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Five minutes with Jonty Rhodes Page 4 Unapologetic, part 2: Faith & science Page 6 Warfield
Five minutes with Jonty Rhodes Page 4 Unapologetic, part 2: Faith & science Page 6 Warfield
Five minutes with Jonty Rhodes Page 4 Unapologetic, part 2: Faith & science Page 6 Warfield
Five minutes with Jonty Rhodes
Page 4
Unapologetic, part 2: Faith & science
Page 6
Warfield on Predestination
Page 10
WRESTLING WITH SIN
(Page 8)
Spring
2016
£1.50

Philippians 1 v 9-11

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Theme verses

Philippians 1:9-11

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CONTENTS

  • 0 3

First word

  • 0 4

Five minutes with Jonty Rhodes

  • 0 6

Unapologetic, part 2: Faith & Science

  • 0 8

Wrestling with sin A Sermon on Romans 7:14-25

  • 1 0

Benjamin Warfield on Predestination

1

2

HABAKKUK 1: 1-11

  • 1 4

The Absolute Conformity to God’s Word

  • 1 6

Meet the Moodys

  • 1 7

From the churches

  • 2 1

Praise & Prayer

  • 2 2

Book reviews

24

Best of the blogs

FIRST WORD

Whilst studying the letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 recently, I was particularly struck by the words of Jesus describing the circumstances of the Philadelphian church:

“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:8)

F irstly, notice that this was a weak church. Jesus says, “you have but little power.” We do not know in

exactly what way this church lacked strength. Perhaps they had very small numbers, and when they met together for worship it all felt a little thin on the ground. Perhaps they lacked resources due to the fact that many of the believers there were poor. Or perhaps many of these Christians were very new believers, and therefore the church lacked maturity and leadership. For whatever reason, this church struggled with weakness. How encouraged they must have been to read that the Lord Jesus himself knew them (v8) and loved them (v9)! In the eyes of the world they were insignificant, but not in the eyes of Jesus.

Secondly, this was a strategic church. Despite their weaknesses and lack of strength, Jesus has set before them “an open door.” If you were to visit this church on a Sunday morning, you would never think that you were in a strategic church. You would look around and quietly think to yourself,

“Will this church even be here in ten years?” But the Lord’s ways are not our ways! The Lord had placed this open door, this particular opportunity for fruitful outreach, before the church.

And thirdly, notice that this was a faithful church. What had this small band of believers done about this opportunity placed before them? They had grabbed it with both hands! Jesus says to them, “you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Despite the fact that they faced persecution and opposition for being Christians (v9-10), this church had endured such for the sake of the name of Jesus. They were weak, but at the same time they were strategic, and they were faithful!

It strikes me that there is much about many of our EPC congregations that mirrors this Philadelphian congregation. Many of us feel weak; our numbers are modest, and we feel stretched both in terms of manpower and resources. But praise God, we are a strategic church, because the Lord has placed an open door for the gospel before us! What a delight it is to hear of hundreds of people hearing the gospel through mums and toddler groups, YPA meetings, summer camps, and a host of other ministries as well. And so, let us thank God that, despite our weaknesses, he is using us strategically in his purposes. And like this Philadelphian church, let us be faithful, by keeping the Lord’s word, and not denying the Lord’s name.

Five minutes with…

Jonty Rhodes

COVENANT THEOLOGY

Hi there Jonty, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. In your book, Raiding the Lost Ark, you give a very clear and helpful introduction to covenant theology. You mention that “covenant thinking has fallen somewhat out of fashion recently, to our loss.” Why do you think that is?

Good question! I’ve a couple of guesses, though they’re just that: guesses. And whether they apply outside England I don’t know. We’ve certainly lost touch with our heritage; you can’t read Calvin, Owen, Edwards or the Puritans without constantly hitting the idea of covenant. I suspect though that we’re rarely reading these guys! In my context too there is something of a suspicion of ‘covenant theology’, partly because even amongst conservative evangelicals there’s a nervousness of Reformed doctrine more generally, and partly because some unhelpful distortions of classic covenant theology (primarily from the USA!) are getting confused with the real thing.

For those who are new to the idea of covenant, can you give us a helpful definition of what a covenant is, and what is meant by ‘covenant theology’?

Covenant is the word God uses to describe his relationship with his people. You won’t come across anyone in the Bible claiming ‘I have a relationship with God’. You’ll find plenty talking about being in covenant with him! Covenant theology is simply the study of that relationship.

Having written a book about it, you are clearly convinced that it is important and valuable for Christians to have a grasp of covenant theology. What do you see as the main benefits, pastorally, of appreciating the covenantal structure of the Bible’s story?

Following from your previous question, our relationship with God is more complex than we sometimes imagine. God is a Father who loves his children unconditionally, yet in Corinth he strikes some of those same children dead when they disobey him. We’re told that God so loved the world that he gave his Son up to death, yet not everyone in that world ends up saved. Christians believe we’re saved by grace alone, yet

John tells us we’ll be judged according to what we’ve done. Covenant theology holds the key

John tells us we’ll be judged according to what we’ve done. Covenant theology holds the key to unlocking these kinds of puzzles, as it zooms in on the way God’s relationship to his people develops throughout the Bible. It also helps us see that Genesis to Revelation is one story, and that the Old Testament therefore has lots to teach us.

How does our understanding of covenant theology shape our understanding of the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism?

Well, at the most basic level it reminds us that these are signs of the covenant. Baptism is the sign of entry into the covenant people of God, and the Lord’s Supper that of continuing to walk with him. They mark out the church as best we can see it. As a pastor I can’t magically and infallibly see who has been born again, but I can see who has been baptised, and therefore been called by God to live out the covenant relationship. Covenant underpins this. For example, in the Old Testament Jewish boys were circumcised as a sign they were part of the covenant people of God. In the New Covenant, the sign becomes baptism and is applied to both genders and all nations. As a Presbyterian I believe that, like circumcision, the sign of baptism should also be given to the children of believers; they too are part of God’s covenant people. Why do I believe this? Because at heart we are in the same covenant as Abraham and his descendants, albeit ‘updated’.

Aside from your book, what other resources would you point people towards if they want to grow in their understanding of covenant theology?

I’ve struggled to find many ‘entry level’ books – hence in desperation writing one until someone does a better job! My first introduction was a book called The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson - it’s probably the modern classic. If you’re brave enough to go straight to the older classics then I like John Ball’s A Treatise on the Covenant of Grace. But I’d be tempted to get hold of a good Reformed Systematic theology (perhaps Herman Bavinck), and read the relevant section; that way you get lots of other gold too!

Finally, tell us a bit about your plans for the future. You are currently pastor of Christ Church Derby, but plans are afoot for some changes further down the line. What’s in the pipeline, and how can people pray for you?

Thanks – yes that’s right, Easter 2017 my family is going to move to Leeds, and God willing, plant a church in the city centre, on behalf of the International Presbyterian Church (IPC). Leeds is the third largest city in the UK, and hardly has any Bible teaching churches, and certainly no Presbyterians. I’ve no idea where we’ll get a congregation from, so that would be our main prayer request!

Great, thanks for your time!

John tells us we’ll be judged according to what we’ve done. Covenant theology holds the key

Jonty Rhodes is minister of Christ Church Derby, a congregation of the International Presbyterian Church, having planted the church in 2010. He is married to Georgina, and they have two little girls.

Unapologetic

PART 2: Faith and Science

  • I t is a commonly expressed view that modern science and Christian faith are conflicting beliefs; that one cannot fully participate in scientific discourse and keep one’s faith; that you cannot be a Christian and a scientist. This view may be held by both Christians and opponents of Christianity. The secular world views the physicist who holds a position in the church with suspicion and similarly in church circles some may wonder if they are compromising their faith in the pursuit of their scientific studies. But is this really the case?

  • I am assuming that the readership of this magazine will

be familiar with the Christian worldview but perhaps less comfortable with the world of science. As with any discussion, definitions are important, so what do I mean by science? A contemporary dictionary definition is ‘The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study

of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural

world through observation and experiment’.

