May Update - 2019
Welcome to my Romans 15:8 monthly blog for May 2019.
If you are reading this and have not yet signed up to the network, please do so. Equally if you have joined could you please encourage one or two other colleagues to do so over the next few months? It is very simple to sign up online - and as always I welcome any comments, feedback and questions.
Readers of the April blog will probably have realised the mistake, namely the monthly memory verse - the quotation is from Proverbs 18:1 and not John 10:3 as stated. No idea how this happened, but please accept my apology.
Teaching reflection of the month
A few days ago I attended a lecture at the Round Church in Cambridge. The lecture was given by Dr. James Patrick and the theme was – “British Christian History and the Jewish People”. James who is well known within CMJ circles gave a very good overview of 2,000 years of history and helped us focus in on both key elements of anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism which shaped British Christian history and continues to shape us today.
What struck me most was a reference made to the Whitehall Conference (1655) in which Church leaders and political leaders made the case for the Jewish people to be allowed to return officially to Britain following their expulsion by King Edward in 1290. The five main reasons presented in this event have remarkable similarities to our own modern-day philo-Semitic advocacy. While clearly the social, theological, cultural and political culture back in 1655 was immensely different to our context today, nevertheless truths from God’s Word remain equally valid and powerful.
The five main reasons are listed below:
- Our indebtedness as Christians to the Jewish People.
- Our need to repent and to make amends for embedded anti-Semitic attitudes and actions.
- Our need to show hospitability and to welcome in the ‘stranger’.
- Our need to build good relationships in order to have meaningful opportunities to share the Gospel.
- Our need to honour the Jewish identity of Jesus (and the early Church).
As I reflected on these five points I began to see that the return of the Jewish People to Britain paved the way to some degree for the restoration of a Jewish homeland. For in the following centuries Jewish-Christian relationships within Britain led many Christians to see the promised physical restoration of a Jewish homeland as a core cornerstone of Biblical eschatology. Also within this promised physical return many saw (rightly in my view!) that this physical return should be viewed as a catalyst for Jewish spiritual restoration to their Messiah. A line can be traced from the Whitehall Conference through the Moravian Brethren, through the writings of theologians such as John Bale and James Bicheno, to the founding of CMJ, to Lewis Way to William Hechler and on to the wider Jewish Zionist hope and the Balfour Declaration. In such ‘lines of connection’ we can trace the grace and sovereignty of God.
Ministry news update
The past few weeks have been very full in ministry terms. This has included contributing to a six part series on the ‘Biblical Festivals and their fulfilment in Jesus’. This series is being hosted by Mansfield Baptist Church and includes teaching sessions led by three CMJ staff and one CMJ trustee. Maybe this teaching model pioneered by Mansfield Baptist Church could be modelled within many other Church settings? In addition to this I had the privilege of preaching at the Tree of Life Messianic Fellowship (Ilford) and attending the Evangelism and Discipleship working group at Church House (Westminster, London). At the Tree of Life Fellowship I spoke on Luke 8:26-39 and related this in part to insights from travelling in the land of Israel and the healing ministry of Jesus.
I mentioned in the April blog that I enjoyed reading the book - Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada (published by Penguin modern classics). My copy contained an afterword by Geoff Wilkes. I re-read this and was struck by the Christian motifs which Wilkes draws out so intriguingly from the text. I sadly did not recognise these motifs in my initial reading. Motifs such as baptismal imagery, the parable of the wheat and the tares and the invoking of Genesis 18:26-32 within the context of the dissidents’ significance as a righteous remnant. While Wilkes points out that many of these motifs are used in uncertain ways and that this is “entirely
Monthly Memory Verse
“Guard your heart diligently, for from it flow the springs of life.”
(Proverbs 4:23 – Messianic Jewish Family Bible).
Posted on 24 May 2019.