Monthly News & Updates--and Peter Walker!
Dear Friend in Christ,
As Spring unfolds, we in Virginia are just beginning see trees and plants that have been in hibernation coming out in glorious blossom and flowers. Soon we will see leaves and, eventually, even fruit. Having spent almost ten years in a place with year-round Summer, I am enjoying watching the changing landscape all around me.
However, as in Genesis, so now, gardens require work. First, we removed grass, rocks and roots to prepare a flower bed. Then, we dug manure and sand into the clay. Next weekend, we may start work on a vegetable plot. Because the nights are still cold, we only began to plant a few days ago. There was and is SO MUCH PREPARATORY WORK to do! I am very grateful for family who work with me and do those things I am not strong enough to manage.
Gardening reminds me of Eccl 4:9-12 and our experience in EFAC.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
During last year's relaunch, we saw much encouragement and phenomenal growth. Since January, growth has continued, but it has been "underground", while the EFAC plant gathers strength and organizes itself. There is a need for implementing procedures, raising funds, and much more. As a result of the success of last year, this year the workload is even heavier. It could be overwhelming. But, the Lord has provided: more and more people are coming alongside us and the EFAC "plant" continues to grow and produce blossom. We are confident that, with our roots firmly entrenched in the Scriptures, EFAC will grow to a tree that covers the entire Anglican world.
But, we cannot do it alone. The staff: Richard, Caroline, Peter, and Julia, cannot do it all. The Executive Committee: Keith, Henry, Vijay, Stephen, Seth, and Richard, cannot do it all. The trustees cannot do it all. The Friends of EFAC board cannot do it all. The General Secretary's Advisory board cannot do it all. But, when we all work together, with Jesus as the foreman, we can do all that is needful
And God is able to give you more than you need, so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause. 2 Cor 9:8
Notice, in the verse, that the Lord gives us more than enough--and exactly what we need. His blessing and brothers and sisters to work with and hold us up. We always focus on Jesus, but it is also good to notice the blessings He gives us in people. We will do this over the next several months. For example, EFAC-Nigeria is assisting in development of Chapters in other West African nations. And, a bishop from Burundi is assisting with translation of the EFAC Chapter Start-up Instruction Manual into French. Many hands make light work. This month, we will be learning more about the Director of the Theological Resource Network, Rev. Dr. Peter Walker.
I hope you enjoy the April EFAC newsletter, maybe whilst sitting in your garden. If you do, consider sharing the blessing and forwarding it to a friend--the newsletter, not the garden. And, of course, we wish you an Happy and Blessed Easter!
Rev. Dr. Peter Walker
The Rev. Dr. Peter Walker joined EFAC as the Director of the Theological Resource Network (TRN) about 17 months ago. With a master's degree in classics, a PhD in early church history, and having worked as an ordained pastor in England, a Biblical Studies professor at Trinity School of Ministry in the USA, and a New Testament tutor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, Peter has the well-rounded experience needed to head up EFAC's TRN.
But, that is not all that is required--the Lord's servant must reflect His glory, being made in His image. According to Richard Crocker, EFAC General Secretary, Peter brings much learning, a concern for the truth, prayerfulness, a wealth of ideas, and marked humility to the table. Caroline, who also works on the EFAC team, has noticed that Peter has a gift for teaching, a deep love for Jesus and His Word, and an ability to overcome obstacles which might hinder others. Julia is in regular contact with Peter regarding EFAC and other publishing and enjoys Peter's enthusiasm as well as his other gifts. We are grateful to God for the privilege of working with this servant.
Another characteristic of Peter is that he is BUSY and he appears to be busy EVERYWHERE! In 2018, Peter led several tours of the Holy Land, including two EFAC tours at the time of GAFCON 2018.
If you would like to join him, just
Recently, Peter has been working with local leaders on development of EFAC chapters in Uganda and Kenya. He is planni
a Theological Resource Network consultation in Kampala (June 2019), called “Moral Leadership in Political and Economic Life.” Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, chairman of the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission, will address the conference. He will draw first on the biblical resources and, indeed, has already released a Bible study guide to help address corruption in Kenya. The conference, of 12-15 theologians drawn from six African nations, will be concerned to address, theologically and practically, issues of relevance to the life of the Church in East African society—in particular supporting moral leadership in political and economic life.
And, in his spare time, Peter is editing "Life in Christ" by John Stott (see below) and working on his own books, a few of which are highlighted below.
- The Weekend that Changed the World: The Mystery of Jerusalem’s Empty Tomb
- In the Steps of Jesus: an illustrated guide to the places of the Gospels
- In the Steps of Saint Paul: an illustrated guide to Paul’s journeys
- The Jesus Way: The Essential Christian Starter-Kit
- The Lion Guide to the Bible
- The Story of the Holy Land: a visual history
Several of these books will be re-released in a revised version in the near future; and Peter has also done the filming for a documentary on the life of Jesus, which should appear in 2020; watch this space!
Finally, if you want to get to know Peter's heart in his own words, keep reading, and you will see that he believes Jesus is in charge!
In Christ, Our Life-Giver
edited by Peter Walker
Extract 3 of Life in Christ
by John Stott, to be re-published by Langham Publishing in 2019.*
Paul describes himself as “a man in Christ” (2 Cor. 12:2) and refers to members of the Christian community in Rome as being either “in Christ Jesus” or “in the Lord” (Rom 16:1–16). Clearly, he does not mean that we are located inside Christ, but rather that we are in a very close personal relationship with him. This is the type of relationship Jesus illustrated with the allegory of the vine and the branches (John 15:4, 5). Even more strikingly, Jesus prays that we may be as personally related to the Father and the Son as they are to each other (John 17:21-23). Just as a branch is united to a tree, and just as the Father and the Son are united in the Trinity, so Christians are to be united to Jesus Christ. Such a relationship is a vital, organic, intimate union with Jesus Christ, involving a shared life and love.
