Dr Nick Needham Lecturing on ‘The Synod of Dort’ at Aberystwyth

Dr Nick Needham will be coming to Aberystwyth Saturday 23rd June to give two lectures on The Synod of Dort.

If you are in Aberystwyth do come along. The lectures will take place at Alfred Place Baptist Church. Coffee at 10:30.

Lecture 1 (11:00). What on Earth was The Synod of Dort?

Lecture 2 (14:30). Why Should I Care?

Dr Needham is the author of ‘2000 Years of Christ’s Power‘ currently in Four Volumes.

Volume 1. The Age of the Early Church Fathers

Volume 2. The Middle Ages

Volume 3. Renaissance and Reformation

Volume 4. The Age of Religious Conflict

(Nick has an overview of the Synod of Dort in Volume 4 of ‘2000 Years of Christ’s Power’ Chapter 2, Section 2, p 127 – 142.)

 

 

Bible Reading: Benefits and Warnings

When I say Bible Reading, I mean systemically reading it through in a year. There are quite a few plans available that take you through the OT and NT in a year. Here are three plans you might like to try.

No 1. The Murray M’Cheyne plan. This takes you through the whole Bible and through the Psalms and NT twice. It can be a lot of reading but then you do get Psalms and NT twice. Obtainable from The Banner of Truth to buy (cheap) or free to print off Here.

No 2. This plan is similar, going through the whole Bible once, so slightly less to read. Available Here.

No 3. Finally, there’s Reading it chronologically. Available to print off Here.

The advantage of the Chronological plan is you read events, Psalms and Prophets in ‘real time’. The disadvantage with this plan is you won’t reach the NT till October! So it is a bit lopsided. This is the plan I use, but as a ‘corrective’ I read a separate NT plan as well.

Go Here for more plans.

I accept there are many ways to ‘do’ your private devotions. And there are advantages to some of these methods. For example, some use commentaries or other things like The Geneva Bible notes – which are very good. I’ve never found that way helpful and they will not take you through the whole Bible. It’s my personal conviction that Christians should be primarily reading the Bibles. Ad Fontes if you like.

If I’m reading a book about doctrine or the Bible, I read that in addition to reading The Bible not instead of it. There are hundreds of excellent books out there that will grab our attention, but no matter how good it is, it isn’t The Word of God.

I have found that if I don’t read before I go out, the day and what it brings just takes over and I end up reading it when I’m far from my best, or I have to catch up. I know it isn’t easy with a family and work, but it can (normally) be done – even if, at times, done poorly. You may not agree, but I think better to do it poorly and out of duty than not at all.

Four Brief Benefits then, not necessarily in order of importance:

Benefit One: You get to read it all not just your favourite bits or what’s trending or topical in your particular Church circles. We rightly make much of The Bible and how all our doctrine and practice come from it, but have we read it. All of it. If you are a new Christian then you probably won’t have read through it yet. So let me encourage you to start doing it today.

Benefit Two: This is similar. You are reading what God Himself has decreed to be recorded and preserved. There are lots of things we might like to know that hasn’t been recorded for us but what we have is what God has left for us to read.

Benefit Three: By systematically and regularly reading it you will slowly become familiar with its contents. You will make connections between one Scripture and another. Names and places will begin to stand out and you get a ‘feel’ for the book as a whole.

Benefit Four: As you read pray. Let God’s Word speak to you and guide you. He will bring people, situations, your own failings and the wonder at what God has done for you in Christ before your mind. Thank God and pray.

Benefit Five: I decided to briefly add this one as well. God Himself tells us through His Word of particular benefits. We are warned, informed, encouraged, delighted, sanctified and cleansed! (Eph 5:26)

That’s the benefits. I’m sure there are many more but now for a few warnings.

Warning One: Just because reading it this way works for you – including the benefits – don’t be fooled into thinking God is going to bless you because of it. He might. He might not. It certainly won’t get you into heaven. Only Christ can do that! Take a look at your heart.

Warning Two: It isn’t always going to be great fun. There will be times when it will be a real grind and you’ll only be reading out of habit. The temptation will be to give up because your heart is cold and formal. Welcome to the real world. Press on. Don’t give up. Remember there isn’t just your own sinful heart to contend with, there’s also an enemy that would draw you away from God’s Word.

Warning Three: You find out other Christians aren’t or haven’t read it right through. Pride is always ready to overtake us. Imagine, getting proud for reading The Bible! It happens. However, God has a way of humbling the proud heart.

Warning Four: For whatever reason, there will be times when you will get behind and the task of catching up begins to look impossible. Don’t get overcome with guilt. Either of these options is fine. Option 1. Set some big chunks of time aside and catch up. Maybe a Sunday afternoon. Option 2. Start afresh from where you are and then keep going!

Finally: I might as well warn you now as there’s no way of getting around it, it won’t always be easy, it will take discipline and just sheer doggedness at times to keep going. But those glimpses The Lord will give you of Himself from time to time far out-way the hard work.

