The US Supreme Court has overturned its 1973 ruling on Roe v Wade, removing the constitutional right to an abortion across America. The historic judgment does not criminalise abortion nationally, but hands back power to individual states to legislate on the issue. Nearly half of the 50 states had legislation prepared to place strong restrictions on abortion in the event of such a ruling.
Theology is to worship what nutrition is to health. You do not have to be a nutritionist to enjoy good health but you do have to have good nutrition. Similarly, you do not have to be a trained theologian in order to worship properly, but you do have to have proper theology. That is, you must have proper theology in order to engage in proper worship of God. And, just as it is true that the more nutritious your meals the better opportunity you have to be healthy, so it is also true that the more carefully biblical your theology is, the greater your opportunity to worship God properly.
Some of you may remember that in May Prayer letter we said that World Serve has purchased a drilling rig which was on its way to Nigeria to be used by TASTE. We are thankful to the Lord that the rig has safely arrived in Jos. The photos in the newsletter were taken during the Commissioning and hand of of the rig to TASTE Nigeria. Please pray that the rig will be used to the glory of our God and the blessing of many vulnerable communities across Nigeria.
A debate on assisted suicide is due to take place in Westminster Hall at Parliament on 4 July. This is a chance for both supporters and opponents of assisted suicide to have their say. Please write to your MP today and urge them to attend the debate and to speak against assisted suicide. There was good news on this issue recently in Parliament. Baroness Meacher’s assisted suicide Bill – which would have allowed those with conditions like anorexia or depression to kill themselves – failed to progress. Lord Forsyth’s amendment to change the law was defeated in the Lords. In fact, all twelve recent attempts to legalise assisted suicide in the UK have failed. But euthanasia campaigners have not given up yet. The 4 July debate has been triggered by a petition from Dignity in Dying, a group which says it wants to legalise ‘assisted dying’.
We live in increasingly polarised times. Divisions along political, ethnic and generational lines are becoming more and more entrenched. Sometimes we find ourselves picking a side and adopting an attitude of hostility against those on the other side. Or you say something unwittingly and find yourself the target of fierce opposition. Polarisation creates not just a division but attitudes of disgust and hatred against those on the other side of the divide. We huddle with those who are similar to us avoid engaging with alternatives or complexity. We imagine that “they” are our enemies and to a greater or lesser extent treat them as such. Not every kind of division is problematic, of course. The solution to polarisation is not to sink all our differences in an ambiguous fudge, because as Christians we owe total loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, even in polarised times, there is a distinctively Christian way of interacting with those who are different from us and even those who regard us as enemies. We have to love our enemies!
Indonesia has the world’s 4th largest population. It is made up of 1300 different ethnicities in 17,000 islands stretching over 3000 miles along the equator north of Australia. Official figures say that 87% of the more than 275 million confess Islam. The vast majority, however, are nominal Muslims and know very little about their religion. The claim of 11% confessing Christians seems inaccurate in the light of the steady growth of the Indonesian church. Bahasa Indonesian is the national language, but 737 other languages are spoken. Traditional folkways are strong among all. Indonesia has many young families, over 40% of the population are under 25 years of age. Over 60% live in urban areas.
Christians cannot unjustly destroy or support those who unjustly destroy the image of God, even if it is done in the name of protecting and defending the image of God. Good ends, no matter how noble, do not excuse evil means. Christ’s gospel does not free us to become worldly pragmatists or even spiritual utilitarians. Consequentialism is not Christian liberty. God cares about the way in which we do justice and show steadfast love to our neighbors (Micah 6:8). Any politician that runs on a platform of death in the name of human flourishing is one for whom a believer should never cast their vote. To be clear, I am not saying that being good on a single issue (like abortion) would be enough to qualify a person for leadership who is otherwise incompetent. However, compromising on a particularly weighty issue is enough to disqualify a person who is otherwise very competent.
DNA carries the instructions for how and when to make the principal components of cells, called proteins. Different organisms differ in their DNA instructions (composed of DNA ‘letters’, technically called ‘base pairs’) such that they make at least some different proteins. To change an organism into a different kind, you would have to have a mechanism for changing the letters. For evolutionists, the ‘only game in town’ to change the letters is mutation. Mutations are accidental changes to the instructions, which can be one letter at a time, or multiple letters at once. Letters can be swapped, deleted, or added. Obviously, to change an organism into something more complex, letters would have to be added, not just swapped or deleted.
When you last shared the gospel with a non-Christian friend, did you read plain Scripture to them, or did you summarise the key elements of the faith? When you last spoke words of encouragement to a struggling Christian brother or sister, if you read some scripture, how did you select the bible passage to share? Did you randomly jump into the bible or look for a text on a theme? If you didn’t share a particular bible passage, how did you counsel them with the truth? To encourage someone in the faith, we need to be able to articulate the core truths of the faith in suitable ways. If you remember coming to faith, how did someone share the gospel with you? What key truths were shared with you? What things do people have to believe to be converted? How identify “the faith” handed down to the saints and identify false teaching? In short, we have to work in summaries of the Christian faith to evangelise, do pastoral care and protect the church from false teaching.
Due to the substantial financial response to the Ukraine Crisis, SGA has been able to support churches offering vital help to refugees. The following report is from, Cezary Komisarz, International Coordinator of Ukrainian Crisis for the Polish Free Evangelical Church denomination. “I want to express my thankfulness for the help you have shown to Polish Churches in the current situation. Polish churches have been active in helping Ukrainian refugees since the war started. We have transported people, food, clothes, and hygienic material. We organize accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in our church buildings and private homes. We started Christian Help Centres in our churches throughout Poland to assist with help and hope. Over 2000 people are under the care of Polish local churches. Most of them are women and children. That is all possible due to your support. Thank you for your financial support for our War Refugee Fund.“
More Than a Battle: How to Experience Victory, Freedom, and Healing from Lust. By Joe Rigney. B&H Publishing, 2021. Joe Rigney has written an excellent book for men who are dealing with the sin of pornography in their own lives or in the lives of other men. The book has several distinguishing features: First, Rigney knows how God’s grace works with God’s law. He explains danger of legalism and the opposite danger of merely repeating the Gospel. Both errors fail to apply the Gospel to sin, though in opposite ways. Second, Rigney understands human nature. My favourite chapter was the one that addresses how the body and the soul work together, both in yielding to sin and in overcoming it.
African Pastors Conferences take place across the continent of Africa throughout the year. The aim is to introduce many pastors and church leaders to biblical Christianity and doctrine, many for the first time. A local sponsor provides the venue, catering and logistical support, while APC send speakers and a van load of books, some to give away and most at heavily discounted prices. One of the remarkable aspects of the conferences is the questions that are asked, and here are a few from one of the conferences in Kenya: • Explain how we should understand the issue of head covering mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11. • How do you handle the story of Saul visiting a witch and speaking to Samuel? • What time or how long should application take in your preaching, since it is very important?
I grew up on the Isle of Man in a non-Christian home. If the things of God were spoken of at all, it would be dismissively and, sometimes, in a hostile way. Over time, God providentially placed a Beach Mission right down the road from my house! It was run every summer for two weeks by a group of Christians from the Wirral. From an early age, I began to regularly attend the Mission. Here, the Bible was taught, and God was talked about openly and positively – which was not something that I had experienced before; it was new to me. Later, through this Mission, and despite only being around Christians for 2 weeks a year, I would come to believe that God exists, and that Jesus had died for my sins, but I really had no idea what that meant.
I love getting to the benediction in the worship service. Because it is a reminder to God’s people at the very start of the week - before they have accomplished a single thing that week - that in Christ, God’s disposition toward them is one of blessing, grace, peace, and love. God’s benediction (blessing) is not something we earn by performing satisfactorily or being good enough over the past week. God’s blessing is - like everything else in the gospel - a gift of His free grace to fill His empty people. Just before the saints depart worship and get ready to clean up the Cheerios their kids have spilled all over the pew, race to the bathroom, and then enter a week of work, or even face what Dr Davis called the “slimy pit…mud and mire” of life in the world, God’s final, closing word to His people is a reminder, a pronouncement of His intent to bless His people no matter what.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” For Christians living in the rampantly-individualistic twenty-first century, the command of Hebrews 10:25 may seem strange, unnecessary, or even a nuisance. Yet corporately assembling together within a local church as the saints of God has inestimable benefits for the saints. David Clarkson (the successor of the renowned John Owen) understood this well and taught on this very topic in his treatise, Public Worship to be Preferred Before Private. Utilising Psalm 87:2, Clarkson makes the case that corporate assembly is the blessed duty and highest privilege of every child of God, as well as God’s priority and preference.
The Civil Service is promoting radical gender ideology to its staff, including telling them there are over 100 gender identities. In an investigation, The Daily Telegraph spoke to a number of anonymous Whitehall whistleblowers, who outlined the extent to which language is being policed across the Civil Service. Documents from multiple Government departments reveal an intolerance of those who uphold the reality of biological sex.
