The Meta-Narrative AD

14 05 2012
The Word Became Flesh
  • 4 BC John the Baptiser (The Greatest of all the Prophets)

Magi from the East...

  • Incarnation: Birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Life, Ministry
  • 30 AD Death of Jesus
  • 30 AD Resurrection of Jesus
  • 30 AD Ascension of Jesus and Current Reign
  • Pentecostal Spirit
  • Acts of the Apostles: Peter, James, John, Paul, Others
  • ‘The Spreading Flame’: Christian Faith and Community
  • Growing Opposition: Nero, Rome
Turning Points: “2000 Years of Christ’s Power”  (M. Noll, N. Needham)
  • 70 AD   The Destruction of Temple (Jerusalem)
  • 100, 200, 300: Expansion, Persecution, Emperors, Theologians
  • 325    Nicene Creed
  • 481    Chalcedon and Heresies
  • 530    Benedict and Monasteries

Luther, the Augustinian Monk - History Maker

  • 600    Gospel in China (Nestorians and Others)
  • 630    Muhammad Conquers Mecca with (sword not Word)
  • 800   Charlemagne Crowned on Christmas Day, …“by the Pope”
  • 1054  East and West Divide
  • 1095 The Crusades begin
  • 1382 John Wycliffe’s English Bible completed
  • 1521  Reformation: Luther (& later …Calvin)
  • 1534  England – Henry VIII
  • 1540 Counter-Reform, Loyola
  • 1738 Revivals: Wesley, Whitfield, Edwards
  • 1789 French Revolution
  • 1793 William Carey to India
  • 1807 Robert Morrison to China
  • 1854 David Livingstone to Africa
  • 1904 Revival in Wales
  • 1906 Azusa Street, LA, Pentecostals
  • 1907 Pyongyang, (North) Korea, Revival began
  • 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference
  • 1914-18 World War One  (P.T. Forsyth – “think in centuries”)
  • 1922 Karl Barth on Romans; and 1934 Barmen Declaration
  • 1929 Totoyohiko Kagawa, Indigenous Missionary in Japan
  • 1939 World War Two: Suffering and Nations
  • 1945 New Beginning, Service in Love (G. C. Bingham)
  • 1962 Second Vatican Council
  • 1966 Pray for China (cf. Mao’s Cultural Revolution
  • 1979 Aboriginal Australia Revival From Elcho Island
  • 1989 Fall of Berlin Wall: ‘The Twilight of Atheism’ (A. McGrath)
  • 2001 New York Twin Towers: Faith, NOT Religion
  • 2004 Tsunami Indian Ocean and Theodicy
  • 2012 Attempt to redefine Marriage (US Obama)
  • … New things
  • … More new things
  • … The Eschaton
  • Date Not Known: ‘Behold I make all things new’ [the ‘old things’ transformed into the ‘new’]
  • The Age to Come – Eternity – Glorification of All Things




The Gift of Hearing the Mysteries

8 08 2009

LISTEN, I WILL TELL YOU A MYSTERY![1]

It is a momentous occasion to stand as a servant of Christ at the graveside of a much loved person – who has died – and to declare these words of the Apostle Paul – Listen, I will tell you a mystery! – to those who are pondering – what’s next? – for that person in the coffin.  The very utterance of the mystery[2]– a word picture -, which follows, can open a person’s ear to hear God, and their heart to respond to the Risen Jesus – bringing all the love, comfort and assurance of Our Father, and the gift of eternal life. But not all will hear.

One person hears the word and understands it, embraces the truth of it, and bears fruit in their life (Matthew 13:23) while another hears the words that are uttered, but at best makes a superficial response, and at worst hears nothing but religious god-speak. This further hardens them to words of eternal life.  Markedly different responses to the Word – apathy, hostility, or joy and gladness – can baffle and perplex[3] the speaker. After telling the parable of the sower to the whole crowd, Jesus later told his disciples:

To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’ (Matthew 13:11)

The powerful interaction between God’s spoken word, and receptivity – or not, within the human heart is inscrutable (Romans 11:33).  We do know that it has to do with the will, and the degree of readiness to know the will of God, and to do it.[4]

On one occasion Jesus marvelled at the unbelief that he encountered (Mark 6:6), while on another he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and gave thanks to the Father for the twin action of revelation and concealment:

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 11:21-22)

Apart from the gift of new birth – from above, Nicodemus could not even see the kingdom of God let alone enter it. And if he had not begun to comprehend the earthly things: such as the wind-blowing attribute of new birth – then he could never grasp the heavenly things: such as the incarnation (John 3:13), the atonement (John 3:14), God’s love (3:16), cosmic salvation (3:17), condemnation (3:18), and judgment (3:19)[5]. The gift from above is a must.

