Teaching

WORDS OF LIFE (#G6) AMAZING GRACE – CHARIS (Part 2)

(October 15, 2017) Dr Jim McClure respected theologian, continues his series on selected Greek words…

In Part 1 of this study we questioned the definition of ‘grace’ as ‘the unmerited favour of God’ as the phrase inadequately expresses the depth of meaning and significance of charis.

Some other inadequate definitions of ‘grace’ are as follows:

  • Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling me to be what God created me to be and to do what God has called me to do.’

There is much that is true in this definition but it is limited in its reach.

  • ‘Grace is the unlimited life, power, gifts, abilities, and nature of God imparted to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the complete righteousness and the finished sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, because of his love for us and his mercy toward us, to enable us to do all the will of God on earth here and now, with a victorious spirit of excellence, praise, worship, and thanksgiving unto God, thereby overcoming all things in order to go and make disciples of all nations.

This definition is essentially a more elaborate description of the previous one.

  • God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.’ Despite its appeal as an acronym, it fails as a definition.

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THE CAMEL IN THE TENT

(October 8, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, straight speaking theologian, challenges churches and Christians re lost credibility…

It was a cold night and the sheik was looking forward to closing his tent and climbing between the blankets. Just before he fell asleep, his camel put his nose in the tent and said to his master, ‘It is so cold out here that my nose is freezing! May I put my nose in the tent?’

‘Certainly,’ said the sheik, made himself comfortable and fell asleep.

Soon he was awakened again by the camel which had put his forelegs into the tent. The camel said, ‘Master, please let me put my forelegs in the tent; I won’t take up too much room.’ The sheik agreed to the request and moved over to make a little more room.

He was awakened again by the camel which said, ‘If I come wholly into the tent, the flap may be tied to keep out the cold. ‘Very well,’ said the sheik, and went back to sleep.

When he next awakened, he was lying outside in the cold. The camel had taken over his tent and there was no longer any room for him.

Today we see are witnessing a public enactment of this fable throughout the world, particularly in regard to the consequences of legalising what is mistakenly called ‘same-sex marriage.’ (more…)

USE BY DATE?

(September 11, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, straight-speaking theologian, asks a pertinent question…

What’s the difference between me and a can of beans?’ The answer is that the can of beans carries a ‘Use by’ date while I do not!

So many products contain a ‘Use by’ date – and that’s good because it may prevent food poisoning.  It is also helpful to indicate the period in the life of the product when it is at its most effective. But when it reaches a certain age, it’s better to discard it.

However this method of consumer evaluation fails miserably when we apply it to people – especially to Christians in the life of the church.  When we become Christians, God doesn’t give us a ‘Use by date’! But it often seems that others do – and we can begin to believe that.

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WORDS OF LIFE (#G5) AMAZING GRACE – CHARIS (Part 1)

(August 29, 2017) Dr Jim McClure noted theologian, continues his series on selected Greek words… 

‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.’

These are familiar and well-loved words from the hymn written by John Newton.  What else did Newton say about grace in that hymn?  He wrote,

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.  …
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.’

A transforming life-changing experience
Newton knew what he was talking about.  As a young man he was the ruthless and brutal captain of a slave ship.  But one night he discovered the reality of God, experienced his grace and was transformed from a cruel slave-ship captain into a preacher of the good news about Jesus Christ. Grace had made a dynamic impact on his life.

I believe that Newton understood something about the grace of God that we today largely fail to grasp.  We are confused about the meanings of the words love, mercy and grace in relation to the gospel.  We tend to think they all mean the same basic thing; but love leads to our acceptance by God,  mercy leads to our forgiveness by God, and grace, I believe, leads to a life-changing experience through God. (more…)

A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS

(August 3, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, renowned theologian, challenges churches to their responsibility to alert people to the demonic activity around them that is cloaked in what appears to be ‘nice.’

In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote a book that he called, A Tale of Two Cities.  It is set in the conditions that led to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror and the two cities are London and Paris. It begins with the famous sentence: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.’ (more…)

WORDS OF LIFE (#G4) KINGDOM – BASILEIA

(July 23, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, continues his series on selected Greek words…

The first mention of ‘kingdom’ in the Bible is Genesis 10:10 where it states, in reference to Nimrod, ‘The first centres of his kingdom were Babylon.’ In biblical thinking Babylon often represented that power that was constantly opposed to God.

