Monday, June 19, 2017

Water into blood / wine

I have preached an John 2, the wedding at Cana a few times. I have heard a number of sermons on it. I have read and listened to quite a bit about it.

It was in the Day One Travel Guide to Israel, that I can across the idea, new to me, I think, that there is a particular contrast between Jesus and Moses here:

Moses' first public miracle was to turn the water of the Nile into blood in judgement on the people.

Jesus' first sign was to turn water into wine for people's blessing.

The other New Moses stuff in the context of course makes seeing the connection more likely.

John 6:1-15 Feeding of the 5000 Sermon Heading Competition

I recently preached on the feeding of the 5000 from John 6:1-15.

(1) The people's need (vv5-6)
(2) The disciples' inability (vv7-9)
(3) Jesus' ability
(4) Jesus chooses to use his disciples

I encouraged my listener to see if they could make the headings more memorable or engaging, perhaps with the aid of alliteration's aidful art. Their suggestions were:

(1) Picnic unplanned
(2) Panic
(3) Perspective
(4) Provision

(1) Provide?
(2) How?
(3) Eyes on Jesus!
(4) Wow!

(1) Woe
(2) Whoa
(3) Wow
(4) What, me?

(1) People's predicament
(2) Problem posed
(3) Perfect powerful plan
(4) Partner participation

(1) People in need
(2) Philip can't help
(3) Provision from the Shepherd
(4) I'm still working on that one

(1) Hungry humanity / tummies
(2) Helpless disciples
(3) Huge provision from Jesus
(4) Humbled disciples used by Jesus

Need
Ability
Inadequate
Let's help

And I think there was one other I failed to write down!

Given that they were doing this in snatched moments in a busy schedule, I was most impressed and delighted with their enthusiasm for engaging in this little evangelical parlour game.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Irked!

Now, dear reader, it will surprise you to hear that I can sometimes be irked, irritated, riled, downright cross.

We know of course that there is such a thing as righteous indignation. But it is worth asking why I am cross. Or why inordinately so.

You might say, because I've got 4 young children. Well, okay. They have been known to be irksome.

You might just say that I should stop being angry, and you might be right. But what is it in me that causes rage?

For example, is it desire for peace, pleasure, ease, fun, interest, control? Is it that the dear children misbehaving shatters my image of myself as the perfect parent? Am I stressed by what I think of as wasted time or duties prevented? Do I long for harmony and a domestic idle as a refuge from the world? Do I think my temper tantrums can solve things quick? Are my outbursts intended to make me feel better or make them lot share my frustration? These, and probably many other questions.

No doubt introspection can be overdone. We must look to Christ a million times for every look at ourselves. But what are our sins and what are the causes of our sins? We might then begin to see cures. Naming the rat might be a step towards killing it.

Luther

The Revd Andy Robinson, a Sunday evening sermon on Luther, audio & handout (mainly Luther quotes). http://wrbc.org.uk/2017/06/04/an-evening-with-martin-luther/

Dear Preacher

As a preacher who sometimes has to listen to sermons, and indeed wants to be helped by them, please indulge me for a moment.

I hope you will think this post is stating the obvious. And we can all have our off-days or preach a dud sermon. I imagine many of mine would require some pretty firm feedback. But please could we resolve to do this:

Sermons should have a point. They may have points. They probably usually should. But they really should be purposeful. What is the point of your sermon? Do you know? Could you tell me?

Sermons should be intentional messages aimed at changed thinking, feeling, willing, praying, praising, living, relating, speaking, or some other transformed outcome. That is what they are - what they are for. Unless you do that, you have given a lecture or read out a potential commentary or told stories or jokes or made noise, but you have not preached.

Now God is gracious and sovereign, good. You may not have it all sown up. There may be lots of other good things along the way. But please don't get into the pulpit unless you can briefly and clearly state at least one truth to do with God, Jesus or the Bible which you hope to impress upon your hearers and one way in which you have prayed that they will respond. I'm sorry, but I really think it is worth deliberately bothering with the old theme and aim sentences in your preparation. One big truth and the difference it should make, please.

It is not rocket science, really, is it? So please, don't just fill x number of minutes with true statements or walk us through a passage of Scripture. Think and pray about your application and try to push beyond, "Isn't that remarkable / great!".

Thank you. And with my love and prayers.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Pentecostal Fire & Wind

The Day of Pentecost is often spoken of as a kind of birthday of the church. We might think of blowing out candles. But the day of Pentecost is almost the opposite of that: when the Spirit / breath / wind of God comes, he sets the church on fire. The church burns with a zeal to make the light and life of Jesus known in a cold dead world.

Gerald Bray on The Lord's Prayer

5 lectures: https://myrrh.library.moore.edu.au/handle/10248/7619

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The weekly sermon essay crisis?

Is your sermon preparation rather hand to mouth, a bit like a weekly essay crisis? Perhaps the deadline helpfully focuses the mind and makes you decide between your three different outline and your plethora of exegetical and applicatory notes, but is it ideal that the ink is still wet as you preach? Do you pray over and get familiar with your notes so that you can preach it without the distraction of remembering what to say next, so that you can concentrate on what you are saying, and how you want to say it, and those to whom you are speaking? Or even think of God in the whole thing?!

So, how much is this an issue? And if it is less than ideal, what might one do about it? Do you just resolve to have it "finished" (= preachable) the night before so that you can spend the AM in prayer and memorisation? And what if you don't have steely self-discipline?!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Psalm 10 (and 9) jottings


Psalm 10 (and Psalm 9) notes



Uses:

When feeling abandoned by God / when God seems distant

When the wicked seem to dominate



Prayer:



O LORD, eternal king of the nations and defender of the fatherless,



Forgive my forgetfulness of you.

