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Preaching the Song of Solomon


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Christian Life (Part 1)
Theme verses
Philippians 1:9-11

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FIRST WORD
Recently I watched a television programme which
retold the story of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The
explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was
a truly devastating catastrophe, affecting thousands
of people and claiming many lives. As I watched this
programme, what struck me most of all was the theme
of denial. In the immediate aftermath of the explosion,
the people in charge of the power plant kept insisting
that there was nothing at all to be worried about. It was
just a small fire that needed putting out, and the people
in the surrounding area were completely safe. There
was no risk of radiation poisoning, or anything like that.

G od’s word tells us that a truly catastrophic disaster, In the aftermath of Chernobyl, if you had said to the
far worse than Chernobyl, has taken place in the people contaminated that there was just one thing
world. The disaster is that sin has entered the world. It they needed to do in order to be completely cleansed,
entered in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve first they would have done it in an instant! The bible tells
disobeyed God. Just as the radiation spread out from us there is one thing we must do to be forgiven of our
Chernobyl with its fatal effects for thousands of people, sin and cleansed of unrighteousness. That is, we must
sin has spread out into this world with its fatal effects confess our sin to God. Rather than living in the denial of
for all people. Paul writes, “sin came into the world saying that our sin is not really a big problem, we need
through one man, and death through sin, and so death to acknowledge our sin before God, confess it to him,
spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). admit how helpless we are ourselves in dealing with the
problem of our sin and its terrible consequences, and
The entrance of sin into this world is a far greater trust him to forgive us and cleanse us.
disaster than Chernobyl, because it affects the entire
human race. Left unaddressed, the disaster of sin would This begs the question, “How does God deal with our
lead us all to eternal death under God’s judgment, sin?” One of the biggest challenges after the disaster
sooner or later. Yet, so often, people respond to the at Chernobyl was, “How are we going to deal with this
disaster of sin with denial. They act as if sin is nothing problem?” Even today, if you go to Chernobyl (and I don’t
at all to be worried about. Yes, it’s a bit unpleasant, but recommend it!) you would find that they have built an
it doesn’t really do too much damage. We’re completely enormous concrete dome above the old reactor site to
safe. It’s not really a disaster, just a small problem that try and contain the problem. In a sense, the problem of
we can easily deal with. In the opening chapter of his that disaster is not solved even now, it is just contained
first epistle, the apostle John talks about this kind of in that big concrete dome.
denial concerning the problem of sin and its devastating
How is God able to truly deal with the disaster of our sin
consequences. He says, “If we say we have no sin, we
– not just contain it, but truly forgive us and cleanse us of
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
all our sin? John tells us the answer in verse 7: “The blood
Having acknowledged the disaster of sin and its terrible, of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” The answer
eternal consequences, we should then ask, “How can is that at the cross, Jesus, God’s Son, took all of his
the problem of my sin be dealt with?” There is nothing people’s sin, its effects and consequences, its guilt and
that we can do for ourselves to cleanse ourselves from divine punishment, upon himself and died for it there.
sin. It is hopeless even to try. But God, wonderfully, can By so doing, he was not just containing the disaster
do this for us. This is what John assures us of in the very of sin, but he was truly dealing with it, so that anyone
next verse: “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and who confesses their sin to God and trusts in him will be
just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all forgiven of sin and cleansed of all unrighteousness!
unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
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The Covenant of Grace and the
Christian Life (Part 1)

L ast year, I wrote a series of articles that explored


why heavy doctrine matters for the Christian life by
looking at how the doctrine of the covenant of works leads
Lord. Anyone who has read Holy Scripture at any length
should know that rest and peace are things that God would
have for his people, and it is good in itself to have rest and
us to deeper worship over Christ’s saving work, brings peace before God apart from any other thing we achieve as
coherency to how we think about the law, works, and grace application from those things. So, having already explored
in the Christian life, and should provide deeper assurance the covenant of works and how it provides foundations
about the certainty of our salvation. The editors have for certainty and worship in the Christian life, this year we
generously invited me to extend this series to explore the reflect upon the covenant of grace.
connections between heavy doctrine and the Christian life
by looking this year at the covenant of grace. One danger The nature of trying to establish a place to which we can
of the pragmatic age is that we rush past the foundations return over and over for rest requires that we take the
of biblical teaching to find practical application, which time to outline that foundation on which we might build

leaves those applications without any foundation and our rest, which means that we have to move from the

essentially as a form of Christian mysticism and a merely more doctrinal matters first towards how we make use

emotionally-driven quest for the next practical Christian of them. The first issue to tackle then is to define what
experience we might find. While some may question why we mean by ‘the covenant of grace’ and outline its biblical
this is such a problem, I think that this ongoing quest for support. We should begin by describing the need for the
the next practical Christian experience leaves us without covenant of grace. When God created humanity, he made
rest. It leaves us without somewhere to return time and us good and upright. The Westminster Confession of Faith
again that we might settle ourselves in peace before the 4.2 summarises biblical teaching from Genesis 1:26-27,

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incorruptible life if Adam had fulfilled the requirement of
perfect and personal obedience to the law. I will not rehash
all the material about the covenant of works that was
covered in last year’s articles, but the point here is that
before the Fall, when we retained our original goodness
and natural ability to fulfill the law, we could actually relate
to God on the basis of our works. Obviously, Adam’s sin
shattered the covenant of works, plunged the human
race into sin, and prevented us from ever being right with
God according to our obedience. Adam’s sin left us all
condemned, under the law’s curse, and in a state of misery.

Thankfully, God did provide a solution for our situation


that Adam created by his Fall. As the Westminster Shorter
Catechism 20 explains, ‘God, having out of his mere good
pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting
life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out
of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an
estate of salvation by a Redeemer.’ In other words, now
that we cannot relate to God by the original covenant of
works, God made the covenant of grace with us as the
mechanism to free us from sin’s penalty and power by
Christ’s work. This discussion of our created state, the
Fall, and God’s provision in forming the covenant of grace
should show why we need this covenant of grace in that
we can no longer relate to God by our works, and so we
need to relate to God by grace rather than by the law. That
need for the covenant of grace, however, does not fully tell
us what this covenant of grace is, which is where we now
Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24, and Romans 2:14-15, turn.
stating, ‘After God had made all other creatures, he
Simply put, the covenant of grace is God’s one, unified
created man, male and female…endued with knowledge,
plan to save all his elect by Christ’s work. The Westminster
righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image;
Confession 7.3 elaborates, ‘Man by his fall, having made
having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to
himself incapable of life by that covenant [of works], the
fulfill it.’ This paragraph also says that Adam and Eve had
Lord was pleased to make a second,
the possibility of sinning against
God, and that sin would break the
God made the commonly called the covenant of

happy communion that they had covenant of grace with grace; wherein he freely offers unto
sinners life and salvation by Jesus
with God from creation. The point
to see here, however, is that God us as the mechanism Christ; requiring of them faith in
him, that they may be saved, and
made humanity ‘very good’ and
in such a way that we could relate
to free us from sin’s promising to give unto all those that
penalty and power by Holy Spirit, to make them willing,
are ordained unto eternal life his
to God in love based on obedience
in ‘knowledge, righteousness, and
holiness’ to the law that God wrote Christ’s work and able to believe.’ This covenant
is then God’s method of saving his
into our hearts as those made in his
elect. There are some things that are likely obvious to most
image. Because God made us good from the start, the first
Christians about this, but there are other things that are
covenant that God made with Adam was the covenant of
likely less obvious.
works, in which God promised to confirm Adam in eternal,

