Saturday, January 07, 2023

What's so big about Sin?


In your busy life why should you ever be concerned about the word sin?
What does the Bible say about sin?
For such a small word, a lot is packed into the meaning of sin. The Bible describes sin as the breaking, or transgression of God's law 1st John 3v4.
It is also defined as disobedience or rebellion against God Deuteronomy 9v7, as well as independence from God. The original translation means 'to miss the mark' of God's holy standard of righteousness.
Are all sins equal to God?
The Bible seems to indicate that there are degrees to sin -- that some are more detestable to God than others Deuteronomy 25v16; Proverbs 6v16-19. However, when it comes to the eternal consequences of sin, they are all the same. Every sin, every act of rebellion, leads to condemnation and eternal death  Romans 6v23.
How can we judge if something is sin?
Many sins are spelled out plainly in the Bible. For example, the ten commandments give us a clear picture of God's laws. They offer basic rules of behavior for spiritual and moral living. Many other verses in the Bible present direct examples of sin:
Proverbs 6v16-19; Galatians 5v19-21;
1st Corinthians 6v9-10.
The solution to sin
Centers on the person and the work of the Lord Jesus, the Christ. The Word of God pulsates with the truth that "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" 1st Timothy 1v15. "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Luke 19v10. This salvation from sin necessitated Jesus's standing in the sinners place (becoming the sinners substitute) and bearing the wrath that the sinner deserved. As Paul put it in Romans 5v6 "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." The Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin and it is only through Christ's perfect life and sacrificial death that we can be saved.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3v16.
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3v18.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

A message from the Titanic.........


Titanic and the Marconi men:

"... send S O S, it's the new signal..."

John 'Jack' Philips and his assistant Harold McBride, boarded the Titanic at Belfast. Both of them had a specialized role aboard the ship. Jack Philips was a skilled operator on the Marconi wireless system, having served on several notable vessels, including the Lusitania and the Mauretania. Now he would be sailing on the vessel designed abd built to outshine these rival ships: the mighty and more luxurious Titanic!

Both men had been present for the sea trials that took place on 2nd April 1912. While sailing past the Copelsnd Islands and Donaghadee, they were testing and fine tuning their equipment as they contacted the Titanic's home port of Liverpool - a place, ironically, the Titanic would never reach! That very same night, at 8pm they set sail for Southampton, which was the official starting point for the transatlantic maiden voyage.

Philips received an ice warning before the voyage had even begun - to him it seemed strange, almost comical. The Titanic left Southampton for Cherbourg at 12 noon on 10th April. After a near miss with the New York, which was sucked in by the powerful wash of displaced water, caused by the sheer size of the Titanic, they were on their way to Cherbourg. They were met there there by Traffic and Nomadic, which ferried passengers into the deeper water where the great ship lay at anchor. At 8pm the ship departed for its last port of call near Cobh (Quernstown), Ireland. On 11th April at 11 30am they arrived two miles offshore, taking on their final passengers and mail. It would be their last sight of land.

The Empress of Britain sent the first ice warning of the day on Friday 12th April; another came later from La Touraine. At least ten warnings were received that day concerning ice in an area they were due to cross by Sunday night. Towards the end of the day, their wireless broke down. After a stressful six hours, tracing and repairing the fault (two leads had burnt out from the second secondart of the transformer), the problem was over come. A very major backlog if messages had now piled up! Ice warnings would would get pushed down the list of priorities in favour of private and commercial radio traffic; these made money and often brought tips from passengers - ice warnings brought neither. Messages to the captain's bridge had to be hand delivered; ultimately some were never delivered. Those that reached the bridge, were at best, read casually.

An increasing volume of warnings was received on Saturday morning the first at 9am from the Coronia; it was specific, highlighting an area in the region 42 N. from 49 to 51 W. Noordam signaled "much ice" at 11 40am. The Baltic mentioned ""icebergs and large quantities of field ice" by 1.42pm, followed almost immediately by one from the Amerika. The temperature was falling rapidly as they pressed on. There was a flurry of other messages. McBride carried a message from the Californian directly to the bridge at 7.30pm: 'latitude 42 3⁰ N. longitude 49 9⁰ W.... three large icebergs" but it was never given to Captain Smith. In two hours' time they would enter the ice field 70 miles long, with many icebergs lurking on their north, south, and west. They now had 50 miles to run!

