Friday, 25 November 2011

Pointed Applicatory Preaching

When the prophets preached against certain sins in the church and nation, they did not leave the people wonder to whom it was he was referring.  In Jeremiah's case, he said quite bluntly, "I'm preaching against you, O Kings; I'm preaching against you, O Priests; I'm preaching against you, O Prophets." Nobody was in any doubt as to who was being targeted by his preaching.

Today, there is little or no application of the message to those present.  Sometimes you hear sermons that are applied to third parties somewhere, but seldom are they preached to the people in from of the pulpit.  That explains why after church, some worshippers ask, "Who was he getting at today?"  The fact that this question is asked at all demonstrates how far off the mark the sermon actually was!

Jeremiah named those to whom he was against.  I can remember as a young inexperienced preached actually naming the late TV presenter, Eamonn Andrews, host of "This is Your Life."  He had allowed something on one of his programmes that I denounced from the pulpit - and it was not appreciated by my senior colleague.

On another more recent occasion, I denounced from the pulpit those evangelicals ministers and their supporters who criticised every other denomination for providing very significant funding for a Gay pride march through Belfast. I wasn't invited back to that church!

Do we need to get back to that kind of preaching again?  Has the day of the fearless prophet of the Lord gone?

OLIVER CROMWELL: The Lessons and Legacy of the Protectorate

OLIVER CROMWELL: The Lessons and Legacy of the Protectorate

The Lessons and Legacy of the Protectorate
Alan C. Clifford
40pp pbk �2.50
ISBN 0-9526716-2-X

Please order by clicking here.

The quatercentenary of Oliver Cromwell's birth in 1599 was justly celebrated. While the late twentieth century probably provided more detractors than admirers, none could deny the Lord Protector's heroic qualities, integrity of character and sincere Christian convictions.

In addition to the articles, books and programmes occasioned by the anniversary, this booklet sought to make a small contribution to the celebration. A sympathetic but not uncritical survey of the momentous events of Cromwell's life, it is an attempt to evaluate his achievements and to highlight some important lessons for today. Viewing the Christ-centred vision of one of Great Britain's greatest statesmen in the context of his times, it is hoped that those who value our religious and political heritage will be encouraged to maintain and propagate it for the benefit of generations to come. At the beginning of the third millennium of Christianity, the author believes that such should be our response to the legacy of Oliver Cromwell.

Dr Clifford is currently pastor of Norwich Reformed Church, England.
To order this slim volume and get a sense of who Oliver Cromwell was and what he did, what he beieved and how he worked those bewliev=fs out, then buy this book.  Visit here and quote this order code: TID.HL.OC

110th Anniversary Tribute to Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones

MY DEBT TO THE DOCTOR: An 110th Anniversary Tribute to Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones

An 110th Anniversary Tribute to DR D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
Alan C. Clifford
Pastor, Norwich Reformed Church
52 pages pbk �3.50
ISBN 978-0-9555165-2-8

Order your copy at

Approaching the end of my seventh decade, I wish to express my debt to a famous Welsh preacher who, under God, was instrumental in my spiritual development. He was the first of three major Welsh influences in my life. The second was my university education, the third being my beloved wife Marian whom I met at university in North Wales. This tribute is not so much an autobiography as a token of gratitude to God for the life and ministry of the greatest Christian preacher of the 20th century, expressed through the medium of eighteen letters I received from him during the last fifteen years of his life.

As a young Christian reared in Methodism, converted in Anglicanism and in the process of discovering Puritanism, I became aware of this London-based minister known as 'the Doctor'. Called thus by his affectionate admirers, the late Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) had been the minister of Westminster Chapel for approaching twenty years when I first heard of him. (from the Introduction).

The photograph of the Doctor with a youthful Rev Alan C Clifford at the Gateshead Church in the north of England where Rev. Alan Clifford was installed as minister.

To order your copy of this intensely personal book, click here, and remember to quote the order code TID.HL.DTD.  Thank you.

Amyraut Affirmed

‘Owenism, a caricature of Calvinism’

A reply to Ian Hamilton’s

Amyraldianism -
is it modified Calvinism?

Alan C. Clifford


64 pp   £3.50 (plus 70p p&p)     ISBN 0 9526716 7 0

Available from:
Charenton Reformed Publishing
8 Le Strange Close
Tel:  01603-452387 or 01953-453803
Please quote this code when ordering: TRF.HL.AA 

An influential theologian of the French Reformed Church, Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664), was Professor of Theology at the Reformed Academy of Saumur.  His claim to fame (or infamy, depending on one’s point of view) arises from his distinctive theological stance.  Convinced that orthodox Calvinism had distorted the original Bible-based teaching of John Calvin, Amyraut’s criticisms aroused intense hostility.  Tried for heresy and acquitted, opposition continued throughout France and elsewhere.  Within Reformed and Presbyterian circles, the theology known as ‘Amyraldianism’ has aroused strong dissent ever since.  This booklet is a reply to a recent critique of Amyraut’s controversial views.  The author demonstrates that far from being alien to Calvinism, Amyraldianism may be seen as an authentic expression of John Calvin’s misunderstood teaching.  The author thus maintains that the ultra-orthodox theology of John Owen and the Westminster Confession of Faith demands a radical reassessment and revision.

