Make theology great again : Veni Creator Spiritus !

John_Owen

We stand in need of the consolations of the Holy Ghost.

Without them, we shall either despise afflictions or faint under them, and God be neglected as to his intendments in them.

Without them, sin will either harden us to a contempt of it, or cast us down to a neglect of the remedies graciously provided against it.

Without the, duties will either puff us up with pride, or leave us without that sweetness which is in new obedience.

Without them, prosperity will make us carnal, sensual, and to take up our contentment in these things, and utterly weaken us for the trials of adversity.

Without them, the comforts of our relations will separate us from God, and the loss of them make our hearts as Nabal’s.

Without them, the calamity of the church will overwhelm us, and the prosperity of the church will not concern us.

Without them, we shall have wisdom for no work, peace in no condition, strength for no duty, success in no trial, joy in no state – no confort in life, no light in death.

John Owen, “On Communion with God”, Works II.261.

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God and our tears

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Living on a ground full of thorns and thistles because of sin (Genesis 3:17-19), every day many people are living and sowing “weeping” (Psalm 126:6). Every day people shed many tears: the child who is hurt; the teenager in crisis; the young woman distressed; the frustrated adult; the husband who loses his job; the mistreated wife; children with absent parents; the elderly abandoned and alone… Every day there are those who feel like the Psalmist, calling upon God, saying: “My life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing” (Psalm 31:10). Let us pause to think: in the present evil age, in front of the power of death, pain and unbelief that seized humankind, even Jesus – the Son of God – “wept” (John 11:35).

By participating to our humanity, the Son identified himself with our tears. Then, he represented our tears in the presence of God when, in the days of his flesh, with loud cries and tears, offered up prayers and supplications (Hebrews 5: 7). Finally, coming as the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53: 3), Jesus substituted his tears to our own, in the sense that having shed his tears our tears will be wiped away.

Because of Christ we have a strong consolation for we know that as he cried for us God puts our tears in his bottle (Psalm 56:8). And then, in the new heavens and the new earth, God himself, the creator and ruler of the universe, the Lord of the covenant, will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4).

Thinking about these things, let us remember the story of the sinful woman of Luke’s gospel that was crying at the feet of Jesus. The Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her: “Do not weep” (Luke 7:13). The Lord Jesus sees our tears, he has compassion on us and says to us: “Do not weep”!

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Incoraggiamento & conforto

seminatore

“Perciò, fratelli miei carissimi, state saldi, incrollabili, sempre abbondanti nell’opera del Signore, sapendo che la vostra fatica non è vana nel Signore” (I Corinzi 15:58).

Come cristiani, non stiamo riparando una macchina che deve essere rottamata, non stiamo restaurando un dipinto che sarà gettato nel fuoco, né piantiamo fiori e piante in un giardino sul quale verrà edificato un palazzo. Piuttosto, le nostre fatiche contribuiscono a qualcosa di ciò che a suo tempo sarà parte della nuova creazione.

Ogni atto d’amore, gratitudine e gentilezza; ogni poesia o brano musicale sull’amore di Dio e sulla bellezza della creazione; ogni minuto speso per aiutare un bimbo disabile a leggere o a camminare; ogni gesto per curare, confortare e sorreggere un altro essere umano e qualsiasi altra creatura; e naturalmente ogni preghiera, ogni insegnamento in Spirito e in verità, ogni opera per l’annuncio del vangelo e per l’edificazione della chiesa, ogni sforzo per abbracciare e incarnare la santità invece che la corruzione affinché il nome di Gesù sia onorato nel mondo : tutto questo perdurerà nella vita della nuova creazione di Dio, mediante la potenza divina della risurrezione.

Grazie alla risurrezione di Cristo, tutto ciò che di buono facciamo per mezzo dello Spirito non è né vano né andrà perduto.

Buona giornata nel Signore :)

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Make theology great again !!!

webster

You may be asking yourself – as I am asking myself today – what are we to do in 2017 ?

