Bildad is Alive & Well

Job's_Comforters_Butts_setThis passage stood out from Job chapter 8.

Job 8:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
Job 8:2 “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
Job 8:3 Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?
Job 8:4 If your children have sinned against him, he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression.
Job 8:5 If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy,
Job 8:6 if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.
Job 8:7 And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

Then this passage from Zophar:

Job 11:2 “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be judged right?
Job 11:3 Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
Job 11:4 For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’
Job 11:5 But oh, that God would speak and open his lips to you,
Job 11:6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves‘.

Bildad and his two friends Zophar & Eliphaz are as much in the dark as poor Job but they make the assumption that it is because Job has sinned that calamity has fallen upon him. Of course, everything we do and all we are falls short of the Glory of God, so in that sense, we have all sinned. But here, there was no particular sin that brought judgement upon the head of Job. On the contrary, we are introduced in the very first verse of the book to Job as a man that ‘… was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil‘. We further read in chapter 1 ‘And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”. That is the testimony of God about His servant Job. Apart from the book of his name Job is only mentioned in three other places in the Bible, twice in Ezekiel and once in James. Here they are.

Eze 14:14 even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD.
Eze 14:20 even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness.

Jas 5:11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness (patience AV, endurance NASB) of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

The three verses testify to the character of Job. On fast forwarding to the last chapter, we read the following.

Job 42:7 After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
Job 42:8 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

That is pretty serious stuff to have God say his anger burns towards the three friends. Why? Because they have not spoken what is right, unlike Job. Job is told to pray for his friends. Were the three friends included in verse 11 of the final chapter? I think so. The two things they had sought to do when silent are mentioned again at the end – to show sympathy and to comfort. Job still has to live with the death of his children even though blessed with further children. There is restoration but he still needs sympathy and comfort. Maybe Bildad and his friends learnt something as well. And Job had to pray for the ones that had cut him down with words. Something for us to learn.

Job 42:11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

So, returning to the passage in Job 8: 1-7, I thought, ‘I know this man’. Anyone sitting under a graceless and judgmental ministry, that batters instead of builds, that pours judgement instead of the Balm of Gilead will know him too. Bildad (and his friends) is alive and well.

It’s very simple, and simplistic, to think because this, that. Job’s friends were doing the best for him when they wept and sat with him in silence because they could see his suffering was very great. I’m sure Job was grateful that his friends sat with him. Until they opened their mouths that is. Here’s how they are introduced:

Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.
Job 2:12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.
Job 2:13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

If only they had kept quiet. Instead, they add to his suffering by getting it all wrong. Job is a righteous man. He has Gospel Righteousness. And by that I mean he had a righteousness that wasn’t his own. It is from another, given, gifted to Job through faith. Even though Job is a righteous man he says some dumb things like we all do and repents in dust and ashes before God.

May we learn to weep with those that weep. I am reminded again of the ministry of Andrew Davies some years ago at the Aberystwyth Conference. He preached four sessions through the book of Job. Now there was a lot of good things said. But a point Andrew made was this; ‘Don’t beat people with the truth!‘ Not only did they beat Job with the truth, they were wrong. Let us not be like that. Let us, so far as we are able, pour in the Balm of Gilead – the Gospel of the Grace of God in Christ. Let us not batter our brothers and sisters in Christ with the law but pour in the oil and the wine of forgiveness and mercy, truth and love, the covenant mercy of a gracious God!

Diary of a Grieving Christian – 6 (The Burial & Funeral Service)

Follow this link to listen to the whole service. Funeral Service of Sue Iliff


Maybe a couple more and then I’ll probably get back to the usual posts interspersed with things I’ve learned over the last year or so or a ‘kind of’ diary entry. Waking up today (Tuesday 8th December 2015) in many ways is far worse because I now have to think about life without Sue, and move on as they say. But I don’t want to ‘move on’. Although I’ve talked about ‘moving on’ I have no idea what that means without Sue. For now, I’ll walk through Sunday and the day of the Funeral – yesterday Monday 7th December 2015. The whole Service was recorded. And I think it was just such an amazing service. The church was pretty well full. The Gospel was clearly proclaimed. The singing was wonderful. Without a doubt, God was in that service! And to bless!