Dr Clifford is currently the Pastor of Norwich Reformed Church, England

Calvinus - New Edition

Authentic Calvinism
A Clarification
Alan C. Clifford
This book explores the hotly debated question: did John Calvin teach limited atonement?  Selected extracts from his writings allow the sixteenth-century Genevan reformer to speak for himself on this and closely related subjects such as the free offer of the gospel, the breadth of God’s love and the availability of grace.  The reader is then able to decide whether Amyraldianism is a deviant theology or - as the seventeenth-century French theologian Moïse Amyraut claimed - a reaffirmation of authentic Calvinism.  First published over a decade ago, this second edition evaluates more recent scholarship.  The highly controversial issues in question continue to command the attention of theologians and others involved in regular pastoral ministry.  Clearly, such matters still await a valid verdict.  It is the author’s view that the authentic biblical legacy of John Calvin challenges the ‘confessional correctness’ of Westminster Confession ‘Owenite’ orthodoxy.
Dr Clifford is currently pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church, England
When ordering this product, lease quote TRF.HL.CAL
 ISBN  978-0-9555165-1-1            64pp               £4. 95  (P&P extra).

Preface to the First Edition                                  
Preface to the Second Edition                                 
Notes to the Introduction                                    
The Sources
Extracts from John Calvin's Writings                         
Appendix I:   Critique of Roger Nicole                        
Appendix II:  Critique of Jonathan Rainbow                   
Appendix III: Critique of lain Murray                        
Summary Statement                                            
Review Extracts                                              
Summary Statement
It should now be clear that the traditional two-cornered contest between Calvinism and Arminianism is an inadequate portrayal of the issues.  Not only should Amyraldianism be seen as a ‘referee’; it also qualifies as the most persuasive challenger in a three-cornered contest.  To make matters even clearer, the so-called Calvinist (or really High Calvinist) contender should really be named ‘Owenism’.  Accordingly we may conclude that ‘Owenites’ face awkward questions. 
First, if a universal gospel offer is to be made, what precisely is on offer if not a universally-available redemption? 
Second, if Christ died only for the elect, does it not become necessary for enquirers to discover their election before they come to Christ? 
Third, what are the non-elect guilty of rejecting if nothing was ever offered to them?
The Amyraldian or Authentic Calvinist position possesses five advantages: 
First, it provides an object lesson on how to avoid extreme reductionist hermeneutics.  Theory is ever to be the servant, not the master, of the textual data. 
Second, it enables us to accept plain statements of Scripture as they are without forcing them into a theological mould, e. g. ’world’ = ’the world of the elect’ (as Owen maintains).  How can Owenites criticise Roman Catholics and the cults for tampering with the text when they do likewise? 
Third, in keeping with God’s plain declarations, it proclaims a universal compassion for the world without unwarranted restrictions.  Thus the Owenite tendency to produce clinically-clear heads and callously-cramped hearts is reduced.  Sadly, not all Owenites are like Whitefield and Spurgeon whose compassion arguably exceeded their creed. 
Fourth, it is, in the best biblical sense, conciliatory.  As has been noted, Ralph Wardlaw considered that High Calvinism provided too easy an excuse for the Arminians to reject true Calvinism. 
Fifth, without prying into the profundities and complexities of God’s inscrutable sovereign purposes, it enables us to pursue an uninhibited mission of mercy to a lost world.  We leave the results to God.  While faith is evidence of election, present unbelief is not necessarily proof of non-election.  There is always hope for everyone we proclaim Christ to.
First Edition Review Extracts
This book reflects the author’s conclusions about Calvinism through his doctoral studies.  He explores the hotly-debated issue of whether Calvin taught limited atonement.  In the light of this, he examines the validity of interpretations of Calvinism made by subsequent theologians, particularly that of the French pastor Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664). ... After the introduction comes the focal point of the book: a selection of 90 extracts from the writings of John Calvin, directly expounding his views on the extent of the atonement.  It is wonderful to have set before you a collection of quotations from Calvin’s writings on this subject, which allow the reformer to speak for himself.  This whole section is written without comment, leaving the reader to decide where Calvin really stood. ... Whatever one’s opinions about ‘authentic Calvinism’, one would have to admit that Dr Clifford writes authoritatively and convincingly on a subject with which he is thoroughly acquainted and has extensively researched. ... [The] content is thought-provoking and stimulating, and challenging reading, especially for all who claim to be ‘authentic’ Calvinists!
KATHY CHILDRESS, Evangelicals Now
According to God’s revealed will or intention the death of Christ is universal in its scope, but conditional upon the human response; according to his secret will or decree it is restricted in its scope but absolute and unconditional.  Thus Calvin affirms both a conditional salvation made available to all and an efficacious, unconditional salvation given to the elect alone.  It is this antinomy the author claims, rightly in my view, that makes sense of the diverse statements that Calvin makes on the subject. ... The debate about Calvin’s teaching on the intent of the atonement looks set to run and run.  Those who in future turn their minds to it will not be able to ignore this volume and will especially be grateful for the opportunity to review the wide range of Calvin material which is gathered together in the core of the book.
TONY LANE, Evangelical Quarterly
The great value of the book is the way in which the overall argument is related to Calvin’s writings. ... Some authors give only sections of what Calvin wrote, some are historically selective, others give only one emphasis and leave the drift of the whole for the reader to search out.  The author has done a fine job in rectifying that problem by presenting his arguments holistically. ... It must be said, and it is inevitably so, that the arguments are often subtle, all are closely argued, and at times, some can be philosophically quite sophisticated. ... However, despite the nature of the discussion, and the enormous literature generated, this book is a model of clarity and perspicacious argumentation.  It is demanding, by its nature, but careful and diligent reading will give even the near novice a fine introduction to the whole issue.  It is a valuable work in the continuing debate.  Whether or not it will fulfil the author’s wish that these issues ‘will now be settled once and for all’ remains to be seen, but it will deserve a serious reply from opponents.  If Dr Kendall set the cat amongst the pigeons then Dr Clifford continues to rattle the reformed cage.  Let the reader read and discern.
JOHN F. DUNN, English Churchman
Dr Clifford’s scholarship is undoubtedly detailed, but his hope of settling the controversies in this volume presumably depends on the assumption that readers will have perused his more detailed study on Atonement and Justification. ... Note: 1996 is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Moïse Amyraut, whose authentic Calvinist credentials Clifford is anxious to reassert in this piece.
This is an unusual book but it debates an all-too-familiar field. ... Clifford’s claim that Calvin makes universal-sounding statements too strong to reconcile with Owen’s approach seems formidable.  Equally it suggests that whilst Calvin’s work predates the classical differences between parties in the Reformed tradition, the subject was not quite as alien to the great Reformer as we might think. A surprising side benefit of the study also shows that Calvin was a missionary at heart and advocated personal evangelism. ... The author supplies a spirited introduction defending Amyraut and his successors, who challenged the seventeenth-century Calvinist ‘high orthodoxy’ with its belief in limited atonement.  It is some time since Amyraut found an advocate, but the case presented here is more than worthy of such a distinguished figure.  The argument will certainly rumble on yet, but all parties will have to take account of this little but forceful book.
ROY KEARSLEY, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology



A Tercentenary Lecture
Alan C. Clifford
28pp pbk �2.50
ISBN 0 9526716 6 2

To order, click here.

The age of John Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards was also the age of Philip Doddridge (1702-51). Remembered chiefly for his hymns, he was also a pastor, preacher, theologian, educator, author, philanthropist and patriot. A remarkable English christian by any standard, Doddridge's faithful, fragrant and far-reaching testimony to Christ made him unique in his day.

His obituary in the Northampton Mercury justly assessed his life. He was `a man of fine genius. ... His piety was without disguise, his love without jealousy, his benevolence without bounds. ... In the several characters of a friend, a preacher, a writer, a tutor, he had few superiors: in all united, he had no equal'.

At a time of ecumenical confusion and uncertainty in church and society, this lecture examines Doddridge�s protestant convictions. Challenging the view that Doddridge was a pioneer of modern ecumenism, the author believes that a rediscovery of Doddridge�s contribution is long overdue.

Ordained in Northampton in 1969, Dr Clifford is Pastor of Norwich Reformed church in Norfolk, a county with which Doddridge was closely connected.
To order this timely booklet, click here.  Please quote the order code: TID.HL.PD

Philip Doddridge of Northampton

The Good Doctor: Philip Doddridge of Northampton
A Tercentenary Tribute
319pp pbk £9.95
ISBN 0 9526716 3 8
As a pastor, preacher, theologian, educator, author, hymn writer, philanthropist and patriot, Philip Doddridge (1702-51) was a remarkable English Christian by any standard. His faithful, fragrant and far-reaching testimony to Christ made him unique in his day. This tribute introduces us to an attractive personality whose remarkable achievements merit renewed attention. At a time of confusion and uncertainty in church and society, the author believes that a rediscovery of Doddridge’s contribution is long overdue.