Deliver me from pride, arrogance and boasting, from all self-sufficiency.



Teach me humility.

May I know my dependence on you and always seek you.

I acknowledge my helplessness before you.

I commit myself to you.

Be my helper.



May my mouth be full of blessings and truth.



Rise up, O LORD, against the wicked and arrogant and all who persecute your people.



Thank you, Lord, that you see and know and hear.

Consider the cause of your people and take it in hand.

Encourage and strengthen me and all your people I pray.



May I fear you and fear nothing else.



Outlines / structure:



Expositor’s Bible:



Goldingay, Baker Commentary



Wilcock, BST:



The other side of the picture (vv1-11)

A prayer in the light (vv12-18)



Kidner, Tyndale:



Man: Predator and Prey



Vv1-11 – The tyrant’s boast

Vv12-18 – The victim’s prayer



Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life



Hidden Hearer



Lament (vv1-2)

Description (vv3-11)

The wicked: (1) his apparent immunity (vv3-6) (2) his ingenuity (vv7-10) (3) his philosophy (v11)

Intercession (vv12-18)

Reasons for hope: (1) The Lord’s sight (vv13-14); (2) The Lord’s reign (vv15-16); (3) The Lord’s Strength (vv17-18)



Notes:



No heading – a continuation of Psalm 9



Ps 9-10 the longest Psalm so far



Patrick D. Miller, “no other psalm so fully joins the basic themes of the Psalter – the rule of God, the representative role of the king, the plea for help in time of trouble, the ways of the wicked and the righteous, and the justice of God on behalf of the weak and poor.” (quoted in Goldingay, p184)



Goldingay: Pss 9 & 10 have an unconventional interweaving of prayer and praise and of verbal forms which make their interpretation uncertain



Statement of faith and praise for Yahweh’s past acts (9:1-12)

Plea (9:13-14)

Statement of faith and praise for Yahweh’s past acts (9:19-10:2)

Lament at the present (10:3-11)

Plea (10:12-15)

Statement of faith and praise for Yahweh’s past acts (10:16-18)





Psalm 9 focused on the judgement to come; this Psalm focuses on the present age when injustice is rampant (Kidner, p71)



“Psalm 9:1-12 focused on God, and the wicked were only mentioned to be dismissed; 10:1-11 focus on the wicked, and God is mentioned only to be dismissed.” (Wilcock, p43)



Both Psalms 9 and 10 begin with prayer and then later revert to it (Wilcock, p44)



Broken acrostic



Address to God v1, (v5) vv12-15, v17f



The Psalmist speaks to God; the ungodly only speak about God (v11)



V1 a shock after the largely positive Psalm 9



Davis emphasises that this is a faithful lament (p117)



Godward insult and manward injury (Kidner, p71)



V1 - Cf. Yahweh sitting in Ps 9



V1 – Does the LORD really stand far off or is this just how the Psalmist feels? Is the question answered in the Psalm? The later part of the Psalm tends to deny it. – For the Psalmist’s good – to teach him to live by faith?



Yahweh’s apparent inaction seems out of character to the Psalmist – an implicit faith



Kidner: does the wicked man protest too much, betraying a basic disquiet, desperate to reassure himself? (p71)



V1 cf. 9:10



V2 – description (NIV) or petition (NKJV, NASB)?



Faith can be both perplexed (v1) and pleading (v2) – Davis, p117 – This is not a philosophical discussion but prayer, not an intellectual quandary but a devotional dilemma – He does not understand Yahweh but he is still dealing with Yahweh – Davis, p118



God is far off (vv1-2) and the tyrant is doing nicely (vv3-11) – The psalm holds this problem before us – it should disturb us and drive us to prayer



The heart (vv4, 6, 11) determines and directs actions (vv8-10)



Some contradiction between v4 and v11 – he does think of God – Kidner, “he is a practicing atheist, if hardly a convinced one.” (p71) – he acts as if there were no God – Wilcock, p44: It is the God he doesn’t believe in, he is hoping will leave him alone!



V3a cf. 44:8a



The defenceless as his natural prey (v2a, vv8-10)



V4 – or “There is no God” (Goldingay) – for all practical purposes God can be left out of account as he does not act to hold people to account – God is up on high, far off, not engaged in the world



God does not seem to be doing his job / what he ought to do!



V5 – God’s laws / judgements both his rulings / standards but also his action to enforce them



Vv8-10 – the wicked man is doing some hiding, but he also believes God is hiding



V8 – repetition of victim / hapless / poor wretch vv8, 10, 14 a word found only here a probable Egyptian cognate with the sense of overwhelmed / demoralized (Kidner, p71)



V12 – arise – cf. 9:19



V12 – Lift your hand suggests taking firm action for or against someone – often the same act does both, judging and saving – deliver the faithful and put down the faithless



V13 – The why echoes the why of v1



9:12 – to seek out / avenge = 10:13 – call to account



V14 functions as a retort to the cocky security of the wicked in vv4, 11, 13 (Davis, p120)



V14 – a rising sequence – see, consider, take in hand



V14 cf. Jer 23:24



V14 – The victim commits himself – lit. he abandons himself – cf. 37:5



V15 – break the arm = break the power of – 44:3 – break his arm and therefore frustrate his strong arm tactics – arm, cf. 71:18, strength



V15b – seek out his wickedness until you find none, to the last trace



Vv16-18 – the prayer turns to affirmation so that the Psalm ends with a series of statements of faith



V16 – the nations cf. Ps 9



First reference in the Psalms to Yahweh as the king (5:2 – my king) – cf. Ps 9 - enthroned



V17 – cf. 2 Cor 12:8-10



V18 – the ultimate solution, but also v17, stamina for the meantime



2 Tim 4:16-17



Similarity between final v and final v of Ps 9 – puny man, of the earth, mortal



God’s perception (vv13-14), position (vv15-16) and power (vv17-18) (Davis, p122)



John 14:18



Christ as the speaker of this Psalm? V1 – his abandonment? His innocent suffering?

