Blogroll: Emmanuel Evangelical Church
I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 17 posts from the blog 'Emmanuel Evangelical Church.'
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I can still remember the day a friend of mine explained this simple three-step method of leading a Bible study.
Its great strength is that it doesn't require any additional preparation beyond a good understanding of the biblical text itself, together with an ability to listen carefully to what people are saying, to think on your feet and come up with specific questions, to guide the discussion appropriately, and so on.
Unlike some other methods, it certainly doesn't require you to work out all the questions you're going to ask in advance. In terms of prepration, you just need to have a pretty good grasp of the meaning and implications of the text you're looking at. And if you don't have that, then no other Bible study method is going to be much help to you, either.
Since then, I've found something very much like it in numerous other places. But since someone just asked me about it, perhaps another reminder might help others too.
Here it is, with illustrations from Colossians 1:1-2.
1. Observation: What does the text say?
Simple comprehension questions, aimed simply at getting people to read the words on the page. Ask questions to which the correct answer is simply the particular words or phrases that you want to highlight.
- Take a look at v. 1 - who is this letter from? (Paul)
- How does he describe himself? (apostle of Christ Jesus)
- Who is the letter to? (church in Colossae ... saints ... faithful)
2. Interpretation: What does the text mean?
Interpretative questions, aimed at highlighting the meaning and biblical / theological significance of the answers to the previous question(s).
It's sometimes necessary here to provide some input yourself, since people won't always be able to work out the answers so easily. However, it's nonetheless possible sometimes to lead people to the right answer, perhaps by other questions or biblical cross-references.
- What does "apostle" mean? (authorised representative, messenger)
- So, what's an "apostle of Christ Jesus"? (authorised representative of Jesus, someone who speaks with Jesus' authority)
- What are "saints"? (lit. "holy ones", people made holy through the sacrifice of Jesus)
- What does it mean to call someone "faithful"? (living trust in Christ, etc.)
3. Application: What does the text imply for us?
Applicatory questions, aimed at drawing out the implications for us of the answers to the previous question(s). Ask questions to which the correct answer amounts to what we should do or think differently as a consequence of having read this passage of Scripture.
- So, how should we treat Paul's words in this letter? (With respect - he's speaking on behalf of Christ)
- What kind of church is Paul writing to? (faithful, holy)
- How should we regard their example? (worth following)
It's a pleasure to announce the 2017 Emmanuel Conference, Our God Reigns, jointly hosted with Christian Concern, on Saturday 22 April.
Jesus declared that one day every nation would not only hear the gospel, but be transformed by the gospel. Our God Reigns is a conference for anyone who wants to be a part of this mission.
Join us to expand your vision of the scope of the gospel, and be renewed and empowered to shine the light of Christ into every area of life.
Date: 9:30am to 4:00pm, Saturday 22 April 2017
Venue: Ashmole Academy, Cecil Road, Southgate, London (click for map)
Speaker: Dr Joe Boot
A popular speaker around the world, Joe's books include The Mission of God and Gospel Culture.
The modern church is in danger of losing its grip on the gospel, either by reducing it to an individualised message of personal salvation, or by twisting it into a therapeutic feel-good programme.
But the gospel does not revolve around us, and it's not a form of religious therapy. The gospel is about Jesus Christ and his renewal of the whole created order.
The gospel of the kingdom is the glorious declaration that the crucified Lord Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and is now enthroned as the King of heaven and earth. Jesus has received from the Father all nations as his inheritance, and they are being gathered to him by the power of the Holy Spirit. He taught us to pray that his kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven, and he sent his Spirit upon the church so that we might continue his work of transforming the world in his name.
This transformation involves individuals and families committing themselves to follow Christ as they live their lives and raise the next generation. It involves churches taking seriously their mission to proclaim the gospel to the world. And it involves nations embracing the gospel and so experiencing true freedom.
We urgently need to rediscover these priorities, so that the gospel can once again be proclaimed and lived out faithfully in our land.
Join us at Our God Reigns, a one-day conference on Saturday 22 April 2017.
9:30am Registration and coffee
10:00 The Everlasting Covenant: Rediscovering the Scope of the Gospel
11:00 Morning break
11:30 As For Me and My House: The Gospel and the Family
1:45 I Will Build My Church: The Gospel and the Church
2:30 Afternoon break
3:00 Every Knee Will Bow: The Gospel and the World
Tea and coffee will be provided during registration and during the morning and afternoon breaks. However, to keep costs to a minimum, lunch will not be provided. There will be space at the venue to eat packed lunches, and food can also be purchased from shops nearby.
