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Keep going! ( Joshua 13) Page 6 Abortion Consultation Page 8 Interview with Catherine Grier
Keep going! ( Joshua 13) Page 6 Abortion Consultation Page 8 Interview with Catherine Grier

Keep going! (Joshua 13) Page 6

Abortion Consultation Page 8

Interview with Catherine Grier Page 9

(PAGE 4) JUL-AUG 2015 £1.50
(PAGE 4)
JUL-AUG 2015
£1.50

Philippians 1 v 9-11

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Theme verses

Philippians 1:9-11

as a Word document. Theme verses Philippians 1:9-11 Editor Andy Hambleton 37a Largy Road, Crumlin BT29

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CONTENTS

03

First word

04

Grace & Law

06

Keep going! (Joshua 13)

08

Abortion consultation

09

Interview with Catherine Grier

10

From the churches

13

Praise & Prayer

14

Book reviews

16

Best of the blogs

FIRST WORD Over the past few months it has been easy to feel discouraged and

FIRST WORD

Over the past few months it has been easy to feel

discouraged and despondent regarding the trajectory

along which society appears to be travelling. The

outcomes in both the Irish ‘same-sex marriage’

referendum and the Ashers bakery case have brought

us face to face with an accelerating process of

secularisation which is now commonplace in Western

society. These trends inevitably leave Christians asking,

“What are we to do? How ought we to respond to living

in a society which is ostracising our beliefs?”

T hese are complex questions, and there is no ‘one- size-fits-all’ answer which fits every situation.

However, the book of 1 Peter is particularly helpful in this climate. Written to believers facing the heat of persecution amidst a world which disagrees with them, this letter has much to say to us in our own struggles, minor by comparison though they undoubtedly are.

Our first response to opposition from the world ought to be that of rejoicing (1v6)! Why is this? Because in God’s sovereign wisdom the trials we face test and prove our faith, showing that it is more precious than gold, and will result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, Peter teaches his readers that they ought to keep their conduct honourable (2v12). How easy it is to respond to the world’s mocking and ridicule with exactly the same in return. We must be less like the world and more like Jesus Christ, who did not revile in return (2v23). The result of this, says Peter, will be that when we are spoken against as evildoers, our opponents may see our good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Thirdly, we must be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (3v15). One advantage of living in a society which is consciously distancing itself from Christian beliefs is that genuine lives of faith and obedience stand out all the more. We look like strangers and aliens in the world, which is exactly what we are! This, in turn, will provoke questions from our friends, neighbours, colleagues and family members. Be ready!

Finally, we ought not to be surprised when these trials and opposition come our way (4v12). We follow a crucified Saviour and we live in a world twisted and bent by sin; of course we are going to have a hard time! The world will hate us because it hated Jesus first. “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

(4v13)

33

Following Jeff Ballantine’s helpful article on biblical obedience in the previous issue, we are delighted to follow this up with an article from John Frame explaining the relationship between grace and law in the Christian life.

W hen a child enters a family, either by birth or adoption, something momentous happens, and neither the child

nor the family will ever be the same again. The child now has a home, a place of belonging. In a few extreme cases, a family will disinherit a child. But for the most part, the child belongs to the family in perpetuity, and the family belongs to him or to her.

In the family of God, membership is absolutely permanent. Jesus says in John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my

will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who

hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Here, Jesus speaks of a flock of sheep as a metaphor for the family of God. In Romans 8:14-17, Paul treats the relationship more literally: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

As sons and children, we are heirs with Christ. We have a glorious destiny. And nobody can take that away from us, as Romans 8:38-39 reminds us: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” How can Paul be so sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love? The answer, according to Ephesians 2:8-9, is that our membership in God’s family is by grace: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Like birth and adoption, our membership in God’s family is a free gift. In our earthly families, we didn’t earn our right to be born, or to be adopted. Our membership in the family is a sheer gift,

a bequest of someone else. The same is true of the family of

God. Our new birth is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. As

Jesus answered Nicodemus in John 3:5-6, “Truly, truly, I say

to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot

enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is

flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Unlike our earthly families, our entrance into God’s family is

by both birth and adoption: “But when the fullness of time

had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born

under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so

that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you

are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts,

crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6). As the Holy Spirit

gives us new birth, so Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross

gives us adoption as God’s sons. Both in the figure of birth

and the figure of adoption, we become members of God’s

family by grace, by God’s gift.

As the Holy Spirit gives us new birth, so Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross gives us adoption as God’s sons.

But of course, joining the family is not the final story — either

in our earthly families or in the family of God. In the family

of God, as we’ve seen, joining the family is permanent, and

it guarantees a good end. But between the beginning and

the end, there are a lot of ups and downs. Good parents set

boundaries for their children, and when the children rebel,

there is unpleasantness. Nobody will disown a child for

staying up past curfew, but a good parent won’t ignore it

either. In the family of God, too, there is “fatherly discipline,”

as Hebrews 12:7-11 reminds us: “It is for discipline that you

have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son

is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left

without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are

illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had

earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.

Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits

and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed

best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we

may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems

painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful

fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

As Jesus himself sums it up in John 14:15, “If you love me,

you will keep my commandments.” That is the role of law in

the Christian life. If we belong to Jesus by grace, we will want

to obey Him, and His commands measure that obedience.

That is the path of sanctification. You can see that there is

no conflict between salvation by grace and sanctification

measured by law. The point is not that God gives us grace

at the beginning and after that it is all law. God continues

to give grace day by day. Paul brings the two together in

Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have

always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much

more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear

and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and

to work for his good pleasure.” Here there is no competition

between grace and law. We obey because God works in us,

giving us the grace to obey.

A clear understanding of the biblical relationship of grace

and law will help us through dangers of two types. For one,

sometimes we get to thinking that since salvation is by

grace we don’t need to put in any effort. But no, God’s grace

energizes us to fight a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:11-17)

and to run a spiritual race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Secondly,

sometimes we get to thinking that since Scripture abounds

in commands and laws, it is all up to us. But no, according to

Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through

faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a

result of works, so that no one may boast.”

So we need to keep reminding ourselves that our family

membership is all of grace, and that the Lord Jesus will keep

us to the end. Keeping the balance may be hard at times. But

the theological issue is not difficult. Just think about a happy

family and remember that our relation to God is a lot like that.

and remember that our relation to God is a lot like that. Dr. Frame is J.D.

Dr. Frame is J.D. Trimble professor of systematic theology and philosophy at RTS-Orlando. He is best known for his prolific writings, particularly his award-winning, four-volume Theology of Lordship series. This article first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of the RTS Ministry and Leadership magazine. Used by the kind permission of Reformed Theological Seminary.

KEEP GOING!

(JOSHUA 13)

A nyone who has ever run a marathon (or attempted to!) will be able to tell you

that it can feel like the hardest thing in the world just to keep going. The same is often true in our Christian lives; we get tired, and discouraged, and tempted, and disheartened. It feels like the hardest thing in the world to keep going.

If you could sum up the message of Joshua 13 in a single phrase, this would be it: Keep going! This chapter is there to build us up and encourage us to persevere when we’re tired or tempted or discouraged in our walk with God.

1)

finished yet

Keep

going…

because

the

job

is

not

The Lord said to Joshua, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess. This is the land that yet remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites…” At this stage in the story of the book of Joshua, the people of Israel have defeated all of their enemies in the land, and yet there were still pockets of resistance here and there, which the people of Israel would need to deal with as the different tribes of Israel headed off to take possession of their inheritance of land. And so, effectively, the Lord says to Joshua, “Keep going! The job is not finished yet. There is work still to be done!” In a similar way, the church today needs to be reminded of that, doesn’t it? The job is not finished yet, and it never will be until Jesus returns. There are people who have not yet heard about the offer of forgiveness for sin through faith in Jesus. There are whole people groups in the world where the name of Jesus is unknown. The Great Commission is a work in progress, so keep going with it! As well as that, the process of our own sanctification is also a work in progress. There are sins to be put to death still, and there is a new self to keep putting on and growing into. God is not finished with you until you are perfectly like Jesus. Keep going, because the job is not finished yet!

2) Keep going… because God is with you

As Joshua stood there, listening to the Lord describe to him this remaining land to go and

66

to the Lord describe to him this remaining land to go and 66 that you will

that you will go for a tour round the house.

A tour guide explains to you when the house

was built, and who has lived there, and

so forth. I’m sure you’d find it interesting enough, if you’re into that kind of thing. But then imagine that just before the tour started, someone took

you to one side and told you they had just found out that you are in actual fact the long

lost descendant of the aristocrat who owned the house, and this means that this stately home and all of its

possess, and the remaining people to drive out from the land, perhaps he thought to

himself, “But we’re already worn out! I’m an old man now, and it has taken us seven years

of battles to even get to this point! How on

earth will we find the strength to keep going

until the land is completely possessed by your people?” But look at what the Lord says to Joshua

in the middle of verse 6. “I myself will drive

them out from before the people of Israel.”

Throughout the book of Joshua, God has been reminding the people of Israel that he is with them, and that he will give them the victory. They don’t need to muster up strength out

of their own resources to get the job done.

Rather, they are instead to keep walking

in faith and obedience as they cling on to

the promises that God has given to them,

the promise that he will be with his people, and that if they walk in faith and obedience, then their enemies will not be able to stand against them. Do you feel tired and jaded as a Christian? Are you discouraged about all the work that

is yet to be done? Does the next battle feel

like it will be a bridge too far? The comforting assurance that you are given

here in Joshua chapter 13 is that you don’t need to try and muster up out of your own

resources the strength

required to keep going as

a Christian. No, instead

you need to lay hold of the promise that God will never leave you nor

forsake you. He will provide the strength for you to keep on going. As you look ahead to

He will provide the

strength for you to keep on going

all

the challenges and battles that yet remain

estate is actually your inheritance! It is yours

in

your Christian life, remember the promises

to

go and possess!

of

God. Keep going, because God is with you.