The word is

derived from the Latin scientia meaning to ‘know’. Historically it refers to any body of organised knowledge but, as the definition states, it has come to mean a specific approach to the study of the natural world. This approach may also be described as the hypothetico-deductive method. The scientist observes a natural phenomenon, for example, the rainbow. The next step involves generating an explanation for how the phenomenon occurs - the hypothesis - water droplets in the air act like a prism. Then the hypothesis is tested by an experiment - replicating the refraction of white light through water to make a colour spectrum. If the hypothesis stands the test it may be assumed to be true. The scientific explanation is not the whole explanation for how the world is but it is part of the explanation. We would not be happy with our children’s science teacher if they were merely told that God had ordained rainbows and referred them to the story of Noah. Scientific knowledge is essentially based on the best available hypothesis which holds until a better one is found. For example, Isaac Newton’s theories about gravity were superseded by those of Albert Einstein and again by the development of quantum mechanics. The rules of science have been described as follows:

The transient nature of scientific knowledge may be illustrated by the following: As a trainee doctor, I spent some time in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology. One of the senior academic staff would frequently preface lectures with the comment that half of what he was about to say would subsequently be proved false. The problem was he did not know which half…. So far, so good, but how does this conflict with Christian beliefs? Conflict may come in one of two ways. Firstly, when the working hypothesis runs counter to what is held to be the Biblical world view. The often cited example of this is the Italian Galileo Galilei’s proof of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ ‘revolutionary’ hypothesis that the Earth orbited the Sun and was not itself the centre of the cosmos. Whilst the so-called geocentric view owed more to the thoughts of Grecian philosophers Aristotle and Ptolemy than the Bible, it had come to be part of the accepted world-view of Christendom. Verses such as Psalm 104:5 “He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved” also seemed to support the thought. Yet Galileo did not set out to cause theological controversy and viewed his approach as being in line with the Augustinian application of reason. In this instance the conflation of the Greek non-Christian system of thought with poetic language in the Psalms led to wrong beliefs about the nature of the cosmos resulting in an apparent conflict between faith and science.

In fact many pioneering scientists based their programme of research on the principle that the natural order would be amenable to study because it was the work of a reasonable Creator. Examples include Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who conducted his experiments on light according to the principle that nature selects the most direct course of action - a belief founded on his theological conviction that God created the

  • 1. It is guided by natural law;

  • 2. It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;

  • 3. It is testable against the empirical world;

  • 4. Its conclusions are tentative - that is, not necessarily the final word; and

  • 5. It is falsifiable.

world such that maximum simplicity and perfection could be

realised; Carl Linnaeus devised his biological classification on the basis that God created organisms in distinct types; astronomer Johannes Kepler felt that working out the laws of planetary motion was “thinking God’s thoughts after

him.”

Others include physicist James Clerk Maxwell and the

mathematician Sir Isaac Newton.

Many modern scientists

also find no conflict between their faith and their studies. Two

notable examples from Northern Ireland are John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, and Alister McGrath, who completed doctoral studies in biophysics at the University of Oxford before pursuing studies in theology.

A particular focus of the religion/science debate is the origin of mankind and the cosmos. As stated, how we interpret information depends on our presuppositions - evidence of an expanding universe may suggest to one the impersonal ‘Big Bang’ or to another the divine act of creation. Evidence of human mitochondrial DNA all tracking back to a single female for one will point to the palaeontologists’ ‘Lucy’ and to another, Eve in the Garden of Eden. Hence our presuppositions and worldview are as important as the data we discuss. We may need to engage in what Francis Schaeffer termed ‘pre- evangelism’ - asking people to question some of their basic beliefs.

The second source of conflict is deeper seated and relates to beliefs about the nature of knowledge itself. Philosopher Bertrand Russell stated “Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific means; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.” More recently biologist Richard Dawkins is quoted as saying “Truth means scientific truth.” It is not without some irony that these statements cannot themselves be proved scientifically and reflect philosophical positions. This is not to underestimate the influence of this view. Science moves from being a method of study to an overarching worldview (this is sometimes termed scientism). This has become a dominant world view among the scientific community, particularly in life sciences where it is tantamount to heresy to question the application of Darwinian evolution, even when applied to fields outside of biology. In education there have been hard fought battles regarding the legitimacy of even mentioning God as creator in discussion of the origins of life or the cosmos. And yet this change - from science as a field of study to science as a complete explanation for all phenomena - is a philosophical one. It takes us from beyond the observable natural world - what can be measured and tested by experiment - into conjecture about the nature of truth and knowledge and the origins of the universe. We move beyond the physical (in Greek metaphysical), from science to philosophy, and questions that Dawkins and colleagues state cannot be answered by science, and therefore truths which cannot be known. The methodology of science can provide facts and information, but how we interpret that information depends on our worldview. For those who follow Dawkins and allow for only ‘scientific’ explanations, the account of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary could be explained as fiction, hoax, lies, psychosis, or even the visitation of an extra-terrestrial being. The one explanation that would not be allowed is the appearance of an actual angel. Dawkins decries the faith Christians put in the Bible. However, accepting the current mathematical models explaining black holes or investing billions of dollars in the search for the Higgs Boson particle at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider also requires faith.

How then should we respond? In his first epistle the apostle Peter urges believers to ‘always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you’. We should prepare ourselves - both Alister McGrath and John Lennox have written books exploring the relationship of science and faith that can help us in this regard (McGrath: Dawkins’ God: Genes, memes and the meaning of life / Lennox: God’s Undertaker: Has science buried God?). We should also remember that Peter’s exhortation continues that we should make our defence ‘with gentleness and respect’ and that patience and kindness in our approach to apologetics will say as much, if not more, than the words of our arguments.

A final warning: We have considered the tentative nature of much scientific dogma, and seen the problems that the church establishment encountered by conflating Greek science with theology in the case of Galileo. We must avoid latching on to scientific models to bolster our faith - I am thinking here in particular of the creation science movement - as such models may prove false and so provide ‘straw men’ for our opponents to knock down. We can be conversant with science and the current debate but we must base our beliefs on the truths of God as revealed in Scripture.

world such that maximum simplicity and perfection could be realised; Carl Linnaeus devised his biological classification

Michael Trimble has been attending Stranmillis EPC since 1993, and works as a physician in Royal Victoria Hospital. He is married to Rachel and they have three children, David, Sophie and Solomon.

Wrestling with Sin

A Sermon on Romans 7:14-25

  • C hristians often express disappointment with their level of

holiness, even to the point of doubting whether they really are saved. Ministers regularly come across this. Someone will say, “I have been a Christian for so many years – at least, I thought I was… but as I look at my life, and I see how many times I sin and there are sins that just keep coming back. Now I am wondering whether I was ever a Christian in the first place. How can a Christian fail so many times and do things so displeasing to God?” Have you ever asked that question? I remember a former pastor telling me, “The Christian who is disturbed by their own sin is not the person who needs to worry about salvation. The people who do need to worry are those who don’t care about their sin.” One would perhaps need to qualify that statement a little, but essentially that is the biblical picture painted of the Christian life: the person who has truly become a Christian, who has truly been regenerated, whose old self has died with Christ on the cross and has been raised to new life…that person now is launched into a war. It is not a war on the outside with the rest of the world but a war that takes place within our own persons, between the inner man/person and indwelling sin. Paul, writing as a pastor in Romans 7:14-24 helps us see that this is the normal Christian experience and will take us through this step by step.

Is Paul talking about a Christian?

We need to ask whether in this passage Paul is talking about a Christian at all.

In verses 7-13 Paul talks about his experience before he was a Christian. He was a top student in Judaism and the law but as he looked back he saw how the law that he sought to conform his life to had a strange effect on him. It seemed to stimulate more sin: “when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” (7:9) Sin was a power in his

life that he was not able to control – and the introduction of the law only served to stimulate sin to more animated activity in his life. His was a particular sin: covetousness was continually aroused within his heart. Turning to verses 14-25, are these also about his past life or is it

so religious and law-minded? What was the great criticism that he levelled against them? “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13) Why did Jesus say that? They didn’t really love the law nor did they love God

– they loved a lot of other things: fine robes, to be greeted by people in the public spaces, to be seen to be praying - all the trappings that went with the religious life - but not really the law. Paul was a coveter, the hypocrite who had secret loves. But now, as a Christian he has had this extraordinary work of God done in him where he longs to do the things God has commanded.

Thirdly, Paul is a person

his life now as a Christian? There are many who have found it hard to believe they describe a Christian because of the strong language in v14, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin”.

“The Christian who is disturbed by their own sin is not the person who needs to worry about salvation. The people who do need to worry are those who don’t care about their sin”

who takes joy in the fact that Christ has delivered him from the penalty and power of sin: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of

It sounds like the old life! But it is not, for three reasons. Firstly, there is the change of tense. In vv7-13 he has been speaking about his experience in the past, but from v14 he is speaking about his current experience. Secondly, he longs to do good: “For I have the desire to do what is right,…” (v18), and later, “I delight in the law

of God ...”

(v22). This marks a complete

change from his past life. A non- Christian cannot love the law – he or she doesn’t care. We might say “Hang on a minute! Didn’t Paul love the law before he was a Christian?” Well, think about it for a minute – remember all those Pharisees and lawyers who came to challenge Jesus, who seemed

death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv24-25). Paul is describing the hope of every Christian, a hope not in self and law keeping, but in Christ our redeemer.

