The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘love

Social distancing and gathered worship

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What now? What next?

As expected, everything is shifting quickly. What I wrote just a few days ago may still be helpful in principle, but the practice is now challenging. In the UK, the government has given vigorous advice not to attend social gatherings (still only counsel, though strong counsel). I understand that in other parts of the world religious gatherings have been forbidden (by clear command). I expect, too, that everything will shift again quickly, and keep shifting, and we shall have to keep thinking out and applying our principles.

Please bear in mind that I am not suggesting here how we are to interpret these events, nor how we are to preach to them. That, perhaps, is for another time. This is about our attitude to meeting together under the present constraints.

It is important to remember, before we consider anything else, that government counsels and commands under these circumstances are not religious persecution as such. They may not be welcome, and we may be instinctively and strongly averse to them, but we should not put them, at this time and under these circumstances, in the wrong category. The governments of the world are, by and large, doing what they ought to be doing as ‘good’ governors, seeking to take care of those entrusted to their oversight. While I appreciate that almost no secular government has any real sense of what real Christianity involves, and that they lump all ‘faith communities’ and ‘religious gatherings’ together, I do not think we should instinctively resent these strictures.

Taking into account what I said before about respecting the counsels and commands of the civil authorities, I wonder if it actually makes things less complicated if we almost strip that issue out of our consideration.

What if we boil it down to this? “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:29–31). Both of these will intertwine in this discussion.

Keep in mind, too, some of what we said before about principles of Christian liberty, and what it means to extend to others a proper freedom to act in accordance with an instructed conscience. This is difficult, because a member might not necessarily believe that the elders have chosen the wisest course, but should still be willing to embrace that course (provided that there is no question of the elders recommending something sinful, which may be a discussion that is required). None of us have the liberty to lord it over the consciences of others, and we must not allow our liberty to shackle others. You do not have the liberty simply to ignore your elders or trample upon the souls (and bodies!) of others, any more than you have the liberty to raise your fist against a government seeking to do its job well in a nightmarish environment. In this, “do not let your good be spoken of as evil” (Rom 14:16).

The key points in the UK are as follows:

  • everyone in the UK is now being advised to avoid “non-essential” contact with others and “unnecessary” travel.
  • people are also being asked to work from home “where they possibly can”, and avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and social venues (in a question in the House of Commons, this was explicitly applied to gatherings of the church.
  • people are now being advised to stay at home for 14 days if they, or anyone in their household, has either a high temperature or a “new and continuous cough”.
  • people in at-risk groups will be asked within days to be “largely shielded from social contact” for 12 weeks.
  • the UK is to scale up coronavirus testing in the coming weeks.
  • from tomorrow, mass gatherings will no longer be provided with emergency workers.

Notice this is still only governmental advice. It is currently counsel not command. How, then, ought churches to respond to this? (I recognise that in other countries, this is already a done deal, and that counsel has become command.)

First, what does it mean to love God?

As I suggested before, believers should commit to doing all we can to obey God’s commands and embrace the privileges of the saints. We must plan and prepare to make the most of every opportunity for this, now and under any future circumstances. To love God means to desire him and to delight in him, and that is nowhere more fully expressed than in the gathered worship of the church. There we hear his voice; there he lifts up the light of his countenance upon us, and gives us peace. That means a predisposition to gather together to worship him. The first four commandments require us to place God first, to put our trust in and worship him alone, to honour his name above all things, and to serve him with our time and energy on six days of the week, and to gather with his people on the day appointed for his worship, when not providentially hindered from doing so (I think it is worth pointing out both elements of that, not least because we have to contend with the government imposing certain restrictions not just on the one day but on all the days, and we might at least consider whether or not we are being consistent).

But, we are not a social gathering in the casual sense of the phrase. There is a vital spiritual dynamic at work which God’s people cannot afford casually to neglect. For these reasons, I do not think that we should quickly assume that absolute cancellations are the only way forward. At the same time, we are a gathering in which we will have quite prolonged and close contact, under normal circumstances. That will carry us to our concern for neighbours below. Even then, we should remember that many of us are likely to get this disease, or have already got it, and may be able to meet again afterward before too long, if we recover. We should remember the witness we bear to those around us by how we live, and what our priorities are.

Love to God does require a proper respect to the government that he has appointed, within the terms of the fifth commandment (which has application to the way in which we both exercise and respond to God-given authority). Among the things which we should do on the Lord’s day is to pray for our government.

Furthermore, love to God requires us to preserve his reputation, as it is carried by the church, both positively and negatively. We do, perhaps, need to take account of the fact that religious services of some kind proved a catalyst for major outbreaks in both New York State and South Korea. We must therefore avoid giving the impression that we are creating or exacerbating (even deliberately) an otherwise avoidable problem.

