Welcome to Sword Magazine

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.

Volume: 12     Issue: 2

EDITORIAL

Christian discipleship is summed up in four words: “Be like your Father” . David Andrew asks how do we represent His mercy in an increasingly cold-hearted world?

‘Who do you think you are?’ has become a surprisingly important question in the present day. It has generated at least one television show where people, often celebrities, investigate their family tree while viewers get to peep, as it were, through the family keyhole. Biblically speaking, it's a question of huge importance for Christians.

Jesus once put a very similar question to his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” The crowds that followed his every move had begun to speculate about his identity. But Peter’s answer clearly originated in revelation, not speculation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” . (Matthew 16:15-17) What then about our own question? Who do we think we are – and who are we really? 

Many in the Church wallow in their ostentation yet, as John McLaughlan shows us, there is much we can all learn from the poor widow

We read in the latter part of Mark 11 and in Mark 12 that Jesus had dealings on that particular day with religious leaders, some of whom tried to trap Him in His teaching so as to discredit Him in the eyes of the common people. But there was also one scribe who after asking Jesus a question about the “first commandment of all” (Mark 12:28) was commended by Jesus as being “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). Jesus next turned the tables on the religious leaders by questioning them about the identity of the Messiah (Mark 12:35-37). Finally He concludes His teaching by warning the common people about the hypocrisy of the scribes (Mark 12:38-40). Immediately after this we are told the story of the “poor widow” and the offering that she put into the temple treasury. 

Jesus saw the Rich and the Poor 

We are told that Jesus “sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury” (Mark 12:41) while Luke 21:1 informs us that “He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury” . So, it appears that after a long and testing day Jesus sat down and watched the rich making a great display of their giving to the temple. The collecting boxes that were used were called ‘The Trumpets’ because they were shaped like trumpets and any money dropped into them made a sound that could be heard by anyone in the vicinity: The more coins given then the louder the sound. Jesus watched how the rich put their money into these trumpets in such a way that all could hear how rich and generous they were. Jesus had spent His day dealing with such people and this final display of their hypocrisy summed up the true standing of the religious leadership of that time. 

Hitler published a ‘Jew-free’ Bible. The UN has just given the Middle East 3000 years of ‘Jewfree history’ . Chuck and Karen Cohen reveal how “truth is fallen in the street”…

UN Security Council resolution 2334, passed on Dec. 23, 2016, said all the land Israel liberated in 1967, including Jerusalem and the Western Wall, is illegally occupied "Palestinian Territory," and demanded Israel to halt all "settlement" activity. The Obama administration betrayed Israel by abstaining, thus letting it pass. Yet these verses aided us in prayer in the face of this anti-God, anti-Israel global decree. 

"YHWH brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He breaks the plans of the people. The counsel of YHWH stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations." (Ps. 33:6-11) In Isaiah, God the Creator declares, "Behold, the nations are like a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the scales… All nations before Him are as nothing; and to Him they are seen to be less than nothing, vanity." (Isa. 40:15, 17; see also 21-23) So the arrogance of the United Nothings is to think they decide what happens with God's land and people. Great judgment will come because of this resolution. When it does, we need to declare, "This is that which was spoken…"

There is an increased clamour to redefine marriage, even in the Church. Steve Maltz explains the dangers inherent in such thinking…

There was a piece of news recently that has been largely overlooked but, in the grand scheme of things, greatly overshadows even the results of the General Election. The Scottish wing of the Anglican Church has just voted to legalise gay marriage1. After giving his reasons, the head of the Scottish Episcopal Church, David Chillingworth stated that “we affirm we are a church of diversity and difference bound together by our unity in Christ” . The Bishop of Edinburgh, John Armes, added, “if the Anglican Communion is to survive it must embrace unity” .