Meanwhile, Jack Philips was hammering through the backlog of messages that had built up during his repairs - he was stressed and overtired, but McBride would relieve him early. McBride was still sleeping when the message came from Mesaba to the Titanic, warning of a great number of icebergs directly in their course. Phillips was too busy to take it to the bridge so he placed a weight upon it, intending to see to it later. At 10.30pm a message was flashed to the crew by signal lamp by a passing ship, Rappahannock - they told of passing through a huge ice field but omitted to tell them they had been damaged in the process. Five minutes later, the Parisian warned of icebergs and shut down fir the night as many other operators would. Unlike the Titanic, most ships had only one operator. While these operators slept no messages would be heard.

Twenty minutes later, as Phillips was transmitting messages through Cape Race, the land relay station, Cyril Evans of the Californian crashed in without waiting for him to finish his message, "Captain, Titanic. We are stopped and surrounded by ice." He had prefixed his message with more official and formal tital to indicate its importance, rather than the "old man" greeting Philips snapped back before the message was finished, "Keep out! Shut up! You're jamming my signal. I'm working Cape Rice." Having been rejected, Evans listened for another 40 minutes but made no attempt to reply and closed down for the night at 11.35pm. It was now five and a half minutes to impact! At that moment, high in the crows nest, Fleet and Lee noticed a slight slimmer on the horizon. Haze is deceiving; more so in darkness! They peered into the dark . "Iceberg right ahead" screamed Fleet into his phone. He gave them only 30 seconds to react.

McBride was taking over at midnight, as promised, when the Captain stuck his head around the door, "We've struck an ice berg.... get ready to send." He was back in a few minutes. "Send a call for assistance..... the regulation international call for help. McBribe later recalled" "We joked while he did so.... Then the Captain came back, "What are you sending?" CQD,' replied Phillips, I cut in, "Send S O S. It's the new signal; it may be your last chance to send it." That made us all laugh including the Captain"                            

Philips remained heroic at his post till the end, transmitting for assistance. He later died in a lifeboat; McBride survived to tell the story.

Jack Philips was paid very poor wages considering the responsibility that was upon him. He meagre income was slightly less than a stoker's on the Titanic. Naturally, he sought to supplement his income by sending a many private messages as possible. Likewise. in tough economic times we could lose sight of eternal realities and the danger of being lost in our sins. "The things which are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal " (2nd Corinthians 4v18). We all are bound for eternity and have a precious soul that will exist forever in Heaven or in Hell. 'Philips' gains would have been comparatively small, but even if we risk our soul to gain the ultimate goal it would be a colossal mistake. "For whall shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8v36-37).

Philips was a man trying to cope with an extremely demanding workload. Life can become a rat race with little time upon the choices we make and the consequences that will follow . We know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away" (James 4v14). Don't be like the Bible character who, when Paul reasoned with him of righteousness, self control and coming judgement, replied; "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" (Acts 25v24). We need to address the fact of our own personal sin and our need of salvation, found solely in the Lord Jesus, the Christ. We need to do this now! Tomorrow belongs to no one! The Saviour could say, "If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8v24).

There was a staggering volume of messages sent to the Titanic directly, apart from others overheard by her.
Similarly, on the 'journey of life' God is desperately trying to get our attention! "God speaketh once.... twice man perceived it not" (Job 33v14). God can use the circumstances of life to awaken up to our own vulnerability and the need of salvation: disappointment, dreams, sickness, feath, terrorism and disasters. "All these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring his soul from the pit (Hell) (Job 33v29-30). Be careful of 'turning out' God's warnings. God desires
that you would read the guidance and warnings He has left for you in His word - the Bible. "He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which is right.... He will deliver his soul from going into the pit and hi ssd's life shall see the light" (Job 3v27,28). The lives of many were lost through the unfortunate errors and oversights of many crew-members. In contrast, the unfailing Lord Jesus died on the Cross because of our sins; by His sin atoning sacrifice He can provide a rescue plan to those willing to personally trust him. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1st Timothy 1v15). Unlike the inadequate measures of the Titanic, God's rescue plan is mighty. He is "longsuffering.... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2nd Peter 3v8).

Harold Cattan was the only wireless man on the Carpathia. Many had switched off for the night but he was still waiting and responded to the Titanic's distress call. God has a promise for you: Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify Me" (Psalm 50v15). Christ will not turn you away. "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out" (6v37).