The late John B. Webster helps us to think : “One thing we might do is to try day by day to grasp something which is the simplest and yet the hardest thing for any of us to grasp: that the gospel is true; that growth in the Christian life is simply growth in seeing that the gospel is true; that Jesus Christ is the preeminent reality of all things. There’s no technique here, no special insight for which we must hope, no extra illumination which we might expect. It’s simply a matter of listening to the gospel often enough and hard enough until it comes to take up residence in our hearts and minds and desires. More than anything, we need to ask God to help us steady our lives around what the gospel declares to us: that we, the damned, have been delivered from hell, that we have been set free for life and liberty in the kingdom of Jesus Christ” (Confronted by Grace, pp. 20-21).

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Make theology great again !!!

webster

In an essay on the place of the doctrine of justification, the late John Bainbridge Webster recalls Luther’s beginning of the Schmalkald Articles, where the Reformer points briefly to “the lofty articles of the divine majesty”. Webster comments that “it is the recovery of just these lofty articles which is required for a good ordering of the church’s confession about justification: there is nowhere else to begin”.

Then, looking at these softly articles, Webster makes the following observation about justification. “God’s righteousness in se is made known ad extra not in delivering the creature over to the penalty of the law but in the supreme act of fellowship, in which he takes the creature’s penalty upon himself”.

Is that not lofty and great ?

May God assist us to recover the lofty articles of our faith and make theology great again in our Western world, both in Italy and North America !!!

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Rev. Micheal Brown’s visit

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On occasion of our annual Conference on the Reformation for 2016 we benefited from the teaching of pastor Michael Brown from San Diego.

Pastor Brown spoke on Benedetto Fontanini from Mantua and of his precious gem “The Benefit of Christ’s Death”. After a biographical sketch, we considered the central theme of the book, namely the distinction between law (covenant of works) and gospel (covenant of grace). In the last session we thought about some pastoral applications on the importance of keeping focussed this distinction in the life of the church and in our Christian daily walk. In the two Lord’s Days he spent with us, pastor Brown expounded the book of Jonah, the hardened prophet, exhorting us to us to have a merciful attitude towards others as God himself. Since all of us are more or less like Jonah, we learn not to despise those who do not know the grace of God or those believers who think differently from us. Moreover, with the participation of elder Dan Palmer who came along pastor Brown for a week, we had two meetings with our elders and deacon reasoning on the life of our own church Filadelfia and on our future plans.

We repeated the conference on Benedetto from Mantua in Turin in the Turin Reformed Church. Moreover, in Turin we had a meeting in an evangelical bookshop in which we considered the book “Sacred Bond”, an introduction to covenant theology written by pastor Brown (along with Z. Keele).

Besides Milan and Turin we also visited Perugia, where we encouraged a group of reformed believers of that city in central Italy. We reasoned with them about the best ways to serve them more constantly and concretely until God will call a pastor for them.

Lastly, we spent four days in Bucharest, Romania, where we encouraged Rev Mihai Corcea and the other believers of the group. On the Lord’s Day our brother Cludiu Stefu was ordained as the first elder of what we pray will be soon fully organized as the reformed church of Bucharest.

We are grateful for the strength God gave us to do much in a few days and we ask you to remember in your prayers Milan, Turin, Perugia in Italy and Bucharest in Romania.

PLEASE, PRAY FOR US AND FOR ITALY !!!

Your brother in Christ,
Andrea Ferrari.

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Thankfulness

Just a note for my American brothers and sisters in the Lord !!!

On occasion of Thanksgiving your brothers and sisters in Italy – in Milan, Turin, Perugia and Lecce, – express their thankfulness to God for all of you.

We are especially grateful for your continuing in prayer on our behalf.

Even though we are far away, we are united spiritually and we rejoice with a sense of privilege as we bow down with you recognizing God’s merciful provisions.

Most of all, we are grateful because all the blessings and provisions we received show us God’s greatest provision, namely the grace we received in Christ thorough the gospel and we are strengthened as we think that “he who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will also with him graciously give us all things”.

