Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The gospel according to John

At the Conservatorium of Music we're just about to get under way for the semester, and our Tuesday and Thursday 'Thrive' meetings* will be looking at the gospel of John.

What a wonderful gospel! If the other gospels begin with a drumroll or a majestic fanfare, the gospel of John begins by throwing us into the deep end. In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. Better be wearing your theological floaties, my friends, or we will sink like stones into the oceanic depths of God's great grace. Which maybe no bad thing.

Here's a bit of Don Carson's comment on John:

A thoughtful reader does not have to work at [John's gospel] very long before noticing remarkable differences between the Fourth Gospel...and the Synoptics.

First, John's Gospel leaves out a great deal of material that is characteristic of the Synoptics. There are no narrative parables in John, no account of the transfiguration, no record of the institution of the Lord's supper, no report of Jesus casting out a demon, no mention of Jesus' temptations. There are fewer brief, pithy utterances and more discourses, but some discourses found in the Synoptics ... are not found in John. Although Jesus' baptism and the calling of the Twelve are doubtless presupposed, they are not actually described. Even themes central to the Synoptics have almost disappeared: in particular, the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, so much a part of the preaching of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels and the central theme of his narrative parables, is scarcely mentioned as such...

Second, John includes a fair amount of material of which the Synoptists make no mention. All of the material in John 2-4, for instance, including his miraculous transformation of water into wine, his dialogue with Nicodemus and his ministry in Samaria, find no Synoptic counterpart. Further, the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus' frequent visits to Jerusalem, and his extended dialogues or discourses in the temple and in various synagogues, not to mention much of his private instruction to his disciples, are all exclusive to the Fourth Gospel.

Doubtless some of this can be accounted for on the basis that John reports far more of Jesus' ministry in the south, in Judea and Samaria, than in Galilee; but the differences between John and the Synoptics are not all attributable to geographical focus No less striking are the forcefully presented themes that dominate John bur that are largely absent from the Synoptics. Only in John is Jesus explicitly identified with God (1:1, 18; 20:28). Here, too, Jesus makes a series of important 'I am' statements: I am the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, the good shepherd, the vine, the living water, the way, the truth and the life. These culminate in a series of absolute 'I am' statements that are redolent of God himself (...6:20; 8:24, 28, 58). The Fourth Gospel maintains a series of 'opposites', dualisms if you will, that are much stronger than in the Synoptics: life and death, from above and from below, light and dark, truth and lie, sight and blindness, and more.

Don Carson, The Gospel According to John, (Leicester: IVP, 1991) pp 21-22.

What a blessing to read the gospel of John in company with a man who's read it himself, often.

*We meet at 1 pm, during semester, most likely in Room 2004. Join us if you like! Even if not, please pray for us. Thank you!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

C. Everett Koop (1916-2013)

Thanking God for this man.

C. Everett Koop (1916-2013):
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop went to be with the Lord earlier today, February 25, 2013.
Born in Brooklyn, he earned the A.B. degree from Dartmouth (1937) and his medical degree from Cornell (1941). Just a year after receiving the Doctor of Science (Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania (1947), he became Surgeon-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
It was there that he met Francis and Edith Schaeffer (1948). In his new book Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality, William Edgar tells the story:
[The Schaeffers' daughter] Priscilla contracted a strange illness, causing her to vomit violently. At the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital the doctors were baffled. A thirty-two-year-old physician named C. Everett Koop walked into the room, examined Priscilla, and diagnosed her with “mesenteric adenitis,” a disease he had just been studying. He had learned that most often the condition could be cured by the removal of the appendix, for reasons not clear to medical science. Edith mentioned to Dr. Koop that they were moving to Switzerland to become missionaries. Koop had just become a believer through the ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church on Seventeenth and Spruce Streets. He performed the operation himself. Just before he wheeled Priscilla into the operating room, a telegram came in from Fran, who was traveling in Nashville, saying, “Dear Priscilla, Remember underneath are the everlasting arms. Love, Daddy.” Dr. Koop was deeply moved by the marvel of this kind of faith. Later, Fran [i.e., Francis Schaeffer] and he would meet and forge a friendship that led, among other things, to casting the film Whatever Happened to the Human Race?
Years later Dr. Koop explained during a Wheaton interview the way in which he would bring his Christian worldview to bear upon his own view of surgery and care for the family. He would always tell the families:
Let me assure you that if I thought that I was walking into that operating room in my own steam, my own power, my own knowledge and was going to operate upon your child—and its survival depended upon me—I wouldn’t open the door. I believe that I am a servant of the Lord and that I am going to that operating room with gifts that he has given me. But your child is in his hands, and he will guide me, and I will let you know everything I can about the future of your child.
Koop himself lost a child, David, who was a junior at Dartmouth when he died during a mountain climbing accident.
Dr. Koop became Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine in 1959 and Professor of Pediatrics in 1971.
In March of 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed him Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), and later that year as Surgeon General.
His tenure as Surgeon General is widely remembered for his work related to abortion, tobacco, HIV/AIDS, and the rights of babies born with birth defects and handicaps. He served as Surgeon General until 1989.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