To purchase your own copy, please visit

‘A deeply interesting work about a fascinating Christian. ... the book is excellently presented, lavishly illustrated and good value for money’ (English Churchman).

‘Among other biographers ... Alan Clifford’s book is now clearly indispensable. It is also warm, readable and challenging’ (News of Hymnody).

‘Lovers of Doddridge, Northampton, hymns, revival and the history of English Dissent, cannot afford to ignore this book’ (Evangelicals Now).

Dr Clifford has ... done us a real service with the publication of his book in the 300th anniversary of Doddridge’s birth. The book is well written and attractively produced. The narrative is interesting and informative’ (The Banner of Truth).

‘Doddridge’s life and ministry are set out in a very readable way, and Dr Clifford’s enthusiasm for his subject comes through on every page. ... [a] most valuable and stimulating tribute to one of the greatest stars in the Congregational firmament’ (Congregational Concern).

‘A scholarly and well presented book ... comprising a very useful appendix ... This book will make a valuable addition to any library and comes highly recommended’ (Our Inheritance).

‘[In] this enlightening biography ... our hearts warm to a man whose consuming desire was to win souls for Christ and whose strength and life were devoted to the glorifying of God’ (Peace & Truth).

I had the privilege of reading this excellent biography of one of God's great servants while on holiday a few years ago, and enjoyed it immensely.  I had one criticism of it which I shared with the author - the reading only lasted for one week! I was disappointed when I had finished it.  I made good this deficit by reading it again, and referring to often.

Then,just this time last year, my work took me to Lisbon in Portugal, and during a period when we were on a break, I was able to locate and visit the British Cemetery there, and also to see the grave where Doddridge is buried, having died of an illness 200 years to the very year before my birth.  It was an honour to see where the great man was laid to rest.

But Dr Clifford's treatment of Doddridge is sympathetic, scholarly, factual and most edifying.  Read it for yourself.

Your copy can be purchased from the published by clicking here.  Please remember, when ordering, to quote TID.HL.TGD.  Thank you.

Calvin - The Genevan Reformer!

The Genevan Reformer
and His Huguenot Sons

A Contribution to the
John Calvin Quincentenary

Alan C. Clifford

Charenton Reformed Publishing

Pbk     168 pages   Price: £9.95 (£11.00 íncluding p&p)

Published in Great Britain 2009
Charenton Reformed Publishing
8 Le Strange Close, Norwich  NR2 3PN
Please quote this code when ordering: TRF.HL.CELEB 

ISBN 978-0-9555165-3-5


 Norwich Reformed Church or Charenton Reformed Publishing
or the author: CliffordNRC@ (tel: 01953-453803)

From the Introduction

Born at Noyon in Picardy, John Calvin (1509-64) is generally regarded as the most eminent of the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century. Exiled from his native France, he became a pastor of the Church of Geneva and the organizing genius of the Protestant Reformation. While his Christ-exalting influence as a theologian, preacher and commentator became--and remains--truly international, Calvin’s labours were particularly fruitful in France. His spirituality also found expression in the Confession of Faith and presbyterian Discipline of the French Reformed churches drawn up at the first National Synod held at Paris in 1559. Through the zealous evangelistic labours of pastors trained in Geneva, around 2,000 churches had been founded by 1560. Yet Huguenot piety was to be constantly tested through nearly three centuries of fierce persecution including the terrible St Bartholomew massacre of August 24, 1572. Cruelly harassed by the Roman Church, the noble army of French Reformed martyrs never failed to demonstrate the grace, electing love and faithfulness of the living God. Thus John Calvin’s Bible-based, God-honouring legacy was constantly vindicated in the most inspiring epic of faith and fortitude ever known.

In the reign of Henri IV, the Edict of Nantes (1598) provided a fragile and frequently violated peace. Directed by the Jesuits, the Roman Church pursued a policy of cruel extermination. This tolerant Edict was finally revoked by the despotic Louis XIV in 1685. Huguenot temples were demolished and the flocks were scattered. The faithful worshipped in woods and caves and other remote places; their assemblies were known as the ‘churches of the desert’. Those captured by the dragoons were punished. Pastors, elders and others were either hanged or sent to the galleys. The women were sent to prison and the children re-educated in Jesuit schools. Many emigrated to Holland, Germany, Great Britain and elsewhere. The frustrations and sufferings of those who remained led to the tragic Camisard war of 1702-9. But God did not forsake his covenant people. Under the inspired leadership of Antoine Court (1696-1760) and Paul Rabaut (1718-94), there was an amazing revival of the Reformed churches, beginning in the remote southern province of Languedoc.

