THE EVANGEL SPRING 1999

BELIEF

This article is the first of a series which will explain the beliefs held by the church at Whiddon Valley. A full copy of our ‘declaration of faith’ is available from our Pastor David Kay.

Why Believe the Bible?

We believe in “The full and verbal inspiration of the Old and New Testament Scriptures (that is the Word of God the Holy Bible) as originally given, and of these alone; their being in themselves without error and wholly reliable in both fact and doctrine; their final authority and perpetual sufficiency in all matters of faith and practise.”

It is vital in this last year of the 20th Century that people know what they believe. Before voting for any political party we read and understand their manifesto. Before we use a new piece of equipment we read the maker’s instructions.

The dictionary says of the word ‘belief’ that it is ‘an opinion or persuasion and agreement of the mind.’ At Whiddon Valley Evangelical Church we are persuaded of and agree to the facts about the Bible as set out in the rather complicated sounding (but very relevant) statement above.

The word EVANGELICAL means just that – Bible–believing.

To explain what we believe then it seems reasonable to examine these statements step by step as follows:–

— How was the Bible originally given?

– How do we justify the claim that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

– Is the Bible absolutely true in both fact and doctrine?

– Is the Bible wholly reliable as a final authority?

How was the Bible originally given?

In other words how did it come to exist?

The Bible is in two parts, the Old and New Testaments. There are 39 sections (books) in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. The 39 books of the Old Testament are roughly grouped into three divisions:–

– The Law

– The Prophets

– The Writings

These books had been the sacred Scriptures of the Jews for many hundreds of years before Christ and were accepted by them as being the only books which were God's revelation to men. The Jews believed that human authors wrote down what God supernaturally told them. These authors were Moses and a number of Prophets.

The New Testament was written in the first hundred years or so after the birth of Jesus Christ by men appointed by God who lived at the same time as the Lord Jesus Christ and who had been in contact with the disciples (apostles) of the Lord Jesus and reflected their teachings in their writings. Some of the New Testament books were written by some of the apostles themselves.

Copied by Scribes.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the New in Greek. Obviously the absence of printing presses or photocopiers in those early days of the first and second centuries meant the writings were copied by scribes. Every copy was the labour of a scribes hands. At this point one of the most common objections to the accuracy of the scriptures can be dealt with. You may say ‘but if men copied the words down surely they could have made mistakes? and surely that makes them unreliable‘ At first glance this would seem a plausible argument – but consider this –

– Isn’t it strange that the same objection is rarely raised against the writings of say the Roman General Julius Caesar, who lived just before Jesus and wrote about the conquest of Britain? Nobody questions his writings, yet they must have been copied out by men.

– It would be a very strange God who gave an infallible Bible to the original writers and then left those who copied the scriptures to confuse His revelation by making mistakes! An Almighty perfect and Holy God who never makes mistakes ensures that his message comes to us unadulterated.

Next time we shall look at the claim that the Bible is THE WORD OF GOD.


MY STORY

David Jordan

An event happened in my life just after I left school, in October 1994, I had a weight on my shoulders which no scale could measure – the weight of sin. On a particular night in October of that year God stopped me and convicted me instantly. He made me realise that I was accountable for all my sin and that on the final day I would stand on my own before Him .

Since then the way that I look upon life has changed. He has proved himself to me time and time again. Wherever we go God is there. We might think that by shutting the door and closing the curtains, we can shut Him out of our lives – but this is not true.

He knows us better than we know ourselves, and there is nothing that we can hide from Him. I have had God on my side ever since I accepted the Lord Jesus into my life. John's gospel chapter 3 and verse 16 tells us ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish. but have everlasting life.’

Salvation is free to all who believe:– listen to God's invitation and salvation can be yours.


FRANKLY SPEAKING...

“The first book of the Bible – Genesis, is a myth...”

The world is full of myths and stories from the distant past which put ancient events and phenomena into the kind of context our less enlightened ancestors could understand. Of course you and I have come a long way since then, and the modern religion ‘Evolution’ has explained everything more scientifically.

Isn’t it true that you can’t believe Moses because he was biased, unscientific, and wasn’t there at the beginning? Instead, you ought to believe Darwin – who was ... biased, unscientific and not there at the beginning!

We need a much more reliable account than the writings of men – what’s really needed is an eye witness account. This is exactly what we have in the first book of the Bible – Genesis. If it were simply the work of a man we would have reason to be doubtful, but Moses wrote down what God wanted him to. He was one of the writers inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit – by God, who was there at the beginning of everything.

Science has come a long way but it is not infallible (theories are constantly being updated), and cannot look back in time. It gives a totally inadequate reason and purpose for you and I being here. The scientist is pleased to tell you that you are the result of chance, and that you are simply a more intelligent and therefore more successful animal than the other animals.

If you believe this then your life has no significant meaning or purpose. The difficulties sometimes experienced in our lives become cruel and mocking.