Loving God also means honouring his ability to bless us outside or beyond the ordinary means that we typically use for our spiritual wellbeing. Would we deny that God has, for example, been pleased to sustain the spiritual health of men and women who have been, perhaps for years, cut off from the normal means of grace? Can he not do the same under these unusual circumstances?

Second, what does it mean to love our neighbour?

It means, first, that we ought not to risk our own lives or the lives of others unjustly or carelessly. Whatever faith in God means, it does not mean the kind of bravado that flaunts itself. Whatever we do, we ought to take all reasonable precautions to protect and preserve health and life (in accordance with the sixth commandment). Anyone who does exercise their liberty in meeting should not make the gathering itself, or our behaviour at it, an act of bravado rather than of faith. Temple-jumping is not faith but folly – it is testing the Lord your God (cf. Mt 4.7). So, for example, if you choose to gather, you should observe not just the niceties of social distancing on the smaller scale, but take stringent and even aggressive measures to avoid any risk to health and life.

With this in mind, if you are at risk or a risk, you should act out of love to others, and absent yourself for whatever period is wise. If you are obliged to exercise your liberty in not meeting (with good reason), then you should do all you can to make the most of the Lord’s day, taking advantage of every means to enter into the spirit and purpose of the day. (Indeed, you should consider the best use of any other discretionary time forced upon you.) All those who are manifesting any signs of this sickness, or are within those periods of necessary wariness, should not attend; neither should those who fall within the ‘at risk’ or ‘high risk’ categories. If we can maximise the distance between those who appear to be a risk and those who are at risk, we can act with a clearer conscience.

We also need to think about the positive effect on our neighbours of continuing to worship God. Perhaps, for some, this will be the first time they have ever truly considered their mortality, and they need to know the God who saves. Perhaps the fact that we value God above all things, and place his worship so high on our list of priorities that, even in such a time as this, whether corporately or individually, we will organised our lives around its centrality, will be a blessing to them. Let them hear our hymns of praise sounding from our homes during the week and out of the church on the Lord’s day, even if only from a few voices; let them know that we are praying for them and for others; share with them opportunities to hear the Word of God immediately or remotely!

Elders, in making these decisions, must take into account that different congregations have different compositions. A congregation composed mainly of elderly saints might need to make some more radical decisions than one composed mainly of younger folks. If there are an unusual number of sick people scattered among the congregation, that will have an impact. If there are a number of spiritually immature people (whether a risk, at risk, or just a risk-taker!) who mistake folly for faith, pastoral instruction, admonition and rebuke might be necessary. If there are people of over-sensitive conscience, their consciences might need to be instructed.

It means that we need to use all the means at our disposal to feed the souls of God’s flock and to call sinners to repent and believe. Whether that means personal visits (within safe parameters, including standing six feet down the path!), regular calls, employing available technology to provide audio and video livestreams or recordings, or whatever it may be, we must not neglect to care for one another, body and soul. We need to press home upon men and women the fearful judgements of an offended God, and plead with them to turn from their sins, before a worse thing comes upon them. We need to explain that such horrors as these are the birth pangs of the great and terrible day of the Lord. The greatest love we can show to God and to neighbour is to preach the truth of his wrath against sin and his mercy toward sinners, of the salvation to be found in Christ for all who repent and believe, of the horrors of a looming hell and the glories of a promised heaven.

So, what will that look like for the church I serve? We have already stripped down to the bare minimum in terms of meetings and gatherings, a skeleton of Lord’s day morning and evening services of worship, and a Wednesday night prayer meeting. At this point in time, and unless and until the government’s advice changes again, I am anticipating that we shall do all we can to maintain that pattern, urging those who are a risk and at risk to take care of themselves and others by staying away, and enabling others to gather if they deem it wise and proper. We shall open the doors, probably a little earlier than usual. We shall encourage people to enter as individuals or tight family units, and sit accordingly, following stringent principles for social distancing, sitting apart from each other within the building. For the prayer meeting, we shall pray simply, successively, straightforwardly, and then leave quickly. On the Lord’s day, we shall do what we can to embrace all the normal scriptural elements of worship, but we shall probably do so in a more minimal fashion than usual, without feeling that anything is missing. We shall broadcast or record (both, if possible) our praying to the Lord and our preaching of his truth, so that God’s people can, in measure, enter in. While we appreciate the many good resources out there, I am God’s undershepherd in this place, and this is his flock under my care, and—God helping and sparing me—I am going to preach to the people I know and love until I cannot. When we have finished worshipping, we shall dismiss as individuals and families, giving people time to wash their hands and clear the building one after the other. And then we shall do it again when the next occasion comes.

And if we are actively forbidden for a time, for what appear to be good reasons, from meeting even like this? Then we shall consider meeting in the open air, well spaced out. And if that, too, falls under the ban? Then I shall probably go, perhaps with my family, or alone, to the church, and I shall preach my heart out to the saints and the sinners whom I love, even if they are not present, and I will use all the technology at my disposal to ensure that they hear it. And if I am obliged to self-isolate or to stay at home, or fall sick, then I shall either ask someone else, or tell everyone else to stay away, and then go and preach, or I shall find some way to preach at or from my home, so that the saints will be fed and the sinners warned. And if the Lord calls me home, I trust that someone else will take my place, and keep preaching his saving truth. All of this, if the Lord wills.

