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NOV-DEC 2014 £1.50 a) Evangelical Presbyterian ‘ECCLESIA REFORMATA SEMPER REFORMANDA EST’ A : Blood swept lands and seas of red. Page 3 Interview wth Derek Lamont. From addiction to absolution. Website For more information on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Including details of our various congregations, please visit our Colin Campbell denominational website at Manager ‘The Evangelical Book Shop Policy BELFAST ‘The views expressed are those of the editor and contributors B11 600, land are understood to reflect generally the theological position of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, unless otherwise stated. Unsigned articies are by the editor. Phone 028 9032 0529 Website: Articles ‘The editor is willing to accept artcies for publication on the understanding that the submission of an atcle does not ‘guarantee its publication. Contributors should recognise that all articles are algo liable to aditing and alteration without consultation. No material can be published unless the full name and postal address of the contributor is supplied. The preferred ‘method of submission is electronically as a Word document. ‘Subscriptions 2014 Collected £9.00 By post within the UK £11.60 By post outside the UK £16.00 Enguines to the Evangelical Book Shop Finance ‘Anyone wishing to help the church's work may send thelr git to the Finance Committee C/O: Strapline ‘Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est ~ the Reformad Church is always reforming fev 15 Roger ‘antngoae balbrevare caren Bure 33, Onslow Gardens, BT39 9XB Brsone, Tre church can bent tom ne RAS seneme tom exaver’ | donations. Please ask for detals. Phone: 07803 282489 Email: Printed by Saxoprit. Design and Layout by Derek Johnston ‘BLOOD SWEPT LANDS AND SEAS OF RED’ Recently I spent the day in London | had to attend a DayOne (LDOS) meeting at noon but | found myseff in Central London just after 9am. What would I do? | ended up having the most remarkable two hours visiting the impressive art instalation at the Tower of London entitled ‘Blood swept lands and seas of red’. Ceramic poppies created by Paul Cummins, the ceramic attist, are being assembled and placed in the Tower's moat. The whole scene, designed by stage designer Tom Piper, is simply breath-taking. By the 11th November 888,246 poppies will have been placed in the moat. The whole area is becoming a sea of red. Soberly we are reminded that each poppy represents a British casualty from the First World Wer. Indeed the whole purpose of this display is to remind us, in this centenary year, of the huge loss of life during the ‘war to end all wars’ Its good to remember because we are very prone to forget. The Bible is continually reminding Us of certain important things that we must not let slip from our minds. ‘Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy’, (Exodus 20:8-11). ‘Remember your creator in the days of your youth’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Indeed, Jesus was so aware of our proneness to forget things that he ‘gave to his church the sacrament of the Lord's Supper so that we would regularly spend time remembering his death. ‘This do in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:25). Many of the things we forget don't ultimately matter a great deal. If you forget to send me a birthday card it will not massively affect how I conduct the rest of my life. If you forget the date of your wedding anniversary it may lead to a few moments of domestic tension but its not going to have any eternal consequences. But there are some things we simply must remember. Jesus tells us that before he returns people will be going about their daily lives having totally forgotten that one day he is going to return (Matthew 24:36-44). To forget this is serious. We must always remember that he will come again... Having remembered we must then prepare for that day by looking to him now in faith and trusting in him today as our saviour. eee It wasn't so much that there was anything wrong with the midweek meeting — but rather we felt that City Groups (our name for House Groups) could supplement our desire for stronger discipleship for more of the congregation in ways that the prayer meeting struggled to achieve City Groups bring the church into the home. They allow for our mainly gathered congregation to meet nearer to their own homes rather than return into the city centre. They allow for informal and formal spiritual discussion around the Word, and prayer in a more intimate setting. We have encouraged the ‘big church, small church’ way of thinking. As the church, grows, it can be difficult to get to know people well, to integrate them into church life, to hold each other spiritually accountable, and to become involved, and. so we have used CG's to increasingly provide the spiritual advantages of ‘small church’ in a ‘bigger church’ context. As we have grown, we have seen the integral part CG's have to play in integrating new people into the ‘community of believers. We have seen the potential in our city to plant new churches through this structure (we have already planted one new church that was originally a city group), and we have seen opportunities to evangelise through hospitality and to develope friendships beyond the midweek meeting, Currently the groups meet twice monthly in homes. The other two Wednesdays we have retained corporate times of prayer. We value meeting together as a whole church (although not all can be there) and so, even if we were to increase the number of CG's in the month (which we are considering), we would want to provide a new ‘opportunity to pray all together. (Possibly a time of fasting and prayer once a month). We have used different bible study books in the past, However, over the last couple of years, we have produced four or five questions based on the sermon preached on the previous Sunday morning. This has proved to be the most effective and popular kind of study. By using this method, we are encouraging further study and thought on the preached Word, and ‘encouraging the application of the Sunday sermon to the lives and hearts of the hearers through practical questions. Our City Groups studies are led by elders or suitably gifted men, who have been or are receiving training, We find the CG's are also a good environment to develop new leaders. Generally, the CG's have leadership teams to help organisationally rr ere and pastorally. Each leadership team is made up of an elder, a deacon, a member of the women’s