Queen’s Birthday Conference 2021

“Our society has removed all reference to, or analysis of, ‘evil’ and yet wants to engage in moral discourse! How can Christians engage with our world, when our message is all about the evil within the human heart and God’s removal of it.

The Queen’s Birthday Conference 2021 gives Christians an opportunity to think through The Removal of Evil.

The conference is a great time to hear Phillip Jensen teach God’s Word clearly, meet together and discuss the implications with each other during refreshments, pray and ask questions in the Q&A session – all of this is included in your registration for the In-person event at St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Our MC for the afternoon is Simon Gillham (Vice Principal and Head of Department of Mission at Moore Theological College).

If you live outside Sydney you can register for the Online event …”

– Details and register at phillipjensen.com/qbc2021.

Wrong Paradigm, Wrong Diagnosis, Wrong Solution

“Our response to the world needs to embrace more than lament, but a deep malaise has descended upon contemporary Western society.

There is a hardness of heart, but a softness in the head; a trivialisation of life, yet a lack of humour; and a coarsened culture but a distorted sensitivity concerning giving offence.

Any example would do as an illustration, but the recent moral outrage at the sexual misbehaviour of parliamentary staffers in Canberra is clear enough. …”

– Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, makes the case that if the diagnosis is wrong, the solution will evade you.

Romans Crash Course

From Lionel Windsor at Moore College:

“This is a 75 minute video course in Paul’s letter to the Romans designed for small group leaders, children’s leaders, and anyone else who wants to get a handle on this incredibly rich biblical letter.”

Watch here.

Don’t neglect to Show Up

“Folks attending the membership class at our church are often surprised at the emphasis we place on attending our Lord’s Day gathering. However gifted someone might be at talking to teenagers or working on the website, we insist their presence at corporate worship is a far more essential and significant way to serve the flock. This priority isn’t just a particular quirk of our church; it should be a biblical priority for every church. …”

Timely encouragement from Mike Gilbart-Smith at 9Marks.

The blood that brings us close

“Every so often, I go to a local community college to watch Israeli films with some of my Jewish friends. Recently, we watched a film called A Borrowed Identity. It’s a beautiful film, based on a touching memoir by popular Israeli Palestinian novelist and TV writer Sayed Kashua.

The film tells the story of an Arab boy who, through various circumstances, comes to take on a Jewish identity. It explores friendship, love, life, identity, and humanity. Its message is that if we can just come close to people, experiencing their humanity and seeing their struggles first hand, we will be able to overcome our differences. The film offers a hope of peace through shared humanity.

But sadly, ideals like this don’t always reflect reality, do they? …”

– In time for Easter, The Australian Church Record  has published this reflection from Lionel Windsor on Ephesians 2:11-13.

Review: Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen

“To Machen, liberalism was not simply a different style of churchmanship, or a rival Christian theology. It was an entirely different, and man-made, religion founded on a sentimental and superficial view of God. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, Andrew Prideaux commends an excellent book, J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism.

(Free versions of the book are available for download at Monergism.)

Remembering Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

On 21 March 1556, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer died at the stake in Oxford.

Learn about this towering figure of the English Reformation:

In 1989, Canon Allan Blanch wrote this appreciation of Archbishop Cranmer for ACL News.

Also that year, Church Society published these extracts from Cranmer’s works in Cross†Way (PDF).

See also this 1990 article by D A Scales in Churchman (PDF) for an understanding of the key theological issues for which Archbishop Cranmer died:

“The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper was not unimportant in Cranmer’s eyes, because that Sacrament speaks of the central doctrines of the Christian faith — of salvation through the atoning death of Christ. It was instituted, in St. Paul’s words, to proclaim the Lord’s death till he come: right views of the death of Christ and right views of the sacrament will tend to go together; false views of the sacrament will tend to obscure an understanding of our salvation through the finished work of Christ…”

In 2001, ACL News interviewed Dr. Ashley Null, recognised expert on Cranmer.

Further reading:

Masters Of The English Reformation by Marcus Loane (published 1954) is an excellent introduction to the English Reformation and five key figures: Bilney, Tyndale, Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer.

Portrait of Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke. (This is a re-post.)

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.)

History’s Biggest Hoax? What the Resurrection Means for Us

“For us, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 is a precious historical source-document. For the Corinthians, it was an embarrassing and pointed re-telling of the basics. It would be like going to a prestigious university to hear a lecture from an eminent theologian, only to have them begin with a verbatim recounting of Two Ways to Live, complete with the cartoon drawings.

You see, the problem in Corinth wasn’t what they believed about Jesus; it was what they believed about us. Their issue wasn’t Jesus’ resurrection, but ours. They managed, somehow, to simultaneously affirm the resurrection of Jesus and deny the resurrection of believers. We still have the same problem. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, Rory Shiner looks at the implications of The Resurrection.

Image from The Pastor’s Heart.

God’s Plan for Corporate Worship – podcast

From Crossway’s podcast series:

“In this episode, Matt Merker discusses the central importance of corporate worship for the life of the Christian. He shares his thoughts on the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic could have on church gatherings in the future, explains why the concept of a church liturgy is a good and necessary thing, and offers encouragement to the person who may be toying with the idea of not returning to church once the pandemic is over.”

This podcast episode is a real encouragement – for pastors and congregational members.

There’s also praise for Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present, the fruit of much painstaking work by Jonny Gibson and Mark Earngey.

Related:

A Tale of Two Liturgies.

On how the Reformation changed Sunday gatherings.

We ask Mark Earngey about ‘Common Prayer for Homes’.

“He Will Hold Me Fast” — The Story Behind the Song.

Photo of Matt Merker: Together for the Gospel.

A Tale of Two Liturgies

At The Gospel Coalition website, Justin Taylor draws attention to “An insightful excerpt from Matt Merker’s new book, Corporate Worship: How the Church Gathers as God’s People, 9Marks, Building Healthy Churches series (Crossway, 2021).”

He quotes Matt Merker who writes,

“…imagine two different church gatherings. Each congregation is the same size. They use the same musical instruments: keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums. More importantly, they affirm the same basic theological beliefs. But their liturgies differ in consequential ways. …

What do these different liturgies communicate? What values do they reveal? …

Look at the structure of your church’s most recent gathering. What is the “story” that it tells through the arrangement of the various elements? Is it a story worth instilling in your congregation, week after week?”

Read it here.

God, the Bible and Mardi Gras

“The 2021 gay and lesbian Mardi Gras held at the Sydney Cricket Ground was quite a spectacle. It was colourful, loud, celebratory and was reported by various media outlets as being the best celebration yet (as it is every year). And yet, the Scriptures teach us that what they were celebrating was in fact part of God’s judgement. …”

– At The Australian Church Record, Ben George takes us to Romans chapter 1.

But be sure to read the full article.

“… Knowing that we are all in the same boat, all equally rebellious against God, all equally deserving of death, and all equally in need of Jesus who saves, then it is in fact loving and good that Christians reach out to all communities, including the LGBQTI+ community, with the gospel.”

John Piper’s Magnum Opus on the Providence of God

“Joe Rigney sits down with John Piper about his magisterial new book on Providence, a volume over 700 pages that is a culmination of his life study and work.”

Watch the video and read about it from Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition.

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