Friday, August 26, 2016

The Image Maker and the Image Bearer

I'm sure this must have occurred to many others...

The Eternal Son of God made man in His own image. In the Son "was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). But the image was lost. The same Eternal Son took this nature, in the likeness of sinful flesh yet without sin (and therefore without the image lost) into union with His own divine person. He did so in order that the image might be restored in those united to Himself as His own people. 

The image maker united the image bearing nature with His person in order to restore the image in those that had sinned but are united to Him by faith. 

Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.

Friday, August 05, 2016

The Stronger than the strong man armed

Paraphrased notes of a sermon by an FP minister: NB this is NOT a word-for-word note.

Luke 11 v21-22. 'When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils'.

1. The strong man is Beelezebub, Satan. If Adam in a state of innocency was unable to withstand him, how can we who are far from innocent (but are also self-deceived) stand against him?

He keeps his palace. It has large rooms. He keeps it in peace: the Lord is speaking of how Satan is keeping the heart of man. Man's heart was a great building, beautiful with large windows and great prospects from them. Men have their Understanding -- that's one room of the soul. They have another room: Love - love to relations, love to country, love to a place. What a room that is: it must have been a great room when the light of God filled it. The Will of man, with which he chooses, is a great room. The other creatures don't have a will in the way that man has. Man was made in the image of God. It's a ruin now but the glories of God are still to be seen. Satan rules in this soul as his palace. He has brought darkness into the Understanding: if the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness'. The fallen heart of man is a sad sight compared to what it fell from, the unfallen heart with which he walked with God in the cool of the day.

Satan has taken away the love of God and holiness away and put in its place the love of this present evil world. Satan rules and reigns over this present evil world and in the heart. The love of ourselves is a strong force -- 'what's in it for me?'. God asks: 'If I be God, where is my honour?'. But Adam asks: 'What's in it for me?'

The will of man is the ability to choose. Naomi and Ruth and Orphah were returning to Israel along the path, they had much in common, but one of the daughters-in-law was a child of God and the other was a child of Moab still. The darkness of the prince of darkness was still in her heart. Instead of pressing on to Bethlehem - the 'house of bread' -- she bade Naomi farewell and God farewell.

Satan gains a 'lawful captive' says the Bible, because man is a willing captive. Adam and Eve willingly took the fruit. Satan's occupancy of the palace is lawful. If a person comes under the preaching of the word, Satan comes and takes away the seed of the Word. The heart remains as unbroken and unchanged as ever.

2. The Stronger than the strong man armed. This is the Lord Jesus. It's not an army of many that overcomes Satan but one man. The only begotten Son is the only one for the deliverance of a fallen world. All our hope of deliverance, light and spiritual strength are in the One Saviour. There is One name given among men whereby we must be saved. When Jesus came into the world, Satan knew this was the One. There were many battles between them. Christ was to tread the wine-press alone, ever fighting as a weak man in Gethsemane. Satan breathed some of his own spirit into men: the scribes and Pharisees who cried against Christ showed their scorn at the cross. Had the scorners had spiritual insight, they would have seen a King dying for them, the Son of God. A great battle was taking place, the greatest ever fought. What a demonstration of love in the face of hatred, of mercy in the face of cruelty. Christ cried out: 'It is finished'.

Now the Stronger takes the palace from the strong man armed and divides the spoils. Instead of being in darkness the soul is now in light, the great work of renovation begins. The day that the sinner is saved, and the Stronger puts the resident out, a renovation called sanctification begins. A true spiritual life is in the heart. The understanding is renovated like the two on the way to Emmaus. The room of love is renovated -- the sinner is made willing to give up the world. The Will has a marvellous renovation begun in it. Self-interest, self-advantage, self-will and self-righteousness are renovated so that there's will to run in the precepts of the Lord.

A word of application: we can't have Satan and Jesus dwell and reign in the one heart.