IT HAS TO BE GIVEN TO YOU

Matthew 13:1-9 is the familiar parable of the sower ((Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8). We note:

1.     The Sower[6] is Jesus. (Matthew 13:3; 13:37 the one who sowsis the Son of Man).

2.     The seed – the word of the kingdom – falls upon four different soil types, but only the seed, which falls on good soil, bears fruit. This is genuine hearing.

3.     Jesus appeals for willingness to hear: Luke 8:8 says that Jesus “cried out” (Gk: phoneo echo) to the crowd: “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

4.     Within human history, the disciples (in Matthew) are given a unique part to play. Those who were around him along with the twelve (in Mark) – are informed alone (in Mark), of their highly significant role within the vast plan for human history. They are being given something, that other godly people had longed for:

a.      To you it has been given to know the secrets [mysteries] of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (Matthew 13:11b).

b.     But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. (Matt. 13:16-17)

5.     Isaiah 6:9-10 is quoted to show ‘the inevitable outcome’ of Jesus simple message will be hardened hearts, and judgment.[7] The disciples learn that this is the way a parable functions. It sifts the hearers: Fruit as faith is present, otherwise judgment.

6.     The setting of Matthew 13, seems to highlight a vital connection between doing the will of my Father in heaven (Matthew12:50) and the deed of hearing Jesus. Cf. Matthew 13:38, where the refusal to hear Jesus, results in unbelief in Nazareth.

More will be given

Jesus urges the disciples to keep listening, hearing and learning, promising them that – more will be given: “For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. (Matthew 13:12).

All of Jesus teaching would be integral to the future role of the disciples. Further mysteries – he told them many things in parables (Matthew 13:3) – were revealed somewhat progressively concerning the kingdom of God.  More would be given to the men who were to be the Apostles – the preachers of the word of the cross – between this point of Jesus ministry, and the full revelation of the mystery of the gospel. They would be given rich insights – revelation – into the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and the mystery of the gospel – you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). And even this revelation came out of the blue – from the Father, and would be further transformed in the light of the Cross. All inadequate concepts of both ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son’ would be replaced in future days.

Their ongoing glorious glimpses of Jesus identity (Matthew 17:1-8; 2Peter 1:18), their subsequent failures – when they would all desert Jesus and flee (Matthew 26:56) – and then their being present as Jesus suffered and died – their reception of forgiveness and peace as they witnessed and heard the resurrected living Jesus, his post-resurrection teaching concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3), his astonishing ascension into heaven, and his community shaking outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33), and the further understanding that came at that point (John 16:13) would all constitute a unique ‘living in the mysteries’, and would equip them for their crucial work as apostles and heralds of the gospel. Such insight has been called The Messianic Secret’. [8]

The Apostolic Gospel and the content of the Epistles is Given

The Epistles within the New Testament serve a crucial, unique function in the preaching of the gospel. Although the disciples did not fully understand much of what Jesus taught them at the time – what they did grasp was a deposit, which later came into its own. Jesus’ parables functioned in a cryptic (Gk: kruptos) manner:

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden [Gk: kruptov: concealed] that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret [Gk: apokrufov: kept secret] that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.” (Luke 8:16-18)

Like a cryptic crossword, essential clues were yet to be revealed. The early conversations that the disciples had with Jesus alone  – in the dark – could never have broken open to them fully, until the light of the cross and resurrection, and the day of Pentecost had come (John 16:13). Then, that which had been but whispered was proclaimed ‘from the housetops’.   (Cf. Matthew 10:26-27)

P. T. Forsyth writes:

The apostolic interpretation is an integral part of the revelationary fact, process, and purpose, a real though posthumous part of Christ’s own continued teaching. In the Apostles took place a revelation of revelation – and a revelation of it once for all.[9] And Forsyth again:  The Gospels float in the Apostolic Gospel. Not only is Luke Pauline but even Mark.[10]

Every Message is a Gift

The Apostle Paul asks for prayer, from the church, to enable his daily proclamation.

