A Distinct Bugle Sound

28 11 2009

As a kid, I used to really enjoy the cowboy movies, we were shown on TV; especially the ones where the US cavalry, heard of the impending problems on the frontier, and to the sound of music … came charging over the hill, to the rescue – just in time! US flag held aloft, bayonets at the ready, and a fine stream of horses and riders… (back in the days before it was politically correct, to hate all things US).

Like the urgent call of the fire siren, to the CFS volunteers in a country town, so the call of a bugle was once used to awaken the troops – to do battle.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he asks the question: “..if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1Cor. 14:8). Speaking in tongues, a lovely, yet somewhat minor matter, had become the big focus for some, rather than the clear Word of the Gospel, proclaimed to the nations. The Gospel is a bugle blast!  It is a clarion call. It is a trumpeted song of resurrection joy!  It makes great, grand sense of the seemingly sad and sombre notes, that cry forth, in the crucifixion.

The bugle. Yes. For what reason?

Ah, the battle!  The life of faith is undoubtedly, a battle. There is a clash of two kingdoms. The kingdom of the Son of God’s love, and the kingdom of the deceptive, evil one.

We usually nominate the enemies, in our battle, as 1. the world, 2. the flesh, and 3. the devil.  However, a more complete list really comprises of: 1. sin, 2. death, 3. the wrath of God, 4. the law, 5. the conscience, 6. satan, 7. world powers, 8. the world, 9. the flesh, and 10. the idols (see G.C. Bingham, The Things We Firmly Believe, NCPI, p. 115).

People of faith are engaged in a battle, a battle to stand firm in the freedom we have already received. Human beings are being called into freedom, through the gospel, or good news of Christ Jesus. Christians are kept in freedom by that same gospel. However, it really needs to be a clear gospel, a distinct sound. And this needs to be the case, even as we are engaged in the great mysteries, revealed to us.

Clarity. Clarity. Clarity. These three are needed amidst the information overload of our age. Especially, we need gospel clarity. To this end, many rightly turn to modern day teacher, John Piper. I do too.

Recently, however, I reviewed one of John Piper’s small talks: What is the Gospel? I appreciated his words, and work, but felt that they lacked something. I would like to make an important point, therefore. Here is his summary:

The Gospel is

  1. A Plan From Eternity
  2. An Event in History
  3. An Achievement between the Son and Father
  4. A Free offer to the world of these things
  5. Application of this Achievement – Forgiven, Justified (do not stop here, he adds, for many do!)
  6. To Bring us to God (Reconciliation for Fellowship)  (What-Is-The-Gospel—John-Piper).               The wonderful point he makes, is that we are to know, love and enjoy the Triune God. So true. But here in point 7, is a further addition, which connects the benefits of the Gospel, to the setting in which we will always find ourselves, namely – the Creation!
  7. To equip us to participate in running the Universe, together with God, eternally.

In all his writings, and especially in his stories, Geoffrey Bingham taught the significance of Salvation in relation to the Creation, and to the New [renewed] Creation. Only recently, theologians were discussing what was, or is, the priority of God – the story of salvation, or the work of creation, in order to bring humanity into fellowship, eternally.  I think the confusion comes, or the question arises, because we seldom ever glimpse the wonder of creation, from the outset, when all the angels sang and shouted for joy (Job 38:7). As a result, we fail to anticipate the role of humanity in relation to creation, into the future. We, as it were, stop short at fellowship and communion.

The real goal of the plan, is to form ‘a peer community’, together with Jesus the Son, Redeemer, who enjoy one another, in relationship, and in the ongoing action of the creation.

One of the Lord’s dear servants, Geoffrey Bingham, has put it like this: ‘God’s purpose in having a church is to train people up to be able to run the universe, with him, for eternity’.

Now, I believe, this is …. A Distinct Bugle Sound.





Listening to MP3’s for THE WORD

14 12 2008

We have:

(1) the Incarnate Word (John 1:14), Jesus

(2) the Inscripturated Word, the OT and NT,

(3) the Preached Word, (Romans 10:17) [JESUS preaching thru’ us] and

(4) the Implanted Word (James 1:21)

Listening to MP3’s is a new, popular way to receive the Word:

For those who prefer to listen to some MP3’s rather than read, there are some posted on the Topic of “Theodicy”, and a couple of other topics too – please try Sermon Audio link below. You can read the PDF file of he message, while listening:

SermonAudio.com – Sermons by Trevor Faggotter .

Cheers!





Pateriology: Study 6

20 11 2008

Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father 

If God were your Father…

Jesus once said to some who hated him: If God were your Father you would love me”.  The disciples saw the depths of love in Christ crucified and risen, as the full implications of God’s grace broke open to them. They confessed that their change was by God’s initiative. ‘We love because He first loved us’ (1John 4:19). It takes a revelation of the love of the Father, in Christ Jesus, to create faith in a person. This faith is a gift. So is repentance. The latter, is a change of mind and heart. It means turning from one way of life, to another, from anger, isolation and dislocation in the world, to fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It rearranges a lot of things in a person’s life!

