Welcome to the Fellowship

Welcome to my blog, which is designed to enlighten and encourage through the inspiration of Holy Scripture, to convey the grace and love of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The blog is conservative in ethos but it is not presented from any particular Christian tradition or church denomination. The daily readings are drawn from my own selection.

Colin Markham, Hythe, Kent, England.

Quotations from Scripture are from the Jerusalem Bible, unless otherwise stated.

*** Recommended websites for current affairs and Bible prophecy ***

Phyllis Nissila on For Such a Time as This (USA) – evangelical Christian
Dr. Steve Turley on YouTube (USA) – conservative libertarian
LifeSite News (Canada) – traditionalist Roman Catholic
Michael Matt on Remnant TV (USA) – traditionalist Roman Catholic
The James Delingpole Channel (UK) – conservative libertarian
Simon Webb on History Debunked (UK) – putting the record straight
New Culture Forum (UK) – populist analysis of culture and politics
Unherd (UK) – alternative voice on politics and culture
John Haller on Fellowship Bible Chapel (USA) – world events and prophecy
Amir Tsarfati on Behold Israel (Israel) – Messianic Jew on Bible prophecy

*** New under the Article tab: A way into prayer by Patrick Purnell ***

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A statement concerning the US Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v Wade

This week I feel moved to make a statement on a vitally important issue, the sanctity of life. This concept is so fundamental to an understanding of the divine-human relationship that it demands to be re-emphasised for the benefit of those who exalt humanity over the supreme authority of God.

In this week’s Gospel reading from John 4, Christ declares: ‘God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth’ (v. 24). Christ offers the woman at the well water that will become a spring of water within. He was pointing to the Holy Spirit, which when conferred becomes an indwelling source of God’s transforming grace, the same grace that was present at the epic of Creation when God created humankind, male and female, to procreate and fill the earth, that issues in a living breathing infant cradled in its mother’s arms with its singular characteristics and potential. He created man to be master of all that he surveyed but within moral and spiritual parameters. Man must not overstep his bounds and attempt to usurp God’s prerogative to define good and evil, he is only to distinguish good from evil. He must not decree life and death and he must not kill (Exodus 20.13). When Abel was slain by his brother Cain, his blood cried out to God from the ground (Genesis 4.10).

Man is to cherish life because it is a gift of God, granted out of an immensity of love, a love that knows no limits, a love that is never withdrawn even when spurned by the recipient, a love that remains present when a man strays into the barren wasteland of unbelief, a love that powerfully consoles when the sting of adversity tears apart the human soul.

Human life is a miracle, each birth magnifying God’s omniscience and unspeakable power, each child radiating an innocence that over the course of history became distorted and marred by human intransigence, reflecting the original sin of Paradise. But now redemption has been conveyed to mankind through the Cross. In the Light of Christ we are able to reach to the heights of perfection, encapsulated in the Beatitudes. We are, each of us, to become the new Adam and the new Eve, free from the taint of presumption, free from the urge for autonomy, free to roam at large in the Kingdom into which we are called to be God’s children. We are destined to be children who love our Maker and our neighbour with equal measure (Mark 12.28-34). Through the cross and resurrection of Christ we have freedom from the stain of sin to walk in His presence and take to ourselves the joy of salvation and eternal life. Who would deny such glory, who would withhold the knowledge of divine grace from another for the sake of selfish convenience? Who would snuff out human life being formed in the mystery of the womb, closing it to the possibility of light and truth and knowledge of God in the panoply of nature, the profundity of the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit? Who would deny the right to life?

When the sanctity of life is reduced to utilitarianism, when abortion is carried out behind the cloak of privacy and the right of a woman over her body, we know that mankind has fallen into a grievous state. No woman has the right to kill, no human being has the right to kill, except in extremis as an act of self-defence. When we consider the God-given spirit of woman-hood to carry and nurture life, from conception to birth, and the privilege of motherhood to release into the world a child of destiny, to teach and guide that child toward a clear understanding life, truth and the Kingdom of God, we realise in the cult of death how degraded and debased the noble state of man has become, the corruption of what it means to be a human being made in the image of God, the unique status of humanity in the great scheme of creation.

