Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘unity’


Vacation is a time to be refreshed. One way I get refreshed is by reading some of those books I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t had the time to read. One of those books is Tim Chester’s Delighting in the Trinity. As I have mentioned in other places, there are far too few books on the subjects of the Trinity and Union with Christ. Those books have taken up a fair amount of my free time in the last few years.

“The root of sin is always idolatry. We turn from the true God to find satisfaction in other things and other ways of life.”

Chester’s book is one of the shorter books on the Trinity. He, I think, is shooting for a different audience than either Saunders or Letham. This is intended to be a more accessible book, and it draws on his experiences and concerns as a faithful Christian living in an increasingly secularized England. He sets up the book, in chapter 1, by mentioning conversations he’s been having with Muslim friends. The Trinity is a huge stumbling block for them. We come to a cross roads. Should we not really focus on this, perhaps even ignoring it (like the Insider Movements) or do we recognize this as an essential part of our theology, the very foundation of the gospel? He chooses wisely and picks the latter.

“It is rooted in the electing love of the Father, the finished work of the Son and the present witness of the Spirit.”

So, he argues that the doctrine of the Trinity is not only foundational, but also practical. That does not mean it is easy to understand. I would remind you of Augustine’s statement, picked up by Anselm, that “we  believe to gain understanding.” It is not the other way around.

“But God always speaks with one voice. Father, Son and Spirit speak with one voice because they are one.”

So he starts with Biblical Foundations. The first foundation is the unity of God in the Bible. He starts with the Shema, the confession that “the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” He then brings us to 1 Corinthians 8:6, and sees this as an expression of the Shema in light of the progress of revelation. To claim that Jesus is Lord (kuyrios is used in the LXX to translate YHWH) is to claim that Jesus is the LORD our God. Jesus’ statement that the “Father and I are one” helps us to see both the differentiation and unity within God. The unity of God keeps us from tritheism.

He then shifts to the plurality of God in the Bible. He brings us to creation and back to the Shema before going to the gospels to see the Incarnation of Jesus. One cannot escape the divinity of Jesus in the Gospel of John (which I happening to be preparing for a sermon series).  In the opening verses of John we see both the differentiation (with God), and identification (was God). God lives forever in fellowship with Himself, realizing the priestly blessing so to speak, as the Father and Son are “face to face” until that moment on the Cross when Jesus experiences the curse as the Father looks away.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Here is my study material on the Westminster Confession of Faith, for your personal edification.

Chapter XXV: Of The Church

232. What is the church? It is the whole number of the elect who have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head of the church; his spouse, the body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.

233. Distinguish between the visible and invisible aspects of the church?  The visible church is the church on earth.  It is imperfect, a mixture of elect and false professors and their children throughout the world.  The invisible church is the elect only, and therefore perfect.

234. When did the Church begin?   In Eden with the creation of Adam and Eve.

235. Who are the members of the Church? Those who profess the true religion and their children.

236. What are the marks of a Church?  Preaching of the gospel, proper administration of the sacraments, and public worship.  I’d add church discipline.

237. What is meant by a church being ‘more or less pure’? Does a church ever cease to be a Christian church? Sin taints every church with false doctrine, obscuring the gospel by degrees, improper administration of the sacraments, worship that is impure by degrees.  Some have departed so far in one or more area that they cease to be true churches (though true Christians may be found in them).

238. The attributes of the Church (not to be confused with the marks of the Church) are Unity, Catholicity, Apostolicity, and Holiness. Define each of these.  Unity points to our spiritual unity in Christ, not an organizational unity.  Catholicity reminds us that the church covers the world, not just our congregation or denomination.  Apostolicity points us to the doctrine of the apostles are believed by the church.  Holiness points us to the fact that the church is set apart for God and that its behavior should reflect this.

239. What is a credible profession of faith? One which points to Christ alone for salvation & which bears some fruit in a changed life.

240. With what gifts has the Church been gifted? Word Gifts: prophecy, apostle, teaching, evangelist, pastor, discernment, exhortation; Deed Gifts: Leadership, Administration, giving, service, helps, mercy, hospitality, prayer, faith, wisdom, knowledge, celibacy; Sign Gifts: tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, miracles.

241. Have any of these gifts ceased since the apostolic age? Yes, the sign gifts and prophecy & apostleship.

Chapter XXVI: Of the Communion of Saints

242. What is union with Christ and what implications arise from union with Christ for the Church?  Union with Christ means that we are spiritually united with Christ thru faith such that all that is His is ours.  We have common graces and fellowship not only with him but one another.  We are to display love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, bearing their burdens as our own.

243. What are the duties of believers to one another? We are to maintain holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, to edify one another and assisting one another when in need.

244. Are all believers united to one another in Christ, including those who have gone to be with Christ?  Yes.

Read Full Post »


I remember the infamous Dennis Green press conference while he was coach of the Cardinals.  “They are who we thought they were!”  John Ensor’s book Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart is not the book I thought it was, 2 times.  First, I thought it was connect with his book, The Great Work of the Gospel: How We Experience God’s Grace.  I’d been wanting to read that book, and thought this was a follow up on obedience.  When my copy arrived in the mail, I discovered I was quite wrong.  It looked like a marriage book.

I began to read it to discover I was still wrong.  But I kept on reading.

It is a book that seeks to lay out some issues related to manhood and womanhood for young adults (and teens) so they can understand what they are looking for in a spouse, and how to find that person.  What you get is an understandable introduction to complementarianism (men & woman are equal, but different, with men granted authority/responsibility to lead in the home and church).  And some helpful dating/courtship advice as well.

Ensor draws upon Scripture as his authority.  To illustrate things, he draws heavily on Shakespear, Wendy Shalit’s Return of Modesty, George Gilder’s Men and Marriage, and Shel Silverstein.  He also draws upon personal experience to create a readable, understandable little book that many should find helpful.  I wish I had been able to read it as a young man.

A few things stood out to me.  His emphasis on unity as the goal of submission and sacrifice.  These 2 are joined together to arrive at unity.  Men are to sacrifice, like Christ, for the well-being of their brides.  This is a high call, and sometimes painful call since we must die to our own agendas and goals.  Women also die to their goals and agendas at times as they submit to the loving leadership of their husbands.  This requires communication, that he might understand the needs and concerns of his wife and they both understand the greater goals they are to pursue together.  It is not about control, but unity.  And so, both seek their happiness in the happiness of the other.

Another item that stood out to me was that of celibacy before marriage being important for the maturation process of the male.  It is how men learn to control their desires, lest they be mastered by them.  It is also a test so the woman can identity men who are maturing versus men who are remaining immature.  A man who is unwilling or unable to wait until marriage for sex is a man who will not sacrifice for his wife in marriage.

As a result, this is a book I would recommend to those working with single adults and youth, as well as single adults and youth themselves.  Many, like myself, did not grow up in a Christian family and may never have had these things communicated to them.  These are important matters that shape many generations, so I’m glad John Ensor wrote this book, and hope he writes the one I thought it was the first time.

Read Full Post »