[A clarification drawn from a note to the church I serve: “Bear in mind that, as a scattered body, we are not trying to replicate what it means to be with God’s people gathered for worship; we are trying to minimise the impacts of our being scattered.’]

In doing this, I trust all of us who are involved, and who cannot be involved, shall be glad to remember that social distance from the saints is not necessarily spiritual distance from God. We shall remember that we may be absent in body but present in spirit, or that others are entering in from afar.

And, I hope, it will impress upon us who have become too accustomed to our privileges and too presumptuous concerning our blessings, that there is nothing on this side of heaven more like the heaven to come than the saints of God gathered in his presence on his day to worship his Name. May days in which spiritual scraps may become the food of our souls teach us to crave the banquets with which once we toyed! May enforced absences teach us the blessing and beauty of the church as she gathers before her God! May it stir up in us, and in many more, an appetite for God and for his Word which shall never leave us, as long as we are left in this world.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 17 March 2020 at 21:26

An expression of love

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Lewis Allen with some helpful and balanced transparency on the role of our emotions in worship:

There’s no real embarrassment in expressing a heart-reaction to the Saviour’s love. We might, one day, realise that we’ve expressed our live to Him so little. Now that would be more than an embarrassment.

Read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 6 March 2012 at 11:58

Posted in Doxology

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The inexhaustible theme of redeeming love

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John Newton, writing in the delightful day when to waste an empty space on your paper would be a crying shame, and fortunately having plenty to write about to fill up the gap:

And now, how shall I fill up the rest of my paper? It is a shame for a Christian and a minister to say he has no subject at hand, when the inexhaustible theme of redeeming love is ever pressing upon our attention. I will tell you then, though you know it, that the Lord reigns.

He who once bore our sins, and carried our sorrows, is seated upon a throne of glory, and exercises all power in heaven and on earth. Thrones, principalities, and powers, bow before him. Every event in the kingdoms of providence and of grace is under his rule. His providence pervades and manages the whole, and is as minutely attentive to every part, as if there were only that single object in his view. From the tallest archangel to the meanest ant or fly, all depend on him for their being, their preservation, and their powers. He directs the sparrows where to build their nests, and to find their food. He overrules the rise and fall of nations, and bends, with an invincible energy and unerring wisdom, all events; so that, while many intend nothing less, in the issue, their designs all concur and coincide in the accomplishment of his holy will. He restrains with a mighty hand the still more formidable efforts of the powers of darkness; and Satan, with all his hosts, cannot exert their malice a hair’s breadth beyond the limits of his permission.

This is He who is the head and husband of his believing people. How happy are they who it is his good pleasure to bless! How safe are they whom He has engaged to protect! How honoured and privileged are they to whom He is pleased to manifest himself, and whom He enables and warrants to claim him as their friend and their portion! Having redeemed them by his own blood, He sets a high value upon them; He esteems them his treasure, his jewels, and keeps them as the pupil of his eye. They shall not want; they need not fear; his eye is upon them in every situation, his ear is open to their prayers, and his everlasting arms are under them for their sure support. On earth He guides their steps, controls their enemies, and directs all his dispensations for their good; while, in heaven, He is pleading their cause, preparing them a place, and communicating down to them reviving foretastes of the glory that shall be shortly revealed.

Oh how is this mystery hidden from an unbelieving world! Who can believe it, till it is made known by experience, what an intercouse is maintained in this land of shadows between the Lord of glory and sinful worms? How should we praise him that He has visited us! for we were once blind to his beauty, and insensible to his love, and should have remained so to the last, had He not prevented us with his goodness, and been found of us when we sought him not.

The Letters of John Newton, “To Mrs. Place,” (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2007), 237-239.

via The Old Guys.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 26 October 2011 at 17:27

The law of love and the love of law

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I liked this article from Kevin DeYoung, concluding:

Preachers must preach the law without embarrassment. Parents must insist on obedience without shame. The law can, and should, be urged upon true believers—not to condemn, but to correct and promote Christlikeness. Both the indicatives of Scripture and the imperatives are from God, for our good, and given in grace.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 19 August 2011 at 08:45

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To love your neighbour you must know your neighbour

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 2 April 2011 at 08:08

The last gifts

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For the last few days, I have been visiting a friend dying in hospital. I have known this man for the last few years, and he has gone from being strong in body, mind and spirit to being weak indeed.

What can I do for him now? What can I still give?

Flowers? No, the hospital will not permit them in his room, and he would not be able to appreciate them.

Books? No, for he lacks the strength to hold them and the sight to read them.

