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Evangelical

Presbyterian

Nov- Dec 2001

50p

Evangelical Presbyterian Nov - Dec 2001 50 p

Evangelical Presbyterian

is published by the Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Convenor of the Editorial Committee:

Rev. Stephen Atkinson

1 Lord Wardens Dr

Bangor, Co Down BT19 1YF (E-mail: s.atkinson@ukonline.co.uk)

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CONTENTS

Editorial Comment

S. Atkinson

1

The New Birth - 6 (conclusion)

J. Ballantine

3

Obituaries

6

The Regions Beyond - Joseph & Helen McCracken (Part 2)

E C. Brown

7

Theology kills all known giants - dead.

S. Atkinson

11

Books etc.

15

Making Progress with Pilgrim

17

Front Cover

St James’ Park, London Photograph by Stephen Tracey.

Tough on Terrorism

A comment on contemporary comment.

September 11th 2001 is a date which will live in the memory owing to an act of terrorism unparalleled in the modern world. When the planes struck the Twin Towers in New York City, the world was stunned. It was the stuff of movies. We are used to horror, and terror, from the comfort of our armchair. But real terror has struck and stunned, and people say the world will never be the same again.

People have been heading for their Bibles, (particularly curious to see if the book of Revelation is relevant). There is an apparent turning back to church and to prayer. In the midst of the current debate in the USA concerning prayer in state schools, one comment I noted asked, “Can we pray in our schools, now?” Apparently crime in New York City is radically down. Have people really come to heed this wake up call from God?

It would be easy to be cynical and dismissive of this new found religiosity. There is nothing new under the sun. This act of terror is only different in scale from daily acts of terror around the globe and down the street. The horror and outrage felt at the wickedness of this evil is indeed welcome, but there is little outrage regularly felt over sin. Sadly, global conviction of sin did not arrive on 11th September. The world still loves its gods and winks at its own

perversions.

The powerful leaders who promise to eradicate this evil of terrorism have already played fast and loose with it, and while not being unsympathetic (for I have shed those tears along with many), we may say that this is payback time for a world gone soft on wickedness.

The Daily Mail “Comment” on the day after the horror was right to point out that though the promise is to fight, The tragedy is that Western democracies too seldom fight. Britain appeases IRA/Sinn Fein. The EU treats Gaddafi as a legitimate leader, rather than a murderous madman. Few are robust enough in challenging the ugly anti-Semitism of Yasser Arafat and his terrorist supporters.” We may indeed add that our Western democracies have not always been squeaky clean in their international police patrols.

But why is it easier for us to associate

terrorism with a turban, and not with a tie? Why are the bin Laden lookalikes now seen as suspect, while others may maintain a campaign of terror under a veneer of respectability.

In Northern Ireland we are no strangers to terror, having faced a campaign against law and order for over thirty years; a campaign against liberties our US friends hold so dear. We, more than most in the world, can truly empathise. But we do so with a bitter taste in our mouths, knowing that the campaign against our precious freedom has been funded by elements in New York, Washington, and beyond. If the real enemy is the one who funds the terrorism, then who are the terrorists attacking Northern Ireland’s liberties?

We, in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, would delight in a true turning from sin and wickedness, and a sound sense of the horrific nature of man’s depravity, but the duplicity of world leaders disgusts us. Shocked and stunned the world is, but embarrassed, and electorally endangered its leaders are. So they will chase the turban, rather than the tie. It gets more votes.

We are delighted to see a renewed sense of right and wrong. Bin Laden was wrong, wasn’t he? Or has relativism truly captured our mad age? We do not say he is entitled to his opinion. We do not say that what is right for him, is different from what is right for you and me. Is the world a different place? I hope that some of that difference is that

the age of relativism is over, but I fear the absolute sense of sin will soon fade.

We are delighted also to hear that the outrage has renewed in man the sense of retribution. But why must this man be punished, and not reformed? Indeed, if he is caught, should we not release him if he simply says his organisation is on “Cease-Fire”. Do we believe in capital punishment for this atrocity, but not for murdering royalty, security forces, and blowing up children? Talking tough on terrorism is easy, but as we have seen, acting tough is the difficult thing, particularly in a visible, and even-handed way.

Terrorism is an awful thing, and the unparalleled terror of recent days displays a forgotten condition of man. The human heart is desperately wicked. Man is totally depraved; fallen, blind, and dead in trespasses and sins.

