Hanukah and Christmas

As a Jewish Christian, I celebrate Hanukah and Christmas.

Hanukah occurs in December.  I think that Hanukah has become a modern Jewish substitute for Christmas (presents are given).  Originally this festival celebrates the Maccabees’ defeat of the Greeks in 165 BC. The Greeks had stopped the sacrifices at the Temple.  They were oppressing God’s people and trying to bring an end to God’s one true religion.  But the Maccabees trusted in God and defeated their enemies.  It was just like the time of the Judges and other Old Testament events when God defeated the enemies of his people.

After 100 years or so of independence the Jews were then dominated by the Romans.  During this time Jesus came and died for his people’s sins.  Later, the Jews were defeated by the Romans in 70 AD, and the Temple was destroyed.  The Zealots had seen themselves as modern-day Maccabees.  If they trusted in God, God would defeat the Romans, they thought, and save his people.  But having rejected their Messiah, they were not trusting in God, and they were defeated. Continue reading Hanukah and Christmas

Why Study Church History?

Church History

There is great value in the study of church history. As we take the time to look back and read about various individuals who have gone before us and of various events that have occurred in the life of the church, there are incredible lessons to be gained. Why study church history and why highlight various heroes from church history?

The study of church history is filled with many practical benefits. I believe we should take time to be familiar with church history for the following reasons.

A Record
The study of church history is valuable because it serves as a record. It is a record of what the Lord has been doing in the church and how the church has responded to the teaching of God’s Word. To look back at God’s providence, provision and protection is an amazing testimony to His faithfulness. This ought to provide us with encouragement. When it comes to the way the church has responded to the Word of God, church history is filled with positive and negative examples (like every generation). These examples provide us with lessons and warnings, as we will face similar situations.

A Reminder
Secondly, church history is a reminder. What does it remind us of? Here are a few things: We are reminded of those who gave up their lives for the cause of the gospel. We are reminded of those who stood firm against false teaching. We are reminded of the importance of protecting ourselves against error. We are reminded of the power of the gospel. Church history is filled with practical lessons that we can benefit from. One church historian stated, “We can understand the present much better if we have some knowledge of its roots in the past”.[1] It is important to be reminded of what the people of God have done before us.

In a non-consecutive series of posts, I will highlight the lives and actions of various individuals from church history. I trust that this serves as an encouragement to many and causes us to thank the Lord for His mighty work through His people.

Many great and faithful characters won’t be mentioned simply because I am not writing an exhaustive textbook on church history. However, I will be highlighting various individuals who I would class as my personal heroes from church history.

Remember, none of these characters are perfect. It was only by God’s enabling grace that they had the commitment and courage to stand on the truth of God’s Word. It is for this reason they are to be remembered as heroes of the faith and we praise God for them.

Who are your favourite heroes from church history?

 


[1] Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Throughout the Centuries, Zonvervan, 1996, p. 21

The Five Solas

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On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (written in Latin) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This historical event was not the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, but was a means that started discussions and debates about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church’s indulgences. After a series of events, Luther’s discussion intensified to a declaration of a defence of the gospel.

Continue reading The Five Solas

Thomas Watson and Divine Providence – Part 2

a-body-of-divinityIn Thomas Watson’s, A Body of Divinity, his chapter on providence provides the reader with seven propositions concerning Divine providence. These propositions work as a helpful framework to build upon in forming an understanding of the Puritan’s theology of providence. Significantly, these propositions are an excellent illustration of what the Puritan’s did with their theology. After considering these propositions, I will conclude with a brief consideration of Watson’s exhortations that come as a result. This is an indication that for the Puritan’s true theology must lead to a practical divinity. Theology must never be disconnected from practice.

What is Providence? Continue reading Thomas Watson and Divine Providence – Part 2

Where did Old Testament believers go when they died?

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Heaven is the eternal home of the people of God. The Apostle Paul had the confident expectation that when he died he would be with the Lord (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), but what happened to Old Testament believers when they died? This question has resulted in interesting discussions and varying views. In this post I will simply introduce three views with brief comments concerning my view.

View 1: Soul Sleep
This view teaches that when an OT believer died their soul entered into a state of rest or “sleep”. This condition was temporary and lasted until the resurrection of Christ; or as most teach it will last until the believer’s future resurrection at the time of Christ’s return. This is the doctrine of “soul sleep”. Seventh Day Adventists share variations of this view and it has never gained much acceptance in the history of the church. I believe this view ought to be rejected (more on this doctrine in a future post). Continue reading Where did Old Testament believers go when they died?

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan-Edwards-Banner

Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century revivalist, sat down at age 17 and penned 21 resolutions by which he would live his life. He later added to this list until, by his death, he had 70 resolutions. Edwards didn’t casually make New Year’s resolutions with an expectation of eventually breaking them. Each week he did a self-check. He regularly summed up how he was doing and sought God’s help in the process.

This list is organised by subheadings and categories and as such is not in the normal order as listed here.

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Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

Overall Life Mission1

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

Continue reading The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

A Portion of Papyrus and the so called “Wife of Jesus”

Photo credit:  Photo by Karen L. King

A fourth century scrap of papyrus written in Coptic has received headlines and mass attention in the media. What is all the fuss about? It contains a line that says, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife…’” along with some other incomplete sentences. Does this mean that He did have a wife? How should Christians respond to such a finding and media fuss?

Firstly, it is interesting that the media ignores the content of second and third century findings that affirm the reliability and teaching of the New Testament, but place great attention on this fourth century portion of papyrus. Apologist, James White observes in a recent blog post, “Funny how the media makes so much Continue reading A Portion of Papyrus and the so called “Wife of Jesus”

“Christianity – very near as old as creation”

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Reading to you these words, I may address you in the language of the holy angels to the shepherds that were watching their flocks by night, ‘Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.’ For this is the first promise that was made of a Saviour to the apostate race of Adam. We generally look for Christ only in the New Testament. But Christianity, in one sense, is very near as old as the creation. Continue reading “Christianity – very near as old as creation”

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

Book Review: “William Tyndale” by Brian Moynahan


William Tyndale: If God Spare My Life
, by Brian Moynahan, Abacus, 2003.

William Tyndale was a pioneering Bible translator, whose work on the English Bible indirectly became 84 percent of the King James Version. Tyndale was converted to Lutheranism after studying at Cambridge – in fact he arrived at Cambridge one year before Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg castle church door. His conversion to what was commonly known as the “evangelical” faith led him to leave England in order to translate the Word of God into English, from the original languages.

Once he left England, his work became infamous, and Tyndale himself became a wanted fugitive. The story of his life is one of hiding, working under cover of disguise and intrigue, and releasing his work into England from the Continent. His writings included direct attacks on the papacy, the clergy, commentaries, and treatises on King Henry VIII’s marriage issues. His greatest work was his Continue reading Book Review: “William Tyndale” by Brian Moynahan