Food? No, for he can no longer eat, and only drips of water have gone into his body over the last ten days.

Clothes? No, for his emaciated frame will not need them for much longer.

What can I give? The only things I have left to give are truth and love. I can speak of the love of God in Christ and show love by being there and caring as I can. Not to deny the other things, of course, but this actually helps to set priorities for those who are not on their deathbeds. What do men need more than truth and love? We should not wait until death looms before we give these gifts. The only time to prepare for death is life. Not only must I prepare others, God helping me, but I myself must so live as to be ready to die.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 11 November 2010 at 10:12

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God’s free love, freely returned

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God loves us freely (Hosea 14.4). According to Jeremiah Burroughs,

This is the solid foundation of all Christian comforts, that God loves freely. Were his love to us to be measured by our fruitfulness or conduct towards him, each hour and moment might stagger our hope; but he is therefore pleased to have it all of grace, “to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed,” Rom. iv. 16. This comforts us against the guilt of the greatest sins, for love and free grace can pardon what it will. This comforts us against the accusations of Satan drawn from our own unworthiness. True, I am unworthy, and Satan cannot show me to myself more vile than, without his accusations, I will acknowledge myself to be; but that love which gave Christ freely, gives in him more worthiness than there is or can be unworthiness in me. This comforts us in the assured hope of glory, because when he loves he loves to the end, and nothing can separate from his love. This comforts us in all afflictions, that the free love of God, who has predestinated us thereto, will wisely order all things for the good of his servants, Rom. viii. 29-39 ; Heb.xii. 6.

Our duty therefore is, 1. To labour for the assurance of this free love. It will assist us in all duties; it will arm us against all temptations; it will answer all objections that can be made against the soul’s peace; it will sustain us in all conditions, into which the saddest of times may bring us, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Though thousands be against us to hate us, yet none shall be against us to hurt us.

2. If God love us freely, we should love him thankfully, 1 John iv. 19, and let love be the salt to season all our sacrifices. For as no benefit is saving to us which does not proceed from love in him, so no duty is pleasing to him which does not proceed from love in us, 1 John v. 3.

3. Plead this free love and grace in prayer. When we beg pardon, nothing is too great for love to forgive: when we beg grace and holiness, nothing is too good for love to grant. There is not any one thing which faith can manage to more spiritual advantages, than the free grace and love of God in Christ.

4. We must yet so magnify the love of God, as that we turn not free grace into wantonness. There is a corrupt generation of men, who, under pretence of exalting grace, do put disgrace upon the law of God, by taking away the mandatory power thereof from those that are under grace, a doctrine most extremely contrary to the nature of this love. For God’s love to us works love in us to him; and our love to him is this, that we keep his commandments; and to keep a commandment is to confirm and to subject my conscience with willingness and delight to the rule and preceptive power of that commandment. Take away the obligation of the law upon conscience as a rule of life, and you take away from our love to God the very matter about which the obedience thereof should be conversant. It is no diminution to love that a man is bound to obedience, (nay, it cannot be called obedience if I be not bound to it,) but herein the excellency of our love to God is commended, that whereas other men are so bound by the law that they fret at it, and swell against it, and would be glad to be exempted from it, they who love God, and know his love to them, delight to be thus bound, and find infinitely more sweetness in the strict rule of God’s holy law, than any wicked man can do in that presumptuous liberty wherein he allows himself to shake off and break its cords. (An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea, 654-655)

So, have you been loved freely by the God of all grace? Are you assured of it? Do you love him thankfully in response? Do you plead this love and grace of God in prayer? Do you magnify his love by finding sweetness in the rule of his holy law?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 5 November 2010 at 12:36

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.

Loving orthodoxy

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Is an attachment to orthodoxy necessarily accompanied by a rigid and unloving spirit? If we were to think of all the orthodox people we know, then we might conclude that that is sometimes the case. If we recollect all the unorthodox people we know, then we might come to the same conclusion! The real question is whether there is any likely or necessary connection between orthodoxy and lack of love. . . .

Any idea that love and orthodoxy are antithetical to each other is foreign to the teaching of Christ. Our Lord requires both. Let us therefore reject the sort of self-righteousness in which we congratulate ourselves on being orthodox and think that this somehow compensates for a lack of love. Similarly let us not think that Christ will overlook denials of his Word simply because we are loving.

Noel Weeks, The Sufficiency of Scripture (Edinburgh, 1988), page 237.

HT: Ray Ortlund.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 4 May 2010 at 10:26

“O touch my heart with grace divine”

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Lledrod L.M.

O touch my heart with grace divine,
The Father, Spirit, Son combine;
Save me through merit not my own:
Great Saviour, touch a heart of stone.

Touch me with mercy sweet, divine,
A sinner by my sins entwined,
My weakness great, my heart untrue,
Only the blood can make me new.