Death To Life : Transformed By Grace
Though we see abundant evidence of it around the world, Death to Life is a difficult concept to grasp. However, the truth of being brought from death to life, through the death and life of Jesus is an even greater challenge. Such a message is vitally important for us to believe, for it is God’s message of good news.
The knowledge of the doctrine of the providence of God is of great comfort. For instance, there is an inseparable union between God’s glory and his people’s good as the ultimate end of all his works of providence. Much in this world of sin may appear to work to the bad and seemingly ill of God’s people. However, the reality is that God uses even these things for his glory and his people’s good. God can and does accomplish his eternal will and sanctifying purpose using temptations, trials and even the sinfulness of the human heart. This understanding that God has ordained everything to come to pass should spur us on to action, knowing that God has ordained the end and the means through which he carries forth his work. God uses the believer’s faith, repentance, prayers, good works, preaching, witnessing, and all gifts he has given to fulfil his plan. Therefore, we must be willing to humble ourselves and desire the goal of God’s purposes and the means he has ordained to achieve such ends.
Tom Richwine writes: While I’ve known about the Trinity Pastors’ College (TPC) for many years, it was only in 2019, when I visited Nairobi that I understood the extent of the work being accomplished. For several weeks I had the opportunity to work with TPC students and graduates and participate in ministry with them among the Rendille people as well as the saints in Nairobi. It is very clear that TPC provides its students with a full-orbed theological education. Modeled on the experiences of its founder, Keith Underhill, at Westminster Seminary, the three-year TCP program is a rigorous, systematic approach to biblical education. Extensive reading, on-site instruction, practical ministry opportunities and formal written assignments form the core of the experience. No matter the subject or doctrine we discussed, it was clear TPC had successfully prepared its students to a level commensurate with US seminaries.
I was raised in Nigeria by Christian parents. I grew up hearing about Jesus, about his life and death on the cross. I grew up hearing that forgiveness for sin is found by trusting in Jesus and looking to him for salvation. Yet, I was, as a child, apathetic toward him. Christ’s call to obedience in his word was met with indifference. I was raised in a wider culture that saw the gospel as a tool for self-exaltation. Coming to Jesus meant getting my heart’s desires. It meant becoming wealthy, healthy, prosperous. Jesus meant, to me, a way to satisfy my idols. I thought, if I ‘trust’ him, I would never fall ill; I would get whatever I desired in life. I was wrong. I had a convoluted view of God. I saw God, not as my creator, the eternal, holy One through whom I live and move and have my being. I saw him as a distant, cold, detached figure ‘out there’. To me, he demanded obedience, and I would try to give it if I received my idols in response. It was merely a transaction.
We’re living in days of widespread confusion about gender and identity. How should Christians navigate these challenging times? Recently, Dr. Rosaria Butterfield joined the Ligonier team to discuss the Bible’s teaching about our identity in Christ and God’s unchanging design for gender and sexuality. Having been immersed in a world of gender and identity confusion for many years, and now seeing how the Bible speaks to these issues, she has a great gift for clarity and incisiveness, which can help us to gain a good understanding in these confusing days. She also grasps the importance of being theologically robust in approaching these matters, and the role played in this by our confessional commitment. The interview is warmly commended.
In many Reformed churches (and I would venture to say most churches in general), the hypocrisy that offends people is not so much that you sing like a saint on Sunday and then swear like a sailor on Monday. The hypocrisy that others find repulsive is when the church proclaims to be a grace-filled place, but in reality only has grace for people who look and talk like them. We deceive ourselves right at the very place where the gospel matters most: None are righteous, but we are saved through grace alone as a gift (Rom 3; Eph 2), and therefore we live a life of ongoing repentance.
We are all familiar with the iconic ape-to-man image, which shows a smooth evolutionary progression from stooped ape to upright man. But what is the scientific evidence for the various transitional species in this evolutionary ‘march of progress’? When the empirical evidence is examined, the image is shown to be seriously flawed!
Trinity Grace Church is remembering Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee this weekend. We thank God for his kindness to her, for the freedoms that we enjoy because of her rule and for her maintaining of the peace. This national celebration should call us all to turn to God in thanks and praise as we remember, in the life of our Queen, the many blessings he bestows on us daily and throughout our lives. He gives us life, breath, the whole of creation and for those who believe, he gives the glorious gift of eternal life (John 3:16). We ought to turn to the creator this celebratory weekend in remembrance of his grace and mercy – Jesus calls us to come to him and receive eternal life! Visit our Jubilee page for all the details.
Augustine described the love that we are to have for God as “the motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and of one’s neighbour for the sake of God.” To love God is to enjoy Him above everything and everyone else and out of that joy to live in glad obedience to His will. But Jesus does not stop there. He goes on to teach us that, after loving God supremely, our next greatest responsibility is to love people sincerely. Contrary to what some teach about this, Jesus is not commanding self-love. Nor should His words be taken to imply that we cannot love others until we learn to love ourselves. Jesus assumes that we already do love ourselves. Paul explicitly makes this point by noting that “no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Eph. 5:29). This kind of natural self-love is manifested by the choices that we make to serve our own interests. No matter how destructive such choices are, they are expressions of self-love.
1 Wednesday Today we plan to spend the day together as TBC family during the Family Day for fellowship, mutual edification and encouragement. This year’s event is meant to help the many new members to integrate into the life of the church. We thank God for the peace and unity we have enjoyed over the years and pray for more brotherly love. 2 Thursday TPC classes were taught by Ben Carlson in May, albeit virtually. All the students were able to attend as they learned about Old Testament History and Theology. The students were very cooperative with the teacher who had to wake up at 4.00 a.m. in Kentucky and classes beginning at noon in Nairobi. We now pray that they will be able to complete their assignments on time. 6 Monday Last month four babies were born in the church. We pray for the families to adjust well to the new addition. We especially desire that we all would deliberately raise a godly offspring. There are those who desire children but are still waiting upon the Lord, who gives children. There are many who desire to marry.
The annual report of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has reported that Christians in Afghanistan are still at risk of death for apostasy. Since the August 2021 US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent Taliban takeover, the threat to Christians – all Muslim-background believers from Islam – has increased. Since mid-2021 the Taliban have said that Christians must leave, re-convert to Islam, or face death. “Christian converts,” says the 2022 USCIRF report, are among those who “practice their faith in hiding due to fear of reprisal and threats from the Taliban.” The report recounts that the Taliban have gone door-to-door searching for Christians, adding that Taliban rule also places believers at greater risk of violence and death at the hands of their neighbours, friends and family.
THEOLOGY ON THE GO PODCAST WRITES: We live in an era of growing governmental interference and intervention in the life of the local church. So what is the proper biblical relationship between the civil magistrate and the church? Our hosts reach across the pond to discuss the topic with Oliver Allmand-Smith. He’s a trustee of the International Reformed Baptist Seminary, a pastor for more than 20 years, and the author of Under God, Over the People: The Calling and Accountability of Civil Government. Allmand-Smith draws upon the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith as he defines both the calling and limitations of the civil magistrate’s authority over the local church. How should the church interact with the government? You’ll appreciate the clarity of both Scripture and the Confession on this timely topic.
If you do not understand the problem, you will not seek the right cure. That is true not only medically but also spiritually. In Matthew 15 Jesus teaches a vital lesson in spiritual diagnosis. What He says is fundamental to living the Christian life. He exposes the superficiality of Pharisaical religion by putting His finger on the source of all our sinful behaviours. It is not what goes into a person that defiles him. It is what comes out of him — the corrupted streams that flow from a corrupted heart. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone” (vv. 19–20). As has been well said, the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. Not the blood pumping vessel that is the concern of your cardiologist, but the seat of your personality that is the concern of the Gospel.
It is now 54 years since the 1967 Abortion Act came into force. Since then, a staggering 9.9 million unborn babies have lost their lives to abortion across England, Wales, and Scotland — more than one death every three minutes. The number of abortions performed in England and Wales reached a record high in 2020 with 210,860 taking place. The significant rise in abortions coincides with the governments in Westminster and Holyrood, using emergency Covid measures to push through dangerous DIY at-home abortions across Great Britain. In England and Wales, pills by post abortions accounted for 47% of all abortions during the period April to December 2020. In the UK, more lives are lost to abortion each year than have been lost throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It is projected that on 5 October 2022, 10 million lives will have been lost to abortion.
Living unto God is only possible through the person and work of Jesus Christ, rather than through the law. This was true in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Thomas Manton thought that believers would have to look at the law confessing, “You are death to me!” “[The law’s] impossibility to justify and give life needs to be sufficiently demonstrated; for till we are dead to the law, we shall but carelessly seek after the grace of God in Jesus Christ…we must not only be dead to sin and dead to the world, but dead to the law before we can live unto God.” Life is unable to be breathed back into fallen sinners through obedience to the law. The grace of life and righteousness is found in Christ rather than in the law, and the law could never produce that life, otherwise grace would not have been needed.
