Holiness, justification and what we believe

– Copied and edited from an email I sent today —

I hope you’re all well and free from swine flu media reports. There truly is no treatment for those.

As a dear brother pointed out to me yesterday, I haven’t contacted you in quite a while – and I haven’t blogged in three weeks either. The reasons for this e-absence are various and worthy, but I refuse to bore you with them.

Ahem.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of sundry resources to recommend for your listening and viewing edification this summer. On the contrary, I actually had to cut the list short. But I hope that you will have some time to fit these between your other summery activities. Or activities, generally.

First, the original item that I wanted to share with you: “The challenge of holiness” (MP3), by my pastor, Dan Peters. It’s the fifth part of a series on holiness, which you can find and download here and I would definitely recommend to you. Sadly, holy living is not a popular theme in most churches today, where thrills and happy-clappy entertainment are rapidly replacing the preaching of the Word of God. And yet, it is that same Word that reminds us that:

…[God] chose us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him – Eph. 1:4

Holiness is the way we resemble our Father in heaven (Mat. 5:48) and how we are transformed to the image of Christ, our first-born brother (Rom. 8:29). If we are indeed saved, it’s in our “genes”; it’s our makeup and our purpose. Let’s pursue it then, with all diligence(1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; Heb. 12:14; 2 Pet. 1:4-6).

Next item: Dr James White, director of Alpha & Omega ministries and one of the most accomplished apologists of our time (it’s scary, really), preaches on justification by faith alone in a way few do. Dr White has an enormous experience in scholarly debates with Muslims, Roman Catholics, Mormons, liberals and a whole host of other camps who oppose biblical theology. I’ve been tremendously blessed from listening to him and reading his works, which are always seasoned with a genuine passion to proclaim the gospel to everyone. The result? Well, listen to his sermon and you’ll come away blessed and further confirmed in the truth of God’s Word on this pivotal issue. You can also find more of his sermons/lectures here.

Next up is another series, three decades old. Oh, I see you wrinkling your nose – so did I! Really, who wants to listen to ANYTHING from 1980? Well, thankfully, this isn’t music but biblical exposition, which never ages and never expires (as long as it’s biblical, that is. If it’s just another “Christian” fad, it dies away once its done its damage). So this is from Dr Stuart Olyott (back when he was pastor of Belvidere Road Church in Liverpool). The series is called “This we believe: An Introductory Survey of the Christian Faith” and covers the essentials of our faith. You might disagree on some things (I did) as the series uses the Westminster Shorter Catechism as a guide (not as an authority of course) but this is definitely a powerful and convicting source of teaching and helping us clarify what we believe and why. In particular I recommend nos 11 (Free Will)12 (Effectual Calling), and 17 (The Perseverance of the Saints), which, in my experience, are some of the clearest sermons on these often-debated issues (I actually discovered these series while researching a debate on the doctrines of Grace).

Finally, if you have literary time to spare, here’s the list of the short stories I’ve published.

Feedback always welcome.

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