The Wanderer

"As I walked through the wilderness of this world . . ."

Posts Tagged ‘Lord’s day

The Sunday sports dilemma

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A lot of good stuff here. Generally speaking, it is sad that it should be considered a dilemma. A challenge perhaps, but it ought to be no dilemma.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 14 June 2013 at 21:26

Posted in General

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Why Easter makes me a Sabbatarian

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Responding to an article in which the author claimed that Easter prevents his being a Sabbatarian, Iain D. Campbell at Reformation21 responds graciously with a piece on precisely why Easter makes him hold to a Lord’s day, concluding:

This has become something of a test case for interpreters and theologians, but I still feel obliged to argue for the abiding moral authority of all ten commandments; our point of departure is that the law is ordained by God, and recast in a new form in the new covenant era, as the law is now engraved onto new hearts by God’s Spirit. After all, that is what the Old Testament anticipated in Jeremiah 31:33: ‘I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts’.

It seems to me that the position that bests suits the biblical evidence is precisely that of the Westminster Confession of Faith, that the Sabbath of Sinai becomes the Lord’s Day of the resurrection, joyfully set apart by God’s people as their day of special witness and corporate worship. If we deregulate our time and make times of worship according to our own minds and consciences, we descend into the worst form of subjectivism and indiscipline in our Christian lives.

Christ deserves much more. He is our Lord. He is Lord of the Sabbath. He is Lord of all our days. Let us observe the rest he offers and the time for worship and devotion which he gives, that all our days shall be spent in happy service for him until he comes and brings the final Sabbath rest with him.

I am teaching through this topic in the church in Crawley at present, and – while I would doubtless have some slightly different nuances to Iain – I think we arrive at substantially the same place. Read all Iain’s brief piece here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 14 August 2012 at 15:15

Posted in Doxology

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Leaning on Lent

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But when we are told that this is the time of year when Christians begin to think again about the death and resurrection of Christ, does it not prompt the question of what we are supposed to be doing for the rest of the year? When men speak after their so-called Holy Week of the abating euphoria of the resurrection, surely they are explaining why a merely annual remembrance is insufficient? Christ Jesus is the risen Lord for 365 days of every year (plus the extra one when required), and we have a weekly opportunity for the distinct recollection of his death in an atmosphere conditioned by his resurrection. To flatten the whole year, perhaps rising only to a few unnatural annual peaks, is to miss so much, to lose so many things, to gain so little.

Christ died to set us free from empty things. Men died to liberate us from the rigamarole of unscriptural traditions and man-made routines and performances of religiosity. I hope that you will hear a voice from the blood-washed streets of the Old World, where those battles and the cost of their victory are ground into our consciousness, where the issues and enemies are neither distant nor tame, and where the lines remain clearly drawn in the collective memory of some of the Lord’s people, and consider whether or not the prizes so hardly won ought to be so quickly abandoned.

The conclusion of a heartfelt plea at Reformation21.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 17:15

What better?

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Some years ago a man who had attended our church announced to me that he thought it was legalistic to have and to ‘require’ an evening service. I said to him, “Well, let me tell you what we will be doing Sunday night. We will gather together with the saints, who are the excellent one in the earth in whom is all my delight (Psalm 16:3). We will gather as living stones to form a spiritual temple in which the Spirit of God will come and inhabit. We will have the words of the living God read and expounded to our needy hearts. We will sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs. We will have our hearts and our minds lifted toward heaven and be reminded of that eternal Sabbath Day.”

I then asked a simple question, “Are your plans for the day better than that?”

I am not saying that the Bible commands an evening worship service, but when one is available and those dynamics are in play–what is better?

As an adjunct to and, perhaps, slight improvement on Kevin DeYoung at this point, may I recommend Main Things on the issue?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 2 February 2012 at 17:15

Posted in Doxology

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Hooray for the twicers!

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Every church I’ve ever been a part of has had a Sunday evening service. I’ve always gone. It’s what I grew up with. It’s part of my rhythm as a Christian and I am immensely grateful for it. I hope this brief blog post will encourage other Christians and other churches to consider making an evening service a part of your Christian walk and worship.

Read Kevin DeYoung’s complete recommendation for morning and evening worship. Good stuff!

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 31 January 2012 at 14:37

Posted in Doxology

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Christ or Christmas?

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Christmas is coming. The waterfowl belonging to the tribe Anserini of the family Anatidae are becoming appetisingly tubby; you might wish to provide some kind of charitable donation to the elderly gentleman holding out his headgear in the hope of a handout (work with me on the folk song/nursery rhyme, please). However, this particular Christmas comes on Sunday 25th December. And with Christmas come all the demands that generally get loaded on the Christmas season, and Christmas day in particular. The gifts. The cards. The decorations. The food. The fun and games. The festive films. The family gatherings. Oh, and for some of us, if we have time, maybe a bit of church.

Except that this particular Christmas comes on Sunday 25th December. And because it falls on a Sunday, it raises a question of priority. My point here is not to question – either for assault or defence – the validity of the Christmas celebration. In a Western society we recognise that – love it, like it, or loathe it – this particular season and this particular day come loaded with all manner of cultural baggage, and a fair weight of at least nominally Christian freight as well.

There is nothing inherently wrong with gift-giving, card-sending, thankful feasting, and family gatherings, and much that is inherently good and pleasant. Furthermore, the incarnation is one of the most glorious mysteries of the Christian religion: “our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man,” as Wesley phrased it. Which child of God would not pause to delight in the wonder and excellence of the Godhead veiled in flesh, the incarnate Son – our Immanuel? In some senses this is the foundation of the atonement. There are depths of delight to be plumbed and high songs of praise to be sung. In addition, even in our degraded Western culture there may still be a few whose wish to go through the motions of worship, and that might bring them within earshot – we pray, within heartshot – of the truth of the Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which was lost (Lk 19.10). It may even prove a particularly profitable day in performing acts of mercy for those for whom Christmas is an appropriate (if merely moralistic to some) occasion for such.

But those good and pleasant things ought not to displace the things of first importance. The incarnation ought not to be a doctrine reserved for any particular time of year, and neither is it the particular focus of the Scriptural commands for the worship of Christ Jesus and the commemoration of his work. And while we embrace our opportunities for gospel witness, there are other realities that govern and condition our embrace of those opportunities. And even if you argue for a degree of Christian latitude in the fact or manner of your celebration (or not) of Christmas, there is nothing that requires a Christian – or anyone else – to make the 25th of December a day of particular focus.

But there is something that requires a Christian to make this 25th December a day of particular focus. It is the Lord’s day. It is that one day in seven, that first day of the week, that resurrection day, the day on which the church can and should gather in order to worship their living Lord. And that act of privileged obedience takes precedence over every act of liberty.

