Thursday, 7 December 2017

All That Is in God

All That Is in God

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

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


The Preacher, The Pastor and the Theologian.

The Preacher, The Pastor and the Theologian.

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

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

Keeping Spiritually Fresh

Keeping Spiritually Fresh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

I’ve Been Jammed

I’ve Been Jammed

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

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

Overview of the First Four Commandments

Overview of the First Four Commandments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Pro-Smacking Fundamentalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Innovations in Worship

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

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

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

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Displaying the Commandments

Displaying the Commandments

I was preaching in Perth Free Church last Sunday on the theme of the Law of God. (

One of my introductory remarks was on the general ignorance of the ten commandments in society at large and in the church in particular. I mentioned that I had never ever seen the commandments displayed in any church, and there was a kind response from one older member who told me that in some Church of England congregations the commandments were displayed on a plaque at the entrance to the church.  A quick Google image search confirmed this, with some rather imposing examples.

So, why should we not display the Ten Commandments somewhere in our church facilities.  I can already hear the counter argument, “Why the Ten Commanments; why not the Beatitutes, or the Lord’s prayer, or 1 Corintians 13 on Love?”

This is not an either or situation.  There are many possible biblical passages to display and perhaps a rotating display where the posters were changed monthly might be appropriate.  However, I still think there is a valid argument for a permanent display of the Ten Commandments.

They need not be engraved in stone.  Modern technology allows us to print them off, our local high street print shops can expand them in full colour A3 poster size for next to nothing, and you can buy a nice A3 poster frame on Amazon.

Of course, we can also re-introduce the reading of the Law back into our worship, and this site provides a number of examples of responsive readings.

Let’s hit back at ignorance by display, instruction, and liturgy.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Beatitudes and Responses

Beatitudes and Responses (Psalms of David)

Occasionally, in place of the Reading of the Law before the Prayer of Confession, it would be appropriate to use the Beatitudes.  Indeed, it would be possible to frame the prayer of confession on the basis of the Beatitudes.  I recently read in a 19th century American Episcopalian work on the revision of their liturgy a reference to the Beatitudes with responses based on Psalm 51, (which the writer thought was rather artificial), but have not been able to trace this,.

These responses, based on the Psalms are appropriate.  I have edited them from some suggestions in: 

Matthew 5:3   Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 70:5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Psalm 30:11  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness

Matthew 5:5   Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37: 3, 11 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Matthew 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Psalm 18:25   With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless.

Matthew 5:8   Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Psalm 51:10, 11   Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Matthew 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Matthew 5:10   Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 31:15   My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Slow Down and Read 2

Solw Dwon and Raed 

One of the diecufliifts in unsig the rcih adaunnbce of toioahgclel luiatterre taht has now been dstiieigd and is abillavae trhuogh the and ohetr seits is taht smeotmies the OCR is lses tahn peecrft. Coumpetr stafwroe is not as good as the haumn bairn in inirepenrttg achirac txet. Ieendd, smtmoiees it is taltloy uesless and the txet is mroe or lses unbadlraee. In taht csae I adboann my mboi (kdnile) txet and rrseot to the pdf igmaes. It is lses ufusel, canont be seeahrcd or cnanot be cut and pteasd as txet, but it is rbldeaae. 

Mroe otfen the OCR is smpily %E2%80%9ogCddy%E2%80%9D and wtih a lttile pscreaenerve can be raed rbansolaey wlel. Waht is deos do is mkae me solw dwon and raed retahr tahn sacn the txet. By dnoig so I tkae mroe in and tnihk mroe cllfueray abuot waht I raed. I uesd to hvae a psoter in my calss room in wchih a parpagrah of txet was jbulmed up, but the fisrt and lsat lettres of ecah wrod wree in the crcreot palce: 

%E2%80%9niccorCAdg to a rcrecshaeh at Cbmgiadre Urensivity, it deson't mteatr in what oerdr the lertets in a word are, the only iepmrtont thnig is that the frsit and last letter be at the right pacle. The rest can be a tatol mess and you can siltl read it wutihot polrbem. This is baeusce the haumn mind does not read every lteetr by ilestf, but the word as a wolhe.%E2%80%9D 

Waht azaemd me was not how mnay puplis cuold raed the txet, but how mnay of our pilups wtih dxeislya cuold rades it! Puipls wree aslo iniugetrd taht tcahrees cuold raed txet upidse dwon, or at lseat I cuold, wchih was vrey useufl in syniervug tehir oongnig wrok. (Try it; it cmeos wtih ltilte pciracte.). Rraecesh aslo sohws taht a beurrld or gryeed txet is prelcfety rlbedaae and taht it aiagn mekas you solw dwon and tihnk as you raed. 

