Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Some points from The Revd Paul Williams from a sermon at All Souls', Langham Place:
What gave Peter and John courage?
(1) The power of the Holy Spirit (v8)
(2) The authority of Jesus (v10)
(3) The confidence of the resurrection (v10)
(4) The uniqueness of Christ (v11f)
Posted by Marc Lloyd at 4:39 pm
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Church historian Mark Noll writes:
“The experience that prompted the deepest reflection on the nature of Christianity in my own life as a Christian was regular celebration of the Lord’s supper” (52)John Piper comments:
Pondering and experiencing the presence of God in the Lord’s Supper was a bridge to the nature of the Christian faith that Noll’s exposure to world Christianity was making clearer. The Lord’s Supper is a kind of incarnation — a kind of translation — of divine reality into the particularities of the physical, cultural, personal, human present. And so is all of Christianity — first manifest in the incarnation of Christ, and then in the missionary expanse of the church into one culture after the other.
Posted by Marc Lloyd at 9:12 am
Monday, April 13, 2015
Richard Hooker has sometimes been regarded as the father of Anglican theology. It is worth remembering his view of the perfection of God's words:
God himself can neither possibly err, nor lead into error. For this cause his testimonies, whatsoever he affirmeth, are always true and most infallible certainty. Yea further, because the things that proceed from him are perfect without any manner of defect or maim; it cannot be but that the words of his mouth are absolute and lack nothing which they should have for performance of that thing whereunto they tend.
Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity II.VI.1 quoted in Ovey & Strange, Confident (Christian Focus) p116
Posted by Marc Lloyd at 10:52 am
Friday, April 10, 2015
A handout intended for a church weekend away
The Book of Common Prayer Collect for the 2nd Sunday in Advent
The necessity of Scripture
If we as sinful and limited creatures are to know God, he must reveal himself in a way that is suitable for us
General revelation – the partial revelation of God in the skies (Ps 19:1-6)
Special revelation – the perfect revelation of God in the Scriptures (Ps 19:7-11)
The nature of Scripture
What the Bible says about the Bible
What the Bible says, God says
The Bible reflects the character of God, it’s author (e.g. truthful, reliable)
God creates by speaking – Gen 1:3-4, 6-7 etc. – the creative power of the Word of God
The Bible is God’s written word – God’s words preserved for his people – God speaking to the church in every generation
Words do things – God acts powerfully by his word – Ps 29:5, 8
“For us” – God personally addressing us
Our attitude to God’s word should be the same as our attitude to God– though we don’t worship the Bible – the Bible is not God but it is God speaking
John Calvin (on 2 Tim 3:16-17): “…we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.”
The Bible is God’s words in human words – not magic words – not some kind of divine language!
God spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of his servant David – Acts 4:25
Fully God’s word, fully human words – cf. Jesus – humanity need not take away from divinity
God is the Lord of language and people and history etc. He can shape a Paul to write Paul’s letters
Inspiration – not just inspiring – expired – God-breathed / Spirited - 2 Tim 3:16
“Men wrote as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” – 2 Pt 1:21
Verbal inspiration – the actual words are inspired, not just the ideas
Given in a variety of ways e.g. dreams, visions, oracles, cf. Luke 1:1-4 & Quran
Scripture is suitable for us, it is adapted to our nature and capacity – God’s baby-talk
The truthfulness of Scripture
Infallible / Inerrant – without error - The Bible is true in all that it teaches / affirms
God is truthful (Num 23:19; Tit 1:2; Heb 6:18) and trustworthy so God’s word is truthful (Jn 17:17) and trustworthy
Rightly understood, of course! – e.g. “There is no God” (Ps 14:1); Job’s Comforters; Prov 26:4-5
Not to be understood literalistically e.g. are parables “true”?; ordinary ways of speaking: approximations – 5000 men; not necessarily word of word quotations; descriptions of how the world appears e.g. sunset; see Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Hermeneutics & Application
No contradictions but different complimentary perspectives
Grudem: “… there are many evangelical Bible scholars today who will say that they do not presently know of any problem texts for which there is no satisfactory solution…. The present writer, for example, has during the last twenty years examined dozens of these “problem texts” that have been brought to his attention in the context of the inerrancy debate. In every one of these cases, upon close inspection of the text a plausible solution has become evident.” Systematic Theology, p99
The authority of Scripture
What teachings of Scripture are most ignored or attacked today?
What teachings of Scripture do you find it hardest to embrace / obey?
Are you willing to change if you are convinced of something from the Bible? Even if you disagree with it and it seems weird or hard or other people aren’t persuaded and obedience will be costly and… ?
