Saturday, May 26, 2007

Guy does this thing with lists

I have enough of a job getting sermons into more than three parts but the exiled preacher has started a bit of a fashion for lists of ten things.

Friday, May 25, 2007

SNAP! 12

Psalm 24

From river-borne silt and from sea's wave-tossed sand
God fashions the earth and lays down the land.
He lays it all out for his people to have:
the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.

So who shall ascend upon God's holy hill
with clean hands and hearts, obeying his will;
who will not, no, cannot deceitfully swear
but stand without falsehood to worship him there?

While seeking the face of Israel's God
and blessing receiving from salvation's Lord
our justification through faith we will claim;
the new generation that calls on his name.

Lift your heads up, you gates,
open up, ancient doors
that the King may come in
who's the greatest of lords.
Strong and mighty is he
bearing victory rewards.
Lift your heads up, you gates,
open up, ancient doors.

tune: Light up the Fire

Thursday, May 24, 2007

SNAP! 11

Psalm 21

Lord, in your strength how the King rejoices,
you grant requests made with kingly voices.
In your salvation his heart is leaping;
his exultation safe in your keeping.

In this encounter rich blessings giving,
he asks for life and you grant the living.
Of crowning mercies you are the giver,
of length of days and of life forever.

Great is his glory through your salvation;
majestic splendour in celebration,
for you make him the most blessed forever,
glad in the union that none can sever.

All buried hatred your hand exhuming,
its burning wrath in your fire consuming
and from your arrows its children flying;
its plans frustrated, its mischief dying.

The Lord is faithful, the King believing;
God's love is steadfast, his King unmoving.
In heaven exalted with praises ringing;
on earth, your strength, Lord, your people singing.

Tune: An t-Eilean Muileach (The Isle of Mull)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

SNAP! 10

An Echo for Psalm 20
for Callum Hall

I called in the day of my trouble,
I called on his Holy Name,
got answering help from his temple
for God-my-deliverer came.
The torchlight I held was engulfed by
the Spirit who answers with fire,
my wrong way gave way to the high road,
he gave me my heart's own desire.

With banners and shouts of 'Salvation,'
rejoicing in answers to prayer —
God's saving might reaches from heaven,
he saves his Anointed from there —
we trust in the triumph of Jesus,
before him all kingdoms shall fall,
we'll rise and stand upright to bless him
'Salvation' shall echo our call.

Tune: Crugybar

Monday, May 21, 2007

Selah 8

Psalm 9:20
Put them in fear, O LORD!
Let the nations know that they are but men!

"With our firstborn sons our honour
and our strength set in our horses
it was double our disaster then
to find ourselves with none;
sons slain of a night's fever
and the cavalry all gone
to perdition in the space of just one hour
and our king reduced to merely-human curses."

"Who'd have thought that when we'd won
the battle that we'd live to rue it?
Their 'god-box' toppled Dagon
when we took it to his house,
then (a toss-up for the worse thing)
plagues of haemorrhoid and mouse.
Now the new cart's trip is done,
they've got it back and welcome to it."

"The instruction was, as always, pretty clear,
'Make sure he's really dead!' — I tell it from the blood,
it's the living ones are bleeders
for it don't flow when they're dead —
This one looked dead already
so I had them spear his side
and I saw the sun go dark and I heard the curtain tear
and I knew this dead man was the son of God."

Selah 50

Psalm 76:9
when God arose to establish judgment,
to save all the humble of the earth.

We made a night-raid of it.
When dawn broke we were on our way
back, with victory in the bag,
the hostages in tow and all the booty.
The plunderers slept as we robbed them of their prey;
we're long gone and they're still feeling for their hands.

It was the arrogance of it;
secure in their lair, no sentry
stood. They, supine as a log,
for all their early start failed in their duty,
sunk in death's sleep as we freed our families.
Oppression ends as we reunify our band.

They made a meal out of it.
Light swallowed. Darkness in the day
time joined them. Hidden in the fog,
the tables overturned, the Victor, muted,
binds the strong man in his house with his own keys.
Resurgent, Just Deliverer occupies the stand.

Selah 49

Psalm 76:3
There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.

Melchizedek brought bread and wine
and stopped the triumph in its track;
'Shalom' (for now) extends to Sodom's plain;
divinely blessed, Abram refuses gain;
the garland hangs on Mamre's Oak;
sons are not cursed near Eshcol's Vine.

When David's pride was overcome
and God's wrath halted on the height,
an altar built upon the threshing floor
— Moriah's Mound the testing place once more;
the oxen paid for, as was right —
sufficed to cancel out the sum.