pastoral team, and anyone else deemed to have the appropriate gifts, and agreed by the elders. We have around 120 members in the church, and around 160 attending on a Sunday morning, which would nearly always include quite a few visitors and others not committed either to Christ, or in some cases, the congregation. Ona traditional weekday prayer meeting we would have around 35 attending. ‘On average, there are between 80 and 90 people involved in regularly going to CG's — so for us, it has been a very real encouragement to see more people becoming more involved and committed. Most of the groups meet first for a meal at 6.30pm. and then for study at 7.30pm. This can be a real benefit for working people who come straight from work, without having to worry about cooking an evening meal, and then heading out again! It is also great for fellowship, and getting to know people better. In our CG, we have a number of families with young children — so sometimes all the family comes, and we have a short worship with the children, then one of the parents can take them home to bed, while the other one stays for the study. It is very flexible and | think that is popular today. Yes, usually there will be a time of prayer after each study. Sometimes it will be all prayer and no study, oy ere TE and we are trying to encourage small prayer groups within each city group as well. You can simply never have too much prayer. I believe the groups have been enriching for our church: for pastoral oversight; for integrating new people; for the development of spiritual openness and accountability; for thoughtful study of the bible and more personal prayer. They have also helped to develop a mission mindedness; a place to serve, be hospitable and to practice grace. Alllof these things can be done at the wider church level, but CG's have certainly enhanced them for us. As with all structures within a church, they will be ‘open to abuse, but | have no reservations about the principle or wise practice of small groups. We preach often about the danger of cliques (whether through CG or any other means) and we have sought, prayerfully, to encourage an open, hospitable congregation, which sees CG's as a provision to help individuals in their Christian walk and the pastoral care they receive. ‘clear vision for the gospel, good, committed leadership and people, and loving hospitality all contribute to the usefulness and effectiveness of our ‘small church’ structures. Editorial policy does not permit the reprinting of articles from other ‘magazines. However, the folowing arfcle , which was witten ‘anonyimousl, s addressing an issue of enormous significance and it was felt that itwas worthy ofa wider circulation. The article fist appeared in ‘The Record, the monthly magazine ofthe Free Church (of Scotland, and we aro gratoful to Rev Dr Malcolm Macloan , tho Records editor, for permission to publish this helpful material in the Evangelical Presbyterian, ‘Our startin ife does not guarantee that the rest will be long end pproblom-froo. | started life as a child of good, caring, churchgoing parents, and because of family circumstances went to stay with my ‘grandmother, a loving, God-believing, churchigoing, amazing person. From an early age Iwas well cared for and taught right from wrong, {through going to church every Sunday; on bended knee at night ‘by my bed all through my formative years; from a grandmother's love and beliefs). Later, in my early teens, when all settled down, | returned to my parents. | knew theirlove and care, including going to church and Sunday School, until my mid teens. Then | began to sense the way of the world and what it would offer me and Wanted of me. So of my own choice I eft school at sixteen and took the Queen's shiling. There I was moulded by men to be a good serviceman, both in discipine and in training for a trade. Yet in my ‘pare me and on leave | had my eyes opened tothe world of the coty with alts entertainments, good and bad, ‘Through that discovery my need or weakness for pomography found its orip. A young man's mind and eyes can look on beauty and not see the dangers that lurk beyond the pictures and services therein Life ater training didn't help because Iwas posted to locations in the United Kingdom and Germany, each with nearby ies only an hour ‘way, which just added fue! tothe fie of my lust. Going to various confit zones also helped to enhance the need for recreation ~ and ‘my addiction — further! von an attempt to settle down did't help relieve the addiction. 1 \was of the work's making ~ another lost battle. ‘So there I wes in my thes, leaving the services another lost cause, Controlled by ust, anary and hurting. returned to my parental home, personally far from the true world of Goo's grace, but sil cared for ‘by my parents. | had few belongings to call my own. Where now? Fortunately, on leaving the services, Iwas offered a job straightaway that paid an average wage. So tied to normalise my ie fora while, ‘but memories didnot fade and anger ci not take the nightmares (oF addictions away. Instead they came back more vivily and powerfully. Alife with resentment and lust was no life at all, and realty is just a dream when you are locked into this way of iving ‘Then came the moment tha fe started to change, but even thet, wasn't addiction or lustfree. I met a young Christian lady who was, ‘on holiday looking after an OAP couple in a holiday et my parents had, There was a fault and | went to fx tas my father was away. |1was smitten, but my addiction wouldnt let go that easily. | wanted ‘more than fiendship. lleamed that day that God does protect those he loves and also decides when we must face our own demons. ‘The day they left, | was sent o collect the keys. met them just bbolore they departed and was invited in as thoy were having prayer. 