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak (Ephesians 6:19-20)

God had set Paul apart before he was born, called him through his grace, and was pleased to reveal his Son “in” him. On the Damascus road, Paul had undergone a ‘Christological explosion’, as the Risen Jesus – a mystery, confronted him. He ‘heard a voice’ (Acts 9:4). That he might proclaim Christ among the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15-16). Yet even Paul was always contingent upon the Lord’s giving him a message, for each occasion.

MYSTERY AND MYSTERIES

The New Testament refers to numerous mysteries, as well as one mystery.  In the parable of the sower, the singular and plural are used of the same incident.[11] Geoff Bingham’s comment is a clear summary of this matter:  We can safely say that ‘the mystery’ is the overall reality of God, and His plan for the history of creation.  We can also safely say that ‘the mysteries’[12], though each one in itself, yet all are parts of the one great mystery[13].

The Mystery of Lawlessness – or Iniquity

‘For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed’. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

Paul wrote this to alert his readers, that ‘an immense blasphemy will take place, the like of which they would never imagine.  Evil being and evil action do constitute a mystery, but for the believer a revealed mystery, warning him of what lies ahead’.[14]

Insight into the dynamics of the clash of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan is not something that can be grasped by mere explanation.  Revelation is needed. To perceive dark, sinister elements at work in the world, can be – to say the least – perplexing and disturbing.  Rod James depicts Satan as ‘the cosmic terrorist’.[15] The working of his woe is a mystery.  Also, the deceptive, addictive and seductive powers of sin are yet at work in us who believe. I know that sin and guilt combine to reign o’er every thought of mine, and turn from good to ill.[16] We often feel deeply the hidden evil of our own hearts, and we are shocked to the core at the depths of our corruption, as we discover, by revelation, something of what it means that the thoughts and intentions of the human heart are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Evil lies close at hand, and sin clings so closely (Hebrews 12:1) even as we delight in the law of God in our inmost being (Romans 7:22).  The mystery of iniquity, or lawlessness may never be fully understood but we are alerted to it, for wise living.

Mystery a Positive Concept in the NT

A mystery… in the New Testament, is a truth which is revealed to the initiated – the person who is born anew of the Spirit – but which remains closed off from the uninitiated, that is, those unable to receive the truth.[17]

It is crucial to distinguish between hearing the mysteries, and all forms of religious mysticism, including so-called Christian mysticism.[18] A finger placed to the lips is a gesture well known to Buddhist piety.  Such a gesture is made as an affirmation that mystery is ‘that about which one must remain silent and really only can remain silent’.[19] It is not uncommon for theologians, philosophers, and religious leaders to employ the word ‘mystery’ to denote ideas such as ineffability, darkness, and impenetrability. In order to avoid wrong ideas conveyed by the English word ‘mystery’, and to emphasise the revelation that has come in human history, fully disclosed in Jesus, Marcus Barth prefers to translate the Greek ‘mysterion’ as ‘secret’. God’s secret has been make known.  He claims:

It is impossible to demonstrate that at any place in the New Testament it signifies an insoluble puzzle or incomprehensible – and yet believed – mystery, though the English translation ‘mystery’ may suggest this meaning.[20]

In Christian history, a negative spin has often been given to the term ‘mystery’.[21]

One of the dark puzzles of the history of theology is the way in which this positive New Testament understanding of mystery has constantly been suppressed hermeneutically in theology. Talk about God is often understood in the tradition as mysterious talk. But it was thought to be mysterious because its object, God, cannot actually be known by our thinking. Talk about God is accordingly regarded as inauthentic talk. This hermeneutical scepticism with regard to the speakability of God can be so intensified that the demand is made not to speak of God at all because our thought cannot genuinely know him. It is virtually a kind of theological self-commendation to introduce “God” as an unspeakable term. As doubly enlightened theologians, we have been taught that what cannot be known is something we cannot talk about.  And “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” [22]

