Friday, January 18, 2008

The Proclaimer, Winter 2008

The Trinity
William Tyndale
Salt Cellars
News of the Fellowship
Book Recommendations
Psalm 3

'Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching'.

Psalm 3

Metrical Psalter 1650:

1 O Lord, how are my foes increas'd?
against me many rise.
2 Many say of my soul, For him
in God no succour lies.

3 Yet Thou my shield and glory art,
th' uplifter of mine head.
4 I cry'd, and, from His holy hill,
the Lord me answer made.

5 I laid me down and slept; I wak'd;
for God sustained me.
6 I will not fear though thousands ten
set round against me be.

7 Arise, O Lord; save me, my God;
for Thou my foes hast stroke
all on the cheek-bone, and the teeth
of wicked men hast broke.

8 Salvation doth appertain
unto the Lord alone:
Thy blessing, Lord, for evermore
Thy people is upon.

Notes by John Brown of Haddington:

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

Having beheld the royal dignity of my Redeemer, let me here behold the joy, the peace, the safety of the redeemed, amidst their distresses innumerable. Here David, driven from his holy capital and high throne, by his rebellious son Absalom, (1.) Complains to his God of the number and malice of his enemies, ver. 1-2. (2.) He encourageth himself in his God, as the source and subject-matter of his safety, joy, and honour, ver. 3. (3.) He recollects, how, on former occasions, his troubles had driven him to his prayers; how he had always found God ready to hear and grant his requests; how safe and easy he had lived under his protection; and how effectually he had broken the power and restrained the malice of his enemies, ver. 4-5, 7. ( 4.) Triumphantly trusting in God, as the salvation and blesser of his people, he silenceth all his fears, and pours forth his prayers for new protection and deliverance, ver. 6, 8.

Think, my soul, of Jesus, who, when bulls of Bashan compassed Him about, trusted in God, that He would deliver Him. In all my distress, let me pour out my heart before him, believing in him as God, even my God. Let me always rejoice in the great God my Saviour. Let me trust in Him at all times, that as He hath delivered, and doth deliver, so He will deliver me.

God’s hymnbook found in the middle of your Bible has a place within my life; the songs touch the heart and therefore cause me to value them as precious. May I ask, is it precious to you? You may of course read from it, but have you neglected to sing from it? Consider our Saviour sung from it here upon earth. He sung from it, because He loved it, was in full agreement with its place within the worship of God, and, further, desired to set you an example. These inspired songs were sung from His heart, and He knew great comfort and joy in singing them. My dear friends, He desires you, and wants you to sing from them. “Let me here thy voice”, Song of Solomon 2: 14.

Let every minister promote this glorious hymnbook. Let every church and home have a Psalter. Let these glorious Psalms, hymns and songs that we have in the Psalter, be sung with such freshness, and be heard from every Church and Chapel of this old country of ours! May God yet bless the cause of Psalmody in a great way, to the glory of His name, and to the blessing of His Church.

Aaron J Lewis

Book Recommendations

Exposition of the Shorter Catechism (James Fisher)
Systematic Theology (John Brown)
The Songs of Zion (Michael Bushell)

Quotations from "The Salt-cellars", C.H.Spurgeon

If Christ be so sweet to thee, sin will be so bitter to thee.

If Christ lights the candle, Satan cannot blow it out.

Jacob saw angels ascending and descending, but none standing still.

Jesus Christ is light to the eye, honey to the taste, music to the ears, and joy to the heart.

Jesus Christ to a believer is fairer than the fairest, sweeter than the sweetest, nearer than the nearest, dearer than the dearest, richer than the richest, and better than the best.

Jesus has many lovers of His crown, but few bearer of His cross.

Jesus lived that He might die, and died that we might live.

It is the devil’s masterpiece to make us think well of ourselves.

If you would know the heart of your sin, you must know the sin of your heart.

If you are God’s child, behave yourself accordingly.

If in God you delight, you shall have songs in the night.

I have a great need of Christ; but I have a great Christ for my need.

Faith sees God, and God sees faith.

Faith honours Christ, and Christ honours faith.

Fiery trials make golden Christians.

Faith’s eye sees in the dark.

Bless God heartily though He afflicts you heavily.