O touch me now with truth sublime,
The truth that conquers space and time,
And do what you alone can do:
Make me to know salvation true.

Touch now my heart with peace divine,
Safe knowing that the Lord is mine,
Each day show me undying love:
Show me anew, O heavenly Dove.

O touch my heart with love divine,
And let it through my being shine;
Sing out, my soul, to tell his praise,
To bless my God through endless days.

©JRW

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 24 April 2010 at 11:52

“Offer now your gift of praise”

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Ephraim 7 7. 7 7

Offer now your gift of praise
On this glorious day of days,
Thank God for his boundless love:
Raise your voice to heaven above.

To your Lord a tribute bring:
Praise his Name, give thanks and sing.
On his blessings ever dwell –
Know that Jesus loves you well.

Bow before his throne of grace;
Gaze in wonder on his face;
Let his love your song inspire:
Praise Christ with the heavenly choir.

Shelter now beneath his wing;
Joyful hallelujahs sing.
Having died to bring you peace
Will not Christ your joys increase?

Thank him for his Word of peace.
Glorify his righteousness.
All your vows of love renew,
Knowing that he first loved you.

©JRW

shining sun

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 30 October 2009 at 09:42

God is love, hell is real

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 30 September 2009 at 08:46

Posted in Eschatology

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For parents seeking to be faithful to God and to their children

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My friend Alan Dunn gives a moving framework for spanking evangelism.  Parents would do well to read this to correct the cruel excesses both of empty sentiment and of angry thoughtlessness.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 1 April 2009 at 11:38

Posted in family

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How to avoid dealing with sin

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Pyro Dan Phillips gives guidance on the excuses we can use when trying to avoid addressing sin with which we have legitimately been charged.

Here are the four cards for fudgers of the issue to play (the last is my favourite on account of hearing it so regularly in a certain situation):

1.      The “grace” card. This is antinomianism, whether nascent or in full-bloom. What? How dare I? Don’t I believe in grace? Brother, hear me: I not only believe in grace, I have staked my eternal destiny on the grace of God in Christ. But Biblical grace is how God freely saves me FROM sin’s guilt and power (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14). The moment you adduce grace as if it were how God makes it “okay” for me to live under sin’s power without feeling guilt, you’re no evangelical, you’re at best dangerously close to being an antinomian, and you’re having crumpets and tea with a virulent heresy (cf. Jude 1:4).

2.      The “judge not” card. This may be the laziest and silliest. Jesus says “Judge not” (Matthew 7:1), then immediately tells us how to bring others’ sins to their attention (i.e. not hypocritically, vv. 3-5); then tells us not to give holy things to pigs and dogs (v. 6). So we have to judge enough to identify sin, pigs, and dogs. What mustn’t we do? We mustn’t judge others’ hearts, which we can’t see (Proverbs 14:10; 20:27; Jeremiah 17:9; 1 Corinthians 2:11). In a very similar vein, there is the…

3.      “Yeah… but you did it with the wrong attitude.” As a response to a truthful confrontation, this is barely more contentful than “Oh yeah?” and “So’s your old man.” It’s more along the lines of, “Oh, well, er… hey, look! A comet!” – except phrased as an accusation. Oddly, the “wrong attitude” set is very judgmental when it comes to mind-reading and heart-examining anyone who dares to try to obey Jesus’ command to discern (Matthew 7:3-6) and rebuke (Luke 17:3). At its worst, it evolves into…

4.      Three magic words: “You’re not loving.” Ahh yes, consider the incandescent splendor of The Love CardTM. Do you tell me (truthfully!) that I’m breaking the first, second, third, fifth, and whatever-else commandments? Oh yeah? Well, it doesn’t matter, because… you’re not loving! So there! Now I don’t have to deal with my sin! I’m a victim, you’re Torquemada! The beauties of this pathetic, craven dodge are literally countless. Behold, and marvel:

  • Hey, presto! The subject is changed! Mission Accomplished! We’re not talking about my (actual) sin anymore, we’re all about your (alleged) lovelessness in pointing it out! It’s… er… Martinelli time!
  • It’s like calling someone a “racist”: you are in sin, but your brother is now The Accused, he’s assumed guilty, and the more he tries to defend himself, the worse he looks.
  • The bar remains unreachable, and can be raised world without end. “I think you missed this… what about that?… I still think you’re….”
  • Unlike your sin, this standard is so vast and borderless that you can use it and re-use until everyone loses interest or dies. Who ever loves enough – purely enough, selflessly enough, heartily enough? Suppose the poor chap works diligently on his attitude of love three or four times; then you get to say, “Why do you keep harping on this? I think you have issues!” It’s sheer genius, of a dark sort.
  • Here’s the kicker: you (or the person whose sin you’re enabling) are the ones in sin, but now you look holy and pious, and the other guy looks bad!
  • You can simply run out the clock until everyone wearies of the subject, and the person who brought it up (to honor Christ with believing obedience, guard the holy name of God, and do you good) just looks bad.
  • And, hey! You get to keep your sin! Because evanjellybeans just don’t care about God-shaming, sinner-hardening, testimony-ruining, soul-destroying, kill-Christ sin anymore!