1 found faith through pain and tears. My need of, and for her changed from worldly to caring and comforting on that day. | then discovered that my anger at the world and at God was, subsiding. Over the period of a year | found a church and began to feel more comfortable and challenged on oecasions. What people ‘saw outwardly didn't ahvays match what was going on inside me. But they accepted what they saw. | felt alive again. [My addiction, however, was sill hiding inside me. | now lived by faith for ninety per cent of my life, but the fen per cent of addiction and, anger | hid and suppressed. had three further romances before | finaly found a caring loving person whom | married. : From Addiction to Absolution She found ways of dealing wth what issues | had loft. “There were sill nightmares to deal with from the past, but my ‘addiction lay dormant, waiting to raise its head. Life went on ‘normally, both in faith and in the world, in going to ehuret, and in ‘tying to follow tho night path in work and play — until my addiction, 1050 to the challonge. | dont really know what the trigger was, but there I was a husband ~ ‘and ntow a father with two caring children ~ retuming to my addictive past | tied thrae times by my own willpower fo beat i, but to no avail Itwas so casy to reconnect by computer, phone and through ltorature, and I fell headlong into it. Yet al his time | was showing a pretend face tothe outside worig {hat | was fine. Then came the final downfall | was caught red- handed ty my wife, who had boen through so much earior on. The ‘evidence was everywhere on the computor and spirited away in ‘secret places. The ultimatum — find help or elsel We both broke down, one in anger and the other in shame and pity We searcited forhelp through the same medium that brought about my downfall and located a couple of associations that could help. ‘They wore similar oA but dedicatod to my spocific addiction. | also found that my minister was both wiling to listen and to help both of us through. Sad to say, at this time | also contemplated ending my Ie to avoid the shame of my adiction. Needless to say, I'm sill here to tollitasitis, I called SAN'SA and found whore tho meetings wore. Then I started the long road to recovery and lie. attended meetings quite some distance away from home, and sill do because recovery is one day ata time. The recovery programme was originally set up for AA by Christians and fllows boli in Gad and the love shown to us by Christ on the eross. Now here | am, four years on, happier in my faith, happy to be stil with my family after all ve done and caused. For years | had denied in addiction to Gas, to my wife, to my chien, to my parents and tomy church. | know I had acted so normaly inthe face of my ‘addiction. | am truly sory to all those who know mo and to thoso who don't ‘God gives us opportunities, places and people to deal with the {damage the world has caused, So if you know of someone, or are Yyursotf in noed of hop in this typo of addiction, | can and wil holp through the contact provided. May God give you the grace to accept help from one damaged and now forgiven! Please don’ hide what will hurt you, as there are people who by God's grace can help you. Dedicated to my wita and children. You knaw who you ara. In God Wo trust. ‘Strugaling with Pomography? Iyou are someone who battles with pomographic addiction, then {hore are probably several athers in your church inthe same Position. Even tho most consorvative statistics on tho numbor of Christians who struggle inthis area make sobering reading. Stil it is usually a lonely place to be in, because the shame attached to it prevents people from being honest. In the folowing article an active Free Chureh of Scotiand member shares his story with refreshing ‘candour. As you read it, please pray forall those caught n the lust ‘rap, that they may be able to find freedom through Christ's ministry ‘of grace and forgiveness expressed in the churches they altend, It you fool you would like to contact the author, he has set up a ‘special o-mail addross which you can uso to contact him in eomploto ‘confidence: ‘Some helpful websites include: mmisuse/wiat-is-poriography For twelve stop programs soo: and or ere D Bible Study Fellowship. EVENING WOMEN’S CLAS: In the 1950's five young women who were hungry for the meat of God's word asked retired missionary, Audrey Wetherall Johnston, if she would host a bible class for them. With godly wisdom rather than spoon feed the ladies Miss Johnston advised that she would provide a framework of questions for the ladies to prayerfully work through and that by the help of the Holy Spirit they would know the joy of uncovering the treasures from Gods word for themselves. They would come together to discuss how God had spoken to them through the passage and Miss Johnston would then teach and provide notes for further follow up. This fourfold method ie Questions, Discussion, Lecture and Notes all on the week's passage has proved to deepen and develop the walk of many believers worldwide. Using this framework of questions helps prevent us from faling into the habit of skimming a few verses, and reading the thought for the day. The questions lead us to seek the face of God and listen for Him to speak from His word. We focus on the Bible and how it may be applied to our lives. God changes and spiritually matures His children from their time in the quiet place. Itis wonderful to see ladies from different denominations and of all ages learn from each other. ‘The discussion time lasts for 40 minutes and each discussion facilitator ensures that we stay on track and maximise the time together. Strong bonds are built throughout the year as women show a genuine interest and concer for each other and share challenges and joys together in the light of scripture, ‘The teaching is exegetical and each week an attribute of God is highlighted as well as a doctrine Seminars are also provided throughout the year covering subjects such as: Bible Navigation,Personal Quiet time, Homiletics, Sharing the Gospel, Serving in your Church, Leading a Small Group and Becoming a Servant of God. ‘Aclass for young people aged between 12-14 also runs alongside the ladies class. It has the same fourfold approach as the adults’ class. What a privilege for mothers and children to share together how God is challenging them through His word. Awarm invitation is extended to Bible Study Fellowship. We meet on Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm at Castlereagh Gospel Hall, Belfast. This year we are studying the Life of Moses. Further information can be obtained on BSF Website ‘ or by contacting Hazel Moore on 07954130896 Hazel Moore, along with her husband Colin, {s involved in th life and work of Stranmilis church. Together Colin and Hazel have been responsible for inating a number of ‘prayer ‘groups’ which meet normally on a monthly ‘basis and have enriched the prayer if of the ‘congregation... Hazel actively involved in the leadership ofthe Belfast BSF group. eee PRESBYTERY NEWS At the October meeting of Presbytery much time was profitably spent considering the following report which was produced, on behalf of the Training and ‘Admissions Committee, by its convenor, Rev Garland. At the September meeting of Pi had been agreement