John 1:18a says: “No one has ever seen God”. But what follows, is at the heart of the New Testament:  “It is God the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, who has made him known” (John 1:18b). The Word has become flesh. God himself is now accessible:

One can discover what distinguishes the Christian mystery from all others. In the Hellenistic mysteries revelation took place through special rites and ecstasies. In the apocalyptic literature the mysteries of God are revealed by visions or angelic beings.  But in the NT the disciples meet the revelation or mystery of God in a historical event, in Jesus who is the Christ.[23]

TAKE HEED HOW YOU HEAR

Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. (Luke 8:18 – RSV)

Jesus was and is genuinely concerned that people should hear him. P. T. Forsyth wrote:

“The more we fix our attention on the object of our certitude, the more we humbly realise that it is a something given. Its source is not in us. It is of grace.  The men of discovery, of inspiration, tell the same tale.  Truth finds them not they it.  All that is in us is a welcome, a response, a correspondence to it – not indeed a passivity but a receptivity.”[24]

Hebrews 3:12-19 amd 4:2 warns and exhorts believers, to exhort one another every day to keep hearing. Sin is deceitful. Any of us can become hardened! Our ministries can become crusty. Our participation in the mysteries is dependent upon continually hearing God’s voice with faith. This always necessitates a personal encounter with the Giver – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and a subsequent worshipful action in life. Struggle and genuine disturbance are likely at this point. Open our ears Lord! And help us to listen.

These mysteries are so wonderful – marriage – the profound mystery, and the mystery of glorification, to name but two, and all that they mean for the future of creation.  How could we grow dull about such things?  It was said that deficient ecclesiology kills soteriology.  Perhaps it often has. How could we as Christians ever sing of the mysteries as a Sunday morning dirge?  How could we really grow tired of the mystery?  It happens.

Substitutes are devised daily, in our ‘idol factory’ (Calvin), as replacements for the authentic mystery.  Of ourselves, we can never reason our way to know God, as he is in Christ, although we may fathom out some conclusion that there is a God: theism (Antony Flew)[25] But this is neither hearing God, nor a saving faith. We can easily look on at unbelievers dabbling in religious endeavour, in the occult, in atheistic philosophy, and new age forms of age-old Gnosticism, in secret societies, and the like. All are a rejection of God’s word to us in history, and are the judgment of a crass refusal to hear the mysteries of God. However, as believers, we too can devise our substitutes for living in the mysteries.

When this occurs, faith must come once again by hearing. Hearing must be given by the preaching of Christ – the Living Jesus preaching to us. We hear him (Romans 10:17). He deals with our guilt, he obliterates our dullness, he imparts his love (a joyous mystery) we hear him gladly – and he gives to us the knowledge of, and a share in the whole dynamic plan of God’s history, from the beginning of creation through to the new creation, and all that this entails – the whole counsel of God.  The key to our stewardship is to be a person who is ‘always living in the mystery’[26]. We must be persistently acting upon what we hear, and not giving way to cowardice, laziness or apathy. I will tell you a mystery: in Christ, that person in the coffin has a great future!

* Paper Previously published as © 2005 T. R. Faggotter New Creation Teaching Ministry School


[1] 1Corinthians 15:51 Also1Corinthians 4:1  ‘Think of us in this way as…stewards of God’s mysteries’.

[2] ‘A mystery is a reality disclosed, a reality, which could not be otherwise known’. See Geoffrey C. Bingham, The Glory of the Mystery and the Mystery of the Glory, NCPI, 1998, p. 17

[3] ‘…mysteries are not puzzles to be solved, but realities in which to live’ ,  Ibid. p. 5

[4] Leslie Newbigin, in Proper Confidence, Eerdmans, 1995, p. 38-9 says: “Because the ultimate reality in the Bible is personal, we are brought into conformity with this reality not by the two-step process of theory and practice, vision and action, but by a single action comprised of hearing, believing, and obeying. The operative contrast is not between theory and practice; it is between believing and obeying on the one hand and the refusal of belief and obedience on the other.  Believing and obeying are not two separate moves. When Jesus says to Simon, “Follow me,” the response is a single act of faith and obedience; there is no gap between a mental action of believing and a bodily action of following.  The human person is not a mind attached to a body but a single psychosomatic being.’