Too true.  Read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 30 March 2009 at 14:51

Under the shadow of a baby

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A lot of last week was fairly normal.  One recurring theme was my wife’s pregnancy: on Monday the indications were that the baby was in a breech position, and we had a scan on Thursday in which it transpired that the baby was head-down (woo-hoo!) and pretty substantially engaged.

Then, on Friday, with the birth potentially imminent, we travelled to north London for my aunt’s funeral.  She died and went to be with Christ on Monday 6th October.  It was a very good funeral service.  Pastor Johnny Prime of Enfield Evangelical Free Church preached from Job 19.35 – “I know that my Redeemer lives” – and wove in the testimony of my aunt’s life to the saving grace of God in Christ to his message very warmly and wisely.  We then travelled the short distance to Lavender Hill Cemetery for the burial.  My father’s parents are buried in the same cemetery, so it was an opportunity to visit their grave also.  My father had forgotten that the same text preached at my aunt’s funeral had been inscribed on his parent’s gravestone.  He was very pleased with this.  One particularly striking and delightful insight came from a quoted but unnamed “old commentator” on the book of Job, who said, “Job had come to understand that he was not in the land of the living on his way to the land of the dying, but in the land of the dying on his way to the land of the living.”

We made it back to Crawley in one piece, albeit very weary and collected our son from the friends who had kindly been looking after him for the day.  We returned home and bolted down a bit of pizza before I went out to Maidenbower to see if any of the youngsters were hanging around.  There were about thirty or so in the usual place.  To begin with, I didn’t recognise any, but was grateful – when I introduced myself – to find that the word had spread about the preacher who came to talk with them.  In a few minutes, some of the ‘regulars’ also came over.  Two of the other men from the church were with me, and for about ten or fifteen minutes (which seems to be about the maximum initial attention span in a bigger group) we had an almost uninterrupted opportunity to explain the gospel.  The main interruption was some local security (I don’t know for whom) who turned up to see if they were carrying any eggs and were slightly bemused (perhaps disbelieving would be more accurate?) to find someone claiming to be a preacher in the middle of the group and holding forth about Jesus Christ!  As usual, after a few minutes – as if on a given signal – most of the group suddenly switched off and moved on, but a few always seem to stay behind.  This smaller group can be very profitable as we answer questions and explain who Jesus is and what he did; often, the group changes as one or two have to go, and a couple more join in.  One young woman took a gospel, and the others were most offended that I did not have more to give out.  Some are making promises to attend the church services, but none have followed up yet.  Walking away after about 45 minutes to pray and head for home, one of the other fellows commented on how little they know of the truth as it is in Jesus.  It is quite plain that their so-called “Religious Education” lessons in school are simply equipping them to know nothing of value and substance.  In fact, the nicest compliment I got on Friday was the suggestion that I come in and teach them RE, “cos that’s wot you’re really doin’, innit?”  But compliments are not what we seek, but souls, and we are praying earnestly for the maintaining of these contacts, and for our witness, that it might bear fruit in salvation.

Saturday I prepared for the Lord’s day and managed to do some reading, which was a nice change, always conscious of the impending birth.  On the Lord’s day itself, I took the adult Sunday School again on the family, finishing off what we started last week in looking at relationships across the generations – the principles that govern relationships between grandparents, their independent married or unmarried children, and the grandchildren.  We had a very good and encouraging turnout.  In the morning service I asked God’s people to Pause and wonder on the basis of 1 John 3.1: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.”  First, John calls for attention: “Behold!”  Here is a command to look with care and at length at something, to contemplate till it penetrate, and then to meditate upon it.  Then, John directs our attention.  He wants us to concentrate on the love of the Father bestowed on us, to feel the wondrous glory of an everlasting and unchangeable, abounding and unlimited, undeserved and overwhelming love.  Here is a gift of love that establishes the most intimate of relationships, abiding good directed to the undeserving.  Finally, John holds our attention by bringing us to the heart of this love.  His emphasis falls on our being children of God, a declaration not so much of name alone (adoption) as of nature (regeneration).  It is not a label but a reality, the fact of a revolution in our humanity whereby – as the divine offspring – we come to practice righteousness after the pattern of God himself.  But this reality has come to those who are not only creatures, but to men and women who by nature and practice are sinners.  And it is just such wretches that God is not ashamed to own as children – publicly to acknowledge us as those who belong to him, a high rank which brings high responsibility, the great and humbling honour that God should declare us his own children.

