Friday, March 31, 2006

Books Read in March 2006 - IV

by Rudolph W. Giuliani (Time Warner, 2002) 394pp.

Giuliani was coming to the end of his second term as mayor of New York at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Thus the event served as a focal point for explaining what he had learned about leadership in the years beore. He makes the case that had he not tackled the problems of the city in the way he did, New York would not have been able to handle 9/11 the way it did. Though this sounds like trumpet-blowing it does not come across this way. Besides, the numbers for crime reduction, employment, social care etc seem to speak for themselves.

The book is a mixture of simply stated principles he worked by, which served as springboards for telling many little stories about his experiences as a law graduate, US Attorney, Republican politician (he started as a Democrat!) in a Democrat city, and Mayor. So the book is part didactic, part biographical. This does make it a little clunky. I would have liked this book to be one thing or the other. Nevertheless, the principles were helpful and there was enough biography to keep my interest. I found it it quite moving as he wrote about his experiences in the aftermath of 9/11. Though in charge of a massive organisation, he made a point of making time for people, especially those who lost loved ones. I was able to feel the tension of pressing on to manage the situation while also having to handle intense feelings.

On the whole pretty enjoyable, informative and helpful.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Our Doctrine of the Sacraments Signifies More Than We Think

It is often said that teaching on the sacraments is not clearly spelled out in the Bible. Therefore since it is unclear, we should not get too worked up about differences. However, I wonder if there is more to this question than meets the eye. Pierre-Charles Marcel, in his The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism, writes:
The celebrated dogmatician H. Bavinck has well remarked that the doctrine of the sacraments has always been the shibboleth, the touchstone, of every dogmatic system. It is there that the principles from which one sets off in the Church and theology, in questions of faith and life, find there practical and concrete issue. The doctrines of the affinities of God and the world, of creation and regeneration, of Christ's divine and human natures, of the modes of action of the Holy Spirit, of sin and of grace, of spirit and of matter, are all more or less present and implicit in the doctrine of the sacraments. The diverse roads of theology converge, whether one wishes it or not, sooner or later, consciously or unconsciously, in the highway of the sacraments. It is necessary to take this into account. (p.17)
I have felt for some time now that in any debate on baptism, for example, there is limited value in discussing the mode and the recipients by reference to NT texts without first going over some other, perhaps more basic ground. For example, if someone says to me, "Just read the New Testament!" when discussing the recipients of baptism, that says to me that there may be a difference between us in our doctrine of Scripture. It will also hint at the perceived relationship between the epochs of biblical history and the God-given covenants. And so it could go on.

So, rather than the sacraments being unimportant details, they point to more deeper questions which cannot be considered unimportant.

Something Got Tangled

Preached on Paul's thanksgiving in Philippians 1:3-8 last night. I thought it went OK. However, while discussing it afterwards with Susan it became clear that on one point she had got completely the opposite message that I had intended to convey! I am hoping that it was just her, so I need to do some more research to find out what others heard. Humbling. Looks like I have some mopping up to do...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Avoiding Ministerial Ruin

Mark Loughridge recommends some reading for pastors by Don Whitney. I have not heard of him before but his article, The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister is food for thought for any pastor or would-be pastor.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Predicament That Abdul Rahman Is In...

If you want to get an idea of the view of moderate clerics in Afghanistan to Mr. Rahman's conversion to Christianity, read this quote from a report in the Jerusalem Post (HT: ASullivan):

Senior Muslim clerics said Thursday that Rahman must be executed and if the government caves into Western pressure and frees him they will incite people to 'pull him into pieces.' Four senior clerics interviewed by The Associated Press in their mosques in Kabul agreed Rahman deserved to be killed for his conversion.

'He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian,' said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque.

'The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed.'

'He is not mad. The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled,' said Abdul Raoulf, cleric at Herati Mosque. 'This is humiliating for Islam. ... Cut off his head.'

Raoulf is considered a moderate cleric in Afghanistan.

More on the Great Fire of Sinfin

The fire was pretty serious and is the major local news story. Susan, a deputy head, came home exhausted today after a day working with the head teacher and the other deputies to sort out the organisational chaos. It seems that arson was a possibility (read "likelihood"! - SD.).

The BBC has a load of pictures here. The local rag has more here.

Some people at Woodlands have been good, phoning to check Susan is OK. That means a lot - to Susan especially, but also to me.


