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Sorrowing over people

Page 6

Grand designs (Habakkuk 2:6-20)

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Atonement: Part 4
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The crux
of the matter
(Page 8)




PART 4: The crux of the matter




(Page 4)

Phi lippians 1 v 9-11

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First word


Unapologetic, part 4:
The crux of the matter


Sorrowing over people

Romans 9 v 1-5


Grand designs
Habakkuk 2:6-20
The Absolute Completion of Mans
Redemption on the Cross

Book Reviews

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If you cast your mind back to the summer, then you
will no doubt remember the wonderful Olympic Games
which took place in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro.
As ever, the Games kicked off with an exuberant
opening ceremony, at which athletes from all over the
world paraded into the stadium, all gathered together
in one place.

was reminded of this joyful, multi-cultural gathering

when I preached upon Psalm 87 recently. This short
psalm paints a glorious picture of a great gathering of
people from many different lands, who have come to
Zion in order to worship the LORD. What is so glorious
about it, we might ask.
Firstly, it is glorious because there is reconciliation
in Zion. The nations that the Lord mentions as he
surveys the gathered worshippers are notable because
of the very fact that these nations (Rahab, meaning
Egypt, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Cush) are nations
which stood opposed to God and his people. They were
his enemies, and yet there they are, in Zion, gathering
with the people of God to worship God.
Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God is
in the business of reconciling his enemies to himself,
turning them from God-haters into God-worshippers.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, in Christ God was
reconciling the world to himself, not counting their
trespasses against them.
The call of the gospel is therefore this: We implore you
on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians
5v19, 20)
Secondly, it is glorious because there is rebirth in Zion.
Whilst God makes mention of the nations represented in
the gathering of worshippers, there is something even
more fundamental which is underlined repeatedly in this
psalm. Verse 6: The LORD records as he registers his
people, This one was born there [i.e., in Zion]. These
people, gathered from distant, enemy lands, are literally
given a second birth, making them citizens of Zion!
Jesus said, unless one is born again, he cannot see the

Kingdom of God. But for those who are born again, they
also receive this astounding privilege of being made
citizens of Zion!
Thirdly, it is glorious because there is rejoicing in Zion.
Singers and dancers alike say, All my springs are in
you. (Verse 7)
The people in Zion rejoice! They sing and they dance
because, like a parched traveller in the desert, they have
found a life-giving spring which slakes their thirst
and refreshes their heart and brings them the deepest
imaginable satisfaction.
Jesus said, Whoever drinks of the water that I will give
him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give
him will become in him a spring of water welling up to
eternal life. (John 4v14)
The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the old city
of Zion was a mere foreshadowing of the heavenly
Jerusalem (Hebrews 12v22-24). Praise God that, as
citizens of that city, we are those who have experienced
reconciliation with God, rebirth through the work of the
Spirit, and can rejoice in the Son!
Saviour, if of Zions city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy name.
Fading is the worldlings pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zions children know.
- John Newton

PART 4: The crux of the matter

e have so far considered the subjects of faith and

Secondly, we can say that the alternative theories which have

science, suffering, and the Bible. I have argued that

been offered to counter the gospels claims of a risen Jesus

there is no conflict between Christianity and science per

do not adequately explain the events that followed. In Who

se, that the existence of suffering does not disprove the

Moved the Stone? Frank Morrison lists some of the possible

existence of a loving and good God, and that the Scriptures

alternatives which have been suggested:

are more than a remarkable set of historic writings - they are

1. Joseph of Arimathea moved the body

the inspired word of God. Even if we were to convince the

2. The body was moved by the Roman authorities

world of these points we would still have not truly shared our

3. The body was moved by the Jewish authorities to

faith. Our faith is not in doctrine, or a church, but in the person

of Jesus Christ.

4. Jesus was not really dead

prevent his tomb becoming a martyrs shrine

5. The women visited the wrong grave

The first believers were disciples of the man Jesus and had

6. The grave was not visited at all and the story gained

learned to trust in him and to share his way of life. This was

later credibility.

the shock of the gospel for the Jewish establishment of Jesus

day: he called people to follow him. He claimed the allegiance

I would first like to dismiss the notion that Jesus had not

and devotion that was due to God. For the Romans he was, as

really died. In modern times death is not a visible part of

a king, a rival to Caesar. As C.S. Lewis has pointed out, from

daily life. As a rule people die at great age in hospitals or care

his own recorded teaching we cannot assume that he is just

homes. Many people will never have seen a dead body. From

a moral teacher. His claims and his acceptance of worship

professional experience, I can tell you that there is a world

are too extravagant for that. He either is what he says he

of difference in appearance between a living person and a

is - the Messiah of God - or a liar, or a madman. But perhaps

corpse. The Roman soldiers would certainly have known - it

the greatest stumbling block for many is the Bibles claim to

was part of their job. Johns account describes that when the

Christs atoning death and resurrection. This is literally the

soldier pierced Christs side with a spear blood and water

crux of the matter. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 If

flowed out. This separation of blood into clot and plasma

Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless

would only happen after death. (Even if it were possible that

and so is your faith. (NLT)

Jesus had survived the flogging and crucifixion, it is hardly

credible that the disciples would hail such a shattered figure

So what then can we say about the resurrection?

First we can say that Christs resurrection was unexpected.
Whilst there was an expectation of a general resurrection at
the end times, there was no concept of an earlier individual
resurrection in contemporary Jewish thought. Think of how
many instances the gospels record of Jesus predicting his
death and resurrection and the disciples just not getting it at
all. Neither was the idea current in Graeco-Roman culture;
consider the scepticism Paul faced from the philosophers in
Athens when he raised the subject (Acts 17:32). Resurrection
then was a stumbling block to the Jews and a folly to the
Gentiles. (1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV)

as the risen Lord.)

So then, Christ has died, his body is obtained from Pilate

Then there is the witness of changed lives. Paul notes the

by Joseph of Arimathea, anointed and laid in the tomb, and

transformation in the lives of church members in Corinth;

the tomb sealed. Matthew notes that the two Marys were

individuals who were once caught in sexual immorality, greed,

watching this happen. They would have noticed if Joseph had

drunkenness, dishonesty and idolatry but then made clean

not put Christs body in the tomb. This took place late in the

through their encounter with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

afternoon - before sunset when the Sabbath began.

Such transformations continue to this day.

Given that the women watched the burial and sealing of the
tomb whilst it was still light, it seems unlikely then that the

So then Christ has died and has risen - but why? Why did

women subsequently went to the wrong tomb. Even if they

Jesus die? We have already said he had not come to be a

had, surely Joseph would have spoken out and corrected

moral teacher. Jesus himself tells us, For God loved the world

them, pointing to the correct burial site.

so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone
who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)

Could the body have been taken by the Jews? If this had

It is not just that Christ has died but that he has died to save

been the case then the nascent church would have easily

his people. The ultimate apologetic is that of love - it is Gods

been stopped in its tracks as the Jewish authorities could

kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

produce evidence that the proclaimed resurrection had not,

in fact, occurred. What about the Romans? They would have

To conclude: Once an eminent professor of theology was

had little motive for stealing the body, and again could easily

asked by a student what his greatest, most profound thought

have quashed stories of a risen king with the evidence of a

had been. The elderly professor replied, Jesus loves me, this I

still dead Jesus. In fact, the priests and the Pharisees seem

know, for the Bible tells me so.

to have understood Jesus comments at his trial better than

the disciples. They were so keen to avoid any notion of a risen
Messiah that, as Matthew records, they had asked Pilate to
put a guard on the tomb. This guard was powerless in the face
of the angel and it was agreed to spread the story that the
disciples had taken the body.
So what of the disciples? After the crucifixion we find them
cowering timorously in the upper room, initially viewing the
womens story of the empty tomb as nonsense until Peter
and John run to check out the facts for themselves. But it is
not just the matter of the empty tomb. The gospels and book
of Acts record a number of encounters with the risen Jesus including with the sceptical doubting Thomas, who was so
reluctant to believe the others testimony. If the disciples had
stolen the body, if they knew that Jesus was dead, if they had
circulated a fiction about resurrection, then why were they
prepared to face poverty, persecution and death rather than
admit what they had done? How can an ethical teaching that
so exalts the truth be developed and propagated by men who
knew they were peddling lies? Perhaps the second generation
of believers might have been fooled by such stories but the
disciples, the eyewitnesses, would hardly have gone to their
deaths by sword or stoning for what they knew to be false.