Children of all ages are welcome. We regret that we are unable to provide childcare, but there is a large room adjacent to the conference hall where children may take a break with parental supervision if they become restless. Naturally, parents and guardians are requested to supervise their children at all times.
Here's a simple week-by-week Bible reading plan that I've shared with a few people in recent weeks, and which others might also find useful. I covers the whole of the OT once, and the NT and Psalms twice, in a year. It also includes a ongoing mixture of OT, Gospels, Epistles, Psalms and Proverbs all the time, and breaks down Proverbs 10-31 into very small chunks of just a couple of verses each day so you've got time to really chew them over.
Week 1 Gen 1-19; Mt 1-4; Acts 1-5; Ps 1-8; Pr 10:1-13
Week 2 Gen 20-35; Mt 5-7; Acts 6-9; Ps 9-17; Pr 10:14-26
Week 3 Gen 36-50; Mt 8-11; Acts 10-14; Ps 18-21; Pr 10:27-11:6
Week 4 Ex 1-12; Mt 12-15; Acts 15-19; Ps 22-28; Pr 11:7-19
Week 5 Ex 13-27; Mt 16-19; Acts 20-24; Ps 29-34; Pr 11:20-31
Week 6 Ex 28-40; Mt 20-23; Acts 25-28; Ps 35-38; Pr 12:1-13
Week 7 Lev 1-16; Mt 24-26; Rom 1-7; Ps 39-44; Pr 12:14-26
Week 8 Lev 17-27; Mt 27-28; Rom 8-14; Ps 45-50; Pr 12:27-13:10
Week 9 Num 1-14; Mk 1-5; Rom 15-16; 1 Cor 1-5; Ps 51-58; Pr 13:11-23
Week 10 Num 15-28; Mk 6-9; 1 Cor 6-12; Ps 59-65; Pr 13:24-14:10
Week 11 Num 29-36; Dt 1-4; Mk 10-12; 1 Cor 13-16; Ps 66-70; Pr 14:11-23
Week 12 Dt 5-21; Mk 13-16; 2 Cor 1-10; Ps 71-75; Pr 14:24-35
Week 13 Dt 22-34; Lk 1-2; 2 Cor 11-13; Gal 1-6; Ps 76-78; Pr 15:1-13
Week 14 Isa 1-14; Lk 3-4; Eph 1-6; Phil 1; Ps 79-85; Pr 15:14-26
Week 15 Isa 15-30; Lk 5-7; Phil 2-4; Col 1-4; Ps 86-90; Pr 15:27-16:5
Week 16 Isa 31-44; Lk 8-10; 1 Th 1-5; 2 Th 1-3; Ps 91-98; Pr 16:6-18
Week 17 Isa 45-58; Lk 11-14; 1 Tim 1-6; 2 Tim 1; Ps 99-104; Pr 16:19-30
Week 18 Isa 59-66; Joel 1-3; Lk 15-17; 2 Tim 2-4; Tit 1-3; Phm; Heb 1; Ps 105-106; Pr 16:31-17:10
Week 19 Josh 1-15; Lk 18-21; Heb 2-8; Ps 107-113; Pr 17:11-23
Week 20 Josh 16-24; Jdg 1-4; Lk 22-24; Heb 9-13; Jas 1; Ps 114-119:56; Pr 17:24-18:7
Week 21 Jdg 5-19; Jn 1-3; Jas 2-5; 1 Pet 1-4; Ps 119:57-176; 120; Pr 18:8-20
Week 22 Jdg 20-21; Ru 1-4; 1 Sam 1-7; Jn 4-6; 1 Pet 5; 2 Pet 1-3; 1 Jn 1-2; Ps 121-134; Pr 18:21-19:9
Week 23 1 Sam 8-20; Jn 7-9; 1 Jn 3-5; 2 Jn; 3 Jn; Jud; Ps 135-141; Pr 19:10-21
Week 24 1 Sam 21-31; 2 Sam 1-6; Jn 10-12; Rev 1-7; Ps 142-147; Pr 19:22-20:5
Week 25 2 Sam 7-19; Jn 13-17; Rev 8-16; Ps 148-150; Pr 20:6-18
