Saturday, 24 December 2011

God Sent Forth His Son.

God has shown remarkable patience with the world.  In His patience, He has given the human race more than sufficient time to prove that it cannot save itself.  The world had all the wisdom of the Egyptians, but this could not save the world.  The Persian and Assyrian empires were also given time to prove what they could do to change man, but they too failed.  Then we had the Grecian and Roman empires with all their great philosophy and debating skills, and all their legal and administrative expertise, but still no improvement came to the world.  In fact, the longer man tried to improve the world, the more it nose-dived into moral and spiritual corruption. All these purely human attempts to save humanity from itself, let alone from the coming wrath of God, failed lamentably. 

But God!  Here are Paul's great words.  But God.  When the fulness of the time had come, when men had more than sufficient time to prove themselves, and failed, God stepped in and did what man could not do and never can do - save the world.  All man's solutions were but treating the symptoms and did nothing to resolve man's estranged relationship with God, his Creator and Judge.  If the world were ever going to be saved, God must do it. And he did.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, born of a woman, the virgin Mary, and born under the law, that He might redeem those under the law.

You see, man's greatest need was for redemption.  He needed to be redeemed; and everything he did throughout the whole of history was woefully inadequate.  But God's action was adequate, adequate to save the entire human race, on condition of faith. If man would but believe in the only Saviour of the world, he would be saved.  God would redeem him and bring him into fellowship with Himself.  He would deliver him from this present evil world/age. 

But man still thinks he knows best, better than God.  Man is still trying to work his own salvation, but he is destined to fail, and face divine judgement. Man still needs Christ.  And the Christ he needs was sent on the first Christmas to redeem mankind.  This is what Christmas is all about.  It is about God's way of salvation.  The Son of the Virgin is our only hope for time and for eternity.  His mother cannot do anything for you, so don't be deceived by those religious people who tell you she can.  That blessed woman was a saved sinner like me and many others; she too needed a Saviour.  So she cannot help you.  But the fruit of her womb can and will do for you what no one else, including yourself, can do - he can save you the moment you trust in Him alone for salvation.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Unbiblical Authoritarianism Within the Churches.

The sad reality amongst some of the churches in Northern Ireland is that some of God's dear servants are being opposed by professing evangelical and reformed ministers.  It is strange, but true.  These are reformed evangelicals who have elevated the church denomination way above the Gospel.  For them, being a 'good servant of the church' equates with being a 'good servant of the Gospel.' These ought to be synonymous realities, but the truth is that this is not the case. It is so sad that Gospel preachers within these denominations are being harried and 'monitored' and 'watched' by the "eyes and ears" of the establishment bodies, namely, their colleagues in the ministry and their 'agents' in the pews.

Now there are also ministers who are being - at this very time - opposed and persecuted by non-believers who have been accepted as Christians by the church's elders and therefore as church members.  This is what Gospel ministers must expect in what are imperfect churches.  But the servants of Satan masquerading as Christians is another matter altogether.  Even within the ministry there are those who not only do not preach a clear Gospel message but even undermine and deny it.

My heart yearns for these brethren, knowing, as I do, what this means in experience, not only for the minister, but for his wife and children as well.  That's why, I believe, the important place of the Christian minister within the churches and his teaching role there, must be reinforced robustly because they are people within the churches that are determined to silence the preaching of the gospel, and therefore the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God.  There is too much at stake in our province to allow this to happen.  Irish writer James Joyce once said, "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing."  I do not intend this to happen in my country without a passionate effort on my part to maintain the centrality of the preaching ministry within the churches.

We often hear of the persecution of ministers in foreign lands, and we pray for these brothers who are facing death every day.  But we are allowing the devil to proceed uninhibitedly in Ulster when we believe that this is still a Gospel preaching land, and that the churches here are faithful to the Gospel.  I only wish this were the case, and pray that ere long, this will be a Gospel preaching and Gospel believing land once again.

The church in Ulster is in a sorry mess.  So deep are the spiritual problems that it defies understanding to know what way to move in order to form a biblical church.  These churches belong to high orthodoxy, so for anyone to question their adherence, say, to the WCF, would be tantamount to heresy.  These churches have been paralysed to an alarming degree by their official acceptance of Owenism, that it is difficult to see how such churches can be reformed according to the Scriptures, and to live under the Lordship of Christ.  Have you ever heard of an Owenite church being reformed?  " They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick." These are righteous churches that "need no repentance." Only God by His Spirit can bring such dead orthodox churches to see the need to seek Christ to revive and reform them.  In addition, clericalism is becoming a real problem, if not a nuisance, with reformed evangelical churches in Ulster.  Thankfully there are some who are prepared to confront and challenge this unbiblical authoritarianism. 