The meaning of life, death and the universe is not the invention of man but founded on the ordinances of God the creator, whose power is infinite and of cosmic dimensions. When man attempts to usurp the throne of God he reaches into infinity, into forbidden realms, and condemns himself to perdition. The ultimate sin is to deny God and His love, His compassion and His forgiveness. The ultimate crime is to murder a fellow human being, to extinguish that which God has deemed good and necessary to tend the garden of nature and to advance mankind in the most benign and judicious manner. These high ideals are abandoned in a devastating moment, in a wilful act of evil, when a foetus is excised from the womb, when a child of God is denied the right to be born, to mature and to flourish in this beautiful world.

Colin Markham, FSP
1 July 2022

I refer readers to Remnant TV for a statement by Archbishop ViganĂ³ on Roe v Wade. See also LifeSite News for an interview given by the Archbishop to Steve Bannon covering a range of global issues.

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Friday 1st July:
Romans 14.1-23 / Psalm 119.1-8

Saturday 2nd July:
Romans 15.1-21 / Psalm 117

Daily readings for Week 27

Sunday, 3rd July:
Ezekiel 47.1-12 / Psalm 84.1-5, 10-12 / John 4.1-42

Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows….Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. – Ezekiel 47.9, 12

Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life. – John 4.14

Monday 4th July:
1 Corinthians 1.1-9 / Psalm 96.1-6

Tuesday 5th July:
1 Corinthians 1.10-31 / Psalm 33.4-12

Wednesday 6th July:
1 Corinthians 2.1-16 / Psalm 16.1-8

Thursday 7th July:
1 Corinthians 3.1-23 / Psalm 94.1-4, 10-15

Friday 8th July:
1 Corinthians 4.1-21 / Psalm 138.1-end

Saturday 9th July:
1 Corinthians 5.1-13 / Psalm 68.1-6

The Holy Spirit

God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4.24

Read: John 4.15-24

Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well as those that have been gathered by us from the Holy Spirit concerning him. First, who on hearing the titles of the Spirit is not lifted up in soul? He is called “Spirit of God” (Matthew 12.28), “Spirit of truth who issues from the Father” (John 15.26), “resolute spirit” (Psalm 51.12). His proper and peculiar title is “Holy Spirit,” which is a name especially appropriate to everything that is incorporeal, purely immaterial, and indivisible. So our Lord, when teaching the woman who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible, said “God is spirit” (John 4.24).

On our hearing, then, of a spirit, it is impossible to form the idea of a nature circumscribed, subject to change and variation, or at all like the creature. We are compelled to advance in our conception to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, generous of his good gifts; to whom turn all things needing sanctification as being watered by his inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but himself lacking nothing; in essence, simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; shared without loss or ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone. Yet it illumines land and sea and mingles with the air. So, too, is the Spirit to everyone who receives him, as though given to him alone. And yet he sends forth grace sufficient and full for all humanity, and is enjoyed by all who share him according to the capacity, not of his power, but of their nature.

St. Basil, 329-379

Then the One sitting on the throne spoke: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new’ he said. ‘Write this: that what I am saying is sure and will come true.’ And then he said, ‘It is already done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty. Revelation 21.5-6

See also: Wisdom 7.15 – 8.1

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The purpose of the Fellowship of St. Peter is to promote Christian faith and spirituality. 
The central focus is on the person and work of
Jesus Christ

Christianity in the modern world

As the number of churchgoers dwindle in the western world, Bible-believing Christians need to overcome their differences and consider a form of unity that recognises their common purpose.  It’s time for the faithful remnant to act as a creative minority and voice a unified response. In an atmosphere that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, the goal must be to preserve the orthodoxy of the faith in the face of continuing erosion of religious liberty.

The Fellowship extends a hand of friendship to those who have withdrawn from churches which have aligned themselves with secularism and liberal values, thus fatally compromising the integrity of a faith that is essentially counter-cultural.