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As for what is obvious, clearly this covenant –
­ and a
covenant is simply a formalized agreement meaning
that God went under oath and freely bound himself to
uphold the things he promised in the covenant of grace
­– offers salvation. Readers of this magazine will know
that Christianity promotes a message of salvation, and
so it is no surprise that the covenant of grace centres on
plan of salvation in that it was always based on the
the prospect of salvation. Readers will also know that true
promise of the Saviour, even from the moments just after
salvation can come to us in Christ alone, as he is the only
the Fall. That aspect of the covenant of grace, however,
redeemer of God’s elect (Westminster Shorter Catechism
still does not specify some of this doctrine’s more exact
21). So much for the expected and obvious things.
teachings. Christians typically know that people can be
Christians easily overlook, or simply neglect to think very saved only by Christ, but we do not always think carefully
often about, how God’s plan of salvation in Christ, the only about the implications of that point, especially as it relates
redeemer of God’s elect, spans the entire Bible. God did to God’s Old Testament people. The Apostle Paul wrote in
not make more than one plan to save people, nor did he Romans 4:1-12:
change the method of salvation across history, especially
What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our
not between Old and New Testaments. We see this point
forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was
early on in the Scripture. Genesis 3 records the Fall and
justified by works, he has something to boast about,
God’s response to Adam, Eve, and the serpent, who is the
but not before God. For what does the Scripture
devil. God addressed the serpent in

Justification includes
say? “Abraham believed God,
verse 15: ‘I will put enmity between
and it was counted to him as
you and the woman, and between
your offspring and her offspring; he the forgiveness of righteousness.” Now to the one
who works, his wages are not
shall bruise your head, and you shall
bruise his heel.’ Here, God declared
sins and the crediting counted as a gift but as his due. And

of Christ’s perfect
to the one who does not work
his curse against the serpent,
but believes in him who justifies
which actually was the promise of
blessing for us. God said that the record of fulfilling the the ungodly, his faith is counted as
righteousness, just as David also
law to us as our own,
seed of the woman – someone
speaks of the blessing of the one
born not of Adam’s line, but born

but only because we


to whom God counts righteousness
of a virgin – would wage war on
apart from works: ‘Blessed are
the serpent and his offspring. This
seed of the woman would crush the believe in Jesus those whose lawless deeds are
forgiven, and whose sins are
serpent’s head, but be injured in the
covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord
process. This is the original promise of the Saviour, the one
will not count his sin.’ Is this blessing then only for the
who would come as the second Adam, not under the first
circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say
Adam’s representation, and would overturn the effects of
that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
the Fall, although being harmed ­– not ultimately destroyed
How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after
– in the process. This promise was the first announcement
he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he
of Christ, the Son of God who assumed human nature to
was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as
crush sin, death, and the devil, and he would be harmed,
a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he
even killed, in the process, but he would not ultimately be
was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the
destroyed by his crucifixion since God would raise him from
father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that
the grave. This promise of the Saviour is the same one that
righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to
rings throughout the entirety of Scripture as the defining
make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely
hope for God’s people.
circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith
We see then that the covenant of grace is God’s unified that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

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the work of Christ. In Paul’s discussion of justification in
Romans 3:21-31, he wrote about how every sinner falls
short of God’s glory and must be justified by faith alone,
which happens because God put forth Christ to redeem
those who would trust in him. ‘This was to show God’s
righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had
passed over former sins.’ (v.25) In other words, God applied
Paul’s most obvious point from this passage is to prove
the justifying work of Christ to those who lived even
justification by faith alone. Justification is the doctrine that
before Christ came if they had faith in Jesus. This sounds
God declares us righteous in his sight and sets us in a right
complicated, but it should not be. Faith always looks to the
relationship with him. Justification includes the forgiveness
Saviour. Old Testament faith looked forward to the Saviour
of sins and the crediting of Christ’s perfect record of
who would come in the future, as was the case with the
fulfilling the law to us as our own, but only because
faith of Abraham, David, and every other Old Testament
we believe in Jesus. It is easy to overlook in Romans 4,
saint, while New Testament faith looks back to the Saviour
however, the implications of Paul’s references to Abraham
who has come, as is the case for every believer since the
and David.
incarnation. Faith’s role in salvation is essentially the same:

Paul’s use of Abraham and David to demonstrate it connects us to the Saviour.

justification by faith alone indicates a significant point


This first article is meant to articulate that the covenant
about the continuity of the covenant of grace. Justification
of grace is God’s one plan of salvation to redeem God’s
is the primary individual benefit of the covenant of grace,
people from the penalty and power of their sins. Salvation
acknowledging that communion with the Triune God is
has worked in the same way since Genesis 3:15 in that
the overarching benefit expressed in every aspect of
God promised a redeemer to rescue his people, and no one
salvation. Sometimes, Christians miss the implications of
comes to the Father except by that redeemer. There are
Paul’s references to these Old Testament figures to prove
certainly questions about why the life of Old Testament
the doctrine of justification. Paul’s appeal to Abraham
and New Testament believers looks different under God’s
and David works only if they were justified in the same
various administrations of the covenant, but those are
way that we are. Have you ever really thought about that?
issues for another time. The thing for now is to see how
Abraham lived around 2100 BC, and David reigned over
our wonderful God has never had to deviate from his initial
Israel around 1000 BC, and obviously both lived well before
plan to save people by Jesus Christ, the only redeemer of
Christ walked the earth. Still, Paul used them as paradigms
God’s elect.
of the way that readers of the New Testament are justified.
We know that people today are saved by faith in Christ
alone, but Paul asserted that these Old Testament saints
were justified in the same way, which is again the only way
that his appeal to them works logically.

This discussion raises a profound point about the


continuity of the covenant of grace, or in other words,
the way that the covenant of grace works the same way
across the centuries, regardless of whether it was before
or after Christ’s coming. Christians need to recognize Harrison Perkins serves as assistant minister at
that no matter whether someone lived before Jesus was London City Presbyterian Church, a congregation of
the Free Church of Scotland. He and his wife Sarah
born, died, rose, and ascended, Jesus Christ still saved
are from Alabama, but the Lord moved them to the
them. We need to take John 14:6 seriously: ‘Jesus said to
UK in 2016. While doing further studies at Queen’s
him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. NO ONE University Belfast, Harrison served at a church
comes to the Father except through me.” This statement in Northern Ireland, which quickly became and
is true regardless of whether someone lived before or remains ‘home’ to him and Sarah, before taking the
after Christ’s incarnation, and no one is saved apart from call in London in late 2018.

