Friday, 23 September 2011

Ministers being USED.

What a privilege it is to be chosen by God for His holy service!  To be a vessel of usefulness to the Lord is a high honour, indeed, the highest honour that can be given to any man. Forget about all your New Year Birthday honours conferred on individuals by Her Majesty the Queen; these pail into utter insignificance compared with being a minister of God.  No human honour is worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as the honour of being chosen and called by God into His service.

And no minister objects to be 'used' in this holy way.  This is why he is in the ministry in the first place.  He placed himself and all that he has and is at the service if the King of Kings.  His strongest desire is to be used by God in the furtherance of the Kingdom.  He wants to be a tool in the Master's hand - and no more - and to be of service to his Saviour.  This is what it is about.

But, then, there is another side to this, as there is to most good things.  The people to whom we minister study how they can 'use' us, not for the glory of God, but in order for them to get their own selfish desires and needs met. They 'use' the minister in a bid to prevent him being used by God.  He is there to visit you when you're ill, to visit the elderly, to say 'hello' to wee Johnny, to 'christen' the children, and especially the grandchildren, to bury everyone "in the sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life" (and woe betide him if he does something different!); he is there to marry the young people, both of whom are true 'saints,' of course; and so on and on it goes.

One minister told me recently that he had a reasonably good meeting of the eldership the night before, but was wondering what these men are planning to do to him behind the scenes!  And once they get what they want from the minister, they will unceremoniously dump him if the price is right!  They will join up with other Gospel-haters in a bid to harm the faithful minister of the Word to the fullest extent.

Have you found that? Or, do you know a servant of Christ who has had this done to him? You know what another name for that is, don't you?  Prostitution.  Church members 'use' the minister in exactly the same way as a man uses a prostitute - as soon as he gets what he wants from her, he dumps her.  In the church, when members get what they want from the minister, they turn on him like savage beasts, demonstrating that the hatred they now have for him is as strong as they love they once showed him.  They discard his as a man throws away the cigarette packet after he has withdrawn thew last cigarette.  They no longer have any need for him!

And church denominations do this as well! How many wrecked ministries and ministers they are up and down the country; and how many utterly disillusioned minister's wives they are in manses!  And how many manse families have gone right off the rails as a direct result of the church's bullying tactics!

The only hope and consolation Gospel ministers have is that even if and when the church dumps them, that in no way equates with God dumping them!  He chose and called them for His work - which is not always and necessarily the same as the work of the church!  They belong to Him.  They are His.  He redeemed them and they are His prized possession, are under His divine protection, and will one day prosper in the hand of the Lord.

If you are in this position, let these truths penetrate your thinking and warm your heart.  You know, a heart that is warm before God will never lack encouragement.

The Set of the Sail

An old poem states as follows:

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow;
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tell us the way to go.

Author:  Ella Wheeler Wolcox

I thought I'd share this with you today, because it has been a blessing to my own heart.  Whatever your circumstances just now, in what way are your sails set?  Remember, it is this that determines your direction, not your circumstances (from a human perspective).

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Gospel According to Isaiah – Isa.53:1

Calvin’s method of preaching is truly expository, and is the model for all truly expository preaching.  Indeed, to get to know the true Calvin, we must see him as a preacher of the Gospel.   This is what took up most of his time and energy in Geneva.  His demanding preaching schedule saw him preaching 10 times every fortnight.  He preached in plain, colloquial French, and used turns of phrase that the common people would easily understand. 

His preaching is Christ-centred throughout.  He discovers Christ in all the Scriptures.  Throughout, he uses the New Testament to interpret the Old Testament.

Isaiah preaches as if he was referring directly to Christ.  His office and calling is to be “the Redeemer of all believers and of all the elect ... of saving all His own.”[1]  And that is what He is!  That is precisely His calling.

But Calvin interpreted Scripture with Scripture, believing, as he did, that God's revealed will is revealed in ALL the Scriptures, and not in certain verses and passages only.  In the first sermon, Calvin speaks of Christ as "the Saviour of all the world."[2]

How beautiful is his balanced Biblicism!  How refreshing his faithfulness to Scripture!  And how laudable his evangelistic zeal!

[1]   Sermon 1:32.
[2]   Sermon 1:39.

Rev. John Jones, Talsarn (1796-1857)

Dr Alan C Clifford gave me permission to post this piece.  It tells of a little known Calvinistic Methodist (Presbyterian) minister/preacher, Rev. John Jones (1796-1857), who ministered in Wales almost 300 years ago, and was mightily used of God in the salvation of souls.  Dr Clifford likens him to the Richard Baxter (1615-1691) in England.  This is the first taste of a man whose usefulness in God's service is not well known, but which ought to be better known than it is.

