Archive for June, 2009

What causes sorrow?

27 June 2009

In an article on the christian life, Hugh Martin speaks about the diverse affections between the christian and the non-christian in regards to what causes sorrow. Here is his description of what does (or should) cause sorrow for the Christian.

My deepest sorrows arise from sin; from finding that I am myself so unlike to God; from so frequently displeasing God; from having so little heart to seek or to enjoy fellowship with God; from having so little ability to worship and love and serve God; from beholding so little of the light of his countenance, and seeing so seldom his glorious goings in the sanctuary.

Oh, that God would allow us these sorrows, and grace to repent and experience his joy.

Ferguson on pastoral counseling

26 June 2009

I found these remarks by Sinclair Ferguson very helpful and found myself nodding and agreeing with what he was saying. This is from a portion of the panel discussion at the NEXT conference. The men were discussing how to help someone struggling with sin (including ourselves) who comes for counseling.

Sinclair Ferguson on pastoral counseling

Sinclair Ferguson – Resurrection & Return

25 June 2009

Sinclair-Ferguson-finalOne of the preachers I most benefit from is Sinclair Ferguson. There are quite a lot of places to get his sermons. His church has a podcast and most the conferences he speaks at put the messages online. 2 that I listened to recently that have been particularly helpful are from the NEXT conference. The entire conference looks fantastic with the focus being the person of Christ. Ferguson spoke of Christ’s resurrection and return. Both messages are a feast for the soul and Christ exalting. Well worth your time.

Calvin on the work of Christ

24 June 2009

Institutes II.xvi.19

When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the least portion of it from any other quarter. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it; if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in his anointing; strength in his dominion; purity in his conception; gentleness in his nativity, in which he was made like us in all respects, in order that he might learn to sympathise with us: if we seek redemption, we shall find it in his passion; acquittal in his condemnation; remission of the curse in his cross; satisfaction in his sacrifice; purification in his blood; reconciliation in his descent to hell; mortification of the flesh in his tomb; newness of life in his resurrection; immortality also in his resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in his entrance into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in his kingdom; secure anticipation of judgement in the power of judging committed to him. In short, since in him all kinds of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from him, and none from any other quarter.

The Odes Projects

21 June 2009

odesI hadn’t heard of the Odes Project until I stumbled across them on iTunes looking for Fernando Ortega music. I only listened to a few of the songs, but these seem to be two fantastic albums. The quality of them is two-fold: content and music.

It would certainly be worth your time to read the few pages about the project on the project webpage.

The Odes Project is based on the Odes of Solomon, which is perhaps the earliest Christian hymnal known. It was discovered in the early 20th century and dates to the end of the 1st century, perhaps from the area of Antioch. So there is a fantastic link with the early Christian church in these odes/hymns. And for those in the Western church it is in a tradition that has stayed more with the Eastern church than the Western. Hughes Oliphant Old was also consulted on the historical aspect of these pieces.

The producer and primary man behind the project is John Schreiner. If you are not familiar with him, his name alone on these projects would show their worthwhileness. The artists on the album are varied. It is generally fairly subdued, though at times is a bit more upbeat. There are also musical flavours of the Middle East giving it some continuity with those who originally composed these odes.

The result is an enjoyable and worshipful devotional experience.

From the website:

The Odes are as eloquent about Christian love as the Franciscans compositions, as evocative about grace as Calvin’s Institutes, as profoundly indicative of holiness as the works of John and Charles Wesley; indeed, most Christians today admit feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit when hearing the singing of the Odes.

For those involved in leading worship services the website has chord charts, lead sheets, powerpoints, choral music, etc. Looks very helpful.

Adopted for Life – Russell Moore

19 June 2009

Adoption is a gospel issue. Adoption is spiritual warfare. The church ought to have within it a culture of adoption. Russell Moore hopes that you believe these things by the time you finish reading his book. Throughout his book he seamlessly weaves together theological aspects of adoption as he gives his experience in adopting. In this sense it is not a systematic treatment, nor is it a manual on adoption, but it is a passionate call for the church to rise and meet this gospel opportunity.

Moore offers a theological and gospel foundation for adoption. He writes, “Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as mere metaphor” (18).