Doctrinal precisionism

You have got to love a good bit of distinguishing. That was the kind of thing we were into a theological college. And for good reason. We often need it. It is good for us to try to think precisely. Apart from anything else it is good exercise. Loving God with our minds matters. We serve a precise God. To go wrong by 1 degree can soon put you miles off course. A small error here can lead to three big errors over there. Ideas have trajectories.

But, as one of our theological college lecturers once said, "why this doctrinal hair-splitting?". The answer should always be for the sake of love and obedience. Truth must be applied if it is to be truly known. Even if we can't see what difference this qualification makes today, we should pray that in twenty years it will help us to live better.

So it is good to get it right if we can.

But there are also far more important things. Yes, tithe your doctrines of the Trinity and your concept of revelation, but do not neglect the weightier matters of love and mercy. The theologian who centuries ago would have had inky hands must also be willing to get them dirty in washing the feet of others.

And the mode of discourse of the Reformed Scholastics is not the only, the best or the most appropriate form all the time. Can your theology by prayed and sung? Does it preach to the heart and will? Yes, be precise, but there is also a place for poetry in theology. Make it right but make it beautiful too.

Dead on your feet

A picture of death and resurrection is surely programmed into creation. You can feel awful, worn out, defeated. Actually, what you need is death-like sleep. And you can wake up in the morning the same person but utterly transformed, made alive again, renewed by death, in short, resurrected.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Reformed Spirituality

You don't have to read or listen to much on prayer for a Christian to say that prayer includes listening to God.

Now, strictly speaking, I'm not convinced.

(1) Prayer in the Bible always seems to be talking to God. (I would be interested to hear any counter examples). Jesus says, "When you pray, say..." and gives the Lord's Prayer as something to say and as a model for our praying. When we pray we talk to God. Simple.

(2) The Reformed consensus is that God's Word to us is final and sufficient in Scripture. The Bible is God speaking today. He does not give new extra words. Listening to God is engaging with the Scriptures.


it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church;c and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing;d which maketh the holy scripture to be most necessary;e those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.f 
The Westminster Confession of Faith (part of chapter 1, of the Holy Scripture)
http://www.covenantofgrace.com/westminster_chapter1.htm

We all know that prayer is not a vending machine and it is good if our prayers are not just shopping lists for ourselves but include Adoration of God, Confession of Sin, Thanksgiving and Supplication for others and ourselves (ACTS). We want to pray in the light of and in response to the Scriptures.

But we can go further.

Just because prayer is talking to God and reading the Bible is listening to God, it does not mean that either should be a speedy barrage of words. It might do us good to slow down and pause. We are not only to read and study the Bible but to think and meditate on it - to chew the cud, the murmur it over to ourselves. We do well to stock our minds with it. We have the blessing of printed Bibles we can read and of audio Bibles and so on, but what might our spirituality look like if we depended more on the Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle and Gospel we had heard read and proclaimed on Sunday? Would there be gains as well as losses?

Maybe we could slowly, thoughtfully, deliberately remember God and his presence with us and consciously enjoy him. We could pause to think of his majesty and goodness and love and to praise him. We could pray the Psalms we know. Or dwell on a single line from the teaching of Jesus.

And maybe we could even simply be with him. We need not bring our agenda. If our thoughts are racing and distracted, fine. He wants to hear about all that. We can talk to him freely. But maybe we could also learn to be quiet and still and wait in his presence.

It's worth a go, anyway.

Friday, May 26, 2017

On the Vulgate

Peter Cousturier [Peter Sutor] said:

... if in one point the Vulgate were in error the entire authority of Holy Scripture would collapse, love and faith would be extinguished, heresies and schism would abound, blasphemy would be committed against the Holy Spirit, the authority of the theologians would be shaken, and indeed the catholic Church would collapse from the foundation.

Quoted in Jenkins and Preston, Biblical Scholarship and the Church: A Sixteenth-Century Crisis of Authority (Ashgate, 2007) p27 from Bainton (1972) pp167-8

You will be pleased to know this is of course not true, by the way!

A worthwhile project?


Search The Scriptures:

William Whitaker’s, Disputation on Holy Scripture



Anglican Evangelical The Revd Canon Chancellor Prebendary Dr William Whitaker (1548–1595), Regius Professor of Divinity and Master of St John's College, Cambridge, was a leading theologian. He showed his ability by translating The Book of Common Prayer into Greek. Whitaker’s work was discussed on seven occasions at the Westminster Assembly[1]. Though he missed out on a bishopric, The Dictionary of National Biography says: “No English divine of the sixteenth century surpassed Whitaker in the estimation of his contemporaries. Churton justly styles him 'the pride and ornament of Cambridge.'”[2]



William Whitaker’s A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton[3] is a classic of its kind, which is readily and economically available in English. It is framed as an exposition of Christ’s prophetic office from John 5:39, which Whitaker takes as a command to search the Scriptures[4]. On page 704, Whitaker will say: “we have come to the close of our controversy, and suppose that, in what hath been said, we have sufficiently explained that sentence of scripture which we laid down at the commencement as our text”. It is not likely that he has left the average reader wanting more.



