Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Parable of The Prodigal Son

I shall be preaching at Culloden Baptist Church this Sunday, in preparation I have been studying Luke chapter 15. In Luke chapter 15 Jesus is having another run in with the Pharisees over the "tax collectors and sinners" who are responding to Jesus message. He then tells three parables, the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and then the parable traditionally called the Prodigal Son. However there is much more going on in this parable, someone has suggested that it should be called the parable of the compassionate Father. That is a better title than the traditional one, the Father is the central character. However the parable finishes with a twist the "prodigal son" is in the banquet dressed in his fathers robes and receiving good things. While the elder son refuses to acknowledge either his father or his brother whom he refers to as "this son of yours." The parable ends with the younger sin definitely in the father's family and the elder brother is out it ends with a cliff hanger, will the elder son go in or stay out. Joel Green suggests concerning the pharisees that at the time Jesus was speaking to them the jury was still out on whether they would come in or not. Elsewhere he suggests by not acknowledging the out castes who have come in, they place themselves out of God's grace. I would therefore suggest the title is better as the parable of the prodigal sons or the parable of the disobedient sons. I believe we should all be like the younger brother who acknowledges where he stood with the Father, knowing his sins and his need of forgiveness. If we have been believers for a while we can find ourselves like the older brother, thinking that we are earning our way into the kingdom and looking down on anyone else. May we continue to see that we are sinners saved by God's extraordinary grace.

God Bless


Friday, 11 July 2008

The Majesty and Humility of Jesus- from the pen of Jonathan Edwards

Rather than read The Shack, with its over familiarity with the Godhead we should immerse ourselves in people like Jonathan Edwards who truly grasped the infinite majesty of God. This is from a letter that Edwards wrote to lady Pepperell following the death of her son:

Infinite Wisdom also has contrived that we should behold the glory of the Deity, in the face of Jesus Christ, to the greatest advantage, in such a manner as should be best adapted to the capacity of poor and feeble man; in such a manner, too, as is best fitted to engage our attention, and allure our hearts, as well as to inspire us with the most perfect complacency and delight. For Christ having, by his incarnation, come down from his infinite exaltation above us, has become one of our kinsmen and brothers. And his glory shining upon us through his human nature, the manifestation is wonderfully adapted to the strengths of the human vision; so that, though it appears in all its effulgence, it is yet attempered to our sight. He is indeed possessed of infinite majesty, to inspire us with reverence and adoration; yet that majesty need not terrify us, for we behold it blended with humility, meekness, and sweet condescension. We may feel the most profound reverence and self-abasement, and yet our hearts be drawn forth sweetly and powerfully into an intimacy the most free, confidential, and delightful. The dread, so naturally inspired by his greatness, is dispelled by the contemplation of his gentleness and humility; while the familiarity, which might otherwise arise from the view of the loveliness of his character merely, is ever prevented by the consciousness of his infinite majesty and glory; and the sight of all his perfections united fills us with sweet surprise and humble confidence, with reverential love and delightful adoration.

The God who answers prayer

A little bird might have already told you but my wife and I have been trying for a baby for four years. Last year we had a miscarriage which was one of several hard events that came our way last year. In April this year I was out on a walk and prayed that God would take away the desire for a child as it was hurting me too much. I walked a few paces and the desire to pray for a child came stronger. About a week later I prayed again and felt a strong sense of peace that God had heard my prayer and it was going to be answered. I even got to tell a college friend whilst we were out for coffee that I knew God was going to give Joy and I a baby. About two weeks later Joy took a pregnancy test and it was positive. The pregnancy is going well, and we are excited that we are going to be parents.
God answers prayer!

CT on The Shack

I've just read a worrying article published by CT on the novel called The Shack. Cindy Crosby reviewing The Shack describes it as one of the best Christian novels of recent times. Yet she points out that in its pages we will meet with God as we never imagined. God The Father it says appears as an African woman with a edgy sense of humour, the Holy Spirit as an Asian man and Jesus as a Middle Eastern Labourer. Crosby asks, heresy? and answers no! I would answer that it sounds like heresy because it is! If we imagine God in anyway other than He has revealed himself in his word we have built an idol. God is invisible, majestic, transcendent. Yet God humbled himself and became a man in the person of His Son and died in our place. If we want to encounter God we must not use our imagination we must turn to His word to see Him as He truly is. Mediating upon his word , and praying to Him to reveal Himself to us.
Then we will meet with God who is beyond our wildest imagination!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Packer and Anglicanism

When I first got into Reformed Theology I was fairly immature spiritually and found myself siding with Martyn Lloyd Jones over J.I.Packer and John Stott in a debate that happened before I was born. MLJ wanted Anglicans to come out of their mixed denomination and work alongside their evangelical brothers and sisters in the independent church. Stott and Packer both insisted on remaining with their denomination to change it. I have since grown to appreciate J.I Packer and John Stott and do believe that God calls people to work in the Anglican church. This month Evangelical Nows published an interview with Packer about his battle within the Canadian Anglican communion. Packer is fighting a battle with the liberals and has been for sometime. I admire his fight for a tradition that he obviously loves and feels very much as home. I noticed though that he called the Anglican Church, The English version of the reformed faith. I believe Packer is wrong on several counts. The 39 articles although reformed are fairly broad and reflect something of Elizabeth the 1st 'middle way' for the church of England. The CofE has always been a mixed bag, The Westminster Confession of Faith was written during the height of the Puritan era and was intended as a corrective to the 39 articles, this was a truly reformed confession and was written in England (with help from several Scot's including Samuel Rutherford), by Independents, Presbyterians with some Anglican influence. The WCF was never accepted by the Anglican Church because of the via media but its influence is still felt within England through the Savoy Confession and the Baptist Confession of 1689. It is Purtianism and its heirs in the Independent churches that better reflect the English reformed tradition. I am thankful that there are Reformed ministers in the CoE but the CoE, if it is a reflection of English reformed faith it is only one reflection and not THE expression of it.