I believe this story briefly made it on to the home page of the BBC News site. It concerns Mr. Abdul Rahman, an Afghan and a Christian converted from Islam 16 years ago, who is now under arrest in Afghanistan for converting from Islam and possibly faces the death penalty. Of course, the BBC being the BBC, gives no background to the case and comments on it from the standpoint of international politics. The only matter of personal interest is that some consider him to be mentally unstable. Of course this may be a loophole which allows the Afghan government to meet its declared obligations to human rights conventions while also upholding Sharia Law. If he is seen to be in his right mind, making a clear declaration of his faith in God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - then there is no hope for him.

A better human perspective is given on The man has had to face a long struggle since conversion. He has been cut off from his family, separated from his children who are now brought up by his parents, and endured detention centres in various Western countries while seeking asylum. Finally he was deported back to Afghanistan in 2002 (what kind of system would do that?!). Only after attempting to be reunited with his children in Afghanistan did his own Father report him to the authorities. Now he is undergoing trial for his life.

Mr. Rahman's case reminds us of the plight of many Christians converted from Islam in Islamic countries. Their life is intolerable, being subjected to the greatest of indignities, and their courage staggering. By contrast in this country Christians are subjected to wave upon wave of apathy and yawns. We think we have it bad because churches are small and it's hard to keep things going sometimes. But at the same time we are free to go about our worship, business and pleasure, indulging ourselves as we please, wherever we please like everyone else. But Mr. Rahman's plight reminds us that the gospel of Jesus Christ was once worth giving up family for, even dying for, in this country too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Firefighters Battle School Blaze

Looks like my wife will not be going in to work tomorrow.

Little tykes...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mac Tip

Don't lift your open, switched-on iBook G4 by the screen (i.e. without any support underneath).

I did the other day, ever-so gently, and the screen stopped working. Now it has cost me 47 notes to get someone to look at it, and more for what ever part needs replaced. This, they say, could simply be the connecting cable (cheap) or the logic board (v. expensive).


Update: It's the expensive option, dagnabbit!

Books Read in March 2006 - III

Not Reformed at All
by John W. Robbins and Sean Gerety (Trinity Foundation, 2004) 136pp.

At last. Finished. Now for a shower...

I didn't like this book. To be honest I just ended up skim reading it. Though there are some important questions hidden in there which must be asked of his opponents, the invective was too unpleasant. I would prefer (yes, unashamedly 'prefer') to think more carefully about what others have written in response to FV/AAT. I also came away with the impression (well, I only skim read it!) that Robbins had not accurately presented Wilson's views. Therefore the answers Robbins shouts at the reader are not really answers to points that FV people are making. It's easy to kill straw men. This book is of extremely limited value.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Nerdy Diversion into Speculation

In my browsing today I came across this website on the way a simple power law describes how some websites become so very popular whereas the majority of others remain obscure. The funny thing is that where you have both a diversity of choices (i.e lots and lots of blogs) and complete freedom to choose then, counter-intuitively (for me at least), inequality inevitably emerges. What is going on is that there is feedback within this social system. So in the blogosphere, one's choice of which blogs to link to influences the choices of others. Even when the influence is tiny, inequality inevitably arises as the system grows. It is this power law that lies behind the famous 80/20 rule. Fascinating.

Of course it affects other social systems also, and this got me thinking about churches and how they function. Warning: These are not theological thoughts but sociological.

Though churches are not mentioned in the above article I often hear it said that 80% of the work of a church is done by 20% of the people. But a church is a social network like many other systems and so it is no surprise that something like 80/20 operates here where preferences are in operation.

It perhaps also explains the emergence of phenomenon I have heard of when a church experiences growth beyond a certain point. When a church is small and there are few choices of social interaction everyone is pretty happy. Everyone gets their fair share of interaction. However, as it grows individuals cannot interact with everyone and so they make choices. Inevitably this leads to inequality. Some people are found to be right at the centre of things (e.g. the leaders and other "movers & shakers") while others seem to be on the fringes. Inevitably, some of those on the fringes are those who were there when the church was small. Now, even though the church is larger they are experiencing less interaction, and certainly less than they would like having once felt at the centre. They begin to complain that "things are not the same as they used to be", or "I'm being left out". The trouble is nobody in the church need be consciously excluding others, and nothing about the excluded ones need have changed to warrant exclusion. It just happens because the church has reached a certain size and there is freedom to associate with whomever one likes.

