We've had a fun time recently meeting at my house for the Essentials sessions. In session five we looked at the doctrine of the Incarnation (Jesus as 100% man and 100% God), and in session six we looked at Christ's work on the cross (how exactly did his death procure our salvation?).
Find full notes below!
A couple of weeks ago we completed our five-part series on God's salvation - so where next? Last night, we met to look at the Ascension of Jesus, and the Kingdom of God.
We rarely hear sermons on the Ascension, and many modern Christians struggle to relate to the image of Jesus being lifted up into heaven. We established last night, however, that the Ascension was just as much a part of God's redemptive purposes as (say) the Resurrection - it displayed the great 'reach' of God's salvation (there is flesh in heaven!), and, far from being Jesus' 'superman' moment, it was instead his great Prophet/Priest-King moment. He ascends as the better Elijah, to be crowned as the better David, to intercede as the better High Priest.
Well, if the ascension marked Christ's ascension to the throne as rightful King, then that begs the question - what ought we to make of the Kingdom of God? Evangelicals in particular have sometimes struggled to reach a consensus here. We saw how there are as many views on the Kingdom as there are voices speaking about it! There's a need for a crisp, clear understanding of the Kingdom, one that closely follows Scripture. By God's grace, I think we succeeded in arriving at exactly that.
Find full notes below!
Thanks to all who attended last night's session! It was our first time back together after my operation - we persevered through some fine points of detail and some complex history, but in the end we had gained a better understanding of how God preserved his Gospel during those early centuries of the Church.
Whereas last time we were looking at the doctrine of the Incarnation in Scripture, this time we were tracing how this Incarnation had been fought for, defined and defended by the early Fathers.
We traced things right from the beginning: from Scripture's counterattack against Docetism; to Irenaeus and Justin Martyr rebuking Gnosticism; to Athanasius' rebuttal of Arius' belief that Jesus was a created being; to the Nicene Creed and Gregory of Nazianzus' help in revising it at Constantinople; to the 'barney' between Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius, and ultimately the creed of Chalcedon in 451AD.
Yes, we were stretched; we were challenged. But this is ultimately God's story - it's all about his faithfulness and providence, and as such there's so much joy in telling it. It was (as G.K. Chesterton said) one great, whirling adventure!
Find full notes below, as well as a pictorial guide to those early heresies we discussed in the session. Hopefully it'll prove both helpful and self-explanatory! If whilst looking at either of them you have any questions or need any help (perhaps because you weren't able to make the main session), please don't hesitate to get in touch.
"[So] many are the Saviour's achievements that follow from his Incarnation, that to try to number them is like gazing at the open sea and trying to count the waves. ... [Everything] about it is marvellous, and wherever a man turns his gaze he sees the Godhead of the Word, and is smitten with awe" [Athanasius - De Inc. VIII.54]
What a joy-filled time we had last night! Truly, God loves his Word, and the Spirit delighted in making us delight in him. We were studying the doctrine of the Incarnation - this awesome truth that the God of all Creation added to himself a human nature, and dwelled amongst us. If you were to go back, the tiny Christ child wouldn't have glowed. There would have been nothing about his appearance that set him apart. And yet, if were to hold this vulnerable little infant in your arms, he would have in the same moment been holding you - your atoms, your flesh, even your very being.
What an amazing doctrine! (Who says theology has to be dry...?!)
Below you can find a few things:  the Getty song we played last night, Joy Has Dawned;  a full set of notes (with lyrics to the Getty song AND a bunch of extra material, including an appendix looking at how heretical groups deny the truth of John 1:1c), and  the other song we play - Totally God, Totally Man by Sovereign Grace Music.
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.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.