The Kherson Region, north of Crimea, has suffered much during this war. It is currently under Russian control and has been for the past three months. It is reported by Russian backed forces that the Russian rouble will be used as the currency there. Praise God that churches were able to hold Easter services. Despite the temporary occupation, churches gathered together to glorify the Risen Saviour and encourage each other. Meetings took place even in those settlements located on the frontline which were under fire. Brothers and sisters gathered together in the homes of believers, where the Word of God and songs of praise and hope were heard. Intimidation and provocation by occupying forces could not deprive believers of the joy of the Resurrection!
The whole style and shape of the Book of Revelation is by way of an epistle. It is Jesus Christ, by John, writing His last will to His church. And if any Scripture displays the sovereignty, majesty, justice, mercy and truth of God, for the comfort of His people, and in a way that makes the hearts of His enemies quake, this does.
Deborah Samuel, a Christian student, was beaten and stoned to death in an appalling incident at a college in Sokoto State, Nigeria. Deborah’s alleged crime was to have insulted Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, in a WhatsApp message. There is no evidence that Deborah did as alleged, but the accusation alone was enough to seal her fate. Even if she had, her murder at the hands of a Muslim mob was not deserved. A fellow student reports that Deborah’s last words to her attackers were, “What do you hope to achieve with this?” This is a question that could be asked to all the Islamist groups across Nigeria – indeed, all those around the world who commit violence against Christians and persecute the Church.
Like skilful physicians of the soul, men like Keach were experts at identifying and diagnosing the disease of sin in its several manifestations. A lost condition may present itself in a variety of ways. A loving doctor of the soul is careful to distinguish between what may be a mere ‘form of godliness’ and biblical godliness that possesses divine power and grace. When dealing with souls, this distinction demands the delicate use of the two great tools that are at every true Christian’s disposal, law and gospel. Like Christ, the Great Physician, believers must apply these tools wisely. The law of God is like a scalpal, which must be precisely applied to those who may be guilty of presumption. It aims to expose sin and deal with the cancer of spiritual pride, which lies at the root of many spiritual ailments. One must seek to cut out this cancer. However, the gospel is like a healing ointment that believers should apply to those wounded by God’s law.
In my early teenage years, I started to ponder on many difficult questions about the world and our existence and if there is any God out there who created us. At the time I had never heard the true gospel. I have a Catholic family background and I attended a majority Muslim school and so that influenced me to believe that God is someone we are supposed to win over through our works, I knew nothing of salvation through faith alone. I would have probably described myself as agnostic although I certainly lived my life as if there is no God. I lived solely for my own pleasures and with little regard for others because my heart was not right with God.
Earlier this week, a document was leaked from the United States Supreme Court indicating that the Justices intend to overturn the country’s national abortion law, commonly referred to as the Roe v Wade decision. Incorrectly, this has been reported in some outlets to mean the banning of abortion in America. As is the case for many of the debates that matter in US politics, which are difficult to separate from the deeply divisive discourse, it is primarily a dispute about whether powers should reside with the federal government or with individual states. I am not going to pass a verdict on the merits or otherwise of American federalism. The law on abortion in America is, of course, a matter for Americans to decide. If the Supreme Court’s final decision resembles the leaked draft opinion, the power to legislate on the matter of abortion will be returned to individual states.
With the world around us seeming to be covered by a heavy blanket of woe, the Spirit of God by His Word draws us out from under death’s suffocating embrace. Even as pro-death activists organize protests in front of Supreme Court Justices’ homes, throw Molotov cocktails through pregnancy crisis centre windows, and push legislation through the US Senate to codify the insane legality of murdering the unborn, God assures us in His Word that Christ has vanquished death. Satan’s reign in God’s world is in fact unravelling. Death itself is coming undone. The forces of this world, expressed through much of our current discourse surrounding medicine, education, celebrity culture, law, and politics deny the reality and inevitability of aging, dying, and death. They scream, “This life is all there is! Nothing of worth pierces through our lived experience. Death is of no consequence. Simply ignore it. Do not think about it. Do not live in light of it.” This is a vain coping mechanism which does nothing to address the severity of what awaits each of us. But God gives a different message that confronts death head-on. His is a message of life’s victory over death, a message of hope, the Christian gospel which has inspired the church of Christ and her individual members to be tenacious agents of life ever since Christ endowed the church with His Spirit of Life. The Christian makes no desperate scream in the face of death, but rather shouts in victory under the kingship and instruction of the immortal Christ.
In 2015, in the name of counter-extremism, the Government consulted on an extraordinarily vague and dangerous plan for Ofsted to inspect church youth work. Any place that provided instruction to under-19s for more than six hours in any week would have been covered – a threshold that would have hit plenty of churches. The scheme specifically included summer holiday activities, so holiday Bible clubs, beach missions and summer camps were also in the firing line. Thankfully, the alarm expressed by Christians and others saw off the plans. They were shown to be ill-conceived and unworkable. It was a great victory for the thousands of Christians who mobilised against the scheme by responding to the consultation and contacting their MPs.
The word “systematic” refers to rightly ordering the themes and topics or doctrines we find in Scripture so that they reflect the material order of the reality of God and his works. Therefore, systematic theology is the discipline of approaching God’s self-revelation systematically, identifying the teachings or doctrines in God’s revelation (God and the things of God), and describing their order and relationships. Since theology includes the study of both God and the things of God, including faith and conduct, theology must be both theoretical and practical. Paul makes this abundantly clear in the letter to Titus. Doctrine accords with godliness (Titus 1:1). Titus must teach people to live a life which fits with sound doctrine (2:1). James tells us to be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22-27), and Paul calls us to lead a life of worship by transforming our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Good systematic theology should reshape our minds and hearts and lead to godly living.
Another form of robbery is becoming increasingly accepted in our society, and is often even commended. We see this most clearly in those whom I will call “equality vigilantes.” These are the gatekeepers of institutions who take equality into their own hands. Adjectives like “advanced, enriched, and gifted” become little better than slurs. Equality vigilantes cry that inequality at any level is unacceptable. Wishing to play God, they call for or implement “the right policies” that will put everyone on the same level. We should care for the bottom twenty percent. We should always be seeking to lift others up, and to provide avenues of escape for those stuck in traps and cycles of poverty, disadvantage, etc. But that is a much different matter than to claim that differences in performance or intelligence are themselves injustices to be rectified.
11 Wednesday TPC classes begin today on Old Testament Theology and History. Ben Carlson, pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Owensborough KY will be teaching virtually. We have 7 regular students who will be attending with a few others auditing. The time difference will make teaching for Ben challenging. 12 Thursday The work in Pokot is undergoing some testing because of political alignments. Please pray for the church leaders to steer away from politics as they may be inclined to endorse one or another politician. Instead let them see that the real influence in their community is in gospel ministry. Schools have also re-opened and we pray that they will faithfully seek to have gospel influence among the children to raise a generation that loves and serves the Lord. 13 Friday Dine & Listen is an evangelistic dinner we host two times a year. Michael Maura, pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church, Tassia, will be preaching tonight. Members are encouraged to invite their unbelieving relatives to hear the gospel.
An Egyptian church minister was stabbed to death in Alexandria on the evening of 7 April. Arsanios Wadid, 56, the minister of a church in the Muharram Bek district, was stabbed three times. He was taken to hospital where he died from his wounds. The attack took place on a seaside promenade where Arsanios was supervising an outing for children from the church. The attacker, since identified as 60-year-old Nehru Abdel-Moneim Tawfiq, was quickly apprehended. He has been referred to criminal court, charged with murder, but has claimed diminished responsibility due to mental illness. Call on the Lord to comfort the family and friends of Arsanios Wadid in their grief (Psalm 34:18). Pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to the congregation in Muharram Bek as they adjust to the loss of their shepherd. Ask that justice will be served as the evidence is gathered.
ALL WELCOME in Sheffield for the TASTE family fun day Saturday May 7th from 11am. Click on the pdf link for all the details. All proceeds to go towards the provision of life-changing water and sanitation for needy communities in Nigeria.
Trinity Grace Church is pleased to have Dr Jason Montgomery teach Patristics: The Study of the Church Fathers, in the summer of 2022. IRBS UK will host this course July 11th to 15th in Ramsbottom DV. All are welcome to join us for this important study of the ancient Church. The student will learn of the doctrine and life of the church in this crucial period of her early formation, as we see that our Reformed faith is rooted and grounded in the great tradition. This course is offered for those interested in studying with IRBS UK, as well as for those who desire to grow in their understanding of the faith from a confessional Reformed Baptist position. See the attached flyer for more information and for the application.