As the article I linked to says, the inequality cannot be reversed without severe control imposed upon the social network. For example, in a large church one could remove choice from social networking and force people to 'network' such that there is no longer inequality. This would be unacceptable for a church, of course!

But another way is to restrict choice by splitting a church that has got too large into smaller churches. This way people can begin to feel included once again, and no doubt be more useful. Maybe this is one of the sociological reasons why the recent popularity of church planting rather than church growing seems to work so well and why everyone wants to plant a church!

But then, being well out of my field, I might be talking rubbish.

Semantic Range

Barry Hofstetter writes on the Semantic Range of words. It is a great temptation, especially for those of us who know a little Greek (I once knew one called Costas ... ahem), to want to say, "What the Greek really means is..." and succumb to the lexical fallacy, as Barry says. Context really is important, and reading our Bibles with an eye on it is vital.

Weekend Report

I had been invited to speak at a Men's Breakfast at Little Hill Church in Leicester on Saturday. This was yet another first and so I was worried about how to pitch it. It was an open event billed as a good breakfast and an informal talk on the Christian faith. It ended up there were 25 men there of whom around 6 were non-believers. I talked for 20 minutes on John 14:6. And had a good brekky.

Little Hill is a lovely church. Godly people led by a godly eldership and evangelistically minded. It was a joy to meet up with them again. It is a shame that they are unable to find a pastor. But the problem seems to be UK-wide. There are many conservative evangelical churches here which lack leadership and are unable to find suitable men. They simply are not being raised up in the churches. Such is the concern that there have been conferences on the topic. However, we know that God is wise and our hearts must be searched.

On Sunday evening I started preaching through Philippians. I used the first two verses to introduce the letter, asking who the letter is from (Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ), who it is to (saints - what's a saint?), and the basis of their lives (grace and peace from the Father and the Son). Nice and simple.

Oh. I also had a seriously intimidating haircut.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Who is Reformed?

I started reading John W. Robbins' Not Reformed At All last night. (It's a response to Doug Wilson's Reformed is Not Enough.)

I Wish I hadn't. Excruciating. Infantile. Embarrassing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Books Read in March 2006 - II

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church by D. A. Carson (Zondervan, 2005) 231pp.
I found this extremely helpful. The book notes some the strengths of the emergent movement, but weighs in with serious critique. It necessarily generalises in places, but his major interaction is with the writings of Brian MacLaren and Steve Chalke. His concern, it seems to me, is to show that the Bible teaches that truth can be known. In light of this, the post-modern influences on such writers as Chalke and MacLaren have weakened their willingness to hold on to truth. Important.

The Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth (NICOT Series) by R. L. Hubbrd (Eerdmans, 1988) 285pp.
I have never been one for reading through commentaries. I have always tended to use them for reference. However, prompted by my studies last semester, it is probably a good idea to read the whole thing reasonably quickly to get the flow of thought. Hubbard was helpful - not too technical though full, and about enough warmth to keep you interested.

Being a Legalist

Patrick writes on the signs that you are legalist. For me, his last point hit home:
Pride and legalism can even take the form (but not the essence) of humility and piety. How do you react to your own sin? Do you run to God while the blood is still dripping from your hands? Or do you engage in various forms of penance such as self-loathing, making promises, and engaging in extra work to make up for your sin?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Books Read in March 2006 - I

This month a couple to do with the Federal Vision controversy...

The Current Justification Controversy

The Current Justification Controversy by O. Palmer Robertson (Trinity Foundation) 98pp.
The word "Current" is a little misleading since this a publication of a paper that was written in 1983. It refers to a theological conroversy which occurred between 1976 and 1983 at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia concerning Norman Shepherd. Robertson goes through the steps leading to Shepherd's dismissal from the seminary. In doing so he lists the perceived problems of his teaching in the areas of justification, covenant, election and assurance. Interesting.

The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros & Cons Justification Controversy

The Auburn Avenue Theology edited by E. Calvin Beisner (Knox Theological Seminary) 325pp.
These are the papers from a colloquium on the "Federal Vision" involving both advocates and critics. I always find these formats frustrating: one person writes a paper on one topic and then a critic writes one in response. The trouble is that the first paper raises questions for me which the respondent fails to answer! I was disappointed in the interaction between Rick Phillips and Steve Schlissel on 'Covenant and Salvation'. They talked (wrote?) past each other. I enjoyed the contributions of Carl D. Robbins in particular. I will probably say more about this book later.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Preaching Ruth

Ok, this is a kind of 'post-match reaction' contribution to this blog. I have just completed preaching my series on Ruth. I 'm not sure it has been all that useful. (This may be the 'preacher's blues' speaking.)