in principle to gt leave to ministers and, at presbytery’ were asked tc issue and to report the excellent and thorough. Which, after debate, was The Granting of Sabbatical Ministers of the EPC Agreement in principle to granting sab! ‘Our Code says that a minister can only be absent his congregation 8 Sundays per year, but the 0 of a sabbatical stands as an approved ex« t tule. The Presbytery gives approval to the grant sabbaticals for the following reasons: (a) There is biblical basis for such, involving taking or giving rest on the seventh day (Ex 20:8-11; 23:10; 31:12; Deut 5: 11-15) and also on the seventh year (Lev 25:2-6; 26:34). The comment of C. H. Spurgeon is apt: “Even the land must lie fallow and have her Sabbaths, and so must we. Hence the wisdom and compassion of our Lord, when he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go into the desert and rest a while”.” (Mark 6:31, of. Mark 2:27, 28) (b) As an employer, we have a pastoral care duty to consider the personal and professional development needs of our ministers (employees) (©) Desiring to follow best practice in how we treat our, ministers, we can leam from the current example of other reformed denominations. The purpose and benefits of the sabbatical Presbytery recognises a variety of legitimate objectives for a minister in taking a sabbatical and that not all of these may be pursued in every case: {a) to enhance his ministry skills (b) to update his knowledge (through focused study and planned reading) (¢) to observe / leam from best practice in other reformed denominations, (@) to develop a long term vision for his congregation (e) to write a book (f) to be refreshed (through rest and retreat) and thus avoid personal and spiritual staleness For the purpose (objective or objectives) and benefits, to be clear for all concerned, the general points above ‘would be expanded to give some detailed plans ‘showing how the purpose would be achieved. While taking a sabbatical is an option, not a requirement, nevertheless, we recognise that, when responsibly and wisely used, sabbaticals can be a blessing for the minister, his congregation and the wider church. General qualifications for a sabbatical Itis proposed that the following qualification criteria should be followed: Ministers who have served 10 years (or more) in the ministry of the EPC. After the first sabbatical, a minister may apply for another sabbatical after a further 10 years in service with the EPC. Ministers who have served at least 3 years in their ‘current congregation Ministers whose application process (see below) has been successfully completed indicating the backing of the local session as well as Presbytery. Length of the sabbatical ‘The length of paid absence on sabbatical could vary according to the individual request. After 7 years, application could be made for up to 12 weeks (maximum). After 8 years, application could be made for up to 13 weeks (maximum). After 9 years, application could be made for up to 14 weeks (maximum). After 10 years (or more), application could be made for Up to 15 weeks (maximum), Normal holiday leave will stil be granted during the year in which a sabbatical is taken ees The arrangements for the sabbatical agreed with the congregation The proposal / request for a sabbatical should be with agreement of the minister and the approval of his session and the proposal should be submitted six months before it is taken. Normally, a sabbatical should free the minister from preaching, teaching, counselling and visiting responsibilities, but he should remain available for the rare case of a serious pastoral emergency. At such a time, if he is not too far away, the minister may feel it right to return, but usually only when requested by his session AAs part of the sabbatical planning and approval, the session should agree with the minister on the following: (1) provision of an interim minister (interim moderator) able to chair session and deacons’ meetings and take care of visitation, (2) provision of pulpit supply agreed with the minister, interim minister and session, (3) costs of pulpit supply estimated and accepted by the congregation, (4) an understanding of how and when the minister would / would not be involved in congregational life, (5) an understanding that members of the congregation would not contact him for ministerial assistance, (6) a send forth service (date) with handover of responsibilities, (7) a welcome back service (date) with handing back of responsibilities (though some people may continue with theirs), (8) the reporting procedure (to congregation, session, Presbytery (or its supervisory body), (9) the length of service (normally 2 years minimum) pledged to the EPC after a sabbatical, (10) careful thinking through of the many day to day congregational matters currently handled by the minister for which responsibility will need to be shared out to the session, deacons and congregation and (11) recognising that the sabbatical will affect the congregation and thus the need to find ways both to appreciate the extra burden carried by others and to compensate for the absence of the minister that will be deeply felt by many. inancing the sabbatical The minister would continue to receive his normal salary and even mileage claims if they arise (for ‘example, where he is obliged to become involved in ministerial duties in case of a special emergeney). But where a sabbatical involves extra expenses, such 4s travel beyond his local area, accomadation, conference fees or course fees, then this should be estimated ahead of time in discussion with the supervising body (probably TOMA= see next paragraph) who would then also be,involved in approving the release of funds to the minister from the TOMA Fund. The supervision of the sabbatical Some person or body should stand on behalf of Presbytery to supervise, monitor and mentor the minister through the period of his sabbatical and in due course receive a report at the end of the sabbatical This could be agreed by Presbytery on a case-by-case basis, with TOMA being the most obvious body to offer such support. In any case, a detailed proposal and time-table for activities and regular (monthly) reports and final report should be submitted to the supervising body (and through them to Presbytery). The written agreement entered into for a sabbatical This should be individually negotiated, agreed in writing and signed by the following parties: the minister, the ‘session of the local congregation and the Presbytery. This agreement should deal with at least the following jements: the purpose of the sabbatical, the length. of the sabbatical, the financing of the sabbatical, the arrangements with the congregation and the supervision of the sabbatical 5d Garland has been a minister of te EPC for 35 years. He Is he Executve Director of ACTS - a Christian erature ministry based inJos, Nigeria, He is curently serving as ‘onvenor ofthe Training of the Ministry and ‘Admissions Committee 10 ~~ PRAYING IN a [My late Granny loved tote of he time she got her test banana Iwas also ono of the frst mos she was in a car: itwas along time ‘ago. She was handed this long, yellow, somewhat bent, quite solid fruit and i was all ers. She sat on the back seat ofthe car and Jooked att, not quite knowing what to do with i Then the lady that ‘gave itor, took from her, pooled it and then passod it back saying “You eat i” ‘The Apostle John has been writing to assure believers that ‘because they belleve in the name of the Son of God, then they know that they havo etemal life. Thoy have i ight now, from tho ‘moment of their conversion ~and by definition, they will aways hhavo it fortis fe otomal, a now if in Chnst Jesus, a lif of ‘endless relationship to God as their Father in heaven. “Baliover” he ‘says, “You have it You possess eternal lif This isa tremendous truth, @ staggering really. Itis something uniike anything else in the world Life in Christ is unique. It stands apart. Nothing can compare With it And these believers who have been through the wars to ‘some extent, are faced with his wonderful fact trom the Aposte: you have otornal fol ‘But what are we meant fo do with this etemal fo that wo passes? ‘John would tell us, “you lve i” You are born into the family of God, 's0 ve as a child of God. God is now your Father in heaven, so be confident of that fact and go to Him and ask Him for whatever you ‘need. Pray, says John, prayl Pray, because your Father hears you. ray, because He gives you whatever you ask for - when you pray ‘in His wt. “The knowledge of having eteral if fils the believer wih ‘confidenco. Not just confidence in the world, but confidence before the very throne of God. Our lite of prayer ought to reflect our Ctomal if in Christ, All through his latter John has been touching Con three dimensions to our new life in Christ. In Chapter 2 we looked at three tests of knowing Christ. 1. The love test— keeping his commandments, 2. The church test - loving his children, other belevers, 3. The Gospel test ~ having faith n Jesus as the ;roptaton for your sins. Those same threo dimensions under-pin ‘our prayer life. They form the WHY (v16-17) and the WHAT (v18- 20) of prayer. 1. We pray because we love God Tcauses us pain when we see our brother sinning, because sin ‘offends the God whom we love. When we see His law broken wo ‘are sackiened lke the Psalmist in Psalm 119:136: “Rwvers of water run down from my eyes, because mon do not koep Your law” Noto {hatin this verse the Psalmist is praying; he understands that God's Jaw has been broken, and because He loves God, he wants to S60 such sin come fo an end. So he turns to the One who can end sin, ‘and he prays. So before he talks to anyone else about this sin that he has withessed, he talks to the Lord. Maybe later he will speak {o1he one who Is sinning, maybe later he will speak to his pastor bout it, but first ofall ho wil talk to God, God isthe one who is offended: David could say in Psalm 51 “Against You, You only, have THE WILL OF, CX) + vier 5:13-21 | sinned, and done this evi in Your sight.” Sin 's against God, and \whon the beliover sees it in his brother — he will pray. 2. We pray because we love the church. It's our brother wo S09 sinning against the Lord and not only do wo love the Lord, but we love His people; we love our brothers and sfsers in the Lora When we see members of our own family sinning, and dishonouring the family name, it grieves us. We want them back! |We want to sae thom restored and forgiven. We know that itis only ‘he grace of God thal has kept us from making the same mistakes, We love them, and we will do all we ean to gat them back ino the {ul ite ofthe family again. So we pray, asking that God wil stir up {hat iain thom. 1fs not that thay'e dead in sin all over again... that ‘cannot be, 2s John has wien in 1 John 3:14 “we have passed ‘rom death tof.” That etemal ie continues, but in ths particular ‘sin — they are not lving that life out. So we open up our hearts and ve open up our moulhs ~ and pray Jam my brother's keeper. | will pray for him, because I love him. 3. We pray because we love the Gospel. “There ara two types of sin here mantioned: There is "asin which does not lead to death’ and “a sin which does lead to death.” This rather curious distinction is not openly explained here: it seems tobe a phrase thats familar to John's frst readers. | imagine ‘Mey would nave understood it well enough, and we do need 10 Understand the distinction. The “sin unto death” does not mean @ ‘capital crime; John is not taking about mortal sins as opposed to vonial sins big ones and small ones. When John wnitas in v17, “ell unrighteousness is sin’ he is saying tha all sin is serious —it ‘should make us woop, it should make us flee to our advocate for forgiveness and cleansing. All sin merits death ~"the soul who ‘ins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20), and Paul says in Romans 623 "the wages of sins death.” Its because all sin deserves doath that Jesus had to die in our place for us to be forgiven. Its because of the Gospel that there is asin not leading to death * That's bacause Christ has died that death already, forall who put thei faith in Him. So the “sin not leading to death” isthe sin of a Christian. Itis pure Gospel marey {hat for them “there is therefore now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1). That sin, though tbe grievous, does not lead to eternal death and hell because Christ has already died that death, and ‘experienced that hel for the Christian, The “sin unto death’ then is tho sin of rejecting the Gospal. tis the sin of not bolieving in Josus Christ as your Saviour — if you'e stil rejecting Jesus Christ, your ‘in will most certainly load to eternal death But how than does the Gospel lead us to pray? Simply ths thought ‘gels us praying: There is an answer for sin, there i forgiveness with Jesus. So believer, pray! Pray for your brother, tht he wall ore eee D seek forgiveness; pray that the Lord will work in him and forgive him, Of course this ought to encourage us to pray for unbolievers, {o0, for whatever they have done, no