Bob Kauflin and I have written a new congregational song with the help of Nathan Stiff, David Zimmer, Lacy Hudson and McKenzie Fuller. It’s based on Psalm 91 where the Psalmist encourages us to find refuge “in the shelter of the Most High” and “the shadow of the Almighty” so that we do not fear “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday”. It’s a great Psalm of comfort at any time, but it seems especially relevant to our current anxieties. Working on the song has certainly been a tonic for my own soul and our prayer is that it will be a blessing to others during this time (and beyond). Bob has been able to arrange this home recording, and the lyrics and music are below.
Here is a lyric video of the song which you might find useful if you’re using YouTube to put together church meetings during lockdown.
Here are the lyrics:
I will dwell within the shelter
Of the God who reigns above.
I will rest beneath the shadow
Of the mighty King of love.
Though a sickness hides in darkness
Though a plague destroys by day
I will stand upon his promises
Christ will be my hideaway.
In You, my God, I trust, You are strong and here with us
In You, my hope remains, Christ will be my hideaway
Angels gather to protect me
When they hear my Saviour call
Sovereign hands are ever ready
To uphold me should I fall
Safe beneath his wings of refuge
All my fears are kept at bay
I am shielded by his faithfulness,
Christ will be my hideaway
Though a thousand fall around me
Though death looks me in the eye
Evil shall not have the vict’ry
While the Lord is at my side
God in power raised my Saviour
I no longer fear the grave
Through this fragile life and evermore
Christ will be my hideaway
Music & words by Tim Chester, Bob Kauflin, Nathan Stiff, David Zimmer, Lacy Hudson, McKenzie Fuller. © 2020 Sovereign Grace Worship/ASCAP, Sovereign Grace Praise/BMI
I’ve written a book on dragons for children (and discerning adults) which is out now from Canon Press. It tells the stories of dragons and dragonslayers from around the world – because who doesn’t love a good dragon story. It ends with Revelation 12 where John gives his own “mythical” version of the Christmas story. There we find the ultimate dragonslayer, Jesus, defeating the dragon and rescuing his bride. Plus it comes with some wonderful illustrations from Meghan Antkowiak (like this).
Here’s the foreword which Sinclair Ferguson kindly wrote for Truth We Can Touch, my new book on the sacraments.
It is a privilege to introduce Truth We Can Touch and to commend it to you. This is a much more important book than its size might suggest, because it will help you to understand and enjoy two of Christ’s special gifts to you—baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Reading it reminded me of two incidents in my life.
The first was a conversation I had years ago with a doctoral student from the Far East. I knew him as “Timothy.” But one day, when I felt I had come to know him well enough, I asked him, “Timothy, what’s your real name?” He smiled and said, “Timothy.” I smiled back, knowing he would see that I wasn’t convinced this was the whole truth! “Come on, tell me, what is your real name?” Again, he replied, “Timothy.” So, I tried a different maneuver. “What is the name your parents registered for you?” This time he responded with his native Asian name. Despite feeling we were in the endgame of a little chess match and that somehow he had a secret move up his sleeve, I said, “So that’s your real name!” “No” he said—and then theologically checkmated me! “Timothy is my real name. That’s the name I was given when I was baptized.”
Timothy taught me a great lesson that day. The name you were given at your baptism is even more important than the name by which your birth was registered. Timothy’s baptismal name had not changed Timothy’s heart any more than his ethnic name had. But since the day of his baptism, it had reminded him who he was as a Christian and had called him to live in the light of that.
The conversation left me wondering if Timothy was in the minority of Christians—someone who understood his baptism well enough for it to have an ongoing significance for him every day of his life.
You might think from this that it would be a neat idea to give people new names when they are baptized. But we don’t need to do that, because that has already happened. Your own baptism was a naming ceremony: you were baptized “in[to] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). That naming ceremony no more changed your heart than did the name you were given at birth. But like the registration of your family name, this new name expresses who you really are as a Christian believer; it is a constant reminder to you of the family to which you belong and what it means to be part of it. Our baptism is meant to be a daily reminder of this—for the rest of our lives. That is why the New Testament has so much to say about its ongoing significance for believers.
