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.

Dewi ar y teledu

Spotted my son Dewi on Channel 4 news with his friends Cameron and Lukman on Channel 4 News yesterday. They were at the school asking about university tuition fees.

A Brakel on Self-denial

This summary is found here.See 73ff.
Chapter 65: Self-Denial

Self-denial Defined

Self-denial is a Christian virtue, granted by God to His children, whereby they - out of love for God's will - neither give heed to nor yield to their intellect, will, and inclinations insofar as they are in opposition to the will of God - and oppose and suppress them instead. They do so by a voluntary forsaking and rejection of all that pertains to their natural well-being, if God's cause demands such from them - this to the honor of God and the welfare of their neighbours (III: 397).

Self-denial is, first of all, a

Christian virtue. Pagans have observed that their inner peace has been disturbed by their lusts. Some therefore sought to extinguish them by way of reason and appeared to practice self-denial in regard to some things. However, it did not issue forth from the right motive--love for the will of God. They did not have the right objective in view, but rather it was a seeking of self (be it in a different manner than others), resting in this as their peace and seeking to be honoured by men. Their self-denial was thus a splendid sin which had a counterfeit lustre, and was not accompanied by deeds (III: 397-398).

Secondly, the moving cause of self-denial is the Lord and not man himself. Man is too deeply immersed in self-love to be able to rid himself there from. And even if he could divorce himself from this, he would then not be able to bring himself into the opposite virtuous disposition. Self-denial does not consist in a negation, but is rather a propensity (III: 398).

Thirdly, the subjects of self denial are the children of God. The unconverted are void of all spiritual life and therefore the motions and operation of life cannot come forth from them. Rather, it is a gift to God's children as presently being in a converted and believing state. They are those who are Christ's disciples and follow Him (Mat. 16:24). Self-denial does not consist in a few deeds, but is rather a propensity and disposition of the heart. Their heart has been turned away from self-love and a seeking of self--albeit imperfectly (III: 398).

What Self-Denial Is NOT

One must not deny his spiritual self, that is, one's regenerated self, which Paul refers to as I in Romans 7:20. This is the sin of many true - but nevertheless weak - believers: Upon falling into a sin, upon the arising of a sinful thought, and upon an assault by the devil, they immediately reject their spiritual state and think, "I have no grace; I have deceived myself and it has been nothing more than imagination." To do this is to deny received benefits and in some measure a grieving of the Holy Ghost. This is a manifestation of pride, for it suggests that we are naturally much more virtuous than others, as well as that the former good spiritual frames, motions, and deeds had come about by our own strength. Therefore, refrain from rejecting your spiritual state; preserve what you have, and render honour to God (III: 399).

We must also not deny the desire for the well-being of our soul, the fear of hell, the desire for faith, hope, and love, and a desire for communion with God and felicity. This was one of the erroneous arguments of the Labbadists whose activities the Lord has overturned (III: 399-400).

The Specific Aspects of Self-Denial

Instead one must deny his sinful self, that is, the old Adam, in a general sense, with all his motions and desires - whatever the nature and contrary to whatever commandment these motions may be, and whatever the faculty of the soul and of the body may be by which such motions are executed.

Specifically, one must, first of all, deny his natural and darkened intellect; that is, to refuse to make this a rule of doctrine and life.

Secondly, we must deny our own will.

Thirdly, we must deny our inclinations.

Fourthly, we must deny our own honour. There is no sin more common to man and is more deeply rooted in the heart than a desire to be honoured.

Fifthly, we must deny our desire for possessions. Man's corrupt nature focuses on the physical. He desires to posses much, puts his trust in it, and determines to live from it.

Sixthly, we must deny our friends.

Seventhly, we must deny our life (III: 400-402).

The Motivation for Self-Denial: Love for the Will of God

The essence of self-denial is that its acts ensue out of love for the will of God. It is the believer's desire neither to give heed to nor yield to his desires concerning the aforementioned matters, insofar as they are contrary to the will of God, but rather to oppose and purge himself of them (III: 402).

The Objective of Self-Denial: The Glory of God and the Welfare of the Neighbour

The objective of self-denial is to glorify God and to promote the welfare of the neighbour (III: 403).

The Unconverted and Unconverted Distinguished

A person who does not deny self

(1) is a slave of his lusts, makes that which is of the world his portion, and insists that his lusts be satisfied at any cost.

