Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 24/2/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsThe following hymn is our response to God’s promise to us to forever with us…

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend: I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my guide.

O let me feel Thee near me—the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear: My foes are ever near me, around me and within; but Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee, that where Thou art in glory, there shall Thy servant be; and, Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

John E. Bode, 1816–1874

Critical

I am curious as to why so many of the Reformed Tradition in their Systematic Theologies are so critical of others (I’ve decided not to name and shame) who also take God’s Word as the ultimate source of authority (Sola Scriptura) and drag down such who are also seeking to know God, His will and the things revealed by the Holy Spirit of God.  [I am not talking about those who do not regard Scripture as a Christian’s authority though even here still have to be careful of HOW we judge].

It seems that other genuine Christians are being treated as heretics and non-Christians just because of a difference of understanding.  I believe that such an attitude is itself heresy.  Oh, there are heretics and such should be exposed as such but generally these are those who put on the cloak of being a Christian but their teaching reveals they are nothing but wolves in sheep’ clothing.  There are definite things we should all believe as Christians but we are pilgrims together  with the whole true Christian witness; present, past and in all places.

The truth that is revealed in part to one group may be revealed in another part to another group as happened during the Reformation.  Of course not all of those who call themselves Christians are Christian as Jesus made plain – many will call Him ‘Lord, Lord’ but he will declare He never knew them.  Let us judge aright.

We do not agree on everything. I do not call myself either Reformed or Arminian as if these are the boundaries we should establish between us (and actually I have issues in both camps in their respective Systematic Theologies but glad to get a rounded perspective on Scripture even if I do disagree from time-to-time – however I do also make it clear I am not a liberal), and generally it is true that there is only one ‘right’ answer – but we should treat each other with grace, for God reveals things that are hidden from academics and reveals them instead to children!  Whether we have a high IQ or a low one – everything we have comes from God.  Let us be so careful of Spiritual pride.  And we need, yes, need each other.

Let all things be done for GOD’s glory.

Redeeming the Time

When in Ephesians 5.16 the Bible speaks about redeeming the time what do we understand by this?  How do we buy time?

Redeem the Time

I think one way is to be aware of what we are doing with our time.  Just how aware are we of the time we use?

If we had to record what we were doing every 10 minutes of the day how much of that time would be revealed to be wasted?  By doing such an exercise it should make us focus more clearly on those things that we should be doing.  Accountants in Accountancy Practices actually have to record what they do every 10 minutes to give an account of their time, to charge the right rates to the right clients and to be accountable to the boss.  If this is standard for them should we should make it standard for us who have should have a greater value on the time God has given to us?

Why not give it a go, say for one week – just one week(!); record what you are doing for every 10 minutes of the day for seven days?  Then see whether you are sleepwalking through each day and whether or not you are as awake as Scripture bids us to be.

Jonathan Edwards, an American Theologian of over 250 years ago, kept records of what he did all the time (he wanted to make sure he studied for 13 hours every day) and kept records of what he ate to see whether what he ate made him sleepy or enabled him to continue working.  I think he was a bit extreme but it was his response to love the Lord our God with our minds, with our bodies, with our hearts, with all our strength.

Jesus made it clear that we should set aside time to come apart (Mark 6:31 (NKJV) 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)  This was so they could get refreshed – but refreshed for refreshment sake or for us and them to get back into the fray reinvigorated for the Lord’s work?  (Everything we do, including our jobs, should be done for the Lord).  So, there is nothing against resting, entertainment, and sleeping – just how much we do of these? And ask the question: Am I redeeming the time?

Perhaps we can find that time to pray and read His Word after all…

What do you think?

I was prompted to post this because of an Infographic included in this post found from PC World that I found on Monday…but the message above was prepared on Sunday 17th but not included in the end in my Sunday sermon at Ely Baptist.

Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 18/2/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsHymns

Yesterday I was having a discussion with Christian friends after I mentioned that great encouragement that one day we will see Jesus face to face and thinking about what hymns and songs there were.  So, I thought, why not?  Why not have one posted today!  So here you are and I hope you will make it your prayer and it is an encouragement to you…

1.
Face to face with Christ my Saviour,
Face to face what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me?
(Chorus)
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky.
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by.
2.
Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkling veil between.
But a blessed day is coming
When His glory shall be seen.
3.
What rejoicing in His presence
When are banished grief and pain.
When the crooked ways are straightened
And the dark things shall be plain.
4.
Face to face!  O blissful moment!
Face to face, to see and know.
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.
Mrs. Frank A. Breck 1898

Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 9/2/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsHymns breathe the praise of the saints, The vision of the prophets,
The prayers of the penitent and the spirit of the martyrs.
They bring solace to the sad, assurance to the perplexed,
Faith to the doubter and comfort to the oppressed.
They span the centuries of history and bridge the barriers of denominations.
Study them to be pure in heart;
Sing them to be joyful in spirit,
Store them in the mind to possess a treasury of worship.
—Unknown

Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (8). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Why study theology if God does not exist?