Sent from MetroMail

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Why a Masculine Hairstyle is a Must-Have for Female Political Leaders

"Line up the most powerful female politicians in the world - Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Christine Lagarde, Nicola Sturgeon and Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president - and you see a collection of women whose longer hair had to be ruthlessly cut as they ascended. The theme has even been noted and the style given a name: the “pob”, the political bob." This was the analysis of an article published in The Times last Thursday.

"Meanwhile first ladies, such as Samantha Cameron, Miriam Gonzalez or Michelle Obama have busy high-profile lives but are allowed long, swishy hair. For a leadership role the only conclusion is this: long hair looks feminine in a world where power still looks masculine."

The article follows it all the way back to the first female Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Her “entitlement to rule was underscored by her masculine attire”. "She even wore the same false beards that were worn by male pharaohs. This is probably a hair choice too far for most modern female politicians".

The article concludes with a quote from Charlotte Fiell, author of Hairstyles: Ancient to Present.

“Whether you like it or not, politics is still a man’s world,” says Fiell. “That makes it difficult for women. They need to be taken seriously, but if they choose a conventionally feminine hairstyle, that will look wrong. This helmet of hair is the male equivalent of the suit. It is also very controlled.”

It's also of course seen in the macho power stance beloved of Nicola Sturgeon. The last line of the article reads:

Masculinity still means seriousness? “Absolutely.”
In a perverse way this gender-reversing power play is acknowledging the truth of Scripture:
"Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (1 Cor. 11:14:16).

We learn from this that:

- Nature teaches us that women should have long hair but that it is shameful for men to have long hair
- It is shameful for women to have short hair (shorn) as well as shaved
- If a woman has short hair she is dishonouring her head (i.e. her husband or is denying the principle of male headship)
- Long hair is given to women for their glory and for modesty.
- It is not only natural but the church should have no other practice in these mattters

Short hair on women is also a clear violation of God's law relating to maintaining the God-ordained difference between the sexes established at creation.
For more read the following post on this blog.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The mission of the local Church

What can we learn from the past about the mission of the local Church. There is an insightful and practical lecture here about how Thomas Chalmers initiated this in a very degraded, underclass area of Edinburgh in the early Victorian times. It has significant practical pointers as to what we can learn today. Much of the strategies for church extension and planting today are what Chalmers speaks against in the following quotation:
“Now the specific business which we would like to put into the hands of a Christian minister is, not that he should fill his church any how – that he may do by the superior attractiveness of his preaching, at the expense of previous congregations, and without any movement in advance on the practical heathenism of the community: But what we want is, to place his church in the middle of such a territory as we have now specified and to lay upon him a task, for the accomplishment of which we should allow him to the labour and preference of a whole lifetime; not to fill his church any how, but to fill this church out of that district. We should give him the charge over head, of one and all of its families; and tell him, that, instead of seeking hearers from without, he should so shape and regulate his movements, that, as far as possible, his church-room might all be taken up by hearers from within. It is this peculiar relation between his church, and its contiguous households, all placed within certain geographical limits, that distinguishes him from the others as a territorial minister.”
– Thomas Chalmers

Monday, June 20, 2016

What is the morality of remaining in the EU?

During my A-levels I had to write an essay on whether membership of the European union undermined Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom. It was clear to me that time that the answer to that question was an undeniable yes. Acceptance of EEC membership and the Treaty of Rome also meant accepting that all past, present and future European legislation would supersede anything passed by the UK Parliament. 

Thus a constitutional principle was sacrificed: that no one UK parliament can bind another. The fact that the executive arm of the EU is unelected removes democratic accountability. The European Courts also take precedence over UK Courts. We have given up ultimate moral control over our country, we may be able to pass laws and make decisions in courts but they can be appealed through the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights and overturned. A nation must be able to govern itself according to the law of God. The basis of the God-appointed role of civil government (Romans 13) is to promote good and restrain evil (in accordance with God's law). Yet our nation has said that not God's law but European law is supreme.

These are simple facts however anyone wishes to spin them. They can say that we have traded sovereignty for something else but we have certainly given it away. Only recently, however, I came to see that this is not merely a political point and a matter of civil liberties but a moral question.

