Friday, 19 August 2011

Lloyd-Jones' Last Westminster Chapel Sermon

I have been ravishing the Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones books these past four months, and, my, what a profound spiritual blessing these have been to me. I am coming to a renewed appreciation of the Doctor; he was a man way ahead of his time so far as preaching is concerned. His understanding of the human predicament and what the only remedy is, are unsurpassed. What a treasure we have and what a legacy he has left us.

I am currently reading the very last sermon preached by the greatest preacher of the 20th century, DMLJ. This has been a bit emotional for me, but what has impressed me was his consistent testimony to the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Saviour of the world. These were among his final words in that memorable sermon - Christ is the world's Saviour. Hallelujah! This evangelist knew the Gospel message accurately, and he applied it to all men, because it had something real on offer for all who would believe it - everlasting salvation. His heart was thrilled as he proclaimed such a mighty and majestic message.

If you haven't read any or much of the beloved Doctor, then may I encourage you to get hold of some of his volumes of evangelistic sermons, preached at every Sunday evening service in Westminster Chapel, and in Sandfields before that. My, what an evangelist he really was! What a 'messenger sent from heaven.' Thank God for every remembrance of him.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Walk the walk for a change!

It is very strange that in today's confused world and church, a man's credibility is assessed on the basis of his political views, what he may or may not have done or voted in the past! Or, it is based upon which church denomination he belongs to! Or, which papers he reads, or even if he is a member of the Orange Order! This is but a measure of how far the church, including evangelicals, have departed from the Scriptures. They still claim to be 'reformers' within their churches, but where is the evidence? Why are they silent about issues that matter? Why are they not witnessing to the truth of the Gospel within their churches and denominations in a way that brings down the wrath of the liberals and ecumenicals in those churches? These same dumb witnesses - what a contradiction - tolerate theological liberalism, and support those who are taking them down the ecumenical road. They know this is happening, but do they care? Not a bit!

Yet, these same people have the audacity to criticise those who are of a reforming spirit, who know the difference between right and wrong, who can tell good from evil. They sit in their comfy chairs but will not raise a hand to promote fundamental change within the churches - all of them! For these people, it is much more important to keep in with their friends and neighbours and especially the religious authorities, than it is for them to show some genuine concern for the perishing souls that live 'cheek by jowl' with them. They will defend the indefensible, and protect their various establishments at all costs. But they will not become actively involved in the reform of the church to which they belong. Why is this? Why are you so uncaring about the spiritual life of your own church? Why do you not care about the eternal salvation of the lost in your church? Why do you tolerate the bankrupt theological system called liberalism? Why is this poison acceptable to evangelicals today? Why do they not care if there is "death in the pot" that their fellow denominationalists are drinking from? Have they become so hyper-calvinist in their theology that they just do not care about those souls for whom Christ shed His blood and died? Have they no compassion whatsoever for the lost? May God have mercy on their souls, for that is what they need.

But rather than criticise those who do love the church of Jesus Christ on earth, however imperfect she might be, these 'ecclesiastical do-gooders' should get off their backsides and throw their lot in with those who are seeking the reform of the church, and with those who a real concern for the salvation of sinners, whoever they may be.

Will you walk the walk, and not just talk the talk? Such a change is most welcome.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

NO PLACE LIKE ROME? PREPARING FOR THE QUINCENTENARY OF THE GLORIOUS PROTESTANT REFORMATION (1517-2017)

Avoiding Rome’s predictable lies and her inevitable ecumenical deception in the run-up to this event, we unashamedly issue the following statement:

1. The Pope’s religion is not the Christianity of Jesus Christ.

2. The Pope’s church is not the true Church of Jesus Christ.

So, since the Pope may be identified as ‘antichrist’ (as many British theologians have cogently argued in past centuries), conversion to the Roman Catholic Church is a retrograde and tragic step. While the apostate condition of many Protestant Churches (including the ‘feminized’ and ‘sodomized’ Church of England) gives sufficient cause for disillusionment, the Roman option cannot provide a safe or satisfying spiritual home.