(2) entertains great thoughts about himself.

(3) has this proud disposition of the heart engendering a desire to be honoured and perceived as such.

(4) has himself in mind when he is or intends to be in presence of people.

(5) takes careful notice of what everyone says of him.

(6) will immediately be displeased at heart if, in his estimation, he is not loved, served, and revered according to his wishes.

(7) is envious of others if they receive more love and honour, and do more business than he does.

(8) becomes sorrowful and despondent if others do not fulfil his desires.

(9) will be a zealous Christian in the realm of religion, as long as he can gain love, honour, and profit--yes, he even wants to be counted among the most orthodox (III: 404-405).

Over against this we shall present a person who practices a great measure of self-denial - as is generally true for a godly person - so that everyone may perceive how it ought to be, may be enamoured with that condition, and endeavour to increase in it.

(1) A person who denies self desires no honour of men.

(2) The person who denies self does not desire love.

(3) The person who denies self also does not desire to be revered.

(4) A person who denies self also does not wish to be served.

(5) The person who denies self also does not desire riches (III: 406-408).

The Need for Self-Examination

The godly can also perceive hereby how much or how little of such self-denial they have. How much their heart still yearns for honour, love, respect, service, and the possessions of this world! Here their ulterior motives originate which at times pollute their very best works, cause them much grief, and rob them of all joy in their work (III: 409).

Oh, you who are godly, examine yourself closely. Seek to ascertain what it is that your heart still cleaves to and consider the abominableness of being self-focused and of such seeking of self (III: 409).

Exhortation to Self-Denial

It is thus necessary that we courageously resist our sinful self and endeavour to arrive at a disposition and propensity of inward self-denial, as well as the manifestation of self-denial in all circumstances which occur. Take the following to heart:

First, consider your own state. Who are you that you would pride yourself in anything and seek anything for yourself?

Secondly, what is it that you desire and cleave to?

Thirdly, believers, has not the Lord granted and laid away better things for you? The Lord has granted you that steadfast and durable benefit, consisting in the enjoyment of God, communion with Christ, the experience of peace and joy, and eternal glory.

Fourthly, it is a righteous thing to deny self as far as the things of the world are concerned, for all honor, reverence, service, and possessions are the Lord's; you are not entitled to them.

Fifthly, self-denial engenders great peace. All your restlessness is the result of a seeking of yourself.

Sixthly, a person who denies self has freedom, for he has nothing to lose. He fears neither shame, hatred, nor damage to his possessions, for he has renounced all this - and whatever the Lord has loaned to him he will readily return to Him if He requires this.

Seventhly, continually hold before you the example of the Lord Jesus and His saints. The Lord Jesus has denied Himself for your sake. Would you then not renounce self for His sake?

Eighthly, even though all that we possess is not ours, and even though all that pertains to the body is not worthy of attention, God nevertheless wants to reward abundantly for whatever one has renounced and relinquished upon His command out of loving obedience toward Him, and for His Name or for His cause (III: 409-412).

Final Advice for Those who Desire to Deny Self

If you are desirous to be in such a holy condition and have such liberty, and to be weaned from all and whatever the Lord wants us to be weaned from, then…do not imagine, however, that all has been accomplished if you have lively desires for that condition and activity, and now fully want to commit yourself to this, for your own "I" is strong. It was the first to reside in you and it does not readily want to depart. It is not so easy to deny self. Therefore, be aware of the strength of the old man and the weakness of the new man, and call upon the Lord for help and strength (III:412).

TTRMOMG 07 Devon Toffees

My granddad was a big one for Devon toffees. On occasions he would share them with us grandchildren. He got them from Woolworths I guess. He also liked Mint Imperials I was told but I never saw him eating those.

Reading the Bible A

Augustine of Hippo says in his City of God
"Scripture, which proves the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, gives no false information". The rest of the paragraohis embarrassingly unhelpful but he got this right.
He is also supposed to have said
"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

Pray for Asia

Operation World urges us to pray today for Asia

Answer to Prayer

China is in the midst of amazing changes. Beyond the economic shift that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, beyond the positive changes that the further opening of the country has brought, the Church in China is signalling a massive change in this, the world’s largest population. Christians in China now almost certainly exceed 100 million. They are present in all regions of the country and come from all walks of life. They love their country and have ambitious visions to see it transformed by the power of the gospel. The government, traditionally a ruthless persecutor of the Church, now recognizes the positive social impact Christians can make and increasingly accepts the reality that the Church in China is there to stay – and will play a major role in shaping the country’s future.
For an additional 8 Answers to Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

