Sword magazine is a bi-monthly Christian printed magazine promoting 'the unchanging Word of God for an unyielding faith. We are in the process of migrating it to the web and, for a limited time only, are happy to make available our May/June 2017 issue in its entirety here. We would value your comments. You may, of course, subscribe to the print magazine at any time.
Some gaps obviously need closing – but some that are closing urgently need widening. David Andrew brings a reminder about 'the difference that makes the difference'…
Only stunt drivers may have been dismayed recently when the final section of Scotland’s newest Forth Road Bridge closed the gap between the north and south shores of the estuary. The rest of us will be well served by the elegant – and gapless – new bridge.
Many of us who have been privileged to live in some proximity to this massive engineering feat have watched with some awe as great towers emerged from the chilly waters and, month by month, sections of road began to inch across the gaps. However there is a gap of a very different sort that should never be bridged and many of us, in our lifetime, have witnessed the relentless determined construction that aims to close the gap between the Church and the world. No true church will use this bridge. This is non-negotiable. When the church becomes a mirror image of the world, she is no longer the spotless Bride Christ will return to claim. But the worldly church will not be left on the shelf – Antichrist will also need a bride…
John Maclaughlan asks what we can learn from the witness of our ‘inward parts’
We know from the heading of Psalm 51 that David composed the Psalm after Nathan had confronted David with the fact of his sin regarding Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba his wife. In the first four verses of the Psalm, David is acknowledging his sin before the LORD and is looking to the LORD for His mercy. David knows that the sins that he has committed should lead to his execution and he can only cry to the LORD for His mercy.
It appears in verses 5 and 6 that David starts to contemplate more than just what he has done. It is as if David starts to see that the issue is not just what he has done but, rather, who he is! It is too easy to put our sinful actions behind us and ‘move on’; I think that a word used for this today is ‘closure’ . We put the issue behind us and then we intend to go forward having learned from our mistakes. If only we could do that, and if only it were that easy! Such actions can completely miss the root of the problem. What David had done caused him to seriously question himself: How could he have done such things to one of his special ‘mighty men’ (2 Sam 23:39), and with such callousness? How could he show such disregard for the LORD’s Law? David had done what he had done even though, after Samuel had anointed him, we read that “the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam 16:13). David may well have been completely shocked at what he saw in himself. How could he have stooped to such a depth?
Why are western politicians so keen to get involved with the affairs of the Jewish State? Chuck and Karen Cohen follow the latest developments.
Whatever 2017 holds for us, let’s remain focused on the ultimate goal for God’s kingdom – that He would be glorified through the exaltation of His Son. “… every tongue should confess that Messiah Yeshua is Lord – to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:11; see also John 12:27-28)
Old Testament saints knew this, and often based their prayers on it. “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name. Deliver us, and purge away our sins, for Your name’s sake.” (Ps. 79:9); “Not unto us, YHWH…but unto Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and truth’s sake.” (Ps. 115:1)
In an age when many clamour for, and even demand, respect, Steve Maltz urges us to look elsewhere
God is the most misunderstood Person in the Universe. Many claim to hear Him, see Him, feel Him, be guided by Him yet most of them are duped by imposters and substitutes. It is the deception of our age and it has left Him with a bad press, with many questionable and horrific acts committed in His Name. Even by ‘so-called’ Christians. Even by sincere Christians. Let us cut right to the chase.
"Therefore say to the Israelites, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone” . (Ezekiel 36:22)
God’s Name is very important to Him. We see a watered-down version of it in society where many clamour for undeserved ‘respect’ and are willing to commit acts of violence to obtain it. Let’s make it clear from the outset that God is the only Person in our World who deserves respect, the only Person Who’s Name is not to be profaned among the nations. Any act that is performed in His Name, whether by Christians or others, is going to be reckoned, judged and rewarded accordingly by Him. It is an aspect of His character that is generally ignored because of its implications. But sweeping it under the carpet does not lessen its power.