So on Sunday I stayed at home all day. I planned on going to the evening service but in the end just couldn’t face it. Instead I joined Robert and the folks at IBC in Sacramento for their morning service on-line. I seriously wondered how I would get through the Burial and the Service on Monday. I was dreading it. I even thought about not turning up. Monday came and I started the day by lying awake worrying if the burial would be in the right place and a number of other things I seemed to only just be thinking about. Didn’t people throw roses or something into the open grave? What an idiot – I just hadn’t thought it all through and now it was too late to do anything about it. I read my Bible and prayed. Then I got up.
It helped that the family were here. Ruth and Adrian were on their way with the kids. I was hoping my suit would fit. It was horrible not having Sue making sure I had dressed myself correctly. I came downstairs, saw myself in the mirror and just felt so sad that Sue wasn’t with me – we did everything together. Rhodri & Sybil also arrived and we gathered in the living room  because I wanted us to pray before leaving. Chris and Adrian prayed. As we stood to leave, I said, ‘remember, as Sue would have said, her body is there, but she isn’t’. We then got in the cars and made our way to the cemetery.

One of the first things I noticed when we arrived at the cemetery was that Ruth came with a bunch of single Roses. Dear Ruth. I wasn’t sure how many would be at the burial. But I soon realised there were a lot more than I expected. All waiting for us to approach. Everything was in place. The grave was where I had hoped it would be (but worried about). I felt calm and at peace. Julie from the Funeral Directors briefly explained what would happen and directed us to the right spot – right in front of the grave with the coffin ready to be lowered. Everyone gathered round. Paul (Pastor Paul Watts) spoke beautifully, movingly and with much conviction. As Christians we can speak with conviction the truths of the Gospel even when death is quite literally right before our eyes.

My dear, dear, darling Sue’s body is now in the ground waiting for the resurrection at the final day, when Jesus will be revealed in all those that have believed and those that have rejected Him will call upon the very rocks to cover them from the face of the Lamb of God who will now be their Judge.

One of the things that stood out as testimony was the diversity of people that came to the burial or the service or both. People she had worked with from 30 years before, others from more recent times, friends and even girls from where she had her hair done. She touched a lot of people, all sorts of people, not all from the church either, but couldn’t see it in herself as you will hear.

I needn’t say too much about the funeral as the whole service was recorded (link above & below). But once we were all there and seated Paul began to lead the service. (Our Son Chris and Ruth’s husband Adrian gave tributes. Our friend Trevor Thomas read from the Scripture and Chris’s Pastor Geoff Thomas prayed.) The church was well-nigh full. Sue endeared herself to a lot of people. I don’t know what I thought throughout really. But the Gospel was faithfully preached and very clearly. We pray for fruit. There were a couple of times my emotions nearly got the better of me but I hung in there. Afterwards it was a case of trying to meet and thank as many people as possible. Sharon the lady that first spoke to Sue about Jesus was there with her husband and ‘naughty boy’ Paul. My Best Man Mike was there. It was lovely to see so many. By the end of the service I was shattered. So many people at our church (Lower Ford Street Baptist Church, Coventry) helped make the day happen. I am so thankful to God for all the people there that have prayed and helped and supported. ‘See how they love one another’.

The day(s) after is another story. Now what do I do?

Follow this link to listen to the service. Funeral Service of Sue Iliff

Logic on Fire – Review by Carl Trueman

Today I was pointed to this review (Link Below) of the ‘Logic on Fire’ Documentary of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. A really excellent review – and I agree with every single word. I didn’t realise it until Dr Trueman pointed it out, but it is done very well in the style of a Ken Burns documentary. I too will be watching this many times and will be encouraging others to watch it. The lessons are timeless.

This weekend I spent an afternoon watching the new DVD from Media Gratiae which is being promoted by Banner of Truth, Logic on Fire.  With this, and the Bannerman volume, in the space of two weeks, the Banner is at the top of its game.

