The Hope of the Church

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(About this series)

CHAPTER VIII: THE HOPE OF THE CHURCH

BY REV. JOHN MCNICOL, B. A., B. D., PRINCIPAL OF THE TORONTO BIBLE TRAINING SCHOOL

There are many indications of a revival of interest in the study of eschatology. The latest attack upon the Christian faith is being directed against the eschatological teaching of the New Testament. The Christian Church was founded upon the promise of a speedy return of Christ to establish His Kingdom in the world, but its history has taken an entirely different course. The expectation of the early Christians was not fulfilled. The teaching of the apostles has been falsified. Such is the argument that is now being used in some quarters to discredit the founders of Christianity. This is compelling Christian scholars to give renewed attention to the teaching of the new Testament about the Lord’s second coming, and will doubtless lead to more earnest and thorough examination of the whole outlook of Christ and His apostles upon the future. Read more about The Hope of the Church

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Crisis: A Biblical and Practical Response, Part 2

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Read part 1.

6. God responds in mercy and deliverance

As we noted earlier, more than likely the crises you look at with dread and fear will soon be behind you. It is true that sometimes God does not heal. Sometimes He doesn’t take away the source of our agony. However, as a general rule, God does act in mercy. He often lessens the pain, encourages the heart, touches the body, and relieves the troubled mind. 1 Peter 5:7 reads, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Here Peter reminds us to deposit those distractions into God’s hands because the God of the universe has a personal compassion for each one of us. Colossians 1 reminds us that Jesus is preeminent and that He created us and He redeemed us. Since God created us and saved us, He will also sustain us! The most direct way to deposit our cares into God’s hands is through prayer. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6-7,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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Crisis: A Biblical and Practical Response, Part 1

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Most of the time, I hate crises! A crisis is usually crushing, and physically—if not emotionally—exhausting! But the Scriptures are clear that, while I may desire to run from a crisis like a six-year-old runs from broccoli, as a servant of Christ crises in my life and ministry often cannot be avoided. The good news is that they can actually be spiritually, emotionally and even physically good for me.

In the oldest book of the Bible, Job, notes that man is born to trouble and given to adversity, pointing out that trouble is as common and dependable as sparks flying upward from a campfire (Job 5:7). Ephesians 1:11 explains that God has planned out the details of our lives and that He uses those details consistently with His providential plan in making us more like His Son. Included in His plan is … crisis!

An implication here is that, as hard as you and I might try to avoid it, these times of personal chaos and threat are simply unavoidable! So if we can’t avoid it (and surely we can’t!) it is important to consider how God would have us face it.

Especially for ministry leaders, dealing with crisis is par for the course. Often it feels like we get “the worst of times,” while our friends or neighbors get to enjoy “the best of times!” It’s important for us as ministry leaders to understand that one of the reasons we are in leadership is to help others as they go through crises. That simply cannot happen unless we know what it is to face crisis and experience God’s grace by personally coming out of the lion’s den with faith and sanity intact! Read more about Crisis: A Biblical and Practical Response, Part 1

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The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 4)

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Four: Requirements for Membership

The Synagogue

Proselytes

It goes without saying that one must be a Jew, part of the nation of Israel, before one is qualified for inclusion as a constituent member of the synagogue. However, this did not absolutely ban Gentiles either from attendance at the weekly Sabbath meetings, or from becoming a part of the congregation through the conversion process. Acts is replete with example after example of interested Gentiles, whether proselytes or not, in attendance, often in great numbers, at the Sabbath synagogue service (see, e.g., Acts 13:44; 14:1).

In the NT, we commonly find Gentiles, whether described as “proselytes” (proselutos) or “God-fearing” (sebomenos, lit. pious or reverent), associated with the synagogues. Philo (d. ca. A.D. 50) explains the term “proselyte” and the status of such people: Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 4)

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Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 3)

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Read part 1 and part 2.

In the Bible there is always a correspondence between God’s words and His actions. You see it in the Creation narratives: “God said…and it was so.” You see it in the gospel: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” You see it in such mundane places as the curing of Naaman, or Jesus’ healing of Jairus’s daughter. When God says He is going to do something, you can bank on it. While there are places where God relents on judgment (especially after intercession), our faith depends upon the fixity of His meaning. God will do what He says He will do.

This is important on two fronts: first because God must be as good as His word or His character is in question. God’s attributes of veracity and immutability stand behind His promises. The second reason God must mean what He says is because God requires faith from us. Faith must “know” what it is that is to be believed. Faith cannot thrive where ambiguity is let in. Faith has to be able to separate truth from error, or we are wasting our time warning people against error. If the meaning is uncertain, doubt has a foothold. Read more about Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 3)

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A Tour of Love, Jewish-Roots Style

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Never underestimate the importance of love. Although all creation will glorify God by hook or crook (Rom. 9:22-24), our love for God and others is the volitional focus of the Christian life (Col. 3:14). There are too many passages to site, but reading 1 John or the Gospels (Luke 10:26-28, for example) should make the point.

I am not going to tackle the Hebrew word hesed, nor the Greek word agape. There is a place for that, but today we are going to look at love in relational fashion.

We were created to love. Love affects our entire being, even our physical health. For example,

The experimental group wrote with affection about one person in their lives for 20 minutes on three occasions over a five-week period. The control group wrote mundane descriptions of their activities over the week, jobs they had done and places they had lived…. [A]fter only 25 days, the experimental group who had written affectionate notes, showed a significant reduction in cholesterol. (Affectionate Writing)

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Book Review - Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)

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Image of Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)
by Christopher Ash
Crossway 2014
Hardcover 496

If you search for “suffering” on Amazon in the books section you will find almost 11,800 results. If you search for “help for suffering” on Google there are 151 million entries to choose from. Indeed the world is a place full of suffering people looking for help. You cannot make it through more than four chapters in the book of Genesis without encountering suffering in the lives of the first two people God created and the first family they made. In reading through the pages of Scripture one encounters suffering at almost every turn. Ironically, it is Job, the oldest book in the Bible, which solely addresses the subject of suffering and how God relates to it and the sufferer.

Tackling this rich, long and sometimes puzzling book, Christopher Ash has written Job: The Wisdom of the Cross. This is the most recent installment in Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series edited by R. Kent Hughes. Staying true to the series, Ash writes with the heart of a pastor as he seeks to show the reader the glory of God in Christ through suffering in the life of Job. Read more about Book Review - Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)

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God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 4

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Read the series so far.

In chapter four, Vines addresses the first of six biblical texts dealing with homosexuality. The remaining five are considered in subsequent chapters. Vines’ aim is to demonstrate that none of these passages prohibit committed same-sex relationships.

Chapter four analyzes God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as recorded in Genesis 19. That Christians have traditionally understood this event to indicate God’s strong disapproval of same-sex relationships is both mistaken and unfortunate according to Vines. He believes that a more careful study demonstrates that the sins of Sodom were inhospitality and violence, not homosexuality.

Vines begins by examining a list of Old Testament texts that mention Sodom, pointing out that none of these explicitly cite same-sex relations as the reason for destruction. He follows with evidence from extra-biblical Jewish literature, drawing the same conclusion. He believes that Sodom’s offenses were lack of hospitality and attempted gang rape. Next, he briefly examines and explains all negative New Testament references to Sodom, continuing to muster evidence for his premise. Vines claims that no one linked Sodom’s destruction to homosexual behavior until Philo, the first century Jewish historian. He asserts that Philo inaugurated a gradual shift in perceptions, until the destruction of Sodom became linked to homosexuality in the minds of most Christians from about the tenth century onward. But from the beginning, he assures us, it was not so. Read more about God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 4

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