So this passage is describing the life of the Christian, even though it consists of an inner battle against sin. How do you think about your sin? Do you ever think about it? Or do you go for days on end before it occurs to you that you may have sinned? Maybe you have never really thought about it, assuming that everything will be OK for you and that as God looks at you, there isn’t really much of a problem! Well, let me warn you – that is not real Christianity. It is a

counterfeit Christianity - because every true Christian becomes acutely aware of their own sin. He or she is regularly humbled at the sight of it, laments its presence and as a result is regularly turning to Jesus Christ, the only one who can deliver him/her from “this body of death”. Are you lamenting the presence of sin and turning to Christ today?

What is going on inside the Christian?

Let us examine with Paul what is going on inside the Christian: there are three things we need to observe. The first is the contradiction between what you want to do, and what you actually do. Paul says “I don’t understand my own actions” (v15a). Have you ever had that experience? You wake up in the morning and you resolve to “live for God today – whenever I am tempted I will resist!” Then you get to the end of the day and you think, “why did I do that…and that…and that? Why?” This is the normal Christian experience. You love God. You love Jesus. You want to serve him. But you still end up doing things that you hate – you sin, you fail. We live with contradiction. Why? Note the second observation: you still have indwelling sin in your flesh. Earlier we noted that Paul puts this very strongly, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” (v14). What does he mean by “flesh”? He does not mean the meat he is made of! He means the whole him, body and soul with all its corruption and propensity towards sin. He is “sold under sin” - this is the language of slavery. His flesh is like a slave to the power of sin. Now, that sounds a bit like being a non-Christian, and to an extent it is true. There are aspects of our existence as Christians that are the same: we are still tempted and we still find that we fall into sin as Christians, just like before we were Christians.

But there is a third observation: we have been renewed inwardly. This is the radical difference for the Christian compared to the non-Christian. A seed has been planted within the Christian. A new life has been given to the Christian and this begins to express itself in new ways. I want to do different things – live my life in new ways. I love to do good, even though I am aware that there is

evil in my own flesh, but now “I delight in the law of God, in my inner being” (v22). That term “inner being” or “inner man” is really important because this inner person, the real you, the most fundamental essence of your being has been changed.

Paul has a really interesting way now of looking at himself and all Christians:

I have mentioned three kinds of people. There is the kind who professes to be a Christian, does all the churchy stuff, but in the heart does not have a care at all about their own sin. That person is not actually a Christian at all. They have still to discover the depths of their need and come empty handed to Jesus Christ to be saved.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is

wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor 4:16). The new Christian is undergoing a process

A seed has been planted within the Christian. A new life has been given to the Christian and this begins to express itself in new ways

The second person is the true Christian who knows she is in a spiritual battle that is going on in her very person but she

of renewal. It begins inside – the “inner man/woman” and the process necessarily brings about conflict. There are two laws at work:

is discouraged and wonders whether she is a Christian. She needs to turn afresh to Jesus and spend time gazing upon him and realising once more just what he has achieved for her and that because of him, she may be fully assured.

Then there is the person who is a Christian who is aware of the spiritual battle within but knows without a doubt, like Paul did, that Jesus is the one who will save him.

on the one hand, the law of sin, which has reigned in your life before you were a Christian but now has been toppled off the throne. It is still present in a rearguard action, causing you still at times to do things you do not want to do. But on the other, there is the renewed inner man, which now lives within, with a new mind which wants to serve the law of God.

Which are you today?

So this inner conflict is something the Christian will necessarily experience and it will never let up. That is what war is like. It does not stop until there is victory. For the Christian, it does not stop until we are glorified.

Jesus the Deliverer

This may seem a bit miserable – the Christian life is going to be hard! Well, Paul is not miserable because the difficulties only cause him to turn his attention to the one in whom real lasting joy can be found: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

(v25).

This is what sustains the Christian. We do not look at our failings, and think “therefore I am not a Christian”. Instead we turn to Jesus Christ and see that his victory on the cross is our hope. Through it I am free from the rule and reign of sin, not because I am winning against my sin, but because he has won for me. Thus my heart is lifted up in praise and thanksgiving for his abundant kindness to me.

counterfeit Christianity - because every true Christian becomes acutely aware of their own sin. He or

Stephen Dancer is married to Susan, and father of one. He has a PhD in physics. He worked for 14 years in the aerospace industry and became a chartered engineer. He also has a BA in Theological Studies. He has been a minister of the gospel at Solihull Presbyterian Church, part of the EPCEW, since March, 2007.

Benjamin Warfield on Predestination:

Lessons in Theological and Evangelistic Engagement

Benjamin Warfield on Predestination: Lessons in Theological and Evangelistic Engagement I n his article Some Thoughts

I n his article Some Thoughts on Predestination, originally published in the Christian Workers Magazine in December

1916, Benjamin Warfield sets out a robust defence of the doctrine of predestination and, in the process, provides an object lesson in how to argue against opponents of Christianity as well as those who deny key truths of Christian theology. Though perhaps not his original intention, Warfield’s article models the methods that we might usefully employ when it comes to refuting objections to our worldview. Not many, if any, of us have the intellectual abilities of Warfield, but we can all learn from his polemical approach. In particular, it is the way his argument addresses the three faculties of the soul – the mind, the heart and the will – that ismost instructive. Taking the last of these first, it is notable how Warfield exposes man’s deep-rooted psychological aversion to any notion that he is under the control and authority of another. Although the Bible is full of the doctrine of predestination, people hate the thought that they are not the autonomous determiners of their own destiny. Ever since the Fall, we have an in-built abhorrence of the idea that we are dependent creatures. As Warfield says, “Our difficulties with Predestination arise from a, no doubt not unnatural, unwillingness to acknowledge ourselves to be wholly at the disposal of another. We wish to be at our own disposal…(W)e

will not admit that we are controlled.” In other words, a wilful pride gets in the way of our acceptance that we are under God’s control. Predestination humbles us – and we tend not to enjoy being humbled. That is probably the main reason behind people’s rejection of predestination: they simply don’t want to believe it. Warfield adeptly exposes such wilful refusal and, whilst it may not win us many friends or influence with people, we must surely seek to do the same when it comes to any kind of evangelistic encounter, apologetic argument or theological debate. Turning to Warfield’s second (and main) line of attack, what is most notable is his use of logic to subvert intellectual objections to predestination. Warfield makes the thoroughly convincing case that denial of predestination amounts to a logical denial of God, proving this by addressing the three areas of creation, morality, and providence. In the process, the strong interconnections in Warfield’s theology come to the fore. He says, for example, that to “imagine that we are not controlled is to imagine that there is no God. For when we say God, we say control. If a single creature which God has

made has escaped beyond his control, at the moment that he has done so he has abolished God.” In other words, the trajectory of any theology which downplays, or even denies, predestination is atheism. God’s control is rooted in his creation of all things and, ultimately, in his very being and character. Warfield then proceeds to note the moral implications of rejecting God’s absolute sovereignty, arguing that to make anything that we cannot or will not control is an immoral act. Warfield illustrates this by imagining the scenario where a man manufactures highly explosive material in an orphan asylum and, when the stuff goes off, seeks to excuse himself by saying that he could not control it. Of course, “no one would count his excuse valid…He relieves himself of none of the responsibility for the havoc wrought, by pleading inability to control his creation.” In the same way, to “suppose that God has made a universe – or even a single being – the control of which he renounces, is to accuse him of similar immorality…We have not only dethroned God; we have demoralized him.” Repudiating the doctrine of predestination has the unhappy consequence of turning God into an immoral being. Warfield recognises that no right thinking Christian would ever go so far as to say or believe such a thing about God, even if the logic of their position required them to do so. So often we are saved by our inconsistencies. Nevertheless, those who deny predestination will often, according to Warfield, “take refuge in a vague antinomy” whereby “God controls the universe just enough to control it, and that he does not control it just enough not to control it.” God has, on this reasoning, a general sovereignty, but not a sovereignty over every particular detail.

