Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Communal Singing in Tongues: A biblical practice?

Recently I went with my youth group to a conference for worship musicians at a thriving and famous church in central London. Much of the conference I found enormously refreshing, very beautiful, passionate, Spirit-open, and reflective of God's heart. However there was one area in which I had difficulty...enough to take my youth group to one side and have a chat with them over, the difficulty was the practice of communal singing in tongues.

Let me just take a moment to outline briefly my view of the gift of tongues. Yes I do believe in it, I believe in its continuance, its use, its power, its passion, and its theocentricity. I do feel Christians should actively and longingly pursue this gift in Godliness and expectancy. I even dare here to say it’s a gift which I, myself use to pray to and praise God with. However this gift is not available to everybody and does have some guidelines given in the Bible which I feel rule out the practice of communal singing in tongues.

I believe the conferences reasoning is logical. In Corinthians, praying in the Spirit often refers to praying in 'tongues,' so when they read the verse 'sing in the spirit' they carry the logic through and say, Hey, this must mean tongues too, great. However a closer reading of 1 Corinthians 14 would readily and easily contradict this interpretation.

I do not attempt a full exegesis here (for many reasons, but mainly as its 1:20am), rather I point the reader to the odd verse with the odd thought which should be enough I feel to provide strong evidence for my hypothesis.

v.2 - he who speaks in a tongue speaks to God, not to men. It is a personal and private relational gift used one on one between its speaker and God. Note, Paul contrasts tongues in vv.1-4 with prophecy which is to be used openly in the congregation, suggesting with the contrast, tongues is not in the same way.

vv.5-6 - tongues can be openly used in church but when it is interpreted

vv.7-9 - tongues is worthless in the congregation without interpretation - if everyone is singing in tongues where is the interpretation of each tongue? Is this not the indistinguishable sound Paul speaks of?

v.12 - be eager for spiritual manifestations which -build up the church- Paul has just said that tongues only builds up if it is intelligible, i.e. interpreted. So unless every tongue is going to be interpreted, don't do it.

vv.15-17 - what if an outsider walks in? How can he hear the gospel and say 'Amen' to something he doesn't understand? Surely asking him to just jump on the bandwagon is dangerous and irresponsible.

vv.18-19 - IN CHURCH, Paul would rather speak 5 intelligible words than a thousand in a tongue!

vv.23-25 - Open uninterrupted tongues in Church doesn’t only not edify the church, but it also doesn't bring outsiders to Christ; in fact, quite the opposite!

v.26 Let all be done for building see Paul’s instruction for tongues in building up in vv.1-12

* vv.27-28 - for me this is almost the definitive word against communal singing in tongues...'let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.' There is no way communal singing in tongues obeys this command.

So let’s enjoy the gifts God gives us. I know it’s often a conservative thing to react against charismatism in not actively pursuing these gifts, and it’s often a charismatic thing to react against conservatism by over-interpreting these gifts. But if we seek the active manifestation of the Spirit in our churches and our lives and with that submit to scriptures teaching of these gifts, and then we can truly honor and glorify his name through them. Communal singing in tongues is disobedience to the instructions given the church by Paul in 1 Cor. 14...however perhaps not pursuing the gifts at all is just as disobedient. Let’s seek these gifts in the body of Christ, and seek His instruction in how to glorify His name through them

Open Theism and Romans 9 (1)

Romans 9 for me is becoming increasingly important. I have spent some serious time these last 6-10 months trying to get to the bottom of it working with all the dominant interpretations. I feel stronger about my beliefs on elective grace, even though I think Calvin himself botches Rom.9 by going overboard on that; and I feel stronger against classic Arminian arguments as they seem to undermine the integrity of the passage.

Arminian brothers unfortunately seem to take Rom.9 to pieces, re-interpret all those pieces making them at least incompatible with each other and at most diss-jointed with the epistle to the Romans. When one does take Rom.9 as a whole, he/she either overplays the collective language, or underplays the salvific language...both set Rom.9 out of kilter with the epistles flow.

However, if one sees the exegetical hoops Arminians jump through (with all due respect, I have many friends who hold the view); it is nothing compared to an Open Theist position. Rom.9 gives the reader an unquestioning look at God's characteristics as are reflected in creation, redemption, and salvation history. It shows God's sovereignty, his wrath, his power, his hardening, his justice, his utter mercy, and above all is glory as shown through his mercy. Rom.9 gives a taste of how God's characteristics dynamically interact, even in extremes such as wrath and mercy, and Rom.9 uphold completely God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. This is a passage Open Theists need to spend serious time on in order to convince their readers of their theology. - However. - They don't.

For my dissertation I have read two dominant books by C. Pinnock (Most moved mover, and the openness of God), one by G. Boyd (God of the possible), and one by Sanders (The God who risks), several journal articles, and spoke to several advocators of the theology. Not one of the books gives an exegesis or interpretation of Rom.9 in defence of their view! Not one. No-one even mentions in my reading, vv.22-23. Surely this is a highly accountable and answerable passage? Why do Open Theists seem not to believe so? In taking to Open Theist friends about Rom.9, the way they have tackled it is by slipping back into Arminian arguments which when pushed are found to be incompatible with their Open Theist convictions.

I know this post turned into a bit of a rant, and I apologise for any offence caused. What I hope it does is encourage those who know of literature to bring it to my attention, and to provoke a detailed defence of Open Theism with Rom.9 from its advocators. I continue to find Open Theism dangerous for Christians, and feel stronger still for the immensity of God in all things as he reveals himself lovingly to be in Rom.9. Praise God.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Practical Christian Thoughts on Good Sleep

This is a pilot of a post to come which will (God willing) be a lot more clear and in depth. As an ex-insomniac I have spent a lot of time reading theories and studies of getting a good nights sleep, in fact during my a level psychology I took some extra-credit work looking at sleep patterns. As a theology student, I find a restful sleep vital to reduce stress and increase motivation and productivity. This post is to give some of the best advice, tips, and thoughts from that accumulated reading in hope they might help someone else.
So, in no particular order:

1. More sleep does not equal better rest, in fact restful sleep is built primarily on a consistent sleep pattern...i.e. its better for your body to shut down and wake up at the same time every night and morning than to have the occasional lie in or extra hour. Our brain patterns respond to zygotes, (better known as an internal clock) which function in patterns and cycles, the more efficiently this is regulated, the more productive our sleep.

2. How does one achieve a helpful sleep pattern? There are two main schools of thought, one is to simply sleep when your body tells you, i.e., when it’s tired; the other is to sleep and wake at exactly the same time each night. I feel however that an effective sleep pattern is built on a hybrid of these two theories: One should settle down to sleep in the evening when ones body is ready, (within some set boundaries...see below) and wake up at a regulated time in the morning.

3. Zygotes can be confusing, particularly when beginning a regulative pattern. Your liver starts to construct enzymes a few of hours after sun down which your body needs to be in a ready state for in order for this to lets say your body really needs to be asleep by 11.00 (in the current UK climate and season).

4. You need to shut your mind down before your body. I.e. you should really stop working on that essay an hour before you settle down to sleep. That goes for thought-provoking TV and novels too. This should also help with our evening quiet times...don't use the time right before sleeping to have a deep Bible study, exercise a different part of your brain (and soul!) by taking a verse you know well, or a psalm and just reflect on and pray through that.

5. Think a lot about your sleeping area. What do you use your bed for? If you have difficulty sleeping then you should only use you bed when you sleep. Get your body used to the sensation of recognizing its surroundings as 'bed' to be immediately equated with 'sleep.' To make this work you should be expected to fall asleep within five minutes of lying down, if your not falling straight asleep get up, do something else, then settle back down...don't let your body get used to lying in bed and not sleeping (this one is mainly for the person who has difficulty sleeping).

5b. Linked to 5a, don't use your bed for pondering the day behind and ahead if you want to sleep, f your tired then your defenses are not up and pondering can quickly lead to sin. Prayer and submissive reflection is a more reasonable cognitive exercise when wanting to sleep.

6. Light is very important, if you put a flashlight to a chickens head it will wake up immediately because its skull is exceptionally thin and it has receptors and nerves around its brain and sinuses to wake it up. It’s the same with us, the thin skin around our eyes is very sensitive to light, make your room as dark as possible while preparing for sleep, and while sleeping.

7. Your sleep consists of a cycle which, when simplified, consists of non rapid eye movement times (NREM) and rapid eye movement times (REM). During peak NREM, your body is in deep sleep, here you are most difficult to rouse, and here your body does most work. Some poor sleepers have a disorder where they sleep for hours with little rest, and often feel drained when awake. This is often due to small periods of NREM, so little chance for the body to do its vital work. This is often corrected by getting into a gradual pattern of consistent sleep habits giving your body time to correct itself. During REM, you are the closest to awake, this engages your mind and schema memories, and hence you dream. This time is used to prepare your body for the next period of NREM. Those who suffer from consistent waking up often suffer because they find it difficult to regulate REM...this can be linked to stress, bad diet, or other physiological illness. If linked to stress (v-common), then perhaps a long soak in a hot bath with some lavender oil an hour or so before sleeping is a goo idea.

7b. Because of the above cycles (each lasting between 35-55 minutes roughly) need consistency to work effectively and both NREM and REM are vital to productive rest, then it is important to be as much in control as your sleeping area as possible to avoid unwanted unnecessary interruptions. This might involve locking the door, turning the phone off, having an alarm clock without the spine-chilling immediate shriek, etc.

