- When you come across the term "God of Jacob" as opposed say to "God of Israel" notice that the emphasis is on the weakness of God's people. See Pslam 20:1 for example.
- When God is referred to as "Most High" it is most often in a Gentile context. Generally speaking, those who believe in many gods still accept that there is a Most High God. Melcihizedek is introduced for example as priest of God Most High.
- Look out for parallel phrases. These often occur in poetry and in proverbs but not just there. For example 1 Timothy 1:5 speaks of a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith - not three different things but one thing described three different ways.
- When the Bible refers to the Last Days or uses similar phrases (last hour, last times) t is referring to the whole period from the first coming to the second coming of Christ
- Look out for Scriptures where God is said to be with a person. Great blessing comes to such a person. See Joseph in Genesis 39 for an outstanding example.
- If you read about a good king or priest or prophet it will point you to what Jesus is like in some way or another and if you read about a bad king or priest or false prophet it will point you to what Jesus is not like in some way or another
- When reading proverbs, remember that these are proverbial truths not absolute truth. They need to be applied wisely and won't always apply in any and every situation.
- Look out for repetition. It is an important element in Scripture.
- Bear in mind the importance of numbers. Seven is often God's number, six is man's, especially man's weakness and four is a number that speaks of the whole world, in every direction. So in Revelation 5:12 the creatures of heaven say loudly Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise! They use seven words pointing to God and to perfection. In the following verse they use only four, indicative of his worldwide greatness
- Different writers will use different phrases to describe the same thing. Paul and Peter speak of Christ being now at God's right hand. In Revelation 7:17 John says rather that the Lamb is at the centre of the throne. There is no contradiction, only the same thing said in a different way.
As one might have expected numbers were down on last week, this week - no newcomers, no visitors and not all the newcomers returning. Nevertheless there were a good number present, including the return of a Filpina and her grown up children and four Iranians all told. I carried on in Luke 7 with the story of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain. In the evening we were only on zoom. We looked at Joshua 21 and the allotment for the Levites. I could have done better with that with more work I fear. Our Brazilian friend joined us which was good.
The recording is available. Click here.
A decent third and final day at EMA. We began again in Luke 19, looking at verses 28-48 with former Proc Trust leader Willie Philip. The rest of the morning was spent with Nigel Styles, Director of the Cornhill Training Course, looking at Exodus, especially Chapter 15. All very informative and helpful if a little frustrating because on zoom. Thank you.
We just looked at two verses last night, the first two verses of 1 Timothy 6. Some discussion followed about slavery rather than the workaday world. About twelve screens, some with one person, several with two. A good time of prayer again.
This week's day off was made up of watching the EMA Conference on YouTube. I didn't watch it live as I had arranged to meet a former missionary for coffee in the morning. It was good to see the EMA getting back to its roots - exposition, exposition, exposition. We had Rico Tice on Zaccheus first then Andrew Sach on Ezekiel. I remember Ezekiel being tackled at one of the earliest EMAs. I think it was John Woodhouse who did it. I watched the football in the evening, of course, and did some blogging. I also got me required walking in and did the crosswords, etc.
It was very good to be back in Childs Hill last Lord's Day. Most of our newcomers are still coming and one or two others. It was nice to meet a Brazilian man looking for a church on the area and two new Iranians, supplementing the three from previous weeks. Our Afghani friend was there again. There were also 4 or 5 old friends visiting, including one of my sons and his girl friend. We were around 40 altogether. I decided to go back to Luke which we had been looking at in the evenings but had broken off from. I think that is okay to do sometimes. I looked at Luke 7:1-10 and it went well. In the evening it was zoom only and we were in Joshua again, the cities of refuge in Joshua 20. That was a more difficult passage but hopefully we got somewhere.
I was with my oldest son recently and he told me this story which I thought was interesting but am finding hard to draw a moral from. I have only been to Felixstowe once. It must have been some time in the nineties and I was there to preach at Bethesda Baptist Church. In the afternoon I went for a walk with a man whose name I do not recall. As we walked near the beach he picked up a brown pebble that had a grain and he told me that it was fossilised wood.
Well, I took the pebble home and showed it to my son and carefully explained how it had been formed (taking a creationist viewpoint). Anyway, he told me that in school the next day he showed it to his teacher and announced to her that it was an original part of Noah's ark! His teacher was very good about it and suggested that may be he had got something wrong, which he clearly had. Perhaps the moral is how easy it is to miscommunicate. I certainly managed to that time and put two people in a rather awkward situation.
