Friday, May 22, 2009

Richard Baxter on church divisiones

Read this today, from Tidball, Derek Skilful Shepherds. In a chapter on unity, he discusses Richard Baxter's work The Cure of Church Divisions in which, "with astute insight and spiritual depth he addresses sixty propositions to those who would cause division and a further twenty-two to the pastors who had to handle the situation." (301) Tidball summarises about half of Baxter's 60, of which these are my own selection:

1. Not to forget the legitimate differences between being a younger and older Christian.
2. To be wary of the deep-rooted temptation to spiritual pride.
6. Of the need to recognize the difference between the visible and invisible church, so that they do not demand more of the church on earth than God does.
9. That for a church to excommunicate the impenitent is a duty, but for the godly to separate themselves from the church is usually a sin.
21. That religious people who speak evil of others should not be believed or even given a hearing.
27. That it is possible to misinterpret the answers to our prayers, believing that God has approved of them when we are really only seeing the effects of our own prejudices, passions and ignorances.
29. That care needs to be exercised when uncertain in case, in a desire to find a solution to our troubled minds, we follow a path that becomes a snare.
30. That one must be a learner until fit and called to teach.
38. That truth must not be neglected but neither should one insist on every detail of it at the expense of peace in the church.
47. Of the danger, in opposing error, of swinging the pendulum to the opposite extreme, which is just as bad.
48. That there is need to talk more about our own faults than the faults of others.
49. Of the need to talk about the good in others rather than their faults.
52. That revenge of heart and tongue is as bad as physical revenge

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Jacob wrestling with God

Quotes from Tim Chester The Message of Prayer pp.96-98

Jacob has spent his life searching for blessing, but avoiding God.

God is dangerous. He is the aggressor in the narrative. He is not comfortable to have around. Yet in the struggle with God our relationship with him grows and our faith is immeasurably deepened.

It is true that prayer is a struggle against our sinful nature, which retains its disinclination towards prayer, so that to wrestle in prayer is struggle against ourselves. But prayer can also be a struggle against God. This was Jacob's experience and, as we have seen, his experience was defining for the people of God. It is not, of course, that a reluctant God can be won over by our persistence. It is rather that God also purposes for us to deepen our relationship with him - he wants us to share the intimacy of the trinitarian relationship, and rattling through a list of prayer requests falls far short of this purpose!

God may actually resist us when we pray in order that we in turn may resist and overcome his resistance, and so be led into deeper dependence on him and greater enrichment from him at the end of the day. (Packer)