I studied Ruth last semester in Hebrew. This has been a great blessing to me personally. However, one problem with preparing to preach on it is that I have generated a great deal of material which could be made use of. I took the step of preaching an overview followed by a sermon on each chapter - 5 sermons in all. However, it may be that with a whole chapter to preach on and having a lot of material under my belt, the sermons have been longer than usual - 40mins rather than 30.

As I mentioned yesterday, preaching a series in the OT is still new for me and to be honest I'm still not sure how to do it. I want to beware of two things: the first is simply moralising - "here is an example of good behaviour. Go thou and do likewise!" or "here's bad behaviour. Avoid this!". In Ruth, Boaz' life is an example of the former, but Elimelech's faithlessness is an example to be avoided.

The second thing to beware of is cheap allegorising. That is, make a link such as, Boaz is like Christ, Ruth is like the church. Therefore, the story is really about Jesus redeeming the church. Before you know it you are actually preaching on Ephesians 1 when you should be expounding Ruth.

But what does that leave me? I wanted to show Ruth's place in the greater plan of redemption in history. So, in Ruth we find God acting providentially. We find that God's law provides the legal framework for the concept of a redeemer to arise (the idea of a goel - a kinsman-redeemer, combined with levirate marriage). And, of course, in the examples of Ruth and Boaz we find God's character formed in them as they display chesed - faithfulness/lovingkindness - in various ways. All of this combining to provide the offspring which would lead ultimately to Christ in due time. So Christ is in view, but we also do not lose sight of the real events in history and what they reveal.

However, having said all that, I am not sure it worked too well. I got bogged down in too much detail and the main themes may have been obscured. The length of the sermons were excessive, and probably the stucture was not clear enough to heIp people concentrate. Much still to be learned. Keeps one humble.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Preaching the OT

I was reflecting with Susan today at lunchtime about preaching through Ruth (last sermon tomorrow). It is the first time I have preached a series in the OT. I have preached many one-offs, but never a series. I came to the conclusion that my experience was similar to my first attempt to drive a car. "OK we are moving, but I don't feel everything is under control" expresses my thoughts about my attempts at Ruth admirably.

Then Susan went further. "May be it is like the man whose accelerator jammed on full and the brake pads wore out." Yes. Belting through the book at great speed, all the time worrying that there is going to be a big crash - that seems to fit too.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Episte... What?

D. A. Carson, in Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, noted three periods of epistemology (the study "knowledge"), which I thought were helpful:
  1. Pre-modernist
  2. This is marked by the belief that all human knowledge is a subset of God's knowledge. (Carson only considers Judeo-Christian epistemology.) The premodernist would start with God and work from there. Absolutist.

  3. Modernist
  4. Has its roots in the 18th century Enlightenment. Its starting point is "I", best expressed in Descartes' famous statement, "I think, therefore I am." For Descartes, this was the foundational statement of all human knowledge. The "I" (as I understand it) is the collective "I", common to all human beings. From there, everything else was to be worked out, including the existence of God. The conclusions were to be true for all human beings. Marked by rationalism (use of logic and reason) and empiricism (observation and experimentation). Absolutist.

  5. Post-modernist
  6. Moving on from Descartes, every "I" is unique. Each person must start with themselves. Everyone has a different perspective on what can be known. So what is true for me may not be true for you. Some see postmodernism as modernism gone to seed i.e. its inevitable fruit and therefore is really still modernism. It engenders relativism but as a result is self-contradictory since its claim that there are no absolute statements of truth is itself an absolutist statement of the truth.

You can begin to see the problem of trying to push God out of your view.

(Update: modification to the first point.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hearing God's Word

At DFC last night we looked at how we are to hear the word of God. Specifically, how are we to approach the event of preaching in our services? The membership fully supports the place of preaching in our worship, which is good. We don't have people suggesting that modern 21st century man only has a 3-minute attention span! However, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, not in the mental assent to the idea of preaching but in the way we submit and respond to it. Let's face it, we all get lazy.