But such thinking is deeply flawed or, to use Warfield’s highly technical term, “palpable paltering.” Such a being, who has to simply put up with various things in the world which he really wishes weren’t so, is not God but a mere godling. After all, a “being who cannot make a universe to his own liking is not God.” Warfield then delivers what I consider to be his coup de grace. Having established that those who repudiate a God who predestines everything actually have nothing more than a mere ‘godling’, he points out that the moment such a being consented to put up with this universe he “made it his own even in those particulars which in themselves he would have liked to have otherwise.” Which means, according to Warfield, that the ‘godling’ has actually realised those particularities and has, as such, predestined them! As Warfield says, “We have got rid of God, indeed; but we have not got rid of the Predestination, to get rid of which we have been willing to degrade our God into a godling.” Warfield’s logical deconstruction of the theology that denies predestination is devastating. With irrefutable argumentation, as well as a healthy dose of mocking humour, he exposes the absurdity of his opponents’ position. Their proposition is self-defeating. In the end, by rejecting total sovereignty, predestination is not lost, but God certainly is. Denying predestination impugns God by calling into question his creative power and moral character. Warfield also shows that it undermines the doctrine of providence. In a beautifully pithy observation, he asserts that “Providence is but Predestination in its execution; Predestination is but Providence in its intention.” In view of such a statement, who can deny that the Lion of Princeton was also the King of Christian Aphorism? Providence and predestination are mutually reinforcing truths. Providence

is always purposeful and predestination is always performative. Deny the one and you deny the other. Again, note the logical interconnectedness of Warfield’s theology. His ability to refute the intellectual objections of his opponents is rooted in the soil of biblical logic and theological

powerful God when the world is full of so much evil. And, if we’re honest, often we find it hard to trust in God when we suffer. But as Warfield notes, “To say Predestination is…not only to say God; it is also to say Theodicy.” (Theodicy:

the vindication of divine providence in view of the existence of evil). Only a God who is sovereign can give us hope in the darkest times. This is because predestination means that everything has a purpose, even our greatest suffering. We may rarely discern that purpose, but we can be sure that, in his goodness and wisdom, God plans all things for our ultimate joy and blessing. Warfield argues that we all instinctively know this to be true:

“No matter what we may say of Predestination in moments of puzzlement, as we stand in face of the problems of life… it is safe to say that at the bottom of our minds we all believe in it. We cannot help believing in it – if we believe in God.” Surely the fact that the Christian’s default reaction in times of trouble is to pray testifies to the truth of this. And, I would add, we all want this to be true. None of us really wants God to be anything less than sovereign. We want him to be the one who ordains the rise of empires and the fall of sparrows. We want him to be the one who numbers the hairs on our head. Because only such a God can help us and give us a hope that soars beyond the dark clouds of suffering. Only such a God can assure us that, despite every adverse appearance, “it is all well with the world.” Some Thoughts on Predestination succeeds in defending and promoting this very precious doctrine. How? By exposing the wilful pride that recoils at such a truth; by refuting the logical inconsistencies of the alternative; and by capturing the heart with the hope it engenders. In so doing, Warfield demonstrates the best approach to any kind of theological debate or evangelistic encounter: love the one with whom you are engaged so much

that you speak to him in the wholeness of his personality – his will, his mind and, perhaps above all, his heart. And then, having done that, entrust it all to the God who is sovereign and who predestines all things.

But such thinking is deeply flawed or, to use Warfield’s highly technical term, “palpable paltering.” Such

“Providence is but Predestination in its execution; Predestination is but Providence in its intention.”

coherence. We too, in our evangelism, apologetics and doctrinal disputes, must try to evince a logical precision that flows from a scripturally-sourced theology. That is how we best engage the minds of those with whom we engage. Turning finally to matters of the heart, Warfield has much to say concerning the practical implications of rejecting predestination. To do so diminishes our faith and enervates our prayers, whereas, holding fast to the sovereignty of God makes our faith expansive and our prayers bold and confident. However, it is in the area of hope where I think Warfield’s elucidation of the practical benefits of predestination speaks most powerfully into our culture. In my experience, the reality of suffering continues to be the number one objection to belief in God. People struggle to believe in a good and all-

Doug McCallum is the Assistant Minister at Naunton Lane Evangelical Presbyterian Church, where he has been serving for a year and a half. He is originally from a small town in Hertfordshire. He is also a keen Liverpool fan and has, as a result, grown accustomed to living in an era when high expectations are never quite realised.

HABAKKUK 1:1-11

Habakkuk is only three chapters long, and yet it is a book which has as much to say to us in our day as when Habakkuk first received God’s word. It points us to the character of God, to the purposes of God, and to His hand on history. If we are believers we know of the Lord’s care and great concern for the very details of our lives. The very hairs of our head are all numbered; He knows our needs better than we do. But we also bow before Him as the true and living God, as the Sovereign God – the Lord who is King of this world, before whom ‘the nations are as a drop in a bucket’. The book of Habakkuk opens up to us that window of the purposes of God in history, God ruling over all. What is God doing? - Habakkuk was wrestling with that. Yet what we see here is that God is at work in His mighty power.

1. THE BURDEN

We don’t know much about the background of the prophet Habakkuk, but we know this: that he had a message from the Lord. He was a prophet of God, God’s mouthpiece. It literally tells us here that Habakkuk saw God’s message, with his inner eye, through the Spirit of God. And the message is described as a ‘burden’. We know what it’s like to have to carry some great weight. When you’re holding something heavy you can’t wait to put it down. Habakkuk is carrying this weighty message, this burden, that needs to be delivered. God’s word is like that; it must be made known. This isn’t some trivial piece of information not worth sharing:

this is God’s true and vital word, this is what He’s about to do and Habakkuk must make it known. The message must be brought to God’s people. But this short book is not directly addressed to the people. Habakkuk doesn’t say, unlike some of the prophets – ‘Hear this, people of Judah’. What we have instead is Habakkuk’s own prayers to the Lord and the Lord’s response. This is

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Habakkuk’s own spiritual journey as he pleads with the Lord for the people, and hears what the Lord has to say. Whilst we don’t know much about Habakkuk we can tell something about when he lived and what was happening.

The Lord tells us in verse 6 that He is raising up the Chaldeans, or Babylonians. The Assyrian Empire had collapsed and the Babylonians were making a rapid rise to become the dominant

force and power.

This ruthless nation was taking power over

Assyria, Syria, Palestine, right out to Egypt. And what about the state of God’s own people? We read about the state of Judah at this time in verses 2-4. The prophet was perplexed at the unrighteousness he saw there. So there’s a clue to the time again; we can say this was after the reforms of godly Josiah, in the reign of his son Jehoiakim. These were dark years for Judah, the same time as Jeremiah was prophesying before Babylon came to take them into captivity. It was a perplexing time to be a prophet among God’s people. What was God doing? Why were His people in such difficult straits? How had they gone so far from God? The godly faithful prophet pleaded with God, perplexed at what he saw.

2. THE QUESTIONS

The prophet begins in verses 2-4 by pouring out his heart to God. He’s come to God with questions: ‘O Lord, how long shall

I cry

...

?’

‘Why do you show me iniquity, and cause me to see

trouble?’ Why are these things happening? How long will they go on? That’s the cry of his heart. In times of perplexity there is a wrong way and a right way to come to God. Man has no right to ask God to justify Himself, no right to judge what God does. Who would we be if we thought we could judge God? Man is a finite creature, whose understanding is limited, who has gone astray from God’s ways. Almighty God is perfect; His ways are righteous; we must be ready to bow before a perfect, good,

righteous God and submit to Him.

But Habakkuk doesn’t come here in unbelief, dishonouring

God.

He cries out to God here in perplexity because he

doesn’t understand. He knows that God’s ways are good and right; he confesses that He is of purer eyes than to behold evil (v. 13) and yet Habakkuk sees wickedness triumphing around him, and it grieves him. He’s burdened by the state of God’s people and he cries out to God because of it. Habakkuk has been praying about these things for some time. ‘How long shall I cry and you will not hear?’ He keeps on praying about the state of the land around him, and he’s baffled by the seeming silence, that his prayers seem to go unanswered. What was happening then that grieved Habakkuk so much? There was violence and disorder and injustice. ‘Plundering and violence are before me.’ It was like the days of Noah when we read that ‘violence filled the earth’. Yet this was in Judah among the Lord’s people. There should have been peace among God’s people in the Promised Land, love for their neighbour, the vulnerable protected and helped. But instead there was strife and contention, disorder and violence. In the case of Israel – the king was part of the problem. King Jehoiakim was a brutal, ruthless man who put the prophet

Uriah to death, who took Jeremiah’s scroll and cut it with a knife, such was his disrespect for the word of God. He acted to oppress the people and ignored God’s word. That’s what Habakkuk was confronted with. More still we read that the law was ‘powerless’ (v.4). There was nothing wrong with God’s law of course but it wasn’t being applied; it was being ignored. There was no justice; people were doing what they wanted to do. The wicked were surrounding the righteous; they were triumphing. Habakkuk is pleading with God to intervene. He knows the wickedness he sees all around him is so contrary to God’s word. He knows they are God’s covenant people – and yet the Lord doesn’t intervene as he’s expecting. Could God not raise up another Josiah, another King after God’s heart? Would the people not go back to God’s word? But it doesn’t seem to be happening. What do we find perplexing in the church today and in the spiritual state of our society? Do we plead with God as Habakkuk does here? When we hear about unbelief and unfaithfulness in the church, or of churches closing down, and other churches divided and split into factions, these things are grievous and troubling, do we pray? When the prevailing culture has no time for Christianity, when unrighteous legislation is passed, do we bring these things before God? We can share something of Habakkuk’s perplexity, can’t we? Why, Lord – have we not prayed for revival? Have we not prayed for the church in our land? And yet unrighteousness and wickedness seem to prosper.

