On Preaching - Martyn Lloyd Jones

When you think of the preaching you are hearing, does it change you?

Martyn Lloyd Jones, the great Welsh preacher of the last century, wrote,

"Any true definition of true preaching must say that [this] man is there to deliver the message of God, a message from God to those people. If you prefer the language of Paul, he is an 'ambassador of Christ'. That is what he is. He has been sent, he is a commissioned person, and he is standing there as the mouthpiece of God and of Christ to address these people.

In other words, he is not there merely to talk to them, he is not there to entertain them. He is there - and I want to emphasise this - to do something to those people; he is there to produce results of various kinds. He is not merely to influence a part of them; he is not only to influence their minds, or only their emotions, or merely to bring pressure to bear upon their wills and induce them to some kind of activity. He is there to deal with the whole person; and his preaching is meant to affect the whole person at the very centre of life.

Preaching should make such a difference to a man who is listening that he is never the same again."

Conclusions on 2 Thessalonians 2

The text and message of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 has provoked a lot of discussions, controversy, perverse teachings, and general confusion. It needn't be so! As part of our continued study of 2nd Thessalonians, here's a series of five conclusions that we are lead to make by Scripture. 


Summary: At the closing of this age, there will be a great apostasy and a demonic leader in league with Satan shall lead many astray. Nonetheless, we need not be alarmed because:

1) We Know Jesus Hasn't Come Yet
Some were teaching the Thessalonians that Jesus had already made a partial or a 'spiritual' return and that he wasn't actually going to return again because his return had somehow taken place already. The Thessalonians even received forged letters feeding them lies about Jesus' return and causing them to doubt what should have been clear. The return of Jesus in glory will be unmistakable (1 Thessalonians 5). His return will come after two specific things:
1. The rebellion/apostasy
2. The revelation of the man of lawlessness

2) We Know the Man of Lawlessness Will Come
This man of lawlessness is the antichrist who is a demonic leader in league with Satan who is called 'the son of destruction' who takes his seat in the temple of God. The Pauline use of the phrase 'temple of God' refers to the church, the body of Christ in whom the Spirit of God dwells. The man of lawlessness will be revealed but the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. This mystery is at work in those who are described as antichrists in 1 & 2 John. We await the revelation of the man of lawlessness by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders and wicked deception for those who are perishing. However, both the man and the mystery are being restrained by the hand of God so that the gospel can be proclaimed to the ends of the earth (Mark 13:10).

3) We Know the Lord Jesus Will Kill Him When Things Seem to Be Worst
Our hearts will often wonder (and be led to fear and alarm) about the identity of this man of lawlessness and we will see a worsening of fear when the restraining power is taken out of the way for a time at the closing of this age. Yet when it seems like the church will break under the powerful corruption and deception of the man of lawlessness, Christ will come and kill with the breath of his mouth (Isaiah 11:4). This will be the moment of the man of lawlessness' revelation and his end of afflicting the church. As Martin Luther wrote in A Mighty Fortress, “one little word shall fell him.”

4) We Know We Can Give Thanks to God in All Things and at All Times
In our fear or alarm, we know we have reason for thanksgiving through it all! We know we can call out to the God of peace who has given us peace (John 14:26-27) even when we are considering something so vile and terrible as a man of lawlessness and a rampant rebellion and apostasy in the church. We have been chosen by God to persevere through all afflictions and we have been regenerated by the Spirit of God for new life and we have been given faith to live by.

5) We Know the Teachings of the LORD can be Counted on For Everlasting Comfort
Paul explains what the fruit of God's reassuring words to us really are all about: the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 8:35ff). If Christ is for us, what do we need to fear? There are many things that confront us in the days to come and we will often feel powerless to withstand the forces of evil. Nonetheless, the righteous shall live by faith and we shall stand through He who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace!

"People actually singing songs that express the full range of human emotion in their worship"

Carl Trueman, Professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, writes...

"in our church practice, we need to take the Old Testament more seriously. It astounds me, given the overwhelming use of psalms as central to gathered worship in the first four centuries, the absolute importance given to psalmody for the first two centuries of the post-Reformation Reformed churches, and the fact that the Book of Psalms is the only hymn book which can claim to be universal in its acceptance by the whole of Christendom and utterly inspired in all of its statements - it astounds me, I say, that so few psalms are sung in our worship services today.

Moreover, often nothing seems to earn the scorn and derision of others more than the suggestion that more psalms should be sung in worship. Indeed, the last few years have seen a number of writers strike out against exclusive psalmody. Given that life is too short to engage in pointless polemics, I am left wondering which parallel universe these guys come from, where the most pressing and dangerous worship issue is clearly that people sing too much of the Bible in their services. How terrifying a prospect that would be.

Imagine: people actually singing songs that express the full range of human emotion in their worship using words of which God has explicitly said, 'These are mine.'

 

The whole article (here: https://www.monergism.com/marcions-have-landed-warning-evangelicals) is worthwhile reading as it deals with the broader concern that we should have for the way in which much of the contemporary church has succumbed to the basic tendencies of a Marcionite theology. Check it out!