Michael Trimble has been attending Stranmillis

EPC since 1993, and works as a physician in the
Royal Victoria Hospital. He is married to Rachel
and they have three children, David, Sophie and

Over People
A Sermon on Romans 9:1-5
(All Bible quotations from the ESV)

ne of Pauls reasons for writing

to the Romans is that he plans
to pass through on his way to Spain
(Rom 15:24) to preach and plant new
churches there. In this we see his
missionary drive. But in writing he takes
the opportunity to lay out the gospel of
Jesus Christ. He shows us the bad news
(1:18-3:20), and the glorious good news
(3:21-8:39). But in chapter 9 there is a
complete reversal of Pauls mood. After
the joy in chapter 8 there is great sorrow
and anguish. Why? In 1:16 Paul says
this gospel is for the Jews first, yet on
the whole the Jews rejected the gospel
message. The greatest opposition he
faced was from the Jews and this causes
great anguish for him.

He feels great sorrow for his

Look how important this is to Paul.
He has four notes of emphasis in the
opening verse. Firstly, he says I am
speaking the truth. This is about the
state of his heart. Secondly, he puts the
same thought negatively for emphasis:
I am not lying. Thirdly, he appeals to
his conscience which bears him witness.
As one writer put it: Conscience is the
activity by which we judge ourselves.
Then finally, he mentions that this is
a conscience in the Holy Spirit. He
is conscious of the Spirits indwelling
presence and that his life and his heart

are under the scrutiny and sanctifying

power of the Spirit.
So all this shows us that his anguish is
not the fruit of a corrupted and twisted
heart but the fruit of a heart that is
ever open to God. He feels great sorrow
and anguish as he thinks about his
own kindred people and how they have
rejected the saving power of the gospel.

He is conscious of the Spirits

indwelling presence and that his
life and his heart are under the
scrutiny and sanctifying power
of the Spirit.

I want to say to you that this is the

inevitable result of someone who
has had his or her eyes opened to the
human predicament that sin places
us in, and at the same time has eyes
opened to the sheer wonder and glory
of the grace of God. It is the most
natural thing for a Christian to react like
this. You see, the heart of Paul is not just
that he must make an intellectual case
for the gospel; he doesnt sit revelling
with some friends in the cleverness of it
all, as though it is some kind of subject
learned at school!
No, his heart is moved to think about
those who need the gospel, especially

those closest to him - his own people.

I had someone ask me recently if I ever
experienced discontent as a Christian.
It is an interesting question. Paul
has written elsewhere of the deep
contentment he has learned to have in
any circumstances. But here in chapter
9 we see that it goes along with a
powerful restlessness as he sees people
rejecting the gospel.
Christians, do you have a deep sorrow
for those around you? For your family
members who are not Christian? Your
colleagues that you see every day of
the week? Your neighbours you say
Hello! to every so often? I am not
speaking here about a manufactured
feeling - I know I ought to feel this, so
I will work it up somehow! I am talking
about what supernaturally occurs as a
result of having received the gospel and
knowing its saving power in your life. I
think the extent to which you are moved
by the plight of the lost around you is
a measure of how much you grasp and
are gripped by the gospel!

Privilege makes the

feeling deeper
Now, Paul, as a Jew, is part of a wider
Jewish family and he feels a special
closeness to them. But his concern for
them is much more than that. He knows

that Israel has played the central role in

Gods dealings with mankind in history.
As such they have been especially
privileged by God - they have had so
much blessing. Paul makes a little list of
those privileges in verses 4 & 5.
Firstly, theirs was the adoption, as the
chosen children of God. God chose them
to be something quite special. In Exodus
4:22 Moses delivered a message from
God to Pharaoh, Israel is my firstborn
son. What a privilege for a nation to be
adopted by the living God to serve his
purposes under the covenants of the
Old Testament!
Then, theirs is the glory. Think of those
great moments in Israels history when
the Shekinah glory of God shone forth,
for example, on Mount Sinai, or at the
dedication of the temple. The weight of
the glory of God rested upon the people.
And so Paul goes on: the covenants,
where Israel was bound to God
everlastingly; the giving of the law; the
true pattern of worship; and all the
wonderful promises of God made, not to
mankind in general, but to Israel.
Then finally, in verse 5, the most
glorious thing of all, that out of the
great fathers of old, Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, would come the Christ, the
Saviour. Notice what he says about this
Christ: who is God over all, blessed
Friends, do you grasp the significance
of this? Here is a people who have been
plucked out of obscurity, who have been
given so much. Then, out of that people
comes someone - a man who was none
other than the second person of the
Trinity, God himself - to be the Christ, to
be the Saviour. What has ethnic Israel
done for the most part? They have
rejected this very Son of God they had
been so instrumental in producing: He
came to his own, and his own people did
not receive him. (John 1:11). So now we
can feel this weight of burden that Paul
has for his own people.
I asked earlier whether you have felt
the burden of the need people around

you have for the gospel. Like Paul, let us

add to that a sense of the great heritage
that we have in this country of gospel
witness. We have a great Christian
heritage in this land that has been a rich
blessing to the world. It is not at the
level of Israels privileges, but we have
been privileged! Does it not therefore
move you that in spite of this, there
are so few in our day who have been
gripped by the gospel as those saints
of old once were? That there is so little
response to the gospel in our day in our
own home town?
The true Christian rejoices in the gospel,
but feels a burden for those around who
reject it. That burden is heightened by
the realisation of the opportunities and
privileges people have had and yet
reject it.

Why this is a very

Christian response
Finally, if you have not grasped this
already, I want you to see still more why
this is a truly Christian response, for
two reasons. Firstly, Paul says it is! He is
telling the truth in Christ. It is because
he is a Christian, himself transformed
and changed by the gospel, that his
heart is filled with grief and sorrow.
Secondly, his desire follows the pattern
of Christs desire. We see this in verse
3 where he could wish that he were
cursed for the sake of his kinsmen. Now,
it is not that he thinks that he could
actually be accursed and cut off from
Christ - nothing shall separate him from
the love of God in Christ Jesus! (8:39).
Nor is it that he thinks that if he were
to give his life then his people could be
saved. No, this is actually an expression
of the desire that the gospel has put into
his heart - so deep is his longing for the
salvation of his kinsmen.
What is interesting here is that this is
the very desire Jesus himself had as he
came to this earth, to spend himself
for the sake of others. He alone was
accursed and cut off on the cross for the
sake of you and me. He went willingly
because he desired this with all his
heart. He was a man of sorrows as he

looked upon his people.

But his death and sufferings were truly
effective in saving them.

The gospel breaks you down

and reconstructs you with the
mind of Christ. It will fill you
with the heights of
genuine joy.

If you are a Christian today, your

salvation is never simply about getting
a ticket that guarantees heaven for
you. The gospel breaks you down and
reconstructs you with the mind of
Christ. It will fill you with the heights of
genuine joy. But to the extent that that
happens, you will also be moved by the
need of those around you and you will
be filled with a desire for them to know
Christ in direct proportion. The person
who gives little thought to the salvation
of others is the person who has little
grasp of the power of the gospel. He
or she may not even be a Christian!
The person who is truly gripped by the
awesome majesty of Christ who saves that is a person who has a deep sorrow
for the lost.

