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Nov- Dec 2002 50p
Nov- Dec 2002
Evangelical Presbyterian Nov- Dec 2002 50p

Evangelical Presbyterian

is published by the Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.


Rev. Stephen Atkinson

1 Lord Wardens Dr

Bangor, Co Down BT19 1YF (E-mail:

Subscriptions: Annual subscription (six issues)

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Rep. of Ireland and Overseas


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Evangelical Book Shop 15 College Square East Belfast, BT1 6DD

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6 Eileen Gardens

Belfast, BT9 6FW

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Internet: Visit the EPC Home Page on






EPC Pulpit: 1Corinthians 9:19-27

J. Grier


The Regions Beyond: A Bulwark of God

H. C. Lindsay


From Belfast to Haifa via Poland

A. Prochaska


Remembering Former Days:Whose Faith Follow

J. Hunter


The Messiah, GF Handel and John Newton

H. Gibson


Books etc.


Making Progress with Pilgrim (6) - In the Meadow S. Atkinson


Cover Photo

by Harold Gibson


75 years - and counting.

As I write this I am also in the process of compiling, and preparing for print, the History of Knock EPC. It has been a fascinating study, and as a Session we are delighted at the overall production, giving thanks to God for such providential help locally over the past 75 years.

As we considered a front cover for our publication we did reshape, and rename the original front cover. Initially it simply was, The History of Knock EPC 1927-2002. Although at first I found nothing wrong with this, it was pointed out to me that it seemed like an obituary notice. It gave the impression that we had a history, but it ended in 2002! Thus we promptly changed it to The History of Knock EPC 1927-2002, sub-titled, 75 years of Gospel Witness.

As a denomination we celebrate 75 years and remind ourselves of the providential history of the church over that period. But we must be careful that we do not consider the historical data like an obituary notice. It is 75 years and counting, in the Lord’s grace and favour.

While it is important and necessary that we look back, it is also vital that with such historical education and spiritual inspiration, we look ahead. The faith and faithfulness of our fore- fathers are to be admired to stimulate similar devotion and sacrifice. The smallness and fragile nature of those early days are to be remembered to encourage continued labour in a day of small things. The discernment, and unflinching stand for truth is to be

maintained in our confused ecclesiastical climate. The uncompromised proclamation of the gospel is remembered with gratitude to God, and we are compelled to deliver the message in the same undiluted manner.

Having said that we must also be aware that the world is a different place, and while there is nothing new under the sun, and the enemy hasn’t gone away, we must be careful to tackle the issues of our day, rather than former days. We are to preach to modern man, in his present-day biblical ignorance and sin. We are to bring this life-giving message to 21st century man in his lostness and moral confusion.

Sometimes the preacher is accused of preaching against sins of a by-gone age, or of hitting out at heresies that a commentator of two centuries ago wrote about in application. Obviously we are to be relevant in our sermon application, since we are to be relevant in the overall ministry of our church.

Hence there is a need for us as a denomination, to look ahead, and close this anniversary year with the thought that it is not 75 years - glorious past, but 75 years, and counting (DV).

In our EPC Pulpit feature we include the sermon delivered by the Moderator

at the Spring Annual Reports evening, where the all things to all men” principle is earthed in the reality of North Belfast. Critical times demand radical thinking, and without engaging in infantile novelty falsely motivated, we must engage in a strategic re-assessment of our mission in the 21st century local mission field; a radical consideration of our method, in the modern melting pot, while moving not a whit on “message”, which is of course, “once delivered to the saints”.

Thus by God’s grace it will not be EPC 75 years (- in memoriam), but 75 years and counting.

Corrections to September issue.

In the last issue we presented a little sketch of the Rev Samuel Watson in recognition of 25 years service to the EPC. It was noted there that Samuel and his wife Valerie have four children. We regret, and deeply apologise for, the oversight in failing to mention a fifth child, little Fiona, who died at 21 months.

It was also noted by our able church historians that the front picture of Dr Gillespie was of Dr JR Gillespie, and not as recorded, Dr JH Gillespie, his brother.


Mrs Violet Troughton

Violet Troughton died in Newry Hospice on Friday afternoon, 20 th September after an increasingly difficult and prolonged period of illness due to emphysema, compounded latterly with lung cancer. Violet’s association with the church in Richhill dates back to the ministry of Rev Mark Johnston but it was only during the last year that we were so thrilled to receive her into membership on profession of her personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Although Violet had been housebound for a number of years she took an active interest in the work of the Church. She was a delight to visit and enjoyed so


much the fellowship of the Lord’s people. She encouraged others to come and worship with us in Richhill a number of whom took up her invitation and are now worshipping with us regularly.

Violet did not have an easy life but her faith and trust were firmly in the Lord. In her latter days she got so much closer to God and before she died was rejoicing that He was faithful to the end and was continuing to answer her prayers in very clear and remarkable ways. It was so noticeable that as her life on this earth was slowing ebbing away for the first time she had a strong assurance of salvation and longed for heaven.

Her family and friends will miss her so much. May God graciously fill the great gulf she has left behind. Just as we prayed for Violet so we assure the family circle and especially her daughters Mandy and Winnie of our ongoing prayerful support.

Violet’s heartfelt desire was that the church in Richhill would grow both numerically and spiritually that it might be used mightily to win many souls for the Lord and to build up the saints. She prayed earnestly for the salvation of her loved ones who were outside of Christ. May her prayers be graciously answered even though her earthly course has been run.

Violet’s funeral took place on Monday 23 rd September when the focus was upon Christ the way, and the truth and the life”. She will be greatly missed.

W L Elliott

Mrs Kathleen Smith

The members and friends of Omagh EPC have lost a dear friend in Mrs Kathleen Smith, who was called to her heavenly home on 19th July, aged 97 years. She was a lady of high principles, friendly disposition and an example to the rising generation. Her presence at the services, and especially the prayer meetings, when failing health made it most difficult, was a challenge and an inspiration to us all.

We extend to her daughter and son-in-law, Ian and Anna Harvey and all the family circle, our deepest sympathy, and assure them of our prayers in this time of bereavement.


Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

Hugh Crawford

EPC Pulpit

Reaching 21 st Century People

1 Corinthians 9 verses 19 to 27


The substance of a sermon preached at Moderator’s Missionary Rally in April 2002

I fear that I have been slow to realise that we are not in the 1960s and 1970s anymore. The whole climate in the media and in the hearts and minds of the people around us has changed with amazing rapidity. There is now a third group in Ireland - the post Protestant or post Catholic post-modern movement. Before we witness to them we must understand where they are coming from. Thought systems, which have ruled for 200 years or more, have gone in the last 20 or 30 years.