I do not claim it should be your go to book on the doctrine of Scripture[5]. In my view, Warfield and others have improved on the Reformed doctrine of Scripture they received from the tradition without fundamentally departing from it[6].



Whitaker’s Disputation is very much of its time in both content and style. The structure sometimes leads to unnecessary repetition and makes things hard to find as Whitaker divides up refuting his opponents’ views and stating his positive case, and so on. It is not exactly encouraging when the translator (in his preface) feels the need to warn the reader about the author's tedious prolixity! Perhaps I might give a flavour of something of the style by this quotation from p348, Question 3, Argument 15: "As to [my opponent Stapleton's] first equivocation, I return a fourfold answer."  



But I think the treatise is of more than historical interest and possibly worth persevering with. It contains much that is interesting[7] and useful. It would have been of most benefit to the openminded late 16th Century Papist, or an evangelical having to do with one, but a 21st Century evangelical could no doubt profit from wrestling with it. You will have to search for the gems. Most of us are probably already persuaded, for example, that the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts are preferable to the Latin Vulgate and will not need 100 pages of demonstration of the fact[8]. Here I have attempted to extract, organise and summarise the most useful and interesting bits of its 700+ pages (where possible in his own words) for today’s evangelical, offering some comment and criticism in places. In particular, Whitaker gives further explication and argumentation for a Reformed understanding of Scripture such as that found in the Westminster Standards, particularly against what he would call Roman errors. He makes considerable, careful and thorough use of a wide range of Biblical texts and is also a useful source for Patristic quotations which he thought supported his case, or at least, did not carry the day for his opponents.



[1] Chad Van Dixhoorn (ed.), The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly 1643-1652 (Oxford University Press, 2012) Vol 2: 120 n, 227, 273f, 613
Vol 3: 312, 317, 320f
[2] Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61 Whitaker, William (1548-1595) by James Bass Mullinger This version is in the public domain and is available at: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Whitaker,_William_(1548-1595)_(DNB00)
[3] (Latin original 1588; The Parker Society Edition, Translated and Edited by William Fitzgerlad, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, MDCCCXLIX = 1849) Forgotten Books Reprinting, London, 2015. Amongst Whitaker’s other works it is relevant to note here De Authoritate Scripture written in reply to Stapleton (1594)
[4] It is debatable whether the text should be read as an imperative or an indicative.
[5] This should probably be Tim Ward’s Words of Life
[6] I attempted to summarise Warfield’s doctrine of Scripture in ‘What the Bible Says, God Says:  B. B. Warfield’s Doctrine of Scripture’ Ecclesia Reformanda 1.2 (2009): 183-210 available at  https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/ecclesia-reformanda/1.2_183.pdf
[7] For example, Whitaker notes that a number of the church fathers said that there are 22 Old Testament books, corresponding to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, pp57-60; 64-65. p112). He also thinks that Hebrew is the most ancient of all languages having been spoken by all those who lived before Babel citing Augustine City of God Lib. Xvi. c. 11. Also Jerome on Zephaniah 3, also Epistle 142. He suggests that 2 Peter 3:15 ("our brother Paul has written to you") might require us to think that Paul wrote Hebrews, as 1 Peter 1 and 2 (see 2 Peter 3:1) seem to be written to Hebrews. He adds: "This, however, I leave to the judgement of the reader, without determining anything absolutely one way or another." (p107)
[8] The Council of Trent makes this pretty extraordinary claim for the Latin Vulgate: "Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod,--considering that no small utility may accrue to the Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions, now in circulation, of the sacred books, is to be held as authentic,--ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many years, has been approved of in the Church, be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever." (Session 4) As Tony Lane points out, Pope Pius XII's Divino afflante Spiritu (1943) talks of the duty of exegetes to make use of the Hebrew and Greek: "The original text... having been written by the inspired author himself, has more authority and greater weight than even the very best translation, whether ancient or modern" (section 16). It is said that Trent's declarations about the Vulgate apply "only to the Latin Church and to the public use of the same Scriptures." Lane summarises: "The Vulgate is "free from any error whatsoever in matters of faith and morals" and so can be safely used for teaching and preaching. But when it comes to establishing the correct text of Scripture it is the original Hebrew and Greek that is normative." ('Roman Catholic Views of Biblical Authority from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present' in Carson, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, p299)
By the time of Vatican II's Dei verbum (1965) "the Vulgate is listed as one of a number of ancient translations to be held in honor. Vernacular translations should be made from the original texts." (Lane, p311)


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Where are we in the Psalms?

Psalms 9 and 10 arguably talk about the weak and poor suffering at the hands of the strong and rich.

