Pastor Jason Helopoulos:
There are few epitaphs I would rather have engraved on my tombstone than Paul’s words of commendation to Philemon, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7). Oh, how I love Philemons and want to consistently be one!
It has been my pleasure to serve in the local church with some individuals that are truly “refreshing” to the saints. When you meet them, you know it! They are like an oasis in the midst of a desert. I walk away feeling encouraged, joyful, and spiritually stimulated. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species and much harder to find than should be the case.
I routinely examine myself by asking, “Do others consider me refreshing?” I wish that I could more routinely answer, “Yes.” I challenge you to ask yourself that same question and answer it honestly. I wonder, what would it be like if even one in ten of us were striving to be a refreshment to others in the local church? If that was part of our ministry aim, what kind of significant impact could that have upon our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
How do you refresh the hearts of the saints? It is only possible by one who knows the love and grace of Christ in such a way that it overflows to those around them. It is consistently present and abundantly evident. As I have inquired of those who I find to be such a refreshment to my own soul, they almost always testify that this gift, which they manifest, is something that they have deliberately sought to develop and nurture. Here are twenty practical ways that you can seek to nurture this refreshing gift in the midst of your own local church.
Read “20 Ways to be Refreshing in the Local Church”.
To my knowledge, I had the privilege of explicitly introducing our church to the discipline of “Biblical Theology“ [17 min. readout] during our last Sunday School.
Several folks afterwards said they found it helpful and were interested in the Biblical-Theological Catechism I presented. So, below is a portion of the introduction to this catechism with links to each section thereafter.
(Note: This catechism is a work in progress and currently only goes to Exodus. The author hope to have a section on each book of the Bible).
THE END IN THE BEGINNING:
A BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL CATECHISM FOR YOUNG AND OLD
by James T. Dennison, Jr.
Introduction [7 min. readout]
How does the Bible begin?
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)
How does the Bible end?
“And I saw a new heavens and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1)
What is the word for the study of beginnings?
What is the word for the study of ends?
What is the inclusio of the Bible?
(NB: an “inclusio” is a bracket device marking the beginning and end of a work. An inclusion suggests symmetry, parallelism — rounded/completed balance.)
The protological beginning anticipates the eschatological end; the eschatological end consummates the protological beginning.
What other parallels or symmetries are there between the beginning and the end of the Bible?
A garden (Gen. 2:8; Rev. 22:1–2)
The tree of life (Gen. 2:9; Rev. 22:2)
Life with no curse or deathless life (Gen. 1:31; Rev. 21:4; 22:5)
A dwelling-with-God place (Gen. 2:15–17; Rev. 21:22; 22:3)
What is this pattern or paradigm called?
a. Ursgeschichte and Endgeschichte
b. Protology and Eschatology
These are fancy words. What do they mean?
a. The beginning of history (German: Urgeschichte) is like the end of history (German: Endgeschichte).
b. The first things (Protology) are like the last things (Eschatology)
Why does eschatology recapitulate protology?
Because the fundamental symmetry in the history of redemption displays the reflection of the end in the beginning (and vice versa: the beginning in the end).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:13).
Define “protology” more completely.
The study of the “first things”; the “beginning things” in the history of redemption
Define “eschatology” more completely.
The study of the “last things”; the “final things” in the history of redemption.
Is eschatology only the “last things” in order of time, i.e., the end of the world, the final judgment, heaven and hell?
What else does eschatology embrace?
The whole history of redemption.
Why do you say that the whole history of redemption is eschatological or under the umbrella or canopy of eschatology?
Because eschatology deals with God’s own eternal Being and dimension; and God’s eternal Being and dimension is over and above the whole history of redemption.
Is all of Scripture from Genesis (creation) to Revelation (new creation) oriented to and related to eschatology?
Yes, eschatology is prior to and above every text from Gen. 1:1 to Rev. 22:21.
Is it important to consider the eschatological dimension or aspect of a Biblical passage?
Yes, since every verse of Scripture is underneath the eschatological umbrella/canopy, eschatology casts its shadow over the entire history of redemption.
Thus, you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the linear history (i.e., the line from Adam to Christ, from Moses to Christ, from David to Jesus, etc.).
Yes, I must read the Bible looking in two directions: forward (?) and backward (?) (on the horizon of history).
Why should I be concerned with the historical (linear/horizontal) aspect of each portion of the Bible?
Because God has created me and all mankind a being in history. In his revelation of himself, he accommodates himself to my being in time and space — drawing my story into his story. He reveals himself in history—objectively, concretely, supernaturally and transformatively.
