Author Archive

Awakening Grace is Moving!

Posted: December 26, 2011 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Awakening Grace is moving!  You can visit the new site at www.awakeninggrace.org.  All of the old content will be made available on the new site over the coming weeks, as well as a lot of new content.   From this new site you can continue to view and read teachings and sermons by Rob Sturdy delivered at St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant as well as access the same devotional and educational material that we like to post here.  The current web address, http://www.trinitypastor.wordpress.com will be taken over by Trinity’s new (and improved!) Lead Pastor, Rev. Iain Boyd.

If you currently subscribe to AwakeningGrace,  go on over now and sign up to the new site by clicking the “follow” button near the top of the page on the right hand side.  You can also click here for the latest post, which details a little known fact about Buzz Aldrin reading from John’s Gospel and taking communion on the moon!

See you over at the new site.

Jonah 1.17-2.10

Posted: October 31, 2011 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Preached by Rob Sturdy on Oct 30, 2011

Jonah 1.1-16

Posted: October 31, 2011 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Preached by Bruce Geary on Oct 23, 2011

Ephesians 1.1-2

Posted: October 19, 2011 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

preached by Rob Sturdy on June 24th, 2011

This past Sunday I referenced the remarkable story of Dick and Rick Hoyt and applied it to the process of sanctification, that is the process by which God makes his people holy.  To be fair, I didn’t think of the comparison myself but took it from Bryan Chapel’s excellent commentary on Ephesians from the Reformed Expository Commentary series.  Below is a video of Dick and Ricky Hoyt.  Their story begins a 1 min 22 sec.  Following the video I have excerpted Chapel’s words:

Some years ago I enjoyed watching ‘iron man’ competitions on TV.  Watching those who swim, bike and run multiple- marathon distances in the grueling triathlon makes me dream of what I might be able to do if I had more time, opportunity, and a different body.  More inspiring to me than the usual stories of the big-name competitors, however, was the 1999 account of the father and son team of Dick and Ricky Hoyt.  The two have run together in more than eight hundred races.

More remarkable than the fellowship this father and son enjoy is the fact that the now adult son, Ricky, was born with cerebral palsy.  To race, he must be pulled, pushed, or carried by his father.  There is a part of us that might jump to the conclusion that Ricky does not race at all…that his father does all the work.  But tens of thousands of viewers saw the son’s role in this competition when wind, cold, and an equipment failure made progress hard on Ricky, even though his father was the one pedaling the modified tandem bike.  Dick knelt down to his son, contorted and trembling in the cold, as the two were still facing many more miles of race on the defective bike.  Said the father to the child belted to the bicycle seat, “Do you want to keep going, Son?”

The father would be the one enabling and providing the means to overcome, but the son still had to have the heart to finish well.  To the son were given the privilege and responsibility to desire to continue to make progress.  Though the example is not perfect, it explains much of what the Bible teaches about our spiritual battles.  We have a Father who has already given the power to enable us to resist all the challenges of our Adversary.  We can prevail through the means and strength our Father provides, but we must still have the heart to do so.

In light of this need for a heart that beats for him, our God bids us feed on his Word and seek the Spirit that opens our minds to the knowledge of the Savior and renews our will with a compelling love for him.  By God’s word and Spirit we are filled with the knowledge and love of him that give us the desire to run with him (and to him) more than anything else in this world.  The grace he pours into our hearts enables us “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that (we) may be filled to the measure of  all the fullness of God” (Eph 3.18-19).

Brian Chapel, Ephesians Kindle Edition (P&R Publishing: Phillipsburg 2009) Loc 6464 of 7700

There are more than a few texts in the Bible that destabilize our theological frameworks.  One such text comes from Jonah 3.10 which reads “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”  The problem of God “relenting,” or “repenting” or changing his mind is that it seems as if God’s will is dependent upon human interaction.  If this is true, there as some human actions which could in a way, force God’s hand.  Because this is an idea that most Christians and philosophers have always resisted, the reader needs a way to interact with verses such as Jonah 3.10.  Most of the interactions with verses such as this, particularly from the Reformed world have been a disappointment.  However, the excerpt from Jacques Ellul’s splendid commentary from Jonah posted below is a wonderful engaging of God’s repentance.  It might seem like a slow start and you may have to read it several times to fully appreciate, but I can promise you it is well worth your time.  There is precious gold to be found in the passage below.