Pagans of the first century viewed Christians as killjoys...

We're studying 1 Peter 4:1-6 in our Bible Study tonight and there's a brilliant piece of commentary by Karen Jobes on this passage that is worthwhile fodder for reflection:

“Pagans of the first century viewed Christians as killjoys who lived gloomy lives devoid of pleasure... The pleasures from which Christians of the first century typically abstained were the popular forms of Roman entertainment: the theater with its risqué performances, the chariot races, and the gladiatorial fights with their blood and gore. Christian lifestyle also condemned the ‘pleasures’ of an indulgent temper, sex outside marriage, drinking, slander, lying, covetousness, and theft. These attitudes toward contemporary Roman customs and morals, combined with the Christians’ refusal to burn incense to the emperor – a gesture of civic gratitude intended to assure the well-being of the empire – earned Christians the reputation of being haters of humanity and traitors to the Roman way of life.” ...
“Peter encourages his readers to continue to abstain from the things that society deems acceptable, even though by their abstinence they condemn such conduct and thereby possibly incur the anger of those who indulge in such things. As [Paul J.] Achtemeier points out, ‘It is a problem that will recur whenever Christians are forced by their faith to oppose cultural values widely held in the secular world within which they live.’” (Karen Jobes, 1 Peter, p. 262)

Cities are For Lonely People -- Are You Lonely?

Quick thought: The City of Vancouver (and cities more broadly) is grappling with the problem of loneliness and isolation. Perhaps you're experiencing this problem in a very personal way - if so, you're not alone in feeling awfully alone. Some call it a "loneliness crisis" and it's worth exploring the reasons why this is happening. 

Our sermon series through the letters to Thessalonian church have been prompting me to think a lot about the way that the love experienced within a Christian church represents such a wonderful expression of God's love to us. When you come to worship services and join us for Bible studies and make a point of devoting some of your time to the gatherings we initiate, you will discover this rich gift of Christian fellowship. 

One Great Article to Get You Started: https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/06/why-a-city-block-can-be-one-of-the-loneliest-places-on-earth/531852/

“One guy said the worst invention there ever was the garage door opener,” Ms. Wightman said over lunch recently. “It allowed people to go into their homes without having to talk to their neighbours.”

Vancouver has had a reputation as one of the most aloof, least friendly cities in Canada for years now. That beyond the superficial smiles a visitor or newcomer to town will get, there isn’t much.
— "Alone, So Alone" by Gary Mason (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/alone-so-alone-in-vancouver/article4201039/)

Looking at Loneliness in Vancouver:
A 2012 Study by the Vancouver Foundation: https://www.vancouverfoundation.ca/about-us/publications/connections-and-engagement-reports/connections-engagement-closer-look

A 2012 Article in the Georgia Straight: http://www.straight.com/news/vancouver-study-city-loneliness-and-unfriendliness

A 2017 Article in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/vancouver-loneliness-engaged-city-taskforce-canada

A 2013 Article in The Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/life-of-solitude-a-loneliness-crisis-is-looming/article15573187/?page=all

A great Article by Gary Mason from 2011: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/alone-so-alone-in-vancouver/article4201039/

And finally, an article in the WestEnder about building relationships: http://www.westender.com/news-issues/vancouver-shakedown/lonely-vancouver-just-say-hello-1.2261772

 

Do We Make Time to Incline Our Ear?

Like most of the book of Proverbs, there isn't a specific setting that the words we find in Proverbs 22:17 are addressing but they are rather touching on the reality that faces us as image bearers of the LORD our God who are fallen and broken by sin and being restored and renewed by the Holy Spirit.

For in our creation in the image of God, we have been given minds of discernment and understanding – with the ability to reason and to reflect in ways that make plain that we are not animals but are a distinct creation of God.

We are created to be revelation-receivers.

We incline our ears and hear the words of the wise. 

If you have a pet at home, you'll know that they receive communication from you – they'll incline their ears, but they are not hearing and comprehending the words of the wise in the way that the Word calls us to.

They hear instructions and words of affection – but as animals they are not then applying those words to the recesses of their hearts or thinking to themselves, “I'm sure glad I have such a wise master". 

But we're different.

And we apply the things we hear – we hear the words of the wise and God says, “apply your heart to my knowledge”. 

Receive it and store it and reflect on it.

Do you have time for this? 

It's not idleness to devote time to this type of reflection – whether in the middle of the night when you're unable to sleep or during the day in personal meditation on the Word.

Do you have time to incline your ear and apply your heart to the knowledge of God?

Chad Van Dixhoorn: The Seven Marks of a Puritan Ministry

Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn, a scholar of the Westminster Assembly which resulted in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Shorter and Larger Catechisms that we use in our churches, has written a very insightful post over at Reformation 21 on "The Seven Marks of a Puritan Ministry"

It's worthwhile reading if you have a few minutes!

http://www.reformation21.org/articles/seven-marks-of-a-puritan-pulpit-ministry.php