Why So Many Different Churches?

Why So Many Different Churches?

IN THE ACTS of the Apostles we read of the beginning of the early church when 3,000 people were baptised on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). The next verse says “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” This is a simple and clear statement that the apostles’ doctrine (‘doctrine’ means ‘teaching’) was the foundation of the faith of these new believers, and they had a ‘fellowship’ that drew them together as a body of people with a common purpose. Thus the church started (the Greek word which our Bibles translate as ‘church’ is ecclesia, and it does not mean a building, it simply means an assembly). And what a ‘fellowship’ they experienced! What a spirit of dedication possessed them. We read how ‘all who believed were together, and had all things in common’ (v. 44). So continuing daily

The Unity of God

The Unity of God

THERE IS one God, and He is supreme. This is stressed throughout the Bible.  Moses said: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35). King David said: “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours” (1 Chronicles 29:11). Jesus Christ said: “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one’” (Mark 12:29). You could also look at Isaiah 42:8, 45:5; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5, and many other passages. God Is Love Something else that is stressed throughout the Bible is the love of God. God’s love for those who seek Him is far, far above our ability to love—but He wants

Strangers and Citizens

Strangers and Citizens

THE MAN looked disorientated. “You’re not from these parts, are you?” asked the kindly shopper. “No,” the man replied hesitantly. “Not from this country.” He sighed. “I don’t have a country. I am seeking asylum here. I had to flee from my country because I believe in Jesus Christ. In my country I would die.” We all like to feel that we ‘belong’ somewhere – but there are some people who have nowhere they can call home. They feel like aliens, unwanted, often vulnerable. And they are not always treated with compassion, even in affluent societies. Strangers ‘Strangers’ are a theme in the Bible. They are sometimes described as ‘sojourners’—temporary dwellers with no inherited rights. In this way they are very similar to modern-day refugees. In the Bible the concept is first used of Abraham (Genesis 17:8). God told him to leave his own country and go to a land

Editorial – The importance of Roots

Editorial – The importance of Roots

IF SOMEONE asked you what’s the most important thing in life, what would you say? This was Jesus’ reply when he was asked that question: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37–40). His answer combined two verses from the Bible. The first is Deuteronomy 6:4–5: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This commandment was at the centre of the Law which God gave to His people Israel. Today Jews know it as Shema Yisrael (‘Hear O Israel’) and it’s

The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God

The HOPE of the Gospel is a wonderful one – to live for ever in the Kingdom of God. This promise is real and physical and is described in the Bible. God’s purpose is clear, “All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Numbers 14:21). This is not a ‘spiritual experience’ or ‘rapture’ which only a few people will experience. The kingdom will be worldwide, and will be experienced by everyone, whether immortal or mortal (we will look at the difference). This article looks at what the Bible teaches about the kingdom; its conditions, the people in it, what will be happening, and how it will end. To make it easier to follow, we have included references at the end of each paragraph rather than within the text. This means that you can check the details for yourself, and get a fuller view of what the

The First Christians – Rejoicing in Suffering

The First Christians – Rejoicing in Suffering

The FIRST Christians experienced extraordinary persecution from both the Jews and the Roman authorities. This came in the form of hatred, being made outcasts from the synagogues, trials, imprisonments and executions. Their example of endurance is truly inspirational and the fact that they could rejoice in such suffering is almost beyond belief. Fascinatingly, Jesus had foretold the suffering that his disciples would go through. By comparing passages in Luke and Acts we can see how the prophecies of Jesus unfolded in the lives of the first Christians. In Luke 21 we have the record of Jesus foretelling the destruction of the Temple. This led his disciples to ask when this was to happen and what the sign would be that it was about to take place. Jesus provided the signs that would occur before the destruction of the Temple and informed them that: Before all these things, they will lay

Nehemiah

Nehemiah

Nehemiah was a Jewish exile who served as a cup-bearer to the Persian monarch, Artaxerxes, in about 446 BC. Following the decree of Cyrus in 536 BC, some of the Jews had returned to the land of Israel. However, adversaries had succeeded in slowing down the work of restoration. Now, some 90 years later, the walls of Jerusalem were still in a state of disrepair. Nehemiah prayed to God about it (1:4–11). Nehemiah’s sorrow for the state of Jerusalem showed in his face. Artaxerxes demanded to know the reason for his fallen countenance. A quick prayer to God by Nehemiah (2:4) was immediately answered. Building Work Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah authority to go to Jerusalem and personally take charge of the rebuilding work. The first thing Nehemiah did was to undertake a night-time survey to assess the state of the walls (2:12–15). Then he mobilised the people to repair sections of

Miracles in a Time of Famine

Miracles in a Time of Famine

Famine was a regular problem in Israel at the time of Elijah and Elisha. We have already looked at the famine in the time of Elijah and Ahab which lasted for three and a half years. There was another famine in the time of Elisha, which seems to have been desperately severe. This was not however because of a direct act of God, but because Ben–Hadad king of Syria had besieged the city of Samaria.  The famine in the city was so severe that small amounts of food were selling for amazing prices. One example was the head of a donkey for 80 shekels, perhaps about £4000 at today’s prices. There was even worse, women were eating their own children, they were so desperately hungry. What happened in Samaria was to be an awful warning of what would happen later in Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah used this picture to foretell

Hezekiah’s Seals

Hezekiah’s Seals

Archaeologists study history by looking at ancient sites and artefacts. In this series we look at some fascinating archaeological finds. They cast light on the world and events that we read about in the Bible, and they provide evidence that the Bible record is true. Hezekiah the King Hezekiah was one of the greatest Jewish kings. He reigned in Jerusalem around 715 to 686 BC. He is introduced like this: He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done                                         (2 Kings 18:2–3). He was a sincere worshipper of God, unlike his father, Ahaz, who worshipped the idols from neighbouring nations. The consequence of this is descibed like this: The Lord was with him;

Christians and their Allegiance

Christians and their Allegiance

Being a conscientious objector is always a serious decision and often an unpopular one. Since the eighteenth century, conscientious objectors have often been unfairly accused of cowardice, and given white feathers as symbols of this. We examine reasons why some Christians are conscientious objectors, and what the Bible teaches about this difficult subject. Not Pacifists Followers of Christ cannot be pacifists if by that word we mean that the use of force is wrong under all circumstances and at all times. Nor can we be pacifists if by that word we mean that by refusing to participate in war we shall eventually bring about world peace. Neither of these things is consistent with Bible teaching. Force is right if and when God commands it; He has commanded it for His people in the past and He might command it in the future. Also, pacifism will not bring world peace. Indeed,