[5] Nicodemus was quite possibly born from above, but we don’t quite know. (John 7:50; 19:39)

[6] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, IVP, 1992, p. 335

[7] Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, IVP, 1993, p.79

[8] William Wrede, The Messianic Secret, Cambridge: Mowbrays, 1971. See also J.D.G. Dunn, “The Messianic Secret in Mark”, TSF Bulletin 69, 1974, p. 7-14.

[9] P.T. Forsyth, The Principle of Authority, NCPI, 2004, p. 133

[10] Ibid. p. 140

[11] Mathew 13:11 and Luke 8:10 refer to “the mysteries” (ta mysteria) – plural, of the kingdom of God, while in Mark 4:11 the word used is “mystery” (ton mysterion) – singular.  When Jesus likened the Kingdom of heaven to various examples: a mustard seed – yeast that a woman mixed – treasure hidden – a merchant searching for pearls – a net thrown out for fish – and so on, each parable is really a mystery within the primary mystery.  Likewise, Paul writes in 1Corinthians 4:1 of being stewards of “the mysteries”  – plural, while in Ephesians 3:9 the reference is to “the mystery” – singular.

[12] A comprehensive list of the NT mysteries would include the following references:

1.     The Mystery of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, Luke 8:10)

2.     The Mystery of the Hardening of Israel (Romans 11:25)

3.     The Revelation of the Mystery (Romans 11:25-26)

4.     The Mystery of God (1Corinthians 2:1)

5.     The Mystery of Glorification (1Corinthians 2:7)

6.     The Mysteries of God (1Corinthians 4:1) –Stewards

7.     All Mysteries (1Corinthians 13:2)

8.     A Mystery (1Corinthians 15:51f)

9.     Mysteries uttered in the Spirit (1Corinthians 14:2)

10.   The Mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9)

11.   The Mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:3)

12.   The Mystery of the Integration of the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6, 3:9)

13.   Marriage: the Profound Mystery (Ephesians 5:32)

14.   The Mystery of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19)

15.   The Mystery hidden throughout the ages (Colossians 1:25-27)

16.   God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself (Colossians 2:2; 4:3)

17.   The Mystery of Iniquity – or Lawlessness (2Thessalonians 2:7)

18.   The Mystery of our Faith (1Timothy 3:9)

19.   The Mystery of our Religion (1Timothy 3:16)

20.   The Mystery of the Seven Stars (Revelation 1:20)

21.   They Mystery of God (Revelation 10:7)

22.   The Mystery of the Woman – Babylon (Revelation 17:5-7)

Many mysteries are not directly named as mysteries, but can be classified as such: For example:(1) Sanctification: See Walter Marshall, Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Tyndale Bible Society.(2) The revelation of God, as love, and the central matter of the propitiation and God’s wrath, in order to deal with sin, and establish peace is a mystery unveiled in the text of 1John 4:7-10.

[13] G.C. Bingham, p. 73 gives further insight into the meaning of the passage.

[14] Ibid, p. 67

[15] Rod James, Unity ‘Fails’ in All the Earth, in The Ministry and Message of Reconciliation, NCTM Ministry School, 2003, p. 141

[16] Frank B. St. John, c. 1879, in New Creation Hymn Book, No. 218

[17] G. C. Bingham, p. 27

[18] ‘Are you listening to God?’ can be an ambiguous question, without Apostolic substance to the teaching.

[19] Eberhard Jüngel, God As The Mystery Of The World, Eerdmans, 1983, p. 251

[20] Markus Barth, Ephesians: Translation and Commentary on Chapters 1-3, The Anchor Bible, vol. 34, Doubleday, New York, 1974, p. 124

[21] This has a long history dating back to around 482 AD and the work of a theologian known as Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite (not to be confused with the person of Acts 17:34). His teaching has had an enormously detrimental influence on thinking concerning God. He says: “We approach Deity in its concealment only after we have set aside all thinking.”  See E. Jüngel, p. 8

[22] E. Jüngel, p. 251

[23] G.W. Barker, ‘Mystery’ in The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. III, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1986, p. 453

[24] P.T. Forsyth, p. 82

[25] See ‘Why the world’s most famous atheist, now believes in God’ by James A Beverley, Christianity Today:, April 2005, Vol. 49, No. 4, p. 80 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/004/29.80.html

[26] G.C. Bingham, p. 30





Faith

20 05 2009

“The faith we keep means more for our soul than the views we win”. 