Source: Logic on Fire

It’s available to buy in the UK HERE or HERE.

Logic on Fire – Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones Documentary

Lloyd-JonesLast evening we watched Logic on Fire – A documentary film about Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Just incredible! It showed very powerfully what is lacking today. If you haven’t you seen it, you need to see it! Especially if you are a preacher. It was a privilege and a blessing to watch it. I need to watch it again.
(Watch trailer below)

Almost everything that was said is antithetical to the direction of the Church today. I dread where it will be in 20 years. It always seems to be looking for something new, something relevant that will be attractive to people today. When will we understand that people are DEAD in trespasses and sins. Nothing, NOTHING but the power of God can give a sinner life. That is message that is reiterated over and over and over again in the Documentary and is what Dr Lloyd-Jones emphasised through his ministry because it is the message of the Bible itself.

We (my wife and I) came to faith on the coat-tails of that period. MLJ was still alive when I became a believer and his influence was still very powerful in the Church. In fact the Church I attended was heavily influenced by him. One of the founding members and his wife were personal friends of The Dr. I think he preached the opening sermon. The first minister of the Church (REFC) was Rev Kenneth Howard (more of him another time) and came highly recommended by Dr Lloyd-Jones. And I believe Peter Jeffery was also recommended or at least known by him – one of ‘Lloyd-Jones boys’ (will check facts for this).

There are some great contributions by many that knew him. And it was encouraging to see younger preachers being blessed and encouraged through his life and ministry.

If you have never heard him preach go to The MLJ Trust and download some of his sermons. They are timeless because The Gospel is timeless and still very powerful. I listened to one of the sermons recently and it could have been preached today even though it was preached 50 years ago.

Peter Jeffery – Speaking on the Blessings of his time in Rugby

When Peter Jeffery ministered in Rugby there was a wonderful time of refreshing from the Lord. During that time I became a Christian, my wife became a Christian, we were also married by Peter and my parents also became Christians.

The Gospel was powerfully preached regularly. The Cross of Christ was preached regularly and was central to the ministry. In-bedded in my soul through Peter’s ministry was a love for the Gospel and a fierce jealousy for maintaining its purity. The abiding conviction given to me by The Lord was of the Truth of the Gospel.

Peter has spoken of his ministry several times. It was hoped he would be speaking at his church Sunday evening but was not well enough. As a contingency they recorded what he would have spoken if he were fit enough. The videos are in three parts below. Under God I owe Peter a lot. Enjoy

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

April 20th – Last Evening with Mr Spurgeon

[Reading this last night we couldn’t help wonder what Spurgeon might have thought about what’s going on in our land in this our day. The answer to the assaults upon the Church and upon the Word of God are the same as were for Spurgeon. We pray The Lord Jesus will lift His sword – not to fall upon the necks of the unbeliever as we have seen from some Muslims – but the Sword of His Word that people might be brought to repentance and faith and to bow the knee to King Jesus and to have the joy of sins forgiven and peace with God. How we should pray for the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of a Crucified and Risen Saviour, to have free course in our land and to not be silenced by those who ‘will not have this man to reign over them’. The emphases below are mine]

April 20th Evening

“Fight the Lord’s battles.”
1 Samuel 18:17

The sacramental host of God’s elect is warring still on earth, Jesus Christ being the Captain of their salvation. He has said, “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Hark to the shouts of war! Now let the people of God stand fast in their ranks, and let no man’s heart fail him. It is true that just now in England the battle is turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift his sword, we know not what may become of the church of God in this land; but let us be of good courage, and play the man. There never was a day when Protestantism seemed to tremble more in the scales than now that a fierce effort is making to restore the Romish antichrist to his ancient seat. We greatly want a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the old gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. The Saviour is, by his Spirit, still on earth; let this cheer us. He is ever in the midst of the fight, and therefore the battle is not doubtful. And as the conflict rages, what a sweet satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in his office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for his people! O anxious gazer, look not so much at the battle below, for there thou shalt be enshrouded in smoke, and amazed with garments rolled in blood; but lift thine eyes yonder where the Saviour lives and pleads, for while he intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that all depends upon him.