That imposes certain demands and pressures on us, on some more than others. For some, we face the desire to ‘do Christmas properly,’ a desire that might need to be toned down or put aside, at least for the day itself. However, for others it is the pressure of making it a real ‘family day,’ as if the family of God should take second place (Mark 3.32-35, anyone?). Such pressure will be painful, especially if many or all of the family are unconverted. But is this an opportunity to show where your priorities lie? It may be the sense of a lazy day, when you get up late and just mooch around, the temptation to minimise or even do away with the public and private exercises of worship. It may be the pressure, especially with young children, to flood the day with gifts and treats, and – even if you do seek to be in church – the forms take precedence while the substance is washed away on a tide of weariness, carelessness and greed. It may be that Christmas trumps Christ altogether, as services of worship and private devotions give way to the fact that, “It’s Christmas, after all.” Indeed, ironically, where in most years saccharine nativity scenes and pappy Christmas sermons rule, this may be the very year when some decide to give church a miss altogether.

However, if we are believers in God and followers of Christ and indwelt by the Spirit, worshippers of the Most High in all his majesty, might, and mercy, then Christmas must give way to Christ. Our attachment to the Lord Jesus must take precedence over all cultural and other pressures. Let the day be, before it is anything else, the Lord’s day. Plan and prepare around that priority, and let that which does not fit within such a framework give place. Indeed, a fairly simple solution might be to postpone or promote the occasion by one day.

So by all means enjoy a feast of good things. By all means take advantage of the trend of thought and feeling to do good to others, body and soul. By all means preach the glories of the incarnation of the eternal Son to those who may, under God, be primed to hear the truth of the Saviour, born of a virgin, born in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord.

But by no means forget the feast of soul that is laid up for the saints of God on the day and at the times when God, in a distinctive way, draws near to bless his gathered people. By no means forget that the best good you can do to a man is to speak the truth as it is in Jesus. By no means fail to declare that this infant born in Bethlehem, weak and helpless, was the mighty God, and that this God-man came into the world for the purpose of salvation through his death and resurrection. Be where you ought to be, doing what you ought to do, seeking what you ought to seek, and in so being, doing and seeking, may God truly bless us, every one.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 9 December 2011 at 13:31

Euan Murray holds firm

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Euan Murray, the Scotland prop forward, playing at the Rugby World Cup, has made it plain that – despite the cost – he is not prepared to play on the Lord’s day. He told the BBC:

It’s basically all or nothing, following Jesus. I don’t believe in pick ‘n’ mix Christianity. I believe the Bible is the word of God, so who am I to ignore something from it?

Those who honour God, God will honour. Euan’s faithfulness may earn scorn from some, but those who love the Lord esteem him highly, as does his Master.

The Independent covers the story here, and extra stuff from Murray is here and here and here. More is available, too, on the great Michael Jones.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 22 September 2011 at 16:39

Sunday

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Thank you, Ray Ortlund:

If we would stop treating Sunday as a second Saturday, one more day to run to Home Depot [read, B&Q, perhaps, for the UK], one more day for the kids’ soccer games, another day for getting ready for Monday, if we would rediscover Sunday as The Lord’s Day, focusing on him for just one day each week, what would be the immediate impact between today and one year from today?

By one year from today, we will have spent 52 whole days given over to Jesus. Seven and a half weeks of paid vacation with Jesus.

He’s a good King. Maybe we should put him first in our weekly schedules. Not fit him into the margins of our busy weekends, but build our whole weekly routine around him.

Just a thought.

And a good one.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 17 September 2011 at 08:25

Posted in Christian living

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That Sunday feeling

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J. C. Ryle, in his straightforward style:

Let us never forget that our feelings about Sundays are sure tests of the state of our souls. The person who can find no pleasure in giving God one day in the week, is manifestly unfit for heaven. Heaven itself is nothing but an eternal Sabbath. If we cannot enjoy a few hours in God’s service once a week in this world, it is plain that we could not enjoy an eternity in His service in the world to come. Happy are those who walk in the steps of her of whom we read today! They shall find Christ and a blessing while they live, and Christ and glory when they die.

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke, 2:120 (comments on Luke 13:10-17)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 2 February 2011 at 11:51

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Made for man

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Jesus did not come to change the law, but he came to explain it, and that very fact shows that it remains, for there is no need to explain that which is abrogated. Upon one particular point in which there happened to be a little ceremonialism involved, namely, the keeping of the Sabbath, our Lord enlarged, and showed that the Jewish idea was not the true one. The Pharisees forbade even the doing of works of necessity and mercy, such as rubbing ears of corn to satisfy hunger, and healing the sick. Our Lord Jesus showed that it was not at all according to the mind of God to forbid these things. In straining over the letter, and carrying an outward observance to excess, they had missed the spirit of the Sabbath law, which suggested works of piety such as truly hallow the day. He showed that Sabbatic rest was not mere inaction, and he said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” He pointed to the priests who laboured hard at offering sacrifices, and said of them, “the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless.” They were doing divine service, and were within the law. To meet the popular error he took care to do some of his grandest miracles upon the Sabbath-day; and though this excited great wrath against him, as though he were a law-breaker, yet he did it on purpose that they might see that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, and that it is meant to be a day for doing that which honours God and blesses men. O that men knew how to keep the spiritual Sabbath by a easing from all servile work, and from all work done for self! The rest of faith is the true Sabbath, and the service of God is the most acceptable hallowing of the day. Oh that the day were wholly spent in serving God and doing good! The sum of our Lord’s teaching was that works of necessity, works of mercy, and works of piety are lawful on the Sabbath. He did explain the law in that point and in others, yet that explanation did not alter the command, but only removed the rust of tradition which had settled upon it. By thus explaining the law he confirmed it; he could not have meant to abolish it or he would not have needed to expound it.

from The perpetuity of the law of God by Charles Spurgeon

May you enjoy tomorrow, on the first Lord’s day of the new year, a day free from the rust of unholy traditions and full of the joy of honouring God and blessing men.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 1 January 2011 at 16:14

Book blizzard

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Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation (Volume 2: 1552-1566) compiled and introduced by James T. Dennison (Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), is the second volume in this excellent series.  Here, each with a lucid and brief introduction, are a further 35 confessions, including both the Forty-Two and the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, the Heidelberg Catechism, and such lesser-known works as the Geneva Students’ Confession (1559), Beza’s Confession (1560), productions from Tarcal and Torda and Enyedi, and the delightfully named Synod of Gönc (1566).  Particularly fascinating are those truths which our forefathers thought primary (and therefore worthy of confessing), and which today are often discounted as secondary (and vice versa).  One of the values of such a study is to send us back to our Bibles to recalibrate our sensitivities, informed both by the necessities of the present and the instruction of the past.  Well-bound and clearly printed, this series provides an excellent resource for those interested in examining and learning from the Reformed confessional heritage.

