At our last Foundations session, we finished our two-part series on 'Pneumatology' - i.e. our theology of the Holy Spirit. Our focus this time was on the Word / Spirit balance. How has that balance been struck throughout Church histories? What about those who believe the spiritual gifts have ceased, and the Word must remain the focal point? What about those who believe the Spirit must be given free reign in the Church?
We addressed each of these questions and more in this session. It's a complex subject, one that requires us to be attentive to the details. On the one hand, the New Testament does describe spiritual gifts, and much of the modern Church takes it for granted that these are still operative today. On the other hand, the New Testament also emphasises the centrality and sufficiency of the Word - it must be given the supremacy, as it is itself a gift of the Spirit.
Find a full set of notes below!
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 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.
We've just finished the fifth Foundations at Freedom Church - but for our 'second years', we're nearly at the very end of the Foundations course. In fact, on Sunday 9th Dec, we'll be meeting for our last ever session.
Last time, we looked at the Christian's life this side of eternity - looking at discipleship, and the various aspects of the Christian walk.
In this penultimate session, our focus is on the Church's life this side of eternity - how do we relate to the political world? What is the Christian's relationship with the world around us, and with governments and power? How do we bring Scripture to bear upon such a massively important subject?
Though we did not actually meet for S24 due to scheduling complications, I've worked hard to provide you with the notes in advance of this Sunday's meeting. You can find them at the link below. Again, this is a huge subject, often called 'Public Theology'. There are many inter-weaving topics, related to history and political philosophy. But as always, the message is still about Christ the King - the one for whom we turn the world upside down [Acts 17:6] ...
Second year TTS students - click here for the S24 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.