Week 26 Jn 18-21; Rev 17-22; Pr 20:19-30
Week 27 2 Sam 20-24; Am 1-9; Obad; Mt 1-4; Acts 1-5; Ps 1-8; Pr 21:1-13
Week 28 1 Ki 19-22; 2 Ki 1-8; Mt 5-7; Acts 6-9; Ps 9-17; Pr 21:14-26
Week 29 2 Ki 9-21; Mt 8-11; Acts 10-14; Ps 18-21; Pr 21:27-22:8
Week 30 2 Ki 22-25; Hos 1-14; Mt 12-15; Acts 15-19; Ps 22-28; Pr 22:9-20
Week 31 Jer 1-11; Mt 16-19; Acts 20-24; Ps 29-34; Pr 22:21-23:4
Week 32 Jer 12-26; Mt 20-23; Acts 25-28; Ps 35-38; Pr 23:5-17
Week 33 Jer 27-39; Mt 24-26; Rom 1-7; Ps 39-44; Pr 23:18-29
Week 34 Jer 40-52; Mt 27-28; Rom 8-14; Ps 45-50; Pr 23:30-24:7
Week 35 Ezr 1-10; Neh 1-13; Mk 1-5; Rom 15-16; 1 Cor 1-5; Ps 51-58; Pr 24:8-20
Week 36 Dan 1-12; Mk 6-9; 1 Cor 6-12; Ps 59-65; Pr 24:21-34
Week 37 Est 1-10; Job 1-11; Mk 10-12; 1 Cor 13-16; Ps 66-70; Pr 25:1-11
Week 38 Job 12-29; Mk 13-16; 2 Cor 1-10; Ps 71-75; Pr 25:12-24
Week 39 Job 30-42; Jon 1-3; Lk 1-2; 2 Cor 11-13; Gal 1-6; Ps 76-78; Pr 25:25-26:8
Week 40 Prov 1-9; Mic 1-7; Lk 3-4; Eph 1-6; Phil 1; Ps 79-85; Pr 26:9-21
Week 41 Ecc 1-11; SoS 1-8; Lk 5-7; Phil 2-4; Col 1-4; Ps 86-90; Pr 26:22-27:6
Week 42 Lam 1-5; Ezek 1-9; Lk 8-10; 1 Th 1-5; 2 Th 1-3; Ps 91-98; Pr 27:7-19
Week 43 Ezek 10-23; Lk 11-14; 1 Tim 1-6; 2 Tim 1; Ps 99-104; Pr 29:20-28:4
Week 44 Ezek 24-37; Lk 15-17; 2 Tim 2-4; Tit 1-3; Phm; Heb 1; Ps 105-106; Pr 28:5-16
Week 45 Ezek 38-48; Nah 1-3; Lk 18-21; Heb 2-8; Ps 107-113; Pr 28:17-28
Week 46 1 Ch 1-16; Lk 22-24; Heb 9-13; Jas 1; Ps 114-119:56; Pr 29:1-13
Week 47 1 Ch 17-29; 2 Ch 1-5; Jn 1-3; Jas 2-5; 1 Pet 1-4; Ps 119:57-176; 120; Pr 29:14-16
Week 48 2 Ch 6-23; Jn 4-6; 1 Pet 5; 2 Pet 1-3; 1 Jn 1-2; Ps 121-134; Pr 30:1-16
Week 49 2 Ch 24-36; Jn 7-9; 1 Jn 3-5; 2 Jn; 3 Jn; Jud; Ps 135-141; Pr 30:17-33
Week 50 Hab; Zeph; Hag; Mal; Jn 10-12; Rev 1-7; Ps 142-147; Pr 31:1-9
Week 51 Zech 1-14; Jn 13-17; Rev 8-16; Ps 148-150; Pr 31:10-20
Week 52 Jn 18-21; Rev 17-22; Pr 31:21-31
So much has been written about the Trump Phenomenon that it's hard to know where to start making sense of it all. Personally, I found this article by David Ernst to be one of the most insightful pieces I've read so far.
At the very least, it shows how God may be using this particular Cyrus to bring down the progressives of Babylon.To cut to the chase, he exposes the breathtaking hypocrisy of Progressivism in an elegant two-step: First, by being brazen enough to admit, shrug off, and even laugh and boast about his own moral failures; and second, by pointing the (raised middle) finger right back.
