Saturday, 24 September 2011

Jeff learns Man Skills

Thanks to Tim for teaching Jeff how to service his car!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Cross Country

Joshua was selected for the second year in a row to represent his year level (along with two others) at the Christian schools inter-school cross country competition. He had fun cheering on his schoolmates in other year levels:Then he tried very hard in his own race,and finished just behind his team mates Sean and Josiah,coming third last.

That's my boy!!

Lego Star Wars

Jeff has been busy spending all our life savings (well - almost) on Star Wars Lego. Very little of this was bought new. Most of it came via eBay, saving us money and allowing Samuel to obtain the Storm Troopers that he earnestly desired. Jeff, Joshua and Samuel have a bit more to build from the last eBay package, but Joshua invited us to a Star Wars "movie" this morning, so I took some photos.This is the Small Games Room (ie, the room for games with small pieces, which almost exclusively means Lego). Occasionally, the Lego has to be packed away so the SGR can become the Guest Bedroom. But in the meantime, the addition of a slab of MDF painted green makes the bed a perfect platform for wars between the Seperatists's droids and the Republic's Jedi and clones.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

According to Plan

I've just begun my second half-unit of theological studies at Trinity (Systematic Theology), and have just embarked on reading The Everlasting God by Broughton Knox, for my book review for this unit. So I thought I'd post the book review I submitted for the first half-unit, Biblical Theology.

Please keep in mind that my word limit was 750 words +/- 10% ... I managed to get my report down to 818 including footnotes, which was massively difficult. I spent as much time editing and re-wording as I did writing the first draft, if not more. The effect of this is that, if I were to write all my thoughts on the book, there would be a lot more here. But I don't have time for that... I have another book report to write, as I've already mentioned! So here is my "tight" book report on According to Plan, by Graeme Goldsworthy:


Graeme Goldsworthy’s According to Plan provides an explanation of the progression of God’s revelation in the Bible, identifying the Bible’s main message as God’s redemption and regeneration of his people through Jesus Christ.

The book begins with an apologetic for the study of biblical theology (part one), and a rationale for Goldsworthy’s presuppositions about knowledge, and process of typology (part two). He establishes a “Christian approach to the Old Testament” (p.55), whereby the gospel is used to interpret the Old Testament. At the core of the book (part three) is a detailed examination of biblical content, divided into 17 eras treated in chronological order. This begins with the most significant chapter of the entire book, (chapter 8), where Goldsworthy argues from the four gospels “the progression of events [in the Old Testament] will only find its true meaning in Christ.” (p.88). The gradually refined concept of the Kingdom of God, and its three ingredients (God, Mankind, World [Footnote:Goldsworthy (p.11) describes these in his introduction as “the three elements of the kingdom: God as ruling Lord, his people and the created order in which God and his people relate.” “Mankind” and “World” are signifiers of the latter two. Roberts (2002) replaces these terms with the apt descriptors “God’s people” and “God’s land”.]), is examined. The theme of regeneration is followed through stages of foreshadowing, prophecy and consummation in Christ. The book concludes (part four) by providing examples of how this applies in the study of doctrinal topics.

The descriptions of the varying modes of theological study in chapter 2 were personally relevant; explaining why my husband’s preaching has been a major change for our church. Previously, many of the preachers taught on some area of systematic theology, using the Bible passage to define the area of doctrine to be taught. In contrast, the majority of the preaching is now conducted by a pastoral theologian (p.31), seeking to apply everything in the passage to the everyday lives of the congregation.

In part two, Goldsworthy argues against humanism, literalism and liberalism, but does not address Catholic and Pentecostal claims regarding post-apostolic, non-salvific revelation. I do not think that Goldsworthy’s establishment of Jesus Christ as the fulfilment of God’s salvation promises precludes some of these claims, though it does rule out such heretical claims to ongoing salvific revelation such as those of the Latter-day Saints.

One of the major concepts is that of God working through one person to reach many. Goldsworthy writes “mediation of God’s acts through certain chosen people is a constant biblical theme.” (p.158). He gives multiple instances, such as God’s fatherhood being mediated through Abraham; his rule through Moses and David; his salvation and deliverance through Noah and the Judges; and his message through the prophets. Goldsworthy uses the concept of mediation to illustrate our need for something better, which is provided only in Christ. Jesus fulfils the roles of Son of God, sinless Adam, faithful Israel, true prophet, perfect priest, supreme king and also wisest man (p.204-206).

Several times Goldsworthy uses God’s choice of mediator as an illustration of God’s sovereignty in the election of his people, which helped clarify the Old Testament basis of the doctrine of election.