‘We are disposed to think that he, during those years (from 1821 to1857), made for himself a deeper home in the affections of his fellow countrymen than perhaps any of his mighty predecessors or contemporaries - so deep a home, indeed, that the longing that is still felt for him in the breasts of his hearers is as keen and strong as if he had died yesterday’ (Dr Owen Thomas, The Life of John Jones, Talsarn (1874), cited from Owen Jones, Some of the Great Preachers of Wales (1885), p. 462).
‘He consecrated all the powers of his soul for the Gospel of Christ. Preaching absorbed all the energies of his life... He became the most efficient and most popular preacher of the age in Wales. The epithet is applied to him to this day, “The preacher of the people.” And no one since his time has arrived at anything like his popularity’ (Owen Jones, op. cit., p. 532).
Between his birth at Dolwyddelan to his death at Talysarn, was there any Welshman who brought more blessing to Wales through the preaching of Christ than he? Did any preacher present the Saviour of sinners more gloriously, eloquently and tenderly than he? Was there any minister whose heart throbbed with more love to Jesus and his fellow-men? Is there any better Spirit-anointed model for preachers today than the Christ-exalting John Jones Talsarn?
Let us hear him:
Extract from a sermon preached on 11 January 1849 at Caersws 
“O mighty Jesus, the Son of God, the Redeemer of mankind, who hast been anointed from eternity to be King over us; we are sorry from our hearts that we have lived for so long a time without giving ourselves to
Thee. But now, we come as we are. Receive us, dear Jesus, and deliver us through Thy blood, and take us to serve Thee and to live for Thy glory for evermore. Mayest Thou live for aye as our King, and may
everlasting crowns be on Thy head. Amen!”
Extract from a sermon preached at Bala in 1835
“You have, my friends, something yourselves to do, and it is of no use at all to expect the operations of the Spirit of God, while we ourselves neglect our duty...Turn the prow of thy little vessel to the deep; let it sail upon the wide ocean of Christ’s Atonement; spread the sails, and steer it on by the guidance of the Word of God. The winds will blow, the mighty forces of redemption will play upon thy vessel; the tides will carry it, and thou shalt find thy little bark one day in the haven of eternal rest.”
Extract from a sermon preached on 18 July 1847 at Carmarthen
[While John Jones preached on the Parable of the Ten Virgins, a solemnity and dread came over the people, till the chapel was full of sobbing, sighing, and weeping. But when the climax of dread had been reached, with beautiful voice he said...]  

“My friends, the hand that was pierced is here tonight, offering unto you the wedding-ring; Christ is willing to be yours in that day if you receive Him now.”
Extract from a sermon preached on 30 June 1847
at Peniel near Beddgelert
‘... I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day’ (2 Timothy 1: 12).  
“We know not what is to meet us from this to the end of life’s journey, but we know Who is able to save. I know not what troubles and sorrows may come to my lot; I know not what their nature may be; I know not how long they may last, nor what my feelings may be when I suffer them; but I know Who is able to save.”
“I know not where I may die, whether on the lonely mountain when returning from some distant journey, or far away from home amongst strangers, or whether I shall be allowed to die in the bosom of my family, with my wife and children standing round my bed - I do not know. But I know Who will abide with me when all men are leaving me, Who is able ‘to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him’ [Hebrews 7: 25).”
There were at Peniel at that time several old men, who had turned to Christ in the revival which commenced at Beddgelert in 1818, and from thence affected the whole area. Their appearance in the seats just around the pulpit was very imposing. They were all strong and stalwart. When Mr Jones was preaching that afternoon, they were deeply moved. Before the end of the sermon they were lifting up their hands until the preacher came to the end of his sentence, bursting out with the words,  “Blessed be God!” “Amen!” “Amen!” (Owen Jones, op. cit., pp. 503-4 (edited).
Compiled and presented by Dr Alan C. Clifford after returning from a visit to North Wales (7-12 September 2011).

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Conscientious Christians Who Refuse to Give to Church Funds

What an anomaly it is that God's people are deliberately giving their tithes and offerings, not to their churches, but to where they perceive the true Gospel and its work to be carried on.  They are at a loss to see Gospel work being done in their own congregations.  This is precisely what they want to see being done.

But what do they find?  That their hard-earned money is being spent on themselves - it is being devoted to improving their church infrastructure, thus displaying their worldly affluence; they want to grow bigger and better than their neighbours, thus exhibiting a level of sinful pride; they will give their money to paying exorbitant salaries to their minsters - some of them being paid in the region of £50,000 pa.

Yes, they still give to the missionary outreach of their churches, but only to keep face with the church authorities.  They give their money to help pay the salaries of men and women who neither believe the true Gospel nor preach it to their people.  They have no compunction about allowing the money they give for the Lord's work to supporting theological liberal causes; and they support the cause of promoting unbiblical ecumenism, despite their loud protests to the contrary.

Is it any wonder that conscientious Christians are refusing to support such anti-church, anti-Gospel activity in their midst?  These people are to be applauded and honoured.  They are prepared to think outside the box and not be dominated by some blind adherence to a denomination, however unfaithful it is to the Scriptures. 

What these believers are doing is that they are putting their money where their mouth is.  They say they are Gospel people, so they give their money to support Gospel work.  They are most consistent with their own beliefs and faith.  They are being true to the Scriptures.  They are honouring God with their wealth, thus showing that they love God with all their heart.  had they been the kind of Christians who supported both Gospel and anti-Gospel activities, then they would be living in disobedience to the revealed word of God in the Bible.  But these believers are not being rebellious to the Lord Who ought them, but live their lives in submission to Him - the only proper place for the child of God.