Wales have been doing pretty well at the Euros with a draw and a win so far against Switzerland and Turkey. They play Italy tomorrow but I won't be watching. Thankfully the score is not so important. As I understand it, Wales are definitely through to the last 16 again and will probably face Russia or Finland. A win at that point and the quarter finals beckon once again but let's be patient and see what happens. It's been great to see so far though far from perfect. Bale and Ramsey have shone but goals have come from Moore, Roberts and Ramsey.
It was brilliant to be at a live conference this last week. Yes, we still had to wear masks and socially distance and there was no bookstall but there were live speakers and coffee and lollipops and people to talk to. Brilliant! I love being with Presbyterians as despite the few differences we pretty much agree and they have some excellent men who can be so helpful. One can feel an outsider a little but I am well used to that in all the circles I inhabit. The Catalyst conference is organised by IPC (International Presbyterian Church not to be confused with EPCUW or any other bunch) and was at their church in Ealing. Ealing is on our doorstop and my wife works in nearby Hanwell so I was able to get a lift in and out with a little walk between. Perfect. It was also a joy to be there with both my father-in-law and one of my sons. Three generations!
The conference was organised so that all three days replicated themselves which has advantages and disadvantages. The overall title was Apolgetics and there was plenty on that. Mostly I loved it but being out of practice I got rather tired. The heatwave added to that. Each day we began with James Torrans from Inverness gave us Bible readings from John 11, Mark 2, etc. He was followed by James Eglinton, seniot lecturer at Edinburgh University. He introduced us to Gisbertiurs Voetius, Herman Bavinck and J H Bavinck in order to explore our subject. The first paper on categorising sin was most interesting but all good and stimulating stuff.
After lunch Dan Strange, until recently at Oak Hill and now moving to the north east, is a good speaker for the graveyard slot and he kept us awake with his extrapolations from. J H Bavinck on magnetic points. Each day ended with wonderful expositions from Romans by Sinclair Ferguson. Good days.
The conference is planned for the same time next year. Meanwhile look out for this year's conference on video. See here.
Yesterday we had about sixty there for the Annual Lecture of the Evangelical Library. This is the second time we have had the annual lecture in this format and although there are some disadvantages there are also some advantages to this form.
This year is the five hundredth anniversary of Luther's famous appearance before the Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms. We were taken very ably through the events that led up to and followed the Diet by David McKay, Professor of Systematic Theology, etc at the Reformed Theological College in Belfast and pastor of Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian church in the city.
So back in Childs Hill last Lord's Day. We began with just a small number at communion. It was one of those days that we sometimes get here, however, when by the time we finished, there were not only many visitors but they were from all sorts of places too. We had one lady, one man and a mother and daughter not normally there and about seven people who I had never met. These were from the Philippines, South Korea, Chile, South Africa, Portugal, Iran, Afghanistan and England. I do hope people return. I preached on a text, Hebrews 13:6, which I thought I was preaching on for the first time but when I check I find that I preached it midweek at the very end of last year. The sermons are similar but quite distinct. In the evening we were just on Zoom and we went back to Joshua, to Joshua 19. Hard work but worth doing.
For our Wednesday zoom we looked again at one of these psalms that have never preached or at least have no record of preaching and so cannot have touched in over twenty years of ever. This time it was the very simple Psalm 113. Praise the LORD for he is great and he is good. Numbers continue to be below par but still not bad (about 12) and we had a good time of prayer with many leading in prayer.
It was good to be back at Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Hilperton in Wiltshire in person one again. The sermons can be found here. I preached on Hope and Love and hopefully made a better stab than in Childs Hill. I preached the sermon from 1 Corinthians 13 "backwards" which worked better. Eleri's sister Catrin is in the church and so we had a lovely time with them and with other family members too the next day as well. We were also able to visit our friends the Strivens in Bradford on Avon. Good times. Reuben Saywell was preaching here and they had a few visitors and a good day.
I seem to have got very far behind with things here but I am going to try to catch up. So back on May 27 we were in Hertfordshire for a wedding. Restricted to thirty as weddings are these days we were honoured to be invited. The pic shows the Bride and Groom with her parents. We have known the family for years and years. It was a lovely wedding in a very nice place. I was marrying them and also preached. Great to be involved.
I am slow again with this report on our midweek meeting. This is probably because a certain sameness has crept in and so there seems little to write. Sameness is not necessarily a bad thing. Familiarity can breed contempt - something to avoid. Once again, we were a decent number and able to meet on Zoom though not in person. We looked at another psalm - Psalm 115. It was a privilege to be there.