Friday, 27 January 2012

Man's Alienations

Rev. Dr Francis A. Schaeffer wrote:

"From the Christian viewpoint, all the alienations ... that we find in man have come because of man's historic, space-time fall.  First of all, man is separated from God; second, he is separated from himself, thus the psychological problems of life; third, he is separated from other men, thus the sociological problems of life; fourth, he is separated from nature and thus the problems of living in the world, for example, the ecological problems. All these need healing."

These perceptive words of analysis from Schaeffer remind us that a very big Gospel of salvation is needed to deal with the very big problems of man.  And that is exactly what God has provided for us in the Gospel - something which is "the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believers," Rom.1:16.

Let us pray that God will demonstrate that His Word really is what it claims to be - the only message of salvation for the world.

Let us rejoice in this great message of salvation, which truly is good news for the world.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Grow in Knowledge

If you are interested in reading more information products about matters that matter, please visit here.

There you will find all my recently published books, two of which are free to download immediately. The others are also well worth getting and studying.

If you go to Google and type in Smashwords Hazlett Lynch you will find a listing of all my publications.


A 350th Anniversary Commemoration of the Norwich & Norfolk Ministers Ejected
from their Churches by the Act of Uniformity, 1662.

Dr Alan C. Clifford

"Remember those ... who have spoken the Word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct - Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and for ever."      (Hebrews 13: 7-8)

"Without the preaching of the Word, we can never have faith...Whosoever doth not believe is damned, and none can believe without a preacher. If then we will have the people of the Lord to be saved, let them have preachers...bestow your labour, cost and travel to get them. Ride for them, run for them, stretch your purses to maintain them. We shall begin to be rich in the Lord Jesus."
                                                                   John More (c.1545-92)  St Andrews, Norwich

The National background:

THOMAS CARTWRIGHT - The Father of Puritanism

We begin by reminding ourselves that Puritanism was a religious movement in the Church of
England. It demanded a more thorough application of New Testament principles to the
problems posed by the semi-reformed Anglican Church. The Puritans argued that partial
reformation had taken place in England. The Bible had relevance for the Church’s worship
and government as well as her doctrine. Failure to apply biblical teaching was a failure to
recognise the extent of biblical authority and the sovereign rule of the Lord Jesus Christ in
His Church. Elements of puritan thinking were seen in the teaching of John Wycliffe (1324-
84), William Tyndale (martyred 1536) and John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester (martyred 1555).
However, the real father of English Puritanism was Thomas Cartwright. His life and labours
relate to matters which are still of vital importance for Christians today.

Thomas Cartwright was born about 1535 in Hertfordshire, possibly at Royston. His family
and religious origins are shrouded in obscurity. He entered Clare Hall, Cambridge in 1547,
the year of the accession of King Edward VI. In November 1550, Cartwright became a scholar
at St John’s College. In the following year, Thomas Lever was appointed as the new master of
the college. This man was a decided Protestant and a powerful preacher. When Mary became
queen in 1553, Lever and twenty-four fellows resigned rather than compromise their faith.
Cartwright himself did not leave at this time. Very probably because he was not truly
converted to Christ. However, he did leave in 1556, a fact which probably dates his
conversion a little earlier.

After the accession of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558, Cartwright was restored to the college by Dr
James Pilkington, the new master, in 1562. The new religious settlement found Cartwright
and many others disappointed. The Queen seemed content to leave matters as they had been
under Edward VI. The Reformation was not carried through according to Scriptural

In 1562, Cartwright became a fellow of Trinity College. He was now known as an eloquent
preacher, an able scholar and a brilliant debater. When Queen Elizabeth visited the university
in 1564, a debate was held in her presence. Cartwright was chosen to oppose the motion ‘Is
monarchy the best form of government; is the frequent change of laws dangerous?’ The
Queen was not pleased to hear Cartwright argue that the sovereignty of God did not need the
support of earthly monarchs! In those days, such arguments were dangerous.

The return of the Marian exiles (those who had fled to Geneva and Frankfurt during the reign
of Mary Tudor) occasioned discussion about the ‘ha1f-way-house’ of the English Reformation.