Amyraldian Unorthodoxy?

Reflecting on the view of some concerning the orthodoxy of Amyraldianism, I reckon that those same men would not have DMLJ, J. C. Ryle, Thomas Chalmers, R. M.McCheyne, John or Chas Wesley, Philip Doddridge, J. Edwards, Joseph Bellamy, Richard Baxter, Jean Daille, Moise Amyraut, or even the great John Calvin himself, to preach in their pulpits. How sad!  But, I trust that those who hold such views will come to see that my theological position, according to Macleod and Muller, is an integral part of our cherished reformed tradition; more importantly it is biblical because it takes the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture with utmost seriousness.  How Owen can exegete "world" in John 3:16 to mean "the world of the elect" defies comprehension!  This is to prostitute Scripture. 

The rush by reformed men to squeeze the texts of Scripture into the WCF, or any other, mould, is a denial of the supremacy of Scripture in the life and witness of the Christian and of the church.  It is surely a cardinal aspect of Romanism that Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) is not enough, having to be supplemented by the church's magisterium. Is the WCF, in the minds of many reformed men, not their equivalent of the Roman magisterium?  How would they answer that?  It is no good their saying that it is a 'subordinate standard' when they elevate it in practice above Scripture!  Does it not smack of Rome's elevation of Mary above Christ?  I think so.  Oh, I hope wiser counsels prevail.

How dangerous a thing it is for men to defer in everything to any man-made document, however good it is deemed to be, while not granting to Scripture its rightful place!  What does God think of that, I wonder?  Is He pleased that a subordinate standard has been elevated over His infallible Word?  Has the church prospered when this has happened in the past?  I don't think so. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

John Calvin 500 Now Available.

I am so pleased to inform you that the book "John Calvin 500 - a reformation affirmation" has now come off the presses, and is available for you to read and study.  Published by Charenton Reformed Publishing, the book deals with Calvin and Christ, Calvin and Calvinism, Calvin and Church, Calvin and Covenant, Calvin and Comfort, and Calvin and Courage. £12.50 (postage extra).  The six lecturers provide us with a lot to think about and assess.  The author of this blog is privileged to be amongst them.

Get your copy NOW through this blogsite.  £12.50 plus p&p.

Have a Blessed Christmas!

May I take this opportunity to wish all my readers and followers a very blessed Christmas, the time of the year when we remember with thanksgiving the glorious and miraculous birth of the Saviour of the world. 

Thank you so much for following this website; I hope you are challenged and convicted by what you read, but also encouraged and built up in your faith.  When going through troubles times, it is an encouragement to know that there are others who are experiencing the same things in different places.  We are not on our own, as Satan would want us to believe. And he also wants us to believe that he is supreme! He's NOT!  Christ, by His coming, life, death and resurrection has defeated him totally, and what we are experiencing are merely the dying flings of a fatally wounded enemy.  Praise the Lord. 

This is the message of Christmas.  Our Saviour is victorious.  As Calvin maintained, GOD MUST WIN!

May God bless you all at this time, and give you a most blessed 2012.

The Right Question!

I think the one big question we have to ask ourselves in church work is this: What is the Lord actually doing here?  How easy it is to get our eyes off Him and see only the activity of Satan through his servants.  We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the whole range of the forces of darkness at every level.  When God removes the unbelievers from a church and replaces them with true Christians, then He is at work; and so is Satan!  Then He will start to draw other unbelievers in under the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of God's sovereign rule and reign over all things.
I am just finishing DMLJ on The Christian Warfare, and hope to move on to The Christian Soldier very shortly.  What a read, and what ministry to my soul.  While there are church ministers whose decided purpose in life is to oppose the Gospel ministers amongst them, DMLJ was the very opposite.  He was the great encourager of Gospel preachers regardless of denominational alignment.  He wasn't too concerned about the accuracy of a man's theology so long as he gave him a sense of the presence of God.  Orthodoxy is important and we should always strive to be as orthodox as we can; but never at the expense of the Gospel.  I am also reading Francis Schaeffer's books, and what a taste of heaven these are.  His ability to dissect what passes for Christianity, especially within the evangelical world, is unsurpassed.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Perverted Pastors

When the Bible condemns the false prophets who preach error to their people, the danger is for us to see the reference to those other churches, the 'unfaithful' ones, but not ours, the 'faithful' ones.  Our church, our denomination, is faithful and true to the Gospel, but these others have 'sold the pass' and have apostasised.  In the northern kingdom of Israel, the church and her prophets were condemned by Jeremiah, and rightly so.  Now, the southern kingdom, Judah, would have breathed a sigh of relief because he condemned the northerners.  But now, he turns to the south and he says they are no better. Come right into the HQ of the Jewish church, and what do you see?  "I have seen ... evildoers," (Jer.23). He sees "a horrible thing," a thing that causes horror, terror, fear.  And He sees this "in the prophets of Jerusalem." 