The second incident also happened in the Far East. With three other men I was invited by the owner of a famous hotel to have dinner with him—the kind of hotel where the suites would cost you more than $15,000—per night! The owner wore one of those watches you see advertised but learn online that you could never afford! He was a very gracious host. His splen- did European chef appeared in the private dining room to explain the menu he had chosen for us—including “zee special white truffle” on the soup, and a steak that almost melted in the mouth. The company was enjoyable, and the food was exquisite. The whole experience was memorable, not least the way, when we arrived, it seemed that a pathway through the hotel had been created by the staff—we were surely very important people to the owner!
But the truth is, all the evening gave me was a story to tell you. For all the kindness of our host, he inhabited a different so- cial world than I. The watch he was wearing was probably worth more than the house I live in. I could never afford to spend a night in his hotel. It was very thoughtful of him to invite me to come, and I said so as his driver opened the door of his magnificent limousine to take him home! It was a little like a holiday abroad—for a night!
But I tell you the story to make a point. An “experience” though it was, I would readily swap it for the opportunity to sit down at a table and have something to eat and drink with the Lord Jesus. And the wonderful truth is that I can and do, every time we share the Lord’s Supper. That is why many churches refer to it as the Communion service. It isn’t because we “take Communion.” It is because we experience communion with Christ. For that is what Communion is. The most expensive meal we ever have on earth cannot hope to compare to that.
This is what Truth We Can Touch will help you to see more clearly. It will help you to understand how your baptism can be a lifelong help to living for Christ. And it will show you that the Lord’s Supper isn’t so much something we do but the way Christ enables us to enjoy his presence. In it he says to us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). When that happens, we discover—as the two disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus also did (Luke 24:28–31)—that when he comes and is present at the table, he becomes the host and gives us his little love gifts of bread and wine—visible, tangible, tasteable expressions of his dying love for us. And we recognize his presence with us. What meal could possibly mean more to us?
It is because the Lord Jesus Christ gave baptism and the Lord’s Supper to us in order to bless us that I especially appreciate Tim Chester’s whole approach in Truth We Can Touch. He has his own convictions about the various theological and practical controversies that have surrounded these gifts of Christ. But his goal here is not to satisfy our sometimes-warped desire to have the “right” positions on these sad disagreements. He has chosen a better way: to show us how to appreciate, rightly use, and enjoy the gifts themselves, because through them we come increasingly to know, trust, love, and enjoy their giver. This, after all, is why our Lord Jesus gave them to us.
So I, for one, believe that what Tim Chester writes here can only bring more and more blessing to us as individuals and as churches, and that it will enhance our appreciation and enjoyment of the privileges we receive as Christian believers. And in encouraging you now to turn over the page and read on, I feel sure that if you want to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will not be disappointed.
Sinclair B. Ferguson
Content taken from Truth We Can Touch by Tim Chester © 2020. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.
Here’s an interview on Truth We Can Touch, my new book on the sacraments, which I conducted with this month’s edition of Together magazine and which is reproduced with their kind permission. For more information on their publications see www.christianresourcestogether.co.uk.
Truth We Can Touch: How Baptism and Communion Shape Our Lives by Tim Chester
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are more than just water, bread and wine, they are God’s promises to us in physical form. What is happening when someone passes through the waters of baptism? What’s the significance of eating bread and drinking wine together as a church on Sunday mornings? What’s the point of these physical substances? Tim Chester guides us through the Bible, explaining how the sacraments, embodying the promises of God in physical form, were given to us to strengthen our faith and shape our lives.
Together: What was your purpose and motivation for writing Truth We Can Touch?
My primary concern was to explore how baptism and communion shape our everyday lives as Christians. I think we can all too easily see the sacraments as peripheral, perhaps even optional. But they are gifts from Christ for his church and I want readers to appreciate their power to nurture our faith.
Together: What made the gifts of the Last Supper and baptism stand out to you as topics to write about?
The main things I wanted to think through were how the sacraments shape our shared life as local churches and how they form part of our discipleship. But I was also interested in their physicality. Why water, bread and wine? Why did Jesus says, ‘Do this in remembrance of me?’ and not ‘Think this …’ or ‘Say this …’? I was interested in the way the sacraments embody the promise, grace and presence of Christ.
