After a bit of an unintended hiatus due to Church events in Chester, we met for another Foundations session on Sunday evening - our focus? Our own testimonies, but from God's perspective!
Every Christian has a story about how Jesus saved them. For some it'll be dramatic; for others God will have used ordinary circumstances. For some it'll be memorable; for others it'll be difficult to pin-point an exact moment. This is true throughout all of Church history - God is in the business of finding the lost, and Scripture promises that regardless of what your own story looks like, it's still a miracle, every time.
We have been regenerated and united to Christ - born again according to his likeness. We have been justified by faith alone in Christ - he takes our sinfulness, but we get his righteousness. We are being sanctified in Christ - conformed to his image. And we will be glorified in Christ - when at last God will be made all in all, he will be a bridegroom for a bride, and we will be a new humanity, in and for Jesus.
It's an amazing story of God's victory over Satan, sin, death and hell. "In Christ alone, my hope is found!" Find notes below, as well as that same Getty hymn, which perfectly encapsulates what we've established during this five-part series.
We met again on Sunday for our 'second year' course on Christlike wisdom! Having re-established the fundamental call of the Christian life (to display the virtues of Christ, to be conformed to his image, to cultivate his character), we then looked at the first of the so-called 'classical' virtues - that of Christlike wisdom.
We started by looking at one moment in Jesus' own life when his own wisdom was on display, and then discussed Proverbs 2 as a summary statement of Godly wisdom in general. We carefully made our way through the great Biblical account of wisdom - from God's opposition to mortal wisdom (beginning in Gen 3 and described so clearly in the prophets), to wisdom finding its basis in God and God alone. This is expressed most clearly in Christ, who of course is described by Paul as "the power and wisdom of God"! [1 Cor 1:24]
How are we to cultivate wisdom? In Christ, by the Spirit, through the Word, in prayer, together.
Why are we to cultivate wisdom? Because God has made us a kingdom of priests, interceding for the world. Every moment when we exercise Christlike wisdom is eternity breaking through - a glimpse at what will be, when we reign with Christ and judge angels!
Second-years can find a copy of the notes at the link below, which have been greatly expanded to include my own catalogue of every mention of Wisdom in the Scriptures.
Second year TTS students - click here for the notes for Virtues S2! If you can't remember your password, please do get in touch.
We met on Sunday night for our tenth Foundations session - we've looked at a lot so far, from the doctrine of the Trinity, to the ministry of Christ. This time, we were starting a five-part series on 'soteriology' - our theology of salvation! What an amazing subject. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...
In this, our first session, we we were looking at the very fact that God has chosen to be a Saviour God - he didn't have to, no one forced him. He was under no compulsion. He graciously, sovereignly decided to save us. This is otherwise known as the doctrine of Election. Now, in the words of Karl Barth (a famous theologian of the 20th Century), election has cast a dark shadow for many. It has stoked controversy and outrage. But - as we established on Sunday - this needn't be the case.
Election is at the heart of all theology - God has freely chosen to be a Creator God, a known God, a worshipped God, etc. Election is at the heart of the Triune life of God - the Father chose the Son from all eternity to work out his purposes by the Spirit. Election is at the heart of the Gospel - God chose the historical Israel, and God has chosen his Bride. We dishonour God when we ignore election, or when we treat it as some insignificant off-cut. After all, when the authors of Scripture discuss it, it's not as a 'matter of controversy but as a theme for worship'! [J.I. Packer]
Find below a few things. First, the notes from Sunday's session - expanded to include more details and several appendices. Second, the medley of worship that we opened our session with. And third, the modern adaptation of Francis Thompson's Hound of Heaven, which we finished with.
Thanks to all those who attended last night's Foundations session. We're really blessed to have around six to seven Chester churches represented on an average evening - it's such a privilege to pray and study the scriptures together.
Last night we were introduced to Christology - the study of the man, Christ Jesus. . Of course, one can't help but think of the following passage: "Jesus asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?'" [Matt 16:13]
We established the centrality and supremacy of Christ in all things - like in the Grünewald altarpiece, our job as theologians is to stretch out our finger, crying, "He must increase but I must decrease!" [John 3:30] Then we saw how the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith are inseparable - Jesus interacted with real people and institutions, we must take note of that, but he also demands an answer. He isn't just a piece of historical data.
We traced the history leading up to Christ's ministry - a 1000 years of conflict and conquest, from the united kingdom of David, through to Babylonian Captivity, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, etc. Then we used Matthew's Gospel to trace how Jesus understood his own ministry and vocation. He's like Moses ... but he's more than Moses. He's like David ... but he's more than David. He's like a shepherd ... but there's profound significance to that image. (Etc.)
There's another part of this story to tell - one in which we see God himself fulfil his promise to Isaiah, entering the stage himself...
Find notes below, as well as the song we played last night - All Glory Be to Christ.
After twenty-five sessions, spanning almost a year and a half, the Foundations course has finally come to a close! (Well, for the first years at least...!)
In this last session, our focus turned to Christ's triumphant return. We started by establishing the Resurrection as the start of God's 'eschatological stopwatch' - to paraphrase Chesterton, we in its wake live in a different world. We are in the end times, and have been since Jesus rose from the dead.
We then saw how the NT was written in an atmosphere of 'apocalyptic expectation' - in keeping with OT books such as Daniel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, as well as some non-canonical texts such as the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Wisdom.
Right in the middle of all this, we get the Book of Revelation. Dionysius of Alexandria said of it that there is a "concealed and more wonderful meaning in every part". Indeed, we saw how the first three chapters establish the theme of 'Church as Israel', and then how the rest is like a pastiche of apocalyptic expectation - referencing Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc. We then looked at Jesus' own eschatology in the Gospels, as well as the significance of the millennium described in Rev 20.
Finally, at the very end of all things (literally and figuratively), we described God's great plan to sum all things up in Christ.
For in the heavenly city of God, God is a bridegroom for a bride.
In this city - God is God, and we will be satisfied in him as God.
In this city - God is God, and God is Christlike.
In this city - Kings and nations will cast their glory at Jesus' feet.
In this city - the rebellion has been quashed.
In this city - the Kingdom is no longer 'at hand', it is come.
In this city - there is a new humanity, reigning with Christ.
So we see the fulfilment of the Father's exaltation of the Son, by the Spirit. In the heavenly city, sat with Christ on the riverside, he will look at us and say, "See, now I am exalted - and with me you are highly lifted up!"
God is God. God is Christlike. God Wins.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Second year TTS students - click here for the S25 notes! If you can't remember your password, please do get in touch.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.