Archive for March, 2009

Heresy?

31 March 2009

Martin Downes has a helpful post on how the contemporary church treats/responds to error. In today’s social climate this type of thinking is not really welcomed, but that does not excuse us from a proper response destructive doctrine.

I remember some time ago hearing Sinclair Ferguson speaking about the church fathers and the early Christian church referring to their context of many martyrs but also a concern to mark out heresies, he said something to the effect of “The early church knew that martyrdom could not destroy the church, but heresy could.” I wonder what people today would say could destroy the church? I double either martyrdom or heresy would be mentioned.

Wee Rosie

25 March 2009

Things in the Luehrmann household have changed recently with the birth of wee Rosemary Lena on Monday night. Here is an explanation of her name.
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Rosie’s name incorporates her gran Mary’s name. She is a godly wife, mother, and grandmother, a model for our wee girl of trusting in and following Christ.

Lena is a christian woman living in Papua New Guinea. We’ve prayed for her and her family since the Moores (Carrubbers missionaries) arrived in Itutang in 2004. 3 years later, when the gospel was preached in her village, she became a Christian. Now Lena, which means “the bright one,” radiates the brightness of being called out of darkness into the glorious light of the gospel through her constantly joyful spirit! We look forward to sharing this story with Rosie someday! Our prayer is that Rosemary Lena will become a godly woman who radiates the joy of the Lord!

The Co-ordination of Grace and Duty

23 March 2009

Hugh Martin from an article by this name, speaking of God’s enabling and a person’s willingness:

There is no interval of time between them. Their nature is such as to preclude this. If at any moment God is working in you, then at that very moment you are willing and doing. Your present godly will or work is not the result of God’s past, but of God’s present working in you. And God’s present working in you is not the cause of any future godly will and deed, unless God shall work in you then as well as now. Your work and his are simultaneous. Neither of them is first in point of time.

Good stuff. Especially the reminder to not rest on past grace thinking it is sufficient for today.

Heroes

21 March 2009

This looks to be a fantastic volume! 

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The description from the website:

Description: The Bible no more knows a separate class of heroes than it does of saints. Because of Jesus Christ, every christian is extraordinary and attains to glory. Yet grace so shines in some (as in the portraits of Hebrews 11), that it lightens the path of many. As A.W. Tozer could write, ‘Next to the Holy Scriptures, the greatest aid to the life of faith may be christian biographies.’

Iain Murray has already written on a number of Christians he specially admires. A few of them return to these pages, but with special reference to their thought – George Whitefield on Christian unity, for example. Most space, howver, is given to little-known figures, including Robert Kalley and William Hewitson who shared in ‘the greatest happening in modern missions’, and to Charles and Mary Colcock Jones who took much-loved slaves with them to heaven.

There is much new research in these pages, and reminders of how much is missed by those who fail to read of the work of God in history. Christians who know what Christ did ‘yesterday’ are energized to trust and serve him today.

If you’ve had the opportunity to hear Iain Murray speak on any of the people mentioned, you know we are all in for a treat.

The power to kill found in one dying

20 March 2009

Hugh Martin draws our attention back to the cross of Christ for the power to live the christian life and kill sin.

Finally, let me speak briefly of the cure of heart plagues. The discovery of heart plagues may be effected by examining the life and character of Christ. The cure of them will be found in his death. It is the death of Christ alone that has virtue in it to heal our plagues, to mortify and slay our lusts. All your resolutions, all your wise plans of surmounting and expelling your plagues, will never succeed unless you bring them continually to the cross of Christ. You must have believing communion with a crucified Saviour if you are to mortify the deeds of the body, to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. Without this you may change one for another, but you will never aright mortify or vanquish any. Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity. There is secret virtue in his blood, received by faith alone, which powerfully wastes the energy of every plague and sinful habit. Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Engrafted into his death we become dead to sin, and sin reigns not in our mortal bodies, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof. Whatever heart plague you have discovered, bring it to the cross of Christ.

Calvin and Servetus

19 March 2009

In a recent question and answer panel Steve Lawson had this to say about Calvin’s role in the burning of Servetus. Nothing new here really, but it is helpful to have all the information in one place and stated so succinctly. Next time someone blames Calvin for burning Servetus, send this info on to them.

In 1553, the city fathers burned Servetus – Calvin did not. Calvin did not prosecute him, and had no powers of execution. Calvin wasn’t even a citizen of Geneva at the time. Calvin was only an expert witness, and argued for a more humane death. The RCC had already condemned Servetus to death, and Servetus begged not to be sent back to their hands. Servetus was given the option to leave Geneva, and refused. Servetus was executed by civil authorities, not elders or pastors or teachers. The civil authorities were Calvin’s enemies, not his supporters. They consulted other cities’ leaders, and they agreed to put him to death. Servetus would have been executed, regardless. Servetus defiantly ignored a warning not to come to Geneva. He was the only heretic to be executed for blasphemy, as opposed to the hundreds of thousands martyred by Rome during the Inquisition.