As a result of three sermons preached by Cartwright in the college chapel, the scholars and
fellows of St John’s and Trinity - over 300 of them - appeared at the service without their
surplices. Exchanging the chapel missals and breviaries for their Genevan Psalters and
Service-books, they also pulled down the altar in the chapel. Other matters to do with worship
and the entire structure of the established Church of England began to be freely and openly

In this highly charged atmosphere, Cartwright left Cambridge to become chaplain to the
Archbishop of Armagh. The two men shared the same views. Cartwright returned to
Cambridge in 1567 and, two years later, he was appointed as Lady Margaret Professor of
Divinity. He began to denounce the constitution and hierarchy of the Church of England. His
lectures on the Acts of the Apostles were widely influential. Many of the student hearers were
to become eminent puritan pastors in years to come. Cartwright’s sermons were opposed by
John Whitgift, later Archbishop of Canterbury. Cartwright was by far the superior preacher,
and St Mary’s Church was regularly filled when he was preaching. The sexton even removed
the windows for the benefit of the ‘overflow’ congregation.

Cartwright was severely censured by those in authority, including Grindal, Archbishop of
York. In a letter to Lord Burghley, the Chancellor of the University, the otherwise puritansympathiser
Grindal complained that “the youth of the university, who are at this time very
toward in learning, frequent his lectures in great numbers, and therefore are in danger of
being poisoned by him with love of contention and liking of novelties, and so becoming
hereafter not only unprofitable, but also hurtful to the church.”

Cartwright’s faithfulness to Scripture and undoubted courage even cost him his DD, his
candidature being vetoed by Dr May, the Vice-Chancellor of the University. A prohibition was
also placed on the issues under discussion. Cartwright has been accused of abusing his
position. Ought he not to have shown more loyalty to the Reformed Church of England? The
same charge was levelled at Luther regarding the Church of Rome. No, there was nothing
‘unethical’ in showing greater loyalty to God’s Word than to human authorities. Friends
accordingly defended Cartwright’s exposition of the Scriptures, denying also any justice in the
charge that he was encouraging sedition. Appealing to Lord Burghley, a letter signed by
eighteen leading academics gives us a very full picture of Cartwright’s personal and
professional character:

We know that his religion is sincere and free from blemish: for he has not only
emerged from the vast ocean of papistical heresies, and cleansed himself with
the purest waters of the Christian religion, but, as at a rock, he strikes at those
futile and trifling opinions which are daily disseminated. He adheres to the Holy
Scriptures, the most certain rule of faith and practice. We know that he has not
passed these limits. He is well skilled both in the Latin and Greek languages,...
He has also added that of the Hebrew tongue... He is esteemed by foreigners,
whose state of exile is rendered less painful by the sweetness of his disposition
and learning, and who do not hesitate to compare him to those whose fame is so
illustriously spread among the foreign nations. Though we who beg this from you
are but few, yet we ask it in the name of many: for there is scarcely any man
who does not admire and love him, and who does not think that he ought by all
means to be defended. If therefore, you wish well to the University, you cannot
do anything more useful, gratifying, or acceptable, than to preserve Cartwright to

However, in 1570, Cartwright was deprived of his professorship. In 1571, the year the sworn
enemy of the Puritans Dr Whitgift was appointed as Vice-Chancellor, he also lost his
fellowship. These events were the result of Cartwright’s outspoken opposition to the Church of
England, summed up in the famous six propositions. In essence, these were:

1. Archbishops and archdeacons should be abolished.

2. The church’s officers should be modelled on the New Testament.

3. Every church should he governed by its own minister and elders.

4. Ministers should be responsible for one church, not many.

5. No man should solicit for a church appointment.

6. Church officers should be chosen by the church, not the state.

After the university regulations were changed to prevent men of Cartwright’s outlook being
appointed, Cartwright himself left Cambridge for Geneva where Theodore Beza had succeeded
John Calvin as the Reformation leader. Beza had the highest regard for Cartwright’s abilities
and godliness, declaring to one of his English correspondents, “Here is now with us your
countryman, Thomas Cartwright, than whom, I think the sun doth not see a more learned
man.” Friends in England regretted his absence, and Cartwright was encouraged to return to
England in 1572.

His advice was sought concerning negotiations with Catherine de Medici over Queen
Elizabeth’s possible marriage to the Duke of Anjou. Cartwright’s opinion was clear and
uncompromising: “I am fully persuaded that it is directly forbidden in Scripture that any who
profess religion according to the Word of God should marry with those who profess religion
after the manner of the Church of Rome.” This was far from mere academic advice since 1572
was the year of that crescendo of suffering for the Huguenots in France - the St Bartholomew
Massacre of 24 August. However, while Queen Elizabeth deplored such an atrocity abroad,
she was involved in rigorous suppression of the Puritans at home.