The Bible on the other hand gives us totally satisfactory answers – although you may not like some of them. Genesis tells us that you and I are something special. You and I are not simply better animals, our lives are full of meaning and purpose (and if you are in Christ Jesus – hope). Genesis states you and I have been made in the image of God. It also declares that this image is spoiled because of sin – breaking God's laws.

The accounts given in Genesis are foundational. If you look carefully you will see that here is the basis for a healthy society, here is the basis for joyful marriage, for good relationships with others, for a happy fulfilled life. Here too is the reason for the corruption of our world and all the misery and suffering, the sadness and emptiness of our lives.

But Genesis also gives us the basis for a certain hope in the face of all our troubles. This is the grace of God in promising a Saviour – The Lord Jesus Christ – to deliver us from sin and death. Genesis not only gives us the truth about the fall of man but the truth about the salvation of man.

If you will look at what Genesis has to say you will see that it in fact says an awful lot about today. It is not simply a myth. If you think that Adam and Eve are simply mythical characters, and the six days of Creation is just a story, then why should we believe the rest of the Bible? If the Creation and Fall of man is untrue so is the rest.

If God is God, a six day creation is easy. There is real hope for you and me, every reason to believe salvation is real, every reason to accept Genesis as being true.


WHO WAS ROBERT CLEAVER CHAPMAN?

Today in Barnstaple there seem to be a number of ex–Londoners. Some of whom are our neighbours on Whiddon Valley, perhaps attracted by the wonderful scenery or gentler pace of life. Barnstaple in the 19th century was not such an attractive prospect for those wishing to leave London. Over 80 fully licensed houses existed in a town of just 7000 people. Added to these were the tiddlywink shops – Or beer houses which required no licence. Drunkenness and violence were common whilst there was only one policeman backed up occasionally by two overburdened beadles to keep an eye on the whole town. The Derby area of Barnstaple (Vicarage St. & surrounds) was described at the time as:– ‘a network of miserable little streets occupied by miserable little wretches…’

So why should a successful lawyer from London with a family fortune behind him and a promising career ahead move to Barnstaple in 1832 and stay until his death in 1902? Robert Chapman did just that. He gave away his inherited wealth and came to pastor a church which had seen off 9 pastors in just 4 years. He set up home in No. 6 New Buildings, (still lived in today) and became known as the Brother of Love. He never married, but lived simply and received all kinds of people into his home as visitors and guests.

Chapman spent as much time as he could on the streets talking to people, visiting others in their homes and preaching in the open air. His gentle manner and patience earned him the respect of many. What changed his life so dramatically and what message did he urge on the folk of Barnstaple?

Quite simply he realized that he was a sinner as far as God was concerned, and could do nothing to please God no matter how hard he tried. He came to faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, who died on the cross so that sinners could escape the just punishment due for their sins. Robert Chapman took God at his word – that the just shall live by faith – and then spent the rest of his life telling others about this wonderful news. Robert Chapman is no longer with us, but the message he proclaimed is. Although society’s standards have changed God’s have not. The message of salvation from sin, and eternal life in and through the Lord Jesus Christ is still as potent today as it ever was. And yes, this gospel message is still being proclaimed today – you can hear it every Sunday at Whiddon Valley Evangelical Church and on some Saturdays in the High St. during the holiday season. Robert Chapman did not want to be remembered by the people of Barnstaple. He did not publish any books, burnt all his papers, and specifically requested that no memorial be set up. His gravestone which is in the town cemetery simply says ‘God is love’ and quotes from the Bible:– “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners1 Timothy 1:15

Have you been saved yet?


FROM THE PASTOR’S PEN

Dear Friends of Whiddon Valley,

Whiddon Valley seems to be developing at last into a recognizable community in its own right. More houses, a new school with all of the promise that its opening holds and people beginning to show interest in working together to enhance the place where we live.

While it is a good thing to pay attention to our environment in the here and now the Christian message outlines a future existence which can only be prepared for in THIS life. Jesus Christ said quite clearly “Therefore be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Matthew 28 v 44 The Good News, the Gospel makes people ready when it is listened to and believed. The Gospel tells of God who came as a man in order to make people ready for the end of the world. Have you heard the Gospel? Are you ready – have you been forgiven all of your sins through faith in the work which Jesus Christ did on the cross, that of dying as a substitute for sinners?

My grandfather taught me the art of home decorating – he said that the most important part of the job lay in the preparation. Being prepared for eternity is far more important than decorating. Take some time to assess your life and ask the important question, ‘Am I ready to meet the God who made me and who will be my judge?’ The wonderful and hopeful message of the Bible is that you CAN be ready through a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

If you do not have a Church connection already and you would like to come and see what your local Christian Church is all about then there is a warm welcome awaiting you. Or feel free to call me on Barnstaple 328813.

With warm wishes to everyone in Whiddon Valley,

David Kay.

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