If

that happened, wouldn’t it transform the

tour around the house for you? You would be

3) Keep going… because your inheritance is glorious

listening with baited breath to hear as much

as

you possibly could about this inheritance

 

of

yours. Every door you went through you

If we are being entirely honest with ourselves, this third section of the book, chapters 13 to 21, can be a bit heavy going at times. In the

first half of the book there have been some pretty exciting stories; we have had stories of espionage, miracles, deception, conspiracy, battles, victories and so on. But then, the next nine chapters are almost entirely taken up with descriptions of land which will be distributed amongst the tribes

of

Israel. At first glance, this part of the book

is

not exactly a page turner. So what are we

to

do with these chapters which don’t really

grab our attention from the word go? Imagine that you visit an old stately home owned by the National Trust, and you decide

would be eagerly anticipating what you might find there. When your inheritance is

being shown to you, it is not at all boring; it is wonderfully exciting! That’s how we should understand these chapters stretching out before us. This is not

a boring and irrelevant geography lesson.

This is the people of Israel being told what

their inheritance will be, how much land they are going to get, what mountains and valleys and plains they will be given to settle down

in, the lakes that they will fish, the coastline

that they will look out from. As they considered all of these things, would that not have given them an enormous incentive and motivation to keep on going in

their walk of faith and obedience before God? Of course it would! You wouldn’t have

their walk of faith and obedience before God? Of course it would! You wouldn’t have been able to hold them back! They would keep going because their inheritance was glorious. If you are a Christian believer, then the wonderful truth of it all is that you have a far better inheritance than this. Are you feeling

a bit weary and unenthused about your walk

with God? Are you just treading water at the

minute? If so, you need to fix your eyes on the

inheritance that is yours in Christ, because

it is glorious beyond your imagining. No eye

has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him. Keep going, because your inheritance is glorious.

4) Keep going… because compromise is fatal

The Lord had made it very clear to his people that, when they came to these lands, they

must drive out all of the inhabitants before them so that the idolatry and false religion of these peoples would not pollute the people of Israel and drag them away from their faith in God. God promised that as his people trusted and obeyed him in this, he would go before them to drive these

people out of the land. That’s why some alarm

bells should start to go off when we read verse 13. The people of Israel did not drive out two particular people groups, the Geshurites and the Maacathites. Why was that? Well, it clearly wasn’t the case that God was not able to do it. He had

demonstrated time and time again that he was sovereign over all of his enemies. Of course God was powerful enough to drive them out. So the only explanation of this is that the people of Israel simply became complacent. They had driven out the majority of the peoples from this land. And then they rested on their laurels. They thought to themselves, “what harm could just a couple of people groups do? Let’s save ourselves the trouble and allow these people to live amongst us.” If you know the story of the rest of the Old Testament then you will know the hugely damaging ramifications that this would have for the people of Israel further down the line. The book of Judges tells us how the people of Israel continued to face difficulties from these pagan nations living amongst them. Over time, the idolatry of these pagans infiltrated

the religious fabric of Israel. Eventually, God’s people became so corrupt and so similar to the people whom they had allowed to live amongst them that God kicked his people out of this land he had given them. He sent them into exile, because they had forsaken their God, and given themselves to idolatry. It all started because here they did not obey God’s

word. They didn’t keep going in what God had called them to do, and they became complacent

instead. Here is the challenge for us: where have you made compromises with sin in your life? What sin is there, lingering in your heart, and you think, “Well I’ve repented of so many

“be killing sin, or sin will be killing you”

other sins. I don’t get drunk. I don’t swear.

I haven’t committed adultery or murdered

anyone. Surely I don’t need to worry too

much about those remaining little sins in my life. My gossip. My lustful thoughts. My self-righteous pride. My respectable looking materialism. What harm can these things

do?”

Christian person, don’t make peace with sin. Don’t give that little, respectable looking sin

a foothold in your life, because it won’t stay

merely a foothold; it will grow. John Owen hit the nail on the head when he said, “be killing sin, or sin will be killing you”. Keep going, because compromise is fatal.