8. A good diet, particularly a good intake of vitamin C, protein, iron, and amino acids are invaluable. vitamin C and iron allow your body the resources it needs to rest without feeding elsewhere, whereas protein and amino acids allow NREM times to be more effective for the bodies maintenance work.

9. Note, tiredness or drowsiness during the day is not usually linked to lack of sleep. More likely it is linked to boredom, stress, etc. Lack of sleep is generally shown through an inability to keep ones eyes open.

10. be respectful to your body via sleep. Enjoy God's gift of sleep, it is invaluable to the maintenance of our bodies and subsequently our general health, outlook, motivation, and discipline. A good sleep can be a practical step to Godliness. Do respect it. Read proverbs 6 for a healthy view of sleep. Pray for effective sleep, and enjoy it. Do not underestimate the importance of a good nights sleep. Remember, sleep is -not- a type of consciousness, it is an action which the body needs to perform. So like every deed of the body, seek to be in control of it by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Acts 10-11 and the Baptist debate (with particular emphasis on how 'all' is applied)

I recently posted some brief thoughts on household texts in the New Testament as they are used in the Baptism debate. I think it fair of me to bring out a little further my exegetical thoughts around the texts and will endeavour to do so in following posts beginning here with Acts 10 and 11.
Luke, (as a paedobaptist might point out) seems to continually stress the entirety or all-ness of the households; All the household, the whole household, the entire household, etc., possibly indicating the increased likelihood of infants.

Acts 10 is no exception: all the household were baptised. However a careful look of Acts 10-11 will show us other important all's. First we have a prophetic word given in 11:14, ‘He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ [emphasis mine] And Second back in 10:44, 46, ‘While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word...they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.’ [emphasis mine]

To point out that Luke keeps insisting on the entirety or all-ness of the household to include non-professing children, the following logic must be applied:

- All heard the message by which they would be saved
- All received the Holy Spirit + spoke in tongues
- All were baptised
 ...therefore
- Infants heard the message by which they would be saved
- Infants received the Holy Spirit + spoke in tongues
- Infants were baptised

To keep the logic that all means infants must also mean three things:
1. Infants heard so presumably understood (by the spirit) the message of Salvation
2. Infants received the Holy Spirit
3. This manifested itself in the infant by speaking in tongues

It appears from this that a paedobaptist position that uses the texts this way can remain consistent if one accepts the regenerative faith of the infant pre-Baptism.
Perhaps Luke has a different purpose for these household texts than is often appealed to by the paedobaptist brother or sister - namely the coming of Gentiles (God-fears in this instance) into the covenant.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Piper on N.T. Wright

'Jesus and Justification: Two Topics and Two Books Written
Which brings me to the labor side of the sabbatical. I was able to finish writing the main body of two books. One is called What Jesus Demands from the World, which will be published by Crossway Books in late September (Lord willing). It is a 365-page book on the commands of Jesus, in an attempt to obey Matthew 28:19, “Teach them to observe everything I commanded you.” Not just to know everything, but to observe (obey!) everything. How do you handle the Gospels in such a way that the teaching results in obedience? That was my goal. The other book is a response to N. T. Wright on the doctrine of justification. I have no immediate plan to publish it until I get the feedback from critical readers. My motivation in writing it is that I think his understanding of Paul is wrong and his view of justification is harmful to the church and to the human soul. Few things are more precious than the truth of justification by faith alone because of Christ alone. As a shepherd of a flock of God’s blood-bought church, I feel responsible to lead the sheep to life-giving pastures. That is not what the sheep find in Wright’s view of Paul on justification. He is an eloquent and influential writer and is, I believe, misleading many people on the doctrine of justification. I will keep you posted on what becomes of this manuscript.'


Friday, November 24, 2006

Household Baptisms in the New Testament

In support of an 'infant Baptist' position, texts such as Acts 10; 16:15, 33; and 1 Cor. 1:16 are appealed to. The argument basically runs like this:

- A head of a household professes faith,
- The whole household is therefore Baptised,
- Households normally contain infants,
- It is likely that these particular baptised households contain infants,
- Therefore non-professing infants in these households were baptised,
- Therefore, we likewise should baptise non-professing infants of households where the head has professed faith.

I have numerous difficulties with this logic, I shall explain just two here.

First, this argument rests on the premise that some who were baptised were non-professing. I believe the biblical texts tell a different story.
Acts 10-11 - Cornelius and his household are commanded to be Baptised (10:48), however the whole household was told to be saved before the baptism (cf. 11:14)
Acts 16:33 - The Philippian Jailer and all his family were baptised (v.33). However, the word of the Lord was spoken to all who were in his household (v.32) implying all were able to understand it, and further, all rejoiced that the jailer believed in God, implying again a faith in what was spoken to them (v.34) They must hear the word, then respond to it. - as Piper says, this is just as plausible as assuming infants.
1. Cor. 1:16 - The household of Stephanas was Baptised (v.16). However, this household was a household of believers (1. Cor. 16:15).
Acts 16:15 - Here is the only example of a household baptism with a profession of household faith. However, isn't it an exegetical fallacy to apply silence logic from this one verse onto the other three which would seem to contradict this? Is it not more consistent to interpret this in light of every other household Baptisms which wouldn't contradict 16:15?

Second, this argument rests on the premise that there were infants within the households. There is simply no evidence for such an assumption. Further, if we submit to the scriptures above which seem to support household faith, then in order to be consistent, it would seem that an infant Baptist has to insist on the faith of the infant.

Other than these assumptive passages, there is no mention of infant baptism in the Bible, period. Its just not there. What there is in evidence is a very elaborate systematic argument with no 'obvious' working out of such in the apostolic church.

I believe therefore that the household argument as outlined at the top of this post is not a strong argument for the case of infant baptism. It is an argument from silence, an argument open to exegetical issue, and an argument which ignores household faith

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Why don't we think much about Angels in our evangelical world? This is something I really want to spend some time with. They appear all through the Bible and reveal some of the most interesting Biblical Theology! I generally take there presence as continued, available, and very important to the life of the Christian, particularly to learn from in how to serve and worship God, and to amend context to warm and assure the hearts of believers in Jesus Christ.

Surely we can learn so much from these beings in the Bible. They were created, like us, to Gloryfy God through their love, worship, and service of Him. Is that not our delight also?

I hope next year, after my dissertation is over, to spend some time examining Angels place in the Bible, and subsequent place now in Church life, practice, and teaching. But any thoughts that anyone has would be very much appreciated?

The Unique and Joy-filled time in Salvation History that we are in!

So I have been very busy these past few weeks preparing a piece on John chapter 13 for class, and have spent some wonderful time in the farewell discourse following this (Chs. 14-17).

After spending sometime in John 16 (with wise direction of Dr. Andrew Sach), I have come to focus on the joy in being a Christian at this particular stage in Salvation History.

Jesus Christ has indeed died, and rose again, and further he has ascended to the Father to prepare a place for us. However, the awesomeness in doing this is, he has now sent his Spirit.

Jesus tells his disciples time after time throughout the farewell discourse, particularly in chapters 14 and 16, that is for the disciple inevitable -good- that Jesus leaves them. For if he does not leave, he cannot send his Spirit.

We see throughout the latter half of John (as it has also been expounded in the first half), that the Father gives ALL THINGS to Jesus, the Son (13:3), and the Son has revealed ALL THINGS to the Spirit (16:14), and the Spirit teaches ALL THINGS to the disciples (16:12-15).

What is the task of the disciples? Well, the Spirits Job is the convict the world (16:1-11), and this is through the disciples. And as Jesus prays for His disciples in Ch. 17, so he prays for all who believe (17:20ff.). The disciples, through their preached and written ministry and institution of the sacraments, and instruction in prayer and spiritual gifts reveal ALL THINGS to us now as followers.

We are now in a great place! Better even than the days when Jesus walked the earth. For now he is with us -by His Spirit- and teaches us the ways of all truth. When Jesus was on earth, the disciples only knew so much, and misunderstood so much more, but at the coming of the Spirit, they had been led into all truth. And so we learn the true ways of the Father through their teaching and example.

We now know the truth, the glory of the centrality of Jesus and his work, through the revelation of the spirit. If Jesus did not ascend to the Father, and did not then send the spirit, then where would we be? Praise God, that we are convicted and led into all truth by the Spirit through the Truth of the Word.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Salvation in Romans 9 - The Importance of vv. 1-5

One of my most contested opionions throughout this blog, contested by emails and replies to posts, is my hypothesis allows Romans 9 to talk about Salvation. I have many reasons for this, some you will find if you take the time to scroll down previous posts; however one which I haven't yet bought out as fully as I possibly could is the importance of vv. 1-5. So here is where I do that.
vv. 1-5 is one of the most important and affection-full (tbcontinuted)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Purpose of Romans 9, 'Has God's word failed?'

Just to make a point a wee bit clearer that I made in passing in a previous post. The key to understanding Romans 9 is the following question:

'Who is Israel?'

Let me bring this out a little bit...