My father preached in the evening and there was a brief church meeting after the service.  Late at night, the baby stirred, and there was a series of contractions that lasted a few hours, and then stillness and slumber (well, for me at least).  Today I was due to be in London at the John Owen Centre, taking my place at the theology discussion group, when we were to be discussing Abraham Booth’s The Reign of Grace (from which I have posted on several occasions in the last couple of weeks – more to come, DV).  Although I would like to be present, the path of wisdom keeps me close to home, where we eagerly await further indications that the baby is arriving.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 27 October 2008 at 13:01

Free grace and fierce Christianity

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A few days ago I preached at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Ashford, Kent.  I have been going there occasionally for a few years.  In that time, the church has grown quite significantly, and it was my privilege only a little while ago to preach for them at the baptism of a young man.  Others have also joined the church, and they are earnestly praying for and seeking out a man to be a shepherd to them, under Christ.  I preached at their midweek meeting, and it was a pleasure to renew fellowship with the saints there.

On Wednesday we celebrated the Lord’s supper at church – we usually do so on the first Sunday and third Wednesday of each month – and we considered the love of God in the light of our needing, God’s timing, and Christ’s dying.  It was a good time, and we had a good number present.

On Thursday, my wife had a treat lined up for me.  With the birth of our second child impending, we had been looking for an opportunity to take some time out together, and she planned an outing for us, and simply directed me where to go.  We travelled to Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn (second wife of Henry VIII).  The grounds were absolutely splendid, albeit substantially the creation of the Astor family, who owned the castle from the end of the nineteenth century for several decades.  Most of the interior decor dated from their ‘reign’ in the castle, also, but the emphasis lay on Henry and his wives and mistresses.  As I read the various documents, I was overcome with a sense of sadness and unease, that so much sin and misery had been enacted in some of the rooms through which we walked.  Here was the room in which Henry would have probably held court, agitating in his affection for Anne (having already, it would seem, enjoyed an adulterous relationship with her sister, Mary).  Here was Anne’s letter thanking him for appointing her to the court, gushing and breathy, offering herself entirely to His Majesty’s pleasure.  Here was the tension of Anne’s inability to be his wife and first refusal to be his mistress, and then the record of Henry and the pregnant Anne – not then his wife – on their travels.  But here also were her prayer books, with some touching notes.  Here also was the noble and sober last letter that she wrote to her estranged husband, shortly before her death, pleading with dignity that he reconsider his decision to cut her off (in every sense).  There is some evidence that Anne became a true-hearted champion of the Reformation during her reign: if so, what a glorious demonstration of divine grace in the midst of so much ungodliness and moral muck.

My wife and I then enjoyed an evening drive through the autumn light back toward Crawley, where we went out for a meal before returning home.  Mamgu (‘Grandma’ for those with any sensitivities to the Welsh!) was looking after our son for the afternoon and night, and he has been struggling with his sleep patterns for a couple of weeks, so we enjoyed a full night’s refreshing sleep, which was a blessing.

On Friday I had a lot of work to do in the morning, and then in the afternoon to sit in on a long medical appointment with one of our members with special needs.  In the evening we had a church officer’ meeting which started later than usual and ran quite late.  However, afterward as I drove away, I spotted some of the teenagers to whom we had spoken last week.  Having a special dispensation from my wife to stay out late under such circumstances, I stopped and chatted for some thirty minutes.  “Hey, it’s the preacher!” – at least, a positive response to my approach.  These youngsters lead an empty existence, with many material privileges but little purpose and much selfishness and sin.  Some have some knowledge of true things, but none have a knowledge of the truth.  God helped to answer the serious questions, and to deal with some of the more foolish responses – much of it simply due to ignorance, although it is in itself sad and even blasphemous – and to take time again to explain some of the good news.  Even the most boisterous will generally listen for a few minutes, and there were two or three to whom I spoke for ten minutes at the end more personally, explaining the cross-work of Jesus Christ.  It truly demonstrates the need of the Spirit to open the eyes of the inwardly blind – the fact of God’s sovereign love is to them a thing not just strange but preposterous.  That someone should die to save the unrighteous seems to them the height of folly; that the wretchedly wicked should be granted free pardon seems to them entirely strange.  The scandal of the cross remains.  I hope to maintain contact for as long as possible, preaching to them as I can, praying that God would make them feel their sin as I explain it to them, and then bring them to Jesus to be washed and made new.

Saturday therefore became a long working day in preparation for the Lord’s day.  I started early without any powerful sense of what I might preach, and God gave me a degree of direction and purpose, and I was able to make good progress.  In the evening, we were visiting a friend from the congregation, and had a good meal with her and a good time speaking with her and her unconverted housemate.  Then home to finish off the preparation for the Lord’s day.