Is there another reason why these good Christian people do not give their money - actually, the Lord's money - to support work that He curses?  Well, yes, there is.  They do not have the confidence that those charged with administering their money will do so exclusively to support His work.  They have seen ulterior motives, but true believers are pure in their motivation.

Do you agree with this?  Is it right for Christians to support the Lord's work, even when that means not giving to their own churches?  How are they to answer the church officials who say that it is their Christian responsibility to support financially and in any other way the church to which they belong?  Well, if the church is to be supported by my little contribution, then so much for the church!  If I have to support my religion, then too bad for that religion.

Surely the church is there to support God's people and to facilitate their service for the Lord, and their service for the Gospel!  It is not the other way round!  And surely, religion is there to support us, not us to support it!  If my religion is something that I have to cart around with me, then it will be of no use when I need it most.

The church, and Christians, need to get their priorities right, and give their support, heart, mind and soul, to promoting the cause of Christ in this lost and needy world, and not to erecting an overly fancy 'rain shelter' thus depriving the real work of the church of the necessary resources. Are you ready to do this?

"Give peace a chance" – who sang that? (Part 1)

A young Christian friend of mine for many years, David Duly, entered this post in his blog, on the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of former Beatle, John Lennon on 9th December, 1980.  This material is used with his permission.  He gave information about Lennon that is not widely known, either in the UK or in the USA.
“On this day [9th Dec] thirty years ago, John Lennon was murdered as he left his home by an obsessed fan.  Shot in cold blood, the death of Lennon shook the music industry and his fans alike. Rightfully, people condemned the murder and tributes were sent across the world to Mr Lennon’s family. Thirty years later John Lennon is heralded as a man who cried out to the world that they “Give peace a chance” and pointed to as a man to emulate.

It is quite amazing how that if you are a celebrity, especially in societies that are intoxicated with celebrity status, you can say whatever you like publicly – either in word or in song – and the public will accept it without question.  Lennon’s great mantra, “Give peace a chance,” sounded the right note, but what exactly did he mean by these lovely words?  Let’s see.

“John Lennon was a die hard supporter of the IRA. In discussion with many Lennon fans they often claim that Lennon only supported the IRA after Bloody Sunday (seeing that this somehow justifies the murders and atrocities committed by them) however this is false.”

Did you know that?  The ‘champion for peace’ supported the organisation in Northern Ireland that murdered more people than the loyalists terrorists, British Army, RUC and UDR all put together, accounting for 60% of all deaths in its 40 year reign of terror in Northern Ireland, and elsewhere.  John Lennon, the man who claimed in August 1966 that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” is the self-same man who gave practical and tangible support to those who murdered our family members, and destroyed many other families. 

"Give peace a chance" – who sang that? (Part 2)

“Terry Hooley had such an experience when meeting John Lennon, however Lennon was doing a lot more than giving opinions he understood little about.
Northern Irish Punk Legend Terri Hooley
Mr Hooley is the founder of Good Vibrations records and if you’re familiar with the Undertones and “Teenage kicks” you have this man to thank.  Active pacifist and peace campaigner Hooley was a great fan of John Lennon and was greatly disappointed when he found out that Lennon was hardly a man to emulate, below is an article that appeared in the Belfast Telegraph.”

The website for those wishing to check the authenticity of the quoted article is and type in the title of this post.

“Godfather of Ulster punk Terri Hooley has spoken about the time he got into a punch-up with John Lennon over the former Beatle’s support of the IRA. 

The Belfast music impresario, credited with discovering The Undertones, met Lennon in London during the late 1960s when the Troubles hadn’t long started. 

But Hooley, who was an active peace campaigner at the time, was disappointed to discover his hero wasn’t the pacifist he expected him to be.

Hooley was speaking after reports carried in several newspapers this week claimed that the Beatles legend offered financial support to the IRA by agreeing to perform a concert in Belfast.   (Emphasis added by me).

In a new Lennon biography, to be published this week, author Johnny Rogan alleges Lennon was keen to donate money to the Provisionals. (Emphasis added by me).

Hooley said he wasn’t surprised by the claims.

He said: “Me and a few friends had just set up a pirate radio station in the Craigantlet Hills and were in London to get equipment for it when I met Lennon,” he said.

“I can clearly remember that one of Lennon’s friends brought us to a garage and showed us guns and asked us if we wanted to bring them back home.  (Emphasis added by me).

“They obviously thought we were “the lads”. We were “the lads”, just not the ones they thought we were.

“Later that night I met Lennon himself and got in an argument with him, about not being a pacifist. There was some talk of money being sent to the IRA and I chinned him. He hit me back.”  (Emphasis added by me).

Hooley said the fight only ended when his glass eye landed on the floor.

But he said that despite the row with Lennon, he still remained one of his idols.

“It was never about the politics, it was about the music,” he said.

