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All articles in category Biblical/theological

May 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

Does God suffer with us? (and why it’s great news that he doesn’t) (2)

In April’s ET, we saw that the doctrine of God’s impassibility — his immunity to suffering and human-like emotions — has had a rough ride in recent years, particularly following the great anguish of two world wars and much more suffering besides, during the last century.   It has often been thought that the best way to bring hope to those suffering is to posit that God suffers with them. We saw last month, however, that this approach casts aside the virtually unanimous witness of theologians through the ages.   Now we turn more positively to what the Bible actually teaches, and why it’s actually...

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May 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

Back to the gospel

‘I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do...

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April 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

Latimer’s Sermon of the plough

The late fifteenth century was a desperately dark time of spiritual ignorance dominated by Roman Catholicism. There were probably only a few pockets of true Christian believers, in particular among the Lollards and those who followed John Wycliffe. It was into this religious context that Hugh Latimer was born, around 1485, in the county of Leicester. Despite his family’s poverty he was able to receive a good education, ultimately graduating from Cambridge University. J. C. Ryle tells us that, ‘up to the age of 30, he was a most violent and bigoted papist’ who regularly preached against such Reformers as Philip Melanchthon (Light from old...

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April 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

What did the Reformers believe about the age of the earth? (1)

All Christians believe that God the Father Almighty is the maker of heaven and earth. This belief is like a great river that runs through Christian history. It distinguishes Christianity from other forms of spirituality. Yet within this river there have been two streams of thought about how to understand Genesis: the allegorical reading and the literal reading. The Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries marked a return to the literal reading of Scripture. The Reformers taught that God revealed in Genesis that he created all things in six ordinary days about 6000 years ago. I will sketch these two streams of thought, describe...

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April 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

‘I thirst’ (John 19:28)

It is surely understandable why the Lord Jesus experienced terrible, raging thirst while he hung on the cross. He had suffered much blood loss; and also, before the unusual noontime darkness when ‘the sun’s light failed’ (Luke 23:45) (or ‘was eclipsed’, margin), he had been hanging in the fierce heat, as the sun beat down on a cloudless Middle Eastern day. Need Thirst is one of the most unpleasant, uncomfortable and, if left, fatal of human conditions. The Lord Jesus experienced this on the cross. In his extremely dehydrated state he expressed his need — ‘I thirst’ (John 19:28). John notes that Jesus’ expression of...

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April 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

The anointing! (1)

‘The anointing! This is the whole thing, isn’t it?’ That is what I heard Paul Cain say some ten years ago at a nearby Pentecostal church. Rev. Paul Cain is a big name among the so-called Kansas City Prophets, along with a number of others like Bob Jones, Mike Bickle, Rick Joyner, John Paul Jackson, Francis Frangipane, Lou Engle and James Goll. The Apostolic-Prophetic Movement, sometimes known as the Third Wave, was to work for the re-establishment of a five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher, according to Ephesians 4 (as they saw it). (C. Peter Wagner was claimed by some to be...

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April 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

Does God suffer with us? (and how that question is misunderstood) (1)

The memory of ‘the war supposed to end all wars’ has raised big questions for many theologians over what God is actually like. Christian men and women grappling with the sheer scale of suffering throughout the last 100 years have often searched hard for answers to the horrors of the Somme, Auschwitz, Darfur and Homs. One commonly explored, potential source of catharsis is in the nature of God himself. Perhaps it is, some say, helpful and true to say that God participates in the suffering of the sufferers — he suffers with them — and, in doing just that, provides the greatest comfort imaginable to...

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March 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

God’s only Son

The Apostles’ Creed dates from the end of the second century. It confesses Jesus Christ to be God’s ‘only Son’. Scripture, however, affirms that God has many sons (Hebrews 1:10). So in what sense is Christ God’s only Son? The rise of heresies resulted in the Nicene Creed of AD 325, universally accepted by Christian churches (although the Greek Church maintains the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father, not from the Father and the Son). The Nicene Creed affirms Jesus Christ to be ‘the only begotten Son of God’. This significant phrase shows that the church universal eventually considered ‘His only Son’ to be...

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February 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

Job and the fear of God

Life is always changing, and in the book of Job we have the history of one man and his family and the events that changed their lives for ever. Those unexpected changes were unpleasant and painful, and none more so than the sudden deaths of all Job’s children.   The problem of suffering is very real, especially when death or illness confront us. Job’s family and business life went into meltdown, and his wounds were deepened by his multiple bereavements. In a matter of moments, his world was turned upside down and inside out. But he did not take the name of the Lord God...

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February 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

Making sanity out of vanity

‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2). That’s probably one of the best-known phrases from the book of Ecclesiastes… But what exactly is vanity? Ordinarily when we think of vanity, we think of quality mirror-time. Singer-songwriter Carly Simon exposes the operating principle of vanity in the line to her 1973 song, ‘You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you’. That’s the vanity we know, where all roads lead to self. Vanity is about me looking good and wanting others to think so as well. The vanity mingled among the vanities noted in Ecclesiastes, however, [means] … empty, meaningless, pointless, hopeless. Like...

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February 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

Strengthening ourselves in God

At an especially difficult and fraught time in the life of David, all seemed lost. An enemy force had taken his family captive and ravaged the town in which he was residing.   Then, to make bad matters worse, even David’s own people turned against him and threatened to stone him dead. The Bible though records that at that time, David did not give in to despair, but rather ‘David strengthened himself in the Lord, his God’ (1 Samuel 30:6). Foes, friends and fears notwithstanding, David knew that whatever his circumstances, almighty God — ‘his God’ — was in ultimate control, and that the Lord’s...

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February 2014
Articles > Biblical/theological

‘Covenantal Apologetics’

  K. Scott Oliphint’s book is available in kindle format for £7.85 or as a paperback for £11.19 from 10 of those. I hope that this will be the first in a series of pieces reflecting on the book by K. Scott Oliphint with the above title. I have a new year’s intention (not definite or strong enough to be called a resolution!) to try to have a good dose of apologetics before breakfast as a sort of spiritual vitamin supplement! I have had a somewhat uncomfortable relationship with Van Til’s apologetics. I have tried on several occasions to read the material written by the...

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