We must read the signs of the times.  The era is drawing to a close.  It is time to stand up and be counted as the people of God.  Do not be afraid.  The gathering darkness will not enshroud the light of faith nor quench the flame of truth.  These will remain, along with all those whose steadfast faith shields them in the coming storm.

And Jesus said, ‘behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28.20).

The word of God

The word of God is a powerful force for enlightenment, a necessary counterweight to secular humanism.  The Fellowship seeks to recapture something of the simplicity and vitality of the church in apostolic times, before the purity of the Christian message was corrupted by spurious doctrines.  The emphasis is on spirituality that supports the life and ministry of Christians everywhere who believe in the power and dynamism of the word of God.

The Bible speaks to the world.  All Christians have something of interest and value to share through their witness.  The aim of the Fellowship is to promote prayer, Bible study and spiritual reflection which will bear fruit in daily lives.  These disciplines can form the basis of a way of life that requires a strategic withdrawal from the mainstream.

Let the word of God fill your hearts and minds, let it guide and inspire you and refresh you like a clear mountain stream.  Be still with God in prayer.  Be an instrument of his loving purposes, a purveyor of peace, and let your peace rest on all those you encounter. For those in need of compassion and healing, heed their cares and bind their wounds.  Live in uprightness and modesty and exercise restraint in your material needs.  Guard your tongue, practise discernment, speak only words of counsel and encouragement, the words of Christ.

Your eyes, hands and impulses should be those of Christ.  Pray always for strength and enlightenment.  Praise and thank God and place into his care your needs and those of others.

Bible.  Prayer.  Witness.  These are the three principles on which the Fellowship is founded.

By his divine power, he has given us all the things that we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. In making these gifts, he has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come: through them you will be able to share the divine nature and to escape corruption in a world that is sunk in vice. But to attain this, you will have to do your utmost yourselves, adding goodness to the faith that you have, understanding to your goodness, self-control to your understanding, patience to your self-control, true devotion to your patience, kindness towards your fellow men to your devotion, and, to this kindness, love. If you have a generous supply of these, they will not leave you ineffectual or unproductive: they will bring you to a real knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But without them a man is blind or else short-sighted; he has forgotten how his past sins were washed away. Brothers, you have been called and chosen: work all the harder to justify it. If you do all these things there is no danger that you will ever fall away. In this way you will be granted admittance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1.3-11).

stpeter

Why Peter?

Peter represents Everyman in all his frailty, vulnerability and confusion.  He was headstrong yet inspired, well-meaning but impetuous.  His heart was in the right place but he didn’t always live up to his own rhetoric.  He triumphed over his weaknesses by the grace of God and saw the perfect vision of Christ and what that vision meant for the church and the world.

Peter was a leading figure during Christ’s walk on earth.  He occupied a position of seniority amongst the disciples.  He was there at all the major events during Christ’s ministry and in the final days leading up to the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  It was to Peter and his fellow apostles that Jesus entrusted the legacy of truth enshrined in his teachings, the keys of the kingdom.  After Pentecost Peter and his companions went out to the world to proclaim the Gospel.

Acts of the Apostles.  Peter became a leading light in the early days of the church, the apostle to the Jews living in the diaspora.  His authority in the nascent Christian community has to be viewed against the ascendancy of Paul as apostle to the Gentiles, a position that gave Paul equal authority in the direction of missionary work.

In terms of Peter’s primacy of leadership, however, “….one should not look in Peter or in the primitive church for the developed conception of the primacy which appears no earlier than the third century.  The development of power possessed by the church and by Peter into monarchical leadership lies outside of biblical theology.” (John McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible)

The Gospel of Mark.  The church historian Eusebius (d. ca. 339) wrote: “Mark, who became Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately, though not in order, all that he remembered of the things said and done by the Lord.  For he had neither heard the Lord nor been one of his followers, but afterwards followed Peter, who used to compose his discourses with a view to the needs of his hearers.”

