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All articles in category Comment

June 2015
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Facing upheavals

In AD 410 the city of Rome was sacked by the Goths. Rome was already drastically weakened by self-indulgence, and its social structures, heavily based on slavery, were falling apart. It had become easy prey to the invaders. In the minds of Roman citizens the sacking was, of course, a catastrophe. And to the Christians too it seemed a disaster, especially since the Roman state now recognised Christianity and seemed a final bulwark against Barbarian paganism. Unshaken It was to address such fears that Augustine of Hippo wrote his majestic treatise The City of God. In it, he shows that the church of Jesus Christ is...

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God’s Dynamite
May 2015
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God’s Dynamite

God’s dynamite ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek’ (Romans 1:16). The word for ‘power’ in this verse in the Greek is dunamis, which is variously translated ‘strength’, ‘power’ or ‘authority’. You can easily recognise that it is from this word that we get the English word ‘dynamite’, which is an explosive formula used for various purposes.  Paul said that he was not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s ‘dynamite’ for salvation. I am very happy to say...

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Church Meetings
April 2015
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Church Meetings

Church meetings I smiled when reading of Stanley Delves, a Grace Baptist pastor in Sussex, who, on retiring after 60 years in the ministry, said with evident relief, ‘I will not have to chair any more church meetings!’  His attitude is regrettably easy to understand. While the church meeting is something central to Congregationalism, it is in practice a problem for many people. Mixed feelings In 1981, Derek Swann spoke on the subject of the church meeting at the Congregational Studies Conference and gave us two wonderful, opposite and apposite quotations on the subject, both of which came from R. W. Dale, a famous Congregational...

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Suffering for Christ
March 2015
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Suffering for Christ

What we lack in the Western church today — Australia and New Zealand included — is a practical theology of personal and corporate suffering for the cause of Christ. Putting it simply, we Western Christians are often averse to the thought of suffering for our faith! Many Western believers have only a hazy idea of the extent of daily hardships, difficulties, persecutions and sufferings that our brothers and sisters in Christ are undergoing for the cause of the gospel of Christ around the world today. Immense suffering Fellow believers in the Middle East have endured great persecution following the ‘Arab Spring’. The wars and extremist...

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Can going to church reduce the risk of dementia?
February 2015
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Can going to church reduce the risk of dementia?

Simply going to church may be putting off your chance of developing Alzheimer’s. We already know that research shows that ‘people with a faith, who regularly attend a place of worship’ tend to live longer. Commenting on the research, a professor said the evidence was so clear that, although he wasn’t a believer, he thought he might go for his health’s sake. This confirms previous research showing feelings of loneliness can be a risk factor for dementia. Measuring loneliness Robert S. Wilson, PhD, and his colleagues at the Centre for Aging, Rush University, Chicago, analysed the association between loneliness and Alzheimer’s disease, in 823 older...

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January 2015
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ET Comment ‘Code of Conduct’

In November 2014, the directors and editors of Evangelical Times adopted the ‘Code of conduct’ set out in this comment column. This voluntary code was agreed on after fruitful discussion involving a number of editors of Christian journals, under the helpful chairmanship of Peter Milsom of Affinity. It does not impinge on ET’s editorial freedom (ET is independent of all other organisations, including Affinity). Many of the code’s principles should characterise the wider discourse of Christians in churches and the world. We request readers’ prayers that what ET publishes will reflect a high standard of integrity. For the sake of completeness, we include ET’s mission...

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Lessons from the launch of the Persian Bible
November 2014
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Lessons from the launch of the Persian Bible

Recently I went to Elam Ministry’s service of dedication, to mark the translation of the whole of the Bible into modern Persian. Immediately I was captivated and lifted in my spirit. My first impression was the sheer beauty of the Iranian people, all dressed as befitted coming before a king — King Jesus! Oh what delight! And what joy in their singing as they praised Jesus! Then I was awestruck by their stories. Christians in Iran are paying a high price for their faith in Jesus. They have lost jobs, homes and even custody of children. Some have been physically abused. Hundreds are rejected by...

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What God hears
October 2014
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What God hears

During my childhood, the natural reaction of most parents who heard their children using bad language was to say, ‘Wash your mouth out!’ These days, if an adult has the temerity to complain to a parent about a child’s bad language, the likely outcome is a mouthful of bad language from the parent as well (from mothers as well as fathers)! As Christian influence in society has declined, so permissiveness has prevailed and bad language, in all its forms, become commonplace. Ironic reversal It is ironic, therefore, that, even as society has tolerated increased swearing and obscenity in public speech, new forms of taboo in...

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Church membership
September 2014
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Church membership

Is church membership really necessary? Can’t a Christian have perpetual fellowship with a particular congregation while still remaining a ‘visitor’? To answer this, we first need to understand what the true church is. The universal church or Body of Christ (Romans 12:5) is composed only and entirely of elect and true believers in Christ. Non-believers are not part of that Body. So we realise straightaway that God keeps (according to human understanding) a ‘membership list’ of who is in his true church. During the time of the early church, ‘the Lord added to them daily such as should be saved’ (Acts 2:47). This verse indicates...

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Reflecting on a woeful childhood
August 2014
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Reflecting on a woeful childhood

I reflected on a newspaper report (30 May 2014) from San Diego, California, about a girl who became a boy, at the age of five, when, ‘Jeff and Hillary Whittington shared the emotional story of little Ryland’s decision and gender transition as they accepted the Inspiration Award at the 6th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast’ (www.nydailynews.com/news/national/san-diego-parents-reveal-story-transgender-daughter-boy-5-article-1.1811066#ixzz34uCrIuVD). I resisted the temptation to rearrange the words ‘lunatics’, ‘asylum’ and ‘have taken over’ to make a well known phrase or saying, and instead spent a moment or two reflecting on my own childhood. I well remember one afternoon, at the age of three, deciding that I was not...

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A sweet or biblical Jesus?
July 2014
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A sweet or biblical Jesus?

Do you have a ‘sweet Jesus’ in your heart, but not a ‘biblical Jesus’ in your mind? You need both; one will not do without the other. The biblical Jesus is also the truly sweet Jesus. Where might we find him? One of my favourite places to look for this sweet and biblical Jesus is in the apostle Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. Some preachers in today’s church neglect the preaching from Paul’s epistles to their own and their congregations’ impoverishment. But consider the vocabulary of joy just in chapter 1: ‘saints’, ‘grace’, ‘peace’, ‘thanks’, ‘partnership’, ‘affection’, ‘love’, ‘fruit’, ‘glory’, ‘praise’, ‘rejoice’, ‘deliverance’, ‘hope’, ‘courage’,...

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Four words God loves to hear
June 2014
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Four words God loves to hear

I assume that each one reading this comment earnestly wants to be heard by the Lord; and, if so, needs to know what words to use, what feelings to express and what attitudes to assume, in order to be heard by God. Well, here are four words we need to understand and sincerely adopt: ‘I am not worthy’! They were uttered by three Bible characters, two who were very prominent and one who is only mentioned briefly. These are: Jacob, grandson of Abraham and founder of the Jewish nation; Cornelius, a soldier Jesus encountered; and John the Baptist, forerunner of our Lord. Two said, ‘I...

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