Alliance Articles


The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, a letter to a missionary church only one year old, was the first book of the New Testament to be written. All scholars agree that 1 Thessalonians is older than Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and all other parts of the New Testament.

For background, let us look at Acts 17. Acts 17:4 says that some who heard Paul preach in the synagogue at Thessalonica believed, plus a great many of the devout Greeks, not a few of the leading women, and Jason. This gives us a cross section of a missionary effort and a missionary church. There were first of all some who believed; this means "some Jews." Acts 17:2 shows that when Paul arrived in a town, he didn’t form his own little separatist group. He always took his message first of all to the synagogue -- the Jewish synagogue -- and in this case he stirred up such a fuss that he was almost killed (Acts 17:5). But even this didn't deter him. In the next town we find him again in the synagogue (Acts 17:10), preaching without compromise. Paul was not a separatist, except from sin. He would go anywhere, preach anywhere. He never worried about the auspices under which he worked, or with whom he was involved, as long as he could preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.


A Word on September 11, 2001

"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." Hebrews 11:13

Well, if you're anything like me you have probably felt something like an alien and a stranger on earth this week, maybe not for all the same reasons that the writer to the Hebrews meant that, but certainly that's how I've felt. I know that I've been distracted this week. I've had a hard time concentrating on things since Tuesday. And I know that many of you have felt similar things. Some here this morning work in the executive branch, others in the judicial, others in the legislative branch, and others are in the military. Most of us, if we don't know people who were directly affected by the events on Tuesday, know people who do. Some sitting here this morning do.


La Suficiencia de la Palabra de Dios

Tú, sin embargo, persiste en las cosas que has aprendido y de las cuales te convenciste, sabiendo de quiénes las has aprendido; y que desde la niñez has sabido las Sagradas Escrituras, las cuales te pueden dar la sabiduría que lleva a la salvación mediante la fe en Cristo Jesús.
2 Timoteo 3:14 y 15

En una mañana como ésta es una tentación recordar el pasado respecto al cuarto de siglo de ministerio que he tenido en la Décima Iglesia Presbiteriana. Y lo haría, excepto por el hecho de que otros lo han estado haciendo todo el fin de semana y de una manera mucho más cortes de lo que yo mismo podría –al menos si tuviera que ser honesto. Yo podría revelar muchas cosas de las que otros no son conscientes, incluyendo las desilusiones y los fracasos. Pero eso echaría a perder las cosas, y de esto no es lo que este se trata este fin de semana. Ciertamente, no es lo que un servicio de adoración como este debería buscar.


A Statement of Our Situation and Need

As we gather for prayer and to hear God's word tonight, our thoughts are cloudy and our emotions raw. We are still reeling from an unprecedented attack upon our country, and indeed upon the free world. The phrase comes to mind: "a day that will live in infamy." Except that doesn't do it justice.

My father-in-law, a decorated veteran of WWII in the European theater and member of the famed U.S. Third Army, who served in two D-Days and saw the gore of Anzio, said to me this morning. "You know, I feel worse today than after Pearl Harbor." I knew what he meant, though I was not born until almost twenty years after December 7, 1941. You see, we knew, within moments of that fateful attack in Hawaii all those years ago, who had assaulted us and where to find them. Such is not the case today. The events of Tuesday morning have left us all befuddled, fearful, angry, longing for justice, but blindly flailing at a faceless, nameless adversary.


Never Again!

I have been listening to Dimitri Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2 in E Minor, op. 67. It is a vivid depiction of the Nazi death camps. And this past week saw the 60th anniversary of a Soviet army officer (Anatoli Shapiro) and his battalion’s arrival at Auschwitz to discover 7,000 starved and emaciated prisoners left behind when more than 50,000 had been marched out to the snow and almost certain death in the Nazi attempt to cover up the evidence of what was taking place. 1.5 million Jews were exterminated at Auschwitz, a place that has become symbolic of the Nazi holocaust. Shapiro, now 92 still recalls the scene: "We came upon groups of people in striped uniforms. They were no more than skeletons. They were unable to talk. They had a blank look in their eyes," the 92-year-old Shapiro told Reuters.