3. THE UNEXPECTED ANSWER

The Lord does reply to Habakkuk’s plea. In fact God is going to do something which will astound them. In verse 5 the Lord is calling for our attention: ‘Look’, ‘I will work a work in your days which you would not believe though it were told you.’ What is God going to do? What is His great plan and purpose? He’s going to bring judgement on His people. We know that the Lord is slow to anger, that He’s longsuffering, but yet there comes a point at which He will judge, and His judgement comes swiftly and powerfully. The people of Judah are going on their own way; wickedness is prevailing. And the Lord realises it far more than the prophet does; He sees all that’s

happening. And now the Lord will act. But in what an unusual way God will act. God is raising up the Chaldeans against His own people. Here is this fearful, awe- inducing sight of this great nation marching through the land, ready to take hold of what doesn’t belong to them. See their power! ‘Their horses also are swifter than leopards,

and more fierce than the evening wolves

they fly as the eagle

... that hastens to eat.’ Think of an eagle, a bird of prey, swooping down ready to take its prey. They can’t be resisted – it doesn’t matter what alliances Israel and Judah have formed in the past. The Chaldeans will just laugh at kings and princes. With little effort they will break down strongholds. They will sweep through like the wind. They believe that might is right. They see this strength as their god (v.11). They are an unrighteous, ungodly, powerful nation – yet God is using them as His instrument to judge His people.

They’re not outside of His control; they’re not outside of His purpose. Now this is a powerful and fearful message that Habakkuk is told by the Lord. God will send this judgement on His people in such a way that they won’t be able to resist. It’s important to note God was being faithful to His word here. God’s people were warned when they first entered the Promised Land what would happen if they were unfaithful. Deuteronomy 28 v. 49 ‘The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of fierce countenance ...’ God is faithful to His word, He’s perfectly just, wholly consistent. Habakkuk 1 v.5 is quoted by the Apostle Paul in Acts 13. He’s preaching to the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch and he warns that congregation about the dangers of rejecting the message. But most of the people didn’t listen – they rejected the message; they ignored the warning. And so often that’s the case; God’s word warns us of the seriousness and the reality of God’s judgement. In the days of Noah people laughed, over the centuries the prophets were ignored, and people even failed to listen to Christ Himself. But we do see here an answer to Habakkuk’s perplexity and to ours. It’s not that God hasn’t heard; it’s not that God doesn’t know or hear the cries of His people. He does know, and He does rule over all. That truth is very evident in these verses. This is the God who can raise up the Chaldeans for His purposes. God doesn’t just occasionally intervene in the world – He is the Lord of history. The Sovereign Lord does rule over all the world. He’s not powerless. He’s able to answer His people’s cries even in ways we would never expect. In our own unstable world, in the turbulent times that we live in, the political instability, the economic questions, the church’s weakness – as we see all of that – remember the Lord is King. Things are not helpless and hopeless, because God is Sovereign; He is Lord. Remember He is Lord of history: He works to His own timetable. God has His time and purpose. We must trust Him. God is just and will act as His word says. Are you prepared to meet the just, holy God? Unrighteousness isn’t just in the world out there – it’s in our hearts, it’s in our lives – and we can only be clean, we can only be right with God, through Jesus Christ and what He’s done. We tremble before a holy God – but praise His name there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Uriah to death, who took Jeremiah’s scroll and cut it with a knife, such was his

Marcus Hobson has been minister of the Finaghy EPC congregation since May 2014, having previously served as an assistant in Durham Presbyterian Church. He is married to Alison, and they have one son, Edward.

The Absolute Conformity to God’s Word

Atonement, Part 2:

For a very long time, there have been those who have maintained that the death of Jesus on the Cross was not what Jesus had envisaged, nor was it what God intended. If you think about that for a moment it is actually telling us that God makes mistakes; God does not know everything, but they, on the other hand, are wiser than God and have a better understanding of things. But that is absolute blasphemy. Those who say such things simply show their ignorance of God, of Christ and of the Word of God. What happened at the Cross? In our last study we saw that at the cross, Jesus absolutely conformed to God’s will. He was the Obedient Servant found again and again in the Old Testament. In this second study, we shall see that the cross was in absolute conformity to God’s Word. The God of the Bible is a God who is all knowing. There are words used of God in this respect. He is the only one who is ‘omniscient.’ What does that mean? It means a perfection whereby God knows Himself, and all things actual and all things possible. There are many portions of the Scriptures that declare that very clearly. But alongside this, God is also ‘omnipotent.’ That means that God has the power to do all that He wills to do. We saw in our last study that the Father made a Covenant between the Son and the Holy Spirit and Himself; the Covenant of Redemption. Now, Christ Jesus on the Cross was doing what he agreed He would do in eternity before time. But because of the omniscience and the omnipotence of God, God declared centuries before the very birth of Christ, exactly what would happen. Here is the absolute conformity of the Cross to the Old Testament prophecies. We will only be able to consider just a few of these.

1) The prophetic word of David

In considering David, we are going back about 1000 years before

the birth of Christ. Now think of that. If you found an old book in an ancient library, and in browsing through that book, you discovered your name and details about your life and about your death, and you discovered that it had been written in the year 1016! That is exactly what is happening in Psalm 22, and indeed in so many passages of the Old Testament. This shows the wonder of the knowledge and understanding of God and the power of God to bring these things to pass. Amazingly, Psalm

22 had prophecies fulfilled by people who had probably no

knowledge of and no interest in the Old Testament prophecies.

The soldiers crucified Jesus and parted his garments, and cast lots

for his garments, fulfilling Psalm 22:18. They gave Him wine mixed with gall, fulfilling Psalm 69:21. Roman soldiers fulfilling

Old Testament prophecy. To my mind that is remarkable! But now we go in time about 300 years, to about 700 BC.

2) The prophetic word of Isaiah

We see the Cross very clearly in the prophecy of Isaiah. Take, for

example, these words from Isaiah 52v14:

‘As many were astonished at You, His appearance was so marred

beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the

children of mankind.’ Some would say that the death of Christ was no different to that

of thousands who were crucified by the Romans. But when we

think of all that he went through, we see that His death was not like thousands of others. Think of his scourging. Stripped to the waist, and thrashed with a Roman lash, which was something like the cat o’ nine tails. Except, in the lash were pieces of bone and metal, you can imagine the effect of that on a man’s back. We see this referred to

in Isaiah 50, another Servant Song: ‘I gave my back to those who

strike and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard. I hid not my face from shame and spitting.’ At the Cross, the hatred of man was seen at its worst. Yet Christ was totally innocent of all charges. Was there ever such a miscarriage of justice? The hatred of the religious establishment was seen at its worst at the Cross. How they hated Him, for showing that they were terrible hypocrites. Not one ounce of godliness among all of them. But He was the Holy One!!

3) The prophetic word of others

We ask the question, was Christ aware of all this? Christ

the Lord, he is God the Son, he was very much a part of the Covenant of Redemption in eternity past. He knew exactly what would happen. On the Resurrection Day, various things happened, but one is recorded in Luke 24. There were two disciples, we are not sure who they were. One is called Cleopas. The other we do not

know. It might have been his wife or perhaps his brother.

They

had been to Jerusalem to meet with the other disciples and they

are on their way home. They had walked 7 miles to Jerusalem, and now must walk the seven miles home. We can just imagine the thoughts going through their minds

and the discussion they were having.

But suddenly a stranger

appeared beside them. He asked a rather personal question.

‘What is this conversation you are holding with each other as you walk?’ They stop and look sad!! They in return are a little blunt with Jesus. ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened?’

Jesus now asks, ‘What things?’ Then they briefly tell Him what

has happened, but finish with these words, ‘We hoped that he

was the One who would redeem Israel.’ They add, ‘Besides all this, this is the third day since these things happened

...

some

women amazed us ...