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Preaching the Song of Solomon

H aving just finished preaching


through the Song of Solomon
more or less consecutively - 34
been undertaken, as there is no doubt
that a slow-ish progression through
this love song is quite demanding
face value/literal way, seems to
predominate in modern times, i.e.
this is a mere human love story
sermons in total - I thought that for the listeners. Although, for the with lessons about romantic (even
some reflections on this particular preacher, there can be few more eros) type of love. But in former
book in today’s context, and satisfying and delightful portions of generations the more analogical
preaching a series on the whole of scripture to expound because there and symbolic interpretation was
such a book, might be helpful, even are so many descriptions about the dominant. Others try to have a more
interesting, for other Christians and Saviour, and our love for him. midway style as is held, I believe,
churches. in the recent commentary by Iain
Like all poetry and analogy and Duguid.
Overall Approach metaphor, the actual details are
not always easy and do assume Almost all of our godly forebears
Some introductory comments are of some familiarity with the rest of seemed to have little difficulty
course necessary to set the scene scripture. In that sense there are in understanding this song as an
for approaching this particular book. some parallels with expounding the extended metaphor and to take it as
The choice of evening congregation book of Revelation where there is an analogy, and that’s the approach
was deliberate; we have a small and also a need for scriptural familiarity I have used throughout, and by the
longstanding committed Christian and to engage with symbolism end of the series, that interpretation
group with most being of senior and metaphor. Which brings me to has confirmed itself again and
years. If I had preached this to a more the fundamental issue that faces again to me that this is correct,
mixed company then undoubtedly a everyone at the outset of this book: for there are virtually no problem
slightly different method would have how to interpret it. One way, the or embarrassing parts or textual

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parallels and applications arising, Old Testament scriptures testify of
and I have been quite surprised at him (John 5:39). Modern theological
how little application of the text to wisdom has tended to shy right away
human marriage/love was made over from any allegorical interpretations
the course of this series. It seems at all because of gross abuses,
to me that to make this aspect the especially in the early centuries of
predominant feature is actually a the church, but that seems to me to
misunderstanding of the text. The be rather an over-reaction. Care is
larger context of scripture is surely to of course required, and due humility
be the key principle in our approach— as to the possible meanings and
that is to say the analogy of scripture. interpretations is also necessary.
That speaks about Christ and his
purposes of redeeming a people for Structure
himself, the final consummation of
which occurs at the marriage feast of There are, then, two main voices in
the Lamb. the song interacting with each other.
One is the masculine voice of love
Human marriage is only therefore a and the other one is the feminine
temporary, albeit blessed gift from voice of love, and as it becomes
the Lord, and even that institution is clear that there has been no formal
meant also to help us in unfolding the permanent marriage union as yet, we
greater reality and mystery of Christ can call the two main characters the
and his Church (Ephesians 5:32). bridegroom and the bride, as clearly
the ultimate goal is that of a settled
So, the obvious question then is this: and permanent marital union of the
how does an Old Testament song two parties. So, they are in the state
coming from the lips/pen of a rather of betrothal as Joseph and Mary were
mixed-up King like Solomon, come when the Lord Jesus was conceived
difficulties. In contrast, the modern to be taken up as the most glorious by the Holy Spirit. A parallel passage
approach of taking the song in a more love song between Christ and his is surely the obviously symbolic
literal way, and trying to present it in Church? But such IS the glory of Psalm 45, although there, actual
its original sense with the characters the inspired word of God and such marriage does seem to happen, unlike
of King Solomon and this rather IS the marvel and miracle of the in the Song.
mysterious Shulamite woman, and superintendence of the Holy Spirit
their physical, romantic, even erotic over his word. Just as with hearing Who speaks when and where in
love in their pre-nuptial relationship, sermons from the book of Revelation the Song is usually dictated by the
and then trying to work out from with differing approaches, so to hear genders of the voices in the text, but
there to various applications such as these two approaches to the Song sometimes this is not always easy to
intimacy in marriage, leads to a most being separately preached can make identify. Modern translations usually
unsatisfactory and often strange and the content and message of the very add their own superscript terms to
rather awkward result. Considering same passage of the Bible seem try and help the reader (but may not
Solomon’s own very chequered and markedly different; i.e. the sermons always get it right!) and also may use
multiple marriages, he is clearly not are going to be very different!! confusing terms for the male and
a suitable role model to follow as female voice, such as beloved and
regards human physical love. Two texts which I often use as a lover.
guide on overall Old Testament
So, I do not believe that this song is interpretation are the apostle Paul’s The bridegroom is identified a number
really at all about human marriage summaries in Romans 15:4 and 1 of times as King Solomon, who also
or human physical/romantic love, OR Cor 10:11. The New Testament is appears as a shepherd, and who is
at best only so in a rather secondary the key that unlocks the deeper and therefore, surely, an appropriate Old
and distant sense, with occasional fuller meaning of the Old Testament. Testament type of the Lord Jesus,
And as the Lord Jesus said, these being the son of David and also the

9
builder of the temple, and his name God’s word where we also have - the beloved” (1:13)—however the text
Solomon meaning Shalom (peace), Holy of holies - the King of kings - the frequently refers to the King as “my
the prince of peace. Lord of Lords and so on. beloved.”
Solomon also wrote other books of
So, at the very outset of this song we Scripture, including the preceding So, this song is about the greatest
are surely being led on to the greater book of Ecclesiastes which he theme of all, that is to say - love - and
than Solomon who is now here. The describes as being about another the greatest love to sing about is
bride is identified only once in the superlative – the vanity of vanities - Christ’s love for his church. So, this is
song as the Shulamite in 6:13—and but now his new composition is about indeed the song of songs, and so this
this name is just the feminine form of the song of songs. So, as Ecclesiastes is my song. I hope it is yours too, and
Solomon, and so also means peace— was Solomon’s reflection on the every Christian’s song - it is for our
so the bride becomes the feminine misery of a life lived without God, so enjoyment and delight. I intend to try
equivalent of the male spouse. So now he completes his writings with and look at some of the portions of
too the Church is identified not by its the best and most satisfying of all the actual text from this allegorical
own unique individualised or separate lives which is to be found in the love approach in some future articles.
character but by being Christlike—as of Christ for his Church, recorded for
the very body of Christ. us in this song of songs.

There are also occasional other Some may remember an old Charlie
participants in the song — especially Chaplin number (taken up by Harry
the daughters of Jerusalem, who Secombe and others) called “Love:
appear to be a rather fringe element this is my song”. Well that was
attached to the Church but not, as obviously all about human love, but
yet, really part of it. We might call here in the word of God is something
such adherents of the church, and far higher, far more wonderful - and
not members. NIV calls them “the so for the Christian this is their song!
friends”. Whether this is literal history
or not seems to me rather irrelevant, So, in this love song, as in all love
Neil Beatson. After over 25 years of
as it is the inner meaning that counts songs, there is clearly found much pastoral ministry in Africa (mainly
and feeds our souls. emotion and feeling and delight, and South Africa, but also a few years in
there is, therefore, a recurrence of Tanzania) Neil and his wife returned
It is of course a love song, and as the themes and not much obvious flow to Ireland 5 years ago. After a couple
opening verse says it is Solomon’s or progression to the song. In one of years of medical locum work in
very best - the song of songs - his sense we can say love is like a circle the South of Ireland, Neil became the
very best composition, and we know and so we go round and round in a minister of Erne West Evangelical
he wrote 1005 songs (1 Kings 4:32), contemplation of the excellencies of church two and a half years ago. Last
so only this one, the best one, has the beloved, or as Charles Spurgeon year, Erne West Evangelical Church

survived. This superlative idea is used to like to distinguish the Lord was incorporated into the Evangelical
Presbyterian Church.
actually quite a frequent feature of Jesus here as being “the well-