Now, by the lilies of Christian purity, and by the roses of the Saviour’s atonement, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, we charge you who are lovers of Jesus, to do valiantly in the Holy War, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and crown jewels of your Master. Onward! “for the battle is not yours but God’s.”

Andrew Davies – George Whitefield & the Evangelical Revival

The next lecture in our Church History Lectures will be Andrew Davies on

George Whitefield & the Evangelical Revival

Date: 23rd Mar 2015
Time: 7.30
Place: Bulkington Congregational Church, Bulkington.

If you can make it, it would be great to see you. Andrew lectured for many years on Church History at London Theological Seminary. He has Pastored several Churches here in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Though retired, he now has a much appreciated itinerant ministry.

Andrew Davies – Sermons
Evangelical Movement of Wales
Sermon Audio

Geoff Thomas – The Legacy of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones

I’ve been a bit slow in posting this but Geoff’s lecture is available from the website at Bulkington Congregational website and eventually at my own website.

The lecture was given by Geoff in his own unique way – warm and homely, yet packed full with lessons and exhortations to the church of our own day. There were a number of people at the lecture that attended Westminster Chapel and went to the Friday bible studies. And one friend that did attend Westminster testifies ‘that God was in that place’. And by that he means in a way that is not apparent today.

A service of worship isn’t like anywhere else and it shouldn’t be like anything else. There should be a sobriety when gathering to meet with God yet with deep thankfulness at the privilege of being able to worship this awesome God. This is the God, the true and living God, that sent into this world of sin His only Son to die and rise for sinners.

Listen to the lecture. Go HERE. You know what to do.

Using Film as an Evangelistic Tool

I wrote a piece a few years ago for my own interest on the ‘evangelistic’ video ‘Who is this Jesus?’. I am in the process of listening to a series of podcasts by Dr Scott Clark on The Ten Commandments – the latest one I listened to is on Worshipping the Right God in the Right Way. Some of the discussion was on the ‘image’ of Jesus and it made me think of evangelistic films and this film in particular.

So here my scattered thoughts on the video. Hope you find it thought-provoking and helpful.

I sat and watched this video with a member of a church, where the church was intent on using it as a tool for evangelism. While watching I made a few notes, and typed the following scattered thoughts.

The principle behind the use of this video is this, ‘if it works it must be right’. It is my belief that this thinking is to say the least, unhelpful, particularly as you just cannot argue that because something works (i.e., people are converted) it is good or right. We are back again to the regulative principle, a principle that sections of the church would like to hold, but is unable to practice it in a media controlled world. We have to use only those means that God has given to the Church, regardless of – as far as we can tell – whether they ‘work’ or not. If they do not seem to work, then we should call upon the Lord to honour the means of His own appointing.

Some general comments on Video Use

1. Non-objective. It is a subjective use of images and editing.

2. Centred on man. What happens if the subject (the ‘celebrity’ star) i.e. the central character backslides or falls into serious sin? The charge then becomes the opposite of the original premise. That is, ‘look it works’ becomes ‘look it doesn’t work’. Man first, God second. Because of the way it is presented.

3. Relativism. It works for you, or the subject of the film. (See ‘Truth Decay’ p.163 The Hidden Dangers of Relevance) Subjective truth & Absolute truth.

4. Competing images. It tries to play the world at its own game. It will lose.

5. Manipulation. The (any) presentation will be highly scripted, not only this, but lighting, location, clothing, items in the room or ‘set’ etc. The whole presentation will be designed to manipulate the viewer. This is not the view of the apostle Paul and it shouldn’t be ours either.

6. Preaching is the presentation of objective truth. As Paul Cook recently (when I originally made the notes) said at a history lecture ‘we need to get back to preaching, and to believe in preaching’.

7. Many (not all) Media writers, I feel, would urge caution in the use of media where images are edited, scripted, and manipulated.