Challenge for Prayer

The Himalayas region simmers with tension. The conflict over Kashmir is the most intractable of problems, with Pakistan and India (and China) holding conflicting claims over territory. The Kashmir dispute has profoundly shaped Pakistan’s domestic and foreign policies, has provoked an arms race between Pakistan and India and has already resulted in four wars. China and India are in dispute over territorial claims not just in Kashmir but also in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Strife also exists over India’s hosting of the Tibetan government-in-exile and in Tibet itself. Add to this the Nepal Civil War of 1996-2006 (and continuing tensions), and you have a region filled with potential flashpoints.
For an additional 8 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

War Horse Illustration

One part of the War Horse film provides a good illustration which I have outlined over on the Sola Scriptura Blog here.

Why a Bible College training?

This article is in the February Evangelical Timnes just out. It is the Guest Column and is by John D Brand.
There is, I believe, an identity crisis in theological training in the UK today. I became aware of it during my time on the home staff of an international mission agency and now see it from a different angle, as principal of a Bible college.
The question is: "What's the point of a Bible College training?" I fear we are in danger of losing sight of the true answer these days.
Do Bible colleges exist to provide a Christian route to get an academic qualification or to equip believers for effective spiritual service? The evidence is that the former has taken precedence over the latter, which has caused a major problem.
For many young people now Bible College is just another, perhaps more sheltered, route to getting a recognised qualification, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with a good academic training and qualification, that agenda has had a massive impact on the ethos and nature of most Bible college training in UK. This fills me with alarm.

Bible neglected
Foe example, we are in danger of turning out good missiologists who know all about contextualisation and cross-cultural communication but are poor missionaries because they haven’t met with God on a deep level.
They haven't been spiritually transformed through their study of God’s Word with an emphasis on personal, spiritual devotions and disciplines as a core ingredient in their college experience.
We are in danger of turning out gifted theologians and apologists, who know all about higher criticism and are competent in the original biblical languages but are ineffective pastors and evangelists because they are, largely speaking, biblically illiterate, having spent an inordinate amount of time studying books about the Bible but precious little time in the Bible.
And I know – I’ve met some of them. I read some of their application forms when I was in leadership in the mission agency. One of my friends graduated from Bible college fairly recently and estimated he had spent less than 10% of his time in the Bible and that prayer meetings and devotional times had been largely optional.
Another former student said she had been three or four weeks in lectures before they actually opened their Bibles!
As a Bible college Principal this is something that weighs heavily on my heart most of the time. I don’t want us to lose sight of what we are actually about, which is not preparing students for an exam but for Christian service and spiritual warfare.
We need well trained biblically literate men and women, whose lives give evidence of a vital, transforming relationship with the Lord. We need training for head, heart and hands.
I recently read L J Van Valen’s biography of Robert Murray M'Cheyne Constrained by his love and was encouraged to see this statement, made by the author, about M’Cheyne’s attitude to his theological training: “The young student knew the true value of theological studies. These were nothing more than an aid in equipping him to be a servant of the Word of God.” Amen to that!

Seeking God
Van Valen goes on to quote from a letter sent by M’Cheyne to a fellow student: “Do get on with your studies. Remember you are now forming the character of your future ministry in great measure, if God spare you. 
If you acquire slovenly or sleepy habits of study now, you will never get the better of it. Do everything in its own time. Do everything in earnest; if it is worth doing, then do it with all your might.
Above all, keep much in the presence of God. Never see the face of man till you have seen His face who is our life, our all.” I love that balance: get on with your studies because it is shaping your future ministry, do everything in earnest and, above all, keep much in the presence of God. Wonderful stuff!
At least I’m not alone in this concern. Here is R C Sproul in Feed My Sheep: “Some years ago, when I was on the faculty at a theological seminary, we reviewed the curriculum. We asked ourselves: what does a man have to know in order to be a godly pastor?
We decided that the main thing was the content of Holy Scripture. So many seminary courses are designed to answer academic questions of background, of authorship, and technical problems that we never get around to the English Bible. Our future ministers are coming out of seminaries not fully conversant with the content of the Bible.
So we began to develop a curriculum from ground zero. We said, let’s step out of the academic world for a minute and design the curriculum not to train professors in the areas of their specialities, but to serve the church and thereby to serve Christ.”
How I rejoiced to read that. That approach to the curriculum is precisely the one my predecessor and I took nearly four years ago (though with a wider remit than just for pastors).
The author is Principal of the Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh.