We are grateful to Banner of Truth for providing us with an opportunity to exhibit Broken Wharfe Confessional Baptist Resources and promote International Reformed Baptist Seminary UK at their Minister’s Conference. This year’s conference was hosted at Yarnfield Park in Staffordshire. The theme was Communion with God. Conrad Mbewe took the main meetings while other meetings were taken by David Cambell, Jeff Kingswood, Robert Strivens, Andy Hambleton, Robert McCollum Jr. and Meirion Thomas. One highlight was a small group meeting of ministers with Conrad Mbewe. He spoke about the importance of the 2nd London Baptist Confession in his labours in Africa. In his efforts to promote serious reformed theology among the people, he spoke about how he and others turned to the 1689 Confession in their work to build confessional churches. The growing interest in confessional Baptist theology and churches among ministers who attended was very tangible. We had numerous encouraging conversations with ministers who are beginning to realise the spiritual and moral responsibility reformed men have to lead churches in confessing together their faith.
We give thanks to God for our fourth association discussion meeting which was hosted by Christ Church Loughborough. On March 29th 15 men representing 9 churches met to continue to discuss the establishment of a national association of confessional reformed Baptist churches. We thank God for the unity that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of God, and moreover, the unity which we share in our common confession of faith. Please see the attached report for more information of the day and of the churches involved.
No doctrine has been more continuously assaulted over the past 150 years than that the triune God is the maker of everything visible and invisible in the heavens and on earth. In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth. God accomplished all he planned and made through Christ, the second person of the trinity, the Word who would became flesh. All things were made through him, and without him, nothing was made that was made (Genesis 1.1; John 1.2). The agent of this work was the Holy Spirit, who, being God, was present at the beginning and hovered over the face of the waters. The purpose of this incredible work of beauty, power, wisdom and goodness is for the praise of God’s glory. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork (Psalm 19.1).
The Cross Connect Ukraine Linking Scheme is intended to help match and link evangelical Christians, whose hearts have been moved by the plight of Ukrainian refugees and are able to offer accommodation to Ukrainian individuals, families or groups looking for temporary shelter in a safe home in the UK or elsewhere. It is an initiative run jointly by European Mission Fellowship and Slavic Gospel Association. We are inviting evangelical Christians, in the UK and other European countries, willing to offer accommodation for at least 6 months free of charge to Ukrainian refugees, to register with us with details of their accommodation. We are also inviting Ukrainians, individuals, families or groups, who are looking for temporary homes outside of Ukraine, to register with us, with details of their needs. These Ukrainians will, in most cases, not be known to us, but will have had some contact with our missionaries or partner churches. Then we will endeavour to match and link the host offering accommodation to the refugee looking for accommodation.
CONNECT is our young people’s group for age 11 to 18 years. We seek to meet the practical, social and spiritual needs of our young people. The club is open for youth to enjoy the many games we play, engage in the wide variety of activities, discuss their problems/views with other teenagers and to share in learning something beneficial based on biblical teachings.
A few years ago, my disabled wife and I moved into a small bungalow. Unfortunately, my wife's front door access proved to be very difficult. As her disability worsened, it became increasingly necessary to arrange for a structure to be added compatible with my wife's needs. There was no porch to the bungalow, which meant access was by a couple of steps leading to the front door. The block paving at the front of the bungalow is on a slope which entailed the need to build a substantial concrete ramp extending along the front of the bungalow leveling out and wide enough and long enough to erect a porch suitable for wheelchair access. Choosing a builder is not an easy process and after consulting the various options decided to use a local builder.
ADOPTION: The Neglected Summit. All are warmly invited to the next Heritage Study in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. John Palmer will be speaking on the the wonderful doctrine of adoption. Friday 29th April at 7:45pm, Bethany Evangelical Church in Leigh.
The word vicarious is extremely important to our understanding of the atonement of Christ. The late Swiss theologian Karl Barth once said that, in his judgment, the single most important word in all of the Greek New Testament is the minuscule word huper. This little word is translated by the English phrase “in behalf of.” Barth was clearly engaging in a bit of hyperbole in making this statement, because many words in the New Testament are arguably as important or even more important than huper, but he was simply seeking to call attention to the importance of what is known in theology as the vicarious aspect of the ministry of Jesus.
Even before the rise of the Persian empire, Isaiah 44 & 45 prophesied the name of its great leader. That king returned the Israelites from exile in 538 BC, to rebuild Jerusalem, anticipating the coming of God’s promised Messiah to bless all peoples. His dynasty extended Persian rule over a vast empire that then included almost half the world’s population. Several centuries after Christ’s coming, Islam swept most of these areas. The Persian or Farsi language, however, is still spoken in Iran, areas of Afghanistan, Iraq & the Persian/Arabian Gulf states and Tajikistan. Yet, travel and turmoil of our age, has carried Farsi-speakers to every corner of the globe. Most are Muslims, yet all celebrate the traditional pre-Islamic Persian New Year ‘Norooz’ on the first day of Spring. Like the Arabic online ministry, MERF’s Farsi gospel ministry shares God’s Word in both indirect and direct formats.
In his travels to see where he can get a welcome, Benjamin Keach has True Godliness arriving at the house of Legalist. Legalist says that he already has a man called True Godliness in his home. The dialogue continues: Godliness: ‘Sir, it is certainly a mistake; you have been greatly deceived.‘ Legalist: ‘What, do I not know True Godliness? This is strange! Sir, I assure you he and I converse together every day.’ Godliness: ‘It is indeed true that there are one or two persons who go sometimes by my name; and it is very probable you may be acquainted with one of them. Pray, what are his manners? What instructions does he give you? For by these I shall know who your guest is…’ Legalist: ‘Why, Sir, he teaches me to keep the commandments of God, to lead a righteous life, to do unto all men as I would they should do unto me.’ Godliness: ‘O! Sir, that is my friend and honest neighbour Morality, one that I sincerely love; and I am sure it is great ignorance to take him for me… '
In times of persecution, those who are becoming Christians count the cost carefully before taking up Christ’s cross. Preachers do not beguile them with false promises of an easy life or with the indulgence of their sins. But in easy times the cost does not seem to be so high, and people take the name of “Christ” without undergoing the radical transformation that a true conversion implies. In times like these, preachers often delude them with an easy faith in order to increase the numbers on their church rolls, whether or not such people are regenerate. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this erroneous theology “cheap grace,” saying, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness with- out requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace with- out the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate.”
The Bible informs us that God created the moon on Day 4 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:14–19). Some of its functions are briefly described: it provides light and helps us plan out our calendars. But the moon has another important function: it helps create tides, the daily rise and fall of water along our shorelines. But how do tides work? This is a mystery that baffles people today, as it did people in the ancient past. Yet, it is not that hard to understand, if you think about it.
African Pastors' Conference. This conference was started in Southern African countries by our late dear brother and servant of God Errol Hulse and had wished to bring the conference to us before his demise. Well, the conference after much postponement due to the pandemic in 2020, 2021, finally was fulfilled on 29th - 30th March, 2022. We are grateful to the organizers of the conference and the quality of speakers and their messages. The topic “The scripture in the life of the Local Church” was very timely for the Churches and pastors of our region, (South-East and South-South States of Nigeria) we are trying to reach out. We had 143 registered attendees including one from Abuja, one from Lagos, one from Abia State, two from Enugu, three from Imo State, eight from Akwa-Ibom state, etc.
Human life is precious, not because of our ‘quality of life’, or our gifts and abilities, but because we are made in God’s image. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (PSALM 139:14) PLEASE PRAY: that the attempts to legalise assisted suicide will fail; for women and the unborn in England and Wales after the unsupervised home abortion schemes were made permanent; giving thanks that babies born before the 24-week abortion limit are surviving more frequently; thanking God for parents who reject abortion despite difficult circumstances.
The Puritan conviction about the centrality of the Bible in preaching was reinforced by the practice of largely or exclusively limiting the details of the sermon to biblical material. Puritan preaching was expository in nature, meaning that the entire sermon was to be inextricably tied to the text. The mere establishment of a connection between the sermon and the text was not sufficient for Puritan preachers. Quite the contrary, for, according to the Puritans, "The sermon is not just hinged to Scripture; it quite literally exists inside the Word of God; the text is not in the sermon, but the sermon in the text... Put summarily, listening to a sermon is being in the Bible."
The Bible is not a textbook of facts about God. Contrary to some caricatures of systematic theology, no decent systematic theologian has ever thought that it was! The Bible is the account of God creating, redeeming and perfecting a people for himself. God is supremely revealed in the sending of the Son and the Spirit in the work of redemption. The focus of the Scripture is the revelation of the one, triune, creator God, who sends his Son to redeem a people from sin and judgment to give them new life in the Spirit to walk in faith and obedience in fellowship with him. The Bible reveals God and his nature through the unfolding story of the covenants culminating in the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.
The Islamic month of Ramadan began on 2 April and will conclude on Sunday 1 May. During this period Muslims will fast from all food and drink during the hours of daylight. It is also considered a time for prayer, almsgiving and acts of charity. While most Muslims observe the month of Ramadan entirely peacefully, this is nevertheless a time of year that creates problems for Christians in Islamic contexts. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Muslim-majority lands throughout the coming days and weeks, asking that the Lord will sustain them. Ask that He will grant patience, endurance and strength to those compelled to fast by societal pressure. Intercede particularly for secret believers who face reprisals and death if their Christian faith is discovered.