When God's Anointed left his throne
and incognito came to Zion
at him were shot the arrows of the bow,
he, bleeding, broke them, broken, overthrew,
— Lamb's silence of a roaring lion —
for thus in Judah God is known.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Twelve Great Reasons for Accepting the Cessation.

Dr. Sam Storms has published a post entitled The Case for Continuationism in two parts. I've used the first part (12 Bad Reasons for Being a Cessationist) as a template for my rather opposite thoughts on the matter. So about the Cessation?

1 It is Scriptural: 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 teaches quite clearly that three things 'prophecy', 'tongues' and 'knowledge' would cease. Clearly these three words are used with restricted meaning (nobody thinks that the cessation of tongues means an end to all use of language, for instance) and each would cease when its 'perfection' was given. The cessation indicates a threefold perfection given to the church now.

2 It is God-honouring: Since belief in the cessation entails acceptance of the perfection of those things that have displaced
'prophecy', 'tongues' and 'knowledge' in the life of the church, God who gave those perfections is honoured by acceptance of the cessation. Furthermore, since the root of belief in the cessation is in exegesis of the text, God is honoured by the removal of the temptation to say that he cannot do such things, is bound to do such and such things or even that he has bound himself not to act in such and such a particular way depending on how else we derive our cessationism / continuationism other than by exegesis.

3 It is logical: For example, when the perfection of the New Testament was complete, the collaboration and correction of the prophets was handed over to the pastors and teachers of New Testament truth and grace. This handover parallels the succession from apostles (the generation who knew Christ 'after the flesh') to the evangelists. Honour ought not be given to the church as having given us Scripture but the prophets within the churches were those who gave us the authentication that Scripture was Scripture
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. [1 Corinthians 14:29]
so no prophets today means that the church cannot meddle with what is Scripture.

4 It is Christocentric: The destruction of the temple in AD 70 marked the end of the transfer of the focus of gospel witness from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth [Acts 1:8.] At first it must have seemed as though the temple could have been rebuildable but as hopes faded away with the obliteration of all records of the priesthood so 'tongues' as a sign of judgement on Jerusalem faded away also. The completion of the transference to the worship of the Father in spirit and in truth through Christ in every place is sealed with the putting away of 'tongues.'

5 It is accessible: If one accepts the cessation, the apostolic doctrine is no longer subject to getting lost in the meanderings and wilderness-swallowed rivers of the so-called apostolic succession. The eyewitness knowledge of the apostles (not just of the twelve but of 'all the apostles' [1 Corinthians 15:7]) has given way, not to the perfection of 'the eternal state ushered in at the second coming of Jesus Christ' but to the interim perfection of being
… absent from the body, … present with the Lord. [2 Corinthians 5:8]
and of knowing even as having been known.

6 It is certain: Although we no longer have the witness of the apostles, i.e. the ability to '
receive the testimony of men,' still:
… the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [1 John 5:9-11]
We have also the written Word of God [1 John 5:12f.] and the answer to prayer [1 John 5:14f.] and having these three makes our faith even more certain than the apostolic experience was itself [1 Peter 1:18f.]

7 It is foundational: Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone holds the eyewitness knowledge of the apostles and the confirmatory and ever-present witness of the prophets together and the cessation sets them all apart as a foundation for us to build on [Ephesians 2:19-22.] We can have no other foundation than Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 3:10f.]

8 It is egalitarian: Just as we all have access to God
For through [Christ] we … have access in one Spirit to the Father. [Ephesians 2:18]
so we can call preachers to bring the gospel to us, pay
double-honour to those who labour in the word and doctrine, dismiss those who do not adhere to the faith once delivered to the saints and never need feel that miracles are in the hands of 'special' people.

9 It is crucicentric: Just as the beginning of the epoch of Christ's first advent was marked by the appearance of an angel to Zechariah in the temple so the end of the epoch was marked by the cessation. The medium does not become the message and acceptance of the cessation helps focus on the cross as the centre of this significant cluster of divine activity among men.

10 It is historical: One cannot put a date on the cessation just as one cannot put exact dates on the completion of the canon, the destruction of the temple or the death of the last apostle but taking samples downstream from the source one finds neither churches functioning like the church at Corinth nor visitors to churches like Corinth with apostolic eyewitness knowledge of the life and resurrection of Christ. There was a cessation.