Garry Williams Appointed as Full-time Director of the John Owen Centre

18 March 2009

 

This is very exciting (full disclosure: I am finishing up my thesis for my MTh through the John Owen Centre, and Garry Williams is my thesis advisor). Please pray for the family as they prepare for the coming transition and the new role ahead.

London Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Garry Williams as full-time Director of the John OwenCentre. Dr Williams will take up his appointment on 1st July, 2009.

Dr Williams studied theology at Oxford and worked as a school teacher. Since 1999 he has served as Tutor in Church History and Doctrine at Oak Hill Theological College in London. He has published popular and academic works on subjects ranging from The Da Vinci Code to the doctrine of the atonement.

The John Owen Centre was established by the Board of LTS to help equip evangelical churches in the UK to address contemporary theological issues. The Centre provides high-level theological teaching for ministers of the Gospel and other church leaders and teachers, as well as opportunities for in-depth theological study. Its aim is to refresh and enrich their ministries for the nourishment and strengthening of the people of God.

The distinctives of the Centre are its consistently Reformed theology, its nonconformist identity, its international connections, its commitment to working with men already in ministry, and its offering both demanding formal academic programmes and more easily accessed shorter blocks of high level teaching and study.

Since its inception the Centre has offered a two year part-time Master’s programme from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) in Historical & Systematic Theology and has organised a number of conferences on significant theological issues of the day. It runs a theological study group as well as advanced classes in Hebrew and Greek.

Dr Williams will continue this work and seek to develop new activities, including:

         Guided study-leave periods for ministers. These will provide an opportunity for ministers to spend time in private study at LTS. Guidance will be given on a programme of reading, together with one-to-one or small group tutorials.

         Study days on particular theological topics. These will involve one day intensive lectures and seminars with small groups of ministers on important and currently live theological topics.

Robert StrivensPrincipal of LTS, comments: ‘This is a very exciting development for the John Owen Centre. We have for some time wanted to find a full-time Director for the Centre, to lead and develop the work to its full potential. We are delighted that Garry will be taking up this post in the summer. His learning and experience make him admirably qualified for the role and we look forward enormously to his joining the team here.’

Garry Williams comments: ‘I am hugely excited about directing and developing the already excellent work of the John Owen Centre. The role of the Westminster faculty in teaching the ThM places its formal academic programme among the best in the world. And yet alongside that, the JOC has the flexibility to offer high level theological teaching that does not require registration on a long-term programme. This gives it an unusual agility in meeting the needs of ministers who are already serving churches. I am praying that the work of the JOC will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ as His under-shepherds are strengthened in their care for His flock.’

If you would like to receive details of the John Owen Centre’s forthcoming activities, or if you would like to be involved in praying for and supporting the work, please email: johnowen@ltslondon.org.

More truth for all time

14 March 2009

Here are a few more gems from Calvin’s wee book. The first deals with the nature of the Christian faith. Calvin writes,

Christian faith is, rather, a firm and solid assurance of the heart, by which we cling securely to the mercy of God which is promised to us through the gospel.

Here is another that discusses the work of a pastor and why a proper title for him is a ‘servant of the word.’

Let us remember, however, that the authority which scripture attributes to pastors is wholly contained within the limits of the ministry of the word, for the fact is that Christ has not given this authority to men, but to the Word of which he has made these men servants.

There seems to be an awful lot of authoritative speaking in the church these days which is divorced from the word, and those who do speak authoritatively from the word are often labeled as proud and arrogant. The irony is thick, as well as the sadness deep.

Calvin – Truth for all time

12 March 2009

I recently started Calvin’s wee book Truth for all Time. It is somewhat of an abstract of his institutes, the bare bones of it, as it were. It is filled with gems. Here are a few from the opening chapter.

We should long for [God] with all the affection of our hearts, and not find rest and peace anywhere except in him alone.

[True godliness] embraces his righteousness and detests offending him more than dying.

The will, wicked and full of corrupt affections, hates God’s justice more than anything.

Some challenging words, and some very insightful words into the human condition. In a world that cries out for justice, it must be asked, justice on whose terms? The answer, anyone’s but God’s. In the eyes of the world, God’s justice makes him into a monster, whereas human justice makes one a saviour.

Shepherds’ Conference

5 March 2009

My apologies for the lack of posts. I have the great joy of attending the Shepherds Conference this week.

In the mean time, consider these thoughts from the book Big Thoughts for Little People – The Gospel: (this is paraphrased as I don’t have it in front of me) God created you and wants you to be happy. True happiness only comes from being with God.

That’s pretty profound for a children’s book. Spot on really. God wants you to be with him and knows that he is the only source of happiness. My last sermon dealt with the overarching idea of Scripture that God created the world in order to have a place for him to dwell with man. I’ll post more on this next week.