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Christian Life and Doctrine

  February 2004, No 2

Hello [first name], here is this months newsletter with items selected especially for you.

ARCHAEOLOGY


Digging David's Dynasty

A team of Israeli archaeologists has found the first-non biblical evidence of King David's dynasty. A fragment of a shattered stele, or monument, was discovered at Tel Dan, the site of a dig (excavation) in northern Israel. Dated to the ninth century BC, the stele commemorates the victory of the king of Aram, allied with the king of Judah, over Israel. The Bible relates the story of this struggle between King Basha of Israel and King Asa of Judah, the great-great-grandson of King David, in 1 Kings 15:16-22.

The original 12 tribes had split into two kingdoms after the reing of Solomon. Avraham Biran, team leader of the dig, believes the stele was shattered intentionally. 'This may have happened 30 years later, when Ahab, an Israelite king, was victorious over Aram,' he said. The 13-line fragment, written in Aramaic script, includes the words 'House of David,'King of Israel','Hadad' [a king or god of Aram],'chariots' and 'thousands of horsemen'.

THIS MONTH'S INTERESTING AND SOMETIMES AMUSING SMALL STORY


England's Queen Victoria enjoyed going for walks through the rural roads of London. One day after having walked a long distance with her faithful servant John Brown, she passed through a narrow lane which led to a field where sheep were grazing, when a young shepherd saw her he yelled angrily: 'Hey, you silly old cow, move out of the way,' the queen smiled but said nothing.
Her servant walked up to the shepherd and said that 'who you called a silly old cow is the queen of England!' 'So, it's not my fault is it? If she had her costume on I would have recognized her,' The young shepherd said.

Many of the world didn't recognize the Son of God, because he came with humility and obscurity. They would have wanted him to have come adorned with a costume and glamor of a king. 'Isn't that the carpenter?' (MARK 6:3) his contemporaries asked.

Doesn't that still happen today? 'Isn't that the carpenter?' The modern Nazarene continue to ask.

QUESTIONS


QUESTION: I've traditionally understood that the kingdom of God is a future event. You say it is also present. What significance does this have for the Christian?

ANSWER: Jesus described the kingdom of God in a revolutionary discourse, often called the Sermon on the Mount. The sermon starts: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Matthew 5:3). This verse is written in the present, not the future tense. Those who are poor in spirit have the happiness of God's reign in their lives now.

Yet, the next verse says: 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted' (verse 4). This verse is in the future tense, pointing to the full establishment of the kingdom of God at Christ's return. These two verses of the Sermon on the Mount show that the kingdom of God is clearly both present and future.

The kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven) and God's will are major themes in the Sermon on the Mount. By obeying God's will ---- believing in the sacrifice and atoning work of Jesus Christ ---- Christians allow God to reign in their lives. They seek to honour God and follow his ways continually.

In the Sermon Jesus taught us to pray to the Father: 'Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven' (Matthew 6:10). God's kingdom is where his will is acknowledged and obeyed. His will is already performed perfectly in heaven. As we allow Jesus Christ to triumph in our lives under his will, we enter his kingdom now. In this way, he already reigns on earth.

Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared God's will goes far beyond rote obedience to the letter of the law, but actually enters and guides our mind and our will. When we read the Sermon on the Mount as a description of God's will for us, we understand that by following him, we submit ourselves to God's reign on earth now.

Thus, when we pray, 'Your kingdom come', we are not only praying for the future establishment of the kingdom in its fullness. We are also praying for God's will to reign in our lives today.

BIBLE

An Albanian Testament

The European Christian Mission (ECM) completed the first translation of the entire Bible into the Albanian language. An Albanian New Testament has been available since the Marxist government collapsed in 1991. At that time, an estimated 500,000 copies of the New Testament were distributed.

RELIGION

Library Books

In a survey of 150 public libraries in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Christian books were borrowed twice as often as the average of all other categories. The Christian Broadcasting Library Service conducted the year-long survey, which also found that the number of people borrowing Christian books exceeded the total membership of all the local churches.

Holy City for Everyone

Representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam reaffirmed in Switzerland that Jerusalem should remain open for worship to Christians, Muslims and Jews. Each of these monotheistic religions regards the city as holy. The conference delegates declared that Jerusalem should be a city of peace and reconciliation. (Jerusalem means 'city of peace',)

Representatives of the three faiths also said their religions should be supporting rather than hindering continuing efforts to ensure peace in the Middle East. The World Protestant Society, the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Vatican organized the conference and invited the participants.



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