James M. Renihan puts 1 Corinthians 13 firmly in its context to explore True Love: Understanding the Real Meaning of Christian Love (Evangelical Press, 2010).  Beginning with God’s love for us in Christ, and the law and gospel of love, Renihan also situates chapter 13 in the epistle as a whole and then – without dealing with other contentious issues – focuses on this love, its importance and its outworking.  Given how misunderstood and abused the whole notion of love is both within and without the church, and how often abused and sentimentalized this chapter can be, this is a powerful corrective to shallow and errant views, providing us with a solid, careful, and challenging study of this most vital Christian grace and duty.

Along the lines of Banner’s ‘Puritan Paperbacks’ series, Reformation Heritage Books has begun a ‘Puritan Treasures for Today’ line.  First up is George Swinnock with The Fading of the Flesh and the Flourishing of Faith (Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).  The aim of the series is to provide an easy way in to Puritan writings by making available a briefer work in updated English.  In this volume Swinnock expounds Psalm 73.26, demonstrating and applying the fact that man must die, and must therefore prepare to die, and that the immortal God is man’s only true happiness, and so the best preparation for the soul is to take God as its chief treasure.  With holy warnings and enticements, Swinnock addresses both believers and unbelievers with that warm exhortation and vivid illustration characteristic of Puritan preaching at its best.  Well-edited and well-presented, this volume (and the projected series) would provide a helpful gateway to the riches of the Puritans.

In this volume, we are Heading for Heaven (Evangelical Press, 2009) under the safe guidance of that Greatheart, J. C. Ryle.  A previously published and nicely redesigned (but not reset) selection from Ryle’s sermons on The Christian Race, here we see Ryle as a preacher rather than an essayist.  Leaving behind all the finery of eloquence, Ryle deals with the heart to urge the reader to ensure that they are on the right path, and then to pursue that path to the end.  Homely and earnest, these sermons on various texts will serve to stir and warm the heart, and any reader would be well-served by investing the time to digest these addresses.

In Spectacular Sins and their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Crossway, 2008), John Piper wades carefully into murky water to address the thorny issue of God’s sovereignty over and in the very worst events that have taken place and will take place in this world.  Familiar Piper themes and phrases pepper the book as the author spends time establishing the absolute supremacy of the Godhead over all things, including sin, and then begins to look at concrete examples that demonstrate both God’s sovereign power and his sovereign and good purposes even in the most grim events.  Satan’s existence, Adam’s fall, Babel’s rise, Joseph’s slavery, Israel’s monarchy, and Judas’ betrayal all provide opportunity to demonstrate how such apparent catastrophes served God’s purposes to glorify his Son and save his people.  Walking and sometimes wobbling along a tightrope between seeking to bring Scripture light to bear on the darkest matters and the danger of peering into things which God has intentionally left dark, Piper’s purpose is to equip the saints for the hard times that always come.  Given the nature of the case, it is invariably hard to bring the general lessons down to the particulars when one is overwhelmed with pain and grief, but this is nevertheless a clear and courageous reminder that God is never absent nor ignorant, but actively working all things together for good.

Part of the continued fall-out from the Calvin quincentennial is Calvin: Theologian and Reformer (Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), a collection of papers from the John Owen Centre conference at London Theological Seminary, edited by Joel Beeke and Garry Williams.  The collection is divided into three sections – Calvin’s life and work, then doctrine and experience, and finally Christian living and ministry – and include contributions from Sinclair Ferguson, Ian Hamilton, and Joel Beeke.  Maintaining something of the style and sense of conference addresses, those who attended will enter again into the spirit of the meetings, and those who did not will get a taste of it.  As a brief introduction to Calvin’s life with God, thought of God, and pursuit of godliness, this is very helpful.

God’s sovereignty and God’s grace walk hand in hand through A Long Line of Godly Men (Volume 1, 1400BC – AD100): Foundations of Grace by Steven J. Lawson (Reformation Trust, 2006).  That complex title points to the structure of this projected five-volume series in which our author intends to survey history from a divinely-appointed perspective.  This first volume lays the foundation with a canter through the entire Bible seeking to establish, from first to last, the coherent and consistent and credible testimony of Scripture to God’s saving purposes.  From Moses to John, Genesis to Revelation, Dr Lawson traces his theme with penetrating insight and profound understanding.  With helpfully-flagged ‘Doctrine in Focus’ sections littered through the pages and a series of study questions at the end of each chapter, this is a book intended to address the whole man.  Sympathetic readers might query certain details while enjoying the very broad sweep of this thematic study as Lawson skips across the high hills of our Bibles in an attempt to link up and light up the peaks by firing the beacons of God’s grace at each point.  Do not misinterpret the title: this book is not about men but about their God and his glorious dealings with sinful men.  With an extended introduction by John MacArthur, this is no light read but it should prove an immensely profitable one.

In 2009, Joel Beeke was the main preacher at the Aberystwyth Conference, and addressed the theme of Contagious Christian Living, which sermons are now gathered into this slim volume (Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).  Desiring that the people of God will learn to live lives of godliness that have a profound and lasting impact on the people around them, Beeke presents four lives and their lessons: Jephthah’s daughter teaches us sacrificial submission (the author takes the line that she was consecrated to God and not sacrificed); Bartimaeus instructs us in Christ-centredness; Jacob, in contagious blessing; and, Daniel, consistent integrity.  The teaching is simple, earnest, and pastoral, and the spirit of it is the very one which Beeke wants to encourage others to cultivate.  There is vigorous challenge here, to be certain, but also direction and encouragement which will benefit every humble believer ready to learn contagious Christian living.

John D. Currid portrays for us The Expectant Prophet: Habakkuk Simply Explained (Evangelical Press, 2009).  Presenting the dialogue between the bewildered prophet and his all-seeing, all-knowing, all-guiding God, he guides us to and through the prophet’s closing psalm in which his expectant dependence upon the Lord comes gloriously to the fore.  Currid directs us sensitively, simply and wisely through this short but too-often-neglected portion of God’s Word, his often stimulating perspectives and insights making Habakkuk a truly profitable prophet for readers who, in the face of similar challenges and questions, need to find and rest in Habakkuk’s answers.

Amazing Conversions: John Ashworth and His Strange Tales (Tentmaker Publications, 2009) is a book for weeping over.  There will be tears of shame, that we are not more persuaded of and acting upon the saving mercies of God; tears of pity, for the fearful condition of the lost; and, tears of joy, for God’s goodness in bringing those under the power of darkness into his Son’s kingdom.  A brief biography of Ashworth, founder of the “Chapel for the Desitute” gives way to his records of God’s gracious dealings with needy sinners.  While all conversions are amazing, Ashworth – not neglecting to tell of difficulties and disappointments – nevertheless focuses on some of the more distinctive and unlikely (humanly speaking) regenerations he saw, accomplished by ordinary means, applied faithfully, prayerfully, winsomely and patiently.  This is a book to stir the soul, give confidence in God, and set the Christian, and especially the preacher, about his regular business with zeal and hope.  I commend it vigorously.