10
1 Timothy 1:1-7

R ecently I received a message asking me to pray for a


particular church that I know of in another country, who
are going through a very difficult trial at the moment. A
False teachers have joined the church, and in some cases
have even got into positions of leadership in the church, and
are now trying to drag people away from the truth and away
‘cult’ has targeted this church, and is seeking to undermine from the church.
it from within. Amongst other things, this cult teaches that
only they have secret knowledge about the way to salvation. Paul’s response to this distressing situation is to get his
They teach that salvation is by works, they believe in special trusted friend and co-worker, Timothy, to go and minister
revelation that is outside of and contradictory to the bible, in the church in Ephesus, and deal with these problems. In
and that only their leader has the true interpretation of verse 3, Paul says to Timothy, “As I urged you when I was
Scripture. going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may
charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…”
The pastor of the church undergoing this attack writes as
follows: Timothy was a young man from the city of Lystra. His mother
was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Gentile unbeliever.
“Generally, [this cult] doesn’t ‘evangelise’ people in the From an early age, Timothy’s mum and grandmother
traditional sense – trying to share with un-churched people had taught him the Scriptures, and Timothy had come
the good news of Jesus. The way they operate is to send to Christian faith himself. Then Paul, during his second
recruiters into existing churches to form relationships with missionary journey, had visited the city of Lystra, and had
them in order to remove them from the church, establish met this young Christian man Timothy, and recruited him as
them in the cult and then use them to recruit more people a co-worker to join his team. Since then, Timothy had been
from the church.” working with Paul in his ministry, travelling round with him,
preaching the gospel and assisting Paul in his work.
In this new series of articles, we will explore certain passages
from Paul’s first letter to Timothy. The situation of Timothy’s Timothy, as Paul writes this letter, is still reasonably young,
church as Paul writes this letter is strikingly similar to the and he also seems to be a very timid sort of person. For
situation faced by the church mentioned above. example, in his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds him
that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love
To understand fully the context of this letter, we need to and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) In his first letter to the
rewind about five years from when it was written. Five Corinthians, Paul said to them, “When Timothy comes, see
years previously, the apostle Paul was coming to the end of that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work
a three-year stint ministering in the great city of Ephesus. of the Lord, as I am.” (1 Cor 16:10). So, Timothy strikes us
In many ways, it had been a very successful time of gospel as someone who is very timid, someone who is very easily
ministry. But as Paul said his farewell to the elders of the intimidated, and who is in need of much encouragement. As
Ephesian church, he had these words to say, which Luke well as that, it would appear that Timothy didn’t enjoy the
records for us in Acts chapter 20. Paul says to the Ephesian best of health either. Later in this letter, Paul says to him,
elders: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake
of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” (1 Timothy
“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in 5:23).
among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own
selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away You can imagine how Timothy must have felt, having been
the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30) given this assignment by Paul. He is young, he’s timid, and
he isn’t in great health – and he has been left in this big
Fast forward five years, and that warning that Paul had given cosmopolitan city of Ephesus to help lead the church there
has now come true. The church in Ephesus is undergoing an which is coming under attack from false teachers.
attack.
11
You can imagine how daunted Timothy must have felt by it need to start following those things if you want to develop
all! That is why Paul decided to write this letter to him. In fully as a Christian.” They offer them different, and false,
chapter 3 verse 14 Paul says to Timothy, “I hope to come doctrines.
to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that,
if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the This kind of teaching is still out there. It maybe looks
household of God, which is the church of the living God, a different on the outside, dressed up in 21st century garb and
pillar and buttress of the truth.” This letter, you see, is to presented in modern day language, but at the heart it is still
give Timothy the advice and help that he needs to lead the the same. It says to us, “well, yes, you’ve got the bible, but
church there well, even in the face of this attack. And so, you must realise that the bible is not enough. You need to go
Paul, in this letter, is going to cover all sorts of different beyond that, and you need extra revelation, which is not in
issues to do with the life of the local church, and how it can the bible, if you really want to advance further as a Christian.
stay healthy. You’ll not get that level of insight just from the bible!” This is
exactly the kind of thing that Paul is talking about here. They
He’s going to write about sound doctrine, and how to are devoting themselves to myths, “different doctrine”. The
protect it from error. He’s going to talk about public worship, content of their teaching is false.
and how it ought to be conducted. He’s going to talk about
church leadership, and the kind of people who are suitable 2) The effect of their teaching is fruitlessness
for being elders and deacons in the local church. He’s going
to talk about pastoral care, and how it ought to be carried Look at what Paul says about the effect of this false
out, and so on. With this letter in hand, Timothy will have a teaching, in verse 4. He says that these “myths and endless
great deal of instruction in terms of how to lead the church genealogies… promote speculations rather than the
in Ephesus well. stewardship from God that is by faith.”

Of course, these principles that Paul sets out in this letter The church, and especially its leaders, have been given this
don’t just apply to Ephesus in the first century, but to every great privilege of being stewards of the gospel – the good
Christian congregation in all times and all places. I hope that, news that salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone. Again,
as we look at these things together in this series of articles, Paul says in chapter 3, “the church of the living God [is] a
that we will know more of what it means for us to be a pillar and buttress of the truth.” (3:15)
healthy church today.
It is the church’s calling to hold up the truth of the gospel
What exactly is Timothy up against in Ephesus? In verses before an unbelieving world, and to protect that gospel
3 to 7, Paul outlines three aspects of the teaching that had from error. A healthy church will be a church that takes that
wormed its way into the church: stewardship from God seriously. They’ll keep the gospel
front and centre. As someone has helpfully put it, the church
1) The content of their teaching is false must get the gospel right, get the gospel in, and get the
gospel out. When, in faith, the church does that, they are
They are teaching “different doctrine.” Verse 4 then spells being good stewards.
out what exactly it is that is being taught by these people.
Paul says, they are devoting “themselves to myths and The effect of this false teaching, says Paul, is that it drags
endless genealogies”. people away from that fruitful stewardship of the gospel.
Instead of the stewardship of the gospel, they get mixed up
We have examples of the kind of teaching Paul is talking instead in speculations about these myths and genealogies.
about here. We have books that were written roughly the In a similar way, verse 6 talks about wandering away into
same time as this letter, which take the stories of the Old “vain discussion”.
Testament, but rewrite them, and add into them lengthy
genealogies of people who are never mentioned in the bible, The effect of false teaching is that Christians stop being
and tell mythical stories about these made up people, and fruitful, because they stop thinking about and talking about
the fanciful things that they have supposedly done. the gospel. They ignore the fact that they are meant to be
stewards of the gospel. They are thinking about myths and
The intention is clearly this. It’s as if to say, “you’ve heard different doctrines instead. They are speculating about
the story of the bible from Paul. He’s given you the counsel these things, and getting mixed up in controversies about
of God - and that’s all well and good. But there’s something them, and falling out with one another about non-issues,
more you need to know, if you really want to take your and the result is that the work of the gospel gets pushed to
Christianity up to the next level. There are people the bible one side. The effect of false teaching is fruitlessness.
never mentions, and stories the bible doesn’t tell, and you