The issue presenting Paul is this: - God made a covenant to his people Israel, yet many ethnic Jews are not believing in Jesus Christ, the Jewish messiah...are they saved? ...are they in the new covenant? And the most pressing and frightening question: - 'Has God's word failed?' (See v. 6), if God cannot keep his 'old' covenant to His people, then how can we trust Him to keep his 'new' covenant with Christians? We cannot be grafted into a dead tree!

Paul is therefore clarifying in Rom. 9 who exactly Israel is, distinguishing ethnic Israel, and the Remnant, the Children of the promise, the true seed of Abraham - and to them God has kept his promises perfectly. Therefore those individuals that he has elected unto salvation just like the remnant, he will keep in his palm, and the covenant will be kept perfectly.

The key to Rom. 9 is not therefore about God 'choosing' his ethnic people Israel over Edom, it’s not simply about Gentile inclusion, and it is not even simply about election unto salvation - although there is certainly an element of all this within the passage. The key is Paul asserting perfectly that God has flawlessly kept his covenant to his people, his word has not failed, and therefore his chosen people in the new covenant can trust his promises perfectly.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bookchairs are taking over my life!!!

get yours from...

You may notice that these little gizmos are the most expensive bits of wood and cotton you'll ever buy outside of the Queens private doily collection. But what’s worse, because of their design, you actually have to have several of them, as I'm sure the clever design and marketing people at figured. You see, if you have a reasonably crowded desk like me and you’re trying to write a bible study or an essay without endless makeshift paper weights and trips around the room to find all the open books you have decorated every surface with, you have to content yourself with a bookchair. And so you do, and it sits quite happily by your laptop giving your eyes a nice rest and saves you jamming last nights half-eaten cheese butty into the pages so you can see half of the paragraph your trying to read. However after say, three minutes you find you could really use another book ... like a bible, open too. And you must have it open at Gen. 4, or Rev. 13 where it isn't just going to lie flat... so you go to spend another 600 quid and have another happy, innocent looking chappie (maybe in a contrasting colour!) sat on the other side of your laptop. I can't type... so your back at the website ordering another sturdy bookchair to sit under your laptop to raise your keyboard. At this point your arms are getting tired and you can't see the screen, and worse you cannot procrastinate by watching squirrels duke it out with woodpeckers outside your window. However, you have been so subliminally bought by the bookchair boogie-man, that that is the only option you can cognate. SO you order another bookchair so you can place it on your chair and sit on it...then you realise that now you can't reach your coffee, so you by another to hold a coaster and a cup... and Mr. Bear also needs somewhere to sit, so you by him a bookchair, (in fact you buy him two because he might want to read) and squat him on one of the surfaces you rescued from one of the two books you now have perfect access to earlier. ...and then your happy, content perhaps. However, then you need to turn a page, and your little bookchair legs holding the page open perfectly are too tight...and you didn't think to buy a bookchair for your tool set so you can't reach a screwdriver to loosen you try and work your page around it, and of course it rips...poo.

So be warned, don't do as I have done, beware bookchairs...bookchairs ruin lives! JUST SAY NO!

(n.b. it actually isn't quite that bad, I bought one, then my clever dad got carried away and made three more, but annnnyway.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another look at Gen. 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many [or numerous] people should be kept alive, as they are today. [Gen. 50:20]

A familiar and very beautiful verse, how comforting it is to know that God works all things for good. But note, this verse isn’t simply saying that God brings good out of evil situations, and it isn’t saying that God turns around evil situations to be good situations. The implications of such approaches is God slipped up letting the evil thing happen in the first place and had to use what was available to him, namely the evil event, to re-create good; and, it also diminishes the evil; I.e. ‘don’t worry about the evil, because I will make it good and it will all be ok.’

However, what is going on here is two accomplished intentions of the same event. What Joseph’s brothers meant for evil, namely selling Joseph to slavery out of Jealousy, - this very same event, was intended to happen by God for good, and inevitably a good purpose.

So the paradox between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility is scripturally compatible in this passage. God intends and ordains this event totally to bring about good, and was in no way the author of its evil. Man, however, authored the event in its evil to bring about evil – and as such is responsible. So God can be totally sovereign over an event and ordain it to bring about its good, yet man authors the evil within it (and within God’s sovereignty) for evil intensions.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Possible Simple Structure of Rom. 9

(Note, this is an exceptionally simplified structure of Romans 9, and its contextual place within Romans...there is obviously much more to it than this, but such a structure allows us a sound stream through Romans, with this chapter being part of the flow, rather than anomaly or a hindrance.)

All of Romans 9 seems to be a single question ‘who now is Israel’ with the single answer ‘those who God has chosen.’ This is to explain the systematic assertion that though Jesus, and His new covenant, those individuals chosen to make up spiritual Israel, are no longer confided to physical Israel but are found in both Jews and Gentiles, united by faith in Christ.

This chapter epilogues the admonishment to, explanation of, and apologetic for, the developing Church shown in chapters 1-8, and it also prologues the explanation of Israel’s Remnant and Gentiles ‘grafting-in’ found in chapters 10-11. This allows a transition back to the place of the Church in chapters 12-16.

This single question is shown by a developing three-fold questioning, to address the same overarching question several ways (as has been posed by the Church in Rome), and provide several angles of answer to the question. Each sub-question builds on the last and develops the point further, leaving the reader with -no doubt- as to the answer of the question, and their subsequent response to the subject and nature of the question. With that in mind:

vv. 1-5Introduction, setting the apologetic and pastoral tone for Paul’s difficult answer(s), it gives us the key themes and peoples involved in the questioning.

vv.6-24The three-fold addressing of the question

- vv. 6-9 – Qu. 1 – Has God’s word failed? – Begins to answer with example (Children of Abraham)
o vv. 10-13 – Concludes answer with example (Jacob an Esau)

- vv. 14-15 – Qu. 2 – Is God unjust? – Begins to answer with example (Ex. 33: 19)
o vv. 16-18 - Concludes answer with example (Pharaoh)

- vv. 19-21 – Qu. 3 – Why does God still blame us? – Begins to answer with illustration (the potter and the clay)
o vv.22-24 – Concludes answer with illustration (vessels) and explanation of God’s ultimate purpose (to show the riches of His glory)

vv. 25-29Concluding and reasserting the answer with scriptural proof

vv. 20-33 – (smaller-version of whole chapter) Epilogue to Rom. 9, and small Prologue (to emphasis the over-all prologue of Rom. 9) to Rom. 10-11

Possible Election Language in Rom. 9

I use the term election here to mean a decision of God held/instigated primarily in the council of God as seemingly un-swervable by the works or actions of humans. - I am surer about some of these than others. The big question however, is who is elected, individuals or collective groups, and what are they elected to, privilege or salvation. (More later).

'before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad'
'in order that God's purpose in election might stand'
'not by works but by him who calls'
'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy'
'I raised you up'
'It does not therefore depend on mans desire or effort, but on God's mercy'
'he hardens whom he wants to harden'
'For who can resist his will'
'prepared for destruction'
'prepared in advance for glory'
'whom he called'
'I will call them/her'
'I lay in Zion, a stone that causes men to stumble'

Note that there does not seem to be an explicit designation of human choice language (as defined by libertarian free-will theology) to be found to compete with election language in this chapter. There are some things like:

'Gentiles did not pursue'
'Israel pursued'
'They pursed it not by faith but as if it were by works'
'the one who trusts in him'

Which seems to designate a level of responsibility to human choice-making faculties, however, for this to be libertarian free will, you have to isolate them from all the above election language in this chapter. One must take them in context with the sovereignty of God as expressed here and see that God is sovereign, yet paradoxically, man responsible. Both meet in God's covenant of grace, won through the life, death, resurrection, and assertion of his Son Jesus Christ. (for more information on this, see Jonathan Edwards on the the covenant of grace at

5 Minute Readings for your Edification

Wondering what to do in your coffee break? Got five minutes to spare before you nip off to work/school etc? Need to break up pieces of work? Feeling low and need some Father-centred encouragment? The following are roughly 5 minute readings which I have found particulary helpful and encouraging. They are things which make me step out of myself/my situation for a moment and realise again my orientation to Christ. Enjoy!

The Innkeeper, by J. Piper
Jonathan Edwards on Procrastination (Section VI - How to live each day) (scroll down to Section VI)

The Sinner and the Spider, by J. Bunyan

Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection, From Thomas A' Kempis, the Imitation of Christ (Book 1, Chapter XI) (book 1, Ch. 11)

The religion in heaven consists very much in affection
, from J. Edwards, The Religious Affections (Part 1, II, 8) (Scroll down to number. 8)

The Affections that make Worship Authentic, from J. Piper, Desiring God, Ch. 3 (scroll about a third of the way down to the section entitled 'the affections that make worship authentic)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Overcoming Lukewarmness - in Reference to Rev. 3:14-22

Being lukewarm is being content with how much –Christ- you have in you!

Being lukewarm stems from ignorance,

- Ignorance of the human condition, the state of the human heart which is wretched, and pitiful, and poor, and blind, and naked
- And ignorance of the extent of the riches and blessings of knowing God through our Lord and our Saviour, the Amen, Jesus Christ, the blessings of gold, and white garments, and ointment for our eyes

How do we transfer from the ignorance of lukewarmness into the glories of hotness and coldness? We transfer – through Christ.

