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Rich Owen has just drawn my attention to this hymn on our union with Christ:

The meter is 88.88, does anyone have a favourite tune for that meter.  There are over 400 to choose from!

‘Twixt Jesus and the Chosen Race
Subsists a bond of sov’reign grace,
That hell, with its infernal train,
Shall ne’er dissolve, or rend in twain.

This sacred bond shall never break,
Though earth should to her center shake;
Rest, doubting saint, assured of this,
For God has pledged His holiness.

He swore but once the deed was done;
‘Twas settled by the great Three One;
Christ was appointed to redeem
All that the Father loved in Him.

Hail, sacred union, firm and strong
How great thy grace, how sweet the song,
That rebel worms should ever be
One with incarnate Deity!

One in the tomb, one when He rose,
One when he triumphed o’er His foes
One when in heav’n He took His seat,
While seraphs sung at hell’s defeat.

Blessed by the wisdom and the grace,
Th’ eternal love and faithfulness,
That’s in the gospel scheme revealed,
And is by God the Spirit sealed.

By John Kent, 1887.

 

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Have you heard this one before?  I've just come across it.  Wonderful words!

1. Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Moment by moment I'm kept in His love;
Moment by moment I've life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

2. Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I'm under His care.

3. Never a heartache, and never a groan,
Never a teardrop and never a moan;
Never a danger but there on the throne,
Moment by moment He thinks of His own.

4. Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
Jesus my Savior, abides with me still.

Words: Daniel Whittle; Music: May Moody

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Sermon Audio on Matthew 3:1-17

There are many frustrations involved in being an Australian cricket fan in this country.  Many more in recent years!  But one of the biggest frustrations is the fact that in the middle of an international test series to decide the number one team in the world, the sports news in this country seems more concerned about the off-season exploits of club football.  Why?  Transfer deals.  Every club wants to find a man who will turn their fortunes around.  They scour the world trying to find the man who will bring them glory, who will lift the trophies, who will win them the silverware.  And they pay millions of pounds to secure this man.

But of course it’s a myth.  There isn’t one footballer who can really do all that.  But football fans pretend and hope against hope and spend ludicrous amounts of money, and take up all the column inches in the newspapers.

It’s a myth that one man can turn it all around, but imagine it works.  Imagine they discover the man who will raise the club to fresh heights.  He scores in every game, he takes them to the FA Cup final, he scores the winning goal in the dying seconds of the match.  And you’re there in the crowd.  And all season – even pre-season – he’s been your man, you’ve always trusted in him, you’ve always believed that he would be the one.  And you’re there in the crowd and everyone is going crazy, and he runs to the sideline, right where you are, and lifts his arms and makes a gesture like “This is for you.”  And you’re bellowing you celebrations to him, and you’re hugging total strangers, but you’re all on the same team, you’re all united IN the one man.  You are united TO your champion.  His victory is your victory, and you celebrate as though you had scored the winning goal.  You haven’t scored the winning goal.   You haven’t expended a calorie of effort in the victory, but your man has done it and you share in his glory.

That’s how Christians feel about Jesus.  He is the one man, the one man who comes to reverse our fortunes, the one man who steps forward to defeat all the powers we could never defeat.  The one man who wins victory and then shares His victory with we who believe in Him.  He is our Champion, and we need to understand that about Jesus.

...continue reading "Christ our Champion – Sermon on Matthew 3"

I'm always coming across it.  Do you ever hear this kind of statement?

Well yes it's important to be Christ-centred, but let's not forget the Father or the Spirit.

And I say...

Wh...

H...

Y...

Honestly, I don't know what to say to that.  It's hard for me to imagine the kind of God or gospel in which that sentence makes sense.

Because where does such thinking leave the mediation of Christ ?  Do we really believe in Christ as Mediator?

Or do we think it's about balancing our respect for the Persons?  As though 'being trinitarian' means standing before a loose association of deities and ensuring equal devotion.  That sounds more like speed-dating at the Pantheon.  Do we really imagine ourselves to be outside the Three, making sure we spend equal time at the feet of Each?  Have we forgotten that we are in the Son?  And nowhere else!  Have we forgotten that the Father and the Spirit are in the Son?  And nowhere else!