Here, too, the preachers come under the searchlight of God's Word, and what is exposed is not impressive.  Jeremiah tells us plainly what he sees in the clergy class: "they commit adultery, and walk in lies." Adulterers in the church's ministry!  Ministers who walk in lies - in the church! Now what do these people do, what is their purpose and intent of their ministry?  "They strengthen also the hands of evildoers that no one returns from his wickedness."  In other words, no repentance is preached.  Why?  Because to do so might resurrect all these skeletons in the cupboard of the preachers' lives.  They have no moral authority to preach the truth.  Preachers who "walk in lies" have no authority to peach the truth.  If they say too much, their hearers might know secrets about them and expose them; so they preach a cosy message that keeps their people anesthetised , spiritually paralysed and inert.  That's a safe place fr such people and pastors - each admiring the other.

With this obtaining within the churches of today, is it any wonder that the situation in the nation is so bleak!  If the church is rotten inside, we cannot expect the society within which she lives to be any better. 

Irresponsible Preachers

Dr F. A. Schaeffer wrote, " our generation, when men listen at the doors of many churches, what they hear is non-truth."  In other words, they are hearing the negative of truth which may be understand as error and falsehood.  Truth has been undermined by these 'prophets,' and what they substitute in place of the true Gospel  is not Gospel (Gal.1:7), but the opposite; it is a soul-destroying message that allows condemned sinners to go on in their rebellion and guilt to a Christless eternity.  It is a message that not only enrages God, but does an irreparable dis-service to those who hear them.  It is the very height of spiritual irresponsibility, and will result in eternal loss for all those who preach thus and to those who hear them and it.  Whatever else they might imagine it to be, it is not Gospel; it is non-Gospel.

Now. when the preachers of non-Gospel messages do so, it has a clearly designed result; it causes "my people Israel to err," (Jer.23:13-16).  It is the wrong messages that the people listen to in good faith that causes them to err - in thought and in action.  While the responsibility for choosing to listen to error lies rightly with the people themselves, the greater responsibility lies with the pedlars of false doctrine, error, falsehood, non-Gospel. What a condemnation awaits such people!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Jesus Means Saviour

Mary was told to call the Child's name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.  The birth of Christ is about redemption, salvation, reconciliation.  It is about God taking the initiative and acting for man's eternal salvation.  His action is seen in His sending His only Son into this world, with a set purpose.  That purpose was one of salvation.  He came to save His people from their sins.  He is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (Jn.1:29).  He came to save.

Christmas is about God's saving action in Christ, and specifically in Christ's death on the Cross for our sin.  He was our Substitute, the divine Substitute.  "He died the Just for the unjust to bring us to God," (1 Pet.3:18). 

If you see Christmas in this way, you are seeing it properly. If not, then you are turning it into a truly pagan festival.

Do Not Harm My Prophets!

The Lord's prophets are those men called and set apart by God to declare His Word to the whole world. They are God's special servants who have vouchsafed to them the protection of the Lord of hosts, God almighty.  They have been separated from the rest of God's people to this very special work and the highest of all callings - the work of declaring His Gospel to all men.

The man who dares to harm these called servants of the Lord are placing himself in great eternal jeopardy.  He does not realise that to do so will bring dire consequences for him, and for his family.  God calls out to the world, "Do not harm my prophets."  Yet men do this very thing.

How utterly blind and foolish they are!  Only a man inspired with deep hatred for the Gospel and the Saviour would stop to do such a thing.  "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," (Heb.10:31).  The God of the Christian church is the living God.  To fall into His hands is a thing too terrible for words.  It strikes fear into the heart at the very though of it. 

Is anyone out there reading this doing that very thing? Then desist immediately otherwise you will face the living God in a terrible judgement.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Touch Not My Anointed!

What a timely warning!  What an urgent reminder! And why is it needed? Because many within the visible church do not seem to know that this is in the Bible (Ps.105:15 and also in 1 Chron.16:22). They appear to have this idea - where they got it from one can guess! - that they have the right to abuse God's children in whatever way they choose, and get away with it.  They believe that if the prophet of the Lord challenges the church or their own lives from the Word of God, that they can retaliate in kind.

