Monday, 11 February 2019

Celebrating 24 years of marriage!

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken" Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

Last week, Maria and I celebrated 24 years of marriage. We tend to let things slip by sometimes not mentioning these events, but a fellow minister, Johannes from Berlin Presbyterian Church, he exhorted me to make much of it. When I said 'why?', he explained that in a time when marriage is so down-graded in society, that this is an important milestone. We can only give the credit to the grace of God. First, for saving us as Christians and second for giving us a love for the Bible and each other. The grace of God and the enabling of the Holy Spirit are the glue to uphold a Christian marriage. It is the means by which you can be delivered from selfishness and stay the course.

Marriage can never be all bliss, because the miseries of this life affect all of us due the fall of Adam. However, trials turned to prayer are used to sanctify us.

So to the Triune God alone be the glory for 24 years of marriage! I count it an honour to promote a positive and biblical approach to marriage between a man and a woman and to express the joy of family life. May God recover a biblical understanding of marriage in our own day.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Can we Trust the Gospels? by Peter J. Williams

The obvious answer to the question "can we trust the gospels?" is "yes!!". However, this is an excellent book to buttress our confidence in the gospels, their uniqueness, their trustworthiness and the wonderful authentic record of Jesus Christ. This book is easy to read, it is well written and gripping. It has eight shortish chapters and it includes information such as "did the gospel authors know their stuff?". The answer is yes and they could not have known this information in the first-century without being first-hand witness. Peter Williams leads Tyndale House in Cambridge and he is an excellent scholar, including for the NT Greek manuscripts. He is the co-editor of the Tyndale House Greek New Testament.

Evidence such as their knowledge of places including small villages though which Jesus passed, could only have been given with such accuracy through first-hand testimony. I was thrilled to hear that there is information on one other historical figure in antiquity, equivalent to Jesus Christ; that is Emperor Tiberius who is one of the most famous of the Roman Caesars. Peter Williams names that sub-point section "Four is A lot" (pages 39-42) emphasising that four gospels compared to other historical figures in antiquity is a lot. We often take this for granted that we have so much material about Jesus of Nazareth and to do so is a mistake.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 states: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work".

The Westminster Standards Chapter 1 emphasises the majesty of Holy Scripture in 1:5:

"We may be moved and induced [persuaded] by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

"The majesty of the style ... the scope of the whole" of Scripture is brought out by this book. It does prove the infallibility of Scripture, that is reserved for the Holy Spirit, but it enriches our appreciation for the transmission of the Greek manuscripts called the Gospels.

My advice is for people to buy this book, read it, enjoy it, and then pick up the gospels to read them again and be thrilled by the life, message and atonement of Jesus the Son of God.