There is no point in studying theology if God does not exist!

This is one of many posts that will eventually come together in a coherent way in the study of theology.  In the mean-time enjoy the bite-size pieces that will arrive here on this blog!  Most of these will also be imageless – sorry!

Christians not only believe He exists but that He has deliberately revealed Himself to us through a variety of methods.  Miracles, traditions, the Church, creation, experience, reason, history, etc but the ultimate revealing was done in Jesus Christ.  We know for sure about Jesus Christ because of the Word of God: Scripture: The Bible.  The Bible simply takes it for granted that God exists from the very first verse (Gen 1.1)…in the beginning God created… This God, our God…’transcends the entire creation, but is at the same time immanent in every part of it’. [1] There is a point in studying theology for God does exist.

Of course, it is not something that we can prove beyond all doubt but is something that is grasped by faith (faith = trust).  This is not faith without any basis in reality as some prominent atheists want to espouse as our belief system but it is indeed based on reliable evidence contained in Scripture, especially.  Now, it is up to us to mine the riches of Scripture and to know and pursue the knowledge of God (Hos 6.3).  This knowledge though is more fully revealed to believers and therefore this Queen of Sciences known as Theology, is darkness and foolishness for those who do not believe.  But once Jesus is believed on then we see with clearer light and see the wisdom of God in all His works.

The evidence for this is also found in Scripture: Matthew 11:27 (NKJV) 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  We see, then, the impossibility of knowing God without us knowing Him through Jesus Christ and therefore the study of Him without this real knowledge is going to fall far short.

There is a revelation called ‘General Revelation’ which is, especially, found in nature that God can be seen and known in it.  This revelation though falls short of any knowledge about the saving grace found only in Jesus Christ.  The revelation reveals God’s creation, His creativity, His awesomeness, His providential care for what He has made, among other attributes.  These are a precursor to us seeking God.  The fear of the Lord is both the beginning of knowledge and of wisdom.  We, therefore, lack both if the Lord is not truly Lord of our lives.


[1] Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (21). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.

Minefield or a Mind-field? An Introduction to an introduction to Theology

Minefield or a Mind-field? An Introduction to an Introduction to Theology

The line above is surely a trick question… surely it isn’t minefield OR a mind-field but a minefield AND a mind-field!  That’s why this is one of the few subjects that could have an introduction to an Introduction about theology!

Before we even start on a subject like this there are so many pitfalls to avoid but though this subject is so very large does not mean that we should not embark on this adventure.  Even the intro could go to hundreds of pages as I note in some theologian’s works (hint Geisler)

Of course, one of the things we need to set out are presuppositions.  These are totally unavoidable because we all have them.  So, you need to know mine – do you know yours?

My largest presupposition is that God exists.  I am not a Thomist (a follower of Thomas Aquinas) in their thinking in seeking to prove the existence of God though I will set out these things in the Bibliology section of this site under the sub-section of General Revelation.  My next presupposition is that God has revealed himself.  And lastly, I believe He has revealed Himself supremely through Jesus Christ and in the written word known as the Bible.

Many have whiled away the hours setting out each of these and of course, it is my intention to do so too!  However, for this Intro to the Intro, for that is what it is I wanted to give a heads-up on the way I will be going about posting items on this blog.

This blog will gradually have some static pages added to it which will form the basis of a systematic theology that is going to take many years to complete.  I’d rather it be a quick exercise but all good things come to those who wait…or should that say ‘work’?!

In the meantime I will post my latest thoughts and most of these to start with will form the Intro to Theology and Bibliology – Bibliology being the study of the Bible.  This is not a Bible-study in the usual sense of the word though it will thoroughly use the Bible as its text.  The study of the Bible will consist of How God reveals Himself, the Authority, Inspiration and Illumination of the Scriptures.  Scriptures is another word for Bible and the Bible is known also as the Word of God.

Theology is the Study of God.

So, as we can see it is not simply a minefield or a mind-field but both.

Work – Is it Christian?

A Theology of Work

– (which is also a work in progress!)

Is it hard to get up on a Monday morning?  Actually, is it hard to get up ANY morning!?  Is it just time to hit that snooze button over and over again?!

What is our usual response to going to work?  Or to College?  Or even working from or at home?  After all, almost all of us have homework to do as well.  And what has any of this to do with being a Christian?  I mean, doing work is normal, can be mundane, just a basic part of life.

