Archives for March 2007

Why Charismatics are not New Testament Christians

I had intended to do a round-up of recent debate in blogosphere, but I need to get something off my chest. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that only non-Charismatics have really taken the New Covenant Age of the Spirit seriously. Charismatics are still stuck in the Old Testament age. They’re not New Testament believers – they’re Old Testament believers.

Let me explain what I mean.

The Gift of Prophecy

Take the gift of prophecy for example. Many cessationists are happy to acknowledge that the gift of prophecy is a New Covenant gift for all believers. The cessationist Richard Gaffin, writes this:

…according to the New Testament all believers are prophets; the whole church is a congregation of prophets. Analogous to the Reformation insistence on the universal priesthood of believers, we may speak of the ‘prophethood’ of all within the new covenant community…1

The charismatic on the other hand believes that there are only some New Testament believes who are gifted as prophets. The majority of us don’t have that office. And so, just like the Old Testament priests and prophets, there is a spiritual hierarchy, and those who are not prophets must go to those who are to find out what God’s will is for them.

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Review: The Word Became Fresh, by Dale Ralph Davis

[photopress:the_word_became_fresh.jpg,thumb,right]Any preacher who has read Ralph Davis’ commentaries on the Old Testament historical books, or heard him preach, will be in no doubt that he is a man who has that rare combination of exegetical thoroughness, no-nonsense application, warm-hearted pastoral concern, and not a little dry humour to boot. It is a brave preacher who will preach from a passage in Joshua – 2 Kings without at least consulting Davis first.

The logic of Davis’ exegesis is usually so compelling, that the preacher can often be left asking himself the question, Why couldn’t I see that? This makes this new book (full title: The Word became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts) extremely appealing.

After an introductory chapter on the right approach to the Old Testament, Davis deals with seven different ways in which Old Testament writers get their readers’ attention and make their point. Each chapter is full of brief, but pertinent, examples from Scripture, which makes one wish a Scriptural index of the passages discussed had been added.

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The Glorious Gift of Work

A few days ago I was discussing the excesses of our entertainment generation, and the way that can so easily creep into our lives. I finished by saying “What is God’s great plan for you and I to find fulfilment? Not television or concerts or the weekend. God wants us to be fulfilled, and He’s given us a wonderful gift to ensure that happens — the gift of work.” Today, I want to spell this out in a bit more detail

Work is good

Why then do we never wake up on a Monday morning and shout to the heavens: ‘Thank you God! I can go to work today!’ Why instead, do we spend our week longing for Friday and the weekend?

It is true — work really is good…

  1. Genesis 2:15 says, ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’ In paradise itself, where everything was ‘very good’, work was being done. And not just being done, Adam’s very existence in the garden was in order to work.
  2. Ephesians 2:10 tells us ‘For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.’ Adam was created so he could work. The Christian was saved in order that he could work.
  3. In Matthew 9:38 Jesus says we are to ask God to ‘send out workers into his harvest field’. The Christian is not just to work, he’s to pray that more would joining him!
  4. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful… so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ One reason the Bible was given was so that we would be able to work well.
  5. Finally, in John 17:4 Jesus says, ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.’ What did Jesus do while He was here on earth? He worked!

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Why do we live for the weekend?*

For the last two years The Royal Bank of Scotland has conducted a survey to discover how students spend their money. They report that the ‘average’ student spends £51.48 purely on entertainment, during every single week of term. That doesn’t include the £15.82 spent on clothes and cigarettes. Isn’t it staggering that a student can afford to spend hundreds of pounds every month simply on keeping themselves entertained? But before you start to heap all the blame on students, take a look at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s report:

What many do not consider is the escalating cost of enjoying a student lifestyle. Not only do students have to budget for obvious costs such as rent and socialising, but there are also many hidden extras: …like food, …library fees and course books.

Now perhaps I’m just being old fashioned here, but I thought the point of going to university was to learn! Not according to the bank. Library fees and course books are thought of as a hidden extra. The obvious cost, is the cost of socialising. And who thought to put the cost of food on the list of ‘hidden extras’?

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Review: Hymnquest 2006

HymnQuest 2006HymnQuest is a computer database of hymns and songs used in worship. It is not a new, computerised hymnbook, but rather an electronic bookcase of existing hymnbooks (350 of them, to be precise) that is fully indexed, cross-referenced and searchable. Hymnbooks included in HymnQuest include Christian Hymns, Mission Praise (in its various incarnations), Grace Hymns, Junior Praise, Praise!, The Scottish Psalter, and Songs of Fellowship (both volumes). Two notable omissions are the Wakeman Trust’s Psalms and Hymns of Reformed Worship, and Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos. A full list of all the hymnbooks included in the collection is available on the publisher’s website:

The strength of HymnQuest lies in the way it combines it massive size with a user-friendly interface. The collection includes more than 13,600 tunes and over 18,600 hymns, including from Isaac Watts (196 hymns), Charles Wesley (530 hymns) and more modern authors such as Vernon Higham (166), and Graham Kendrick (296). The full-text of most of the hymns is included, though only the first line of the tunes is available.

Of course, having 18,600 hymns on CD is of no benefit if you are unable to access them easily, and that is where HymnQuest excels.

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The man after God’s heart

I’ve been tremendously helped by Dan Doriani’s A Man After God’s Heart which I’d thoroughly recommend to every Christian man. It’s honest, biblical, and Christ-centered. The extract below is one I can certainly relate to:

The man after God’s heart is a sinner, and everywhere he goes, he participates in societies of sinners. At work he puts down his rivals; he shades the truth to get a slight advantage. At home he rebukes his children a little too harshly for sins he showed them how to commit. With a friend, he puts up an argument even when he knows he is wrong, because he would rather be wrong than appear to be wrong. In athletic contests and checkout lines, he chooses not to correct errors made in his favour. He would weep over it all if he were not so cold. I know it; at least I know it, we think. We cling to the Gospel, but even our clinging is tainted because we are too glad that our sin is covered, and not sorry enough that we did it. We even need to repent of our repentance… The man after God’s heart knows this and so returns again and again to the beloved Gospel.

Review: War and Grace by Don Stephens

War and GraceWar and Grace is a terrific book. It contains thirteen mini-biographies all involving people caught up in the First or Second World Wars.

The stories are wonderfully varied. Some show how Christians involved in the conflict were helped and strengthened by their faith. Others tell of those converted during or following the war. There are stories of generals and civilians, and of both men and women. The stories tell of Americans, Britons, Germans and Japanese, of those who survived the war, as well as those who did not.

What marks this book out is the obvious love Don Stephens has the people he writes about. The following comment is not uncommon: ‘For over thirty years I have had the privilege of writing and speaking to…’ War and Grace is truly a labour of love. You feel that the author knows each of the men and women in the book, and as a result the reader feels he knows and understands them, too.
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