A Sunday Tradition – "Listening to the Past – Lessons from Andrew Fuller"

November 26, 2006

Many blogs have some kind of weekly tradition. Most of the time on Friday’s there will be a particular theme to their posts. In the case of this blog, I have decided to institute a Lord’s Day tradition. From now on (Lord willing) we will be “Listening to the Past” in that we will be looking at “Lessons from Andrew Fuller.” Fuller (1754-1815) was one of the premier Baptist pastors and theologians of the 18th century. As I will be studying him in depth for my Ph.D. work I thought, where better to share some of his thoughts then on this blog. Therefore, each Sunday I will bring to you a portion of Fuller’s writings with the hope that it would be meaningful challenge to you.

“The Christian’s Preparation for Future Glory” (The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, I:397)

The verse under study is 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (ESV). “Fuller concludes this sermon by writing,

“Brethren, put these three or four thoughts together,–a resurrection from the dead–a union with Christ and all holy intelligences–an acquittal at the bar of God–an acquittal at the judgment-seat of Christ, and an abundant entrance into God’s everlasting kingdom. Is not this enough to make an object of hope? Put all these together. Is not this enough to stimulate us to gird up the loins of our minds? Do not let us faint under a few present difficulties and burdens. Gird up the loins of your minds–be sober in the present state–hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Oh, our enjoyment of God there will obliterate the remembrance of all our former sorrows. Yes, a moment’s communion with God there will annihilate the miser of ten thousand years. Be not therefore distressed under present difficulties, but gird up–press forward–hope a little longer, and God will put you in possession of that blessed immortality.”

Survey Messages on Church History

November 23, 2006

I happened upon some excellent survey messages on the entirety of Church History by Dr. Michael Haykin, Principal and Professor of Church History at Toronto Baptist Seminary. These messages were presented at Grace Fellowship in Toronto. If you ever wanted an “overall picture” of Church History this is the place to go! Dr. Haykin is one of the premier Church Historians in the world (in my opinion at least!).

Reading Revelation with the Big Picture in View

November 15, 2006

I have a great fascination with the Book of Revelation. I have ever since I was a child. The movie “The 7th Sign” came on television and I wanted to watch it but my mother said no and told me to read the Book of Revelation instead. I have been reading it ever since.

I probably have more commentaries on the Revelation than any other book of the Bible (well… perhaps I have more on Romans but it’s debatable!). I even taught through it once on the Bible Institute level. It has a special place in my heart. No matter what your eschatological schema it is a tremendous message of perseverance and hope for the believer in Jesus Christ.

Now, I am a dispensationalist. I believe in a pre-tribulational, premillennial return of Christ. Yet, over the years I have been departing from the sensational approach to “charting the end times” and other such things.

When I was in Seminary we had to preach a graduating senior sermon. I chose Revelation 4 (and was told I was the only graduate who ever preached out of Revelation). As I was studying it out, I was amazed at the intricacies of the passage. It has incredible imagery that can be mined for centuries! Yet, I sort of had an “ah-ha” moment as I studied the text. I realized the message of the passage was that God was glorious (check it out for yourself). I thought, maybe if I missed the forest for the trees in this passage then maybe I missed it throughout Revelation!

With this new approach in mind (without throwing away my dispensational framework… sorry all you covenant theologians out there!) I planned on preaching through Revelation when I took my last charge as Interim Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I told someone I was preaching through Revelation and they said, “how can you preach through Revelation? I can understand teaching through it… but preaching through it?” I think his question is reflective of many who “miss the point” of Revelation.

Here’s the kicker. When we get so focused on all the little details (what is the rainbow under the throne, etc.) we miss the big picture. The big picture is that Revelation teaches us more about God than it really does about the end times. Go ahead, try it. Read through Revelation with the picture in mind that it teaches us most about who God is. Take notes. What does each passage teach you about God? When I preached through Revelation to my people we had an incredible time basking in the glory of the Triune God. There is an amazing amount of application in Revelation when we realize it teaches us about God and our response to Him!

So, read Revelation with the big picture in view. Read it knowing that it is a message about the Great God of the Universe and how we are to live in light of who He is! Now, I have not given up my dispensationalism or my eschatological framework. But, I have a new approach when I read my favourite book of the Bible. I read it knowing that I am coming face to face with the Sovereign Glorious God of the Bible and that I must live in fear and service to Him until He calls me home!

Remember, Revelation is more about God than it is about the end-times!

I’ll be Pretty Busy for the Next 5 Years…

November 6, 2006

Well, the application is pretty much in the mail. Lord willing, I hope to begin my Ph.D. in January. My focus is in Baptist History and I’ll be pursuing it at the University of Wales (yes in the United Kingdom). My supervisor is Dr. Michael Haykin of Toronto Baptist Seminary.

My dissertation will be on Andrew Fuller. Fuller, although little known today, was one of the most famous Baptist theologians of the 18th century. Specifically, I hope to focus on how Scripture influenced Fuller’s understanding of the person and nature of Jesus Christ during the numerous Christological debates in which he was involved. The proposed title is, “The Scriptural Influence on Andrew Fuller’s (1754–1815) Views of the Person and Nature of Jesus Christ in the Midst of Christological Controversy.”

This encompasses all that I was looking for in a dissertation topic. It involves 18th century British Particular Baptists; it involves a major name like Andrew Fuller; it revolves around a theological issue (Christology); and it is focused on a number of theological debates. I am very excited about this up-coming change of focus in my life and am very excited to have Dr. Haykin as my supervisor. He has a real passion for Fuller and for increasing study of his life and theology.

I would covet your prayers during my time of study!