Hooley, who owns Phoenix Records in Belfast city centre and who ran Good Vibrations for many years, said he later met Lennon’s ex-wife Cynthia who was in Belfast to record a show.

“We were doing the Gerry Anderson show and one of the producers told her I’d met John,” he recalled.

“She asked me how that had gone and I told her we hadn’t got on. She wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear that and said he’d been very difficult to live with.

“I always say now it’s better not to meet your heroes.”

Duly comments: “The article really speaks for itself. John Lennon the man who preached and proclaimed “Give peace a chance” spent his time and money not only but funding but equipping a terrorist organization.”

“I don’t believe in killing whatever the reason! ”

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.”
John Lennon

"Give peace a chance" – who sang that? (Part 3)

Lennon is the man who won the hearts of countless millions around the world, masquerading as a man of peace, just as presidential candidate and former IRA 2IC in Londonderry and believe to be a member of its Army Council, Martin McGuinness now self-styles.  By Lennon’s moral and financial support on both sides of the Atlantic, the IRA terror campaign would have been continued indefinitely.  He was acting as Quartermaster for the IRA in London, it would appear, as he stashed weaponry for the most sophisticated terrorist organisation in Europe.  

Clearly, John Lennon was not a pacifist, as he so frequently claimed.  He was an active supporter of armed terrorism against his own fellow-countrymen.  He was not a man of peace, but a cunning sponsor of terrorism, falling into the same camp as Gaddafi.  

Having worked in the reconciliation industry in Northern Ireland for 12years, I have seen at first hand the genuineness, or lack of it, on the part of those who shout loudest about peace, yet have more than a ‘soft spot’ for terrorists and their terrorism.  I have seen them being hailed to the highest by the government and its agencies, and given places of great societal responsibility.  Even senior IRA commander, Martin McGuinness, was given responsibility for the care of the victims he helped to create!

You might be asking what this has to do with a blog about the Reformed faith, and rightly so.  It is my conviction that theGospel of Jesus Christ has to be applied to every stratum of society, and brought to bear on every situation.  

There is more to ‘murder’ than physically killing someone illegally. Jesus said that ‘hatred’ is the same as murder just as lust is the same as adultery. Lennon obviously hated his fellow-countrymen enough to ‘source’ and store weaponry for the IRA in a London garage; and he was filled sufficiently with hatred to want to, and perhaps did, give financial support to this murder machine, whose members are still unrepentant to this very day.  If the Gospel has nothing to say to this situation, it has nothing to say.  Lennon would needed to have repented of his sin before he was murdered on 9th Dec 1980, for him to now be with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Enough is Enough!

Having just read your analysis (that of Melanie Phillips, writer and broadcaster) of the current situation facing the UK and the rest of the free world, I can only commend you for your depth and accuracy of analysis, and for the forthright way in which you present it.  I agree with what you say. 

But when you look at what successive UK governments have done to N. Ireland, is it any wonder the country is in the state it is in?  If I may quote Isa.5:20, our leaders have been calling "evil good and good evil," etc.  They have perverted democracy in Ulster, and set in place war-mongers, war criminals, and unrepentant terrorists at the very heart and head of our government, and think they have done a great job! David Cameron is as committed to having terrorists in the government of this part of the UK as were Blair and Brown.  They have called "evil good, and good evil."  Can they honestly expect any prosperity when they operate within such a ludicrous and anti-right, anti-truth policy?

Further, I believe that because of HMG's persistent refusal to maintain fundamental freedoms or be principle-driven; and because it has legalised all kinds of moral perversions, have taken its eye off the "true north" ball, it has facilitated our country in its celebration of depravity.  It is now very obvious that the only living and true God, the God Who revealed Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, has literally given our nation over to our chosen way of life without Him (see Romans 1:18-32), with no possibility of recovery until we as a people repent of our sin and guilt before God, and return to the true and authentic Christian faith, through trusting Christ alone to deliver us.

Our nation, and much of the West, is living under the wrath and judgement of God.  She has sought to have morality without biblical religion.  This is impossible, as our recent history demonstrates very clearly.  But look at the 'morality' this has produced?  Increasingly and publicly demonstrated depravity.  Even France is very worried that her young people are reaching the depths of public disgrace seen in any British city on any weekend.  

Where is all this going to stop?  And who is going to stop it?  Enough is enough.  What is the end of all this going to be? People are asking these questions.  But no one is able to answer them; no one, that is, but God speaking in the Holy Scriptures.  But we do not want to hear His voice, do we?   

I think you can see this too, Melanie.  But no one has the courage to say this in the public arena; we have been imprisoned within the walls of PCism, and feel unable to speak the truth.  Will you dare to expound this kind of approach to your very considerable readership?  I hope so.

(Taken from an email to Melanie Phillips)

God's Wonderful Providence

After 1942, Adolf Hitler's health condition began to deteriorate.  He had had the flu and his physician, Theodor Morell, had given him some injections.  Afterwards, Hitler's left eye began to tear and his left arm began to feel numb, which moved down into his left hand.  In 1944, and ENT surgeon examined Hitler.  He discovered that for two years Dr Morell had been relieving Hitler's chronic pains with "Dr Koestler's Antigas Pills."  These contained strychnine and belladonna.  Apparently the pills were given to Hitler's personal servants who dished them out to the Fuhrer whenever he felt the need for them.  The specialist reported his findings to Dr Karl Brandt, Hitler's primary surgeon, who told Hitler that he was been slowly poisoned.  After this, Brandt was relieved of his position.  He was being killed in the house of his friends, informing us that it is sometimes very difficult to now whom to trust!

The good news for the world was that Hitler was being poisoned to death gradually and consistently by  Morell.  But Hitler didn't have the sense or the wit to realise that by not accepting a reputable surgeon's word about what was happening, he was writing his death warrant.

LESSON:  Power and stupidity often reside in the same person and at the same time. They are congenial bedfellows.

Worth thinking about, isn't it?

What does 'died peacefully' really mean?

Very often in the newspaper death notices, we read that So and So 'died peacefully.' Such is always a relief to relatives, but may not reflect the true situation at all.  There are people who claim that is is our right and that of our relatives to ensure that we and they have a 'peaceful death.'  Drugs are so advanced today that they can keep a terminally ill person pain-free and alert as the end draws to a close. One 77 year old lady said she would want to die at hone, free  from pain and mentally alert, so that she could have one more look around her light-filled home and see her tenderly-cared-for garden.  She wanted to end her life and pass on into drug-inspired oblivion.

But that sounds good, does it not?  We would all like to die free from pain and mentally alert, would we not?  But that is to rule God out of the equation altogether.  It is also to rule out any activity by the Holy Spirit, neither of which we can control.  It leaves out of the picture any notion of a conscience being awakened and becoming active, and the fact that feelings of guilt can overwhelm the dying.  This viewpoint has no place for the Spirit's work in conviction of sin, the awareness that soon you are gong to face God at His judgement Throne, and see the Christ and Saviour Whom you have despised and rejected all your life.

Drugs can hide from the view of concerned relatives what is really going on in the soul, thus giving the wrong impression that death is lovely - it isn't; Paul describes it as the "last enemy" that is to be destroyed.  And it is an enemy, a foul, fierce, persistent and ugly enemy that is awaiting each one of us to breathe our last breath.  While we, and the medical professionals, will see peace and tranquility in our departing loved-one, what we and they do not see is the lost important part - what is really going on in the soul.

A peaceful death is what most people want, but, like the Negro spiritual song, "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die."  Everybody wants a peaceful death, not very few want a saving relationship with the prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world.  They want a peaceful death while holding on to their sons and guilt.  They want to die in peace while rejecting the only Saviour there is.  And they have deceived themselves (perhaps they have even been deceived by the church!) that they can have the blessings of Christianity without personally possessing Christ Himself and His great salvation!

Death is not lovely!  It is ugly; it is an intrusion into God's world; it is the enemy.  It is out to destroy you.  It is the last thing that you and I will do in this world.  It is the doorway into eternity, that mysterious and everlasting existence where we will never die!  In fact, in hell, we will want to die, but will not be able to die.  Imagine dying, but not be able to die!  What a horrendous thought!  Dying, dying, dying. And all those who have died without Christ and His Gospel may have died so far as we and this world are concerned; but believe Jesus, they have not finally died yet!  They are desiring to die, but they cannot. 

Why is this?  Let me give you one reason.  Death means 'separation,' not 'termination.'  Death separates from loved-ones and form this life and world; but it does not terminate.  That's why lost sinners go on dying but are unable to finally die.  Dying for eternity!

Yes, medical science can palliate symptoms associated with pain and dying; but they deal with the reason why the dying are terrified at the thought of meeting the holy and righteous Judge of all the earth.  Nether priests nor church can do anything for you then.  So forget about both of these.  But  gospel minister or a true Christian can do something - they can bring to the Christian the comfort of Christ's death for the sin of the world to them.  The comfort at death is found only in the everlasting Gospel.  Drugs can alleviate the physical symptoms, but only Christ and His Gospel can give real peace.

Have you got that peace?  Do you know that peace?  Have you come to, and received, Christ alone as your Saviour and Lord?  He is the only One Who can give you something to look forward to when you come to die.  By His death, He has removed forever the cause of guilt and condemnation and a fearful judgement.  Only He has taken your place on the Cross, and taken your punishment; only He was removed God's wrath and intense anger from you.  Come to Hm just now, confessing your sins, and trusting in Christ alone for your eternal salvation.

Monday, 19 September 2011


Sir, - May I make an English contribution to the civil partnership scandal in the Church of Ireland? Contrary to the perverted views of today’s ‘gay’ prophets, I reject the spurious notion that homosexuality is a valid and acceptable ‘orientation’. As a sinful perversion, it is a ‘disorientation’ by God’s standards.

In Bible times, homosexuality was widespread. However, it was never legalized in the Roman Empire. Today, secular governments promote an acceptance of this shameful moral evil. The present UK government is utterly hypocritical. On one hand, it is concerned to protect children from paedophiles, while on the other, it promotes sexually-perverted education of children as young as seven years in the classroom!