5) Keep going… because God himself is your ultimate reward

“But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them.” (v33) The Levites were the priestly tribe, from whom all those who served at the altar were taken. The Levites had no inheritance of land, because their inheritance was God himself. The Levites had this wonderful privilege of being called to serve in the tabernacle and later the temple. They experienced life in God’s presence in a greater way than the other tribes did. They had no need of all this land, because they had God himself. In this way, the tribe of Levi was to function as a picture to the rest of the Israelites that, wonderful though their physical inheritance of the land was, their ultimate inheritance was God himself. It made them prize the Giver above the gift. Genuine faith looks beyond simply the blessings that God can give, wonderful and eternal and glorious though they are, and it prizes above all of these things God himself. If you are a Christian, the most wonderful thing about your glorious eternal inheritance will not be a spotless new creation. It will not be the absence of death or mourning or crying or pain. It will not be your risen and glorified resurrection body. It will not be being reunited with those who have gone to be with Christ before us. No, the most magnificent experience of your eternal inheritance will be that you will dwell in the presence of God, before the throne of Jesus, forever. Every other blessing that you can ever experience, here or there, will be secondary to that. Keep going, because God himself is your ultimate reward.

Abortion Consultation

P roposed changes to NI’s abortion laws have been overwhelmingly rejected by a massive majority, according

to newly published consultation figures. Justice Minister David Ford’s consultation was launched in October, 2014 and closed

in

January, 2015. It asked whether the current laws on abortion

in

NI should be changed to allow for abortion in the cases of

lethal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.

A press release in April from the Department of Justice claimed

there was “a substantial body of support” for the changes. In

reality, the vast majority of the 25,320 responses (made up of formal responses, letters and petitions) were against changing the law. Just 0.7% of responses were in favour.

In whichever way one examines these figures, there is only

one true and glaringly obvious conclusion that can be drawn:

that the overwhelming majority of responses are opposed to any change in the abortion legislation in NI. With a total of over 25,000 responses, this consultation was one of the largest in Northern Ireland, and this in a time of widespread voter apathy. For the NI Executive to ignore this would frankly be extraordinary and make the whole consultation look like a sham, an example of “gesture politics.”

The Justice Minister said, “After full and careful consideration of the evidence submitted, I have concluded that to change the law along the lines outlined in the consultation paper

is the right thing to do.” In defence of his justification, his

spokesperson said that the 47 interested groups which favoured change represented a “broad swathe of interested

opinion” and included medical bodies and other organisations (including trade unions.) Of significant note, the minister did not include the response from the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) in the section with all the other medical responses. The 99.3% of respondents opposed to any changes in abortion legislation in NI feel very angry at how the minister has ignored their responses. There are many in NI who feel very aggrieved at the whole process and are not prepared to accept that the changes will be a foregone conclusion. The minister has to bring proposed legislative changes to the NI Executive, which will have to approve such, before they then pass to the Assembly for a vote. The fight isn’t over! As Christians, what should be our response to all of this? We are rightly angry and frustrated, as many of us took considerable time to respond to the consultation. However, I would urge you not to give up responding to such consultations, or lobbying/writing to MLAs. Indeed, I would encourage you to write again to your MLAs, even at this stage, and encourage them to vote against any legislation which David Ford may bring before the Executive and the Assembly. Write to David Ford at the Department of Justice expressing your disappointment at his decision to ignore the vast majority of responses, and ask him to consider, even now, not proceeding with legislation to permit abortion for babies with severe abnormalities. All life, however brief and however different from what some would consider normal, is precious and valued; to the families, to society as a whole and especially to God. Not one of us has the right to decide who should live and who should die, based on physical or mental ability or capability. If we did, where would that end? There are already many documented cases of babies being aborted for perfectly survivable and surgically correctable conditions. God loves us, not because of what we can do, but because we are His; brought into being by Him and made in His image. So, let’s not be discouraged and give up the fight to speak up and do all we can for those who have no voice. Let’s continue to lobby, write letters and speak up. Above all, continue to pray for those in authority to make right decisions.

to pray for those in authority to make right decisions. By Roselle Birnie, a member of

By Roselle Birnie, a member of Stranmillis EPC, a GP and member of CMF. Amended from an article she wrote for CMF.

Interview with Catherine Grier
Interview with Catherine Grier
Interview with Catherine Grier Catherine with two of her prayer supporters at Crosscollyer Street, Jean McQuade

Catherine with two of her prayer supporters at Crosscollyer Street, Jean McQuade and Annie Cooke

at Crosscollyer Street, Jean McQuade and Annie Cooke C atherine Grier grew up in Somerton Road

C atherine Grier grew up in Somerton Road EPC. She has been working with AIM as a medical

doctor in Chad, but has been back in the UK since August 2014. She kindly answered some questions for the Evangelical Presbyterian ahead of her return to Chad on August 11 this year.

Catherine, what have you been using your home assignment for?

A lot of time has been spent speaking at churches,

but I’ve also had the opportunity to study a few things,

including “Dynamics of Biblical Change” (with Westminster Seminary), more French (in Marseille) and a course on how

to teach English as a foreign language.

