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.
Many thanks to all those who attended the TTS Scripture session on Sunday! Many thanks, too, to Matthew Henry Evangelical Church for providing us with such lovely hospitality. It was lovely to see so many faces, both familiar and new.
We were looking at the subject of 'Apologetics'. No, that doesn't mean saying sorry for everything. It comes from a word used in the Greek New Testament, apologia - the same word used in 1 Pet 3:15, when Peter tells us to "always be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you". That word 'account' is also translated as 'defence' or 'answer'.
Many theologians throughout history have also engaged in apologetics, but in some circles it's developed a reputation for being primarily 'adversarial'. A bit like challenging non-Christians to an intellectual game of chess. Whilst this is undoubtedly important (and praise God that he raises up men and women who can do this!), it doesn't capture the heart of apologetics, Biblically speaking.
Apologetics is about knowing the times and seasons, and being able to give an account of the faith. Sometimes this means responding to objections. Sometimes this simply means giving your testimony. At other times, it means answering a sincere question from a friend, family member, or colleague. Either way, we must be like Paul at the Areopagus (in Acts 17) - becoming all things, for all people, so that by all means we might save some.
At our session on Sunday, we spent half our time detailing how British society has changed and exploring the Biblical mandate to 'be ready'. The rest of our time was then given to watching three videos, each illustrating a different generational response to the Christian message. Whilst this time was primarily discussion-based, you'll still hopefully be able to gain something from the notes, which I've provided below alongside the videos played.
Why did Paul describe the Resurrection as the tenet of faith, without which our faith is futile and we're still in our sins? Why did the evangelistic proclamation of the Apostles focus so much on the exaltation and victory of the Son of God over death? We know why Jesus had to die - but why did Jesus have to rise?
That was the subject of our meeting on Sunday. We were looking at the Resurrection of the Son of God - his ultimate victory over Satan, Sin, Death and Hell. We'll never be able to give a full account of the empty tomb if we think about Jesus' resurrection merely as his 'supreme miracle' - like the raising of Lazarus, just many times more powerful. The resurrection of the Son of God wasn't a coda to heaven's work of redemption; it was its great, dramatic climax, the fulfilment of OT expectation. In the words of G.K. Chesterton, when the disciples went to bed on that first Easter Saturday, little did they know that all human history was about to die in the night.
Find a full set of notes below, which also include two appendices. (Dedicated to the Trinitarian significance of the Resurrection, and to Paul's description in Rom 4 that Christ was "raised for our justification.") Also find below a great, rousing Resurrection hymn from the Gettys!
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.
I. The Awesome Sound
Imagine waking up in a great concert hall amongst a vast congregation of singers. The first thing you hear is a wondrous song, a musical masterpiece, proceeding from the stage at the centre of a circular arena. The sound, though not particularly loud at first, is filled with a thousand perfect harmonies. The intertwined music and lyrics seem more ancient than you can possibly imagine, but at the same time refreshing and relevant. The song never seems to end, and yet it somehow stays entirely captivating, telling a great tale of many movements. It is easily the most beautiful music you have ever heard.
Your heart is gripped in awe, and you are drawn to the source to which all the audience direct their voices. You gaze in the same direction, for on the stage is an awesome scene: a throne, overarched by a rainbow. The One sitting on it has the appearance of precious gems, and next to the throne there is an empty bloodstained cross. All around the throne is a host of musicians and vocalists, young and old, addressing their various sounds to the One in echo of His song. In front of them stands the Conductor, and you realise that you somehow know Him; He has the appearance of the Son of Man. You notice a large songbook in front of you. You pick it up in the hope of confirming what your memory is telling you. The title reads: “The Holy Word of God and The Gospel of Grace: The Wisdom by which the Earth was founded and the Heavens Established”, followed by the conductor’s name, “The Word who was with God in the beginning and is God, Who dwelt amongst humanity for their redemption”.
Now you remember. He is the One who saved you from the state you used to be in; the One who rescued you from the sea of destruction.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.