Archive for March, 2011

There is a slavery on the near side of sonship.  (Galatians 4:7)

And there is a slavery on the far side of sonship.  (Galatians 1:10)

On the near side it’s death.

On the far side it’s life.

On the near side it’s flesh.

On the far side it’s Spirit.

On the near side it’s your righteousness on show.

On the far side it’s Christ’s righteousness in you.

On the near side you don’t know who you are without it, so you step it up.

On the far side you do know who you are without it, and you keep in step.


There is no way from slavery to sonship.

And there’s no way to true slavery except sonship.


All of which means…

We must refuse to be slaves ascending to higher degrees of slavery.

We must look away from any schemes of progressive slavery.

We must proclaim sonship.

And not because we we’re not into works.

If we want true works, we must strip away works.

We must be left bare in the presence of God with nothing but Christ for our justification.

We must know who we are without our works – sinners clothed in Christ.

We must know our sonship not in ourselves but in the Son.  This means by grace alone.

And now, in Him, we can do no other than gladly take our place in the Father’s business.

But it is the Father’s business.

The only gateway to true work is sonship.

The only Gate is the Son.

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I first posted this after attending the 2009 London Men’s Convention.  I’m genuinely looking forward to the 2011 London Men’s Convention (with Mark Driscoll!) and will be going with 25 guys from our church.  I’m sure I’ll learn loads and be encouraged.  But I’ll still be asking the same questions I did two years ago…


It’s an age-old question, but it’s taken the Flight of the Conchords to pose it again with aching poignancy:

What man?  Which man?  Who’s the man?
When’s a man a man?
What makes a man a man?
Am I a man?
Yes… technically I am.



On reflection there were two models of masculinity on show at the London Men’s Convention on Saturday.

The first was communicated in mainly non-verbal ways.  As John has put it, there was, at times, a ‘Top Gear’ spirituality (Top Gear is a popular British TV programme where middle aged men salivate over an array of sports cars).  You can guess the kinds of things – jokes about sports teams, jokes about baldness (lots of them!), jokes about scrotums.  All the usual stuff.  There was an uncomfortable insistence on making fun of the main speaker (Tim Keller) in a laddish kind of, ‘Hey, you big bald son of a gun.  Not much hair on you is there? Baldy.  You big bald son of a bald man. Ha!’  That kind of thing.   Graciously Keller did not call down bear attacks as was his right as prophet of the LORD.  Now that really would have sorted out the men from the boys.

(Just as an aside – British men, the cruelty that passes for ‘banter’ among men is quite shocking for foreigners to cope with.  On one hand I speak as someone who’s lived here half his life and, for better and for worse, speaks the lingo.  I also speak as an Australian male.  But I confess that even we hard-headed convicts gape in wonder at the incessant jibes about ‘Fatty’ and ‘Who ate all the pies?’ when the man in question is only slightly overweight.  Or ‘baldy’, when we’re really dealing with a high forehead.  Or – and I dare not even name what red-heads are called in this country.  I would try to dissuade anyone with auburn hair or lighter from stepping foot in the British Isles.  The word “Ginger” could be followed by any number of appellations, most of them four-letter.  And this kind of culture is rife in the church too.  Last night in the pub I heard two Christian men speak about another Christian friend in shockingly unChristian ways.  But it was completely in keeping with this lads culture.)

Under this first model of masculinity we’re told that we have a God given masculinity to be lived out.  Which is true.  We’re told what a huge problem it is when men aren’t real men.  Which is true.  But then it’s basically assumed that everyone knows what a real man is.

So Mark Driscoll bemoans the prevalence of ‘chickified’ men in church.

Apparently the real men are those “watching a ball game, making money, climbing a mountain, shooting a gun, or working on their truck.”  And these are the men that are getting it done in the world.  So Driscoll wants these kind of men in the church.

Well.  Alright.  It’d be great to have them in church.  And yes, in some limited sense they’d make a welcome change from the other kind of false masculinity that abounds.  But let’s be clear – all natural masculinity is wicked.  Masculinity as it occurs in its natural state is horribly and dangerously perverted.  Whether the perversion occurs in the cowardly retreat direction or the aggressive domination direction, it’s a perversion.

The other model of masculinity came in Keller’s talk on the cross.  He took us to Gethsemane where Jesus was at His wits end, craving the support of friends, crying, sweating blood contemplating the cross.  The furnace of God’s wrath lay ahead of Him.  He begged His Father for another way.  But there was no other way to save us.  The prospect was simple: It was Him or us.  And so Jesus said ‘Father, Let it be me.’

That’s a man.

Laying down His life for others, bearing shame in their place, accepting weakness to strengthen them.  None of these things looked impressive.  He looked like a total failure, naked and choking to death on a cross.  He did not look manly.   And men from all sides told Him so.  They had all sorts of opinions about what Jesus needed to do to be a real man.  They were all wrong.  He reigned from that tree.  Here was the manliest thing ever done.