The persecutions gradually eased. The last Huguenot galley slaves were released in 1775. At last, with public opinion beginning to change, the Edict of Toleration was granted in 1787 on the eve of the French Revolution. The diabolical tyranny of the Vatican-backed French monarchs received its just reward in the terror and bloodshed of the revolution (1789). It was a miracle that French Protestantism ever survived. Yet, in the midst of indescribable suffering, the testimony of the Huguenot pastors and people alike was unshaken. In their faithful witness to our Lord Jesus Christ, the assurance of the psalmist was theirs too: ‘Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation... O God, You are terrible out of Your holy places: the God of Israel is he that gives strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God’ (Psalm 68: 19, 35).                

While Calvin’s life and achievements are well known, the events and personalities of the French Reformation are mostly unknown, at least to the general Christian public. This is unfortunate since Calvin’s influence on later generations of French Protestants is a truly fascinating and inspiring story. In addition to the main chapter on Calvin, the outlines of five eminent Huguenot pastors - not to ignore a little-known ‘English son’ - are presented to raise the profile of these and other servants of Christ whose dedicated labours for the Gospel deserve to be better known. In days of unparallelled apostasy and confusion within the professing Church, these Huguenot heroes challenge us to greater faithfulness and dedication to the cause of Christ. If this quincentenary celebration contributes to that end then the author’s enthusiasm for his subject will have been justified.


Courage Under The Cross

Rev. Dr J. E. Hazlett Lynch
This book is being offered to the Christian reading public as a ministry of encouragement, especially for those who are finding the going tough at present; it is also for those known to you who are being opposed and persecuted for righteousness' sake.  It is not only Gospel ministers and preachers who experience the onslaughts of the world, the flesh and the devil; every Christian knows this in their lives.

So if you want to be better informed about this matter, and encouraged in your daily warfare as a Christian soldier, then this book is for you.  In it, you will read about Trouble Working For Us, That Thorn in the Flesh, Strength Renewed, Looking Unto Jesus, etc.

The teaching here is biblically-based, is practical, easily understood, and most encouraging.

For your convenience, I have added a PayPal button to this site.  PayPal, as you know, is fast, easy, safe and extremely highly recommended in industry, and one in whom you can have great confidence.  So, to get your copy of this excellent little book, price £5.00, click the BUY NOW button, and you will be taken to the official Paypal site.  Complete your credit or debit card details, and the book will be sent to you almost immediately.  If you already have a PayPal account,the purchase procedure is much easier.


 If you pay by this method, it will be despatched within two working days.

Breaking News - Calvin Anniversary Book

A brand new book, just coming off the printing presses as I write this to you, will very soon be available for my readership.  This book contains the lectures delivered at the 500th anniversary of the birth of Genevan reformed, John Calvin (1509-1564).  What the world and the church owes to Dr John Calvin will never be fully known or appreciated, so a group of admirers of Calvin prepared and delivered these papers at a conference in Norfolk in Spring 2009.

Please keep in touch with this site for further details.  This is a 'must read'  for Christian who want to understand better the faith they profess.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Prophetic Traitor?

When Jeremiah preached the Word of God and brought a message of destruction note people on account of their rebellion against God, they regarded him as a traitor.  A prophet is a man who sees what others do not see - the true state of the people of God, and of the society in which they live.  He also knows and says what is needed to remedy the situation, as well as knowing what will happen to them if they persist in their rebellion. 

Today, our culture has turned away from the Lord God and disparaged His Word to it.  Why should God bless us? What grounds are there for expecting God to bless us?  None.  We have played the fool, we have sinned exceedingly!  Jeremiah was counted a traitor when he spoke like that.  But is was the message that God gave him to proclaim.  It is clear that Jeremiah was walking close to the Lord when he was able to discern exactly what was in His mind regarding His sinful people.  All their external religion appeared to the eye to be the right religion, but something important was missing!  The real heart of true religion was just not there!  So the entire external form of religion meant nothing to God - and He told them so!  They had turned away from God's revealed will given in the Law and in the Word preached by Jeremiah, so He was going to bring terrible judgement upon them.  His message was one of total destruction.  They would not survive; the Temple (on which they put so much store) would be razed to the ground, and the people would be taken away into exile for many decades.  Ans this actually happened according to the word preached by Jeremiah. For 70 long years they languished in Babylon. 

But God, being the dependable covenant God, also spoke an overwhelmingly gracious promise to them, that after 70 years were up, He wold bring them back to their own land again.  But Jeremiah's message was one of total destruction. As we say, things will get worse before they will get better!  

You know, at times God's servants see what church members and elders and even other ministers cannot see - they can discern the times and the seasons.  When they compare what they see in the Scriptures with what they see before them week by week, and knowing what God has said and done in the past, they have only one message for the people of God, and that's the message God has put into their hearts.  And woe betide that minister who changes God's message to the people for the sake of being popular!  He turns himself into a wolf in sheep's clothing, a mere hireling, a man who preaches for money - and there are many such in the churches today. 