If Church unity demands that Biblical doctrine on marriage is thrown out of the window, then I suggest that the Anglican Communion does not deserve to survive, whatever the implications. In terms of core understandings of what a Church is in relation to Jesus, this doctrine is far more precious than these Scottish clergymen seem to understand, far more important than the survival of a single denomination, regardless of how many clergy it employs or the size of its investment portfolio.

Just because a word is in the dictionary doesn’t mean it’s safe to use it ...
 
Buzz words, the fashionable vocabulary of current affairs and celebrity gossip – for all their temporary value – often deserve more than a casual glance, if only because they signal the mood of the crowd. Such a word is ‘unforgiveable’ .
 
Those of us who follow the media trail in an effort to keep up with ‘everything about everything’ will be overly familiar with the word ‘unforgiveable’ . These days it enjoys a universal media presence and is routinely applied by journalists and politicians to the ‘villains’ of their peace from North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn – whether their crimes be mass murder or mass disappointment…
Many other labels might fit just as well: ‘inexcusable’ , ‘monstrous’ , ‘barbaric’ , ‘criminal’ or, for lesser offences ... ‘ill-considered’ , ‘illadvised’ and ‘opportunist’; but ‘unforgiveable’ – really? Strange how a world that fears terrorists and weapons of mass destruction has never learned to respect the most dangerous word in any language... 

When it comes to Israel, God follows a very different agenda to the World. Malcolm Baker explains…

Speaking about sparrows, Jesus said, “…not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matthew 10:29). One winter in 1958 an ‘estimated’ 194,432 sparrows were killed in one day, in one area alone. Across the whole nation, the sparrow population was decimated with millions of birds dead on the ground. Without the sparrow population, the bugs they once fed on, thrived. The locust population spiralled out of control along with the grasshoppers.  Famine followed as the insects devoured the crops.

What happened to cause this catastrophe? The country was China; the illustrious leader was Chairman Mao. Acting on a false premise, Mao went to war against China’s perceived great enemy, the sparrow. His claim was that the sparrows were eating too much grain. Mao, in his great wisdom, mobilised the population of China to get rid of the bird that ‘gave him the bird’ and the humble sparrows didn’t stand even a grain of a chance. Far too late they discovered that the sparrows were vital to the food chain, and were a necessary ally in dealing with Bugs & Co. The sparrows were not a curse; they were a blessing!

In this era of ‘fake news’ there is a proliferation of scams, mainly hitting us in the pocket. Philip Wren warns us to be forearmed against some deceptions that are far more dangerous

A few years ago, four of us travelled to India. Flying overnight we arrived at Delhi Airport in the early hours of the morning India time. After acclimatising and relaxing over a coffee for an hour, we took a taxi to New Delhi Railway Station to catch the 6.00 a.m. train to our destination. On arrival at the station we were met by the usual crowd of people keen to carry our bags. They were also keen to ask our destination. On hearing where we were going they immediately said that the train was cancelled. Then they helpfully directed us to someone on the floor above who would be able to help. This person posing as a railway official assured us that the train was cancelled. To get to our destination we would have to rebook our tickets at a travel agents. The nearest Travel Agent was several blocks away so he helpfully found us a cab. 

At the travel agents, the assistant checked the trains for seats and produced a printout showing that all the trains were fully booked that day. The only way we would be able to get to our destination would be by private hire car. Conveniently there was a private hire driver outside the travel agent’s office. The agent arranged, at substantial payment, for us to be driven to our destination. As we were leaving the agent said don’t forget to give the driver a good tip. 

The UK is reaping the fallout from the referendum and the General Election. Watchman reports on machinations in the corridors of power

In the wake of the Conservative Party’s poor performance in June’s General Election – resulting in a hung Parliament – Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister has been significantly weakened. The Times reported on June 12 that she “faced overwhelming pressure to soften her stance on Brexit.”

The Times reported: “Mrs. May must now decide how to handle demands from cabinet ministers, including Mr. Hammond (Philip Hammond), to soften her line on Brexit. They want a looser migration system than Mrs. May had planned, a rethink on leaving the customs union and more flexible approach to the European Court of Justice.”  