1 and 2 Peter.  Of the two letters that bear Peter’s name, the first seeks to encourage and strengthen early Christian communities suffering persecution, reminding them of their heritage.  The second has more to do with the dangers of heresy and how Christians can have confidence in the truth of Scripture.  These encouragements and warnings resonate with us living in times of moral decline and religious indifference.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1 Peter 1.3-5).

Peter was martyred in Rome during the Neronian persecutions, probably in the year 64.

Jerusalem Cross

There are various interpretations of the symbolism.  The four smaller crosses are thought to denote either the four gospels or the way the Gospel spread to the four corners of the earth.  In terms of God’s revelation and world history, the city of Jerusalem is of huge political, religious and symbolic importance.  The focus is highlighted in the gospels and in the emergence of the first Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles.  It was from Jerusalem that the apostles scattered to proclaim Christ

Bible translations used

Scripture quotations marked ‘ESV’ are taken from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked ‘JB’ are taken from the Jerusalem Bible, Copyright 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. In this translation ‘Yahweh’ is expressed as ‘Lord’ by kind permission of the publisher.

Scripture quotations marked ‘NJB’ are taken from the New Jerusalem Bible, Copyright 1985 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. In this translation ‘Yahweh’ is expressed as ‘Lord’ by kind permission of the publisher.

The spiritual life

We must keep the Bible open before us.  It is our enlightenment, our source of consolation, our prayer book.  It contains the revelation of God’s purposes in salvation history.  It is the well-spring of all the truth, goodness and wisdom that God wishes to transmit to human beings who he ordained to administer the complexities of the natural world and to carry forward knowledge of salvation history with its outcome in the incarnation of Christ.

The Lord guides and strengthens us, keeping us firmly rooted in the faith. Throughout all the trials we endure in this troubled world, Christ is with us.  The word of God inspires us in various ways, and through the Holy Spirit we gain knowledge, wisdom and discernment, maturing in the faith as citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Remain within the confines of God’s kingdom.  Stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to salvation.  Do not look with longing towards the sunlit hills at every temptation. Too many have trodden the path to destruction, too many have fallen by the wayside.

The Christian life is about being transformed by Christ, being absorbed by him so that his teachings and his very presence guide our every motivation and action.  Christ’s love is mediated through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We follow the leadings of the Spirit in order to renew and deepen our faith.

There is a wonderful symmetry involved in the divine-human relationship.  Christ, the sinless one, is the embodiment of human perfection.  Through his very nature as Son of God he brought mankind nearer to the Father.  Through Christ, God shared in our humanity and he also made it possible for us to share in his divinity.  Christ underwent the ultimate sacrifice to reconcile man to his creator, making it possible for God’s plan of salvation to be brought to completion, inaugurating a New Covenant with mankind.  We need to keep before us the astounding truth of his victory over evil on the Cross, through which mankind gained forgiveness and the freedom to live the gospel life infused with selfless love (cf 1 Corinthians 13.1-13).

Christ established a new reality, that to be justified by faith is a sacred identity.  We are identified as Christians when we accept and appropriate the fullness of Christ.  This requires a heroic response from human beings because it runs counter to human pride, the instinct for autonomy.  The response must be underpinned by contrition and humility and it is brought to perfection by obedience.  Once we take hold of Christ we become his disciples.  Discipleship is a life-long commitment, a transforming friendship with Jesus. (Luke 9.23-26; John 15.14-17).

Christ’s death and resurrection brings to mankind redemption and salvation to eternal life.  Christ has opened the way for us to follow him to the perfect vision, far superior to the limitations and imperfections of our earthly existence.  To consolidate the New Covenant with man, the Father has sent us the power to sustain us on our journey through the snares and pitfalls of this troubled world.  This power is the Holy Spirit (John 14.16, 26).  Christ’s presence is manifested in the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit reminds us of his teachings, works in our conscience when we fail, grants us perception when we read Holy Scripture, inspires us in our prayers and meditations, whispers to us in our silent spaces, strengthens us in times of adversity and provides us with prophetic speech.  The Spirit empowers us in our various ministries and impels us to rise above the banalities and temptations of a world that is hostile to our sacred calling.  (Mark 13.5-13; Romans 12.3-9; 1 Corinthians 12.4-11; Ephesians 4.7-13; James 1.16-18, 3.13-18; 1 Peter 3.13-17, 4.7-19).

