Friday, July 4, 2014

Resources for the Study of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith

I am about to start a study of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith with a friend of mine. So I thought I would put together a list of optional resources. Of course there are many other resources out there, but these are the ones I've found most useful.

The Text

Right now I am primarily using the 1689 Android App put out by Puritan Soft. The proof texts are hyper-linked to a screen that will show you all of the proof texts for that particular paragraph in the ESV. It also has a nice "checklist" TOC that allows you to mark those sections you have read through.

I prefer the original wording* but if you are interested in a modernized version, check out the version done by Andrew Kerkham. No matter your preference of language, this particular PDF has the expanded proof texts put out by Sam Waldron, which I think is great for a group study when searching out proof texts will be an important part of your work.

*Greg Nichols makes an excellent argument for the original language in his introductory Sunday School series on the 1689. He states that the usefulness of the original language is in the  use of the semicolon. Basically, the longer sentences allow the reader to find the main point and those points that modify it. When those longer sentences are broken up, the original main point is impossible to find.

There are numerous print editions out, but Chapel Library will send you a print edition for free. Just search "1689" in the literature search. They also have a nice PDF version for free as well.

Finally, here is a good comparison of the Westminster Confession (Presbyterian), the Savoy Declaration (Congregationalist) and the London Confession (Baptist). The Westminster was the parent document for the latter two, who changed various areas to comport with their ecclesiology and sacramentology. The beauty here is in the amount that these three groups, in the midst of persecution, could stand together on. There was, to a large extent, uniformity in their calvinism.


There is a book written by Sam Waldron that everyone says is fantastic. It seems to be out of print but CBD is still carrying it for a great price. The book comes in at close to 500 pages, so he's going to go through the Second London Confession (SLC) with some detail. I haven't read it (yet) but hope to soon. Maybe a review afterwards?

There is an online commentary of uneven quality (hopefully not for long!). The author has spent a lot of time writing a commentary through chapter 11, and has after that posted his rough notes for the other chapters. As of April of 2014 though, he stated he is going back and will finish what he's started. I don't know who he is, nor does he seem to state on his website (if I am wrong here, please let me know). That kind of thing always makes me a bit nervous.

Greg Nichols, waaaay back in 1985, taught an adult sunday school class on the SLC. I haven't finished it yet, but I have made some real headway through it, and it is quite good.

Background and Random Links

Two very helpful audio lectures by Michael Haykin on the "Men" and the "Message" of the SLC

As I continue to troll the internet, maybe I'll add to this as new things show up. Please add your favorite links about the 1689 in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What I Have Learned about Family Worship this Month

I have wanted to read Scripture with my family every night for a long time, but I never could get any traction. While it's been far from perfect, I've seen some real progress this month and I thought I would share some advice, from one sinful man to other sinful men. 
One of the discouraging things for me was that I was looking forward to the in-depth conversations about the word that I could have with my wife, but after a full day at work, the pressure to have something ready every night, and the joy of trying to keep our infant son from destroying my prized commentaries, well, the discussion hasn't been what I wanted it to be. Some of these things will get better with time (my son will grow up), but some of these things just require more planning and adjusted expectations. When it didn't go as I wanted it to, I would get discouraged and then I would try to change something to get the results I was looking for. Ever the pragmatist, I didn't trust in the power of the Gospel to change lives a little at a time, instead I was looking for a system that would put out the results I wanted. This shows my misplaced trust. I thought it was my systems that would change the hearts of my family, but it's God that changes hearts. 
The means of his grace is the reading of Scripture and prayer. When it doesn't go well I need to buckle-down and keep bringing my family before the Lord and not run to the god 'Method,' the god of the business world that is no more capable of changing the hearts of my family than are Scarecrows in a cucumber field (Jeremiah 10:5). 
So far, we've been reading approximately two chapters a day, one Psalm and a chapter from whichever book we're working through. It goes best when I've taken the time to pray through the Psalm that morning and prep the other passage some. I try to think of what the main point of the passages are, and then see how that would change the way we're dealing with a particular issue in our lives. When Scripture reveals the Lord to us, we are to exalt in who God is, be motivated to live a holy life, and stand corrected before an all-good and all-holy God. If I can find a way the passage does one or two things specifically, then I consider it a "win." 
I have a long way to go, but I really want to get better. I hope this inspires you to read the bible with your family, or to keep at it if you already are. Please share in the comments any tips or hard-won wisdom you have.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Question for the TRP13 Students

Earlier, I tweeted a question to those going to The Reformation Project '13. I wanted to know their definition of homophobia.

