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.

Banner UK 2017 Session 6 S Ferguson

Having looked at the conversion of Paul we came tonight to his communion with Christ. He may well be saying in Philippians 3 that he was actually disinherited. He actually knew loss. It is possible to lose something and still highly value it. With Paul he both lost everything and willingly lost it. Here, said Dr Ferguson, Paul homologates (express agreement with or approval of) his loss. He shows a detachment that Calvin expresses as a "contempt for this present life" without despising life itself.
Thomas Chalmers speaks of the "expulsive power of a new affection" that lies behind this great change.
What is to have communion with Christ? Three things
1. Coming to know Christ
This is at the heart of New Covenant faith. In Galatians 4 he speaks of not knowing God and then coming to know him. In the Sermon on the Mount it is not that the false believer is refused entry because he does not know Christ but because Christ does not know him. This is not a reference to election bu the whole idea of being known by Christ. It is the same in Galatians 4.
His use of my Lord in verse 8 is a reminder that this is not really about Paul but about the Lord Jesus, the one to whom every knee shall bow.
If Christ is my Lord then it will show. He must be at the centre of Christian ministry not other things. We must truly be Christ centred.
Here is an encouragement and a challenge then.
2. It is rooted in a communion with Christ that involves being found in him.
This is exepegetical (explanatory) of knowing Christ and being united to him. The being found in him here is for justification. The importance of faith is that it is all of grace. Faith itself is not a contributory factor.
The importance of this is that this righteousness is not in us but in him. It is imputed to us but it remains his. Therefore it cannot be added to or taken away. When we grasp this it delivers us, at a stroke, from the idea that progress in sanctification contributes to our justification.
When we see this we see what an impact the Roman view had on Luther and then what an even greater impact the true Protestant doctrine had.
"I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the mercy of God, I paid attention to their context: "The justice of God is revealed in it, as it is written: 'The just person lives by faith.'" I began to understand that in this verse the justice of God is that by which the just person lives by a gift of God, that is by faith. I began to understand that this verse means that the justice of God is revealed through the Gospel, but it is a passive justice, i.e. that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: "The just person lives by faith." All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light."
If we are righteous in Christ we are as righteous as Jesus Christ himself! This is why we boldly approach the eternal throne and make our claims.
3. It means becoming conformed to Christ
10, 11 I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul begins with the risen Christ. That is where the Christian life begins. Here he is speaking about the outward change that comes to the Christian (as well as within). There is no suggestion that he is going to contribute anything but he has this idea of greater and greater service and suffering in order to share in the fruit and triumph of Christ. Even in the Old Testament we see it. Take Joseph as an example or Ruth and Naomi. Daniel.
You embrace Christ in his totality,Paul sees. There is an imprinting by the Spirit according to the pattern with the Son. Think of the oil of suffering and glory flowing down from the High Priest's head to the people.
Paul speaks of this too in 2 Corinthians 12 - strength made perfect in weakness. There is not just a strength that comes from being in Christ but a weakness too. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
There is a cruciformity principle that will produce life in others.
Where did Paul learn this? We come back to Stephen. This is the single clearest illustration (apart from Christ himself) of death producing life.
We closed with an illustration where a converted Arab recently knelt for baptism (sprinkling) just as others have been seen kneeling to be beheaded. At ordinations the new minister often kneels - again a pointer to our calling.

Once again superb!