Thus it was when Jesus was asked about an act of terrorist butchery by Pilate, he commented little, except to point out - Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)

Comment will continue, and the history books of next century will comment on what is now deemed a “turning point”. But all people need to realise that their ultimate end, without repentance, will be no different from that of bin Laden. This lesson the world needs to hear. This gospel we must preach. Our talk therefore must also be tough.

The New Birth

Part 6

by Jeff Ballantine

- The Change Illustrated -

In the important matter of ‘The Change’, the scripture not only spells out factually the "marks of grace", it also provides illustrations of the change wrought in the lives of certain individuals.

Nicodemus

Two later incidents in his life indicate that a very definite change had taken place after his interview with Christ. In John 7 we are told that the Pharisees sent out certain officers to apprehend Christ (John 7:32), but these ‘temple guards’ failed to bring Him back because the manner in which Christ spoke quite overwhelmed them. No man ever spoke like this man.” (John 7:46).

When the Pharisees heard this report there was an uproar and their anger was such that they described the crowds who followed Christ as unlettered rabble (John 7:49). At that point Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, could take no more and he came to Christ's defence! Realising

that the law of the jungle was prevailing he said Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:51).

This courageous stand against the most important religious assembly of his day almost certainly made him a marked men thereafter! How different he was from the man we encounter in John 3! There he visited our Lord by night, possibly so as not to be seen by men; now he nailed his colours firmly to the mast! What made the difference? He was born again!

Another incident recorded later in John's gospel illustrates further the transformation that had taken place. Nicodemus joined Joseph of Arimathaea in the burial of Jesus (John 19:39). This readiness to confess Christ publicly is surely a mark of grace, for our Lord said Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33).

The Philippian Jailor

Initially the condition in which we find this man was anything but encouraging. He had no love for the people of God as is evident from the way in which he treated Paul and Silas. Putting these men in an inner prison and making their feet fast in stocks was a merciless and ruthless act (Luke 16:23), and Paul remembered his stay here for many a day (1 Thessalonians

2:2).

Moreover, this man had obviously no concern for the things of God for he slept through what is perhaps the most amazing "praise service" ever! (Acts 16:27). Nor had he any fear of meeting God, otherwise he would never have considered taking his own life (Acts 16:27). Tragically, he feared the Roman authorities to whom he would have had to answer, more than the God into whose presence he was carelessly rushing.

However, an earthquake and a sermon by the blessing of God wrought a great change, bringing this man to the point where he cried out “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”, to which Paul gave that most straightforward of answers “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

What a different man he was after trusting in Christ! In his washing of his prisoners' wounds (Acts16:33), he became as merciful as he was previously merciless, a condition

which our Lord pronounced as blessed (Matthew 5:7). Out of love to God and his new found brethren he also provided hospitality for them (Acts 16:34), an activity which will vindicate him on judgment day (Matthew 25:37-40).

The word was also spoken to all his house (Acts 16:32), pointing to a new concern for his nearest and dearest. He even got baptized along with his household and since it was unlikely that there was a tank in either his house or the jail, both the mode and subjects of this baptism suggest that he might even have become a good Presbyterian! Truly a radical change had been wrought!

The Dying Thief

Here was a man on the point of death, in fact his life was slowly but surely ebbing away. His physical and mental condition was anything but conducive to seeking the Lord because he was presently undergoing the horrors of crucifixion. Nor had he any merit of his own to plead, in fact his guilt was established from his own mouth “we receive the due reward of our deeds” (Luke 23:41). Perhaps the words which seem to seal this man's fate are those recorded by Matthew. He tells us that while hanging on the cross this thief joined the other one in reviling the Saviour.

Yet he was born again in an instant

and even though he probably lived less than an hour the marks of grace were clearly discernible in his life!

1. A new view of himself.

Previously he had no sense of guilt otherwise he wouldn't have cursed Christ, but now he confessed that he deserved to be condemned and that his judgment was just (Luke 23:40-41). The Spirit had obviously been at work (John 16:8-9).

2.

A new view of God.

A

few minutes earlier he had no fear

of

God, a characteristic of our native

depravity (Romans 3:18). Now, however, he had a radical change of mind because he rebuked the other thief for his failure to fear God, Do you not even fear God?” (Luke23:40). Miraculously he had become a recipient of that fear of God which is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs

7:1).

3. A new view of Christ

This is entirely in accordance with the Spirit's working (John 16:14). He acknowledged Christ's sinlessness, His Lordship, His Kingship and His power to save (Luke 23:41). John Calvin, commenting on his dying words, “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom”, said: "I know not that since the creation of the world there ever was a more remarkable and striking example of faith".

