We were slightly down on numbers this week, in fact when we started there were only three of us. After six verses of The God of Abraham praise however we began to pick up and we weren't too bad in the end. As usual we read (Genesis 16) I spoke, we chatted about prayer items and then prayed. All over well before 9.30 pm. Genesis 16 is a fascinating chapter. one can really sympathise with Abram and Sarai in their frustration but the whole idea of a surrogate child was crazy - like some of our ideas too. By the end of the chapter the focus is entirely on God, however, not man.
Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.
1. Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell
2. Preacher and writer John Bunyan
3. Theologian and linguist Desiderius Erasmus
4. Footballer Cyrille Regis
5. Actor Rock Hudson
6. Actor Clark Gable
7. Author Virginia Woolf
8. Author Fedor Dostoevsky
9. Playwright Truman Capote
10. Singer Dusty Springfield
I have enjoyed reading this recently published book. Andrew Gimson, who previously wrote on kings and queens, gets this about right going through the list giving you his assesment and the salient facts with surefootedness. I found there were some PMs who I know of because they have served in my own life time (Wilson, Heath, Blair, etc) others I know from the history books (Gladstone, Disraeli, Attlee, etc). Some I had heard of but knew little about (Walpole, Balfour, MacDonald, etc) others I had practically never heard of (Henry, Pelham, the Earl of Aberdeen, etc). I was interested to read of the evangelical convictions of Spencer Perceval, of which I was not aware. It is surprising to see how much the parties have changed down the years. Martin Rowson's cartoon portraits are a little hit or miss. They add to the attractiveness of the book.
Ralph Venning says these ten things of sin in his Plague of plagues. Numbers 2-6 are from Bunyan
1. It turns his grace into wantonness and is
2. The dare of God’s justice
3. The rape of his mercy
4. The jeer of his patience
5. The slight of his power
6. The contempt of his love
7. The upbraiding of his providence
8. The scoff of his promise
9. The reproach of his wisdom.
10. It opposes and exalts itself above all that is called God.
Unusually I only preached the once yesterday. One of our students, Reuben Saywell, preached in the morning - on Numbers 21. He did very well. I preached in the evening on Genesis 3:15, a great text. We had communion before the evening service when we thought of Jesus' word I thirst. Decent numbers at both services. It felt a little strange only preaching the once. Lots misisng although one missing one turned up in the evening, which was encouraging.
We were seven on Wednesday. Some were missing. We sang then I preached and after a bit of sharing we prayed, as is our usual pattern. I preached Genesis 15, one of the great chapters of Scripture (there are many). Plenty to pray for as ever. What a lovely evening.
A new edition of In Writing is now available from the Evangelical Library. It includes Phil Arthur's 2017 annual lecture on Martin Luther and a piece I have written on David Brainerd.
Just added this quotation to a blog I have on conscience here
As a wife will keep her bed only for her husband although in other things she is contented to have fellowship with her servants and others, as to speak, sit, eat, drink, go, etc.: so our consciences which are Christ’s wives, must need keep the bed, that is God’s sweet promises, alonely for ourselves and for our “Husband” there to meet together, to embrace together, to laugh together, and to be joyful together. If sin, the law, the devil, or anything would creep into the bed, and lie there, then complain to thy “Husband” Christ …
I preached Sunday in the morning on a great gospel text, Romans 8:32, and then in the evening on 1 Corinthians 14:19, a much more difficult text, especially once you start making applications. I think we are convinced on the theology if not the application. We had tea together in the afternoon and that was a lovely time of fellowship. A good day. We sang Cowper's wonderful hymn
My song shall bless the Lord of all,
My praise shall climb to His abode;
Thee, Saviour, by that name I call,
The great Supreme, the mighty God.
Without beginning, or decline,
Object of faith, and not of sense;
Eternal ages saw Him shine,
He shines eternal ages hence.
As much, when in the manger laid,
Almighty Ruler of the sky;
As when the six days’ works He made,
Filled all the morning-stars with joy.
Of all the crowns Jehovah bears,
Salvation is His dearest claim;
That gracious sound well-pleased He hears,
And owns Emmanuel for His name.
A cheerful confidence I feel,
My well-placed hopes with joy I see;
My bosom glows with heav’nly zeal
To worship Him Who died for me.
As man, He pities my complaint,
His pow’r and truth are all divine;
He will not fail, He cannot faint,
Salvation’s sure, and must be mine.