Today’s liberal √©lite in church as well as politics is driven by ‘politically correct’ decadence. They have capitulated to secular immorality. They have flouted God’s Word. However, authentic Bible-based Christians have always identified homosexuality as a forbidden lifestyle. True, sexual sins are not the only sins. But they are still sins—violations of God’s holy will for human living in deed and desire.

As the Good news of God’s salvation in Christ was preached by the early Christians, many—including homosexuals—were converted and changed. The early churches had many penitent homosexuals among them. Ex-sodomites sat alongside ex-fornicators, ex-adulterers, ex-drunkards and ex-thieves. This is clearly reflected in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, a ‘re-born’ community within a corrupt coastal city (see 1 Cor. 6: 9-11).

If we think Paul was wrong on the ‘unnatural’ sin of sodomy (a threat along with ‘natural’ fornication and adultery to family values), should we not be consistent and reject all that he laments? But then we would allow drunkards and thieves to pursue their ‘orientation’ with impunity (and it’s bad enough already). How crazy! There’d be chaos!

More importantly, to persist in any sin without repentance is the surest way to be damned by God in everlasting hell. Such is still the teaching of Jesus! Likewise, the surest way to enjoy God’s eternal salvation is to turn from sin and receive His forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Remember, God is merciful. He delights to save not condemn (see John 3: 16). Many ex-homosexuals today rejoice in His saving and changing grace. This is what church leaders should be proclaiming, not denying God’s truth and destroying the moral foundations of society in the process.

Yours faithfully,

The Revd Dr Alan C. Clifford
Norwich Reformed Church
7 Woodside Park
Tel: 01953-453803

The Puritans and us!

What did the Puritans have that we lack today?  This is a question that is not being asked, and which must be asked by Christians today.  The answer is in two words - spiritual maturity!  In comparison, we are spiritual dwarfs.  The Protestantism of today is hopelessly man-centred, and manipulative, is success-oriented, self- indulgent, and sentimental.  One writer put it like this: it is 3000 miles wide and half an inch deep. 

The Puritans by contrast were spiritual giants - Dr Jim Packer referred to them as "God's Giants."  They served a great God and had a passion for personal and social godliness. Their Christian experience was natural and unselfconscious, while ours is often artificial, extremely superficial and boastful. They were committed to spiritual integrity, and had a real fear of hypocrisy. These great men of God were committed to the Gospel of grace.

Look at your own life, and then tell me which of these describes you?  Are you a contemporary Christian (with all that that entails), or are you following in the footsteps of the Puritans?  Let a man examine himself!

Spiritual Child Abuse Within the Church.

"With relevance to the wicked exploitation of children in the 21st century, His warnings apply with great ferocity to all who abuse children in any way, spiritually or physically. They deserve drowning with a millstone round their necks! It is far better to seek the eradication of perverted tendencies than to sin and be damned! It is better to lose a sin-inducing limb or eye than to suffer uncorrected in hell (see vs. 8-9)." These words from Dr Alan C Clifford, minister, Norwich Reformed Church, come from a study he conducted on Mt.18:1-14.

While the physical abuse of Christ's 'little ones' is deplorable, Dr Clifford draws attention to an often forgotten or deliberately overlooked matter - the spiritual abuse of 'these little ones' not only within the church but by the church!  How is this done?  Well, when the church promotes the services of non-Christians in Sunday School teaching roles, she is guilty of the spiritual abuse of children.  When she tolerates the holding of the office of leadership within youth organisations by unconverted people, she is promoting child spiritual abuse.  When she accepts opening ungodly men into the eldership of the church, thus giving them spiritual oversight within every aspect of the congregation's life and work, she is promoting child spiritual abuse.  

This is now of epidemic proportions within many mainline denominations in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of mainline church members are not Christians (I know this is possibly a careless statement/judgement), yet they are actively involved in the training and teaching of children.  If they withhold the Gospel from them, and by default, they must do, then they are actively involved in child spiritual abuse of the most despicable kind.

Clifford says that those who do such things "deserve drowning with a millstone round their necks!" And He got that from the church's only King and Head, Jesus Christ!  These are the words of "gentle Jesus meek and mild."  This is the judgement of the Son of God on those who do such terrible things.  And this judgement spills over into the church's eldership who tolerate such perversions.

How does your church fair in this matter?  Are the children in your congregation being spiritually abused by the devil's servants who teach them?  Are those responsible for the training and teaching of the children genuine Christians who love Christ first and foremost?  Or is their first love the position they hold within the church as visible?  Are they in it for the honours that this position confers upon them?  If this is true, then an indescribable eternity awaits all child abusers in the church, unless they repent of their sins immediately.

Spiritual Child Abuse Within the Church must be STOPPED IMMEDIATELY.  Help stamp it out before another generation is destroyed by being under the teaching and influence of Satan's servants within the churches.  If you have concerns, go to your minister and raise these with him.  If you have evidence of foul-mouthed youth leaders, tell him.  Bring other witnesses along with you.  But you must act to stamp this evil out of the churches, for if you don't try, and children and young people go to hell as a result, then you will have to answer for your lack of love to Him - and to them!