I want to show you that work is actually a Christian thing to do. When we think about being a Christian at work or college, what is our first thought?  Is it not that it is about witnessing to our colleagues or about having a Bible Study or playing Christian music or being part of theChristian Union.   But what about our actual work?  We are actually fulfilling God’s design when we do our jobs well – no matter what our job is.  Most of us think of work, or going to college to get qualifications so that we can go to work, is about earning a salary, supporting our families, being comfortable or even working for work’s sake – it is a necessary evil for those who are not called into Christian Ministry full-time.

Things have changed a little in terminology – we used to call work our vocation – which interestingly means our calling.  It is true that God definitely calls people into certain things but we may be surprised to know that for a Christian work is also a calling.  Are we not all seeking to do the will of God?

Bear in mind that these verses are a little out of context but it is definitely transferable to work: the first is 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. And the second is: Romans 11:36 (NKJV) 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.

No matter how you put it God is to be glorified in everything we do whether as we have read it is about eating, drinking or everything else and that includes work.

Genesis 2:7–9, 15 (NKJV) 7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

What do we notice about these verses?  I said earlier that work seems like a necessary evil but hang on, what have we read?  God created man and then He put him in the garden to, what? To work!  I don’t know what your idea of Heaven is – but if work is not it then you may have to consider something else!  God’s good and wholesome plan was to give us work to do – notice that this is BEFORE the fall!  BEFORE man sinned!  BEFORE God cursed the ground.  Workis good! Work did not happen because of sin – it was before it.  We were created to work.  And then, of course to have rulership over the whole earth:

Genesis 1:27–28 (NKJV) 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God expects us to work; making order out of chaos which mirrors God’s creation. This cannot be done without work.  Remember that God works too.  Jesus worked doing the works of His father (John 9.4).

So work was God’s design from the beginning. And the ultimate goal was for every aspect of life and culture to be saturated with the beauty and glory and love of God.

Then things changed: when sin entered the picture, work was cursed.  Genesis 3:17–19 (NKJV)

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;

In toil you shall eat of it

All the days of your life.

18    Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,

And you shall eat the herb of the field.

19    In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

Till you return to the ground,

For out of it you were taken;

For dust you are,

And to dust you shall return.”

Work

Because of Adam, because of sin, suddenly work that was a joy became hard. Work involves sweat and toil and thorns and thistles otherwise known today as stress, overtime, boredom, and managers giving us a hard time.  Work has been cursed. But work is still good. It is still part of God’s purpose.

Today, God calls us to redeem the time.  Work is to be redeemed.  Work is a calling, a vocation, a chance for God to be glorified. Colossians 3:17 (NKJV) 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Now when we go to work, stay home to work, go to college we are there for a greater purpose, we are there for the glory of God. God wants to be honoured in what we do and in how we do it.

 

What are some ways that God can be glorified in our work?

  1. God is glorified when we put our whole selves into our work, with a view toward pleasing God, not men.  Not in pretending to work. Colossians 3:23–24 (NKJV) 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
  2. God is glorified when we honour our managers and submit to their authority (1Timothy 6:1; Romans 13:7)
  3. God is glorified when we avoid complaining or grumbling, even in less-than ideal worksituations. Philippians 2:14–15 (NKJV) 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
  4. Ecclesiastes 5:10–12 (NKJV) 10He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. 11        When goods increase, They increase who eat them;  So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes?12  The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, Whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
  5. God is glorified when we plan diligently for the future Proverbs 21:5 (NKJV) 5The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.

In all these ways and many more, we can do our work to the glory of God.

Another reason for work is indeed to provide for others: Ephesians 4:28 (NKJV) 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. In 1 Tim 5.8 it says that one that doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an infidel.

So, when we get up tomorrow…let us be thankful that we can work

  1. Work hard. Let’s go to work tomorrow or do our absolute best. Be the best employee, the best manager, the best we can be. Be known as the most honest, most humble, most ethical, most competent person in your field. Do all this to advance God’s name.
  2. Work is a calling.  Work is affected by the fall. It can be hard graft and thankless sometimes.  Just because work is a calling it doesn’t mean it is going to be perfect and work out right every time.
  3. Work is a calling – but we are also called to rest.  Whilst the 4th commandment is the one Christians generally say have no correlation in the New Testament the principle is good.  Its principle is actually found in the Creation story of 6 days work, 1 of rest.  Make sure we get a day off.  Make sure we rest.