Due to the tragic loss of life on the Titanic, while wireless operators slept on ships nearby, the US Eadio Act 1912 thereafter demanded that no ship's radio would ever again be unmanned day or night.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

II Timothy and the Significance of the Doctrines of Grace Angus Stewart


The enemies of the doctrines of grace are Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Synergism, Arminianism, Amyraldianism, etc. But there is another enemy … apathy. There are those who may grant that these doctrines are true but they have no heart for them. The doctrines of grace are not essential, they say, and their importance in preaching and catechizing is questioned. Can we not just preach the “simple” gospel?

The Westminster Confession and Catechisms are, of course, of a different mind, as are the Three Forms of Unity, especially the Canons of Dordt. God’s sovereign grace was the reason the Reformers seceded from the apostate Roman Church. The pre-Reformers, Wycliffe and Hus, proclaimed God as the sovereign Saviour. In the ninth century, Gottschalk rotted in prison for nearly twenty years for the truth of double predestination. Before this, Augustine in the fifth century steadfastly taught the mighty grace of God.

This teaching of God’s sovereignty is taken, of course, from the Holy Scriptures. It is taught from Genesis to Revelation, with the apostle Paul being preeminently, as Augustine puts it, “the preacher of grace.”1 In his letters, he inculcates these doctrines in the churches (particularly Romans, Ephesians and I Thessalonians) and Paul’s second canonical epistle to Timothy is also instructive in this regard.

The apostle is imprisoned in a Roman cell (1:8) and fettered as a criminal (1:16; 2:9). Evidently he is cold and short of good reading material (4:13). He is under no illusions; he knows he will be executed: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (4:6). He has no soul-torturing regrets: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (4:7). For him, to live had been Christ and so now to die would be gain: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (4:8).

Paul was a man of foresight and vision. He, the apostle and teacher of the Gentiles (1:12), was to pass into another world. As a wise master builder, he would use his last letters to guard against the intrusion of wood, hay and stubble upon the foundation of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:11-12). At stake was the preservation of the church of Christ and the continuation of the gospel in this wicked world. There had already been apostasy in Asia (present day Turkey) and heretics had arisen (II Tim. 1:15; 2:17-18). Paul knew that the messianic kingdom did not preclude the power of evil in this present age (3:1-13). In Christian congregations, the time will come, he told Timothy, when they will no longer endure sound doctrine but will, after their own lusts, heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears (4:3-4).

Paul wrote to Timothy, to gird him with strength for the battle (2:3) and urge him to steadfast perseverance in the gospel (1:13-14; 3:14). The struggle would be great, the truth would be assailed and all the godly would be persecuted (3:12). There would be temptation to “trim” the gospel, to knock off its rough edges, in order to gain it more acceptance but “the form of sound words” must be held fast (1:13). Timothy had spent much time with Paul, and Paul, of course, knew that Timothy was convicted of the truth of the gospel. In his last letter, the inspired apostle would underscore these things to Timothy and the whole Christian church.

Paul greets his younger brother in the faith with great affection in Christ, assuring him of his prayers and desire to see him (1:1-5). He stirs him up to zeal for the gospel (1:6f.). God’s salvation has its fountain in His eternal purpose (1:9), is manifested in the incarnation and victorious resurrection of Christ (1:10), and is preached to the nations (1:11). Christ’s atonement and the church’s preaching are efficacious and powerful (1:8) to those eternally loved in Him. Our salvation and calling are according to God’s gracious purpose “before the world began” (1:9). God’s decree to save is effected by means of Christ’s cross (1:9-10). This was the message the apostle preached and taught the Gentiles (1:11). The elect heard the preaching and were saved “through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (3:15). This salvation was wholly of God, who “saved us, and called us with a holy calling.” To make all misconception impossible, Paul added, “not according to our works” (1:9). It is no wonder that the apostle was not ashamed (1:12) and Timothy must not be either (1:8). To those eternally chosen in Christ, God gives His grace and Holy Spirit (1:6-7, 9).

This gospel, “the form of sound words,” in all its riches and in all its parts, must be held fast (1:13). However, this gospel also brings affliction and can only be kept in faith and love, by the Holy Ghost, the power of God, who dwells in us (1:7, 13-14).2 He is the One who works Christ’s salvation in us, and He is the One who must preserve His word in our hearts. Phygellus and Hermogenes were (inwardly) strangers to this grace and apostatized (1:15), but God had been faithful in Timothy’s covenant line (1:5) and has always preserved His church (1:3).

This gospel was to be maintained by Timothy: “Therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus” (2:1). Paul was also concerned for the future church. The generations to come must hear the pure gospel: “the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2:2). This is the true apostolic succession!