And you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the vertical aspect (i.e., the line from God to creation, from heaven to earth, from eternity to time, etc.)
Yes, I must read the Bible in two additional directions: upward (heaven-ward ?) and downward (earth-ward ?).
Why should I be concerned with the eschatological (heaven-ward) aspect of each portion of the Bible?
Because God has made me for himself, even as he made all things. And where he reveals himself to his rational creatures, he invites them to come up to him—to the eschatological arena—to his very glory-presence.
Does that mean that Adam in the garden of Eden was invited to the eschatological arena?
Yes; Adam was being shown a garden replica of the garden-glory of heaven. Hence, even before his fall into sin, Adam was invited to enter a heavenly/eternal arena.
It seems then that the eschatological arena penetrates or intrudes into the temporal or historical arena?
Yes, as God reveals himself and his plan of salvation in history, so at every point the eschatological arena casts its shadow and sheds its light in history.
Would you trace this pattern of eschatological intrusion and anticipation in the books of the Bible?
- Genesis [23 min. readout]
- Exodus [35 min. readout | this is the one I read portions from Sunday]
[HT: Enrique Duran]
From Ligonier Ministries:
Until the end of July, Reformation Trust is giving away the ebook edition of Richard Phillips’ Jesus the Evangelist: Learning to Share the Gospel from the Book of John.
Rev. Richard D. Phillips explores the early chapters of the Gospel of John to discover principles you can use for Christian outreach that were modeled by witnesses for Jesus and by Jesus Himself. Phillips examines the ministry of John the Baptist and the calling of the first of Jesus’ disciples. This book also includes an appendix that looks at the relationship between God’s sovereignty and evangelism.
“Phillips’ study of John 1, 3, and 4 takes us beyond clever techniques to biblical faithfulness, and beyond entertaining communication to sound theology in evangelism. He does a masterful job of helping us learn from God’s Word principles for evangelism, the theology of the gospel, and Jesus’ own practice in evangelism.”
—Rev. Thabiti Anyabwile
“Evangelism is not an afterthought in the Christian life. It is how God has ordained to glorify Himself in the salvation of sinners. Rev. Phillips explains this by showing how Jesus is both the evangel and the Great Evangelist. In the process, he challenges both apathy and superficiality in the great work of making disciples. I highly recommend this book!”
—Dr. Thomas K. Ascol
Available in July as a Free Download
Not sure how to download an eBook? See our FAQ section.
Offer expires July 31, 2014.
Here is some great, practical, advice on something we do (Lord willing) weekly.
OPC Minister Shane Lems:
Christopher Love (d. 1651), a Welsh Presbyterian and pastor of a church in London, manuscripted his sermons on mortification and published them in The Mortified Christian (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998). The whole book is worth reading, but the last section is what I’ll note for now. The chapter is called “The Right Hearing of Sermons.” Here are seven practical directions for listening to the preaching of the gospel (I’ve edited them for length).
1) Take heed that you hear the Word of God preparedly
. As the preacher must take care to find acceptable words, so the people should labor to bring acceptable affections to the work – when we come to the service of God we should hear with all attention and pray with affection.
2) Hear the Word attentively, as those did in Acts 8.6. Those who hear the Word with gazing eyes, wandering thoughts, and sleepy bodies cannot hear it attentively, but are to be reproved.
3) Hear the Word of God retentively. Labor to keep in your memory what you hear, that you may put it into practice for your life. Hearing is for practice’s sake. This also has to do with treasuring the Word, so it will have a continual impression upon your hearts.
4) Hear the Word understandingly. Christ called the multitude and bade them hear and understand. This is what the Bereans did.
5) Hear the Word applicatively. If a patient has never such excellent counsel given him, never so powerful a medicine prescribed, if he does not apply it, it will do him no more good than if he had never known it.
6) Hear the Word of God reverentially. Many people represent God to themselves in such familiar notions that they ultimately breed a contempt of God which we ought not to have. We must demean ourselves with a humble reverence in His presence.
7) Hear the Word of God obediently. Come…ready, prepared, and disposed to stoop and submit to all the instructions, corrections, and reproofs of the Word of God, like those spoken of in Acts 10.33.
All of the advice Love gave assumed that we sit “under” the preaching of the Word, not over it. The congregation does not rule the preached word; the word “rules” them. So we come to hear a sermon ready to hear God’s word read and explained – we pray for ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to believe what God speaks in and through his word read and preached.
past post on this subject