Or is that only an incidental point?  Is that only half true?  Or only sometimes true?  Because if it's just true - true true - then there's no way to be Patro-centric or Pneuma-centric except by being resolutely Christo-centric.

I know the Father as 'Him Who makes the Son Son.'  I know the Spirit as 'Him Who makes the Christ, Christ.'  And I don't know them otherwise.

But a theologian making a plea for equal time for the Persons... once they turn their gaze from the Son, how exactly are they going to view the Father?  They're not.  So this one to whom they turn when they look away from Jesus, who is that guy?

And what's he doing?  Clearly He hasn't committed all things into His Son's hands.  He's got a venture or two on the side that requires supplemental enquiries!

And where do they imagine themselves to be as they circulate around the trinity?  Do they think of themselves as a fourth individual at the heart of the Holy Huddle.  Well the Shack might put me there and some Christian art might put me there, and that might be an improvement on unitarianism. But that's not really where I am.  I'm IN Jesus participating in His Sonship and Anointing.  This is my only access to the life of the trinity.  Jesus is not just One of the Three, He is The Way.

I don't have a relationship with the Father and the Spirit except the relationship that Christ has with them.  I know the trinity not from some objective fourth perspective, but only from Christ's perspective.  Only in Him, and all that He is and does for me, do I know His Father and Spirit.

So, absolutely, don't forget the Father or Spirit.  Get to know the Persons in all their distinct glory and grace. But they are not outside of the Christ, the Son of God. And neither are you.

Rant over.

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A sermon on 1 John 1:1-4

Audio here

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

It was a good meal, good friends, good wine.  People were relaxing around the table. One man seemed even more relaxed than the rest.  We’re told that

23 the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to Jesus… Leaning back against Jesus, he asked Him a question… (John 13:23,25, NIV)

This is the Apostle John – the author of this letter.  And the author of John’s Gospel as well.  John remembers this night very well.  He remembers leaning back against Jesus.  And the Old King James version is a lot more literal about the closeness here, even if it uses old fashioned language.  It says:

23 [John was] leaning on Jesus' bosom …

and in the next verse it describes him

lying on Jesus' breast (John 13:23, KJV)

He’s laying his head on the chest of Jesus.

John was one of the younger if not the youngest disciple.  And he calls himself “the disciple Jesus loved.”  Clearly he felt completely at ease with Jesus – leaning back on his chest.  Jesus had just washed their feet, He was teaching them about His Father and because it was Passover they would have been singing hymns around the dinner table.  We can imagine throughout Jesus’ arm around His young friend as John leant back on Jesus.

John knew he could find rest and peace and welcome in the arms of Jesus.  But he also knew just who Jesus is.  You see John begins his gospel reminding us that this Jesus is God’s Eternal Word, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The opening line to his gospel says, “In the beginning was the Word.”  In the beginning was Jesus. Before the universe – Jesus was there.  In fact He wasn’t just there, John chapter 1, verse 18 says Jesus was “in the bosom of the Father.”  To use the old King James translation.  In the beginning Jesus was in the bosom of the Father.

Jesus had enjoyed for eternity what John enjoyed for those few minutes.  Companionable, contented, joy and love.  That has always been Christ’s experience “in the arms of the Father” if you like.

And then, without breaking fellowship in any way with the Father, Jesus came down into our world as flesh.  As one of us.  Fully God and Fully Man.  So that we might rest in His arms.

...continue reading "In the bosom of Jesus in the bosom of the Father – A Sermon on 1 John 1:1-4"

Sermon on Proverbs
Audio Here

The book of Proverbs is a long and colourful fireside chat.  It’s the words of a father to his son.  Verse 1 introduces us to the father:

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel

Verse 8 addresses the son:

8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.

In fact Solomon keeps saying, over twenty times in this book, “My son, my son, my son.”  The King is addressing the crown prince and saying, “Now boy, here’s what you need in life.”

When we read Proverbs we should be aware, we’re eavesdropping on a fireside chat.  It’s not a transcript of a real conversation.  It’s written in rich picture language and riddles and rhymes that need to be chewed over and slowly digested.  But it’s advice from Solomon to his son the prince.  And here’s what his advice boils down to:  Watch out for the ladies.  In particular there are two ladies you need to look out for.

