Saturday, 28 July 2012

Jesus Christ - Sole King and Head of the Church

This is the mantra that is used by reformed evangelicals that is true in theory but false in practice.  Why do I say that?  Because in actual practice Jesus Christ does not hold the top place in the church, but that place is occupied by man-made codes and confessions and religious preferences.

Christians believe that Christ is the sole of Lord of all and that His sole authority is found in His speaking through the Holy Scriptures. Only these are the inspired, or better, expired, Word of the living and true God.  While written by human penmen under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the end product is the mind and heart of God on all matters of faith and practice.

Or is it?  Whilst human compositions have their place and are most helpful, they must never occupy the place of the sole and final authority of God speaking in the Scriptures. 

But that said, human compositions have been elevated to a position higher than Scripture in the thinking and practice of the church.  A man might say what he likes about the Scriptures and the various interpretations that abound, but let him not say a wrong word about the Confession of Faith or other doctrinal standards.  Reformed orthodoxy is not measured by the Confession of Faith alone, but by the only final touchstone of Scripture.  Indeed, there is an argument that says that the Three Forms of Unity (the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort) among the continental reformed church post reformation are a more accurate reflection of the teaching of the Bible as rediscovered at the Reformation.  But these too are subordinate standards held by the church.  Where they conflict in any way with the clear teaching of Scripture, the voice of God speaking in the Scripture must be given prime place in moulding our understanding of the Gospel.

Other human preferences are also used as touchstones of orthodoxy - the exclusive use of the King James Version of the Bible, the exclusive use of Psalms in the worship of God, and whether or not woman cover their heads in church (not to mention other modes of dress).  These human preferences are used to justify separation from other true believers on the most trivial of matters.  Obviously God has a special place in heaven for those who are most orthodox.

I long for the day when Jesus Christ will be, in reality, the sole King and Head of the church whose alone authority is the standard of orthodoxy in His church.  And we must always remember this: It is His Church, not yours or mine.

The fact remains that when anyone puts anything alongside or above Scripture, they have confessed the insufficiency of Scripture alone as an adequate rule of faith and practice.

What is worse, if worse is possible, is that these secondary documents have become the evangelical and reformed equivalent of Roman Catholicism's magisterium.

Now there's something to think about!

Friday, 27 July 2012


The Bible tells us that, and how, God spoke to people in the past, but does He still speak to people today?  The Bible is an ancient Book, so you might well ask what it has to do with us today.

Christians believe that the Bible is relevant to everyone today. What makes it relevant are these things, these truths.

First, The God of the Bible is the living God, and beside Him there is no other. God is not confined to the Bible because He was there even before the Bible was written. He was there at the beginning (Gen.1:1) before the universe was created, and He did not 'pass away' just after the last verse of the Bible was written.  He is still alive today and will be forevermore.  He not only spoke to people in the past but He wants to speak to people today.  And He does that through the pages of the Holy Scriptures.

Second, God is true.  Everything He does is true to Who He is, true to Himself.  He is consistent and reliable and unchangeable.  It follows then that everything God says is true.  So we can trust Him with our lives and circumstances. He will not mislead or deceive us with false information.  Indeed, he is Himself the standard of truth. So when Bible writers said that God spoke through them, that is exactly what was happening.  The Bible is true because God is true.  That means it is completely trustworthy.  Nowhere will it mislead us about anything, and certainly not about eternal and spiritual things.  It tells us the truth about how we should live to please God.

Third, God is King.  That means He is the sovereign God Who rules over all, including our lives.  He has the authority to demand of us what He wants and to expect our hearty obedience.  In the Bible God spoke with absolute authority; and He still speaks with the same authority.  He speaks to us as our Maker and King.  He claims our attention and demands our response.

So when we open our Bibles and start to read it, God speaks to our hearts.  We are willingly exposing ourselves to God's Voice, God's Word, God's message, to us.  And what He says to us could change our lives forever.  Indeed, that is what it is meant to do.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Scotland Morally Bankrupt.

The follow report appeared in The Scotsman.