The supreme authority of Scripture e.g. trumps reason, experience, tradition, anything else
“Scripture alone”? – sola Scriptura not solo Scriptura – the supremacy and final authority of Scripture doesn’t mean that Scripture is the only source of knowledge
The Bible as court of appeal
Is it a circular argument to say:
(1) The Bible is the Word of God and tells us it is the Word of God
(2) We must believe the Word of God because God’s Word is true
(3) The Bible is to be believed as the truthful Word of God
God speaking Scripture is the ultimate authority – what greater authority could there be?
An ultimate authority must be its own authority otherwise something else is the ultimate authority
Other arguments for the truthfulness of Scripture are a bit like using a torch to look at the sun!
A way out of a circular argument: The Lord Jesus’ attitude to the Bible
Jesus believed the Old Testament is the Word of God – Mt 5:18
Jesus refers to OT events without any apparent doubt that they happened exactly as recorded and he bases much teaching upon these accounts:
What people or events etc. from the Old Testament does Jesus refer to in the following passages?
(1) Lk 4:25-6 (2) Lk 6:3-4 (3) Lk 6:23, 26 (4) Lk 10:12 (6) Lk 11:29-32 (7) Lk 11:51 (8) Lk 13:28 (9) Lk 13:34 (10) Lk 17:26-32
Mt 19:4-5 – quotes the words of Gen 2 as the word of the Creator
Scripture cannot be broken – Jn 10:34 / must be fulfilled - Lk 4:21; 7:27; 18:31-3; 21:22; 22:37; 24:25-7, 44-7; Jn 13:18; 15:25; 17:12
In his many discussions with others, “It is written [in the Scriptures]” settled a matter for Jesus
Jesus argued from the exact words / tenses used in the Bible – Jn 10:34; Mk 12:26
Jesus authorised the Apostles to write the New Testament – John 14:25-26; 15:27
The Apostles wrote with authority – 2 Cor 14:37-38; 2 Thess 3:6, 14-15; 1 John 4:6
1 Tim 5:18 quotes Jesus’ words from Lk 10:7 as Scripture
Peter recognised Paul’s writings as Scripture – 2 Pt 3:16
Reasons to trust the Bible
How might you persuade a sceptical friend about the truthfulness of the Bible?
C. H. Spurgeon: “Defend the Bible? I would sooner defend a lion!”
As above: It is God’s word! Jesus believed it
It speaks with its own convincing power (self-authenticating) – read it and see!
The Holy Spirit witnesses to it in our hearts and in the church
The church has always believed it (Tradition)
When we can check it, it proves to be right e.g. archaeology
The Bible makes psychological and philosophical sense e.g. the human condition
The life-changing power and influence of the Bible
Arthur Pink said: “
WW2, Remote Pacific Island, GI meets islander who can speak English carrying a Bible
According to , since 1815 the Bible has sold approximately 2.5 billion copies and has been translated into more than 2,200 languages or dialects.
The remarkable unity of the Bible (written over ?2000 years by ?40 different writers)
The remarkable artistry of the Bible – only God could have written such an amazing book!
The remarkable preservation of the Bible (compared to other ancient documents)
The clarity of Scripture
What passage of the Bible do you find most unclear / difficult to understand?!
God is a competent communicator – he can speak clearly to us
The Bible is clear enough for the church to understand it adequately (not necessarily fully)
Clear in essentials – for salvation, for Christian living
It is meant to be obeyed so it must be understandable
It is meant to be taught even to children – Dt 6:7
Tyndale: “I defie the Pope and all his lawes. If God spare my life, ere many yeares I wyl cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust.” (Quoted in John Foxe, Acts and Monuments / Book of Martyrs)
Clarity is not the only thing the Bible is aiming at! Prov 25:2
Some passages of Scripture are hard – Peter on Paul – 2 Pt 3:16
We need the help of the church, the power of the Spirit, use of “means”, study etc.
The problem is with us not the Bible!
The sufficiency of Scripture
2 Tim 3:16f – thoroughly equipped for every good work
For the purposes God intends (see below), for salvation, for life and godliness
The relevance and applicability of Scripture
God speaks his Word today – “The Holy Spirit says…” not “The Psalmist said…” – Heb 3:7
“for us” - 1 Cor 10:6, 11; Rom 15:5
The purposes of Scripture: The Bible in the Christian Life
God’s word governed Adam and Eve’s life in the Garden. The original sin was disbelieving and disobeying the Word of God
2 Tim 3:15-17
A light for our path Ps 119:105 – that we should walk in the light of it, for obedience
Scripture testifies about Christ – Lk 24:25-27, 44-46
Jn 5:39-40 –– the Bible is the handmaiden / servant of Christ (Bavinck)
A mistake to pit the Bible, Jesus or the Spirit against one another
The Bible as the book of the covenant – the record of the covenant between God and his people, his means of relating to them
We work away at the meaning of the Bible and God helps us to understand it – 2 Tim 2:7 – The Spirit illuminates and applies the Bible he has caused to be written
The effects of Scripture: what it can do for you
The Bible is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17) – the only offensive weapon, the means by which he works in the world
The Bible as a means of resisting the devil – Jesus’ temptation Mt 4:4, 7, 10
The Bible as (essential) food to the soul – Mt 4:4
Ps 119:9 – how to live a pure life
Sweet (v10) – is that your experience?