In the same year, two London clergymen, John Field and Thomas Wilcox, published their
famous Admonition to Parliament, urging the kind of Presbyterianism Cartwright had
advocated. These good men were sent to Newgate. Cartwright visited the men in prison, and
he supported them by writing A Second Admonition to Parliament. Highlighting the heart of the
Puritan case, Cartwright asked, “What, I pray, have they done amiss? They have published
that the ministry of [the Church of] England is out of square.”

Recalling Bishop Cox of Ely’s view that the English Church should have an ‘English face’,
Cartwright complained that more regard was being paid to the Queen’s injunctions and the
Bishops’ canons than the Bible, or rather “the Bible must have no further scope than by these
it is assigned.” Her Majesty preferred liturgy-parroting priests to Gospel preachers: three or
four per county were quite enough! Cartwright continued, “Is this to profess God’s Word? Is
this a reformation? We say the Word of God is above the church; then surely it is above the
English Church, and above all the books now rehearsed. If it be so, why are they not
overruled by it, and not it by them?”

Outraged by such audacity, the authorities issued a warrant for Cartwright’s arrest in June
1573. How extraordinary was Elizabethan ‘political correctness’. While the Queen welcomed
the Huguenot refugees to England (doubtless for the economic benefits these industrious
people brought), ‘Huguenot cousin’ Cartwright and his friends were proceeded against!
Thoroughly intimidated by this experience, he escaped to the continent, first to Heidelberg
and then to Antwerp where he became minister to an English congregation. In 1576,
Cartwright visited the Channel Islands to assist the Huguenot churches in their organisation.
In all this toil and travel, he even found time to marry the sister of a friend, a godly woman
who was to comfort and encourage him to the end. Since the climate in Antwerp adversely
affected his health, Cartwright secretly returned to England in 1585 contrary to the Queen’s
wishes. Though arrested and sent to the Fleet prison by the Bishop of London, he was
released on the Queen’s instructions.

After 1577, Cartwright - who rarely enjoyed good health - had declined to publish anything
that might be ‘offensive to her majesty or the state’. However, when the Roman Catholic
Rheims version of the New Testament was published in 1582, many were alarmed at the anti-
Reformation propaganda of its contents. After approaching Theodore Beza for advice, the
Queen and her ministers - following the Genevan reformer’s glowing recommendation -
reluctantly commissioned Thomas Cartwright to undertake a refutation. By 1586, he had
reached Revelation 15 in a critical analysis of the Roman Bible. However, since Roman
Catholic and Anglican errors were unavoidably exposed, Archbishop Whitgift then forbad
Cartwright to proceed with his work. This prevented the publication of A Confutation of the
Rhemists Translation (1618) until after the author’s death. One is tempted to say that the
Anglican establishment succeeded in curbing the Puritans - albeit temporarily - whereas the
mighty Spanish Armada of 1588 failed to conquer Protestant Britain.

Many of Cartwright’s puritan brethren were dismayed that he should yield to the
Archbishop’s order so readily. Dr Sutcliffe, Dean of Exeter accused him of cowardice.
However, other factors besides his health explain his compliant attitude. Between them, the
Queen and her Archbishop were a pretty formidable duo! Had it not been for them,
‘Cartwright’s influence on the Church of England might have been decisive’ wrote Dr Leland
Carson. Unlike the Welsh separatist John Penry who, martyred in 1593, left a wife and four
little girls, Cartwright’s life ended relatively quietly. ‘He was a puritan Cranmer,’ concludes Dr
Carson, ‘with much of Cranmer’s learning and of Cranmer’s shrinking from hardship, and it
was not given him to redeem the past by sharing Cranmer’s fate, i.e. martyrdom.’
Cartwright’s latter years were spent in Warwick. He was appointed master of a hospital
founded there by the Earl of Leicester. However, he frequently preached in the town and
neighbourhood. It is said that he was the first to introduce extemporary praying in public
worship, an important development which took place at this time. Thus the Book of Common
Prayer was often set aside. But there were limits to Cartwright’s Puritanism. Believing in
gradual reformation and avoiding extremism, he never agreed with separatism.

Whether or not Dr Carson’s verdict is fair, perhaps Cartwright’s remarks on Peter’s fall are
evidence of an inward soul-struggle:

What shall I say of Peter, Christ’s Apostle? Had not he a sure knowledge of
Christ, endued with the Holy Ghost and grace from above? And yet after this, he
had such a fall, [and] he did most cowardly and shamefully forsake and deny

Christ, not without blasphemy. But he went forth and wept bitterly, ... and by
faith he returned again unto Christ, knowing His mercy to be infinite and
without measure; Christ appeared unto him (to his great comfort) after He rose
again from death to life. ... And then Peter became a strong Champion, setting
forth Christ to be the only Saviour of the whole world, preaching and openly
confessing Him before all men, without any fear.