They did not find his body and said they had

seen angels.’ Now we have amazing words from the lips of the Saviour. ‘O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ Luke now tells us that, ‘Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.’ I have been present at a great many wonderful Bible studies. But to have the Old Testament Scriptures expounded by the Son of God Himself and to be told all that was spoken to man about Him; that must have been amazing!

We have briefly looked at David and Isaiah, but Jesus started

with Moses, a long time before David. And He told these two disciples that Moses spoke about Him. Consider Deuteronomy

18v18: ‘I will raise up for them a prophet like you, from among

their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.’ There we again

have God sending his Son and the Son coming to be the obedient Servant of Jehovah. But to bring this to a conclusion, What did Christ Himself say?

In Matthew 12:40, we have the scribes asking Christ for a sign.

His reply was quite astonishing: ‘As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man

be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ This of course, was speaking of His Death, Burial and Resurrection! On different occasions He warned His disciples of what lay ahead for Him. He would suffer many things and be killed. He

would be crucified. He would give His life a ransom. The Good

Shepherd would lay down His life for his sheep.

We could say so much more. But surely this suffices to show

that all that happened on that day on Mount Calvary was not an

accident, not a mistake, nothing other than Christ fulfilling all

that He had come to do.

He came to do the Father’s will and He came to fulfil all that

the Scriptures said would happen. In Matthew we read so often,

‘Then was fulfilled all that was spoken by the prophet.’

When

He was on the Cross, He cried in triumph ‘TETELESTAI,’ ‘FULFILLED,’ ‘COMPLETED.’

Conclusion

The death of Christ on the Cross of Calvary was no mistake. In our last article we saw His absolute conformity to the Father’s will in all that took place. Christ accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do, so was able to cry, Tetelestai! Finished! Completed! Now we see clearly the absolute conformity to the Old Testament prophetic word concerning the Cross of Christ. Again, Christ could cry in triumph, Tetelestai! Finished! Completed! There was nothing left undone. He did all.

‘It is finished, O what pleasure

Do these precious words afford.

Heavenly blessings, without measure Flow to us from Christ the Lord.

It is finished, It is finished.

Saints the dying words record.’

2) The prophetic word of Isaiah We see the Cross very clearly in the prophecy of

Jim McClatchey has been in the ministry for the past 45 years, and has served in Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and Scotland. He now lives in Fermanagh and is a member of Omagh EPC. He still preaches regularly at home and in England and Scotland. Jim is married to Irene, and they have 4 children, 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Meet the Moodys

Andrew Moody, a member of Stranmillis, is married to Eunice and serves the Lord in Uganda. We asked them to tell us a bit about their work and bring us up to date with how their daughter, Joy is doing.

Who are we?

Andrew is from Ballymena, is a trained pharmacist and has also studied theology. Eunice is from Jeju Island, South Korea, and is a trained nurse and midwife. They met while they were working as missionaries in Kuluva Hospital, Uganda.

What do we do?

In April 2004 we began working with Nebbi Diocese in North West Uganda. Andrew opened the Christian Resource Centre (CRC) which stocks Bibles (in various languages), hymn books and a good range of Christian books. We also sell stationery and provide photocopying services. This helps to pay the staff so that the books can be sold as cheaply as possible. Currently we are trying to get copies of the Alur Bible with the help of Northern Ireland Bible Society. Alur is the main language in Nebbi and the Bible has been out of stock for about 18 months. Andrew manages the Diocesan Leadership Training Centre (Udende) where Rev. Gareth Burke has taught the pastors of Nebbi Diocese a number of times. Andrew also teaches theology in different parts of Uganda when he is invited. Eunice is the senior nursing officer in the health centre and is also in charge of the operating theatre. This means that as well as assisting in any operations, she has to make sure that all the equipment needed for surgery has been sterilised and is ready for use. She also goes around the health centre and prays with patients.

How is Joy?

Our daughter, Joy, is now 12 years old and is taller than her mother. She attends boarding school (Rift Valley Academy, RVA) near Nairobi, Kenya. It is a Christian school like Bingham Academy where Jenni Ray teaches. Joy is now in 6th Grade (equivalent to 1st form in UK) and will soon graduate to high school. She has many friends there, including two Korean girls in her class (she counts herself Korean). She enjoys life at RVA. She seems to be content wherever she is, whether at home in Goli or at RVA. This helps her parents not to miss her too much.

Meet the Moodys Andrew Moody, a member of Stranmillis, is married to Eunice and serves the

Future Plans?

Andrew is in discussion with the Diocese about training the church teachers/lay readers at Udende. Nebbi Diocese has only 40 pastors, but over 300 churches. This means that the church teacher in each church has the responsibility for preaching and pastoral ministry, yet they receive little training. Andrew plans, if the training moves to Udende, to use pastors to train the church teachers, and also to make sure that the course is relevant to the ministry they will have. We are also planning to visit South Sudan in the next few months. We know a missionary couple there. Andrew hopes to work with Rev. Paul Kim in teaching pastoral students from time to time. Eunice hopes to help local people with medical ministry.

Prayer Points

The centralisation of the training for new church

Praise God

teachers in Udende. That the Alur Bible will become available soon.

That our trip to South Sudan would go ahead

as planned. That the solar system, recently installed in CRC, would

work properly.

Joy is well settled in her school.

That Udende is now connected to mains electricity.

That CRC sold over 3500 books and Bibles last year.

That Goli Health Centre was upgraded to level 4 (this is equivalent to a small hospital).

FROM THE CHURCHES

FROM THE CHURCHES CEF TRAINING Another training evening for youth workers was held on Monday 22

CEF TRAINING

Another training evening for youth workers was held

on Monday 22 February at our Knock Church. The Youth Committee had invited CEF staff to come and share two

teaching seminars.

The first was on the presentation of

the gospel to children and young people; the second on encouraging young people to engage in prayer. Whether fairly new in the job or having been teaching children for many years, we always learn from these times.

FROM THE CHURCHES CEF TRAINING Another training evening for youth workers was held on Monday 22
FROM THE CHURCHES CEF TRAINING Another training evening for youth workers was held on Monday 22

At this time of year when leaders-in-charge of camps are trying to fill up the spaces in the camp teams, we asked Kirsty Burke and Delwyn Schmidt (Junior camp leader and cook respectively) to reflect on what it takes to serve in these capacities. Here is what they said.

What it takes to be a camp leader:

  • 1. Always being alert, even in the middle of the night!

  • 2. Not taking yourself too seriously, i.e. being willing to do the ‘silly’ things

  • 3. Having a loud voice

  • 4. Going on trips and joining in the singing on the bus rides

  • 5. Becoming sporty for the week in the hope my team wins

  • 6. Getting to know the children individually

  • 7. Showing something of Jesus’ love in both my words and actions in every aspect of camp

  • 8. Praying for the children before and after camp

  • 9. Teaching the children more from God’s word through stories, memory verses, choruses and dorm groups

10. Helping the kids realise the importance of giving their lives to Jesus when they’re young and encouraging them to develop Christian friendships whilst at camp even at

What it takes to be a camp cook:

  • 1. Being a background part of the camp team

  • 2. Praying before, during and after camp and trusting God – for healthy, appetising food and attentive children

  • 3. Being organised

  • 4. Cooking food in advance if possible

  • 5. Getting tips from ex-cooks (to avoid excessive quantities of veg, unpopular dishes, etc!)

  • 6. Avoiding over-stressing, being on the ball

  • 7. Loving the children

  • 8. Enjoying the kitchen craic and team meetings

  • 9. If possible, keeping your husband/brother/father handy as back-up in case of emergency

10. Stickability – considering cooking for camp as a physical, mental and spiritual workout and getting yourself some muscle!

eight years old If you think you might be interested in helping at camp, this year or sometime in the future, speak to your minister.

FROM THE CHURCHES

Stephen Roger 25 Years

In January 1991 Stephen Roger was installed as minister in Ballyclare EPC. 25 years later we marked the anniversary of his coming with celebration and thanksgiving. The congregation gathered for a meal on the evening of Saturday January 16th, joined by Revs Jeff Ballantine and Robert Beckett, their wives and special guest Rev Gwynne Evans from Hayes Town Chapel, London. After dinner, Gwynne spoke of his many years of friendship with the Roger family and offered encouragement for the years ahead. Ken McDonald, clerk of session, read from the minute book to bring us the history of Stephen’s call to the congregation and this narrative was taken up later in the proceedings by RB McKenzie, former clerk of session, who had also written a fitting poem for the occasion. On a lighter note, some of the men got together to sing a traditional Welsh tune (with less than traditional words), featuring a few of Stephen’s well-known habits and several Oscar winning performances! We turned our hearts to God in worship and gratitude in the time of hymn singing and Bible reading which followed. RB McKenzie and Mrs Phoebe Herron, a member in Ballyclare for 64 years, made presentations to Stephen and Chris on behalf of the congregation. The singing of the doxology brought the evening to an end. The pulpit was occupied by Rev Gwynne Evans on Sunday morning and by Rev Jeff Ballantine in the evening. We were blessed and challenged by the preaching from Ephesians 4 on God’s plans for His church (to call people in, to give gifts and to build up) and from Hebrews 11&12 on running the race (the hindrances, the encouragements and the ultimate means, “looking unto Jesus”). Supper followed the evening service, during which time Gwynne sang ‘My song is love unknown’ and Stephen and Chris were presented with a photograph which all the congregation had signed. We pray that this special weekend will have been an encouragement to Stephen in his ministry and also to us as a congregation as we sit under that ministry.

