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All articles in category Guest column

June 2014
Articles > Guest column

A Christian country?

A Christian country? The debate has been engaging the air-waves and print-runs again. Is Britain a Christian country? Or was it ever? Of course, it all depends on what we mean by ‘Christian’. There was never a time when every Briton was a Christian; nor even when the majority of Britons attended church. Even in 1851 it has been estimated that, in real terms, only 25 per cent of the nation went to church, once double counting is allowed for.       If, however, we mean that the institutions, education, health care, laws and values of the nation have been strongly, even predominantly, influenced by Christianity,...

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May 2014
Articles > Guest column

What is man?

‘It has been said by someone that “the proper study of mankind is man”. I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God’, said C. H. Spurgeon. I would like to propose that God’s elect might also usefully give a little time to the biblical view of man! Indeed it could be argued that the most neglected and most necessary doctrine in the Christian system today is that of man.   One hears much of the doctrine of God from contemporary evangelical theologians, and for this one gives thanks, but how often...

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April 2014
Articles > Guest column

When he comes – Guest Column

The promise is clear, when the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world. About what? Jesus Christ says, about sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8ff). The word translated ‘convict’ points to facts for which there will be ample evidence. What facts? By nature we are in the wrong. In particular we have wrong ideas of sin, righteousness and judgement. Where is the evidence, and what does it show? The Spirit of God convinces us about unbelief, Christ’s righteousness and the coming judgement. There are three places from which we can gather evidence: the Bible, history and experience. What do they teach? Conscience Firstly, when...

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March 2014
Articles > Guest column

What’s missing?

‘The fear of God’ is not a term heard often. It once was. Exactly when it fell out of popular use, no one can be sure. What seems more certain is that it no longer occupies a central place, even in the thinking of professing Christians! That is strange. Why? Because it should have a central place in our thoughts. One is inclined to say it should never be neglected. Three reasons may be given. First, the example of Abraham. When in Gerar, why did he fail to say Sarah was his wife? His explanation says much: ‘I did it because I thought there is...

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February 2014
Articles > Guest column

Guest Column – Why do we suffer?

Suffering is an everyday event. We turn on the news and hear of earthquakes and typhoons. We open our newspapers and read of murders and rapes. In the street we see emergency vehicles rushing to people in need. Our friends ask, ‘If God is loving, why does he permit suffering?’ God is love Three words are often used of God: he is gracious, loving and merciful. Grace is love to the undeserving; mercy is love to those in need. This is the solid ground upon which we build the answer to the question. In the midst of suffering, we are tempted to wallow in self-pity:...

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January 2014
Articles > Guest column

How to encourage the church

The incident of Peter preaching to the Roman centurion, Cornelius, is a prime example of the gospel being received, in the book of Acts (chapters 10-11), by Gentiles. But Acts 11:19-26 was probably just as significant for the gospel’s spread to the Gentiles. This reads: ‘Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to no one but the Jews only. ‘But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord...

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December 2013
Articles > Guest column

Guest Column – The inside job

The movie Inside job tells the story of the banking crisis of 2008 from within the world of banking itself. Narrated by Matt Damon, it tells a story of greed from the world of bankers, regulators and ratings agencies. At the heart of the whole system is profound human fallenness, which can only lead to collapse and the devastation of countless lives. For some, there would never be recovery from the misery that this crisis brought into their lives. The scale may be different, but the same essential fault line is evident in every human life, not just the banking sector. Greed and selfishness flourish...

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November 2013
Articles > Guest column

Cold-hearted mission

We all know the story of Jonah — the reluctant prophet tasked with taking a message of good news to his nation’s enemies. A reluctant prophet who comes good in the end — except he doesn’t; not really. The book ends as it begins, with a rebellious prophet whose heart is not really in his calling. It is a small book, but one that poses large and significant challenges to us as we consider the ongoing mission of God to the nations and our own part in that. The call to mission cuts across our prejudices Jonah refused his commission because it meant divine compassion...

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October 2013
Articles > Guest column

The ‘yes-man’

Sometimes it’s good to be a ‘yes-man’. Let me tell you about one; his name was Arch. That’s his real name, and a few readers may have known him. He was a deacon and church secretary of the first church I pastored and one of the best men I have ever known. He was already elderly the first time I met him. I was visiting preacher for the day and he was there to welcome me. The tea and biscuits were welcome but not unusual; the warmth of his smile for a young stranger was.    A few months later I became pastor there, and he...

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September 2013
Articles > Guest column

How to avoid falling away

I was converted just a few weeks before going up to university 40 years ago this month. In my first week there, two Christian girls living in the same halls discovered I was a new Christian and made it their job to encourage me, integrate me into the Christian Union and a church, and make sure I didn’t slide during this very vulnerable period. I’m very grateful to God for them. After I graduated I lost contact with many of my student friends, including those girls. It was to be more than a quarter of a century before I had any news of them. By...

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August 2013
Articles > Guest column

August!

August: the month of school holidays (always), my holidays (sometimes) and sunshine (occasionally). It’s also the anniversary of my father’s death. He hadn’t been answering his phone all day, so I went across in the evening and found him. There had been no warning, no preparation; no prior illness, no indication that we were about to lose him.  Dad grew up in the mining area of South Yorkshire and, just like most males he knew, went ‘down t’pit’ at fourteen. Many years later, when I was at university, he took me down with him to see what I’d escaped.  I remember the cramped ‘cage’ that...

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July 2013
Articles > Guest column

Motherhood

  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a perfect child? Can you imagine a child who never threw selfish tantrums or scowled at the meal you set before him? But here’s a reality check — if you did have a perfect child, life as a mother would still be hard!       Mary had a perfect Son, but her life was filled with sadness. Like every mother, she still needed a Saviour to rescue her from the guilt and worries of motherhood. In her case, her Saviour was her Son.       I cannot think of a scene in Scripture that speaks...

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