2004 header issue 12

The Puritan Hope. A Study in Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy, by Iain H. Murray.

London : Banner of Truth Trust, 1971.

And a survey of other books by Rev Murray.

Last week we were privileged to have a visit from Rev Iain Murray, who spent over an hour with Faculty and students answering questions about his books and also getting to know BGST and especially the students. This was not his first visit to Singapore : in the early nineteen fifties he held a commission with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) visit Singapore briefly and spending the rest of the time in Muar, Batu Pahat, and elsewhere. By the providence of God he went home before the terrorist insurgency increased and many of his fellow Cameronians died in Malaya . 

 

Like many of you, I got to know Rev Murray first from his books. Wisely, over the years he has devoted himself to writing a string of important, well-researched books, besides being what may be regarded perhaps as the longest serving editor of a Christian journal, the Banner of Truth, since its first issue almost half a century ago in September 1955. He has written some very fine biographies on C. H. Spurgeon; Kenneth A. MacRae; D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; A. W. Pink; John Murray; and Jonathan Edwards. His compilation Reformed and Puritan documents on church issues, with introductory notes, is a valuable mine of resources on issues that have the habit of resurfacing themselves in different dress but nonetheless they are issues that often unite or divide the Christian church. The Puritan Hope, which parallels Pentecost - Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival, is an attempt to press home the significance of Christian living during the eschatological period between the two Advents of our Lord Jesus Christ. And Evangelicalism Divided, which parallels Revival and Revivalism: the Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858,  looks at the period 1950-2000 and, like what Francis Schaeffer and others have noted in their books on this subject, he sees a need to return to a biblical understanding of “What is a Christian?”  Other books and articles are not mentioned in this brief review. It is easy to see that Rev Murray has been a prolific writer and the amazing thing is that he has consistently kept a high standard and objectivity in his research that commands respect from all, friend or foe. These are works born out of a busy life of ministry when he was asked to speak at conferences and other meetings.

 

I would like to suggest three reasons why Rev Murray’s books are worth reading:  

  1. What immediately stands out to me is the thoroughness of the research.  It makes us in Singapore almost envious that we do not have access to the abundance of documents that are available in the libraries in the UK, USA, and Europe. When dealing with controversial issues it is necessary and best to look at facts rather than just speculations. The truth stands or falls on one’s assessment of the facts presented.

  2. For theological (or Bible School) students it is good to observe that Theology and Church History should not be compartmentalized. The marriage between these two disciplines is vital for a total assessment of an issue. Unfortunately in the curricula of many schools, church history is often relegated to one or two courses and historical theology seems to be non-existent, as emphasis is placed on systematic and biblical theology. 

  3. The principle of not re-inventing the wheel is applicable here. There is often a dearth of knowledge of the importance of the Puritan legacy. We may wince at some of the Puritan ethical principles. But the high theology of Puritanism is not to be easily dismissed. I hope that we in Asia can learn from the West, at least in not repeat the mistakes of past centuries. We may not agree with or we may be uncomfortable with some of the views taken by Puritan writers. But do we have good grounds to disagree with them?

The exegesis of the Puritans shed important light on understanding passages like the Puritan support of missionary work with reference to the double conversion of the Gentiles (see The Puritan Hope, p.72).                

 

(Reviewed by Dr Quek Swee Hwa)

CHAPEL NOTES

Chapel on 24 March was taken by Dr Aquila Lee. He read from Mark 9:2-8 and spoke about the spiritual lessons we can learn from the transfiguration of Jesus. 

Today’s passage is about the transfiguration of Jesus and I believe that the incident was meant to help the disciples see clearly who Jesus really was.

There are three important points which could help us to see who Jesus really is. First, the transfiguration itself helps us to see that Jesus is more than merely a human teacher. Secondly, the appearance of Elijah and Moses and their talking to Jesus help us to realize that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Thirdly, the voice from heaven reveals not only the true identity of Jesus as the Son of God but also the right relationship we ought to maintain with Him.

So even today, if we really want to deepen our faith in Jesus and keep the right relationship with Him, we need to be there, the place where such a revelation takes place. As Jesus led the disciples to “a high mountain, where they were all alone” (v.2) if we want to grasp a clear understanding of who Jesus is and what he means in our lives, first, we need to learn to be alone in a solitary place, away from the distraction of our daily life, meditating the Word of God. Secondly, we need to be in a high mountain. In the same way as Moses met God face to face in Mount Sinai we need to come into God’s presence and meet Him face to face. So being in a high mountain means spending time with God in prayer. It is having a close relationship and an intimate fellowship in prayer with Him.

What is then the blessing for those who regularly go up to the high mountain? In verse 8 we read, “Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.” Jesus now takes the centre of our life. The way you see things in life changes. There will be a change in our priorities. We will better discern how God deals with our lives and what He wants from us. Even if the future is uncertain we will not be frightened because He is in control of your life. As the Apostle Paul says “if God is for us who will be against us!”

 

Chapel Speaker on 7 April was Mdm Debbie Lee. She is a trainer by profession and a member of Wesley Methodist Church. We are glad to hear from our own students and hope that Chapel time will be time for mutual encouragement between Faculty and staff and also students.

NEWS BITS

  1. EASTER. BGST Library and office will be closed on 9 April (Friday). Library will resume operation on Saturday. We wish all our readers a blessed Easter and a meaningful remembrance of Good Friday. May we all keep close to our Lord Jesus.

  2. Dr Quek has a  review of Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ”. You may wish to request a soft copy from him at bgstdean@starhub.net.sg

  3. Ancient Cities (OT/NT190) by Dr Michael Pucci and Dr Quek Swee Hwa commences this Saturday, 10 April, at Room #3-02 (7.00-10.00pm). There are only 4 sessions. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain important insights into the background of the Bible. It will enrich your understanding of the Bible and your preaching and teaching, for those who exercise this ministry. Dr Quek will take the first and last lectures (Apr 10 & May 29) and Dr Pucci the second and third (May 8 & 22).

  4. There is a change of dates for Better Speech for Leadership & Ministry (AT231) by Rev Ng Seng Chuan. If you have registered for this course, kindly take note of the new dates: May 7, 14, 21, June 4, 18, July 2, 9; 7.30-10pm.

  5. New Admission. Dr Bob Foo Hee Luan is working toward the Dip CS at BGST. He is an active lay leader at the Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church and a Corporate Consultant and Trainer by profession. He is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde, UK (M. Sc. in International Marketing) and the University of Nottingham, UK (Ph.D. in Marketing and Entrepreneurship).

  6. Volunteers needed. We need help in the following areas: a) videography of courses b) manning of  the Library counter at night from 6pm-9pm and c) scanning of course manuals. If you are interested to help or would like to find out more, please contact Serene at Tel: 63538071. Looking forward to hear from you all!

A BLESSED 
BIRTHDAY TO ...


Dr Lim Hock Bin  30/3

Dr Koh Tse Yuen  30/3

Ms Lee Hui Ling  31/3

Ms Wong Kai Yun  31/3

Mr Benny Fang  1/4

Mr Johnson Tan  1/4

Mr Rupert Tsang  2/4

Ms Soo Hsi En  3/4

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