Richard Johnson’s Address to the Inhabitants of New South Wales


This Australia Day, give thanks for the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet and first Chaplain to the Colony of New South Wales.

In 1792, Johnson wrote a tract designed to be distributed widely in the Colony. He gives his reasons for doing so:  Read more

Sydney Church History — repost

We first posted this link in August 2020. As CMS Summer School at Katoomba concludes for 2023, here are even more reasons to give thanks to God:

“In 1965 John Stott, the Rector of All Souls Langham Place in London, visited Sydney to preach on 2 Corinthians at the CMS Summer School.

‘I heard only one of those Bible studies but I was so taken by the way he stuck to the text and stayed with it. He could show you the logic of the argument in the Scriptures, prior to that I had tended to get an idea from the passage and to leap all over the Bible supporting the idea from other parts, so that the people I taught knew the ‘idea’ but not the passage from which it came or how that passage fitted into some overall argument from the Scriptures. It is to John Stott I owe what ability I have to expound the Bible.’

Those were the words of the esteemed Sydney evangelist and preacher, the late John Chapman…”

– David Cook writes to remind us of our history, and how God works. At The Expository Preaching Trust.

(David Cook has served in parish ministry, as the Principal of SMBC, and as the Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.)

Amazing Grace shown to sinners like us

Two hundred and fifty years ago today, the hymn Amazing Grace was first sung. The Rev. John Newton wrote it to accompany his sermon on 1 Chronicles 17:16-17 on New Year’s morning 1773.

At the time, Newton can have had no idea of what a blessing that hymn would be to millions.

There’s no better way to begin a new year than by remembering God’s grace shown to us in Christ, to bless God, and to tell others of him. has resources linked from their front page.

Update: Marylynn Rouse, Director of the John Newton Project, has contributed this piece just published in The Times.

(What is the good news Newton knew? Glad you asked.)

Twenty-three years closer to Eternity

Sydney celebrated the beginning of 2000 by displaying on the Harbour Bridge the word Eternity in the iconic copperplate handwriting of Arthur Stace.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and in many ways the world has changed. But the basic and urgent need of men and women is the same – to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved.

In 2023, be encouraged to continue to trust Christ, and to live in the light of eternity. Romans 13:11.

Faith in the historical Jesus

“One of the great joys of 2022 has been The Rest is History podcast with Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook. I don’t think I have missed any of its 288 episodes! It is informative, entertaining, accurate, stimulating, challenging and never dull. It is also remarkably balanced and fair in its treatment of Christianity. Nonetheless I was a little apprehensive when I heard that they were doing a double edition on the historical Jesus.

I need not have feared. As usual it was interesting, informative and fair. There was much I could agree with but there were some things that were a little more challenging.

Tom and Dominic demonstrate the historicity of Jesus and offer some insightful and helpful historical background details. For example, no credible historian thinks that Jesus is a myth. They also acknowledge the enormous impact of Christ on human history. It is interesting to note that the name of Jesus is used every minute of every hour of every day on this planet! …”

– David Robertson writes at about the historicity of Jesus.

Freedom, Faith and Forgiveness — Os Guinness

In another ‘must see’ interview, John Anderson speaks with Os Guinness.

55 minutes, well worth your time.

Was Luke wrong about the census?

“One of the best-known elements in the Christmas story is the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, despite Mary’s advanced pregnancy, to participate in a census associated with a Roman official named Quirinius. At the centre of every nativity play is the resulting crisis, as Mary and Joseph hurry to Bethlehem but – unable to find accommodation – take up residence with the livestock. …

Given Luke’s professed aims, his careful use of external historical markers elsewhere, and his probable access to at least one of Jesus’s family members, the idea that this story is a fiction invites scepticism.”

A fascinating article by David Armitage, Academic Administrator at Tyndale House in Cambridge. (Maybe don’t put all of this into your Christmas morning sermon…)

Amazing Grace — 250th anniversary on New Year’s Day 2023

We may all be thinking about Christmas, but New Year’s Day is close behind.