Together: What initially sparked your interest in the Sacraments?
I’ve been working on these themes for over a decade now so it’s hard to remember where it all started! I think it was a recognition that many of my congregation didn’t really know what to make of the Lord’s Supper. Then I noticed how the New Testament writers often refer their readers back to their baptism – something I rarely did. The apostles clearly intended baptism and communion to shape the identity of Christians. I wanted to articulate this in a way that helped church leaders and church members fully appreciate the value of the sacraments.
Together: What are the most common misconceptions about baptism and Holy Communion?
Many Christians see the sacraments only as memorials that don’t really ‘do’ anything other that prompt our thoughts. Others invest them with almost magical properties. Perhaps the majority of Christians are put off by these debates and choose instead to steer clear of ‘controversial matters’. But I fear that as a result we miss out in a big way. I want to explain in a Bible-based, gospel-centred way what is happening when someone is baptised and when we take communion.
Together: What do you feel has shaped modern views of the Sacraments?
The debates of the 16th-century Reformation continues haunt us in many ways. As a result, we’re often so concerned to say what the sacraments do not do that we never really say what they do actually do. The second big factor is the Enlightenment – the intellectual movement that still dominates the modern world. The Enlightenment enthroned human reason. What matters is what I think, so the action that matters takes place in my mind. This makes it hard for us to see meaning in physical objects – like water, bread and wine.
Together: In what way do you hope this book will impact the faith of its readers?
I would love it if readers came to appreciate baptism and communion more. I want people to see themselves as baptised people and for this identity to shape their lives. And I want people to understand what’s happens in communion so they receive grace from Christ and encounter him in a personal, dynamic way as they eat together.
Together: Would you describe Truth We Can Touch as an academic book or one all Christians should read and in particular those thinking of baptism?
Whenever I write the people I’m ‘talking’ to in my head are the members of my congregation. So I’ve written with all Christians in mind. But I’ve also had in mind other pastors who want a clearer sense of how the sacraments can shape the lives of their congregations.
ISBN 9781433566578/Crossway/Tim Chester/PB/176 pp/£12.99/Publication January 2020
Here’s the blurb …
Many extraordinary things happen in the Bible. People walk on water. People touch handkerchiefs and are healed. People disappear into the sky. Did these events really happen? What was their purpose?
And do miracles happen today? How do we respond if someone says they’ve seen a miracle happen? Should we hold healing services? What can I say to a child about praying for healing? How should we react when prayers for healing aren’t answered?
In this warm and accessible book, Tim Chester looks at the Bible’s view of the existence and purpose of miracles and gives a careful and balanced view on whether healings and other miraculous things happen today.
It will help Christians to explore these questions and others regarding miracles, signs and wonders, and know how to pray.
Includes additional questions on:
• Why did Jesus tell people not to tell others about his miracles?
• How should I respond when I hear a claim that a miracle has happened?
• Should we hold healing services?
• What can I say to a child about praying for healing?
Questions Christians Ask are short, readable books which clearly explain how the Bible answers the tough questions Christians are asking.
And here are some nice things some nice people have said about the book …
In an area of great confusion Tim Chester provides compelling arguments and clear guidance. Thoughtful, careful and caring, this little book will be immensely helpful to all who read it. (Graham Beynon, Minister, Grace Church, Cambridge; Director of Independent Ministry, Oak Hill College, London)
This short book packs a punch! Tim Chester tackles our questions about miracles honestly and biblically, challenges our assumptions, and leads us to a God who is even bigger than we imagined. (Elizabeth McQuoid, Writer and Commissioning Editor, Keswick Ministries)
Tim Chester has written a profoundly helpful book on miracles. As a pastor I am frequently asked if we should pray for miracles, why we don’t see more of them, and what to do when God doesn’t grant a miracle. This book answers all of these questions but does more. Its compelling focus on Jesus orders miracles beneath the Miracle-worker himself in a way I’ve not seen before. Refreshing, insightful, thought-provoking and hand-out worthy! (Jonathan Dodson, Lead pastor, City Life Church, Austin, Texas; author, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Here in Spirit, and Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes)