Teaching

ENDURING CHURCH PRINCIPLES – PART 2

(April14, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, continues his teaching on this important aspect of genuine church life…

As I mentioned last month, this past year has been a challenging time for churches throughout the world as each local church has attempted to redefine how to perform and how to survive as a church.

I’d written about two of five principles to which those first Christians – the early church – were committed… Engaging in Evangelism and Church Growth and Commitment to God’s Word and Prayer.

Here I continue with the other three…

3. Develop Authentic Relationships
Act 2:42 recalls that the early church, those first Christians ‘… devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’

There are a further two things this verse teaches us.

(i) Fellowship
This is a word that is widely used in church circles today, but the way fellowship is expressed often falls far short of what the New Testament means by the word. Christianity is a relational thing!

(more…)

RESURRECTION REFLECTIONS

(April 01, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian writes…

Some years later at a meeting of ministers, a retired minister posed the question, ‘Does it really matter whether or not the body of Jesus physically came alive again? Perhaps his physical body did not rise from the tomb, but he rose as a spirit being and that is what the idea of the resurrection is really about.’

Throughout history people have responded in different ways to that amazing historical event of Christ’s resurrection that occurred 2000 years ago.

1. It has been challenged
From the first Easter day the fact of Jesus’ resurrection has been challenged!  Even his disciples didn’t accept it when they were first told about it… and Thomas categorically stated, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it’ (John 20:25). 

And just over 20 years after the resurrection Paul wrote to the Corinthians, ‘… some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?’ (1 Corinthians 15:12).

Clearly there were some people in that church who did not accept the fact that Jesus rose from the tomb.  And there continues to be those who identify with the church but challenge the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

It has been considered as:

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ENDURING CHURCH PRINCIPLES – PART 1

(March 22, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares important church growth principles…

 This past year has been a challenging time for churches throughout the world as each local church has attempted to redefine how to perform and survive as a church.

The Covid-19 experience has been challenging and at times oppressive, and, because of the present state of the world, we who belong to the church could so easily sink into despair. But for one fact – God is still in control!

I believe that the challenges of these days may prove to be a positive thing for Christians and churches as it may challenge us to look more seriously at what we honestly believe, to whom we are unmistakably committed, the significance and relevance of how we live as Christians and how we operate as the body that we call the ‘Church.’

There are many Christians today who somehow have embraced the idea that the church as we find it in the New Testament provides a perfect picture of what the church of today should be like. But… the letters of Paul, Peter and John illustrate that the churches to which they wrote were clearly not perfect principally because they were composed of imperfect people – like every church today!

Some time ago I read an article that was titled, Getting Back to the New Testament Pattern. It was based on Acts 2:40-47 and listed 13 items which the writer claimed represented the biblical pattern of Christian worship and behaviour for all ages. In fact several the items listed in the article were never part of the church beyond the first months of its existence after the Day of Pentecost. (more…)

KJV OR NIV?

(February 02, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares…

Recently I was asked to give an evaluation of the KJV and NIV Bibles.

1. Reality
Firstly, we do not have a handwritten original portion of any part of the Bible.

At best we have handwritten copies of copies of copies (and so on) of the texts that have been handed down to us. Thus, neither the KJV nor the NIV nor any other translation is perfect as the underlying texts are not perfect for a variety of reasons.  The best translation is, at best, only a translation!

Nevertheless KJV-only proponents strongly argue that the only reliable translation of the Bible is the KJV and that all modern ones set out to deceive. However, there is no conspiracy among authentic Bible translators to delete words and phrases or to modify the test with the intention to dishonour God and corrupt his words or mislead Christians.

The translators of the NIV, for example, have attempted to express the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible into contemporary English that accurately reflects the meaning of the original languages.

Furthermore, it must be recognised that the manuscripts used by the translators of the KJV were based on very late manuscripts.  For example, the KJV translators did not have the benefit of ancient copies of many Old Testament books.

Indeed, the earliest version of many of the Hebrew texts before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947, (which were written around the 2nd century BC), was the Masoretic Aleppo Codex dated A.D. 935 AD. Likewise the earliest Greek texts used to translate the New Testament were largely based on 12th century AD (and later) manuscripts.

  • Since the translation of the KJV took place in 1611, many thousands (and significantly older) manuscripts have been found which modern translators rightly have considered.
  • Also, since the first version of the KJV was published in 1611 it has been revised several times (eg 1629, 1638, 1657, 1762, 1769) and over 100,000 changes have been made to the 1611 version! So, one must question which KJV version  is considered the truly inspired version!

(more…)

PROPHETIC INTEGRITY

(January 23, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, highlights ‘prophetic words’ false and genuine…

Well, it happened.  Donald Trump  failed in his bid to be re-elected as President of the United States.

While many media outlets have almost ecstatically delighted in reporting this fact, many people in America (and in other countries) are profoundly concerned about the policies that a Biden administration will pursue.

I mention this not to give a personal evaluation of recent political events in America but to draw attention to a related issue that needs to be considered by Christians – ‘prophetic words.’

Forthright prophesying
Let me make clear this fact – I believe in prophecy!