Certainly, Cartwright’s courage returned in measure in his last decade or so. Indeed, his
sympathy with puritan activities in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire in 1590 brought him
into further conflict with the authorities. He was again committed to the Fleet prison. He
appeared before the Court of the Star Chamber in 1591 which Lord Burghley likened to the
Spanish Inquisition! Through his efforts and the good offices of King James VI of Scotland
(our future James I), Lord Burghley was successful in obtaining Cartwright’s release.

Shortly after his release, Cartwright visited Cambridge once more where he preached to large
congregations. In 1595 he again visited the Channel Islands, accompanying Lord Zouch, the
new governor of Guernsey. In 1598, Cartwright returned to Warwick, where his last years
were spent in comfort and peace. Cartwright preached his last sermon on Christmas Day,
1603 from the text ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall
return unto God who gave it’ (Eccl. 12: 7). Two days later, after spending two hours on his
knees in the morning while in great pain, he told his wife that “he found wonderful and
unutterable joy and comfort, God gave him a glimpse of heaven before he came to it.” And so,
this faithful if fearful champion of the Lord died on 27 December 1603. He lived to see an
increasingly popular acceptance of principles which he had striven so manfully to proclaim.
Parliament abolished the Church of England in 1642. By the time of the Civil War and the
Westminster Assembly (1643-9), fragmentation and intolerance among the Puritans sowed
the seeds of confusion and failure. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Oliver
Cromwell’s Protectorate saw civil and religious progress. However, with the ‘backlash’ of the
Restoration in 1660 came the demise of Puritanism. Charles II’s infamous Act of Uniformity of
1662 drove about 2000 Puritan ministers into a religious and social wilderness. Cruel
persecution only ended with William and Mary’s Toleration Act of 1689. The effects of 1662
and a fragmented Nonconformity are sadly still with us. Had the English Puritans followed
some of the more moderate features of the French and Dutch Reformed Churches,
Cartwright’s pioneering labours might have had happier consequences.

That said, what do we conclude from the life and labours of Thomas Cartwright?

1. He was a man of solid Scriptural principle. He saw more clearly than most the implications
of the authority of the Bible.

2. He feared separatism and sectarianism. He rejected the arguments of Robert Browne’s A
Treatise on Reformation without Tarrying for Any. Whilst his warnings about endless
fragmentation still have relevance, he was a man of his time in believing in a state church. He
was also authoritarian and inclined to intolerance.

3. His version of Presbyterian church government avoided the hierarchical idea. He sought to
balance the independency of the local congregation with the need for a wider, visible unity.

4. He teaches us to take seriously the Lordship of Christ in His Church, expressed through
the authority of the Scriptures in the energy of the Holy Spirit. This is surely his foundational

5. He also exemplified the three purities of Puritanism - purity of doctrine, purity of worship
and purity of life. Whatever difficulties might attend Cartwright’s legacy, the Christian Faith
cannot survive if these primary purities are ever forgotten.

6. He inspired a nationwide puritan vision. Cities and towns across England felt the godly
influence emanating from Calvin’s Geneva via Cartwright’s Cambridge. Norwich is a typical
example, where John More and other puritan brethren declared the Gospel so effectively.

Edmund Calamy, An Account of the Ministers, Lecturers, Masters and Fellows of Colleges and
Schoolmasters, who were Ejected or Silenced after the Restoration in 1660. By or before, the Act
for Uniformity. Design’d for the preserving to Posterity, the Memory of their Names, Characters,
Writings and Sufferings (London, 1713)
Benjamin Brook. The Lives of the Puritans, 3 vols (London, 1813)
Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans, 5 vols (London, 1822)
A. H. Drysdale, History of the Presbyterians in England (London, 1889)
M. M. Knappen, Tudor Puritanism: A Chapter in the History of Idealism (Chicago, Phoenix ed.,
C. G. Bolam, Jeremy Goring, H. L. Short, Roger Thomas, The English Presbyterians: From
Elizabethan Puritanism to Modern Unitarianism (London, 1968)
H. C. Porter (ed), Puritanism in Tudor England (London, 1970)
Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (Oxford, 1991)
Muriel McClendon, The Quiet Reformation: Magistrates and the Emergence of Protestantism in
Tudor Norwich (Stanford, 1999)
Patrick Collinson, John Craig, Brett Usher (eds), Conferences and Combination Lectures in the
Elizabethan Church, 1582-1590 (Woodbridge, 2003)
Matthew Reynolds, Godly Reformers and their Opponents in Early Modern England: Religion in
Norwich c.1560-1643 (Woodbridge, 2005)

For further information on Dr Alan C. Clifford's other writings on historical and theological subjects, please visit this site.  When ordering please quote the code HL.

