We’ve seen some pretty astonishing events unfold in the House Of Commons of late and I can’t think of anyone who writes more helpfully on public matters than Matthew Roberts, Minister of Trinity Church York. I really couldn’t do better – his latest blog entry is here.
In other news, we’ve had a mixed week of not much sleep and some encouragements. The Lunchtime talks seemed low on numbers this week, but I enjoyed going through Galatians 2:15-21 with them. Emma has been able to get out to a few more things at church, which has been better for everyone…
Met with a church member in London Bridge yesterday for lunch, such a crazy place. Just next to Borough Market.
I’m planning on starting a course at Adult Sunday School to try and excite newer Christians and folk who think it’s all bit too above their heads. Based in the book Dig Deeper by Andrew Sach and Nigel Beynon.
Have been reading Stephen Brown’s When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough recently whilst preparing for Adult Sunday School. I realise he’s a controversial figure and a quick search online brings up plenty of reasons to take a bit of extra care with him, but this is honestly one of the most helpful modern books I’ve read on Christian Liberty.
Sunday was good this week. Paul L preached on Matthew 13:44-46 in the morning. I was in crèche in the eve so missed most of the evening sermon on Numbers.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that fiel
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Really helpful on if you don’t think the kingdom of heaven is better than anything, you haven’t understood the kingdom of heaven.
Emma’s mum and dad were with us in church which was good to see.
Adult Sunday School was a tough one… I got slightly muddled at one point, but they are a very patient and gracious bunch. I’m hoping to bring things back down to earth next week or else risk killing probably the most glorious doctrine of the Gospel!
Emma and I have been slightly discouraged at home with usual children challenges…although we can’t help laughing at some of the hilarious antics of our three year old. There is a strange happiness in the relentlessness.
Was shattered this morning after a pretty bad night with not much sleep. Put Kit back down to bed after his last night feed around 5:30am then didn’t bother going to bed before Gabriel got up at 7am.
Emma was more shattered.
We had our March Presbytery meeting with a great sermon from Gray Santano who was later examined for ordination. He preached from Habakkuk 2:1: I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
He took each line as a point for the sermon… the last point was particularly helpful. Despite the sin of Judah, God would still rather they go to Him with a complaint against his righteous anger, than complaining to false gods and seeking gratification from them. He applied it really well. In suffering neither go all stoical and pretend you’re OK nor seek help from illicit pleasures, but go and complain to God.
Got home after some good chats with guys at Presbytery, shaved off the partial beard and took Gabriel to a kids party of the afternoon. It was a good chance to meet some other dads.
Emma and I managed to grab an hour to talk about our strategy for a 3 year old who is developing quickly.
I’m hoping to preach through Galatians at the Lunchtime Talks from next Tuesday. I remembered there’s a really helpful chapter on Paul’s eschatology in Galatians by Moisés Silva. He highlights a collection of verses in the letter, and proves that Paul grounds the subjective experience of a Christian in the eschatological achievements of Christ.
Silva agrees that the traditional Protestant emphasis on the contrast in Galatians between works of the law and faith is certainly there. But this contrast is underpinned with the contrast given between ages in Redemptive History: The present Evil age (Gal 1:4) and the age that comes in the fullness of time (Gal 4:4), the Age of the Spirit. This second age is brought in by Christ work on the cross, resurrection etc.
It wasn’t until I was introduced to the giants, Vos and Ridderbos that I began to appreciate how big eschatology is in Paul’s thinking. When a Christian asks, “Who am I?”, the question is as much about ‘where’ or ‘when’ we are in Redemptive History. Indeed, the “who” feeds off of the “when”. On the personal, “subjective” experience of justification for example, Silva says:
Personal present justification is set in the context of cosmic, eschatological realities. The subjective experience of justification is grounded in the objective judgment at the end of the age. Assurance is not a pscyholical strategy that by-passes reality but a proleptic (anticipatory) manifestation of God’s righteous verdict.
What affects us as individuals is whether we’re on the right side of Redemptive History. Christ has brought in a new age, of which membership is indispensable for our personal righteousness, justification and assurance. In Galatians it’s an age that is characterised by faith and obedience in the Spirit. This comes in sharp relief to the dogged efforts of the ceremonial box tickers, the Judaizers. If we haven’t been caught up into this break through of salvation history upon the world in Christ, we are still floundering around in the past, in the world destined for judgement. We are still living according to the ‘elementary principles of the world’ (Gal 4:3;9).
Individual Christian Conversion is Grand, based in the movement of the ages of salvation. But that doesn’t take away from the personal experience of the individual. Actually, it’s made more solid and assurance is greater when see personal salvation in this cosmic, historical light. As Vos says:
The Christian state is centrally and potentially anchored in heaven (Vos Pauline eschatology 39)