I applied these ideas recently when preparing a Sunday School lesson, connecting God’s choice of David to be his king on the basis of the obedience he saw in his heart (Acts 13:22) with the perfect obedience of Jesus, God’s final chosen King, who is our King now. Previously, I would have used David’s obedience as a positive example in exhorting the children to obey God, without pointing the children to Jesus and his sufficiency for our salvation.

The complex relationship between types and faith is clearly explained: “those who by faith grasp[ed] the shadow [were] undoubtedly thereby grasping the reality of salvation in Jesus Christ.” (p.186) This comment helped me understand that the religious cult of Israel never achieved salvation through the prescribed acts, although the acts gave the people a tangible means of demonstrating their saving faith in God. Faithful obedience to the law was a proxy for God’s true means of salvation: the death, resurrection, reign and return of Jesus Christ.

Understanding the role of typology in God’s revelation has led me to consider the validity of using the Christ-types found in non-biblical literary sources written by Christian authors (such as Aslan in Lewis’s Narnia series and Harry Potter in Rowling’s books) to begin an explanation of the significance of Jesus to unchurched people, who have no knowledge of Old Testament promises and patterns. I think this would be acceptable, provided Jesus is clearly presented as the antitype and the literary characters as metaphorical types, and the “divine-human” (p.62-63) source of biblical revelation is distinguished from the (Christian) worldview of authors.

In these and other ways I found this book useful for understanding the biblical basis of doctrines and improving my teaching about Jesus.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Meditation - Isaiah 53

I spent 5 hours yesterday afternoon studying and meditating on the second half of Isaiah 53. (I was home too sick for work still, but Sam was at his usual Tuesday child care.) It was perhaps the best 5 hours of my life... beats my wedding day memories, marvellous as they are!

I kept skipping between Isaiah 53, the ends of the gospel accounts, Psalm 22, 1 Peter 2:22-25, and various other verses in the Bible that came to mind. The fourth "Servant Song" begins in Isaiah 52:13. I've been reading it this week as my BSF study.

52:13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. [Num21:4-9; Jn 3:14-15, 8:28, 12:22-34; Acts 2:22-23; Phil2:8-9]
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him - [Is49:7a; Acts 2:13-15, 4:10-11, 7:51-52; Heb12:3]
His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and His form marred beyond human likeness -
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
//so will many nations marvel at Him//
and kings will shut their mouths because of Him. [Is49:7b; Acts 26]
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
53:1 Who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? [Is50:2, 51:5,9, 52:10]
2 He grew up before the LORD like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,
nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
4 Surely He took our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered Him stricken by God, [Mt 27:43]
smitten by Him, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, [Ps22:16; Zech12:10; Jn 19:34-37; Lk24:39-40; Jn20:20-27]
He was crushed for our iniquities; [Ps22:1; Mt27:45-46; Mk15:33-34; Lk24:44-46]
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed. [quoted in 1Pet2:24]
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, [quoted in 1Pet2:25]
each of us has turned to his own way;
but the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all. [1Pet2:24]
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, [Mt26:63, 27:12-14; Lk23:8-9; Jn19:8-9; 1Pet2:23]
yet he did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, [Jn1:29]
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgement He was taken away.
And who can speak of His descendants?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people He was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, [Mt27:38; Lk23:32-33]
and with the rich in His death, [Mt22:57-60; Mk15:42-46; Lk23:50-53; Jn19:38-42]
though He had done no violence, [Mt26:51-56; Mk14:47-49; *Lk22:49-53, 23:13-15; *Jn18:10-11,36-38]
nor was any deceit in His mouth. [quoted in 1Pet2:22]
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer [Acts 2:23; Jn10:18; 1Pet2:23]
and though the LORD makes His life a guilt offering, [Lev5:15-6:7, 7:1-10]
He will see His offspring {I'm one!} and prolong His days, [Is49:20-21]
and the will of the LORD will prosper in His hand.[Jn4:34, 6:38; Ps2:9, Rev2:27, 12:5, 19:15-16]
11 After the suffering of His soul, [Is53:5]
he will see the light and be satisfied; [Is8:19-20, 9:2, 42:6, 49:6, 50:10]
//He will see the result of the suffering of His soul
and be satisfied.// [Heb12:2]
By His knowledge //By knowledge of Him// my righteous servant will justify many,
and He will bear their iniquities. [Is53:6]
12 Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, [Is50:7-9, Heb12:2]
and He will divide the spoils with the strong, [Acts10:42; 2Tim4:1]
because He poured out His life unto death,
and was numbered among the transgressors.
For He bore the sin of many, [1Pet2:24]
and made intercession for the transgressors. [1Jn2:1]

Chapter 53 begins with the words "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? I have to answer these questions with a resounding "Me!" after studying this chapter. I am soooo thankful for the suffering of Jesus on the cross on my behalf as He bore my iniquities, the sin of many.