Dr John Calvin

John Calvin (French: Jean Cauvin; 10 July 1509 - 27 May 1564) was the most influential French theologian and pastor during the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation in Europe. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530, around which time he was converted to Christ. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, a reality that was to feature in French history later against the Huguenots, (or French Protestants who were mainly Presbyterians), Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he published the first edition of his seminal work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, in 1536.

In that year, and by a most strange convergence of circumstances in which God's hand was evidently at work, Calvin was recruited by William Farel to help reform the church in Geneva. The city council resisted the implementation of Calvin and Farel's ideas, and both men were expelled. At the invitation of Martin Bucer, Calvin proceeded to Strasbourg, where he became the minister of a church of French refugees. He continued to support the reform movement in Geneva, and was eventually invited back to lead its church.

Following his return, Calvin introduced new forms of church government and liturgy, despite the opposition of several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority. Calvin came to see that the current arrangements for the government of the church did not reflect the biblical model, nor was the liturgy faithful to Scripture. This was in 1553, and during this time, the trial of Michael Servetus for heresy took place which resulted in the latter being burned at the stake for his denials of clear Scriptural teaching. This was accompanied by the violent opposition of the Libertines who attempted to harass and threaten Calvin. However, since Servetus was also condemned and wanted by the Inquisition, outside pressure from all over Europe forced the trial to continue. Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin's opponents were forced out. Calvin spent his final years promoting the Reformation both in Geneva and throughout Europe.

Calvin was a tireless polemicist, apologetic writer, preacher, pastor, commentator, letter writer and theological giant who generated much controversy. He also exchanged cordial and supportive letters with many reformers, including Philipp Melanchthon and Heinrich Bullinger. In addition to the Institutes, he wrote commentaries on most books of the Bible (except Revelation), as well as theological treatises and confessional documents. He regularly preached sermons throughout the week in Geneva. Calvin was influenced by the biblical teaching and also, and subordinately, by the Augustinian tradition, which led him to expound the doctrine of God's sovereignty of God in the salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation. He saw the very heart of the his theology, from man's side, as being faith, not predestination, a fact that is everywhere present in his sermons.

Calvin's writing and preachings provided the seeds for the branch of theology that bears his name. The Reformed and Presbyterian churches, which look to Calvin as a chief expositor of their beliefs, have spread throughout the world.

For more information on Calvin as a compassionate pastor and strong church leader, see this website,  where Calvin's dealing with Servetus and with the Libertines is discussed.

Moise Amyraut

Moise Amyraut, also known as Amyraldus, was born at Bourgueil, in the valley of the Changeon in the province of Anjou. His father was a lawyer, and, preparing Moses for his own profession, sent him, on the completion of his study of the humanities at Orléans to the university of Poitiers.

At the university he gained his BA degree (of laws). On returning home from the university, he passed through the city of Saumur. Having visited the pastor of the Protestant church there, he was introduced to Philippe de Mornay, City governor. Impressed by young Amyraut's ability and culture, they both pressed him to change course from law to theology. His father advised him to read over Calvin's Institutions, before finally determining on what course to follow. He did so, and decided for theology.

He moved to the Academy of Saumur, studying under the Scottish theologian, John Cameron, who came to regarded Amyraut as his greatest scholar. He acquitted himself well in his studies, and was in due time licensed as a minister of the French Protestant Church. However, contemporary civil events hindered his advancement. He remained for two years in his first church in Saint-Aignan, Maine. His colleague, Jean Daillé, who moved to the church at Charenton in Paris, advised the church at Saumur to secure Amyraut as his successor, which it did. At the same time, Saumur University had intentions on him to become professor of theology. Two other churches, Paris and Rouen, also contended for him, but to no avail.

Amyraut was appointed to Saumur in 1633, and also to the professor's chair. Amyraut soon gave to French Protestantism a new direction, and in that was true to the teaching of John Calvin.

He published his Traité des religions (Treatise Concerning Religions) in 1631; and from then onward he was an acknowledged leader in the church. He died on 18 January 1664.

For further information on this whole issue, please visit here.