War Horse

We went to see War Horse last Saturday. Based on the children's novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, first published in 1982 and the 2007 stage adaptation, also of the same name it is set during World War I. Stephen Spielberg directed, the varied cast being very competent but not that well known (although I spotted Dominic Cumberbatch in there). Some 14 horses were used apparently including a main one who also took the part of Sea Biscuit.
I've not seen the stage play but I know that in the book the horse tells the story. That dramatic method was thankfully dropped. The story is told from the horse's point of view but not sentimentally or ridiculously.
We all enjoyed it (ages 10-52) and I found myself close to tears on more than one occasion as the frailty of the human condition was played out against the back cloth of poverty and war and we saw the courage, cowardice and a certain amount of madness typical of life here on earth. The certificate is 12a but that is only in light of the violent war scenes rather than anything else. Great film for the whole family and a wonderful opener for endless discussion on man and animals, war and peace, human strengths and weaknesses, etc.

Beautiful English Words

One of my sons sent me this link to the 100 most beautiful words in English. See here.  One could add perhaps these 12

avuncular

dicephalous

glide

svelte

mellifluous

modulate

morose

panache

ponder

punctual

variegated

verdant

 

Novelists 4 Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding 1707-1754 wrote 25 plays early in life that essentially satirise political corruption. This made him few friends so he turned to study the law and in 1748 was appointed a magistrate. He probably wrote Shamela (1741), a burlesque of Richardson's Pamela. Joseph Andrews (1742) also parodies Richardson. Tom Jones (1749) his most popular work, is noted for its great comic gusto, vast gallery of characters, and contrasting scenes of high- and lowlife.

ITN Cwmbran


I was watching the news last night when I saw a face I recognised. ITN are speaking to a group of business people and one of them was Chris Sullivan of RBS. He is a year older than me and lived round the corner from where I grew up. I used to swap football pics with his brother. I think I was first aware of him when I saw him dressed as Peter or Gordon for a miming thing we used to do in our school. He hasn't really lost his accent.
Then the very next item showed Danny Gabbidon scoring for QPR in the cup. Another Cwmbran boy I believe.

Owen on God's Unchanging Love

I found this here. It's from John Owen on Communion with God.
The love of the Father is the same for all whom he has chosen to love. Whom God loves he loves to the end, and he loves them all alike. On whom he sets his love, it is set for ever. God's love does not grow to eternity or lessen in time. God's love is an eternal love that had no beginning and that shall have no end. It is a love that cannot be increased by anything we do and that cannot be lessened by anything in us.
But the love of God may be seen to be changeable in two ways:
1. God's love is changeable in its communications to us. It may sometimes be greater, sometimes less. Who among the saints does not know the truth of this? With what life, what light, what strength does God's love appear to us at times! And at other times how dead, how dark, how weak his love appears to be! All the graces of the Spirit in us, all sanctified enjoyments whatever, are fruits of his love. How variously these fruits are brought to us! How differently, at different times and seasons to the same person, his love is felt, experience will abundantly testify.
2. God “pours out his love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). The Holy Spirit gives us a sense of it. He makes it known to us. Now this varies and is changeable. Sometimes it is more, sometimes less. Now he shines, and now he hides his face. But it is all done for our good. Our Father will not always chide in case we are cast down. He does not always smile in case we take his love for granted and neglect him. But still his love is always the same. When for a while he hides his face, he still gathers us with everlasting kindness.
Objection. But you will say, “This comes near to blasphemy!” You are saying that God loves his people in their sinning as well as in their strictest obedience. If this is so, who will bother to serve him or seek to please him?”
Answer. There are few truths of Christ which have not been greatly misunderstood and twisted by the ignorance of foolish men. The love of God in itself is the eternal purpose and act of God’s will. This is no more changeable than God himself. If it were, nobody could be saved. But God’s love does not change and therefore we are not consumed in his wrath. Does God then love his people while they are sinning? Yes! He loves his people but he does not love their sinning. Doesn’t God’s love change towards them? Not the purpose of his will to love them, but the working out of his gracious acts and disciplines towards them is changed. He rebukes them, disciplines them, hides his face from them, smites them, fills them with a sense of his indignation, but woe to us if he should change his love, or take away his kindness from us! Those very things which seem to suggest that his love to us changes in fact come to us from his love to us. “But won’t this encourage sin?” To suggest such a thing is to admit you have never tasted the love of God. The doctrine of grace may be turned into an excuse for doing evil but the principle cannot. And we may further affirm that God’s detesting and loathing sin in his people is not inconsistent with the acceptance of their persons and their being chosen for eternal life.