Banner UK 2017 Session 5 Stephen Clark

Our first evening session today was Stephen Clark on Christ's view of Scripture. He had three main points in this the first of two sessions he will give.
1. His personal use of Scripture
An obvious example would be the way he used Scripture when he was tempted in the wilderness. The temptations were to the person of Christ but concerned his human nature and he responded as a man and as a public man. The context in Luke which inserts a genealogy between the baptism and the temptation, one that goes back to Adam the Son of God. Satan's approach was to begin "If you are the Son of God". As well as being our federal head he is our example. He is full of the Spirit but (indeed because of that) he opposes Satan by means of using the ordinary means of Scripture.
Or think of the arrest of Christ. When he rebukes Peter with his sword, one of the things he says is How will the Scriptures be fulfilled? We do not always know what God is doing but we are always to fear God and do our duty.
Even when he dies he is quoting Scripture. There was a time when liberals claimed Old Testament verses were quoted in the New out of  context. That is not the case, the context is always in mind. Certainly at the cross the whole of Psalm 22 is in mind.
Scripture was part of his mindset, his thinking. It fed him throughout, as it must feed us.
2. His pastoral use of Scripture
Here Stephen simply went to one Scripture, Luke 24. Their eyes were kept from recognising him because he first wanted them to see him in Scripture. How their hearts burned within them when they saw Christ in his Word. There is a difference between teaching and preaching. Teaching does not leave the heart burning.
(This is a familiar note at the Banner and it was good to hear the note being sounded once more. There is a desperate need for preaching from the heart to the heart)
3. His use of Scripture in his public ministry and in controversy with false teachers
Think of how when discussing divorce, how he goes back to Scripture  - to Genesis 1 and 2,which he clearly treats as history.
In John 8:44 he talks of the devil as  liar and murderer from the beginning. He has the same  attitude then to Genesis 3. It is real and true. It really happened. We must assert the factuality of the creation and fall. We see the same thing in the way that Paul argues. Abel, the flood, Sodom, the Queen of Sheba, etc. He treats it all as history.
He asserted not only the veracity of Scripture but its authority. See Mark 7. The issue with tradition is not how old it is but whether it is biblical. Jaroslav Pelikan said “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living."
Matthew 22 and the argument with the Sadduccees can only be understood if we accept that it is unnatural for man to be dead. It is an example of Jesus reasoning from Scripture.
Again, in John 10 there is that striking statement that the Scripture cannot be broken. (Stephen called the argument an ad hominem argument).
We also had a reference to Mark 2 and how we understand Jesus's argument from David. The key is to do with an order in ethical understanding - anointed king over temple over Sabbath. We must keep the least of the commandments but we must not forget the greater ones. Proportionality is important. John Stott once spoke about the need for a preacher to be both dogmatic and tentative. If we fail to differentiate we can give too great a weight to a truth. We must be weightier on the more weighty matters. Major on the majors and minor on the minors.
There was a little at the end on the NEw Testament too.
"Our greatest comfort in life is in Greek words" according to C S Lewis. We can add Hebrew and some Aramaic ones too.

Banner UK 2017 Session 4 David Johnston

David Johnston, from Hamilton Road in Bangor, Northern Ireland, began with an anecdote about a great preacher he knew who heard him preach and wrote to him to keep working at his preaching, the most important thing you do. David reads the letter every now and again to remind himself of the need to keep working at it. Matthew 13:52 is a challenge.
The debate over preaching continues unabated. What we were given this morning was an exploration of Hebrews in terms of it being a written sermon. (See William Lane).

He highlighted a number of ingredients that ought to feature in our preaching.
1. Grounded in Scripture
“All Christian preaching should be the exposition and application of biblical texts. Our authority as preachers sent by God rises and falls with our manifest allegiance to the text of Scripture.” ― John Piper
2. Centred on Christ
We must beware of mere anecdotal preaching.
Christ must be explicit in all our God-talk. It will not do, in this day of pluralism, to talk about the glory of God in vague ways. God without Christ is no God. And a no-God cannot save or satisfy the soul. Following a no-God - whatever his name or whatever his religion - will be a wasted life. God-in-Christ is the only true God and the only path to joy. ― John Piper
3. Applied to life
Notice the constant use of therefore. All sorts of applications made, especially at the end.
John Piper again (not all the quotes were Piper) says

Years ago during the January prayer week at our church, I decided to preach on the holiness of God from Isaiah 6. I resolved on the first Sunday of the year to unfold the vision of God’s holiness found in the first four verses of that chapter:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I preached on the holiness of God and did my best to display the majesty and glory of such a great and holy God. I gave not one word of application to the lives of our people. Application is essential in the normal course of preaching, but I felt led that day to make a test: Would the passionate portrayal of the greatness of God in and of itself meet the needs of people? I didn’t realise that not long before this Sunday one of the young families of our church discovered that their child was being sexually abused by a close relative. It was incredibly traumatic. They were there that Sunday morning and sat under that message. I wonder how many advisers to us pastors today would have said, “Pastor Piper, can’t you see your people are hurting? Can’t you come down out of the heavens and get practical? Don’t you realise what kind of people sit in front of you on Sunday?”
Some weeks later I learned the story. The husband took me aside one Sunday after a service. “John, these have been the hardest months of our lives. Do you know what has gotten me through? The vision of the greatness of God’s holiness that you gave me the first week of January. It has been the rock we could stand on.”
4. Empowered by the Spirit
See for example 3:7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, ....
Preaching ultimately depends on the Spirit not the preacher. Or take the immaturity of the Hebrews.
One factor is that they no longer try to understand. John Stott says