Have they not read their Scriptures? Do they not know their Bible?  God said DO NOT TOUCH THEM!  Yet they go on and touch them.  What a foolish thing to do.  They are going against the express command of the LORD to His people.  And they do it to their own peril.

God's Favourites

In the light of God's precious truth, let us remember that men cannot wrong us unless He allows them to do so.  But even then, they are culpable before God for what they do.  For any man or woman to breach the divine protection of a saint of God and to harm that saint, is to do massive injustice to the man; but it is also to do despite to the God under whose protection he is.  Woe is that man who dares to breach God's hedge of protection that He has placed around that saintly man. 

Yet, sometimes in our experience, we find that God allows our enemies to come perilously close to us.  But they cannot lay a finger upon us without His permission.  He has issued a restraining order on them so that it is 'thus far and no further.'  The wicked would devour us if they could, but they cannot do so.  Even strangers must be made to respect the servants of God, yea, kings.  But C. H. Spurgeon is correct: "the greatest kings are very second-rate persons with God in comparison with his chosen servants."

Divine Protection All The Way.

When the Patriarchs wandered about from country to country, they were singularly preserved by Almighty God.  That little wandering family might have been cut off root and branch had not a special mandate from the Throne for their protection.  It was not the gentleness of their neighbours that screened them; nor was it their own cunning and craftiness that enabled them to avoid hurt; they were, rather, hedged about by a mysterious guardianship of heaven.  God was with them all the way.  Whether they found themselves in Egypt, or in Philistia, or in Canaan, they were being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.  These heirs of salvation, these inheritors of the promises, dwelling in their tents, were always secure.

And this was written for our learning!  What God did for the covenant people long ago, He will do for them today.  Wherever they go, whatever their circumstances, God is with them to protect and bless them.  He will not leave us nor forsake us; He is faithful who promised, and who also will do it.  He kept them long ago, and He will keep us too.

Immanuel - God is with us!  Let us rejoice in this most glorious of messages.  Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus. 

Christmas - God's Declaration of War Against Satan!

The apostle John tells us that the reason the Son of God was manifested was "that he might destroy the works of the devil," (1 Jn.3:8).  No, it's not just a nice little children's story about a Baby being born in poverty and in filth in a stable, though that is part of His humiliation.  The birth of Jesus Christ was God's declaration of war against the devil and his angels.  It was God putting Satan on final notice that his time was up. 

Yes, He came to die for our sins, and to reconcile us to God.  And in order to do that He had to defeat the devil and his hellish forces and powers that are at work in this sinful world.  He came for that very purpose.  It was no accident that He came.  It was charged with heavenly purpose.  God was up to something cosmic when He sent his Son into the world.  And we have seen some of what He has in mind;but we must await another day to see fully what was involved in that majestic plan.

Are you excited by the prospect of seeing God's plan unfold before your very eyes?  Are you glad that you are part of this great plan?  Or are you afraid that this plan might be directed against you, because you still belong to the devil's kingdom and people? 

Don't Blame the People!

Dr Francis A. Schaeffer denies that most of the blame for the current state of the church lies with the opposing powers outside of her, but with the religious leaders who have set about destroying her from the inside.  This was true in OT times, and it is also true today.  They knew the truth, but deliberately turned away from it into relativism and apostasy, and became a mere echo of modern secular thought.

True, the biblical diagnosis is not comfortable reading, especially for those charged with responsibility for feeding the sheep, and teaching the people.  Jeremiah describes these unfaithful servants as "profane" and "wicked," (23;11).  They have brought their wickedness into the very house of God.  Imagine that!  Profane prophets and priests have brought their filth, their worldly-mindedness into God's sanctuary!  The very thought of it is appalling!  They cannot blame the people for making them do it, as Aaron did at the bottom of Mount Sinai.  No, they introduced their wickedness into the house of God.  They polluted God's house with their evangelised secularism; they 'christened' the world, and brought it into the church; they baptised heathenism, and made it part of the worship of God. And on and on it goes.

Ministers cannot seem to get enough of the world - its popular applause, its riches, its plaudits, its recognition.  What they forget, of course, is that the praise of man rules out the praise that comes from God, and is an abomination in His sight.

What gross wickedness it is for God's appointed servants to bring what is anti-God right into His house.  How will they answer for their wickedness?  And how will those who support them and turn a blind eye to what they are doing will be punished by the sovereign Lord.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christ's First Coming.