8. Theology. What is the theology (if any) of the Director and the Producer? This will influence the presentation.

9. Some Christians will argue for it because of the ‘well he uses it at school’ argument. So what has that to do with it?

10. Who is the intended audience? Again, this will greatly influence the production.

11. Is it really glorifying to God and his salvation.

12. ‘Documentary’ tends to give an authority that is probably not warranted.

13. Even if the video is very good, this is still no reason to use this type of method in evangelism.

14. The presenter is alive and likely to change. The presenter has been chosen, not for his spirituality, not for his gifts in exposition or preaching, but for his media personality, that he has a well-known face. In other words, media marketing is the name of the game.

The Video itself

Is it a documentary? Strictly speaking it is a ‘Docu-Drama’ as it utilises actors in playing a role, including playing the role of Jesus. It is a documentary in so much as it is attempting to communicate a series of propositions.

It may be worth noting that if this video presented the case for evolution, I suspect there would be stringent criticism of it.

The Use of Testimony.

You will notice that there is a housewife (a homemaker in these liberating days), a musician, a Rugby player, a care worker and a former gang member. Many differing faiths give the ‘convert’ a testimony. The whole use of testimony, to me is fraught with difficulty. It seems to be the opposite of ‘let me declare unto you this Jesus’. Instead we have ‘let me tell you what happened to me’. It very subtly shifts the centre of attention, from God to man.

Images and music used in the video.

Emotive use of music combined with images, or when talking of the cross.
If this were a ‘Billy Graham’ crusade, many churches would have nothing to do with it, as using emotive techniques to create a response. This video does exactly the same thing. This is particularly striking when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with use of emotive music and images. As Neil Postman states that the music is there to inform the viewer what emotions they should be feeling at the time.

Content of the video.

As far as I know, the geographical information is correct. However, it is worth mentioning that the Romans flattened Jerusalem in AD 70 putting the exact location of many places in doubt. I would however be more concerned about the message or should I say the lack of message. The gospel as far as I could tell was absent. The question then, is, what is the gospel? Some might say this video is nothing but a tool, a way to open people up, to make them willing to talk about spiritual truths. I commend the desire, but is this video really necessary in that case? Surely as we get to know people, opportunities will come, a word here, a word there, maybe an extended conversation that gives you a real God-given opportunity to ‘preach’ the gospel to them. Maybe they asked the question, what made you become a Christian? Then you can tell them. They will listen. Although the presenter talks of sin, we are never (as far as I could tell) told in necessary detail what it is. Nowhere is sin explained, or judgement (so as not to put people off presumably) or the nature of man. More seriously, the cross is only ever explained in terms of physical suffering and never in its spiritual sense. The physicality of it is far more emotive (making for good TV) than the spiritual aspect. This is quite deliberate. This is the serious point of the video. Any aspect of a filmed production has within it only those items that are meant to be there. It will be highly scripted, which I suppose explains the deliberate need for a professional actor (and actors).
The costumes were pretty poor, it has to be said, the hessian headgear looked brand new which to my mind made it pretty laughable.

We are told that many millions round the world believe. Is this really a valid argument, millions around the world are Catholics or Muslims, or Hindu’s, or Sikhs, or atheists for that matter! We have to stick to a propositional truth because it is truth, not because millions of others think it is true.

I can see what they are attempting in the video, and they are to be commended for their desire, but it is debatable as to what it is that they actually achieve. As for me, I think it is just another way of side-lining or denigrating preaching and further making us less likely to speak of The Lord Jesus Christ without the aid of a prop.

What says the scripture?

2 Corinthians 4:2-5

2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

2 Corinthians 2:17 (also 2:14-17)

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

The following quotations are from ‘Amusing ourselves to death’ by Neil Postman.

P90 ‘…all television programmes are embedded in music, which helps to tell the audience what emotions are to be called forth’

P119 ‘…not all forms of discourse can be converted from one medium to another. It is naïve to suppose that something that has been expressed in one form can be expressed in another without significantly changing its meaning,…’

P124 ‘I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.’