How different it is when both preacher and people are expecting to hear the voice of God and they’ve come to church in order to hear God’s voice addressing them. Why then the whole situation is transformed and the atmosphere becomes electric. The people bring their Bible to church, and when they open it for the lesson or for the sermon, they sit on the edge of their seats or pew hungrily waiting for the Word of God. And the preacher also prepares in such a way that he is expecting God to speak. He prays beforehand in his study that God will come and address His people.
5. Prayer
The Lord give me a dozen importunate pleaders and lovers of souls, and by his grace we will shake all London from end to end yet. - Spurgeon

Banner UK 2017 Session 3 Garry Williams

On our first full day of conference our first speaker was Dr Garry Williams on the subject of a functional doctrine of Scripture. We began with a reminder that at the root of the Reformation was a rediscovery of Scripture as originally given. Unlike Luther the scholastic Zwingli and Calvin were humanist scholars and all their lives they took a humanist approach. Luther too was involved very much in a close engagement with Scripture.
Garry's plan is to look at the literary Word of God this time and the living Word of God next time. Some take the view that a commitment to one mitigates against a commitment to the other . However, the more committed we are to the literary, the better we will be able to treat it as the living Word. This is assuming the ordinary means. One caveat is that God cannot be put in a box and it is true that God can use the weakest of sermons, even errors in sermons! Even unregenerate preachers can be used!
Nevertheless, if we slacken our grip on the literary Word then we are failing to grapple with it at all.
Further caveats. There are many wrong ways of seeing the Bible in literary terms. It is not just an ANE text, it is a divine ANE text. We cannot read it just like any other book. We have a vigorous doctrine of the origin of Scripture and so we should have an equally vigorous one of Scripture and how it is to be interpreted. It is not enough to look at Scripture in purely human terms. We need to have in mind the divine dimension. n the other hand, we must take careful note of the context. Vern Poythress argues that "Because God is all-wise, he takes into account social and historical circumstances when he communicates to people in particular circumstances. In fact, he takes circumstances into account thoroughly, much more so than a merely human author with human limitations."
Further, we cannot get always so caught up in detail that we fail to get the message across. The message this morning is really just a reminder that we must, nevertheless, give full attention to detail. John's comment at the end of his Gospel about there being more to tell than can be recorded alerts us to the fact that every little detail is important.

1. The details of a text can locate the text in its right place
Eg 2 Samuel 11
... From the roof he saw a woman washing. The woman was very beautiful, (good) and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her ....
David is like Adam and so as great a king as he was, he is not the King we need as Christ is.
2.  The details of a text often reveal the nature of it
Eg Genesis 11:1-9
This passage also raises the theological question of what punishment is and shows that punishment is an answer to sin. Jonathan Edwards said "Sin says, God is a despicable being, and not worthy that the sinner should fear him; and so affronts him without fear." God answers such affrontery.
3. The details of a text can show us the character of God
That is something that is also seen in the Genesis passage. The quid pro quo of the passage shows that God is what Owen calls "a rational fire".

1 Read more in biblical studies we were told.
2 Isn't this a remedy to tediousness?
3 Delight in the fact we have a detailed text. We need such a book to describe such a God.

Banner UK 2017 Session 2 S Ferguson

Our evening speaker is Sinclair Ferguson. After a word of introduction to the conference and a prayer from Iain Murray, he took us to Philippians 3 with the intention of looking over the coming three nights at three dimensions of Paul's autobiographical testimony