As affirmed in the doctrinal declaration Dominus Iesus (2000), Rome claimed to be the only ‘correct’ church. In a more recent decree (2007), we are told that ‘Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century’ cannot be ‘called Churches in the proper sense’. However, Rome’s claim could not be more invalid. The proof is as follows:

I The doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are utterly inconsistent with the plain teaching of the New Testament.
The finality of Christ’s unique sacrifice and His priestly intercession (see Hebrews 9: 28; 10: 11-12) rule out the sacrifice of the mass and a human priesthood. The theory of transubstantiation is an absurd philosophical fiction and utterly detrimental to the simple symbolism of the Lord’s Supper - a memorial of our Saviour’s once-for-all sacrifice. Thus His blood shedding is remembered not repeated, on a table not an altar (hence ministers are pastors not priests); His real presence is spiritual, not physical, in the hearts of His people and not in the bread and wine.

II Justification by faith in Christ’s merit alone (see Romans 5: 1-9) and direct access to Him as sole Mediator (see Matthew 11: 28; 1 Timothy 2: 5) rule out the false, idolatrous and pretentious teaching that Mary is Mediatrix, a ‘female mediator’ through whom we approach our Saviour. Calling our Lord’s mother‘Queen of Heaven’ has turned her into a goddess! The idea that the merits of the faithful are a necessary contribution to their salvation undermines the all-sufficiency of Christ’s merit. Rome’s traditional mistake in making sanctification a part of justification arises from her reliance on the Latin justificare instead of the Greek dikaioo. While the former verb means ‘to make righteous’, the latter means ‘to declare righteous’ by the remission of sins through faith in the blood of Christ (see Romans 4: 5-8; 5: 1, 9). Our pardon is provided by Christ’s sacrificial righteousness alone, imputed to all who trust in Him.

While good works are a necessary and certain fruit of saving faith (see Galatians 5: 6; Ephesians 2: 8-10), their imperfection rules them out from justifying us. Our persons and our performances alike always require pardon. That said, Christian sainthood is the present status of true though imperfect believers (see Ephesians 1: 1-2) not that of dead believers canonised by the Church of Rome.

III Thus purgatory and prayers for the dead (including requiem masses) have no apostolic
warrant.
Those who die ‘in Christ’ have no need of our prayers. Those who die otherwise cannot be helped by them. Besides corrupting Baptism and the Holy Communion, Rome arrogantly added five more supposed sacraments to those commanded by Christ. Her realignment of the Ten Commandments - combining the first two and dividing the tenth - obscure in summary form God’s prohibition of the idolatry of such popular graven images as crucifixes and statues of Mary. Venerating the bones of the saints and other relics breeds superstition. Other distortions of divine truth are no less serious. The Pope’s title ‘Holy Father’ is a blasphemous insult to God the Father (see John 17: 11). His claim to be the ‘vicar of Christ’ is a further insult to the Holy Spirit, Christ’s true representative on earth (see John 14: 16-17). The political claims of a highly fallible Papacy conflict with Christ's words that His kingdom ‘is not of this world’ (John 18: 36). Rome’s entire governmental structure--pope, cardinals, archbishops, etc--has more in common with ancient imperial Rome than the apostolic Presbyterian order of the New Testament.

Rome’s growing ambition to dominate Europe as in the days of the Holy Roman Empire is a re-emerging tyranny to be resisted by individual Christians and national governments alike. Ever since the Reformation, the Papacy has always been opposed to the independence of the United Kingdom. Her arrogance is at odds with Christ’s liberating truth (see John 8: 32, 36; Galatians 5: 1).