Novelists 3 Samuel Richardson

Samuel Richardson1689-1761 was the author of the epistolary novels Pamela or Virtue Rewarded (2 vols., 1740-1), Clarissa or The History of a Young Lady (7 vols., 1747-8), and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753-4). Richardson was a London printer and publisher by trade.

Youcef Nadarkhani

Continue to pray for Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death for apostasy in November 2010. At the time of writing, his case had been referred to Iran's supreme leader for a decision. This unusual move indicates how much is at stake for both Pastor Nadarkhani and the country, which has been criticised on the international stage over his death sentence. The church leader has repeatedly refused opportunities to renounce his faith in order to secure an annulment of the charge. Thank God for Pastor Nadarkhani’s courage, and pray that the international pressure on Iran will result in his acquittal and freedom.
(Barnabas fund)

Jesus unique

Jesus brooks no rivals. There have been, there are, many religious leaders.
In an age of postmodern sensibilities and a deep cultural commitment to philosophical
pluralism, it is desperately easy to relativize Jesus in countless ways.
But there is only one Person of whom it can be said that he made us, and then
became one of us; that he is the Lord of glory, and a human being; that he died
in ignominy and shame on the odious cross, yet is now seated on the right hand
of the Majesty on high, having returned to the glory he shared with the Father
before the world began.
Don Carson

Novelists 2 Defoe


Daniel Defoe 1660-1731 was an English novelist, pamphleteer, and journalist, best known for his novels Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders. A nonconformist, he certainly understood Christian conversion even if he hadn't experienced it for himself. His novels were written in the closing years of his life. He is buried in Bunhill Fields. He also wrote Journal of the plague year.

Novelists 1 John Bunyan


John Bunyan 1628-1688 was born November 1628, in Elstow, England. A celebrated English minister and preacher, he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), the book that was the most characteristic expression of the Puritan religious outlook. His other works include doctrinal and controversial writings; a spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding (1666); and another allegory The Holy War (1682). He is buried in Bunhill Fields.

Past diary entry Jan 08 1994

"Not an over taxing day" it says (it was a Saturday). I'd read the papers, taken Rhodri for sweets, put up a poster, listened to a broadcast interview with Charlie Watts. Eleri had had a deserved sleep in the afternoon (a very rare thing even then). My father-in-law was with us in the evening and we had chatted until late, sermon preparation being under control it would seem. I took several phone calls and one person was obviously moaning at me for some reason but I was hoping in the preached Word.

Past diary entry Jan 07 1994

Still at the Carey I was up a little late and decided on private devotions rather than the prayer meeting (always hard to call). Phoning home I was told there was snow (all gone by the time I got home later that day). Back at the Carey Bob Godfrey was excellent on women's ordination and Bob Sheehan on sanctification. Took the train home. Several at the station. Talked to Tim Mills en route. As we arrived at St Pancras I saw that the great Gordon Banks was also on the train. Back home put Rhodri (5) to bed then had a candlelit supper with Eleri. Worked on a sermon on Ephesians 6 until quite late. 

Past diary entry Jan 06 1994


Still at Swanwick I was up early for my own devotions then led the prayer meeting using Psalm 5. I enjoyed Robert Godfrey again, this time on Calvin and the Pentateuch. I made a note to read more Calvin, something I'm still telling myself 17 years on! We also had Erroll Hulse on the Law in the NT and Peter Jeffrey on the Law and Gospel Preaching. We also had a discussion session on discipline and ministers falling into sin. I'd felt very much under conviction at one point but a conversation with Bob Sheehan (now with the Lord) had helped - not that I consciously remember any of it now. By the time I got back to my room I was on a high with a million thoughts (typical of me to be at extremes). We also had a question session with Bob Godfrey that day and it says that I asked him "how to be an average minister" and he had replied in terms of having a high view of the call and remembering that God is present when we preach.

