I once heard a story from a soldier who...had laid siege against a fort, that so long as the besieged were persuaded their foes would show them no favour, they fought like madmen. But when they saw one of their fellows taken and received with favor, they all came tumbling down from their fortress and delivered themselves into their enemies’ hands. I am persuaded that if men believed that there is that grace and willingness in the heart of Christ to save sinners, as the Word imports there is, they would come tumbling into His arms. But Satan has blinded their minds so that they cannot see this thing. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus has, as I said, that others might take heart and come to Him, given out a commandment that mercy should,in the first place, be offered to the biggest sinners.“Begin,” says He, “ at Jerusalem”.
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.
This can be seen here
On the whole, pastors in the West today minister without seeing revival on a large scale. Yet many of the role models we have adopted from history did labor in revival times: Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Spurgeon, among them. They have a great deal to teach us, of course. But their very success, in terms of numbers converted, can have a discouraging effect on us who minister in leaner days.
1. Doddridge's priority was his own congregation. He pastored them faithfully, preaching to them every Lord's Day and on weekday meetings, unless he was away from town. He admitted that he did not visit them as often as he would have liked. To compensate, he divided up the congregation with his elders, so that each individual did receive regular pastoral visits from a church officer, if not from the pastor himself. 2. He believed firmly in the importance of a well-ordered local church---church membership, properly appointed church officers, effective church discipline, reverent worship, a frequent Lord's Supper, and regular biblical preaching.
3. He took great care to maintain his daily devotional life, with extended periods of private prayer and Bible reading, usually two or three times each day. He kept a journal that recorded his times of devotion as well as his reading and studies. He was attentive to the confession of personal sin, to intercession for his family and congregation, to pleading with the Lord for greater usefulness in his ministry, and to adoration of his triune God. He valued the Lord's Supper highly indeed as an essential means of grace for the believer.
4. He sought to work with all who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and believed and preached the gospel, whether Church of England men, revivalists, Moravians, or otherwise. He did all he could from his side to keep up good relations, even with difficult people.
5. He understood the need for thorough training for pastoral ministry. He gave himself to this task in his own academy. His students were exposed to the Latin and Greek classics, to studies in rhetoric, to philosophy, and natural sciences, as well as to the more usual elements of ministerial training: theology, ethics, church history, and pastoral and homiletic studies.
6. He made sustained efforts to stir churches up to revival. He developed a ten-step plan, designed to inculcate a greater seriousness and devotion to Christ among the congregations with which he had contact in various parts of the country. Associations of ministers were formed as a result, to seek to implement the plan and encourage family worship, attendance on the Lord's Supper, private prayer, greater familiarity with the Bible, and better training for ministerial candidates.
7. He stood up for biblical truth. He did not write polemical works. When John Taylor of Norwich wrote a notorious work denying the biblical doctrine of original sin, a number of Doddridge's contemporaries took up their pens to refute him (including Isaac Watts and Jonathan Edwards). Doddridge, instead, preached a series of sermons on regeneration, which took issue with Taylor's thesis by expounding biblical doctrine and exhorting his hearers to true faith in Christ. He then arranged for the sermons to be published and by those means secured a wide circulation for the truth in answer to Taylor.
8. He worked very hard, often rising at 5 a.m. or working beyond midnight. He calculated that, by rising and setting to work two hours earlier than he might otherwise, a man could gain an extra ten years of working life.
9. As a young man training for pastoral ministry, he had given himself to hard study in order to prepare himself as best he could for the work to which God had called him. He read Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French. He was familiar with the latest philosophical and theological writings. He continued to read and to study hard throughout his ministry.
10. He was a family man and a man of warm feelings. His correspondence with his wife, much of which survives, is delightful. Although he was often away, his heart was always at home and his thoughts and prayers with his family. His grief at the death of his beloved daughter Tetsy, when she was just five years old, reveals him as a man of the tenderest emotion. He was no ivory tower preacher. Philip Doddridge was not perfect, by any means. His teaching methods have been criticized for allowing too much freedom of opinion among his students on important doctrinal issues. He was probably insufficiently discerning in the burgeoning controversy over trinitarian doctrine, which led many, later in the century, to outright unitarianism. He probably worked too hard. But like many examples of imperfect men in Scripture, God used Doddridge's faithful labor to advance his gospel.