If your minister appears at times to be harsh and hard in the things he is saying, ask yourself, why is he saying these things?  Where have they come from?  Are there reasons why he is bringing these messages to us?  Is God in this situation?  I am not defending the right for ministers to be rude or crude in the pulpit, but I am saying that they are conscience bound to tell the people what the Lord has put into their hearts to tell them.  Sometimes conscientious ministers are heart scared at what the Lord is saying to them.  At times they would rather run a mile than preach what God has said; but preach it they must, if they are to be deemed faithful servants.

Those who want to remain at ease in Zion might regard him as a traitor to their church, denomination, cause; and so be it!  But they are being faithful to their souls when they are being faithful to God's truth and when they are applying it with clinical precision to those listening to them.

So pray for your minister rather than roast him.  And never underestimate his love for your souls.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Devilish Scholasticism

The main reason why the devil has taken a particular interest in me recently is that I am currently reading again DML-J's excellent sermons on Eph.6:10-13, The Christian Warfare.  These sermons are re-educating and reminding me of the subtle activity of the devil, and of his desire to destroy me and the work of God in and through me.

In the course of reading about "the wiles of the devil," DML-J makes this very insightful statement.  He preaches: The devil has wrought havoc in the Church in general, as well as in individual lives, many times throughout the centuries by producing a kind of scholasticism," (p. 156).  

It might be too much to say that the kind of scholasticism that has bedeviled reformed theology may well come from that source.  If the devil's stated plan and intention is the destruction of God's people and work on the earth, then what better way to do this than by using education and intellectualism as his tool?  He has endowed men with gifts of academic excellence, but the devil has taken these gifts and used them to the detriment of the Gospel.  We see that most clearly that in the case of Calvin's doctrine of the atonement and the Bezan development into high Calvinism, where the philosophy of medieval scholasticism was imposed on to the biblical teaching on the atonement.  Calvin adhered closely to the biblical data, but his followers down the Bezan road imposed this logic on to it and made it say what the original writers never intended it to say, namely that Christ died solely and exclusively for the elect, and none else.

This development was evidence of devilish influence, which influence DML-J saw as the devil's work.

The church needs to be very careful about what influences she allows to come into her family, because all such influences are detrimental to the work of the Gospel.  Indeed, where the Gospel, in all its glorious fulness, is not preached with passion and authority, there you can see evidence of the devil's activity.  High churchmen do not recognise this analysis because since Christ died only for the elect they will be saved infallibly come what may.  So you do not have to worry about whether the Gospel is preached or not.  Christ's death actually saved the elect, so preaching of the Gospel is not a necessary prerequisite to Gospel success.

Quite a handy theology to hold, is it not?  How pleased the devil is with such thinking and practice.  How he is rubbing his evil hands with glee when he sees this happen!  And all the while, the reformed high churchmen are oblivious to the fact that one day they too will have to give an account of their ministries and for what they were prepared to allow within their churches.  It just shows how little love they have for their co-religionists that they are happy to have non-Gospel preachers within the ministry of their church - which they claim is reformed.

Nameless Church Members

Have you noticed these people at church?  Perhaps you are one of them?  You've attended this church for some time, you leave the church after the service, the minister is at the door to greet those leaving, but he does not name you!  A nameless church member!

Because a person's name is synonymous with their person, to not name them when they have been in your church for a considerable length of time is to despise them as individuals.   It is a sign of interest in people when a minister not only gets to know their names but actually uses their names when meeting and greeting them.  Too many ministers today display no real interest in who attends their services - the "Nobodies" have been attending their church for ages, but they are still the church members with no name.

Does your minister know and use your name when speaking to you at the door?  If not, I think you might have to remind him of who you are - he has probably forgotten your name. Or worse.

Monday, 21 November 2011


"Nothing really matters nowadays, does it?"  "Anything goes."  "If it feels good, do it."  "What's natural is not sinful." 

You've heard these sayings before, and maybe also used them yourself.  These words are used by the 'philosophers' of today.  Philosophers, you say?  Yes.  The man in the street has been taught philosophy through the newspapers he reads, the TV programmes he watches, the radio shows he listens to, and the sermons he hears - all too often!  His conversations with the local 'wise men' have also contributed to his knowledge.

And the end result?  Everything is relative.  There is no such thing as 'good' or 'bad.'  If it feels good, go for it.  Church members today are relatively Christian.  Terrorists are relatively good - it all depends on the circumstances that called forth their actions.  Thieves are relatively good, as are other murderers.  Everything has been synthesised, or relativised, robbed of any moral content.

These are examples of the 'wiles of the devil' that have brought about this change. The church does not see it as such - indeed, large tracts of the church are so advanced today they do not even believe in a personal devil - but sees it rather as maturity, as spiritual and intellectual growth; only backwoodsmen still believe in the existence of the devil.

