"Creation, Kingdom, Covenant & Confusion: A Study of Genesis 1-11"
This past Sunday at All Souls we launched into a new series of sermons on the first book of the Bible - the book of Genesis. And while I am excited to learn more about this important portion of God's Word, I must honestly admit that there is great danger here.
For some reason it seems that both the beginning of the Bible (Genesis) and the end of the Bible (Revelation) are all too often hijacked by weirdoes and kooks. That is to say, strange speculations and odd interpretations are frequently brought to bear upon these books with the result that some Christians (and many preachers) simply avoid the very beginning and the very end of the Bible altogether…. But at what cost?
As a Reformed and Evangelical Christian I believe that the Bible, from beginning to end, tells one story – the story of God’s redemptive activity in Christ - and it's the best story ever written! But like every other story ever written it is crucial that readers know and understand the very beginning and the very end... without them, they'll never understand the middle.
Perhaps this would be a good time for you to begin studying the book of Genesis along with us. You are always welcome to visit All Souls Church (228 Main Street Green Camp, Ohio 43322) or you can listen to the first message in the Genesis series and follow along each week on our website as we work through the beginning of the story of redemption in our series entitled “Creation, Kingdom, Covenant & Confusion.”
Q: What is the purpose of Genesis?
A: There are at least three basic purposes for the writing of Genesis, they are:
1) Historical – Moses wrote to provide comfort in suffering and to inspire hope that God would deliver His enslaved people.
2) Doctrinal – Moses wrote to show that God is absolutely sovereign and faithful to all of His promises - particularly to those promises relating to redemption.
3) Christological – Ultimately Moses wrote to point his original readers (and us) to Jesus Christ, the coming Redeemer who would provide a great spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin. Man's Savior would be God's Son - God in the flesh - and as such He would be the final proof of God's faithfulness.
Why not take a listen to an exposition of Genesis 1:1-2:3
"Do you do singing sermons?"
The above question came to me from an amiable furniture salesman I met while shopping for a new couch. Before I could answer he volunteered his views about singing sermons, "Pastor Janet, the new minister at my church - it's the church over on the corner just out here - do you know Pastor Janet? No? Well Pastor Janet always does a singing sermon at least once a month and it is to die for!"
Unsure how to respond to this man who described Pastor Janet's singing sermons in the way other people would describe chocolate cake I simply smiled and made a noise that was supposed to be sound like an interested "ah" but came out more or less like the a bleating sheep. Ignoring my bleat the salesman continued with a bright smile on his round, jovial face, "So, do you do singing sermons?"
"Well you see..." I began, "I... um... well, frankly the thing about it is..." and right then and there in the futon section I proceeded to share with him what the thing about it was. Namely, I had to let him in on the fact that I do NOT do singing sermons... a truth that left the man somewhat crestfallen.
I mention this story because it helps raise another question:
"What kind of sermons will I hear at All Souls Church?"
Here at All Souls Church we are committed to Expository Preaching – and particularly a method called “SCEOTS” or Systematic Consecutive Exposition of the Scriptures (a phrase that I believe originally comes from Leith Samuel’s autobiography, “A Man Under Authority”).
One Year of Study Stands Out As The Best...
It was 2007, I was working in a rail-yard by night and was just about to wrap up my undergraduate work by day. While I was excited to earn my degree I was feeling a little less than certain that my bible college studies were as rigorous as they might have been. Don’t get me wrong! My studies benefitted me greatly… it was just… well… I felt like I needed more.... particularly in the way of preaching instruction. If my memory serves me right my degree program (which was billed as being “ideal for those considering pastoral ministry”) contained less than 3 credit hours of preaching instruction.
Through a series of amazing events (far too intricate to go into at the moment, though I should probably write of them in the future) I stumbled upon a fledgling college in Glasgow, Scotland called Cornhill, whose purpose statement read: “Our aim is to train men to preach.” After prayerful discussion with my wife, and after taking into consideration the needs of our children (we only had 3 children at the time, the youngest of whom was only 5 months) we decided that I should apply to the school. I was accepted the following month, quit my job two weeks after that, cashed in my retirement account (such as it was), and boarded a plane with my wife and children to live and study in Scotland for the next year.
It proved to be a great year for us!
In terms of its mechanics, I soon discovered that the Cornhill Training Course offered a unique blend of biblical education that was helpful, practical, casual, and yet rigorous. At the end of my academic year I emerged with a better grasp of the bible, a more well-rounded understanding of the practice of preaching, and a deeper conviction about the power & place of God's Word in the local church. These are things that continue to shape my ministry today.
Between 2004 & 2014 I studied more-or-less continually at a number of colleges and seminaries either as a fulltime or part-time student before eventually going on to earn a Master of Theology degree in Christian Education. While the Lord was faithful to use this entire decade of study to help me develop and mature into the minister and preacher He called me to be, I can nevertheless say in retrospect that my time at Cornhill Scotland was far and away the best and most beneficial year out of the entire decade!
I write this post today for the following reasons...
1) To thank the Lord for his providential directing of my path! My call to ministry & my theological education came about in a very unconventional manner. But even so, our Triune God directed my steps all along the way for His glory and for my good.
2) I am prayerfully expectant that someone – perhaps a "someone" in a position not unlike the position I was in all those years ago – might be introduced to Cornhill through my blog. Perhaps the Lord will lead him to study on the course... I would highly recommend it.
3) I want to express a public (and too long neglected) word of thanks to my main teachers at Cornhill - namely, Edward Lobb, Willie Philip, and Bob Fyall who were and are very faithful handlers of God's Word. Even as I write this I am reminded of Sir Isaac Newton's remark that if he was ever able to do great things it was only because he stood on the shoulders of giants – brothers, thank you for your willingness to hoist a young American novice up onto your shoulders. In my experience you have been and you will remain, much beloved giants.
STILL WANT MORE?
Rev. R Crabtree
"...a son, a husband, a father of 6, a friend, a Presbyterian