As we go round the doors in Belfast, talk to our colleagues at work or chat to our neighbours and friends, what do we hear them say? Perhaps it is something like this: -

I’m glad you get a lot out of believing, If you need to go to church, fine! I

I don’t.”

It’s good for you to trust in Jesus, if you need that crutch.”

It’s OK for you to have faith, if you find that it works for you, but it doesn’t for me!”

find that I don’t need to.”

We, then must ask ourselves - What lies behind these comments?

New Criteria

You will notice that these and similar comments are based on new criteria. Previously people asked, “What is the scientific evidence that this is true?” Now they say “does it feel right for me? Is it relevant? Is it convenient or comfortable for my style? Does it work for me?”

New Mind Set

People are open to anything and everything quite glad to admit that odd things may happen. They say that they believe in the god of their own understanding. In other words each individual constructs his or her own faith from incidents they have experienced. There is no big picture uniting all human experience, merely disconnected personal experiences which are true for the participants and not necessarily anyone else.

They think that any spirituality will do. On the positive front this usually means that folks will be glad to listen and are not shut in by the sectarian divide, but negatively when we assert that the gospel is unique, we find we have outlived our welcome. We are then told that we are “all on the same road” or that “all roads lead to God”.

New Ethics

There is now no accepted morality. Post-modern thought sees everyone trying to be good or doing their best. So there is no concept of wrong or sin.

There is no sense of God’s presence as a moral judge, little knowledge indeed of the God of the Bible. One author called it the world of the knowing smirk.


There is no source of ethics; not parents, not church and not state. Each of these is seen as trying to secure its own ends. The government, the church and the employer are seen as having vested interests using spin-doctors to achieve their selfish ends. Because there is little trust, mass disillusionment follows. Because there is little loyalty, people are disconnected and alienated.

Summing up then, post-modern 21 st century people don’t like claims to ultimate truth, ultimate good, ultimate authority or ultimate accountability. This attitude affects not only unbelievers but also believers in our midst and if we are honest we are under this pressure ourselves. For example Evangelicals can find themselves picking their church affiliation not by doctrine but by the feel good factor.

Confronted by this mindset we turn to what Paul told the Corinthians in this chapter. He calls us to three great commitments.

Commitment to Truth

I do all this for the sake of the gospel.” (v23)

As we love the LORD and his gospel, we must continue to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints”. The

gospel is beautifully summarised in chapter 15 verses 3 & 4 Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and that He appeared…to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time”. Here we have the great doctrines of the Deity of Christ, His atoning work on the Cross, His empowering resurrection and the total reliability of the “God breathed” Scriptures. As we sang: -

Behold him there! The risen Lamb, My perfect spotless righteousness, The great unchangeable I AM The King of glory and of grace! One with himself, I cannot die, My soul is purchased by his blood; My life is safe with Christ on high, With Christ, my Saviour, and my God.

If we change the message because of the pressures of our culture we have nothing to give our contemporaries. The unique news of salvation cannot be amended to suit the age. 75 years ago Professor Davey wished to do this in his book Changing Vesture of the Faith. He changed the faith as well as its externals.

Commitment to Change.

With our strong commitment to maintain the truth, we must exercise a parallel commitment to change the way that we communicate that truth so that it speaks as clearly as possible to the changed mindset of recent years sometimes called post-modernism.

Paul says, I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some”(verse 22).

Similarly as we face post-modernism, we have to adjust the way we do things so that the precious message of the gospel is adequately conveyed. Paul cheerfully gave up his rights for the spiritual good of others. He gladly gave up his Jewish heritage to reach those outside Israel. If we are reluctant to contemplate change because of the richness of our Ulster Protestant heritage let us remember how rich a heritage Paul gave up as outlined in Romans 9 verses 4 & 5. Theirs is the adoption of sons, theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, for ever praised! Amen.”

As we seek to communicate to our Biblically illiterate contemporaries, we must continue to be creative and imaginative in finding ways to give them space and time to see the basic outline of the Christian faith. Just as we have always done in Sunday Schools and Youth Clubs, we have to find a way to teach the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50 year olds what the faith really is.

Since they feel that church is for the committed, they won’t come. They feel that it would be hypocritical to pretend to a level of commitment that they know they do not possess. We need those around us to feel a welcome to

events where they can experience scripture without commitment in a non -threatening environment.

There may well be a different time scale in our evangelism as Joe Public is so much more ignorant than his grandparents. An example of this is reflected by the fact that in our universities conversions now often occur not so much in the week of the mission meetings as in the follow-up Bible studies in subsequent weeks.

As our contemporaries distrust authority including Biblical authority, it is for us to humbly explain how we came to faith and gently clear away the clutter left by TV and other media. Often it is best to show how appropriate an informed Christian view is on topics that interest our contact such as “Cloning”.

Each location will need different methods. We need to find and use whatever is best in each place. In our witnessing we have tried cassettes and videos instead of tracts, which often tend to get put in the bin. Others will use methods such as laying on evangelistic meals for those who don’t know how to hold a hymnbook but do know how to hold a knife and fork. Meeting needs in the community such as in Mother and Toddler groups works well in many of our churches. Christianity Explained” or Christianity Explored” courses bring Mark’s Gospel to to-day’s pagans.

Some of our friends in England have

moved their evangelistic Sunday Schools to weeknights as the kids aren’t available on Sundays and their evangelistic services to 4 p.m. on Sunday. This is when the public have finished the great sleep in and eaten brunch but still leaves their evening intact. We could research this.

Let us follow Paul. Let us become open to whatever changes enable us to proclaim the eternal gospel effectively.

Commitment to People.

Paul says elsewhere my heart’s desire for Israel is that they might be saved”. The same warm affection for his contacts is found here in “by all possible means.”

(i) It involves listening.

We have to humbly address their issues from scripture. We can only find out where people are by listening to them. Picture the unbeliever in a cage of false belief. All too frequently I have foolishly sought to storm the cage. But this has had the effect of making the person in the cage reinforce the bars of erroneous belief to be safe in his cage. How much better to lay on an attractive display of truth beside the cage and tempt them out.

(ii) It involves caring and sharing.

Love and concern can always be profitably shown but particularly at times of bereavement and trouble. We come both with the answers to problems and with the gospel that will enable the answers to be put into

action. Without the answers no one will bother with the gospel. Without the gospel no one can use the answers.

In our churches we need to know the newcomer’s name and (if they want) also their family situation and employment problems.

(iii) It involves welcoming.

It is a joy to welcome men and women whatever their past. In North Belfast unmarried couples and single parents are in the majority in most streets. They need the gospel too.

Some of us are getting used to people who dress differently, others of us adjust to friends who need a cigarette before and after the meeting. Woe to us if we cause a little one to stumble by withholding a welcome.


The Three Legged Stool.

The three commitments are like a three -legged stool. All three legs are needed to stand up. Caring and change without truth will lack meaning and power. Truth without change will lead to a dying church separate and irrelevant to society. Truth and change without consistent caring rings false.

One final word of warning. The burden of ministering in this way is so huge that it cannot be left to our ministers without making them liable to early heart attack, burnout or collapse. The listening, caring and welcoming must come from the whole body of the membership.

May God give us His grace that we may by all possible means save some for the sake of the gospel.


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The Regions Beyond

The Regions Beyond

A Bulwark of God

By Dr H C Lindsay MD

It is appropriate in our anniversary year to look back on our first missionary. This was Dr Harold Lindsay, member and Deacon in our Knock church, who went to Peru in 1937. Here is an article from him, just six months after his arrival.

We will appreciate his descriptive skills as we read, and we will hopefully feel some motivation as we sense his evangelical zeal towards the people he had come to serve.

It is interesting that the young lady, whose recovery from sickness he mentions in the final section, became his wife.

We give thanks again for everything Dr Lindsay accomplished in his seventeen years in Peru, and also for the work of all who followed him to overseas service.

Six months have passed since I arrived here in Moyobamba. As I look back, I regard as one of the greatest blessings among many I experienced the privilege of the companionship of Dr and Mrs Mackay for two months before their departure. And it would not do to leave the bairns out of the picture! Many a romp we had together and many a word in Spanish they taught me. They had their own methods of correction, and let me tell you they were very effective!


The longer one lives in Moyobamba the more it fascinates. It is hot at times, but

at moments when you are least expecting it there comes the most delightful breeze, or perhaps a short, swift tropical shower will clear away all the sultriness and leave the air balmy and sweet. To a person who dislikes noise it is very restful to be in a place where motor-horns never honk, telephones do not ring and the din of wireless is seldom heard. To be sure, the night is never silent! Innumerable insects keep up a continuous volume of sound; superficially there is discordancy, but running through all is an underlying rhythm that soothes.

Holding the Fort

The sinister effects of the subconscious are much emphasised to-day, but as for me, I can find sufficient of interest in the conscious past without worrying about the other. There is a story which comes to my memory from early childhood. It is about a little Dutch boy, who was walking one day alongside a great dyke. He noticed in one place a small leak. Knowing that the result would be disastrous if this were allowed to go on, he thrust in his arm and stopped the leak till help came. The small boy has his counterpart in the little missionary band whose privilege it is to hold the fort in Moyobamba. Each of us desires to have no strength of our own, but rather to lean fully on Him whose grace is sufficient and whose strength is made perfect in weakness. It is about what corresponds to the dyke that I want to write. It is a stout bulwark against a sea of evil and superstition and sin. It has been erected at great cost by the industry, patience and organising genius of those who have gone before.

The Hospital

The hospital stands in its own grounds. The lower storey consists of a male and a female ward, a private room and an operating theatre. Above are the living quarters of the nurses and Biblewoman. Morning and evening prayers are held and are a source of untold blessing. A few weeks as a patient often changes an enemy into a friend. Few of them leave without a Bible or New Testament. We

had one patient recently in the private ward, to whom Miss Macmillan sold a Bible, and up to date she has sold seven among his visitors. One of these is a Doctor of Law; he told her he had already a version in Latin.

The hospital has accommodation for sixteen beds. A short time ago we had fifteen patients in at one time, but it was a terrible crush. A handsome new building has been added in recent years. It abuts into the street and makes a useful entrance to the main block. There are two storeys to it. Below, in the centre, is a commodious waiting-room, flanked on one side by the dispensary and on the other by the consulting- room. Above are three roomsthe drug store, a room for dressings, and a laboratory. A verandah on both floors gives plenty of space for an overflow of patients.

For the doctor, work in hospital commences at 7.30 a.m. The Bible- woman makes a much earlier start. A meeting is held among out-patients at 6.15 a.m., at which tracts are distributed and, when possible, Bibles and portions of the Scriptures are sold. The doors of the consulting-room are opened the night before, as sometimes patients actually pass the night there. Consultations often go on till twelve noon, with the exception of a short break about ten o'clock for a weakness of mine - a cup of tea!

During the morning nurse attends to the needs of in-patients and then proceeds

to clear off, with great skill and rapidity,

row upon row of out-patients for dressings, opening of abscesses, injections, etc. The evening is kept free

of consultations, to give time for

operations and visits. New additions to medical equipment are constantly needed. This year the biggest item has been a new sterilizer. It arrived in excellent condition and is in first-class working order. It is a great comfort to have such an up-to-date fixture at our


The Mission House

The Mission House is a pleasant

dwelling-place. It is built in Peruvian style. The balcony gives a distant view

of mountain and hills. Below is the

garden. In it roses and many beautiful

tropical plants grow in profusion. There

is usually a plentiful supply of

vegetables, besides oranges, lemons and

a delectable fruit called papaya. A fig

tree planted a few years ago has grown

to such an extent that I can literally sit

under my own fig tree! It bears fruit.

Peruvian Workers

We have at present three pastors, which enables us to keep a man in Saposoa, Rioja and Moyobamba. Their names are Don Manuel Morals, Don Alejandro Tuesta, and Don Valentin Velasquez. Each is gifted in his own way. The first- mentioned is the oldest and longest with us. He has been through deep waters.

A few Sabbaths ago, while passing

through Moyobamba from one station

to another, he preached on

Contentment. One sensed that Don Manuel had found the secret of being content. The second-named is a great favourite everywhere. He speaks

English well and reads it still better. As a consequence he has access to our theological literature, of which he makes eager use. Don Valentin in his preaching

is at times monotonous. He makes

probably the best house-to-house visitor of them all. Smiling, affable and the soul of good nature, he will make contacts

sometimes where others fail.

There is a student in Lima at present, in training. He is due to commence his second year shortly. Going back with him is one of the most promising candidates that will have left here for a long time. His name is Luis Torrejon. He has already preached with great acceptance here on different occasions. Dr. Mackay wrote me from on board ship that the matter of this boy's future was much on his mind. I know he will be delighted, as are all of us, at the decision which has been made.

The New Church

The subscription scheme launched about one year ago has succeeded beyond all expectation. The amount collected up to date is about six hundred

soles, i.e., the equivalent of £30 sterling. There is much evidence of real self- denial in giving. One man came to me who had been off work for some time on account of sickness. He is the father of a family of eleven and one of the best subscribers. Payment is usually made on

a fixed day at the beginning of each

month. He came to pay some weeks before the time in case the money he had trysted to give might be spent when the usual time came. Two donations recently came from home in the same letter. One was a sum of ten guineas from a doctor in the North of Ireland and the other £8 10s from the boys of Sherborne Preparatory School, Dorsetshire. The latter figure represented the half-term collection for special objects. The headmaster tells me that such was the enthusiasm for our proposed church, the amount taken was a record for many years.


Literature is an important weapon in our armament. Eight hundred copies of a two-sheet paper called El Heraldo are distributed free each month. The Renacimiento is a well-organised monthly magazine of twelve pages. Its subscription is about one shilling in the year. We have almost seventy subscribers to it. Among its contributors are numbered many of the best-known names in evangelism in Latin America. In its catalogue of books listed for sale there is an imposing array on controversial subjects. A differential count of these from a copy taken at random gives the following figures:Romanism 46; Adventism 4; Communism 6; Spiritism 2; Pentecostalism 1; Russellism 1. Other literature distributed includes El Mensajero Biblico, the organ of the Costa Rica, and Mensajes del Amor.

Bible sales continue to be satisfactory.

Next to the whole Book the greatest demand is for a combination of Psalms and the New Testament. The SGM. portions are distributed in great numbers.

Sabbath School

The Sabbath School is well attended. The roll numbers just under two hundred. A slow but steady increase in it continues to take place. At present it has seven Peruvian teachers.

Two Blessings and a Need

In closing, I would like to make known two blessings and a need. It is a source of deep thankfulness to God that our Bible-woman, Miss Matheson, has been restored to us again in good health. Although back only a few weeks she has already gathered into her capable hands the former threads of her manifold activities. The writer, after a trying period of suspension, has been given permission by the authorities in Lima to practise for one year.

A great work has been accomplished in

Moyobamba, but much still remains to be done, especially in other villages. There is a movement among the mulberry tops in many places where

before there reigned but the stillness of death. With the present staff many precious opportunities have to be allowed to slip. An ordained missionary

is badly needed to consolidate our gains

and to carry to still waiting multitudes the message of the Evangel.

From Belfast to Haifa via Poland

by Andrew Prochaska

Photo AndrewP.jpg

After enjoying God’s rich and manifold blessings in Northern Ireland, including the privilege of being part of the Stranmillis EPC, I found myself again in my hometown of Lodz in Poland in December 2001, following over four years of absence.

The Evangelical Church in Lodz turned out to be warm and friendly fellowship of believers. It is virtually the only evangelical congregation with a sound reformed input in this city of nearly 900 thousand; the result of the influence the European Missionary Fellowship Bible School in Welwyn had upon one of the elders of the church during his studies at the school.

After spending two months in Poland I made my way to Haifa, Israel, to

assume a post-doctorate position in the Israel Institute of Technology. Most of you have learned about Israel since the Sunday school period and many have had occasion to see it themselves, with an emphasis put on visiting the Biblical sites and admiring the natural beauty of the place. Besides these, another very interesting aspect, is the country’s complex and very dynamically changing society. Despite its small size of just over six million people, it features a very high level of diversity on the religious, cultural and political level and defies most of the Jewish stereotypes, perfectly reflecting the saying that where two Jews meet, there are three opinions”. Around eighty percent of the society are Jews (including a small fraction of non-Jewish immigrants),

and the rest are Arabs. Most of the Jews came here during the past century from the world-wide Diaspora; mainly from Poland, Russia, Romania, North Africa, Middle East and South America. During the past ten years, following the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, over one million new immigrants from the former Soviet republics have come to Israel, thus drastically changing the face of the Israeli society in a relatively short time. Just imagine Ulster’s society enlarging itself within 10 years by over 400 thousand people coming without any command of English and most of them possessing little more than their personal belongings!

Although the official language is Hebrew, Russian is heard virtually everywhere. Many elderly Ashkenazi Jews (i.e. those coming from Central and Eastern Europe) can still be heard speaking Yiddish which is a mixture of German and Hebrew, and not a few of those from Poland can still speak Polish.

The vast majority of the Israelis are completely secular, with their way of life, apart from holidays and the military service, being not much different, from that of many Western nations. The religious people make up about 15% percent of the population. These can be further divided into orthodox; who despite their religious commitment play an active role in the life of the society, and ultra orthodox (usually clad in black); who completely devote themselves to their religion and

many of whom even refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the State of Israel until the coming of the Messiah. These two groups are the most opposed to the spread of the Gospel in the land.

Due to the specific geo-political situation of the country, life in Israel bears certain characteristics unique on the world scale. Since the very beginning of its nearly 55 year-old existence, being surrounded by hostile Arab countries populated by 350 million people, which have constantly sought Israel’s annihilation, the country has had to undergo an intense struggle for its survival which consisted of five wars with its Arabic neighbours - none of which it could afford to lose. Everybody at the age of eighteen is conscripted to military service (except for ultra-orthodox Jews and most Arabs); the men for three years and women for two. Moreover, every man is bound to do a reserve duty one month a year, until the age of forty. This is one of the reasons why, every year 10-15,000 Israelis permanently leave the country in the pursuit of easier and safer life in other parts of the world, such as Canada or Australia.

The waves of Palestinian terrorism, called Intifadas, have added to the overall strain in the society. Most of the public places, including universities, schools and kindergardens, are equipped with armed security guards checking all the newcomers. Since the outbreak of the last Intifada two years

ago, even wedding ceremonies have been usually accompanied by armed men with machine guns in order to ensure maximum security.

The amount of daily events taking place in the country is such that checking the news every hour is simply not sufficient to keep up with what is happening around, it being another unique feature of life in Israel, especially at the present time.

Despite the current security problems the society maintains its informal, open and friendly attitude with a very low crime rate.

The Church and the Gospel

Now, let me say few words about the church and the spread of the Gospel in the land. The societal diversity which I mentioned before, is reflected in the ways different groups respond to the Gospel as well as the makeup of the church. The most open group to hear and positively respond to the Good News of salvation are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who are proportionately the biggest ingredient of the church in Israel. Most of the secular Israelis have usually an agnostic or atheistic mindset with their hearts closed to the Gospel, although many don’t mind listening and entering into religious discussion. Interestingly, many of them acknowledge Jesus as a Jewish historical figure and a Jewish teacher The religious Israelis are rarely ready to listen about Christ and their reaction

usually consists of opposition. Substantial efforts are being made by part of the Israeli religious community to curb the Christian freedom in the land. Among others, these efforts consist of trying to pass legislation prohibiting any form of evangelism and sponsoring anti missionary organisations which harass the individual believers (including death threats) and opposing any form of outreach.

The believing community in Israel, most of which dates back to less than 20 years ago, numbers around 7000 people in some 60 congregations across the land. This does not include Palestinian believers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

I have been in close contact with two churches. The first one is Grace and Truth, a reformed Baptist church consisting of the congregation in Rishon Le Tzion and a smaller offshoot group meeting in Asquelon. It comprises around 400 people (including children), most of whom are the immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The second church, called Bethesda, is an open Brethren assembly in Haifa. It consists of about 100 members, constituting a very warm fellowship of both Jewish and Gentile believers. Due to its proximity I attend their mid-week prayer meetings and Bible studies.

Grace and Truth

Grace and Truth has become my new spiritual home, and is one of the two reformed churches in the land and the biggest one overall. Several members of the church, including the pastor Baruch Maoz, are involved in the work of HaGefen Christian publishing house in Israel which is supported by the Christian Witness to Israel.

The services are simultaneously translated from Hebrew into Russian, English and Sign language, the latter one for the deaf members of the congregation. Due to its relatively big size and a very limited space of the premises, two years ago the congregation embarked on a new church building project which if successfully completed will be the first such project in the land since Apostolic times. Due to its uncompromising, open and bold attitude in proclaiming the Gospel, outstanding on Israel’s scale, the church is regarded as a big threat by part of the Jewish religious community in the country (which the church takes as a complement). An anti -missionary organization Yad Le’Achim and several religious members of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) have engaged in a legal battle aiming at halting or delaying the construction work at the new church building. The church services are often attended by spies from Yad Le’Achim who try to find out information about the individual members of the congregation and subsequently try to persuade their employers to lay them off on the basis of their Christian faith - an action

which is against the Israeli law. As a result of one such attempt a church deacon has recently lost his job. In a so far unprecedented move, the church has decided to fight a legal battle against the employer in order to restrict similar intimidation of the believers in the future. The case, if successful, may have an important impact on protecting Christian freedom in the land. Your prayers are much solicited.

Every year the church hosts a 3-day conference in Haifa with an invited speaker from abroad. The last such event took place in May when Jim Adams, a reformed Baptist pastor from Arizona, delivered a series of lectures on spiritual life. The talks were accompanied by an evangelistic outreach on the streets of Haifa in which also deaf members of the congregation took part as well as common fellowship and worship with an Arabic congregation from the north of the country.

For more information on the life of the church please refer to the church’s website:

Ending, let me wish all the readers the abundance of God’s grace in and through His Son Jesus Christ.

Andrew Prochaska

Remembering Former Days

In this EPC anniversary year we wish to bring to mind the former days by reprinting some articles from the very first issues of this magazine. The battle for truth remains. This article was first printed in The Irish Evangelical in October 1942.

WHOSE FAITH FOLLOW” (Hebrews 13:7)


Rev James Hunter

The one whose name this page so often bore is now with his Lord; on Sabbath, 20 th September (1942, Ed.), our beloved leader, Rev. James Hunter, M.A., entered into rest.


Mr Hunter was born at Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, in 1863. He studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Instutition and Queen’s College, Belfast, and graduated at the Royal University of Ireland with First Class Honours in Classics. His academical record was an exceptionally distinguished one. The scholarships, exhibitions and prizes won by him reached a total of around £250. Here is the testimony given of him by C.D. Yonge, M.A., Regius Professor of Modern History and English Literature, Queen’s College, Belfast, and Fellow of the Royal University:

In the twenty years that I have been a Professor at Queen’s College, there has been no student who has distinguished himself more highly, and who has done so in more than one department. The subject to which he chiefly devoted himself was Classical Literature, in which not only in this College, but in the Royal University also, he obtained the highest Honours attainable by an undergraduate, being in the final examination for the B.A degree not only in the First Class, but first in that class, and obtaining the same distinction in the examinations for the M.A. degree. And in this College, in the examinations which take place at the end of each session in the various subjects, he was also on every occasion the best man in the year in my subjects.”

Like testimony was borne to him by President J L Porter, Professors Hastings Crossley, and Thomas Dougan

of Queen’s College, and Professors Matthew Leitch and Robert Watts of Assembly’s College.

But when Mr. Hunter was ordained in 1 st Newry Presbyterian Church in April, 1888, he humbly declared, “Novelty of thought or of diction, commanding power of speech, I cannot promise, but only such attractiveness as comes from the plain statement of the plain truth of God.” On that occasion he pledged himself “to the cause of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

After a ministry of one year and seven months at Newry he was called in 1889 to Belfast to Dundela (name changed to Knock in 1920). At his installation, on being presented with a pulpit gown and Bible, he said that the gown reminded him of the duty of being the same person when attired in the gown that he was when it was off, and he pledged himself with the help of God to speak from the bottom of his heart what he felt convinced to be the truth as well in the pulpit as out of it.” The Bible reminded him of another duty They did not expect him to be an original investigator, nor to forge for them a new creed out of the fragments of the old, but rather to present entire the old faith once delivered to the saints. …It would be for him then to walk in the old paths.”

He spoke of the necessity of the power of God’s Spirit to make the preaching of the truth effective in men’s lives, and expressed his fervent desire that “his speech and his preaching might be, not

with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” In concluding he declared himself “not averse, should it be the will of God, to the prospect of many years at Dundela, if only he might be owned at the last as a faithful steward of the mysteries of God.” In the issue he did continue some 35 years as minister of the Dundela-Knock congregation. It is some indication of the influence of his ministry through the blessing of God that the church was enlarged three times during those years.

When he retired in 1924, it was not with the intention of ceasing his labours. Indeed his crowning efforts were yet to come. On his retirement he wished to devote himself to the defence of the Word of God. In this cause he was willing to speak anywhere. (For example, he gave addresses every week on the great doctrines to a Bible Class attended by several hundred young men in 1925 and 1926.) He had for long realised the need of this. There was a drift from the orthodoxy of Cooke and his associates; there was a great departure from the old paths.


All along he stood for the faith. When its attitude to the Free Church of Scotland was under discussion by the General Assembly in 1905, Mr Hunter took the lead in maintaining that there was ground for the stand made by the Free Church, and he gave some quotations from the United Free New

Theology men which made the U.F. representatives present at the Assembly look rather glum.

Against all innovations in the interests of Modernism he set his face stedfastly. Over 30 years ago there was a suggestion by a leading Belfast divine to change the formula of subscription. Mr Hunter raised the standard of opposition and the attempt was abandoned for the time.

He was a member of a number of the most important committees of the Assembly, and in these as well as on the Assembly platform, all through the years his voice was raised for the faith.

Then in June, 1925, the drift in the Irish Presbyterian Church was further evidenced by the General Assembly’s appointment of a Committee to consider a change in the questions put at ordination and the formula of subscription to the Westminster Confession. Mr. Hunter spoke in opposition to the proposal, but it was carried by a majority vote. He was a member of the committee appointed and at its meetings he argued strongly against the changes proposed by those in sympathy with Modernism.