I hope you found this helpful and encouraging.

Grieving – Two-Year Milestone

Thirty-Two years we were married and two years ago today my dear Sue passed peacefully into Eternal Glory and into the presence of her Saviour, The Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful over these two years for the support of family and friends, and for the Church where I’m now a member.

The Lord has been very wonderful to me and by His marvellous Grace I raise my Ebenezer and say ‘Hitherto has The Lord helped me’. Doctrine, and by that I mean theology, can often seem dry and aloof. As A. W. Tozer said ‘Doctrine is the highway that leads to God’. My experience, especially over these last two years, is that doctrine is not only alive and vibrant but does indeed lead to God. When I read a Confession of Faith it’s full of God and overflowing with His majesty and grace to sinners. I’ve also found that God brings us through trials in order for us to see that. I thought I knew stuff about God and The Lord Jesus but I realise now I was only scratching the surface.

Agnostics and atheists may well think we are delusional and might even feel a bit sorry for us Christians. The reality is they are the ones that are deluded. Often deluded into worshipping themselves and what could be more delusional than that! While all the time The Lord says ‘look unto me all the ends of the earth and be saved’. What an offer!! Only a fool would turn that down.

Holding someone’s hand while they slip away into eternity isn’t something to be taken lightly. But I knew exactly to where Sue gently slipped away. I don’t know the when or where or means by which I shall enter eternity. But enter it I will. And so will you. Sue entered eternity with a Saviour who is Mighty to Save, as will I, no matter the details. You will enter eternity, but will you die with a Saviour. Will Jesus, the only Saviour for sinners, be your Saviour. O I pray He will be.

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.

Iron Sharpens Iron

Proverbs 27:17   ‘Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend’.

That’s a great verse, especially for friends. We have our friends best interest at heart and we seek to sharpen them. Here’s a part of Matthew Henry’s commentary:

‘…. Men are filed, made smooth, and bright, and fit for business (who were rough, and dull, and inactive), by conversation. This is designed, 1. To recommend to us this expedient for sharpening ourselves, but with a caution to take heed whom we choose to converse with, because the influence upon us is so great either for the better or for the worse. 2. To direct us what we must have in our eye in conversation, namely to improve both others and ourselves, not to pass away time or banter one another, but to provoke one another to love and to good works and so to make one another wiser and better.’

It’s a good thing to have a friend that will sharpen you up even when it hurts!

Some of you may know (if you don’t, check it out!) Chris Arnzen has a Radio program called ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’ and he quotes Matthew Henry at the beginning of his program.

Here’s the link: Iron Sharpens Iron

A Helpful Resource for New Christians

All things newWhen someone becomes a Christian there’s a tendency to overload them with a pile of reading material. And usually well-meaning people will have different book recommendations, be coming from different theological positions and will probably just confuse the new believer and they will start out with a bunch of books they may never read. But, one book I found extremely helpful is by Peter Jeffery. And still in print. I sat down to skim through it the other day with new Christians in mind. It’s ‘All Things New‘. It was a great help at the time – 1979 – and I can see why it will still be helpful today.

1. It’s very brief. Just 28 pages. Each page deals with either a doctrine or a practice. For example: Page 1. ‘You are now a Christian’. Page 2. ‘You were a lost sinner’. Page 10 ‘You have been Justified’. Page 15 ‘Belonging to a Church’. There are pages on Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, Bible Study, Prayer and many other important doctrines and practices.

2. Each page has several Scripture references to teach the doctrine. Obviously it’s very brief, but it gets the reader into the Bible and shows how the doctrine and practice is taught in the Bible.

3. Many of the pages will have a quotation or two, thus introducing preachers, theologians and documents from Church history. Names like John Murray, John Calvin, C H Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Martin Luther and several others. The Shorter Catechism is also helpfully quoted.

4. Finally, there is a page of Recommended further reading. And a page recommendation to follow a Bible reading plan.

Hard to believe all that is packed into a few pages. But it works really well. This a very very helpful little book and will get new believers into the Bible and introduce them to Church history and theology.

I still have the copy Peter gave me all those years ago.

Does Scripture forbid same-sex relationships? Robert Gagnon vs Jayne Ozanne

The latest (25/04/2015) ‘Unbelievable’ program hosted by Justin Brierly tackled the question Does Scripture forbid same-sex relationships? [The short answer is yes BTW]

‘Prof Robert Gagnon has become a well-known voice advocating the traditional biblical view on sexuality. In a highly charged show he debates the scriptural issues on sexuality with Jayne Ozanne, the director of Accepting Evangelicals who came out as gay earlier this year.’

I would recommend listening to the program, if for no other reason than to see the vacuity of the LGBTQ case. The case that Jayne Ozanne put forward anyway. I would summarise each position like this:

Robert Gagnon: The Bible clearly forbids Same-Sex marital relationships as I have demonstrated.