There is a Christological impoverishment in the evangelical world. Christians, by and large, excel at embracing the divine nature of Christ. And yet the confusion comes when Christians are forced to reflect carefully upon the true human nature of Christ. A study of orthodox Christology would help clear away this confusion, and help us embrace and appreciate of the humanity of Christ. Perhaps no writer that I can think of embodies that rich Christological legacy as well as John Owen. We see this most clearly in volume 3 of Owen’s collected Works, where he enumerates the work of the Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus. And so I'd like to offer a precis of what Owen says. Owen begins by acknowledging that the Holy Spirit’s first role in the ministry of Jesus was the creation of Christ’s physical body in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:35). Owen also goes further by reminding the reader that the Spirit empowered the whole life, work, and ministry of Christ as well.
In January 2022, ‘Broken Wharfe’ launched as a distinctly confessional Baptist resources distributor in the UK and Europe. In their words, “Broken Wharfe exists to glorify Christ and edify his church in the UK and Europe through the production, republication and dissemination of confessional Baptist resources”. These resources include a full and growing bookshop of reprinted and newly published titles, weekly blog posts and other developing media such as videos and interactive study tools. The name ‘Broken Wharfe’ comes from the location of a meeting-house on the River Thames in London where, in September 1689, messengers from more than 100 churches gathered to formally confess the Second London Baptist Confession. This new resource base seeks to encourage the faith and life of these historic churches that were represented, believing, as they did, the Scriptures as summarised in their confession, that we may know similar spiritual vitality in upholding and practising the whole counsel of God.
(1) Tonny Karwa continues to serve at Grace Baptist Church, Kisumu. The family has gone through a challenging time last month with Olivia needing an MRI/MRV, Tonny needing a series of heart tests, and their two children (Junior & Levin) being hospitalized with one (Junior) having an ENT surgery. Pray that in the midst of this difficult providence Tonny and Olivia will remain faithful and fruitful in the gospel. (2) Thank God for the recently concluded Vacation Bible School with up to 70 children and pray for parents to make the most of the school holidays to point their children to Christ. (3) The pastoral internship program has been graciously used by the Lord to mentor a number of men both for the benefit of TBCN and other churches. Pray that the Lord would provide more men and resources to support them as they are trained for the ministry. Pray for James Mwirigi and Paul Ruhiu as they continue to serve the church as pastoral interns.
The big news to announce is the new name for our Seminary. After many conversations with different people over the past three years, we have concluded that a new name--International Reformed Baptist Seminary--best describes the work we are doing. The new name keeps the well-established IRBS acronym (which we will continue to use), and expresses some of the exciting developments the Lord has permitted us to participate in. We have entered into agreements with IRBS UK (United Kingdom) where we expect to offer four courses each year, and with IRBS NZ (New Zealand) where the annual School of Theology will serve as a classroom for IRBS courses. We are in the process of developing other international agreements, as well as planning to offer our missions course in Tijuana Mexico. We currently have 11 international students enrolled in our courses, with the hope that more will take advantage of the outstanding instruction offered by our experienced faculty.
The church building of ‘Bethany’ Evangelical Baptist Church in Mariupol was bombed. The church, which in peacetime was marked by active social and evangelical work, was left without its important resource. Sadly, this city is engulfed in the worst humanitarian catastrophe. The Russian military constantly shells civilians and blocks humanitarian aid. According to the city mayor, there are more than 100,000 civilians in Mariupol waiting to be rescued. A little northwest from Mariupol is Zaporizhzhya city, where churches continue to relocate people from various cities of the region to western Ukraine and abroad. Recently, a group of Georgians managed to walk out of Mariupol and come to Zaporizhzhya, where they were settled in the church building. They have survived four wars and are convinced that only by God’s mercy were they saved.
Have we stopped talking about it? In the past a lot was made of it but it seems increasingly rare to us to hear about the Second Coming these days. Perhaps people have grown a little confused or weary as they struggle to put together a timeline of the future. Yet previous generations had a range of different views that did not prevent them from drawing motivation from the second coming however near or far away they thought it was. That is because it is the great day of the manifestation of Christ’s glory and we ought to long for that. We lose a great deal if our focus is on the present with little thought of this glorious future.
Eysimirdana was a believer, one of the very few traditional men from the Rendille people who professed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. What had it cost him to make this profession? Everything. The Rendille of north Kenya have many traditions which are held essential to observe if one is to remain in the community. They live in circles of easily moveable huts and to fail to keep traditions such as sooriyo means expulsion from the circle when it moves. But in a community-ordered society this is unthinkable. But it is what Eysimirdana did. So he had to leave his Nebeey clan and come to live in the church plot and be supported by his fellow Christians. Like his Saviour he was rejected of men. But also like his Saviour he was a beloved son of God. So much so, on Monday he was taken to glory. He owned next to nothing, and had no education, but he had the most precious thing of all, eternal salvation with Christ.
Christian Concern reports that MPs have just voted by 215 votes to 188 to keep the government's emergency authorisation of pills by post abortions permanently. This will have dire consequences for vulnerable women, who will be pressured into abortions they don't want and not given proper face to face checks to make sure it is safe. We've done everything we could to demonstrate to MPs that this policy is dangerous. A majority today ignored that evidence, but it was not without a fight. In time, many of these MPs will realise the harm this policy causes and, we pray, overturn it. The margin is quite small - as more evidence comes out, there may yet be a change of direction. In the meantime, the Church needs to bring the hope of Jesus to our communities - to be ready to support women in crisis pregnancies and all those who have been harmed by abortion. We are Christ's ambassadors, called to bring the love of Jesus to those around us - giving practical support, healing and offering his forgiveness to all who seek it.
Villagers drove a Christian family of twelve from their home in southern Laos in anger at the family’s practice of a “foreign” religion. On 9 February the family home in Dong Savanh village, Savannakhet province, was burned down. When Seng Aloun was widowed on 4 December 2021 villagers physically prevented her and the family from using the village cemetery for the burial. The family chose to bury her husband in their own rice field. However, the field was seized by villagers on 10 February – the day after the attack on the family home. “Village residents and local authorities don’t like us because we believe in Jesus Christ,” said Seng.
In the film The Empire of the Sun, there is a vivid depiction of desperate thirst. In the chaos of World War II in China, the young son of a wealthy British expatriate is separated from his family. There is no one to care for him. The boy returns to his home and lives for a while on whatever food has been left behind. But his supplies run out, and he is desperately thirsty. Even the swimming pool on the family estate has run dry. The boy returns to the kitchen, which is littered with empty cans, and he feverishly licks every last one to the very bottom. That is a picture of what it is like to live in this world and be thirsty for God. We are thirsty people. We go through this life panting after something, anything, that will slake our thirsty souls.
At the last minute, just before Parliament breaks for Easter, MPs are set to vote on whether to make harmful DIY abortions permanent. This coming Wednesday, 30 March 2022 there will be a vote in the House of Commons on an amendment that would sidestep the government's decision to end the 'temporary' policy in six months' time. There's a real danger that MPs will ignore the substantial evidence that these abortions are particularly dangerous to women. Abortion providers are glossing over this evidence relying on fundamentally flawed statistics to claim DIY abortions are safe. This isn't simply another battle between 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice'. Anyone who properly looks at the data ought to see that this policy harms women. It's our job to make sure that every MP in Westminster pays attention. Please could you urgently contact your MP?
The tragic and heart-rending consequences of the Russian attack upon Ukraine has filled our news bulletins for over a month now. The indescribable needs of that country and its people continue to be uppermost in our thoughts and concerns for prayer. Many believers and churches from neighbouring countries are working tirelessly on the borders to accommodate and feed thousands who have been traumatized by events in their home-towns and cities. Pray for God’s help for them, and for adequate resources to meet the needs. Pray that somehow, out of all this chaos and seemingly mindless violence and war, God will bring glory to Christ and blessing to His people.
Why is life worth preserving? Sometimes there are so many problems and so much suffering that people wonder: “what’s the point of it all?” They may even imagine that putting an end to life will put an end to suffering. Last week the House of Lords rejected a new move to adopt assisted suicide legislation and it is being considered by the Scottish Parliament. It is argued that assisted suicide fails to protect the terminally ill and disabled people from feeling worthless and a burden on others with the added pressure to take this option and end it all. The quality of end-of-life care we provide needs to demonstrate that we value life enough to preserve it. Each person is valuable, not worthless, no matter what struggles they face.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is proposing to change guidelines on prosecuting so-called mercy killings. This undermines the value of human life and risks giving a green light to euthanasia. A consultation on the plans closes on 8 April. Please respond personally - we have already responded as a church. Current guidance that “prosecution is almost certainly required” in cases where someone has killed a sick or infirm friend or relative will be replaced by a number of factors for prosecutors to consider. The changes weaken protections for vulnerable people, risking the introduction of euthanasia by stealth. Parliament has repeatedly rejected changing the law, but a non-prosecution policy would undermine the current position. Under the proposals, a prosecution is “less likely to be required” if the victim “had reached a voluntary, settled and informed decision to end their life”. This is the same language campaigners use in their continual attempts to introduce what they call ‘assisted dying’. It is significant that such campaigners have welcomed the changes.