Richard Baxter

Rev Richard Baxter (1615-1691) ministered in Kidderminster for almost twenty years. His preaching power and clarity were proverbial, and the Gospel he declared was applicable to all the world. He believed in and preached universal atonement, namely, that Christ died for the sins of all the world, but he did not believe in universal salvation.
He once famously said, "I preach as never sure to preach again, as a dying man to dying men."

For more information on Rev. Richard Baxter, please click here.


The Lord Jesus Christ tells us why He came; it was not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.  repentance is not for good people, but for bad people, sinners. It is not for upright people, but for the rebellious. The call of the Saviour is directed to specific types of people - sinners.  The Bible through Paul tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," therefore all are sinners.

What does that tell us?  That true repentance is a crucial part of the religion, not of an innocent person, but of a sinner. The call to repentance is of no avail to those who see themselves as totally innocent. It has no bearing on them whatever.  It is something that is produced in the heart of the sinner which is utterly indispensable to the character of the true Christian.  Since the Christian sins daily, continually, he needs to be repenting of his sin daily, continually.

If this is so, why is this not required before people are accepted into full church membership?  Why is it that they only have to say they are Christians i many places for them to be accepted as such by the eldership?  No repentance, no church membership.  Would your church tolerate such a biblical stance?

Man - Lost But Great.

From the biblical perspective, man is, at one and the same time, both lost and great.  He is a responsible human being, responsible primarily to God for all he is and does.  Because he is responsible, he effects history both positively and negatively.  He can make an enormous contribution to history because he is great.  That greatness can show it in actions that promote the greater good of society, or its downfall.  Man is responsible for sowing the seeds of new ideas and thoughts, and when these germinate and take hold and grow, they bring in change.  It may be a long time in the seeing, but it will come.

We are responsible, then, for what we sow. Is it good, or is it bad? What kind of seed thoughts are we sowing around us?

Dead Preaching Unacceptable!

Something struck me today when travelling on the bus to Belfast, and I want to share this with you now.  Why are some/many lectures so utterly boring?  And why is so much preaching so dead and dull as well? This thought struck me: lecturing degenerates into a boring exercise because lecturers see it as mere presentation of facts, and no more. Some preaching is also like that therefore it is as dry as dust. 

But the only thing, humanly speaking, that keeps preaching and lecturing fresh is when it is viewed as an urgent and relevant message from the living God, through the preacher, to the people to whom he is declaring the Gospel.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Spiritual Sayings

Preach the Gospel, and, if necessary, use words!

Often attributed to St. Francis, but not traceable to him
She Who Kneels Before God
Can Stand Before Anyone unknown

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway.

This gets to the heart of true Christian living.  It is a reversal of all that's natural to us.  This goes right against the grain. It shows that the mathematics of grace simply do not add up to what we would expect to be a good result.

No Fool!

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.

Jim Elliot, christian missionary, explaining his motivation to go to a headhunter tribe to share the Gospel. They killed him, but the tribe later heard the Gospel, received Christ, and was totally transformed.

This is surely one of the most challenging statements ever spoken by a man.   We tend to give what does not costs us too much, and what we do not want anyway; we hold on to what we cherish, therefore we often lose what is most precious to us.

Stay Focussed.

He who interrupts the course of his spiritual exercises and prayer is like a man who allows a bird to escape from his hand; he can hardly catch it again.
                                                                                                                    Author: St. John of the Cross

This is a timely warning from an old writer.  Too frequently we allow unnecessary interruptions to our devotions and prayers, and the thought occurred to me, What does God think of being placed second (at best) to these other concerns?

Sort Out Your Thoughts

Because all truth is God's truth, and because God's common grace enables even the ungodly to do good work, I have decided to mention to you a book which might well be of assistance in getting your mind sorted out.  Christians can as easily get themselves into a mental muddle as anyone else, especially when they try to sort out their future life and work.

So I mention this book, Sort Out Your Thoughts, which can be accessed at this website.  It can be downloaded immediately.

I trust the contents are based on sound Christian principles, and I trust also that it will help you get what you want in life.

Homosexuality Is Sin!

Your article on the conference on homosexuality held recently at Orangefield Presbyterian Church, Belfast, raises a few critically important but apparently forgotten issues.

First, homosexuality is a sin like any other sin, and must be properly named as such.  It is a perversion of God's plan for marriage and the relationship between a man and a woman for life.

Second, homosexuality, when properly named as a sin, can be forgiven by our most gracious God. 

Third, divine forgiveness must be offered to those involved in this sin with the promise that everyone who repents of his/her sin and trusts Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation, will be pardoned.  Does the church today believe in forgiveness for sin, this sin? Or is this a 'preference' that needs no repentance and therefore no forgiveness? 

