Thursday, 28 November 2013

There is no substitute for living church membership

"But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body" (1 Corinthians 12:18–20).

Oftentimes people can seek out and find substitutes for the church for a variety of reasons. If a church is falling into a dereliction of duty in terms of preaching the truth and caring for the flock, then people may understandably turn to the internet for sermons, books to be fed spiritually, or para-church organisation to teach them doctrine. These may meet one's needs for a season, but they are not the Lord's plan for his people. A danger can develop that we begin to become dependent on these external aids instead of being an active member of a church.

Paul envisaged that each person has to be a living member of the body of Christ as expressed in the life of living church congregations. "There are many parts, but one body". Therefore, when we do not find our place in the body or refuse to take our place in the Lord's body, then we affect ourselves but also others. The means of grace are for our edification but also our attendance in public worship and other church meetings is an opportunity to build others up as well. This is what Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing'.

Let us examine ourselves in this matter and make sure that we pray and seek out to be an active member in the Lord's church, to make the necessary changes in our lives and to put away all excuses for not doing so.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Tim Keller's "divine dance": the Trinitarian Twist ...

The heading of this blog is not intended to be repetitive for repetitions sake. I have just read a helpful book review by Craig French on the chapter in the book "Engaging with Keller" which I have written. The link is:

Craig has obviously taken his time to think through the issues and his conclusion is that a "divine dance" metaphor for the Trinity is unbiblical, anti-confessional, and that it contradicts the Nicene Creed. I agree! This metaphor is plain wrong. I have commented to him in response on this blog, and I have explained that my primary aim is to see a recovery of the doctrine of the Trinity for the church, especially in the West.

Enjoy his review and read it critically because in everything Paul taught the church: "but test everything; hold fast what is good" (1 Thess. 5:21). We must always keep our wits about us because we read in Acts 17 about the Berean Christians who "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" Acts 17:11.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Antinomianism is Rife Today

Antinomianism means to be against the law (nomos is law in Greek and "anti" is against). The definition is: Those who are antinomian, believe that as Christians, that they are released from the obligation of observing the moral law due to God's grace in the gospel. As you read this definition you will realise that this is probably the majority view in the Western church at the moment. But, it is not a biblical view, even though the majority may hold to such a view.

I am currently reading the Minutes of the Westminster Assembly and I am struck by the pastoral concern of the Westminster divines regarding this ancient heresy, antinomianism. Perhaps you are reading this blog and you hold to such a definition of the law of God and I would then urge you to rethink your position.

As reformed presbyterians, or indeed any form of reformed doctrine holders, we do not hold to a low view of the law of God. As G. I. Williamson explains in his commentary on Chapter 19 (Of the Law of God) of the Westminster Confession of Faith, "the law of God is central to the message of the Bible". Therefore, to fail to understand the role of the law for the church today is to miss a central thread of the whole Bible. This post is not handling the implications of anti-nomianism, but I am simply sounding a warning that it is a wrong teaching which is replete today.

Listen to Paul in Romans 7:22 "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being". Does this describe your attitude to the law of God? Listen to the Westminster Confession of Faith 19:5: "the moral law does forever bind all … neither does Christ, in the gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation".

This blog is a personal spiritual hobby of mine; my desire is to simply write bite-sized posts to "fan the flames" of thinking towards a reformed pattern for doctrine, the church, worship and church government. I hope this has been a helpful post.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Two Surprises Regarding a Christian's Response to Evolution

Recently, I have read the book of Hebrews. The eleventh chapter is the great faith chapter, and the third verse "leapt off the page". It reads: "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible". Also, I have begun reading a book by John C. Lennox called "God and Stephen Hawking: Whose design is it anyway?". Lennox demolishes the atheistic assertions by the brilliant professor of Physics at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking. One wonders how could such a brilliant scientist be so blinded regarding the God of the Bible creating the world?

Hebrews 11:3 has the answers for us and it unwraps two common surprises that reveal that Christians need to be better grounded in biblical truth. Hebrews 11:3 teaches that it is "by faith we understand the universe was created by the word of God". Therefore should we be surprised when people without a true Christian faith, do not believe in Creation?

Surprise Number 1: Many Christians seem to show a complete surprise that non-Christians do not believe in Creation and therefore choose all kinds of theories such as evolution. Does our surprise reveal our lack of biblical understanding? If it is "by faith that we understand" these things, then we should not be surprised when people in the world do not understand this; also we should display greater humility as well at their ignorance. The only reason we believe in Creation is because God has made us alive in Christ and given us "faith as a gift" (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Surprise Number 2: This is when Christians or Christian ministers try to fuse two mutually incompatible ideas in a theological compromise: that is Creation by God and evolution. These are two opposing world views that cannot co-exist in the same house. It takes faith from God to believe in the Creation account, however the current predominant worldview to explain the origin of things is evolution, which does not require faith from God or faith in any god. It is utterly surprising when Christians try to explain away what is simply required to be accepted "by faith". It is a rational faith, and one that makes complete sense of this world, the reason for death, as well as life.

One final comment is that it is unwise and incompatible for Christians to try to fuse Creation and evolution. Evolution just happens to be the contemporary atheistic answer for the origin of things at the moment. This changes over time, for example in the world of Greek mythology Zeus or the goddess Oceanus may have been included in an account of the beginning of things. It would be unthinkable that a First-century Christian pastor would include Zeus or Oceanus to explain the Creation account. Likewise such cultural accommodation to include aspects of evolution with biblical Creation is untenable, unbiblical and very surprising.

Hebrews 4:14 "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession".