Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Michael Haykin (page 1 of 2)

Free Resources for Download


I just wanted to pass along word to those of you (especially those outside the GTA) who haven’t been able to make it out to the Toronto Pastors Fellowship meetings. Our media library contains all the messages (as well as the papers, in pdf format) that have been delivered at our monthly gatherings. There are also messages there from past conferences. Everything is available to download for free.

There are great messages to download from

  • D.A. Carson
  • Michael Haykin
  • Tom Schreiner
  • Stephen Wellum
  • Paul Martin
  • Tim Kerr
  • David Sitton
  • Charles Woodrow
  • Brad Powers
  • Stephen Kring
  • Alex Montoya
  • And many others!

In particular, I would like to highlight two messages that I think are particularly worth listening to, both preach by Pastor Carl Muller of Trinity Baptist Church in Burlington.

First is a message he preached at the 2007 Pastors Conference on the topic of ‘Balance in Ministry.’ This is an excellent admonition to pastors to maintain a close watch on their life and doctrine, and to keep a large perspective on all of life and ministry.

The second is the message he just preached at the past meeting of the Toronto Pastors Fellowship. It is called, ‘Pastor, Serve the Weak: Minister to the sick, elderly, and dying.‘ It is a phenomenal reminder to pastors that this part of our job is not a burden, but a blessing; it is an essential element of shepherding, and one that must not be neglected.

If you are a pastor, want to be a pastor, or know a pastor, these are great messages for you to hear. I recommend them all!

Free Sermons to Download

Check out the website of Toronto Baptist Seminary for some nice online resources, including audio messages from D.A. Carson, Michael Haykin, Bill James, and–most recently–Liam Goligher.

Dr Goligher has two messages posted: (1) ‘The Emergent Church: Reinventing Liberalism’, and, (2) ‘Preaching the Cross Today.’

Click here to see the list of messages.

How to React to the Fall of Rome – Part 2

In the previous post we saw that the ancient church’s view of a historical phenomenon (namely, the Roman Empire) shifted dramatically within the space of a few generations, on account of their particular experiences with that empire.

I would suggest that we have seen something somewhat similar take place over the past few generations up until our day–though not with an empire, per se.

I think it is particularly interesting to see how many Christians lament over the end of modernism the way Jerome mourned the fall of Rome. So many of us weep over modernism as if it was a Christian creation, designed for the spread of the gospel–God’s chosen means for reaching the world.

In reality, there is little that is further from the truth. In and of itself modernism was never a friend to the gospel. Secular modernist philosophers and scientists have always used modernism as a means of attacking and discrediting the claims of the Christian faith.

For all the ways that modernism has provided a platform for displaying the truthfulness of Christianity (text criticism, archaeological studies of ancient cities, much of creation science, etc.), it was never a ‘Christian’ view.

The trustworthiness of Christianity in a modern mindset boils down to little more than making a ‘case for Christ’ logically. The trouble is that Christianity, by its very nature, will not fit in these categories.

All that we are as Christians is based on the claim that Jesus Christ was entirely God and entirely man, lived a perfect life fulfilling God’s law, suffered and died to take on the curse of the law for us who receive his righteousness, and that God really did physically and literally raise him from the dead.

But here’s the deal: I can’t prove that to you in a scientific way. I can point to evidences, but that’s all. There is something necessarily personal and experiential (existential?) about the Christian faith. What we believe is not relativism, because our believing does not determine whether something is true or false, but our faith is what saves us.

In other words, it’s something personal, internal, ‘unprovable’ that makes all the difference in the world. That’s what our religion is based on. This is the kind of thing that modernists can’t grasp. They want something to touch, to examine, to test, to prove.

So what then? Do we rejoice over the fall of Rome? Do we rush off to align ourselves with the newest invaders who have come to expose Rome’s weaknesses? Do we embrace all that is postmodernism with open arms?

I suggest that we do what Augustine did. We use this opportunity to look around and evaluate from the perspective of eternity. What about modernism was evil and passing? What was good? What reflected God? How was modernism used for the spread of the kingdom?

And then, we ought to begin asking some careful questions about the ’empire’ that is coming upon us. How can we use its strengths and its weaknesses to further the cause of the kingdom? How does postmodernism provide ways for the gospel to go forth that modernism never would?

In the end we must remember that neither modernism nor postmodernism is ‘God’s perspective.’ These philosophical mindsets are of man, and they will pass. We need to examine the world around us closely so that we can see how to better hope in, trust in, and point to the world that is to come.

How to React to the Fall of Rome – Part 1

Looking over my notes today from my early church history course, I noticed something interesting. It’s nothing new or profound, but it caught my attention anyway. The church’s response to the fall of Rome was weird, in many ways.

I think it’s necessary to lay some background before we move on.

From the founding of Christianity (Pentecost somewhere around 33AD) to 64AD the Christian church enjoyed religious protection, since it was seen by Rome as a Jewish sect. When Rome burnt in 64AD, however, Nero needed someone to blame and so he blamed the Christians.

Nero’s actions set the precedent for persecution of Christians that would last the next few hundred years. Rome was ruled by pagans who hated Christians. From the heart of Rome all the way up to places like Gaul (southern France) Christians were persecuted.

It is important to note that throughout this time period, Christians saw the hand of Satan at work in the Roman Empire, as both he and they sought to destroy Christ’s church.

Skipping ahead a few centuries, we find that in 312AD a Roman Emperor (Constantine) becomes a Christian. This is part of a monumental shift for the way Christianity and Rome came to relate. Though (contrary to popular belief) Constantine did not legislate Christianity, he did legally protect Christians from persecution.

As Christianity gained favour with the upper segments of society (it’s popular to like what the emperor likes), Rome grew in favour with the Christians as well.

Within a few generations, it seems, Christians had forgotten that Rome had for so long killed and persecuted their forefathers in the faith. Now Rome was a friend to them, and they could see it as nothing else.

This is seen nowhere more clearly than in Jerome’s reaction to the fall of Rome. In his writings, he laments the fall of the Roman empire, citing Scriptures originally speaking of Jerusalem, and now using them in reference to Rome! Christians like him wept and lamented that this ‘Christian’ empire could fall.

This is a far cry from the view of Christians who had lived only a few generations before him, who saw Satan at work through the Roman empire.

How could this shift have happened?

It happened because Christians like Jerome were so consumed with what they could see in their own time, that they lost sight of what the scriptures truly do say about kingdoms, empires, and earthly regimes.

Just as a side note, in closing, it must be noted that my personal hero, Augustine, did not fall prey to such a short view. In response to Jerome, Augustine would write letters to him, admonishing him to look past Rome to the City that will never fall. Likewise, against the pagans who said that the fall of Rome meant the fall (and failure!) of Christianity, Augustine wrote the City of God which functions as a theodicy and an apologetic to the philosophers of his day.

What does all this have to do with us and how we view history today, as it unfolds? That’s for another post.

TBS Principal’s Banquet

I was quite blessed with the privilege of speaking at this year’s Principal’s Banquet for the Toronto Baptist Seminary. I was to give a ‘student’s perspective, in three minutes or less.’ I was given the task of explaining why I chose to come to TBS, and why I continue to study at TBS. In other words, from a student’s perspective, I should answer the question, ‘Why should someone continue to support the work at the seminary?’

Below is the manuscript I had written out. It is close to what I actually said.

My name is Julian Freeman and I just finished my second year as a full-time student at TBS. I count it quite a privilege to be here tonight and to have the opportunity to speak to you about why I have chosen to study at TBS and why I continue to study at TBS. I do think it is somewhat unfair for them to give me such a broad, open-ended question, and then only give me a few minutes to talk about my reasons, but here is my best effort anyway.

The first thing that drew me to TBS was the doctrinal statement. I had an opportunity to do my undergraduate degree at a school where I had significant differences in doctrine with some of the professors. This was a benefit to me as it exposed me to many different viewpoints on many different issues. However, when it came time for me to do my graduate work, my work which would be preparation for pastoral ministry, I knew that I had to go to school where I would no longer have to second guess the ones teaching me, but would be able to receive the truth as it was taught emphatically from scriptures.

TBS plays an absolutely crucial role in the training of men for pastoral ministry in Canada, because to the best of my knowledge it is the only complementarian school in Canada and it is also one of the few schools which still emphasizes the doctrines of grace. In these crucial areas our school still stands firm, with the word of God as our authority.

Another key factor in my choosing of TBS was its location. I was born and raised in Toronto, and my church involvement before seminary was in Toronto as well. Attending seminary close to home has allowed me to maintain my closeness to my local congregation, and has allowed them to continue to play a crucial role in my personal and spiritual development as I prepare for ministry. There are simply no other seminaries in the area where a student can go to get a solid, biblical education in preparation for pastoral ministry. The only alternative is to go to the United States, be removed from our local churches and Canadian context, and perhaps never come back. Having a school like TBS here, in Canada, helps ensure that our guys stay here and continue to minister in our context–right where we need them.

The main reason why I have loved being at TBS, however, and what keeps me committed to the school is the professors themselves [men like the kerux, Kirk Wellum, and Michael Haykin]. Never have I once questioned their commitment to us as individuals, as brothers and sisters in Christ, and as those training for future ministry. The professors have always made themselves available for us to speak about what issues concern us, be they spiritual, doctrinal, or personal. Over and over again I have been amazed by the grace of God at work in these men that they so freely give of their time and their talents so sacrificially in order to benefit us and through us, to grow God’s kingdom.