Perhaps concerned at being undersold, Colin Marshall and Tony Payne give us The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything (Matthias Media, 2009).  The book is built around the metaphor of the relationship – and often the imbalance – between the trellis (the structures and supports of church life) and the vine (the conversion and growth in grace of the people who make up the church).  In essence, it is a plea to focus on the growing of the vine and not the building of the trellis, investing in people rather than structures.  There is much to appreciate, especially the concern to see Christian maturity that enables them to invest in the lives of others.  At the same time, the authors occasionally present some false dichotomies in trying to distinguish their approach from others, and run into self-contradictions on several occasions.  In attempting to encourage the saints to employ their gifts, there is a danger of flattening out Christ’s own structures in the church, especially when the notion of vocation (pastoral or otherwise) is fairly swiftly dismissed.  Certain assumptions evidently lie behind some of the teaching here.  A very worthy and entirely laudable aim, together with some helpful and insightful suggestions, can still leave one feeling that, for a book that wants to be about vines, there is an awful lot of trellis being constructed, not least in the sustained advertisement of other programmes and materials available from the same publisher.

Wayne Grudem’s Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business (Crossway, 2003) is a kidney-punch of a book: 91 pages of to-the-point striking.  Developed from an address at a conference for entrepreneurs, it is an unapologetic hymn to the positive moral goodness of ownership, productivity, employment, commercial transactions, profit, money, inequality of possessions, competition, and borrowing and lending.  Grudem is not blind to the temptations in and potential abuses of these things, and seeks to address them, albeit briefly.  He also has short sections on heart attitudes and world poverty.  Concerned to encourage those in business to use their calling to glorify God, it is less about doing business in a godly way, and more about the inherent goodness of business in itself.  Loaded with assumptions, pithy rather than profound in its employment of Scripture, and provocative in its absoluteness, some will be tempted to wonder if this book could have come out of anywhere but 21st century America.  Businessmen and women will find every encouragement to continue in and pursue their callings here.  However, the claim for fundamental and inherent goodness in some of these aspects of our culture raises questions that the book itself does not answer.  A vigorous book to be read vigorously, and requiring determined engagement.

Rest in God & A Calamity in Contemporary Christianity (Banner of Truth, 2010) is a pithy contribution to debates over the Lord’s day by Iain Murray.  Beginning in Genesis 2.3 and working through the ceremonial law, with a brief excursus on the earlier and later Calvin’s thoughts on the matter, we arrive at length in the New Testament and then take a short survey of post-apostolic church history.  Five terse conclusions draw this booklet (35 pages) to a close.  There is nothing new here, but a simple and earnest rehearsal and representation of the Scriptural and historical orthodoxy of the Lord’s day.  The subtitle and the tone of the book make plain that this is no take-it-or-leave-it matter, but a battle of vital importance for the present and future health of Christ’s church.  Many will no doubt dismiss or despise Murray’s assessment, but many more will join with him in recognising an area in which contemporary Christianity badly needs to set its house in order.

In The Breeze of the Centuries: Introducing Great Theologians from the Apostolic Fathers to Aquinas (IVP, 2010), Michael Reeves provides us with the first book of an intended two-volume set giving an overview of major contributors to theology during the first thirteen post-apostolic centuries.  He surveys the apostolic fathers, moves on through Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, before spending some time on Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas.  The aim is to provide a straight report – with a good smattering of original material, and surveys of major works –though our author occasionally breaks cover to add a little spice of his own.  Helpful recommendations and timelines add usefulness, although the lack of an index is a problem with a book that many would find a handy ready-reference.  Written with verve and respect, this should prove a very helpful introduction to novices and a good overview for more experienced readers.

Dan Walker says “Good morning, Sunday”

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A few days ago my brother, Dan Walker, was interviewed by Aled Jones for his Radio 2 show, Good Morning, Sunday.  The interview was broadcast yesterday morning, and – with the World Cup looming – the first section was about all things sporting, and then they got into a discussion of what it means to be a Christian, and my brother’s desire to honour the Lord’s day.

You can listen to the interview for the next few days at BBC iPlayer here, with Dan’s interview beginning just after Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary (Rollin’ On A River) at the 2:25:30 mark.  I admit that the interview is marred by the selection of an utterly random piece of music, which my brother seems to blame on his father-in-law, but he actually asked Aled to play it, so I don’t think he can slope the shoulders.

I have previously posted some of my Dan’s thoughts on sport and Sundays, and, as I say, you can also listen to the interview, beginning at 2 hours, 25 minutes, and about 30 seconds into the show.

Dan has since flown to South Africa where he seems to have some kind of roving remit over the next five or six weeks, doing a job he loves and does well.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 7 June 2010 at 05:00

Well done, Euan Murray

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After being conscious of countless blog posts over the last few days advising Christians how to put aside the Lord’s day and watch the Superbowl to the glory of God, it was encouraging and refreshing to pick up the highlights of the Scotland-France rugby match yesterday and hear the BBC voiceover state in somewhat negative tones that tight-head prop Euan Murray, “due to his Christian beliefs, refuses to play on Sundays.”

The Guardian newspaper interviewed Euan about rugby and Christianity, described as his two great loves, and his decision to put Christ ahead of sport:

Does he sometimes wonder if he’s made the right decision? There is a very long pause. “I believe that biblically I’ve made the right decision.” And emotionally? Murray blows out his cheeks. “Well, when you really become a Christian, life’s a battle. You’re going against the tide. The crowd are going one way and you’re going another. It’s always going to be a battle to be different. The easy thing is to go along with the crowd, everybody’s doing it. You know? Try going the opposite direction to a crowd. It’s hard. You won’t get very far.”

Why did he make this decision?  Because he was able to distinguish between the passing pleasures of sin and the substantial joy of salvation in Christ:

He suggests that the path many professional sportsmen follow is “rotten”. He tries to explain. “All the shiny bubbles,” he says, holding out his big hands and shaking his head in sadness. “The money, the possessions, the fame, the great elusive relationship – all bubbles that appear perfectly spherical, all the colours of the rainbow. They’re bright and shiny and light as a feather, and you chase them because it’s good fun, but the minute you get them they burst and they’re empty.” He pauses. “I’d had enough of chasing bubbles.”

The interviewer and editors also gave him an opportunity to describe the great change of conversion:

In finding God, he says, Murray was able to change his path. He picks up a mug of tea and a glass of water and holds them out in front of him. “This is the tea, all dirty and horrible, this is me, yeah? That’s Jesus,” he says, motioning to the water. “Pure. He’s taken that filth upon himself and before God he says, ‘Punish me for it’. He’s been punished and look what he’s given me. That perfect goodness in the eyes of God. He’s declared me innocent.” He swills the dregs of the tea and smiles. Can it be that simple? “I’m ashamed of the things I’ve done. Of course I am. But I’m thankful I have a saviour. He’s saved me from that lifestyle. He’s given me a new life.”

