We're in the middle of our five-part series on 'Soteriology' - our doctrine/s of salvation. Having established the Power of the Cross (the Servant King enduring horror and shame, 'for us and for our salvation'), we looked last Sunday at the Work of the Cross. How exactly did Jesus' death procure our salvation? How did he win our redemption?
As we discovered last time, the Cross is at the centre of Christianity. Paul says in Gal 6:14 that he will boast in nothing else. Indeed, the history of the Church has been one long story of reckoning with it! With that in mind, we looked at how the ancient Church understood the death of Christ on the Cross, how the medieval Church understood it, and then how the Reformers reckoned with it - all in conversation with Scripture.
On the Cross, Christ is the great Victor - conquering Satan, sin, death and hell.
On the Cross, Christ is the God-Man - standing in our place, doing what we never could.
On the Cross, Christ is our True Example - showing us what love really means.
All of these are good and true answers, and consistent with scripture to a greater or lesser extent. But these are all but melodies without a harmony. There is one answer that unites them all. It's there in the early Church. It's there in the medieval Church. It's there in the modern Church. And it's there in the Scriptures. What is this answer?
On the Cross, Christ is our substitute - pierced for our transgressions.
He became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
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.
A great start to the new year! Thanks to all those who attended our sixth Foundations sessions last night. We were continuing (and finishing) our study of God as Creator.
Having asked how and why God created all things in the last session, we turned our attention to ourselves. What does it mean to be human? It's the question at the centre of all other questions - from sexuality and politics, to ethics and morality, to parenting and education, to technology and art, everything we do begs this same question. What are we? Who are we? What were we made for?
Noverim te, noverim me - "I would know you, God, for I would know myself"
Those were Augustine's words. We cannot hope to know ourselves as creatures without first having looked at God our Creator. We saw how the story of humanity can be told in three 'chapters':  Prelapsarian Man (i.e. what we were like before we fell);  Postlapsarian Man (i.e. what happened to us because of the Fall), and  New Creation Man.
The last chapter in the story of humanity is the best of all! Christ the Second Adam, the True Man, became human for us! Whereas once there was a broken image, now there is the Image of the Invisible God; whereas once there was rebellion, now there is a True King; whereas once there was sabotage, now there is an Obedient Son; where once we were covenant breakers, now we have Christ, the 'Yes' and 'Amen'!
You can find a full set of notes below.
We met last night for our last session of 2019, beginning our study of God as Creator.
We asked 'How?' - how has God created? Looking at Ps 65, we saw that God's creation is as much a present-tense activity as it is a past-tense one, and he creates as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (We also spoke a little bit about how Christians have approached Genesis and responded to the challenge of Darwinian evolution.)
We asked 'Why?' - why has God created anything? Put simply, creation is a decree of grace. None of us asked to be born, and yet here we are. God freely chose to be a Creator God, and freely chose us to exist as his creatures. All of creation is an act of unmerited, undeserved grace, all through and for the Son! (Col 1:15-20)
We asked 'What?' - what has God created? In the New Year we'll look at human nature, and at our being made in his image. But last night we looked at his having created invisible things (e.g. angels and demons), as well as the whole universe, and animal life. How ought we, as Christians, to approach these things?
Find below a copy of the notes, as well as the hymn that was played - This Is My Father's World, by Wilder Adkins.
Following God's good interruption last week, we focused yesterday on the Work of Cross - how (exactly) did Christ's death procure our salvation?
We saw how Scripture (and the Church) has spoken with many voices on the way in which God saved us. Christ's death was like a ransom, conquering the power of Satan and buying us out of bondage. Christ's death satisfied the legal demands of God, which was possible only because he was the God-Man. Christ's death displayed the love of God and provides us with an example to follow.
But all these are melodies without a harmony, a body without a spine. My suggestion last night was that our theology of the Cross must be supported with the truth that the Son willingly subjected himself to the Father's wrath, all for his people. This has been a controversial doctrine - but with Scripture and the Church triumphant, we confess it to be true.
Find notes for last night's session below!
Second year TTS students - click here for the S12 notes!
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.