(P. T. Forsyth, p. 154, in “The Justification of God“)





Rose Coloured Glasses

1 02 2009

Looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses. It’s something we all do. From time to time, each of us view the human scene, the cosmic scene, daily life, as if all things were basically going well.

It has been said, that “an optimist, has a misty optic”.  They are not truly viewing the evil, the harm, the damage, the terror, the horror, the unfairness, the inequality and deprivation, and acts of depravity, being wrought, in our midst, on a daily, yearly basis. 

January 29 2009. “A father allegedly threw his four-year-old daughter off a bridge in front of the girl’s two young brothers and scores of motorists during rush hour in Melbourne today. Witnesses said Arthur Phillip Freeman, 35, suddenly stopped his family car – which also had his two young sons inside – and, with young Darcey Iris in his arms, walked to the side of the West Gate Bridge, just after 9am. He then allegedly dropped his young daughter over the railing and into the water, 190ft (58m) below.” (Times Online). 

The girl died. The Father was arrested. The Premier made a statement. And the community was, and continues to be shocked and horrified. 

We respond by vowing to make the bridge safer. We recognise for a few moments, that we do have a community mental health problem. Perhaps, if we were to be more honest in our assessment, we might together confess, that we really do have a community mental-health epidemic. A nightmare. 

Can we ever compute the effects of the evil, and hatred, and anger in one human heart? What about the anger simmering in one home, one suburb, one city, one nation, one global community? 

Now, it is not good to be a pessimist. It is not good to be bitter, and always critical of life and people. However, let us admit that our society, our nation, our human race (although capable of mighty and noble things) has a problem that needs deep treatment. 

When the Apostle Paul says, ‘For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified’, he is really saying that he views life no longer through ‘coloured glasses’ of any shade, but through the events of the cross of Christ.

Is that our viewing lense?

Is that your viewing lense?  

Yes…. is it my viewing lense?

We all need to face life squarely.

That will mean, being faced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Christ crucified is God’s judgment and ‘no’ to evil humanity. It is also his redemptive love for the world. Only the Spirit of God can bring this to us, down in our hearts – and in our community life.

This will mean being faced with our own hearts, and our own need of the Saviour. Our world surely needs more than deep repair of the human heart. It needs the cross of Christ Jesus. We need Jesus, to take up our evil into his cross. We need Jesus to know our sins forgiven. We need Jesus to heal our hearts of all this deep damage. We need Jesus, to have one to trust in all of life. We need the mercy, which is given in Jesus. 

Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy!

May our community return to the sanity, of faith in Christ who deals with all evil, and heals al hearts, that come to him in faith. He is Risen. He was crucified for all.

O Lord, we lay down our false, rose–coloured glasses.

The community needs profound repair. Lord have mercy!





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 4

11 11 2008

Doxology and Pateriology

All true theology is doxology. By faith, we can study Pateriology only as we worship the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are created for fellowship with the Father (1John 1:3; Genesis 3:8). 

Culture, Sin, Satan Bad Experiences Conspire

All nations are strongly influenced however, by their prevailing cultures.

The deep effects of sin and guilt, the activity and agenda of Satan and evil powers, unhappy experiences in family life and a culture’s suppression of truth, conspire to darken any true view of the Father.

However Christ is Victor, the Spirit is persistent, and the Father is pouring out his grace, heaped upon grace, – through the testimony of Scripture, and the power of the gospel – that we might, in Jesus the Beloved Son, truly know and worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

The Christlike Father

It was to Phillip that Jesus said: “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9).

Bishop Michael Ramsay once remarked: ‘God is Christlike and in him is no un-Christlikeness at all’. We could take that further and say, the Father is Son-like, and in him is no un-Son-likeness at all (ha… except of course that he is the Father!)