As we reflect upon the life we once lived, namely being ruled by our passions (Titus 3:3-5) and selfish, ungodly desires – we can see that we were at one time, imprisoned under the powerful influence of the deceiver of the whole world – Satan.  Wherever there is guilt, and wherever there is restless passion he has the capacity to exercise power, utilising accusation and fear.

Authentic Fatherhood triumphs over satanic fatherhood

Our age has invested much hope into psychological insight and counselling, and at the same time, has often belittled the biblical view of the world.  For this reason, people often have difficulty in thinking in terms of God and Satan.

If however, we are to grasp the dynamics of life, in which we live daily, then we must come afresh to the biblical revelation, with faith and humility, seeking understanding. As we do so, it is to the teaching of Jesus, and the Apostles that we turn, in order to consider the personality and actions of the evil one, known from Scripture as ‘that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9). Consider, the following extract (by Geoffrey Bingham):

 “The Impediment to seeing the Father and the Son

Almost two thousand years have passed since Jesus displayed the Father. How is it then that humanity has not recognized the Sonship of Jesus and so the Fatherhood of God? It is because there is an impediment.

     On one occasion Jesus said to Jews who did not understand him:

 ‘If God were your Father you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? Is it because you cannot bear to hear my word . . . He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason you do not hear them is that you are not of God.’

 

He explained in simple but terrible terms,

‘You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’

     We see then that man must belong to one or other of two families; one of two father–son systems; one of two action systems, both having purpose. One is true, the other false. One is good, the other evil. Each is energized by its father. This is surely the picture of the New Testament. Those who do good and love the brethren are of God and the Father. Those who commit sin and hate the brethren are of Satan. God energizes and works His will through His children, who walk as dear children of God. Satan energizes his children of disobedience and wrath, and they follow him. It is interesting to note that Satan in his pathological desire to be like the Most High God, has also to be a father, and to seek to gather a family.[1]

      Paul says, ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.’ Satan, we are told, goes out to deceive the whole world. He is spoken of as the one who deceived the whole world. Those who are his are called ‘natural men’. Paul tells us that ‘The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit for they are foolishness unto him.’ This is why Jesus says, ‘Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’

      We understand, then, that men do not see the ministry of Jesus the Son as the very action of the Father through him. Man is so far gone from his original sonship as to recognize neither the Father nor the Son. The acts and events of Christ are unintelligible to him until a revelation comes from God. Mercifully God gives this to human beings.”[2]

The Revelator

We can easily underestimate the indispensability of revelation. One cannot just simply sit down and figure God out! The Holy Spirit is ‘the Revelator’. [3] Any and all of the acts and events of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, can and do serve as the medium, or means of revelation. It may be a new thing to realise that, not only in the cross, but in all things that Jesus did and said, the Father did, does and continues to do his works.

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:10).

In all things, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them’  (2Cor. 5:19). Therefore in the work of Christ, wherever it takes place, we can study the works and involvement of the Father. We read of Jesus liberating deeds and life-giving words and in the gospels, and of His power exercised by the Holy Spirit, in the book of Acts, as well as of his work through the Apostles in the other letters of the New Testament. In the stories of the past 2000 years of human history, we learn of what Jesus has done, and thus, of the Father’s ongoing actions.

The Gospel Goes Forth Amidst a Battle

The Father was, according to Paul, pleased to reveal his Son in me (Gal. 1:15-16), so that he might preach him among the nations. The context of this breakthrough is amidst, and in spite of the hidden action of Satan’s blinding of sinful humanity. The Father has worked, and is at work now, to overcome Satanic deception, fear of death, and the imprisoning power of guilt and sin, through forgiveness and reconciliation. The gospel, or Word of the Cross is the power of God, the means by which a person comes into freedom (Rom. 1:16; 1Corinthians 1:18ff), and then the ongoing hearing of the voice of Jesus, sustains one in it. (John 8:31,36; Rom. 10:17).

Father and Son – Both, Servant and Lord of Creation

Thankfully, the Father persists to serve the creation with the gospel, for his glory. He is regal, wise, and deliberate. Sin and sinners are fully dealt with. When the power, penalty and the pollution of sin are all overcome in Jesus life, death and resurrection, then the evil one is disarmed. A justified person need not be bullied by accusations or temptations of Satan. This gives rise to true moral power. Blessings and benefits for a redeemed human race, and a regenerated creation thus flow forth (Matt. 19:28). The Father of grace and holiness is not irrational, dangerously wild, impulsive or vindictive.  Nor is his love-plan, a mere sentimental matter:

The Lord who is not the Father is demonic; the Father who is not the Lord is sentimental. Theology has erred in both directions.[4]

The Father brings his family home (Matt. 28:18-20) to rejoice in Him with all creation. His redeemed sons and daughters are called and equipped (Eph. 6:10-20) to be involved in that great purpose.


[1] Cf. 1John 3:11f.; John 8:44f.; Eph. 2:1-3; Phil. 2:12-13

[2] Geoffrey C. Bingham, I love the Father, NCPI, 1974, 2008, p. 59-61

[3] Bingham, I love the Father, p. 63

[4] Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, Chicago U.P., 1971, p. 287








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