Our relationship with Europe has no moral basis. It is based on an oath but an oath must be true, just and righteous (Jeremiah 4:2).It must be an oath that is true and must commit us only to things that are just and righteous. It is altogether wrong for individuals to make an oath that commits them to implicit, unquestioned and automatic obedience whether the matter is right or wrong. If we are giving our word to submit to any future European legislation then this must potentially include things that will be morally wrong - it is therefore swearing falsely. If we are swearing with a mental reservation and intention that we will not keep our word if it does in the future commit us to anything morally wrong - we are also swearing falsely.

It is only acceptable to make an oath concerning something that we are able to perform and we know to be morally right to perform. When Herod made an oath to give his step-daughter anything she wanted it was not a morally acceptable oath. He ought not to have kept it when it was clear that it committed him to that which was morally wrong but he certainly also ought never to have made the oath in the first place (Matthew 14:7). [I am indebted to an address "Should We Be A Member Of The European Union? - A Biblical Assessment" by Rev. David Silversides for crystallising some of these points].

We do not have a legal basis or guaranteed opt out for picking and choosing European law if it proves to be morally wrong in the future. The time has come to release ourselves legally from an oath that has no moral basis by voting to leave the EU. It is one of the many threats to the moral security of our nation. Release from this dangerous oath will not solve our moral problems, nor will it guarantee our moral security. But in a straight choice between whether our nation ought to be ensnared in a morally false oath or not, our moral duty is clear. Vote Leave.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

This island built by nature for herself against infection

The following is quoted from Adrian Hilton's book The Principality and Power of Europe
These are the words with which the book concludes.

The shift towards European Government has gone so far that failure to insist upon renegotiation or preparation to withdraw undermines the very principles that the Conservative Party exists to promote — the national interest and the self-governance of the British people. Just as Churchill called the nation to prayer on the eve of the Battle of Britain, the current threat from the Continent is no less worthy of constant prayer, and the call is just as urgent. It is a righteous government which will restore British sovereignty, pursue righteous laws and maintain the Constitution of liberty which has served Britain for centuries and by which the Gospel has been freely proclaimed. Britain can be restored to her sovereign greatness, and the Word of God clearly states that 'Righteousness exalteth a nation' (Proverbs 13:34). 

Britain has developed a remarkable political system and an enviable Constitution, and has the unique record of not being invaded by a foreign power for 1000 years. Its tried, tested and trusted institutions have provided stable and responsible government for centuries, reinforcing the view of this 'island built by nature for herself against infection and the hand of war.' Having many times been victorious against the overt hand of war, it is surely now time to guard against the subtleties of infection.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

6 ways to know if you love yourself more than God

The following passage on self-denial is by Richard Baxter
You hear ministers tell you of the odiousness and danger and sad effects of sin; but of all the sins that you ever heard of, there is scarce any more odious and dangerous than selfishness, and yet I doubt there are many that never were much troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity. My principal request therefore to you is, that as ever you would prove Christians indeed, and be saved from sin and the damnation which follows it, take heed of this deadly sin of selfishness, and be sure you are possessed with true self-denial; and if you have, see that you use and live upon it.

And for your help herein, I shall tell you how your self-denial must be tried. I shall only tell you in a few words, how the least measure of true self-denial may be known. And in one word that is thus: Wherever the interest of carnal self is stronger and more predominant habitually than the interest of God, of Christ, of everlasting life, there is no true self-denial or saving grace; but where God’s interest is strongest, there self-denial is sincere. If you further ask me how this may be known, briefly thus:

1. What is it that you live for? What is that good which your mind is principally set to obtain? And what is that end which you principally design and endeavor to obtain, and which you set your heart on, and lay out your hopes upon? Is it the pleasing and glorifying of God, and the everlasting fruition of Him? Or is it the pleasing of your fleshly mind in the fruition of any inferior thing? Know this, and you may know whether self or God have the greatest interest in you. For that is your God which you love most, and please best, and would do most for.