IV In addition to theological objections, the track record of Roman Catholicism does not commend itself.
For violent and bloody persecution, no organization can compete with Rome. Since the true Church of Christ is ‘persecuted’ rather than ‘persecutor’, this one consideration alone makes Rome’s claim to ‘correctness’ null and void (see John 15: 20-1; 2 Timothy 3:12). Besides the burnings of the sixteenth-century British reformers, the dreadful cruelties inflicted on the ancient Waldensians, the French Huguenots, the Dutch Protestants and others (including Jews, Muslims and Eastern Orthodox) have never been truly repented of--since the doctrine directing these atrocities remains in tact. Indeed, under another name--The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Inquisition still exists. Current persecution of Protestants in Central and South
America shows no change in Rome’s methods where she has a free hand. The intrigue and corrupting influence of the Jesuits knows no parallel. Vatican complicity in the rise of Hitler and the Nazi holocaust is well attested. The evils of the confessional and the ‘unholy wedlock’ of supposedly celibate priests refute Rome’s sanctimonious image. While marital failure among protestant pastors is to be lamented, is it any wonder that paedophilia and HIV are rife among sexually-frustrated and homosexual Roman priests?

V Considering the post-reformation dogmas of Mary’s immaculate conception (1854), papal
infallibility (1870) and the Assumption of Mary (1950), the Church of Rome is even more apostate than she was in Luther and Calvin’s day. Thus any form of ecumenism on Rome’s terms is nothing but satanic delusion (see 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12). Especially in the wake of Dominus Iesus, when na├»ve and gullible evangelicals, charismatics and others try to persuade us that ‘Rome is changing’, ask them which of her antibiblical dogmas has Rome renounced? Indeed, the late Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was right to say that “The Roman Catholic Church is the devil’s greatest masterpiece.” May all God’s people understand the ‘signs of the times’ and cease not ‘contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). Amen!

Dr Alan C. Clifford,
Pastor, Norwich Reformed Church
www.nrchurch.co.nr

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

No Rod, Parental Shame

The riots in GB cities recently have thrown up the usual responses from politicians and other do-gooders. A "Community pay-back" scheme with offenders wearing luminous vests has been suggested by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Glegg. Other forms of community service have been proposed, but these will come to nothing.
The Bible says the following: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother shame." This ties in with what some angry citizens have been saying, that the problem is lack of parental control and responsibility. Parents must surely get back to basics if their children are to be a blessing to them. They must consider (1) that proper correction in the home is beneficial to the child, the parents, other siblings and to the whole community. Teaching them from a young age the different between right and wrong, good and evil, can only be proper because it educates the conscience of the child. When they transgress, they must be appropriately corrected. If the child heeds the parents' reproof without recourse to the rod, well and good; but if not, then the responsibility rests on the parent to secure and ensure proper behaviour from their child. This produces wisdom. The child that takes the warning will gain wisdom.

(2) Any child that is left to his own inclinations is a child that does not know the right way to live. Such a child will bring shame on his mother and father. He/she will disobey the parents and bring disgrace on their good name. They will cause them needless worry and anxiety, not to mention embarrassment. Left to himself, that child could well end up in prison because he has stolen, or worse, murdered someone. A child does not have the wisdom to stay away from bad company, but does possess the unwisdom that takes them into bad company.

Had the British parents administered the rod in due measure, perhaps their children and young people would not have been involved in those riots.

The Place of Feelings in Calvin's Thought

Calvin asks the 'death row' trainee Gospel ministers to pray for him. But he continues to pray for them, asking that God will make His holy protection effective for them, and that they might ‘feel what care He takes of your salvation.’ Again, the experiential comes to the fore in his closing words.

I sometimes think that we deprive ourselves of much heavenly blessing by not seeking the Lord to allow us to feel His blessings on us, and His presence near us. When God revives His church—
and, my, that is urgently needed at this hour—experience of God’s gracious salvation is magnified. Sinners feel their sin and feel they are under the wrath of God, feel their guilt, feel the judgement of God about to fall on them; and they come to feel the sweetness of Christ’s love for them, feel the Spirit’s power and work in their hearts, feel as if they did trust Christ, and had been born again. Calvin speaks in these terms to these condemned prisoners, but we ought to sue God for an awareness of His lovely presence with us and upon us.

Let us not be content to ‘walk by faith not by sight’ at all times, but let us sue God to give us a sense of His presence among and in us.

The Battlefield

Because the spiritual battle in which we are involved is not ours, but the Lord’s, that in no way implies that we are passive in the whole affair. Not at all. As called men, we are to be active in campaigning for the Lord’s truth. We, too, have the same quarrel to maintain in this evil world, against the enemies of Christ and the Gospel—the same enemies with which these five men had to contend. The battle never changes—it is always the world against God, error against truth, the devil’s agents against God’s servants. It is always the same, and it always will be the same, until Christ returns in splendour and glory.