And it has nothing to do with back-slapping dudesmanship.  It’s not about being mechanical or sports-loving.  And it’s not threatened by aesthetic sensitivity or quiet thoughtfulness.  It’s defined by heart-felt, loving, sacrificial service.  It’s stepping into the roles Christ has for us and saying ‘My life for yours.  My weakness for your strength.  Father, Let it be me.’

Oh for real men!  Oh to be a real man.  But not like those ‘real men’ we’re told to be.

More posts on masculinity:

Three thoughts on headship

He said – She said

Is the fruit of the Spirit too sissy for real men?

What real men look like

Larry Crabb on gender

Spouse speak

Arian misogyny


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CrossReference+ Episode 1 from HeadHeartHand Media on Vimeo.

I can’t imagine these kinds of video being produced and then widely propagated in evangelical circles in Australia or England.  Not right now anyway.  But Scots and Americans (and the Welsh?) seem to be far more open to Christ in the Old Testament.  Why is that?

Anyway, look out for more videos from David Murray’s blog.

And to give a flavour of his position, here he is reviewing Alec Motyer’s Roots: Let the Old Testament Speak

I would also have preferred more Christ-centeredness. While Motyer’s first chapter is “Starting with Jesus,” and he says that the book will show how the Old Testament moves “forward to the climactic flowering in Jesus,” there is not much of Jesus nor of the Gospel in the rest of the book. There are some good Messiah-centered expositions of a few key themes (e.g. the Servant of the Lord), and of a few passages such as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 110, but not much else of that nature. In fact, in one place (p. 77), Motyer denies that the Old Testament believers believed in the coming Messiah through the typology of the sacrifices. Instead, he says that “the sin-offering provided for forgiveness,” and traces their salvation to the offeror’s faith in the promise of forgiveness through that sacrifice. Only from Isaiah 53 forwards, says Motyer, did believers understand that the sacrifice was to be a person. I strongly disagree. “Person-centered” faith was present from Genesis 3:15 onwards, as God focused all attention on the promised seed (offspring) of the woman.

In a rather confusing paragraph, he also denies that the Old Testament appearances of the Angel of the Lord were pre-incarnate appearances of Christ, or in any sense “a divine condescension – God taking human form to ‘accommodate’ himself to mankind” (p. 84). He seems to link these theophanies to the image of God in man and the dignity of the body.

I suppose this all comes down to the frequently unanswered (even unasked) question in Old Testament studies. How were Old Testament believers saved? By faith, by works, or by a mixture of both? By faith in the sacrifices, by faith in God (in general), or by faith in the Messiah (in particular)? If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are sitting at the same heavenly table as New Testament believers (Matt. 8:11), are the New Testament believers giving all glory to Christ while the Old Testament believers are polishing their own medals? Or getting to know Christ for the first time?

He’s also got audio on Preaching Christ in the OT here.  I look forward to listening to it.

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About 10 years ago I wound up in the office of a Christian counsellor.  I couldn’t believe I was about to confess to depression.  Me, a church worker!  Me, conservative evangelicalism’s next big thing!

The cause?  Several very stressful things were happening in my life, but the tipping point into depression was a frustration with the gospel that was being preached around me.  And I fell flat on my face in despondency.

My counsellor took me to Jeremiah 2:13 and said (very graciously) I’d been digging some kind of broken well which had dried up.  Now I was slumped at this false life-source with a mouth full of mud.  He asked what the broken well might be.  In an instant I knew: “I need everyone to read the bible the same way I do”.  Not for the glory of Jesus, but to be right!

I asked “What should I do?”  He said, “Give up on it and turn back to Jesus.”  As soon as he said “Give up on it” my whole flesh rose up and said “Never!”  Instantly I knew that this idol had its hooks in me.  And it shocked me.

My theological paradigm had become my god.  And it was so subtle.  Because here’s the thing: I prided myself on the fact that my paradigm was uniquely Christ-centred.

But when I identified the pride issue a weight fell off my shoulders.  The issue was not the idiots out there, the issue was the arrogance in here.  I’d been thinking of it as a complicated issue of theological debate with no way through.  In fact it was a simple (but very ugly) issue of plain old sin.  And the gospel has a solution for sin.

Someone has wisely said that if you diagnose your problems as requiring anything less than the blood of Jesus for their solution, you haven’t diagnosed your real problem.  My hour with the counsellor cut through to the real problem.  But thankfully the real problem has a real solution.  And it’s already mine.  Or rather, He’s already mine.  I left that office with a massive weight off my shoulders.

Not that I didn’t think the issues mattered any more.  They did matter.  They still matter.  But I looked at them through a different lens.