The apostle preached his “Calvinism” (to use an anachronism); he did not merely say that he held these truths.3 Moreover, his “Calvinism” influenced and governed how he worked. Thus, in his suffering, he was comforted in the knowledge that His gracious Father, who was sovereign over all things, had ordained them as a means of saving His elect (2:8-10).

Likewise, God’s sovereignty in salvation was his consolation and anchor when professing Christians erred in doctrine. Hymenaeus and Philetus taught a heretical view of the resurrection and some had followed them (2:17-18). The apostle knew that in all this God would preserve His people for “the foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2:19).

This, of course, did not lead to a sinful slackness in Paul, for he immediately exhorts, “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2:19), before giving several other commands (2:20-23) and explaining how to instruct those entrenched in error (2:24-26). The apostle urges the Christian minister, as “the servant of the Lord,” to gentleness, patience and meekness, in keeping with the doctrines of grace (2:24-25). The “opponent” is to be viewed as primarily opposing himself rather than the pastor (2:25), for he is ensnared by the devil (2:26). His “repentance to the knowledge of the truth” is totally dependent upon the will of the Almighty (2:25).

The doctrines of the bondage of the will (2:26) and God’s sovereignty in salvation (2:25), instead of being a hindrance to true evangelism, are rather its crucial presuppositions.4 God’s sovereign grace and man’s accountability and responsibility to obey the living and true God are interwoven in II Timothy. The truth of God’s grace must be maintained, confessed and preached in the church.5 Paul commanded Timothy and, indeed, all Christian ministers: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (4:1-2).

Just as he opened his letter to Timothy with grace (1:2), Paul closed by writing, “The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen” (4:22).


1 Augustine,The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love (Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Company, 1961), xxxii; p. 39.
2 Interestingly, the three occurrences of the word, “gospel,” in II Timothy, are all linked to suffering: “be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (1:8); “the gospel: whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things” (1:10-12); “according to my gospel: wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds” (2:8-9).
3 Herein, the apostle is an example of all gospel ministers. Augustine, that faithful follower of Christ, “was often charged with preaching the doctrine of predestination too freely” (John Calvin, Institutes 3.21.4).
4 Looking at the depravity of man, outside the grace of God, in the next chapter (3:1-9, 13), we see that, but for efficacious grace, none would ever be saved.
5 1:6-8, 13-14; 2:1-3, 14-16, 23-26; 3:14-17; 4:1-5.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Sovereignty of God. Gise Van Baren

 Many people in our day deny God and His control over all things. These insist upon walking in their ignorance—for they refuse any testimony from the Bible. Many Christians, however, also appear to be unsure of the extent of the power and control of God. They are willing to concede that God tries to save sinners—but they are not certain whether God can really and fully accomplish His purpose. They agree that God sends all good things—but are loath to maintain that God sends wars and sickness. They are ready to say that God guides good men—but hesitate to confess that wicked men are also under His direction and control.

One of the truths which has been historically and emphatically confessed by Reformed, Calvinistic churches is that of the Sovereignty of our God. Sovereignty refers to absolute, total rule and control over all things, a rule which God alone possesses. God’s Sovereignty is not limited. Nor is it given to Him. But it is without limit and it is God’s personal right. God is not the Ruler of some sort of democracy in which He rules by the will of the people. His rule and authority belong exclusively to Himself—and God fully exercises this rule in His creation. He is the Sovereign One. Nothing and no one escapes His rule.

This is a vital truth. Without it, or in distorting it, one cannot but propose doctrines or beliefs contrary to God’s Word. Consider this once in the light of what the Bible itself teaches.

First of all, the Sovereignty of God includes the fact that He has formed by His powerful Word the whole of the universe—and He preserves its existence. This fact staggers the imagination! The universe itself is so vast that man knows not how to describe its beginning or its end. The number of stars is so large as to be uncountable. The energy expended by all these heavenly bodies in the universe cannot be measured by man. There are those who claim to be ignorant concerning the origin of this universe. Some suggest that perhaps it is eternal. But the Bible tells us simply, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). And Hebrews 11:3 states, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Imagine! God created the vast universe—and He Himself is far above it, nor is He limited by it. So also did Solomon pray in dedicating the temple at Jerusalem, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens can not contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (I Kings 8:27).