On 1st January 2023, it will be exactly 250 years since the first singing of John Newton’s hymn Amazing Grace.

Learn more about the hymn and the anniversary, and download the original words, at The John Newton Project.

The above video, made for the 240th anniversary, gives some helpful background. (We’re thankful to The John Newton Project’s Marylynn Rouse for all her research!)

“This brief video shows how John Newton was inspired to write the hymn Amazing Grace for New Year’s Day, Friday 1 January 1773.

John Newton wrote his hymn to accompany his sermon on 1 Chronicles 17:16,17. He drew inspiration from the life of King David in looking back to the past, looking around at the present, and looking forward to the future.

Note Newton’s own words for the 6 verses – towards the end of the video.”

What new hymn might you write for New Year’s Day 2023?

Hugh Latimer: Gospel Ploughman

For preaching of the gospel is one of God’s plough-works,
and the preacher is one of God’s ploughmen

“So proclaimed Hugh Latimer (c. 1485-1555) on a rainy eighteenth day of January during the winter of 1548. This sermon – the famous ‘Sermon on the Ploughers’ – was preached at Paul’s Cross in London, where renowned preachers drew huge crowds and prophetically proclaimed the word of God to the hearts of the hearers. Latimer had Romans 15:4 as his scriptural text, and having preached in the previous weeks on the subject of the seed which is sown in God’s field, he turned to the subject of the sower of the seed, the humble ploughman. …”

The Australian Church Record has published a most informative and encouraging short biography of Hugh Latimer – written by Dr Mark Earngey.

Put on your glasses

“On our recent trip to the UK we went on two Christian Heritage walking tours, one in Edinburgh and one in London. Both were excellent.

In Edinburgh we followed the path of the Reformation and the brutal treatment of the faithful Covenanters.

In London we visited John Newton’s church, St. Mary, Woolnoth, as well as many other significant evangelical centres in the square mile which makes up the city of London.

I was struck at the value of having a guide who can give so much extra background information. …”

– At The Expository Preaching Trust, David Cook draws attention to the importance of knowing history.

(David mentions this book.)

Remembering Arthur Stace 90 years after he began to chalk Eternity

Ninety years ago today, on 14th November 1932, Arthur Stace (“Mr. Eternity”) heard evangelist John Ridley and felt the call to write Eternity on the streets of Sydney.

(Related posts here.)

Be Inspired by Mr Eternity!

From St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney:

Written in Chalk – the echo of Arthur Stace!

On the evenings of Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November, on our doorsteps, St Andrew’s Square is hosting outdoor screenings of a fascinating documentary on the inspirational impact of the Eternity Story on Sydney’s history and culture! The documentary starts at around sunset, 7:30pm, and runs for about 70 minutes.

It occurs at the 90th anniversary of Arthur Stace first writing ‘Eternity’ on Sydney’s streets (14 November 1932)!

All welcome for a unique experience. View the trailer here.”

Whatever line the film takes on the legacy of Arthur Stace, you can learn about the man and his story –

Making your life count for eternity.

The Eternity waterfall after 40 years – 12 July 2017.

Arthur Stace in his own words.

Marcus Loane on The English Reformation

Archbishop Sir Marcus LoaneIn 1954, Marcus Loane – later Archbishop of Sydney and Sir Marcus – published his landmark “Masters of The English Reformation”.

It was republished in 2005 by Banner of Truth. If you haven’t read it, you ought to. (Availability.)

Here’s the Introduction —

“It was Martin Luther who declared that the doctrine of Justification by Faith Only is the article of a standing or falling church. The recovery of this doctrine was the key to the Reformation in Europe. It was the corollary of the translation of the Bible into the language of everyday life and its circulation in the homes and hands of ordinary people. These two momentous factors were to penetrate the Realm of England during the reign of Henry VIII and will forever be associated in a special sense with the names of Thomas Bilney and William Tyndale. These two, and many others as well, were to die at the stake as a result of their unswerving loyalty to the doctrines of Grace as made known in the Word of God. Nor did they die in vain. The supreme authority of Holy Scripture in all matters of faith and conduct was written into the sixth of the Articles of Religion; and the doctrine of Justification by Faith Only was summed up in unforgettable language in the Eleventh Article. Those two “Articles of the Christian Faith” are the bedrock on whIch the history of the Church of England since the Reformation must stand or fall.

