A Complex Request

A Complex Request

EPISODE 07

11 Oct, 2021
A Complex Request

At first it seems like an innocent, even a potentially pleasant request for prayer. But it quickly becomes intensely awkward the more it is explained. It raises a controversial decision on a controversial matter. All kinds of issues are stirred up whether spoken or not. Something that should be helpful becomes a stumbling block for everyone concerned. How could things have gone differently, so that instead of people stumbling, they could have been strengthened in holiness? 

While we may not experience exactly the same situation, similar circumstances often arise from people thoughtlessly casting obstacles in the way of other people’s spiritual progress. If we can learn how to handle this situation, it will guide us when similar things happen in our own experience.

The Concerning Scandal podcast applies the biblical principles of avoiding spiritual harm by looking at the real-life scenarios in which stumbling blocks arise. We can use the spiritual wisdom of James Durham’s classic book in situations we are all too familiar with.

To find out more, visit www.concerningscandal.com

FURTHER HELP

In the Bible offence not the same as making someone displeased. Rather it is something that causes them to stumble in their spiritual progress or offend against God’s Word. We can do this without meaning to do it. It also happens when we do and say the right things in the wrong way or at the wrong time and so turn people against what is right. To explore this issue further, you may find it helpful to read the article The Worst Kind of Offence in an “I’m Offended” Culture.  George Gillespie describes as briefly as possible the various dimensions of the biblical principle of not causing others to offend against God’s Word.
 

 

 

 GET THE BOOK

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider this vital issue deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offence.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

A Demanding Individual

A Demanding Individual

EPISODE 06

4 Oct, 2021
A Demanding Individual

What do you do when your kind helpfulness is taken for granted and you are met with unrealistic self-centred demands? It is a challenge to keep exercising grace in the way we ought and to act wisely. There clear stumbling blocks that make it easy to fall into bitterness and resentment as well as getting weary in well-doing. Relationships are easily strained and suspicion brought into the life of a congregation. It is natural to withdraw in hurt and irritation that allows the damage to remain on all sides. But how could we avoid it and seek the best spiritual interests of all concerned?

The Concerning Scandal podcast applies the biblical principles of avoiding spiritual harm by looking at the real-life scenarios in which stumbling blocks arise. We can use the spiritual wisdom of James Durham’s classic book in situations we are all too familiar with.

This podcast episode presents us with a real-life scenario that arises in the context of everyday relationships. We need to be on the watch for these kinds of situations. The fact that they are so ordinary can mean we are less on our guard against potential dangers. How do we both avoid being stumbled by the hurts that make resentment easy to bottle up? There are many other stumbling blocks that can impede how we exercise grace. This scenario can help us think about how to deal with those too.

To find out more, visit www.concerningscandal.com

FURTHER HELP

The implications of this are virtually all-encompassing. There are few things we must take more seriously than this in the Christian life.

To explore this issue further, you may find it helpful to read the article 7 Reasons to Avoid Stumbling Others.

You will discover how a stumbling block in Scripture is not simply an obstacle. It is anyone or anything by which someone is drawn into sin or error. Or it may simply hinder them from being edified. Scripture tells that it can happen even through things that aren’t in themselves sinful. David Dickson explains the teaching of Christ on this subject in Matthew 18.

 

 

 GET THE BOOK

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider this vital issue deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offence.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

A Contentious Choice

A Contentious Choice

EPISODE 05

9 Sep, 2021
A Contentious Choice

Anticipation and enthusiasm surrounding a mini-renovation to the church building quickly descends into acrimony. People are  taking sides about design choices and proposals. Discussions are heated with a lot of personal pot shots being exchanged and relationships very strained. Is there any way of repairing the ever increasing damage?

It’s not just angry confrontations, people are genuinely hurt and have trouble in their consciences about principles they feel are involved. There are stumbling blocks everywhere. It’s tempting to try to bury it and try to move on without addressing it but the damage won’t be repaired. Sadly, churches often experience deep differences about comparatively minor things. If we can learn how to handle this situation, it will guide us when similar things happen in our own experience.

The Concerning Scandal podcast applies the biblical principles of avoiding spiritual harm by looking at the real-life scenarios in which stumbling blocks arise. We can use the spiritual wisdom of James Durham’s classic book in situations we are all too familiar with.

To find out more, visit www.concerningscandal.com

FURTHER HELP

In the Bible offence not the same as making someone displeased. Rather it is something that causes them to stumble in their spiritual progress or offend against God’s Word. We can do this without meaning to do it. It also happens when we do and say the right things in the wrong way or at the wrong time and so turn people against what is right. To explore this issue further, you may find it helpful to read the article The Worst Kind of Offence in an “I’m Offended” Culture.  George Gillespie describes as briefly as possible the various dimensions of the biblical principle of not causing others to offend against God’s Word.
 

 

 

 GET THE BOOK

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider this vital issue deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offence.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

Summer Reading 2021

Summer Reading 2021

Summer Reading 2021
Matthew Vogan

Summer is a great time to catch up on edifying reading. There is no shortage of books hot off the press to explore. Here are some suggestions related to the Second Reformation. 

They include a variety of types of books that help you explore further.

1. Precious Promises

Joseph Alleine (c.1634–68) connects the “exceeding great and precious promises” of God together from Scripture. in a way that delights and encourages the believer. He demonstrates how, by embracing these promises, the believer is enabled to overcome all the assaults of unbelief. “Faith,” he says, ‘makes its claim to all the benefits of the covenant, and stirs up the soul to joy and thankfulness.” Alleine’s treatment of God’s precious promises is long overdue a reprint.

2. THE REFORMATION OF THE CHURCH

This is a valuable anthology of documents, drawn largely from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It presents the views of many puritans and others including James Durham on key Church matters in a readily accessible form.  It deals with principles of worship, the need for reformation, the nature of the government, unity and membership of the church of Jesus Christ.

3. BELIEVERS’ EVIDENCES FOR ETERNAL LIFE

How do we know we are a Christian? Roberts writes, “to be in a gracious state is true happiness. But to know ourselves to be in such a state is true happiness doubled upon us.” Francis Roberts (1609-1675) was a member of the Westminster Assembly. He seeks to show how believers may grow in assurance of their faith.

 

4. AN ARK FOR ALL GOD’s NOAHS

Taking Lamentations 3:24 as his starting-point. Thomas Brooks expounds the attributes of God with the aim of comforting those who have felt not only the stresses and strains of daily life but also the searing pain of loss in its various forms. God, he says, “is a portion that is exactly suited to the condition of the soul in its desires, needs, wants, longings and prayers. All the soul needs is found in God. There is light to enlighten the soul, wisdom to counsel the soul, power to support the soul, goodness to supply the soul, mercy to pardon the soul, beauty to delight the soul, glory to ravish the soul, and fullness to fill the soul.”

All true comfort and happiness is only to be found in having an all-sufficient God for your portion.

5. THE LAW, THE PRINCE AND THE SCRIBE

Designed for young adults, this will introduce them to the life of Samuel Rutherford. They will discover the power and passion of his letters and preaching as well as his enduring influence.

Accused of treason he died of illness before there was time to make him a martyr and on his gravestone today, just west of the Bell Tower in St. Andrews Cathedral are engraved the striking words that sum up his life, “Acquainted with Emmanuel’s Love”.

6. The LORD’s SUPPER

This most important work on the Lord’s Supper has been edited and brought back to life in this collectible format from Soli Deo Gloria. 

In sixteen discourses the depth and the riches of this ordinance are fully explored.

 

7. COMMENTARY ON EPHESIANS

This clear translation of a commentary by this important Scottish theologian is now available. It was highly commended by Theodore Beza.

Robert Rollock (1555–1599) was the first principal of the University of Edinburgh and his theology of the covenants was very influential on later writers. 

 

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A Political Obstruction

A Political Obstruction

EPISODE 04

6 Apr, 2021
A Political Obstruction

We all want to see a change for the good in society. It is tempting to champion any movement that has some of the right values. But political allegiances often stir up considerable controversy and heightened tension. The potential for serious consequences increases when they become closely associated with the gospel. This is what Gary and his fellow church members discover in this scenario. How can we stop our politics getting in the way of the gospel? And how do we remove the damage when they do? 

The Concerning Scandal podcast applies the biblical principles of avoiding spiritual harm by looking at the real-life scenarios in which stumbling blocks arise. We can use the spiritual wisdom of James Durham’s classic book in situations we are all too familiar with.

This podcast episode presents us with a real-life scenario where unintended consequences can result from a close association between religion and politics. We need to be on the watch for these kinds of situations. How do the opinions we share and promote and the tone in which they are expressed impact on others spiritually? There are many other stumbling blocks that can get in the way of people accessing the gospel. This scenario can help us think about how to deal with those too.

To find out more, visit www.concerningscandal.com

FURTHER HELP

The implications of this are virtually all-encompassing. There are few things we must take more seriously than this in the Christian life.

To explore this issue further, you may find it helpful to read the article 7 Reasons to Avoid Stumbling Others.

You will discover how a stumbling block in Scripture is not simply an obstacle. It is anyone or anything by which someone is drawn into sin or error. Or it may simply hinder them from being edified. Scripture tells that it can happen even through things that aren’t in themselves sinful. David Dickson explains the teaching of Christ on this subject in Matthew 18.

 

 

 GET THE BOOK

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider this vital issue deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offence.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

A Damaging Dispute

A Damaging Dispute

EPISODE 03

22 Mar, 2021
A Damaging Dispute

Gordon is responsible for some very expensive damage to Paul and Emma’s car. Why won’t he, as a Christian, accept his responsibility? Especially when they are under serious financial strain. But should they stand up for their legal rights?  Or would that only inflame the situation further and provoke him? Would it be a stumbling block?

It’s a messy and painful situation that needs careful handling. It’s easy for resentment to boil when we are wronged in this way. Can the situation be recovered? If we can learn how to handle this situation, it will guide us when similar things happen in our own experience.

The Concerning Scandal podcast applies the biblical principles of avoiding spiritual harm by looking at the real-life scenarios in which stumbling blocks arise. We can use the spiritual wisdom of James Durham’s classic book in situations we are all too familiar with.

To find out more, visit www.concerningscandal.com

FURTHER HELP

In the Bible offence not the same as making someone displeased. Rather it is something that causes them to stumble in their spiritual progress or offend against God’s Word. We can do this without meaning to do it. It also happens when we do and say the right things in the wrong way or at the wrong time and so turn people against what is right. To explore this issue further, you may find it helpful to read the article The Worst Kind of Offence in an “I’m Offended” Culture.  George Gillespie describes as briefly as possible the various dimensions of the biblical principle of not causing others to offend against God’s Word.
 

 

 

 GET THE BOOK

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider this vital issue deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offence.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

A Combative Clash

A Combative Clash

EPISODE 02

4 Mar, 2021
A Combative Clash

It could split the congregation if the pastor tackles the ideas undermining his sermons. What can be done? Is there a way of resolving a situation that is strewn with stumbling blocks. Let’s discover how to handle a real-life situation with biblical principles drawn from James Durham’s classic book. 

A keen debater is a loose cannon amongst the most impressionable Christians. Instead of this congregation growing in holiness, things are cropping up – stumbling blocks are appearing – which mean that various people are being hindered in their Christian walk and even provoked into sin. Can the situation be recovered or is disaster inevitable? If we can learn how to handle this situation, it will guide us when similar things happen in our own experience.

The Concerning Scandal podcast applies the biblical principles of avoiding spiritual harm by looking at the real-life scenarios in which stumbling blocks arise. We can use the spiritual wisdom of James Durham’s classic book in situations we are all too familiar with.

To find out more, visit www.concerningscandal.com

FURTHER HELP

In the Bible offence not the same as making someone displeased. Rather it is something that causes them to stumble in their spiritual progress or offend against God’s Word. We can do this without meaning to do it. It also happens when we do and say the right things in the wrong way or at the wrong time and so turn people against what is right. To explore this issue further, you may find it helpful to read the article The Worst Kind of Offence in an “I’m Offended” Culture.  George Gillespie describes as briefly as possible the various dimensions of the biblical principle of not causing others to offend against God’s Word.
 

 

 

 GET THE BOOK

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider this vital issue deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offence.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

How Do We Identify Spiritual Harm and Avoid Causing it?

How Do We Identify Spiritual Harm and Avoid Causing it?

EPISODE 01

10 Feb, 2021
How Do We Identify Spiritual Harm and Avoid Causing it?

Have you ever considered the seriousness of causing someone else to stumble? That is, to hinder someone’s spiritual wellbeing. Does it surprise you that the apostle Paul in Romans 14:20 describes it as evil?

The Concerning Scandal podcast applies the biblical principles of avoiding spiritual harm by looking at the real-life scenarios in which stumbling blocks arise. We can use the spiritual wisdom of James Durham’s classic book in situations we are all too familiar with.

In this episode, rather than examining a particular real-life scenario we need to understand why this is so important. The Bible speaks about stumbling blocks and offences and this has implications for all of us. It raises some challenging questions.

To find out more, visit www.concerningscandal.com

FURTHER HELP

The implications of this are virtually all-encompassing. There are few things we must take more seriously than this in the Christian life.

To explore this issue further, you may find it helpful to read the article 7 Reasons to Avoid Stumbling Others.

You will discover how a stumbling block in Scripture is not simply an obstacle. It is anyone or anything by which someone is drawn into sin or error. Or it may simply hinder them from being edified. Scripture tells that it can happen even through things that aren’t in themselves sinful. David Dickson explains the teaching of Christ on this subject in Matthew 18.

 

 

 GET THE BOOK

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider this vital issue deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offence.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

Top 10 Second Reformation Books of 2020

Top 10 Second Reformation Books of 2020

Top 10 Second Reformation Books of 2020
Matthew Vogan

Although it has been a strange year for many things, it doesn’t seem to have stopped books being published. It’s common at this time of year to look back at the best books of the year. It can be a useful to do that. Here are the best books published during 2020 from or about the Second Reformation. We have some of our own but this page highlights other publications. Other productions could have been included such as the Works of Thomas Manton and a new critical edition of the Westminster Confession but this list is limited to ten.

1. Scottish Heroines of the Faith​

What trials did women experience during the times of persecution? What do we know about the the wives of noted men like James Guthrie, John Livingstone and James Durham?  Written at the beginning of the 20th century by Donald Beaton these short biographies provide much of the answer to these questions.

We also encounter high-born women who used their influence for the cause of Christ and left an example of godly living. Some witnessed the suffering and martyrdom of their husbands. Others were called to suffer themselves and lay down their own lives. They provide an example of courageous godliness that we can still learn from today. As the author himself put it, “the very fact of being brought into communion with a people who loved their lives not unto the death, is an inspiration not to be lightly esteemed.” We come to see “in a measure what they suffered for their love and fidelity to the truth as it is in Jesus.”

 

2. Spiritual Rest During Trials

The afflictions of the people of God may be fierce, like the scorching sun. Sometimes they feel faint under these trials, seeking relief wherever they can. Yet Christ has provided shade for his afflicted flock to find rest. In the midst of their trials they must avoid finding rest anywhere other than in him.

This book contains a very spiritual and attractive exposition of this theme – a sermon on Song of Solomon chapter 1, verse 7. It continues to offer great encouragement to the people of God.

Hugh MacKail was a godly young man who was going to suffer for preaching this very message. He would have to put it into practice. An introduction explains the remarkable context of MacKail’s sermon and life. The book also contains his final testimony, written after torture and before his martyrdom.

3. Preaching Without Fear Or Favour

Robert Bruce was a powerful preacher  these previously unpublished sermons offer fresh insights about the “cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 11. This volume offers the rare opportunity to hear an echo (in updated language) of the type of preaching that shaped Scotland in momentous times. “As we would expect from sermons on Hebrews 11, the emphasis on Christ is on his meritorious sacrifice for sin…His blood, his cross, his grace, his forgiveness – all are at the centre of every expression of gospel truth” (David Searle).  “He speaks too of the grace that enables the believer to see Christ’s face. Thus the doctrine of justification, which he fully expounds in terms of Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us through faith, is clearly set forth” (David Searle). Much comfort is also offered to doubting believers.

“How can it be possible for the preacher to move and persuade you, unless he himself is moved and persuaded in his own heart by the same Holy Spirit?”, Bruce asks. Here are the sermons of one who knew what this meant.

4. Conflicts between Doubt and Assurance

Bessie Clarkson is a troubled woman, her doubts about her own salvation are so severe that she seems to resist all spiritual help. Can she find hope in the midst of seeming despair? This account is both touching and harrowing as we follow her dialogue with her minister William Livingstone.
This godly man was the father of John Livingstone. He seeks to faithfully counsel a person who despairs of assurance in a way that seems virtually irrecoverable. Her words demonstrate what conflicts a soul may endure and how we dare not treat such matters lightly.
The touching account of his conversations with her shows how a faithful spiritual counsellor may deal tenderly with such a difficult situation. As William Livingstone concludes, believers must labour to have a lively and effectual faith, in the depth of our soul.

5. Master Robert Bruce

What happened between the first and second Reformations in Scotland? One great way of answering that question is to get into this biography of a key individual who came after John Knox.

Robert Bruce needed a steely resolution to withstand conflict and persecution. His penetrating preaching was blessed by God in a time of revival that prepared the way for the Second Reformation. Sadly, Bruce died not long before the time of the Covenant. ‘No man’, said John Livingstone, ‘since the apostles’ time spake with such power’.

D. C . Macnicol tells a gripping story of a tumultous life. Master Robert Bruce, a man whose soul and conscience were wholly mastered by God.

6. The SCANDAL OF STUMBLING BLOCKS: AVOIDING SPIRITUAL HARM

Have you ever considered the seriousness of causing someone else to stumble? That is, to hinder someone’s spiritual wellbeing. Does it surprise you that the apostle Paul describes it as evil (Rom. 14:20)?

In The Scandal of Stumbling Blocks, James Durham helps us to consider the matter deeply by defining the nature of stumbling as well as showing its serious consequences. He looks in considerable detail at different kinds of stumbling and identifies the ways that people can stumble and be stumbled. Durham provides practical advice for avoiding and preventing offense.

Now edited in modern English, Durham’s classic treatment on considerate Christianity can be used to edify a new generation.

There is no sin that has more woes pronounced against it. The Lord Himself denounces it and doubles a woe against it in Matthew 18:7. The apostle confirms this in Romans 14:20, where he describes it as literally evil to do something that will make a brother stumble. The Lord takes special notice of how people walk in reference to causing stumbling in others and is highly provoked where He sees anyone guilty of it (Rev. 2:6).

7. SERMONS ON LAMENTATIONS 

This rare, never-before-published volume powerfully expounds a neglected book of Scripture. David Dickson carefully applies Lamentations in a time not only of epidemic disease, international turmoil, economic devastation, and persecution but also of revival. There are clear parallels with our own time, particularly the unprecedented circumstances of upheaval in the nations of the world. Dickson also deals with church decline and argues that its afflictions should cause us great sorrow. Yet he also shows how Lamentations gives those with such heavy hearts words with which to sorrow in hope. This edition has been carefully produced from notes taken by a member of Dickson’s congregation.

 

8. EXPOSITION OF REVELATION 1-3

This exposition by James Durham powerfully and searchingly applies the letters to the seven churches in Asia. “The mystery of the gospel fills it with sweet savour” (C H Spurgeon). Also included are independent treatises covering subjects such as the doctrine of the Trinity, a call to the ministry and qualifications for the ministry, church government and church discipline, repentance, the difference in common and saving grace, and preaching and application in preaching.

The text has been collated with a 1653 manuscript and an appendix contains texts and full lectures that are significantly different than the published edition of 1658. 

10. The Works of Robert TrailL

This reprint of the Works of Robert Traill also includes ten additional sermons not in previous editions. The writings of Traill have proved constantly popular. John Howie said, “The simplicity and evangelical strain of the works of Mr. Traill have been savoury to many, and will ever be so, while religion and Scripture doctrine are in request.” He wrote a clear defence of the doctrine of justification intending “plainly and briefly, to give some information to ordinary plain people”. He expounds the nature of prayer and the throne of grace in thirteen sermons. Equally rich are sixteen sermons on John 17:24 that deal with Christ’s prayer and His desires for His people.

I know no true religion but Christianity; no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ— of his divine person; of his divine office; of his divine righteousness; and of his divine Spirit. I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in his saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.

9. The Divine Right of Church Government 

Church government may be studiously neglected by many today but it is still an important subject. This volume was written by those who were prominent in the Westminster Assembly and their friends to explain clearly how Christ’s Church is to be governed. The result is a carefully reasoned volume that is still unsurpassed.

Part 1 is worth the price of the book itself in establishing the general principle of how we know whether something has divine authority.  Part 2 takes up what form of church government is established by Scripture to be of divine right. It also helps define the limits of civil government jurisdiction in relation to the church.

In The Church of Christ, James Bannerman said this “work contains an extremely able, thorough, and satisfactory discussion of most of the points relating to the nature of Church government as a Divine institution, and to the power or authority of the Church, its seat and exercise.”

 

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Summer 2020 Reading

Summer 2020 Reading

Summer 2020 Reading
Matthew Vogan

Summer is a great time to catch up on edifying reading. There is no shortage of books hot off the press to explore. Here are some suggestions related to the Second Reformation. 

They begin from a starting out level of reading and progress through books that help you explore further before we reach the more advanced level.

1. Master Robert Bruce

What happened between the first and second Reformations in Scotland? One great way of answering that question is to get into this biography of a key individual who came after John Knox. 

Robert Bruce needed a steely resolution to withstand conflict and persecution. His penetrating preaching was blessed by God in a time of revival that prepared the way for the Second Reformation. Sadly, Bruce died not long before the time of the Covenant. ‘No man’, said John Livingstone, ‘since the apostles’ time spake with such power’.

D. C . Macnicol tells a gripping story of a tumultous life. Master Robert Bruce, a man whose soul and conscience were wholly mastered by God. 

2. Spiritual Rest During Trials

The afflictions of the people of God may be fierce, like the scorching sun. Sometimes they feel faint under these trials, seeking relief wherever they can. Yet Christ has provided shade for his afflicted flock to find rest. In the midst of their trials they must avoid finding rest anywhere other than in him.

This book contains a very spiritual and attractive exposition of this theme – a sermon on Song of Solomon chapter 1, verse 7. It continues to offer great encouragement to the people of God.

Hugh MacKail was a godly young man who was going to suffer for preaching this very message. He would have to put it into practice. An introduction explains the remarkable context of MacKail’s sermon and life. The book also contains his final testimony, written after torture and before his martyrdom.

3. Our Faith: Understanding Scripture with the Westminster Confession

All believers seek to interpret the Bible. But too often our personal understanding can be fuzzy and patchy. We don’t see how truths relate to each other and we struggle to articulate them. The Westminster Confession of Faith has helped many generations across the world to have a clear and orderly understanding of biblical truth. It helps us to share our faith together and respond with appropriate worship.

Our Faith is a straightforward resource that enables everyone to do this by removing difficulties and providing helpful explanations. It has a section that explains simply the meaning of the relevant paragraph of the Confesson. A glossary defines difficult words. There is also a summary explanation of why the Scripture references listed are relevant. There are also questions with outline answers to check your understanding. It is well suited for personal or group study and especially for getting to grips with the Confession if you have not studied it carefully before.

 

4. Conflicts between Doubt and Assurance

Bessie Clarkson is a troubled woman, her doubts about her own salvation are so severe that she seems to resist all spiritual help. Can she find hope in the midst of seeming despair? This account is both touching and harrowing as we follow her dialogue with her minister William Livingstone.
This godly man was the father of John Livingstone. He seeks to faithfully counsel a person who despairs of assurance in a way that seems virtually irrecoverable. Her words demonstrate what conflicts a soul may endure and how we dare not treat such matters lightly.
The touching account of his conversations with her shows how a faithful spiritual counsellor may deal tenderly with such a difficult situation. As William Livingstone concludes, believers must labour to have a lively and effectual faith, in the depth of our soul.

5. SELECT PRACTICAL WRITINGS OF ROBERT TRAILL

Robert Traill knew the leading Covenanters well. The son of a persecuted minister, he likewise suffered, being imprisoned on the Bass Rock. His ministry was largely in England, however, and he outlived the period of persecution.

This volume is a good introduction to his writings which have been commended for the “zeal, the sincerity, and fervent piety” that pervade them. There is a simple yet powerful clarity in the way that he opens up the Scriptures.

Strive for the knowledge of him. It is the ignorance of God that is the most universal cause of all the sin and misery in the world, and in the church.

6. The Works of Robert TrailL

This reprint of the Works of Robert Traill also includes ten additional sermons not in previous editions. The writings of Traill have proved constantly popular. John Howie said, “The simplicity and evangelical strain of the works of Mr. Traill have been savoury to many, and will ever be so, while religion and Scripture doctrine are in request.” He wrote a clear defence of the doctrine of justification intending “plainly and briefly, to give some information to ordinary plain people”. He expounds the nature of prayer and the throne of grace in thirteen sermons. Equally rich are sixteen sermons on John 17:24 that deal with Christ’s prayer and His desires for His people.

I know no true religion but Christianity; no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ— of his divine person; of his divine office; of his divine righteousness; and of his divine Spirit. I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in his saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.

7. The Divine Right of Church Government 

Church government may be studiously neglected by many today but it is still an important subject. This volume was written by those who were prominent in the Westminster Assembly and their friends to explain clearly how Christ’s Church is to be governed. The result is a carefully reasoned volume that is still unsurpassed.

Part 1 is worth the price of the book itself in establishing the general principle of how we know whether something has divine authority.  Part 2 takes up what form of church government is established by Scripture to be of divine right. It also helps define the limits of civil government jurisdiction in relation to the church.

In The Church of Christ, James Bannerman said this “work contains an extremely able, thorough, and satisfactory discussion of most of the points relating to the nature of Church government as a Divine institution, and to the power or authority of the Church, its seat and exercise.”

 

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How Can Your Church Have More Loving Fellowship?

How Can Your Church Have More Loving Fellowship?

READING GROUP

How Can Your Church Have More Loving Fellowship?

JOHN OWEN

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Rules for Walking in Fellowship – John Owen

What are some practical biblical steps we can all take to increase loving fellowship in our congregations?

Rules for Walking in Fellowship gives you 22 guidelines for biblical church life.  This book will help you identify and understand key biblical passages about fellowship. Its concise counsel will also motivate you to want to live out these principles. 

You will learn how to:

  • foster true gospel fellowship
  • better support your pastor
  • have better relationships with fellow church members

1. SPIRITUAL SUPPORT FOR YOUR PASTOR

Your pastor watches over your soul, but you have responsibilities to him too. When the church gathers for worship, you should be there too. You need to be diligent in listening to and living out the Word of God that he preaches. You should also follow the example of his life, as far as he follows Christ. He needs your prayerful support, respect and encouragement. His authority comes from Christ and so you should also submit to it as long as it does not go beyond Scripture. 

2. PRACTICAL SUPPORT FOR YOUR PASTOR

It is only fair and right that your pastor should have the financial support he needs for his family and in order to do his work. It also shows appreciation for the spiritual benefit we receive. Your pastor will also come under attack spiritually and from others. He will often suffer because of the truth. You must stand with him in his trials.

3. LOVING ONE ANOTHER

Love is the essential dimension of all the duties of fellowship; it is expressed in them all. It is based on the love that Christ Himself displays to the Church. Nothing makes the faith more attractive to others than mutual, intense and affectionate love among Christ’s followers. You should take an interest in every one of your fellow members since you belong to the same family. It would be wrong to look down or ignore any of them. Any spiritual gift or role that makes us different from them is not due to ourselves; it is freely and graciously given by Christ. Love will also make us patient towards each other and bear with one another’s faults. When we think of how patient and forgiving Christ has been towards us, we should be ready to bear with His people. 

4. PRAYING FOR THE CHURCH

Every believer has a role in faithfully praying every day for the church to be built up and blessed by God. You need to pray for those with whom you are in fellowship. Pray earnestly for those who are going through a time of affliction. Just like the body feels the pain that any part experiences, you need to express sympathy with other members of Christ’s body. 

5. STANDING BY THE CHURCH

The church never lacks enemies and trials, you must stand with it and for it, no matter what.  Those who persecute the Church are persecuting Christ. False teachers distort Christ’s Word. You need to be on your guard against constant temptations to turn back or turn away. Otherwise it will be easy for you to find excuses in a time of testing under the influence of fear of others. 

6. MAINTAINING UNITY

No duty is urged more strongly or more often than unity. It is based on love. You need to seek the welfare of fellow church members. Division and contention is not appropriate for those who are brothers. You must watch out for those who seek to cause divisions through false teaching and practices.

7. SPIRITUAL CONVERSATION

Don’t waste precious opportunities for speaking about Christ with others and things that will build them up spiritually. You can help others grow in love and knowledge. We only have so much time together, avoid being drawn into trivial conversation.

8. PRACTICAL HELP

You need to show practical love by watching out for the needs of fellow church members. You can bear their burdens and help them in their time of need. They need your support in their distress and affliction; this may be your time, counsel, sympathy or your financial help.

9. BEING ACCOUNTABLE

You are your brother’s keeper. You need to watch out for them with tender concern in case they are tempted to go astray. If they are in danger of this, you need to warn them lovingly. This does not mean prying into people’s lives in order to catch them out. Love does not do that, but neither does it leave people to be damaged by sin. Things may ultimately need to be handled through formal church discipline. Yet you need to take this responsibility seriously and lovingly in the hope that it will not reach that stage.

10. HOLY LIVING

Holiness is a gospel issue. When those outside the church see how we live it should make them honour and not despise the gospel. Holiness shows the reality of Christian profession and builds up the church.  Many do not like the principle of being separate from the sinful practices of the world. But God does command us to be separate in this way for His glory and our spiritual good. Those who will not separate from the world and false ways of worship God has not commanded actually separate themselves from Christ.

SUMMARY CONCLUSION 

This book shows us how to increase loving fellowship by taking seriously our biblical responsibilities to our pastor and fellow church members.  

It all flows from and is an expression of loving one another. That is where we must begin in putting these things into practice. Most problems in congregations arise from and are increased by focussing on ourselves and a lack of love for others. Rather than focus on what we are getting out of church, how can we love others? Many people think of that sentimentally but it is a love for their spiritual good above all. What a difference it would make if we let this influence everything we do and say in the life of the church. 

 

JOHN OWEN (1646-1683) was an English Puritan who served as vice-chancellor of Oxford University and pastor of congregations in Coggeshall and London.  His works have been reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust.

“Everything Owen wrote is worth reading, but some of his books are more accessible than others. This little practical treatise is a great way to meet a great Christian mind as it deals with the most basic elements of the Christian’s life in his church. I have loved reading Owen for nearly thirty years now and return to him again and again, never without profit.  Enjoy this book. And learn from it.”

CARL R. TRUEMAN

 

“A manual on church fellowship which to this day is unsurpassed

W. H. GOOLD

 

Owen’s work continues to stand the test of time [especially] in a day of confusion about church membership and the responsibilities it entails

DAVID WHITLA

 

BOOK OFFER

We can offer discounts and grants for bulk purchase of this book that will make it easier to get started in reading it together. Get in touch to tell us how many you need together with your circumstances and where you are running a reading group. 

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Top 5 Second Reformation Books of 2019

Top 5 Second Reformation Books of 2019

Top 5 Second Reformation Books of 2019
Matthew Vogan

There never seems to be any shortage of books being published. Thankfully some among them are genuinely excellent. It’s common at this time of year to look back at the best books of the year. It can be a useful exercise. Here are the best books published during 2019 from Second Reformation authors. 

Naturally, we could highlight more than one or two Reformation Scotland resources but we will look at what others have produced instead.

1. Be Reconciled With God

These 12 rare sermons have not been printed for almost 300 years. But they still communicate the fervour of a young preacher who made the deepest possible impact within the two years of ministry he had. They are packed with both simple and profound thought communicated with almost tangible passion and highly recommended. There are sermons with evangelistic appeal as well as those that reach the hearts of believers with a uniquely penetrating power. 

They display an unusual spiritual maturity in handling the matters of eternity and how  things ought to go with our souls.

We have obtained the following special discounts exclusively for Reformation Scotland readers.

UK Customers: Buy it for £24.95 £14.36 using the code ref.scot2019.

North America: Buy it for $30 $15 using the code BERECONCILED50OFF.

2. The Sum of Saving Knowledge 

 ‘The work which I think first of all wrought a saving change in me. How gladly would I renew the reading of it, if that change might be carried on to perfection’ – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

This book offers is a clear brief statement of key truths that relate to salvation followed by a rich and warm practical application of them. Every professing Christian, whether possessing or lacking assurance, and all ministers should know the key points of saving knowledge, and they should know where to turn for such instruction. Anyone may benefit from The Sum of Saving Knowledge. Ministers will find it helps them better declare the fulness of salvation. 

 Too often people in all kinds of churches assume that professing Christians have a firmer and clearer grasp on such truths than they really do. The Sum is a sure guide in relation to the matters of salvation, and anyone can return to it regularly with great benefit. To grow in both appreciation and appropriation of it is to grow in ‘the life and marrow of religion’. 

The Sum of Saving Knowledge is frequently overlooked because it has been included in editions of the Westminster Confession. It stands on its own here with an extensive introduction and is highly recommended.  

3. Hope during desperate times

We live in desperate times—in moral and in other concerns. Things are also collapsing in on themselves spiritually in terms of widespread decline in what the professing Church believes and the standards by which it lives. But William Guthrie shows that our problem is not just living in a time of destruction, but self-destruction. We may be concerned about moral deterioration in society, but also need to see ourselves as personally implicated. Where can we find hope? It is only in that God is able to help those who have destroyed themselves. As Guthrie puts it: ‘the Church of God in her lowest condition may warrantably look and wait for help from God’.

This book provides encouragement despite being realistic about the times in which we live. It’s spiritual counsel remains as relevant today as ever in our own challenging context. 

 

4. Advancing Christian Unity 

In John 17, Jesus prayed for the unity of the church. Yet today, we tend to accept disunity as inevitable. In this book, Anthony Burgess calls us to addresses the spiritual and visible unity that Jesus desires for His people. 

Anthony Burgess ministered in a period of division. He became involved in a project to unite the whole of the British Isles in the same doctrinal standards and church order. It was a unity that prioritised the truth. Besides the Westminster Assembly, he engaged in important defence of vital doctrines such as justification, original sin and the moral law.

In expounding John chapter 17 Burgess emphasises both the spiritual and visible unity that should exist within the Church. It is not a man-made unity that compromises the whole counsel of God. Burgess deals realistically and honestly with the divisions that exist amongst Christ’s people and the reasons for them. He does not accept that lack of unity is inevitable but boldly calls it what it is according to Scripture: sin.

Burgess gives practical counsel in this area in demonstrating the spirit that Christians ought to have one to another. He will not allow us simply to show regret and concern but do nothing about the divisions of the Church. We are under the strongest obligations, not only to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122:6) but also to do what we can. In the following extract from his sermons on John 17 he shows the attractiveness of unity.

 

5. Preparing for eternity

‘make timely preparation for death and judgment’ – Alexander Nisbet

The signs of bodily decline in ourselves and others are a call to young and old to prepare for eternity. There may be sudden degeneration through severe illness or gradual deterioration. It reminds us that the best time to prepare for our long home is now when we have a measure of strength and health.

This is a book for young and old, whether in good or poor health. We must prepare for eternity and we cannot put this off until we think it is imminent. We cannot guarantee that we will have the ability to do this in the time of sickness or old age. Ecclesiastes 12 urges this wise instruction through striking pictures of physical decline. Alexander Nisbet draws out the way in which this spiritual wisdom applies urgently to each one of us.

Intended as a brief exposition for the ordinary reader. Nisbet prepared his exposition of Ecclesiastes for publication during his final years.

Stop Press! The Covenanters

This has literally just been published. Subtitled ‘A History of the Church in Scotland from 1540 to 1690’ this is the classic and definitive history of the period. It comes in two large volumes of painstaking research but the story is told in an accessible way. It is accurate and carefully weighed history not mere hero worship. If you are looking for something to progress to having read other shorter books giving an overview of the period these volumes are a must have.

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