Auschwitz has left its mark on Europe, particularly Germany. It’s modern reluctance to commit troops in battle, the widespread pacifism, the concern for environment, it’s preoccupation with political correctness-all of these are products of its legacy and involvement in the worst example of genocide in human history. The world, however, has not learned anything. One need only mention the massacre at Srebrenica, the atrocities of Bosnia, the genocide in Rwanda, Saddam Hussein’s gassing of the Kurds, or the present situation in Darfur to realize that man’s inhumanity (behavior in a way that violates the way man was created) to see that evil, great evil is still a reality in the world.


Lord of the Rings: A Rambling Review and Reflection

I went to see the Lord of the Rings (Part One: The Fellowship of the Ring) -the movie adaptation of the first volume of the classic epic mythic trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien (pronounced, according to the BBC Self-Pronouncing Dictionary, "tol-KEEN")- the day after it debuted. I've seen it several times since. I went with tremendous anticipation (having read the cycle from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings to The Silmarillion twice: my brother has read them more than a dozen times!), but also with some trepidation. I was sure that I was going to be disappointed. Alas, my fears were immediately allayed. It was a brilliant picture.

I offer something of a review and something of a reflection here. If you have never read Tolkien, you'll be completely lost by what I'm about to say (just skip to the reflections). So, let me apologize here at the outset and then suggest that you pick up The Hobbit first and then proceed to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It will not be wasted time. Then see the movie.


The Gospel of Love

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16

Because so many Americans watch sports events, some Christians attempt to present a gospel witness in stadiums and arenas. Perhaps you have seen the signs, held up in the crowd or posted on a wall. Most commonly, the signs have this short message: “JN 3:16.” The idea is that people will know or find out that “JN” is shorthand for the Gospel of John and that “3:16” means chapter 3, verse 16. The hope is that great things will happen if people will merely pick up a Bible and read this one verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”


God and the Tsunami - -Theology in the Headlines

The scale of suffering and the magnitude of the disaster in Southeast Asia defy the imagination. Sitting comfortably in our own homes and offices, we can look at the images, video segments, and computer simulations, knowing all the while that, in the nations that encircle the Indian Ocean, the death toll continues to mount.

This much is clear--the direct death toll from this disaster is likely to reach 250,000, and subsequent deaths related to the disaster may drive the total number of deaths to well over half a million. Those numbers are hard to take, but the video images are even harder to see. Satellite pictures taken before and after the massive tsunamis struck unprotected coastlines tell the story. Before the tsunami, a thriving region is clearly visible. In the aftermath, entire towns, villages, and cities have been wiped off the map. A wall of water traveling several hundred miles an hour and reaching the height of a multi-story building slammed into Thailand, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka with devastating force. At least nine nations were affected, with some of the waves bringing destruction as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast.

The magnitude of this disaster is multiplied when we realize that these very areas most devastated by the tsunamis are among the most impoverished and helpless regions of the earth. On December 26, families were washed away, children were ripped from their parents' arms, and suffering beyond description settled upon the earth. Why?


Death and Taxes

This time of year, we might be forgiven the thought that the reference to the "king of terrors" in Job is to the IRS, but in fact it something much worse--death (Job 18:14)! It is Dr. Johnson who is credited with the remark that when a man knows he is going to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates the mind wonderfully. But we live in a society that has sanitized death, removed it from you as much as possible. Increasingly, there are folk in their 30s and 40s who have never seen a corpse. It is all a long way away from the middle ages where paintings and sculptures frequently depicted death. Tombs were adorned with images of naked corpses, their mouth agape, their fists clenched, and their bowels devoured by worms. One of the most popular depictions was the Dance of Death. Death, in the form of a skeleton, appeared as a dancing figure leading away its victims. None could escape its grasp--not the wealthy, or the peasant, or the corpulent monk. An hourglass in the corner served as a reminder that life was swiftly passing away.