Well done, Euan Murray.  Tight-head props know what it is to hold the line against overwhelming odds.  He will need all his resolve in future years.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 8 February 2010 at 10:04

Posted in Christian living

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Prime Ministers on the Lord’s day

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The latest editorial in Day one Magazine features choice quotes from seven British Prime Ministers about the propriety and wisdom of observing one day in seven as a day of rest:

1. Sir Robert Peel (1834-1846): “I never knew a man escape failure, in either body or mind, who worked seven days a week.”

2. Benjamin Disraeli (1868; 1874-1880): “I hold the Day of Rest to be the most valuable blessing ever conceded to man. It is the cornerstone of civilisation.”

3. William Ewart Gladstone (1868-1874; 1880-1885; 1886; 1892-1894): “Tell me what the young men of England are doing on Sunday, and I will tell you what the future of England will be. The religious observance of the Sabbath is a main prop of the religious character of the country. From a moral, social and physical point of view, the observance of the Sabbath is a duty of absolute consequence.”

4. Rt Hon Arthur Balfour (1902-1905): “The state is the trustee, in respect to Sunday, of one of its most valuable assets.”

5. Rt Hon Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1905-1908): “I earnestly hope that the efforts to preserve the sacredness of the weekly day of rest may be successful.”

6. Ramsay MacDonald (1923; 1929-1935): “The British Sunday is a great heritage which has strengthened the national character and sustained the life of the people. To reduce it to the continental pattern is to destroy an invaluable national asset. The question of one day’s rest in seven (and by rest I do not mean recreation) is one of the utmost importance, not only to the physical but to the mental condition of our people. We are getting altogether too superficial and too thoughtless and, unless we pull ourselves up and get inspiration from the deeper silences that lie within us, we shall be unable to face the great problems that modern civilisation places upon us.”

7. Sir Winston Churchill (1940-1945; 1951-1955): “Sunday is a Divine and priceless institution, the necessary pause in the national life. It is the birthright of every British subject, our responsibility, privilege and duty to hand on to posterity.”

HT: Gary Brady.

Dan gets Challies’d

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My brother gets a mention from the ubiquitous uberblogger here.

For more on Dan see here and here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 12 August 2009 at 15:41

Sport & Sundays again

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Yoicks!

I did ask you to pray for my brother Dan as he seeks to maintain his convictions as his profile increases.  In the last couple of days, Dan has done interviews locally (Manchester Evening News) and nationally (The Sun, of all places), focusing on his Christian convictions.  It’s a rare opportunity, but makes him a target in many ways.

Please do ask God to keep him: Christians will be aware that Satan will try to bring down, by force or by fraud, a man who has taken a public stand like this.  If he cannot batter down the main gate, he will use a sneak attack.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 11 August 2009 at 09:14

Sport & Sundays

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Dan Walker 3My brother has a new job and a new magazine/booklet/bookzine/maglet available.  The new job is presenter of Football Focus on BBC1.  The new publication is called Sport & Sundays (DayOne).  He got the new job not long after the magazine was published.  Dan has faced constant pressure – some more, some less overt – with regard to his determination to hold to the Lord’s day as a Christian.  The magazine is a brief and readable testimony of God’s kindness to my brother and his convictions regarding the Lord’s day.  It is a very personable presentation and an easy read.  If you remember, please pray for Dan with the pressures of his job and maintaining a Christian witness with a slightly higher profile.  I imagine that today’s obsession with celebrity, a zeitgeist felt no less in Christian circles than in the world, he has much to contend with – the big lizard even has his own Wikipedia entry!

Anyway, one of the features of Dan’s excellent magazine is  a series of questions and answers about the Lord’s day.  I had an opportunity to discuss some of these with Dan prior to publication, and thought they were excellent; several people have said that they are one of the most useful features of the piece.  Dan says:

Over the years I have been asked to do plenty of talks in churches, youth clubs and schools about what I do and how God has worked in my life.  When I was asked to put this book together I thought it might be handy to include some the questions I regularly get asked – and some hopefully helpful answers.  The two most common questions are ‘Have you ever met David Beckham?’ and ‘What do you and Huw Edwards say to each other at the end of the News?’

Not all of the questions and answers Dan prepared made the final cut.  He was kind enough to let me have the full set, which I reproduce below in the hope that you will find them interesting and helpful (you’ll also get a sense of Dan’s personality and style).

Have you ever met David Beckham?

Yes – he was very nice on every occasion.  The first time I went to see him he had just had a delivery from Adidas (his sponsor).  There were two enormous boxes – one filled with shoes and the other with tops.  He wasn’t sure whether he was ever going to wear any of them.

What does Huw Edwards say to you at the end of the News?

It varies.  Sometimes we talk about utter rubbish.  On other occasions he might say “Shall we just sit here and shuffle our papers and pretend that we are talking to each other?”  You have to be careful not to do anything silly though.  There was one occasion in Manchester when I had been interviewing a young lad who was being talked about as the next Jonny Wilkinson.  The interview ended, we all said goodbye and the director cut to the wide shot of the studio with everyone in shot.  For some reason there were still a few seconds left on the programme so we were in shot for seemingly ages.  I decided to fill the gap by throwing the young lad the rugby ball he had brought in.  Sadly, he wasn’t looking and it hit him in the face.  Just as the lights went down you saw me leaning across to see if he was all right.

Do you get free clothes?

I wish.  I used to get a clothing budget at ITV but there is nothing like that at the BBC.  I was once sent a tie in the post but it was a real minger.  I also received a letter from a viewer complaining about a pair of beige shoes I wore.  She told me they looked rubbish and that I was a disgrace.  Lots of people make comments about what you wear, whether they like a certain tie or not but the only person I listen to is my wife.  If I get ‘the look’ from her before I leave the house I know it’s time to go and change.

How do you know what to say when giving a sports report?

There is a big difference between what you do in the studio and what happens when you are out and about.  In the studio there aren’t many occasions when you have to make editorial decisions on your own.  Most of the time you have an editor and/or producer to look at things with you – sometimes they will write the scripts – but I like to tinker with most of mine so I feel comfortable with them and they are in my ‘language’.

Out of the studio – say at a football match or at Wimbledon – then it’s much more my responsibility.  In that instance I find it helpful to have something interesting to say at the beginning and the end and let the middle bit take care of itself by reacting to what is going on around me.  It sounds scary but you soon get used to it.

Who was the nicest person to interview and who was the most difficult?

We did a half-hour special with Ricky Hatton once and he made us all a cup of tea but Roger Federer comes across as a real gentleman.  He is always polite and gracious even if he’s had a stinker.  On the other side of the fence, there are plenty of sporting superstars who are grumpy and painful to talk to.  A lot of it depends on what mood you get them in.  Serena and Venus Williams make you work hard and Sir Alex [Ferguson, manager of Manchester United] can be a real test – especially if he starts to give you ‘the stare’!