Sniowlg dwon to raed any txet is of bfnieet; swonilg dwon to raed Srtpurice is of eronumos bfeenit. We semtmieos seped raed our bilebs as if mroe is bteter and qkuicer is cdmlaembone. I smtmeeios feed docetunms itno a Srtpiz rdeear, ( ), and trhee can be a pcale for tihs wehn lrgae anoutms of txet hvae to be dstegeid qucikly. I was not srusiperd to fnid taht trhee is a smrat pnhoe app taht uess the tohglonecy to raed the blibe, %E2%80%9C BbGiilset %E2%80%93 Stpriz the Blbie%E2%80%9D. I do not tinhk tihs is how the bilbe sluohd be raed. Nor do I tihnk taht lesiintng to the bblie txet at x1.5 or x2 seped is waht sholud be dnoe. 

Rev. Jhon T. Csroan, a frmoer mtoeordar of the Petryrsbiean Cuchrh in Ianerld, ocne seyatd wtih us on Aarrn. He srhaed taht for his devotnoial rneiadg of Srtrpicue he uesd Sricputre Uinon noets, but the Fnecrh langague voeirsn. Tihs had cmoe auobt by acncidet wehn he was viitnsig in Cadnaa and neeedd new nteos but olny the Fncerh lanaugge vesiron was abiavalle. He fnuod taht uisng the Fencrh S.U. neots sleowd him dwon, mdae him tihnk mroe auobt waht he was rieandg and deevploed a depeer daenvootil icnittareon wtih Sprcurite. 

I am not aincovtdag taht we nsrescelaiy raed our Bbelis in a fioregn lgunagae, raed tehm trgouhh the meidum of bad OCR or raed the txet upidse dwon. Waht I am adocvaitng is taht we solw dwon, thnik, pary, and medattie as we raed Suticprre. Eualqly, wehn we are rineadg toihlgecoal lutitraree we slouhd solw dwon and dgiset waht we are redniag. We may not get tghuroh as mcuh, but waht we raed wlil be of mroe beeifnt to us. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Slow Down and Read

Slow Down and Read

One of the difficulties in using the rich abundance of theological literature that has now been digitised and is available through the and other sites is that sometimes the OCR is less than perfect.  Computer software is not as good as the human brain in interpreting archaic text.  Indeed, sometimes it is totally useless and the text is more or less unreadable.  In that case I abandon my mobi (kindle) text and resort to the pdf images.  It is less useful, cannot be searched or cannot be cut and pasted as text, but it is readable.
More often the OCR is simply “dodgy” and with a little perseverance can be read reasonably well.  What it does do is make me slow down and read rather than scan the text.  By doing so I take more in and think more carefully about what I read.  I used to have a poster in my class room in which a paragraph of text was jumbled up, but the first and last letters of each word were in the correct place:

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

What amazed me was not how many pupils could read the text, but how many of our pupils with dyslexia could reads it!  Pupils were also intrigued that teachers could read text upside down, or at least I could, which was very useful in surveying their ongoing work.  (Try it; it comes with little practice.).  Research also shows that a blurred or greyed text is perfectly readable and that it again makes you slow down and think as you read.

Slowing down to read any text is of benefit; slowing down to read Scripture is of enormous benefit. We sometimes speed read our bibles as if more is better and quicker is commendable. I sometimes feed documents into a Spritz reader, ( ), and there can be a place for this when large amounts of text have to be digested quickly.  I was not surprised to find that there is a smart phone app that uses the technology to read the bible, “ BibleGist – Spritz the Bible”. I do not think this is how the bible should be read.  Nor do I think that listening to the bible text at x1.5 or x2 speed is what should be done.

Rev. John T. Carson, a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, once stayed with us on Arran.  He shared that for his devotional reading of Scripture he used Scripture Union notes, but the French language version.  This had come about by accident when he was visiting in Canada and needed new notes but only the French language version was available.  He found that using the French S.U. notes slowed him down, made him think more about what he was reading and developed a deeper devotional interaction with Scripture.

I am not advocating that we necessarily read our Bibles in a foreign language, read them through the medium of bad OCR or read the text upside down.  What I am advocating is that we slow down, think, pray, and meditate as we read Scripture. Equally, when we are reading theological literature we should slow down and digest what we are reading.  We may not get through as much,  but what we read will be of more benefit to us.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Dodderidge and Prayer before Preparation

Philip Dodderidge’s “Lectures on Preaching” may be dated, but it still contains a great amount of biblical and practical wisdom.  Before beginning any sermon preparation Dodderidge wisely counsels prayer:

Begin the work with a solemn address to God. This will lay you in the way of his blessing and assistance ; and will naturally have some good influence to awaken, compose and encourage your soul. It will direct your minds to right ends and views, which is a matter of vast importance. Perhaps a form of prayer might not be improper for that purpose; yet varied with some particular regard to your subject.”