You see, there are two sides to every spiritual conflict that we find ourselves in—God’s and Satan’s. These are the two great antagonists who are battling it out, where? In your life and mine. And as Calvin reminds us constantly, the outcome of this battle is never in any doubt. GOD MUST WIN! And He does!

Very often in the battle ground of our lives, we are not always aware of what is going on, or why. God and Satan are battling it out in us, as if we were, in one sense, in the wrong place at the
wrong time. Now, it’s no accident that the battle is being fought out in us, for we are already on the Lord’s side, the winning side, the victorious side. If we were no threat to the kingdom of darkness, then our lives would not have been chosen as the battlefield.

Remember Job? What a man and what a story! God and Satan in contention, and Job is chosen by God as the theatre of that war. ‘Through many trials, toils and snares’ poor Job had to come,
including incalculable personal loss, but ‘grace led him home’ to the full enjoyment of God’s fatherly love and kindness, and that triumphantly. Why? Because that’s the kind of God He is. This is His everyday work. And He’s our captain.

Ministerial Support

Calvin describes those who persecuted Gospel ministers as ‘the enemies of the truth.’ Who else would dare have acted in such a way ‘against the Lord and His anointed Servants!’ In profound spiritual blindness, they lifted up their wicked hands against the servants of Christ and the Gospel. Who else but devil-inspired clergy and officials of state would dare to take such action against God’s anointed! Who else but the most hardened against the Gospel of Christ would dare to behave in such a vile manner! Calvin was right—only ‘enemies of the truth,’ however dressed, would stoop to such depravity.

Using such non-PC language would have rung bells of rejoicing in the ears of these five saints. The persecutors were the ‘enemies of the truth,’ and the prisoners were the ‘servants of the truth.’ No ‘moral equivalence’ was drawn or even inferred between these two groups of people by Calvin. There was ‘right’ and there was ‘wrong,’ and 'ne'er the twain shall meet'—unlike the Eames/Bradley report into dealing with Northern Ireland’s past.30 Calvin told it as it was, and no attempt was made to sanitise their vile actions.

How do we know that Calvin supported his brother ministers? Did he merely say to them that he was behind them all the way? Was his support purely verbal? Not at all. He took action to help at their time of vulnerability and need. The Gospel ministers in today's church must learn this lesson immediately.

Tolerant/Intolerant

They must not be tolerated in the church who find the everlasting Gospel intolerable.

Grace Multiplied To Persecuted Christians

The wise apostolic pastor was acutely aware of the urgent need of persecuted believers—the multiplication of grace, 1 Pet.1:2, etc. He seems to be saying that in these dire situations, grace simplicitor is insufficient. The greater the suffering, the more grace is needed. Persecution demands grace and persecution unto death requires enormous supplies of grace, and abundant mercy. Indeed persecution does something to God—it gives Him the opportunity to display the magnificence and splendour of His grace. The greater the need, the greater the grace that is shown. And God gives grace in that proportion.

Please pray today for persecuted Christians in the churches of Northern Ireland, that God would multiply grace to them, their wives and families; and that He might strengthen them for the fight of faith, and in some cases, the fight for the very Gospel within the churches.

Monday, 15 August 2011

No Revelation, No Restraint!

Thinking again about the earlier post on the absence of revelation amongst the people, and the result being that they cast off restraint, I feel that I must add something further. The people in any country suffer more than we can say when there is no word from the Lord. Despite there being churches galore in Northern Ireland, that does not imply in the least that there is a prophetic ministry in them.

Where the word of God is not expounded by the ministers, and where no one teaches the true knowledge of God, the people are left without true bearings, they have no sense of the right direction. They are deprived of the "bread of life;" and where there is nothing to sustain life, people die. If there is no spiritual food and nourishment for the people, they will go out and do that which is right in their own eyes - they cast off all restraint. They start behaving like the drunken fools they are. Right and wrong do not enter their minds. They engage in all kinds of perversions.