SCOTLAND has become the first part of the UK to announce gay marriage will be introduced, after Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday confirmed that the SNP government will press ahead with the measure.
• Scottish Government to introduce legislation to legalise same-sex marriage
• Consultation received almost 80,000 responses
• Nicola Sturgeon: ‘We are committed to a fair and equal Scotland’
The announcement followed a bitter national debate in recent months pitting equality campaigners, who insist the change is essential in a modern, tolerant Scotland, against religious organisations fearful it will be restrict their freedom to practise their faith.
A 77,000-strong Scottish Government consultation found that almost two-thirds of people are against the change, but Ms Sturgeon insisted it was still the “right thing to do”.
Religious leaders have dismissed the plans as a “dangerous social experiment”, amid concern that it conflicts with traditional doctrines that marriage is between a man and a woman.
But the move has been widely welcomed by campaigners and political leaders, with the first gay marriages likely to be held in Scotland by 2015.
Ms Sturgeon said yesterday: “We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal, and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships.
“We believe that this is the right thing to do.”
Gay couples can currently form civil partnerships in Scotland, which offer the same legal status as marriage, but are still seen as distinct.The SNP administration will now seek an amendment from the Home Office to the Equality Act to secure extra protection for “celebrants”, such as ministers, who do not want to carry out same-sex ceremonies, despite their Church endorsing it.
It is possible that the Scottish plans could fall into line with the UK government, which also plans to introduce the measure. A Westminster consultation on allowing civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples closed last month.
Further talks will now also take place with churches and other bodies to see if other safeguards are required to protect freedom of speech and religion, before draft legislation is published later this year.
The Deputy First Minister added: “There’s nothing that the government will bring forward in legislation that will impinge on an individual’s freedom of speech or freedom to practice or preach their religion. We’re considering – and will consider further in the consultation – a freedom-of-speech clause in the legislation.”
A register of celebrants who are prepared to conduct same-sex marriages is now likely to be drawn up, but the precise of detail of this will be considered in the draft bill.
But a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “The Scottish Government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale.
“We strongly suspect that time will show the Church to have been completely correct in explaining that same-sex sexual relationships are detrimental to any love expressed within profound friendships.”
The Scottish Government also insists that the current UK-wide Equality Act has exemptions from equality requirements where these are necessary to avoid any conflict with the strongly held convictions
of a significant number of the followers of the religion or belief.
But Alan Hamilton, convener of the Church of Scotland legal questions committee, said: “We are concerned the government will legislate without being able to effectively protect religious bodies or their ministers whose beliefs prevent them from cele­brating civil-partnerships or same-sex marriages.”
Tom French, policy co-ordinator with the Equality Network, said: “Same-sex marriage is about equality and freedom: the freedom for couples, and religious and humanist groups that want to, to celebrate same-sex marriages; but equally, upholding the freedom of other religious groups to say no to same-sex marriages.
“That’s the right way for Scotland to deal with the different opinions on this.”

It is quite clear that Scotland is being government by a dictatorship under Alex Salmond.  The SNP has no thought for common decency, nor does it care about upholding the biblical and historically received practice of the marriage of one man and one woman for life.
Further, no care is evident for the children who will be brought up in such a 'home' and who will not know from experience what it means to have a mummy and daddy.
It is gratifying to see how the Catholic church in Scotland has been very clear about the danger such a decision.  But as is now to be expected, the Church of Scotland (CoS) is ambivalent about this matter as it is about most other things.  Spokesman Alan Hamilton said that there are ministers within the CoS whose beliefs will not allow them to conduct civil partnerships or same-sex marriages, but the implication is that there are ministers who will be happy to do such things.
When a professedly Christian church can prevaricate on such a critical matter, it is certain that it cannot provide Christian leadership or truly pastoral counsel to its members who might wish to discuss this issue.
Not only will this provoke the wrath of God on Scotland, many innocent people will also experience that wrath.  The Catholic church is under condemnation for its persisting in theological errors, but the CoS will attract an even harsher punishment by its refusal to speak unequivocally on this issue.
We must pray that God will remember to be merciful when His wrath if stirred up.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Denney on Forgiveness

Divine forgiveness is free, freely given by the God Who loves us and Whom we have offended.

But it is not unconditional.  "God does not forgive the impenitent, who do not wish nor ask to be forgiven," James Denney.  "He cannot do so, for forgiveness, like all spiritual things, cannot be given unless it is taken, and it can only be taken by a penitent and surrendered soul."

So we cannot say, God will forgive you - that's His job!  No.  It is in His nature to forgive the repentant and trusting; but we must never presume on it.

"Neither ... is the freeness of forgiveness inconsistent with its cost," adds Denney.  It cost God His Son; it cost the Son His Life; and it will cost you your sin.  Forgiveness is costly.  And the One Who paid this incalculable price for our redemption and forgiveness has placed all of us in His debt, a debt we cannot ever repay.  He did for us what we could never do for ourselves and what no one else could ever do for us.

So forgiveness comes to repentant sinners at colossal cost.  Don't ever treat it as something cheap or sentimental or sleazy.  Accept it and thank God for it; then go and be a forgiving person, for in that way non-Christians will see a glimpse of Christ in your life, and God will be glorified.

Monday, 23 July 2012


"Liberalism is a killer - it kills people's souls."  Dr Steve Brady

Any comments?

Culture and Strategy

"Congregational culture eats congregational strategy for breakfast."  Dr Steve Brady

Any comments?


"Doctrines define local churches and divide local Christians."  Dr Steve Brady.

Any comments?

Parental Evangelism - C H Spurgeon

‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.’ Mark 10:14

Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4–7

We can say with the apostle John, ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.’ We continue, therefore, to bring them to Christ by daily, constant, earnest prayer on their behalf. As soon as they become of years capable of understanding the things of God, we endeavour to bring them to Christ by teaching them the truth. Hence our Sabbath schools, hence the use of the Bible and family prayer, and catechizing at home. Any person who shall say, ‘Do not teach your children; they will be converted in God’s own time if it be his purpose; therefore leave them to run wild in the streets,’ will certainly both ‘sin against the child’ and the Lord Jesus. We might as well say, ‘If that piece of ground is to grow a harvest, it will do so if it be God’s good pleasure; therefore leave it, and let the weeds spring up and cover it; do not endeavour for a moment to kill the weeds, or to sow the good seed.’ Why, such reasoning as this would be not only cruel to our children, but grievously displeasing to Christ. Parents! I do hope you are all endeavouring to bring your children to Christ by teaching them the things of God. Let them not be strangers to the plan of salvation. Never let it be said that a child of yours reached years in which his conscience could act, and he could judge between good and evil, without knowing the doctrine of the atonement, without understanding the great substitutionary work of Christ. Set before your child life and death, hell and heaven, judgment and mercy, his own sin, and Christ’s most precious blood; and as you set these before him, labour with him, persuade him, as the apostle did his congregation, with tears and weeping, to turn unto the Lord.

For meditation: Christian parents should bring their children up ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). This may be harder in non-Christian marriages when only one of the partners becomes a Christian, but it is not hopeless (1 Corinthians 7:14); Timothy was proof (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).
Sermon no. 581
24 July (1864)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Do You Use Downloaded Sermons?

I have been reliably informed that there are ministers, and given the circle of ministers my friend moves around, evangelical ministers who have become so lazy that instead of preparing their sermons from the text of Scripture, they download pre-prepared sermons and then serve these up for their congregations. 

If you re-call a post I inserted a few weeks ago, I made the point that listening to some preachers you'd be excused for thinking that they were reading someone else's sermons rather than preparing their own.  My informant assured me that this is happening today.

If this is now starting to be the norm amongst preachers, then theological colleges and training are at serious risk.  These are the men who will encourage other younger men to do likewise.  Book sales will plummet, and time spent in the study preparing God's message for the congregation will be greatly reduced.  Then the minister can perfect his golf swing, or conduct his postgraduate research, or just skive about doing as little as possible. 