But the Sovereignty of God is not limited to the formation of all things by His powerful Word. He is Sovereign in that He directs and governs all things that take place. God places the sea within its bounds: Job 38:8, “Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?” Or again, He causes the rain to fall and the grass to grow: “Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains” (Ps. 147:8). Striking, is it not, that the Sovereign God causes each drop of rain to fall where He wills; He causes each flake of snow to descend according to His good-pleasure. This is not the extent of His power, however. God’s power extends over the birds of the heavens and even over the hairs which fall from one’s head. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:29-30).

But still more amazing, though disputed by many, is the fact that God’s power directs wars, pestilence, disease and winds which come upon the earth. Not only does He as God send peace but He also causes war. He not only gives health but He also sends sickness and death. God says in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.” Again we read in Psalm 46:8, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.” When Christians, then, hear of or encounter terrible hurricanes or tornadoes, when they behold the destruction of disease, when they see the devastation of wars—let them confess: “The hand of the Lord directs all these things!”

There is a yet more amazing wonder in this fact of God’s Sovereignty. He rule extends even over evil men—yes, and over the devil himself. Many deny this. It is often suggested that God influences and directs good men—but that evil men and the devil are minor forces outside of the rule of God. It is conceded that God can frustrate the evil designs of these forces of darkness, but the claim is that these are nevertheless independent forces. If this view were correct, there would be a serious limit to, or abridgment of, the Sovereignty of God. Fact is, however, that God is also sovereign with respect to wicked men. They cannot lift up one little finger, they cannot perform one evil act, but this too is under the absolute control of God.

That this is true can also be shown clearly from Scripture. We read in Exodus 3-4, that Moses, who earlier had fled from Egypt, was caring for the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro. This had been his occupation during the past 40 years. Suddenly, God changed the life of Moses. God met him at the burning, but unconsumed, bush in the wilderness, and instructed him to go to Pharaoh with the command to let God’s people go. But then God told Moses, “When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all these wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in thy hand; but I will harden his heart that he shall not let the people go.” It is not true that Pharaoh first hardened his heart—and then God further hardened it. Before Pharaoh was even aware of the existence of Moses, God emphasizes: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 4:21). As a result of this act of God, Pharaoh hardens his heart. Though God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, yet Pharaoh himself is held responsible and is terribly punished, through the ten plagues, for his sin.

And why should God harden Pharaoh’s heart? The apostle Paul answers with the words of Romans 9:17, “For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”

Other instances are mentioned in Scripture. There is the account of I Kings 22, where Ahab sought advice through his false prophets concerning his plan to fight against Syria. These false prophets unanimously urged him to go to battle—with the assurance of victory. But then Ahab called God’s prophet Micaiah. Micaiah explained to Ahab that it was God who placed a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab’s false prophets—in order to lead Ahab to his destruction in this battle. God was Sovereign even over those false prophets.

But there is more too, for even the devil himself is under the direct control of God. Possibly the clearest evidence of this is found in the book of Job. In the first chapter, we read that Satan appeared before God. God reminded Satan of Job who was “a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil.” “Ah,” says Satan, “but does Job serve God for nothing? Touch what he has and he shall curse Thee.” God then tells Satan in verse 12, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” Thus did God give Satan specific but limited power to carry out the evil design of trying to cause Job to curse God.

But there is a yet more wonderful, amazing evidence of the Sovereignty of God revealed in Scripture. This Almighty God, through His own power alone, saves His people from sin and death and brings them to heavenly glory. Many mistaken preachers will claim that Jesus stands outside the sinner’s heart and insistently knocks upon the door. The decisive action leading unto salvation must be taken by man. But that is not the presentation of Scripture. In Jeremiah 31:18-19 we read, “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh; I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, but I did bear the reproach of my youth.” And we read concerning the preaching of the missionaries Paul and Barnabas, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the Word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). And on another missionary journey, Paul spoke to women worshipping at a riverside near Philippi. One of these women, Lydia, believed. Concerning her, we read, “Whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14).

Further, it was the Sovereignty of God which was evident at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. When one views what happened at the cross, one might be inclined to suggest that matters had gotten out of hand. It almost seemed as though God had lost control. It appeared as though Satan was about to have the victory. Yet that is exactly what did not happen. God had all things under control at the cross. What took place, took place in harmony with His grand purpose. So also did Peter explain to the audience at Pentecost when he told them, “Jesus, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). God had determined that the cross must come—but wicked men took and crucified the Christ. Thus did God use the evil action of wicked men to accomplish His glorious purpose.

It is also this same sovereign, almighty power of God whereby He preserves His people in the salvation He gives unto them. We read in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

The Sovereign God has revealed His absolute control over all things in saving a people from sin and bringing them to heaven with all of its glories.