If you click through to see some of the responses. But I still am not sure if I understand as much as I'd like to.

See, I want to know what they thought of people like me.

I believe any fear of homosexuals or hatred towards them is clearly unbiblical and therefore, sin. I work with gay people, I've had gay friends (have since moved) and last week, I was one of the only people advocating on behalf of a person who had considered himself transgendered.

And I think homosexuality is a sin.

I believe it is a sin because of both the negative and positive teachings of Scripture. I've listened to Mr. Vines' presentation, and while he's clearly gifted as a communicator, I did not find it convincing (for specific exegetical reasons). If a homosexual came to the church I attend, I would welcome them. But if my relationship allowed for it, or if asked for what the bible teaches, I would tell them that the bible calls them to repent. Now you have to understand this in context, because I am the most broken person I know. I'm broken spiritually, sexually, emotionally, and even physically. My sin reaches all areas of my life and it reaches all areas of your life too.

Basically, I believe the homosexual needs to repent in the same way that I need to repent. Some of my favorite sins are culturally acceptable. The world says that there is nothing wrong with it, and I have to fight that daily. I'm not asking anyone else to do anything I don't have to do as well.

I'm not telling them they have to identify as "straight" nor do I think they must attempt a heterosexual marriage. Some sin will tempt us until the day we die. I have a few like that and I hate them.

I affirm that those with SSA are made in the image of God and are therefore due all respect due any other human being. They are my neighbor, and are not "less" in any way.

So, TRP'ers, does this count as homophobia? Because, while the specifics will change, this is conservative Christianity, your "target market."

Thanks for taking the time to consider my question.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fwd: Bodylastics Training Log

So, I typically blog about my Christian faith, theology, and how it's applied, but one of my other passions is working out. I just love it! Weight-lifting helped me stay sane in college and I hope this new routine helps me now. Just a great way to change gears.

Recently I've been unable to workout due to an injury. After some PT, I've started improving enough to begin a resistance workout again. I decided to start using Bodylastics Bands so that I wouldn't have to bend over and change weights all of the time. My back is still a little touchy and I don't want to bother it more than I have to. Also, it allows me to workout in my living room so I can still be around my family. Two big pluses right now.

Bands can make it hard to track your progression though, and if you aren't measuring it, you aren't improving it. So I thought I would share this training log I made. Let me know what you think of it in the comments below. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Divine Drama of Submission

Rachel Held Evans retweeted a link to a blog post written by Harriet Reed Congdon entitled Why Patriarchy Keeps Women from Growing Up. It would be best to read that first before reading my response.

The gist of Ms. Congdon’s  article is that she believes submission cannot bring about maturity in the lives of women in the church. She relates most eloquently that her father
“wanted children badly but he didn’t want children forever. He was committed to raising me to be a fully functioning adult, confident of my abilities to maneuver through life and confident of my standing as an equal member of the human race” (Italics mine).
Given this goal of fatherhood, Ms. Congdon implies any submission in the church would necessarily imply that childishness of the one submitting, and apparently, the fatherliness of the one being submitted to.
 Again, her own words:
When women are denied equal authority, equal responsibility and equal voice, they are being treated like children and are denied adulthood in its fullest sense.
She is arguing against patriarchy, which while undefined in the post, is clearly any view of differing roles for men or women, any view that would exclude women from leadership positions over the church as a whole. Modern-day complementarianism would clearly fall under this definition.

But does Ms. Congdon’s view – that submission restrains or retards maturity – conform to the biblical witness? I think not.

Paul clearly shows us that it is through submission to Christ that the church grows into maturity. It is when the church is not under submission that she remains childlike.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16, ESV)
Christ, the head, the one to whom the church submits, is the reason we are able to mature. Outside of his headship we, as the church, cannot grow into eschatological adulthood.

I believe one of the errors Ms. Congdon has made is associating submission within the church as between a child and a father, rather than between a wife and her husband. God does not want women to have childlike submission; he wants them to have wifely submission.