I am so thankful to our Lord for what he is doing in our midst at TBS: he has given young men like me who have sensed God’s calling on our lives an opportunity to learn God’s truths from God’s word, as taught by godly professors who are concerned for God’s glory in the growth of his kingdom. Please do continue to pray that God would continue to increase the work he is already doing amongst us at TBS.

Good Stuff to Read

If you’re like me, you can’t help but feel horribly ignorant with regard to much of our Christian heritage. I know a few of the main figures, but very little aside from the biggest names.

It has been a wonderful blessing to study this past year or so under Dr Haykin at TBS because he has done so much to bring church history to life for me. Fortunately, he does it in a way that challenges you with very practical application to the Christian life that we live now. It is no mere academic exercise.

I’m currently going through a couple of Dr Haykin’s books and have enjoyed another one previously, so I thought I’d recommend them to whoever thinks they’d like to make themselves a little more familiar with a couple of our forefathers in the faith.


I had the chance to read this book several years ago. It simply contains about 50 of Watts’ lesser known hymns. Absolutely fantastic devotional material.


Oliver Cromwell is an absolutely fascinating character who is often written about and studied, but few have come to appreciate the Puritan spirituality that pervaded all of his life and his thought.


Whitefield is always a wonderful study. The devotion with which he writes stirs the heart.

These books are all available from the Joshua Press website and are all very inexpensive. The format is simple and easy to read: the first section contains writings by Dr Haykin overviewing the spirituality of the person in question. The other part of the book is made up of selections from their writings so that you can familiarize yourself with the figure in a firsthand sense by engaging with the primary sources (and you don’t even have to go to a library!).

These books are absolutely wonderful because they introduce you to some key figures of our faith without being incredibly demanding of your time or mental energy. And as with everything Dr Haykin does, these books are primarily concerned with practical spirituality and how our lives can be more conformed to the image of Christ by the power of the Spirit now because of what these men wrote so long ago.

A Little More on Humility…

This past year in my Early Christian Spirituality course at TBS we had a lecture on Basil of Caesarea’s theology of humility. His twentieth homily was full of great theological insight and practical suggestions for how to live with greater humility.

One of his suggestions for how to stir up humility is simply to recall one’s past sins. It is only possible for me to become proud and think more highly of myself than I ought when I forget what I ought to think of myself–namely, when I forget what I’ve done and what I deserve from a holy God.

Sometimes, however, instead of genuine humility, I find that meditating on past sins (or even present sinfulness) just produces feelings of guilt and regret. I think about wrong things that I’ve done and how horrible they were. Then I think about the ongoing consequences of things I’ve done (how I’ve made people feel or things that happen to others as a result of my sins) and it just gets worse.

The trouble of course is that my focus is on the wrong place. The thing which should create in me the deepest and truest humility is looking at the cross. Despite what I so often see, the worst consequence of my sin isn’t the hurt feelings of other people–it is the death of the Son of God. As the hymnwriter put it:

“Thus while his death my sin displays in all its blackest hue…” 

The truth is that while the cross reveals grace and mercy, wrath and justice, it also reveals truth about me. Nowhere do I see the true end of all my sins and my sinful heart better than in the cross.

What is the cross? It is the place where the only one who was ever innocent, the only one who was ever truly pure, was beaten and mocked, whipped and murdered for me. Why? Because that’s what my sins deserve.

But the hymnwriter didn’t stop there…

“Thus while his death my sin displays in all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace, it seals my pardon too” 

This is the mystery of grace in the wonder of the cross. The only truly beautiful, truly innocent, truly perfect man to walk this earth in nothing but love became the victim of violent hatred–and I was the offender. But yet, in this–the greatest of all travesties, that God would be rejected by man–my pardon is sealed. It is complete. He accomplished it all.

In the cross I see the absolute depravity of my sin… the absolute godlessness of my soul left to its own power. If given my way, I would kill God. But here’s the irony: in God’s grace, my God was killed for me. What wonderful grace!

How can the recipient of such grace know anything but humility? How can pride find a place in any heart which has rightly evaluated the cross?

“Thus while his death my sin displays in all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace, it seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy, my spirit now is filled;
That I should such a life destroy… yet live by him I killed.” 

Go figure: the answer to something in the Christian’s life is to look more to the cross… who would’ve thought? No fancy programs, no insider-tricks… just look to the cross.

What does it mean that Christ died for me? It means my sin deserved death. If my sin doesn’t deserve death, and Christ died, then we mock the cross and make God out to be a liar. The cross, then, was superfluous.

But if my sin was so deep that I would desire the death of God, and that I deserved the eternity of punishment Christ bore on my behalf, then I need to do some serious thinking about who and what I really am. This type of thinking can lead only to deepest despair for those outside of Christ. But it will lead to endless joy and deepest hope for those who have seen their burdens tumble to the sepulchre.

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