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.


ilence can speak volumes, cant it? When our words fail
us, were silent. Perhaps if we were to stand looking over
the Grand Canyon, we might be silent - just breath-taken with
what were looking at. The final verse of Habakkuk chapter
2 says The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep
silence before him. There is an awe-filled silence before the
might, the power, the greatness, the holiness of God. We are
in no place to fill the air with words but would simply be silent
before Him.
This whole book of the prophet Habakkuk is reminding us of
the greatness of God; that He is the Lord who rules over all.
He rules over Judah, He rules over Babylon, He rules over the
whole earth, He rules over the whole of history and Hes the
same God today and forevermore.
As we come to chapter 2 verses 6-20, were confronted
again with what the living God is doing in history, with His
mighty, powerful working. Were looking at that vision that
Habakkuk has received; what does the Lord promise to do?
We remember that Habakkuk was perplexed by what he saw
in those times but the Lord reassures him that His purpose is
still being carried forward. God will act in a way which is right
and just and brings glory to His own name. This is what the
Lord is saying, the great God of glory let all the earth keep
silence before Him.
Man, although so corrupted by sin, does still have a
conscience. Even though the conscience can be ignored, and
can be hardened, there is still a sense of right and wrong.
And so its not surprising when we hear people say, its not
fair, its not right, wheres the justice in that? We have

movements demanding justice for various groups in society,

we know that when someone acts unfairly there should be
consequences. There is that sense of right and wrong.
The Bible consistently reminds us that God is just.
Unlike the justice of this world which may be biased, or weak,
or misinformed, Gods justice is perfect. Your righteousness
is like the mountains of God; your judgements are like the
great deep. God will do what is right He will act according
to His character. Thats why Habakkuk cant understand
what is happening. How could this wicked godless nation of
the Babylonians become such a vast, powerful, prosperous
empire? How could it be?
Well, the Lord has an answer! An end is coming. God has
a purpose and this great Babylonian empire will come to
nothing. Here in chapter two, an example is being made of
Babylon all their pride and glory will be brought crashing
down. These verses contain a pronouncement of five woes
against Babylon. This is a solemn pronouncement of Gods
judgement upon them, like the guilty verdict and the sentence
being read out. Babylon isnt directly named; there is a wider
principle here: woe to all who do such things, to all who rebel
against God in this way.
How has this great empire acted so unrighteously? They are
distinguished by their grasping greed, by their desire to take
more and more, to possess what isnt theirs, and to do so with
violence and bloodshed. The Babylonian empire was like a
steamroller: everything that stood in its way could
be flattened.
But the Lord says this wont carry on forever. Suddenly, their
creditors will awaken and bite back. The nations they have
plundered will rise up and plunder them. As they have done,
so it will be done to them.
The empire is depicted like a house. Theyve built it and think
its secure, a safe place. But theyre trusting in a false sense of
security; it wont last. The very parts of the house themselves
will cry out. The stone shall cry out of the wall (v. 11).
Their sins will catch up with them; their place of security is not
really secure at all.
These things are very current how much does greed rule in
our world? If we could just have this then our lives would be
happy. If we had this then we would be secure. Cheating the
tax-man, or the insurance company, or whoever it may be
these things happen. But ultimately it wont last.
Sin can seem to prosper for a time, but the Lord pronounces
His woe on such things. The end will come; there will be a
consequence. Theres a baseness to the sins of Babylon it
was a place known for its immorality and over-indulgence. A
woe is pronounced against one who is not only drunk himself
but makes his neighbour drunk as well. Theres shameful,
humiliating behaviour. And again the Lord promises shame for
their glory. Theyll be made to drink the cup of Gods wrath.
The pleasure-seeking, the lack of self-control, the indulgence
of this world will come to an end. It may seem good for a time
but will lead to sorrow in the end.
The violence of Babylon is spoken of and remembered. Life is
not cheap in the Lords eyes. This empire will be overthrown
by the very means that were used to set it up.
These woes remind us of the justice and holiness of God.
He is not mocked. Woe is declared on those who are opposed
to God and His ways. Babylons star rose for a time but soon
came crashing down.

And we mustnt think this is just ancient history, or its

just the Old Testament. The New Testament speaks in the
same way of a God who will act with justice. The Lord Jesus
spoke plainly about people being judged for their sins, He
called for repentance. He pronounced woes on the scribes
and Pharisees for their hypocrisy. We cant avoid the
straightforward teaching of Gods word, that He will judge the
earth. Things will not just go on as they always have.
We can rely upon Gods justice and holiness. But were also
reminded that we can rely upon Gods great eternal purpose,
to bring glory to His own name. The Lord is reminding
Habakkuk, that these things are not out of control, that the
Lord still has His plan and purpose, and that that purpose will
bring Him glory.
Verse 13: Behold is it not from the Lord of hosts that the
people shall labour merely for fire, and nations weary
themselves for nothing?
The Babylonians have been pursuing all these things actively.
Theyve been building houses, and establishing cities, and
fighting wars and extending their great empire. But what is
it all for? It will all come to nothing. That which they are so
proud of will be taken away from them.
Sometimes our own aims and purposes may not come to
much. But the great purpose of God for His own glory will
endure forever. His work will last; His kingdom will endure.
Verse 14: For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the
glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Its a promise
which is repeated in the Old Testament, its there in Isaiah 11
v. 9 and in Numbers 14 v 21. This is Gods design and purpose
to exhibit His glory in the earth.
The earth has been filled with the glory of God in creation.
The heavens declare the glory of God. If our eyes are open to
look around us at this world and universe we see something
of the glory and greatness of God. What amazing power and
wisdom called this world into being! But theres more than
that when we think of the glory of God being revealed.
The New Testament tells us how Gods glory has been
revealed in the coming of His Son to this earth. John writes
that we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from
the Father. What an amazing thing to see something of the
glory of God in His own Son, how He became man as the very
express image of the Father. God displays His glory; He makes
Himself known, He shows His greatness to this world.
The Saviour of the world has come, revealing Gods works
and ways.
The earth is being filled with the knowledge of His glory as the
gospel goes out. Do we see how important the spread of the
gospel is? It is vital for the salvation of sinners, and vital to
bring glory to His great name. His name is being praised in all
the earth as His gospel is made known. Gods purposes are
being fulfilled.
But of course there is still a final fulfilment to this promise.
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory, every
square inch, when Christ returns. When all confess Him as
Lord, all bow before Him.
This is Gods purpose; this is what will last. Nothing will stand
in the way. The Babylonians will come to nothing, earths
proud empires will come to nothing. ISIS will ultimately come

to nothing. All those who mock God and His ways, and think
theyre somebody all their words will fall away, will be worth
nothing. The Lord will triumph, His glory will be made known,
His purposes will last. Thats a great assurance to us!
Weve seen the perfect justice of God, weve seen His unfailing
purpose; now look at this final woe in Habakkuk 2 v. 18-20.
This last woe is pronounced on idolatry. When we think of all
the sins of Babylon, and all the sins of man in general, surely
the greatest is the failure to give God glory, to give Him the
honour which is His due, the failure to acknowledge the God
who has made us and everything around us.
The Babylonians were full of idol worship. They placed their
trust in gods they had made with their own hands, their own
creations. What a crazy thing to place your trust and faith in
a stone and ask it to teach you and guide you! A lifeless idol
cant speak or guide or teach.
How different from the true and living God who speaks in
His word, who is ever faithful to that word. We can trust the
everlasting God, the maker of heaven and earth. We can trust
in Him, but how can we trust something of our making?
Of course people would still rather trust other things than
the living God: would rather believe the horoscope in the
newspaper than trust Gods word; would rather hold all sorts
of superstitions about what should be done at certain times
and in certain places, rather than trust God and call on Him.
People centre their lives around money, or sport, or pleasure,
or drink, or drugs or 101 other things rather than give glory
to God. But those things are vain; they cannot compare to the
true and living God, the God of glory who we see here, the God
who is Lord over all.
How are we to regard God? The LORD is in His holy temple
Hes in heaven His dwelling place. Hes in that place from
where He reigns over all, in glory and majesty and holiness.
How are we to approach such a God? with awe, with
wonder, with reverence. Let all the earth keep silence before
him. God is so great that all should be in awe of Him, all
should fear Him. This is the Sovereign Lord of all; there is none
like Him. How we ought to be still before Him!
The perplexities that Habakkuk had felt could be put to rest,
could be stilled before Almighty God. Is our trust in Him?
Could it be said of us that the righteous shall live by his faith?

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 Completion

of Mans Redemption
on the Cross

Atonement, Part 4:

In a previous study, I mentioned that there are those who believe

that the death of Christ on the Cross was a terrible mistake. Of
course, this viewpoint ignores the will of God revealed in the
Scriptures, the Old Testament prophecies of the cross, and Old
Testament pictures of the cross.
Furthermore, such a viewpoint ignores the clear and plain
statement of Christ Himself. He said, For this reason the Father
loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it
up again. This charge I have received from my Father. (John
In the previous articles in this series, we have looked at these
three important points regarding the cross of the Lord Jesus
Christ: His Fathers will, the Old Testament prophecies, and the
Old Testament pictures and types.

The Purpose of the Cross

So many people have a false view, that if they try their best God
MUST accept that. But the Bible makes it clear that God doesnt
accept mans best efforts. One reason is that all are spiritually
dead, and because they are spiritually dead, they cannot perform
acceptable spiritual works. That is why the Bible tells us that all
our righteous deed are as filthy rags in Gods sight. The Bible
tells us that in our natural condition, we are enemies of God, and
can do nothing to please God. That being the situation, it means
we cannot save ourselves; someone else must save us.