Goldingay comments that "Most readers of this commentary therefore have to see themselves as the people who are being prayed against." (p184)

One can see where he gets this from, but to my mind it is absurd. What is fundamental to my identity? Not how rich or powerful I am, but whether or not I am humbly trusting in Yahweh. That this the basic dividing line in the Psalm and it tells you whether you can pray this prayer or cop it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Reformed precedent for pretty wholescale cut and paste

I have been reading some Reformed writers on the doctrine of Scripture. I am not sure they would pass a modern plagiarism enquiry.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Some reasons to believe the Bible

Turretin lists the following marks of divinity of the Scriptures:

External:

(1) antiquity

(2) duration and wonderful preservation

(3) with regard to its instruments and amanuenses, the human authors, their sincerity and candor

(4) its adjuncts, the number, constancy and condition of the martyrs who sealed it with their blood (p63). And the many miracles God worked to induce belief in the divinity of the Bible. (p63). The consent of all people in receiving these books



Internal:

(1) the matter – wonderfully sublime mysteries e.g. Trinity, Incarnation; the purity of its precepts; predictive prophecy fulfilled

(2) style – majesty, simplicity, boldness etc.

(3) form – divine agreement and entire harmony between books, writers etc.

(4) the end – the glory of God and the salvation and holiness of people

(5) its effects – light and efficacy in generating faith and piety, triumphing over the kingdom of Satan

(IET, vol 1, pp63-64)


Atheist Christians

It is surprising that Turretin should speak of such, isn't it? But he does:

"Yet even among Christians of this age, there are too many atheists and libertines who endeavour in every way to weaken this most sacred truth [the inspiration of Scripture]." (IET, vol 1, p62)

Word - substance & accidents

Both my regular readers will know that I am interested in the Scripture and the Supper as models for one another.

Turretin uses the categories of substance and accidents from Aristotle familiar from the doctrine of transubstantiation to speak of the Word of God (substance) in its forms (accidents), written and unwritten. (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, p58)

Bavinck on the sufficiency of Scripture




“This attribute [of the perfection or sufficiency] of Holy Scripture also must be correctly understood. It does not mean that all that has been said or written by the prophets, by Christ, and the apostles is included in Scripture. Many prophetic and apostolic writings have been lost…. [list of citations] …. [Jesus and the apostles said many more things] … Nor does this attribute imply that Scripture contains all the practices, ceremonies, rules, and regulations that the church needs for its organization but only that it completely contains “the articles of faith” (articuli fidei), “the matters necessary to salvation. Neither does this attribute of Scripture mean that these articles of faith are literally and in so many words contained in it. Rather, it only [claims that], either explicitly or implicitly, they are so included that they can be derived from it solely by comparative study and reflection, without the help of another source.” (p488)



“this perfection of Holy Scripture must not be interpreted to mean that Scripture was always the same in degree of its perfection (quod gradum) with respect to its length.” (p488) In each period God’s word was sufficient for the time (p488)



Scripture “the total and sufficient rule of faith and morals” (p488) No other principle of knowledge



“the sufficiency of Holy Scripture results from the nature of the NT dipensation. Christ became flesh and completed all his work. He is the last and supreme revelation of God, who declared to us the Father (John 1:18; 17:4, 6). By him God has spoken in the last days (Heb. 1:1-2). He is the supreme and only prophet.” (p490)



“the idea that some writings were lost and the issue of whether they were inspired or not are not at all the point. The question is only whether the present Bible contains everything we need to know for our salvation and not whether it contains everything the prophets and apostles ever wrote and Christ himself said or did. Even if still other prophetic and apostolic writings were found, they could no longer serve as Holy Scripture…. For our salvation Scripture is sufficient; we do not need any more documents, even if they came from Jesus himself. That is the teaching of the Reformation. Quantitatively revelation was much richer and more comprehensive than Scripture has preserved for us; but qualitatively and in terms of substance, Holy Scripture is perfectly adequate for our salvation.” (p491)



“Scripture is sufficient and … the nature of the NT dispensation logically brings with it and demands this sufficiency of Holy Scripture. Christ has fully – personally and orally, or by his Spirit – revealed everything to the apostles. Upon this word we believe in Christ and have fellowship with God (John 17:20; 1 John 1:3). The Holy Spirit no longer reveals any new doctrines but takes everything from Christ (John 16:14). In Christ God’s revelation has been completed. In the same way the message of salvation is completely contained in Scripture. It constitutes a single whole; it itself conveys the impression of an organism that has reached its full growth. It ends where it begins. It is a circle that returns into itself. It begins with the creation of heaven and earth and ends with the recreation of heaven and earth.” (p491)



“The canon of the OT and NT was not closed until all new initiatives of redemptive history were present. In this dispensation the Holy Spirit has no other task than to apply the work of Christ and similarly to explain the word of Christ. To neither does he add anything new.” (p491) – Christ does not need to be supplemented or succeeded (p492)



 “The Roman Catholic doctrine of tradition is the denial of the complete incarnation of God in Christ, of the all-sufficiency of his sacrifice, of the completeness of his Word.” (p492)



“however clear the Bible may be in its doctrine of salvation, and however certainly it is and remains the living voice of God, for a correct understanding it still often requires a wide range of historical, archaeological, and geographical skills and information.” (p493)



“Tradition in its proper sense is the interpretation and application of the eternal truth in the vernacular and life of the present generation. Scripture without such a tradition is impossible.” (p493)

RD vol 1

On appointing a pope

I know next to nothing about Roman Catholic theology on this point, but Bavinck wonders why the pope who is infallible under certain conditions and on certain matters, "is still appointed by fallible people, even though they are cardinals. Who is in a better position than he who is himself infallible to designate his successor? It is therefore very well possible that in the future papal sovereignty will prove to be incompatible with the power of cardinals. In any case Rome has not yet walked the road of the deification of humanity to its conclusion." (RD, vol 1, p492).

The point is perhaps strengthened now that we have seen a pope retire.