FROM THE CHURCHES Stephen Roger 25 Years In January 1991 Stephen Roger was installed as minister
FROM THE CHURCHES Stephen Roger 25 Years In January 1991 Stephen Roger was installed as minister
FROM THE CHURCHES Stephen Roger 25 Years In January 1991 Stephen Roger was installed as minister
FROM THE CHURCHES Stephen Roger 25 Years In January 1991 Stephen Roger was installed as minister
FROM THE CHURCHES Stephen Roger 25 Years In January 1991 Stephen Roger was installed as minister
FROM THE CHURCHES Stephen Roger 25 Years In January 1991 Stephen Roger was installed as minister
SAMUEL BILL 1864-1942 By the time you read this, the deadline for the submission of this

SAMUEL BILL

1864-1942

By the time you read this, the

deadline for the submission of this

year’s Sunday school projects will

have passed. While some will have

filled scrapbooks and produced

power point presentations, many more will have benefited

from hearing the stories in Sunday School or as children’s

talks from the pulpit. This year’s subjects were Brother

Andrew and Samuel Bill. The former is well known as the

founder of Open Doors, a man who risked his life working to

spread the gospel behind the Iron Curtain. The latter, however,

despite being from these shores, is less well remembered.

Samuel was born in East Belfast of Christian parents in

1864. He attended Ballymacarrett Presbyterian Church and

through his earnest Sunday School teacher came to trust

the Saviour. He involved himself in Christian service through

teenage years and believed God was calling him to work on

the mission field. At the end of his missionary college training

he was certain that God was guiding him to work in a remote

part of Nigeria along the Qua Iboe river with tribal people who

knew nothing of the Gospel. It was part of the region in Africa

known as the White Man’s Grave, with danger, disease and

death an ever present reality.

But sure of God’s call he sailed for Nigeria in 1887, without

any financial backing, and served the Lord in that land until his

death in 1942. The work was difficult but Samuel persevered

and was encouraged when his friend Archie Baillie (also

from East Belfast) came to help. God answered prayer in

1890 when they were able to sit at the Lord’s Table with 11

newborn native believers.

Gradually with more missionary help and supported by the

home (Belfast) Qua Iboe Mission Council, the work grew

under God. A remarkable period of growth in revival blessing

was experienced in the Qua Iboe region in 1927.

Today the Qua Iboe Church (now named the United

Evangelical Church) has well over 1,000 congregations, 3

Bible Colleges, many primary schools, 3 secondary schools, 2

hospitals and a printing press, reaching many with the gospel.

The Qua Iboe Mission Samuel Bill founded is now called

Mission Africa, which today has missionaries in a number of

African countries. Our missionaries Sid and Jean Garland, and

Pamela and Musa Gaiya are connected to Mission Africa.

The story of Samuel Bill tells how God used a humble man,

who as a teenager often sang the hymn All for Jesus – and

meant it.

SAMUEL BILL 1864-1942 By the time you read this, the deadline for the submission of this

The plaque on the wall in Island Street

City Mission Hall, East Belfast

Samuel Bill International Academy, Nigeria

FROM THE CHURCHES

Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Rev. Dr Robert C Beckett

Crosscollyer Street church was packed on the evening of

Wednesday 6th January 2016 for a Service of Thanksgiving for

the 34 years of full-time ministry of Rev. Dr Robert C Beckett.

Rev. Billy Elliott, Interim Moderator, welcomed everyone and led

in prayer after the singing of “O Lord of hosts, how lovely is your

dwelling place” from Psalm 84. The Scripture reading was Psalm

146, read by Mr Greg Thompson, B.Th., Community Evangelist

of Crosscollyer Street. The singing of “To God be the glory, great

things He has done” was heartfelt as the congregation reflected

on God’s faithfulness in enabling Dr Beckett during so many

years of selfless service since his ordination on 7th October

1981.

Rev. Robert Johnston, Moderator of Presbytery, gave a lively and

encouraging address on Psalm 146 – the happiness of those

whose help is the Lord: the Christian has Hallelujahs, Help and

Hope. After the hymn “Great is thy faithfulness” Dr Beckett gave

a word of response, referring to his wide-ranging experiences in

the work and giving glory to God. Rev. Robert Johnston prayed

for Rev. and Mrs Beckett’s continuing ministries, and brought

the first part of the meeting to a close.

Presentations were made to Dr Beckett by Mr Rowan Perry and

to Mrs Doreen Beckett by Mrs Eleanor Ingram, a new member

of Crosscollyer Street who was converted through Dr Beckett

speaking at her husband’s funeral last year.

Tributes were given by Mr Trevor Gilliland, long time session

clerk of Crosscollyer; Mrs Julia Grier (standing in for Mr John Grier

who was unwell and sent his apologies) on behalf of Somerton

Road/Hope Fellowship, with brief messages from Catherine

and Peter Grier; Mr Mervyn Kelly on behalf of the Youth Club

work in Crosscollyer; Mr Stephen Johnston on behalf of EPCEW

and the Johnston family, who played a big part in the history of

Crosscollyer Street; Rev. John McClure on behalf of the Helping

Hand group in Crosscollyer; Rev. David McIlwaine, Newington

Presbyterian Church, on behalf of local churches; and Mr Ernest

Brown on behalf of the denomination, mentioning camps and

the many other ways Dr Beckett has served throughout the

years.

Mr Greg Thompson presented apologies from Mrs Jean

McQuade who was prevented from attending by family illness,

and in her place gave tribute to Doreen’s work in the Mother &

Toddler group and in many other ways.

Supper was provided by the North Belfast congregations, and

many memories were shared in informal fellowship.

FROM THE CHURCHES Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Rev. Dr Robert C Beckett Crosscollyer
FROM THE CHURCHES Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Rev. Dr Robert C Beckett Crosscollyer
FROM THE CHURCHES Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Rev. Dr Robert C Beckett Crosscollyer
FROM THE CHURCHES Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Rev. Dr Robert C Beckett Crosscollyer
FROM THE CHURCHES Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Rev. Dr Robert C Beckett Crosscollyer

Summer

Camps 2016

JUNIORS

2-9 July

Dunluce High School, Bushmills Leader-in-charge: Heather Watson Email davidwatson006@btinternet.com

INTERS

2-9 July

Moyallon Centre, Portadown

SENIORS

9-16 July

Ballyclabber RP church, Coleraine Leader-in-charge: Robert Johnston Email therobertjohnston@hotmail.com

Please get your application in early to avoid disappointment and to help the leaders with all aspects of planning. Forms available from your youth leader and on the church website: www.epcni.org.uk

Pray that all our elders and deacons would be faithful in carrying out their

office and would know wisdom and strength from God

Pray that God would now be

preparing the next generation of

office-bearers to oversee and serve

His church

Pray that all our youth leaders would

be good examples of Christian living to the children they work with

Pray for the power of God to fall upon every Sunday school lesson and youth meeting

Thank God for His faithfulness to the Ballyclare congregation over the 25 years of Stephen Roger’s ministry and pray that the teaching received

would yield fruit

Thank God for Robert Beckett’s many years of fulltime ministry and praise God for each life influenced for the Saviour along the way

Pray that both Stephen and Robert and their families would know God’s

blessing in the future

Praise God for Andrew and Eunice

Moody and pray for their work in

Uganda (see article)

Praise God for the opportunity to visit seamen with the Gospel when their

ships stop in the Port of Belfast.

Pray that Samuel Cowan would be led by God to seamen whose hearts are ready to receive His touch

Pray that our children and young

adults would be challenged to consider the need to go into all the world and that there would be those who would hear and heed the call of

God to go

BOOK REVIEWS

Title: Eyes Wide Open

Author: Steve DeWitt

Publisher: Credo House Publishers

Pages: 208

Steve DeWitt’s Eyes Wide Open

was an unexpected treat about the

rarely discussed subject of beauty.