Who then can? Only one; the Lord Jesus Christ. That is
why he came, that is why the Father sent him into the
world, why he became a man. That is exactly why
he went to the cross. By so doing, he dealt with
mankinds five greatest needs:
1. Guilt. The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful
and gracious, slow to anger and abundant
in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping
steadfast love for thousands, forgiving
iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means
clear the guilty. (Exodus 34:6-7)
2. The Wrath of God. For the wrath of God is revealed from
heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who
by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1v18)
3. Separation from God. Your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face
from you. (Isaiah 59v2)
4. Satanic Control. And you were dead in the trespasses and
sins in which you once walked, following the course of this
world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that
is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2v1-2)
5. Slavery to Sin. You were once slaves of sin. (Romans 6v17)
Having briefly mentioned these five aspects of mans great need,
we turn to see how these were dealt with by Christ on the Cross.

The Problem of Mans Guilt and Sin

Sin makes a man guilty before a Holy and Righteous God. That
being the case, what happened at Calvary that changed that?
We read in 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins,
the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God,
being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.
This makes it very clear that our works have no part to play in
the forgiveness of our sins, but only what Christ accomplished
on the Cross at Calvary.

The Problem of Mans Relationship with God

We now must consider a very important aspect of the work of
Jesus Christ on the cross. What of the fact that we had sinned
against God?
1. Reconciliation with God and might reconcile us both to
God in one body through the cross. (Ephesians 2:16)
We see here that Paul speaks of both Jews and Gentiles. Now
this is a very important text. I have heard so many people
saying, Well there is the Jewish way to God, the Gentile way to
God, and there might be Islam or Hinduism, or a thousand other
ways. But the Scripture says, he, that is Christ, by the cross has
reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God. That is why Jesus

said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the
Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
We can be reconciled to God only by the Lord Jesus Christ,
and only through what took place on Calvary. There He cried,
Tetelestai! Finished! There is now a way of reconciliation,
through and only through Jesus Christ, Gods beloved Son.
2. The Wrath of God. I am sure a great many people know that
famous verse, John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that
he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not
perish but have eternal life. In the very same chapter we read,
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, whoever does not
obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on
him. (John 3v36)
People today are very happy to talk about the love of God, the
goodness of God, the grace of God, and so on, but recoil at the
very thought of a God who hates sin, and judges sin, and has
wrath toward the sinner, and has poured out that wrath upon his
Son in the place of his people. Jesus died on the cross to bear the
wrath of God on Himself so that we might have forgiveness and
pardon for all our sins.
When Christ cried that triumphant word, Tetelestai! he had
borne the wrath of God for us, and by believing in the Son, we
are no longer under the wrath of God.
3. The Need for Perfect Righteousness. We are confronted by
so many people who say, I try to do the best I can. The best
you can do is not what God demands! He is pure and holy and
righteous. He demands absolute purity from you and from me.
We know that there is not one natural born person who is
perfectly pure, who is totally righteous. This is again, exactly
what the Bible says. None is righteous, no not one. No one
understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside,
together they have become worthless; no one does good, not
even one. (Romans 3:10-12) That is what God has to say about
those who boast in their best efforts. That is something to make
us think twice before we boast about our goodness.
Does that mean that there is no hope for us? Well it does if we
insist on trying to save ourselves. But there again we turn to the
beloved Son of God.
For our sake God made Him to be sin, who knew no sin, so
that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2
Corinthians 5:21)
Again we discover the wonderful truth that in His death at
Calvary, He the sinless one died for us, but more, we also
discover that in Him we are accounted righteous before God!
4. The Need for Eternal Security. It is here that we come upon
another problem. There are those who will not allow Christ to
cry, Finished! They insist on saying My salvation is partly of
him, and partly of me.
Therein lies the problem. If I have anything to do with my
salvation, I have absolutely no eternal security at all. But what
do we do when faced with such a problem? We turn to the
Scriptures. And those whom he predestined he also called,
and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he
justified he also glorified. (Romans 8v30)

is to do your fathers desires. (John 8:44)

They believed that all was well with them because they were
religious people, but religion is not enough to save anyone.
Religion is mans quest for God. God is found only in His
Word, found only in the Lord Jesus Christ, his only Son.
In Genesis 3v15, we have the prophecy that the Christ would
come to bruise the head of Satan. In other words, He would
destroy the very power and works of Satan. 1 John 3:8: The
reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the
2. Destroying him who had the Power of Death. The writer to
the Hebrews says, that through death he might destroy him
who had the power of death, that is the devil. Satan brought
sin and sin brought death. Man sinned, and all men have sinned,
therefore death came upon all men because all had sinned.
But death is swallowed up in victory, because Jesus died and rose
from the grave!
Can we imagine what it will be like to die no more? In Heaven,
there will be no more death. No more sin, no sickness, no
parting, but eternal life. That is a life full of quality as well as
full of quantity. If we just lived in misery for eternity that would
be terrible, but it will be an eternal life full of joy and peace
and love and service, worshipping our great and glorious God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I trust that I have shown that the cross of Christ was not a
mistake, but the great and glorious work of God through the Lord
Jesus Christ.
His teaching was exceptional, because he is the unique Word of
God. The life of Christ was unique. The miracles of Christ were
unique. But the word that sums up all that He did on the cross,
is found in that one word: Tetelestai! Finished! Paid in full!
Because of that, we have peace with God, we have assurance of
faith, acceptance by God, sins forgiven.
Calvary was the absolute completion of His Fathers will.
Calvary was in absolute conformity to the Old Testament
prophecies regarding the cross.
Calvary was in absolute conformity to the Old Testament
pictures regarding the cross.
Calvary was the absolute completion of mans so great salvation.

The Problem of Mans Relationship with Satan.

Jim McClatchey has been in the ministry for the past 45

1. The Problem of Man being a Slave to Satan. We have already

spoken of the fact that everyone in their sin is a slave to both sin
and Satan. Jesus shocked many very religious people in His day
by telling them, You are of your father the devil, and your will

Scotland. He now lives in Fermanagh and is a member of

years, and has served in Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and

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.



Gareth Burke, Minister of Stranmillis, was granted sabbatical

leave by Presbytery from April to June this year. Most of his time
was spent in Edinburgh pursuing a course of study in Andrew
Bonar and Premillennialism at Edinburgh Theological Seminary.
This article is a brief summary of one of the papers he produced
and looks at the life and ministry of Andrew Bonar.
The second part of the paper dealt with the issue of
premillennialism in fuller detail.
Any readers interested in pursuing this aspect of Bonars thought
more fully should contact Mr Burke at
Andrew Alexander Bonar was born in Edinburgh on 29th May
1810, the seventh son of James and Marjory Bonar. Two of his
brothers, Horatius and John, also became well known figures
in the ministry of the Scottish Church. His father, James Bonar,
was Second Solicitor of Excise for Edinburgh. The Bonar family
was actively involved in the life of Lady Glenorchys Chapel
in Edinburgh where James Bonar was an elder. The minister,
Dr Jones, was a committed evangelical whose preaching and
ministry had a profound influence on Andrew.
He entered Edinburgh High School in 1821. The Rector
reportedly described him as the best Latin scholar who had ever
passed through his hands. He began studies in Edinburgh in
1828 and came under the influence of Thomas Chalmers. The
exact moment of his conversion is difficult to pinpoint:
Sunday November 2nd , 1828: A most impressive sermon in
the evening from Mr Purves, upon John 9:4: I must work the
works etc I came home in deep anxiety to be saved, and I was, I
trust, enabled to choose Christ Jesus for my Saviour, depending
upon the Holy Sprits assistance to keep me. But I still fear and
tremble lest all be not well(1)
However on Sunday 3rd May 1829 he writes: great sorrow
because I am still out of Christ and on Sunday 31st May 1829
he states: My birthday is past, and I am not born again. A year
later he writes: Yesterday was my birthday. I am not born again.
However in his entry for Sunday 7th November 1830 he writes:
For about two weeks past, ever since I read a passage in
Guthries Saving Interest, I have had a secret joyful hope that I
really have believed in the Lord Jesus. I heard with much feeling,
and I think understanding, Mr Purvess sermon today, He that
spared not His own Son, etc and I think that next Communion