If this becomes common-place, then may God have mercy on us.

Planning Your Wedding

Every year, young, and not so young, couples get married - a somewhat stressful time for them.  I have discovered this ebook that gives many helpful hints and tips on organising your marriage, and if you visit this site you find useful ideas and suggestions that will help take much of the stress out of organising your wedding.

This ebook is not written from a Christian perspective, but the advice it gives will be helpful to you.

Oh, and by the way, if you get your copy within the next 30 days, I will give you 50% discount off the cover price of $17.00.  When you land on this website just enter the coupon reference RK43B and you will buy the ebook for half price.

Also, feel free to tell your friends about this offer.  remember, it ends on 22nd August 2012.


It is almost suffocating how committed some evangelical ministers to man's word rather than to God's Word.  In liberal denominations, attempts are still being made to hold fellow ministers, not to God's unchanging Word and Gospel, but to man's fallible and imperfect words in confessions, etc.  Confessions appear to take up the time of church ministers who believe that if he can get his colleagues to adhere to the words of man, and thereby be orthodox, they will then be faithful to Scripture.  How facile an approach!

These are the men who at their ordination to the Christian ministry confessed the Scriptures to be the Supreme standard by which every other doctrine is to be assessed.  They also said that all and every man-made document is merely a subordinate standard; such are useful as guides but they are not infallible. 

Therefore to try to get ministers to stick more closely to the confession of faith in a bid to get them to stick more closely to the Scriptures is a much longer route to true orthodoxy than to get them to go straight to Scripture and try to ensure faithfulness to its teaching. 

Fallen mankind is always prone to find and take the longest route to a particular destination than to take the most direct route there.  Souls are perishing while ministers fiddle about with inconsequential matters.  Get men to the Gospel and insist that they preach it with passion and faithfulness, and many of the churches problems will then have been solved.

Subordinate standards, while useful, are just that - subordinate standards. But the Holy Scriptures are the SUPREME STANDARD for all matters of faith and practice.  Let it be so in deed and in fact.

Undefined Worship at Portstewart Convention

When I started attending Portstewart convention some 40 years ago, one of the outstanding characteristics of the week was the praise.  The accompaniment was by Mrs Marrie Millar on the piano, and that was just what it was - accompaniment.

This has continued for the Bible Readings when a lady plays the keyboard and accompanies the praise.  The praise is dignified, reverent and respectful of the God Who is being praised. 

Nowadays, for the evening meetings there is a 'worship band' and a 'worship leader.'  And their purpose?  To do what they can to smother the praise and drown out the words that are sung in praise of God.

Sadly, this new way of praising God has been brought in by the new generation of committee members who want to attract the younger Christian to the meetings.  But if this worldly-imitating music is what it takes to attract young Christian to hear the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, then that is an eloquent commentary of where young people are at spiritually.  It tells me that so accustomed are they to rock music in their everyday lives that they cannot live without it when they come into God's house.  Such music reminds me of the 1960s when contemporary music reflected the rebellion against authority that was common in that age.  They cannot tolerate quietness or even silence - there must be npoise everywhere, and the louder the better.

Is this worldliness or what?  Is this not the church imitating the godless age in which we live? 

Indeed, the almost repetition of songs and choruses, the jumping back and forth to earlier and later verses, the man-centredness of the lyrics and the almost romanticised expressions describing and/or facilitating their devotion of Christ, are not God-honouring at all.  The older generation of attendees at Portstewart are not in the least impressed by the noise and the lack of reverence that is exhibited in the evening meetings.  In fact, the praise presents a contrary 'message' to that delivered by the evening preacher. 

What will happen when the targetted youths become less than enamoured of the current music style at Portstewart?  One of two things will happen: either the committee will follow the Keswick in Cumbria and hype up the music to become inmdistinmguishable from Top of the Pops in order to retain these mal- contented young people; or they will leave and go tyo the various Vineyard fellowships that are darting up around the country.  I fear that when Portstewart is no longer noisy enough for this constituency, it will follow its elderly mother and go down the rock road.

May God have mercy on us all.