Archive for the ‘Christ’ Category

How to waste 2012

3 January 2012

Here are 4 easy ways to waste 2012:

1. Refuse Jesus

2. Forget Jesus

3. Ignore Jesus

4. Isolate Jesus

To refuse Jesus is to think that you don’t need him at all. To think that life makes sense and has meaning without him. To think that you can manage life, and death, on your own.

To forget Jesus is to think that you only need him at the start of the christian life rather than the whole way through. To fail to preach the gospel to yourself each day looking to Christ in faith to meet all of your needs.

To ignore Jesus is to starve yourself and hold your breath. To neglect meeting and communion with Jesus in the word (food) and prayer (breathing).

To isolate Jesus is to not make the local church a priority. To amputate, as it were, parts of Christ’s body by not being a part of, accountable to, and involved in the local church.

So…don’t waste 2012. Look to Christ in faith, daily find all your needs met in him in the gospel, commune with him in the word and prayer each day, and crack on in your local church.

Union with Christ

2 December 2011

An historically underemphasised, yet crucial, topic is union with Christ. Just try to explain any aspect of the christian life (conversion through to glory) apart from union. So, it is with great enthusiasm that over the last week I received two books, both titled ‘Union with Christ’. The first is by Robert Letham and the second by Todd Billings. Now it is time to dig in. I’d also recommend Edward Donnelly’s Life in Christ, which is probably more accessible if someone is looking for a place to start.

While you are waiting for yours to arrive, read and meditate on Colossians 2 and 3. Paul grounds the whole of the christian life in union as well. Enjoy!

Jesus’ way is not our way

22 April 2011

I am the way to God: I did not come
To light a path, to blaze a trail, that you
May simply follow in my tracks, pursue
My shadow like a prize that’s cheaply won.
My life reveals the life of God, the sum
Of all he is and does. So how can you,
The sons of night, look on me and construe
My way as just the road for you to run?
My path takes in Gethsemane, the Cross,
And stark rejection draped in agony.
My way to God embraces utmost loss:
Your way to God is not my way, but me.
Each other path is dismal swamp, or fraud.
I stand alone: I am the way to God.

~ D A Carson on John 14.6

Jesus, our substitute

11 April 2011

Biting off more than I could chew, last night we thought through how to describe the substitution of Jesus for his people (springboarding from John 11.45-57). This is surely one of the greatest and most wonderful themes of the bible. Used 4 words: personal (it’s for specific people), voluntary (Jesus did it of his own accord), hellish (he suffered what we deserve), and sufficient (it is complete and all we need). Great to be reminded of Christ for us.

John 11.49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

 

Susan asks ‘But what does it all mean?’ Aslan answers, ‘It means that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.’

 

Guilt, Grace & Gratitude…to music

7 April 2011

Many will know that the format of the Heidelberg Catechism falls into the categories of guilt, grace, and gratitude. Or, how great my sins and misery are, how I may be delivered from them, and how I should respond for such deliverance. It seems quite a helpful paradigm to think in. You can see it very clearly with Isaiah (ch 6), the shepherds (Lk 2) and Peter (Lk 5.1-11).

I don’t know if this paradigm was in the author’s mind, but the song All I Have is Christ from Sovereign Grace follows this pattern. Here is a live version of the song with the lyrics following:

GUILT

Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

GRACE

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

GRATITUDE

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

A Nativity Hymn

9 February 2011

We are finishing up Luke 2 this Sunday and I ran across this wonderful hymn about the birth of Christ, which closes, rightly so, looking towards easter. I’m not a big fan of using the words ‘christmas’ and ‘easter’ in a hymn, but overall it is a fantastic hymn.

On a day when men were counted, God became the Son of Man,
That His Name in every census should be entered was His plan.
God, the Lord of all creation, humbly takes a creature’s place;
He Whose form no man has witnessed has today a human face.

On a night, while silent shepherds watched their flocks upon the plain,
Came a message with its summons brought by song of angel train:
Lo, in Bethlehem’s little village has arrived the shepherd King,
And each shepherd to his Master must his sheep as offering bring.

When there shone the star of David in the spangled eastern sky,
Kings arrived to pay their homage to the Christ, the Lord most high.
Yet not all, for lo, there soundeth through the streets a fearful cry;
For a king who will not worship has decreed that Christ must die.

Yet it’s Christmas, and we greet Him, coming even now to save;
For the Lord of our salvation was not captive to the grave.
Out of Egypt came the Savior, man’s Immanuel to be—
Christmas shines with Easter glory, glory of eternity.

~Daniel T. Niles from Sri Lanka

Particular and Free

2 February 2011

It is always interesting to see scripture writers, and indeed Jesus himself, speak of the particular electing love of God and the free offer and invitation of the gospel. Perhaps one of the clearest places where these two are seen together is Matthew 11.20-30.

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:20-30 ESV)

Jesus speaks of God hiding and revealing, of his will that some be saved and others not, and then he invites everyone within earshot to come to him for salvation. Particular and Free.

Why read the marrow?

10 January 2011

The Marrow of Modern Divinity. It’s been in my ‘to read’ pile for a few years now. This seems a good  time to work through it, with some thoughts and musings of others.

It’s had a remarkable place in the history of the Scottish Church. And a year or so ago Christian Focus brought out a wonderfully re-typeset edition, which makes it even more valuable as it is now able to be navigated by any reader.

Why read it, you ask? This is from Fisher’s forward:

O sir, if the truths contained in this dialogue were but as much in my heart, as they are in my head, I were a happy man; for then should I be more free from pride, vain glory, wrath, anger, self-love, and love of the world, than I am; and then should I have more humility, meekness, and love, both to God and man, than I have. Oh! then should I be content with Christ alone, and live above all things in the world.

If you want a head start and an historical context to set it in, I can do no better than recommend Sinclair Ferguson’s essential lectures on the marrow. Worth listening to each year. (It is in 3 parts: part 1, part 2, and part 3 – unfortunately the audio is poor. You can also purchase them from Westminster Seminary – not sure the audio quality of these)

Jesus Storybook Bible Video

24 December 2010

I’ve seen a few of these on youtube, but it looks like the whole bible has been done and you can watch a new one each week. They are excellent, creative, and enjoyable.

Here is one of the nativity videos.

The Nativity on BBC

24 December 2010

This year the BBC did a 4 part series retelling the nativity. Overall it was better than I expected. There’s a fair bit of artistic liberty taken, but there were also a number of things I appreciated. Without giving too much away I’ll give the good and the not-so-good (I’ll keep the discussion general so there are no plot spoilers if you decide to watch it).

The good:
– The social stigma of an un-wed pregnant woman at the time was shown quite well. Jesus was not just born in a humble setting (laid in a manger) but in low (questionable, to onlookers) circumstances as well.
– There is a fair bit of scripture used throughout, particularly with the angel Gabriel.
– I liked the way they developed the shepherd in the story. I think this captured shepherds’ place in society and the social/national aspects of the time.
– The shepherds and the magi worshipped the baby Jesus.

The not so good:
– Too many blue eyed actors/resses (I thought is was only Hollywood that did this!).
– The magi’s route was altered from the biblical account, as was their guide (they also seemed a bit absent minded?).
– I think the biblical account would put Gabriel’s appearance to Joseph at a different time.