Biographical sketch

I may go forward to the Lords Table as one that has received

Him..Nearly twenty years of my life have been spent in the
world without Christ.
In 1831 he was involved with others at the Divinity Hall in
establishing The Exegetical Society for Biblical Criticism to
study the Scriptures and to pray concerning their studies in
the Bible. Other members of the Exegetical Society included
Horatius Bonar, Robert Murray MCheyne and Alexander
In 1835 he concluded his studies at the Divinity Hall and
became an assistant to Rev John Purves of Jedburgh. His time
in Jedburgh was followed by a further period of assistantship
to Dr Robert Candlish in St Georges, Edinburgh. In September
1838 he was called to the parish of Collace in Perthshire where
he exercised a faithful ministry until 1856. In that year he was
called to the City of Glasgow and to the parish of Finneston
where he laboured until his death in 1892. In April 1848 Bonar
married Isabella Dickson. They would have two sons and
four daughters.
Having briefly considered his life and ministry it is now
appropriate to highlight five particular moments in his ministry
for which Andrew Bonar is still remembered.
Friendship with Robert Murray MCheyne
A very close friendship existed between Andrew Bonar and
Robert Murray MCheyne. Both were born in Edinburgh and
attended the same school and took the same path to Edinburgh
University and to the Divinity Hall also. However their close
friendship was more than a matter of having a similar upbringing.
They were bound up together in the Lord. MCheynes death at
the early age of 29 in March 1843 was a severe blow to Andrew
Bonar who never failed to remember the anniversary in years to
come. Consider these references from his diary:
Saturday 25th March 1843: This afternoon about five oclock, a
message has just come to tell me of Robert MCheynes death.
Never, never yet in all my life have I felt anything like this..My
heart is sore..There was no friend whom I loved like him.
Saturday 23rd March 1844: It was on this day of the week last
year about sunset, that a messenger came and told me of Robert
MCheynes illness.Several of us are to observe Monday as
a season of special prayer and fasting to ask blessing on the
Memoir, and the raising up of many holy men.
Saturday 25th March 1871: I well remember twenty eight
years ago this day the messenger came to my house in Collace to
tell me that Robert MCheyne was taken from us.
Throughout the year after MCheynes death Andrew Bonar
compiled a volume entitled: Memoirs and Remains of Rev Robert
Murray MCheyne this book became widely read and continues
to impact the lives of many Christians even in our own day.
The Mission of Inquiry
In 1838, no fewer than sixteen petitions were sent by various
Synods and Presbyteries to the Church of Scotlands General
assembly on the subject of Jewish mission work. The Assembly

passed an act which acknowledged

...the high importance of using means for the conversion of
Gods ancient people, and recommend the object to the attention
of the Church, and that the Ministers, in their preaching and
public prayers, more frequently avail themselves of opportunities
of noticing the claims of the Jews(2)
In order to bring this programme of Jewish evangelism forward
the Assembly decided to send four men to eastern and central
Europe and Palestine to assess the possibility of establishing a
witness in Jewish communities. The delegation consisted of:
Dr Alexander Keith, minister of St Cyrus in Kincardineshire,
Dr Alexander Black, Professor of Theology at Marischal College,
Aberdeen, Robert Murray MCheyne, Minister of St Peters
Dundee, and Andrew Bonar.
The travellers departed from Dover on 12th April 1839 and
made their first stop at Boulogne. Over the course of the next
six months, they travelled through France, Italy, Malta, Greece,
Egypt and Palestine. They stopped in Jerusalem, and then on
the way home they travelled through Moldavia, Austrian Poland
and Prussia before reaching Scotland. Dr Black and Dr Keith
both experienced ill health and had to return home early with
Bonar and MCheyne completing the journey and arriving back in
Scotland in November 1839.
The reports of the journey which were given by the participants
afterwards undoubtedly stirred up the church in Scotland to pray
for the evangelisation of the Jews in a new way, and one very
tangible outcome of the whole exercise was the establishment
of a Jewish Mission in Jassy, Moldavia, in 1841, under the
leadership of Rev Daniel Edward. A few months later a similar
mission was established in Pesth, Hungary under Dr John
Duncan, Andrew Bonar wrote the first draft of the report of their
visit entitled: Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from
the Church of Scotland in 1839. This initial draft was proofed
and altered by MCheyne. The Narrative became a much read
publication which added further impetus to the cause of Jewish
evangelism within Scotland and beyond.
The Disruption of 1843
Throughout the period of Bonars theological studies and early
ministry a controversy was raging within the Church of Scotland
on the issue of Patronage. Ministers were being imposed on
parishes by wealthy patrons who paid no heed to the wishes of
the congregation. Often the patrons were utterly unsympathetic
to the evangelical cause and were putting forward candidates
who did not hold to the truth of the Gospel. The spiritual
independence of the church was being seriously affected and,
as such, in 1842 a significant number of ministers and members
seceded from the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church
of Scotland. Andrew Bonar was among those who identified
with Dr Chalmers and others in this significant moment for the
Scottish Church. For a time his congregation in Collace met in a
tent until a new church building could be erected. Andrew Bonar
was actively involved in the life of the wider Free Church all of his
ministry, serving as Moderator in 1878.
The Moody and Sankey Campaigns

strong support for their work from Andrew Bonar and his brother
Horatius. Moody was invited to preach at Andrew Bonars church
in Glasgow and a friendship developed between the two men
which led to Bonar travelling to the USA to speak at conferences
with Moody. The Bonar brothers received considerable criticism
from within the Free Church for their support of the Moody
Campaigns. Dr John Kennedy of Dingwall published a pamphlet
entitled: HyperEvangelism Another Gospel though a Mighty
Power: A Review of the Recent Religious Movement in Scotland.
Kennedy was critical of the methods being used by Moody in
his meetings, his Arminian theology and his use of uninspired
materials of praise in his services.
The Edinburgh Prophetic Studies Conference
In October 1888 in the Free Assembly Hall Edinburgh Bonar
hosted a three day conference of prophetic studies, similar to
the kind of conference he had been involved in with Mr Moody
in the USA. The Conference was significant not just because
of the large numbers that attended it, but also because the
premillennialism which Bonar had espoused for so long was now
supported by many Christians across different denominations. It
is interesting to note Bonars enthusiasm for this premillennial
movement which united evangelicals around the fundamentals
of the Christian faith rather than around the historic Reformed
Confessions. In his diary entry for Thursday October 11th, 1888,
he writes;
We have had three days of a most remarkable Conference
on Prophetic Truth, in Edinburgh, and the Free Assembly Hall
too. Fifty years ago, those of us that held this truth were very
few and much despised. But these three days have been days
when, from all sections of the Church of Christ, there have been
brethren brought together and the place nearly filled.
Andrew Bonar was solidly committed to the Scriptures and
the Gospel. Some recent studies have suggested that he
was somewhat wobbly in terms of his commitment to the
Westminster Confession of Faith and that is a matter for
debate and further discussion but there must be no doubt
cast upon his evangelical convictions. He resisted union with
the United Presbyterian Church and was utterly unsupportive of
Robertson Smith and his liberal views on the nature of scripture.
Whatever one makes of his eschatological views Andrew Bonar
has set before us a worthy example to follow as we reflect
upon his life of piety, his diligent zeal in Gospel ministry and his
passion for the lost. If you have havent read his Diary and
Life you need to buy it. It will enrich your soul and stir you into
greater service in Gods kingdom.

(1) Andrew A Bonar: Diary and Life: Edited by Marjory Bonar:
Banner of Truth: 1960
(2) Unity and Diversity: The Founders of the Free Church of
Scotland: Sandy Finlayson: Christian Focus 2010: Page 195

In November 1873 the American evangelist Dwight L Moody

and his musical companion Ira D Sankey arrived in Scotland.
They drew huge crowds to their evangelistic meetings and found


Sunday afternoons
what do you do?
About three years ago, I was asked to speak at the Sunday
afternoon meeting at Sydenham Court, which provides
housing shelter in the Greater Belfast area. It is just one of
the ten homes that six members of Knock EPC visit on a
regular basis. Some homes are visited weekly, some monthly,
others quarterly. But the same message of Gods wonderful
salvation is proclaimed on each occasion. Sunday afternoons
in these places are spent in times of praise, prayer, and
listening to the teaching from Gods word. It is good to make a
joyful noise unto the Lord and the singing from the residents
is often met with great enthusiasm.
Attendance at these meetings can vary between 10 and 40
and we are so thankful for the opportunities to attend and
present the gospel to those who may not otherwise hear it at
this stage of their lives.
As with all Christian endeavours, there are ups and downs,
struggles and rewards. It is a great encouragement to hear
the residents singing the old hymns so fervently and often
from memory. It is also a great blessing to hear them recite
the verses from the Bible reading. How valuable a gift it is
for the Scriptures to be committed to memory early on in life,
and so to be recalled in later years. Sunday School teachers
and youth leaders should continue to persevere with memory
verse learning!
It is encouraging how well everyone listens to Gods word
and we are thankful, too, for the opportunity for the staff
members in attendance to hear of the gift of salvation also.
It is not always, however, an easy task and prayers would be
greatly valued for this important aspect of evangelism.
And so I ask again, how do you spend your Sunday
afternoons? Would you consider visiting a home in your area?
Please do spend time remembering those who minister in
this way so faithfully.
Paul Watson

Sit down, Rose!