12
3) The Teachers themselves are fools In a spiritual sense, Timothy is Paul’s true child, because
he shares the faith of which Paul, by God’s appointment, is
Notice what he says about the false teachers in verse 7. He an apostle. That’s why Timothy – for all his youth, timidity
says that they “[desire] to be teachers of the law, without and physical frailty - can preach confidently in Ephesus –
understanding either what they are saying or the things because he is preaching the apostolic gospel.
about which they make confident assertions.”
We have also seen that the content of the false teaching
So, they might sound impressive. Indeed, Paul says, these was myths and genealogies. But the content of the true
kinds of teachers make “confident assertions”. They can be gospel is summed up nicely for us in Paul’s prayer wish at
very convincing, very persuasive. They will look genuine. But the end of verse 2: “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the
really they are fools, says Paul. They don’t have a clue what Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
they are talking about!
John Stott writes, “Grace is God’s kindness to the guilty and
Yet, they want to be considered “teachers of the law”. They undeserving, mercy his pity on the wretched who cannot
want to be treated like the respected rabbis and scribes in save themselves, and peace his reconciliation of those who
the synagogue – but actually they don’t know the first thing were previously alienated from him and from one another.
about how to handle Scripture; how to read it, interpret it, All three issue from the same spring, namely God the Father
and apply it in a contemporary setting. In particular, they and Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is the very heart of the
don’t know how to handle the law. That, very often, is a true gospel: that God, in his steadfast love and kindness,
tell-tale sign of whether or not someone really knows how has shown mercy to undeserving people, and in Christ has
to handle the bible or not – what do they do with the law of forgiven all their sins, and reconciled them to himself. In the
God? (Notice, that is such an important issue that Paul gives gospel of Jesus, and nowhere else, we have the assurance
the next paragraph to it – how to handle the law properly. of God’s love, peace of conscience, and the joy of the Holy
He says (in verse 8) “now, we know that the law is good, if Spirit.
one uses it lawfully”. In the next article in this series we will
unpack that issue carefully.) Finally, we have seen that the effect of the false teaching
was fruitlessness – because it drags people away from
This is what Timothy is up against, as he undertakes this the gospel and into speculation and vain discussion. But,
difficult assignment in Ephesus against these opponents in verse 5, Paul gives us a beautiful little summary of the
of the church: the content of their teaching is false, the effect of true gospel ministry when it is received by faith.
effect of their teaching is fruitlessness, and the teachers He writes:
themselves are fools.
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart
In stark contrast to all of this, see what Paul says in these and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
verses about true gospel ministry.
The logic of that verse is best read backwards. When, in
We have seen that the false teachers were fools, not worth response to the true gospel, a person sincerely puts their
listening to. But look at how Paul introduces himself in verse faith in Jesus Christ, they receive a good conscience because
1: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our they know that they are forgiven by God, and they are no
Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope.” Paul is underlining the longer burdened with the guilt of their sin. And, by the work
fact that he is not like these other teachers, who have no of the Holy Spirit, their heart is changed, purified, devoted
real authority and are self-appointed, and are just making to God above all else. The overflow of that sincere faith in
it all up as they go along. No, Paul is an apostle by the Jesus, and good conscience and pure heart before God is,
command of God! He can speak with true authority, because simply, love. Love for God, and love for others.
he is an apostle appointed to that role by God himself.
Brothers and sisters, there are many other so called ‘gospels’
But what about Timothy? Well, in verse 2, Paul says that out there in the world, filled with falsehood, fruitlessness
Timothy is his “true child in the faith”. Remember how and foolishness. But there’s nothing like the true gospel
Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer, and his father of grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and Christ
was a Gentile unbeliever? Timothy would have grown up Jesus our Lord.
knowing there was something of a social stigma attached
to that, in first century Judaism. The Jewish community
would have regarded him as an illegitimate child. But with
great tenderness, Paul says to him, “you’re my true child,
Timothy.” In God’s family, there are no illegitimate children.

13
FROM THE CHURCHES

2019 ANNUAL
REPORT
56,412 PEOPLE RECEIVING ACCESS TO
SCRIPTURE
IN CLOSED COUNTRIES
HOURS PEOPLE
SPENT READING
SCRIPTURE
IN CLOSED COUNTRIES

1,052THEOLOGY

1,593,916
STUDENTS

6,070
GOSPEL PRESENTATIONS 27,000 11,000
BIBLES ON VIDEO

? CHIPS
IN CLOSED
COUNTRIES
BIBLES
FOR THE
DEAF

298
PROFESSIONS OF
114
FAITH MINISTRY PARTNERS
AROUND THE WORLD

LIFETIME 4.5 MILLION 350,000+ THANK


OUTREACH: ACCESSED SCRIPTURE BIBLES ON CHIPS YOU!

WWW.100FOLD.ORG

Ed Underwood of One Hundredfold shares the annual report on the last year’s work, with the following comment.

We are very excited to have been part of what the Lord has been doing in getting Scripture to people using technology.
But with the big numbers and technology buzzwords it is easy to miss that there are real people who are really reading
the Bible and meeting Jesus in places most of us could never go. Here is a testimony from one of them:

“Amaan” had been searching for peace since he was a young boy. He studied and read all Islamic books, philosophies,
and history books. None of these satisfied him. As a young teenager he joined the University to study Islam. He later
went to seminary and became a professor of Philosophy and Islamic theology. Now he is highly placed in academia,
government, and religious circles.  However, he says; “I have never, in all those years, experienced the peace that I got
in this last hour, praying to Jesus! I just realized how wrong I have been, following the wrong God! It was so hard, so
hard for me to pray for salvation at first, but when I did, it’s like my eyes have opened to a New World!” 
He went on to say how Jesus changed him and opened his mind to know the simple Truth, the Lord Jesus Christ, who
was with him all the time.
14
FROM THE CHURCHES

Welcoming international students to Belfast


Did you know that there are over 2 500 international What struck me most was the wonderful opportunity that
students who currently study at Queen’s University in the Lord has provided for us, by bringing a mission field right
Belfast? A group of 15 of us from Stranmillis EPC had the to our doorstep! We had the chance to get to know students
privilege of being involved in a welcome programme for from 40-50 different countries, some of whom were familiar
students coming to Belfast for the first time last September. with Christianity, but many who’d never met a Christian in
Each year, Friends International – in partnership with local their lives. It is truly a privilege to reach out to these students
churches in the University area – arrange the iWelcome with Christ’s word and love.
Programme. This is a two-week programme of events While there is no formal spiritual aspect to the programme, it
designed to welcome students to Belfast and offer them offers us the opportunity to welcome and get to know some
friendship and hospitality. Around ten of us attended of the students, each of whom is invited to the ministries
a welcome dinner, where we were able to get to know of the participating churches. These links have been helpful
students over dinner and provide them with a hot meal. as we’ve welcomed students into our weekly café, and it’s
A number of shopping trips to local supermarkets were our continued prayer that we will see more and more of
arranged, enabling students to purchase some of the larger these students coming to know the Lord. We’ve recently
items they’d need for their rooms in halls, and we were been encouraged that a number have attended our Bible
grateful to our friends in Finaghy for lending us their minibus. study and Sunday services, and enjoyed hospitality in our
The entire Underwood family performed at an ‘Irish Night’ members’ homes. Please pray with us that the Lord would
(pictured), where students were able to sample a cultural bring some to know him, “the only true God” and to have
taste of Northern Irish life through food and traditional music. eternal life in his Son (John 17:3).
The programme culminated in the classic trip for all visitors
to Northern Ireland – a day out to the Giant’s Causeway! J Roger