Indeed, what is morality today?  It's what gives you pleasure.  It's what serves your purposes best.  It's what gets you an and up.  Anything goes.

There being no moral absolutes today for the majority of people is undeniable.  Even the churches believe this as is seen in their practice.  Church ministers will lie if it serves their purposes best.  They will operate sharp practice where necessary.  Members will care nothing about morality when it comes to business matters. 

And why is this?  It is because there is no God.  Why else can people act and behave the way they do?  If they really believed that God was watching them, they would not and could not do the things they do.  Listen to their speech, their foul mouths, their blasphemies against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the lewd stories they tell, the enjoyment they get out of reading the 'filth' press. That tells it all. 

The church knows that these people are in membership and some hold official positions within their congregations.  But does the church care about the purity of Christ's Bride?  Not at all.  Why?  Because everything is relative.  A swearing, foul-mouthed elder is relatively good, because his other 'good' deeds outweigh his blasphemy and dirty talk.  The use of such language reveal an unregenerate heart, but the church hides behind the thought that because we cannot see a man's heart we must accept what we can see, and make a judgement on that. 

But here's the rub - the church does not even act on what it can see, and what it knows.  It covers up what it refuses to admit.  And look where that has got us!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Plastic Church!

This is a cheap and artificial imitation of the real thing, a description that suits many churches today.  They are artificial, their membership is artificial, their worship and service are artificial, the preaching is artificial, etc.

They offer an artificial remedy for a real spiritual problem.  The love and care they show are artificial.  Their involvement in the world as the Voice of God is artificial - they tend more to be the official chaplains of political parties and governments than prophetic voices bringing the Word of God to a needy society. 

It is surely time for a new reformation and spiritual revolution within the churches.  No longer can ministers hold on to their reformed heritage; they must go and make that reformed heritage real in today's church; otherwise it will remain a plastic church!

Do you really want that?

Darkley Massacre 26 years on.

Today (20th Nov 2011) at about 5:45 pm marks the 26th anniversary of the massacre at the Mountain Lodge Pentecostal Church in South Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1985.  The church was just gathering for worship at 6:00 pm when republican terrorists burst in and shot dead three church elders, two of whom I knew personally and whose funerals I conducted.  

Our service at Armaghbreague Presbyterian Church was being held on that same night, and the terrorist attack was just about half a mile, as the crow flies, from our meeting house.  Our church services were held under armed police and army protection for many months thereafter.

That marked a new low for republican terrorists in their campaign of genocide against the Protestant people of Northern Ireland.  They had promised to do a spectacular, and this was it!  They had also promised that in comparison, this would be like a Sunday school picnic.  They fulfilled that promise, too.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families of the bereaved and injured for whom today will be a difficult day.

Empty Words Pervert the Truth!

Through Jeremiah, God spoke to Israel about falsehood and exploration.  Even writing these words in the context of the people of God is somewhat incongruous, and unnatural.  But it is a fact of life within the people of God, and one that is ignored to its detriment.

These are sins that are linked with our words.  Precious biblical words have been seriously devalued by the church, and it is no surprise that this generation is not most impatient with god-words, to the point that it has jettisoned them altogether.  And who can blame them!

The sad outcome of that is that many people outside and inside the church are looking to the world for help and support.  This happened in Jeremiah's day, as it is doing in our own.  In his day, the people of God looked to other heather nations for help and protection when things were going against Israel. 

The church of today is no different.  From where does she get her inspiration in the realm of worship?  From the pop charts!  She goes directly to the world for guidance, for content, for methodology.  To the world!  And when this is imported into the Christian church, she is denigrated in herself, and actually perverted the truth of God!

Here is the reason why the church is as irrelevant as she is to many people today.  if she does not stand squarely on the truth if the Gospel, she is an irrelevance!  And rightly so!  Ambivalence towards THE TRUTH is a common-place in much Western church life.  The ready acceptance of theological liberalism by the churches is the efficient cause of her emptiness.  The willingness of evangelical ministers to work happily and side-by-side with anti-Gospel ministers is a damning commentary on where these churches and ministers are.  Their defense is that provided all ministers and elders subscribe to an agreed set of words - words! - they will be accepted by evangelicals as bona fide ministers of the Gospel.  How utterly ridiculous!  It is all about 'words' again!

No wonder she knows no power in her life!  And whence cometh this? From the acceptance wholesale of the synthesis of Hegel.  He taught that there is no such thing as opposites, theological or otherwise.  Truth and error are just two legitimate ways of looking at the same data.  You see it your way and I see it in mine.  There is no right, therefore its opposite does not exist.  There is no light, therefore its opposite does not exist. There is no God therefore the opposite does not exist.  In the modern church there is no antithesis, no negatives, no wrath, no judgement, do eternal damnation, NOTHING!  The church today is like a battery with only one pole - the positive; such a battery cannot exist, therefore to talk of it kike this is a nonsense.  But that is precisely the position of the church today - she is regarded as a nonsense by many within her and by multitudes outside her.

