In “The Thirsty Drink,” Dr. Sinclain Ferguson opens the text of John’s gospel, ch. 7, in a marvelous way by looking deeply into what it means to drink of the “living waters” that Christ Jesus offers to believers.
On the last day of the Feast of Booths, Jesus stood in the temple courts and cried out to those who were spiritually thirsty to come to Him. This is significant for a couple of reasons: 1) this particular feast celebrated God’s provision for His people in the wilderness where He supplied them with food and water; 2) the feast concluded with the High Priest drawing water from the Pool of Siloam and then pouring it out around the altar which he walked around seven times while the people followed and chanted, “With joy, we will draw water from the wells of salvation” (from Isaiah 12). The verse itself was prefaced by “on that day the people will say …” and echoed the promise of Zechariah 14 that there would be water on the last day for the people that would satisfy their spiritual thirst forever.
In John 7:38 Jesus goes on to say, “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” The original Greek text, Ferguson points out, has no punctuation, so the comma after “me,” for example, would have been added, altering what could possibly be the original meaning of the text, that is, “Whoever believes in Me as the Scripture has said ….” This construction rings more true given the fact that there is no OT verse that specifically ties in with what comes afterward as applicable to individual believers. Jesus is the one that Scripture refers to as providing “rivers of living water” since having the heart of the incarnate God Himself, He alone could be the source. After His ascension, all believers would partake of of this water through His Spirit.
I had never before considered how this ties in to other imagery in the Old Testament prophets who speak of the temple of God from which rivers flow. This temple is Christ, as John mentions later in his gospel; the temple which would be destroyed, but raised again three days later. Out of His heart comes the water that slakes our spiritual thirst. Out of Him on the cross, as John writes, came the water and the blood that flowed for our salvation. And out of Him comes the promised Holy Spirit who gives us new birth and dwells in us to sanctify us and make us more and more like Jesus.
The entire sermon by Dr. Ferguson, delivered on 9/3/2017 at Associated Presbyterian Church, Scotland, can be found on SermonAudio.com.
Rap poetry is an energetic, raw, and unpretentious genre which is not always put to its best use as an instrument for good. But sometimes it is. If you’re not familiar with its use in the church, popular Christian rapper Shai Linne’s “Justified” is a great example of lyrical theology. It is showcased in the Modern Reformation magazine’s July/August issue which also features editor Michael Horton’s interview with Linne which explores among other contemporary issues the role of Christian rap & hip-hop as a preaching and teaching tool in the modern church: “From the Rooftops” –
Modern Reformation editors wanted to take a look at how hip-hop artists are exploring the life and ministry of Christ in their work. We were privileged to chat with Shai Linne on justification, racial reconciliation, and Kanye West. Shai Linne has appeared on numerous independent and national Christian hip-hop releases, including his 2005 full-length debut, The Solus Christus Project (see the lyrics for his song “Justified” following this interview), and his most recent album, The Attributes of God (Lamp Mode Recordings, 2011).
I’ve posted notes in Memo from MLJ: Christian Talk to yourself! from the first of a series of sermons entitled Spiritual Depression given by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1954. To hear the full-length sermon on which these notes are based, go to this link at MLJTrust.org; the sermon’s duration is 42 minutes; the Scripture text, Ps. 42:5.
A more recent sermon that complements the notes & MLJ’s own talk is David Turner’s “Justified Through the Blood,” from the All Souls, Langham Place sermon series The Gospel Manifesto. In it he addresses the need to have a strong understanding of what justification by faith alone means in order to combat our unbelief as well as the attacks from the devil that cause us to question God’s love and binds us in spiritual depression.
Wallie the Imp and Friend’s “The Changeling” is in the April 2016 issue of Bards & Sages Quarterly! But I’ll let them tell you about it.
Wallie, my Friend, and I are delighted to announce the publication of one of our very own short stories. And from the perspective of dotty hopefuls, with all the clarity we can manage for being too excited to talk, let alone write with good manners, we wish to share our joy with you via the following shameless promotion.
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The following exegetical sermon, “God’s Word Has Not Failed” given by Chris Wright on Romans 11:25-36 is the best I’ve heard or indeed read on what is surely one of the most confusing passages of Scripture in the New Testament. Yet, to my mind, it is fairly presented and interpreted in a manner both inspired and altogether convincing.
After a half year of blogging, my fellow bloggers have made me appreciate anew how many words are “set free” to reveal inner worlds, many of which have enhanced mine. Thanks to those like WalliesWentletrap.com who have made 2014 a memorable year with their “words” – pressed or wrinkled! And a Happy New Year of blogging!
The Time is Now: Daily Reflections for Advent
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics has put out a series of daily reflections for advent which provide a beautifully meditative context for our individual prayers and reflection.
David Turner’s sermon, “The Answer to Prayer,” continues to stand out as one of the best I’ve heard on the topic of prayer in recent years. Listen to be encouraged in persevering in prayer.