Lukewarm Christians are so content. They (and we!) are so satisfied with the things of this world. They think they are rich, but they couldn’t be more wrong! They have no gold, they can’t earn gold because they are blind so cannot see to work, and they can’t even leave the house to go out in public because they are naked.

The answer – pray. We do not seek to go out of the house but we seek to let him who is knocking at the door in. So he can come in and eat with us and us with him. And when we open the door and let him in he brings with him all gold, and all white garments, and all eye-ointment for our healing and refreshing and cleansing. When we overcome our worldliness and contentedness with wretchedness and pityfulness and poorness and blindness and nakedness....once we overcome these things by letting Jesus into every door of our lives then he promises to let us sit on his throne. The throne of Jesus is the throne of God. We can sit with him and reign with him and take up the dominion creation-mandate to till the ground and honour the Lord like we were created to do. However, now we have dominion in the kingdom of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, the Amen.

So do not be content with lukewarm Christianity, do not settle for the world-gained things apart form Christ. Be hungry, and thirsty, and hot, and cold for the Kingdom, and the dinner company, and the ruling promises of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Open up every door into your life for him to come in and eat. ‘Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’ (Ps. 37:4)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Open Theism preliminaries

For part of my dissertation, I shall be looking at and refuting open theism. Although open theists may have no such intention, I find this view of historical Christianity and contention with the classically understood biblical God harmful for the individual Christian, dangerous for the contemporary church, and an offense to the name of our bountiful God. It is a view of God which causes tears, heart-ache, and desperate longing for God's truth to be known in His church. I pray that the Father can give me a real depth of humility, insight, and grace to expound the truth of his word in light of this view. - I'm definitely not their yet, my thoughts exist in a haze which needs to be structured and connected with much more clarity than I currently have. So this is (at the moment) just a list of books that I have found really helpful in re-assessing contemporary views of the 'open God.'

Note. I do also recommend looking at Pinnock, Sanders, Boyd, etc. to hear what they also have to say in their own tongue as modern advocators. - I am grateful to these authors (particularly Pinnock) for pointing out problems in the church in relation to the character of God. However I feel that the open theist response to these issues has created an unbiblical God. To find more helpful ways of addressing the issues of seeking emotive, beautiful ways of relating with an affection-full God, read Jonathan Edwards on the Religious Affections. A book besotted with the total love and joy of/ and in, God and the total sovereignty of God.
Anyway - the books:

J. Piper, J. Taylor, P. K. Helseth, (eds.) Beyond the Bounds
J. Frame, No Other God
D. Wilson (ed.) Bound only Once
B. A. Ware, God's lesser Glory

Hot and Cold in Revelation 3:14-22, The Letter to the Church in Laodicea

Not because you are hot of cold but because you are lukewarm will I spit you out of your mouth.

The purpose of this post is 1. (to get away from Romans for a wee bit) and 2. to counter a classic approach to these two words 'hot' and 'cold.'

The classic approach, like I have seen preached, and I'm sure many of you may have seen preached, is it is worse to be middle-of-the-road complacent in your spiritual life and faith, than it is to be hostile to faith. -or- it is better not to know Christ than to be only half-passionate about him. -or- more strongly still, being heretical/anti-gospel is just as good as being on-fire passionate for God in being better than knowing the gospel, but being half-hearted or lukewarm or nearly warm or nearly passionate about it.

This does seem a wee bit odd doesn't it? I think the problem comes primarily from misunderstanding the word 'cold' - and to understand it properly we need to look to extra-biblical sources.

We learn that Laodicea was located nearby Colossae and Hierapolis. Hierapolis was located in and around mineral hot-springs, so had an abundant and well known supply of hot water. This was used in part for bathing in, to heal joints and ligaments, and sweat out impurities in the skin, this included killing germs and bacteria’s. In short, Hot water in nearby Hierapolis was known for its healing properties. Colossae at the other extreme was located in the highlands with pools of refreshing (and very very cold!) water. This was wonderfully refreshing to drink and helped supplement a good diet, healthy life style and alertness/vigour of its drinkers. Laodicea however, being placed on trade routes rather than near natural supplies, piped its waters from Hierapolis. Once this water had arrived it had cooled somewhat to become lukewarm. Lukewarm water lacks the healing properties of hot water, and the refreshing qualities of cold, instead it is good for only one thing: as an emetic (an agent that causes vomiting). Such water is putrid, nauseating, and above all, pretty useless.

The Laodiceans are addressed from the faithful witness. We learn from the other six letters in the beginning of Revelation, that the titles Jesus addresses himself with act as an important prologue/link to the main issues of the receiving church. The Laodiceans thought they had everything they needed; they made themselves rich and content apart from Christ. This makes the Church at Laodicea with this attitude to be little better than a secular pagan institution, one without place in Christ's kingdom, or on his throne (vv. 21-22), so are to be spewed out of his mouth. As a secular institution they are not delighting in the gospel and they are not faithfully witnessing to outsiders. Making them useless (Lukewarm).

Hot and Cold are both positives, they heal and refresh. They take delight in God's kingdom and they spread the gospel. Lukewarm is complacency and uselessness, missing the life-changing delights of being in God's kingdom, and being so worldly loosing the importance of witness.

Jesus is not saying in this letter that it is better to be anti-gospel or heretical than middle-of-the-road, or not always totally passionate in your faith. He is saying, however, that one must let the gospel affect your life and must use that as a witness to those outside the church.

Lets stop being overly worldly and complacent in our lives, so making ourselves fit to be vomited from the kingdom. But lets keep humbly acknowledging the gospel, keep submitting to it, and seek to see how we can be used in the service of the king - making ourselves, in grace, fit to be further digested into Christ's kingdom.

Prayer Request

So for those who haven't guessed – there is a large section of my dissertation based on Romans chapter 9 and verses 22 and 23. I'm discovering that not only is Romans 9 very complicated, but it’s also one of Paul’s heaviest bits of writing affectionately.

Once we step into Paul and his 'great sorrow', his 'unceasing anguish' and his longing to be 'cut off from Christ' for the sake of his people Israel. And yet more, when we open ourselves to his desperate pleas to find our understanding of God not merely in the confines of humanity but in the revealed character of God, we too are hit with the heaviness of God's mercy, and God’s great, holy, righteous justice, and we are hit afresh with the blindness of the human condition, and the darkness of our own hearts.

We are reminded again, in light of the joys of heaven, - the reality of hell. And immersed in all this we are met again and again with the all-encompassing worth, knowledge and truth of all that is done and created is done and created ultimately for God's glory. –The perfect purpose where all our delight will one day lie, and that now we daily try to seek in Jesus.

This is one of those passages which you can easily add 2 and 2 and get 90, or 2 and 2 and get -600! The only way to get 4 is to submit to God's majesty in his character, and long to be humbled in our knowledge of whom he is, to accept the perfected beauty of God as so much bigger than our fallen hearts can contain, and seek to be more like his Son Jesus.

Please pray for me, I’m discovering how heavy the person of God can lie on a mind so influenced by sin, and a heart that has spent so much in darkness. Pray that as I get deeper into this word, I will find delight, and joy, and gold, and white clothes, and eye-ointment. Pray that I will be faithful to God's message, and that I will witness to its truth in real, authentic and submitting ways. Pray that I can discover avenues into and out of this passage that will make me look to and pursue Christ-likeness for many years to come.

Jews and Gentiles as respective vessels in Rom. 9:22-23?

It’s an old counter-Calvinism view that the vessels spoken of in Romans 9:22-23 refer to two collective groups of people, namely; the Jewish nation and the Gentiles. This works as follows:

Vessels of Wrath = Jews (under the old covenant)
Vessels of Mercy = Gentiles (grafted into the new covenant)

Paul is not therefore talking about the eternal destinies of these two peoples obviously, as Paul himself was a Jew saved by Jesus. But about the fates of the two peoples; - Judaism would die out to be replaced by Gentle-grafted Christianity.

However, I feel that there are, some basic problems with such a view. Verse 24 reads (as an immediate follow on from v. 23) - even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentles? Paul notes that both Gentiles and Jews are in the category 'vessels of mercy.'

Therefore, the vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy cannot be Jews and Gentiles respectively, as both Gentiles and Jews are identified as vessels of mercy. And we may infer from this with working parallels that both groups are also found in vessels of wrath.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Helpful Romans Commentaries

J. Stott, The Message of Romans (IVP) - Concise and informative, very helpful on purpose and structure, great introductory commentary with that little bit more meat.
F. F. Bruce, Romans (Tyndale, No. 6) - Don't do it. He has some helpful things to say, but often ignores whole verses or misses key systematic issues. Much more helpful on introductory issues. Not one of his best.
M. Luther, Romans (Kregel Classics) - Strange little book (being only 223 pages long), more of a pulling together of various thoughts and materials than a working commentary. Yet is a surprisingly helpful and edifying read. Luther does tend to go a little overboard at times, and again skips comment on some verses.
N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone - Again, not brilliant, sometimes helpful on breaking down a passage, but often misses verses, it seems, to fit his theological agenda. Wright is a fine exegete, but certainly not at his best here.
N.T. Wright & S. K. Soderlund (eds.) Romans and the People of God - Very helpful collection of essays in honour of Gorden Fee. These essays cover ground all over Romans and its modern application, some of them much better than others, has proved to be very insightful. Authors include, Wright, Packer, Marshall, France, Longenecker, Dunn, et al.
J. Dunn, Romans (Word Biblical Commentary, 2 Vols.) - Dunn gives us an exceptionally detailed and thoughtful piece of work, often helpful, full of detailed text work, however it does seem quite strongly that Saunders is too often drifting through the pages.
C. Cranfield Romans (T & T Clark, ICC, 2 Vols.)- Brilliant 2 volume commentary, very helpful exegetical work, very very dense. I would strongly recommend his abridged version as a way into this not particularly accessible work. N.b. Although I don't always agree with what Cranfield concludes, his text work allows the reader to use what he says and form his own opinion. I.e. The exegesis is not as pressupossionally drawn as some authors.
J. Calvin, Romans - Very helpful in parts, amazingly clear text work for such an ancient commentary, fun read (not always for the reasons Calvin would have appreciated), but conclusions often driven by a theological agenda. Though still competes with contemporary commentaries.
D. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT) - Probably the most comprehensive and clear commentary currently on the market, very helpful, well structured, and engages multilaterally with the key issues. Moo also deals quite extensively with the New Perspective(s) on Paul.
J. Philip The Power of God - Fantastic introductory commentary, lots of fresh insight, v-helpful!