What have been some of the challenges of working in the hospital in Bebalem, south Chad? Nearly every aspect of the work is different; the illnesses, the medicines, the tests available and the climate. Even where to find water to wash your hands between patients! Communication with nurses and patients is one of the biggest challenges, and the ideas families have about the cause of disease. For example, I was once called in at 11pm to persuade a family to keep their son in hospital for life-saving treatment when the father insisted on taking him home, believing the meningitis was caused by a conflict between him and another man who ran the canoe taxi across the river. It wouldn’t happen in the UK!

You’re moving to Abéché (a town of 80 000 people).

Why the change? I was having fun with some children on the way home from

a prayer meeting one afternoon when suddenly I had a

strong conviction that God wants me to go to live among

people who don’t have the opportunities these children have. The Ngambai people who live around the hospital

in Bebalem have the Bible in their language, can go to church if they want to, and have Christians living in their community. I approached AIM and they were excited as they were looking into opportunities among two specific unreached people groups further north, neither of which has Bibles, churches or Christians. So they asked me to be in a team reaching out to the Maba people.

What are some of the differences you will experience with this move? The climate! Abéché is more in the desert and there are fewer trees to sit under. Also the new languages to learn:

Chadian Arabic and then Maba. I’m used to a small rural village, so simply learning how daily life works in a big town, getting around safely, and learning who to spend time with and who to build friendships with.

Can you describe your feelings as the time to return to Chad draws near? Four emotions spring to mind. I’m sad saying goodbye to friends. (And, as the time to leave UK comes nearer, I’m saying more and more goodbyes.) I’m encouraged that in the last 10 months I’ve met so many people who pray for me. I’m excited and looking forward with anticipation to the encounters and friendships that God will give me in Abéché. And finally, I’m relieved that I’ll get the chance to feel warm again, having battled with every imaginable weather condition in UK over winter, which seems to be continuing even into June!

having battled with every imaginable weather condition in UK over winter, which seems to be continuing

FROM THE CHURCHES

New building open at Knock EPC Easter Sunday 2015 was a special day in the
New building open at Knock EPC
Easter Sunday 2015 was a special day in the history of
Knock EPC: it was the first day we met for worship in
our new church building. There was excitement as the
congregation gathered, and no one except the pianist had
Since Easter Sunday we have been tweaking various
things in the new sanctuary, and there are still some little
changes to come, but some things are staying the same.
You can’t help but notice when you come into the new
a seat they could call their own! Then we sang “Thine be
the glory” and we tested the new vaulted ceiling! It was
building – it’s the old pulpit. It is still the central focus of
the building from which the central focus of the church is
a moment of heartfelt thankfulness to the Lord for His
preached: “
we
preach Christ crucified
Christ the power
kindness to us. We also sang from Psalm 147, verse 2 of
which says “The LORD builds up Jerusalem; and he it is
alone, Who reaches out to Israèl, to bring the exiles home.”
of God and the wisdom of God.”
Such is our joy as a congregation; we humbly and
gladly give the Lord the glory for building up His people.
Indeed we have had a good number of visitors since the
reopening, and some are making their spiritual home with
us. It is also our challenge to reach out to the surrounding
area, and to our friends and family so that they too may
be saved and added to the church. It is our earnest prayer
that this new building would be a practical help in our
obedience to Christ’s great commission.
We warmly invite you to our official opening, which will
be held (DV) on Saturday 12th September 2015 at 3pm.
The speaker on that occasion will be Rev. Andy Hambleton
from our Crumlin congregation. We are also having special
speakers on the following Sunday 13th September, Rev.
Gareth Burke (Stranmillis) at 11:30am and Rev. Andrew
Lucas (Omagh) at 6:30pm.
Rev. Robert Johnston

FROM THE CHURCHES

TnT Café

TnT Café (“twenties and thirties”) is a cross- denominational event aimed at those, shall we say, no longer in the youth category! It is run from our Crumlin church in a coffee bar style with a very informal approach to the night. We have just finished the first year of TnT Café and have found it very encouraging how the Lord has used our guest speakers throughout the year to challenge those attending. The numbers have averaged around the high teens most months and with a good mix of people from our own denomination and those in the local Crumlin area. TnT Café is only starting to pick up momentum and we ask that you not only pray for this ongoing work, but also that you advertise it and encourage those throughout the churches to attend. It is vital that we

do this for our younger generation of adults within and outside our churches. With the overwhelming shift in today’s world against what has long been tradition in our land, it is time to act; we need that these efforts do not go unnoticed. For any further information about next year’s events, or if you feel you can help in any way, please contact Andy Hambleton 07828 726130.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8 (ESV)

Ian Heaney

Ignite The sun shone for the last Ignite event before the summer break, held at
Ignite
The sun shone for the last Ignite event
before the summer break, held at
Andy and Mary Hambleton’s home on
Saturday 16th May. After a barbecue
and a few energetic games of volleyball,
the evening ended with an epilogue
given by Andy. Over the past year, Ignite
has been looking at the different ‘links’
in the ‘golden chain’ of Romans 8v30.
Andy finished off this series with a
brief overview of these four doctrines
(predestination, calling, justification
and glorification), seeking to build up
our assurance as believers because
the grace of our God to his people is
an unbreakable chain, stretching from
eternity to eternity.