A commenter on The Church Eternal put me on to this gem of a sermon given by the late Dr. Peter Eldersveld on Ephesians 1:22,23 on “The Body of Christ.” It reminded me of something John Owen wrote in his immortal treatise, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (1684), when he described our Lord Jesus as
the “candlestick” from whence the “golden pipes do empty the golden oil out of themselves,” Zech. iv. 12, into all that are his.” (Book 1, ch. 3)
Likewise, Dr. Eldersveld reminds us through his preaching on “The Body of Christ” of the glorious inheritance that is ours in all the magnificent “stained glass” hue that is the church, lit from within by Christ Himself.
How Alicet Brought Her Sins To Heaven and Sormen Found Everything He Could Love In Hell (a reblogged excerpt from a tale found in Heaven, Hell, and Hyperborea)
Our God Is Mighty To Save – Meriam Ibrahim’s arrival in Italy after her almost year-long ordeal in a Sudanese prison.
In 2013, John Piper’s Desiring God ministries hosted a C. S.Lewis Conference in which various speakers from different backgrounds, both academic and pastoral, discussed the impact that Lewis continues to have through his writings. I have not listened to all the talks given but the three that stand out in my mind are the ones by Joe Rigney, Doug Wilson and Kevin Vanhoozer. Here’s are sample quotations from all three speakers:
Joe Rigney’s seminar, “Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles”-
We are, all of us, en-storied creatures, living our lives in a narrative, which means our lives have directions, trends, and trajectories. And Lewis is mindful of the fact that these trajectories are governed by an Author who is not mocked, who tells us that we will reap what we’ve sown. … Lewis is clear: we are always sowing the seeds of our future selves. We are embarked, heading in a particular direction, and sooner or later we are bound to end up there. Edmund reminds us that we might not like the destination at the end of our road. When it comes time to reap, we may find ourselves tied to a tree with a dagger at our necks. But, of course, Edmund’s story isn’t a tragedy. Yes, it’s true; reaping always follows sowing, like night follows day. But in this case, Aslan reaps what Edmund has sown. Edmund’s treachery, Edmund’s spite, Edmund’s beastliness is thrown onto Aslan and the Lion bears it away in his death at the Stone Table. This is the Magic of substitution, the Deeper Magic that turns traitors into kings, that turns beastly boys into just and wise men, the kind of magic that changes our stories forever.
Douglas Wilson, plenary, “Undragoned: C.S. Lewis on the Gift of Salvation” —
I don’t feel safe around anything when Jesus is not the Lord of it. Calvinism without Jesus is deadly; it’s fatalism, it’s simply Islam. We need Jesus. When the precious doctrines [of Calvinism] are used to perpetuate gloom, severity, introspection, accusations, morbidity, slander, gnat-stringing, and more, the soul is not safe.
Kevin Vanhoozer, plenary, “In Bright Shadow: C.S. Lewis on the Imagination for Theology and Discipleship” —
For Lewis, waking is a way of describing conversion — a coming to new life. The Christian life is all about wakefulness. Theology describes what we see when we are awake, and discipleship is about staying awake. The sad truth is many of us are at best only half awake. We think we’re engaged with the real world — the world of stock markets, stock car racing, stockpiles of weapons — but in fact, we’re living in what Lewis calls the Shadowlands. We’re really daydreaming and sleepwalking our way through life, asleep at the wheel of existence. …
Theology ministers understanding, so that we can live out our knowledge of God. Theology is practical, it is all about waking up to the real, to what is, specifically to what is ‘in Christ.’ … The imagination helps disciples act out what is ‘in Christ.’ Theology exchanges the false pictures that hold us captive with truth and disciplines our imagination with sound doctrine.
Dr. Todd Smedley of Fourth Presbterian Church in Bethesda, MD gives a succinct but inspiring introduction to a series on the Gospel of Luke entitled “Luke’s Orderly Account of the Gospel.” It is part of the “Seeking and Saving the Lost: The Gospel of Luke” series of sermons begun in early 2014. In this first sermon, Dr. Smedley unfolds the multiple facets of Luke 1:1-4, a single “tightly-packed” sentence containing the elements of a preface, an acknowledgement or dedication, and an introduction to his gospel.
Luke’s intent thereby is to lay the groundwork for “a solidly historic faith,” as he recounts the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, all ascertained by Luke’s research and the testimony of eyewitnesses.
Luke’s Orderly Account of the Gospel, Dr. Todd Smedley, recorded 1/5/2014; duration – 35:25
Dr. Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan discusses “Writing from a Christian Worldview” in an engaging manner during a Redeemer InterArts Fellowship in 2003. What was said then rings true today. As his website puts it,
“You can’t make sense from facts without using them to create a story, and you can’t make sense of a story without putting it in context of a macro-level worldview. All the stories we tell as Christians fall into the gospel worldview of creational good, fallenness, and redemption.”
“Writing from a Christian Worldview” (duration – 1:05:37; recorded 3/31/2003)
For a brief synopsis, see my “Notes.”
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899- 1981), the great Welsh Protestant minister, preached “Riches of His Inheritance” on Eph. 1:18. Among other points that he makes, the “Doctor” (as his admirers refer to him) stresses that the Christian is most effective in this world when he keeps his eyes on the next.
“Riches of His Inheritance” (recorded 12/6/1955, length 47 mins, reference Ephesians1:18)
Dan Wells of All Souls, Langham Place, delivers a marvelous sermon for Pentecost, “The Gift of the Father.”