Past diary entry Jan 05 1994

Up early with Dylan (12 months). It is my regular practice to attend the Carey Conference near the beginning of each new year. In 1994 it was in Swanwick, as has been the case for some years. I bought a meal for a beggar at St Pancras and enjoyed reading RT and BoT mags en route but appear to have got there in something of a bad mood. I don't know if it was the train delay due to flooding, feeling sick on the bus journey from Derby, being behind with sermon preparation or guilt at leaving Eleri home with two kids and she still not quite well. Professor Robert Godfrey kicked us off with a great paper on Luther and the Law. Up until late chatting with my father-in-law and several others. Also bought some books (Farley on Providence, Derek Thomas on Ezekiel).

Carey Conference 2012 08

Sam Waldon's final paper looked at the universal work of the Spirit in the new covenant. He had three points
1. The emphasised dissimilarity of the new covenant
Some writers on the covenant emphasise similarities to such a point that there seems to be no dissimilarity 
2. The precise superiority of the new covenant
Often commentators from Calvin on say that the newness of the new covenant is simply quantitative not qualitative. Surely though when it says that all will know God under the new covenant that is the difference. Under the old covenant there were many who were not saved. That is not the character of the new covenant. Under the new covenant there must be repentance - something not required under the old covenant. Similarly, spiritual sight and spiritual circumcision is now necessary which was not the case before.  Sonship was quite a differen thing too. Mt 3, John 1, Php 3, Rom 8, 9, etc)..
The old covenant people are a physical nation while the new covenant people re a spiritual people.
3. The ulitmate fulfilment of the new covenant.
Presbyterians say that the new covenant church is very similar to the old covenant community. Part of the difficulty here is the need to remember that the ne covenant is not yet consummated. There is more to come. in the presnet age the promises are being fulfilled but there is more to come. The importance of this is that we are not now looking back to old Jerusalem and its mixed multitiude for our model but forward to new Jerusalem for it.
Applications
1. The fundamental importance of a regenerate church membership
2. The biblical necessity of believers baptism
3. We learn here a fatal flaw in arguments for paedobaptism
4. The glorious privilege of being a member of a new covenant church

Carey Conference 2012 07

Our final day began with a paper from Bill James on children and the church.  This is his outline

Intro - the special place of church children. They are not in the covenant but they are to be
welcomed (Mt 19:14), instructed (Eph 6:4), holy (1 Cor 7:14). Also note household baptisms.

1. Theology of children
Children are important
Children are sinners
Children are immature
Children's developing sense of responsibility
Children are entrusted to their parents

2. The nurture of chidren
Our responsibilities
Teaching, training, example
Involvement in worship and church life
Leading them to Christ
Children's privileges
Holy (1 Cor 7:14)

3. Leading our children to Christ
Coming to Christ
The need for care and patience and not bxing in.
Baptism
Can a child below teenage years give a credible profession?
Understanding? Conformity? Church membership? 

More prayer points

We had some more prayer pointers today from
Neil and Sheila Court of Stepwise in South Africa
Andy Banton of OAM

Plus
Michael Robinson recently move from Eeklo to Le Panne via Bruges in Belgium
Iader Patuelli (and Paolo) from Imola, Italy interpreted by Sarah Pietri
Lewis Allan involved in a ministerial training initiative
Benjamin Mitchell of the Christian Institute
Peter Slomski in Poznan, Poland
I also mentioned the 1662 conference coming up March 27

Carey Conference 2012 06

We had a second session with Sam Waldron today, which I chaired. We came this time to the grace of the new covenant and there were again three points.
1. The covenant's sovereign determination
In Jeremiah 31 rather than the "if" of Exodus 19 we have ten shalls or wills.
2. The covenant's unbreakable character
The old covenant was broken by the people even thought it was in some sense a gracious covenant. The new covenant is one that will niot be broken. The problem with the Old Covenant was the unbelief of the people.  There isa sense in which the new covenant is unconditional but there is a sense in which it is not. Our problem is God's wrath against sin rather than sin itself.
3. Its mediatorial guarantor -Christ.
All this points to the deficiency of an Arminian vision of grace, the need not to be embarrassed by the doctrines of grace and the centrality of Christ.
Good stuff once again.