There’s a lady called Wisdom – she is magnificent, she is heart-captivating, she is beautiful, she is more precious than rubies, she is everything you need.  If you get her, you lack nothing.  So whatever else you get in life, get her – get Wisdom – embrace her, marry her.

Then there’s another lady called Folly.  She is loud and flashy and deceptive and seductive and deadly.  She is the original femme fatale.  If you get her you lose everything.

So avoid her, ignore her, resist her, don’t be seduced, don’t be ensnared by her.

So, my son, watch out for the ladies.  Embrace Wisdom, shun Folly.

According to Proverbs, success in life is not ultimately a matter of the intellect. It’s not about having enough education.  It’s not about your IQ.  It’s not ultimately about having enough information to make wise choices.

And neither is success about the will – as though we just need to apply ourselves, be determined and resolved and just do it!.  No, Wisdom and Folly are matters of the heart.

Solomon says to the prince in Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Dear Son – your heart is everything.  What you LOVE will be a wellspring, it will flow out into every area of life.

Life’s not basically a matter of the mind, or a matter of the will.  At the deepest level, life is about the heart.  Our lives will be a success depending on what we love.  Or rather on Who we love.

Because Wisdom is very definitely a Person.  She is Lady Wisdom.

...continue reading "The Message of Proverbs: Watch Out for the Ladies"

It's important to rightly relate these truths - 'I am in Christ' and 'Christ is in me' (see this older post and this one).

If I put "Christ in me" first then I fall for a Catholic doctrine of infusion.  God infuses His grace into me so that I begin to live the righteous life.  Eventually I might be declared righteous.  If a person gives priority to "Christ in me" they may have Personalised the grace which God gives (which is an improvement on the Catholic doctrine) but we're still travelling along the same route.

The gospel is "I in Christ" - that is, through a gracious marriage union with Christ I immediately have His name.  Therefore righteousness is a status instantly imputed to me as a gift in Jesus. The rest of my life involves a communion with Jesus in which I gradually exhibit more and more of His nature.  But that is not my hope.  My hope is not me living Christ's life (by His power within me).  My hope is Christ living my life (with me hidden in Him).

This morning I was reflecting on the nature of the sacraments and how they teach this fundamental truth.  I am baptised into Christ.  This is the beginning and foundation of my Christian life - I in Christ.  But regularly I am fed by Christ and take Him into myself - Christ in me.

To put it in Passover terms, I am saved once and for all by the Lamb's blood applied externally - I'm hidden in the Lamb.  But I am nourished for the journey out of Egypt by the Lamb's flesh - the Lamb in me.

And incidentally this is the basis of the Christian sexual ethic too.  The once-for-all one-flesh union first, the regular one-flesh communion afterwards - the two utterly united and the former given absolute priority.

Mix them up and you get into all sorts of trouble, in all areas of life!

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It's important to rightly relate these truths - 'I am in Christ' and 'Christ is in me' (see this older post and this one).

If I put "Christ in me" first then I fall for a Catholic doctrine of infusion.  God infuses His grace into me so that I begin to live the righteous life.  Eventually I might be declared righteous.  If a person gives priority to "Christ in me" they may have Personalised the grace which God gives (which is an improvement on the Catholic doctrine) but we're still travelling along the same route.

The gospel is "I in Christ" - that is, through a gracious marriage union with Christ I immediately have His name.  Therefore righteousness is a status instantly imputed to me as a gift in Jesus. The rest of my life involves a communion with Jesus in which I gradually exhibit more and more of His nature.  But that is not my hope.  My hope is not me living Christ's life (by His power within me).  My hope is Christ living my life (with me hidden in Him).

This morning I was reflecting on the nature of the sacraments and how they teach this fundamental truth.  I am baptised into Christ.  This is the beginning and foundation of my Christian life - I in Christ.  But regularly I am fed by Christ and take Him into myself - Christ in me.

To put it in Passover terms, I am saved once and for all by the Lamb's blood applied externally - I'm hidden in the Lamb.  But I am nourished for the journey out of Egypt by the Lamb's flesh - the Lamb in me.

And incidentally this is the basis of the Christian sexual ethic too.  The once-for-all one-flesh union first, the regular one-flesh communion afterwards - the two utterly united and the former given absolute priority.

Mix them up and you get into all sorts of trouble, in all areas of life!

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