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6 thoughts on “Paul Blackham – Philippians 3 – Radiohead

  1. nickfranks

    I like this, mainly...

    I love the first few minutes and the aspirin analogy cf. humane morality as an offensive (grossly) offering to assuage the matter of our right/wrong-standing with God. That point comes through strongly and is refreshing because the gospel really is like this....strong, challenging, confronting, ultimate, inflexible but saving.

    If I may, one thing I would offer as some wisdom to this, particularly for those who hear this with 'dead' ears: That God is THE God of the Cosmos - the God who loves truth, justice and righteousness; whose wrath is not as we know earthly 'anger' - it is something far, no, infinitely, higher and holier than we actually know or imagine. And His wrath is on us all and will remain on us until we bow in faith to Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour.

    But I have come to realise that, despite this essential attribute of God, right thinking about Him must centre not on His anger and wrath but on His love and His grace and His long-suffering mercy.

    I have come to think of God as a broken-hearted Bridegroom and as a dancing Father over me, even while I was dead in my sins, and now even in the remaining darkness of my is the knowledge that I am still lovely to Him within the process of being sanctified, that makes me more lovely in time. "Dark am I yet lovely" said Solomon's bride. And we are bride of of Christ.

    So yes, yes, yes - I do love this - but I think there is a 'premier emphasis' in the heart of God which is that despite, what Manning would call, His 'Furious Love', there is a brokenness and tenderness to His affectionate make-up so that when the Spirit breathes this truth into the hearts of those still dead and those saved but, in one sense, 'still recovering', the hardest of hearts melts.

    There is a world of difference between thinking of God as broken-hearted rather than as angry or mad when it comes to our sinfulness.


  2. Glen

    Thanks Nick - because of the cross of Christ, thankfully we don't have to choose between God's love and His holy hostility to sin. The cross also delivers us from thinking love and wrath are on a spectrum and we need to keep some balance. I too am concerned to show that wrath is only ever secondary to and motivated by love...

    God bless

  3. andyharker

    Nick and Glen - really like your comments - Amen to all of that. Thanks for your two links Glen. Yes - surely the beginning, middle and end is love. I thought the Blackham message was great (and shared it on facebook) but I too was left feeling - 'That is very powerful, you don't often hear the gospel preached with that kind of authority, the truth about our state and Jesus being exalted... but what about the love?' I'd have liked a bit more on how beautiful and wonderful the diamond of Christ is. I guess in Blackham's defence he was dealing with the specific question of us thinking that our good deeds are good enough, and there are bits of the Bible that are mainly judgment, and maybe we just need a blast of God's awesome holiness sometimes. A couple of questions: a) how much do we need to reflect the tone of different Bible passages in the way we preach them? b) what are the advantages and disadvantages of having a message based on three or more texts?

  4. Glen

    In fairness to Paul - I've edited a 30 minute sermon to 9 minutes. And the Radiohead wasn't pumping out from underneath the pulpit at the time :)

    I'm sure Thom Yorke's dystopic vision colours our reception of the sermon considerably!

    In answer to your questions Andy (and I'd love to hear from others),

    a) I think it's essential to try to reflect the tone of the Bible passage but remember (especially if you're preaching from a single passage) that this passage must, somehow, be fitted into Scriptures proclamation of Christ through law and gospel. We shouldn't just preach a heavy handed legal passage without, ultimately, holding out the word of *life*. (This is another reason I think weekly communion is a very good idea. Whenever the preacher gets it wrong, the sacrament proclaims the Lord's death just right!)

    b) Both Paul Blackham (and All Souls, Langham Place where Paul was preaching) mainly preach a single passage expositionally. The reading before this sermon was Philippians 3, and I edited out much of how Paul worked through verses 1-10. I think Paul is especially skillful at setting single passages in an over-arching biblical framework. He might spend longer than some on OT background etc, before settling down to the text in hand, but the time spent pays off when studying the set text. I think a restriction to a single passage of Scripture is artificial and not how I see the Apostles preaching (in Acts or Hebrews (which I take to be a homily)).

  5. Si

    A song with lyrics that go "Everyone is so near" under a sermon that talks about man's inability is rather jarring. Ditto "Everyone has got the fear"...

    Of course, that's insider knowledge, as if you don't know the song, you don't try and sing along!

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