“Jesus is our sanctification” by Sinclair Ferguson

Another piece of brilliance from the Tolle Lege website.

“Jesus is our sanctification” by Sinclair Ferguson:
“In the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the ‘author,’ ‘captain’ or ‘pioneer’ of salvation (Acts 3:15; 5:31; Hebrews 2:10; 12:2). The word archegos (author) is notoriously difficult to translate into English. In the case of Jesus (especially in the context of Hebrews) it seems to convey the twin notions of primacy and origin.
Jesus is the ‘author’ of our sanctification, in the sense that He creates it for us, but He is also its ‘pioneer’ because He does so out of His own incarnate life, death and resurrection.
He is the ‘pioneer’ of our salvation, because as the Hero of Faith (to be distinguished from the long list of those heroes who bear witness to Him, Hebrews 12:1), He has endured the cross, despising its shame and the opposition of sinners, and is now seated at God’s right hand.
He is the first and only fully sanctified person. He has climbed God’s holy hill with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-6). It is as the ‘Lead Climber’ that He gives the sanctification He has won to others (Acts 5:31).
As ‘pioneer,’ Jesus has Himself gone ahead of us to open up the way to the Father. By doing so, He brings to the Father in similar obedience all those who are ‘roped’ to Him by grace and faith.
Christ is our sanctification. In Him it has first come to its fulfillment and consummation. He not only died for us to remove the penalty of our sin by taking it himself; He has lived, died, risen again and been exalted in order to sanctify our human nature in Himself for our sake.
This is the significance of His words shortly before the cross, ‘Sanctify [the disciples] by the truth… As You sent Me into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified’ (John 17:17-19).”
–Sinclair Ferguson, Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, Ed. Donald Alexander, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 49.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Sonnet for the Transfiguration

For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,

On that one mountain where all moments meet,

The daily veil that covers the sublime

In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.

There were no angels full of eyes and wings

Just living glory full of truth and grace.

The Love that dances at the heart of things

Shone out upon us from a human face

And to that light the light in us leaped up,

We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,

A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope

Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.

Nor can this this blackened sky, this darkened scar

Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

Malcolm Guite (b. 1957)

Based on the following incident in Jesus' life:

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

(Mark 9:1-8 ESV)

Monday, 4 February 2013

“Your prayers are not lost” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Pray constantly! (1 Thessalonians 5:17). M'Cheyne talks about prayer:

“Your prayers are not lost” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne:
“God’s children, should pray. You should cry day and night unto God. God hears every one of your cries, in the busy hour of the daytime, and in the lonely watches of the night. He treasures them up from day-to-day; soon the full answer will come down: ‘He will answer speedily.’
Christ never loses one believing prayer. The prayers of every believer, from Abel to the present day, He heaps upon the altar, from which they are continually ascending before His Father and our Father; and when the altar can hold no more, the full, the eternal answer will come down.
Do not be discouraged, dearly beloved, because God bears long with you—because He does not seem to answer your prayers. Your prayers are not lost. When the merchant sends his ships to distant shores, he does not expect them to come back richly laden in a single day: he has long patience.
‘It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.’ Perhaps your prayers will come back, like the ships of the merchant, all the more heavily laden with blessings, because of the delay.”
–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, “Fourth Pastoral Letter: Edinburgh, February 20, 1839″ in Robert Murray M’Cheyne and Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne (Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894), 193-194.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

One of the better flashmobs you'll see. Beethoven's 9th.

In Spain. Love the children conducting.