The worldwide community of faith

Christians across the world have a common purpose: striving to live the Gospel life in the face of both widespread indifference and open hostility to the teachings of Christ.  The Christian faith is essentially counter-cultural yet many churches are now aligned with secular humanism, thus inflicting upon themselves the fatal wound of apostasy. The enemy is no longer at the gates, he is within the citadel.

For our Spirit-filled life to succeed we are to distance ourselves from the corrupt influences of modern culture (1 John 2.15-17, 5.18-20).  There are to be no half measures, no compromise with evil in any of its forms, no accommodation with other religions.  This detachment is crucially important to safeguard the integrity of the Christian faith.  These are perilous times.  Christianity is under assault from atheistic humanism, the dominant force in social and political culture.  Faced with this threat there is to be no weakening on our part.  We are to profess the faith and demonstrate in our lives the true destiny of humankind, the freedom to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.  There is no higher ideal for man to attain (cf Mark 12.28-34; Romans 13.8-10).

Discipleship

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) appears to portray Christ as the new Moses, but he far exceeds all the prophets and patriarchs of old by his uniquely divine provenance and his destiny as Saviour of the world.  He is not only the promised Messiah, he is also Priest, Prophet and King.  His teachings lead us into the Kingdom of God, into a realm of love, creating a priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2.1-10).  We yearn for the promised homeland above where our labours will be rewarded by eternal peace (2 Peter 3.8-14).

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5.1-12) are a concise presentation of the Christian ethos, describing the blessed virtues essential to life in the Spirit.  They are the supreme ethical and moral guide to Christian life and discipleship, illuminating our path in the human maze.  They set out the Christian way of life, lived in response to Christ through faith.  We strive to uphold values intrinsic to human dignity, stable family life and the maintenance of social order: humility, gentleness, compassion, justice, peace, integrity, courage and witness.  All the blessings of the kingdom are encapsulated in the Beatitudes.

Christ came to fulfil the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5.17-19).  The validity of the Ten Commandments remains (Exodus 20.1-17) and in the Beatitudes Christ describes the spirit in which the Commandments are to be lived out in both church and society.  They exemplify Christian discipleship.  They are echoes of the divine, revealing Christ in his perfection.  They define the inward motivations of integrity and love that characterise discipleship, as well as the blessed rewards of faithful service in Christ’s name.  Our acts of charity and mercy spring from a heart filled with selfless love founded on the teachings of Christ and energised by the Holy Spirit.

The teachings of Christ are uncompromisingly radical.  They are employed to combat philosophies that erode the dignity of man: consumerism (money and possessions bring happiness); relativism (there is no absolute truth); secularism (a world view without God); existentialism (life has no purpose).  In the midst of these evils the Gospel shines like a beacon of truth.  And through it all we persevere in the name of Christ, despite the difficulties we encounter on our journey of faith (1 Peter 4.12-19).  God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us in times of adversity (1 Peter 5.10-11).

Our faith is a wonderful gift to possess and convey to others, and discipleship places on us a sacred responsibility.  It is a joy and a holy privilege to walk with Jesus, to be in his loving presence in a life of Christian service (Luke 10.23-24; John 15.1-17; Ephesians 4.7-16).

Further reading

Steve Chalke & Alan Mann   Different eyes: the art of living beautifully.  Zondervan, 2010.

Rod Dreher   The Benedict option: a strategy for Christians in a post-Christian nation. Sentinel, 2017.

Mark Hitchcock The prophecy collection: three works in one – The end times survival guide; The coming apostasy; Russia rising. Tyndale Momentum, 2021.

Cameron Lee    Unexpected blessing: living the countercultural reality of the Beatitudes. IVP, 2004.

Simon Ponsonby More: how you can have more of the Spirit when you already have everything in Christ. David Cook, 2009.

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