Exclusive Psalmody

In an earlier post, I argued, in line with exclusivists, who sing only Psalms because that was what our Lord sang when He was on earth, that on that basis they should read only the OT because that was what Jesus read.

I can add to that and say that they should only perform circumcision because that was what Jesus had done to Him; they should only pray the exact words of the prayers of the OT, and not 'christianise' them with the NT, because then they become the infallible words of men; sermons preached ought to taken word for word from the OT, because the words of human composition are not the word of God; and they should only attend places of worship that are less than 'a Sabbath day's journey' from their home.

Further, they should have distinct places of worship for men and women - that's what Jesus did.  Because they practice the baptism of babies, in line with the covenant, they are in line with the vast majority of Christian church worldwide; but in the case of exclusive psalmody, they are way out of step with sound worldwide Christendom.  Prof. Donald's Macleod's point is valid - to be out of step with the vast majority of Christendom ought to give those who practice and defend exclusive psalmody pause for thought and consideration.

Any thoughts?

Bring it Before the Lord

When King Hezekiah (2 Kgs.19) was troubled about the plans of the Assyrian King, Sennacherib, he went into the house of the Lord in deep humility.  The prophet Isaiah was contacted about the situation, and he sent a word from the Lord to Hezekiah.  This word was to the effect that Sennacherib was trying to get you not to trust in the God of Israel on the grounds that He will let Hezekiah down. 'He cannot be trusted, especially when the might of Assyria is now arrayed against Hezekiah.  You are trusting in this God, but He will deceive you into imagining that He can deliver you from my hand.  You will be destroyed completely.' 

When the King received what he perceived as a threatening letter from Sennacherib, King of the Assyrians, he took it and "spread it before the Lord" (v.14).  That was the wisest and best thing he could have done.  He had no help but that which the Lord could provide.  He took it "to the Lord in prayer."  The letter was spread out before the Lord, and Hezekiah prayed, after worshipping the Lord, "Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib , which he has sent to reproach the living God. ... Now then, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone," (vv.16-19). 

You see what this great King of Israel did, conscious of his weakness and vulnerability - He took it to the LORD.  He was not underestimating the greatness of Sennacherib's power; nor was he involved in positive self-talk.  No.  Hezekiah went back to the testimony of history and saw Who his God really was and what He had done and still does in the world.  Why did he do this?  And why did he do this at such a critical time in his nation's life?  For this reason:  he wanted to assure himself and his people that his God was the God of all history, and that He was able to deal with any threat that might come to His redeemed people.  He encouraged himself in the LORD.  He put courage into his heart (that what 'to encourage' means) by coming to, and focusing upon, the LORD, sovereign and almighty.

Here is one of the great indicatives of Scripture; and the imperative follows as night the day - "Go, and do likewise."  In all our great difficulties and life challenges, there is no better thing to do than to come into the holy presence of the LORD, and 'spread it before the LORD.'  Tell Him the whole thing; confess your fears and anxieties to Him.  Be honest about the situation and how it is affecting you.  Don't try to make it out to be other than it is.  Come clean with God, and then leave it confidently with Him.  This is what Hezekiah did on that occasion.  You can do it too.

But look at the result of this faithful prayer to the LORD.  V.35 tells us that "the angel of the LORD went out, and ..." acted in judgement against those who were seeking to destroy the LORD's people and cause. Does God hear and answer prayer?  Yes, He does. He heard Hezekiah's prayer that was called forth from a situation of desperation, and with spectacular results.

Our Lord Jesus Christ did the same when He was in agony in Gethsemane, just prior to His crucifixion.  He poured out His heart to the Lord His God and Father.  And He entrusted Himself to the Word of His Father.

Don't allow the devil to tell you that prayer is a useless exercise; it isn't. It is God's ordained way whereby His people, His children, can communicate with Him.  It is the channel of access to the Almighty that He Himself has opened.  Use it.  Use it frequently.  See the results.

But remember, the results are not always seen immediately, or when expected.  The LORD's angel came and acted in judgement when Sennacherib was least expecting Him - 'at night,' (v.35).   Give God space; give Him all the space He requires.  Remember, He is always gracious and patient with those He will eventually judge; but the judgement will most assuredly come - and the judged will know it, and so will their fellow-travellers.  When God speaks, people listen.  When He acts, they sit up.  And when He acts in judgement, 'every mouth will be stopped and all the world will become guilty before Him,' (Rom.3:19). 

So cast yourself unreservedly upon God's grace and mercy.  You can trust Him with your all.  He will never leave you nor forsake you,' ( Jos.1:5; Heb.13:5).

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Wanted! Men Uncontaminated With Conventional Religion.

God is looking today for men who have not been contaminated with conventional religion!  Conventional religion, as in Amos' day, was offensive to God.  He hated it, he tells us.  God cannot stand their solemn assemblies.  The priests were contaminated with religion that was focused on pursuing luxury (or excess), on hypocrisy, on wantonness, and on maintaining the establishment at all costs.