Carey Conference 2012 05

The second session of the morning was a little different in that Lewis Allen described the church planting work he has been involved with in Huddersfield over the last 18 months or so. Quite humbly and helpfully he described what has happened and the things he has taught and laid down at this beginning point. What a wise and inspiring fellow. I liked that phrase "the holy inconvenience of the Lord's Day".

Past diary entry Jan 04 1994

Tuesday was a long day starting at 7.15 am and ending gone 11 pm. It was less efficient but I got some things done and did some shopping and bathed the boys. I also visited a member of the congregation who'd had a baby boy. Relaxed in the evening with newspapers and TV. I was concerned at the lack of reading and sermon prep.

Carey Conference 2012 04

For our first session today we bifurcated by gender. We men listened to John Benton who spoke on the current climate. He had many interesting things to say under these three headings:
1. Demography
In the coming years we can expect to see more
Elderly
Immigrant
Young
Single
Poorer
IT people
2. Psychology
There is increasingly a culture that is a
Secular culture
Therapy culture
Entertainment culture
Post-modern culture
Social media
3. Theology
Church the importnace of the body of Christ
Grace real grace not secualr grace (as in American TV)
Scripture

Carey Prayery

Instead of the usual prayer and share time this year they are having a prayer item at the beginning of each session. So far Matthias Lohmann has spoken about Germany, Erroll Hulse has reminded us of the various conferences that go on in South Africa at this time of the year and Steve Nowak from Stowmarket spoke about his regular trips to Indonesia, The Philippines and Tanzania. Then this morning Robert Strivens urged us to pray for LTS.

The Law of God is good and wise

Dr Waldron quoted this hymn on the Law.

The law of God is good and wise
And sets his will before our eyes,
Shows us the way of righteousness,
And dooms to death when we transgress.

Its light of holiness imparts
The knowledge of our sinful hearts
That we may see our lost estate
And seek deliv'rance ere too late.

To those who help in Christ have found
And would in works of love abound
It shows what deeds are his delight
And should be done as good and right.

When men the offered help disdain
And wilfully in sin remain,
Its terror in their ear resounds
And keeps their wickedness in bounds.

The law is good; but since the fall
Its holiness condemns us all;
It dooms us for our sin to die
And has no pow'r to justify.

To Jesus we for refuge flee,
Who from the curse has set us free,
And humbly worship at his throne,
Saved by his grace through faith alone.

Carey Conference 2012


This evening we had the privilege of hearing the first of three papers on the new covenant from our US visitor, Sam Waldron. He spoke tonight of the necessity of the law in the new covenant. Focusing on Jeremiah 31 he tackled these questions: 
1. About what law is God speaking?
He is speaking about a law written by the finger of God on tablets of stone, the moral law as summarised in the Ten Commandments. 
2. What is meant by the writing of that law on the heart?
It is important that we correctly understand what the Bible means by heart.
1 The seat and centre of the affections and the convictions (Rom 5:5, 9:2, 10:9, 10, etc, etc)
2 the source and spring of our words and actions (Prov 4:23, 24, Lk 6:44, 45, etc)
To have God;'s law written on hearts is to be convinced of its holiness and authority, to be controlled by its wisdom and instruction, etc, etc.
Not perfectly but truly this is how the Christian lives.
3. For what reason is the law written on the heart?
There is no being in the new covenant without this. There is no knowing God or forgiveness without this. This is how God is their God.
Observations
1. An essential goal of the gospel is the writing of the Law on the heart.
2. An essential accompaniment of true faith is a new heart deep delight in the law.
3. This does not mean that we no longer need to be guided by the objective dictates and authority if the Word but the very opposite. It is rather to love adn delight in the Law. Cf Ps 19, 119, Prov 28:9, etc.
4. Jeremiah 31 supports the threefold division of the Law and the third use of the Law.
5. It indeed upholds the confessional threefold division of judicial, ceremonial and moral law

Carey Conference 2012 02

The Comedy of the Covenants
The second paper at Carey this year was from Martin Salter, an Oakhill graduate and an assistant pastor in Bedford. He gave us this outline to his helpful talk:
1. A covenant is ...
“A covenant of God with man, is an agreement between God and man, about the way of obtaining consummate happiness.” (Witsius)
"A covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered." (O Palmer Robertson)
"It is an oath-bound and oath-certified assurance of irrevocable grace and promise." (John Murray)
2. Story of the covenant ...
a. We traversed briefly the biblical story of the covenants
b. The newness of the new covenant
i. Calvin points up four antitheses from 2 Cor 3
external/internal; death/life; condemnation/righteousness; temporary/eternal
ii. Particularity and universality (Acts 2; Hebrews 8)
iii. Owen's five differences (Hebrews 8:6) - clearer, more gracious, immediate, spiritual, extensive.
"all with whom this covenant is made are effectually sanctified, justified and saved."
c. Dangers of reductionism or over-distinction within the "covenant of grace".

