Articles by John Webster

'Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen'

Article by   March 2016
The Christian confession of the resurrection encompasses two great matters: first, that Jesus Christ is the living one who died and is alive for evermore (Rev. 1.18), and, second, that together with him 'God made us alive' (Eph. 2.5). These two elements of the confession - its Christology and its soteriology - belong together, but stand in a strict and irreversible sequence. It is only because God raised Christ from the dead that we also have newness of life; what we experience and confess of our own resurrection is wholly derivative from the principal reality: 'Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father' (Rom. 6.4). Yet we would not know Christ's resurrection in its full range if we did not also consider its extension into the realm of creatures, its generative power and effect. continue

The Fruit of the Spirit 5: Patience

Article by   November 2015
As he unfolds the ways in which the Spirit renews and animates our lives, the apostle has spoken of love of God and our fellows, the fountain of the other virtues; of joy, the pleasure which believers take in the presence of the good things which are promised to us in our new condition; and of peace, the settled state which accompanies life well-ordered in relation to God and to others. Yet in our present state, this side of the heavenly consummation of God's entire remaking of us, love, joy and peace are never unmixed; even as they begin to provide the shape of our lives, we find them opposed by the persistence of sin and disorder in ourselves and in all that surrounds us. continue

The Fruit of the Spirit 4. Peace

Article by   August 2015
Even the best of us find it hard to think clearly about peace, because so much of our life is absorbed by conflict - conflict with ourselves, or with others, or with God. Discord is so constant a companion that we may come to think of it as our natural state, and of peace as, at best, a distant prospect, at worst, unattainable. Yet love of peace remains in us, sometimes dulled, at other times sharpened, by strife and unrest. 'Peace', says Augustine, 'is a good so great, that even in this earthly and mortal life, there is no word we hear with such pleasure, nothing we desire with such zest, or find to be more thoroughly gratifying.' In this mixed and ambiguous state, how may we come to know and enjoy peace? continue

The Fruit of the Spirit 3: Joy

Article by   July 2015
Christian joy is an element in the renewal of human life and affections which is purposed by God the Father, accomplished by God the Son and brought to completion by God the Holy Spirit. Followers of Christ are appointed and summoned to participate in this renewal, and to do so intelligently and actively, that is, with the knowledge of faith which derives from divine instruction and which issues in conversion of life. This participation requires understanding something of our created nature: its original form; its devastation by sin; its renovation and reestablishment; the afflictions and consolations which accompany its progress to completion; its future satisfaction in God. continue

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love [part 2]

Article by   May 2015
At the head of the apostle's list of the Spirit's fruits stands love, the principal virtue from which the others derive and of which they are extensions. If we are to come to understand the nature of Christian love and the character of the gospel's commands to love, however, we have to proceed indirectly, reflecting first on God and the acts of God, and then on created human nature. continue

The Fruit of the Spirit: Walk by the Spirit [Part 1]

Article by   April 2015
Paul's list of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit has embedded itself in the varied exegetical and moral-ascetical traditions of Christianity as a succinct depiction of gospel virtue, one which directs the mind, the affections and the will towards great regions of Christian truth. To reflect on this tiny fragment of apostolic exhortation is to be set before an ideal which is at once compelling and impossible. Alert readers are simultaneously captivated by the sheer goodness of the life which these words commend and chastened by their incapacity and unwillingness to enact it. But, more importantly, as we reflect on these words we are reminded that believers live and act in the realm of the Holy Spirit. In that realm of grace, God's regenerative mercy is alive and active, setting aside inability and opposition, and establishing a form of common human life - the church - in which love, joy, peace and all the others are being established as human nature is renewed and moved towards its completion. continue
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