Baptism is a means of grace to God's people, signifying cleansing from all sin, new life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and union with Christ and his people. Baptism is the moment when we stand to confess the good confession before many witnesses and begin a life of worship and service. In baptism, a sinner is seen to be a saint by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to the Scriptures alone to the glory of God alone. When a person is baptised, their life is changed forever, as they are freed from all the fears of this age unto the fear of the God whose benediction they hear applied to them by name for the first time. And when believers gather to hear the confession of the new Christian in baptism, we are renewed and refreshed and richly blessed afresh as we improve our own baptism and common confession of the faith.
Every so often we hear a new methodology or approach to ministry being championed. It will transform the Church’s appeal, we are told, by transforming what the Church does. These approaches have been proven “to work” and therefore they must be the right way. Usually, however, they explicitly require trading the historic Christian view of how the Church worships and functions for the new way. These things must be tested by Scripture. It also becomes a practical question for the individual believer. How can we best grow spiritually? What sort of church should we attach ourselves to? Is it right to be discontent with a way of worshipping that just seems…ordinary? We tend to despise the ordinary as customary, commonly practiced, fixed and regular and unexceptional. We prefer what is novel. The ordinary isn’t high-octane, it just doesn’t seem to excite. We are naturally attracted by what pleases our senses and what fits with the assumptions that we draw from the culture of the world around us. The ordinary also represents order and naturally we do not want to be restrained by boundaries.
Ethiopia lies across the Red Sea from Yemen. One of the most populous African nations, it is landlocked on the semi-arid Horn of Africa by Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. In the west, the Blue Nile flows from its mountain peaks to Sudan. South Sudan and Kenya border the south. After his election in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a confessing Christian of the largely Muslim Oromo tribe, successfully brought peace to extended internal tribal conflicts and with neighboring Eritrea. Yet, over the past year these resurfaced when forces of the small northern Tigray tribe waged a civil war. (It previously held power in Ethiopia for over 30 years.) Armed conflict has displaced millions and destroyed crops and herds, resulting in hunger and instability. Also, the south is suffering food shortages from severe drought.
Update from Teo Mihoc, Jibou, Romania Bring water for the thirsty, meet the refugees with food. Isaiah 21:14 By the will of God and with many donations received, I left for Ukraine last Monday, March 14, with a bus and a trailer also. We transported a lot of food, clothes, soup, medicine. The value of all our donation was more than $10,000 [£7,600]. Near the border we met 7 other buses and we organized a humanitarian convoy. We passed the Romanian/Ukrainian border and in Slatina, Ukraine we met 8 buses waiting. They took all the aid which would provide resources for more than 400 adults and 150 children, most of them are refugees and their hosts. What we provide was enough for 2 large areas. Some of the refugees came from 30 or 40 km, some from 400 km! from the East part to Western regions. From the beginning of the War, our church in Jibou has provided food for and hosted 109 refugees. We welcome the refugees at the gas station and we provide food, tea or coffee and offer to host the refugees who need that. We are hosting 16 Muslims and we try to be a good testimony for them.
It is common amongst politicians and economists to suggest that we should tax bad things and subsidise good things. It is on these grounds that, for example, we have sugar taxes and cigarette taxes. The justification for taxing “bads” becomes stronger if the ill effects are felt more widely through society and not just by the consumers. Anybody looking at our tax system, with this principle in mind, might well conclude that our political class believes that families with two parents, and those families where one parent works part time or works entirely in the home bringing up children or looking after ageing parents, were a very bad thing. After all, we strongly penalise such arrangements in our tax and welfare systems.
According to his good pleasure, God has a plan and purpose that he is fulfilling in the world. The 2nd London Baptist Confession states, ‘God hath decreed in himself from all eternity by the most wise and holy council of his own will freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever comes to pass, yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein’. Although the world is filled with much wrongdoing, God has ordained everything to come to pass. Yet, none can blame him for the choices that human beings make, which are contrary to his revealed will. Nonetheless, his purposes are definitely being worked out. A great example of this fact is stated in Acts 2:23. Peter, addressing the very people who had Jesus killed, preached, saying, ‘Him being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken in lawless hands and crucified and put to death.’
Thank you so much for your continued interest in the work of Six Thirty One: Refreshment Ministries. We are pleased to say that we have already hosted guests at our new home, Corner Farm in the village of South Wheatley, Nottinghamshire. It is our hope that we will have a busy year as many ministry families use our facilities to reconnect with each other and, more importantly, with God in a haven of peace and calm yet boasting easy access to places of interest and other exciting venues.
The UK Government is planning tougher internet regulation through its Online Safety Bill, which it says will be published this month. Action to clamp down on content promoting violence, drugs, self-harm and suicide is very welcome. Big Tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have been slow to remove illegal content. A requirement for online porn sites to prevent children accessing them is also great news – if overdue. But the plans go much further. Ministers want to restrict legal content which is deemed ‘harmful’. This will be defined in part by the Secretary of State, with Silicon Valley firms and UK regulator Ofcom also having a huge say. This is vague and very worrying. Big Tech will be deciding what should and shouldn’t be allowed in crucial and controversial areas of debate.
Have you ever left a project unfinished? Our lives are filled with projects that we have never quite managed to finish. We have half-read books on our shelves, half-eaten meals in our refrigerators, and half-finished laundry on the floor in our bedrooms. Most of us still have a pile of junk left from hobbies that we picked up for a while and then abandoned—half-built model airplanes, half-sewn quilts, or half-used exercise equipment gathering dust in the basement. There is probably an unfinished project waiting somewhere for you right now. Jesus Christ did not leave the great project of his life unfinished. He finished it. He got the job done. He accomplished his mission. As he came to the end of his life, Jesus received a drink of cheap wine and said, “It is finished.” Then he died.
A frequent criticism of creationists goes like this: “You guys only make negative arguments. You try to poke holes in evolution instead of offering your own alternative theory. You plug up gaps in our current scientific knowledge by invoking an ad hoc god-of-the-gaps, whose role keeps shrinking every time science discovers a naturalistic answer. You have nothing positive to offer.” But this charge is mistaken. Creationists do not merely criticize, or merely deny the views of others. We affirm the Bible, which makes many positive truth claims. When we examine the world, we find abundant positive evidence to support these claims. Here are just a few examples.
As the conflict develops and moves into more westerly regions of Ukraine, God’s people have been making available their church buildings, their halls and even their homes, all in accordance with the plans laid according to the wise counsel of church leaders, in the time of build-up to this crisis. They have responded with a sacrificial effort to prepare this emergency accommodation, and also to provide warm clothing, bedding and blankets, necessary household equipment, and even generators for emergency power, and they have done so with the help of the amazing generosity of SGA prayer supporters, guaranteeing funding for this huge humanitarian effort. At the time of writing an initial amount of £90,000 has been made available to help our friends in Ukraine and the neighbouring countries to finance and sustain this ministry over a more prolonged period of time. Providing necessary aid at this point in time, is only the beginning of months and even years when funding and support will continue to be necessary. Gifts given for addressing this humanitarian crisis will go IN THEIR ENTIRETY to those in need.
We are giving thanks to God for a great step forward in our fight for life. A ban that prevented Dr Dermot Kearney providing treatment to women who regret taking the first abortion pill has been wonderfully overturned. The welcome U-turn came just before Dr Kearney was about to challenge the draconian ban at the High Court. Dr Kearney's legal action was supported by our Christian Legal Centre. Welcoming the news, Andrea Williams said: "I praise God that this scandalous ban has now been lifted, and that the life-saving treatment that Dr Kearney offers can restart. The way is now open for many more women to be helped and many more babies to be saved.
William Perkins was a prolific writer and a monumental thinker within the Puritan movement. Yet Perkins believed that the heart of his ministry was preaching “one Christ, by Christ, to the praise of Christ.” We saw the principle behind this in our last post: Our preaching must be full of Christ because the Bible is full of Christ. So far, so good. But what did this principle look like in Perkins own preaching? At this point, Perkins’ sermons on Matthew 4:1-11 can serve as an edifying illustration. The full title of Perkins’ sermon is A general view of the strange combat between our Savior Christ and Satan. According to Perkins’ divisions, this combat consists of a preparation, the combat itself (which contains three conflicts in which Satan tempts Christ to unbelief, presumption, and then idolatry), and finally Christ’s victory over the Devil.
In ‘The Travels of True Godliness‘, Keach depicts his hero as seeking where he can gain admittance. Sometimes he is found talking to those on whose door he knocks at some length. When he reaches ‘Old-Age’, the discourse is shorter because of his hardened heart. ‘Godliness, being now rejected by Riches, Poverty and Youth, resolved to see whether he might not be entertained by a certain decrepit and feeble person, called Old-Age, concluding with himself that it was very probable his dear friend, Consideration, whom he had a long time sought for, might lodge in his house; for, said he, surely Wisdom, though he dwell not with Riches, Poverty, nor Youth, yet doubtless he will be found with the aged, Job xxxii. 7. Besides these encouragements, he believed him to be the same person who, when he was on a journey many years before, had promised to welcome him at some future time.’ However, his hopes were disappointed, for, ‘Old-Age was settled so on his lees, and had had such rebellious servants and children, that they would not suffer him to show Godliness the least favour.'
