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.
At the end of March, the 'second years' (those who have completed the Foundations course) met at Gill Brown's house for the first time in many months. It was lovely to be together again. Many thanks to Gill for her wonderful hospitality. It was truly a 'Rivendell moment'!
After we had completed the Foundations course we had a number of options: we could study more advanced systematic theology; we could examine particular scriptural themes, or we could stop meeting altogether. Instead, it was decided that what God's people need is the application of sound, Christ-centred theology. These big, majestic truths of Scripture must be met with a concern for Christlikeness. The puritans called this 'casuistry'; the ancient Christians called it 'virtue'.
Some might think this is somehow inferior to systematic theology. To the contrary, this is its fulfilment. After all, the end of all theology (and the end of a theologian's career!) is the so-called 'beatific vision' - that moment when we will see him face-to-face, as Moses did, like a friend. We will have no need of mediatory language or theory. We will know him perfectly. But much more than this - Scripture tells us that we will not just perceive his likeness, we will be perfectly conformed TO his likeness. Christlikeness is the goal of all things, just as Christ himself is the end of all things.
The Virtues sessions are concerned with cultivating Christlikeness - indeed, the apostle Peter tells us that we have been chosen as his people "in order that we might proclaim the virtues of him who called us" [1 Pet 2:9].
In this, our first session, we started by telling two big stories about what it means to be human and to flourish - one comes from Greek philosophy, the other from Scripture. We saw how the early Christians were aware of the first story, but consciously adapted it, reversing it and correcting it in the wake of Christ's resurrection. The Greeks spoke of virtue as the path to human flourishing, the end of all things. The authors of Scripture, however, spoke of Christ as the end of all things, through whom all things will be made new, and we now united in him - being conformed to his image, partaking in his virtue, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Second year TTS students - click here for the notes for Virtues S1! If you can't remember your password, please do get in touch.
Whilst a whole bunch of new guys have just started the Foundations course in recent weeks, the 'second years' are now coming to the end of it. We met on Sunday evening to begin our last ever series - on eschatology, or our theology of the end times.
In this first session, our focus was on living the Christian life before Christ's return - how does Scripture imagine the walk of discipleship? What about suffering and tribulation? What about prayer, and evangelism?
IMPORTANT: we will not be meeting for the second instalment in this eschatology series, instead I'll be providing written notes. These will focus on the Church's life before Christ's return - how are we to engage (for example) with the state, and with politics? We will then be meeting on Sun 9th Dec at Gill Brown's house for our last ever Foundations session, looking at the triumphant Christ's return, and the end of all things. Exciting stuff!
Find below a link to the notes for last Sunday's session, as well as two videos. The first is a copy of the Tommy Walker song we played, which asks how we'd behave if we knew Christ was returning tomorrow. The second is a time-stamped section in the 'Revival Hymn' video referenced in the notes (beginning at 31 mins 18 secs) - which describes the fundamental Christian disposition in all things. We do evangelism, we do prayer, we do everything - not because it 'works', but because the Lamb deserves the reward for his suffering. We rejoice in him in all things - and so, there can be joy in all things.
Second year TTS students - click here for the S23 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.