Whether we are in so-called Christian ministry or we are in a secular job. Christian leaders are expected to labour hard in the Word and Prayer.  The rest of us simply have to labour hard in the work God has given each of us to do.  Whether we are working in the Church or we are working in our homes or we are working in our jobs or we are working in our colleges this is allChristian ministry.

Every day is an opportunity to live out God’s purpose for us in the world, to be the image of God to those whom we meet, helping people see God’s glory in us.

Colossians 3:23–24 (NKJV) 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Faith in Jesus comes first

Faith in Jesus

 

Above all

Don’t forget WHO it is about!

 

This site is all about theology and sound doctrine, hence the title of this blog – but first and foremost it is about faith in Jesus.

All theology, all doctrine, of the Christian sort, needs to not only be based upon the Bible (and I will argue the case for this in an up-coming blog) but, more importantly, upon knowing Jesus.

I believe that theology and doctrine (and I will explain the difference elsewhere) can only be done by Christians (this also I will argue for elsewhere – but this is not the point of this entry).

As Christians we can get ourselves hot under the collar wanting to defend the faith or we want to be those who really know what we believe and be right – and these are praise-worthy – however we can lose sight of our first calling which is to love Jesus (Revelation 2:4 (NKJV) 4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.) Our relationship with Jesus is what matters.  This needs to be our top priority.  Not study, not reading, not being active but laying aside all for the precious knowledge, the knowing of Jesus, to know even as we are known.

When I consider Isaiah standing before God in Chapter 6: Holy, holy, holy.  He is seeing Jesus high and lifted up.  Woe is me! Isaiah declares.  He realises his sinfulness, realises he is unworthy to stand before Almighty God.  And he is right – none of us are.  But, only by grace can we enter, and we can enter His presence with boldness because of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, laying His life down to death on a cross.  All so that we could be reconciled and made right with God.  How is it that we love him so little having been forgiven so much?  How is it we do not take every opportunity to thank Him and spend time with Him for this is His desire.  Let us draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

The question for us today and tomorrow is not how well we can argue our point and be right – the point is – how much time have we spent with Jesus?

About SoundDoctrine.co.uk

So, what’s all this about?

There are various reasons for blogging:

  1. As Pastor I have wanted my own church (Ely Baptist Church, Cardiff) to geta good grounding in Scripture.  We have used Acts 2.42 (NKJV) ‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.’  as our motto.  I believe that this should also be the motto of every Christian, so…
  2. I am aware that there are millions of Christians that do not have a solid foundation other than the faith they have found in Jesus Christ.  It is time to build upon that foundation!  This site hopes to be the catalyst for Christians to gain understanding and knowledge and wisdom.
  3. I am also concerned about the state of theology and doctrine in the UK and USA.  I want to defend the faith and teach others to do so too.  There are various Scriptures which seem relevant: 2 Timothy 4:3 (NKJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers.’ and Titus 2:1 (NKJV) ‘But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine.’
  4. I also want to address contemporary issues whether a TV Programme, news item, Website etc – this gives me the freedom to add whatever I want but with the proviso of it being a Christian response!!!

So, this is not quite the dumping ground of all my thoughts…not quite…

 

Whirling Thoughts

Well, they have to go somewhere!

 

I hope to set out the following:

Engage with Scripture

Engage with doctrine

Engage with the world

Going Through the Bible

Systematic Doctrine

Apologetics, giving an answer

Because I am already in the process of putting together a Systematic Theology to teach, this forum is where I will gradually add quotes from various theologians, pastors, etc.  Each topic will be dealt with in Bite-Size Theology videos and two types of papers: an Overview of a Topic and an In-Depth Study.  Each paper will have life-questions so that we can relate theology and doctrine to the real world.

I am also open to other authors adding to this blog if you have a reasonably academic and biblical approach to a subject.

I don’t like labels concerning where I stand theologically because they are too constraining.  There is not one system that is wholly biblical or wholly true.  There are issues with all of them!  I am, in part, Reformed and Arminian(!), Evangelical and Liberal.  However: The Bible is my ultimate authority in all doctrine and theology, not just in faith and practice but in allsuch things that it speaks of.  And there will be more on that later…(on another page!)

Because no system, including my own, will be wholly biblical or wholly true, for to err is human, it is quite obvious that none of us know everything and there should be no doubt that Ihave got some things wrong.  There is no room for intellectual pride for what we have has been given by God – and the thing with pride is that it leads to a ….

This is not the same as some of my post-modern friends would think.  There is objective truth and it is unchanging no matter whose viewpoint it is.  And there will be more on this in another post too!

There are ways that you can support this endeavour whether in authoring an article or with a donation.  Just follow the links.

And, Welcome to this Site!

Rev. Ian Thomas