2. Which do you set most by, the means of your salvation and of the glory of God, or the means of providing for self and flesh? Do you set more by Christ and holiness, which are the way to God; or by riches, honor, and pleasures, which gratify the flesh? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.

3. If you are truly self-denying, you are ordinarily ruled by God, and His Word and Spirit, and not by the carnal self. Which is the rule and master of your lives? Whose word and will is it ordinarily that prevails? When God draws, and self draws, which do you follow in the tenor of your life? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.

4. If you have true self-denial, the drift of your lives is carried on in a successful opposition to your carnal self, so that you not only refuse to be ruled by it, and love it as your god, but you fight against it, and tread it down as your enemy. So that you go armed against self in the course of your lives, and are striving against self in every duty; and as others think, it then goes best with them, when self is highest and pleased best; so you will know that then it goes best with you, when self is lowest, and most effectually subdued.

5. If you have true self-denial, there is nothing in this world so dear to you, but on deliberation you would leave it for God. He that has anything which he loves so well that he cannot spare it for God, is a selfish and unsanctified wretch. And therefore God has still put men to it, in the trial of their sincerity, to part with that which was dearest to the flesh. Abraham must be tried by parting with his only son. And Christ makes it His standing rule, “He who forsakes not all that he has, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

Yet it is true that flesh and blood may make much resistance in a gracious heart; and many a striving thought there may be, before with Abraham we part with a son, or before we can part with wealth or life; but yet on deliberation, self-denial will prevail, and there is nothing so dear to a gracious soul, which he cannot spare at the will of God, and the hope of everlasting life. If with Peter we would flinch in a temptation–we should return with Peter in weeping bitterly, and give Christ those lives that in a temptation we denied Him.

6. In a word, true self-denial is procured by the knowledge and love of God, advancing Him in the soul–to debasing of self. The illuminated soul is so much taken with the glory and goodness of the Lord, that it carries him out of himself to God, and as it were estranges him from himself, that he may have communion with God; and this makes him vile in his own eyes, and to abhor himself in dust and ashes; he is lost in himself, and seeking God, he finds himself again in God. It is not a stoical resolution, but the love of God and the hopes of glory, that make him throw away the world, and look contemptuously on all below, so far as they are mere provision for flesh.

Search now, and try your hearts by these evidences, whether you are possessed of this necessary grace of self-denial. O make not light of the matter! For I must tell you that self is the most treacherous enemy, and the most insinuating deceiver in the world. It will be within you when you are not aware of it and will conquer you when you perceive not yourselves much troubled with it; and of all other vices is both the hardest to find out and the hardest to cure. Be sure therefore in the first place, that you have self-denial; and then be sure you use it and live in the practice of it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Goal of a United States of Europe

The following is quoted from Adrian Hilton's book The Principality and Power of Europe
It refers to the overweening claims of the EU and the imperative for a federal Europe.

It is noteworthy that politicians and journalists always use the term 'Europe' when they mean the EU. Europe is changing its meaning to include EU members only, producing such illogical phrases as 'European trade with Eastern Europe'. Europe is a continent of over 50 nations ... but anything that disagrees with EU policy, or is not intrinsic to it, becomes un-European. Romano Prodi overtly aims for a Leninist 'new kind of global governance', asserting that 'Brussels is all of us.' The vision is that this EU will ultimately speak with one voice - one representative - in international financial institutions or United Nations agencies, or as a previous advocate of European integration put it: 'Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer'...There is no doubt that the vision of a united Europe has inspired and continues to inspire politicians, Popes, and peacemakers of all backgrounds and persuasions. Since a mere free-trade area has failed to inspire anyone, the drive is once again towards a community of nations which will win the hearts and minds of the people, with talk of increased prosperity, dynamic success, secure peace and greater social justice.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Building the EU on the shifting sands of deceit

The following is quoted from Adrian Hilton's book The Principality and Power of Europe
It illustrates the key question at stake in the forthcoming referendum. We have sacrificed sovereignty, freedom and real democracy by entering the EEC/EU.