The church of Jesus Christ must exhibit simultaneously God's holiness and God's love.  She must maintain His standards and display His compassion.  But the church has no right whatever to even suggest that homosexuality is but another acceptable sexual orientation that is on a par with a proper relationship between a man and a woman for life.  If the Church believes that Paul got it all wrong in Rom. 1, then let her come out and say so.  But if she believes he got it right on this issue, then she is duty bound and honour bound to uphold the biblical standards despite all opposition.

I think the real problem is that the churches no longer know what a Christian is, how a sinner becomes a Christian, or how a Christian is to be defined.  The only thing they seem to be interested in are 'professions of faith.'  They do not see that entry into the Christian life is via a 'narrow gate,' according to Jesus Christ, and continues until death along this 'narrow road.'  It starts 'narrow' and it stays 'narrow.'  That 'narrow gate' is repentance toward God for sin, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Therefore, the church ought to be evangelising all those who got themselves caught up in the sin of homosexuality, and seeking to win them for Christ.  But she cannot water down our faith by saying that the 'profession of faith' of those who hold on tenaciously to what the Scriptures describe as an abomination, is acceptable for church membership.  That would be like saying that a man can use the foulist of language, including blaspheming the precious and holy Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and still be regarded as a Christian and church member.  There is forgiveness for that man if he repents of his sin and turns in faith to Christ, but not otherwise. 

Sadly, the church has been fatally infiltrated and negatively affected by 'the world,' to such an extent that she no longer knows what she believes.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Get Back To The Past.

A local church pastor visited me today, and he was saying that so many Christians are living in the past, in the 'good old days' when revival was being experienced in our churches.  I said that I disagreed, and argued that the problem with today's church is that it has not re-visited the past frequently enough. The church of today simply does not know its Christian history, and is therefore ignorant of what God has done in the past by His Spirit.

Thankfully, he agreed and saw the point I was making. We need to re-learn our history of the Christian Church, and become more familiar with it so that we can see what good He did then, and be inspired to plead with Him to do it again in our day.  We need to return to the greatest days of the Church's history, and learn from those days when God was working mightily by His Spirit, back to the Reformers and Huguenots, to the Covenanters and Puritans, back to the days of the great Methodist Revival in these islands (British isles) and to the Great Awakening in America.  Ignorance of the past is what leaves us vulnerable to mistakes in the present and future.  In order to go forward properly and with conviction, we need to go back to the days when God visited the churches and poured out His blessings upon them.

For further information on some aspects of those great days, please visit here.

Lloyd-Jones - The Twentieth Century Baxter.

There is great confusion, proffered mainly by his friends, over the theological orientation of Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  To many, he is a convinced Owenite, or follower of Dr John Owen.  To the undiscerning, he believed and preached the doctrine of limited atonement, because to be truly reformed you must believe in and declare the doctrine of limited atonement.  Not so for Lloyd-Jones, as my book makes abundantly clear.

Others believed that the Doctor did not hold that Christ died for all men without exception, and are convinced that because his books were published in the main by the reformed publishing houses, he did not preach a Gospel that has relevance for all men.  But he did!.

Still others thought that Lloyd-Jones held that Christ did not die for all, despite his frequent quoting of Heb.2:9.  He believed and preached that Christ is the Saviour of the world, that He died for all humanity, for mankind, and for the human race.

If you question these assertions, then please get my book on Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at this website. At least half of the entire book is a listing of all the quotations that I could find in his evangelistic sermons published to date.

Lloyd-Jones was Baxterian through and through so far as his soteriology, or doctrine of the atonement, is concerned.  And Baxter followed Calvin and Amyraut; so, therefore, do Dr Lloyd-Jones.

But don't take my word for it.  Get my book and check out the references for yourself. You'll be glad you did.

Lloyd-Jones Anniversary.

On 1st March 2012, Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones entered glory and went to be with the Saviour he loved and served so well.  That there will be beneficiaries publishing their appreciation of the man goes without saying.  My appreciation of his written ministry in particular crosses at least four decades, and I have published those lessons that I learned from him in my newly published book.

Those lessons - spiritual, theological, pastoral and ecclesiastical - have been a mainstay of my life and ministry over some 35 years, and they are now available here to the Christian public for the very first time.

Please support my ministry by getting your own copy now.