I still find it hard to believe. A flu virus succeeded in doing what centuries of persecution by Roman pagans, Ottoman Muslims, Hindu nationalists, Eastern European atheists, and Chinese communists could not: stop Christians from gathering together for fellowship, prayer, participation in the sacraments, and the proper discerning of the Word of God. While our persecuted brethren from the past met together secretly in homes or caves, strengthening each other in the face of possible martyrdom, we who live in the freest nation on earth huddled in our homes, more afraid of facing public scorn than of forsaking the assembly of the saints. Yes, many people with compromised immune systems had legitimate COVID-19 fears, but most of us, myself included, allowed social and political pressure and media-fed anxiety to keep us from congregating together.
After two years of interruption, the Trinity Grace Church events calendar is back! You are all warmly invited to join us for any and all of the events in our diary. Please make a note of each event and plan to come along. There is something for everyone from our Easter services, to the 1940s weekend, to the family fun day, to bonfire night, of if you prefer something more relaxing, try our end of summer BBQ or the meal and message. We would be delighted to see you. As you can see from our promotional image, we cater for ALL ages.
The situation in Ukraine changes by the hour, and the reported fall of the first major city to the Russian army adds to the deep anxiety and fear felt by many Ukrainians. Pray for God’s people in all of this, that they will be sustained by their faith in the sovereign God, and be able to continue to live for the glory of the Lord Jesus. PRAY for the orphans from the Grace Shelter who have had to be moved out urgently to escape the shelling and destruction which have been moving ever closer to them. Pray for a safe journey out of Ukraine and into Poland where arrangements are being made to receive and accommodate them.
Lord Forsyth has tabled an amendment to the Health and Care Bill aimed at allowing terminally ill adults to get help from doctors to kill themselves. The Bill is at Report Stage in the House of Lords, and we expect a debate and vote on the Forsyth amendment on 9 March. This is a real threat to the lives of vulnerable people. It is crucial that Peers reject this proposal. Amendment 170 would require the Government to bring forward a Bill within twelve months to enable terminally ill adults to get medical assistance to kill themselves. The proposal clearly breaches the Sixth Commandment and denies the value of every person as an individual made in the image of God.
The invasion of Ukraine has shocked many and brought heartbreaking devastation into the lives of countless innocent civilians. At a time of fear and confusion, with dreadful forces moving in ruthlessly, where can stability and a sense of peace be found? Where can the believers there look as they face their world torn apart? There is encouragement in Psalm 46 for Christians in Ukraine, as indeed for our brothers and sisters in Syria and other war-torn parts. This encouragement goes hand in hand with (and informs) the practical help we offer. We do what we can to help because we are confident that the Lord is their-and-our refuge and strength. If we struggle to know how best to pray for them, we can make use of the words of this psalm.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, Greetings from Budapest, Hungary. Finally we have put together an updated news and prayer letter. This time I got help from a native English speaking friend from South Africa, who is a member of our church for more than one year now. He is a great help in many other ways in our ministry. May the Lord bless you all and give you grace and advancement in His service. Sincerely in Christ, Pastor Miki Chiciudean
1 Tuesday (1) KU & MI are going north to Rendille, where they aim to encourage the brothers labouring for Christ. Today they hope to spend at Losidan, where we sponsor a primary school, and see Stephen Seitalo in nearby Lontolio who is a faithful labourer for Christ. (2) One of our members, John Njogu. was bereaved of his father last week. He was sadly kidnapped & murdered. Today is the funeral service. Pray that John would be comforted, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ would clearly be preached by EA. 2 Wednesday (1) Pray for God’s blessing in the Swahili service tonight as EA begins a series through the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. (2) KU & MI plan to visit contacts in Sokoteey and Lekuchula. Neither place has a permanent gospel witness.
Please join Barnabas Fund in mourning the loss of William Siraj on Sunday 30 January. Not only had William been a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus all his life but also his death came in the midst of serving his beloved Lord and, furthermore, he was singled out for death because of that service. William was the eldest brother of Wilson Saraj, Barnabas Fund’s Regional Coordinator for Pakistan and several other South Asian countries. On the day of his martyrdom William, a lay pastor, had been preaching at a church in Gulbahar district, near Peshawar. William had gone to this church every Sunday since its founding more than ten years ago, amongst a community of poor, uneducated Christians, mostly doing low-paid, dirty jobs. At first he led services single-handed, and then, as the congregation grew, in collaboration with Pastor Patrick Naeem. The two pastors were driving home together after the service when gunmen on a motorcycle fired through the car window at them. William was killed, but Patrick was unharmed, a bullet passing through his clothes.
What was a possibility, then a probability, has now become reality, with Russian forces engaged in an all out attack on the nation. The conflict is no longer contained within the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, but spreading quickly to include attacks upon major cities including the capital Kiev. Wise church leaders have been consulting with each other and giving guidance to believers regarding the consequences of war, and the plans which over recent weeks have been carefully laid to provide for the accommodation and welfare of those displaced by the war, have been called into action. Believers who were urged to search out and prepare emergency living quarters, have responded by preparing church halls, camp sites, and other suitable locations in which to receive and shelter refugees. They have collected bedding and blankets, necessary household equipment, and even generators for emergency power, to minister to temporal needs, and they are ready to share the Gospel of peace with those who come under their care.
Trinity Baptist Church, Nairobi started in 1978, and over the decades many other local churches have been planted in various parts of Kenya. Because of Government registration requirements they had to be formally linked with TBCN. To some people it looked like we were starting a ‘denomination’. More recently, a number of these churches have obtained their independent registration, and a few have started having had little or nothing to do with us. The internet reaches so many we could not hope to reach! So in this Prayer Letter we thought we would tell you about some churches with which we have close fellowship and which are quite independent of TBC. Thank the Lord there are still other churches that adhere to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith but we cannot write about them all! Some of the following are written by Murungi (MI), and others by me (KU). We want this letter to be an encouragement for what the Lord is doing in Kenya.
After nearly two years, the government has finally announced an end to its DIY abortion scheme. In a written statement made on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, Maggie Throup MP, Minister for Vaccines and Public Health, said: “I am announcing a six-month extension to the temporary arrangements for the provision of early medical abortion put in place during the COVID pandemic. The Government will end the temporary approval put in place at the beginning of the pandemic that allows women to take both pills for early medical abortion up to 10 weeks gestation at home. The temporary approval will end at midnight on 29 August 2022. From this point, the pre-COVID regulatory requirements for the provision of early medical abortion will be reinstated.”
Green Pastures: A Primer on the Ordinary Means of Grace This book is aimed at the person in the pew. It is a helpful guide to understanding the ordinary means of grace. The book seeks to make the confessional position clear and to demonstrate it through the pages of the Scriptures. Written as a scriptural survey of the various ordinary means of grace, the book details the idea of what is meant by “ordinary means of grace” and it walks through the ministry of the Word, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and prayer, with a chapter dedicated to each. Finally, there is a concluding chapter which includes a discussion on the weekly rhythm the Scriptures reveal for the nourishment of the people of Christ.
I asked Hossein what he likes about Jesus. He said that Jesus’ message is clearly about love and peace. He went on to say that he heard about the virgin birth and the miracles, but these were supernatural religious ideas that he never studied. Yet, he had no doubt whatsoever that Jesus and his life and teaching must be admired by all people. Then, I asked him what he liked about Mohammed. He remained silent with a faraway look for a few moments and then said, “Mohammed was a very strong and effective leader.” I asked him if Jesus killed anyone. He quickly answered, “I am sure he never hurt anyone. He even taught people to love their enemies.” I asked the same about Mohammed. He replied, “That is a very different story.” He added that Mohammed was a man of his day, who lived an Arab tribal context, where there was a lot of killing.
The temptation to reshape the trinity is not just prevalent in liberal circles. Recently not a few evangelicals, have latched onto ideas of the trinity to support their agendas. They do this to argue for specific male-female relations. According to a book by Matthew Barrett, many evangelicals have drifted away from the orthodox trinity of the Bible. Instead, the truth of the trinity has been manipulated by being recreated in our own image to justify our social agendas. When we do this, we start to think of the trinity as a community of separate people united by love and agreed purpose rather than one eternal godhead sharing the same essence subsisting in three distinct persons. What is at stake when the trinity is used as a means to an end? Not just doctrine, but devotion also. Our understanding of God shapes our worship of Him.