To put it another way, Trump is a (perhaps unwitting) presuppositionalist. He realises that "protesting an accusation from the Left that you’re not a racist, sexist, etc. on its own terms is a recipe for failure." So he "[offers] an alternative: rather than make a fact-based, reason-driven argument, let’s neutralize the charge by denying its very premises, and in so doing, deny the power of the accuser to render any judgment in the first place."
The following Bible passages all have something in common – can you spot what it is?
The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion... (Isaiah 3:16-17)
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3-4)
As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Galatians 5:12)
The answer, in case you’re still wondering, is satire. We hear Isaiah mocking the ungodly “daughters of Zion” who love to parade their wealth, we hear Jesus poking fun at the hypocritical Jewish leaders, and we hear Paul making some cutting (pardon the pun) remarks about the Judaizers in Galatia.
Satire, mockery, sarcasm, and so on are more common in Scripture than we often realise. For although satire, like any form of writing, can be used for ill, it can certainly be used for good purposes too. And one publication that seems to me to get the balance exactly right is the online newspaper the Babylon Bee.
Billed as “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire,” the Babylon Bee is the brainchild of Christian comedian and cartoonist Adam Ford, whose cartoons have become famous over at www.adam4d.com.
The Babylon Bee is an equal opportunity offender, poking fun at the follies and foibles of Christians (that’s right, people like us) from all over the spectrum – charismatic and conservative, Calvinist and Arminian, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Baptist, in fact, pretty much everyone.
It encourages us to laugh at ourselves (I particularly enjoyed the recent headline, “Ford Introduces 40-Passenger Van: ‘The Homeschooler’”), as well as to reflect on some ways in which we still have quite a lot of space to grow up as Christians (“Motion-Activated Lights Turn Off During Presbyterian Worship Service”).
There’s also the occasional (appropriately) barbed word directed at the foolishness of the unbelieving world around us (“Culture In Which All Truth Is Relative Suddenly Concerned About Fake News”), along with some no-holds-barred treatment for some of the more unsavoury “Christian” leaders whose money-grabbing antics deserve exposure (“Puzzled Kenneth Copeland Discovers His Ministry Is Non-Profit”).
Take a look for yourself at www.babylonbee.com.
We're working through the book of Leviticus in our Sunday sermons at Emmanuel, and this week we come to chapter 11, the regulations about clean and unclean foods.
Understanding the significance of this chapter presents us with a particular challenge - even by the bewilderingly high standards of Leviticus. For unlike in other OT texts, where we know that they remain relevant for the New Covenant church, even though their significance may be transformed in the light of the coming of Christ, here we have a text that we are explicitly told in the NT doesn't apply to the church at all!
For in Mark 7, Jesus declared all foods clean, and in Acts 10-11 Peter saw a vision from God in which he was commanded to eat a fairly grandiose picnic that was all described as "unclean" in Leviticus 11. So how can Leviticus 11 have any relevance for the New Covenant church at all, beyond the trivially obvious point that "We don't do this any more"?
Here we are forced to grapple with a crucial interpretive principle that is very often ignored in discussions about reading OT legal texts: a law can be relevant for us even if it's not binding on us. To put it another way, we can learn from something even without being required to do it.
We'll discover more, Lord willing, this coming Sunday morning.
According to research originally published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, a little under half of people usually make New Year's Resolutions. By this coming Sunday, a quarter of these resolutions will have been broken; fewer than two-thirds of resolutions will last longer than a month; and most will have petered out by mid-summer's day. Success at keeping resolutions seems to decline with age: 39% of people in their 20s manage to keep their resolutions for the whole year, but only 14% of over-50s manage it.
Or perhaps younger people are just less ambitious.
Whatever the reasons, we're pretty bad at keeping our New Year's Resolutions. And it's pretty obvious why - just think about what people's resolutions tend to be: they almost always boil down to some form of determination to improve yourself, to do better, to try harder. The top category in the JCP research was, predictably enough, "Self-improvement".
It's not that trying harder is a bad thing - in fact, it's a very good thing - it's just that we're pretty weak and feeble creatures, and trying harder is a long way from being the whole story if what you want is a faithful and fruitful life.
Fortunately, there is a different kind of resolution that we all really can keep. It's not about trying harder to succeed; it's about what we do when we fail. Since the one big certainty about our lives in the next twelve months is failure - and I'm talking here about moral failure, whether through what our confessions of sin call "weakness, negligence, or our own deliberate fault" - we're guaranteed to have plenty of opportunity to put it into practice.
