When nothing will stand still #5: Reflections on Hebrews 12

“Over the last months, Emma shared how she was feeling when life suddenly changed with Covid-19, and her plan to go back to a familiar passage.

Here is the next episode…”

– Emma Newling continues her encouraging reflections on Hebrews 12 at The Australian Church Record.

Expository Preaching on the wane? — David Cook

I studied at Moore Theological College from 1973 to 1975, under the principalship of D.B.Knox.

Those who studied at Moore under Dr Knox always anticipated his Doctrine 1 lectures, held twice a week for the whole of first year.

Dr Knox would usually open the lecture making reference to our text, ‘In understanding be men’, by a former principal of Moore, T. C.Hammond.

These remarks would usually take about 10 minutes and then the rest of the lecture consisted of questions and answers.

Knox would occasionally correct Hammond, who wrote his book on an ocean liner, travelling from Ireland to take up his appointment in Sydney.

Dr Knox would say, ‘the archdeacon may have been seasick at this point’.

What impressed me was that Knox, who rarely corrected Hammond, did so on the basis not of the Anglican doctrinal standard, The 39 Articles, but on the basis of God‘s Word, the Bible.

That was Moore’s enduring legacy to me, through lecture room and chapel service, the Bible was taught and preached as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.

I have recently been part of a committee discussing what it means to be ‘reformed’.

The 5 Solas have been referred to, but finally, I think we have come to the conclusion that the foundation of Reformed theology and conviction, is that the Bible is God’s breathed out word and is our final court of appeal.

We believe what we believe, because that is what the Bible says.

This was the core of Luther’s argument with the Roman church in the 16th Century.

When called upon to retract his writings, Luther said, ‘Unless I am convinced by the text of the Scriptures or clear reason, for I do not trust in the Pope or the Councils alone…I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything…’

It is the influence of the Reformers and men like D.B.Knox, which have led me to seek to have the Scriptures at the centre of my life and preaching.

Calvin referred to the Bible as a pair of spectacles, ‘which dispel the darkness and give us a clear view of God’.

The point of these remarks for preaching is that we preach the way we do because of what we believe about the Bible and how God reveals himself. J.I.Packer said, ‘the text of the Bible is God preaching to us’.

The faithful preacher will be God’s mouthpiece, by explaining, expounding, declaring the Bible.

How foolish to have a word from the mouth of God and to displace it with our own thoughts and inclinations!

Does your preaching show your respect for God, your desire to honour him, by faithfully and engagingly proclaiming the Bible?

Is this consistently true, every time you take the pulpit?

My current screen saver is a quote from the late R.C.Sproul:

‘I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests his power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a programme, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it, His Word!’

David Cook.

Palliative Care

“When I was a university student, our medical school dedicated just one week of our degree to teaching us about Palliative Care. We were to spend five days in the hospice to learn about caring for people at the end of life.

When we arrived, we were surprised at our task for the week. Apart from some afternoon tutorials on medical matters, we were to spend our time with a patient getting to know their story. More specifically, we were not to study the story of their illness, but the story of their life.

I was randomly allocated a man in his 60s and I honestly don’t even remember what he was dying from. But I remember his story. …”

– Jordan Cox shares encouragement at The Australian Church Record.

Ministering from a distance: Paul’s ministry from prison

“Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon from prison. He would doubtless have preferred to be with them in person (Phil 1:8), but as he was kept apart from them he ministered from where God had placed him as best as he could.

We don’t get any sense that Paul felt his life was on hold: he continues to make the most of his daily circumstances (Col 4:3ff), preaching to the palace guards and all those around him (Eph 6:19; Phil 1:13), and sending out messengers with hand-written letters to the churches to encourage them and receive news for his own prayers and encouragement (Eph 6:22; Phil 2:18; Col 4:7-9). And we see clearly that although his relationships with these churches were different, his priorities – for clear gospel teaching and for the church to be built up in maturity in his absence – remained the same. …”

– A very relevant article by Caroline Clark at The Australian Church Record.

What is your heart’s desire?

“We all have them. They may be wishes on a wish list. Or we call them dreams and talk about ‘my dream holiday’ or ‘our dream home’. The poet Longfellow wrote of ‘longings wild and vain’. The Bible speaks in Psalm 37 about ‘the desires of our hearts’.

Some people have clearly defined ambitions. CS Lewis splendidly described the ambition to get inside what he called ‘The Inner Ring’, to be accepted into a particular group, an outsider no longer.