For one thing, I started pitying the Christ-lite Christians around me – not despising them or competing with them.  But genuinely feeling sorry for them and wanting something better for them.  I gave up on being the one who would crush them in theological debate and started to think more in terms of sowing seeds and trusting the results to God!

I get this wrong all the time and there’s still much of the arrogant young man to me.  But I also think God’s been teaching me some things about how to live and minister among other Christians with whom I disagree.  I’ll share a few thoughts in no particular order:

* I love the saying (which I think goes back to Wesley?) that the way to handle opponents is “to out-live and out-love them, out-preach and out-pray them.”  That’s got to be the way forward. And I think it begins with repentance.  I repent of trusting in my christocentrism.  I turn to Christ!

* If I’m tempted to pride it’s good to turn to Elijah’s example in 1 Kings 19.  And to laugh at myself.  “I, only I am left!!” he says, exhausted by his own righteousness! “Ummm” says the LORD “I think you’ll find there’s thousands like you. Get some rest!”

* I find it very tempting to try and be John the Baptist – a voice crying in the wilderness.  But that’s not our calling.  We’re to get around others with the aroma of Christ.  And the aroma of ‘young hot-prot’ is not quite the same.

* When relating to church leaders, get a vision for what’s already good about their preaching, leading and ministry.  It’s so tempting to look for what they do badly and to miss the hundred things they do well.  Anything and everything we can rejoice in, we should.  Loudly.

* People can change.  Not through grand-standing argumentation.  But through a drip, drip, drip of gospel juiciness.

* I’m only beginning to learn this one:  Usually change happens when people taste the gospel dishes you serve up.  If you consistently serve up Christ-exalting stuff that releases hearts into gratitude and love, then people will ask you about the recipe.  Don’t start with the recipe: “Right, here are the ingredients you need – you’ve been doing it all wrong.  This is the order…”  Start by dishing out gospel goodness – then they’ll want the recipe.

And now, for the real wisdom on these issues – check out the comments… (don’t let me down guys)…

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“All prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah”

“The world was created only for the Messiah.”


Answer: The Talmud.

In particular: Sanhedrin 99a; 98b.

Christ alone is the meaning of Scripture and the meaning of the world.  The Hebrew Scriptures themselves teach this!

Source: here – a fascinating read!

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Last month I asked people to submit questions they might have regarding faith in Christ in the OT.  Here’s 22 questions that have been generated.  If I’ve missed yours, please add it in the comments.

I’m going to open out the answering of these questions to others.  (Otherwise, at my current rate of blogging here I won’t be done before 2015!)If you’d like to have a go at answering these, please email me: glenscrivener [at] gmail [dot] com

I’m thinking the answers shouldn’t be too long – after all you can thrash things out a bit more in comments.  Perhaps I’ll put an 800 word limit on it?  Something like that.

Drop me a line and tell me roughly how you’d go about answering the question and I’ll assign them to people in the next week or so.


1) Is Jesus The Wisdom in the wisdom literature? Or is Wisdom heavenly information to help us live for God?

2) What is the message of Job?

3) What is new about the new covenant?  Is it better?  In what way?

4) Were OT saints worse off, or have anything ‘less’ than NT saints?

5) What was the ministry of the Spirit in the OT?  Has it changed?  In what way?

6) How do we deal with the promises of the OT – especially of physical prosperity and revival?

7) Is John the Baptist ‘least of all the saints’ because he was from the OT era?8) Isn’t it obvious that we have progressed in sanctification since the OT since today we would never invite a Samson to preach?

9) What is the mystery that Paul speaks of which was not revealed in OT times?

10) The answer to Israel’s backsliding is often presented as the New Covenant ministry of the Spirit.  Why then has the church seemed to be just as bad?

11) In what sense does the new wine burst the old wineskins?

12) Why does the gospel appear much clearer in the NT?

13) Does the incarnation give us any more revelation about God?

14) Does this position downplay or even reject the special role of Israel?

15) How should we get folks to love the OT as Christian?

16) Why don’t we get the clear Trinitarian formulations in the OT that we get in the NT? eg Matt 28:19, 2 Cor 13:14.

17) If the Old Testament is clearly and overtly Christocentric, then why isn’t it all that obvious to most people?

18) Can you show that in the OT the God who saves, and the human/people through whom he would save would be the same person?

19) In what ways does Jesus fulfil laws that seem not to apply to Him?  (e.g. the uncleanness of women after childbirth).

20) Would contemporary Jews have understood the temple of Ezekiel 40-48 to represent the Messiah and His work?

21) If OT saints trusted in Christ, what kind of knowledge of Christ did they have?  And how, if it was through types or symbols, is it not idolatry?

22) When I see LORD in the OT how do I know whether it’s referring to the Father or to the Son?


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I’ve posted up other versions of “The Calling of Levi”, but here’s one I preached last Sunday at St Wilfreds.

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