Book Review – Letters of Samual Rutherford

Letters of Samuel Rutherford by Samuel Rutherford & Andrew Bonar

Review by Timothy Denning
Every letter in this fine book is just like a sermon, Full of Christ and full of Scripture particularly the Song of Solomon.
I quote from the book:
Christ is a well of life, but who knows how deep it is to the bottom? This Soul of ours has love, and cannot but love some fair one. And oh, what a fair one what an holy one, what an excellent, lovely, ravishing one, is Jesus Christ Put the beauty of ten thousand, thousand worlds of paradises, like the garden of Eden in one, put all trees, flowers, all smells, all colours, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness, in one, oh what a fair and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ, than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes and fountains of ten thousand earths. Christ is heavens wonder.
Buy the book and you can read the full version of a glorious hymn:
Oh! Christ he is the fountain, the deep sweet well of love ! The streams on earth I’ve tasted, more deep I’ll drink above, there, to an ocean fullness, his mercy does expand, And glory-glory dwells in Immanuel’s land.

Sussex Conference – Saturday 12th March


Join us for this years Sussex Conference. Here at Ebenezer we are looking forward to hosting this excellent event on Saturday 12th March. The conference is a joint endeavour between Ebenezer and Hailsham Baptist Church and has been going for a number of years. We look forward to having Pastor John Benton Chertsey Street Baptist Church come to speak to us on this very useful and practical subject.

Everyone is welcome and the cost for the day is £7/£5 conc including lunch.

Testimony – Rachel Bickley

1614290_10153212024752051_3947591859006999184_oWhen I was young I was always a bit of a worrier. I used to worry that I had a brain tumour or scarlet fever. Looking back I think it was because I knew I wasn’t prepared for what would happen when I died. My parents spent hours explaining how to become a Christian. Repent of your sins, and believe in Jesus Christ. Trust that your sins can be forgiven because of His death and resurrection. 

I can’t really pin down the exact date of becoming a Christian, I just remember reading my Bible when I was about 12 and realising that I did believe. Jesus really had died for me and now I had to live for Him. I was baptised later that year, and soon after my 13th birthday my family made the move from Birmingham to Brighton.

 When I was sixteen I started work, and found myself starting to drift away from God. It happened so gradually that before I knew it I was living a life that was not in obedience to God. I somehow believed that because I went to church and had tried to keep the rules that I should be given all that I desired. Money, friends, relationships. I was looking for comfort in earthly treasures.

I lived my life with this attitude for several years, and found myself growing more and more depressed with the way things were going. I kept wondering why God wasn’t doing what I thought He ought to do – I was trying to get by in my own strength. I made a lot of really bad decisions during this period, and it took me a long time to realise that things weren’t really working out. It took me even longer to realise that the fault was with me and not with God.

By trying to be good and obey God in my own strength I had developed a very bad attitude. Because I was doing certain things for God I thought God was obligated to do certain things for me. Things came to a head when I was in my early 20’s. It had been several years since I had felt really close to God. I still believed in God, still went to church, still knew that I was a sinner saved by grace. Despite knowing all this I was caught in a spiral of self gratification. Things reached a low ebb and I finally cried out to God and asked Him to show me a way out of this cycle.

He did just that. Through the preaching on Sundays, reading the Bible and speaking to God in prayer, God led me out of the mess I had made, and showed me a better way. He showed me the freedom that can be found in seeking to live for Him. My goodness doesn’t depend on the good things that I do, it is the perfect life Jesus lived and in Jesus’ death and resurrection. I am freed from bondage to sin and free to live for God. It is by God’s love and grace toward me that I am able to please Him. Because my Salvation is in Jesus I know that I am eternally secure and will see Him face to face when I die and go to Heaven.

Proverbs 3:5&6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make strait your paths.”

 Ephesians 2:8&9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Book Review – Lifeline: How to know God

By Pastor Tony Bickley

Lifeline: How to know God – by Andrew Christofides

On reading the introduction and aims of this book I had a nagging thought. The book is aimed at those with little understanding of the gospel and, judging from its layout and content, with only a small appetite for reading.

The problem I foresaw was that even this small book might be too much reading for its intended audience. That being said, it does achieve all of its other goals.

Lifeline usefully explains the gospel simply, accurately and in a way that is easy to understand. I think that anyone seriously seeking the truth would find many of their questions answered and, despite my reservations, I see this as a welcome addition to any church bookstall.