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."  That's the Christmas message in a nutshell. That's why He came.  Forget about all the hype and the commercialisation, etc.  Christ's coming into the world was a mercy mission that is directed towards YOU.  He came because He needed to come if ever you were to be saved.  Without His coming into the world as Man, indeed as God-Man, you could never be saved.  But He came, willingly and in obedience to His Father's will, to save a wretch like you. 

But it was not just His coming that saves; in act that by itself does not save anyone.  His coming was to die on Calvary. But not just that.  He came to die the cruel death of the Cross so that you might never taste the wrath of God towards sin.  And the message of Christmas is God's offer of salvation to you.

Don't put this matter off.  You might not even see Christmas this year, let alone 2012.  Do it now.  Get right with God NOW!

Christmas Resolves Life's Emptiness.

Dr John "Rabbi" Duncan was born in Aberdeen at the end of the eighteenth century, the son of a shoemaker. He was brought up in a Christian home by his parents, John and Ann, being the only remaining child of the marriage.  His mum died when he was just 5 or 6.  He was sent to grammar school, and then moved on to university where he engaged in a philosophical search.  And the result?  He discovered a godless humanity.  Man without God is a godless spectacle that is to be pitied.  He is lost, not knowing who or what he is, what purpose he is, or what the future holds for him. 

This is true of mankind without Christ.  He is heading for the rocks, for shipwreck, and is going to be dashed against the Rock, Christ Jesus, on the great and terrible Day of Judgement.

Man without Christ is like other beasts - living for himself, and for nothing higher than going through the degrading sameness of natural wants and daily supplies.  He was born to eat and drink and digest, and then die.

If that is all you have to look forward to, then Christmas time will give you pause to reconsider your life and were it is heading to.  Christ came into the world to save the human race, and that includes you.  He came to give life, not destroy it.  He came to fulfil, not to destroy.  He came to give life more abundant and life that is real.

Do you know this life?  Remember, Christmas is not a festival; it is an experience.  To truly observe Christian, or the birth of Christ, then you must receive Him into your heart.  He must be born in your heart spiritually, just as He was born in a stable long ago.  He must come and live permanently within your soul, for you to experience the real meaning of Christmas.

Wheat and Arsenic?

Could it be said of the church today that what is being served up by preachers is a cocktail of "wheat and arsenic"?  Whether a soul perishes in hell forever depends entirely on the proportions ("Rabbi" Duncan).  Atheism has no redeeming grain of wheat, nor has any of its children - liberalism, relativism, secularism, pantheism or ecumenism. 

Think about that!

Does Believer's Baptism Advance Spirituality?

If it is a spiritual thing for Christians who belong to 'reformed' churches to be baptised again as adult believers, the obvious conclusion is that they become much better Christians as a result of having passed through the "waters of baptism." This is a great and practical and observable test of their 'obedience' to God, as they see it and as the pretext for being re-baptised.  Those who have done this must assess their spiritual experience and live by this.  Are they more spiritual Christians now as a result of being re-baptised as adult believers than before?  Are they more obedient to Christ now than they were before?  Are they better church members now than they were before? Are they easier to live for now than before?  Are they less self-centred now than before?  Is Christ seen more in their lives now than before? Are they dying more to sin and living more to Christ and to righteousness than before?

Let a man examine himself - and women too.

Mary the Saved Sinner!

The virgin Mary, so she tells us herself in Luke 1:46,47, was a sinner who needed a Saviour, like everybody else.  She tells us that her "soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour."  This is her personal testimony; Mary is telling us about her spiritual pilgrimage.  She came to see herself as a condemned and guilty sinner, lost and undone; then by the work of the Holy Spirit, she came to see that the Saviour she so urgently needed was the God about whom she had been taught as a child.  God became her Saviour, therefore, she needed to be saved; and God saved her precious soul.

How facile and wrong it is for Romanism to claim that Mary was immaculately conceived, a doctrine that was only invented in 1854; Rome's theologians were, and are, slow learners, taking almost 1900 years to work out this erroneous doctrine or dogma of the immaculate conception of the virgin Mary.  For a religion that accepts the Scriptures as a church authority, her denial of Luke 1:46,47 is culpable.  That's why it is very wise to expose and oppose Rome's dogmas, and it is even more wise to have nothing to do with her false doctrines.

Calvin's Conception of Christmas.

Why did God send His Son into the world, an event that is commemorated at this time of year?  Let the reformer from geneva tell us his view:

"The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of man might become the sons of God."

His purpose in sending His to the Cross is thoroughly evangelistic, redemptive, salvific.  Christ came into the world to save sinners, and "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."  So He came to save all who believe in Him. 

Are you saved?  Have you come to the Saviour?  Do you see your need of the Saviour?