Such men are not few in number within today's aenemic evangelical churches.  The church system has got to them and has forced them into its own would - it is called the world, and this is what the world is good at doing.  The church boasts of the growing number of evangelicals who are entering the Christian ministry, but, as one retired evangelical minister told me a few weeks ago, his church is not one bit better for having them!

What a confession!  And the reason?  These men have been contaminated with convention religion, dead, orthodox, spineless, powerless, Spiritless religion; religion that is not that different from the other world religions.  Contaminated ministers are no good to anyone, the church included.  If the poison of irreligious religion has entered them, then they have nothing to offer anyone.  If that religion is of the conventional type, then the old adage is relevant: "if you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you always got."  The church of Jesus Christ on earth has been consigned to 'more of the same' because her minsters, her servants are not serving Him but the establishments to which they belong.

And the result? The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the world is not being preached.

Oh, that God would come down and meet His people and renew and refresh them once more! Until He does this, the church will do that!

The Pride of Being a Preacher!

Some men just glory in the fact that they are preachers - whether god or bad makes no difference. But the position pleases them to no end.  Now, as Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once famously said, there is no higher calling to which any man can be called than to be a preacher.  I totally agree.  But when men get to the point of being proud that they possess this appellation, and resat on that position alone, they give a mighty strong indication that they might never have been called to this exalted work in the first place.

Being a preacher is an excellent - provided that the man preaches Christ in all His fulness.  But if the man has no message for his congregation; if the sheep look up and are not fed on the Word of God; and if the preacher does not convey to them a sense of God, there is only one main reason why this is the case.  He has not been to God to get his message.  When a preacher man has been in the presence, he will emerge with a message that is burnt indelibly upon his heart.  No message, no time spent with God.  That's the simple rule. 

What we need in today's church is a new kind of preacher.  In fact, what the church needs most today is not the most contemporary building in the country; not a user-friendly worship place - isn't it amazing that everything today has to conform to the 'user-friendly' qualification, including the church! No, what the church needs more than anything else today is a preacher who emerges from the presence of God, filled with His Spirit, and bursting to bring the Lord's message to the congregation.  She needs a man with a message!  She needs first and foremost a messenger sent from God. 

Indeed, that is precisely what God is looking for, a man with the Lord's message for perishing sinners, and it appears that He has not found that man yet.

Are you that man?  Are there stirrings within your breast to be that man?  Is the Holy Spirit putting this sense of vocation into your heart?  Then run with it, for God is looking for such a man - a man who will bring His message to a lost and dying world.  Do you hear that call?  Then go, for God is sending you to this most vital of all works!

God Does Not Want Clones!

Has it not struck you that in many churches, the preachers not only look a bit like each other, but also sound very much like each other?  In one denomination, the preacher refers to, for example, John's Gospel, the chapter 4, and the verse 18. In another, a very similar tone of voice is used, uninspiring, unexciting, and monotone.  In yet another, there is a kind of sing-song voice what is used by the minister.  And further, there are those who are so content within their own establishment that they will never apply the Gospel to the church in which they are ministers.

This raises the obvious question: when God calls men into the ministry of the Gospel and sacraments, does He chose only those in whom there is a sameness, and by that I mean, only those who will settle down so comfortably into their ministry that they create a 'fellowship' that is also comfortable?  Does He call men who will be the image of those who are in the ministry before them?  If the others do not want to disturb the devil in the congregation, then there is no way that I am going to do it!  If the devil and his servants are welcome in our church, who am I to say otherwise.  After all, we want to build up the numbers so that there will be sufficient people there to give to pay my salary and to keep the organisation going.  And if the devil's servants say they are Christians, I cannot see into their hearts, so I am obliged to accept them as Christians!

This is how church clones operate. They do exactly what others have done, and, in time, go even further.  They tolerate those who will not tolerate the real Gospel; so they tone down their preaching considerably so that the devil's servants do not even suspect that he is one of these extreme evangelicals.  They decide not to exhibit enough evidence that would convict them of being the servants of Jesus Christ.

What have they become?  Clones, silly, yet dangerous clones.  But God does not want clones; He wants men who can think for themselves out of God's revealed will in Scripture, and apply what they learn to their congregations.

But perhaps, the trouble lies elsewhere.  Perhaps it lies in the theological college they attended and in which they were 'trained' for the ministry.  Perhaps, the college inputs to their minds ideas about being 'good churchmen' - a most commendable thing to be!  "You are servants of the church, and, of course, you are bound to submit to the courts of the church (and forget about this 'in the Lord' business; we have dispensed with that old idea years ago).  You are there to serve the best interests of the church, and we will not brook any departure from what we believe to be true and right."

So these once gallant men emerge from their theological education and ministerial training, with the aim of being 'good churchmen.'  What I am really saying is that they emerge as clones of those who have trained them and who have gone before.

But what seem to have missed somewhere along the road is that God does not want clones in His church.  He wants men who will preach the Gospel fearlessly, understand that they have been called to preach the most unpopular message in the world, and that they will be persecuted for so doing. Only when they believ this, and are convinced of its truthfulness, will there be any likelihood of fundamental change in the spiritual temperature of the church in today's world.