1. His conversion to Christ
2. His communion with Christ
3. His consolidation in Christ

So this first evening it was Paul's conversion to Christ. The context here is that of the danger of false teaching, in particular the Judaising tendency of dogs and distorters of the flesh. Three things
1 What he was without Christ - ambitious and angry. Lloyd-Jones once spoke of the Christian as a man who has had his mouth shut. That was Paul, who appeared to have so much in his favour with regard to pedigree and performance but came to see he was nothing. Christ took hold of him. He was stopped in his tracks and yet embraced at the same time by Christ.
Importantly, how was he taken hold of Christ? Stendahl and a mass of scholars in his wake have contended that Saul was not actually converted but simply accepted Christ as Messiah. There is enough evidence in the New Testament, however, to trace the line of his conversion. In persecuting Christians Paul was going beyond his teacher Gamaliel. A careful reading of Acts reveals Paul to be a very angry persecutor who outstripped his contemporaries in his zeal.
It is often asked why it was the tenth commandment that gave Paul so much trouble. If we read Acts with care then we will see that Luke draws attention to certain things in connection with Stephen (eg 6:9) because this was the first man he came across who was actually beyond him and so on reflection saw that he was guilty of covetousness.
It is Paul's realisation of God's mercy that is the secret of his genius. No-one came as close to destroying the church as Saul and et God had mercy on him. What a motive to prayer.
2 What he became in Christ -
There was a new spiritual accountancy
There was a dissatisfied satisfaction - Christianity is Christ.
We had the Jack Nicklaus story, which is lovely. All it was was a look from the great Jack but his boy looked up and said "Do you know Jack Nicklaus?" Well, of course, he didn't. But he knows Christ adn that's the best. (Worth hearing again).
This was a superb exposition by a superb theologian and preacher. It was a privilege to be here.

Banner UK 2017 Session 1 Jeff Kingswood

Banner Trustee and Canadian pastor Jeff Kingswood kicked off this years' conference by taking us to Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
He was brief and had three main points. Ezra, he said, loved the Word and was a practitioner of the Word and one who taught it too. He was a Banner man!
He spoke of delight in the Word that studies it but that also leads to a practice of the Word that grows out of that study. If we are being transformed by the Word, it will show in our lives. I the first two are in place then we will also teach it as we should.
He quoted George Swinnock and Samuel Rutherford who said "Serve Christ, back him, let his cause be your cause; give not an hair-breadth of truth away; for it is not yours, but God's."

At the Banner

New venue this year and a few new faces but many familiar faces and the same teachings I hope. The conference is being streamed.
Check here

Lord's Day April 23 2017

Before church yesterday I tried to access an app I have on my phone called prayer mate. I had inadvertently wiped the data, which was a blow. Anyway in church I preached in the morning from Acts 3 and in my notes I had noted down that a computer wiped was a good illustration of how God wipes away the sins of those who turn to him. As I preached I recalled the distressing experience of earlier that day but then thought of what I called a sin app (sounds a little like synapse in the plural). Every sin you commit gets recorded on the sin app and each time you look at it the list gets longer. Then one day you look at it and it has been wiped. It is the very opposite of the feeling I had experienced earlier. I think the illustration helped.
I really enjoyed being back preaching and especially the wonderful old hymns we sang, including three resurrection hymns. In the evening I went to the phrase but some doubted in Matthew 28:17. not sure why it was in my head. The evening meeting was preceded by communion.
Turn out was not amazing. Not sure where some were. Our sleepless Slovak friend turned up again - still not sleeping, even with my preaching.

Glossary Chapters 2-4 Burmese Days

1. Chokra Young man, boy "The invisible chokra who pulled the punkah rope outside was falling asleep in the glare."
2. Eheu! fugaces labuntur anni Alas! our fleeting years pass away (Latin) "Ah well, eheu fugaces! Those days are gone for ever, I am afraid."
3. Havildar British Indian Army rank equivalent to Sergeant, next above Naik (Indian)
4. Bo-kadaw A white man's wife (Burmese)
5. Machan  A safety platform in a tree used when hunting big animals such as tigers and leopards Indian)
6. Catlap Milk or weak tea, "only fit for the cat to lap" (English)
7. Dudh Milk? (Indian)
8. Talab Payment; wages? (Burmese?) "...wail something about his 'talab', which was eighteen rupees a month."
9. Civis Romanus sum I am a Roman citizen (Latin) "Good gracious, no one would believe anything against ME. Civis Romanus sum. I'm an Englishman - quite above suspicion."
10. Durwan A live-in doorkeeper (Indian)
(Also Pax Britannica The British Peace (Latin); Pukka Genuine; authentic (Indian) B.F. Bloody Fool? (English) "With the curious air of spite that some men can put into their tiniest action, he re-pinned the notice on the board and pencilled a tiny, neat 'B. F.' against Mr Macgregor's signature.")