The editor provides such a form of prayer from Dodderidge’s own hand:

“Blessed God ! It is thou that gavest me a rational soul, and upon thee do I depend entirely for the continuance of those capacities with which thou hast endowed me. I am not sufficient of myself, so much as to think anything as I ought, but all my sufficiency is of thee.

I am now engaging in a work of singular importance, in which I would desire to be sensible of the need I have of thy gracious assistance. I beg that thou wilt command my attention to the affair before me. May no vain or intruding thoughts break in upon me to hinder a steady application to my business. 

Direct my mind to proper thoughts; and to the most  agreeable manner of arranging and expressing them.

And may my heart be inflamed with pious affections; that divine truths coming warm from my own soul may more easily penetrate into the souls of my hearers : May I remember that I am not to compose an harangue to acquire to myself the reputation of an eloquent orator ; but that I am preparing food for precious and immortal souls; and dispensing that sacred gospel which my Redeemer brought from heaven, and sealed with his blood.

May I therefore sincerely endeavour to give my discourse the most useful turn, and do thou direct me so to form it, as best to promote the great purpose of christian edification.

And grant, O Lord, that I may receive present refreshment to myself, and future edification from the study of those divine truths I am entering upon.

May this be one of the most delightful employments of my life. While I am watering others may I be watered myself also and bring forth daily more and more fruit, proportionable to the advantages which I enjoy, to the glory of thy great name and the improvement of my everlasting felicity,

Through Jesus Christ. Amen." 

The language may be dated; the thoughts are timeless!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

On the Blessing of Bridges

On the Blessing of Bridges

I see from the Church of Scotland’s website that the Moderator of the General Assembly was involved in the opening ceremony for the Queensferry Crossing, the spectacular new bridge across the Firth of Forth:
“The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has blessed the Queensferry Crossing. Right Rev Dr Derek Browning said bridges were “symbols of inclusion and hope”.
Now as someone who regularly crosses what I assume to be unblessed bridges such as the Clackmannanshire, Erskine and Kingston bridges, this causes me some concern.  The Moderator has not said the sacred words, “God bless this bridge; God bless this [Queensferry] Crossing, And all who travel on it” over my bridges!  Am I to assume that as I travel on them I remain unblessed because the engineering marvels themselves have not been blessed?
It is an interesting yet predictable analogy the Moderator makes about bridges being symbols of inclusion: “For people of faith, bridges remind us that faith is also called to connect people, overcome barriers and span divides.”
It so happens that I also used the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing as a spiritual illustration when I spoke to the children on Sunday morning.  I spoke of Christ as the bridge between man and God, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…” (2 Tim 2:5,6)  
However I also pointed out that whereas there are now three spectacular bridges across the Forth – the railway bridge, the old road bridge and the new bridge – there is only ONE bridge to God for “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  Somehow I do not think that if the Moderator had spoken of Christ as the exclusive bridge to God, rather than a vague idea of social and religious inclusion, his part in the proceedings may have been quite so welcomed.
Nevertheless, now that I am retired I can see a new and unique opportunity presenting itself – could I become a bridge blesser for hire, (viaducts and culverts also included.)  No; I am perfectly content to pass over unblessed bridges in unblessed buses and cars.

Steve Chalk and the Nashville Statement

Steve Chalk and the Nashville Statement

I would not have imagined that the former evangelical Steve Chalk could have signed the Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality. ( ) However he has surpassed himself in his flight from biblical ethics in becoming one of the first signatories of the Nazareth Statement. ( ).
The Nazareth statement is, of course, for “those who have been on the leading edge of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work”, through fully embracing the agenda of LGBT+ community.  Indeed, Chalke is actually one of the editors who produced the Nazareth Statement and not merely a fellow traveller.
When you move from biblical orthodoxy it is inevitable that you not only reject a biblical understanding of the atonement, you will invariably reject a biblical understanding of sexuality. I see that the former PCA minister Rev. Fred Harrell is also among the initial signatories.

This is simply a further illustration that liberal progressive pseudo-christianity is another religion that cannot co-exist with true biblical Christianity.  

Monday, 24 July 2017

Some Sermons Online

Sermons Online

I don’t normally have my sermons online.  However, over the last two Sundays I have been preaching at Knox Church, Perth, (Free Church of Scotland), and the sermons are now online:

There you will also find the excellent messages of the Pastor, Paul Gibson.