I'm getting behind with things it seems but last Sunday was a very good day with good congregations both morning and evening as, although several were away we had a number of visitors, both old friends and people from the area. We carried on with the next part of John 3 and in the evening we looked at Aaron's staff or rod that budded in Numbers 17. Before the evening meeting we kicked off a series of prayer meetings that we are having this week.
It was great on Saturday to be at the wedding of one of the members of our congregation Yemisi as she married Emmanuel Akinfenwa. We have known Yemisi most of her life so it was a great joy to see. The wedding was at St Marylebone parish church (Emmanuel's dad is Archbishop of Ibadan - it was good to meet him and his wife) where I preached the homily then at the very swish One Mayfair. I have never seen bride and groom put on their own like this. Trends come and go I guess. Apparently it's called a sweetheart table. (I'd also not seen the throwing of the bouquet actually happen either). Emmanuel is a very talented guy. He not only sang but played saxophone too. We wish them every future blessing.
The week before last was such a busy week I haven't quite recovered yet. I did want to report back, however, so better late than never I hope. There were four main things that took up my time.
1. The John Owen Centre 2012 Conference on Adam in the Bible the Church and the World. Monday 10, Tuesday 11. This was a very good conference featuring six speakers over seven sessions, of which I caught five. It was very orderly so we began with vice principal David Green on Adam in the Old Testament and ended with Michael McClenahan (a new name to me) on Preaching Adam to Adam's Race which looked at Psalm 1 and the parable of the sower. I only caught the first of Lane Tipton's messages on Adam in the New Testament, I'm afraid. Garry Williams on Adam in the covenant of works was the stand out paper perhaps though the whole thing is worth getting to hear. See here.
2. The September 2012 Kent Evangelical Ministers Meeting. Monday 10. On the Monday evening I was not able to be at LTS because I was speaking at Waterford House, Strood. The pattern there is to begin with a meeting for pastors and elders at 5 pm and a more open meeting later at 7.30 pm. I spoke first on the session of Christ and then on the men of 1662, which seemed to be appreciated and lots of people snapped up copies of my new book, which was gratifying. See here.
3. GBM's Engage get together in Guildford. Thursday 13. Grace Baptist Mission have organised a series of three get togethers for supporting churches to discuss future strategy. Some 40 gathered at this second session in Chertsey Street, Guildford, and it seemed very worthwhile given that GBM endeavours to be a church based society. The real test will be what happens I guess. See here.
4. The LIP Annual Meetings for 2012. Saturday 14. The fourth thing was a series of meetings down at Orange Street, Trafalgar Square. We began with a trustees committee. Then in public, we had first a report on the work and then a preaching meeting which I chaired with former worker Ben Thomas from Criccieth speaking on 2 Kings 6. The project is due to end next August. More here.
This is to say that on Monday (September 24) I will be giving a lunch time lecture at The Evangelical Library here in London called
Machen’s Wars: aspects of the life of J Gresham Machen
Machen’s Wars: aspects of the life of J Gresham Machen
The lecture starts at 1 pm and will be for about 40 minutes with time for questions. Do join us if you can.
The Evangelical Library
5/6 Gateway Mews, Ringway
Bounds Green, London
Tel: 020 8362 0868
5/6 Gateway Mews, Ringway
Bounds Green, London
Tel: 020 8362 0868
You may be interested to know that I did an interview about the new book on 1662 recently and it is scheduled to be broadcast next Thursday, Sept. 27 at 2:30am; 12:30pm and 9:30pm PDT (BST is 8 hours ahead) on "His People" over the Pilgrim Radio Network and at pilgrimradio.com here.
We continued to look at John 3 (verses 4 and 5 this time). I think we are benefiting from going through it at this slow pace. In the evening we restarted in Numbers with Chapter 16. We had decent congregations morning and evening despite a number still being away. There was a variety too in that we had people from several different backgrounds including regulars, less regulars, people we know but have not seen for a while and at least one person never there before. We had communion before the evening meeting. Had a good chat about atheism after the evening meeting.
Somewhere amid the business of last week my wife and I were able to slip out to the cinema and see The Bourne Legacy. With a new actor, Jeremy Renner, this the fourth in the series, appeared to stick to the tried and tested formula of previous films and get away with it. I particularly appreciated the chase as it was set in Manila, somewhere I am actually slightly familiar with. I'm not one for action films but we saw the third some time in the cinema and caught up with the first two on DVD so we feel like we have something invested in the franchise. Good for relaxing, Anna Karenina may have been too demanding. Official site here.