15
FROM THE CHURCHES

Gospel Reformation UK:


Interview with Andy Young, Oxford EPC

Hi Andy, thanks for taking the time to speak to us today! One final and on-going challenge is the financial support
Our readers may remember that a little while ago we had undergirding the church plant. Oxford is one of the most
an interview with you about the new church plant you are expensive places in the UK to live and plant a church, and
leading in Oxford. whilst the Lord has and is blessing us, there is a need for me to
continue fund-raising into the future until we are established
Please give us an update on the work there; how is it and self-funding as a church.
going, and what encouragements and challenges have you
encountered? More recently, you have been involved in setting up a new
initiative called “Gospel Reformation: UK”. What led you to
Thanks for asking! The last two years have flown by and this new venture?
I continue to be amazed at what God has done. The Lord
wonderfully opened the door for us to use two very central GR:UK is the culmination of a number of things. One of the
locations in Oxford and we held our first worship services on catalysts was what I have already mentioned – the need
September 30 2018 after a few months of Bible studies.
th
to raise the profile of Reformed church plants in the UK for
We were hoping for 20+ people to come to the first service the purpose of seeking financial support. I had also been in
and were humbled and surprised when 35 people turned up! discussion with a few other Ministers about the need for a UK
Since then the Lord has continued to encourage us. We are based Reformed and Presbyterian podcast, ‘blog’, and ‘vlog’. A
now regularly getting between 40-60 to our morning services final factor was a desire among some Ministers in EPCEW to
and 15-20 to our evening services. We have seen a couple reach across ‘denominational borders’ and seek to encourage
of conversions as well as local families join us. We have also and promote the church planting endeavours of the Free
been really encouraged to see 10-20 students come along. Church of Scotland, the International Presbyterian Church, as
Even as I write this I continue to be astounded at the grace and well as our brothers in Northern Ireland!
goodness of our God towards Oxford Evangelical Presbyterian What really got GR:UK kicked off was a fund-raising trip to the
Church – all the glory must go to him! USA that Rev. Josh Rieger (of Hexham Presbyterian Church
With encouragements always come challenges and fame) and I made in the Summer of 2019. We shot a slightly
disappointments. It has been hard to see some of the original tongue in cheek video diary whilst on our travels and realised
core group move on for a variety of reasons. Oxford is the how easy it was and how much people seemed to enjoy it
kind of place where there is a high turnover of people and and learn about church planting in the UK. Since then we have
this means building a stable core group in the church can roped in Darren Moore (Chelmsford Presbyterian Church) and
be difficult. Another challenge for me personally has been Michael Cochran (ARP Missionary to the UK), and we hope to
workload. Whilst there are an increasing number of members involve others as well. Really the venture is only just beginning
willing and able to get involved, initially pretty much everything – and who knows where it will lead? If in some small way we
has had to be done by myself. I would encourage anyone can encourage Reformed church planting in the UK then we
who is involved in the life of the church, even in seemingly will be very happy men!
small ways, that what you do is vital! Opening up the church,
cleaning the building, serving tea and coffee, helping with Tell us more about GR:UK – what are its goals, and how does
administration, greeting visitors, welcoming people into your it seek to achieve them?
homes – all of these, and more, are so helpful. You will greatly
encourage your Minister by doing them(!), and perhaps more GR:UK’s goal is to see the recovery of Reformed,
importantly, you are doing kingdom work by faithfully serving Confessional and warm-hearted Presbyterianism in
in these ways. the UK. We simply want to highlight and promote
16
FROM THE CHURCHES

Thanksgiving - Dumisani

church planting and encourage Christians in their walk


with Christ by doing the following things:
• making available helpful resources for teaching,
• raising awareness and highlighting financial needs,
• fostering mutual encouragement within and across
denominational boundaries,
• promoting prayerful support The theme of 2019 at Dumisani Theological Institute &
Bible School was “Thanksgiving” as we celebrated the 40th
The main way we are trying to achieve this is through anniversary of the opening of Dumisani (1979). We spent
our website, Facebook page and Twitter account. We the year recalling many of the events, people, answers to
are using social media to draw people’s attention prayer and unexpected blessings that the Lord arranged to
to church plants and planters, and to encourage extend this part of His work in the Eastern Cape of South
Christians to pray and support them. We are also Africa. Now as 2020 begins, we find ourselves again full
shooting a variety of videos – interviewing church of thanksgiving to the Lord for the provisions we received
planters, teaching on key issues, and informing about last year to go forward with our 40th Anniversary Campus
various needs. In addition we want to encourage Development Fund.
The focus of this development was our property at No.
men to contribute blog posts and articles, as well
12 Leopold St. in King William’s Town. In early 2018 we
as recording some podcasts on relevant topics to do
evaluated the situation at No. 12, met with our contractor,
with all things church planting.
Lawrence Block from Breidbach, and began to pray. The
increase once again in our student enrollment, the need
How can we be praying for GR:UK?
for heightened security, and the state of the existing old
buildings on the property meant that we were in urgent need
The need is great, and the opportunity greater - for of a building campaign. We published a book in connection
the gospel to advance in the UK, for sinners to be with the anniversary, Voices of Thanksgiving, and prayerfully
saved, and for the Reformed faith to be revived. To included a plan for re-developing No. 12 (p. 71).
that end please pray, not so much for GR:UK, but for It is with great joy and thanksgiving that we now report
the current church planting work being done across how the Lord has blessed that plan. In 2019 we travelled
the UK. Pray that the Lord would bless and establish extensively, distributed Voices of Thanksgiving, and affirmed
church plants that they may quickly become self- in over 100 public meetings “The Vital Importance of the
governing, self-funding and self-propagating. And do Bible School Movement”. Individuals and congregations in
pray for more church planters to be raised up, and South Africa, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, the UK, and the
USA were used to help us. We were very blessed by the
more church plants to start!
kind hospitality which we experienced while speaking and
visiting with the EPC in June for the Dumisani Mission Rally
If readers want to find out more about GR:UK, where can
at Stranmillis EPC. We continue to remember the singing that
they go?
evening and the encouragement it brought to hear so many –
young and old – lifting their voices in praise to the Lord.
The best place is to check out our website: www.gr-uk.org. It We are aware that many have given sacrificially to help with
is currently ‘under development’ but there are already some this re-development work – many whom God has already
videos, blog posts and articles there. used for long years to bless the work at Dumisani in a variety
You can also follow us on Facebook - @reformationuk and of ways. Each gift brought encouragement and thanksgiving.
Twitter - @gospelrefUK