Is it important that the faithful Christian maintain this scriptural presentation of God’s Sovereignty? Most definitely! The very reason that the whole of the universe exists is that God’s Name might be highly exalted. All that has taken place, all that shall yet occur, must serve the purpose of glorifying God. No one or nothing may attempt to take away from the Sovereignty of our God.

It is the characteristic mark of all heresy that the truth of God’s Sovereignty is compromised. Man would introduce that which exalts man, that which exalts man’s power or ability, that which claims that man has a certain ability to earn or merit something of God. Or man deliberately attempts to detract from God’s absolute rule by suggesting that others, outside of God, possess an independent power.

But it is the mark of a faithful Christian and of the true church that these believe and confess the scriptural truth of the absolute Sovereignty of God. All doctrine, every confession, must be founded upon the truth of God’s Sovereignty. Whatever detracts in any way from this truth must be rejected. True doctrine must follow out of and reveal the truth that God is the Sovereign One.

The Christian must live and walk in the consciousness of this truth too. All too often one would think of himself as independent—free from the power and authority of God. He does not seek God’s face in prayer as he ought. He does not support the cause of God’s kingdom as a faithful child of God is called to do. He finds pleasure in this world with all of its lusts. Such an one lives as though God is not the Sovereign One.

What a wonderful truth is this confession of God’s Sovereignty! My God is He who hears and can answer my prayer. My God directs all things for my good (Rom. 8:28). Because my God is absolutely sovereign, there are no real accidents which befall me. And I shall surely dwell in the house of the Lord forever—my Sovereign God sees to this through His Son Jesus Christ.

What comfort, what assurance, it is for the Christian to know and confess God’s Sovereignty. There is nothing, then, that can ever separate me from the love of God. “For,” says God’s Word, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). That is true because God is the sovereign God. Thank God that He is!

Saturday, October 31, 2020




 Our subject is, Where Will You Spend Eternity? You willfind the
text in John 16 : 5, “Whither goest thou?” Jesus Christ was about
to leave this world. He told the disciples that he was going, but
none of them asked Him whither He was going. He reproved them
for not asking. Well He might, for the most important question
that can face any man when he comes to leave this present world is
“Whither goest thou?"
That is certain. We may try to shut our eyes to the fact, but the fact
stands. Look ahead tonight. You may live five years, ten years,
twenty years, thirty, forty, fifty years. But then what? The fifty
years will soon be gone. Then what? ETERNITY! On it stretches
before us, on and on and on. Never ending centuries will roll on,
ages roll on, but still eternity stretches on and on. It will ever stretch
on, never any nearer an end.

Oh, thank God for eternity! If I knew I were to live a thousand
years it would not satisfy me. I would always be thinking of the end
that would come some time. I am glad that as I look out into the
future I see an eternity that has absolutely no end. There is an

ETERNITY SOMEWHERE. The time will never come when you
cease to be. You will be somewhere throughout all eternity.

Remember in the third place that THE QUESTION WHERE
SPEND YOUR PRESENT LIFE.‘ Suppose I am taking a day‘s
journey to a place where I shall spend forty years. Which is the
more important, the accommodations I shall have on the cars or
the accommodations I shall have when I get there? This life is a
day’s journey to an endless eternity. '

The next point to consider is that IT IS POSSIBLE FOR US TO KNOW
 WE WHERE WE SHALL ETERNITY. Jesus knew where He would spend eternity.
He said, ‘I -go to Him that sent me.” Paul knew where he would spend
eternity. "He said, “For me to die is gain.” And again, “I depart to
be with Christ which is far better”.

The fifth fact -to bear in mind is that  .WILL SPEND
HELL. Heaven is a place of holiness, happiness and love. Hell is a
place of violence, misery and hate. In one or the other you and I
shall spend eternity. ‘With Christ or with the Devil. With the holy
and pure, or with the profane, the blasphemous, the vile. Which
will it be for all eternity? -

CHRIST. lf you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you
will spend eternity with Him. If you reject Jesus Christ you will
spend. eternity away from Him. Listen to the sure Word of God
“He that believeth on" the Son hath everlasting life: and he that
believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God
abideth on Him." (John 3 : 36).

Listen again. “Tl1e Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them
that know not God,'and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ: who shall suffer punishment even everlasting
destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His
night”. Where we spend eternity will be determined by what we
do with Jesus Christ in the life that now is.