While many nations were ruled over by kings, for many years after the Israelites had settled in Canaan they had refused to appoint a king of their own because they accepted a theocratic system of leadership in which Yahweh was recognised as its king.

In this lay the secret of Israel’s uniqueness and its strength as a nation. From time to time other leaders were appointed on a temporary basis – we read about many of them in the book of Judges – however those leaders were never recognised as kings nor was their leadership hereditary. At other times a high priest or a prophet appears to have had a leadership role – such as Eli and Samuel – but God was still regarded as the ruler of his people. (more…)

A DEBORAH IN OUR MIDST?

(July 11, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, renowned theologian, challenges a current argument about moral values…

Currently the ethical values of the Western world are being turned upside down as moral relativism (that is, that there are no universal moral therefore all views are equal, that there are no values that are categorically right or wrong and that the views and behaviour of others should be respected even if we totally disagree with them).

There are a number of problems that flow from this argument. For example:

  • If there were no agreed values, society would disintegrate into anarchy and chaos, and
  • If all views are of equal value, why do those who push the philosophy of political correctness, so vehemently disagree with, abuse, attack and demonise those who maintain a different point of view? Isn’t there a glaring inconsistency here?

Apart from anything else, common sense tells us that two opposite values or views cannot equally be right! And that is confirmed even by the moral-relativists/politically-correct brigade whose views are foisted upon others by any possible means and who brook not dissent or disagreement. (more…)

WORDS OF LIFE (#G3) FELLOWSHIP – KOINONIA

(June 5, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, continues his series on selected Greek words…

 One of the words that often finds its way into Christian vocabulary is ‘fellowship.’ It is one of the great New Testament words but is has been used so often to describe such a variety of Christian groups that it has become devalued!

What is ‘fellowship’?
Is it just a term given to differentiate Christian groups from non-Christian groups, such as, Men’s Fellowship, Women’s Fellowship, Youth Fellowship and so on?  Or does the New Testament use the word in a different way? That is what we are going to explore.

In the KJV the Greek noun koinonia has been translated by the words…

  • fellowship (12 times)
  • communion (4 times)
  • communication (once)
  • contribution (once)
  • distribution (once).

The verb koinoneo has been translated partake of, communicate and distribute. It is clear that it is a much more significant word than is suggested by the way we frequently use it. (more…)

THE FEAST THAT NEVER ENDED

(June 1, 2017) Missionary statesman George Forbes shares on Pentecost …

The Feast of Pentecost (also known as the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks) was observed by Israel over many centuries. It was an important time each year to celebrate the beginning of the early weeks of harvest with thanksgiving to God. Also a time to celebrate God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt.

After his resurrection from the grave, Jesus had given his followers a command to not depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. He told them: ‘John truly baptised with water; but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’ (Acts 1:4-5).

Luke, writing the Acts of the Apostles, begins the second chapter with the words, ‘And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.’

Then, verse 2ff, the Holy Spirit fell!

The focus of the feast
The Day of Pentecost was a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel. Devout Jews were used to celebrating the feast of Pentecost – but on the Acts 2 Day of Pentecost, the focus of the feast was changed for the followers of Jesus Christ! (more…)

WORDS OF LIFE (#G2) LOVE WITHOUT LIMITS – AGAPE

(May 11, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, continues his series on selected Greek words…

The word ‘love’ is a very busy one in the English language and is used to cover many things. We can say that we love our car, dog, fish and chips, our parents, children, wife or girlfriend/boyfriend.  We describe that warm fuzzy feeling for people we like as ‘love.’ Or we may use the word to describe a raging emotional or sexual passion.

Clearly ‘love’ is used to describe a wide range of experiences. But the Greeks used at least four words to describe some of the things we call ‘love.’

(i) They used the word philia, which is a word that expresses friendship (The verb is phileo). God did not make us to be socially self-existent – we need to have friends. But there is also a selfish element in philia – it is largely based on the premise that if you like me, I will like you! This mutually positive attitude is the basis of friendship. That is not to deny its value as friendship is an essential ingredient to enrich our lives and without it we are impoverished. Therefore philia is a love that we all need for friendship and is vitally important. (more…)