But the pivot of the Reformation in England during the reign of Edward VI was the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. Ridley’s discovery of the work of Ratramnus led him to reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass as totally foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. Ridley was able to convince Cranmer that Ratramnus was right; they came to believe that the bread and wine are “the pledges” of God’s redeeming love and that the presence of the Lord Jesus is not to be found in an earthly altar, but in the hearts of those who feed on Him by faith with thanksgiving. Ridley was to expound this doctrine with clarity and dignity in his Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, and Cranmer was to defend it with great learning in his controversy with Gardiner. This was the doctrine enshrined in the Source of the Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer in 1552.

When Queen Mary came to the throne, Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were the outstanding Reformers who were thrown into prison. In all the debates which ensued, in their trial and condemnation for heresy, and in the sentence of death which consigned them to death by fire, the one basic issue was their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as opposed to the dogmas of the church with regard to Transubstantiation and the Mass. If the Church were right and they were wrong, they were not only condemned to a terrible form of death as heretics but were doomed to a lost eternity. Their real greatness was seen in the fact that they dared to stand by their convictions, formed as a result of intensive study of the Scriptures, and to die at the stake rather than yield to the pressures that were brought to bear on mind and feeling. And the candle they lit is one which by the grace of God will never go out.

What happened more than four hundred years ago is still vitally relevant. The integrity and authority of the Bible have been under constant assault from many quarters and it is no longer the one Book in the homes and hands of all. Many people today think that a good life, a good name, and a good reputation will somehow make them acceptable to God. And the reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper has been obscured by an emphasis on the Real Presence which approximates more and more towards medieval teaching and practice. Let Bilney and Tyndale speak again; let Latimer and Ridley and Cranmer be heard afresh. They witnessed “a good confession” for their heavenly Master and sealed it with their lives.

May this book renew the impact of their life and death on another generation “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” [1 Cor. 6:11].”

Photo: Ramon Williams. (This is a repost from 2014 in remembrance of the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer on 21 March 1556.)

Ashley Null on Thomas Cranmer

In 2001 we spoke with Dr Ashley Null about Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and primary author of the Book of Common Prayer.

“Thomas Cranmer was born in 1489 and baptised into the medieval catholic church. He studied at Cambridge, receiving a Doctorate of Divinity in 1526, and served there as a don.

As a theologian, Cranmer was very much influenced by Erasmus’ emphasis on going back to the original sources for the Christian faith, in particular, of course, the Bible.

In the late 1520s, the authority of Scripture was at the centre of the most pressing English political issue of the day – Henry VIII’s divorce case. …”

– In this interview Dr. Null speaks about why it is important for Anglicans to know about Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

Reformation Sunday & Slogans

“Friends in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate Reformation Sunday (including Bach’s cantata 79, written for the occasion, as part of the 10:30am service).

The Reformation began as a series of protests (hence ‘Protestant’) against abuses of the mediaeval Roman Catholic Church, perhaps most notably the sale of indulgences. By the way, in this context, an indulgence is not something to do with giving into luxury, one too many chocolates or wines. Nor is it the collective noun for grandparents, as in an ‘indulgence of grandparents’!

The word had and still has a special meaning for Roman Catholics. That Church taught that God forgives believers the eternal punishment for our sins. But we must also purify ourselves from the ‘temporal punishment’ due to every sin, either in this life, or after death in Purgatory. Purification takes place through prayer, acts of charity, patiently bearing suffering, and so on – or via gaining an indulgence. …”

– At the Cathedral website, Dean of Sydney Sandy Grant explains why Reformation Sunday is worth celebrating.

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