Hopes and dreams are a fine thing, even more so when the Lord is at the centre of our plans. Chris Hill explains

The call of the Lord on the life of John the Baptist came early. In fact, according to Luke 1:15, it came in the womb! But it seems John did not give voice to his ministry until he emerged from the Judean wilderness at the age of thirty (Luke 3:2ff). Some gap – but clearly a godly gap. That lengthy period was essential preparation for what followed.

When there is a gap between promise and fulfilment it can test us sorely. 

Persecution of Christians comes in many guises and is creeping westwards, as Barnabas Fund have investigated…

Christianophobia awards: BuzzFeed, Daily Mirror, Independent and Spectator “out” Christian candidates as unfit to hold office – because they are Christians 1

One of the most disturbing aspects of the UK general election campaign has been the blatant anti-Christian prejudice that has been promoted by some major national newspapers. This has specifically targeted Christian candidates, claiming that they are unfit to hold public office because they hold Christian beliefs such as believing in miracles or Biblical sexual ethics. Even the Prime Minister was condemned by one major national newspaper for visiting one of the UK’s largest black churches – because the church opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.

Many Christians know their Bible back to front – when they should know it the right way round! David Andrew offers an appreciation of a recent two-part teaching from Chuck and Karen Cohen… 

There’s a consistent note of sober purpose here, so don’t expect a snappy title. As it is, the title gets right to the point – and describes exactly what’s in the tin: “Breaking Down the Middle Wall of Partition: Confronting the Man-Made division between the Old and New Testament.”

Now some will be thinking: “This is clearly off-beam right from the title. Surely Jesus has already broken down the wall between Jew and Gentile? Surely Paul used a past tense?” No arguments there – but just because God has done something has never stopped us mortals from disagreeing with Him or revising the ‘truth’ to make it suit our prejudices. The clue to the title is in the ‘man-made division’ . As early as the early church, even Peter needed correction as he unwittingly started to rebuild the wall that Jesus had demolished (Galatians 2:11-21). Our authors are not in denial of Ephesians 2:14. Their argument – entirely dependent on Scriptural support – is that, historically, the Church in general has done a thorough job of rebuilding the wall by creating a false (distorting) division between the doctrine of the apostles and the ‘Old Testament’ writings they used to support their writings! The effect of this is two-fold: 

There is a ‘fifth column’ in our midst, encouraged by ‘the powers that be’ . Wilfred Wong urges Christians to wake up – before it is too late…

Islamic extremists are using mass Muslim migration to the West to infiltrate Europe in large numbers. Jihadist groups have publicly stated that they would do this. Thus, mass Muslim migration increases the likelihood of Islamic terrorist strikes against the host country. It also escalates the process of Islamisation in that nation and provides an ever-growing pool of potential recruits in the host country for Islamic terror groups to recruit.   

Allowing mass Muslim migration into one’s country amounts to national and cultural Suicide. Unfortunately, many of our politicians especially those on the Left, are keen to encourage mass Muslim migration to Britain. The Socialist parties such as Labour and the Liberal Democrats view the Muslims as their natural electoral supporter base and thus have a selfish vested interest in bringing more Muslim migrants into Britain. 

If you’ve always thought ‘it’s how you finish that matters’ , Andrew Murray says you might want to reconsider that – and make a fresh start… 

Let me warn against a misunderstanding of the expression –  ‘learning obedience’ (Hebrews 5: 8). We are apt to think that absolute obedience as a principle – obedience unto death – is a thing that can only be gradually learned in Christ's school. This is a great and most hurtful mistake... 

What we have to learn, and do learn gradually, is the practice of obedience, in new and more difficult commands. But as to the principle, Christ wants us from the very entrance into His school to make the vow of entire obedience (Matthew 16:24).