Im going to write a book about nursing homes, called Sit
down, Rose! When you come in the front door of L----House you can hear the nurses shouting it on the first floor,
and when you leave its the last thing you hear. And poor
dear Rose, whos such a dote, bewildered but obedient,
allows them to help her back to her seat, and sits there for a
few minutes thinking her own thoughts, until she forgets and
tries to get up again. Rose! Sit down! Youll fall! This time
shes manhandled rather impatiently back to her seat but
not too roughly, because Im watching. And the cycle goes
on, until Rose is in tears of frustration and I feel like asking is
there no-one who could just take her for a bit of a walkabout
or could I? but I know its no use, because their insurance
wouldnt cover me if she fell. Do I care?? My heart cries for
Rose, and for all the Roses who have lost their dignity in all
such understaffed nursing homes.
I took our daughters graduation photos to show the church
folks, and then spent a few minutes showing them to Rose.
I dont have any idea how much she understands, because
her speech is hard to follow, but shes just delighted with
the attention. When I went back to the folk I was visiting, of
course she tried to follow me Sit down Rose! Then the
Filipino nurse asked me for the photographs, and sat and
showed them again to Rose while I talked to our folk, which
was really nice.
Rose is often asleep now when I visit L----- House. I wonder
are they giving her sedatives for her own good, to stop her
falling? But yesterday she managed to climb the stairs to the
next floor, when there was no-one on her floor to stop her. A
very startled nurse upstairs told her to stay there while she
found someone to take her down again. But of course she
didnt stay there, she wandered. The place is dangerously
18 months later:
When I was last in L----- House I saw Rose being wheeled
past me in a chair, a wizened, crumpled little shadow of
Sit-Down-Rose! I couldnt resist stopping to greet her,
even though I thought she wouldnt know me, as its a long
time since she was moved to another floor. But her lovely
face crinkled into a big beaming smile as I took her hand, so
whether she recognised me or whether she was just glad to
be spoken to, I dont know, but the smile was worth it.
Julia Grier



Christianity Explored in Crumlin
Throughout May and June this year, Crumlin EPC ran a
Christianity Explored course in the local leisure centre. The
venue was intentionally chosen, in order that it would take
our witness out of the confines of a church building, thus
making the course more accessible for those who, for one
reason or another, may have qualms about crossing the
threshold of church premises. Prior to its commencement,
flyers advertising the course were put through each letter
box throughout the whole village (about 1,600 homes in all),
and we thank God for a good turnout at each of the seven
evenings on which we met. On most of the evenings of
the course over 30 people gathered together at the leisure
centre in order to study the bible together, hear the gospel proclaimed, and discuss topics such as the cross, the resurrection,
and Gods grace. Each of the evenings began with tea and coffee being served, before the participants got into their respective
groups. Following a bible study in Marks gospel around each of the tables, the various groups then came together to watch a
DVD of the talk for that session on a big screen, given by Rico Tice. Finally, back in our groups we discussed what we had heard
in the talk. Of those in attendance there were a number of table leaders who led the bible study and discussion times, as well
as some other mature believers who had either brought an unbelieving friend along, or who were there to encourage and help
the discussion times. In addition to this, the course was attended by quite a number of more recent converts, who came along in
order to firm up on the basics of the Christian faith, and of course there were also a good number of unbelievers there each night,
some hearing the gospel explained for the first time.
We are thankful for the opportunity that this course has given us to reach out into our community in ways that we hadnt done
before. We praise God for the impact that this course has had in the lives of recent converts, who have been built up in the faith,
and we ask you to pray on for the unbelievers who came along to the course, with whom we now have ongoing contact, in some
instances through attending Sunday services. The responses we have witnessed are those spoken of by Jesus himself in the
Parable of the Sower. Some have seemingly had the word snatched away from them. Others have had the word choked out by
other things, or have shown initial enthusiasm falling short of true conversion. But lets pray on that in the lives of many the
word that has been sown would be heard, accepted, and bear much fruit!

Knock EPC
Knock EPC gives thanks to God for three new
deacons ordained and installed on Sunday
15th May 2016. For several years Knock had
no functioning Deacons Board, but with our
congregation growing numerically in recent years,
it became clear that now was the time to proceed
with a Deacons Election; Session could see men in
our midst now who were Biblically qualified.
The congregation took the matter to heart and
after hearing sermons on the subject and offering
much prayer, three men were subsequently
elected to office: David Fairley, Peter McCullough
and Paul Watson. After the service we celebrated
by having a congregational lunch together, which
was organised by the deacons and their wives
and fianc. Pictured LtoR: Nichola & David Fairley, Peter McCullough & Debbie Lynas, Jenny & Paul Watson.


A recipe for Junior Camp

Take: 48 primary school children,

a team of dedicated leaders,

2 tireless cooks,

a few visiting missionary speakers,

a selection of furry animals (optional),
mix all together in Dunluce School Bushmills for one week in
July. Sprinkle well with showers and sunny intervals and keep
busy with craft, games and competitions. Pack into a double
decker bus, arrange in a meeting room, line up in a dinner
queue or let loose in a playground, according to the day and
time. (You may find it helpful to wear ear protectors.)
Allow to rest overnight. Season well with patience, love and
laughter and the occasional use of a firm hand if necessary.
Soak well in Bible teaching and Christian example.
Surround the lot with prayer. Return all children, happy and
healthy, to their families on the final day.
This is the recipe we tried to follow again for Junior Camp
2016, but we know that all is in vain unless the Lord works.
We thank Him for His unfailing provision for us at every stage
and we thank those who prayed for us.
We look to God to take the influence and teaching of another
camp and use it in the building of His kingdom.
Heather Watson



Inters Camp 2016

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth
1 Cor 3:6
Friday 1st July saw 40 campers and nine leaders heading
to the Moyallon Centre, Portadown. Rev Andrew Lucas
came each day to give our main talks on the life of Joseph
campers and leaders alike were challenged and encouraged.
Ian Heaney captured our attention as he explained how God
worked through the life of David Livingstone. We studied
Abraham in dorm groups and had a missionary focus from a
representative of Arab World Ministries. Each camper was
given study notes to encourage them to have their quiet
times; pray that this discipline would continue. We learned
Romans 5 v1-3 through the week.
The campers were kept busy with many activitiesInters
bake off, mountain biking, bubble football, banana boating,
volleyball, hungry hippos to name a few!
Cooks play a significant role in camp and a big thank you to
Michaela Watters for picking up the gauntlet and helping
us out at short noticethanks Michaela, Rachel, Jenny and
Heather for all your hard work!
Leaders this year were Andrew Johnston, Ian Heaney, Richard
Beattie, Jonny McCullough, Naomi Dunlop, Abi Ballantine,
Deborah Johnston and Rachel Crawford. Camp is not run by
any one leader but by the complete team and I have found it
a real blessing and encouragement to work with you. Thank
you for all that you do and I trust that God will continue to
use you. I have found it a joy and a privilege being involved
with Inters camp over the years and I thank you all for your
prayers and encouragements. Camps are a great platform to
get alongside young Christians to encourage them but also
to present the gospel to others. Please never lose sight of
the importance of camps and the privilege it is as a church to
have them!
To God be the glory!
Shaun Gaston



