My friend Barry King, pastor of Edlesborough Baptist Church and MC of the Grace Baptist Partnership, is labouring to grow leaders, plant churches and reach nations. He lets me know that there is a special event coming up for men in England and Wales who are considering the possibility of church planting and/or pastoral ministry. GBP will be running a webinar, entitled A Noble Task, to give interested men an opportunity to hear a talk about ministry and the preparation (educational and otherwise) needed to do it effectively.
The Noble Task webinar will take place, God willing, on Thursday 31 July 2014 from 9:00 – 10:00pm.
Participants will also have an opportunity to complete an online assessment. This will assist us as we develop plans to train increasing numbers of men for ministry in general and church planting in particular. If you are interested in this event, please register your intention to participate by emailing Barry King at <email@example.com> and you will receive log-in details nearer the date. Participation is limited to 300 men so please respond promptly.
Chapter 20 of the 1689 Confession of Faith (“Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof”) opens with the following statement:
1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise, the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual, for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
To all you 1689rs (and others) out there, a question about the opening words: “The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life . . .”
Do you read that as a statement of consequence? Would an acceptable paraphrase be something like, “Because the covenant of works was broken by sin, and so made unprofitable to [not able to grant] life . . .” as if the covenant of works could and would have been profitable to life had it not been broken?
Or, if our confessing forefathers had wanted to say that, would they have said, “The covenant of works being broken by sin, it became unprofitable unto life, so God . . .”? In which case, what is the sense of the phrase as it stands?
A minor point, but interesting. Grateful for any thoughts in the comments. Thanks in advance.
Here I try to map Piper’s assessment – “twelve features [not unique and exclusive distinctives] of the movement as I see it” which are, he said, “not dividing lines” between the old and the new Calvinism, matters of separation – over mine for the purpose of a very brief analysis. I understand that we are not always saying the same things, but it is interesting to look at the points of contact.
See the whole at Reformation21.
Many readers of this blog will doubtless know the name of Michael Haykin. In November last year, Michael reached his 60th birthday, and was presented with a festschrift to mark the occasion, The Pure Flame of Devotion: The History of Christian Spirituality. It is a fine volume, and the hardback is currently available slightly cheaper than the paperback at Amazon.com, and pretty much at the same price through suppliers at Amazon.co.uk.
With a rich selection of contributors (Douglas Adams, Peter Beck, Joel R. Beeke, Nathan A. Finn, Keith Goad, Crawford Gribben, Francis X. Gumerlock, David S. Hogg, Erroll Hulse, Clint Humfrey, Sharon James, Mark Jones, Sean Michael Lucas, Tom J. Nettles, Dennis Ngien, Robert W. Oliver, Kenneth J. Stewart, Carl R. Trueman, Austin R. Walker, Donald S. Whitney, Malcolm B. Yarnell, and Fred G. Zaspel) and such a fine theme, this is certainly worth looking into. Enjoy!
I have recently been looking into and using Logos a little more (review on its way, I hope) and I thought I might draw attention to a few bits and pieces. For those who don’t know, the Logos reader is free and you then just tack on the substance you want. In addition, when looking for new material, Logos do something called “community pricing” which is basically a way of pre-ordering stuff at a great price, with higher number of bidders driving down the price.
Of interest to Reformed Baptists might be some of the following:
- Baptist Covenant Theology Collection: yes, you can easily define and defend yourself as a Reformed, Particular and covenantal Baptist with this cracking collection of 17 volumes of primary source material. As a bonus, you can cause apoplexy in certain circles simply by using the words “covenant” and “Baptist” in the same sentence – throw in Reformed for some real fireworks! The bidding finishes on Friday 14 March, and the more bids we get, the lower we will drive the already happily-ridiculous price of about $30. Join the fun and reap the benefits.