At its most basic level the book is a

lengthy exposition of Romans 1:20

where Paul teaches that God has

Pray that both Stephen and Robert and their families would know God’s blessing in the future

revealed Himself to all people through His creation. Nature is

beautiful because it flows from the character of a beautiful

Creator. DeWitt explains that true beauty is found in the

triune Godhead alone, and that all other beauty (be it Divine

creation or man-made art) must be understood as being a

pale imitation of, and signpost towards, the One who is truly

beautiful.

DeWitt repeatedly points out that the things that excite our

senses in this world are merely shadows compared to the

time when Adam’s race walked alongside God in the Garden

of Eden. We were made for better and more beautiful things,

and the beauties of this earth whisper this truth to us. Beauty

ushers us towards a beautiful Creator; to enjoy created

beauty for its own sake is, as DeWitt puts it, to ‘think like an

atheist’ who returns time and time again to charge his glass

without ever being satisfied. These moments of wonder

should bring us to a place of worship as we look forward to

the time when we will gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and

be truly satisfied.

Beautifully crafted, thought provoking and different,

Eyes Wide Open will change the way that you look at the

world around you and stir your heart to worship. Highly

recommended.

Ed Hambleton

“Let me say it from the outset: this is a really good book. I

enjoyed it thoroughly and benefited in very specific ways

from the time I spent reading it. Eyes Wide Open is a very

enjoyable, very quotable book, and one that made an

immediate impact on my life. It was a book that showed up

unannounced and a book that was just exactly what I needed

to read at this time. I am glad to commend it to you.”

Tim Challies

Title: A Short History of the Church in Scotland AD300-2015 Author: Author: Rowland S. Ward Publisher:
Title: A Short History of the Church in Scotland AD300-2015
Author: Author: Rowland S. Ward
Publisher: New Melbourne Press
Published: 2015
Pages:127
Our Price: £6-75
This volume provides a brief introduction to the Christian
Church in Scotland from the earliest reliable information up to

the present time. It endeavours to avoid the partisan accounts

so often found in such books and it also takes into account

Title: A True and Speedy Use of Christ

Author: Alexander Grosse

Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria

Published: 2015

Pages: 214

RRP:£16-99 Our Price:£14-99

Sometimes a book comes into your

hands that you just can’t put down.

A True and Speedy Use of Christ, by

Alexander Grosse (1596-1654), is such a book. The subject

matter is based on Colossians 2:9-10: “For in him dwelleth

all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete

in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” From

the research of the last 50 years which has thrown fresh light

on many aspects of Scottish Church history.

these words Grosse opens up a real treasure house of

guidance on how to benefit from the use of Christ in every

situation. He does this by showing: 1) that the benefit derives

from Christ having an infinite fullness in Him, while the

world’s fullness “is derivative, a borrowed fullness,” and 2) the

In eight brief chapters the author packs in a lot of detail as he

walks us through almost seventeen hundred years of Church

history, including periods such as the Celtic and Roman

eras (300-1400), the Reformation (1400-1567), the period

great foolishness of our hearts in not contenting ourselves

with Christ, or not closing fully with Christ. This leads Grosse

to exhort his readers to come to Christ, to submit to Him,

because “the life of man without faith in Christ is as no life at

all, but a very death.”

of conflict between Episcopalianism and Presbyterianism

(1567-1638), the Covenanters (1638-1688), the Revolution

and Enlightenment (1689-1800), the events leading to the

Disruption (1800-1843) and the modern era of decline which

followed (1843-2015).

Grosse then sets forth the necessity of communion with

Christ. Such communion that enables the believer to

apprehend more and more the beauty of Christ in His wisdom,

love, provision and “the blessed, sweet and gracious presence

of Christ.” And oh what beauty is set before our eyes! This

leads Grosse to stress the joy of those who are partakers of

Christ and how they mature spiritually by communion with

Him: their maturity and joy flow out of apprehending the

fullness of Christ through communion with Him.

Grosse gives four marks that evidence the fullness of

believers through union with Christ and provides four

reasons why the believer should strive for a mature fullness

in personal spiritual life in and through Christ. There is also

a word on how sinners come to Christ and obtain a saving

interest in Him and how to make use of Christ.

Three appendices are added to this wonderfully Christ-

exalting book. The first deals with the danger of neglecting

Christ and the Opportunity of Grace: the second sets forth

Christ as the soul’s last refuge; the third deals with Paul’s

legacy (2 Cor.13:11); something which all believers are

exhorted to follow.

This little book is a must read for all who desire closer,

intimate communion with Christ.

The book concludes with a chapter on the division, diversity

and decline of the Church in Scotland. This chapter is as

fascinating as it is depressing, dealing with the period of the

Disruption to the present day, showing how the religious

landscape in Scotland has changed and how the Church has

fragmented and weakened during these years.

This book is an excellent primer for those unfamiliar with

Scottish Church History. It is short, accessible and well-

written, and also contains many lucid observations for those

more familiar with the subject matter. The debates and issues

which still rumble on within Scottish presbyterianism make

this volume even more relevant, and the author does not

shirk the task of commenting on more recent issues.

The book is not, perhaps, without a little Free Church bias, but

in recent years it is reasonable to say that any modest growth

there may have been in church attendance in Scotland does

appear to be within the Free Church of Scotland. The book

ends on a positive note with the thought that perhaps God

will once again be pleased to revive His Church in Scotland

through a ‘Holy Spirit wrought revival of the truth as it is in

Jesus.’

Dr. James Davison

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Best of the Blogs

A selection of online blogs and articles to challenge and

encourage you in your walk with God and his people…

How to Offend a Room Full of Calvinists (Tim Challies)

(www.challies.com/articles/how-to-offend-a-room-full-of-

calvinists)

Five Reasons Why Eschatology is Particularly Pastoral

(Jeffrey Stivason)

“Do you want to know how to make a Calvinist angry? Do

you want to know how to offend a whole room full of them?

incompatible with evangelism. We have all heard it, we have

all read it, we have all rejected it…”

  • (www.alliancenet.org/placefortruth/column/theology-on- Just bring up the old line about Reformed theology being

the-go/five-reasons-why-eschatology-is-particularly-

pastoral)

“Eschatology acquaints us with Biblical expectations in

the midst of present difficulties. Yes, the age to come has

broken in on the present age. But we still live in the present

age. Therefore, says Peter, “[do] not be surprised at the fiery

ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing,

as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to

the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on

rejoicing…” We live in the present evil age. Evil is unsurprising.

Joy is not only the surprise but God’s abiding expectation for

those who live in the overlap of the ages. And because joy is

the result of God’s breaking in - joy is possible!”

Calvin on Life’s Perils and God’s Providence

(Aaron Denlinger)

(www.reformation21.org/blog/2016/02/calvin-on-lifes-

perils-and-god.php)

“Calvin apparently lived with a profound awareness of the

potential for death that constantly accompanies us as human

beings. In 1.17.10 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion,

the Reformer provided a rather sobering catalog of the

“innumerable

...

deaths that threaten” us in our day to day

existence. It’s intriguing, and perhaps profitable, to explore

Stepping Stones to Covenant Baptism (Barry York)

that catalog and reflect upon the ways in which our modern

(sense of) vulnerability to death measures up to at least one
(www.theaquilareport.com/stepping-stones-to-covenant-

baptism/)

man’s (sense of) the same five hundred years ago.”

“Often in explanations of covenant baptism, the correlation

is established between the promises God made to Abraham

that were sealed with circumcision and the fulfillment in

Christ of those promises that are now sealed with baptism.

Yet clearly many struggle to make this connection, seeing it

as too far a jump across the divide between the Old and New

Testaments. We need to help them further by pointing out

the stepping stones God has given us that are embedded

throughout the Bible. What are these stepping stones?”

More Goodness Showed To Us Than To Christ (Mark Jones)

(www.reformation21.org/blog/2016/01/god-loved-us-

more-than-his-son.php)

“Christians affirm that God is good, but just how good is

God? We can speak of him being “infinitely good” but that

still doesn’t help the person in the pew much. People need

specifics. Is it possible that God could show more goodness to

his people than to his beloved Son?”

Is Church Membership Really Required? (Ricky Jones)

(www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/is-church-membership-

really-required)

“Christians seem to think less of it than ever before. If you’re

one who looks upon church membership lightly, then I invite

you to reconsider. When we hear the word membership, we

immediately think of a club. A member pays dues, comes to

meetings, and fulfills the obligations of a club member. When

you move, or no longer have time for the club, you simply

withdraw your membership and move on. The Bible says

membership is much more intimate. “For no one ever hated

his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ

does the church, because we are members of his body”

(Eph. 5:29-30).”

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