When we get lazy bad things happen. I sometimes think a phenomenon like the "psychic secretion" of Pavlov's dogs is going on. You know, Ivan Pavlov noticed that dogs would salivate before food was put out. He realised that this secretion was stimulated by events leading up to the delivery of food. He was able to manipulate the reflex response through changing the experiences of the dogs.

What's this to do with services? No, I am not talking about members of the congregation salivating before the receipt of spiritual food! But, I would like to suggest that the routine of attendance week by week can stimulate other kinds of unhelpful behaviour if we are lazy and not careful. For example, daydreaming or even dozing off - that really bugs me! It may be my preaching, but those who dose are those who also tell me that they appreciate the preaching. Work that out. I can't help feeling that people can get into the habit of not listening very well, and not expecting much from preaching, and so certain behaviours kick in.

Preaching is a divinely appointed means of grace. It is not a motivational pep talk, not a turn at open-mike night at the pub, it is not a lecture, it is not 'sharing'. It is the proclamation of herald of the King of Kings which must be delivered, or the herald must die trying. He must be heard because he fears the King more that the crowd. This has implications for the preacher and his task. But it also has implications for the hearer. Through preaching people believe and are saved (Romans 10:13,14). Through preaching people believe and live. The hearers must receive the message of the King.

So, to finish, here are four ways to improve the benefit we receive from hearing God's word week by week:
  1. Preparing Well

    • Learn to see the preaching of the word as the most significant time of the week – you are meeting God in the midst of his holy people, hearing his holy message!

    • Prayerfulness the night before and in the morning. Ask God to open our hearts to receive his message. Ask for God to help the preacher.

  2. Checking Carefully

    • "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

    • Examine the scriptures as the word preached. This serves two functions:
      1. It keeps your mind alive to what you are hearing

      2. It is a necessary check against bad teaching

  3. Receiving in the Right Spirit

  4. "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." 1Th 2:13
    • in faith – it must be believed as we receive. It really is God's word!

    • in love – if we love God, we love his word and want more of it.

    • in submission – ready to act on what we hear without complaint.

  5. Being Changed

    • meditation – after the service, spend time thinking and praying over what you have heard. It's the kind of thing Sundays are for!

    • Keep a record of what you have learned – note the scripture reading, the main point of sermon, the main headings, a paragraph summary of message

    • discussion – talk about the implications of the sermon with others

    • live it! – a transformed mind, and obedience to God's revealed will (Rom 12:2)

Incidentally, this is not really new. You can find similar in the Westminster Standards ( e.g. see Question 160 of the Larger Catechism).

Niddly Noddly Nerdiness

I discovered that my old mate David Muir has been using Doggie's Breakfast as an example of the usefulness of blogging for learning. Kind of wierd to be examined as a specimen, but OK.

Moving on, I followed a link on his blog to David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, where he has a post on the State of the Blogosphere, February 2006 Part 1: On Blogosphere Growth. Kind of interesting, if you like that sort of thing.

Here's his conclusion:
  • Technorati now tracks over 27.2 Million blogs

  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 5 and a half months

  • It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago

  • On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day

  • 13.7 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created

  • Spings (Spam Pings) can sometimes account for as much as 60% of the total daily pings Technorati receives

  • Sophisticated spam management tools eliminate the spings and find that about 9% of new blogs are spam or machine generated

  • Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

  • Over 81 Million posts with tags since January 2005, increasing by 400,000 per day

  • Blog Finder has over 850,000 blogs, and over 2,500 popular categories have attracted a critical mass of topical bloggers

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tiny Banana Republics

The Mystery of Providence

On Reformation 21 There has been a series of posts on the 25th anniversary of the death of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Carl Trueman has posted a criticism of MLJ's legacy. One of the points he made is this:
MLJ's break with Stott and Packer in 1966 was a monumental disaster for British evangelicalism. Those who glorify it as some kind of Waterloo fail to see the long-term damage it did. More like the Charge of the Light Brigade. Now, don't get me wrong -- I am not now, and never could be, a member of a mixed denomination like the Anglican Church; though I am no secondary separatist and happily fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters from such. But in 1966 the kind of `separatism with no doctrine of the church' that emerged on the one side, and the woefully spineless accommodation to the Anglican mainstream on the other, proved hopelessly inadequate for maintaining solid evangelical witness in the ensuing decades. British conservative evangelicalism is only just recovering from the subsequent problems caused by the church equivalents of tiny banana republics created by certain of MLJ's children, and the confusion caused by the weird alliances made by Anglican evangelicals in the 70s and early 80s. Had Jim Packer `come out' in 1966, the main beneficiaries would have been British non-conformists, because MLJ and his closest allies would have found their power checked and, hopefully, redirected to a more constructive path. Instead, a tiny, self-referential culture of separatist evangelicalism was created which has done little more than beat a dignified (and sometimes not so dignified) retreat in the face of advancing modernity.

