Friday, December 12, 2008

Studying The Apostles' Creed

Since I started writing the homegroup notes for our church, we've almost always worked sequentially through books of the Bible. Next term we're going to try something different. D.v. we'll have Bible studies which use the clauses of the Apostles' Creed as a launching off point.

The following might be helpful resources:

Tim Chester, I Believe: The Apostle's Creed 10 studies for individuals or groups Good Book Guide (2007)

Michael Horton, We Believe: Rediscovering the Essentials of the Apostles' Creed (Nashville, Word Publishing, 1998)

Alistair McGrath, I Believe: Exploring the Apostles' Creed (Downers Grove, IVP, 1991, 1997)

J. I. Packer, Affirming the Apostles' Creed (Wheaton, Crossways, 2008) - formerly part of Growing In Christ originally published as I Want To Be A Christian

George M. Philip, The Apostles' Creed: What Christians Should Always Believe (Fearn, Christian Focus, 1990, 1994)

I guess it would also be helpful for leaders to look up the relevant doctrines in something like Bruce Milne's Know The Truth or an evangelical Systematic Theology such as Wayne Grudem's.

I'm thinking the study series might go something like this:

(1) I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

(2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

(3) suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

(4) On the third day he rose again;

(5) he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

(6) and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

(7) I believe in the Holy Spirit,

(8) the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

(9) the forgiveness of sins,

(10) the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Here's Tim Chester's outline (with suggested Bible passages) taken from the Good Book Company website:

1. Believing in God
'I believe in God' Romans 1 v 18-25 and John 14 v 1-11

2. The Triune God
'the Father...his only Son...the Holy Spirit' John 17 v 20-26

3. The Sovereign God
'the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth' Psalm 33

4. The identity of Jesus Christ
'I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord' Hebrews 1-2

5. The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
'who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead' Matthew 27 v 11-54

6. The reign of Jesus Christ
'On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead' 1 Corinthians 15 v 1-34

7. The life of the Spirit
'I believe in the Holy Spirit' Romans 8 v 1-17

8. The community of the Spirit
'the holy catholic church, the communion of saints' Ephesians 1-4

9. The work of the Spirit
'the forgiveness of sins' Matthew 9 v 1-13 and Titus 3 v 3-8

10. The hope of the Spirit
'the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting' Romans 8 v 18-39

On 21st January I might speak in our midweek meeting on "I believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: The Apostles' Creed and the Trinity".

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I'm having a problem with a wisdom tooth that is proving rather distracting.

I've got a vague memory of hearing some terrible statistic about the proportion of people in the Middle Ages who suffered from tooth ache. Its amazing they ever got anything done. Though perhaps there were just less wimpy and got on with it.

I wasted a bit of time looking for a striking statistic for you and it didn't pop out of Google, but I thought this was moderately interesting:

Analysis of skeletons from the post-medieval (1843-1854) catholic mission of Sts. Mary and Michael, Whitechapel, London has revealed high rates of dental disease. Eighty one percent of adults showed evidence of dental caries, 90.7% had calculus, 78.6% suffered from periodontal disease, 35.9% had dental abscesses, 77.8 % had lost teeth during life and 54.4% showed hypoplastic defects of the tooth enamel. The teeth of children were also affected with 33.9% presenting cavities of at least one tooth, 12.1% with calculus and 10.2% with enamel hypoplasia.

I'm pleased to discover that calculus means both (1) tortuous and impenetrable method of calculation that some people seem able to do by occult powers of guess-work that they call "by inspection" and (2) tartar.

Right, back to turning the pages of Calvin's The Sinfulness of Outward Conformity to Roman Rites / On Shunning the Unlawful Rites of the Ungodly, and preserving the purity of the Christian Religion. A Letter by John Calvin to his dear and very excellent friend N. S. (1537)

As every schoolboy knows

I think Calvin is a little over optimistic about how well informed people are when he says:

Who knows not that ancient Christians were wont to give the Eucharist to infants at the breast?
Calvin's Tracts, trans. Beveridge, vol 3, p322

(Wrongly, in my view, Calvin disapproves of young children receiving the Lord's Supper because he thinks 1 Corinthians 11:28 means that to receive it aright they would have to examine themselves in a way they are incapable of).

Slippery "Saviour"

This Times Online article includes the video clip from Sky News where Gordon Brown says, "we not only saved the world..."!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Angelic Prayer meetings?

I was surprised to discover that Calvin held that the angels pray for us. To be honest, I'd never really thought about it.

With regard to the Angels a different view must be taken [than that regarding dead believers], in accordance with the different nature of their office. The care and protection of the pious has been committed to them. They must therefore, in obedience to God, be solicitous about our salvation; and they only discharge the duty assigned to them by praying for us.

'The True Method of Reforming the Church and Healing Her Divisions' (1547) in Calvin’s Tracts 3 volumes Calvin Translation Society Translated by Henry Beveridge Edinburgh 1844 (Eugene, Wipf and Stock, 2002), volume 3, p318

James Carey has some more thoughts on angels.

Christian Stamps

Although the Royal Mail website doesn't exactly trumpet the fact, this year, as an alternative to the Panto stamps, you can request the Christian ones (with images of the Lord Jesus and Mary), though in our local Post Office Mrs Lloyd wasn't offered a choice. No doubt they're carefully hidden away under the counter to avoid offense and so as not to spoil anyone's Winterval. The BBC News Story is here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Jesus' Secret Food Supply

Here are some jottings for a sermon I preached yesterday on John 4:27-42. An audio file should appear on our church sermon page some time soon.

Vv10-14: Jesus is able to give Living Water

V32: Jesus has a secret food supply (cf. v8, v27, v31, v33)

What is Jesus’ food?

Jesus’ food is to do the will and work of the Father (v34)

That is what sustains and satisfies him (cf. Dt 8:3).

What keeps you going? Where do you look for satisfaction?

When did you last miss a meal you were so taken up with something else? Would you put yourself out for this work?

What is the Father’s will and work?

What has Jesus just been doing?

Seeking worshippers (v23 cf. v27)

5:17-21; 6:38-40; 9:3-4; 17:4; 19:30

Jesus the Saviour of the World (v42; cf. 3:17)

Look: a great harvest has begun (vv35-38; cf. v30)

Do not delay the work of evangelism (vv35-36)

Open your eyes; look for opportunities

How is this work done / this harvest brought in?

Jesus is sent by the Father (v34)

Jesus sends his disciples into the harvest field (v38; cf. Mt 9:38)

Believers will do even greater works than Jesus (14:12)

Be involved in this great work of evangelism

A partnership in which there are different parts (vv36-38)

The Samaritan woman is involved in the harvest; the Samaritans are part of the crop

The value of personal “testimony”, bearing witness (v39)

Speaks of her own experience about Jesus (v29, v39)

Could you give your testimony?

The priority of Jesus’ words (vv41-42)

Work for this food that lasts and satisfies (6:27-29)