Friday, September 22, 2006

More thoughts on translating -theon- in v. 22 (see earlier post)

Do note that this is neither an exhaustive list of translations or interpretations ... far from it. Just a couple that at the moment I feel most plausible. I will expand in later blogs on supporting context and verses for some of the interpretations.

Possible Translations:

What if God, although he desired to show his wrath and make known his power, endured with much patience, vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, whom he made beforehand for glory.

What if God, because he desired to show his wrath and make known his power, endured with much patience, vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, whom he made beforehand for glory

Possible Interpretations from translation 1 (concessive):

1.1 God wants to show his wrath and his power but , by patiently enduring with vessels of wrath he could instead show his glory to vessels of mercy. Or...he didn't just destroy the vessels of wrath after the fall, but instead let his plan continue so that he could show his mercy by saving the vessels of mercy through his redemptive plan with Christ at the center, - therefore two sets of vessels, some have been prepared for destruction, some prepared for mercy. Elect and reprobate.

1.2 God wanted to show his wrath and his but instead gives the vessels of wrath chance to repent and become vessels of mercy. So ... vessels of mercy come out of vessels of wrath. All were 'made' for destruction as all fall short of the glory of God, but some were made beforehand for glory, those who God foreknew would repent, those whom he predestined for glory. God also knew those vessels of wrath that would not become vessels of mercy, however, just as in the case of Pharaoh, they are responsible for their lack of repentance. So God elects them as 'reprobate' however their own responsibility confirms them in that. God is sovereign, yet man responsible.

Possible Interpretations from translation 2 (causal):

2.1 God wants to show his wrath and power, and does so against vessels of wrath made for destruction and this also allows God to show glory more especially by showing his mercy to vessels of mercy made beforehand for glory. Two groups of vessels, one for glory, the other for wrath, shows more fully God's character, therefore shows more of His glory.

2.2 God wants to show his wrath and power, and does against vessels of wrath made for destruction. However, as in 1.2, some of those vessels, in God's foreknowledge repent and become the vessels of mercy. Therefore all made as vessels of wrath (cf. Eph. 2:3 – we were all children of wrath), yet out of these, through Jesus, God chose a people for himself who would repent through his grace and become vessels of they were prepared for beforehand. So again, God is sovereign, yet man still fully responsible.

Its my feeling that either 1.2 or 2.2 is the most likely in the context of Paul, the teaching of Jesus and further systematic implications. This obviously though leads us with some difficulties:.
> If God truly does elect before the foundations of the earth, why is man still held responsible?
For the answer to this I direct you to Rom. 9:19f., noting particularly that our sense of justice and morality is soaked in the tree we ate from, and therefore apart from grace, warped.

> Is God completely just in holding us responsible if he moulded us this way?
See Rom. 9:14f. Noting that our sense of justice too is 'tree-justice' and we know that God is completely just, and his actions must also therefore be just. To further understand the depth of true justice we must submit to God's word as it teaches us about himself. God's justice often doesn't make sense to us, especially if we are unwilling to submit to his word, who would have thought that justice meant the Father pouring his wrath upon his Sinless Son to call us into his glory as vessels of mercy.

> How is God completely Sovereign in predetermining vessels if man is held fully responsible for his actions?
This is a complicated question in which there is no easy answer. I believe it to be a working, biblical paradox which is held in the counsel of God but cannot be fully grasped by human-kind. However there are things that help us, such as first, we know that it must work with God's character, therefore must be totally holy, and just, and loving, and righteous...etc. And also second, this biblical paradox is not unique, we see another closely related working biblical paradox in God's means of grace...such as shown in in Jude. - v. 21 says 'keep yourselves in the love of God,' and v. 24 says 'to him who is able to keep you.' So you keep him who keeps you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Part 3 of Cranfield looking at 'mercy' in his intro to Rom. 9

"(iii) It is only where the Church persists in refusing to learn this message, where it secretly - perhaps quite unconsciously! - believes that its own existance is based on human achievement, and so it fails to understand God's mercy to itself, that it is unable to believe in God's mercy for still unbelieving Israel, and so entertains the ugly and unscriptual notion that God has cast off His people Israel and simply replaced it by the Christian Church."

[Cranfield, Romans]

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Who is the one who prepares the vessels of wrath for destruction in Rom. 9:22

Who is the agent of the 'preparation' of the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

The participle 'prepared' is difficult. It is not as easy in Greek as in English translations to simply parallel the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction with v. 23, the vessels of mercy prepared for glory. This is because the participle in v. 23 is an active participle, much more obviously being connected with divine preparation; whereas for prepared in v. 22, Paul uses passive participle in middle voice which does not immediately suggest God as the one who prepares.

So what do we do with this? The answer I believe again is deducible from the context. Paul seems to be drawing an obvious parallel between vv. 22-23 and vv. 17-18 (see my previous post on Rom. 9 'the participle thelōn' for more on this), and here is no exception. God is the agent of Pharaoh's hardened heart, and is further the agent in Pharaoh being raised up, God is there, the one who prepares. If this parallel stands, and due to the theological and contextual flow of Romans 9, I believe it does. Then it is indeed God who prepares the vessels of wrath for destruction...for the purpose of showing his wrath, his power, and his mercy, ultimately, for the purpose of magnifying His glory.

'He does not indeed give a reason for divine election, so as to assign a cause why this man is chosen and that man rejected; for it was not meet that the tilings contained in the secret counsel of God should be subjected to the judgment of men; and, besides, this mystery is inexplicable. He therefore keeps us from curiously examining those things which exceed human comprehension. He yet shows, that as far as God's predestination manifests itself, it appears perfectly just.'
[J. Calvin on Rom. 9:22]

D. Moo's paraphrase of Rom. 9:22-23

“What objection can you make if it is in fact the case that God has tolerated with great patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction when you realize that his purpose in doing so has been to demonstrate his wrath, make known his power, and – especially – to make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, prepared beforehand for glory.”

Translating the participle -thelōn- in Rom. 9:22-23

Rom. 9:22-23
'What if God, wanting to show his wrath and make known his power, bore with much longsuffering vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
in order to make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, prepared beforehand for glory.'

One of the most difficult translation issues is this passage is, what do we do with the participle, thelōn? (wanting/wishing/willing) There seems to be two most likely possibilities.

First Possibility - we translate it as causal, by adding the conjunctive though. This becomes,

although God wanted to show his wrath and make known his power, he [instead] bore with much longsuffering vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
in order to (1) make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, prepared beforehand for glory.'

I.e. Everything leads up to the single purpose statement, - this is what God does, even though he didn't have to bear with vessels of wrath, he did so that he could show the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy; Even though he could have shown his wrath and made known his power, he didn't, so that he could show the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy.

Second Possibility - we translate it as concessive, by making the conjunctive, because. This becomes,

because God wanted to (1) show his wrath and (2) make known his power, he bore with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to [or because he wished] (3) make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, prepared beforehand for glory.'

I.e.Thelōn translated this way means there are three purposes of God, (1) to show his wrath, (2) to show his power, and (3) to make know the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy.

The first translation seems to allow a natural progression to a single clause, which balances structurally within itself (whereas the second has two purposes of God through the vessels of wrath, and one through the vessels of mercy; structurally inbalanced.)

The second seems to contextually work better with Rom. 9 and allows a parallel with vv. 17-18, God raised Pharaoh up for the purpose of displaying his wrath - so with Pharaoh and the vessels of wrath, God withholds judgement to more fully display his glory, shown though wrath, power, and mercy. Also, on the note of structure, an argument could run along the lines of, 'the riches of glory shown to the vessels of mercy is a climatic purpose of God, therefore there is only one, whereas wrath and power are similar traits/purposes and progress to the climax of the final purpose to vessels of mercy.' - but that might be crud.

I believe the (at the moment) that the second translation is more likely, and fits better with the context of Rom. 9 - and this really is one of those verses which we must let context help determine the meaning as it starts which a conditional de (but what if?) - so 'what if mr Reader, God chose to act this way, have a look at what I've just said...what do you think?' (my quite dodgy Pauline statement).