matter how wicked or \dopraved it may be, thera is forgiveness with the Lord. But they ‘must hear and respond to the Gospel —for they continue to reject Chis, here wil be no foraveness. ith this we are crossing over into WHAT we should pray and v4 ‘ives us a neat summary: we are to pray forthe will ot God. Wo ‘are to ask enything in accordance with Hs wil. I's aitte echo of ‘Matinow 6:10, from the Lord's Prayer, "Your wil be done on earth asitis in heaven” But how do you know God's wil? I believe that question can be ‘answered by simply knowing God Himsell, For example, Now do, you know what your earthly father oxpocts of you? Or how do you ‘know what your son or daughter expects of you? How do you know What ploases them or what causes tham pan? Simply because you know them personally. Many of our problems in knowing God's will ‘come down to not knowing Gad as we ought to. f your devotional lie is steady, if you're in the word each day and spending quality time with the Lord in prayer —you'l soon know His wil, bacause youll know Him. ‘Tho remaining few vorsos are fl of“we know’. John is saying we do know the will of God, and that perfect will of God is here ‘expressed in toms of the 1 John threesome: love for God (v8), Jove for each other in the church (¥19) and love for the Gospel tel (20), Note too that the prayer mentioned here fs corporate prayer, itis the prayer of the “we.” 1. Pray that we will love God by not sinning. ‘Because the child of God loves their heavenly Father they do nat want fo in any more. They may fall nto it but they wil never be ‘happy to remain init Their new bith brings about a new behaviour. ‘Sin does doesn't sit well with them anymore. Sin and the Christian ‘are no longer tends: they may meet occasionally, bu they cannot live together. One of the Bible parephrases puts vi8 lke this “No ‘one who has become part of God's family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God's Son, holds him securely, and tho devi ‘cannot get his hans on him, ‘The devil may ty all he can, and for sure, he fs more than = match {or the believer — he is active, he is malicious, both strong and subile, he is diabolical in his deeds, but John has already told us in 4 John 3.8 ‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works ofthe devil Ths isthe work of Christ, keeping hs brothers, praying for them. Ths is the wil of God for allhis children, that they do not si, so pray in accordance with his wil, God hears such prayer, and He answers. What are you to pray? Pray that we will ove God. Pray that wo wll be kept from sin 2. Pray that we will love one another and so be distinct from the world. 19 gives us the second “we know’. ‘We know we are of God” and this is a marked contrast tothe world. “The whole world ies under the sway of the wicked one." Jonn has already made things black and whito in this ltto: you aro oithor inthe darkness Cr inthe light, ou are ether @ child of God or a child of the devil "Nevertheless, we live inthe same world. Jesus himself spoke the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:30 Let both grow {ogethor until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say tothe reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn "* That great day ‘of harvest has not yet come. We ve in a time where the church lives among a world oF those under the power of the wicked one ‘But you are not to be a chamoloon which changes its colour to fit rs in-with ts surroundings, not wanting to draw attention to ise. It is happy to go unnoticed. But forthe Christian, this cannot b, the ‘contrasts too marked and so you cannot help but stand out — you ‘are of Godl And it soften hard and painful Pray hen in the will of God, pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray that wo wil romain cistinct from the world. You know its a struggle, 50 pray for one another, not forgetting o pray for those who stil lio under the sway ofthe wicked one. As we have discovered, there is @ Saviour, there is one wiro will deal with their sin =f they would but tur to Him. Pray then, pay inthe will of ‘God, pray foreach other that we wil be distinct from the worl, pray for help in the sugale against the tide of wickedness. And, Pray for those being swept along in that tide, that God would give tem ite 3. Pray that we will love the Gospel and understand itbetter. We know te Son of God has come! We have heard the witnesses, We know the historical fats about Jesus Christ. We have bean ‘ven understanding of spiritual realiies. We see ourselves as IN HIM, both in God, and in His Son, Jesus. This i the will of God = that we know Him. Really, John ends his letter where he began ne is back to knowing Jesus Christ ~ THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE. Knowing the true God, knowing His Son, Jesus. Thero is nothing more important in all of fe. As the song says: “Knowing you, Jesus; Knowing you, there is no greater thing.” Pray for this, says John, pray for this. You can be 100% sure that {his isthe will of God! He has spokon in creation, He has glven His ‘only begotten Son. He hes given us His Word, also that we may know Him. And in v21 John really says the same thing again: Know {he real Jesus and keep yourself rom idols ~ other representations ‘61 God, other Jesus's, Tha heretics in their day were believing in ‘adfferent Jesus: one who wasnt divine, one who wasn't Born ‘supernaturaly, one who did't die forthe sins ofthe world, one who didn't rise the third day, one who didn't ascend into heaven and sit down at the night hand of the Father. This wasn't the rel Jesus atall They had inventod an idol —@ false Jesus. Keap yoursolvos {om all such falsehood and keep on knowing the real Jesus. Keep ‘on growing in Him for this is tho wil of God. We cannot underestimate the relationship between growth and prayer in the Christian ife. I we relly want to know Christ and ‘gfow in His grace then we must pray in His will Loving God, we will pray that we will nt sin Loving the church we will pay for our distinctiveness. Loving the Gospel we will pray that our relationship with Christ will bo always deopening. Wo have it, but we must iva it through prayer. Robert Johnston is minister of Knock congregation in East Belfast. He is married to Julle and together thoy are blessad (and opt busy!) with throo young chidron; Bon (8), Luke (8) and Sophio (4), ere) ee ee A new hymn to sing... BBC Radio Ulster Morning Service on Sunday 23rd November © Cov'nant God, so faithful through the ages, from 10.15am to 11am ieee sg Res he ~ Fe aa cl from Stranmillis EPC Sane