The Seven Churches by Sydney Maxwell; published privately; price £6.00. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.
Many on both sides of the Atlantic will remember fondly Sydney Maxwell, who was called home in November, 1993. This book, based on oral teaching he gave, is issued in memory of our brothers ministry. It is evident that a great deal of effort has been expended to convert the oral ministry into the format of this 149-page paperback. This effort has not been in vain. Only occasionally was the reviewer reminded that the ministry was delivered orally in the first instance.
The exposition of the seven letters the Lord sent to seven assemblies in Asia Minor is firmly based on the threefold division of the book set out in Revelation 1.19: " the things which thou has seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter". The author finds in the letters ministry for the day in which those assemblies were responsible and so, by extension, to all assemblies gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus. He sees the seven as also providing "a panoramic view of the whole church period", in which connection he provides a parallel in the seven kingdom parables of Matthew 13 and the history of the Kings of Israel.
The author sets forth with clarity his conviction that the "angels" of the assemblies are angels, not men. Observing that the promises to the overcomers are promises which every Christian could claim, his conviction is that the term "overcomer" is not used to distinguish saint from saint, but refers to every believer. The author has reached his own conclusions on other issues too: the Lord entitled "the Amen", he suggests, tells that in Him God has finalised everything; the four anchors of Acts 27.29 would point us to "the apostles doctrine and fellowship and breaking of bread and prayers" (Acts 2.42).
The Seven Churches presents truth that is not taught as often at present as it was in previous generations. It will provide light and encouragement to saints of all ages.
Be Angry and Sin Not by Warren Henderson; published Gospel Folio Press; price £6.50. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.
The title of this book should be a timely reminder to every reader that Christian behaviour ought not to be marked by episodes of uncontrolled anger. The sub-title, taken from Ephesians 4.26, reminds us that even if we do become angry, we must ensure that anger does not lead to sin, and not let the sun go down on our wrath.
The author has observed the rise in anger counselling in society, and detects that this is an indicator of "a self-seeking culture". The incidents of road rage and other sudden bursts of anger, often culminating in violence, may indeed be related to the frustrations of those who have been lulled into expecting that every circumstance will be pleasant. The use of alcohol is so often a factor in such incidents.
Be Angry and Sin Not deals with a number of questions about anger. What causes it? Is it permissible for Christians to be angry? Can anger be controlled? These he deals with in uncomplicated language and without indulging in recounting cases he has handled. He takes issue with psychotherapy and other "humanistic forms of anger self-helps". However, occasionally his quotations from other authors and the structure of his treatment of anger-motivated behaviours do lean a little in the direction of psychotherapy.
The sections that owe nothing to psychotherapy deal with Gods anger. Henderson describes from Scripture many divine traits: "slow to anger"; "not soon angry"; not keeping His anger for ever. He also shows when God was, and is, angry. In these helpful sections, however, he does not admit that "indignation" may have a particular significance in Gods dealing with men beyond being "greatly displeased". Further consideration of passages dealing with Gods wrath and His indignation might have helped the reader understand that many aspects of those holy divine traits should find no reflection in the believer.
Be Angry and Sin Not is helpful in places. It warns against unruly behaviour. A careful consideration of some key passages of Scripture would have enhanced its value to the reviewer.