Senior Camp, 9th 16th July

Senior camp ventured back to Coleraine this year, and stayed
in the Reformed Presbyterian Church hall in Ballyclabber. We
had about 15 campers; I say about because our numbers
went up and down a little throughout the week.
We walked along Portstewart Strand on our first evening
and had some ice-breaker games before bedding in for the
weeks activities. We made kites as a team challenge and
then flew them at White Rocks, and then went across the
Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. We went canoeing and ended
up having more fun in the water than out of it! We took
another afternoon to The Edge water sports centre where
we had great fun on the wipe-out obstacle course. We also
made good friends with Bert (Legend!), the bus driver on
Rathlin Island, who took us to see the bird sanctuary where
we watched the puffins. We played football, badminton and
volley-ball in the halls, and generally had a lot of fun. On the
last night we had a talent competition in which some great
talents were discovered, especially singing!
Our talks were on the theme Major Profits from the Minor
Prophets, and we found that God had much to teach us from
every page of His Word. It was my delight to hear such clear
and relevant talks from our team of leaders. We pray that
Gods word will transform the lives of our campers.
After a busy week, we all went home a few pounds heavier
thanks to our happy and generous cooks!
Rev Robert Johnston



Sam Francey Book Launch

One God One Salvation
Groomsport EPC Tuesday 14 June 2016
The Launch of Sams book One God One Salvation took place
on Tuesday 14 June with a representative congregation from
a number of our churches present.
Sams lecture, entitled World Mission: Gods searching Word
to the Church, was based on the watchmen passages in
Ezekiel 33v1-9 and Isaiah 21v6-9. Under the headings A
Watchmans Responsibility, A Watchmans Conviction and A
Watchmans Glimpse of the Future, Sam persuasively argued
the need for Gods people to take mission very seriously.
The doom of the un-evangelised millions should drive us to
our knees and to positive action. Following the lecture, the
Groomsport ladies provided an enjoyable supper enabling a
useful time of Christian fellowship.

Thank God for health, safety and

happiness in each of the church
summer camps, for evidence of
spiritual interest and understanding and
for His enabling for each leader.
Pray for Gods continued mercy and
grace in the lives of the campers and
their families.
Praise God for many children
contacted through Holiday Bible Clubs
this year, for many Bible lessons taught
and memory verses learned. Claim
the promise that Gods word shall not
return unto Him void.
Pray for Gods blessing on a new
session of Sunday school, Mums &
Tots, YPA and childrens meetings.
Pray that new children will come in,
and ask for a God-given hunger for
His word.
Praise God for opportunities to hold
worship services in residential and
nursing homes. Ask for His presence
in the meetings and His help for those
who minister.


Title: Zeal Without Burnout
RRP: 7-99 Our Price: 5-99
Author: Christopher Ash
Publisher: Good Book Company
Publised: 2016
Pages: 128 pages
This little book is written for anyone

Thank God for the faithful witness

of many frail and elderly Christians
connected with our congregations and
pray for His blessing on them in days
of loneliness or failing health.

involved in full-time Christian work

and is particularly helpful for those
who are seeking to avoid burnout. Burnout is a common
experience for many in a variety of ministries but there are
things we can do to prevent this from happening. In the
book, Ash sets out seven areas we need to focus on such as

Thank God for the publication of One

God, One Salvation and pray that it
will a source of help and strength to
many in our multi-faith world. Pray
that, whether in private conversation
or in preaching and teaching, we will
have courage to declare the gospel of
Jesus Christ as the only hope in life
and in death. Pray that as a church
we will see the need for mission to the
ends of the earth.

the importance of sleep, regular Sabbath rests, developing

friendships, taking care of ourselves spiritually, guarding our
own relationship with God, not thinking were indispensable
to God, and finally rejoicing not so much in our gifts but in his
This book reminds us of the old adage that prevention is
better than cure. It is such a helpful and encouraging book
that it should have a wide readership among our ministers,
missionaries, youth workers, student workers and any other
full-time or part-time Christian workers, before it is ever
needed. In fact, reading it before the need arises may just
help us keep this potential problem from manifesting itself

Praise God that He raises up men

to be elders and deacons in our
churches. Pray for each minister and
office-bearer, remembering especially
those newly ordained in Knock and
Crumlin. Pray that each one will be
faithful to his calling.
Give thanks for the recent Christianity
Explored course in Crumlin, and pray
especially for those who have started
coming to church as a result.


in our busy lives. One minister who was almost crushed in

the first four years of his ministry said that this book would
have helped him enormously at the time and is what he still
needs today. So the advice for those wanting a fruitful and
sustainable ministry is to read it now and keep it close at
hand for when its really needed.

Title: The Inerrant Word

RRP: 23-50 Our Price: 17-75

Title: Rejoicing in Lament:

Author: John MacArthur ed.

Wrestling with Incurable Cancer

Publisher: Crossway

and Life in Christ

Published: 2016

RRP: 11-99 Our Price: 8-99

Pages: 400

Author: J Todd Billings

Publisher: Brazos Press

Christians are called to stand firm

Published: 2015

on the inerrancy of Scripture.

Pages: 224

Sadly, more and more people

not only from outside the church but also from withinare

At the age of thirty-nine, Todd Billings, married father of two

denying the complete truthfulness of Gods Word. The

young children and professor of Reformed Theology at a

Inerrant Word, edited by John MacArthur, is a series of

seminary in Michigan, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma,

commissioned essays by a host of evangelical pastors,

a form of incurable cancer. One cancer specialist told him that

theologians, historians, and biblical scholars who contend

he had a 50 per cent chance of living for 10 years. He received

that the Bible is completely true and without errora

treatment consisting of aggressive chemotherapy and stem

foundational belief for the evangelical Church. Exploring

cell transplants, which left him extremely weak and ill, and at

key Bible passages, events from church history, common

times meant isolation from his family.

criticisms, and pastoral applications, the chapters in this

In this book, he recounts his experience, partly through

volume instill Christians with both certainty and courage to

blogposts that he made in the months following diagnosis.

defend the inerrancy of Gods Word. Contributors include

But this is also a book of deep theological reflection by a first

Greg Beale, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Al

class writer facing up to his own mortality, as he considers

Mohler, Iain Murray, Ian Hamilton, Carl Trueman and Derek

the place of suffering in the Christian life, the sovereignty

Thomas (among others).

of God, and how we should pray for those diagnosed with

Some highlights include the chapter by Michael Kruger on

incurable disease.

the Canon of Scripture. This serves as a short summary

Like many Christians before him, Billings turned to the book

of his various books on this subject and is very helpful as

of Job. Is it true, as Jobs friends believed, that suffering is

Kruger shows us how the canon developed, how the text was

a result of personal sin, so-called retributive justice? No,

transmitted and preserved, and why we can have confidence

says Billings, the book of Job certainly gives examples of

in the trustworthiness of the text. Other highlights include

wrong human answers to the problem of evil and suffering.

the chapter by Sinclair Ferguson on the relationship between

But more than that, it insists that answering the theoretical

Scripture and the Holy Spirit, as well as Truemans chapter on

problem of evil is actually beyond the limits of human

the Reformation.

wisdom. At the end of the book of Job, our questions are left

In total there are 24 chapters followed by an afterword

unanswered as to why God would allow Job to undergo this

by John MacArthur, in which he implores the reader not


to seek the approval of the world but to contend for the

In much of the rest of his book, Billings reflects on the

truth of Gods Word against the evil worldview of our

Psalms. Surely these were written to allow us to voice our

age. Appropriately, the book concludes with the Chicago

lament as well as our praise. Often when we cannot put our

Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. It is technical in some places

thoughts into words, the Psalms are there to help. As Billings

but this shouldnt deter us from reading it as it, is good to be

says: The psalms of lament are not like the grumbling of the

stretched and most of the book is reasonably accessible.

Israelites in the wilderness, who displayed a lack of faith in

Gods promises. Because of their faith in Gods sovereignty,

Highly recommended.

the psalmists have high expectations of God; because they

take Gods promises seriously they lament and protest when
it seems that God is not keeping his promises.

His brief exposition of Psalm 13 shows how the Psalms

Billings helpfully addresses prayers for healing. He considers

work in times of trouble. The writer begins by bringing an

how God usually works through the normal means of

invocation and complaint to God, then moves through a cry

medical treatment, rather than providing a quick fix for

for deliverance to an expression of trust. However this does

illness. He also challenges those who would teach that lack

not mean that the psalmists external situation has changed.

of healing is equated to lack of faith, a disastrous conclusion

As the rest of the Scriptures make clear, God does not

to draw. We need to have faith in God, not faith in faith.

promise his people freedom from illness, pain, suffering and

Reflecting on Christs prayer in Gethsemane, he reminds us


that Jesus cup of suffering was not taken away.