Glossary Chapter 1 Burmese days

I'm currently reading George Orwell's Burmese Days. He uses quite a few unfamiliar terms. Here are a number from Chapter 1
1. Dak Bungalow - A traveller's rest-house (for a postal service)
2. Topi - A light-weight hat
3. Sahib European man spoken to or of by Indians
4. Burra Great, used as title of respect; e.g. Burra sahib: important official, manager, chief. (Indian)
5. Pwe Burmese dance (Burmese)
6. Punkah Large fan consisting suspended from the ceiling
7. Longyi/Longyi Coolie  Sheet of cloth worn around the waist/Unskilled labourer (Burmese)
8. Dah Large knife with curved blade?
9. Sepoy Private soldier of the Indian infantry
10. Mali Gardener
(Also Rickshaw Two-wheeled cart for one passenger; pulled by one person; Dacoit Armed robber)

10 Italian musical terms

1. Calando (getting softer, dying away)
2. Giocoso (playful, humorous)
3. Incalzando (getting quicker)
4. Legato (smoothly)
5. Ostinato (persistent)
6. Rallentando (gradually getting slower)
7. Rubato (with some freedom of time)
8. Sforzando (forced, accented)
9. Stringendo (gradually getting faster)
10. Volti subito (turn the page at once)

Another cassette

Another cassette I found is Volume 1 of a two volume collection of 28 classic rock numbers. I don't think I ever owned Volume 2. I bought it in a sale and Volume 2 was missing then.
Volume 2 contained T Rex/Ride a white swan, The Who/My generation, Peter Frampton/Show me the way. Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel/Make Me Smile, Canned Heat/Let's Work Together, Fleetwood Mac/Albatross – which I would have loved (the rest are okay - Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity/This Wheel's On Fire, Pink Floyd/Money, Dire Straits/Lady Writer, Lou Reed/ Walk On The Wild Side, Lynyrd Skynyrd/Freebird. Meatloaf/Dead Ringer For Love, Far Corporation/Stairway To Heaven, Deep Purple/Smoke On The Water).
If I remember rightly I bought the cassette for Free/My Brother Jake plus Derek And The Dominos/Layla, Thin Lizzy/Waiting For An Alibi, Status Quo/Caroline, Santana She's Not There, Electric Light Orchestra/Roll Over Beethoven, Jethro Tull/Living In The Past, Rod Stewart/Maggie May, Black Sabbath/Paranoid. I'm alsop happy enough with Mott The Hoople/All The Young Dudes, The Jimi Hendrix Experience/Voodoo Chile, Cream/Strange Brew , Rainbow/Since You Been Gone/Traffic/Paper Sun.
In some ways this is a broad range of rock and shows what good stuff was going down back in the late sixties and early seventies. I currently have on my ipod and listen to exactly half (ie 14) of these tracks.

Planxty After the break

I still have this box full of old cassette tapes, mostly classical, that needs sorting. (Remember cassettes anyone?). Among them is a copy of Irish group Planxty's fourth album from 1979 After the break. I have no idea when I bought it (obviously after 1979 and no doubt before 1990, probably in 1980 or 1981) but I remember playing it with enjoyment. It has been good to enjoy them again. There are eight tracks (two tracks recorded at the time were added to the CD). They are somewhere between Chieftains and Horslips I guess. I remember one of my sons enjoying the first album a while back and I have Follow me up to Carlow on my ipod. They are probably due a retro exploration some time soon.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday April 19 2017

We were a good number last Wednesday (14) as we tackled the next of the solas - Solo Christo (by Christ alone). What I did was to focus on three classic texts - Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6. This is all basic stuff but at the heart of what we teach and believe. We had one or two questions at the end as we sometimes do. That was followed by a time of prayer with most people taking part, though certainly not all. I fear that prayer can become a bit of a Cinderella in our thinking at times. I need to put more emphasis on it I'm sure.

Lord's Day April 16 2017

Having been in the wedding we have stayed on in Crosshills or South Craven, thanks to the kindness of our son's future in-laws. We went to South Craven Evangelical morning and evening. We have known of this church for many, many years initially I think because of a medical student from the church who came to London to study. I would also get news from one of my deacons who often holidays in the area and the now former minister who I would see at the Banner Conference. It was a very small fellowship at one time and could not afford a full time pastor at one time.
Anyway this morning they met in a local school and were over a hundred, though many were visitors from the wedding. It was a a "family service" so a bit out of the ordinary, Beauty and the Beast was the theme. The evening was more conventional, back at the church for communion first and then the service, which was led by Martin Woodier, one of the current ministers, with the other  Paul Gamston preaching. He went through Exodus 23, the next reading in the daily reading scheme that people are being encouraged to follow. A good day.