 

Your fellow pilgrim,

Pastor Andrea Ferrari.

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Let us Pray for Youths to Study Sacred Letters

 The Italian reformer Peter Martyr Vermigli trained a good number of ministers and theologians in Strasbourg, at Oxford University, and in Zurich. Vermigli had a passion for teaching the youth and in one of the few of his surviving sermons he exhorts a gathering of students by saying: “I congratulate you, my fine audience, on your zeal in gathering together so often to listen to the interpretation of sacred letters” (Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Exhortation for Youths to Study Sacred Letters”, The Peter Martyr Library, V, p. 277). Towards the end of his exhortation, Vermigli urges the students in the following manner: “By God immortal, I beg you, let us pull together our work, I by teaching, you by listening. Let us apply ourselves with supreme diligence to the word of God. We are called theologians and that is how we want to be known. Let us live up to our name and profession unless we should prefer being patrologists instead of theologians. Our profession absolutely requires us to deal with the words of God. In this matter we pay the highest honor to God” (Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Exhortation for Youths to Study Sacred Letters”, The Peter Martyr Library, V, p. 284).

As we think about the importance of the sacred ministry of word and sacraments, and that in it we pay the highest honor to God, let us pray for two young man who are studying at Westminster Theological Seminary in California with the view to come back to Italy to labor as pastors/church planters.

YI WANG came to Italy from China and became a Christian in Italy. Before attending Seminary Yi spent four years as a member of Chiesa Riformata Filadelfia of Milan, Italy. He is 27, he is married with Huimin, and is in his second year at Seminary.

VINCENZO COLUCCIA comes from a reforming evangelical church in Turin, Italy. A former engineer, he is 35 and is attending his first year at Seminary.

We deeply appreciate your praying with us, with the same passion of Vermigli, for more laborers in Italy.

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“Peace be with you”: Vermigli on John 20:19

If we look deeply at the world or at ourselves, there is never any reason for joy. Indeed, they rather furnish reason for weeping. We are often so sad both because of our guilty consciences and because of the darkness of our mind and the weakness of our will. The fear of hell draws near, and besides many calamities attack us, and unless Christ is present, our lives turn sour. But he comes to us, and if we embrace him with faith, then everything becomes peaceful, and like the apostles we are filled with joy at the sight of the Lord. Since the gospel is the joyous news, through it Christ comes to us and makes us happy. Christ our Lord is not like the lords of this world. If they come, they bring oppression, exact tribute and never come empty-handed. Let us see, what will he bring? The peace, and joy, and the certainty of resurrection. Peace has two aspects. One removes things that disturb and foster trouble. The other allows things which cause affliction still to remain but consoles and strengthens our souls so that they are strong and not passive but happy and joyous. The first is the peace of the world, the second is the peace of God.

 

Peter Martyr Vermigli, “A Sermon on a passage in John, Chapter 20:19-23”, The Peter Martyr Library, V, pp. 229-230).

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On the recent earthquake in Italy

You put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

As you have known about the earthquake that yesterday hit Central Italy, I write to assure you that all the people of our church Filadelfia and the groups associated with it in Turin and Perugia are doing well. Also PCA missionary Mike Cuneo and the people of the church plant in Viterbo are well. The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the area between the cities of Rieti and Ascoli, only 50 miles North of L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region, which was badly hit by another earthquake seven years ago.

Even though we are grateful that our closest Christian friends are safe, we deeply grieve for another tragedy as we look at human suffering. And yet, our deepest mourning arises from the fact that very few Italians are looking to the hope of the gospel to find comfort in life and death. We therefore ask you to join us in prayer for the Italian people, asking God that in their sorrow they may find consolation in the God of all comfort.

And as we pray in this valley of tears, in the days of our earthly pilgrimage, let us receive assurance that God is keeping all of our tears in bottle, keeping record of them, in view of the day in which He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, when death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

With warm Christian greetings,
Pastor Andrea Ferrari.

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