The very next chapter of Ephesians reveals this truth. Paul shares the “mystery” that our earthly marriages are actually a divinely authored play that theatrically present the really real relationship between Christ and his church. Again, marriages were created by God to give us a picture of the relationship that was ordained before time between Christ and his church. The true, real, permanent marriage is Christ and the church. Our marriages are a dim and passing shadow of that ultimate reality.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24, ESV)

The scary reality is what follows this short passage. The husband, who while called to be head over his wife, which puts him in some authority over her, is then called to die to himself and serve her just as Christ served by dying for his bride.

It is in this earthly presentation of ultimate realities that I believe the egalitarian most misses out. The Bible teaches us that our earthly family was created to present the truth about our relationship to other believers (Mat 12:46-50), and that marriage presents the truth about our relationship to Christ. I am not a complementarian by desire. Before I was married, I was egalitarian, if not in name, in practice. As my small family faces trials the sinful side of me truly desires to abdicate my role as my wife’s head and instead “share” the responsibility of leadership. But to do that would be to lie about Christ and his church. And lie I do. But, I repent anew and strive by God’s grace to live up to the calling he has given to all men.

Likewise, a world without submission leaves us no model to understand not only the commands to submit to our elders, but also what our submission to Christ looks like. A world without submission presents a Christ without a church.

There is a lot more that’s going on in our submission and authority than who gets to call the shots. God has engineered an earthly drama to represent heavenly realities. Every part is important, even if every part is different.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Evangelism through Micro-Bible Studies

I listened to the training found here on Church Planting Movements. These are highly reproducible discovery bible studies that eventually turn into self-replicating churches (warning: this is a simplistic definition, but it's not the main focus of the post). While I disagree with some of what he teaches, all in all, this training has really inspired me to treat my evangelism a little bit differently.

One of the things he suggests is having a cache of "micro" bible studies. Something that could be shared in a minute or less. He suggests you state something like "God taught me something today," or "I learned something new about God today." If the person asks "What?" then you have permission to share a micro-bible study.

One study he presents would go something like this: "God knows all of my thoughts. That's frankly kind of scary. I have thoughts that I wouldn't want anyone to know about. What do you think about this?" The goal is not walk through your gospel summary or outline, rather over the course of 6mos to a year going through enough content that the person would know the gospel message.

I asked my small group to pray that I would be bold enough to try this at work. Here are my results.

Micro-Bible Study 1: Someone had shared about a hard time a family member was having with long-term illness. I shared out of Romans 8:18-28, pointing out that all of creation groans for redemption. It is clear that there is something wrong with the world; suffering is in a sense, wrong. Secondly God does redeem suffering, and he uses it for good. So in the midst of suffering that seems so wrong (and it is!), it can be used for good.

MBS 2: Romans 10:1-4. I shared the passage and tried to drive home the idea that we can't be righteous on our own. Nothing that we do will ever be good enough. We can only stand justified before God because of Christ's righteousness.

Selection: I selected the passages pretty passively. They were part of my bible reading plan and as I read a passage I thought of these people. I had to know what was going on in these peoples' lives in order for the passage to jump out, so you have to talk to people.

Opportunity: I just looked for times when I was basically alone with the person. At the end of the day I have my own office and people are usually filtering in and out throughout the night. I just took advantage when one of them were in there. Each time, someone else walked in while I was reading the bible passage to them. I just kept going and they left. So far I haven't heard anything about it.

Ice Breaker: I was pretty clunky. I just told them I was reading something and I thought of them. Would it be OK if I shared it with them. They both seemed fine with it.

Room for Improvement: I read the passage out of my pocket NT and the layout was different. It through me off a little. I remembered where on the page the passage was, but I didn't remember the exact verses. So know exactly which verse it is, or look it up in the bible you're going to use.

I was somewhat nervous. Need to get more casual about this sort of thing. I need to pray more.

I shared the second one and the person basically responded "Yeah, and it's good to do "_______." This is the exact opposite of what the passage states. Maybe I should have picked a clearer passage for this? I tried to gently correct, but I knew my goal wasn't to push for a decision tonight, rather to keep feeding gospel truth over the long term, so after a little bit of back-and-forth, I let it go.

I didn't pray enough. It was really foolish on my part. I prayed for opportunity and boldness, but I didn't pray for receptivity. Dumb.

How I Changed the Approach: I don't think he actually reads the passage to them, he just shares something true about God. I think both are good and I should write/think of some that could be useful, but I like being able to share the actual Word of God with them. Secondly, he asked a question to get them to interact with the "nugget" or the truth that he shared. I just opened it up for conversation and had more of a religious discussion with one of them than I had ever had. The other was one more opportunity to share what Christ has done on the cross. I should consider which questions would be good to ask.