I believe that the prophetic gift was expressed by the prophets of the Old Testament at two levels: (more…)

GOD’S GREAT RESET

(December 19, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects on attempts to remove Almighty God from society…

This has been a difficult year and a phrase that we are beginning to hear more frequently in the media is ‘The Great Reset.’ This refers to the goal of a worldwide coalition of big business and big tech working in association with the unelected members of the World Economic Forum whose goal is – to use their own words – ‘improving the state of the world’ and ‘to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.’ In their attempts to ‘improve the state of the world’ we have already experienced the loss of many of the freedoms we once enjoyed and took for granted.

1984 totalitarian society
Today we are seeing so many parallels with George Orwell’s novel 1984 which was written almost 70 years ago. It is an almost prophetic book that gives a vision of a totalitarian society where individuality is stifled, and basic freedoms are forbidden, and dissent is prosecuted.

On top of this we have experienced the promotion of corrupt and distorted morals in which what –

  • has been acknowledged for centuries to be wrong, has now become right,
  • was once recognised as corrupt, is now considered acceptable,
  • was denounced as immoral is now accepted as normal,
  • was once regarded a thing of shame, is now a cause for celebration.

(more…)

IT CAME TO PASS!

(December 19, 2020) Brian Bell challenges our moving into 2021…

A nearby retailer’s Christmas catalogue included interviews with several local personalities and one of the questions asked was to reflect on 2020 and what they had learned ie ‘The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was…’ Interestingly one young woman’s reply was ‘This too shall pass…’

Now whether she was aware or not, those words have a scriptural basis. There are times in scripture we read ‘and it came to pass…’ and while the context such as in Luke 2:1 (KJV, Darby) relates to fulfilment of an event, I have heard believers use them in the sense that ‘difficult’ or ‘bad’ times will pass.

Hope for 2021
I’m sure for many, the fact that 2020 is going brings some relief and the hope for something better in 2021. Its true 2020 proved an exceedingly difficult year, as we remember those who lost their lives to the virus; grieving families; for the organisations which collapsed for financial reasons; the loss of jobs and the impact on livelihoods; loneliness for many who live alone. We applauded, of course, frontline health and other workers. (more…)

THE INDESCRIBABLE WONDER  

(November 29, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects on the full significance of next month’s spiritual highlight…

Christmas is quickly approaching.  Having grown up in in Ireland and then ministering in England, I was used to having Christmas as a mid-winter celebration and, I must admit, I miss that kind of Christmas atmosphere! But wherever we live, as Christians the most important thing we associate with Christmas is the birth of Jesus! Images readily spring to mind…

  • The newborn baby lying in a stable manger.
  • Mary and Joseph and the shepherds gazing in awe at the newborn child.
  • The visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus (although their timing was actually off by a couple of years)
  • Christmas carols playing a part in reinforcing this scenario.

A festival!
The surprising thing is that in the early church Christmas was not celebrated as a festival. I don’t mean that the first Christians didn’t believe that Jesus, God’s Son, was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Of course, they did. But in the first couple of centuries Christmas, as a festival, did not exist. In the early writings of Christians, there are no references to celebrating of Jesus’ birth while there are many references to celebrating his atoning death and glorious resurrection.  For example, about 20 years after the ascension of Jesus, Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, ‘Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Why then was the birth of Jesus not also celebrated as a festival?  I’m sure that part of the reason was that no one was really sure of the exact date on which Jesus was born although after a few centuries the church, with some rather strange reasoning, settled on two possible dates – December 25 and January 6 – although both dates are probably wrong!

Eventually, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, people began actively to celebrate
his birth in mid-winter. (more…)

THE POSITIVE OUTLOOK

(November 1, 2020) Brian Bell shares …

These are continuing uncertain and unstable days when people are naturally concerned about the outlook, as around the world we see Covid-19 infection rates rising and sadly more deaths, concern for their families and the repercussions of the economic impact brought about by the efforts of governments to deal with the pandemic.

Last month  I shared recently some thoughts on my time recovering from surgery (Link: God’s-Repair-Shop). Also, during that time I had been reading through the apostle Paul’s letters to the various churches.

I was drawn to Paul’s words as recorded in 2 Corinthians 7: 5-6 (NLT version) and I share here a few short thoughts by way of meditation and encouragement.

In verse 5 we read of Paul’s dilemma, ‘When we arrived in Macedonia there was no rest for us. Outside there was conflict from every direction, and inside there was fear’ and in verse 6, ‘But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.’

Paul’s outward look
‘Conflict from every direction’ – do we who are in the Lord’s service today expect to find it anything different? For brevity I suggest two main sources of conflict… (more…)

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY!

(October 28, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares a scriptural warning…

Have you heard any gossip lately? More to the point, have you passed on any gossip lately?

I am using the word ‘gossip’ in the commonly understood sense of making derogatory and slanderous comments about other people.  While gossiping is endemic and ‘highly contagious’, it should find no place among Christians – but sadly it does!

Speaking against others
In his letter James made some pointed comments to the Christians in his day. He wrote, ‘Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it’ (James 4:11).

The Greek verb which has here been translated here as ‘slander’ literally means ‘speak against’ and James used it three times in this verse.  The word can refer to slander, gossip, insult, or to talking in ways that are belittling or damaging to others, or even to hinting at something concerning another person.

The J B Phillips translation of these words incisively states, ‘Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers.Paul and Peter gave a similar warning to the Christians to whom they wrote (2 Corinthians 12:20 and 1 Peter 2:1). (more…)