The resolution is simple: Remember the lost sheep.
In case you need a reminder, here's what happened:
"The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:1-7)
The final line is the crucial one. Make heaven happy - be the sinner who repents quickly and who glorifies God by trusting him for the forgiveness that he has promised to all who trust Jesus.
Here's the handout from a forthcoming seminar at Emmanuel Training and Resources on Eschatology and Public Theology.
Our study of eschatology continues in this seminar with an article by David Field entitled “Not the Least Lash Lost.” David has taught eschatology for many years, and this particular article is a write-up of some lectures he gave at a Pastors’ Conference in 2007. In it, he addresses the question, “Does everything we do have eternal significance?”
David answers this question with a resounding Yes. Echoing the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, he argues that in the New Heavens and the New Earth there will be “not the least [eye-]lash lost.” That is, “everything we do ‘lasts forever’ in one way or another” (p. 3). The essay includes an outline at the beginning, so it should be fairly easy for you to find your way through the argument.
If you’re pushed for time, omit the questions marked with a *.
Incidentally, this session highlights an issue which I’ve been personally uncomfortable about for some time, namely the practice of referring to people in writing by their surname alone. I’ve known David personally for many years, and I’m afraid it just doesn’t feel right to call him “Field.” It seems to me that it would be far more appropriate to speak of “Dr Field,” or “the Revd Dr Field,” or at least “David.”
This was more common in former times. If you read some Puritan authors, or even some more modern authors such as C. S. Lewis, you’ll find an abundance of respectful titles, and a distinct absence of unadorned surnames. Sadly, it seems that this habit has now been lost, and I’m as guilty as anyone else for falling in line with the ill-mannered modern alternative. Of course, I don’t expect to change scholarly conventions single-handedly, and I don’t want to cause confusion. But I hope you’ll excuse me if on this occasion I break with convention and refer to my friend as David.
Questions to think about
a. “If I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today.” Discuss. (By the way, do you know whom this quotation is attributed to?)
1. What, according to David, do “some evangelical Christians appear to believe” (p. 3)? Why? How does David summarise his response (p. 3)?
2. “The topic under consideration is a version of the continuity-discontinuity question” (p. 5). What does David mean by this?
3. David describes the “all that really counts is evangelism” position (as represented by the quotations on p. 6) as “confused, unworkable, and potentially humanistic” (p. 6). Why? Do you agree?
4. “Somewhere in the background of these quotations lies an unduly narrow reading of the Great Commission” (p. 8). Explain.
5. What is the “challenge which Reformed Christians often need to hear” (p. 9)?
On p. 11, David poses the question to be addressed in the essay: “Does everything we do have eternal significance?” On pp. 13-44, David outlines a series of six arguments which together incline him to answer, “Yes”.
6. Summarise David’s first argument (pp. 13-17), paying particular attention to:
- Jesus’ resurrection as the pattern for our resurrection;
- the quotation from Robert Jenson (p. 14);
- the (biblical?) illustration of the seed (p. 16).
7. Summarise David’s second argument (pp. 17-22).
8. “In order to describe as fully as possible the Lamb who was slain, you will end up saying absolutely everything about absolutely everything which has ever happened” (pp. 18-19). Why? Do you agree?
*9. What is the “particular difficulty” (p. 20)? How does David resolve it?
10. Summarise David’s third argument (pp. 22-28), paying particular attention to:
- the church as the body of Christ (p. 23);
- the “new creation deeds” argument (p. 24);
- the Ecclesiastes / 1 Corinthians argument (pp. 24-25).
11. Summarise David’s fourth argument (pp. 28-35), paying attention to each of the four parts of the argument in turn:
- judgment, rewards, and differentiation (pp. 28-29);
- identity and fullness (pp. 29-31);
- our identity as “glorified agglomerations” (pp. 31-32);
- “the associations and appearances which make up the fullness of our identity” (pp. 32-35).
12. Summarise David’s fifth argument (pp. 35-38), paying attention to:
- the quotation from Herman Bavinck (p. 35);
- the analogy of the audition or rehearsal (p. 37)
*13. Summarise David’s sixth argument (pp. 38-43), paying attention to David’s claim that “the Father doesn’t know the Son according to his human nature apart from the body of Christ” (p. 39).
14. How persuasive do you find each of David’s arguments?