I've been a bit slow getting back to the weekly reports I started doing before the holidays. I missed saying something about my first Sunday back last week when I preached on John 3:1, 2a and Romans 12:1. This last Sunday it was John 3:2bc, 3 and Galatians 6:9, 10. Both in the evening service and at an after meeting Virgie Biala from Manila spoke to us about herself and her work for CCM among needy children. It was nice to have so many there for the meetings. The picture shows Virgie and her chauffeur John T Sparrow and a few of us from Childs Hill. For more on CCM see here.
An Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy has been acquitted and released, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
CSW, which supports the persecuted church, has been informed that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been freed from prison and is now at home with his family.
Pastor Nadarkhani made an appearance in court today during which the apostasy charges against him were dropped.
However, he was found guilty of evangelising Muslims and sentenced to three years in prison.
He was released immediately because he had already served this time in prison, after being held behind bars since the apostasy charges were first levelled against him in 2009.
Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested in his home city of Rasht after he questioned the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he felt was unconstitutional.
He was sentenced to death for apostasy the following year. Then in 2011, the Supreme Court said the charges would be dropped if he converted to Islam, something Pastor Nadarkhani refused to do.
CSW had expected the pastor to face new charges in court today for unspecified crimes, but he was instead released.
CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas said he was delighted over Pastor Nadarkhani's release.
"We commend the Iranian judiciary for this step, which is a triumph for justice and the rule of law," he said.
"While we rejoice at this wonderful news, we do not forget hundreds of others who are harassed or unjustly detained on account of their faith, and CSW is committed to continue campaigning until all of Iran's religious minorities are able to enjoy religious freedom as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party.”
We've often noticed those families that are so active they take the bikes with them. So we got one of those things and we did it - just the once. It made me nervous thinking they might fall and the bikes didn't really get used enough I fear.
It was good to be present with many others this afternoon at Cranford Baptist marking the tenth anniversary of Robin Asgher coming to lead the work there. It was good to see Robin and Muno and other old friends. Chris Bennett preached well on the living, conquering, empowering and commanding Christ. The service was led by Paul Williams from Swindon and Basil Howlett from Reading spoke on behalf of the support group and trust.
As a boy May was the big month for birthdays with me and my dad, my nana and several cousins having birthdays then. My sister was the only one in September. By now I have a wife, two sons, a nephew, a niece plus my oldest son's wedding anniversary as well. Dewi was first on the first.
I got myself down to The Globe again last Tuesday to see a performance of As You Like It. I know the play well as I did it for A level, I recall. This was a bit different to other productions I have seen at The Globe in that it was a cut price production with only eight players. This involved doubling up the parts. At one point near the end a dummy stand in was necessary but they got a laugh out of it. Turning Touchstone into a woman didn't really work for me and there were other things that I missed from the bigger productions. Sometimes I thought the voices of some of the generally younger cast were a little weak and the whole thing got off to a rather chaotic and shaky start. Why they were all dressed in 19th century dress I do not know. Neither that nor the use of a camera really added to things. On the whole it was pretty good I guess but I have come to expect a very high standard I see. The music was done well by the cast themselves.
I was sad to hear that Wales lost 2-0 to Belgium last night, especially as two sons and two nephews were at the Cardiff City Stadium to see it. That's two defeats in a row and must affect our FIFA ranking (37th). Serbia away next Tuesday. It's not easy being a Wales soccer fan.
One of my sons yesterday was off to an exhibition in the Oxo Tower wharf by the Thames. The exhibition closes very shortly I'm afraid but the details are here. He was one of the contributors to his school's effort for the Rivers of the world project.
Here in Childs Hill London buses often don't appear for a while and then come along two or three at a time. Well, I've just taken delivery of brand new copies of my latest book only a couple of months after the last one. This one is on the Great Ejection of 1662, which happened 350 years ago this year. I do hope it sells well and serves to make people better informed about an important subject. It is also my hope that the inspiring example of the men and women who suffered at that time. If you think winning Olympic gold is tough get your head round this stuff.
Hal David the lyricist most associated with Burt Bacharach the writer and Dionne Warwick the singer died last Saturday aged 91. This is not the only use of religious imagery in songs by David, who was Jewish.