Where ministers work to please the crowd (Gal.1:10), they no longer please the God who called them to His work. And no one whose life displeases God can ever hope to bring pleasure to Him. If a man does not please God, he is in danger of being lost forever and ever, eternal loss and misery.

Further, where they have cast off restraint, there is nothing they will not stop at. They will act in the most unintelligent manner; they will not listen to reason or sense, but will continue in their prejudiced way. These people either do not have the revelation of God preached to them, or else they have made up their minds to oppose it all the way. So far will some of them go that they will put themselves to shame, or be put to shame by their own works. "Be sure your sin will find you out," (Nu.32:23).

Again, without God's instruction, these people rebel against everything that is good and godly. They rebel against God, and against their leaders and against each other. They simply "cast off restraint." They take the law into their own hands, and do that which is not right.

Part of the reason why people do this - we have seen this in Northern Ireland during four decades of terrorism, and in GB during the past days with the riots that have left several people dead, many homeless and many businesses and properties destroyed irreparably - is that they have not been sitting under good Spirit-anointed preaching. They have been listening to "old wives' fables." Stories. Philosophy. Psychology. Sociology. But not the word of the living God. And without this, they become idle, not knowing what to get up to. The devil always finds things for idle hands to do. And these idlers dream up all kinds of wickedness, and then proceed to carry them out. This is because they have no Word from the Lord to guide them.

Oh what an indescribable eternity awaits those who do not preach the everlasting Gospel of God. What an endless misery awaits such time-servers. When they stand before the eternal Judge, and give an account of their ministries, they will hear those spine-chilling words from the loving Saviour, "Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity." Oh, the hell that awaits all those who conceal the pure Gospel. Not only do they damn themselves, they damn also their hearers.

But those who have such a good Gospel preaching minister, how blest they are! How privileged they are who listen to and submit to the gospel of Christ! To be fed with the 'bread of life' each week is a rare blessing. Oh, "open your mouths and I will fill them," says the Lord; they will be fed like little hungry birds that look up expectantly to their mother to feed them. Their souls will be richly blessed and they will be good witnesses to Christ. These are the people who make a country 'great.' They have a great future ahead of them, unlike the others. They will be with Christ forevermore. Their eternal blessedness will know no limitation.

NI - European Leader in Prostitution.

A BBC investigation, published on 4th July 2011, has found that up to half a million pounds is being spent on prostitution every week in Northern Ireland. That's £70,000 every day, or almost £3,000 every single hour!!!

Police estimate there are 88 brothels in operation, and say that Northern Ireland has a higher demand for prostitution than most other areas of Europe. So in every county, there may be about 15 of these 'houses of ill-repute.' That means that there might even be brothels in some of our provincial towns and small villages. This figure is extremely depressing, and who knows whose young daughter is involved in such a trade!

The brothels are usually run by local gangs, including paramilitaries, but there are also foreign groups. Many of the women working in the brothels have been trafficked from abroad. They are held captive and forced into prostitution. The problem is most evident in Belfast, but other towns and cities – such as Londonderry, Antrim, Enniskillen, Portadown and Bangor – are known to have brothels. If this is the case, then the police have a duty to arrest those involved in this wicked trade, and close down these hell-holes without delay.

The gangs can make millions of pounds in a year by exploiting women they have brought to Northern Ireland illegally. The police have broken up some of the prostitution rings and rescued dozens of women from the sex trade over the last couple of years. This is welcome news, and we wish the police great success in their attempts to disband these blights on our society. However, every day, new women are being brought in from abroad and often the women are so traumatised by their experiences they can’t help the police bring convictions against the gangs.

Detective Inspector Douglas Grant said the public needed to know the full extent of the problem. “There’s a significant demand in Northern Ireland for prostitutes and that’s larger than other parts of the UK and Europe,” he said.

If Northern Ireland, with its tiny 1.7m population, is the European leader in prostitution, can we believe that the police are actively pursuing the owners of these brothels, and rescuing the young girls who are being used and abused by these criminal thugs? Of course, given the corruption that is going on within policing throughout the UK, can we be excused for believing that there might be a reason for the little action that is being taken against these criminals?