If this is the case then God's purposes in bearing with vessels of wrath is that he wants to show his wrath, power and mercy.
God actually desires to show these traits, and uses his means to do so. (What are God's means? More on this later).

Friday, September 08, 2006

Jim Packer on forgotten biblical truths.

Some thoughts from Jim Packer on forgotten/unpracticed biblical truths.

'1. The recovering of old truth, truth which has been a means of blessing in the past, can under God become the means of blessing again in the present, while the quest for newer alternatives may well prove barren;

2. No one should be daunted from attempting such recovery by any prejudice, ill will, or unsympathetic attitudes that may have built up against the old truth during the time of its eclipse.'

[J. I. Packer, A Passion for Holiness, p. 14]

Thoughts on the mysterium tremendum et fascinans

Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans was a phrase coined by R. Otto to refer to something one finds to be absolutely frightening yet awe-inspiring at the same time, something one feels helplessly drawn to yet wants to violently flee from in the same instant. Broken down is basically this:

mysterium - the 'wholly other' (Otto) that which is totally transcendent and apart, although is open to some degree to our experience
tremendum - the terror, awfulness, dread, overpowering, majesty, of God. Often linked with this is Otto's 'Creature Consciousness 'theory, (which I think is probably right in a sound context): a feeling of absolute 'nothingness' in comparison to and approach of God, or - , a feeling of total depravity and dependence upon God
fascinans - an attractiveness, wonder, obsessive interestedness in spite of fear

One may link this to Ezekiel's, Isaiah's, or John's revelation visions. The feeling of approaching the throne of our saviour - do we hope for it daily? Do we usher it in by our prayers? I find sometimes when I pray or meditate, this feeling of fear and awe, this knowledge of God's awesome wrath and his Fatherly love, this mysterium tremendum et fascinans, and it is such a wonderful dynamic of God's character, our place in light of Him, our appropriate response to Him, and our relationship with Him.

(some readers who have read Otto or Ninian Smart may recognise that I haven't entirely used this concept in the original context but linked it to Biblical and Christian experience.)

Some thoughts around William James and his views on mystical/religious experience

A couple of years ago I spent some time playing around the thoughts and ideas of William James as they present themselves in 'The Varieties of Religious Experience,' (As you do). This is a basic summary of his thesis followed by some of the thoughts that came to mind.

Religious experiences contain usually four distinguishable traits, namely, passivity, ineffability, noetic quality, and transience; by these four can we claim an experience to be 'religious.' (N.b. by religious in this sense, James is referring primarily to the mystical spectrum that accompanies religion.) These four basically mean:

Passivity - the individual within the experience has little or no control over the experience
Ineffability - the individual finds the experience near impossible to explain to someone who has not had a similar experience
Noetic Quality - the experience provides some degree of insight into truth, such as interpreting the present, explaining the past, or predicting the future
Transience - the experience was induced by deity/deities above and beyond rational understanding and perceptions

James would not classify himself as a believer in the deity of classical theism (or he is not a Christian for those of us that speeketh English) but I do feel a degree of truth resounding through this...once we distort it and make it our own :P I believe it was Mark Twain who famously said 'First get all the facts then distort them as you please.' With that infallible statement I'll continue.

It just really struck me that theologically, when we 'experience' God it contains an aspect of all of these traits. Lets take a couple of reasonably uncontroversial examples. When we read the Word of God in scripture, there is a degree of transience, the authority of one much bigger than ourselves, and with that an acclamation of authority and the necessity of submission. There is definitely an element of Noetic Quality, interpreting the place of humankind, the universe and its response to God on a large scale, and individual heart-warming situational guidance in obedience and faith; this is not to mention the prophecies such as the return of Christ in glory. There is an element of ineffability, the inability to explain the immensity of grace and the totality of the riches of the gospel as they have impacted our life and how they resonate in beautiful melody when we flick through its pages. Finally there is an element of passivity, a feeling of 'this is something actively leading me into truth and revealing to me the nature of God.'

Or lets take another example of singing praises to our God. There is obviously transience, worshiping Him who is so much bigger than me and so worthy of it. There is definitely a noetic quality in finding ourselves aware through the stirring of our hearts and the words we are singing, of our place before almighty God, and the appropriate response to Him; a recontexualising of our being. There is a passivity, knowing that we are to follow his command in praising Him and connecting with the truths we are claiming through song, submitting to those truths by asserting them (maybe). And there is a degree on ineffability, its difficult to explain the joy of singing praise to God to someone who doesn't see God as a true recipient worthy of praise.

I think the main reason I find James helpful is that it creates an awareness in my life of the multifaceted and spiritual connection I make with my Father God as I live to serve and love Him. It reminds me that each action of my life with I make to be worship (which should be every action), is drenched in a transience, in a revelation of truth and intimacy, in a passivity, or submission and obedience, and in a separateness from the world. Praise God for such a powerful and obvious relational connection in our lives!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Extract from Charles Williams, The Forgiveness of Sins

' It is, from our present point of view, not yet at all certain what the word [forgiveness] means. All that we take for granted is that the Trinity had determined the Incarnation of the Word, that They has deterined and caused the creation of superfluous mankind with a purpose of entire joy, that mankind had set itself in such a relation to Them and especially to the flesh of the Word that it was bound, if the creation so ordained continued, to victimise its Creator, and that They had accepted that result and had determined that the original Incarnation should be a Redemptive also ; that is, that his life on earth should redeem life and earth, He was to be born, as he had willed, of a Mother. '

[Ch. 4, p. 35 emphasis mine.]

Tuning Up

For my 20th Birthday, my wonderful Lady lent me long term a beautiful handbound book, -Leaves of Gold-, which is a wonderful collection of prayers and thoughtful insights on the Godly life by varrious famous writers. While flicking carefully through some of the places she had highlighted for me thoughout the book I cam accross this delightful little admonishment:

' Tuning up - Every morning compose your soul for a tranquil day, and all through it be careful often to recall your resolution, and bring yourself back to it, so to say. If something discomposes you, do not be upset, or troubled; but having discovered the fact, humble yourself gently before God, and try to bring your mind into a quiet attitude. Say to yourself, "Well, I have made a false step; now I must go more carefully and watchfully." Do this each time, however frequently you fall. When you are at peace use it profitably, making constant acts of meekness, and seeking to be calm even in the most triffling things. Above all, do not be discouraged;be patient; wait; stive to attain a calm, gentle spirit. '

- St. Francois de Sales.

piper quote

"Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves. Diggin is hard, but you might find gold."
[J. Piper]

Tims helpful book list type thing

15 books I have found particularly spiritually helpful these past two years in no particular order

1. The Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards
2. Desiring God,Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, John Piper
3. The Pleasures of God, John Piper
4. The Westiminster Sermons, Vol. 1, W. E. Sangster
5. The Imitation of Christ, Thomas A' Kempis
6. The Incomparable Christ, J. Stott
7. The Reformed Paster, R. Baxter
8. The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chs 1+2, J. Calvin
9. The mortification of Sin, J. Owen (vol. 6, ch. 1)
10. Convergence, The Spiritual Journey of a Charismatic Calvinist, Sam Storms
11. Christ's Glorious Achievements, C. H. Spurgeon
12. The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, J. Frame
13. Apologetics to the Glory of God, j. Frame
14. The Scandal of Grace, S. Hughes
15. Supprised by the Voice of God, J. Deere

Don't Kill the LORD's Anointed. (Revised)

There are two scenarios in 1 Samuel 24 and 26 where it seems Saul has been given into David’s hands, yet David has chosen to spare Saul’s life.

We note particularly three groups of people; David, David’s men, and Saul.

> Saul is officially God’s anointed, and we see him verbally confess his sin and ‘repent’ at the close of both chapters, and yet we also see him continuing in his sin in trying to kill David. He is convicted, believes, confesses, and yet does not respond appropriately to the LORD.

>David’s men we see, take the LORD’s promise of delivering Saul into David’s hands and ‘run with it’ so to speak. They believe the message, respond to it by assisting David obediently, show trust in it by exclaiming the promise, ‘look this is the LORD fulfilling his promise to you!’ Yet there is something missing, they are not sensitive to how they should respond appropriately, they take the promise, the conclusion, and seek to fulfil it their own way.

> Finally David, he believes the promises given to him from the LORD, pursues the ends of these promises, and sensitively obeys the LORD’s instruction. He seeks the fulfilment of the LORD’s promise in step with the LORD’s character. Saul is the LORD’s anointed one, the one the LORD has chosen, and killing him is standing against the one the LORD has raised up, therefore standing against the LORD. David will not kill the LORD’s anointed.

Take an typological journey with me. Jesus is the fulfilment of David, he is the ‘new’ David in a sense. Jesus appropriately and sensitively responds to and obeys God’s word. Even if that involved Him walking to the cross, as it involved David’s persecution from Saul.
David’s followers may be linked to Jesus’ followers, particularly his close disciples; those who believed the message, yet often ran with it, not understanding the greater things of God.
Saul could be most obviously Judas, the one who hears and responds, yet betrays Jesus to His death, and inevitably his own death. Yet perhaps he could be linked to any who hear, believe, repent, and yet are easily choked by the thorns, those who do not respond by changing their lives.
Of course, Jesus can also be linked to Saul in a monarchical form, he is the King of the new Israel, the spiritual Israel. Jesus is God’s anointed one, the one on whom the spirit descends as a dove. The one when appropriately recognised, should not be killed. Do not kill the LORD’s anointed.