17
FROM THE CHURCHES

Thanksgiving - Dumisani
We are pleased to report that much has been accomplished:
• A second classroom is completed that will seat 25-30
and we are hoping to soon have it fully furnished so we
don’t have to share furnishings between lecture halls.
• 2 new toilet areas are now accessible. The men’s toilet
room also has a shower facility for the male students Contruction crew members
living on campus (no female dorms at Dumisani).
• A new kitchen is almost completed along with a large
seating/eating area for students (this area is just
outside the kitchen and can be closed off by a rolling
door).
• An outdoor meeting area on a cement slab is completed
and can be used as the base for a marquee tent for
special events.
• Covered walkways are in place to provide protection
Entrance to main lecture hall and new male dorm rooms
from sun and rain.
• An expanded parking area is open at No. 12 – this is
particularly important for our evening classes as cars
can now be parked right on the property and kept
behind a new security gate. The neighbouring car
dealership has flood lighting that provides plenty of
light for our car park (and it’s free!).
• A self-contained staff flat (that cannot be accessed
from the rest of the building for security purposes) is
now occupied by our college receptionist. L to R: Kitchen, washrooms, new classroom
There are a few remaining goals – the kitchen and 2nd
classroom furnishings are not yet complete – but that
plan that we prayerfully (and boldly) set forth in Voices of
Thanksgiving has largely come to pass. Praise God. We
give thanks to ALL who partnered with us in this significant
project. How wonderful it would be to sit together in the new
outdoor meeting area and hold a service of thanksgiving. We
will be doing that on your behalf in February. We hope that as
you have a look at these pictures, you will join us in thanking
the Lord for His gifts to us and for the encouragement He Main lecture hall, new parking area, renovated second
gives as we partner together in gospel labours. building with new kitchen

Nancy Whytock is a visiting tutor and visiting librarian at Phambili at security wall New classroom
Dumisani.

Self-contained flat (left) new kitchen and


eating area (right)

18
FROM THE CHURCHES

Ernewest
On Saturday 26th October, a service of reception was held
at Erne West Evangelical Church in order to bring them
into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. As well as the
congregation from Erne West, a good number of members of
EPC congregations were in attendance for the occasion.

During the service, Rev Dr Neil Beatson was installed as a


minister of the EPC, Mr John Gowan was installed as an elder
of the EPC, and in due course the deacons at Erne West were
also installed as deacons within the EPC.

Following the various installations, Rev Dr Andrew Woolsey


preached a challenging and encouraging sermon on John 15,
stressing the fruitfulness that can only come from our union
with Christ.

After the service refreshments were served, and we are


thankful to the congregation at Erne West for their warm
hospitality. Special thanks should also be given to the Church
Development Committee for all of their work in recent
months to pave the way for Erne West to be received into
our denomination. We praise God for this development, and
we pray that we would know deep and joyful fellowship with
our brothers and sisters at Erne West in the years ahead, and
that God would be pleased to bless the ministry there with
great fruitfulness.

19
FROM THE CHURCHES

Bookshop News
From the commencement of our denomination, the Evangelical Bookshop, College Square East, Belfast, has played a vital role in
making good reformed books available to the encouragement and benefit of many. In those early days business was done over
the counter as customers came into the shop. Now the shop has an online presence and in more recent years has taken to the
road and travelled further afield.

Edinburgh–Mound Books
Readers were informed in the autumn magazine that we launched a new branch of the Bookshop in September 2019 in
Edinburgh at premises on The Mound. We are still bedding in and establishing ourselves, having contacted various Scottish
churches and individuals in an effort to make the shop more widely known. We open Monday to Saturday and are presently
staffed by part-time workers. We are excited with this venture and are continuing the search for a full-time manager. Please
make this a matter of prayer.

Belfast
Many readers will be unaware of the work the Bookshop is engaged in through attending conferences and conventions with our
books. This is a very positive development and has shown the value of getting up and going out to the people. The list for 2019
gives a flavour of the variety of bookstalls provided. Numbers attending these conferences and conventions range from 50 to
1500 people, from one evening to five days in length. This is a wonderful opportunity to expose many people, young and old, to
good reformed books. Pray for this extensive work.

January September
Irish Preachers’ Conference, Bray Free Church School in Theology, Larbert
Baptist Pastors’ Conference, Louth
October
February Dublin Women’s Convention, Dublin
Irish Men’s Convention (IMC), Belfast Irish Women’s Convention (IWC), Belfast
Irish Baptist College (student bookstall), Moira
May Ligonier Regional Conference, London
Evangelical Fellowship of Ireland, Moira Reformation Conference, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
EPC Family Day, Crumlin EPC Munster Women’s Conference, Cork
Evangelical Bookshop Spring Lectures, Knock EPC Evangelical Bookshop Autumn Lectures, Knock EPC
Baptist Women’s Conference, Ballymena
Baptist Women’s Conference, Lisburn November
EFCC Conference, Derbyshire
June Northern Ireland Ministry Assembly, Maze
Catalyst, London One Passion Ministries (Steve Lawson), London
East London Theology Pastors’ Conference, London One Passion Ministries (Steve Lawson), Wales
Union School of Theology, Wales
July Irish Youth Convention (IYC), Belfast
Keswick at Portstewart Hope for Change - Counselling Conference, Stranmillis EPC
Heidelberg Conference (Ligonier), Heidelberg @theCastle Conference, Castlewellan

August December
Equip (Christian Unions Ireland), Castlewellan Pop-Up Christmas Shop, Omagh
Pop-Up Christmas Shop, Monaghan

The above list gives some idea of the workload on the manager, Colin Campbell, and the other staff. As the programme for 2020
promises to be equally full, we are trying to develop our team of volunteers and, in particular, would like some more volunteers
for this year’s Keswick at Portstewart Convention, IMC, IWC, and IYC. If you would like to help at any event, please get in touch
with the Bookshop on 02890 320529.

We believe these are good days for the Bookshop; we are encouraged that the work is growing and rejoice in the tokens of
God’s favour.
20
FROM THE CHURCHES

New Bookshop premises - The Mound

Praise God for his grace and wisdom in giving us


one day in seven as a blessed and holy day. Thank
him for special opportunities on Sundays to meet
for worship with the family of God and to be built
up through the preaching of God’s word. Pray that
we would turn aside from doing our own pleasure
on the Lord’s Day and would call it a delight to

SAVE THE DATE! keep the Sabbath.

Pray for Christians who can worship together


only in secret, under fear of persecution, and for

PRESBYTERY those who meet in hardship in refugee camps,

DAY CONFERENCE
labour camps or prisons. Ask that God would fill
them with the peace and joy of his resurrection
presence.

SATURDAY 25 APRIL Remember before God all who have been

AT CRUMLIN EPC bereaved. Pray that they will be held by the


everlasting arms.

SPEAKER: Praise God for the hundreds of international


JONTY RHODES students studying in Belfast and for the opening
this provides for some to hear the gospel for the
CHRIST CHURCH CENTRAL, LEEDS
first time. Thank God for the student welcome
programme held in the autumn and pray that
friendships formed would lead to invitations to
church meetings and conversations about Christ.
Pray that international students would attend the
weekly café in Stranmillis.

Give thanks for the provision of the Evangelical


Bookshop and for the good influence it has been
across denominations for many years. Pray
“MAN OF SORROWS, for the manager and staff as they operate not
KING OF GLORY” only the shop, but also the many bookstalls at
conferences etc. Pray for safety in travel and for
BOOKING FORMS AVAILABLE IN YOUR physical, mental and spiritual stamina. Ask God to
LOCAL CONGREGATION provide volunteers to help at future events.

For more details please email:


andyhambleton99@gmail.com 21
BOOK REVIEWS
Title: John Calvin: For a New Reformation
Authors: Derek Thomas & John
Tweeddale (eds)
Publisher: Crossway, 2019.
RRP: £29.99 Our Price: £22.50

“A Calvinian Treat!”