In the following winter and spring notes from the lectures of the Presbyterian professors were made available to him by the present writer, then in his final year at the College. Using these notes and other evidence

that lay within his knowledge he issued in May, 1926, “S.O.S. Nos. 1, 2, and 3 to Irish Presbyterians.” At the same time he formed the Presbyterian Bible Standards League, in connection with which in the year that followed he addressed large and enthusiastic meetings in Belfast, Londonderry, Ballymena and here and there over the country, travelling on two occasions as far as Co. Donegal.

At the Assembly of 1926 the whole matter which he had raised was before the court. He spoke at a number of its sessions in a tense and excited house, justifying his conduct in issuing the S.O.S. and attacking the Modernism of the College.

In the following winter he tabled charges against Prof. J.E. Davey (now Principal) in the Belfast Presbytery and prosecuted the matter through 14 sessions of the Presbytery in February and March 1927. The stirring scenes of the morning of the first session (Feb. 15 th , 1927) were such as to leave no doubt in Mr Hunter’s mind – most likely he never had any as to the treatment he and his charges might expect. Rage and hostility were manifest from the outset. The Presbytery acquitted the Professor by large majorities on each of the five charges brought. Mr. Hunter appealed to the General Assembly, but the Assembly gave him a similar reception and approved of the Professor’s out- and-out Modernism by a vote of 707 to 82. Shortly after Mr Hunter demitted

his position in the Irish Presbyterian Church and soon the Irish Evangelical Church was formed to carry on uncompromising witness to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. From that day he was among us in this Church a wise counsellor and leader, a faithful friend, an able minister of the new covenant, an unflinching defender of the faith. From 1928 until his death he acted as minister of our Knock congregation.


Mr Hunter would have escaped the offence of the Cross if he had been content to be disloyal to his Saviour. But he kept his pledges to “the plain truth of God” and “the old paths” made at his ordination and installation. This brought him often into conflicts, but he never flinched. He counted the cost and went straight on even when others turned back. He preferred to lose, and did lose, friends and office and emoluments, rather than sacrifice the truth of God. The Lord be praised for His servant’s faithfulness!


One of the last duties he undertook, though weak and unfit, was to visit one of his congregation who had met with an accident. This was characteristic of the man. It was the outcome of habits of faithfulness through a long ministry.

He commenced his article for the last issue of this magazine and it was only on being urged to spare himself that he


He was preaching with his usual vigour little more than a month before his death, so that he was 54 years in the active ministry of the Gospel.


Professor J. McMaster, D.Litt., of Magee College, when Mr. Hunter had but finished his course in College, paid tribute not merely to the thoroughness of his scholarship but also to him as possessing “the clearness of judgement and aptness of expression which mark cultivation of intellect as distinct from mere accumulation of learning.” These qualities were shown in his preaching. He had a wide experience of men and affairs; he read widely and travelled far (China, U.S.A., Palestine, Greece, Italy, Russia, Germany), and his experience and knowledge and his marvellous memory were all put at the service of Christ for His glory in the preaching of the Word.


Those who maligned him and there is no denying that at times he was greatly maligned said he was harsh and bitter, even “unchristian.” No doubt similar charges were made against the apostle Paul who spoke so strongly concerning those who perverted the gospel of Christ and who withstood Peter to his face because he was to be blamed. If at times in his early career he was so well spoken of that he pondered the Saviour’s word, “Woe unto you, when

all men speak well of you!”, in his battles for the Lord in middle and later life there was clearly no need for him to fear that woe.

For the refutation of the charge of harshness it would be sufficient if we could have a peep into many hearts today which sorrow as they mourn their loss, saying Our father, our father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.”

His character was one of singular elevation. One could not but mark his high moral standard, his aversion to all that was false and hypocritical, his

hatred of vice and compromise and all departures from rectitude. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good” was a precept exemplified in his life.

Let us hear the words of his prototype in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Mr. Valiant-for-Truth, when the summons came for him: “I am going to my Father’s;… Now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am… My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me, that I have fought His battles, who now will be my rewarder.” “So he passed over and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”

The MESSIAH, G F Handel and John Newton.

By Harold Gibson

As Christmas time approaches one of the events that many people attend is a performance of Handel’s great oratorio Messiah. Great Cathedrals and magnificent Concert Halls will echo to the sound of this wonderful music. When performances of the oratorio were at their height in London in 1784 a series of sermons were being given in a London Parish Church. The rector was expounding the texts on which Messiah was based to his congregation.


George Frederic Handel was born on 23 February 1685 in Halle, Saxony. His father was a surgeon and his mother the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman. As a young boy he showed a remarkable gift for music and his family encouraged this talent. He had the opportunity to hear excellent music in Halle both in the church and in the civic hall.

While at University he served as organist for one year in the Reformed (Calvinist) Cathedral in Halle. He moved to Britain in 1710 and became a British subject in 1726 enabling him to be appointed a composer of the Chapel Royal.

Handel worked diligently composing many operas and they were met with varying degrees of success. By 1741 he had written about 40 such works but Opera was facing a serious decline in London for a variety of reasons. Owing to that decline Handel considered a change of direction in his life but such a change proved unnecessary.


The Duke of Devonshire, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, invited Handel to furnish a work in aid of a collection of Dublin charities. To assist in this work Charles Jennens, described elsewhere as a worldly cleric, sent Handel Biblical texts and it is on these texts that the oratorio is based. On receiving these texts he set to work with great enthusiasm and wrote the oratorio in a few weeks beginning on 22 August 1741 completing it by 12 September 1741.

The first public performance took place in Dublin on 13 April 1742 before an audience of some 700. One Dublin newspaper reported: “The

Sublime, the Grand and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestick and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear.”

During Handel’s lifetime, Messiah did not obtain the popularity that it achieved in later generations.

No regular performances were given until the last few years of his life when a number of performances were staged

in aid of the Foundling Hospital.

Handel died on April 20 th 1759.

A grand performance to celebrate the

forthcoming centenary of his birth was given in Westminster Abbey in 1784. Large audiences attended and from this time onward Messiah gained greater

popularity not only in London but in Europe as well.


John Newton, whose life story and wonderful conversion is well known, became Rector of St. Mary, Woolnorth, London in 1780. In 1784 he became aware of the intense interest in Messiah in London society. He writes, “Conversation in almost every company, for some time past, has much turned upon Handel….”.

Newton was concerned that the large crowds flocking to Westminster Abbey

to listen to the music and the words

might just miss the true meaning of

what he calls “the several sublime and interesting passages of Scripture, which are the basis of that admired composition”.