Error and heresy are not always immediately obvious. Some problems are indeed glaring, and ought to require only a functioning pair of eyes and ears in order to determine the problem. God says that something is black; a man says it is white. QED. At other times, however, error and heresy masquerade under the appearance of—or perhaps more insidiously alongside of—an apparent orthodoxy. A man seems so reliable and gifted. Perhaps he has a genuine gift of oratory; he speaks and writes and preaches with acknowledged clarity and potency in so many ways. He develops a reputation. People want to know what he says. In so many respects he seems spot on. He seems so effective, perhaps even fruitful. And then you begin to listen to the gaps.
We warmly invite churches to participate in our next discussion meeting, seeking to establish a national association of confessional Baptist Churches. Christ Church Loughborough has graciously offered to host the meeting on Tuesday March 29th. We desire to hold communion together with confessional churches for our increase in love, peace and mutual edification. We will once again work through various topics of discussion, in order to make progress towards constituting as an association and to encourage one another in the faith. Below is attached the schedule and address. If you would like more information please feel free to contact Brett Shaw, at email@example.com
In this episode, we interview Darrin Gilchrist about Broken Wharfe, a new confessional Baptist resource base for the UK and Europe. We focus on Broken Wharfe's aim, work and upcoming publications. We also discuss the benefits of the Second London Baptist Confession for churches and ministers. Listen in to find out more.
The last couple of years has altered friendship according to a number of studies. 56% report their friendships changed and 20% have become more distant with close friends due to the pandemic according to the UK YouGov Friendship Study (USA data is similar). The drifting has come from isolation, distancing, differing views or changed rhythms in daily life. Experiences vary and no doubt some bonds have been strengthened, but it is the ties with those beyond the very closest of friends that have mainly become weaker. Does it matter that some friends have disappeared from our lives while our world has shrunk? Why is friendship important and what is it for? Scripture helps us answer these questions.
The Bible begins with these words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. In this one statement with no debate, ideas of atheism, dualism, polytheism, pantheism, to name just a few ‘isms’ concerning God, are dispelled. We are informed from the first statement of the Bible that God is singular, self-existing, incomprehensible, one who is spiritual, uncreated, infinite, eternal, almighty and sovereign. He is the one who exists in His own being. The essence of which cannot be comprehended by anyone but Himself (Exodus 3. 14). He revealed Himself to be the I AM. He is the one who exists and who is present, the one who was and who will be. He is self-sufficient and independent from us. He doesn’t need us in any way, and we cannot add to God’s essential glory, for He is the God of Glory. People may acknowledge Him and glorify Him, but He doesn’t need anybody or anything. We need food, water, warmth, clothing, friends, and occasionally we need someone to pat us on the back. He doesn’t need any of these things.
Evangelical Christians who believe the biblical narrative in Genesis strongly affirm the real, historical existence of Adam and Eve. We say it is non-negotiable and we point to the fact that the New Testament writers clearly taught this fact, as numerous verses testify. In CMI, we have frequently affirmed the vital theological importance of this biblical anthropology in our books and numerous online articles. However, scientists and writers who publish on creation.com have also been careful to unpack and critique scientific reports in the plethora of journals, books, documentaries, feature films, and pop-science media items that appear annually. While many Christian believers desire faithfully to stand upon God’s Word, the constant barrage of subtle (or not-so-subtle) attacks upon its history can be daunting. And the subject of human origins gets right to the heart of the conflict between the ‘creationary’ and evolutionary worldviews.
The eastern region of Ukraine has been embroiled in conflict for eight years now, resulting in almost 15,000 deaths and the internal displacement of almost 2 million people. Until recently it had become a ‘forgotten war’, but recent events on the border with Russia and the significant build-up of military personnel and armaments have brought this back into centre place in world news. The present build-up of Russian troops is seen as a ‘new level’ of threat – one which encompasses the whole nation and not merely certain regions. In the event of war, many will be forced to flee, but others, including believers, are determined to stay and continue their ministry. Church leaders point out that in the conflict area in the east, thirty-five churches have been established despite the conflict and its consequences. Pray for courage for those who plan to stay, and for their protection from harm. At this time no-one knows how this situation will develop, but we do know that our God is sovereign, and our fellow-believers in Ukraine are also convinced of this, and believe that ultimately it is the hand of God which will protect, or deliver them from the ravages of war. Join with them in earnest prayer for God’s intervention in this potentially explosive situation.
Ironically (or maybe not so ironically), poverty and wastefulness will always characterise this world until the consummation of all things in Christ. Unsurprisingly, the cares of this world will inevitably consume those overtaken by these two evils, and only the Gospel of Jesus Christ resulting in true godliness can deliver us. In ‘Travels of True Godliness’, written by Benjamin Keach, the hero, Godliness, knocks on the door of Poverty. He receives no readier a welcome than he did with Riches. However, Godliness urges Poverty to respond to the gospel.
It is with great joy that we can finally bring you a more fully realised update on the Graphics & Design project with donations made in memory of Elizabeth Stredder. With all the imported equipment from China now in place, this project is now almost ready for launch. It has now been registered with the Mozambique authorities with the name: Elizabeth Stredder Graphics & Design Ltd. Two of the most important pieces of equipment were upgraded to industrial machines at no extra cost. Also a brother who owns a private clinic, has donated some funds to cover extra expenses regarding obtaining licences in order to sell products produced at the Graphics & Design centre.
Christian parents Nigel and Sally Rowe have been fighting their case since 2017. Now, finally, a High Court judge has ruled that they can take their case to a judicial review of transgender affirming policies in English primary schools. In 2017, the Rowes were forced to educate their children at home after their son's Church of England primary school said that their children could be labelled 'transphobic' bullies for not being trans-affirming. The parents from the Isle of Wight were the first to expose the impact that trans affirming policies were having on UK primary schools.
Paul called marriage a profound mystery that “refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). Like a masterful muralist, God painted the gospel upon the walls of marriage that our human unions might illustrate the heavenly union between Christ and his people. God calls the wife to graciously submit and respect her husband so that, through her, the world might behold the church’s singular devotion to her head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, the husband’s sacrificial love and patient consideration of his bride is a miniature model of Christ’s affections for his bride, the church, of whom we sing, “from heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride, with his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.”
When William Siraj was shot dead last Sunday (30 January) on his way home after preaching at a church service in Pakistan, his family was left bereft in more ways than one. Their beloved husband, father and grandfather had gone, as well as one whose pension provided income for the family. Barnabas Fund, too, mourned because William was the brother of our dear Pakistan Coordinator, Wilson Saraj. We are sending help to the family, as Wilson goes to visit, and we will continue to assist as needs arise.
I teach an introduction to systematic theology class as part of a part-time bible handling course alongside pastoring a church. The folks who attend the course come from various backgrounds; some have pastoral and teaching responsibilities in their churches, while others simply want to learn to read and apply God’s word faithfully. Some of the students come from confessional churches (both Presbyterian and Baptist), but most don’t. They are always very enthusiastic and hungry to learn. The thing that has struck me over the years is that not many know very much about the discipline and practice of systematic theology or why it is biblical.
The messages from the Carey Conference are now available to listen online. This year the theme was Covenant, and we warmly commend the messages delivered by Sam Renihan, especially his third on being a minister of the new covenant. In this message Sam unfolds the privilege of proclaiming the joyful news of God's covenant faithfulness, now brought to its fullness in Christ. In a memorable part of his message, he points out that churches do not need their ministers, but Christ as ministered in the new covenant. How liberating it is for ministers and their congregations to rest in the sufficiency of Christ, the covenant head of his church, and not in ourselves. You can listen to all the messages on the Reformation Today website as you follow the link below.
We are thankful to the Christian Bookshop in Dunstable for their tremendous help in running the bookstall for the Carey Conference 2022. Broken Wharfe was able to provide several books for the bookstall and we were encouraged to see much interest in confessional Baptist material. The topic for this year was Covenant. Sam Renihan gave a series of clear and powerful lectures on Baptist covenant theology and its implications for church life among those who confess the 2nd London Confession. The speaker emphasised the rich depths of the theme of covenant theology both biblically and historically. The highlight was in the third talk when Sam proceeded to demonstrate how our churches do not need us, but Christ as ministered via the New Covenant. His application to both ministers and their wives displayed that these matters are not theoretical, but profoundly practical. He exhibited how liberating it is for ministers to rest in the sufficiency of Christ, the covenant head of his church. We pray that more of our confessional heritage will be explored for years to come.
I fear that our country—our whole modern world—has a great reckoning coming, one that we are storing up for ourselves in the haunted institution of abortion. We have a tell-tale heart, beating under the floorboards. We are secretly plagued with a specter from the nauseating mass grave of dismembered bodies. The corpses are buried in a field we hope no one will ever find, but we can never forget. We close our eyes and we are transported to a hallway, every door leading to a room richly furnished, yet empty. Empty tennis shoes, empty bookbags. Outside, we walk by gleaming playgrounds, silent except for the creaking. In our minds, we see hands reaching out—hands that never touched another hand, except to be discarded after death. The gravity of this situation in some ways mirrors that of American slavery, another institution filled with fathomless evil. Human lives were cheaply held, and easily spent.