But to what extent does God ordain such suffering? In a

When we assume that God only wills healing and joy, rather

chapter entitled Lamenting to the Almighty: Discerning the

than suffering in our lives now, we have forgotten the cross

Mystery of Divine Providence, Billings deals with answers

of Christ. When we act as if life with the resurrected Christ

to this question that would limit either Gods power or his

should be just one victory after another, we have forgotten

goodness. Drawing on the historic Confessions and some

the cross of Christ... Those united to Christ by the Spirit

key Scripture passages, he provides no easy answers, but

follow the way of the crucified Lord, which does not seek out

concludes that: We should not speculate about why God

suffering for its own sake but recognises that God both acts

has allowed a disaster in nature to occur at a particular

and hides in the most unlikely places.

moment or why God has allowed me to have cancer at this

Billings concludes the book with reflections on the love of

particular time. We dont know. But we can put our trust in

God in the darkness. Although in remission, he depends on

Gods own Word - a trust that manifests itself in lament and

medication and knows that his cancer could return at any

thanksgiving, petition and praise.

moment. But he is sure that, in the words of the Heidelberg

This is helpful to those who provide care for the suffering.

Catechism, I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life

They could point the sufferer to the promises of Gods Word

and death, to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.

and assure the sufferer that even in the crisis God is worthy

This is a deeply thoughtful book. At times it makes for

of trust. And in order to place Gods promises at the centre of

difficult reading as Billings recounts his experiences, although

ones trust, a carer would pray psalms of lament as well as

it is not without humour, as when his three year old daughter

psalms of thanksgiving with the sufferer.

asked him if his new hair would be blue! He wrestles with

Death has become the great taboo subject of Western culture

major issues, and provides some helpful pointers. It would

and yet it is something which all of us must face. For a man

be extremely useful for those involved in the care of the

with potentially many years of life and service ahead of him,

suffering, as well as to sufferers themselves. It gives real

the thought of dying before he could see his children grow up

insight into the use of the Psalms as lament and how we

caused Billings to reflect on his own mortality. He asks, If you

should pray them, and above all reminds us of our union

knew that you were going to live just five more years, how

with Christ, the one who, for the joy that was set before him

would you live? I suspect that for most of us such knowledge

endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the

would make an enormous difference. And yet, we all need

right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). I commend it

to remember that our bodies do not yet taste the fullness


of the victory Christ has won. Christians should not be

afraid to talk about death, should not push it to the margins.

Michael Thompson

Billings underlines the importance of the church in this: Its a

GP and Elder in Dungannon Baptist Church

marvellous gift that the church who baptises and celebrates

new life in Christ also does funerals, mourns with the dying
and celebrates the promise of resurrection in Christ.
This is particularly true when death seems senseless. But
Billings, remembering a sermon that he had heard years
earlier (an encouragement for preachers!) reminds himself
that when our lives appear to reach dead ends, we should
remember that they are hidden with Christ in God.

Title: One God, One Salvation

The Biblical case for mission in a
pluralist world
Author: Samuel D Francey
Publisher: The Evangelical Book
Shop, Belfast,
Pages: 362
Our Price : 9.95
Prof Robert McCollum, Reformed
Theological College, Belfast, begins his Foreword: The
preacher in Ecclesiastes made the observation, Of making
many books there is no end. This continues to be true and
in fact this world would be a better place if many books
were never published! That is certainly not the case with this
carefully written, meticulously researched and biblically based
book by Sam Francey.
If this book had to be summarised in a dozen words, the aptly
chosen title and sub-title would comprehensively achieve
such a demand. The mountain analogy theme runs through
it. It portrays God at the top of the mountain range with
man at the bottom. Many and varied roads, representing the
religions of the world, eventually lead their travellers to the
top and to God. One God, One Salvation refutes this popular
scenario on which billions of the worlds inhabitants place
their confidence. Its 14 chapters first take us through the
source of world religions, Gods stance with regard to them
and his indictment of them. The analysis proceeds through a
comparison of God with idols and of their respective worship.
The second half of the book concentrates on communicating
the Gospel to the billions in our multi-faith world in obedience
to the great commission with focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Referring to Pauls move from Asia into Europe with the
Gospel, the final chapter concludes: It is always time to move
on. The work will never be finished until the Lord returns. The
text is supported throughout with extensive references.
Sam Francey is an elder in EPCs Groomsport congregation.
This work is enormously to his credit and has placed the
whole church is in his debt. His love for the Gospel, the
Saviour and the lost, shines from every page. In EPC the book
deserves a place in all our book tables and our homes. But by
its very nature the book will profit the church throughout the
nations and we hope to see it moving outwards in the coming


Resources on the life of Martin Luther available at
Evangelical Bookshop
1. Luther on the Christian Life - Carl R. Trueman
Publisher: Crossway
RRP: 11-99 Our Price: 9-99
This book, written by Carl Trueman, expertly brings this
colourful character to life! Within the historical context
of the sixteenth century, Trueman deals with Luthers
theology, his break with Rome, and his understanding
of the Christian life, in a scholarly but accessible book
which teaches us much about the man we call the
father of the Protestant Reformation.
2. Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought
- Stephen J. Nichols
Publisher: P&R
RRP: 9-99 Our Price: 8.50
This book has been one of the best popular level
introductions to Luther since it was first published in
2002. It deals with Luther in three main categories:
Luthers life; Luther the Reformer; Luther the pastor.
3. The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther Steven J. Lawson
Publisher: Reformation Trust
RRP: 12-99 Our Price: 8-99
Steven Lawson shows how Luthers courage came from
his confidence in the reliability of the Bible and focuses
on how Luther was, above all else, a preacher of the
Word. Lawson helps us to learn from the life of Luther
and sets out why he is a godly example to follow.
4. Luther and the Reformation DVD - R. C. Sproul
Publisher: Ligonier Ministries
$48-00 Our Price: 23-99
This DVD contains ten 23-minute addresses by R C
Sproul on Luther and the Reformation and is ideal for
Bible class, small groups, or for use in the home.
5. Martin Luther: Reformation Fire Catherine MacKenzie
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
RRP: 5-99 Our Price: 4-50
This is the latest addition to the Trailblazers series
aimed at children in the 8-14 age range. It presents an
excellent account of Luthers life and contains helpful
sections at the back such as a fact file, timeline, a
map of Germany, a list of topics for further reflection
and a selection of Luthers most famous quotes. This
is essential reading for anyone working on a Sunday
School project!


Best of the Blogs

A selection of online blogs and articles to challenge and
encourage you in your walk with God and his people
Hearing the Voice of the Lord in Your Pastors Sermon
(Danny Hyde)
Reformed churches believe God still speaks. While we do
not believe he speaks via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
we believe that via preaching Gods voice is as real and vital
to us as it was through the mouths and pens of prophets
and apostles. How can we say this? Heres the doctrine
formulated as simply as possible: when a lawfully called and
ordained minister (Rom. 10) preaches the Word of God and
not his own words (2 Tim. 2:15) and does so in sincerity to
honor God and not himself (1 Thes. 2:36), God speaks.

How to Pray When Your Soul Is Bone Dry (Tim Challies)
You know you ought to pray. You know that God invites
and even commands you to pray. He loves to hear from you,
loves to know you. Yet there are times when your soul feels
bone dry, when even opening your mouth to pray seems an
impossibility. What do you do?

The Psalms in Worship (Mark Johnston)
Too many churches never sing the psalms in public worship.
Despite the fact the two direct injunctions that relate to
singing in the New Testament place psalms at the head
of the list of what Christians ought to sing as they make
music in [their] heart to the Lord (Eph 5.19; Col 3.16), these
expressions of praise are strangely absent from many orders
of service.


How Then Should We View the Children? (Nick Batzig)
One of the more difficult questions to settle--both from
a biblical and historico-theological perspective--is that
which concerns how we are to view the children of baptized,
professing believers

3 Priorities for Christian Parents (Tim Challies)
Whats a parent to do? We know that God tells us to raise
our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lordwe
get that. But what does that actually look like? How can we
flesh out that simple framework?

How Skipping Church Affects our Children (Carl Trueman)
In a Q&A, Carl Trueman was asked about why churches
today are losing their young people. Typical answers to this
question range from things like the temptations of this world
or the irrelevance of the churchyour typical answers. But
Trueman makes a keen and convicting connection between
our parenting and apostasy.