There is an eternity; we must spend that eternity somewhere; the
question where you will spend eternity is vastly more important
than the question of where you will spend your present life; it is
possible for us to know where we shall spend eternity; weshall
spend. eternity in one of two places, where We spend eternity will be
settled in the life that now is; where you spend etemtiy will be
determined by what you do with Jesus Christ. My friend whither
goest thou? Where wilt you spend eternity?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

“…knew not the Lord.” David Ireland

“…knew not the Lord.”

1 Samuel 3:1-10-
“  ¶And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.  And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.”

The text reveals that Samuel knew not the Lord but came to know him in time and for eternity.  (Jeremiah 15:1 makes clear the honour which the Lord bestowed upon Samuel; likened to Moses)
1 Samuel 2:11-26
“  ¶And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest. Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. And the priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.  Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD. Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.  Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress.  If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.  And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.”
1 Samuel 2:11-26-The text reveals to us the two sons of Eli also knew not the Lord but the difference is the suffered judgement in time and for eternity. Who are you more like? Are you like Samuel and in time you have come to know the Lord as Saviour? Or are you like Hophni & Phineas going along your selfish way fulfilling every lust and rejecting the Lord?

Hophni & Phineas are identified as sons of Belial. (taking more of the sacrifice than was due, serial adulterers etc.) they were a discredit to their father and a disgrace to their office as priests. This description is reserved for some of the most lawless of sinners in scripture. Degenerate men and women like the sodomites in Gibeah Judges ch19&ch20, or when Hannah was judged to be a drunkard by Eli 1 Samuel 1:16 she immediately defended herself as being not a daughter of Belial.
There are other examples of liars, drunkards and murderers who received the title of Belial. Belial is a name for Satan and those works of Hophni and Phineas were the works of the Devil, as Christ said to the Pharisees in John 8:44 ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do. I think it’s a chilling revelation to think any individual could be a child of the Devil but according to the bible each of us can only be in two places spiritually in this regard. Either we are of the Lord or of the Devil.  If you’re in the hall tonight and you’re not saved then I must warn you that your father, spiritually speaking, is the devil. The only solution is to be born again. Ye must be born again.
You need to be born again and adopted into the family of God. You cannot be ‘on the fence’ here. 1 John 5:19 tells us the whole world lieth in wickedness, Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. Isaiah 1:6 certainly doesn’t paint a pretty picture either where we’re described as unsound head to toe and full of wounds, bruises and putrefying sores.
Isaiah 53:6 describes our condition as lost sheep.  All we like sheep have gone astray and turned each to his own ways and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. What a mess!

 Tell me do you know the Lord or are you like Hophni and Phineas who knew not the Lord?

Perhaps you’re no adulterer but don’t forget that Christ drew the line at the heart level. He said that whosoever looks upon another with lust in their heart is guilty of adultery. God knows our hearts, he knows our thought life, there isn’t even a word in our mouths but he knows it altogether. Perhaps you’re no blasphemer but are you still rejecting the offer of grace? Do you resist the call of God on your heart? Then you are blaspheming God the holy spirit; which, of all sins, eventually proves unpardonable. That’s why the bible reminds us that God’s spirit shall not always strive with man. It is a solemn decision to hear the gospel then reject the offer of salvation. This could be your last chance.

The conduct of Hophni and Phineas led the people to despise the sacrifices. We read in 1 Samuel 2:17 that men abhorred the sacrifices because of them. That’s challenging for me as a Christian too. How is my conduct? Do I deal with people in a way that causes them to despise the gospel? Am I treating people unfairly, do I harass them, do I defraud them etc. Do people see the fruit of the spirit in my life? They may not agree with my message but do they find much to disagree with about my nature and character? It was one thing for the brothers to wilfully sin away their covenantal rights and turn away from God but it was quite another matter to turn others away. Christ made dire warnings of judgement to them who would offend his little ones in Mark 9:42.

Perhaps you’re depending on church membership or your association with believers in Christ? Here were Hophni and Phineas as sons of Eli, they themselves were also priests. Their credentials in those regards might be considered impressive but it is a fallacy to think that honour, virtue or worth can be bestowed by association. I think that somebody once said that you can spend all night in a stable but it won’t make you into a horse (although you’ll smell like one).
There are testimonies, I’ve heard, of people brought up in church and heavily involved with church service but only after hearing the gospel did they realise they needed the Lord. Do you know him? He is the one whom to know is life eternal. Hophni and Phineas continued on their career of iniquity until judgement finally came in 1 Samuel 4:11 where we discover they were slain by the Philistines. Many years had gone by but the judgement finally came:

…it came unexpectedly; that same day they had been shouting and rejoicing around the Ark of the Covenant certain that God was going to deliver them against the Philistines. Unknown to them God had departed and was executing judgement.