- The Works of John Gill: whatever you say about John Gill, he cannot be ignored in the history of Baptist theological thought and development. This puppy has been languishing for too long in the ‘gathering interest’ section and could do with a little momentum being added to it. Besides, who would sniff at 19 volumes for about $40?
- The Works of John Brown of Haddington: not a Baptist, I know, but what a doozy of a collection – 14 volumes currently running at about $30. His self-interpreting Bible would be worth this alone, but add in his material on the Shorter Catechism, his work on the Psalms, and other gems, and you’re on to a real winner.
- The Works of Abraham Booth: back with the Baptists, and the outstanding Abraham Booth. Again, this looks more like it is gathering dust than interest. “My brothers, these things ought not to be so!” When I remind you that – for what might at the moment be only $15 – you would get not only the magnificent Reign of Grace but also his Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners and his Apology for the Baptists – no snickering at the back! – then you really have no cause to be sitting on your hands.
So, ladies and gentlemen, please crack on, get your orders in, and make sure you help us all share in a feast of good things.
Last night at a meeting at Maidenbower we heard a stonking sermon from Andy Young of Cheltenham on the preciousness of God’s word, highlighting how we ought to receive it, our appropriate response to it, and the fearful rejection of it. In his introduction, Andy made reference to the video below about the Kimyal people:
That further reminded me of this video of Chinese believers receiving the Word of God in their own language for the first time . . .
. . . and of this video of Christians in Africa getting their own Bibles:
What is the Bible to you? Is it better than thousands of pieces of gold and silver? Do you treasure it? I am reminded of a famous sermon by John Rogers. What difference would losing your Bible make to you?
I doubt that many readers of this blog would know a brother by the name of Johnny Farese. Johnny was born with spinal muscular atrophy. By the time I had the privilege of meeting him in person, he had been unable to sit up for about ten years. He was paralysed in both arms and legs, his body twisted and passive. But, for a man who the doctors prophesied would not live beyond his eighth birthday, Johnny led a remarkably productive life. The quote which adorned almost all his emails was this: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.”
With these words understood in the light of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus, Johnny set out to serve as he was able. He learned to code and for years maintained a mailing list for and a directory of Reformed Baptist churches, generating much mutual interest and fellowship. All this he did using an intricate arrangement of technology operated through a small tube.
I met Johnny when preaching at a conference in Florida. He listened to pretty much everything he could online, and – the day after the first sermon, when I went to see him – he gave me a lovely illustrated copy of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, to which I had referred in passing, which evidently coloured my preaching in Johnny’s eyes, and which he had immediately ordered as an expression of kind appreciation. We spoke about some of his labours, his hopes and his fears, the struggles and the joys of his condition. I spoke to his brother, Paul, and his wife and children, with whom Johnny lived, and whose selfless care of him brought its own challenges and burdens.
Johnny’s brief written testimony is here, and a few years ago he was featured in a television programme:
Johnny fell asleep in Christ last Lord’s day afternoon. He went to be with Christ, which is far better. His soul has left that battered and twisted body in which he sought to serve his Lord so faithfully and fruitfully. He is present with the Lord, his soul made perfect, his joy entire. He is now looking forward to the day when Christ returns, when his soul shall be reunited with his body, but not as it goes into the ground.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1Cor 15.42-54)
On that Lord’s day morning, I was preaching to the church which I serve on Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8.14-15). This woman was saved (and there are parallels with our deliverance from the fiery fever of sin); having been delivered, she served. Johnny knew what it was to have his soul delivered from sin, and he knew what it was to serve. The next time you are tempted to excuse yourself from duties, shirk present responsibilities, and let opportunities pass you by, you should remind yourself of a man who could move only his mouth and his eyes, and offered them readily and constantly to the Lord.
Johnny is still serving his Saviour. He will serve him forever, soon with a restored body to match his striving soul – full of strength and vigour, every capacity and faculty thoroughly enlivened and invigorated, knowing no hindrance or obstacle – in the new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells, and where sickness, sorrow, pain and trouble are long past.