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I was once dragged in to cover the local Manchester elections and had to go to Stretford and Urmston where Jordan (the model) was running for the seat as something of a PR stunt.  As she left the hall – in last place I recall – I ran alongside her asking if she had plans to run again.  Unfortunately I didn’t see the awkwardly placed wheelie bin in the corridor and went right over the top of it in mid-question . . . still got back up to finish the interview though!

Dan Walker 2What advice would you give someone who is thinking about a broadcasting career?

Always listen to Des Lynam [who gave Dan advice when my brother wrote to him years ago]!  And in addition to that, practice like mad.  If you want to be a commentator then commentate: on your dad cutting the grass, on your brother eating a hot dog, on the old lady getting the frozen peas out of the supermarket freezer.  If you can make that sort of stuff interesting then sport will be simple.  If you want to be a written journalist then get writing!  Write a match report and compare it to those in the papers.  Set up a weekly blog – you will be surprised by how many people read them.  If presenting is more your thing, then sit in front of a mirror and read a bulletin – you will be your own harshest critic.  It you’ve got a wobbly head or open your eyes like there is something wrong with you then try and change your habits before you get in front of a camera.

Trust God, don’t be afraid to work from the bottom up, be yourself, don’t put on a ‘sports’ voice, enjoy it and eat lots of cake.  You can probably ignore the last bit but I have found it helpful on numerous occasions!

Do you think you take the whole Sunday issue too seriously?

There is a short answer to that one and a slightly longer one.  I take the issue of Sunday seriously for a number of reasons.  Here are some of them.

  • Because I believe that the principle of setting aside one day in the week to worship and honour the God who made me and saved me goes right back to creation.  It was a gift to all of us before sin even entered the world (Gen 2.1-3).
  • Because I am persuaded that the principle of the Sabbath was laid down in God’s moral law and is still relevant (Ex 20.8-11; Dt 5.14-15).  The law of God has been written on our hearts (Jer 31.33 c.f. Heb 10.16).
  • Because the Lord Jesus Christ Himself knew it was important.  He went to the regular Sabbath meetings in the Jewish synagogue.  In his teaching, he never undermined the principle but put it back where it belonged (Mt 12.1-12; Mk 2.28).  He rose on the first day of the week setting the pattern for the new covenant Sabbath and the church began to call it ‘the Lord’s day’ (Rev 1.10).  Also there are so many direct New Testament references that tell us it’s not just an Old Testament issue: have a look at Matthew 12.1-14; Mark 2.23-3.6; Luke 6.1-11; 13.10-17; 14.1-6; John 5.1-18; John 7.20-24; Hebrews 4.1-10.  The gospels are full of it; the rest of the New Testament assumes it, refers to it very naturally, alludes to it and builds on its significance.
  • Because it was observed by the New Testament church and should be observed by all the people of God’s new covenant.  The pattern of observing the first day goes way back to the start of the church, when Luke tells us in Acts 20.7 that it was the first day of the week – i.e. the day of Christ’s resurrection – when the disciples came together.  In 1 Corinthians 16.2, the first day of the week is seen as the natural day for the church to act.  It is seen as the proper day for public worship.  John received his revelation on ‘the Lord’s day’ (Rev 1.10).  John does not need to explain this reference to any of the churches he is writing to.
  • Nearly there . . . because I am persuaded it’s a blessing that will be forever enjoyed in heaven.  (Heb 4.1-13; Heb 9.11 cf. 1Cor 15.44-49).  Revelation 7.9ff. is a picture of a perpetual Sabbath, given to those who rest from their labours (Rev 14.13), and whose eternity is spent in adoration of God in Christ (Rev 21.1-7, 22-3).
  • Because observing the Lord’s day is a great privilege and brings with it loads of blessings.  Some of the greatest of God’s promises, for example, about knowing the glory of God, enjoying Him and receiving blessing from Him go hand in hand with the idea of the Sabbath (e.g. Is 58.13-14; Psalm 92).  Over the years – and I’m talking centuries – keeping the Lord’s day has generally been one of the marks of God’s powerful working among his people.
  • Because it makes clear that my Saviour, Jesus Christ, deserves the very best of my time and energy.

Aren’t you missing out on a witnessing opportunity by not going to various events and places on a Sunday?

No.  In fact, by making Sunday different, I become a more effective witness, because it is a sign of my ultimate commitment to Jesus Christ.  It shows that I value time spent in His presence and worshipping Him above even the legitimate pleasures that this world has to offer.

Didn’t Jesus Christ fulfil the fourth commandment?

Yes, he did.  When Christ spoke about the commandments he always raised the bar.  He swept away the legalistic limitations that the Pharisees had imposed on them, and showed their true spiritual significance.  So, for example, when he spoke of fulfilling the law (Mt 5.17-20) he immediately went on to show that adultery and murder take place in the heart (Mt 5.21-30), and that He is concerned not with mere formalities.  In the same way, He has heightened and intensified the fourth commandment: he declared that he was Lord of the Sabbath (Lk 6.5) – he had divine authority over it.  Just as the seventh day was set as a pattern in God at the beginning, so Jesus patterned the first day in Himself at the beginning of the new creation.  It is the day when He particularly meets with His people as they worship Him: first in His glorified body, and then by His powerful Spirit.  It would be a bit dense to disregard what Jesus has given to us for our own good and His glory.

Sport & Sundays (Walker)Is it wrong for us to show the World Cup final on a Sunday in church?  Surely you would get more people in.

If you read Isaiah 58.13-14 it’s clear that Sunday is a day when we should “honour him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.”  We should be delighting ourselves in the Lord and not focussing on those things that take up our time on the other six days of the week – even if England are playing!

The Lord’s day has to do with God, and not the idols that men worship.  In putting up a big screen to watch the football we are making that the centre-piece of the day and sending out the message that football is at least as important as God, if not more so.

Christians do not need to go with the flow.  We are meant to be counter-cultural.  We do not attract sinners by being just like them in every way, but by showing the difference that God makes to our lives.

Are you not being a big, weird, legalistic Pharisee? (my favourite question)

There is a big difference between legalism and principled obedience.  A legalist will try and find favour with God by – in his own mind – living up to or even exceeding God’s standard (have a look at Lk 18.9-14).  No genuine Christian thinks that by keeping the Lord’s day they earn special favour with God.  It is his pleasure and privilege, not the price we pay to get a round of applause from God.

If you are genuinely asking this question then I would encourage you to carefully consider your own attitude to the authority of God.  Some people who accuse others of acting like a Pharisee can be covering up a desire to sail close to the wind spiritually, or even live in outright disobedience to God’s commands.

I do not impose my convictions on other people or judge their standing with God based on their opinion on Sundays.  If employing me makes it difficult for others to do their jobs then the employer can find someone else: they have as much right to do that as I do to say that I won’t work on a Sunday.

What about when you film something that goes out on a Sunday?