Delight – Ps 1:2; 119:97
Mary Jones lived from 1784 at the foot of the Cader Idris mountain, in Gwynedd
the Kimyal people of Indonesia receiving the NT in 2010 - vimeo.com/17025038
The Word of God as living and active – Heb 4:12 – performs heart surgery!
The effectiveness of Scripture - Is 55:10-11 – God’s word always achieves his purposes
“Using” and benefiting from Scripture
The Holy Spirit
According to its purposes (above) – with a willingness to obey
Principles of interpretation e.g. context, the story of redemption, harmony, the hard in the light of the easier, how the Bible writers uses words, genre
In the fellowship of the church
What do you find are the biggest challenges in reading / using the Bible?
What most helps you?
What tips would you give?
Are there resources you’d recommend?
(1) Private Bible memorisation
Meditating / reflecting on / praying (in the light of) Scripture
(2) Family / household Bible use
(3) Small groups
Further reading / resources:
Marc Lloyd, "What the Bible Says, God Says: B. B. Warfield’s Doctrine of Scripture," Ecclesia Reformanda 1.2 (Oct. 2009): 183-210 – available free at www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/articles_ecclesia-reformanda.php
northlondonchurch.org/eec/talk-series/the-doctrine-of-scripture - 7 sessions by Dr Steve Jeffrey
The Westminster Confession of Faith (available online) chapter 1 – good summary of the doctrine of Scripture
Bible gateway website – audio Bibles – variety of Bible translations – more literal e.g. English Standard Version, New American Standard Version; free-er paraphrases e.g. New Living Version, Good News Bible (more simple English), The Message
Bible memorisation cards – Navigators, NavPress
Bible reading plans e.g. Robert Murray McCheyne, Don Carson, For The Love of God – or make your own using James Oakley’s Bible reading plan generator http://download.cnet.com/Bible-Reading-Plan-Generator/3000-2135_4-10915766.html – or just keep a note of what you’ve read for the sake of balance - www.bibleinoneyear.org
Music – The Psalms, Sovereign Grace Music, Matt Searles www.mattsearles.org.uk, Mark Peterson songs from Philippians www.markpeterson.com.au/albums/whatever-happens, Seed Family Worship (uses the exact words of Scripture) www.seedsfamilyworship.com
Bible reading notes e.g. Explore (Good Book Company) – apps – some notes contain the text of Scripture, useful e.g. for taking on the train
IVP Bible Dictionary, Bible Commentary, Dictionary of Theology, Atlas etc.
Commentaries e.g. Tyndale, The Bible Speaks Today, For You series, Ryle expository thoughts (old)
Sermons including online e.g. www.thesermon.co.uk
Evangelical publishers and book sellers e.g. 10 of Those, Good Book Company, Day One, Christian Focus / Mentor, Evangelical Press
*** Tim Ward, Words of Life (IVP) *** Best single recent book on the doctrine of Scripture
John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God
Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon in the New Testament Church – Jesus believed our Old Testament
John Wenham, Christ and the Bible – Jesus’ attitude to the Scriptures
Andrew Wilson, Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said About the Word of God (recent, only 78 pages)
A Bible overview e.g. Vaughan Roberts, God’s Big Picture or Graham Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom
Andrew Sach (& others), Dig Deeper, Dig Even Deeper, Dig Deeper into the Gospels (Bible study “tools”)
Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth
Christopher Ash, Bible Delight: Psalm 119 for the Bible teacher and hearer
Michael Ovey & Daniel Strange, Confident: Why We Can Trust The Bible
F. F. Bruce, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? – on ancient manuscripts etc.
Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
Hymns relating to the doctrine of Scripture:
Lord Thy Word Abided
How Sure the Scriptures Are
Speak O Lord
Your Word is a Lamp
King of Kings, Majesty
God has Spoken
How Firm a Foundation
Now in Reverence and Awe
Powerful in making us wise to salvation / God-breathed to teach us, living to shape us (Christopher Idle)
Posted by Marc Lloyd at 9:04 am