Thursday, 7 December 2017

All That Is in God

All That Is in God

All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism – July 13, 2017

This important study on the simplicity of God has certainly generated a lot of discussion in Reformed circles. Dealing with the issue of the immutability of God he defends the traditional orthodox and catholic view against revisionist arguments.  Those he interacts with (or rather against) include Donald Macleod and John Frame, so it should be of interest to those in the Free Church of Scotland. Amazon are offering the Kindle version at an amazing discountof £3.70 :


The Preacher, The Pastor and the Theologian.

The Preacher, The Pastor and the Theologian.

You can be an excellent theologian but a poor preacher.  You cannot be an excellent preacher but a poor theologian. You can be an excellent theologian but a poor pastor.  You cannot be an excellent pastor but a poor theologian.

Both preaching and pastoring are nurtured and developed by a thorough acquaintance with God’s word and an awareness of confessional theology. Sadly, when we focus on producing so-called popular preachers or practical shepherds, to the neglect of foundational theological and biblical knowledge, what we produce is a caricature of both true preaching and faithful pastoring.

Keeping Spiritually Fresh

Keeping Spiritually Fresh

Sometimes things just come together – what I am reading, what I am listening to, and what I am discussing with others.

This week I have been catching up on the White Horse Inn podcasts, listening to the excellent current series on Worship:

I have also been listening to an excellent address given by the Rev Ian Hamilton at a fraternal this week in Glasgow.  His theme was “What is the Church For?”, and his emphasis was that the church is the gathered assembly of God’s people engaged in glorifying God collectively in their worship.  This was in counterbalance to an inaccurate evangelical idea that the church assembled in worship is of somewhat secondary importance, and the main purpose of Sunday worship is to teach God’s people and encourage them.  Ian emphasised that it is when we are worshipping God and glorifying him in our collective devotion that we will be most blessed.

Then I was at a local church meeting where the theme was “Keeping Spiritually Fresh.”  The video and teaching materials, (from an Anglican source), suggest that there are six ingredients for a healthy devotional life:

  •      Keep an open Bible.
  •       Be ruthless with sin.
  •     Think much of Christ.
  •     Pray often.
  •     Make the most of other Christians.
  •   Maintain a regular quiet time.

Now these in themselves are excellent things, and I commend all of them.  But they are essentially individualistic and pietistic.  What is missing?  The very emphasis that Ian was underlining, the place of corporate worship on the Lord’s Day – the ministry of the Word, Sacraments and Prayer.  We sometimes call them the ordinary means of grace.

In Reformed theology and practice it is more usual to speak of piety than spirituality. In Reformed practice piety is not merely individualistic, it is rooted in our union with Christ and the expression of that union in the collective worship of the church:

“We believe that the way in which Christ communicates the benefits of His mediation to those who are united with Him “are all his ordinances; especially, the Word, sacraments, and prayer” (WLC 154). That is to say, the means of our spiritual growth—the very engine of Presbyterian piety—is worship.”

(A Heart Aflame: Understanding Presbyterian and Reformed Piety by Dr. Sean Lucas; accessed at )

Modern evangelicalism is essentially individualistic; it struggles to find a place for the corporate worship of God’s people on the Lord’s Day, sitting under the authoritative preaching of the Word and celebrating the Lord’s Supper.  This is why in the USA among so-called evangelicals church attendance averages once or twice a month. Church worship services are side-lined - twice a month rather than twice on  Lord’s Day.

What we need to keep us spiritually fresh and maintain biblical piety is not an either/or approach but a both/and approach.  Commitment to and worship in the local church each Lord’s Day is the primary and essential means to maintain spiritual health.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

I’ve Been Jammed

I’ve Been Jammed

Alisdair Smith introduced me to the concept and has done an excellent job in producing the videos for the National Day of Prayer:  

May I encourage others in Scotland to engage in biblical prayer for the nation on St Andrew’s Day. 

Overview of the First Four Commandments

Overview of the First Four Commandments

An outline from last Sunday, as we looked at the first four commandments concerning our duty to God, (Exodus 20). 

That duty is summed up in the requirement to love God with the totality of our being.  Love demonstrates itself in obedience.  The first four commands are essentially concerned with the worship of God. We therefore show our love by keeping God’s commandments regarding his worship.

1     WHY we worship – v1, 2.  He is our personal God and powerful redeemer.

2    WHOM we worship – v3.  There are to be no other gods before God’s face. This excludes the worship of false gods, (paganism), the worship of a god of our own imagination, (pseudo-christian liberalism), and the worship of those less than God, (Mary and saints).

3    HOW we worship – v 4 – 7.
3.1       Not by the use of images or icons, which can not represent the infinite God.  Icons of Christ fail to truly represent his deity – we worship the whole Christ, not merely his humanity.
3.2      Not by insincerity in worship. We use his name in vain when we do that in worship that he has not commanded.

4    WHEN we worship.  This is a principle imbedded in the very heart of the moral law. For Christians the day has changed but the principle has been preserved.