I have to say my visit to Perth was a blessing to my own soul and the warm welcome and hospitality of the members was deeply appreciated. I heartily commend the work of Knox Church and can recommend it as a spiritual home for those in the greater Perth area who are looking for a church that is Christ centred and biblically based.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Code of Ethics for Ministers

I thought this was an excellent statement of ministerial ethics, clearly defining what is expected in terms of godly conduct.  Given that it is from a source most Scottish Presbyterians would not be aware of, it is certainly worth sharing. Given that it is from a congregational source, we as Presbyterians could replace “Conference” with “Denomination” and substitute our own particular denomination’s name as appropriate for "Conservative Congregational Christian Conference".

The one question I might have is revealing a confidence shared with us; sometimes we are required by law to do this in the case of child protection.  We are not priests and it is wrong to give a promise of non-disclosure, although in general we should be discrete and not reveal what is shared with us without grave biblical reasons.

Sometimes things just have to be spelled out clearly and not assumed.  This is certainly the case in ministerial conduct.  There is also an adage from business, “It is not what is expected that is done, it is what is inspected ! “  Perhaps there is a case for both self-inspection, mutual inspection with a mentor and corporate inspection with our fellow elders.

Here is the Code of Ethics:

In My Own Life

I will always devote time to seeking the will of God through reading the Scriptures and prayer.

I will endeavour to keep myself physically and emotionally fit.

I will seek in all ways to be Christ like in my attitude and conduct.

I will seek mutual accountability and spiritual friendship with fellow Christians for personal encouragement and nurture in order to ensure faithfulness to my calling as a steadfast follower and competent servant of my Lord Jesus Christ.

In Relationship to My Family

I will consider each member of my immediate family as precious gifts from God, and will carefully, lovingly and responsibly meet their needs as a sacred obligation before Him.

I will give spiritual leadership in my home.

I will be faithful and loyal to my family members, loving them as Jesus Christ loves His Church.

In Relationship to the Church

I will remember that I am called to lead, but also to serve.

I will never violate a confidence given to me.

I will be diligent in my duties as pastor, never lazy, but with God as my judge and my Shepherd.

I will be Biblical in my preaching, presenting the whole counsel of God, speaking the truth in love.

I will strive to introduce people to Christ, and to build His Church.

I will consider my call to the church a sacred responsibility and stand by my commitment to the church and leaders.

I will seek the unity of the church and resist any attempts to divide the congregation, either by supporting factions within the congregation or by my own initiative.

In Relationship to Other Ministers

I will be a brother in Christ to my fellow ministers.

I will not seek to build the church I serve at the expense of another church, nor my ego at the expense of another minister.

I will not speak uncharitably of either my predecessor or my successor.

I will refrain from pastoral contacts with former parishioners except with the knowledge of thepresent pastor.

In Relationship to the Conference

I will participate in the larger fellowship of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, and seek to support through prayer and action its aims and objectives.

In Relationship to the Community

I will seek to be responsible in my personal finances. 

I will seek to build a positive relationship with the community without sacrificing my ministry to the church.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

“Prefaces to the Westminster Confession of Faith”

“Prefaces to the Westminster Confession of Faith”

Part of my summer reading in St Andrews is in preparation for our presbytery’s examination of our students on the Confession.  I am enjoying reviewing the standard commentaries on the Confession and listening to various series of lectures on the Confession featuring a Scotsman, an American and a New Zealander.  What is interesting is that all of the lectures begin with the first chapter, “Of the Holy Scriptures”.  That is natural and to be expected.  Indeed, I noted that the OPC and FCS editions of the Confession have neither of the prefaces by some of the puritan divines.  These prefaces are not part of our confessional standards, but they are important nevertheless and well worth reading.

What is interesting is that while we think of the Confession as a church document, and associate its use with teaching and ruling elders, both of these prefaces are addressed to ordinary members in general and fathers or heads of households in particular.

Manton writes, “I do therefore desire, that all masters of families would first study well this work themselves, and then teach it their children and servants, according to their several capacities.”

We do a disservice to our church families when we assume that the Confession is only for office-bearers! In doing so we deprive them of a biblical and practical theology textbook that can enrich their understanding and warm their hearts.

Some practical suggestions:
1     Read the two prefaces to the Westminster Confession.
2    Read the Confession in a systematic and regular manner.
3    Read one of the modern language editions of the Confession.  My two preferences are the Modern Study Version produced by the OPC, and the excellent edition by Roland Ward.

Yes, our students, ministers, and elders should know the Confession.  Would that the day would come again when our members and families can also be assumed to know and love the Confession.

See the two prefaces, with somewhat inaccurate OCR, at: