Monday, 5 January 2015

Justification by faith, stated.

Lady Jane Grey (source: wikipedia)
Lady Jane Grey. A young lady who had an adamantium conviction regarding the authority of Scriptures and salvation by faith alone.
In a conference (a conversation or a dialogue) with a Roman Catholic monk, Dr. Feckenham, she states what the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone means.

Feckenham: What thing is required in a Christian?
Jane: To believe in God the Father, in God the Son, in God the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God.
Feckenham: Is there nothing else required in a Christian, but to believe in God?
Jane. Yes: We must believe in him, we must love him, with all our heart, with all our soul, and all our mind, and our neighbour as ourself.
Feckenham: Why then faith justifieth not, nor saveth not?
Jane: Yes, verily, faith (as St. Paul saith) only justifieth.
Feckenham: Why St. Paul saith, if I have all the faith of the world, without love, it is nothing.
Jane: True it is, for how can I love him I trust not, or how can I trust in him whom I love not; faith and love ever agree together, and yet love is comprehended in faith.
Feckenham: How shall we love our neighbour?
Jane: To love our neighbour, is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and to give drink to the thirsty, and to do to him as we would do to ourselves.
Feckenham: Why, then it is necessary to salvation to do good works, and it is not sufficient to believe?
Jane: I deny that, I affirm that faith only saveth; for it is meet for all Christians, in token that they follow their master Christ, to do good works; yet may we not say, nor in any wise believe, that they profit to salvation: for although we have done all that we can, yet we are unprofitable servants, and the faith we have only in Christ’s blood and his merits, saveth. 
 -- from The Literary Remains of Lady Jane Grey, as quoted on Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide (bold mine)
She was only 16 (or 17 at most) when she said this. And that was in a prison. Admittedly, she possessed an exceptional intellect, but more than that, she was possessed by the grace of God that gave her unwavering convictions. After some time, she was beheaded at the age of 17.

Will I have such clarity in my knowledge of God? Will I persevere with such an unwavering conviction? I pray that I will. How about you?

(I was first introduced to Lady Jane Grey and this quote by an online resource called Reformation Profiles from Ligonier Ministries.)

Friday, 2 January 2015

Top 5 from books I read in 2014

I managed to read 25 books in 2014. Some are probably not worth mentioning, even though they were useful for me. Here are five that I would recommend to others.

In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson
This book takes the top spot. It's written by a great theologian of our days, but it's accessible for any thoughtful Christian. Each chapter should be read as a unit, and as you do so, it will warm your heart by showing how great our Lord Jesus Christ is.

This little book is a gem. Written by a mother of 5(could be 6?), this book is full of Christian wisdom and honest words that will encourage any parents to remain faithful to God in all circumstances. For expecting mums and dads, this is highly recommended.

This book is fun and educational. Anderson has taken the task of analysing reader's worldview into a "choose your own adventure" form so you follow a trail littered with questions, flipping the book here and there. This novel approach makes the book fun to read, but also very useful in engaging reader and potential readers too. If you want to understand how different people think, this book is a good place to start.

I read this book some years ago, but it was great to return to it once again. With his usual concise-yet-weighty style, Packer explains the relationship between evangelism and the sovereignty of God. Reading this will encourages you to go out there and evangelise totally confident of and depending on God's saving power!

This book is probably not for someone who isn't trained in theology. Or, at least you would want to have a trained guide whom you can ask questions about. I was fortunate enough to have my MTS trainer, Mark Earngey as my "guide". Having said that, the book isn't difficult to read. The deep theology it handles is why you need to be careful about reading this. I can't say I understood everything, and there are certainly a few questions raised and unanswered by it, but I enjoyed the book overall.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Reading Plan 2015

Another year, another reading plan!
Last year, I planned to read 30 books. As expected, my reading didn't go as planned, but I ended up reading 25 books. Many of them were short (around 100 pages long) or not from the initial list, but I'm satisfied with the result. I've read more than the year before.

This year, I aim for 35 books, excluding 5 individual books from the bible. I've already started many of these, so hopefully, I'll get through most of them this year. Also, some of these are more like a study book or textbooks. I'm hoping these will help with my studies in some ways.

As usual, I will continue to read the bible throughout the year, not just the 4 books I selected within it. I'll simply try to pay a little more attention to those 4, perhaps consulting one or two commentaries at times.

1 & 2 Timothy

Systematic Theology by John Frame
God of Promise by Michael Horton
Westminster Confession of Faith by G. I. Williamson
The Cross of Christ by John Stott
Showing the Spirit by Don Carson
Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
Living in God's Two Kingdoms by David VanDrunen
Antinomianism by Mark Jones

A Treatise on the Christian Faith by Hermann Witsius

The Early Church by Henry Chadwick
The Reformation by Owen Chadwick
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

Other Christian
Leading Better Bible Studies
Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson
The Pleasantness of a Religious Life by Matthew Henry
Redeeming Science by Vern Poythress
The Pastor's Kid by Barnabas Piper
Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
Hope Beyond Cure by David McDonald
The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper
God's Big Design by Vaughan Roberts
Counsel for Christian Workers by Charles Spurgeon
A Heart for God by Sinclair Ferguson
Fatherhood by Tony Payne

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Why You Are Australian by Nikki Gemmel 
Till we have faces by C. S. Lewis

Basic Greek in 30 Min. by Jim Found
Logic by Vern Poythress
Sheet Music by Kevin Leman
Basics of Biblical Greek by William Mounce
Grammar of Poetry by Matt Whitling
Grammar for Grown-ups by Craig Shrives
How Not to Write by Terence Denman

I welcome book suggestions, so feel free to comment to let me know. I may choose to read that book instead of what I listed here.