Tradition

Tertulain said: "Our Lord called himself the 'truth' not 'custom' [On The Veiling of Virgins, ch. 1]. Similarly, Cyprian cites against the tradition (to which the bishop of Rome appealed) the texts Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; and stated: "Custom without truth is the antiquity of error." [Epistle 74]".

Bavinck, RD, vol 1, p483

Monday, May 22, 2017

Psalm 9 jottings

Last week's Psalm of the week was Psalm 9. I actually tried to concentrate on reading, listening to and praying it rather than simply making notes about it!


Psalm 9 / & 10 ? notes



Summary: Praise God for his justice and judgement, for punishing his enemies and delivering his people



Uses:

Praising / trusting God especially in the face of enemies / injustice

Seeking God’s justice and deliverance



Outlines / structure:



Expositor’s Bible:



Prayer and Praise for God’s Just Rule of the Nations



A Individual praise (vv1-2)

B Judgement on the wicked (vv3-6)

C Hope in God’s Just Rule (vv7-10)

A’ Communal praise and individual prayer (vv11-14)

B’ Judgement on the wicked (vv15-18)

C’ Hope in God’s Just Rule (vv19-20)



Wilson, NIV Application Commentary



Anticipation of thanksgiving (9:1-3)

Judge of the nations (9:4-8)

A Refuge for the Oppressed (9:9-14)

Judgement on the Nations (9:15-20)

The Arrogant wicked (10:1-11)

Plea for Deliverance (10:12-15)

Yahweh as Eternal King (10:16-18)



Goldingay, Baker Commentary



Wilcock, BST:



1. Something familiar

2. Something new

3. Technique and inspiration

4. Grammar and facts (9:1-12)

5. The other side of the picture (10:1-11)

6. A prayer in the light (9:13-20)

7. A prayer in the dark (10:12-18)



Kidner, Tyndale:



God: Judge and King



9:1-12 Vision after victory

1, 2 – Thankful praise

3-8 – Thine is the kingdom

9-12 – The champion of the weak

13-20 – Vision in adversity

13, 14 – One man’s plight

15-18 – Justice for the world

19, 20 – Put man in his place!



Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life



Throne control



Pray in remembrance

Pray in context

Pray in anticipation



What I have been through (vv1-6)

Praise (vv1-2)

Rehearsal of God’s deliverance (vv3-6)



Where it’s going (vv7-8)



What you can count on (vv9-12)



What the Psalmist learns from it all (vv10b, 12)



Pray for the kingdom (vv19-20)



Notes:



Acrostic poem together with Psalm 10. Pss 9 & 10 = one Ps in LXX.

See Goldingay p162 for how the acrostic works – v1, v3, v5, v7 etc.

Or Wilcock p42, footnote 73



Title:



For the director of music / choirmaster / The leader’s



The girls / Secrets / Eternities / On dying / The son’s



To Muth-labben - “The Death of the Son”



Composition



A Psalm of David / David’s



Ps 10 has no title, strengthening the idea that they should be taken together



Ps 10 follows on from Ps 9 beginning with the 12th letter but then drops the alphabetic scheme until vv12-18 where the last 4 letters reappear (Kidner) – Psalm 10 a broken acrostic



Also change of mood in Ps 10v1



Ps 9 and 10 like a diptych



Davis: vv7-8 the key verses of the Psalm



Vv1-12 – all affirmation, the fruit of reflection on a great deliverance

Vv13-20 – prayer, arising out of suffering



9vv1-12 answer to 10vv1-11

9vv13-20 answer to 10vv12-18



9vv1-12 chiastic pattern with the Lord judging at the centre 9:5-8 (Wilcock, p42)



The opening echoes the final v of Ps 7:17

V1b – God’s actions

V2a – God’s person



God’s wonders his great redemptive miracles – 106:7, 22 but also 71:17 and 119:18



What david has seen and what the prophets have foreseen (Wilcock, p42f)



The big picture – the nations mentioned 5 times vv5, 15, 17, 19, 20 – and v8, the world / peoples



V5f = past tenses prophetic perfects anticipating certain future judgement – as good as done



V7f – present or future?



Vv9-10 actually in the form of an exhortation – let the lord be a stronghold, let those who know…



V9 – times of trouble also 10v1



V12 – he who avenges, lit. seeks / requires – denied by the wicked in 10v13b – God won’t call me to account – Gen 9:5; Dt 18:19; 2 Chron 24:22; Ez 33:6



V13 – change of tone



Vv13-20 from personal entreaty to confident prophecy then bold appeal for action



Vv13-14 – the gates of death cannot keep him from the gates of Zion



V14 – lit. daughter Zion not daughter of Zion



V16 = higgayon from haga, 1:2, 2:1 – plot - cf. 19:15; 92:4. Recitation / meditation



Vv19 – 20 – man suggests frailty



V20 – appoint someone fearful mora, object of fear / moreh, teacher

Monday, May 15, 2017

Psalm 8 - some jottings


Psalm 8 notes



Summary:



Praise the LORD for the majesty of creation and for crowning human beings



Uses:



Praise of the Lord for creation and his purposes for humanity

When feeling insignificant

Repentance over neglect or misuse of creation or forgetfulness of God

Longing for the new creation and the fulfilment of all things in the Last Adam



Prayer:



O Lord, our LORD, I praise you for the majesty and glory of your name, which is so wonderfully displayed in all you have made.

I praise you for your power and infinity, the scale and intricacy and variety of your creativity.



I acknowledge my finitude, my weakness and mortality.

