December 5, 2013
Advent, Charles Wesley, The Weekly Hymn
We are now into the season of Advent where we look forward to celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus. There are a number of hymns of expectation which help us to focus. One of these is “Come Thou long expected Jesus.” Written by Charles Wesley, it is a reminder of what Jesus came to do, both as fulfilment in terms of the history of Israel, and his wider rule over all the world.
Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born a people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
November 25, 2013
interceding, Jesus, Jesus is King, Weekly hymn
Here is a hymn that reminds us of what Jesus is doing in heaven now – interceding on the behalf of his children. As he is there as King, he presents our prayers to the Father, and pours his grace into our lives here. Worthy of being worshipped, adored and extolled!
Jesus is king and I will extol Him
Give Him the glory, and honour His name
He reigns on high, enthroned in the heavens
Word of the Father, exalted for us
We have a hope that is steadfast and certain
Gone through the curtain and touching the throne
We have a Priest who is there interceding
Pouring His grace on our lives day by day
We come to Him, our Priest and Apostle
Clothed in His glory and bearing His name
Laying our lives with gladness before Him
Filled with His Spirit we worship the King
O Holy One, our hearts do adore You
Thrilled with Your goodness we give You our praise
Angels in light with worship surround Him
Jesus, our Saviour, forever the same
Wendy Churchill © 1982 Word’s Spirit of Praise Music
November 20, 2013
21st century Ireland, Gospel
I was asked by John Wallace to write a guest post for his Blog. He has been compiling a series from different contributors about the Gospel and how it relates to our 21st century life in Ireland.
You can read my thoughts here.
November 18, 2013
God's blessing, Pass me not, The Weekly Hymn
This week’s hymn is one I sung growing up, then didn’t sing it for about 25 years, then was re – introduced to it recently.
Pass me not O Gentle Saviour is a prayer for God’s blessing in Jesus. It was written by Fanny J. Crosby towards the end of the 19th century. It expresses trust in the Lord, and what he has done. However, the prayer is for more – it made me think of the cry of Jacob as he wrestled with the man: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32: 26 (NIV)
Pass me not, O gentle Saviour,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief,
Kneeling there in deep contrition;
Help my unbelief.
Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.
Thou the Spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in Heav’n but Thee?
Fanny J. Crosby
November 14, 2013
John McArthur, John Piper, Strange Fire Conference
The dust has had time to settle on the Strange Fire Conference. It feels strange in many ways for me to be writing against it as I am from a Reformed background, as is John McArthur. I am sure that on most aspects of the Gospel I would be in complete agreement (although he does espouse a Pre – millenialist position, with which I would also disagree).
In essence, he contends that the supernatural gifts (prophecy and speaking in tongues) ended with the completion of the Scripture. That is a view that many Reformed people take, and I would respect that. However, there is not, it seems to me, any Biblical foundation for that. One has to make certain assumptions based on the fact that Apostles and Prophets were foundational to the church (Ephesians 2:20), therefore prophecy is no longer needed. The Scripture does not tell us that. There is no doubt of the unique role that the Apostles and Prophets played in establishing the church, and I don’t believe that can be replicated. Furthermore, I believe that the Scripture is complete – there is no new revelation to be added. However, Prophecy in the New Testament is not only to do with new revelation – it is also to be used to apply God’s Word as it is in the Bible. Preachers have a prophetic role (not to foretell the future) but to apply it to their congregations. In addition, others can have a more informal role as they speak with people to help them to put God’s Word into practice in their lives.
The other Scripture often used by cessationists it 1 Corinthians 13 v 9 – 10. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” (ESV) Surely in that context the perfect must refer to the second coming of the Lord when we will see him face to face – prophecy will no longer be necessary then.
I haven’t dealt with tongues here, but the same principles apply.
John Piper has recently issued a very gracious response to John McArthur, here and here. I think he explains things much better than I have. In the meantime, as Christians, Cessationist or continuist, we need to get on with the task of living for God in the world in which he has placed us in Jesus Name by the power of the Holy Spirit.
November 13, 2013
Go forth and tell, Weekly hymn
It’s Wednesday, and no weekly hymn yet! Here it is to rectify things. There will be something else, too, tomorrow, so there’s exciting……!
Here’s a 20th Century hymn about taking the Gospel out to others. Written by James Seddon, it is a call for the church of Christ to go and make him known wherever they can.
Go forth and tell! O Church of God, awake!
God’s saving news to all the nations take:
proclaim Christ Jesus, Saviour, Lord and King,
that all the world His worthy praise may sing.
Go forth and tell! God’s love embraces all;
He will in grace respond to all who call:
how shall they call if they have never heard
the gracious invitation of His word?
Go forth and tell! the doors are open wide:
share God’s good gifts with men so long denied;
live out your life as Christ your Lord shall choose,
Your ransomed powers for His sole glory use.
Go forth and tell! O Church of God, arise!
Go in the strength which Christ Your Lord supplies;
go till all nations His great name adore
and serve Him, Lord and King for evermore.
©1964 Mrs M Seddon
November 4, 2013
Come Thou Fount, Weekly hymn
Many hymns express the longing of the Christian for the presence of God. Come Thou Fount of every Blessing was written by the 18th Century hymn writer Robert Robinson. I grew up singing this to the wonderful Welsh tune called “Arwelfa”, and I must admit that I still prefer it to any others for these words. I clearly remember my Pastor saying that it is important to consider the meaning of the words when singing it, for example lines 5 and 6 in verse 3 should be sung with heads hung in shame, even though being the last verse of the hymn you might be inclined to feel it should be more triumphant.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious measure,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
O the vast and boundless treasure,
Of my Lord’s unchanging love.
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it from Thy courts above.