Can you identify your heart’s desires – the things that rank as priorities in your life? …”

– Encouragement from Allan Blanch at The Australian Church Record.

‘Come, let us sing!’ with Rob Smith

From The Pastor’s Heart:

“Rob Smith has been a global leader in evangelical music for three decades. He has a new book out ‘Come, Let us Sing!’ just as singing has been restricted in many churches due to COVID-19.

Rob joins us to talk about some of the principles he’s discovered in a lifetime’s work in Evangelical Music, plus how the current pandemic has caused course corrections. …”

Helpful and encouraging.

– Watch or listen at The Pastor’s Heart.

(Image: Rob Smith at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, courtesy Anglican Media Sydney.)

“We must do better” — Simon Manchester to Sydney Anglicans

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy,” says Proverbs 27:6 – or to put it another way, we often benefit more from being rebuked than praised.

The Rev Canon Simon Manchester has delivered a firm rebuke in this month’s Southern Cross and, although he risks upsetting some, he observes that “the stakes couldn’t be bigger”. …

– Sometimes being blunt is very helpful if we are to desire ‘The things that are excellent” (Philippians 1:10). Along with the loving rebuke, there is much that is encouraging in the linked video as well as the article in Southern Cross (page 33).

Photo: EMA, 2016.

An Evening Conversation with J. I. Packer – A 1999 Interview by Mark Dever

In October 1999, Mark Dever interviewed Dr J. I. Packer in an event at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

The 59 minute video from 9Marks is a very worthwhile use of your time.

The Sins of Old(er) Christians – Especially Pastors

“John Chapman, the gifted evangelist now with the Lord, would often say two things as he moved into his senior years: (i) Getting old is the pits, and (ii) Another year, another specialist.

He was no fan on the ageing process and, as an active man, found the breaking-down of his body frustrating and he refused to ennoble it.

I don’t mean he complained about it. He remained thankful and faithful to the end. Chappo was only doing what Ecclesiastes does in chapter 12 – being honest about the brevity of life and the pain of drawing closer to the end of it. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, Ray Galea has some sobering encouragement for older Christians, and pastors in particular.

The Big Question

“One of the finest preachers I have heard is Haddon Robinson, who was the Harold J. Ockenga, Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Gordon Cornwell Theological Seminary, in the United States.

Haddon Robinson visited SMBC for two Preachers’ Conferences in 1995 and 1999 and his preaching had a great impact us.

His book on preaching, ‘Biblical Preaching’, continues to be very influential in the world of expository preaching.

The central thesis of the book is that preaching preparation ought to lead the preacher to reduce his text to one big idea, a single sentence which encapsulates the content of the  Bible passage. Indeed the Wikipedia entry on Dr Robinson lists his notable ideas as: ‘The big idea, Biblical Preaching’. …”

– At the Expository Preaching Trust, David Cook shares lessons he’s learned in sermon preparation.

(Book link added. Photo: St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.)

Praying well before COVID-19

“Moore College has always been in the business of praying. As a student a few years ago, I distinctly remember being struck by the faculty’s prayerful dependence on our Lord.

They prayed at the beginning of each lecture. They prayed as a response to and as an application of what we were learning from the Bible. They prayed in chaplaincy groups as we shared ministry wisdom and talked through issues at College. They prayed with tears of sorrow as we struggled through life’s hardships. They prayed with tears of joy as we celebrated the happiest of moments in Christian community. They prayed before each exam, focusing our attention on the goals of growing our relationship with God and developing a deep love for people to come to Christ and grow in him. They prayed for us individually during morning tea, lunch, over coffee and as a collective faculty on Monday mornings. …”

– Ben George is so thankful for the model of prayerful dependence he saw at Moore College.

Colin Buchanan ‘Strong & Courageous’ concert live online tonight from 7:30pm

With the support of The Gospel Coalition Australia, tonight (Thursday, 23 July 2020) at 7:30pm, Colin Buchanan is ‘singing some songs echoing God’s grace in the COVID-19 season’ – live on his Facebook page.

Share and watch.

Forgiveness in Three Images

“Christians always want to understand the world better than it understands itself in order that we can comment on it with light and understanding.

However, we are members of another kingdom (Phil.3:20-21) ruled by a king who is not from our earthly world (John 18:36-37).

For sinners, one of our first issues must be that of forgiveness – which is probably not first on the list of world priorities.…”

Encouragement from Psalm 103, and the Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

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