Back to the future ...
Unless Britannia is insane, she wants no part of a zero-Gospel future. Personal and national security are anchored in God’s history. A word from the Editor…
The dramatic change in Sword’s appearance is the generous and highly skilled contribution of our brother Michael Oakley who, without charge to the ministry, has spent many months working on a ‘text-driven’ design. Here’s how Michael describes his prayerful intention:
"If Sword magazine is about anything at all, it’s about the word – God’s word to us, the Word as described by John, and the printed word we have fed on since being taught to read as small children. It’s been my privilege as a typographer to achieve a life’s ambition; 32 blank pages of a wellrespected magazine to redesign, using every skill I have copied and discovered over the years. “
Nowadays, with ever-shortening attention spans, pictures have replaced words in almost all mainstream publications – Christian or otherwise. 'Enlarged captions' might be a good description. I recently read an interview with Justin Welby, who looked back at me from a double-page spread in what I can only describe as ‘wide-screen Cinerama’. Either he had been told to say very little for the sake of the page layout, or had less to say than I’d hoped for.
“Can you imagine Paul being told by Timothy, ‘Keep your letter to 500 words please, or our readers will switch off’? We have inherited the richness of God’s word to us – in all its glory. I hope this ‘text-driven’ design where pictures complement, rather than drive, will be appreciated. Sword is blessed with superb writers, writing about Someone for whom there is no superlative. I hope I have done justice to their work ".
Michael’s design has given Sword the look of a serious magazine for serious times – and that brings me to another intention behind this ‘re-launch’. Today’s confused Church has many conflicting priorities –most of which conflict with (or even smother) the greatest priority: what Andrew Murray described as Jesus’ ‘Last Command’ (see p.30) – that His Church should take the Gospel to every nation.
Our Gospel offers God’s one extravagantly generous remedy for sin to a culture that predominantly disbelieves in God and denies the reality of sin. Indeed, yesterday’s Biblical definition of sin, is touted as today’s liberal definition of morality and even virtue! Conversely, those who dare to speak of sin or offer God’s forgiveness and reconciliation are considered offensive and – wait for it… ‘immoral’! Many Christians are not yet alert to this changed reality, and those who areshow increasing signs of fear and selfcensorship, ‘lest they give offence’. It’s easy to sympathise with such timidity, but Jesus’ command still stands. His sheep belong among the wolves. The first believers did not choose their hostile environment. The high price they paid brought the Gospel to us! They lived “no longer for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again”(2 Cor 5:15).
Sword is published not for the unbeliever, but to encourage and strengthen believers’ confidence in God and His unchanging Word. However, given the deep spiritual blindness that now pervades our culture, its pages will be significantly re-focussed to expound and explain the Gospel that believers might attain a more confident, joyful and credible relationship to Jesus Christ. The Great Commission is the greatest omission of modern Church life. Europe and the West have reverted to virgin mission-field status. Sword’s new look marks a gear change. Our commitment to the final authority of Scripture remains unchanged, but alongside this, we intend a renewed emphasis on supporting the Church’s calling to “preach the Gospel”.
Are we departing from ‘solid food’ (Heb 5:12, 14) to return to ‘elementary teachings’ (Heb 6:1)? No, we hold both as equal priorities. Let me explain. Most Christians are noticeably un-amazed by the Gospel.We dare not ignore this reverse. An amazement deficit betrays a comprehension deficit. To understand is to be astonished. A Church unimpressed by Jesus is preoccupied with fruitless agendas borrowed from secular culture. This, by and large is the Church we know today. By God’s grace, Sword will present the Gospel like the facets of a priceless diamond until Our Enthralling Saviour steps out of our pages in 3D that we might ‘proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’!(1 Pet 2:9)