Saturday, 31 December 2011

Have a Most Blessed 2012.

Since time of God's creation and His gift to the world, may I wish all my readers and visitors God's richest blessing in 2012.  Some of you will have already entered 2012, and the rest of us have to wait a short time longer to do so.  But our God is the God of time and space, and He has His sovereign hands firmly at the controls, and whatever 2012 brings for us, we can be assured that He is the Master of time and history.

Put your trust in Him for your future and for the future. God bless you all.

Paul Preaches the Cross.

What did Paul preach that brought down Holy Spirit?  “Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” (1 Cor.2:2).  He preached the Cross.  He preached the death of Christ for lost mankind. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  “There is none righteous, no, not one.” “There is none that does good, no, not one.”  All are sinners, therefore all need the Saviour.  Jn.3:16 tells us that sent One Who was to be that very Saviour the world needs so badly.  Only at the Cross is there salvation for anyone.  Christ died for you, my friend.  God does not want anyone, not even you, to perish, but to come to repentance, (2 Pet.3:9).  And all means all.  There are no exceptions, no exclusions but those who exclude themselves.  Paul  preached this mess “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”  
Oh for Spirit-filled preachers in our churches today! Pray for men who will be so surrendered to Christ and so filled with His Spirit this 2012, that we will see great advances for the Kingdom of God.  Pray for a mighty revival in, and reformation of, the Church.  For preaching will be totally useless without this.  Plead with God to give Him in great measure.  Pray to God to bring preachers back to the Cross, and to declare it without fear or favour, and regardless of the smiles or frowns of those who listen to them.   This was Paul's message – it must also be ours.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Preaching the Cross!

I think that evangelical preachers need to be very careful when preaching about, or better, preaching, the Cross, and not be lulled into the old bankrupt liberalism that distorted and even denied the Bible's own teaching on this vitally important doctrine.

What was achieved at the Cross was more than expiation, more than the dealing with man's sin and guilt.  Man's sin was not not the only that confronted God ( and I do not intend to be irreverent here); there was the greater problem of God's wrath to be considered and dealt with, a fact that is often missed by evangelical preachers.  The problem is not only on man's side - there is a problem on God's side that has to be addressed, namely, His wrath, His holiness, righteousness and justice.

Let us all be careful to maintain the Bible's own perfect balance.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

No Fear of God.

Do you know what's wrong with many of us?  I will tell you: we have no fear of God.  If only we feared God more, we’d worship and serve Him better.  If you and I knew what it was to fall prostrate before His awful majesty and His blinding purity, then we’d be much better Christians.  But alas, that is not the case. And do you know what the consequence of that is?  We have no fear of treating God and things of God with utter contempt.  We have no genuine concern for God’s people – anything goes and anything will do; nor have we any great concern for God’s prophets.  We despise His people and His prophets. And why? Because we do not fear God. The fear of God is not in our hearts.  We treat Him as a religious commodity, as a kind of spiritual insurance policy, as a nice thing to believe in.  But no more.

That’s why God gave us His Word, and especially the Psalms – they teach us Who and what He is.  They teach us His ways; they show to us the wonder of His grace;  and they show us how much He really loves us.  He wants us to kn Him really well; He wants our knowledge of Him to increase daily.  When we truly know God, we will fear Him.  We will stand in awe of His awful Majesty. We will shut our mouths at very thought of His dreadful power and  might.  And we’ll wonder at His marvellous providence in the world and in our lives.

Our problem is that we talk too much, not only about God but. to God. We do not know what it is to stand in dreadful silence before Him. We rush in and babble away, as if we were speaking to our best mate.  We have no idea of the fear of God in our hearts.  

Did DMLJ's Publishers Distort His Teaching?

For over 40 years I have been an avid reader of DMLJ, and I will be eternally grateful to the Banner for making so many of his books and sermons available to a wider reading Christian public.  

In my reading, I have noticed something to which I wish to draw your attention.  First, when reading through his sermons, he always quoted frequently from the hymns of the great hymn-writers of the past, and used these to illustrate some point he was making.  This practice gave me a greater appreciation of Christian hymnody, and saw how hymns could be used to light up a text of Scripture or some truth that was being expounded.

However, when I turned to his sermons on Ephesians, I discovered either that he deliberately skipped that portion (5:19, 20) which is most unlikely, given the Doctor's concern to deal exhaustively with his text; or else someone else made the decision to delete his exposition of these verses for some other reason.  If the reason is the former, then that's one thing, however unlikely it might be, but if it is the latter, then someone has decided to distort the Doctor's theology and practice by removing these sermons for the published series.  In this series, as in all his preaching, he deals thoroughly with every text, so it is most strange that he skipped over these two verses and proceeded on to v.21.

A similar policy decision was taken by Banner editors not to include DMLJ's sermon on Roman Catholicism (originally sermon 16) also in the Ephesians series where the Doctor was expounding "the wiles of the devil" in Eph.6.  One must ask, Why was this done and who authorised such an omission?  This can be viewed as shewing the Doctor's teaching, and again I ask, What was the thinking behind this move?

Another Right Question!

In an earlier post I suggested that in churches where the minister is having difficulty through opposition to the Gospel, the right question to ask is, What is God doing in our midst?

Another pertinent question that ministers can ask is, What is the Lord doing in my life?  This is a profoundly personal question, and one that can shake us to the core.  And if the question can do that, what effect will the answer not have on us!

Yet it is a vitally important question to ask.  If God is working within His church, it follows as night does the day that He is also working in us.  So what is He doing in us?  What lessons is He teaching us?  What does He want us to learn?

Unnerving questions indeed!  But we must ask them if we are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. We must face up to what God is doing, not only through us, but IN us. 

Monday, 26 December 2011

New Book on Calvin and Calvinism

I trust you have a really blessed time as you remembered and celebrated the birth of the Saviour of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ.  As we often say, it is as far behind as ever, and we are looking at a brand new year still unspoiled by human sin and corruption.  

My reason for writing is to tell you that our new book, John Calvin 500, has just come off the printing presses, and I received mine just before Christmas.  This contains the reports/lectures/papers delivered by six speakers and dealt with six different aspects of Calvin's life and thought.

The six chapters are:
1.  Calvin and Christ - The Faith (David Bond)
2.  Calvin and Calvinism - Amyraut et al (Rev. Dr Alan C. Clifford, the editor of the book)
3.  Calvin and Church - Presbyterian Order (Dr Ronald Barnett)
4.  Calvin and Covenant - Baptism (Rev. Stephen Quinton)
5.  Calvin and Comfort - Assurance (Rev. J. Nigel Westhead)
6.  Calvin and Courage - Under the Cross (Rev. Dr J. E. Hazlett Lynch).

A seventh chapter was added, being the paper delivered by Dr Alan Clifford at the International Calvin Congress held in Geneva in May 2009, entitled John Calvin and John Wesley: an English Perspective.

I am sure that not everyone who reads this book will agree with everything that is said, given that its emphasis is thoroughly Calvinistic and therefore Presbyterian in orientation.  That said, I doubt if readers will not derive some benefit from these papers, all of which seek to expound authentic Calvinism, or the Calvinism of John Calvin, in a clear and practical way.

You can order your copies from me, price £12.50 plus P&P. 

If you know of others who would benefit from this book, please give them my contact details, or perhaps you could order the book for them from me.  This will help sustain my work as well as promote the church of the Gospel.