Be all for Christ, since He is all to thee.

Begin the year with godly fear.

News of the Fellowship

We are greatly encouraged with our youth meetings and children`s work. Their age range is from three to twenty two years! We are praying that more will come along, and that the Lord will speak to their hearts and save them from their sins.

We have consistently distributed Gospels, calendars, and other Christian literature in our locality, and also to Ringwood and Fordingbridge. The Gospel has been faithfully preached in the open air at Ringwood during the spring, summer and autumn months.

We were very pleased to receive two new members during the year.

Our Annual Luncheon was held in January, and was attended by forty people. Our Minister spoke from the words of our Saviour, “Come unto Me”.
Special Meetings:

Church Anniversary, Saturday, 10th. May. The expected preacher, the Lord willing, is the Rev John Thackway, from Holywell, North Wales.

Autumn Meeting, Saturday, 1st. November. The expected preacher, the Lord willing, is the Rev William Macleod, from Glasgow.

William Tyndale

William Tyndale`s life spanned a most important period in the history of Britain, when she moved out of the “Dark Ages” and entered a new age illuminated by the light of God`s Word shining upon God`s people. When he was born, the country was full of gross religious superstitions, and in bondage to a professedly “Christian Church” power which persecuted genuine Christians, and impoverished most of the people. Tyndale perceived that at the root of all the problems, both spiritual and social, lay ignorance of God, and of His truth revealed in the Holy Scriptures. The common people were forbidden to read them, and the clergy failed to study and communicate the teaching of the Bible, and the Latin language was unintelligible to most in the land. Seeing the squalor in which most of the working classes lived, and the injustices they suffered from church and state, Tyndale was convinced that it was necessary, “To establish the lay people in the truth”. He reckoned that this could only be accomplished when the Bible was available to them all, in an English translation. Well known is his statement, “If God spare my life I will, before many years have passed, cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than the clergy do!”

Little is known of William Tyndale`s early life, but it is very probable that he was born in 1494 on the edge of the Cotswold hills, halfway between Bristol and Gloucester. From grammar school at Wotton-under-Edge, Tyndale was sent at the age of 12 to Magdalene College in Oxford, to receive grounding in Latin. He obtained his B.A. when he was 18, and his M.A. at 21.

Scripture was studied at Oxford, but only after years of brainwashing ensured that nothing of spiritual value could be derived from it. Theology could not even be studied till the entire Arts course was studied first. Tyndale wrote, “In the universities they have ordained that no man shall look in the Scripture until he be noselled in heathen learning for eight or nine years, and armed with false principles, with which he is clean shut out of the understanding of Scripture.” This system of instruction ensured that Romish heresies would be taught, and that gospel light be extinguished, and thence the students would be denied spiritual blessings from the Word of God.

But in spite of his acute dissatisfaction with the place, Tyndale persevered at Oxford, and was most likely ordained in 1521 at the age of 27. Shortly after his ordination he took up an appointment as tutor to the two young boys of Sir John Walsh, a long standing friend of Henry VIII, and twice High Sheriff of Gloucestershire. He also did much preaching at this time in the Bristol area, and inevitably attracted the scornful attention of the local clerics, because of his biblical zeal, as had happened a century and a half before, under John Wycliffe.

Despite persistent efforts to find a commission for his work of translating the Scriptures, by 1524 he resigned himself to the fact that he would need to go abroad to take up this work. So Tyndale left London for Cologne where he would be able to find a printer who was willing to co-operate with him. He knew, however, that by leaving London, he was still by no means out of danger. It was clear that to press ahead with this commission would very probably mean living the rest of his life on the run, evading the Romish authorities, and enduring all manner of setbacks and discouragements.

Sir Thomas More who vehemently opposed Tyndale`s aims and convictions described him as, “a man of good living, studious and well learned in Scripture, and in divers places of England was very well liked and did great good with preaching.” But in a letter to his friend John Frith he wrote, “God hath made me evil-favoured in this world, and without grace in the eyes of men.”

Tyndale was not a man-pleaser: in answering his great calling, he knew he was signing his own death warrant. To translate the Scriptures into the English language was forbidden by the Romish authorities. It is likely that this was due in part to the irrepressible energy of Cardinal Wolsey, that miniature pope and formidable arch-enemy of the Gospel.

We may wonder why the 16th century English Church, while still under Rome`s rule, justified its suppression of the Scriptures, as if they had been something dangerous. Indeed, a law was passed in 1229, whereby the interpretation of the Bible was forbidden to the laity, and was still in force in Tyndale`s time, two centuries later. It is understandable that Rome would feel themselves so threatened by the propagation of Scripture, for it is their conviction that Scripture and tradition together were the Church`s supreme rule of faith, and it is their practice that where these two are in disagreement, it is Scripture that must give way, while tradition remains unchallenged. For Tyndale, however, Scripture alone must be the rule of faith.

In a sermon sixteen years after Tyndale`s death, Hugh Latimer attributed Tyndale`s translation to the providence of God, “Truly we are much bound to God that He hath set out this His will in our natural mother tongue, in English, I say, so that now you may not only hear it, but also read it for yourselves; which thing is a great comfort to every Christian heart.”

Latimer goes on to demonstrate that the Reformation, then making such swift progress, was directly and indispensably attributed to Tyndale`s sacrifice. He quoted Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” He goes on to ask with reference to Ephesians 6:17, “How could the lay people have that sword of the Spirit, how could they fight with the devil, when all things were in Latin, so that they could not understand it? Therefore, how needful it is for every man to have God`s Word….only with the Word of God shall we avoid and chase the devil, and with nothing else”.

As knowledge of the Scriptures increased, many were converted. Rome`s falsehood was exposed for what it really was. The process was not immediate. It took thirteen years, after Tyndale`s martyrdom, before English replaced Latin in English Church services.

Seconds before he died, he prayed, “Lord, open the King of England`s eyes”, (Henry VIII). God answered. Within three years the King relented; Miles Coverdale, who had completed the remainder of the Old Testament was permitted to publish England`s first Authorised Version, the Great Bible of 1539.

This was enough. The great dam that Rome had built to stop up the flow of Gospel blessings, the waters of life, had been broken. This flow would be a raging torrent. It would be unstoppable. Praise God for William Tyndale!

The Trinity

Question Six of the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Question: How many persons are there in the Godhead?

Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Thomas Watson said, “The Trinity is purely an object of faith, the plumb line of reason is too short to fathom this mystery; but where reason cannot wade, there faith must swim…. This sacred doctrine, though it be not against reason, yet it is above reason”. James Fisher asks, ‘Is not a Trinity of persons, in the divine Essence, an unsearchable mystery?’ He answers, ‘Yes; and so is every perfection of God, which infinitely transcends our thoughts, and finite capacities.’

Here upon earth, we can never expect to, nor will we fully understand, or grasp this great and glorious doctrine; one must wait for heaven, not till then, with perfect minds will we really begin to understand, and grasp it in a fuller way. However, we must believe it and defend it.

In 325 AD the Nicene Creed was formulated. The Creed fenced the doctrine of the trinity against the anti-trinitarian heresies; particularly at that time the heresy called, Arianism. Arius taught, and promoted, that there was only one person, of the divine nature, and, that the Son was the highest created being. It left the conclusion that the Son and the Holy Spirit were not truly God. Later in 381 AD at the Constantinople Council the Nicene Creed was strengthened, the deity of the Holy Ghost was affirmed and certain heresies were condemned, particularly Apollinarianism. Apollinarius had taught erroneous things concerning the humanity of Christ, denying that Christ had no human spirit.

Many heresies have arisen over the centuries; the truth of the Trinity has often been under attack. Today many of us are confronted on the door with the attack by the J.W.’s on the doctrine of the Trinity.

This glorious, true and great mystery must ever be defended, reverently and wholeheartedly here upon earth.

The Shorter Catechism states, There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Opening it up, simply consider,

1stly. the ‘Godhead’, and 2ndly. the ‘Persons’

1stly, the Godhead. The Apostle Paul at Athens said to the people, in Acts17: 29, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” Paul writes to the brethren at Rome, in Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”, and then finally, in Colossians 2: 9, “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” We have here this word, ‘Godhead’, a word which is often used and thought upon. What actually does the Godhead mean? The Godhead is, the ‘divine nature, essence or being of God’. As we consider the Godhead, we fundamentally declare in light of Scripture that there is only one divine nature, essence, or being: the Godhead.

2ndly, The Persons, This word, I suggest is to be treated with utmost care. In using this word in reference to man, we readily think of one individual human being or essence. However, in considering the Persons of the Trinity, they are not three individual divine natures, or three gods as the Tri-theists believe. Each person of the Trinity is of the same substance; that which stands behind all three of the Persons, is the one Divine essence. All three are the Godhead. John Brown of Haddington writes, ‘every created person is a distinct being….but all divine persons are and must be, one being’. When using the word Person in reference to the Trinity, one must never speak of an individual God. However, one can rightly speak of a ‘distinction’, ‘distinct existence,’ ‘subsistence’, or ‘hypo-sta-sis’. There are three persons in the Godhead.
From this, we affirm, firstly, that all three exist and can all say individually, “I”, and then, secondly, they all can have communion with one another, and enjoy the fellowship and love of each other.

Firstly, They all exist, and can individually say, “I”. The Father, in John 12: 28, said, in responding to the Son, in view of His name, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The Son said in John 17:4, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” And then finally, we read of the Holy Spirit in Acts 13:2, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, ‘Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them’.”

Secondly, they all can have communion with one another, and enjoy one another’s fellowship and love. In John 17: 24, we read, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.”

John writing in 1 John 5:7 writes, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” They are in unity and agreement in their testimony. It implies fellowship and communion with each other. Finally, in Revelation 1:4 & 5 we read, “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: ‘Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness’,” Oh such intimate, love, fellowship and communion they have; enjoyed from all eternity and will be enjoyed for all eternity to come.

As the Scripture plainly reveals in many places, there are three distinct existences in the Godhead. For a few moments, let us consider some of those passages of Scripture.

1stly, Christ in Isaiah 61 :1, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the LORD hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”

2ndly, At the baptism of Christ, recorded for us in Matthew 3: 16, 17, we read, “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

3rdly, In Matthew 28:19, Christ said to His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

4thly, Consider then the apostolic benediction in 2 Corinthians 13: 14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”

5thly, John makes the doctrine abundantly plain in 1 John 5: 7. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

6thly, and finally, (however, not being a comprehensive consideration of the texts), Revelation 1: 4, “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.”

Moving on, consider what are called those ‘personal properties.’

James Fisher questions, ‘How are the persons in the Godhead distinguished from each other?’ He answers, ‘By their personal properties, which are incommunicable to each other.’ John Owen writes, ‘What mean you by person?’ and answers, ‘A distinct manner of subsistence.., distinguished from the other persons by its own properties.’ John Brown observes, ‘chiefly by their personal properties.’ He goes on to remind us, amongst other things, that their names distinguish them from one another. A personal property is, as Robert Shaw writes, ‘something peculiar to each.’

1stly. It is the personal property of the Father to beget the Son, (Psalm 2. 7, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.”).

2ndly, It is the personal property of the Son to be eternally begotten of the Father, John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” We speak whole heartedly of the eternal generation of the Son.

3rdly. It is the personal property of the Holy Ghost to proceed eternally from the Father and the Son. In John 15:26, Christ said, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me:” and then, in Galatians 4:6, Paul writes, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Finally, the confession states, ‘equal in power and in glory’.

Firstly, ‘equal in power.’

Consider 1stly, the Father. Christ prayed to the Father in Mark 14: 36, “And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”

2ndly. The Son. In Philippians 3:21, speaking of Christ, Paul writes; “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” In Rev 1: 8, we read, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

3rdly. The Holy Spirit. Isaiah writes, Isaiah 11: 2, “And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD”.

In Luke 1:35 the angel said to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”.

Equal in power, and then, secondly, ‘equal in glory.’ All three distinct persons equally shine in Excellency, for they are of the same divine nature.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

The doctrine of the trinity is essential to the faith. One who rejects this great doctrine, is not saved, and therefore does not belong to the true Church of Jesus Christ. John writes in 1 John 2:23, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”

We are as believers to firmly, and whole-heartedly believe in the doctrine of the trinity. Thomas Watson said this, ‘We can be no good Christians, without the firm belief of the Trinity’.