cee acs 92-95 FM O living Lord, who blessed Your people Israel, 1341 MW Seer eect uae rc Tee Ue Ua en aR a Edinburgh Theological seminary (formerly the Free Church of Scotland College) © Triune God, the Father, Son and Spirit, COR Ene nC OR a eee a De et SU Ea SOE uae eC We ole TSDC OCA You gave this seal: we're one in Christ alone: TMEENINIEIOSID Clee eee oe cn Cen eee You took them in Your arms and told them “Come”, See Cure SOCAN iS ge from inte tn Crest Reis canes aeeu) Wea Eger eee Practical Theology. Ronen Sed Crete eex ey) © Cov'nant God, the source of our salvation, SMR Se nn Ro We bring to You these little ones, our children. OPEN TO AUDITORS a eR aa | Sel eee enter ars sty) RR Re eee ee ioe Pome icicn RON ee Sun Ron Ea Seat See eae crane DS hn aR For full details contact Dr Sid Garland who is. facilitating the Belfast course - Sree rues “Timothy McCormick, who works as a Cour en a the praise during the worship oS ee eee A eee baptism, especially the baptism of a Sree et ted Seen | RR Coa Uy end | Le Siero ney Prof. Robert Rodgers ‘The folks at Groomsport Evangelical Presbyterian Church \were honoured recently when one of their own, Professor Robert Rodgers, was awarded the Hungarian Gold Cross of Honour in Budapest. The Professor received the highest honour which can be bestowed by the Hungarian Government in recognition of his work in the fields of education and science. In addition to his many humanitarian and charitable efforts Professor Rodgers also helps to educate people on Anglo-Saxon Christian theology and ethics in Hungary and has worked to strengthen international relations with the country Professor Rodgers is seen being welcomed by the North Down Mayor, Peter Martin to Bangor Town Hall in recognition of the award. ‘Angus Macleod Theological Study Conference “Union with Christ” Cor Bennema, John Fesko, Bob Letham, David McKay, Tim Ward, Paul Wells 25-27 February 2015 King’s Park Centre Northampton Further details & booking form: wwwaaffinity By post: Affinity, The Old Bank House, 17 Malpas Road, Newport NP20 SPA OBITUARY — MR FRED BALL ewer eee ela) [tec Cn Tae oll ue Se Mr Frederick McNair Ball was called home to be with ia ee ees ecerc Fred served the Lord over many years, having Pee On CMM RAO SN eee eee eR ee Wes ns au) CCU a mee eee oun) Seu OES nS enc ee ORE TE eee eT) three children. Sadly Olive's life was cut short when Ae Me ec UL od eimai Serving the Lord not only in the church but in the De eC ROL nee eo uae he worked with in the business community. He worked hard building up his own business which Te eee ee cote Aa NUS ae RL missed greatly by his family and friends. Do remember in prayer his children Melanie, Pee ae a rico Ceo Ce US EU Poca re eT eres Christ Our Life RRP: £9-99 Our Price: £7-50 Author: Michael Reeves Publisher: Patemoster Published: 2012 112 pages In Christ our Life Michael Reeves follows up his widely appreciated treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity, The Good God, with @ volume Which presents a brief yet wide-ranging portrait of Reformed Christology. In relatively small compass the author covers the broad thames of Christ as the eternal Son of God, the Incamation, Christ's death, resurrection and ascension, union with Christ land the parousia. To pack so much into a book which barely ips 100 pages might seem an impossible task, but somehow Reeves has managed to compose a book which is accessible without being patronising, brief whilst broad, and historically nuanced ihilst ‘emphasising always the final authority of Scripture. What marks this ite volume out from many other primers on Christian doctrine [sits refusal to confound simplicty of expression with over-simplfication of subject. On almost every page Reeves’ capabilities as a theologian are implicitly evident, but his prose is punchy, witty and warm-hearted. There is nothing novel about the subject matter, nor the theological angle from which the author approaches his theme, but the language crackles with ingenuity and originality throughout. Reeves thus allows readers who are new to this kind of material to find an easy ‘way in’ to his subject matter, while those already well- versed in Christology wil fin familiar themes presented in terms which arrest the attention and the affection in new ways. Perhaps ‘more than anything else, there is a sense in Christ our Life that the author is utterly preoccupied with, and in awe of, the Saviour of Whom he writes, The best Christian writing, ike the most powerful preaching, carries with it an unfeigned love for the Lord Jesus Christ in the fullness of his person and work, which charges the most simple presentation of truth with @ measure of the glory of its subject. Tris Is, arguably, the greatest triumph of Reeves’ writing In this ite volume, A number of formatting decisions on the part of the author will undoubtedly divide the opinion of readers. Each chapter is replete with pictures of paintings and engravings of Christ's life trom ‘across church history, as well as containing feature’ sections which focus in on specific areas of thought or controversy. For some this will make for a relaxed reading experience, while for others these features could be seen as a distraction from the main content of ‘each section. What all readers will agree on is the need for the book to have been proofread and edited more stringently, since spelling errors abound (the most glaring being the title tothe introduction to the book ‘Christinity Is Christ). tis a shame that such stering content has not undergone the editorial process which it so richly deserves.No quibbles over formatting or proofreading can, however, detract trom the immense worth of this diminutive volume. Reeves’ writing on the Lora Jesus Christ is pure gold, shining new light on eternal themes, and presenting old truths in fresh form. Reeves conveys deep truth in surprising detall, but always with disarming clarity land passion. It's hard to recommend this ttle highly enough, ‘Andrew Royeroft ‘= | Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement wtf) Author: Donald Macleod euats ] Publisher: IVP Published: 2014 272 pages Tris book explores the significance of the crucifixion and its relevance for believers. In the fist part of the book Prof Macleod highlights the centrality of the cross and its importance in the Christian message. He then describes the historical facts of the crucifixion, the ‘events that took place from the third to the ninth hour that day. The second part of the book examines the meaning of the cross and \what Christ's death