LORD, Please make me ever more thankful for Jesus' propitiating sacrifice that reconciled me to You. May my gratefulness be shown by a life of righteousness, evangelism and discipling, testifying the Truth that You are good and Your love endures forever!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

John Piper at Oxygen 11

John Piper speaking:In his first sermon, titled "God's passion for His glory", Piper showed that from predestination to consummation, God does everything for His glory. Piper was frank about the difficulty this poses for many people as they presume God's divine summons for us to praise Him show that He is "like a vain woman demanding compliments" (as thought CS Lewis, prior to his conversion). With a thorough tour of the Bible, Piper showed us that God is passionate for His own glory above all things. He answered the difficulty by explaining to us that God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exhaltation is a loving act, a joyous act. This is because God is entirely perfect, and so is better than everything else. Praise of God is a necessity arising from God's supreme, infinite worth. LORD, Make me an instrument of your magnification so that people will not think You are small, but will see You as You are: Amazing, Wonderful, Alpha and Omega! Amen.

John Lennox at Oxygen 11

John Lennox is the author of God's Undertaker: has Science Buried God?, the just released Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target, and other books. He is a prominent Christian apologist, who has had the opportunity to debate several of the New Atheists publicly, such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Peter Singer. He has lectured extensively (especially in Europe) on the intellectual defence of Christianity. He is also Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, and has worked as a translator of Russian mathematics.

John Lennox speaking at Oxygen 11, a conference for Christian pastors and leaders:Lennox spoke from the Book of Acts. In his first sermon, titled "A flame that spreads - the word and the Spirit", Lennox showed us that in the earliest church as the word "grew" (spread, expanded in outreach, was preached faithfully and increasingly) the church grew. (See Acts 6:7, 9:31, 12:24, 16:5, 19:20 and 28:30-31.) He reassured us that the same would be true in our areas of Christian ministry; but also warned us that the church will not grow unless the word grows. We need to get our evidence out to our society; we need to teach young adults and new Christians in the church to think biblically. We must take Scripture seriously! By grappling and wrestling with Scripture, we will hear God speaking to us. Lennox quoted Nigel Lee (words he asked Lennox to say at his funeral):
"Soak your minds and hearts in the Word of God until you see and hear the Living Word of God."
These words were the most significant for me in all of Lennox's talks.

In his second sermon, "A kingdom to live for - the witness of the church", Lennox said that Christianity's "supernaturalism" is a basic and significant aspect that must be accepted by faith that comes by hearing the word of God. (Not 'airy fairy' unsubstantiated faith, but faith that has it's basis in the truthful evidence of many witnesses; in the divine revelation of God; in our sound, rational, logical, intellectual understanding and acceptance.) Jesus' ascension was a visible, physical event, which provides a pattern for Jesus' coming return (Acts 1:9-11). Thus we are to get on with telling the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, until Jesus Christ returns to restore everything.

In his third sermon, "A truth to die for - the martyrdom of Stephen", Lennox argued that we must always be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. He discussed some of the "potentially embarrassing" moments of early Christianity, such as Judas's defection from the twelve (and thus from the gospel), and showed how Peter faced these head on. We must deal openly with, and not ignore, the problems of criticism from inside the church and defection from the gospel - the problem of sin. LORD, Do not let those who hope in You be put to shame because of me! Amen. Lennox gave some great insights into the difficulties Jewish priests faced when they became Christians - since they believed that Jesus made one sacrifice for all, how could they continue to sacrifice animals on behalf of the Jewish people who came to the temple? What they believed had done them out of a job! It was now disobedience to God to continue in the old ways - the point that Stephen made at the end of his talk to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:51-53). Like Stephen, we must uphold the centre and foundation of True Worship. We must be willing to give up other things so that we may uphold the gospel in obedience to the LORD. LORD, Help me not to blow it! Help me to stand for the central things, not the peripherals. Amen. Paul began his ministry where Stephen's death left his off (calling the Jews to Christ). We must not let the failure of one evangelist prevent us from attempting to evangelise.

Lennox also spoke at two Q&A sessions, which we didn't attend because we went to other electives. I have just downloaded them to my iPhone and am looking forward to listening to them soon.

With Friends at Oxygen 11

Oxygen 11 was a conference for Christian pastors and leaders, held at the end of August in Sydney. Jeff and I had the privilege of a week off work with no kids - thanks to Granny and Gramps! - so we could attend the conference.

This photo was taken at lunch on the first day, with our friends the Ayambos, who minister to a Sudanese congregation in the suburb north of ours. Jeff was one year behind David at Theological College.It was great to discuss the preaching with them each afternoon and in the evenings, and to encourage one another and pray for each other regarding each of our ministry situations, and our marriages.