11 It is liberating: While one is free to listen to
continuationist preachers, read continuationist writers and worship with continuationist congregations and profit one need never feel the pressure to submit to abuse, to suffer in silence or to stay beyond reason just because the abusers, the vocal and the loyalty demanders illegitimately exert these pressures (which were never the intention of prophecy, tongues and knowledge in the first place anyway) doing so on the putative grounds of distinctions within the people of God that have ceased.

12 It is enabling: Acceptance of the Cessation helps to use the means of grace without fear of bringing false fire. One can raise ones hands in praise without feeling like the thin end of a wedge, one can dismiss the most melodious noise (as being not-knowing-the-words rather than as a vital message which agonisingly can't be understood) to concentrate on five words with understanding and one can counter 'The Lord has told me that you have to let me do this' with 'Strange that the Lord hasn't told me the same thing.'

Sunday, April 22, 2007

As it is Now and Ever Shall Be, (But for the Grace of God Now.)

Jude 14-16

14 • It was also about these that Enoch,
the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying,
"Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
15 to execute judgement on all
and to convict all the ungodly
of all their deeds of ungodliness
that they have committed in such an ungodly way,
and of all the harsh things
that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

16 • These are grumblers, malcontents,
following their own sinful desires;

• they are loud-mouthed boasters,
showing favouritism to gain advantage.

The thing is that in a lost eternity all this ungodliness will be answered with as much a distance from God as could ever have been desired with no satisfaction in the result since the driving force is not the desire to be unlike God but rather the desire that there should be no God.

With all reason in hell to be malcontent grumblers, the lack of contentment and teeth gnashing will be in proportion to the discontented hedonism indulged in here.

In a place where the lost really will be able to say, 'I did it my way' the fearful scramble to toady any slight advantage whatsoever will be eternally frustrated to disappointment.

The Gloom of Utter Darkness Forever

Jude 12-13

12 • These are blemishes on your love feasts,
as they feast with you without fear,
looking after themselves;

• waterless clouds,
swept along by winds;

• fruitless trees in late autumn,
twice dead, uprooted;
13 wild waves of the sea,
casting up the foam of their own shame;
wandering stars,
for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved

Hell will doubly be a second death for those who make use of all the trappings of faith and the visible privileges of sonship in order to cavort heedlessly under the cover of a pretend faith.

The worst features of a fallen nature, as far from garden of Eden fruitfulness and order as chaos can swallow will be incorporated into hell as eternity swallows up wasted time itself along with all hypocrisy.

Standing Between the Dead and the Living

Jude 9-11

9 • But when the archangel Michael,
contending with the devil,
was disputing about the body of Moses,
he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment,
but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

10 • But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand,
and they are destroyed by all
that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

11 • Woe to them!
For they walked in the way of Cain
and abandoned themselves
for the sake of gain to Balaam's error
and perished in Korah's rebellion.

Moses had witnessed contention against him get to the pitch that after Korah's rebellion, which you can read all about in Numbers 16, Aaron had to run through the camp of Israel with a censer full of fire from the altar to 'head off' God's anger and prevent it from resulting in the deaths of all Israel. Now this happened the day after the ground had opened up and swallowed whole the followers of Korah with their families, their contention going down with them to the world of the dead, to Sheol. You would have thought that we would learn the lesson not to contend with God in this way but if, the very day after rebellion was swallowed up by the ground, the people could be complaining that the rebellion was the fault of Moses (and therefore of God) how can we expect that mankind will ever cease to shake his fist in God's face.

Certainly, Moses could see a history of such behaviour going right back to the beginning of time. At the time of Korah's rebellion they had yet to face the effects of the non-Israelite prophet Balaam's attempt to get round his inability to curse Israel by introducing an anti-God fertility cult to the heart of the Israelite camp in order to destroy them all — You can read about that and how Phinehas, Aaron's grandson stopped it in Numbers 25 — but Moses could have pointed back to Cain's murder of Abel and how the rebellion and the words spoken in it were expressions of nothing less than unbelief in the very face of God's provision of life and reconciliation.

Lest we should think that the message from the story told by Jude about Michael the archangel contending for the body of Moses is given to show that angels know better we had better note who it is that Michael was contending with. The rebellion of unbelief that shakes its fist in the face of God's grace and is swallowed up whole into hell itself has been Satan's from the very beginning. Michael's care in not giving as bad as he got is because Lucifer's fall could have been his.

Let us be exceedingly careful as we handle things that we don't understand because there is a principle in mankind while still at enmity to God that has us blaspheming God simply because we will not seek understanding nor put our trust in him while at the same time those leads which we instinctively follow lead us, as it were, to be still contending with God as the ground opens up and swallows us.