Well, I hope you all had a lovely summer break - did you go anywhere nice? On Sunday we met for the first session of the new term, starting a new two-part series on 'Pneumatology'. (I.e. our theology of the Holy Spirit.)
Gregory of Nazianzus, a fourth-century Church father, said about the early Church's discovery of Pneumatology: "We see light breaking upon us gradually..." Due to false teaching about the nature of Christ, it took the Church a little while to wrestle with the full deity and personhood of the Spirit. But God is faithful to his Bride, and we spent the first part of our time together on Sunday telling this story.
We then moved on to look at how the Holy Spirit is described in Scripture. We saw how he is presented as integral to our salvation, to creation, and to the life of the Church - but there is one big theme throughout, and it's that of the Spirit's relationship with the Word. His delight is to serve the Father in exalting the Son, the living Word. His joy is Jesus being made to look beautiful, in Jesus being magnified and praised. It is impossible, after all, to confess 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Spirit! [1 Cor 12:3]
Find a full set of 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!
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.
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'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.
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.