I rarely have any say in when something I film will be broadcast.  Up to a point, that is not my responsibility, and my conscience is clear.  So long as I do not directly make someone else work, I am happy to leave those decisions with my boss.  If they choose to broadcast my material on a Sunday, that is their decision and responsibility.  If I started saying that nothing I ever did could go out of a Sunday I would be rightly sacked for being an impractical gibbon.

Would you go to the shops on a Sunday or watch TV on a Sunday?

It is not as simple as saying “No – never!” to this question.  There are other principles to take into account.  In general, the Lord’s day is for resting from what we normally do.  I go to the shops and watch TV all week – I choose to do differently on Sunday.

Jesus Christ also spoke about that fact that the Lord’s day should be about doing what is merciful (Mt 12.9-14 c.f. Lk 14.1-6; Lk 13.15-17; 1Cor 16.2) or necessary (Mt 12.1-8; Lk 13.15-17).

Let’s talk about mercy first.  Jesus used the example of a sheep in a ditch to show the lawfulness of doing good on the Sabbath.  If you work for the emergency services, the military or in the medical profession, for example, then that sort of work means Sunday work.  It is not wrong to do good on the Lord’s day and there are plenty of things Christians can do like visiting or feeding others.

When it comes to necessity, the two great examples of Scripture are eating and caring for animals.  A family must provide food for itself.  In our society, you could chuck other things in there as well.  A skeleton crew will be needed to keep us all ticking over e.g. gas, electricity, the military.

We can apply those principles to all sorts of things.  It may be necessary and merciful to buy painkillers if you have unexpectedly run out; but is it necessary to do your weekly food shop on a Sunday?  Doing homework is not a necessity because – if we are honest – it’s normally been put off because we couldn’t be bothered or had something better to do.

We also need to ask whether we are making others work on a Sunday.  The Biblical principles (e.g. Ex 20.10; Dt 5.14) show that it’s not just about us but also protecting the same privilege for other people, whether they care about it or not.

You say you don’t work Sundays but you do cover horse racing which is surely against your Christian beliefs?

There is nothing inherently evil about horses running, or even racing.  There is nothing wrong with competition.  Most people who ask this question are concerned about betting.  Well, I understand the concern but all sport involves gambling – wherever people see an element of ‘chance’ they will be happy to bet on the outcome.  If I made this an issue, I would not be a sports reporter, and I do not think that is a stance I have to take when it is possible to enjoy sport for its own sake.  There are, of course, certain pieces that I will not personally film and I always try and make it clear that the best thing to do it keep your money in your pocket.

How do you like to spend Sunday?

The best stuff is meeting with God’s people to worship Him together and read the bible, sing, pray and listen to the preaching as a church.  One of the great things for me is getting together with my family and spending time with friends.  Away from church, Sundays normally involve lots of entertaining, food, good conversations and cake.

What happens when your kids want to do things on a Sunday?

Lock them in a cupboard until they listen to me . . . only kidding!  I will try and treat them in the same way my parents dealt with me and my brothers and sisters.

First, I will seek to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6.4).  My wife and I will try and set an example of joyful obedience to God and repentance over our sins.

In addition to that I will pray for them, that the things I teach them will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, take root in their hearts, so that they will learn to trust in and love the Lord Jesus.

Finally, while they are under my roof and authority, I will explain that God has given me the authority to ensure that they do what is pleasing to God (Jos 24.15).  I cannot headlock them into heaven, but I have a responsibility as a father to make sure they do not live lives without regard for God and his Word while they are under my care.  And if all that doesn’t work there’s always the cupboard!

What about Jonathan Edwards, the triple jumper – he thought it was all right?  What about all the other Christians who do work on a Sunday?

I do believe that our attitude to Sunday can be a good way of taking our spiritual temperature but I do not think it’s a salvation issue.  It is a pretty accurate indicator of how close we are living to God and what are our priorities in life.

If we are Christians then we will have to answer to God for the way we have lived our lives.  I really believe that keeping Sunday as the Lord’s day is God’s way of keeping us healthy, happy and holy.  Christians cannot afford a shallow and crass perspective on this issue: if it is not a matter of principled obedience, then they must be persuaded of that, because if it is, it is to be wholeheartedly embraced and pursued, for our good and God’s glory.

With regard to Jonathan Edwards, I am not sure it is wise to argue from the example of a man who perhaps began his departure from God with his departure from God’s day.  I wonder whether it’s significant that – on his way to rejecting the entire Christian religion as a psychological crutch – Jonathan started by resisting his obligations to God with respect to his time and energy.  If you want a better example, what about Eric Liddell – the cool one from Chariots of Fire?  He knew he and everything he had – including his time – belonged to God.  He was a superb athlete and eventually went to China as a missionary and died in a prison camp during the Second World War.  He once said, “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go, we either bring people nearer to Christ, or we repel them from Christ.”  Now that sounds to me like a bloke worth following.

What about going to church and playing football in the afternoon – what is wrong with that?

That itself could be sailing rather close to legalism – the idea that I have done my bit for God and now I can go off and do my own thing for the rest of the day.  It sounds a little bit like Roman Catholic box ticking.  It’s about the heart.  Is worshipping God a dry duty that you go through out of obligation?  Is it your tip of the hat to God so that you can go and do what you want for the rest of the day?  Be honest: What do you really look forward to?  What is the highlight of your day?

Plus – if it’s a day for pursuing God – why would you want to fill it with anything else?  It is a day when we put the legitimate fun and games of the other six days on the back burner and are able to glorify and enjoy God.

What are you hoping to achieve?

I haven’t got any grand plan going on.  I don’t want to be king of the world – although a castle would be nice.  I am trying to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord Jesus who loved me and gave himself for me.  I am trying to demonstrate by my commitment to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God that I am his man, and I live for his glory.  The Lord says, “Those who honour me, I will honour, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1Sam 2.30).  I am to live to honour God and leave the consequences of that obedience to Him.

Don’t you think that the Bible and everything to do with it is out of date?

Nice big one to finish on!  I think my previous answers have probably already answered this bad boy.  How can the one book that points us to Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life, be irrelevant?  How can the one book that deals honestly with eternal truths be passed its ‘use by’ date?  It is the abiding Word of the living God, revealing his Son and it is through Jesus Christ that we can know salvation from sins through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is the truth by which I intend to live with God’s help, and in the hope of which I will die.

See update.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 10 August 2009 at 12:01

Why the Lord’s day?