The assurance given to both the British people and to Parliament in 1973 by the then prime minister, Edward Heath, was that there was 'no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty.' In other words, Britain was to be part of a community of sovereign nations who wished to trade with each other. Over and over again, that was the message that was hammered home to the electorate. Heath further gave the assurance: 'There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe, we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty... These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified...' The truth is that much more was surrendered than the electorate was led to believe. The European Court of Justice states: 'Every national court must apply Community law in
its entirety and must accordingly set aside any provision of national law which may conflict with it, whether prior to or subsequent to the Community rule.'

 It is now generally accepted by British judges that European law takes precedence over Acts of Parliament. Parliament has, therefore, surrendered its sovereignty. Where there is any disagreement about Britain's actions, it is the European Court of Justice that decides what is right. The former Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning, stated' No longer is European law an incoming tide flowing up the estuaries of England. It is now like a tidal wave bringing down our sea walls and flowing inland over our fields and houses, to the dismay of us all.'

The Lord Chancellor wrote to Heath on 14th December 1960 in response to Heath's enquiry into the constitutional implications of becoming a signatory to the Treaty of Rome. He stated: 'To satisfy the requirements of the treaty, Parliament could enact legislation which would give automatic force of law to any existing or future regulations made by...the Community. This would go far beyond the most extensive delegation of powers, even in wartime, that we have ever experienced... It is clear...that the (European) Council of Ministers could eventually...make regulations that would be binding on us even against our wishes... It is the first step on the road that the fully federal state.' As the most senior legal officer in the land, he went on to warn: 'I must emphasise that in my view the surrenders of sovereignty involved are serious ones...these objections ought to be brought out into the open...' To have been warned of this, and then to continue with the assertion that there would be no loss of sovereignty, is blatant proof of Heath's duplicity.

One of the founding fathers of the EU, Jean Monnet, also a devout Roman Catholic, totally rejected the idea that Europe should consist of sovereign nations. He believed in the Catholic vision that Europe should become a federal superstate, into which all ancient nations would be fused. 'Fused' is the word he used in a communication dated 30th April 1952, and is wholly consistent with the language of the Maastricht Treaty.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Brexit and it's spiritual dimension

...we are sure that every faithful Protestant who has a desire for the advancement of Christ's cause, and for the spiritual and social welfare of our fellow countrymen, would desire to see Britain free from the limitations on our national sovereignty imposed by the Treaty of Rome – the founding document of the EU – along with the subsequent plethora of treaties and much unnecessary European legislation. Furthermore, we believe, as a matter of biblical principle, that Protestant nations ought not to enter into political union with Romanist nations (Jos 23:3-10)


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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Should we care about politics?

Someone passed me the following apt quotation regarding indifference towards politics and other matters. Of course we must be careful to avoid either extreme.

When St. Paul says, “Come out and be separate,” he did not mean that Christians ought to take no interest in anything on earth except religion. To neglect science, art, literature, and politics – to read nothing which is not directly spiritual - to know nothing about what is going on among mankind, and never to look at a newspaper - to care nothing about the government of one’s country, and to be utterly indifferent as to the persons who guide its counsels and make its laws - all this may seem very right and proper in the eyes of some people. But I take leave to think that it is an idle, selfish, neglect of duty. St. Paul knew the value of good government, as one of the main helps to our “living a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2). St Paul was not ashamed to read heathen writers, and to quote their words in his speeches and writings. St. Paul did not think it beneath him to show an acquaintance with the laws and customs and callings of the world, in the illustrations he gave from them. Christians who plume themselves on their ignorance of secular things are precisely the Christians who bring religion into contempt.

