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All articles in category Biblical/theological

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November 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

Jonah for today’s church (3)

Mercy is a quality rarely seen in the world today. Instead, we see a competitive spirit, a ‘get all you can, while you can’ attitude. Thankfully, when we look at the God of the Bible, we see mercy. ‘Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s...

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Article

November 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

A tale of two wives: Eunice

In ET, October 2016, we looked at the marriage of Priscilla to Aquila. This month we consider the marriage of Eunice, the mother of Timothy. Perhaps Priscilla’s marriage being such a good example has left some readers saying, ‘That’s all fine for Priscilla. She made the perfect marriage. Some of us have not had that blessing’? But the amazing comprehensiveness of the Word of God provides a role model for women with difficult marriages too. Maybe the marriage was a huge mistake, through your own fault? Or maybe the man you thought would be an Aquila turned out otherwise? If we know little about Priscilla,...

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Article

October 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

A tale of two wives: Priscilla

The Bible tells us tantalisingly little about Priscilla: just enough to piece together about 17 years of the life of an amazing woman (see Acts 18; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19), but leaving plenty to ask her when we meet in heaven! Her real name was Prisca, Priscilla being the diminutive — ‘little Priscilla’; a feisty little lady, perhaps! She and her husband Aquila are always mentioned together. Was she like her husband from Pontus, on the Black Sea coast of what is now Turkey? Or did she fall in love with the dashing stranger who arrived at the synagogue when she was a young...

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Jonah for today’s church (2)

Article

October 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

Jonah for today’s church (2)

‘Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and he answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice’ (Jonah 2:1-2). Prayer is a sacred act. It is not meant to be a flippant afterthought or a casual thinking out aloud. It is approaching the throne of grace, mindful both of the one doing the praying and the One doing the listening. Prayer is a holy activity that gives us immense access to God.      Jonah’s example tells us that we can pray from anywhere....

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‘Your eyes shall see the King in his beauty’ (Isaiah 33:17).

Article

October 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

‘Your eyes shall see the King in his beauty’ (Isaiah 33:17).

The immediate context of this promise is the threat Israel faced when the Assyrian king Sennacherib mounted a siege against the nation (c.700 BC). The people had seen king Hezekiah in mourning, with sackcloth on his head because of the danger they were in. God assured them that the time would come when the pagan army would be defeated and their king would again ‘adorn himself with the robes of state and appear with a smiling countenance in all the beauty of joy’ (C. H. Spurgeon). Serious students of Scripture know that, in the Old Testament, our glorious Saviour is prefigured in the context of...

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Article

October 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

‘Break up your fallow ground’

‘For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns’ (Jeremiah 4:3). Last summer I was walking along a path through two fields near my home. It was during the dry spell at the end of June. In the first field, the farmer was growing maize and the corn really was ‘as high as an elephant’s eye’. Although there had been no rain for a while, the maize was growing splendidly, as the roots sucked up moisture and nourishment from the ground. The field was doing what a field is supposed to do...

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Article

September 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

Fishers of men (2)

‘When Simon Peter saw [the miraculous catch of fish] he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord! For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken … And Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men. So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him’ (Luke 5:8-11). Peter — always a passionate fellow — responded dramatically to Christ’s miracle. He was, as we might say, ‘blown away’. The others too were astonished by what happened....

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Article

August 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

Law and gospel

There is much to discourage us about the state of the church today. We think of its conformity to the spirit of the world, lack of depth in Christian experience, absence of heart religion, paucity of the fear of God, disregard for the Lord’s Day, lax attitude to worship, and absence of seriousness with regard to eternal issues. However, the church was in an even worse state prior to the Reformation. It was characterised by indifference, pride, laxity and worldliness, but a change came that was radical in its ethical effects. God’s law While we acknowledge that the Reformation was pre-eminently a revival, we have...

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Article

August 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

Priscilla and Aquila: ‘working together with him’ (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Priscilla and Aquila are two lesser known characters in the New Testament. The impression we get is that they were a man and wife team ministry, for the New Testament references to them are invariably as a couple, and not as individuals. Their ministry was not a high profile, public one, yet it was owned by God for the blessing of souls and the glory of his name. If we were to capture the ministry of this Christian couple in five words, those words might be: instability, industry, diplomacy, bravery and hospitality. Instability Priscilla and Aquila knew much disruption in their lives. Acts 18 reveals...

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Article

August 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

Fishers of men (1)

One dreary January day, a discouraged young pastor sat down and wrote himself a letter. He saw scant success in his ministry: no real fruit, no changed lives and, as far as he knew, not a single convert to Christ from all his preaching, visitation and counselling. Nor was he alone in this, for all across the country the best of men were seeing little fruit. The Christian faith seemed to be in retreat. People — even the people in the churches — were indifferent to the gospel. Then suddenly Jesus’ words to Peter and Andrew flashed into his mind: ‘Follow me, and I will...

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Article

July 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

‘You are the Son of God!’

In the language of another time, George Hutcheson (d. 1678) observes that ‘private conference and mutual edification are notable means for advancing the kingdom of Christ, for by these means Christ gathered his disciples’. Today, we might casually call this ‘networking’ or ‘sharing’. It has been variously called personal, conversational, and even lifestyle evangelism. Spontaneity The calling of Jesus’ disciples seems so casual and unstructured, perhaps even haphazard. There is no standard procedure or prescribed method, beyond people talking to people. The record of these conversational transactions is spare, although there was surely much more communication going on behind the scenes (cf. John 1:39). The...

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Article

July 2016
Articles > Biblical/theological

In six days (1)

Are you concerned that the ‘c’ word is creeping into the church? Not the awful ‘c’ word (cancer) that we’re increasingly familiar with these days. This other ‘c’ word is one we should not want anywhere near our churches, publishing houses, theological seminaries or mission agencies. I am referring to the compromise of the truth. Compromise is totally dishonouring to the Lord and does a disservice to the cause of the gospel. The issue which Christians are increasingly guilty of compromising is that of origins. Some Christians are keen to marry up evolution with the teaching of the Bible. But this marriage should be annulled...

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