3. Signs of the covenant
Circumcision, baptism and the relationship between the two (Colossians 2:11, 12). This is the classic passage that is supposed to show that baptism of infants replaces circumcision. Rather Paul is talking about regeneration. Spiritual baptism replaces physical circumcision. One problem here is the fact that circumcision continued after baptism. 
4. Objections
a. Is God less kind? (Zwingli) But is it less kind? He misses the radical newness.
b. Acts 2:39 - the promise is for you and your children  The promise is that if we repent and are baptised we will be saved.
c. Warning passages (eg Hebrews 10). There are difficulties here but they are not suggesting that it is possible to fall from the covenant. God uses means to keep his children in line and it is the way language works that provides the key to such passages. (Cf 2 Peter 2:1).
5. Critiques
a. Everyone is a credo-baptist in practice
b. Consistency of paedo-baptists
The Larger Westminster Catechism is inconsistent.
Cf Stoddard's halfway covenant, Berkhof's "dual aspect", presumptive regeneration (Canons of Dort), federal vision.
6. Conclusions
A story which moves from one degree of glory to another -  a better story
A consistent covenant theology is a Baptist covenant theology
Perhaps the most helpful thought was that every covenant has a obligatory element (in the new covenant Christ meets it).

Carey Conference 2012 01

Our opening session at this year's Carey was, as is traditional, a biographical paper. Matthias Lohman from Munich, who was with us last year for the first time, spoke on Johann Oncken 1800-1884. You can read about Oncken here. This presentation was  a balanced and practical one. It is sad to think that such a good and well used man should be so forgotten.
He finished with some applications
1. His conversion - never be shy to share your faith.
2. Mark 5:18-20. Don't forget your own people and neighbours. Carey was in India before there was any such work in Germany. Train nationals, ideally.
3. His work in Hamburg - the power of the doctrines of grace despite opposition.
4. Ephesians 4 - his ongoing work in Germany. The importance of unity.
5. Philippians 4 - the importance of recieving and passing on gifts.
6. 2 Timothy 2:2. Oncken was a master of multiplication.
7. His final years - the importance of letting go of what you cannot keep, something Oncken failed to do.
Jeden Baptist ein missionar!

Past diary entry Jan 03 1994

Monday January 3 was apparently a pretty efficient day, mostly in the study. In those days one wrote letters and I'd done some of that as well as making phone calls, trying to track down missing congregants. Got lunch from MacDonalds in Golders Green (now gone) and shopped in Sainsburys (smaller then) with Rhodri (5) in tow. Tried to help Eleri still not well and did some tidying in the study (not sure where in the house it was in those days). We watched some Ruth Rendell thing from 9 pm, then a member phoned late - a family member not returned home and a cause for concern. Eleri and I got into an argument after, sad to say, and so we were late to sleep.

Past diary entry Jan 02 1994

Another past diary entry
The boys (ages 5 and 1) woke me around 6.15 (which didn't please me well). Eleri spent the day in bed and I muddled through making some sort of dinner and taking the boys for a short walk in the afternoon rain. I preached on Psalm 146 and Hebrews 10.20. Several who heard me that day are no longer in this world. There was communion in the morning. I was rather sleepy completing my preparations for these. We relaxed later in the evening, read from Isaiah and hit the hay around 10.30 pm.

Past Diary entry Jan 01 1994

I thought we might try some past diary entries again.
January 1 1994 was a Saturday. We (Eleri, me and the two boys) travelled back from Cwmbran where we'd been staying with my mam and dad (no longer with us sadly). I'd been at the funeral of a deacon from my home church the day before (Mr Harwood - who had the endearing knack of putting in aitches where they shouldn't be and leaving them out where they should be). Eleri was not well and the doctor had to come (highly unusual). She coughed so much her ribs were sore. I felt tired and was on a post Christmas come down with lots to do. The place was a bit of a mess and I stayed up late watching TV.