4. A new view of others.

His rebuke of his companion “Do you not even fear God?” was really an attempt to witness to him! His native carelessness, both for his own soul and the souls of others had disappeared! He was a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), hence our Lord's promise, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

Someone who experienced the new birth once said "either the world has changed or I have changed". The hymnwriter expressed it thus:

Heaven above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green; Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen.”

The new birth is indeed the most radical transformation that can ever take place in the life of any individual. Regeneration is a mighty and powerful

change wrought in the soul by the efficacious working of the Holy Spirit, wherein a vital principle, a new habit, the law of God, and a divine nature, are put into and framed in the heart, enabling it to act holily and pleasingly to God, and to grow up therein to eternal

glory

There is a change, a creation, that

which was not is brought into being”

Charnock (The New Birth, p92):

The gospel is indeed the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). May it be the "power of God" unto each reader personally for the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

You must be born again”. (John 3:7).

OBITUARIES

Mr Tom Hoey

Mr Tom Hoey passed into the immediate presence of his Saviour on the morning of Monday 30th April having been taken ill during the early evening of the previous day. He had been out to church that Sunday morning.

Born, brought up and still living in Mallusk, Tom was one of 12 children and had a number of strong interests including nature, science, football, motor vehicles, reading and music! He was a man of tender humour and little fuss. He had served faithfully as a deacon in the Ballyclare church and continued, despite his great age, to be greatly concerned for its advance. Tom took great interest in God’s Word and was very faithful at Prayer Meeting where perhaps we most acutely miss him. God’s dealings left Tom Hoey a most gracious man who took particular interest in the children of the church.

Our sympathies are, of course, with Mrs Hoey who, with God’s grace, has done so well since Mr Hoey’s death, but also with Elizabeth, Catharine and John, their children, and their respective families.

We mourn his loss but rejoice that we knew him and that Tom is with Jesus which is far better.

S. Roger

Ballyclare

Mrs Rose Weir

On Wednesday 5th September Mrs Margaret Rose Weir, a faithful member of the Omagh congregation, was called into the immediate presence of the Saviour she so dearly loved.

Omagh

Rose, who was born on the 6th April 1944, married John Weir on the 25th May 1966. John later joined the R.U.C., but whilst carrying out his duties was seriously injured by a terrorist bomb in 1977. Thereafter Rose lovingly nursed John, despite her own ill health, until John passed away in December of last year.

We give thanks to God for Rose’s life and the great graciousness that she

displayed throughout her own illness. We extend our deepest sympathy to her children Desmond, Sandra, Derrick and Alison and it is our prayer that the Lord

would comfort them in their time of need.

Psalm 116:15.

A. Lucas

Joseph and Helen McCracken Part 2

Missionaries to South Africa 1944 - 1974

Both Rev Joseph McCracken and his wife Helen have favoured us greatly by providing reflections on their life and times from the perspective of their retirement years. From a speech at the 50 th anniversary of his ordination to the Ministry in 1985 we have Mr McCracken’s Reminiscences of a Veteran Missionary; in July 1990, on the occasion of her 80 th birthday, Mrs McCracken read a paper, Looking Back—With Gratitude. Leading with Mrs McCracken we seek to integrate the other sources in presenting Part 2.

From 1908-1943 the key figure in our missionary effort in South Africa was Rev Alexander Dewar. He was the only missionary in the congregations scattered throughout the 20,000 square miles of the Transkei and Ciskei areas. Principal Clement Graham, in his tribute to the life of Joseph McCracken in 1988, neatly ties the Dewar and McCracken ministries together: “Those interested in coincidence will be intrigued to learn that the day the Foreign Missions Committee met to consider Alexander Dewar's appeal for a colleague was the very day he died, and one year to the day after, Joseph McCracken was inducted as a missionary to South Africa.” That induction was on 10 August 1944. We pick up the McCracken accounts at this point.

Church

My husband's predecessor, the Rev. Alexander Dewar, had died about 18 months before our arrival, and with no proper supervision we found the work in a chaotic state. Had it not been for Zakobe Taho, later one of our

Ministers, I doubt if there would have been anything to come to. Rumours were rampant that nothing more would be heard from Scotland, but Mr Taho assured the people that Scotland would not forsake them and thus encouraged them to have patience and stand together. When we arrived he acted as our interpreter, providing help and advice alongside that of the Misses Ross and Erskine Until the arrival of Dr Andrews and the Rev. H. Sliep in 1948 we covered the area as best we could. Much tightening- up in terms of finance and discipline had to be done. The Sustentation was six pence per member per month, but by the time it and plate collections (usually made up of halfpennies) reached the Deacons' Court it was greatly diminished, as the deacons were using it for things like oil, candles, and door locks. We introduced Sustentation Fund books and Collection Sheets, so that everything had to be entered and handed in at the Deacons' Court where expenses were dealt with. Deacons were requested to ring the Church bells half

an hour before the service, not an hour after they were due to start; walking in and out of services at will was reduced to a minimum. The missionary was determined to have the Lord's work done in the Lord's way as he saw it, and while it took years of effort it paid dividends. But in spite of many shortcomings there was love and warmth shown everywhere we went. Our 22 Transkei and Ciskei churches were very scattered. During our early days there were only three solid church buildings, one in each districtPirie, Burnshill and the Transkei. But in the ensuing years the different missionaries have erected many more, so that today nearly all our 60-odd congregations have suitable buildings in which to worship. Mr McCracken tells us that

during his years of service he supervised the building and renovating of thirteen churches. But he adds, “As I look back

I can say of a truth, had it not been for the work carried on by Helen among the women and girls it would have been

a poor show indeed, as this has proved

to be a very important aspect of the work.” New life came into the work with the arrival of Campbell and Ruby Andrews and Huite and Helen Sliep in 1948. It was then that the area was divided into three districts, each with its own SessionTranskei, and the two Ciskei districts of Pirie and Burnshill. At that time we moved across to Burnshill, working there for twenty years. Dr Andrews laboured in neighbouring Pirie, preaching the Word, healing the sick and building churches. Mr Sliep's

work was different and difficult as his congregations were far-flung from each other in the Transkei. We returned to Pirie for another ten years on Dr Andrews' return to Australian in 1965.

Education

The schools were started and operated by the churches and missions, the missionary acting as managerMr McCracken tells us “I was manager of 12 schools which involved a lot of work but it gave me the opportunity of appointing Christian teachers and it gave me much influence in these districts.” The teachers’ salaries had to be paid out of mission funds and that was a strain on the finance of our small mission; but the manager adds in typical, pointed style, “the Government was very generous in giving me 2/6 per annum for each school!” A few years later education was taken over entirely by the Government and many of the schools started by the Free Church now have modern buildings with thousands of children attending. Some of the teachers appointed at that time have been the backbone of the church work since, serving as interpreters and in other capacities. Some of the men became elders. In later years we held weekly Bible Classes for boys in Knox, Mdisa, Mxaxo, Rankin, Tyusha, Dyafta and Pirie and awarded cups and prizes for examination success. This work afforded me great pleasure.

The People

We found many very fine people in the mission, men and women truly born

again of the Spirit, lovers of the Word and keepers of His day. The people were poor and down-trodden then, many attending church in rags and mostly bare-foot; they relied mainly on the little piece of land allocated to each kraal on which to grow their mealies, beans, and pumpkin, but with frequent droughts they were often on the verge of starvation. They depended also on a few animalscows, sheep and henstrading-in wool and eggs for tea and sugar. Only a small proportion of children attended school. Some men went to work in the mines but there was nothing at all for women and girls apart from domestic service, if they happened to live near a town. With all their poverty they were a wonderfully happy, contented peopleall much in the same boat’. So long as they had their families, their little huts, the sunshine, mealies, beans, and clothes they were satisfied. Throughout the years thousands throughout the districts have professed faith in Christ. Most were admitted to membership after spending about six months in the candidates' class in preparation for examination by the Session. These conversions brought joy to our hearts, but the occasions when men and women sought and found mercy openly in a service will never be forgotten. I remember one woman, dressed in all the regalia of heathenism, who remained seated after the service. When the missionary spoke to her, she said, "I’m a great sinner and I’m going down to hell". After having the way of

salvation explained to her and being asked where her sins were now, she joyfully exclaimed, "I see it; they're on Jesus". She and others lived to prove the reality of their faith by their changed lives. Furloughs In all we had six furloughs. During the first one I conducted over 300 meetings, showing slides and films and giving lectures. At the same time I collected, through the meetings, over £1,000 for the building of the Macleod Memorial Church. The second furlough saw me across the Atlantic, representing the Assembly at the Reformed Ecumenical Synod at Grand Rapids, while the Foreign Missions' Board appointed me to preach in Detroit and Canada. The sermon I preached in Toronto was worth 10,000 dollars, which represents the sum of money willed to our work here by one present at that meeting— Mrs Sarah Shields.” Principal Graham gives us a rare furlough insight: “In the home Church Joseph McCracken is remembered as one of the most exciting missionaries to work on home-leave. Who before him had ever brought the living, moving African scene to our Church Halls? Slides and commentaries we had known for some timebut movies with the missionary reproducing the grunts of heathen dancers, this was really innovative."

Retirement Years

Referring to his travels Rev McCracken remarked, “During my missionary service I've travelled over half a million

miles without any serious accidents. Surely this was the hand of God.” However, ill health demanded his retirement in 1976, but it did not hinder him from preaching most Sabbaths for many years after. On Saturday 29 October 1983 a new church, The McCracken Church, was opened in Geju in the Burnshill District where Rev and Mrs McCracken had worked for many years. Rev McCracken opened the church with a key handed to him by one of the old elders, and led the congregation in prayer. Later, Mrs McCracken unveiled a memorial plaque incorporating a photograph of the McCrackens with this inscription:

This church is called the McCracken church in gratitude for the many years of devoted service to the Lord among the people of this district by Rev Joseph and Mrs Helen McCracken. To God be the glory.” At his last service on 7 June 1987 Rev McCracken preached on the Ascension and participated in the Lord’s Supper. Then, after a painful and distressing illness of nearly five months duration, he entered the Lord’s immediate presence on Friday 13 Nov. 1987. He requested that death notices should conclude with words from Rev 22:3-4,

close she is poorly, but better than she was earlier in the month. She speaks openly of her desire to see the Saviour face to face. Joseph and Helen’s daughter, Anne Uys, lives in Cape Town but comes to spend time with her mother as circumstances permit. Anne’s son Trevor and his wife are to emigrate to the UK in November 2001, and plan to live in Kent. Principal Graham concluded his tribute: “ … we stand and salute the memory of an indefatigable workman for Christ, a fearless soldier, a brave pioneer. The end of an era is come.” Rev McCracken’s friend and colleague, Rev W J McDowell, wrote: “He was a true Christian, a firm believer in salvation by grace alone, preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ. The Lord gave him a natural buoyancy of Spirit that enabled him to persevere in face of opposition and indifference.” And of Mrs McCracken he added, During the last weeks of his last sufferings she was daily at the hospital suffering distress because of his great sufferings.” Mrs McCracken sums up much in saying: “We had our fair share of disappointments and opposition, and we made many mistakes. But right to the end of his life the missionary said he had no regrets in answering

His servants shall see him: and they God's call to Africa, and given his time

shall see his face”. His grave and that of his predecessor, Rev Alexander Dewar, lie side by side in King William’s Town cemetery. Mrs Helen McCracken, now in her 92 nd year, lives in a Nursing Home in King William’s Town. As September 2001 draws to a

over again, the choice would be the same.” We leave the last word to Rev McCracken himself as he concluded his Reminiscences:

"I'll bless the hand that guided, I'll bless the heart that planned, When throned where glory dwelleth In Immanuel's land."

Theology kills all known giants - dead!

A plea for theo-logic.

by Stephen Atkinson

The good guys always win, at least in the children’s story book, and isn’t David and Goliath a good children’s story. We all know that it is the story of a young shepherd boy defeating a giant. It is a story about David and the Philistines. It is about sling against sword. Or is it?

I do hope Sunday School teachers and preachers have a more mature, and biblically sound approach to this important narrative. Actually it is not a lesson proving that size doesn’t matter. It is about God and Goliath. Even David knows that, if we listen to what he says. But first let us briefly paint the scene.

The background to the God versus Goliath battle is a failed king and a faithless people. They looked upon a hopeless situation having no solution. Goliath faced them, measuring nine and a half feet tall. His armour weighed nine stone, and the head of his spear was a stone weight in itself. Who is this guy?

Well, according to David he is just an uncircumcised Philistine defying the armies of the living God. In David’s day, that was quite a novel perspective. Yet the secret of successful giant killing in our day is facing similar events with a similar mind.

What is the striking difference between David, and Saul, and the rest of his men? David Payne comments, David injects the first theological note into the situation.” Ralph Davis concurs, “Doesn’t having a living God make a difference in all this?”, and he carries on, “Israel thought the Philistines invulnerable, for David he was only uncircumcised.”

It was theo-logic that won the battle before the sides actually engaged. The perspective of David was not sling versus sword, but God versus Goliath. And it is a perspective we need to reclaim in a day of abundant failed religious leadership, and pervasive faithlessness in the pew.

TEACH THEOLOGY.

How shall we face the many giants and taunting Goliaths around us? Shall the church simply cower and whimper, hiding in the clefts in the rock? Have we admitted defeat, believing that since the Lord’s return is so near, it’s all downhill from here? That pessimism might arise from a certain view of eschatology, but whatever our view of kingdom growth or otherwise, we must not lose our view of God and his God-ness!

Sometimes we approach things from a moral perspective. We see gross immorality all around, and the standards of right living even within the church continuing to slide downwards. So we face this Goliath with a moral code. We preach, “Do this. Do that. This is wrong. That is wrong.” While it is right that we teach and preach the law and the standards of God’s holiness, we shall not defeat this immoral Goliath with moralistic preaching.

Sometimes we approach things from a philosophical perspective. We state the logical reasoning behind what is right and wrong. We argue that it makes sense to do this, and go this way, not that. But we simply give out warnings like the advice on cigarette packets, that are read, but not heeded.

When facing such Goliaths what we need to return to, and restore in ministry, and testimony, is an approach that is theological. This is

not to fill heads with cold distant doctrine, but warm experiential theology. We hear from David’s mouth not simply a few doctrinal watchwords, but an earthed and applied theo-logic: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he

should defy

Where did David learn this, but in the crucible of hostile situations? He fought bear and lion. He knew the Lord’s grace and help. He walked with God. He lived by faith, not in fear. He daily beheld the goodness of God, and appreciated the excellencies which we are called to declare.

Certainly the church today has faced, and is facing many hostile situations. The response however is often to join ranks with the enemy, or at least to endeavour to curry favour with the enemy, instead of holy engagement. So we see the attempts to win the world with the world. We see what can be described as fairground religion. We see a worldly methodology, instead of an other- worldly theology!

Imagine a school bully terrorising the school. But one young boy stands up to him. And why? - well, his father is the headmaster. Should the church not similarly stand up to Goliath, since our Father is the Headmaster?

Like David, we see our “older brothers” running scared. Established, historic churches are running scared of the enemy. Kingly officials are

?”

sitting in their tents, sitting on their hands. But let us not lose heart, or follow suit. Instead, teach theology. It kills giants, - dead!

But also we should learn to

HEED HISTORY

David not only had theology to undergird his seemingly ludicrous actions, he also had history on his side. He recalled recent history, (his deliverance from bear and lion), and also the history of the people of Israel. It is important to heed history.

Why is so much of God’s inspired Word history? Why should he devote so much of his one book to the life history of one people? He would have them, and us, learn over millennia, that He is a Sovereign Protector, and a Gracious Saviour.

History will also teach us theology. When Paul took on the wise of Athens he taught theology, but also gave them a history lesson. When the early church faced intense persecution, and the Lord himself authored letters to the churches (Revelation 2&3), He taught theology and reminded them of history. Note

how often in those letters he says, “I

am the

Furthermore, what is the historical background to the church writing its creeds? Consider how Luther faced the Giant Pope? What was the methodology used by Whitefield, or Spurgeon, or Lloyd Jones - or Hunter

”,

and “I know”.

and Grier for that matter?

Read and heed history, and teach theology. How important are those documents in the making concerning the history of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church! And when they are produced, make sure they are given the attention they deserve.

To buy the book and permit it to adorn your bookshelf may be a nice momento of 75 years history, but it will not kill giants in your life, or in our pagan society unless we learn the lessons from history, and engage once again in understanding and living out applied theology.

ENGAGE THE ENEMY.

David didn’t take Saul’s armour because it was not “proven”. He chose his previous methods of sling and stone, as they were proven. Thus, he engaged the enemy. But was it to show what a mighty warrior David was, and that he really was suited for the role of future king? Rather, it was to show that there is a God in Israel.

Similarly in our day, God is defied and disgraced. But surely we’ve lost the zeal over this disgrace. Surely we’ve lost the concern to display truly that the Lord omnipotent reigns. Maybe we want to show our own reign. Maybe we want to build our kingdom? Maybe we want to show that we really are suited to have our name on the church roll book, and be our own king’? Or is there true zeal for the

Lord’s house consuming us? Perhaps simply in cowering down before so many Goliaths we have forgotten there is a God in Israel?

Enough of the faithlessness and fear that marks others. Enough of worldly methodology. Enough of spanking new armour, that is not proven. Let us engage with the tried and tested old methods. Let us engage the enemy by heeding history and asking for the ancient paths. Let us engage the enemy with a fresh sight of God; a theo-logical perspective.

When the preacher preaches that foolish message of the gospel, a single stone of the Word aimed under God, causes hardened giants to fall down before the Lord. When the Lord’s people return to walking by faith, and living with a right sense of the sovereignty of God, we will know that the Lord holds in holy derision nations and governments who take their stand against the Lord and his anointed.

Ralph Davis is right to say, “What matters is not whether you have the best weapons, but whether you have the real God.” We must display our belief that we have, else we slip into the error of Saul and his men!

The theological perspective of David shames many of us. Yet how privileged we are to have a greater history to heed, and a more thorough well of theology to drink from. The history to which I refer is gospel history. The theology, the gospel theology concerning a Greater Son of David who took on a Greater Goliath on a hill called the Place of the Skull. One wonders whether the name was given after the skull of Goliath was taken there near to Jerusalem to remind the people to heed history.

To this day stands Golgotha hill and an empty tomb to remind us that we are more than conquerors through him, and whatever giants we may face as a church corporate, or in our individual lives, the Enemy was Engaged and defeated.

Conclusion.

If you are a servant of Christ, then have your mind filled with theos, being taught theo-logic. Heed the real history of the world, in particular the Lord’s hand upon his precious children. Engage the enemy every day, conscious that the God who delivers from bear and lion will deliver you, and ultimately will present you faultless before his throne.

Zeal without doctrine is like a sword in the hands of a luna c. John Calvin.

The first thing the Bible does is to make a man take a serious view of life. D. Mar n Lloyd - Jones

Books etc.

Be sure what you believe,

The Christian Faith Simply Explained. by Joe Nesom. Evangelical Press 176 pages, £7.95 Reviewed by S. Atkinson

Joe Nesom has successfully given us a systematic theology for beginners. His writing is careful but not too complex. There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter which would be helpful as a basis for group study. I must admit to being immediately caught’ when, in his introduction, he stated, Christians must become thinkers.” He got a further ‘Amen’ from this reviewer when writing in chapter 1, Much of what is sold in Christian bookshops is either not very helpful, or so full of bad doctrine as to be virtually useless. But the Bible never fails.” In his chapter on the Incarnation he makes a swipe at the impoverished practices of some:- The failure of our anti-doctrinal age has even caused some people to think of Christmas as a time to bake a cake and sing ‘Happy Birthday, dear Jesus, Happy birthday to you.’ Such an approach reveals a less than satisfactory understanding of what Christmas means.” I think that is quite a gracious understatement. Justification is helpfully explained in chapter 11, ‘Innocent before God’. He wisely exposes a false view of faith so

prevalent which he calls, ‘Sheer optimism’. Our faith must have Jesus Christ for its object.” Much of the book is extremely well written and most helpful. However the chapter on Baptism will diminish the book’s usefulness for those who hold to a paedo-baptist position. To baptise a baby only leads to a false assurance of salvation”. (p.125) Really? I must add by way of balance that this presbyterian’s heart was warmed by a plea for more psalm singing! May it be used to create a greater thinking’ church - who may later read Berkhof and Dabney!

Salvation Exposed, by Peter Jeffrey.

Evangelical Press 126 pages, £29.50 (pack of 10) Reviewed by S. Atkinson

With bold warnings on the front cover, ‘The contents of this book may seriously transform your life’, this is an excellent little summary of gospel truth to hand out to friends and family. Essential biblical truths are set out clearly and soundly, with many easy-to-understand illustrations.

This reviewer suggests having several copies to hand to give away.

Can we pray for revival?

by Brian Edwards Evangelical Press 224 pages, £7.95 Reviewed by S. Atkinson

Sometimes revival can be considered in a romantic way that uncritically views the happenings simply as the way God works, instead of first considering the way God works and examining suggested revivals in the light of that. In other words do we have a theology to discern what revival really is, or do we like to simply read revival history? If the theology of revival is lacking, and I believe in some circles it is, then this book ably fills the vacuum. It is written from a theological perspective rather than a historical. Events, experiences and happenings are all brought to the touchstone of biblical doctrine. He exposes Finneyism, and shows the

flaw which led to man-centred, man- fabricated revivalism. He is refreshing in that he roots his theology of revival in the Old Testament. In this I see a healthy antidote to a perhaps unconscious Marcionite spirit in much of today’s church. In our laudable attempt to magnify the work of God under the new covenant, we overlook too often just how much was experienced in the old.” (p.49) He also gives a note of caution concerning our mantra-like praying for revival, arguing that some of the passages we use in such prayer meetings are misapplied. The book will not find agreement among all, yet it is not meant to be argumentative. Rather it is a much needed piece of Biblical instruction on an important subject. Though it is produced in a popular format, it is not a casual read. It requires and deserves serious attention particularly from those in leadership, but also among all the saints of God who long for days

