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Showing posts from October, 2010

The gospel and its evangelical invitation

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In his new book, Movements of Grace, Jeff McSwain helpfully emphasizes that...
The gospel really is Jesus Christ, not just the benefits he procures for us. He continues:
Our salvation is about participation by the Spirit in Christ's own being and in turn in the being of God. "Retrospectively, Christ came to save us form our past sin, from guilt, from judgment, from hell. But prospectively he came to bring us to sonship, to communion with God in the kingdom of God" [quoting J.B. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, p62]. It is time in the evangelical comunity for us to consider the advantages of a grace-based evangelism that proclaims the adoption of all persons into the life of God and urges them to participate, by the Holy Spirit, in the relationship they have been given in Christ as the Father's sons and daughters [see Gal 4:4-7] (p7, emphasis and links added). Note that he refers to adoption as already accomplished, in Christ, for all, yet no…

Lord’s Prayer – part 2 – Jesus teaches us to begin with praise before asking in hope

In personal and corporate worship, we are blessed in recognizing both the Triune nature of God and the Trinitarian nature of prayer and worship. Through Christ we have access by one Spirit to the Father (Eph. 2:18).

Last time we noted that in The Forgotten Father, Thomas Smail urges us not to succumb to a man-centered, need-dominated distortion of the gospel. The life of Jesus “was not dominated by the claims of men, but [rather was] surrendered to the claim of God,” and that the chief aim of humanity is not the self-centered goal of having our soul saved or body healed, but to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Jesus use of “Abba” is not only deeply personal, but can also be liturgical.

The first request Jesus taught us to pray in Luke 11 is, “Your Name be hallowed.” Some might think of this more as a declaration of praise than a petition, but we can join with Jesus in asking that we and others learn to give glory to and rejoice over the holy name of God that has been shown to be o…

Keeping it practical: Learning to pray “Abba” to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

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I’ve been reading The Forgotten Father, by Thomas Smail, who says we often forget about the Father in our life and worship, and become imprisoned in a “man-centered, need-dominated distortion of the gospel where Christ and his Spirit can be easily reduced to the source of our blessings and the satisfiers and servants of our needs.”

Smail says this distortion happens when we forget the Father and forget that the life of Jesus “was not dominated by the claims of men, but [rather was] surrendered to the claim of God.”
Thus we need full orientation to the whole Trinity, to Spirit and Son, but also to the Father to remind us that man’s chief end is not to have his soul saved or his body healed or even his church revived—but is to glorify God and enjoy him forever…[And when that’s the case] worship ceases to be simply religious entertainment or mutual edification and becomes God-centered praise, when in the power of the Spirit a man or a church are delivered from their own problems and are av…

What is the Good News?

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You may find of interest the Trinitarian, incarnational exposition of the gospel from Bruce Wauchope of Perihoresis, Australia. His presentation is posted in a series of videos on YouTube. Here is one part:

What will the glorified creation be like?

Following is an interesting comment that concludes with a question from a Surprising God reader. I invite you to comment on his comment and answer his question in the light of Trinitarian, incarnational theology.
I work in Bible translation and my assignment is Nepal. Witnessing to Hindus involves an explanation of God's goal for humans and the whole universe in contrast to the never-ending cycle of the Hindu reincarnation. I explain to my Hindu friends that God's goal for humans is seen in the Incarnational hope that he has displayed in Christ. The mystery of the goal of human history has been revealed through Jesus.  "This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:9b-10). In another place, God's word testifies, "What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will…

What songs & hymns reflect the theology of this Trinitarian worship blog?

Last time we touched upon a starting place for this discussion—a place of being and belonging. Jesus already loves us and we belong to him in spite of our weakness.

In launching this blog (09.08.09) I described my quest in ’95-’96 to understand worship, and how in my view dozens of books failed to get to the core of worship, but that a breakthrough came in ’97, when several key books were suggested, including Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, by James B. Torrance.

J.B.T. defined worship as the gift of participating through the Spirit in what the incarnate Son has done once and for all, and what the Son continues to do today, in his communion with the Father and in his mission from the Father to the world. In prayer and worship, the risen, ascended Jesus lifts us up by the Spirit out of our grief, sorrow and selfishness, taking us into the Holy of Holies to share in his life of communion with the Father.

[Note: The book is a short summary of decades of his teachings on pray…

James B. Torrance on prayer

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Click here to listen to several audio lectures from James B. Torrance that address prayer from the perspective of trinitarian/incarnational theology.


Discipleship and the grace-based life

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Are grace and discipleship at odds? No, though some approaches to following Jesus leave grace behind and grab for other things. Oswald Chambers addresses this problem in the July 2 reading in My Utmost for His Highest: "If the closest relationships of life clash with the claims of Jesus Christ, He says it must be instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person, Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a difference between devotion to a Person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ. No man on earth has this passionate love to the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Ghost has imparted it to him. We may admire Him, we may respect Him and reverence Him, but we cannot love Him. The only Lover of the Lord Jesus is the Holy Ghost, and He sheds …

Keeping it practical: boiling down a bazillion words

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A reader sends a great question, “What songs and hymns reflect the theology that is represented on this Trinitarian worship blog?”

For the past year we’ve touched on the theology of T.F. Torrance and J.B. Torrance, and a generation of theologians they mentored, such as Andrew Purves, Chris Kettler and John McKenna, as well as an even younger generation of teachers such as Julie Canlis, Jeff McSwain and Robin Parry. What we’ve seen is that this Christ-centered, Trinitarian, incarnational theology has everything to do with worship!

And how is the essence of this theology put into songs for the people of God? We do well to revisit the wisdom of one of T.F. Torrance’s great teachers, Swiss theologian Karl Barth—arguably the most significant theologian of the 20th century, and perhaps the most important theological voice since the Reformation. Christianity Today called Barth “…one of the giants in the history of theology.” Pardon the pun, but Barth even graced the cover of TIME magazine d…