All in all, it was more than I did last week, so I praise God for that. I pray I keep it up with them, and add new people as well. What do you think of this approach? How would you do it?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Notes on Colossians 3:1-4

[3:1] If then you have been raised with Christ,
Paul sets this in the form of a question to force the listener/reader to answer in the affirmative. The ει ουν (if therefore) sends us down a new road from the worldly rules that the false teachers were trying to force the Colossian believers to travel (2:20-21). Our being raised with Christ means we no longer are under the rules of the world, that is trying to gain peace with God, rather we are raised with Christ already (c.f., 2:12-13). Our old man, the flesh, our sin nature, has died. It's power and the sure and just penalty of eternal death and separation from God is now gone (2:15), so we are free and commanded to seek after God and his kingdom.

 seek the things that are above, 
Literal translation: Seek the above [things].

Far from just dealing with our thought-life, this passage puts us on a whole-person trajectory. Ζητεω (seek) is used in Matt 6:33 where we are called to seek first the kingdom of God. Paul uses it in 1 Cor 1:22 where he states that the Greeks search for wisdom, and the later in 7:27 that a man already engaged should not seek to be released. To seek the things that are above is no passive endeavor. This is a whole person passion that leads us to not only strive after the above things but also seek out spiritual and intellectual resources that would enable us to be more fruitful. Commentator Douglas Moo says, "Believers "seek the things above" by deliberately and daily committing ourselves to the values of the heavenly kingdom and living out of those values."1

where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Paul draws the logic out here for us. If our lives are found with Christ, if we have died to sin and now live life anew in the Spirit's power, then all anything of the world takes on a new and lesser value. We have seen behind the curtain, and now understand that this world is passing away (2:22).

Christ sitting at the right hand of God is a reference back to Ps 110:1. Moo argues that Paul is only referring to a place of honor and probably not thinking of all of the context and meaning of Psalm 110. Beale, on the other hand, argues that Paul is showing how God is making all of Christ's enemies a footstool under his feet.Beale interprets the drive of the passage this way: "The 'seeking' is a desire to have one's thinking and lifestyle oriented around Christ's kingship over all things."2 Our job is not a negative one, to pull away from the world, but rather a positive one, to extend Christ's kingship throughout all of our lives.

[2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
The first half of v.2 is a restatement of v.1, with the change from a generic "seek" to "think" or "set your minds." Again, Moo: "'Things above,' Paul is making clear, are tied to Christ, enthroned above, and must reflect the values of the kingdom that he has inaugurated. Anything else, or less, is no more than 'worldly' thinking."3

[3] For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
The "for" tells us that what follows is the "ground" for what has come before. Vv.1-2 can and should be obeyed because vv.3-4 are true. This theology is the foundation that allows us to seek and set.

Again, our death, previously assumed in the "raising" of v.1, is a death to the sinful nature. Our ability to partake of the kingdom is based in eschatological truths found not only in our union with Christ, but also our part in the expansion of his kingdom. This death is in the aorist tense. It's an event that happened, and nothing more is being said about it.

Because we are dead to the world, we are alive with Christ, and our lives are hidden with Christ. "Hidden" is in the perfect, which can have a breadth of different meanings, but here it is focusing not on the time or place in which our lives were hidden (purchased at the cross, and hidden upon our new birth), but that our lives are still hidden with Christ. Paul is focusing on the continued effects of that hiding. Hidden here probably has more to do with safety than an obscuring of the location. Because we died, nothing else in this world can touch us, and we are safe with Christ, where he is, in heaven (above), seated at the Father's right hand, where he is bringing all things into submission to Christ. That's where your life is. Feel safe yet?

[4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The believer no longer has a life that can be in any way separated from Christ. We died with him, were raised with him, and now we live in him. His appearing is in the end, when he returns, and at that time, his kingship will be finalized, where we will be like him for we shall see him as he is. The path of our life is small, stumbling steps towards what will take place. There is no question or doubt. One day, Christ will be fully formed in us, and we will appear with him in glory, our sinful nature and desires completely eradicated.

1 Moo, Douglas J. The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008, 246.

2 Beale, G. K., and D. A. Carson, eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007, 865.

3 Moo, Colossians, 248.