Lessons From LLoyd-Jones

"Dr. Lloyd-Jones was not another young minister fresh out of a liberal theological college, trimming his message to contemporary opinion and the prejudices of his congregation. He was determined to preach the message with the crystal clarity in which it had come to him. That was too much for some of the congregation and they left. But in their place - slowly at first - there came increasing numbers who were gripped by the truth, the working class of South Wales. The message brought them, and the Holy Spirit converted them. There were no dramatic appeals, just a young man with the clear message of God's justice and his love, which brought one ‘hard case’ after another to repentance and conversion.

The church in Aberavon grew with the steady stream of conversions. Notorious drunkards became glorious Christians and working men and women came to the Bible classes which he and his wife conducted, to learn the doctrines of their new-found faith. Around South Wales other churches that were often starved of sound teaching and of preaching which dealt with the world as it was (in the depth of the great slump), invited him to their pulpits. His reputation grew across the Principality and beyond."

Let this account of the greatest biblical preacher in the UK in the twentieth century encourage all those who are in the preaching/pastoral ministry.  Ministers who have made any impact for the Gospel have always faced almost insurmountable problems and opposition.  But remember this: the person who is most vicious in his/her opposition is the most likely candidate for conversion.  I have seem this in my ministry, and in the ministry of others.  These people kick hard against the Gospel because that Gospel has come very close to them; it has impacted their lives in a way that they never knew before.  So close is Christ to them that in His amazing grace
they could be in the Kingdom in the twinkling of an eye.

Until that time comes, they can make life exceedingly difficult for the faithful Gospel minister, and for his family. But God is faithful and will not allow his servants to suffer beyond what they are able to bear, but will, with the temptation, opposition, persecution, make a way of escape, so that they are not destroyed by it. 

That is the kind of organic growth we want to see in the churches. We pray to that end.

Baxter's Kidderminster Today!

On a recent visit to Kidderminster, England, the town in which the celebrated Puritan, Rev Richard Baxter ministered in the seventeenth century, I was amazed at how ignorant the local people regarding their greatest son.  The first ‘sign’ of Baxter was at Baxter United Reformed Church; I asked if this was the church that Baxter preached in, and was met with ignorance.   

To the Parish church of St Mary and All Saints, I strolled, and the over-ruling providence of God allowed me inside.  What a joyful and humbling experience it was just to be there. I could easily imagine the place filled to capacity with earnest hearers and seekers after Christ as Baxter applied the Gospel as understood and taught by Calvin with clinical precision to men’s consciences.  

I went to the New Meeting House where the Unitarian church meets, and saw the pulpit (dated 1621) from which he preached “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” (Eph.3:8).
To read a fuller story, may I refer you to Baxter.  It is truly amazing how the mighty town and churches of Kidderminster have fallen into unfaithfulness, apostasy, unbiblical ecumenism. May God have mercy on that town and on our country.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Mission and Baptism

Mt.28:18-20 are familiar verses.  They are used by our Baptist friends to teach the necessity of adult (believer's) baptism by total immersion. Within the context, this is right and proper.  Where they go astray is when they apply this teaching to covenant families, and refuse to give to the children born into covenant families the God-appointed sign and seal of the covenant - baptism.  They require them to wait until they themselves believe, after which they must be baptised by total immersion.

In Mt.28, the nations knew nothing of God's gracious covenant, or covenant of grace, which He entered into with Abraham (Gen.15).  Covenant people stand in a totally different spiritual position to the nations which did not know God.  They have privileges that others do not have.  So a distinction has to be made between the children of covenant parents and those of parents who are not in the covenant. 

Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones' Parting Words.

In an article by his son-in-law, Lord Fred. Catherwood, the following insight into the Doctor's thinking and faith is given.

"In 1979 illness returned and he had to cancel all his engagements. He was even-minded about the prospect of preaching again. He had seen too many men going on well after they should have stopped. In the spring of 1980 he was able to start again, but a visit to the Charing Cross Hospital in May revealed that his illness demanded more stringent treatment which kept him from preaching. Between wearing sessions in hospital, which he faced with courage and dignity, he carried on working on his manuscripts and giving advice to ministers, but by Christmas he was too weak for this. To the end, however, he was able to spend time with his biographer (his former assistant, lain Murray).

Towards the end of February 1981, with great peace and assured hope, he believed that his earthly work was done. To his immediate family he said: 'Don't pray for healing, don't try to hold me back from the glory.' On March 1st, St. David's Day and the Lord's Day - he passed on to the glory on which he had so often preached to meet the Saviour he had so faithfully proclaimed."

My own personal appreciation of this servant of Christ is published here.  I never met the man, though I had met Sir Freddie Catherwood (as he then was, if my memory serves me well) while a student at Leeds Poly (as it then was), though I did hear him preach in Leeds in 1973.