If there a real answer to this growing problem? Can anything be done to stop this traumatising abuse of females? Yes, and the Bible alone has the answer. Policing alone cannot stop such practices, because when one establishment is closed down, another opens a few doors away. Not only do girls become hooked on this behaviour, so also do those who make their fortunes on this elicit trade. But this is 21st century slavery. And this slavery is paralysing in its effect. This is repeating what was done centuries ago, and outlawed by the valiant efforts of evangelical Christian, William Wilberforce, who as an MP, was instrumental in abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.

Northern Ireland needs another principled MP or other Christian to lead the charge in bringing an end to this vile industry. But given that our pragmatism motivates current political leaders, we won't hold our breaths on them. We don't even hear any church leader highlighting this abomination, and the church is supposed to the conscience of the nation. We won't hold our breaths here either!

But then again, given the level of corruption within the churches, it would not surprise in the least if church people were not involved in this sinful trade. If church officials travel to England for these services, then they will not want to be seen denouncing their service-providers' colleagues in GB, will they?

But prostitution coupled with sodomy in a small place like this makes a frightening cocktail, does it not? Is it any wonder that we have been under the judgement of God in recent decades for tolerating and promoting such perversions? And so long as these are allowed to continue unchallenged, we can look forward to nothing but even more bleak days for us and for our children. May God have mercy on us in the midst of His righteous anger!

The UK's only solution!

Heartiest congratulations to Peter Hitchins (not to be confused with Christopher Hitchins) on an excellent analysis of the causes behind the recent riots in the mainland cities of the UK. The left wingers in ALL the political parties have created a monster that is rising up and biting them and the rest of us; and they do not know how to handle it. This situation was created by man, but man cannot solve it. It will take a much mightier power than the UK Government to solve this one.

And Prime Minister David Cameron's haughty words about his resolving to sort out this situation are superficial in the extreme, and will amount to nothing. Neither his words or his actions can save our country, and the quicker he realises this the better. His proposed solutions are hopelessly anchored to fallen humanity, the creators of this mess. He cannot rise above the policies he and his predecessors have passed in recent decades, because he and they love them too much. When governments pass laws that legalise abortion on demand, legalise sodomy, legalise all kinds of stomach-turning moral perversions, they can expect only one thing - the wrath of God. And that is what we are seeing at this time. Liberalism, of all political and theological shades, has been a massive failure because its basic tenets are hopelessly wrong; they are decidedly anti-Gospel.

The UK has forgotten the Sovereign God Who revealed Himself to the world in Jesus Christ, His Son; we have forgotten how gracious God was to this nation over the centuries, and still is; we have forgotten His law, summarised in the Ten Commandments, and we have allowed religions which worship false gods to settle down in our country. We have tolerated the distorted teaching of the left-wing church leaders who have all but dismantled the Christian Faith, and even those of a more biblical orientation have been largely silent on the moral meltdown of our nation.

Our land has forgotten that all evil is devil-inspired, and that fiend uses his willing dupes to execute his plans. But the point is that they do this willingly. He works freely and uninhibitedly in our country because the only force that can rout his dark designs and efforts, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is ridiculed and undermined, opposed and silenced, often by the very churches themselves. Someone needs to call our nation back to the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There must surely be a call to repentance for the sins of Gospel and Christ rejection. Or nation must again come under the convicting energies of the Holy Spirit. We must stand in awe of the Almighty God; we must believe again in judgement and hell; and we must call the people of the UK back to the Gospel, if ever our land is to be saved. All other religions must be exposed for the dangerous frauds they are, frauds that promote pessimism and doom, that hold people in bondage, that are anti-democratic, and essentially anti-God (the only living and true God revealed in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures). There must be a resurgence of truly evangelistic preaching that calls men to decision, but of that there does not appear to be any sign. The UK must return, in true repentance and with a living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, to the living God without delay.

This truly is the country formerly known as Great Britain. For it to be "great" again, it must return immediately to the God of the Bible believed in by true Christians. May that day hasten on!