This is of course where those at the sentencing of Jesus went fatally wrong, they did not appropriately acknowledge who he was. They had heard who He claimed to be, they had seen the proof in His teaching and in His miracles, yet, they did not respond appropriately, they killed the Lord’s anointed. Whereas David, would not.

So how can we apply this, where can we place ourselves? We can, and often do, place ourselves with Saul, unwilling to act upon what we have seen, to truly live out our repentance, and inevitably in Saul’s role, this leads eventually to two things; first a desire to kill the Lord’s plan. Saul saw and acknowledged David’s fame and relationship with the LORD, he wanted to kill him. We, following Saul would want to foolishly kill the means of God’s plan being vindicated.
Second, an inevitable desire to be self-destructive. Sin is self-destructive, suicidal, not acting upon repentance and not responding appropriately to God’s revealed nature in grace has only one other possible option, walking blindly away from it and towards an Idol, which will destroy us. We see the fulfilment of this in 1 Chronicles 10-11.
Following Saul’s example therefore, will lead us eventually to a violent end. It gives only to killing, either a killing of God’s plan, which cannot be done, or a killing of oneself. Let’s not follow Saul in his killing. Note, this does not mean we are saved/sustained by works, but the effectual working of grace in our lives involves the relational dynamic of daily responding to the gospel.

We also can easily stand with David’s men, or the Disciples of Christ. So often we can take a promise, or piece of scripture and run with it, instead of contextually and sensitively applying it with humility and wisdom. This can lead to a trust in our own ability other than a humble dependence on the King. This leads to dishonouring our King; take the Disciples, one betrayed, one denied, ten deserted, yet eleven restored by God’s grace!
Let us humbly observe and digest the scriptures, considering ourselves more likely to misunderstand, and misapply, being wonderfully thankful to God’s grace when he gifts us with an understanding that changes our lives.

We most difficultly, yet inevitably must stand with David, with Christ. We are pursuing to be Christlike, to be like Him in all and everything we do, to mirror His glory and seek to be satisfied in Him alone. We must therefore in these two Chapters, seek to believe and respond like David, and how does David do that? He does that by not killing the LORD’s anointed. So we too must not, like the 1st Centaury Jews and Romans, kill the Lord’s anointed. We must not seek to kill Jesus. We must therefore flee idols (see Saul above), and flee anything that leads us away from a living repentance, and adversely seek and long to see Jesus living in our lives and the lives of others.

We must take delight in the Living Jesus, the Lord’s anointed, we must not foolishly seek to kill the Lord’s anointed, but seek to make much of His living. Wake up in the morning, longing to want the Living Jesus to be vindicated as alive to the world. We must want to be alive, in Him. We must want to be like Jesus, and seek Him in the scriptures daily, pouring through them to find His nail marks, breathing them in constantly to seek his thorny crown. We must pour out from them, responding, confessing, and obeying Him by seeking to mirror Him, to magnify Him, to glorify Him. We must foremost acknowledge our position daily to Him and ask for His grace to live totally to Him glory.

Let us not seek to kill the Lord’s anointed, but long for the Living Jesus to be magnified in our lives.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Book Recommendation - Sam Storms, Convergence

This is not a review so much as a recomendation. A personal conflict that has been within me for a while is how do I connect the larger pieces of my theology for consistant ministry, particulary my reformed doctrine and my charasmatic convictions. I.e. how does presestination based soteriology fit with practical exercise of the gifts of prophecy, healing, and tounges? Sam Storms has been there. Storms is an exceptionally gifted theologican, historian, and exegeite, and has a true practical and pastoral approach to word and spirit based ministry. After finishing his book, Convergence, I felt affirmed in my faith and my theology, as well as challenged to defend my calvanistic doctrine and practice more expectantly my charasmatic convictions. Thanx Sam Storms, for you warm, biblical, and practical addittion to the debates, visons of a unified way out, and biblical hopes to truly see a word-spirit convergence.

Buy the book here,

Read an interview with Dr. Sam Storms here,

Learn more about Enjoying God Ministries here,

Green Tea

The Lord has given us so many natural beauties to settle us in peace, and rest us in tranquillity in godly and joyous ways. He gave us calm oceans, he gave us snow-topped Alps, he gave us the horizon, and he gave us green tea.

A friend introduced such a drink to me only two years ago. Unfortunately, it was not a product of a 1000 years Chinese crafted art, but instead a product of 39p ASDA smartprice. After a curious, nose curling whiff, I ventured further (bravely I thought) to take the tiniest of sips through my pursed lips. - I can honestly say that I do not believe I have tasted anything so unbelievably vile in my whole and entire life, and I as child I had a hobby of eating paper.
- This unfortunately put my off the drink completely ever since. -

However through the wise counsel of a very wonderful lady, I have decided to re-address, nay conquer the fear that has tried to take anchor within my tea-less soul. Her counsel was roughly along the lines of; 'hmmm, I’m not sure 39p ASDA smartprice attempt at the Chinese beverage is really a relative way forward. Perhaps you should try something a little more refined?' And so I did, I splashed nearly four times as much on a small box of organic authentic green tea-bags, filled the cup, and took the plunge, expecting death and disaster, however, being strangely rewarded. A curious sensation overcame me, this was...nice...I like this tea, yes...its good. Hmmm. And indeed I am now, Tim Gough, liker of green tea.

Yet this is more than my public confession and allegiance to that wonderful drink, it is to share with you some of its benefits, in the hope that you too, may find green tea. Green tea has its foundations in China, and for thousands of years they have claimed its medical benefits. Recent studies are beginning to support these allegations. The 1994 Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of a study suggesting that drinking green tea reduced the risk of oesophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent. Further, Purdue University researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also apparently research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. In fact, Green tea is now known to help prevent cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, infection, and impaired immune function.

This is partially due to the high amounts of catechin polyphenols anti-oxidants, which inhibits the growths of cancer cells, actively destroys cancer cells (without damaging healthy tissue) and strengthens your body’s immune system.

Further, the 1999 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released research, which suggests green tea actually helps dieters to burn calories, and can act as a healthy addiction placebo against excess caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

In fact, the only negative reports of drinking green tea at the moment is insomnia, and this is simply because green tea contains caffeine. However on average, a cup of green tea contains 30 times less caffeine than a cup of coffee.

Green tea is wonderful, it helps keep us healthy, it provides a wonderful warm drink substitute to heavy caffeine British tea or coffee, and it is a great addition to a bath or sit in the garden. Enjoy this wonderful sense of peace, and health, with a great taste. ...Enjoy green tea.

Intresting Thoughts from D. Field on Global Warming

- thanx David, v-helpful food-for-thought .

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Emotive Singing+Music in Worship

Is it not a beautiful thing when our emotions are stirred and affections awakened by the wonderful things in God's character, His divine plan, and His free and unconditional Gospel?
Why then, as evangelicals do we often feel anxious when either these affections awaken them in us or show themselves in others during music in worship? Surely the act of telling God in such a creative way is primarily about stirring and warming our hearts in joy and love as appropriate responses to His character, plan, and Gospel? -Or at least Jonathan Edwards believed so when he said:

'And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only that such is our nature and frame that these things have a tendency to move our affections.' [Religious Affections - emphasis mine.]

Note, as John Piper writes, 'it is the affections that make worship authentic.' When we place our boundaries in our times of music so tightly so that they engulth emotional reaction to the music, which stirs our hearts to be in a place where we can turn the truths of God we are singing about into praise - we are enguthing the authenticity of our worship to God. Of course we must be careful not to get over-emotional in ways which stir emotions as an end in themselves, this is dangerous and at worse idolatry. Yet we must allow our emotions to be stirred within music, and poetry, so that we can be in a better context emotionally to receive and respond to the beautiful truths in God's word. -The same principle was applied by the puritans in preaching, they would use the most emotive language and imagery to open or create a 'wound' if you will, then they would fill that wound with Biblical substance.

Lets not be a people that honours God with our lips but our hearts be far from Him (Mtt. 15:8), let us long after and desire to be 'true worshippers [who]...worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him' (Jn. 4:23).

Think and meditate upon those biblical giants and their hearts emotional response to their God. Think on David who comes to God with a 'broken and contrite spirit,' (Ps. 51), or Paul as he 'rejoices with great joy' (Phil. 4:10), or upon Christ himself as he is 'filled with anger and grief' (Mark 3:5) or His earnest desire to gather his people as a mother hen, her chicks (Lk. 13:34). - I'm sure you can think of many times throughout scripture the correct response to God is one that is immersed in and emerges from an emotional and affectionate stirring of ones heart. Perhaps you can recall in your own experience, the times where you have felt the greatest faith in God as the times where your emotions have been situationally stirred to call out to him in utter dependence, or great joy and thankfulness.

