Monday, 24 April 2017

John Calvin the Postmillenialist?

The following comes from John Calvin's Catechism of Geneva. Note especially the 3rd question... 


Q268 M. What understand you by the kingdom of God in the second petition?
S. It consists chiefly of two branches — that he would govern the elect by his Spirit — that he would prostrate and destroy the reprobate who refuse to give themselves up to his service, thus making it manifest that nothing is able to resist his might.

Q269 M. In what sense do you pray that this kingdom may come?
S. That the Lord would daily increase the numbers of the faithful — that he would ever and anon load them with new gifts of his Spirit, until he fill them completely: moreover, that he would render his truth more clear and conspicuous by dispelling the darkness of Satan, that he would abolish all iniquity, by advancing his own righteousness.

Q270 M. Are not all these things done every day?
S. They are done so far that the kingdom of God may be said to be commenced. We pray, therefore, that it may constantly increase and be carried forward, until it attain its greatest height, which we only hope to take place on the last day on which God alone, after reducing all creatures to order, will be exalted and pre-eminent, and so be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28.)


So Postmil or not?

Monday, 17 April 2017

This changes everything!

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Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem and was placed in an empty tomb nearby. Three days later, some women came to dress the body and found the tomb empty. They heard from angels that Jesus had risen from the dead, and shortly after encountered Jesus Himself. This Jesus also appeared to His disciples and to many others including to 500 people at the same time. It really happened.

Of course, there have been various alternative explanations since that momentous day when the women discovered the empty tomb. But none of the alternative explanations makes sense. In recent times, ‘experts’ have claimed that the disciples saw visions of Jesus and interpreted them as bodily appearances. They were so hopeful that Jesus would rise from the dead that they projected their hopes onto the world. Visions and dreams of the dead were known in the ancient world, and still occur today. But dreams and visions such as this do not give rise to the belief that the person is risen from the dead. Quite the contrary: if we have a vision or dream of a loved one who has died, the vision or dream is confirmation that they are still dead. And in any case, the disciples were as surprised as anyone at the news of Jesus’ resurrection (just read the Gospels!) More to the point, Jesus repeatedly appeared to the disciples, was touched by them, and even ate some grilled fish after His resurrection. No apparition would happily indulge in a breakfast barbecue (see John 21). Jesus’ resurrection really happened.

And if it really happened, since it really happened, then the world is a very different place than we might have thought. If Jesus rose from the grave, since He rose from the dead, then Jesus is who He always said He was, the Son of God, the King of Kings, the One who is in heaven now, sat by the Father, ruling over every corner of this globe.

Since the resurrection really happened, no situation and no person are hopeless. No marriage is beyond repair, no child beyond recovery, no pagan beyond the reach of the gospel, no sin beyond forgiveness. In Christ, no one and nothing are beyond restoration because, if bodily death is reversible, so are all the other ‘deaths’ that we suffer in life. For the Christian believer, future hope and the certainty of eternal life are not a delusion. As the Apostle Paul puts it “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” But, continues Paul, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”. Amen and Alleluia!

Parish article for the week beginning 16th April - Easter Day 2017 AD (with thanks to PL)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

T'was the night before Easter

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O God, 
Creator of heaven and earth:
Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the  coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; 
who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, 
for ever and ever. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Faith in the face of fear - a message to those who kill us!

What the priest says below only makes sense if you know a Risen Saviour. Do you know Him?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The way up is to go down

In the ancient world, when a conquering hero rode into town in triumph, it was in a regal chariot or on the back of a stately stallion. Legions of soldiers would accompany him in the victory procession and triumphal arches, festooned with relief sculptures, were often erected to immortalize his valiant victory.
How very different though for Jesus. After driving out demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City. But to do so, He rode not on the back of a warhorse, but on a donkey. His companions accompanied Him brandishing not swords, but palm branches. The monument to His victory, erected a week later, was not an arch, but a cross.
His earthly beginning was frightfully humble. And His earthly end would be no different. The wood of the manger prefigured the wood of the cross. All of Christ’s life speaks of His love, obedience and humility.
Though He was the Divine Son of God, dwelling with the Father in heavenly glory, He freely plunged to the depths of human misery, joining Himself to our frail nature as He entered our turbulent world. As if that were not enough, He further humbled Himself, accepting the status of a slave. His act of stooping down to wash the feet of His disciples (John 13) was a parable of His whole human existence, for this act was regarded as so undignified that not even Israelite slaves could be compelled to do it.
But that’s just it. Jesus was not compelled to do anything. He willingly lowered himself in His birth, in His ministry, in His death. No one took His life from Him. He freely laid down His own life (John 10:18) – He humbled himself, giving His life as a sacrifice for sin.
It had to be so. Jesus, the New Adam had to undo the damage caused by the first Adam. And what was the sin our first parents? They disobeyed because they wanted to be like God (see Genesis 3). They were tricked by the Serpent, and thereby infected with the deadly venom of pride. The antidote, the anti-venom could only be humility. The foot-washing, donkey-riding and blood-shedding New Adam would crush the head of the deadly serpent by means of loving, humble and sacrificial obedience.

But God responded to His humility by exalting Him far above Caesars, kings, and even Hollywood celebrities. And He invites us to share His glory with Him. But first we must tread His humble path to glory, taking up our cross daily and following Him? Will you come and follow Him?
Parish article for the start of Holy Week, April 2017 AD

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Monday, 3 April 2017

Oh to be a pastor in Chaucer's mold (pt 2)

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The description below - of the ideal pastor - is taken from the prologue to The Canterbury Tales. (part 1 is here)

Upon his feet, and in his hand a stave
This noble example to his sheep he gave

First following the word before he taught it
And from the gospel he had caught it

His business was to show a fair behaviour
and draw men thus to heaven and their Saviour

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Unless indeed a man be obstinate;
and such, whether of high or low estate

He put to sharp rebuke to say the least
I think there never was a better priest

He sought no pomp or glory in his dealings
no scrupulosity had spiced his feelings

Christ and his twelve apostles and their lore
he taught, but followed it himself before


Oh to be such a faithful pastor
Lord I need thy gracious power