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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

April 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘What is truth?’

It would be accurate to say that more and more people are asking this kind of question these days. Most Christians will know that it was the first century Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, who posed this question to Jesus during a private interview with him at the Lord’s trial. The apostle John records the account in John 18. Sadly, the question was not put to Jesus because Pilate had a humble heart and was seeking to know about ultimate truth. If anything, it was a sneering response from a hard, cynical man to what the Lord had just said to him. And what...

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March 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Hindered by Satan

Paul makes an amazing statement in his first letter to the Thessalonian church: ‘We wanted to come to you — I, Paul, again and again — but Satan hindered us’ (2:18). Can Satan hinder the work of God? Let’s note some other Scriptures. Before Paul had good news from Timothy that the believers in Thessalonica were progressing well, he expressed the fear that Satan might have tempted them and his work be in vain (1 Thessalonians 3:5). In Revelation 2:10, Jesus (through John) tells the Christians at Smyrna that Satan will put some of them in prison. After Paul’s amazing visions he was given a...

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March 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The single Christian and romance

Stuart Burgess responds to Trevor Baker’s Evangelical Times (January 2017) Personal View of his book, God’s way for romance: getting back to biblical courtship, published by Day One (112 pages, £6.00; ISBN: 978-1-84625-497-0). I am not surprised that Trevor Baker disagrees with my book God’s way for romance, because he takes a very different approach from me towards courtship. It is helpful to clarify our contrasting positions because the review misrepresents my book. I take the position that courtship should be a means to an end (to investigate marriage) and not an end in itself (to have a relationship with physical intimacy). In contrast, Mr...

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February 2017
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘Countless things women can do’

‘I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, Here am I. Send me!’ (Isaiah 6:8).When the prophet Isaiah encounters the glorious holiness of the Lord, he is humbled, aware of his complete sinfulness. But God cleanses Isaiah and calls him to take the Lord’s message to the nation of Israel, and promises to bring men and women into his kingdom as a result. The same is true of Christian women who respond to God’s call to serve him in their family and community, in the UK or overseas. We need to know...

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October 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Contending for the faith (2)

Continued from Contending for the faith (1) The church in the eighteenth century suffered from the attack of atheistic philosophers, but in the nineteenth century there was an even more subtle attack that came from within. Higher Criticism and the theory of evolution cast doubt upon the accuracy of the Bible. So-called Christian scholars, particularly in the Free Church of Scotland, thought they could accommodate these views with continued evangelical belief. Deception Their approach came to be described as the ‘new apologetic’; they thought they were providing a basis for faith more stable than ever before. The result was that they were the unconscious instruments...

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October 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Harvest expectations

‘And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart’ (Galatians 6:9) When it comes to Christian service, I wonder what our expectations are. Do we have great expectations? Do we eagerly anticipate a great outpouring of God the Holy Spirit? Do we really believe that souls will and can be saved, even through our own feeble efforts? Low expectations If we are constantly harbouring thoughts of doubt in our minds, then we will continuously be disappointed. Why should we expect someone to be delivered from darkness to light, if our expectations of...

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September 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Contending for the faith (1)

When we view the situation in some of the historic denominations in the United Kingdom, we see how they are dominated by false teachers. Ministers and elders can hold the most outrageous opinions and yet no action is taken against them. Trials for heresy seem to have become a thing of the past. We are living in a day when such matters have ceased to concern the evangelical church. Professor Thomas C. Oden has said: ‘The very thought about asking about heresy has itself become the new heresy. The arch-heresiarch is the one who hints that some distinction might be needed between truth and falsehood,...

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September 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Are you called to gospel ministry?

If there is anything else a man can do other than preach, Martyn Lloyd-Jones maintained, he ought to do it. The pulpit is no place for him. The ministry is not merely something an individual can do, but what he must do. To enter the pulpit, that necessity must be laid upon him. A God-called man, he believed, would rather die than live without preaching. Lloyd-Jones often quoted the famed British pastor Charles H. Spurgeon: ‘If you can do anything else do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry’. In other words, only those who believe they are...

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September 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Lessons learned from a crank sensor

Trials are part and parcel of the Christian life. We may not like that, but it is a fact we have to face up to. Trials refine us and remove the dross. But, I never imagined in a million years that I would learn something about trials from a ‘crank sensor’! What on earth is a crank sensor? Well, any car mechanic reading this article should know what it is, but for those ignorant like myself here is an explanation (if you can follow it! In the diagram of the sensor, 1 = coil, 2 = soft iron, 3 = magnet, 4 = electrical connector), courtesy of Wikipedia: ‘A...

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Jonah for today’s church (1)
September 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Jonah for today’s church (1)

I once heard a prominent British preacher say the book of Jonah might well be the most underrated book in all of Scripture. Having just taken a Bible study group through this little book, and having also taken a local church through it in recent years, I agree with that statement. The book of Jonah was written around 770-750BC. This was at the time of Uzziah’s reign in Judah, Jeroboam II’s reign in Israel and Assurdan III’s reign in Assyria. It was also the era of Isaiah’s birth. So what does this book and its main character Jonah have to say to the contemporary church?...

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August 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Hospitable hearts

More than 20 years ago, a shy, humble, elderly man transformed the fellowship at our 6.00pm church service. How did he do it? He brought a packet of biscuits and butter menthols to church. Up until that point, people didn’t stay around for ‘supper’. But little did this elderly man foresee the impact his simple act of hospitality would make. I will never forget the way Vic quietly shuffled around the building each week, wearing his familiar brown coat and carrying a plastic bag full of goodies. With the very little that he had, he showed great generosity and love to those around him. After...

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July 2016
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The worst day of my life

The best day of my life (apart from becoming a Christian) was 22 July 1978, when I married Maureen Margaret Ann Taylor at Cosheston in Pembrokeshire. The worst day of my life was 25 November 2014 when Maureen, my wife for 36 years, died peacefully at home. Earlier that day, a district nurse had told me that she had only five or six hours to live. I prayed, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to be alone when she dies’. That evening the phone rang. It was Nigel, ‘Would you like some company?’ We were playing chess when she slipped away. My grief was mixed with...

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