Lets allow our stony dispositions and occasional harness be rocked and melted by music and singing in worship, so we can appropriately respond to our Father in an affectionate, and praising way. To Him be all the glory! Amen

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Life, truth, meaning, feeling
I’m not sure the way, but I know all truth is God’s truth
The constructions in my heart seem made from so many fragile pieces
Ideas not fully realized, truths not completely idealized
I know there’s a way, a time a place
But my bridge won’t take my own weight
It strains and creaksGasps for the very air that I need to breathe
It’s mine to breathe; yet I can’t seem to breathe, and walk
And hold my weight and finish my constructions.
Collapse, taint, scared, associated
But I need, I need to hold another in this weight
Surely, timely, I must carry us both,
But I can’t, I can’t even hold my own.
Frailty, normatively, existentially
Paradoxically only yours.
Frail -only- is this idolatry
Miss-constructed only is a gravity-less bridge, heart, start
Oh God your big enough for the both of us,
I need not even breathe in my own framework
I need not support, one or two, or even support itself for that matter
I only need to trust, to wait, to live, to love
All in your strength, Oh Lord, all in your ways, your truth,
For all truth is your truth, all goodness is your goodness.
Father help me see my own frailty, in light of seeing you
In light of needing you, In light of knowing you, in light of loving another,
In you.
Life, truth, meaning, feeling,
All truth is God’s truth, your truth.
Let me be unfinished, in your truth.

tg. 23.06.06 Based in part on Calvin’s Institutes, Bk 1, chapters 1 and 2.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Extract from Thomas A' Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Chapter 3, XXVIII

'True peace and true glory can only be found in me, and the secret of great peace is to have no desire to please men, and no fear of displeasing them either. It is your undisciplined affections and your foolish fears that make your senses restless and destroy the peace of your heart.'

This Time

Lost within a time warp,
Going south, yet looking northward,
You've given me directions
Yet I’ve kept myself at the front of my mind
Where it rains all the time,
It's cold, and I cannot see the distance
Where you told me there’s hope.

Lost in metafusion, where the now meets the then,
Where I judge myself from experience,
Where the papers, met the pen,
’I couldn't do it then, so I can't do it now’
Commonsense blinding me, throwing me to doubt.

Lost in the physical, stuck in the real,
I thought it was yesterday, I've forgotten how to feel,
This isn't life, its a fake reality
I'm tired of feeling this way,
I need stability.

Why do I do this to myself,
Theologise my breath,
I need only to trust to wait
Why am I so deaf?
God you know, I'm a human, I'm blind,
Open my eyes again, I'll really try,
This time.


My coffee tastes so good right now
It feels like the world is smiling for me
Through me.
My heart is brimming within my throat
Pounding, urging against my very soul.

Music sounds so true today
Every word rings a new theme
A genre designed just for me in this moment
God has touched my very being with his eternal breathing hand
He has smiled an inconceivable smile
He has locked me inside his goodness
I’m lost in his praise, and his delights, and his desires.

Oh change my heart oh God
Make me in your image
Confirm me to your will
It is done, it is done.
Make me yours every moment
Let the very chromatic vibrations of my being
Follow you’re every step.
Help me not love myself, or anything in my possession
Help me long for nothing but you
Help me seek for, and long for, and breathe for your kingdom.

For only then will all this be added.
Only then

Thank you Father, for you are always the giver, and I, and we, are always the receiver.

Timeless breathing (n.b. needs editing)

Timeless Breathing, the return of the lamb.

Timeless breathing, all I’m seeing
Longing for that moment believing,
Grace appealing, pleading, bleeding
Knowing that I’m needing, feeling.

Today, tomorrow, the mercy seen
Is but a depth, in a breadth, a length,
Time is falling, days are dawning
Knowing that I’m needing, calling.

The lamb returning, and I am longing
To see the eyes of fire freeing,
The throne is moving, creatures fleeing
Knowing that he’s pleading, needing.

Saving, sustaining, knowing, growing,
I’m living, being, knowing, seeing,
Grace appealing, pleading, bleeding
Knowing that I’m needing, feeling.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Helpful verses on seeking satisfaction in Christ, not our flesh.

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. [Romans 8:6]

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit will from the spirit reap eternal life. [Galatians 6:7-8]

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify it's desires. [Romans 13:14]

'If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to loose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to loose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.' [Matthew 5:29-30]

After Lord disciplines those he loves. and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. [Hebrews 12:6]

After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birht to death. [James 1:15]

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. [Psalm 16:11]

Untitled2-needs editing

For mercy carves a thousand promises
And grace secures it new each day
This peace that passeth all my knowledge
Directs my thoughts in Christ to stay.

I sleweth my sin by the strength of the spirit
I exhaled my death throug the lungs of God
That wrath that tears within my soul
Has been torn from me in Christ my Lord.

Through his death, now I live
Through his life, my sin convicts,
Now he's rose, I'll stand anew
And kiss his face, his place, his grace.


Im crushed in my spirit
waiting for you
I long for the night
Without the ado.

The world swirls around
The haze of colored chaos
The grays, the blacks, the browns
Spinning through to slay us.

Oh God I'm naked I'm blind
I'm lost in this haze
I'm out of my mind.

Death crawls to us all
How did we live
In sin and hate
Or weakness to forgive?

Oh Christ save my soul
Take me from this place
Come down on your throne
Let me see your face.

The fire in my heart
Burns brighter with your fuel
scorching away myself
Leaving behind a jewel.

Oh ragged, jagged
Suited, booted,
Falling from
Mountain disputed.
Oh heated, haunted,
Hated, fated,
Late within
This valley waited

I know i'm lost
without your cross,
I know the cost
From frost has glossed,
I know my eyes
Are still criss-crossed
But from your love
The wrath exhaused.

A confused heart - is for but a moment.
A dependent faith - a thousand lifetimes.

Letter from John Piper to his wife Noel on adopting a daughter.

As a big believer in adoption of Children as our heavenly Father as adopted us, I found this letter heart-warming and affirming on so many levels. A wonderful jem of fuitful biblical love in marriage and responsible Christ-mirroring grace by adopting. Enjoy.

Dear Noël,
With confidence in the all-sufficient future grace of God, I am ready and eager to move ahead with the adoption of Talitha Ruth. I want to thank you that during these years, when your heart has yearned to adopt a daughter, you have not badgered me or coerced me. You have been wonderfully patient. You have modeled faith in the sufficiency of prayer. You have always expressed support of me and my ministry even if we should never adopt. You have been reasonable in all our discussions and have come forth with your rationale only when asked. You have honored my misgivings as worthy of serious consideration. . . .
. . . To my perspective it seems to be the path that will “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.” . . . I believe it is the path of greatest love . . . And therefore I have confidence that God is pleased with it.
. . . I believe our eyes are open. . . . We have come through enough to believe that God’s future grace will be sufficient. His mercies are new every morning and there will be mercies for every weight and wonder on this new path of our lives.
I thank God for you. I enter with you gladly on this path. Whether we live to see our daughter grown or not, we will have done well to take her in. Life is very short, whether 12 hours, like Ashley Hope, or 50 years like me, or 76 years like my father, or 94 years like Crystal Anderson. What matters is not that we do all we might have done or all we dreamed of doing, but that, while we live, we live by faith in future grace and walk in the path of love. The times are in God’s hands, not ours.
With this common conviction we will, God willing, embrace our new daughter and give ourselves, with all the might that God inspires in us, to love her into the kingdom. May the Lord establish the plans of our hearts, and bring Talitha Ruth (and the future husband God already knows) into deep and lasting fellowship with Christ. May she be an ebony broach of beauty around your aging neck, and a crown of purity and joy on your graying head.
I love you,


Extracts from John Bunyan's 'Grace Abounding'

1. Of all the temptations that ever I met with in my life, to question the being of God, and the truth of His gospel, is the worst, and the worst to be borne; when this temptation comes, it takes away my girdle from me, and removeth the foundations from under me. Oh, I have often thought of that word, 'Have your loins girt about with truth'; and of that, 'When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?'

2. Sometimes, when, after sin committed, I have looked for sore chastisement from the hand of God, the very next that I have had from Him hath been the discovery of His grace. Sometimes, when I have been comforted, I have called myself a fool for my so sinking under trouble. And then, again, when I have been cast down, I thought I was not wise to give such way to comfort. With such strength and weight have both these been upon me.

3. I have wondered much at this one thing, that though God doth visit my soul with never so blessed a discovery of Himself, yet I have found again, that such hours have attended me afterwards, that I have been in my spirit so filled with darkness, that I could not so much as once conceive what that God and that comfort was with which I have been refreshed.

4. I have sometimes seen more in a line of the Bible than I could well tell how to stand under, and yet at another time the whole Bible hath been to me as dry as a stick; or rather, my heart hath been so dead and dry unto it, that I could not conceive the least drachm of refreshment, though I have looked it all over.

5. Of all tears, they are the best that are made by the blood of Christ; and of all joy, that is the sweetest that is mixed with mourning over Christ. Oh! it is a goodly thing to be on our knees, with Christ in our arms, before God. I hope I know something of these things.

6. I find to this day seven abominations in my heart: (1) Inclinings to unbelief. (2) Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ manifesteth. (3) A leaning to the works of the law. (4) Wanderings and coldness in prayer. (5) To forget to watch for that I pray for. (6) Apt to murmur because I have no more, and yet ready to abuse what I have. (7) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust in themselves, 'When I would do good, evil is present with me.'

7. These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God doth order them for my good. (1) They make me abhor myself. (2) They keep me from trusting my heart. (3) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness. (4) They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus. (5) They press me to pray unto God. (6) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober. (7) And provoke me to look to God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world. Amen.