Please pray for a suitable full-time manager for “Thomas and Tweeddale have
the new book shop in Edinburgh. Pray also that brought together an impressive
many Christians will buy, read and be edified by team of sympathetic scholars to
the books stocked and that non-Christians will be provide us with this wonderful
attracted into the shop.
in-depth exposition of many important aspects of Calvin’s
life and teaching. The contributors to John Calvin: For a New
Thank God for the Erne West congregation and for
Reformation not only highlight but also understand the
their minister and elder. Pray that we would know
profound contemporary relevance of his theological and
deep and joyful fellowship with our brothers and
pastoral emphases. Here is a genuine Calvinian treat! May
sisters at Erne West in the years ahead, and that
God would be pleased to bless the ministry there it encourage twenty-first-century pastors and teachers -
with great fruitfulness. indeed, all serious Christians - to think, worship, serve, and
live in the kind of dependence on God and confidence in his
Praise God for his promise that the earth shall be word that Calvin so courageously exhibited in his day.”
filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord Sinclair B. Ferguson
as the waters cover the sea. Praise him that this
is happening in our own day in many lands. Praise
him that, in places that once heard the good Title: The Moon is Always Round
news of Jesus Christ from western missionaries, Author: Jonny Gibson
churches are zealous to take the gospel to other Publisher: New Growth
nations.
Press, 2019
RRP: £12.99 Our Price: £9.97
Thank God for his blessing on the work of One
Hundredfold. Thank him for every individual in a
Jonathan Gibson
closed country who has accessed scripture, and
(Westminster Theological
pray that the good seed of God’s word will take
root in hearts, bear fruit and yield a hundredfold. Seminary) has written
Uphold in prayer those who have professed this wonderful book from
faith and those who are undertaking theological painful, personal experience.
studies. He uses the imagery of the moon to help his young son
understand God’s goodness despite the death of his sister.
Pray that Ed Underwood and the One Hundredfold Just as the moon is always round, God’s goodness is always
team will be given daily help and wisdom for the present, even though we may find at times it seems partially
work and that they and their families will know obscured from view.
God’s rich blessing. Pray also for God’s protection Buy this and read it to your children because, “even young
for the ministry partners working ‘on the ground’ children want answers to the hard questions about God and
in various countries.
suffering.” Highly recommended!

22
BOOK REVIEWS
Title: If I Could Speak And, although we may feel ill-equipped or embarrassed, this
Author: Mark Jones book provides a way to engage our children in conversation
Publisher: Christian Focus as we look at biblical stories like Sarah, Samuel, etc to
Publications, 2019 promote a Christian view of sex within the context of
RRP: £9.99 Our Price: £6.50 marriage.

This could be one of the “I’m thankful for Not If, But When and its simple,
most significant books appropriate, and Bible-based lessons on the purpose and
published in 2019/20. the power, the blessings and the boundaries, of God’s gift of
At a time when abortion sexuality.” - Tim Challies.
laws are being liberalised and abortion is being made
‘easier’ for pregnant mothers, Mark Jones speaks from the
baby’s perspective, a vulnerable human being, who needs a Title: What is Reformed
mother’s protection in the womb. Jones writes logically and Theology?
emotionally - and on behalf of the baby asks the mother Author: R C Sproul
for a name, tells her that he or she would make the mother Publisher: Baker, 2018
happy, that one day the baby will look after the mother, and RRP: £11.99 Our Price: £3.99
that adoption is better than abortion.
What Is Reformed Theology? is
This book will prepare Christians to engage in conversation an accessible introduction to a
with friends who disagree with the biblical position on set of beliefs and concepts that
this crucial subject, as well as being an ideal give-away to have been immensely influential
mothers who are considering a termination. in the evangelical church. In
this accessible book, R.C. Sproul walks us through the
If you have an urgent need for this book, and can’t afford it, foundations of the Reformed doctrine and explains how the
we will happily give you a copy if you call in to Evangelical Reformed belief is centred on God, based on God’s Word,
Bookshop. and committed to faith in Jesus Christ. Sproul explains the
five points of Reformed theology and makes plain the reality
of God’s amazing grace.
Title: Not If, But When: Preparing Our Children for Worldly
Images Why not make use of this special offer through our partners
Author: John Perritt at Ligonier Ministries and and get as many as possible in
Publisher: Christian Focus the EPC reading this excellent introduction to the Reformed
Publications, 2019 Faith?
RRP: £7.99 Our Price: £5.99

The average age of


exposure to pornography
is now 8 years of age - a
staggering statistic! So how
do we, as Christian parents, deal with something to which,
sooner or later, our children will be exposed?

The best way is to teach our children about God’s gift of sex
before our children are exposed to the world’s lies.

23
Best of the Blogs
The Basics of Chalcedonian Christology (Keith A. Mathison) What does Baptism do? (Jared Olivetti)
https://tabletalkmagazine.com/posts/the-basics-of- https://gentlereformation.com/2019/10/02/what-does-
chalcedonian-christology-2019-11/ baptism-do-2/
“Jesus had asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” “There are different ways to approach the regular debates
(Matt. 16:15). This is the question that every reader of the and confusions about baptism. One way I’ve found helpful
Gospels must answer. It is the question with which the lately is to ask the Scriptures, “What does baptism do?” When
early church was forced to wrestle for several centuries. As we look for God’s answer to this question, we also get a clear
Christians sought to teach their children and new converts, sense of the why behind baptism.”
this question would arise. As Christians sought to respond to
those who rejected their teaching, this question would arise.” Classical Theism and Evangelism (Keith Mathison)
https://tabletalkmagazine.com/posts/classical-theism-and-
How to Pray for Unbelieving Family Members (William evangelism-2020-02/
Philip) “Recent years have witnessed a growing debate over classical
https://www.crossway.org/articles/how-to-pray-for- theism—the doctrine of the triune God found in the Nicene
unbelieving-family-members/ Creed, the Definition of Chalcedon, and in the Reformed
“One of the greatest concerns—and heartaches—for many confessions. Authors such as James Dolezal in his book All
Christians is with the members of their families who have not That Is in God have pointed out how prominent evangelical
come to faith in Christ, or who perhaps have abandoned the and Reformed theologians are redefining and/or rejecting
faith they grew up with. Many, many of us are burdened in various elements of the classical doctrine of God such as the
our prayers for such loved-ones, and sometimes it is hard to attributes of simplicity, immutability, and impassibility. Many
know how and what to pray.” Christians, however, wonder whether this debate has any
relevance outside the ivory towers of academia.”
A Heavenly Appetizer (Jonathan Cruse)
http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2019/10/a-heavenly-
appetizer.php
“Many Christians today hold to the misconception that the
Lord’s Supper is nothing other than a memorial meal, a time
where we “look back” and reflect upon the death of Christ.
This is generally the view of mainstream evangelicalism,
though if we are not cautious it can easily become the default
position in Reformed congregations as well.”

The Prototypical Man (Mark Johnston)


https://www.placefortruth.org/blog/the-prototypical-man
“Humans have been fascinated by themselves since the
earliest times in the history of our race. From the crude stick
figures painted on the walls of caves in prehistoric times
through to the sophisticated image of Leonardo da Vinci’s
Vitruvian Man, or the mathematical musings around the
Fibonacci sequence in the beauty and balance of the human
form, there has been a never-ending search for the perfect
paradigm for humanity.”

24