godo books
Goldsmith, Martin. (2000). Jesus and His Relationships.  
United Kingdom: Paternoster Press. 99 pages.

The life of the church and the lives of the disciples of the Christian faith should model after the life of Jesus Christ.  How should the church and Christians be educated to begin and progress on the pilgrimage toward Christ-likeness?  It should begin with a study on Christ. The study on Christology, inevitably follows the tradition of focussing on the person of Christ and the work of Christ which Martin Goldsmith disagrees.  He questions the traditional approach of dividing Christ into two convenient components for capturing the whole spectrum of understanding the doctrine of Christ.  Instead, his approach is to look "at Jesus Christ through the lens of his relationships and to use his relationships as the basis for understanding God, the Christian life, mission and the life of the church" (p. 2).  The book is a series of lectures on the relationships of Christ delivered by the author who was the guest lecturer at the prestigious Easneye Lectures at All Nations Christian College in June 1998.

Knowing God begins with an examination on Christ's relationship within the Trinity.  In the first chapter, the intricate understanding of how the three persons with separate identities are inseparably interrelated in the Trinity is discussed in the light of Scripture and lessons drawn from theology and mission history.  It aims to correct the simplicity of summarizing the Father as the creator, the Son as the saviour and the Holy Spirit as the sanctifier because the New Testament does not allow separating the three persons by their respective functions (p. 12).  The chapter also provides insights into answering questions often posed by people of other faiths,  "What is the nature of God?" "Is God knowable?"  " Can God exist if we cannot see Him?"  To the followers of Jesus Christ, the author reminds them that the diversity, unity and equality relationships in the Trinity calls for rethinking on the practice of homogeneous principle in cross-cultural church planting, reexamining the model of leadership structure in the church and repairing relationships between churches.

The meaning of Christian friendship and discipleship is traced through the relationships of Jesus to his followers in chapter two. It portrays the divinity of Jesus and the human Jesus who calls His followers, "friends" (p. 27) and the growth of this privilege relationship is maturing through obedience and patterning their lives after His life.    In mission, it strongly implies that the "missionary task therefore is not just to make converts, not just to call people to salvation. . . . The work of mission is not only on evangelism and church planting; it is not complete until people become disciples of Jesus in obedience to His word and in humbly learning from him" (p. 35).  Included in this chapter, his view on gradation in Jesus' relationship may spring as a surprise to many and uneasiness to some when he says, "We believe that Jesus was perfect in every way, including in his relationships. . . . And yet we see that his is closer with some of his followers than with others, although his love is perfect for them all" (pp. 26-27).  Likewise, he holds the view that in "our relationships we shall grow in intimacy and openness; so with different people we shall relate at varying levels of closeness. It is unrealistic and not in accordance with the pattern of Jesus himself to expect that our love for all sisters and brothers will lead to immediate closeness and openness together" (p. 27).  It does show the human side of Jesus but it challenges the delicate balance of grading relationships without crossing the line of favourtism or prejudice.

How should the church and Christians relate to their opponents or enemies?  The third chapter is devoted to this issue and relevant passages in the Scripture are expounded to illustrate learning the art of relating to difficult people from the Master's example.  The final chapter looks at Jesus' relationship to the Jews, Samaritans and the Gentiles.  Christ's ministry to these three distinctive groups is an imperative statement to His church and followers that "Jesus breaks down all ethnic and other barriers within the body of his followers. The church of God dare not allow racial prejudice or narrow ethnic pride (or any other status distinction which is divisive)" (p.98) and,

"Jesus wants people of all backgrounds to come into relationship with him.  Therefore as his servants we are called to pray and work in his mission to all people everywhere. Worldwide mission is not an optional extra for the Christian church; It is essential if we are to relate to Christ and share his mind and heart" (pp. 99).

These words are declared with a personal conviction from the author, a Jew who is active in ministering to Jews and non-Jews for Christ.

The book is not a complete work on Christology.  It is a useful resource to begin a guided study on relationships in the life and work of Christ and what that means to living the Christian life with Christ as the Saviour and Lord,  building the church community with Christ as the Head of the Church and doing the work of mission with Christ as the Lord of the Harvest.  In commemorating the events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the book is recommended for reflective thinking on the privilege of being related to Christ who was sacrificed for our sake. And not forgetting, the commitment to count the cost of following Him,

"Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life and all"
by Rev. Isaac Watts  in
"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross".

(Reviewed by Dr Ng Peh Cheng)

The chapel service on Wednesday, 16 April was conducted by staff of BGST. Each chose a hymn to reflect on what the Holy Week meant to them. For meditation on the Word, Dr Quek shared insights from Colossians 3:1-2.

Next week we begin a new series of chapels in which we will invite our students, both local and overseas, to share about themselves and their churches. Here is the schedule:

  • 23 April - Paul Kendagor & Bible Christian Faith Church, Kenya

  • 30 April - Matthew Yap (& Pastor Jeffrey Tay) - Promised Land Evangelical Centre, Singapore

  • 7 May - Mathews Abraham and St Thomas Evangelical Church of India

We wish all our readers a blessed Easter.
As we celebrate the resurrection from the dead of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
may you experience the new life in Christ.
May we live victioriously in Christ
in a world of clashing ideologies,
alluring, and sinful lifestyles,
"Through God we shall do valiantly!"

  1. Course commencing next week. "Communication Skills for Speakers & Church Leaders" by Rev Ng Seng Chuan, 23 April, 7.30-9.30pm.
  2. "Introduction to Church History"  1st Tutorial starts this Saturday, 19 April, 6.00-7.30pm.

A Blessed Birthday to ...

Rev Joseph Dakhum 14/4

Mr Yong Teck Meng 14/4

Mdm Grace Yap 14/4

Mr Ng Beng Hong 14/4

Mrs Reine Teo 16/4

Ms Therma Cheung 17/4

Mr Leslie Tsen 17/4

Mr David Chan 18/4

Mr Kang Cheng Guan 18/4

Mr Chew Soon Lee 19/4

Dr Lee Soon Tai 19/4

Mr Lee Soon Yong 19/4

Dr Jeffrey Lum 19/4

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This page is updated on 17 Apr 2003 by Leong Kok Weng.
   Apr 2003