Newton speaks of a plan that had come to him rather unexpectedly. He told his congregation of his intention to lead their meditations based on the language of the oratorio and so began a series of some fifty sermons preached in London during the years 1784 and 1785. *

In his opening sermon Newton remarks “But they who love the Redeemer and therefore delight to join in his praise, if they did not find it convenient, or think it expedient, to hear the Messiah at Westminster, may comfort themselves with the thought, that in a little time they shall be more abundantly gratified. Ere long, death shall rend the vail which hides eternal things from their view, and introduce them to that unceasing song and universal chorus, which are even now performing before the throne of God and the Lamb”.

While Handel’s oratorios took biblical texts they were never considered to be church music. Church music was, in fact, scorned by the civilised tastes of the time. Just a couple of years earlier Charles Wesley had penned his now famous carol “Hark the Herald Angels sing” with the line “hail the incarnate deity” underlining the fundamental doctrine of God made man. Messiah speaks only in generalities of Jesus.

Newton continued to preach his way through the texts setting before his congregation the doctrines of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Writing in the preface to the published sermons he says, Messiah is the leading and principal subject of every sermon. His person, grace and glory; his matchless love to sinners; his ability and willingness to save to the uttermost; his kingdom, and the present and future happiness of his willing people, are severally considered, according to the order suggested by the series of texts.”

While Newton was not a great lover of Handel’s Messiah and was indeed considered by many to be harsh and critical of it, he acknowledged that others thought differently from him and in the closing sermon he says, permit me to hope and to pray, that the next time you hear the Messiah, God may bring something that you have heard in the course of these sermons, nearly connected with the peace and welfare of your souls, effectually to your remembrance”.

*The Works of John Newton, Vol.4, Banner of Truth Trust 1985.

Books etc.

Opening Up Ephesians

Peter Jeffrey Evangelical Press 102 pages Reviewer: Stephen Atkinson

Opening Up Ephesians is the first in a new series of what is hoped will be a complete “Opening Up” of the entire Bible. It is not a preacher’s commentary, but rather more particularly designed for young adult readers, or youth group Bible studies. Having said that, it is not simplistic, retaining depth and good Scriptural exposition. In his own words, the author desires to be “accurate, simple and brief”, and wants to “put the cookies where you can reach them”. There are some good punchy lines:

A Christian is not a repaired sinner; he is a new creation in Christ”. (p24)

I did wonder about whether I got an American copy for review when I

discovered that in a Lloyd Jones quote,

a word was spelled the US way!

Questions to Think About” come at the end of each chapter and provide a useful basis for group Bible Study, and at the very end of the book there are a few pages giving further guidance Digging Deeper into Ephesians”.

Evangelical Press have recently embarked on two major series in The Guide, and this Opening Up series. They each have slightly different targets and


purposes. But as both are aimed at the younger generation I wondered a little over the merit of two such major projects? This reviewer nonetheless commends them both!

The Valley of Vision (leather-bound Gift Edition) Arthur Bennett Banner of Truth

432 pages Reviewer: Stephen Atkinson

What a beautiful reprint of a book I have loved and regularly returned to for over almost two decades. I first bought this in 1984, suspicious of Banner producing a book of prayers! My fears were soon removed as I was led into some wonderful views of God, and I found myself drawn to say silent Amens to these wonderful written devotions from favoured pens such as Brainerd, Baxter, and Bunyan, Spurgeon and Toplady, Watts, and Watson .

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart… that to have nothing is to possess all,… that the valley is the place of vision.” (- from the opening prayer by the compiler).

Before thy cross I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin, my iniquity that caused thee to be made ‘a curse’, the


evil that excites the severity of divine wrath… Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper, born in my birth, alive in my life, strong in my character, dominating my faculties, following me as a shadow… Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation, bathed in thy blood, tender of conscience, triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.” (p.74)

Under the conviction of thy Spirit I learn that the more I do, the worse I am, the more I know, the less I know, the more holiness I have, the more sinful I am… O wretched man…” (p.128)

How rare is such a spirit, even in our own hearts. Use it to restore such holy breathings. Give it, in either the paperback or this beautiful leather Gift Edition, to draw others to similar heart praying. I recommend it most highly.

Journey with David Brainerd Richard A Hasler Soli Deo Gloria

120 pages Reviewer: Stephen Atkinson

First published in 1975 by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of the USA, this is a devotional help made up of selected cuttings from the diary, journal and letters of David Brainerd (1718-1747), the famed missionary to the Indians during the Great Awakening.

It presents us with devotion, zeal and compassion hard to find in the modern world, and if used to stimulate personal


prayer and communion with God, we can run with no better companion. Each chapter is a two page devotional comment, with an (added) appropriate prayer.

Just in case we think all was rosy in his life, there is much written and experienced concerning the “Dark Night of the Soul”, and clear testimony that even for Brainerd there were times when the devotion did not come easy.

He died at 29 years, thoroughly spent for God, and the best part of the book is the last section which gives us viewpoints from Bunyan’s “Beulah Land”; that is, Brainerd, within sight of eternity. This perspective is something we would all do well to have before us all our days.

Useful bedside companion.

King of the Cannibals (The Story of John G Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides) Jim Cromarty Evangelical Press

288 pages Reviewer: Joe Hutton

It was C. H. Spurgeon who once introduced John G. Paton as “The King

of the Cannibals”. Though spoken with

a hint of jest, making John Paton smile,

it does however pay a fitting tribute to this faithful servant of God.

The book traces the life of John Paton from his birth in Scotland and shows how the rigours of life in those days


were used by God, in his providence, to prepare him for the life of hardship, danger and dedication he would be called upon to endure. John Paton was a man of immense courage and faith whose loyalty to the gospel and the Saviour he loved so dearly is an example for us all to follow.

An added benefit of the book is the appendix at the end of each chapter which gives practical application of spiritual truths and poses searching questions for the reader; good for young and old alike and very challenging.

We see too the many and sometimes great sacrifices these pioneer missionaries were called upon to make in order to bring the gospel to these dark corners of the earth. Yet their labours were not in vain in the Lord, as we read of many who were the vilest of offenders being transformed by the power of the Gospel into trophies of Grace. Many of these were in turn used by God to take the Gospel to their own neighbours to great effect.

This book will seriously challenge your Christianity. I commend it to all.

Is God past his sell - by date? John Blanchard Evangelical Press

272 pages Reviewer: Neil Campbell


Here is the latest in a series of books by John Blanchard aimed at defending belief in God and pointing non-

believers to Christ. While targeted specifically at atheists, agnostics and those who seriously doubt the claims of Christianity, this book will be of much wider interest. Indeed, the content is thoroughly challenging, both to Christian and non-Christian.