When Nineveh repents, God repents too:  “God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it” (3:10).  This is a surprising term to be used of God, and yet it is a common one in Scripture.  God decides something, and then events change.  Thus God changes his mind.  He repents.  It is useless to avoid the difficulty this causes by saying it is only a manner of speaking.  Philosophers say that God cannot change.  True enough!  But the God revealed in Scripture is not the God of the philosophers.  Nor can one attribute this to primitive characteristics in the people of Israel.  Historians call this a gross anthropomorphism and one must not take it too seriously.  To be sure it is an anthropomorphism.  But God is not the God of historians.  To be noted first in relation to this repenting is that God repents of the evil he was going to do but never repents of the good.  This general rule is formulated by St. Paul (Romans 2) and it is confirmed by a survey of texts.  Only once to my knowledge do we read that God repented of the good that he had done, and this is explained more by literary than theological considerations.  In effect this repenting takes place only when there is risk of some evil, some human suffering.

Again it is no doubt important to emphasize that the same Hebrew words are not used for repentance of Nineveh and God’s repenting.  In a general way Scripture has different terms for man’s repentance and the Lord’s repenting.  As concerns man, shubh implies a change, a modification in attitude and direction (a conversion) in his very being, as we have seen.  As concerns God, the word macham is the usual term, and this does not imply a change of direction but inner suffering which must be consoled.  It is suffering not because of self but because of the relation between self and others.  This can happen in the relation between God and man, whether because man does not respond to God’s appeal or because of God’s justice necessarily demands man’s condemnation.  The just and perfectly holy God condemns, and can do no other, but where man repents, when man changes, God suffers for having condemned him.  One cannot say absolutely that he suppresses condemnation.  For in effect God does not change.  What is done is done.  What God has decided he has decided, the more so as it is decided for all eternity.  When it is said that God repents, it means that he suffers, not that he changes what his justice has deemed necessary.

Now God’s justice has deemed condemnation necessary because of past sin.  Repentance alone does not efface the past.  Once committed, a guilty act remains so even after repentance.  Condemnation cannot be automatically lifted.  There is no immanent mechanism.  Repentance, as an act of man, does not suppress the sins man has committed.  The two are not in balance.  What is between them is the fact that God repents, that he suffers and finds consolation.

But we must be more precise as to the meaning of this suffering.  It is not just sentiment.  It is not regret for having condemned.  It is not a kindly thought which causes God to lift the condemnation, which would imply a change of attitude.  Most of the passages speak of God repenting say that he repents of evil he had resolved to do.  He suffers the evil, and not just because of the evil, but the evil itself.  We might say with truth that God suffers the evil he has resolved to do.  He takes upon himself the evil which was the wages of man’s sin.  He suffers the very suffering which in his justice he should have laid on man.  God causes the judgment to fall on himself; this is the meaning of his repenting.  We shall see that it is in Jesus Christ that this is done plainly and for us.  Jesus Christ is precisely the one upon whom falls all the judgment and all the suffering decided for each of us, the judgment and the suffering of the world.  In reality  God’s repenting in the face of man’s repentance is Jesus Christ.  Each time there is any question of this repenting in Scripture we thus have a new prophecy of Jesus Christ who puts into effect both the justice of God and also the love of God without doing despite to either the one or the other.

It is only from this perspective of human judgment that there seems to be a change in God’s attitude.  When the Lord proclaims condemnation and then does not fulfill it, we tend to say, if we are believers, that he has changed his will, and if we are not believers, that there is no God.  But that is a purely temporal way of looking at it because we are not able to see Jesus in agony to the end of the world.  God’s purpose has not changed.  From the very beginning his aim was to save the world from his own wrath.

Ellul, Jacques, The Judgment of Jonah (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids 1971) pgs 98-100

Stumbled upon this little gem this morning while preparing to preach this weekend…

“The waters of the sea have many different shades. In one place they look blue, and in another green. And yet the difference is due to the depth or shallowness of the part we see, or to the nature of the bottom. The water in every case is the same salt sea. The breath of a man may produce different sounds according to the character of the instrument on which he plays. The flute, the bagpipe, and the trumpet, have each their peculiar note. And yet the breath that calls forth the notes is in each case one and the same. The light of the planets we see in heaven is extremely various. Mars, and Saturn, and Jupiter, each have a individual color. And yet we know that the light of the sun, which each planet reflects, is in each case one and the same. Just in the same way the books of the Old and New Testaments are all inspired truth, and yet the aspect of that truth varies according to the mind through which the Holy Spirit makes it flow. The handwriting and style of the writers differ enough to prove that each had a distinct individual being; but the Divine Guide who dictates and directs the whole is always one. All are inspired. Every chapter, and verse, and word, is from God.

Oh, that men who are troubled with doubts, and thoughts about inspiration, would calmly examine the Bible for themselves! Oh, that they would take the advice which was the first step to Augustine’s conversion, “Pick it up and read it! Pick it up and read it!” How many difficulties and objections would vanish away at once like mist before the rising sun! How many would soon confess, “The finger of God is here! God is in this Book, and I did not know it.”

-J.C. Ryle, “Bible-Reading” in Practical Religion pg 99