CHURCH NEWS

New Church Planter for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England & Wales. Rev Tim Horn and wife Sarah are moving to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and beginning the process of planting a new church for the EPCEW. They would appreciate any contacts names/ addresses/ phone numbers / e-mails of anyone in that area who might be interested in learning more about the new work, and perhaps joining them.

Contact details:

Rev & Mrs Tim Horn 2 Jersey Ave Cheltenham GL52 2SZ

01242 512 252

timandsarah@horn24.fsworld.co.uk

making progress with pilgrim

(- for pilgrims of all ages)

Jesus taught in parables. He used many pictures to teach deep truths. It is a good principle. When John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress he used the same idea. He presented a parable, of someone going though life, learning about Salvation, the Christian Life, and the Characters you might meet along the pathway. Have you ever read “Pilgrim’s Progress”? It a good book for pilgrims of all ages to read and read again.

The story begins with a man clothed in rags standing by a path with a book in his hand, and a heavy burden on his back. He is distressed concerning what is going to happen to the city he lives in. He is shown a scroll which tells him to “Flee from the wrath to come.” He is helped in that flight by a person called Evangelist who shows him a gate, which he shall get to if he follows the light. Unfortunately his family does not share his concern. They think he is mad. So he must go alone.

Yet he is not alone for long. He meets many people, and learns many things - good and bad - from their words and actions. As soon as he leaves the city, two men follow him called Obstinate and Pliable. He will not go far before he bumps into Worldly Wiseman. He will be helped by Interpreter, and encouraged by Faithful and Hopeful. He will face Giant Despair and Doubting Castle. He will do battle with a dragon called Apollyon in the Valley of Humility. But the Delectable Mountains, Beulah Land,and finally the Celestial City await him as he makes his pilgrim’s progress.

We too are in that picture. All our good deeds are nothing but filthy rags in the sight of God? By nature we are sinners living in a city of Destruction, and we too must flee from the wrath to come. Whether your family or friends come with you, you must leave and run towards the gate following the light. God’s Word is a light to our path, and Jesus Christ is the Gate. We are to enter through Him and be saved.

If you are a Christian you know you will meet various trials along the way. You will meet various persons who will try to lead you astray. But you will also have helpers and friends who want to reach heaven as well.

So will you run to Christ, and will you then make progress with pilgrim?

Evangelical Book Shop

15 College Square East, Belfast, BT1 6DD

E-mail: shop@evanbooks-belfast.fsnet.co.uk

Tel. 028 9032 0529

Fax 028 9043 8330

Manager: John Grier

Charity Christmas cards for A.C.T.S

Three designs are available in cellophane packs of ten identical cards @ £2.99. (Robin in snow/Holly wreath on red front door/Candle decorated with holly.) £1.00 from receipts of each pack will be donated to Africa Christian Textbooks to help circulate books to colleges in Nigeria under the direction of Rev Dr Sidney Garland. Many other Christmas cards and calendars available.

GIFT IDEAS

Daily readings CH Spurgeon Morning and Evening. (Black or burgundy)

rrp £12.99

Sale £8.75

Devotional readings reprinted in a ‘soft feel’gold edged edition.

Chequebook of the Bank of Faith. (Burgundy or blue)

rrp £9.99

Sale £6.75

R C Sproul Walking with Jesus Hardback daily readings from Luke with comments from a renowned American theologian. rrp £14.99

Sale £11.25

Douglas Wilson Exhortations – A Call to Maturity in Worship rrp £9.99 A hardback book of 225 pages giving calls to worship which are helpful in preparation for worship for all Christians.

Biographies John Stott: a Global Ministry by Timothy Dudley Smith, 2nd (final) volume.

rrp £14.99

Sale £11.50

Real Lives by Dorothy J Carswell. Thirteen brief biographies recounting changed lives.

rrp £5.99

When God Steps In’ by Victor Maxwell

rrp £7.99

Sale £5.99

The story of Acre Gospel Mission is told by the former Acre missionary whose previous

biographies include that of Bill Woods.