Though I have benefitted from his published sermons, like many others, I also have had reservations about MLJ's ministry. For example, it seems surprising that such a strong preaching ministry was unable to establish a church at Westminster Chapel that could survive after his departure. The church seemed to collapse very quickly. However, Trueman's comments take us in another direction - Lloyd-Jones' 'children' creating "tiny banana republics" which have been disastrous for British evangelicalism. This resonates with me, but I don't know why. I need to think a bit more. Would anyone else care to comment?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Why Memorise Scripture?

At DFC, in our midweek Bible Study and Prayer Meeting I have been leading a series on have handling the Scriptures. So far we have looked at the topics of the Bible and the Christian, Reading the Bible, Meditating on the Bible, Learning the Bible. I have a couple more sessions up my sleeve on hearing and studying the Bible.

In last night's session we looked at reasons for memorising Scripture. The Bible speaks much of knowing the contents of the Bible such that it is in your heart (Ps 119:9,11). Memorisation is a good practical application for following this example and has blessed the saints through the centuries.

So here are nine reasons. They are not original - you can find plenty of such lists around the web of varying degrees of complexity. But here's my tuppenceworth :
  1. It Aids Meditation

  2. When a part of scripture has been learned, it can be meditated on anywhere, at any free moment without worrying whether you have remembered it correctly, or whether you have access to a Bible. (Josh. 1:8, Ps 1:2)

  3. It Brings Encouragement

  4. Scripture blesses us as we think about Christ, his work, and remember the promises God has given us. We grow in our knowledge of God. It becomes a delight to us to review what God has said. Scripture memorisation builds us up in faith and love for God.

  5. It Shapes Prayer

  6. Knowing scripture helps our prayer lives. We can ask God to fulfil his promises, ask for help for repentance, obedience as sins and commands are shown to us. We can memorise prayers in the Bible (e.g. the Lord's prayer, or Paul's prayers for the churches in his letters) and use them to shape our own praying. As we know God's ways better and better through the Scriptures, our prayers are more and more conformed to his will.

  7. It Equips for Service

  8. In three ways: first, in obedience. When we know what we should do we are better able to do it! Second, you are able to help other Christians understand better. The ability to turn to a passage which addresses a particular problem is extremely helpful. Third, you are able to show a non-believer that the Bible really says what you say it is saying! You become a better witness to the gospel. (1 Pet 3:15).

  9. It Helps in Temptation

  10. In combating the temptations in the wilderness Jesus recalled Scripture to combat the twisted statements of Satan (Luke 4:1-13). His response every time was, "It is written…" If we have scripture in our minds then we are equipped with a vital piece of weaponry to combat Satan's wiles (Eph 6:11) and wage effective spritual warfare. (See also Ps 119:9,11.)

  11. It Transforms Minds

  12. Memorisation aids in the process of transforming our minds from a worldly pattern to a godly one. (Rom 12:2)

  13. We Imitate Jesus and the Apostles

  14. It seems clear that Jesus and the apostles knew scripture by heart. While resisting temptation, teaching others, suffering on the cross Jesus knew the OT scriptures. Peter was able to preach a sermon on Pentecost which made frequent reference to the OT. It must have been in his memory for recall, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

  15. We Can Redeem the Time

  16. Having verses in your mind helps you make good use of spare moments, rather than daydreaming. In the car or bus, doctor's surgery, on the bike, as you lie down! Lots of places and times for meditation. You no longer to worry about whether you have remembered it correctly, or whether you have access to a Bible.

  17. It Prepares Us for the Worst

  18. There have been times in this country when it was a dangerous thing to carry a Bible. In our day there are many places in the world where it is still dangerous. In those places because Bibles are scarce, believers make a habit of memorising. It may seem far-fetched, but not inconcievable, that a time may come once again where it will become difficult to have, obtain or keep a Bible. It would be a wise thing to be memorising scripture for our own good.