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All articles in category Biblical/theological

February 2018
Articles > Biblical/theological

The ministry of angels

In one of his poems, John Milton said: ‘Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth, unseen both when they wake and when they sleep’. The teaching about angels is one of the intriguing things of biblical faith. It is mysterious. Yet it is clear from the Bible that there are a finite number of created spirits, evil (fallen) and elect (holy). It seems they are not so limited in movement as human beings. There is ‘behind-the-scenes’ activity of both unfallen angels and demons, including Satan their chief (Ephesians 6:12). References to them are found all over the Bible. Sometimes they take visible form; for example,...

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August 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

The heavenly session of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ (2)

Christ’s priestly work in heaven is unique. At his Father’s side, he is perpetually applying the shed blood of his sacrifice on behalf of his people. We have already noticed that Jesus Christ’s once-and-for-all, single act of propitiatory sacrifice need never be repeated (see previous article in ET, July 2017). It was perfect and is accepted by the Father, so we conclude that masses and prayers to the ‘saints’ are useless, in the face of Christ’s perfect sacrifice and unique intercessory ministry in heaven. Personal confession of sin is to be made to the ascended and seated High Priest of the church, Jesus Christ, only (Matthew...

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July 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

The heavenly session of the Lord Jesus Christ (1)

The heavenly session of the risen, ascended Jesus Christ is often neglected, even when thoughts of his glory are considered. However, this subject is relevant to prayer and essential to the spiritual joy and peace of all God’s people. J. C. Ryle noted, ‘If we are Christians, we shall find it essential to our comfort in religion to have clear views of Christ’s priestly office and intercession. Christ lives, and therefore our faith shall not fail. He is at the right hand of God’. Jesus Christ’s saving work is made clear in Romans 8:34: ‘Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and...

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July 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

Federal Vision

Justification by faith, where vile sinners are counted as righteous before God for the sake of Christ, is often polluted by the waters of moralism. Martin Luther is said to have described this justification as ‘the article by which the church stands or falls’. It was this that brought him to faith in Christ, as he read through Paul’s epistle to the Romans, while still a monk. Since the Reformation, countless sermons and books have been preached and written in defence of this pivotal doctrine, and Reformed and evangelical churches throughout the West continue to do battle for it. Auburn Avenue One fairly recent theological...

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June 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

Preaching Christ

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul the apostle was a man of determination. Before he was converted, he was a fiery zealot for the law of Moses and persecuted those who did not agree with him. After he met Jesus, this passionate disposition was turned to winning people to Christianity. He was a great preacher, not because of natural eloquence, but because of his message. He preached Jesus. Jesus was the centre of every message — Jesus and his saving work were not negotiable. If we look at the above Scripture text...

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May 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

‘How old is God?’

After finishing a school assembly recently, a few of the children came up to ask some questions. Two, independently of each other, asked the same one: ‘How old is God?’ How do you answer that in a couple of minutes! It’s not the first time I’ve been asked that by a child. Many years ago, I can recall a real smart little ‘cookie’ I taught getting exasperated with me and saying, ‘But Mr Woolley, God has to have begun somewhere. He cannot always have been alive!’ I think poor Kate thought I had lost the plot when I said God was outside time. How do...

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May 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

Total depravity – the great equaliser

I often feel that I have a ridiculously boring testimony. I can’t count the number of times I have sat through courses, seminars and Bible studies and have heard the value of a good testimony in evangelising the lost. And like any long-time believer, I have heard some incredible ones. I have heard about women who were prostitutes giving their lives to the Lord and becoming active in ministry to women. I have met men who were drug dealers, living lives that would cause the most hardened of us to pale, but who were convicted of their sin and, through God’s grace, were saved. Compared...

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May 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’

Colossians 1:26-27 speaks of: ‘The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory’. Paul was particularly keen for his readers to become fully acquainted with this tremendous truth. It has an enormous impact on those individuals who accept and rejoice in it. I was brought up in Roman Catholicism and regret deeply that so many pious people, whom I knew then, including some exceptionally kind Roman Catholic...

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May 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

A pocket guide to visiting God.

Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.* Even when the Obama’s visited Buckingham Palace they still needed to be aware of the correct protocol for entering the presence of the Queen. There is a correct way to behave. There is a...

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Children, fathers, youths (3)
April 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

Children, fathers, youths (3)

Continued from Children, fathers, youths (2) In previous articles we considered the passage in 1 John 2:12-14, where the apostle addresses his readers as ‘children, fathers, and young men. I suggested that John was not writing to three different groups within the church, but to the whole church as having the characteristics of children (new life and innocence through the forgiveness of sins), parents (spiritual wisdom), and youths (spiritual vigour and strength). Finally, then, in what way do believers resemble ‘young men’? What are the characteristics of spiritual youth? John gives the answer in the closing words of this passage: ‘I have written to you young...

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April 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

The face of Christ

Once, when saying bedtime prayers with a grandson, he asked why he couldn’t see God, saying, ‘It would be easier to believe in him if I could’. This was not such a childish question. Moses made the same request, but God replied, ‘You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live’ (Exodus 33:20). Jesus told the Samaritan woman, ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’ (John 4:24). In other words, God the Father is an invisible spirit. My grandson had to be satisfied that, when Jesus was on earth people could certainly see him,...

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March 2017
Articles > Biblical/theological

Children, fathers, youths (2)

Continued from Children, fathers, youths (1) ‘I write to you fathers because you have known him [God] who is from the beginning’ (1 John 2:13). Clearly, every believer knows God, even the most recent convert. Indeed, this is particularly true of ‘children’ because the kind of maturity implied by this statement stems from an experience of the fatherhood of God. Wisdom and foolishness This maturity is the birthright of every believer. It is a maturity of knowledge and understanding of the things of God. Of course, Christians are to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). In that...

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