5    Conclusion – we view these four worship  commandments through the lens of Christ, his person and work. He is the reason why we worship, our personal God and powerful redeemer.  He is the one whom we worship alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God.  He is the one who directs us how to worship, in spirit and truth, and in simplicity and sincerity.  We need no visual representation because Christ, the reality is present by his Spirit. He is the one who dictates when we worship, on the Lord’s Day or Jesus’ Day.

When we preach the commandments we guard the purity of the worship of God.  Ignorance of the first four commandments is the reason that so much evangelical worship is sub-biblical.

This is simply a skeleton.  Personal application was imbedded throughout.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Pro-Smacking Fundamentalism

The online propaganda sheet for secularism, rabid Scottish nationalism, LGBTism etc, the Herald, has sunk to new depths with its headline, “Revealed: Pro-smacking lobbyists funded by Christian fundamentalists.” 

In its “exclusive” revelation it uncovers the fact that Christians are against criminalising loving parents who occasionally physically chastise their children.  Shock, horror, outrage!

The language is interesting, It speaks of the “pro-smacking” lobby and does not call them the “anti-criminalisation of parents” lobby.  This gives the impression that Christians spend their energy thinking of ways to abuse their children and traumatise them by physical punishment and should be defined as pro-smackers.  Of course when it comes to a similar issue, say the protection of unborn lives, the Herald will not speak of the “pro-life” movement, but use derogatory terms such as anti-abortion of anti-choice.  

Then again, why speak of "Christian opposition" when you can bring in the catch all scare word, “fundamentalist. It seems that anyone now who is a Bible believing Christian is a “fundamentalist”.  (This in contrast to the acceptable face of Christianity seen in the Church of Scotland which is anti-smacking, pro-gay, and most definitely not Bible thumping – good liberal values acceptable to the secular mafia)

Of course, if you can castigate these fundamentalists, such as the Christian Institute, as also showing their rabid fanaticism in opposing the draconian State Named Person legislation - which seeks to appoint a state guardian for every child in Scotland who will determining if the child’s well-being is being furthered or hindered by parental care, instruction and example - so much the better.  You see these pro-smackers are also anti-child protection, the very essence of evil, or so the Herald would have us believe.

Any opposition to the SNP’s support of criminalising loving parents is ipso facto proof that the opponents are fundamentalists, who are daring to do the unimaginable, namely, argue from the Bible as well as argue from common sense, history and the consensus of popular opinion.  The gay marriage activist and anti Christian Green MSP, John Finnie, is quoted as being very concerned with the  view that there may be a “theological basis” to arguments against a smacking ban. It seems you are not permitted to argue from theological premises, but it is perfectly acceptable to do so from anti-theological or atheistic premises.

This is why Christian commentators who say that this is not an issue that the Church should campaign on are mistaken.  It is simply yet another club that atheistic secularism will use to beat Christian parents.  If this passes, (and due to the duplicity of the SNP who have renegaded on previous assurances that they will not legislate on this matter but now support the Bill, it will pass), it does not take a soothsayer to prophesy that among the first to be target will be Christian parents.  Just as the gays have not targeted Muslim bakers, photographers and printers, so the secularists will focus their anti-smacking enforcement on Christian families.

I can imagine a Named Person, already appalled that little Johny’s parents have dared to teach him that in God’s eyes marriage can only be between a man and a woman, that homosexual conduct is sin and that we cannot change our gender just because it feels right, interrogating the helpless child and asking, “Has Mummy or Daddy ever smacked you or in any way threatened your well-being by sending you to the naught-step or temporarily withdrawing TV privileges?” By coaxing the hapless child to incriminate parents the secular State enforcement machine will take another step in the battle against the destructive influence of Christianity.

Write to your local and regional MSP to express your opposition to this proposed legislation, pray against it individually and corporately and STOP BUYING THE HERALD!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Innovations in Worship

Following on from my commendation in the last posting on the Ten Commandments, I read this amusing anecdote concerning the Rev William B Robertson, (1820 – 1886), who was minister of the United Presbyterian Congregation in Irvine, (1843 – 1886):

“During his whole ministry Dr. Robertson took a warm interest in the devout expression of the public worship of the Presbyterian Church. He had no sympathy with the idea of ministers being required to follow a prescribed liturg ; but, on the other hand, he was often pained by the slovenly manner in which the various parts of public worship were conducted. From time to time he introduced minor changes into the forms of the service in his own church, as he found that the people became willing to acquiesce in them. A lady who was connected with another congregation in Irvine said to him one day : " I hear that you are introducing some dreadful innovations into your church service." "Indeed," he replied ; "what innovations?" "Oh," she said, "I am told that you read the Ten Commandments at the communion table." "Is that all you have heard of? " he rejoined ; " We have introduced a far greater innovation than that." "What is it ? " asked the good lady somewhat anxiously. "We try to keep them," was his reply.”

“Scottish Clerical Stories and Reminiscences” by Jerdan, Charles, Edinburgh 1920