FROM THE CHURCHES

Stranmillis Men’s Outing

On Friday 8th May, 18 men from Stranmillis, with one car and one minibus, boarded the ferry for Cairnryan. We

were travelling across to Scotland for the Annual Scottish Reformed Conference which was being held in Hamilton

the next day.

Travelodge in Kilmarnock where we spent the night - three to a room. The following morning, refreshed and strengthened by a healthy breakfast in MacDonald’s, we travelled to Hamilton where we were treated to a feast of good Biblical exposition. Kevin De Young from the USA and Steven Curry from Bangor, County Down, opened up different sections of the Sermon on the Mount in a faithful and helpful way. The journey back to the boat was interrupted by a short stop at Girvan where we enjoyed

After a smooth crossing we arrived at the

a pleasant stroll along the beach. Now you might ask,

‘What is the point in going to all the trouble and expense of travelling to Scotland to hear two brothers that you can listen to on the web, or indeed in the flesh, by travelling down the road to Bangor?’ It’s a valid question, but the really positive thing about the trip was the fellowship. When you share rooms together or take meals together

you inevitably get in to all sorts of discussion, ranging from the current form of Linfield to the state of Presbyterianism in Ireland today. You get to know each other a lot better than the mere ‘Good morning’ of a Sunday morning and, after listening together to three excellent sermons, you find

it easy to speak together of the things of God. Highly recommended! GNB

speak together of the things of God. Highly recommended! GNB Holiday Bible Clubs The next few
Holiday Bible Clubs The next few weeks will see the start of planning for summer
Holiday Bible Clubs
The next few weeks will see the start of planning for summer outreach events in our congregations.
Here are dates for the various Holiday Bible Clubs happening in July and August. Let’s support and pray for
one another in these efforts to contact children and their families with the Gospel.
Hope Fellowship 5-Day Club (afternoons)
Youth Residential
27-31 July
12-14 August
Knock Holiday Bible Club (afternoons)
Teenage Outreach Events (evenings)
3-7 August
Groomsport HBC (afternoons)
17-21 August
Ballyclare, Crumlin,
HBC (evenings)
17-21 August
Richhill, Stranmillis
HBC (evenings)
17-21 August
Finaghy
HBC (evenings)
24-27 August
Crosscollyer St
HBC (evenings)
24-28 August
Trevor Kane Thank you to Trevor for giving us this update now that he has
Trevor Kane
Thank you to Trevor for giving us this update now that he
has reached the end of studies and moves on to the next
stage of training for the ministry.
It’s hard to believe that our three years in Edinburgh have
come to an end; it seems like only yesterday we were
setting out on this journey and now it’s over. I have enjoyed
my time at Edinburgh Theological Seminary (formerly
Free Church College) immensely: the opportunity to study
God’s word, to learn the original languages, to be taught
by great theologians (but most of all a people with a heart
for Jesus and a concern for the gospel) has been a real
privilege, but also a great responsibility. Edinburgh was
a great experience - getting to meet people from various
evangelical denominations, to experience a different
church life, and to meet people from various countries who
were preparing themselves to return to their homeland
with the gospel, was personally enriching and I hope will
prove pastorally insightful, to give a brief overview: in my
time in Seminary, I met people from South Korea, Japan,
Zimbabwe, Nepal and Stornoway!!
I want to thank all of you for praying for Suzanne and me
over the past three years. Life has certainly changed with
the arrival of Noah at the end of my first year and another
baby expected any day now. I ask that you continue to
pray for us over the coming months and years. We will
be beginning a placement in Knock EPC on the 1st June
where we will be based for five months, after which we
will be heading to Richhill EPC for a further four months.
After that I suppose the future looks even scarier with
there being no vacancies within the denomination at the
moment. However as a family we are confident that God
has brought us this far and His faithfulness will continue
to go before us. We don’t know the future - however,
God’s ways and plans are perfect.
I want to thank you all as well for your generous giving to
Presbytery which has enabled the Training of the Ministry
and Admissions committee to support us practically over
the past two years. This was a great blessing to us and
enabled Suzanne to remain at home with Noah, and me
to focus on my studies.
Thanks once again.
Trevor, Suzanne and Noah Kane
Since this article
was written, baby Eli
has arrived safely in
the Kane family.

Praise God for the new church building for Knock EPC, for the encouragement this has been to the congregation and for visitors who are coming in.

Pray that the message of Christ crucified would be central in all our churches and that congregations would grow.

Thank God for calling Trevor Kane to the ministry and for the enriching experiences of theological seminary.

Pray that his placements in Knock and Richhill will be times of great benefit to all parties.

Pray, too, that Trevor and Suzanne will know the Lord’s blessing on their family life and His provision for the future.

Give thanks for all the gospel opportunities presented to us through the Summer camps, and pray that there would be much fruit as a result.

Thank God for safekeeping and times of fellowship and learning during a year of Ignite, TnT Café and Men’s Fellowship events.

Pray that there would be lasting fruit from all such efforts and that the seed which has been sown would not be choked by the thorns of cares and riches.

Praise God for the stamina He has given Catherine during a busy home assignment, and for the way in which He has opened up the opportunity to work among an unreached people.

Pray that Catherine will be able to adapt to the climate, learn the language and make friends in Abéché.

Pray that, although the Maba people have no Bible, God will speak to them through the witness of His people, breaking down their suspicions, creating a hunger for Him and introducing Jesus to them.

creating a hunger for Him and introducing Jesus to them. BOOK REVIEWS Title: Knowing Jesus in

BOOK REVIEWS

Title: Knowing Jesus in the Old Testament? Author: Andrew Malone Publisher: IVP Published: 2015 Pages: 204 RRP: £8-99 Our Price: £6-75

2015 Pages: 204 RRP: £8-99 Our Price: £6-75 The question mark in the title is important

The question mark in the title is important and should not be missed. Rather than a general survey of the doctrine of the second person of the Trinity in the Old Testament, the subject of the book is a consideration of Christophanies, that is, potential instances of the appearance of Christ prior to the Incarnation. The term Christophany may be used to refer to the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection, but increasingly it has come to be understood as potential appearances of Jesus to Old Testament characters. There are many instances of God appearing to his people in the Old Testament - in his establishing of a covenant with Abraham, meeting with Moses on Mount Sinai, Isaiah’s vision of the heavenly throne - but there are also the appearances of the Angel of the Lord. Malone notes the increasing tendency in modern theology to equate these theophanies - and especially the Angel of the Lord - with Christophanies. Malone notes that the link was made as far back as Justin Martyr in the second century, but then documents its resurgence following the publication of James Borland’s Christ in the Old Testament: Old Testament Appearances of Christ in Human Form. He describes how Borland’s views on Christophanies, in particular his identification of the Angel of the Lord with Christ, were then championed by writers such as Walter Kaiser Jr, before passing into more general works by writers such as RC Sproul and Charles Swindoll as accepted dogma. (You may not even have thought that there was any doubt or debate about this interpretation.)

Malone reviews the evidence of the historical views regarding the identity of the Angel of the Lord, along with the textual and theological evidence. He weighs up the three options available - the Angel is either 1) God the Son, 2) God (unspecified), or 3) a messenger sent from God. Malone admits that his own favoured position is that the Angel is to be identified as God but without reference to a specific person of the Trinity, that is, the Angel is a theophany rather than a Christophany.

This book whilst short is dense and, given that it is attempting to unpick some of the finer matters of interpretation, not one for beginners. That said, it is well written and clearly argued.

Michael Trimble

The Daring Mission of William Tyndale by Steven Lawson RRP: £12-99 Our Price: £8-99 Early in the sixteenth century, legislative decree in England controlled people’s access to the Scriptures and prohibited an English Bible. But theologian and linguist William Tyndale was determined to provide his fellow countrymen with Scripture they could read. In The Daring Mission of William Tyndale, the latest addition to the Long Line of Godly Men series, Dr. Steven J. Lawson traces this daring mission, which was ultimately used by God to ignite the English Reformation and would cost Tyndale his life. From one man’s labour, we’re reminded of God’s faithfulness to preserve His Word and equip His people.

Far Above Rubies: The Life of Bethan Lloyd-Jones by Lynette Clark RRP: £8-99 Our Price: £6-75 The galleries of the great heroes of faith contain many inspirational women; although not always placed in as prominent a position for all to see, their service has been invaluable in God’s kingdom. The wife of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was such a woman. Bethan Lloyd- Jones’ portrait has long been hidden in a part of the gallery known only to her family and certain close friends. Lynette G. Clark brings this portrait into view, capturing the wit, wisdom and faith of a godly wife, mother and friend.

Gamechangers by Robert Letham RRP: £8-99 Our Price: £6-75 Weaving together biography and theology, Robert Letham delves into the life and influence of twelve key figures who have helped shape the church. Gamechangers is a must read for any Christian with an interest in learning the way the church has understood the gospel down through the centuries. Features: Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Augustine, Charles the Great, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin, John Wesley, J.W. Nevin and Karl Barth.

Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice RRP: £7-77 Our Price: £5-99 Most of us find evangelism hard, but there is no greater joy than seeing people come to Christ Jesus. This realistic and humorous book will help prepare and encourage you to be honest and bold in your evangelism, presenting the gospel fully and properly, even when it’s tough.

Before I Was by Amy Carmichael

Thou knewest me before I was, I am all open unto Thee, And yet Thou lovest me, because My Lord, Thou lovest me.

No other reason can I find, No other reason can there be; No human love, were it not blind, Could ever care for me.

But Thy pure eyes do read me through, My soul is naked unto Thee; And yet, O wonder ever new, My Lord, Thou lovest me.

And Thou wilt love; if good of mine Had caused Thy glorious love to be, Then surely would Thy love decline And weary, Lord, of me.

I may not fear, for to the end Thou lovest, Lord. O who but Thee, The sinner’s Saviour and his Friend, Would set His love on me?

And on Thee now my heart is set, Thy name is music unto me. O help me never to forget That I am loved by Thee.

Stop Press! The publication of a new book is imminent and should be eagerly anticipated
Stop Press!
The publication of a new book is imminent and should
be eagerly anticipated in EPC circles and beyond.
Written by Ernest Brown, it tells the story of our
denomination. Out late autumn.
it tells the story of our denomination. Out late autumn. Answering the Sceptics 3–5 September 2015

Answering the Sceptics

3–5 September 2015 | Belfast

Answering the Sceptics 3–5 September 2015 | Belfast Ken Dr Andrew Dr Danny Steve Dr Robert
Ken Dr Andrew Dr Danny Steve Dr Robert Prof Andy Ham Snelling Faulkner Ham Beckett
Ken
Dr Andrew
Dr Danny
Steve
Dr Robert
Prof Andy
Ham
Snelling
Faulkner
Ham
Beckett
McIntosh
Belfast, Northern Ireland, 3-5 Sept. 2015
Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle,
837-869 Shore Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim BT15 4HS
Further information and ticketing: UKMEGA.ORG | 0116 2708400

Best of the Blogs

A selection of online blogs and articles to challenge and

encourage you in your walk with God and his people…

The death of prayer meetings (Mark Jones)

(http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/05/the-problem-

of-corporate-praye.php)

“Satan hates private prayer. But I suspect he hates even more corporate prayer. It seems he might be winning many battles

in the church today that he has no business winning. One of

those is keeping the godly from praying with each other.”

In this challenging blog, Mark Jones asks why it is the

case that, in many churches today, the prayer meeting is floundering. Amongst other things, Jones argues that the underlying problem is this: people have not known the holiness and goodness of God in personal prayer.

The pattern among fallen pastors (Garrett Kell)

(http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-pattern-

among-fallen-pastors)

On the topic of dealing with sin, this is a very practical blog which highlights four common characteristics amongst fallen pastors. The advice is, of course, relevant to all of us in our own battle against the sin in our lives:

“Do not allow your hearts to grow cold toward the Lord who loves you so. Draw near to him daily, moment by moment, in hopeful expectation that he is better than any fleeting pleasure that might entice your heart. Do not seek him only in days of desperation, but seek him daily. Walk with him. Rekindle passion. Plead with him to help you. He is able to do it, and he delights to do it.”

How do I know I’m a Christian? (Kevin De Young) (http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/

Do you attend a perfect church? (Mark Jones)

(http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/05/do-you- kevindeyoung/2015/05/12/how-do-i-know-im-a-christian)

attend-a-perfect-church.php)

And whilst we’re at it, here’s another one from the keyboard of Mark Jones on the life of the local church. When a friend at church grumbles to you about some aspect of church life, how do you respond? And how ought you to respond? This is a helpful blog which acknowledges that all churches have problems, but which reminds us of how God sees the church. “When people are disgruntled with their local church, they likely could use a healthy dose of reality from the perspective of God and Christ. If he loves the church, despite her shortcomings, who are we to hate it? Doesn’t he know the sins and shortcomings of the church better than we do? And yet he loves the church infinitely more than we can. You can’t love Christ but hate his bride.”

The bloody business of killing sin (Jen Pollock Michel)

(http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-bloody-

business-of-killing-sin)

In this blog Kevin De Young sketches a brief overview of the message of 1 John, pointing out for us the three ‘tests’ which the apostle John repeatedly emphasises throughout the letter in order to build up the assurance of his readers. “These are John’s three signposts to assure us that we are on the road that leads to eternal life. These are not three things we do to earn salvation, but three indicators that God has indeed saved us.”

Eight ways to honour marriage (David Murray)

(http://headhearthand.org/blog/2015/06/01/8-ways-to-

honor-marriage)

In a cultural context where marriage has taken a bit of a battering lately, this is an uplifting read. David Murray shows how the Trinitarian God himself honours marriage, as well as eight ways in which we can honour marriage ourselves too.

In this blog, Jen Pollock Michel reflects on the writings of the

Puritan John Owen in The Mortification of Sin. In the words of

Owen himself, “Sin aims always at the utmost; every time

it

rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course,

it

would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean

thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.” Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.