JC Ryle - Practical Religion - p.291/2

Friday, February 19, 2016

Bread Upon the Waters

Awaiting me on the table of the train the other week was a discarded newspaper. Nothing unusual about that. This one had a Bible text written on it. Was this a wayside text giving the gospel to anyone who would follow it up? But the reference didn't sound familiar. I looked Jeremiah 32:15 up and it was an unusual verse to see referred to. Did they even get the verse/chapter number right? No doubt someone wrote it there more for their own memory rather than the encouragement of others. What did they make of it? What did I make of it? Nothing happens as mere coincidence. What could be learned? 

In this verse, Jeremiah is acting in hope even though it seems pointless and meaningless to buy a field.  It would be destroyed and dispossessed. It was an act of faith and obedience.  It is like casting your bread on the waters and finding it after many days. It is like Abraham going out by faith not knowing where he was going but believing in God's direction and covenant promise. The promise is that this will be fruitful in the future. The evidences would be preserved and the land restored and inhabited once more. The evidences preserved in the earthen vessel are as much the promises of God as the deeds to the land.

I think that the encouragement is that serving God in our generation may seem to be hard and bear little fruit. Those whose labour is in the Word and doctrine seem to toil all night but take nothing. The Word is circulated, tracts distributed, good material published with little apparent effect. But God's Word will not return to Him void, it will accomplish the purpose He has determined for it. He will bring fruit from it, perhaps after many days. We must fix our eyes upon the horizon. The future is as bright as the promises of God. They sow in tears but there will be a joyful reaping. The harvest is said to be certain according to the promise.

Humphrey Hardwicke preached a sermon on sowing in tears and reaping in joy. He said that
as the husbandman [farmer] in times of dearth and scarcity is much more diligent and plentiful in manuring his land, carefull to provide precious seed, and incessant for the repelling of famine, and procuring of plenty; so must Gods people, they must be up and doing, put their shoulder to the work, their hand to the plough, think nothing too much that they are able to do; hey must labour plough, sow part with all as precious seed, lay it down in the dust.
He continues on a similar theme: 
It remains now only, that I call upon every one that would not be counted an enemy, but a friend of Sion, to be up and doing, to be much and active in pious and precious endeavour for the perfecting our Sion's deliverance, and the establishing of our Jerusalem in peace and truth. Now is time for... every one in his place and station, to few precious seed. What considering man then would suffer sloth or negligence, ease or self respects, to hinder him from being an instrument of so great good, as may come to the Church and State. Many of you are, all of you may be, under God, the cause of much good to many generations: Be therefore of St. Paul's mind, suffer nothing to deprive you of the glory of such rejoicing, and the testimony of a good conscience.
Matthew Henry says about Jeremiah 32:15:
though Jerusalem was now besieged, and the whole country was likely to be laid waste, yet the time should come when houses, and fields, and vineyards should be again possessed in this land, v. 15. As God appointed Jeremiah to confirm his predictions of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem by his own practice in living unmarried, so he now appointed him to confirm his predictions of the future restoration of Jerusalem by his own practice in purchasing this field. Note, It concerns ministers to make it to appear in their whole conversation that they do themselves believe that which they preach to others; and that they may do so, and impress it the more deeply upon their hearers, they must many a time deny themselves, as Jeremiah did in both these instances. God having promised that this land should again come into the possession of his people, Jeremiah will, on behalf of his heirs, put in for a share. Note, It is good to manage even our worldly affairs in faith, and to do common business with an eye to the providence and promise of God. Lucius Florus relates it as a great instance of the bravery of the Roman citizens that in the time of the second Punic war, when Hannibal besieged Rome and was very near making himself master of it, a field on which part of his army lay, being offered to sale at that time, was immediately purchased, in a firm belief that the Roman valour would raise the siege, lib. ii. cap. 6. And have not we much more reason to venture our all upon the word of God, and to embark in Zion’s interests, which will undoubtedly be the prevailing interests at last? Non si male nunc et olim sic erit—Though now we suffer, we shall not suffer always.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Gleaning in Boaz's Fields

...there are so many useful and powerful sermons we hear but I just wanted to pick out one that I've heard that is very practical and experimental. Particularly as to how Scripture makes Christ precious and brings Him near. Put it at the top of your "to listen" list.