Thank you that your power is made perfect in weakness, that you delight to use the weak to shame the strong.



I confess to you my sin.

I know that I deserve nothing from you except your judgement.

I marvel that you give human beings a second thought.



Thank you for your care, that you think of me and attend to my prayer.

Thank you that you know me thoroughly and that though you are greater than I can imagine, the details of my life and my sometimes trivial concerns matter to you.



I praise you for your purposes for human beings, for the role and responsibility that you have given to your people.

I’m sorry for times that I have forgotten you or that vocation, when the calling to represent you in the world and to rule the world under you has meant nothing to me.

Forgive me for my rebellion, my self-absorption, my neglect and misuse of creation.

Help me to more fully and truly reflect your image in the world, to live as a faithful steward of your world, seeking to play my part in your great purposes to bring creation from one degree of glory to another.

May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.



I praise you for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, the Last Adam, your image and glory, the Proper Man who was always faithful to you.

Thank you that your glory which was above the heavens came down and tabernacled amongst us and was seen and heard by the witnesses you had chosen.

Thank you that you have placed all things under your perfect Son, for his government of the world, that he is working out all things in conformity to your will.

Thank you that Christ has triumphed, defeating sin and death and Satan and that you are putting all his enemies under his feet. 

Thank you for the prospect of his full and perfect rule.

May more and more people bow the knee to him and serve him with gladness.



Expand my vision of your glory.



Make your name known to all the nations.



May all creation resound with your praises.



O LORD, our Lord, I praise you for the majesty of your name.





Outlines / structure:



Expositor’s Bible:



Goldingay, Baker Commentary



Humanity’s position in creation

Vv1-2 – Praise Yahweh as the powerful, majestic creator

Vv3-4 – wonder whether this God would be involved with mere human beings

Vv5-9 – marvel that Yahweh has bestowed glory and honour on humans by giving them dominion over creation



Wilcock, BST:



The story so far

The joyous slaughter of sacred cows

The first and the last man



Kidner, Tyndale:



Crown of Creation



The praise of his glory (vv1-2)

What is man? (vv3-8)

The praise of his glory (v9)



Tidball, Signposts



The Crown of Creation



V2 – God and human instinct

Vv3-5 – God and human dignity

Vv6-8 – God and human responsibility



Chiastic structure:

Benediction (vv1, 9)

God’s rule v. human rule (vv2-3, 6-8)

Human insignificance v. human significance (vv4, 5)



Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life



Majestic name



The irony of your strength (vv1b-2)

The mystery of your care (vv3-4)

The clarity of your revelation (vv5-8)

The certainty of your plan (v6 – Heb 2:5-9)



Alan Harman, Mentor Commentary



Vv1-2 God’s majesty

Vv3-5 Man’s insignificance

Vv6-8 Man’s role in creation

V9 God’s praise renewed



Allen P. Ross, Kregel Exegetical Library



God’s Condescending to Mankind



I. Introductory refrain: The psalmist extolls the excellency of the nature of the LORD (1a)

II. The Psalmist praises the LORD’s greatness in confounding the enemy with children and his grace in giving human beings dominion over creation (1b-8)

A. It is marvellous that this majestic LORD should use “children” to confound the mighty (1b-2)

1. The majesty of the LORD is displayed in the heavens (1b)

2. The LORD uses the words of children to silence the enemy (2)

B. It is marvellous that this majestic LORD who created the universe should regard humans enough to entrust his dominion to them (3-8)

1. The work of creation is God’s finger work (3)

2. God endowed man with glory and entrusted him with dominion (4-8)

a. It is amazing that God even thinks of a mere mortal (4)

b. It is marvellous that God granted mortals glory and dominion over creation (5-8)

III. Concluding refrain: The psalmist extols the excellency of the nature of the LORD (9)



 Notes:



Title:

 

Gittith – something from Gath, in the SW of Israel – 2 Sam 15:18 – Goliath! – feminine form for a person or thing from Gath – Ibn Ezra links it with Obed-edom the Gittite, a Levitical singer – 1 Chron 13:13-14; 16:4-5 (Goldingay)



Gittith – also Ps 81 & 84 – all joyful songs of thanksgiving



Gittite cf. gat, winepress



David



Man matters because God matters. Man matters; God matters more. Matter tells us God matters!



The first proper song of praise in the Psalter – form and subject untypical (Goldingay)



The last v of Ps 7 vowed to praise Yahweh. This Psalm fulfils that promise. The suffering and enemies of the previous psalms do not make this Psalm any less true.



Harman: This Psalm is the latter part of Genesis turned into a song



The only praise Psalm wholly addressed to God – no invitation to praise, no reasons for praise in a because clause (Goldingay)



Kidner: “This psalm is an unsurpassed example of what a hymn should be, celebrating as it does the glory and grace of God, rehearsing who He is and what He has done, and relating us and our world to Him; all with a masterly economy of words and in a spirit of mingled joy and awe.” (p65f)



Inclusio - Begins and ends with God’s majestic name – vv1a and 9 – the packaging / wrapping of the Ps, cf. product packaging aiming to create an impression



The Psalm brings to mind God’s surprising ways in the roles he has assigned to the strong and the weak (v2), the spectacular and the obscure (vv3-5), the multitudinous and the few (vv6-8). (Kidner, p66)



The Psalm takes us above the heavens (v1) and back to the very beginning (vv3, 6-8) and the NT points out to the very end (v6). (Kidner)