The book works systematically through the text, explaining the existence and person of God and his love for the world of men; and showing that such love is demonstrated by the giving of his Son.

The chapter explaining who Jesus is provides a helpful introduction to him; the explanation of the cross is graphic. The chapter relating to the words of the text ‘For God…’ was especially helpful. I thought the explanation of God’s person, presence and power thought-provoking.

The closing chapter encourages the reader to seek God through prayer and reading his Word, and encourages those seeking the truth to find a gospel church, so that they might hear it preached.

All in all, this book is perfect for its purpose, as long as its intended readership read it all the way through.



Book Review -Profiting from the Word

Book Review by Timothy

Profiting from the Word – A W Pink

This book really brught home to me the importance of reading the word of God which although we know we need to do, we need constantly reminding of this fact.

Chapter 2 is called the Scriptures and God from which I quote “The divine image is stamped upon every page. Writings so holy, so heavenly, so awe-producing, the bible could never been created by man, The scriptures make known a supernatural God.” Really the whole backdrop to the book is (2 Timothy 3 v 16-17) How the word of God is more than suitable for our every need.

Later in the book Pink says put down other books and put the bible first and foremost in your life. This comment made me think long and hard and a profound effect and really motivated me to read the word. By all means read this book put the bible first!

Testimony – Timothy Denning

My testimony is all of the Lord’s grace. I was brought up in a loving Christian home and was taken to Church and Sunday school which I enjoyed and loved singing the hymns.

When I was about 16 I would say I wanted to explore the world to see what if offered, I stopped going to Church for a few years. I was really not happy and felt there must be more to life than this. Mum and Dad kept praying for me and encouraged me to go to Church.

One day Mum asked me to take her to church and I agreed. Looking back I did not expect such a warm welcome when I went back to Church and in many ways it felt like I have never left, God is so good.

After being back in the Church for quite a while a dramatic event happened at a Sunday evening service. I was listening to the sermon and I remember the text so well – in fact I love to quote it: For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver or gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1 v 18-19) Christ spoke to my heart and said I died for you personally, That moment I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, I knew what I had to do I must be obedient to the Lord and be baptized (Acts 2 v 38) I walked to the back of the Church and asked to be baptized. The Church heard my testimony and not long afterwards I was baptized.

I can say I was blind I now I can see (John 9 v 25) The Lord saved me for his glory and now he wants me to Love him, glorify him and serve him. (Ephesians 2 v 8-10) Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord (Psalm 150 v 6)

Testimony – Pastor Tony Bickley

I was born in 1951 into a working class family in Small Heath, Birmingham. My childhood was unremarkable, except for the shameful fact that by the age of seven I was a persistent truant from school.

There had been no noticeable Christian influence in my life. As was the practice of most working class families, we took in Sunday newspapers. After breakfast, my second action on a Sunday morning would be to seek out the salacious contents of the more sensational rags. As the 1960s wore on, I was increasingly aware of the hippy movement in America and its use of drugs. I remember watching their torchlight march by night across the hills of San Francisco, on a 10 inch television set. This was the life I wanted! These years saw me continuing to escape school discipline, and in my 15th year I had my first personal encounter with sex and drugs. The pull of money and possessions had little power over me; my energies were spent in the pursuit of those other two pleasures. By the time I was 18, all my friends could be found in the drug-taking community. It satisfied every craving in my flesh.

This state of affairs continued until I became a Christian in 1984. Drug culture Surprisingly, I maintained a tenuous belief in God and the deity of Jesus Christ. Even in my teens I remember standing one evening at a bus stop and praying, ‘When you are ready, call me and I will come. But, until then, I am just going to carry on as I am’. And this I did to the utmost! I took drugs in an ever-increasing amount over a 15-year period, cannabis  being my favoured choice. But something seemed to keep me back from the more dangerous drugs. Most of my friends died from assorted drug cocktails or their longterm physical effects.

I met my future wife, Liz, when 28, both of us being part of the drug culture. I had known her for about two years. We got married, but it didn’t slow up our drug consumption one bit. To support our habit, I decided the only answer was for me to become a small-time dealer. I was never good at it and any profits made were soon consumed. For nearly three years I continued, until one day a knock came on the door and the drug squad came pouring into my house. The game was up! In January 1984 I found myself in the Magistrates’ Court. However, the offence was deemed too serious to be heard there, and my case was transferred to the Crown Court. By March, I would be in the dock before a judge and jury.