Martin Luther claimed that the only God he knew was the one who suckled on Mary’s breast.  He wrote: ‘… Mary suckled God, rocked God to sleep, prepared broth and soup for God, etc. For God and man are one person, one Christ, one Son, one Jesus (On the Councils and the Church, 1539). Luther does not to confuse the person of God the Son, with God the Father, but stresses the full deity of Christ Jesus.

The key to studying Pateriology is to always see the Father’s life and work, through the lens of Jesus, the Son of God (All that the Father has is mine; the Spirit will declare it to you – seeJohn 16:14-15). In other words, a good Christology, and Pneumatology, opens to us the love of the Father, and his works – Pateriology.

Teaching concerning the Father

1. Jesus mentions the Father 17 times in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:28); many people miss this fact. The Kingdom of God is mentioned 8 times (cf. 17). We have spoken briefly of our inbuilt guilt-bias against the Father.

2. The ‘Father’ is spoken of over 120 times in John’s Gospel. So much material here warrants more thorough study, in relation to Pateriology.  Such study ultimately relates to all of Scripture.

The Father in all settings of life:

God did not become Father; he is the Eternal Covenant-Father; Psalm 103:13, says: ‘Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him’.  P.T. Forsyth describes this as:

“…one of those gleams of vision in which…Israel transcended its own genius [and] …uttered an intuition whose source was inspiration, and which in the fulness of time rose into revelation of God’s first and last relation to the world.

The Father of Holy Joy

Jesus knew the holy joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2), glory and love in the Fathers presence (John 17) and cross-necessity.

‘He is father of pity to human weakness, still more father of grace to human sin, but chiefly father of holy joy to our Lord Jesus Christ’

In the cross of Christ, Jesus loved the Father. It is this mystery, we can benefit greatly by studying the Father’s works, and thereby gaining bold access to him, by faith (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16):

‘We cannot put too much into that word Father. It is the sum and marrow of all Christian divinity. It is more than natural paternity spiritualised. It is a supernatural word altogether when the cross becomes the key. But we may easily put into it too little.’

Some of the Father’s Works

1.     All things are from the Father (1Corinthians 8:6; Gen. 1:1)

2.     He is the One for whom we exist (1Corinthhians 8:6)

3.     He plans an eternal family (Ephesians 3;15; Rev. 21:3)

4.     He plans the mystery of the cross (Ephesians 1:3ff; 3:10)

5.     He initiates the Cross (John 3:16ff; 2Cor. 5:19)

6.     He participates in the cross (Isaiah 53:6b; Matthew 27:46)

7.     He sends Jesus (Gk. Pempo = sends) mentioned at least 30 times in John’s gospel (John 6:57; John 20:21).

8.     He places all things in the Son’s hands (John 3:35)

9.     He works (John 5:17) and initiates for Jesus (John 5:30)

10.  He seeks worshippers (John 3:23)

11.  Together with him, he does what the Son does, (John 5:19)

12.  He has life in himself (John 5:26)

13.  He draws people to Jesus (John 6:44)

14.  He testifies on Jesus behalf (John 8:18, John 5:37): the Son

15.  He instructs Jesus (John 8:28).

16.  He commands the disciples to listen to Jesus (Mark 9:7)

17.  He speaks at Jesus baptism (Matthew 3:17) and transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and cross (John 12:28-30)

18.  He glorifies his own name (John 12:28)

19.  He sanctifies (John 10:36)

20.  He knows Jesus and is known by him (John 10:15)

21.  He has a ‘house’ with many dwelling places (John 14:2)

22.  He loves (John 14:21; John 16:27)

23.  He gives commandments (John 15:10)

24.  He gives what is asked of him (John 16:23) in prayer

25.  He glorifies Jesus (John 17:5)

26.  He indwells Jesus (John 1:18; John 10:38).

27.  He is with Jesus (and indwells all who believe (John 17:21)

28.  He bears hatred (John 15:23), and atones in His son, for us.

29.  He confers on Jesus a kingdom (Luke 22:29; Psalm 2:7-8)

30.  He raises Jesus from the dead (John 5:21, Ephesians 1:20.

31.  He will raise those who have faith in him, to life (2Corinthians 4:14; 1Corinthians 6:14))

32.  He gives all judgment to the Son (John 5:22)

33.  He makes promises (Luke 24:49)

34.  He gives the Promise of the Spirit (Acts 2:33)

35.  He protects his people (John 17:11)

THE PERSON: Who is the Father?