Wilcock: Remember / be mindful – 6:5

Glory 3:3; 4:2; 7:5

The avenger – 7:3-5

Enemies in all Pss 3-7 and here



Les individualistic than preceding Pss ???, not especially autobiographical – our – though the speaker is an individual “I” (v3) he is representative – the title indicates it is intended to be used in public worship – David speaks for us and wants us to join with him

Cosmic and prophetic scope recall Ps 2



V1 – Lord, sovereign – honorific plural



Our Lord, personal trust and relationship of course crucial – not just Lord in general or in theory or of others



V1 – adder, splendid, majestic, usually with the implication of might / power – 76:4; 93:4; 136:18 – deferent submission



V1 – hod – majesty, awesome power and authority – 1 Chron 29:11; Job 37:22; 39:20; Is 30:30; Hab 3:3



V1 – ardent, intimate, reverent



This great God is our covenant God

The God of Israel the only true God



V1 – tnh (acclaim) – MT tena - The Hebrew constantaly could allow “Thou whose glory is *chanted* above the heavens” – Is 6:3 – natena – he gave / put



God greater than all created reality and in authority over it



Names more than mere labels to the ancient Hebrews – suggest character



V2 – Lit. from the mouth – Jer 36:4, 6, 17, 27



V2 – contrast the threatening enemies and the helpless children – God makes them a strength / stronghold / bulwark / fortress – what seems inconsequential has overwhelmed the mighty (cf. the apparent insignificance of humanity and of Christ)



Davis: praise packs a lethal punch – toddlers wallop God’s enemies!



V2 – the praise of cradle and nursery is acceptable to this great God (Kidner)



Mt 21:16 quotes LXX



Rising discord in v2 – foes, enemy, avenger – cf. the enemies of the previous psalms – they even get a mention in this hymn of praise



V2 – oz – strength / might – implication of praise for God’s overwhelming strength and majesty



Quoted by Jesus in Mt 21:15f – the children shouting his praise



God’s use of the weak to confound the strong – 1 Cor 1:27



V3 – change to “I”



V3 – David the shepherd boy contemplating the night sky? On a clear night, he could see maybe 2000-3000 stars. With a good pair of binoculars, we can see up to 10 000.



If the Milky Way were the size of North America, our solar system would fit in a coffee cup. And the milky way is perhaps one of 100 billion galaxies in the universe. (Davis, p97)



Of all creation, only human beings could ask the question of v4



Vv3-5 – both the smallness and the status of humanity – might seem insignificant, but highly significant in God’s purposes – of all creatures, humanity is both great and small



Almighty God who set the stars in place, also set human beings over the creation



Vv3-5 – contrast the puniness of human beings and the immensity of the cosmos (Tidball)



V4 – enos suggests human frailty – ben adam – the sons / descendants of Adam, adamah, earth or ground



V4 – David’s question, “What is man?” is really a way of saying “What a God!” (Davis)



What other answers do people give to the question “What is man?”

The answer of paganism – fate – man an accident / prisoner / slave of the gods

The answer of nihilism

The answer of humanism

(see Davis p99f)



Scientific materialism – how much of each chemical in man – a wet machine – a sack of stuff



Cf. Lk 12:24 – God even cares for the ravens!



Is 40:26ff; 45:18; 51:16



Ps 144:3f



Job 7:17f quotes v4 rather negatively – Job’s suffering as a loss of glory



Ps 25:6



Ps 90



Care – lit. you attend to – Jer 23:2



V5 slows to a stately emphasis – virtual synonyms: What is man that You should note him / human creature, that you should pay him heed?



V5ff – especially suitable for David the king



V5 – Gen 1:26



MT Elohim - God



LXX takes Elohim in its rarer generic sense to mean supernatural beings, angels – 1 Sam 28:13; Ps 82:1; 6f – Heb 2:7, 9



“Little” (v5) could mean “for a while” in both the Hebrew and the Greek



Human beings were put between the world and God



Human beings little gods (Tidball) – cf. the scientific anthropic principle – humanity at the centre of creation – though overall in content if not exactly in form the Psalm is of course theocentric – humanity is enveloped in God’s praise, established by God, cared for by God, responsible to God etc. Human powers of dominion are to be used for God’s praise. Selfish exploitation or pretended autonomy are disordered.



James 3:7f



Heb 2:6-8



1 Cor 15:27f



Eph 1:19-22



Godlingay: The 2-fold all in vv6-7 corresponds to the 2-fold all in vv1 and 9



V6 – masal, ruler, used of God in 22:28; 66:7; 103:19 and elsewhere



Cf. Is 11



Rm 8:22



Vv6-7 – the prominence of the monosyllable, kol, all, draws attention to the central motif of the Psalm



We don’t see a perfect world functioning well under man’s good rule – human beings have messed up the world – creation is out of sorts – we can’t manage our own lives let alone the whole world!



Cf. X – 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:6-8



Rev 5:10



V9 – Humanity and its dominion takes second place to God and his – a very strong focus on God despite the attention given to humanity – human beings put in their place, which is under God, in relation to him, faithfully serving and praising him



We can say human being only after we have learnt to say God



Name of the Lord – Ex 33:18f



(Henry Law, Daily Prayer and Praise: The Book of Psalms Arranged for Private and Family Use (Banner of Truth, 2000, orig. pub. 1878)



(Derek Tidball, Signposts: A devotional map of the Psalms (IVP, 2009)



Walter Brueggemann & William H. Bellinger, Jr., Psalms, New Cambridge Bible Commentary (CUP, 2014)