…it came costly; thirty thousand souls of the Israelites died that day. Phineas and Hophni were among them.

…it came assuredly; the Lord had sent a man of God some years previously warning that judgement was coming. The Lord is not slack concerning his promises as some men count slackness. Phineas and Hophni had received time and space to repent of their evil but presumed upon God that which they had no right to presume.

The point is: you can be aware of coming judgement but you cannot escape it, you cannot afford it and you should not doubt it. Phineas and Hophni knew not the Lord and so probably did not realise that God is faithful to deliver on his promises and judgements. In 1 Samuel 2:24 it is recorded for us that Eli reasoned with them of sin and righteousness and judgement to come but it states that they hearkened not unto the voice of their father.
 Can I please encourage you not to make the same mistake which they made? If someone has been warning you about your sin and its consequences please take note of them and heed their advice. Repent of your sin and seek Christ as saviour and Lord.

Look again at the passage from the start (1 Samuel 3:1-10) and notice:
Samuel’s service. Samuel served in the temple and what was true of Hophni and Phinehas was also true of Samuel that their service merited not one iota of righteousness under the unconditional covenant of Abraham, but while Samuel obeyed the covenant of Moses the brothers further failed in that regard and brought judgement upon themselves. Once more don’t let anyone think they can do the Lord a favour. We cannot earn any merit of righteousness by service, we cannot bargain for time in heaven or reprieve from hell with our deeds. The motivation for Christian service has to be love for the Lord. How tragic to hear of those involved with church service, church attendance etc. who are utterly lost in their sin at the present. Samuel was dedicated to service, some experts say the Hebrew can mean loaned to the Lord. Here he was deeply involved in service but lost and unregenerate.

Samuel’s state. Samuel was laid down to sleep. The picture appears as a slumbering sinner dead to the things of God and the new covenant of grace and mercy. Each one in their lost state is like this. Are you concerned over your soul tonight? Are you dead to the truths of the gospel, are you already saved and resting in the Lord or, if you are not saved are you concerned for your soul? Get concerned if you’re not, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. Sleeper arise, shake off your slumber and listen to the gospel that Jesus has died in your place, took your penalty, shed his own blood for your sin and has arose from the grave to declare you righteous upon your declaration of faith in him. Now repent of your sin and call upon him.

Samuel’s call. He was called 4 times before he responded to the call from God. How many times has God called you? If you are saved think how many times God called. I know that I had numerous exposures to the gospel not understanding but thankfully the Lord may call repeatedly. Job 33:14 makes clear and Job 33:18 explains why.

Job 33:14  ¶For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.
15  In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
16  Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
17  That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
18  He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.

The Lord wants to keep you from the pit you know. Don’t go to hell tonight and trample the blood of Christ under your feet. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, he is not willing that anyone should perish but that all would come to repentance. He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish. Don’t perish in hell but rather seek the Lord while he may be found.

Samuel knew not the Lord but the Lord called him out of spiritual sleep, death and darkness into the marvellous light of salvation. Will you come to know Christ this moment? All things are ready. The Lord is a wonderful saviour who loves you enough to give his life on Calvary’s cross. He died to put away sin. His blood was sprinkled to put away the wrath of God. His blood was the purchase price of your soul. When I see the blood I will Passover you- God looks on the blood of Jesus Christ and is satisfied. It is finished he cried. That’s why you can’t earn it or merit it. No amount of labour, or treasure or any physical resource can pay for your salvation because Jesus paid it all. He freely offers you the gift of salvation don’t put a price on it when it is given by grace. Don’t make your pride and reputation a price too high to pay for that which is freely given. Is it your friends that are a cost to high to pay? Do you make your cherished sin a price too far to part with? Don’t exchange priceless grace freely given for paltry affections which are worthless in eternity. Come to the saviour this minute. Turn from your sin and cry unto him in repentance for forgiveness and he will meet you at the point of your greatest need. Do you know the Lord? Hophni and Phinehas knew not the Lord and hearkened not to his word. Samuel knew not the Lord but heard his welcome voice calling him to salvation. If you feel the Lord is calling you please don’t delay, do business with the Lord right now & get ready to meet him ere you go out to eternity.