A. He is Creator-Father (Isaiah 64:8; Genesis 1:1)

B. He is Covenant Father (Malachi 2:10)

C. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3)

D. He is Holy Father (John 17:11)

E. He is Righteous Father (John 17:25)

F. He is Our Father (Matthew 6:9); he disciplines (Heb. 12:7)

G. He is rich in mercy (Ephesians 3:4) and the God of all grace.

H. He is Greater than the Son (John 14:28)

I. He is One with the Son (John 10:30)

J. He indwells Jesus, and indwells believers (1 John 2:24)

K. He alone knows the Day (Mark 13:32)

L. He will be all in all (1Corinthians 15:28), Our Father.

Fatherhood Universal, But Not Universalistic

All sons and daughters are tested, so as to begin to exercise true family dignity. We are called from servanthood, into sonship; we are called from drifting, and ill-defined spirituality, into a dynamic relationship such as Jesus shared with the Father. This will involve embracing the mandate of the first Adam to be fruitful and to subdue the disparate elements of creation, living now in the new power of the Second and Last Adam – Christ – who calls us to overcome (Rev. 21:7). We must not abdicate the high calling of Sonship.

‘While God is the Father of all people, all people are not the children of God

People of faith are joint heirs with the Son. ‘The true nature of sin …is anything which is unfilial’. No Father, no true family.

Cf. Islam: ‘The Difference is the Son’ (Daniel Shayesteh). Written by a former Iranian, Islamic fundamentalist, and politician. This book is very helpful in its title and its contents. for it helps us to see the vital importance of knowing God, the Father, through the Son. It also highlights the many deficiencies of Islam.

Discuss Implications in family and society


P. T. Forsyth, God the Holy Father, (NCPI 1897, 1987) p. 3

Ibid.

Ibid. p. 5

G.C. Bingham, I love the Father, (NCPI 1974, 1990), p. 142-143

A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 143  * I changed ‘men’ to ‘people’.





Music and the Gospel

14 10 2008

MUSIC AND THE GOSPEL

The following quote is from P. T. Forsyth [numbers added]: 

(1) There is at once a compelling grasp and a pervasive idea in great music, which lifts us, if we seek something more than mere amusement, into the vision which sees all things as working together for glory, good, and God

(2) Music is a universal speech, not only in the sense of coming home to almost all hearts. In that sense it is true only of simple and homely music. But great music is universal in a deeper sense than the simple, as Christianity itself is. Its nature and destiny is universal. It sweeps over us with a wave of emotion, which is humane, universal, and submersive of our own petty egoism. 

(3) It exists to purify and organise the selfish emotions, not simply to soothe them, excite them, or indulge them. It lifts us into a world of things which includes our little aches and joys, laps them in a diviner air, and resolves them into the tides and pulses of an eternal life. 

(4) It raises us to our place, if but for an hour, in the universal order of things, and makes our years seem but moments in the eternal process. It is not then our personal welfare we think of, or our private enjoyment. 

(5) Music, like Scripture and Nature, is of no private interpretation. We feel then that our passions and affections, however real, are but rills and streams in an infinite world of love, sympathy, and consummation. (Forsyth, Christ On Parnassus, p. 209-210). 

(6) ‘…we have in a piece of great music the world’s order in miniature.’

(P. T. Forsyth, Christ on Parnassus, p. 212)

Ah, music, blessed, wonderful music.
It was Jonathan Edwards, who said, ultimately, ‘everything will be music‘, rightly understood.
What a symphony the creation is, when tuned by the Risen Lord, to participate in his redemptive love, through the ages.

Thanks to the Lord, for saxophones, piano’s, drum kits, guitars, flutes, violins, trumpets, clarinets, and ’76 trombones’, and the sheer joy of it all.

I might just go, and put some music on.








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