Union with Jesus Christ
There are three important aspects of this union with Christ which we need to consider.
First, union with him is indispensable to our Christian identity. Nobody is a Christian without it. The New Testament definition of a Christian is a person who is “in Christ.” Baptism and Holy Communion, church membership, creed and conduct are all part of living as a Christian, but they can form an empty casket from which the jewel has disappeared. The jewel is Jesus Christ himself. To be a Christian is primarily to live in union with Jesus, as a result of which baptism, belief and behaviour slot naturally into place.
Secondly, union with Christ is central to the New Testament gospel. The expressions “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” and “in him” occur 164 times in the letters of Paul. So Dr James Stewart can conclude: “The heart of Paul’s religion is union with Christ. This, more than any other conception – more than justification, more than sanctification, more even than reconciliation – is the key which unlocks the secrets of his soul. . . . In Paul’s view everything is gathered up in the one great fact of communion with Christ.”
Thirdly, union with Christ is a unique emphasis among the world’s religions. No other religion offers its adherents a personal union with its founder. Bishop Stephen Neill puts it well:
Christianity is not the acceptance of certain ideas. It is a personal attitude of trust and devotion to a person. That person is believed to be alive and accessible to all . . . It is this intimate and personal relationship of trust, devotion and communion which is the very heart of the Christian faith.
In Ephesians 1:3 Paul blesses God for blessing us with every conceivable blessing “in Christ.” So if we are ourselves “in Christ”, every spiritual blessing from God the Father becomes ours. Let us look at the three major blessings outlined in this letter.
By Rev Dr Peter Walker
Is any one in charge of our crazy world? When things around us—in our own personal ‘world’ or the wider ‘world’ of our nations and their politics—are confusing or even dangerous, it is tempting to ask the question, “Is anyone in control?”
Saint Paul would have answered with a resounding “Yes!” Imagine if Paul had been invited to preach at your local church on 21
April 2019 (i.e. Easter Day!)? What might have been his chosen topic? We hardly need to guess: that Jesus, risen from the dead, is the true Lord of the whole world.
That’s precisely the message we see in the opening verses of Romans:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul moves on quickly from talking about himself to the real point: that 27 years earlier in April AD 30 God had done something remarkable outside the walls of Jerusalem that now revealed the identity of the person He had appointed to be in charge of His world—Jesus, his Son. God’s act in raising Jesus bodily from the grave was, amongst many other things, a public declaration that a new ruler had appeared on the world’s stage: Jesus is the Lord!
Moreover, this ruler had good credentials: his coming had been predicted by ancient prophets; he was an authentic descendant in the royal line of great King David; and he had fulfilled the job description (albeit in some surprising ways) of being the Jewish ‘Messiah’, the One anointed by God (the ‘
According to Psalm 2, he was not just the ruler of the people of Israel, but also thereby the One who would be given the ‘nations’ as his ‘inheritance’ (Psa. 2:8). Jesus is the Royal King of the whole world!
A few years later (March AD 60) Paul would himself arrive in Rome, and his message to the capital city of the ancient world would have been exactly the same—but now with an even sharper, more ‘political’, point. For there was a young man in his twenties, called Nero, who as the imperial Caesar (since AD 54) had effectively been appointed as the lord over the Roman world. And, in the early 60’s, this power was evidently beginning to “go to his head”. When Paul was brought for trial before him, we can well imagine the inevitable clash: Nero thought
was ‘lord’ of the world, but Paul declared that “No,
In confusing times or dark and dangerous days, we need to hold on—tenaciously, as did Paul—to that same truth: Jesus is the Lord. But we must remember: he’s not just in control, he’s also in charge. He is to be obeyed. That’s why Paul goes on immediately to say that his apostolic task is to call people ‘to the
that comes from faith for his name’s sake’ (v. 5). That’s why he describes the Roman believers as ‘called to
to Jesus Christ’ (v. 6) and ‘called to be his
people’ (v. 7).
Later chapters in Romans might then be seen as an outworking of these three ‘callings’: because we have been ‘redeemed’ by his blood (3:24-25;
1 Cor. 6:20), we are now
by a new Master whom we are to
not by our own unaided efforts, but through the more radical surgery of dying to self (6:5-8; 11-14; 7:4-6) and then being inhabited, filled and led by that ‘Spirit of holiness’ (1:4), which the Risen Jesus alone can impart into our lives (8:1-16). Romans is telling us that Jesus is now actively exercising his rule over the world—at least in part—through working by his Holy Spirit in and through his servants as they walk in this ‘obedience of faith’.
Are we those who accept this challenge? Or do we sometimes resent this call to ‘bow the knee’ under Jesus’ just and kindly rule?
John Stott in his chapter on the prepositional phrase ‘
Christ” in his book
Focus on Christ
(which we are currently serializing in the EFAC monthly newsletter) found himself returning again and again to what he calls this ‘simple question’:
Is Jesus Christ the Lord of the Church, so that it submits to his teaching however unpalatable, or is the Church the lord of Jesus Christ so that it manipulates his teaching in order to make it palatable? … Is the Church “over” or “under” Christ?
Would it not be a great thing if all of us who subscribe to the EFAC vision were also those who were fully submitted to Christ? And what if there were such people—in EFAC ‘chapters’ all around world—who could be relied on to be the agents of Jesus’ will in their location? We have good news. There are! And so, EFAC is more than a
but a real
for good in the world. Let us all determine to be even more
, that is, practising the ‘obedience of faith’.
May EFAC, during this coming Easter season and until Jesus comes again, be an organization through which the Risen Jesus can manifest his rule over the world that is, after all, truly his!
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