It is surely time for the church to either put biblical content into her God-words, or else to have done with them for good.  She cannot go on playing  this game called church.  Time has been called.  What will she do?

Ecclesiastical Exploitation.

It is very easy for the orthodox, liberal and quasi-evangelical churches to speak of 'love' and yet live without it.  It is also easy for the now-generation outside the church to do exactly the same.  In the sixties the hippies talked a lot about love, usually what they termed 'free love,' resulting in the creation of a desert and wilderness where they made their hunting grounds.  Drawn my the cry of 'love,' many a flower girl has been evacuated of everything noble and decent before she reached the aged of fourteen. 

So the word 'love' is used outside and inside the church with great frequency.  Also the word 'care' is a vogue word in religious circles.  They speak of 'caring' churches and of the church as a 'caring community.'  But where the evidence is to substantiate that claim is difficult to see. 

Yet, the unwary are being taken in, sucked in, by such god-talk.  However, the discerning are not; and when they dare to challenge to question what this talk is all about, they are deemed to be the breakers of the peace. 
Indeed, the world outside the church is not too impressed with such unreal talk, and has given up on all such religious Latin.  But wherever this precious term, 'love,' is used, it is to deceive and to exploit the vulnerable. 

How are they exploited by the church?  They are exploited by the church when the church promises them something that they both need and want, but do not deliver.  In fact, many who have been at the receiving end of church exploitation have been left very sore, and unable to trust the church, and sadly, many church Christians, ever again.  Church exploitation is a deceptive device to draw the unsuspecting into its fold, and then to use them as mere fodder - to boost income, to boost numbers, to raise status, etc.  But this is exploitation nonetheless.

I wrote some time ago about child exploitation within the churches.  This is still a problem.  they are used to fill the Sunday School classes and youth organisations, but in many cases that is all they are there for. Are they told the Gospel in plain and clear terns?  Would to God that this was done in every Sunday School and youth organisation; but alas, it isn't.  To my knowledge, many who hold positions of youth leadership hate the Gospel with a passion, and many Sunday School teachers are ignorant of the saving message.  So how can they possibly teach the Gospel to the children? he simple and obvious answer is that they can't. These children and young people are being exploited IN AND BY THE CHURCH, just as adults are!

Does your church do that?

25 Hours of Satanic Attack.

The 25 hours from Friday night (18th Nov 2011) to Sat midnight (19th Nov) have been the most terroible I've experienced for some time.  Satan has dogged my every step, and attacked me in numerous ways. My mind has been at sea at times, and my thoughts unrepeatable. He left me in a total spin for too long, brought me to think I cannot get through this, I'm going to perish, I'm a very bad man, not a Christian, a disgrace to the world let alone to the church and to my precious Saviour.  He has insinuated into my mind that I am hopelessly trapped with no way out, and not even God can help me now.  Nobody wants me, I'm nothing but refuge, good only for the scrap heap.  I could not pray, I felt as if I was being strangled and suffocated, and as if the Lord had departed from me. My mind seemed to have been taken over for periods, then for other periods, the situation eased, then back the devil came again, and tried to completely control my mind.  It was awful, and very scary.  He was fighting at close quarters and Paul's metaphor  in Eph.6:10f of "wrestling" is most apt.  It was close hand to hand conflict, only, despite knowing the enemy was there, I could not see him.  I could 'hear' him, recognised his voice, understood what he was suggesting to me, but I could not see the spirit fiend.

That was up to late Saturday night.  Attended church Sunday morning, and the prayers of the assistant minister enabled me to lift up my heart to the Lord whose forgiveness and grace were offered to me again. What a relief this is.

Thankfully the devil has left me - but only for a season. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the devil has suggested to me, "I'll be back.  Hasta lavista, Hazlett."  But he's away at the moment, glorying in his attack against me and partial victory over me.  But when I told him that all he said was true, but that he left out one very important point, and that was that despite all he said and all he knows about me, I belong to Christ, I know he'll be enraged, and will be back for another go.

This is how to defeat him, Christian brothers and sisters - talk back to him in the Name of Christ.  Whatever you do, do not try to take him on in your own strength or by your own cleverness - he will defeat you at the beginning of round one!  Get back to Christ as soon as you can, and as you make your way back to Him, WRESTLE LIKE MAD AGAINST HIS EVIL SUGGESTIONS AND TEMPTATIONS. He will leave you - he must!  But it will only be for a season.  Until that times comes, make sure you have the whole armour of God on you, and "each piece put on with prayer."