His section on Joseph’s adoption of Jesus illuminates one aspect of Jesus (and Joseph’s) life that we seldom think of: He was adopted that we might be adopted.

Adoption even speaks into the evolution debate, “Perhaps what our churches need most of all in our defense of the faith against Darwinian despair is…to showcase families for whom love is more than gene protection” (80).

The last third of the book gets into some practical issues surrounding adoption. It must be said that this book is not only for people considering adoption. Moore doesn’t think everyone is called to adopt. Nor is it even just for those who know people who have adopted. All Christians should read this book. It will cause you to rejoice and worship because of your adoption by God, and it will challenge you to be involved in adoption at some level (adopting, giving to those who are adopted, promoting it at your church, etc.). Though not a theological treatise, this is surely one of the most practical books on spiritual adoption that has been written and is enthusiastically recommended.

Heirs with Christ – Joel Beeke

18 June 2009

Joel Beeke’s study on the Puritans on Adoption is a welcome addition to a very scant collection of historical studies on this doctrine. In fact, the doctrine of adoption itself has received relatively little attention. Perhaps one reason, maybe the key reason, is that there has been a “lack of dissent or heresy that needed to be addressed” (37).

In his first chapter Beeke seeks to dispel the myth that adoption was ignored by the Puritans. His effort provides a wonderfully comprehensive bibliography of 17th & 18th century writings on adoption. However, Beeke does note, “The Puritans are by no means exhaustive in their doctrine of spiritual adoption” (107).

The book is filled with gems and a helpful unfolding of the doctrine. Beeke summarises Manton and Charnock on the distinctions between adoption and regeneration (27). The Trinitarian involvement in adoption is gloriously explained by Stephen Marshall (45). John Cotton writes, “On the one hand, the believer shares with Jesus the unspeakable love of the Father, but on the other hand, he shares with Jesus the hostility, estrangement, and even hatred of the world” (69). The memorable Thomas Watson says “If we are adopted then we have an interest in all the promises: the promises are the children’s bread” (82).

Currently there are myriads of new studies on adoption (most unpublished). Still, there is room for more historical treatments of the doctrine. Going back to the 19th century to today there has been general consensus on the lack of treatment the doctrine has received. There is plenty more to be explored as to why this is the case, or why people thought it was the case.

Beeke’s brief book provides a helpful summary of the key points of the Puritans on adoption, and it is the doorway into a vast world of resources on adoption. The references in chapter 1, the footnotes throughout, and the extensive bibliography (citing specific pages/chapters in people’s works or more extensive theologies) give more than adequate direction for anyone wanting to study this subject further.

Ancient Word, Changing Worlds

15 June 2009

This is the title of Stephen Nichols’ (and Eric Brandt) new book. It is about the doctrine of scripture in the modern age, principally the 20th century. This is a timely book on an issue that has raised its head again within the church and evangelicalism. I found the book helpful and informative bringing things up to the present day. It is brief, yet insightful and penetrating.

One of the most helpful aspects of the book was it’s inclusion of primary source materials. Basically the book is 3 chapters with a conclusion, but after each a chapter is a chapter of primary source readings that are briefly introduced and set in their context. So there are 6 chapters total, 3 historical and 3 primary source readings. This is the second book, that I am aware of, that Nichols has done in this particular format (the other being For Us and Our Salvation, on the doctrine of Christ in the early church). This is a fantastic format for doing historical theology. The readings include people from different sides of the issues being discussed and it takes the reader onto the playing field, as it were. I would enthusiastically recommend both of these books and hope to see more done in this fasion.

M’Cheyne, etc.

12 June 2009

We’re home. While away my copy of Yeaworth’s thesis on Robert Murray McCheyne arrived. This was his PhD dissertation at Edinburgh University back in 1957. Through this new initiative, you can order yourself an electronic or bound copy (in this instance I opted for the bound copy, though I’ve also downloaded a number of pdfs and am waiting on a few more to be digitised – the pdfs are free if that makes any difference). I’m not sure when, but I hope to get into this sometime in the next 12 months. This is probably the most comprehensive study of McCheyne, and the bibliography is a great resource if you are wanted to read M’Cheyne’s sermons. Lots of manuscripts in New College library that don’t seem to be in print.

Over the next week or two I hope to post some thoughts on a few books I read while we were away. More to come.