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EDITORIAL – John Glass looks at the stroke of a pen
BIBLE SCHEME DRAWS IN CROWDS The Bible is playing a big part in helping an Elim church’s Life Groups attendance boom
NEWS from Elim and the wider church
GS DIARYJohn Glass focuses on his visit to Elim Italy
STAY ON COURSE FOR THE FUTURE Don’t be complacent about Elim’s next 100 years, writes KT leader Colin Dye
THE CALL TO SOMETHING BIGGERChris Cartwright looks at how Elim’s Centenary year will be celebrated
THE JOURNEY WE MUST NURTURE We must lower the birth mortality rate in our churches, warns Brian Richardson
ACHIEVE MUCH WITH TEAMWORKLyndon Bowring explains how in heaven everything we do will be remembered
READY FOR THE GATHERING 100? Elim youth groups across the nation are working hard in preparation for the event
KEEP GOING DURING TOUGH TIMESDave Newton reflects on how leading a ministry reminds him of breaking a football record
BOOKCASE with Richard Dodge
ANSWERS with Phil Weaver
AND FINALLY with John Lancaster
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Some time ago I visited a Christian event in an area of Manchester that was just a mile or so away from where I spent my earliest childhood years and, on returning to catch the motorway, passed an area that I had not visited since leaving for Bible College in the late 60s.
Almost everything had changed. My old school playing fields had been built over and the only thing that had not altered was the local cemetery which – try as they might – urban planners are usually forced to leave alone.
There was, however, just one other thing that remained in the place that I remember it as a teenager – a bus stop. It was the spot at which I regularly caught a bus to the city centre and where I once fell into conversation with a man called Jack Onion – someone who was later to accompany me to church and who subsequently gave his life to Christ.
When, years later, having left Manchester, I enquired of my parents how he was progressing, I was told that he had now married but his new wife had insisted that their name be changed – not by deed poll but by the simple addition of an apostrophe.
They were now Mr and Mrs O’nion, with a surname no longer reminiscent of something to be found on a fruit and veg stall but with all the romantic resonance of an ancient Irish family.
Perhaps, like you, I could not help but smile when I heard it, but my mind went immediately to another instance of imperfect punctuation. Ephesians 4:11–12 says, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Read like that, the implication is that God has given the five-fold gifts (some would say four-fold believing pastor-teacher to be a single gift) for two reasons. The first that the five-fold ministry was for the perfecting of the saints and the second that these five-fold ministries would then do the work of the ministry – an interpretation that gave the impression of a clerical/laity divide. However, the comma after the word ‘saints’ should not be there.
The sentence should read that these gift ministries were in place to ‘perfect the saints for the work of the ministry’ or, as the NIV and other translations better express it, “To prepare God’s people for works of service.”
In other words, a whole concept of what ministry means is turned on its head because of the addition of punctuation that would most certainly not have been there in the original Greek text. There is another dangerous area in which punctuation can create havoc. It is in the area of grace.
Satan, the ‘accuser of the brethren’, is seen in his truest colours when he whispers in the ears of those who stumble in their Christian walk that, “Having failed they can never be used by God again.”
The demonic decibels of condemnation always seem more easily heard by the Christian than the soothing tones of forgiveness and grace. Our instinct often seems to assume that God’s frown rests upon us rather than his smile. In other words: “Never put a full-stop where God has only placed a comma.”
Elim Pentecostal Churches