Jayne Ozanne: I don’t care what the Bible text says, It’s what I feel God is doing in my life and is about love.

That just about sums it up. And if you don’t believe me….

Go to the program page HERE.

Just remember as the catechism states, The Scriptures are our only rule for faith and practice. If the Bible is usurped in the way Jayne Ozanne has demonstrated; what now is our rule for faith and practice? Authority is the heart of the issue. It always has been so.

A Historic Debate in the Juma Masjid in Durban, South Africa

Dr James White is keen to get his recent debates in South Africa circulated as widely as possible. If you are a Muslim visiting this page please listen and watch the debate.

James White and Yusuf Ismail debate the Christology of the Gospel of John, and then the Christology of the Qur’an, in an historic debate in the famous Grey Street Mosque in Durban, South Africa, the home mosque of the late Ahmed Deedat.

Letter to my MP – Same-Sex marriage

Not sure if I’ll get arrested for this, but here’s the letter I just sent to my MP….

Dear Mr ——–,

Given the recent anti-Christian manifestations of just where the Same-Sex Marriage issue has taken us, I thought an email to my Member of Parliament might be appropriate.

I’ve appreciated the fact that you have replied to earlier emails over this issue even though there seemed, to me, to be a veiled threat within them.

The manifestations I refer to are the Ashers Bakery case in Northern Ireland and the Red Cross case dismissal. Just to note: Same-Sex marriage is not legal in NI and the protest by Bryan Barkley was before the law had been passed here. Both cases could, even should, I would think, be open to a counter-claim of discrimination. But I don’t see the Government leading on this. The reason is obvious. The UK Government has made its position clear in that it opposes ANY disagreement with Homosexuality / Same-Sex marriage and would rather ‘celebrate’ an LGBTQ lifestyle.

To me this has been and will be a Vote-Loser. I have voted Conservative many times in the past but I’m no longer able to do so. Regarding Free Speech & Freedom of Religion, I believe Theresa May is a dangerous person believing in neither. That’s Atheists as well saying that about the Home Secretary.

The only party that I’m able to vote for with a good conscience is UKIP. Yes it might be (probably will be) a wasted vote, or even a vote for Labour as it were, but my conscience will be clear. Others will, but I can’t vote for a party that forces me to go against my conscience. At least UKIP seem to understand the need for Freedom of Speech and seeks to uphold it. Unlike the current HS who seeks to deny it. Since my conscience is being assaulted, abused and denied by the Conservative Party (not necessarily individual Conservative MP’s) I have no choice but to vote for someone else.

I’ve wavered at the Ballot box in the past and when push came to shove I have voted Conservative. But not this time. There will be no wavering.

The thing is MP’s generally think money is the only issue. I don’t have a particularly well paid job (???) but I’d prefer to have that and a clear conscience than loads of money. It’s not just the Same-Sex issue. It’s climate change, It’s the response to Islam and the whole politically correct agenda that’s helping to sink this country. If someone wants to believe something else – fine. But I believe in robust dialogue. The Christian faith is abused EVERY SINGLE DAY in one way or another. David Cameron etc really don’t have the first clue about Islam or Christianity. He claims to be a Christian, but his actions clearly show him to be deceived at best. Maybe his advisor’s are feeding him false information.

To conclude. What I really want – I’ve said this before, but things continue to get worse, is a commitment by the Government to Free-Speech. Many Atheists get that and want the same. For believing the Bible, many an Atheist would tell me I’m sick, insane, deluded, stupid, even dangerous. I’m ok with that. That is their right. But I just might speak similarly about them.

I do not want to ‘affirm’ homosexuality (LGBTQ). The Bible is very clear in its condemnation of Homosexuality & Same-Sex marriage. The Bible calls it Sinful. The implications of denying this Biblical teaching is huge. I don’t think politicians quite understand what is at stake. Homosexuality is in one sense a non-issue. We are all sinners, all under the condemnation of God, all have broken the Law of God, all are in need of a Saviour. My sin will take me to hell just as much as a practising homosexual. But if I choose to say my sins are OK I haven’t just re-defined my sins, I have changed everything. God, the Bible, Jesus and every single Bible teaching and ALL morality becomes a wax-nose for me to fashion in any way I choose. Why not have a threesome marriage, or four, or five? I could marry and have sex with my mother, cousin, daughter, son, father. Everything is allowed. Why? Any moral authority for saying those things are wrong has been, or is in the process of being destroyed. Worst of all, if there is no sin, there is no need for a Saviour. There is no longer any good news – no Gospel. This is why (some) Christians are making a noise about this. It’s not simply a lifestyle choice.

I’ll leave it there. If you have read this far, thank you for your time. Sadly I will not be voting Conservative at the next election. And if UKIP get on the ‘Gay’ bandwagon I will not be voting for them either.

Kind Regards,

I’ll let you know if I get a response.