The Bible – all of it – is good news from God and it’s not unusual to discover that faith suffers if the good news is detached from its… BONES!
All through His Word, God uses often uses bones to teach us the way of wisdom and faith. It all started way back in Eden when Adam, the perfect man, awoke from a deep sleep with one of his ribs missing - only to discover that God had used it to make the perfect woman – the only perfect woman who has ever lived. The Hebrew catches Adam's breathless response: "AT LAST!!” Most probably his eyes – the window of his soul – were saying “I can live without a rib - can't imagine living without this W-O-MA-N!!" Probably best to bridle our fallen imaginations at this point so… moving on…!
Malcolm Baker delves into Scripture to understand the true meaning of holiness
“You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (Leviticus 20:26). This verse from Leviticus explains that to be holy, one is not necessarily morally pure, as many suppose. Scripture shows that God sometimes required the prophets to act beyond or even contrary to the Law. Elijah was required to eat unclean food (1 Kings 17:2-6); Hosea to marry an adulteress (Hosea 1: 2-3; 3:1); and Isaiah to appear naked in public for three years (Isaiah 20: 2-4). Holiness is that one is separated from all other peoples, by the Lord, to the Lord. We are His possession.
The verses in Genesis 2:2-3 do not contain any anthropomorphic expressions. This teaches us, particularly in the account of creation, how great the gulf is between the Creator and the created. The verb wayyišbōth has been translated or interpreted incorrectly as if to signify ‘to rest’ or to ‘cease work’ . There is no mention of rest or refreshment in this particular portion of Scripture. It is rather, ‘and He abstained from His work.’ God is separate from His creation. When history began, there was only one holiness in the world, holiness in time. The first thing God made holy was a portion of time, the seventh day. God separated the light from the darkness.
Building site holiness’: Philip Wren looks at life as God intended – which may not look religious at all…
In the world, someone who separates themselves might be regarded as a holy man. A hermit or monk leading a life of meditation in a cave or monastery will for many exemplify holiness. Add, asceticism and religious ritual to the separation and the picture is complete.
For the Christian, Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of holiness. Holiness which was honed in the carpenter’s workshop and on the building site. Holiness which he had lived out, before teaching it to the people in the Sermon on the Mount. Holiness which meant that before telling us to carry the pack an extra mile he had done it many times himself1. Holiness which was able to love and forgive the rich man who refused to pay the bill and even cursed Jesus for presenting it. Those in business will know the feeling. Holiness which when landed with the responsibility of supporting his mother, brothers and sisters was able to trust His Father to provide.
Either side of birth, Britain’s children are paying the price of Britain’s godlessness. Watchman reports
A bill to end abortions on the grounds of disability had its second reading in the House of Lords, the Christian Institute reported on 28 October 2016.
The Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill, sponsored by disabled Peer, Lord Kevin Shinkwin, aims to amend the Abortion Act 1967. Lord Shinkwin, who suffers from brittle bone disease, first introduced the Bill in May. The Bill would remove a provision that allows women to have an abortion if there is “substantial risk that if the child was born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped” .
Preachers need grace, not ‘groupies’ . Chris Hill takes another look at the preacher who was not for sale…
John the Baptist was an extraordinary man. It seems likely that he was prepared at two levels to be the voice that would declare the glories of Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.
At the divine level he was prepared through the operations of the Holy Spirit within him. Those operations had commenced at his conception when the Holy Spirit filled him in his mother's womb (Luke 1:15). Throughout his years of growing into manhood the Lord fed John by the Spirit with a profound level of understanding as to who Jesus really was. It passed natural understanding. This is made clear by John 1:33 which records the exact words of the Baptist: “I would not have known Him, except that the one who sent me to baptise in water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptise in the Holy Spirit. '” Divine revelation had prepared John for the moment when Jesus approached him at the Jordan. John was divinely prepared to be “The Voice” .