The book is readable and logical, well researched and structured. It presents clear evidence from history, astro- physics, genetics and other branches of science to prove that belief in the God

of the Bible is not out of date

John Blanchard writes with a compelling style. So much so that the book is difficult to put down once started. Beginning with a clear setting out of the positions adopted by those who not only don’t believe in God but also are actively antagonistic towards Christianity, the reader is confronted by arguments that demonstrate how false and futile the unbeliever’s stance is.

The text is skilfully interwoven with quotations from relevant literature. Arguments against God and faith in

Scripture are thoroughly squashed. Each chapter ends with personal testimony from people drawn from various walks

of life and backgrounds. These make

useful and interesting illustrations of Christ’s saving work that compliment the presentation of the issues.

A recommended read for anyone

sceptical about the Christian faith, as a tonic for Christians beleaguered by the

modern world and for use in personal evangelism. Also, there is a wealth of

issues for Bible study and discussion groups.

God’s Design for Women

Sharon James Evangelical Press 364 pages Reviewer: Cathy Campbell

At the beginning of the 21 st century many women still struggle with the question of identity, self worth and their role in society. The world around us judges by appearance, lifestyle and occupational or relational success. We are presented with images of perfectly groomed, happy and fulfilled women. Yet, many are left feeling inadequate and some even depressed. In this book the author offers hope and encouragement, painting a very different picture of the successful, fulfilled woman, based on the riches and truths of the Word of God.

Sharon James is a pastor’s wife and a mother. She is involved in women’s ministries and, with her husband, leads the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in the UK. Her background ably qualifies her to write about the topic of Biblical womanhood. The book itself is evidence of an incredible amount of background reading and research.

Firstly, Sharon James discusses the history of feminism and how society’s attitude to women today has been influenced by feminism. A second section deals with God’s design for


women. God made men and women to be equal and complementary the man in the leadership role; the woman as helper. She goes on to give examples of roles that women can fulfil in ministry within the church, devoting chapters to ministry in singleness, marriage, motherhood and to women at work all based on Biblical principles.

This is a book for Christian men and women to read as it deals with issues that are fundamental within a true and functioning Christian society. A thought provoking and enlightening read. However, as the author acknowledges, discussion around some topics leads into controversial territory. Study material is included but care would need to be exercised in its use, given the sensitive nature of some of the issues.

Preaching: The Centrality of Scripture R. Albert Mohler Banner of Truth

24 pages Reviewer: Stephen Atkinson

This latest addition to Banner’s booklet series brings us to 2Timothy 4:1-5 and the charge given by Paul to Timothy to Preach the Word. In reminding us of the importance of preaching we are given some of the most shocking statements of modern day liberals I have recently read. The author quotes Professor Edward Parley saying “The Christian church is


summoned to the apostolic task of preaching the good news, and to preach biblical passages is to reject that summons”. (p12) Furthermore we are informed of a statement from another so-called scholar David Buttrick who says “For the better part of the twentieth century, preaching and the Bible have been wrapped up in a kind of incestuous relationship”. (p13) We need to remind ourselves that such theologians” exist.

The author humorously parodies his text by imagining Paul writing “All Scripture is problematic and some is sub-Christian, but is nonetheless profitable for myth, eschatological vision, narrative understanding and interface with our humanity”. Yes, remind ourselves also that some people do live in that world of academic theological nonsense. For many this booklet on Preaching will be preaching to the converted, yet it reminds us, in our forgetful day, of primary issues and the primary calling of the Christian church.

Daily Grace from the Gospel of Mark George M. Philip Evangelical Press

183 pages Reviewer: Jim Stephenson

George Philip gives us one hundred and eighty three meditations covering the whole Gospel of Mark, each one a page in length with at least one corresponding scripture reading, usually


from the New Testament.

The author who was minister of Sandyford-Henderson Memorial Church of Scotland in Glasgow for forty years is to be commended for this excellent book. It is easily read yet laced throughout with strong meat; a good commentary as well as a warm devotional.

In the reading for day sixty entitled, Lessons for Service” from Ch.6:6-13 Mr Philip describes the danger of being a loner in Christian service. Having no one to consult with, infallibility might be assumed. We are reminded that we can be wrong. The disciples were called and then sent out two by two for good reason. We are reminded that in ministry and missionary service we need to recognize the need to maintain contact with our home base.

He further describes how there is something wrong with the attitude of those Christians who have never actually joined a church or those who having joined have refused to become part of the regular prayer life of their own congregation. In commenting on verses 8-9 the subject of the multiplicity of activities and that of our main calling is touched on. Thus we find his advice always most practical.

This guide could be used with great benefit by the individual, family worship or by a group. Highly recommended.

making progress with pilgrim

(for pilgrims of all ages)


(John Bunyan presented the world with a wonderful picture of Christian experience in The Pilgrim’s Progress. We continue to retell some of the main parts of the story.)

Going for a walk along a country road can be a pleasant experience, as long as you keep to the main road, and don’t venture off on any little track. Dangers can lurk around the corner.

Christian had just passed through Vanity Town, where Faithful had been put to death. Further along his journey the Lord provided him with another friend called Hopeful. They soon found they had a lot in common, and enjoyed each other’s company. They walked along the Plain of Ease, and took particular notice not to be distracted by Demas at his Hill called Lucre. The Crystal River especially refreshed them, but shortly after that they came to a stile with a notice over it pointing to “By-Path Meadow”.

The road on the other side looked a little easier. Christian thought they should go over, and Hopeful followed him. But things weren’t easier at all. It began to get dark. They then thought they should return the way they came, but it got so late that they had to simply find a place where they could get some sleep.

In the morning they discovered they were in great trouble. They were on land belonging to a Giant who took them prisoner in his Castle. The Giant was called Despair and their journey had come to a halt in Doubting Castle.

Now, there are many aspects to our pilgrim life, as we follow the Lord Jesus Christ, that are pleasant, even easy. We might say we too have walked along a Plain of Ease. Sadly many are distracted by that Hill called Lucre as they give all their attention to getting money. Perhaps you have avoided that one, but have you ever slipped into that side track called By-Path Meadow.

Following the Lord Jesus is a straight and narrow road which we must not turn off. If we do, the path is certainly not easier, and there are giant dangers around, not least a despair that can hold us for some time. How shall our friends escape? We’ll see next time. What is your method of escape?

Are you making progress with Pilgrim?

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Jackie Ross of Blythswood was founder of Blythswood Tract Society and instrumental in challenging believers to send large amounts of aid to Eastern Europe as well as being a husband, father and minister in Wester Ross in Scotland. This biography is laced with personal recollections by family friends and associates.

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