential work needs much prayer.

To my knowledge, confessional Presbyterianism has had little presence in the city of Oxford over the centuries. During the English Civil War, the Roman Catholic minded King Charles I, set up Oxford as his headquarters.

You will find an excellent YouTube link below, of a web=link video presentation of the church planting work in Oxford. Do forward this to others.

If you would like to contact Andy do so at:

Psalm 126:4-6

"Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him".

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".