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TFC | January 29th, 2015

A Doubter’s Guide To The Bible

JohnDicksonHave you ever considered what it might truly mean for your life if the Bible were true? Or more precisely, if you LIVED as if the Bible were really true? That is one of the most fundamental questions about Christianity that believers and skeptics must face. It shapes our lifestyle choices, or sense of morality and spirituality, even our engagement in a post-Christian culture. Skepticism and even increasing hostility towards the church and the Bible are unavoidable in our world, our workplaces, friendships, and families. Doubts are a natural and necessary part of a deepening faith.

Dr. John Dickson’s new book, A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible, attempts to address that very question and outline a fresh and well-thought out perspective on the Bible. We are blessed to have John join us and speak in our worship service on Sunday February 8th.

John Dickson holds a PhD from Macquarie University in Sydney Australia; is a senior research fellow of the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University; is a co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity; and serves as senior minister at St. Andrew’s in Roseville. John is author of more than a dozen books, is the host of two major historical documentaries for Australian television, and is a busy public speaker in corporations, universities, churches, and conferences. Dr. Darrell Bock has partnered with John on several ministry events and has been instrumental in lining up this opportunity.

You won’t want to miss this special Sunday. It will be a terrific opportunity to invite your friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors. Copies of his most recently published book will be available for sale.

You can learn more about Dr. John Dickson and his ministry at:
http://www.johndickson.org (personal website).  You can also visit the website for Centre for Public Christianity for a great sampling of the kinds of cultural engagement John guides.

Together in Christ Jesus,

Keith Hileman
Pastor

cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | January 1st, 2015

Catechism Question #1: What is our only hope in life and death?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 1: What is our only hope in life and death?

Answer: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.

Key Verse:
“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”  Romans 14:7-8

Prayer:
“Lord, here am I; do with me what thou pleasest, write upon me as thou pleasest: I give up myself to be at thy dispose…. The ambitious man giveth himself up to his honours, but I give up myself unto thee;…man gives himself up to his pleasures, but I give up myself to thee;…man gives himself up…to his idols, but I give myself to thee…. Lord! lay what burden thou wilt upon me, only let thy everlasting arms be under me…. I am lain down in thy will, I have learned to say amen to thy amen; thou hast a greater interest in me than I have in myself, and therefore I give up myself unto thee, and am willing to be at thy dispose, and am ready to receive what impression thou shalt stamp upon me. O blessed Lord! hast thou not again and again said unto me…‘I am thine, O soul! to save thee; my mercy is thine to pardon thee; my blood is thine to cleanse thee; my merits are thine to justify thee; my righteousness is thine to clothe thee; my Spirit is thine to lead thee; my grace is thine to enrich thee; and my glory is thine to reward thee’; and therefore…I cannot but make a resignation of myself unto thee. Lord! here I am, do with me as seemeth good in thine own eyes. I know the best way…is to resign up myself to thy will, and to say amen to thy amen.”

Thomas Brooks (1608–1680). An English Puritan preacher, Brooks studied at Cambridge University before becoming rector of a church in London. He was ejected from his post, but continued to work in London even during the Great Plague. He wrote over a dozen books, most of which are devotional in character, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod (from which this prayer is taken) being the best known.

From “The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, edited by Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart, Volume 1 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 305–306.

cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | December 29th, 2014

Catechism Question #52: What Hope Does Everlasting Life Hold For Us?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #52: What hope does everlasting life hold for us?

Answer:  It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.

Verse:  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelations 21:1-4  

Prayer:  “And now to Him who purchased the church with his own blood, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and exercises a tender care over the weakest and meanest of his flock;—to Him…do I now desire to devote my strength, my life, my all; to be employed how, and as long, as his unerring wisdom shall direct and appoint. And the Lord grant! that I may obtain mercy to be found faithful…. And as it is in Him I desire to be found, at the last, the universal audit; so it is in his name I humbly go forth…. Oh my God! my adored Redeemer! my infinite, eternal All! Let my own soul…be ever precious in thy sight! And grant, that after the exercise of much fervent, mutual love, and the enjoyment of many spiritual comforts, in these thy lower courts; we may finally arrive at those blissful regions, where love is perfect, and joy perpetual; where hymns of holy wonder, and songs of devoutest praise, shall be our uninterrupted and everlasting employ! Amen and Amen.”

Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace.
From “Confession of Faith” in Works of Abraham Booth: Late Pastor of the Baptist Church, Volume 1 (London: Button, 1813), xxxvi–xxxvii.
cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | December 22nd, 2014

Catechism Question #51: Of What Advantage To Us Is Christ’s Ascension?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #51: Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?

Answer:  Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.

Verse:  “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34

Prayer:  We praise thee, we glorify thee, our merciful God and gracious Redeemer! Our souls have now refuge from thy revenging wrath. Thy promise is sure; Satan, and the world, and death, are overcome; our Lord is risen; he is risen, and we shall rise through him. O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? Our Saviour is ascended to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God, and we shall ascend! To his hands we may commit our departing souls! Our head is glorified, and it is his will and promise that we shall be with him where he is, to see his glory. He hath sealed us thereunto by his Holy Spirit. We were dead in sins, and he hath quickened us. We were dark in ignorance and unbelief, and he hath enlightened us. We were unholy and carnal, sold under sin, and he hath sanctified our wills…. We praise and glorify this Spirit of life, with the Father and the Son, from whom he is sent, to be life, and light, and love to our dead, and dark, and disaffected souls. We are created, redeemed, and sanctified, for thy holy love, and praise, and service: O let these be the very nature of our souls, and the employment and pleasure of all our lives! O perfect thy weak and languid graces in us, that our love and praise may be more perfect!… O bring us nearer thee in faith and love, that we may be more suitable to the heavenly employment of thy praise!… Prepare us all for that world of peace where the harmony of universal love and praise shall never be interrupted by sins, or griefs, or fears, or discord, but shall be everlastingly perfect, to our joy and to thy glory.… Amen.”

Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism.
From “A Shorter Form of Praise and Prayer for the Lord’s Day” in “The Poor Man’s Family Book” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 637–639.
cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | December 15th, 2014

Catechism Question #50: What Does Christ’s Resurrection Mean For Us?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #50: What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?

Answer:  Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.

Verse:  “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”  I Thessalonians 4:13-14

Prayer:  “Grant, Almighty God, since we have already entered in hope upon the threshold of our eternal inheritance, and know that there is a certain mansion for us in heaven after Christ has been received there, who is our head, and the first-fruits of our salvation: Grant that we may proceed more and more in the course of thy holy calling until at length we reach the goal, and so enjoy that eternal glory of which you afford us a taste in this world, by the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”

John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.
From Calvin’s Bible Commentaries: Ezekiel, Part II, translated by John King (Forgotten Books, 1847), 304.
cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | December 8th, 2014

Catechism Question #49: Where Is Christ Now?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #49: Where is Christ now?

Answer:  Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling his kingdom and interceding for us, until he returns to judge and renew the whole world.

Verse:  That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”   Ephesians 1:19-21

Prayer:  “O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).
From Edwards’ prayer quoted in Holman Old Testament Commentary: Psalms 76–150, by Steven Lawson (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 81.
cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | December 1st, 2014

Catechism Question #48: What Is The Church?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #48: What is the church?

Answer:  God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.

Verse:  “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Prayer:  “My daily prayer, honoured brethren, shall be…that in the days wherein we see so many fall from the truth, and oppose it, on the one hand; a great indifference as to the things of God, leading captive so many on the other; so few remaining, made useful to God in their generations by a conjunction of zeal for the truth, and ability unto its defence;…you may receive help from above, and encouragement to engage you by all means possible to spread abroad a savour of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to labour continually that the truths of God…may not be cast down, nor trampled on under the feet of men…. That you may not faint, nor wax weary, notwithstanding all the opposition, contempt, scorn, you do or may meet withal: nor even be turned aside to corrupt dalliances with error and falsehood…but keeping close to the form of wholesome words, and answering the mould of gospel doctrine, whereunto you have been cast, may shine as lights, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; knowing that it is but yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry; yea, come, Lord Jesus, come.”

John Owen (1616–1683). An English Puritan theologian, Owen went to Oxford University at 12 years of age, gained his MA at 19, and became a pastor at 21. Years later he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University. He preached to parliament the day after the execution of King Charles I, fulfilling the task without directly mentioning that event. He wrote numerous and voluminous works including historical treatises on religion and several studies on the Holy Spirit.
From “The Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance Explained and Confirmed” in The Works of John Owen, edited by Thomas Russell, Volume VI (London, 1826), xxix–xxx.
cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | November 24th, 2014

Catechism Question #47: Does the Lord’s Supper Add Anything to Christ’s Atoning Work?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #47: Does the Lord’s Supper add anything to Christ’s atoning work?

Answer:  No, Christ died once for all. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal celebrating Christ’s atoning work; as it is also a means of strengthening our faith as we look to him, and a foretaste of the future feast. But those who take part with unrepentant hearts eat and drink judgment on themselves.

Verse:  “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”  I Peter 3:18

Prayer:  “O thou gracious and ever-blessed God, “who hast formed us for thyself,” and hast moreover redeemed us by the blood of thine only dear Son, thine we are by every tie. We are conscious that “we are not our own; and that, having been bought with a price, we are bound to glorify thee with our bodies and our spirits, which are thine.” We desire then now to consecrate ourselves to thee; and engage, as in thine immediate presence, “no longer to live unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again.” May we never forget this vow, or act for a moment inconsistent with it! We avouch thee this day to be our God; and we give up ourselves to thee as thy people: and we desire, that “thou wouldest sanctify us wholly; and that our whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Charles Simeon (1759–1836). Rector of Trinity Church, Cambridge for 49 years, Simeon was offered the leadership of the church as he was preparing to graduate from the University. At first, the congregants showed their displeasure at his preaching by frequent interruptions and by locking the small doors of their pews so that no one could sit down. Simeon is best known for his 21 volume Horae Homilecticae—a collection of expanded sermon outlines from all 66 books of the Bible (from which this prayer is taken).
From “Asa’s Covenant with God” in Horae Homilecticae: or Discourses (Principally in the Form of Skeletons) and Forming a Commentary upon Every Book of the Old and New Testament, Volume IV (London: Holdsworth & Ball, 1832), 111.
cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | November 17th, 2014

Catechism Question #46: What Is The Lord’s Supper?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #46: What is the Lord’s Supper?

Answer:  Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom.

Verse:  “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  I Corinthians 11:23-26

Prayer:  To Thee, Lord. To Thee we commend our whole life and our hope, tender Lord, and invoke Thee, and pray Thee, and supplicate Thee: make us worthy to participate in…this…Table with a pure conscience, to remission of sins, to forgiveness of transgressions, to communion of the Holy Spirit, to inheritance of the kingdom of the heavens, to boldness toward Thee, not to judgment, nor to condemnation. And make us worthy, Lord, with boldness, to dare to call upon Thee, the heavenly God, as Father.”

John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (from which this prayer is taken), and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.
From The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople (London: Joseph Masters, 1866), 70–71.
cheryl@trinityfellowship.org | November 10th, 2014

Catechism Question #45: Is Baptism with Water the Washing Away of Sin Itself?

PART 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace

Question #45:  Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

Answer:  No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin.

Verse:  “John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Luke 3:16

Prayer:  “Our Father.… We come to Thee and pray that, for Jesus’ sake, and through the virtue of the blood once shed for many for the remission of sins, Thou wouldest give us perfect pardon of every transgression of the past. Blot out, O God, all our sins like a cloud, and let them never be seen again. Grant us also the peace-speaking word of promise applied by the Holy Spirit, that being justified by faith we may have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us be forgiven and know it, and may there remain no lingering question in our heart about our reconciliation with God, but by a firm, full assurance based upon faith in the finished work of Christ, may we stand as forgiven men and women against whom transgression shall be mentioned never again forever. And then, Lord, we have another mercy to ask which shall be the burden of our prayer. It is that Thou wouldest help us to live such lives as pardoned men should live. We have but a little time to tarry here, for our life is but a vapour; soon it vanishes away; but we are most anxious that we may spend the time of our sojourning here in holy fear, that grace may be upon us from the commencement of our Christian life even to the earthly close of it.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London’s New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.
From “Prayer XIII: The Wings of Prayer” in Prayers from Metropolitan Pulpit: C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers (New York, Revell, 1906), 71–72.

Sunday at Trinity Fellowship:

Walking Together With Christ

Feb. 1, 2015