As the day of that court appearance drew nearer, a number of things happened which would change our lives for ever. A friend with previous experience of the court system came to visit me. He told me that my case might be helped if I wrote a letter to the judge, but I took little notice at the time.

The evening before I was due in court, I let my wife go to bed and sat up for a while thinking about the next day. I was expecting the worst and was terrified by what lay before me. I knew I deserved jail, and that this would be the most likely result. What happened next remains an awesome mystery to me. Without warning, I was headlong on the floor crying to a God I hardly knew, and certainly had excluded from my everyday life. I cried, ‘I do not know who you are, or if you really exist, but if you deliver me from this mess, I will serve you for the rest of my life!’

I have no excuse for the bargaining and unbiblical nature of that prayer. But it was prayer, and God was undoubtedly dealing with me. As I stood up, I remembered the words of my friend. I sat down and wrote that letter to the judge, and took it with me next day to court. My case had been moved to the County Court, and Mr Justice Potter who sat there was known for two things, his severity in sentencing and his hatred of drugs. Entering court I asked my solicitor what my chances were. ‘If you get less than a year you will be doing well’, he replied.  The trial was unremarkable until the end. Little evidence was presented, I was, after all, pleading guilty. The judge began with the words, ‘Of course, if a man is found guilty of dealing in drugs, a prison sentence is the obvious penalty…’ Any last glimmer of hope faded, and I sat there waiting to hear how long my sentence would be. Then came his summing up.

‘Mr Bickley,’ he said, ‘I do not normally take any notice of letters sent to me. I find them irrelevant and simpering. But this one is different. For the first time, someone has told me why they have done what they have done instead of seeking an escape. You have simply told me why’. After my prayer the previous evening, I had written the truth in my letter: that I was guilty; and that I was doing what I did because it was the best way I could find to get through life; the people I sold to were friends and users; I did not deal to strangers or children; I bought in bulk for practical and not profiteering reasons. I am  still baffled, however, by the effect my letter had upon him. I was guilty as charged, but it was as if the whole atmosphere in court changed. Justice Potter looked at me and said, ‘Mr Bickley, I am not going to send you to jail, nor am I going to give you a suspended sentence. ‘I cannot discharge you; this is far too serious for that. I will give you two years probation, and, if after twelve months your probation officer is satisfied, I will discharge you then’.

I was free to go! As I left the courtroom, it was like walking on air. But then, as I sat in the bus, the weight of it all came home — a much higher judge must be at work. Indeed, when my probation officer went to obtain my discharge twelve months later, Justice Potter said to him, ‘I will never know why I let this man go, but as I promised so shall I do’.

Many things happened between March and July that year. Then, one Sunday morning in the summer, I awoke with the intention of going to church. When my wife asked why, I replied that I just didn’t know, but felt I ought to.

I went to what turned out to be a high Church of England, not knowing the difference between any of the churches. I found myself in a room full of people who simply ignored me, and I was no further on. But profound things were happening inside me which I just couldn’t understand, though my feelings were strong. I ended up praying, ‘I don’t know what to say or how to do this, but I know that something is happening in my life, and if it happens to me and not to my wife, then there will be a problem. Can you bring Liz too?’

That week I began to watch a moving presentation of the life of Jesus on television, and though I now have misgivings about men playing the part of Jesus, the experience was a revelation, not only to me but to my wife, who wept as she sat with me. Liz came to me and said, ‘A strange thing has happened to me. I have begun to pray!’ After this, we sought to find out more about Jesus, by praying and reading the Gospels. But all our attempts to find a suitable church ended in failure, until the evangelist Billy Graham came to Birmingham later that summer and preached the gospel. Under the sound of that Word, as man and wife we made our confession of sin together and our commitment to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

Institutional churches had failed us, but God in his sovereign purpose was determined to hone his truth into our hearts. His hand was upon my life, delivering me from sin, death and hell; and now, in fulfilment of my first faltering promise, I wanted to serve him for the rest of my life. I was once a man you may well have crossed the road to avoid, a drug-dealing lout who had no interest in the things of God. I was a lost sinner, in need of God’s grace, but that grace he sent to me in his dear eternal Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.