In our adult Sunday School class we moved on from considering the role of the parent to the task of the parent.  Our key texts were Proverbs 22.6 (“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”) and Ephesians 6.4 with Colossians 3.21 (“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” with “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged”).  We began to look at what it means to accomplish this task, putting the task in the context of the man/woman/parent’s influence in the home, the church and society, and not least the fact that the children raised in one home would go on, God willing, to become the parents in another.  Before diving into the actual work of training, though, a question had been asked some weeks ago about the role of grandparents.  We therefore took the opportunity to have a look at grandparent-parent-(grand)child relationships.  We did not have time to get far, concentrating on the developing relationship of a parent to his growing children, and the issues of responsibility, maturity and accountability as a child grows up.  We will move on next week, God willing, to consider the child leaving home and setting up themselves, the change of relationship that comes with marriage, and then the dynamic of authority that operates across and between generations.  It promises to be interesting – I was intrigued by the fact that this topic immediately threw up some matters of pastoral casuistry: you can often tell if you are itching where the people are scratching by the questions that get asked.

In the morning worship, I preached from Romans 13.11-12: Paul’s call to Wake up! The Apostle identifies a dangerous condition: sleeping saints, and the consequent degrees of inactivity, unresponsiveness, forgetfulness, dreaminess, and sleepwalking that are suffered by such.  Here is Bunyan’s ‘Enchanted Ground’ – the spirit of the age makes the saints sleepy as they buy into the dullness and laziness of Western society, and succumb to the restraining and sidelining of Christianity as a vital religion.  In the light of this, Paul brings an urgent message: “Wake up!”  He calls upon the church to rouse itself, for spiritual sleepiness is incompatible with the position we occupy in the grand drama of redemption.  He presents a pressing reason: the day of our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, the day is close at hand.  Since Christ has died and risen, we are all living in history’s epilogue, “the last days,” and we need to live accordingly, in the light of Christ’s imminent return.  This leads to an earnest exhortation: Paul provides a blueprint for Christian liveliness and alertness in these days – to stop sinning and start striving, to avoid all sinful indulgence, sexual impurity and selfish aggression and to put on the armour of light by which we fight the good fight of faith.  I urged the people of God here not to be the generation or the church that heard the call of God’s Spirit, “Wake up!” and who then rolled over and went back to sleep.

We had my mother (my father is away in the US, at the Pastors’ Conference hosted by Trinity Baptist Church, Montville) and another friend from church for dinner, together with two friends from Scotland who are in London (he on business) for the weekend.  Unfortunately, my son has picked up something curious called ‘hand, foot and mouth disease’ (not the bovine foot and mouth job, of course, but something that has left him feverish and not at all himself).  He struggled throughout the day, and so my wife kept him home for the evening.

I was preaching on Abounding grace from Hosea 14.4.  This grim book speaks not only of the righteous anger of an offended God but also the faithfulness and mercy of our covenant Lord.  At the end of the prophecy, the Lord declares of his repenting people, “I will love them freely.”  We considered the nature of God’s love – that it is both free (a spontaneous act of his holy will, the voluntary inclination and affection of his heart apart from issues of apparent worthiness and unworthiness) and full (not only everflowing but overflowing).  Then there are the people whom God loves – self-destructive, God-rejecting, hell-bent rebels.  No love other than one freely bestowed would reach such sinners as we have been.  That contrast leads us to consider the glory of God’s love: it springs forth unbidden to redeem those both repugnant to holiness and resistant to goodness; it answers the need of such sinners absolutely, dealing with the abundance of sin, absence of righteousness and antagonism to God that characterises us; it is irresistible, nothing and no-one can prevent, resist, or undo the love of God; and, it is demonstrated at Calvary.  The death of Jesus is the fruit and not the cause of God’s love.  He dies because God loves; God does not love because he dies.  Finally, we turned to the effects of God’s love: a reason to hope, an anchor for faith, a spur to humility, a ground for comfort, a reason for joy, and the spring of our own thankful love to him who loved us first.

In both sermons I think that the Lord gave me some liberty to declare the truth, and I can only pray that it would be effective.  We had visitors both morning and evening, although – as yet – none of the youngsters to whom we have been speaking have darkened the doors of the church.  They spoke appreciatively of the ministry and fellowship, and we hope to see them back again soon.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 20 October 2008 at 12:09

“God set before me love”

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Bod Alwyn S.M.

God set before me love
To draw my soul to him,
But I was bound in Satan’s chains
And revelled in my sin.

I saw the mercy seat,
Was taught the way to go;
I saw that Christ had died for sin,
But did not want to know.

I would not follow him,
I fought against his call,
But God would have me be his child,
Him be my All in All.

God set before me fear,
Darkness, despair and dread.
He drove me forth into the night
Where angels fear to tread.

As wreckage on the sea
Before God’s storm I fled,
Exhausted, scourged and fearing still,
To where my Saviour bled.

While still his enemy
He suffered for my sin.
As clouds across a storm-swept sky
God sped my soul to him.

Still understanding not
I wept and feared until
At the bright throne of God I found
Grace, love, and mercy still.

©JRW

the-storm-rembrandt

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 23 April 2008 at 12:00

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