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empty-tomb-8Consider carefully the following evidence that the redemption accomplished through Christ’s resurrection determined the day for Christian worship:

  1. Jesus Christ arose on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1). He entered into his rest from labor, not on Saturday (the seventh day), but on Sunday (the first day of the week). As Jesus entered into his rest on the first day, so he encourages us to begin the week by resting in the confidence that He will provide for all our needs for seven days with only six days of labor.
  2. Jesus Christ appeared to His assembled disciples on the first day of the week, as well as to Mary and to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (John 20:10; Luke 24:13). By these appearances on the first day of the week, the resurrected Lord set a pattern for meeting with His disciples. They began expecting to meet with Him on the day of his resurrection, which is the first day of the week.
  3. Jesus appeared to the assembled disciples one week later on the first day of the week, with doubting Thomas present this time (John 20:26). Already a new pattern of assembly for worship was emerging. God’s new covenant people were making it a habit to assemble together on the first day of the week, the day of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus honored these assemblies by appearing to the disciples at this time, and encouraged their faith in Him as the resurrected Lord.
  4. The resurrected Christ poured out his Spirit on the assembled disciples exactly fifty days after the Sabbath of the Jewish Passover, which was the first day of the week (Acts 2:1; cf. Lev. 23:15–16). The word Pentecost means “fifty,” referring to the fifty days after the Sabbath of the Passover. Forty-nine days would span seven Jewish Sabbaths or Saturdays, and the fiftieth day would then fall on a Sunday, the first day of the week. So it would appear that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit came on the first day of the week, when God’s new covenant people were assembled for worship. So the pattern would be established more firmly. Both the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit occurred on the first day of the week.
  5. As Paul spread the gospel of Christ among Jews and Gentiles throughout the world, the first day of the week was used as the time for Christians to assemble for worship. In Greece, Paul and Luke assembled with the people of God to break bread and to hear the preaching of God’s word on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). This was the day that the people of the new covenant assembled to hear God’s word.
  6. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth to establish the pattern for their presenting of offerings for the service of the Lord. He ordered the Christians in Corinth to follow the pattern that had already been set with the churches in Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1). On the first day of every week they were to consecrate their offerings to the Lord (1 Cor. 16:2). This schedule for honoring the Lord had become the pattern for God’s people throughout the churches. The churches were not to present their offerings any time they wished. Rather, on the first day of each week, all the Corinthian Christians were to follow the pattern that had already been set among the Galatian churches. The first day of the week was the designated time for the presentation of offerings to the Lord.

O. Palmer Robertson

Why on Sunday? New Horizons, March 2003.

HT: RBF.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 23 May 2009 at 19:31

Obeying God for the glory of God?

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american-footballAmidst all the posts about the Super Bowl, and how you can watch it for the glory of God, I may be reading the wrong news and blogs, but has anybody posted about not watching Super Bowl for the glory of the Lord, and reserving the day for the worship of the Triune God of our salvation?

Question: How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

Answer: The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on the other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

It’s not even that it strikes me so much as special pleading, but – as regular readers will know and I hope appreciate – the defence of doing our works, will and ways on the Lord’s day just doesn’t hold water Scripturally.

You cannot disregard God to the glory of God, and I fear that this kind of reasoning leaves but a short step to the enthronement of self in every sphere of life.

I am not accusing all those referenced above of this, but this may be why our ‘Christian liberty’ so often takes the form of reasoning out why we can do something, sailing close to the wind of God’s will, rather than the freedom to pursue the greatest possible holiness.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 4 February 2009 at 09:31

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Twice on Sundays

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Iain D Campbell asks – and helpfully begins to answer – the question as to why anyone would bother going (or, indeed, wish to go) to worship God at church twice on Sunday.

Here is his conclusion:

Ultimately, the issue is not so much about our views of church, but about our views of Christ. He commands us in Scripture not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. He promises to be present in the assembly of his people, where as few as two gather in his name. He promises to enrich his people through his Word and by his Spirit.

If that is the case, then we ought to put a premium on such occasions. While contemporary culture squeezes religion out, by putting pressure on families and on children to be involved in many different activities on the Lord’s Day, there ought, surely, to be something non-negotiable about gathering for worship with the people of God week by week.

Sinclair Ferguson is reputed to have said at a recent conference, in response to the very question about why evening worship is necessary on the Lord’s Day, that if an attractive girl asked a boy to meet her at a particular hour, he would be there. The Bible offers us something better than that: the one who is the chief among ten thousand asks poor sinners to meet him at a particular hour, as he promises to be present in the gathered assembly of his people.

It is a foolish person who passes up a golden opportunity to meet with the risen Lord. Which is why I shall shout loud that Christians should worship together twice on Sundays. At the very least.

Read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 20 January 2009 at 09:32

Calvin and the Sabbath

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Are you ready to claim Calvin as cover for your non-Sabbatarianism?  Are you embarrassed by the stories of the man of God playing an extravagant game of bowls on Sunday?  Before you do either, read this from ‘Thomas Goodwin’:

How many people have you come across – who take exception to the W[estminster] C[onfession of] F[aith] on the Sabbath – who embrace Calvin’s position and also seek to preach God’s word 10-15 times a week, and multiple times on the Lord’s day?

There are instances all along the theological spectrum of men whose practice is better than their doctrine at some points.  That’s not an excuse: practice generally follows doctrine.  But let us not make the doctrine of others an excuse for our own pathetic practices.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 5 December 2008 at 20:44

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Abortion 40 years on

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Following on from the conference on Saturday, I had two ministries yesterday. In our adult Sunday School class, I continued our studies in the Christian family, as we consider the distinctive roles of men and women.

Then, in our morning worship, I preached in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the implementation of the 1967 Abortion Act on 27 April 1968. Since that time, nearly 7 million unborn children have had their lives taken, some 98% of those abortions having been carried out for what are designated “social reasons.” 550 children a day are being destroyed, and currently 1 in 5 recorded pregnancies in the UK come to an unnatural end (not even taking into account such things as the morning-after pill). In a sermon entitled Abortion: the blood cries out, I tried to identify the issues and suggest a Biblical response.

Firstly, we considered the essence of the sin: it is murder, the unlawful taking of the life of a child made in the image of God.

Secondly, we considered the aggravations of the sin: its defenceless victims; its gross unnaturalness; its wicked motives; its awful brutality; its vast scale; and, its fearful high-handedness.

Thirdly, we looked at the effects of this sin, tearing at the social fabric of the UK, including: the hardening of the nation’s heart; the cheapening of all life; the scarring of individual consciences; and, the incurring of dreadful guilt and divine, righteous punishment.

Fourthly and finally, we sought to ask what our response ought to. We must commit to the sanctity of life in God’s image; we must seize every legitimate opportunity to defend and promote the sanctity of life; we must practically demonstrate our commitment to God’s plan and purpose as families in our society (Rom 12.1-2); we must mourn over, repent of, and turn from our national sins; we must pray that God would raise up a Wilberforce to take the lead in overturning this legislation; and, we must minister with Christlike compassion and sacrificial love to those who have been and are enmeshed in this sin.

In preparing this sermon I found helpful statistics, quotes and insights at the Christian Institute here and at Albert Mohler’s blog here and here. Thanks also to Gary Brady for a post that sparked some fresh thoughts.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 28 April 2008 at 14:51

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