achieved for us. In doing so he looks at Chris's work on the cross not just from the perspective of substitutionary ‘atonement but also as expiation (covering our sin), propitiation (tne turning aside of God's rath), the means of our reconciliation with God, and our redemption. He also discusses how the sacrifice of Christ satisfies the justice of the Father, and how it disarms the powers of evil. In his analysis Prof Macleod also engages with the historical development of our understanding of this doctrine, from ‘Anselm, through the Reformation, and on to more recent discussion. This book is clearly written and, whilst deep, is not heavy going Itis a stimulating read, and | recommend it heartiy. Michael Trimble, Stranmilis EPC | ihe fvanqce nevi NOV-DEC Confessing the Faith RRP: £17-50 Our Price: £13-25 Author: Chad Van Dixhoorn Publisher: Banner of Truth Published: 2014 484 pages (Chad Van Dixhoorn has produced a tremendous reader's guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith. "In short, this guide is a true gem. It deserves to be the standard reference work for any pastor seeking to use the Westminster ‘Standards in his ministry. It should be the first volume for which any Sunday School teacher reaches when asked to do a class on the Confession. It should be the constant companion for all skiers. Indeed. it should be on the bookshelves of anyone interested in learning ‘more deaply about the riches of Raformed and Presbyterian faith.” Cari R. Trueman From the Mouth of God RRP: £7-50 Our Price: £5-99 Author: Sinclair B. Ferguson Publisher: Banner of Truth Published: 2014 208 pages MOUTH cob PPRGUSO | This was frst published in 1982 under the tile "Handle With Care’, but Banner of Truth have just published a revised ‘and expanded edition to introduce Sinclair B. Ferguson's valuable work on Scripture to a new generation, Written out of the conviction thatthe Bible is the primary worker inthe individual Christian and inthe fellowship and outreach of the Church, the author looks at how we can trust, read and apply the Bible. John Stott’s Right Hand RRP: £9-99 Our Price: £7-50 Author: Julia Cameron Publisher: Piquant Published: 2014 Frances Whitehead was working for the BBC In London when Stott asked her to become his secretary. For 86 years she was his right hand: gatekeeper, acministrator, typist, encourager and enabler. In his will, Stott named her as his ‘friend and Executor’. Their partnership - unique, effective, and not without humour - has been described as ‘one of the greatest Christian partnerships of the 20th century. But what lay behind the dogged determination, fiercely protective streak, ‘occasional imperious tone, and ready, warm laughter Frances brought to her role? This book tracks her lfe and glimpses her ancestry to find the answer. | We are delighted to announce that Geoff Thomas will be with us on 22nd November | for our latest ‘Meet the Author’ event. No stranger to Norther ireland as @ popula "preacher. conference speaker and author. Rev. Thomas will be worth spending Saturday afternoon with. Do plan to come and hear him in the shop, and come _ prepared with some good questions for the Q & A session to follow! The Evangelical Bookshop De dad aor ety ea ee aa eee ae tren ee ened 16 N Dear Rev Over these pest two years you have been Kindly I responding to my emails and helping me with various J issues, nat least in the diffiult ares of relationships. However. I have noted reeently that you seem tobe geting alittle irritated with me. Your replies are often Full of advice contrary to my own opinions and suggesting T go in direction different tothe one I would have chosen. Thave discussed this with a number of friends who have suggested to me that perhaps you ae not as Reformed oF Calvinistic as T once assumed. My friends speak highly of you in many ways but they seem to feel that you are nowhere neat as strong in your convictions as you used to be - with the passing of the years you've become a little soft. Tm sorry fo express myself so strongly to you and I do hope that you're not hurt by my suggestion but really I need to get advice from a tre ‘Five pointe’. heard that you recently addressed the Seior Citizens Conference of St Stephen's Cathedral. Ieannot believe it. How can a man of true seperatisteonvietions enter St Stephens ~ @ seeded of liberalism. Also my friends were estounded at yur views on house groups and felt that you had imbibed some elements of charismatic thelogy As such itis with sadness that I feel T must suggest fo yo thet our correspondence eames fo an end. T have fund some faithful fiends nearby who ean counsel me Thank you for your help and ‘stay faithful Yours ele. Herbert. | ess Herbert, tam deeply saddened by your latest email. You cannot really appreciate the hurt which you have caused. | love the Bible and the great truths that are found therein. With the passing of the {years my convictions concerning the veracity of scripture and the ‘doctrines of grace’ have deepened. | have not mellowed in ternas of my Biblical convictions nor have | imbibed elements of charismatic theology. indeed that comment is misinformed, inaproper, inappropriate and complete nonsense. House groups are not new innovation — read Covenanting history, for example, and you'll find examples of therm centuries ago. As far as speaking in St Stephen's is concerned that’s a decision which | made having sought the Lord's will and guidance about the situation. It’s not for you to act as the judge of my conscience. OF course t'm opposed to pluralism in church life — if | wasn’t | would have joined one of the larger denominations years ago. But if there is ‘an opportunity to preach the Gospel in another place I'll take it as long as no restrictions are placed upon what | say. Yes, have changed. 'm not as arrogant, botshie, rude and hurtful as before. 'm trying to present the truth with grace and love. ‘Maybe, Herbert, you should think about that. I have more to say but | am so agitated in spirit that the keyboard is about to go on fire. ll pause here and contact you in the next Few days. “The Rev POSTSCRIPT: Sadly Herbert's response to this email and to those that followed was equally stroppy and discourteous. With deep regret “The Rev’ agreed that it was time that their correspondence drew to a close. FOOTNOTE: The Editor has appreciated the willingness of "The Rev’ and Herbert to share their emails with us over the past twelve issues and shares the disappointment of “The Rev’ at the manner in which the correspondence has come to a close. or re Sern