Sunday, 23 March 2008

BBC The Passion Part 4

At last the BBC Passion records a miracle, and they waited to convey the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection! This was by far the best of the four parts and not just because of the Resurrection. They covered the time between the crucifixion and the resurrection and how Mary, and the Disciples would have mourned. The realization (so they thought) that Jesus was deluded, that he wasn't the son of God and that they had wasted the last few years following someone who wasn't the Son of God. You could almost feel their pain as their hope was turned to despair and how much greater their joy at the resurrection.

On the 3rd day I was a little worried when Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and it was a different actor, but this was only to convey that she was kept from recognising him. On the Emmasus Road, Jesus again appeared as a different actor and I thought they were going to suggest that to Mary and these disciples, Jesus had risen because they were so caught up with the idea that they believed it in spite of the evidence. Yet just like in Luke's Gospel when Jesus broke the bread they saw it was it really Him. They then showed Jesus amongst His disciples commanding them to go to the end of the world preaching the Good News and promising to be with them to the end of the time.



BBC The Passion part 3

I didn't get to see the Passion part 3 on Friday but it was repeated this afternoon. I noticed again there was no miracles, apart from that it was pretty good.

I liked the trial of Jesus where opinion was divided about Jesus and the destruction of the Temple, one member of the council said, I know what he said, but surely he wasn't referring to the Temple, it was a parable. They covered Pilate pretty well, including his wife's dream. Pilate really seemed torn, yet I don't know why they didn't include him washing his hands. I liked the way Caiaphas was one step ahead of Pilate and made sure the mob who were gathered were faithful to the Temple and so were ready to shout for Barabbas. I still got frustrated that the BBC Jesus doesn't quote Jesus very often. This was especially evident at the cross, where the thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into the kingdom but Jesus ignored him. There was also not victorious cry from the cross On a positive note unlike the 50's passion movies, Jesus truly suffers on the cross, and not just physically.

There was no darkness at the cross, no curtain torn in two, it seemed that Jesus might have been deluded about being the Messiah. There is a part 4 so hopefully it will cover the resurrection faithfully. We shall see! One thing is certain, whether the BBC cover it or not He is risen!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Together for the Gospel,Culloden Style

I would love to attend this years TftG with Al Mohler, Mark Dever, C J Mahaney and Ligon Duncan, however here on Barn Church Road we have four gospel churches and they are together for the Gospel. On Good Friday these four local Evangelical churches got to together to celebrate what Luther called the great exchange, Jesus dying in our place. It was great to see the four pastors interacting together not just as gospel ministers but as friends. I know these guys disagree on some secondary issues but they are united in their belief in the Gospel. I remember when the Watchtower guys came around recently that they tried to say these four churches had completely different understandings of the way to heaven. How wrong they are, Smithton Free Church, The Barn Church CoS, Culloden Baptist Church and Kings Fellowship are agreed that the only way to heaven is by placing our trust in Jesus who died for own sins.

The service started with a short video a son affirmed, the moving tale of a father's love for his newborn son whose life was always going to be short. You can watch the video here 99 Balloons. The sermon was by our own Pastor, Jim Turrent, who told the story of his visit to Budapest where he found himself in serious trouble when the authorites took him aside at the railway station because his ticket had not been stamped and so was invalid. Jim tried to explain that he didn't no that he needed to do this as a visitor to the country. the authorities were having none of it. Jim started to daydream about how the church would react to the Pastors Prison Plight when a stranger seeing his situation, went up the elevator and purchased two tickets. One for Jim and one for Jim's wife, the man paid a price that Jim was unable to. Jim compared this to the great debt we owe to God, and that we are unable to pay it. Yet on that first good friday Jesus laid down His life on our behalf.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

BBC The Passion part 2

I am glad I gave the BBC's 'The Passion' another shot. This time Jesus clearly knew and declared the reason He had come, to die in place of sinners. The show treats Judas in the typical way, as he is portrayed as a misguided figure who probably betrays Jesus by mistake. However Jesus reaction to Judas really caught something, Jesus was showing compassion to him by reaching out to him. Every time he left Jesus' eyes filled with tears.
I am glad also that the washing of Jesus feet was done by a prostitute and not Mary Magdalene, so they have followed the two different gospel accounts as two separate incidents, which is correct because they are to different to be referring to the same event.

I am looking forward to the next one on Friday.
God Bless

Monday, 17 March 2008

BBC The Passion part 1

Last night I got to watch the 1st part of the BBC's new production the Passion. I had been excited about watching it but found it disappointing. Their Jesus seemed to be a misguided figure who seemed for the most part unaware of the reason He was travelling to Jerusalem. It also showed Him caring for the sick, but not healing them. The worst part the only direct quote from the Gospels that I heard in the first 35 minutes was 'Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and To God what belongs to God.' I even found this annoying though because Jesus did a cheap magic trick and made the coin disappear. There was also a New Age element as everyone was already brothers and sisters with Jesus without any repentance. His message to a prostitute who wanted to follow Jesus was come and tell the world my message 'the kingdom of God is in your heart.'
I shall give it another shot and see if it gets better.
God Bless

Friday, 14 March 2008

Are we Fundamentalists? Barry Seagren

I recently read Barry Seagren's article in the March edition of Evangelicals Now. This is an excellent article in many ways comparing Evangelicalism with Islamic Fundamentalism. Seagren points out there are a number of similarities between conservative Christianity and Islamic Fundamentalism. For example, we both disagree with Western decadence, and are both serious about living for the faith. Yet, Seagren accepts Richard Dawkins' definition of a fundamentalist, someone who will hold on to their beliefs in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Seagren says he is 'guilty as charged'. This disturbs me, I had a conversation last year with a lady who was surprised to find me say, 'if they could prove Jesus body had not been raised, then I would walk away from the faith.' Christianity unlike Islam is a reasonable faith, the evidence points in the direction of God and of the resurrection. Seagren's concluding remarks, 'Are we fundamentalists? Yes, we are, in the best and most basic sense of the term, and let's not lose our nerve on this one.' I realise that some evangelicals are fundamentalists, and one hundred years ago (if the term had been invented) I would subscribe to that term. However historically evangelicals are distinct from the fundamentalists who have their own doctrinal views, that I as a British Evangelical do not subscribe to especially dispensationalism and their premil eschatology. Evangelicals do not withdraw from society as do fundamentalists (both of an Islamic and Christian kind), but seek to change culture to the glory of God.
I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God in its original autographs,I believe in creation in six literal days. I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He is the eternal Word who was with God and is Himself God. I believe in His atoning death and resurrection, I desire to live for God and to bring others to know Him. I believe the fundamentals of the faith. I am an evangelical not a fundamentalist.

God Bless
Stephen Barton

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Remembering You in Prayer

This morning in our worship time Dr Jamie Grant lead us through Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 1:15 and following. In his introduction he asked:

How do you feel when someone tells you they'll pray for you?

We have all said it and sometimes we don't follow through.

How about when someone says "They have been praying for you"?

That is different isn't it. How about when they tell you what they have been praying for you. He encouraged us to do this, he said when he was at Reformed Theological Seminary. His New Testament professor said this was Paul's method, Paul always told people that he was praying for them and what he was praying for them. Jamie said we should follow this practise, when we pray for missionaries or anyone else, we should write them a note and tell them how we have prayed for them.

Dr Grant reminded us that it is'The Father of glory' to whom we pray that He is the creator of the heavens and earth, and we can come to Him as Father because He cares for us. He is also almighty and therefore our prayers should reflect this, quite often it appears that from our prayers that our God is a little God. We should remember to whom we pray and pray great big prayers to a great big God, then our prayers will be used by Him to change the world for Him.

God Bless


Thursday, 6 March 2008

Calvin: What's the big idea

I've been working my way through Calvin's institutes since January and so leaped at the chance to hear Professor Paul Helm lecture on Calvinism this week. Tonight he did the annual Highland Theological College, John Murray lecture. His topic was Calvinism, what is the big idea? He started off saying that for a lot of people Calvinism is associated with Predestination, this idea is found in Calvin but it didn't originate with him and it is not the central doctrine that Calvin's institutes are concerned with. He argued that the central idea for Calvin was the 'knowledge of God and of ourselves.' Which is found in the opening chapter of the institutes. Calvin argues that to know ourselves we do not contemplate ourselves in isolation like philosophers are prone to, to do that leads to a misunderstanding of ourselves, to see ourselves as morally upright. To see ourselves correctly we need to see God, as he reveals Himself. We cannot see God as He truly is, but only in God's accommodating Himself to us, especially in the incarnation, where God reveals himself to us like a nurse to a child, or as one who lisps, so we can understand Him. This knowledge of God and of ourselves, Helm suggests is the Big idea in Calvin's theology. Although theology is a term Calvin disliked preferring the term religion which means to bind ourselves to God. This is because Calvin disliked mere speculation, religion, true religion means being converted. For Calvin (unlike Luther) conversion, or converio was a gradual thing, this is because he understood it in terms of justification and of sanctification. So he could speak of himself as suddenly converted but could also speak about a process. justification and sanctification are distinct but not separate things. Helm suggested that Calvin's theology was not Christological in the Barthian sense instead Calvin places an emphasis on the Spirit, the Spirits work in creation as well as in converiso which effects both the kingdom of Christ and the secular kingdom which are both effected by God's providential care.

You can check out Professor Helm's blog here: Helm's deep

God Bless


The LORD's supper

Some reformed churches pride themselves on their orthodoxy by having a very closed table. I really enjoyed reading in 'The Heidelberg Catechism' from 1563:
Question 81. Who ought to come to the table of the Lord?
Answer: Those who are displeased with themselves for their sins, and who nevertheless trust that these sins have been forgiven them and that their remaining weakness is covered by the passion and death of Christ, and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and improve their life. The impenitent and hypocrites, however, eat and drink judgment to themselves.'

How great is that? the table is open to those who recognise 1. their weakness and 2. and realise their need of Christ and trust him to cover their sins.
I also like that it recognises our remaining weaknesses, that we are still sinful even though we are saints.