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.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Great Adventure Jackie Roberts

Many years ago in Bethshan Church we did a musical called
“The Great Adventure” and one of the songs had the lyrics
Saddle up your horses, we’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown
This is the life like no other, This is the Great Adventure

Called to an Adventure

1. Out by God in His great plan for us all.  It is indeed a Great Adventure. 
   Sometimes not understanding where we are going or why things are
   happening in our lives, but knowing God is in complete control of every

2.You made the most important decision of your life when you chose to
  receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.  At that moment, you
  were born into God’s family, and you received everything you need to
  live the abundant Christian life.2.

3.But that does not mean you are as spiritually mature as someone who
  has walked with Christ for many years.  The Christian life is a process
  that begins with an act of faith and is lived by faith.

Five Principles of Christian Growth

This lesson deals with five principles of Christian growth.  The first two,
We Must Study God’s Word, and We Must Pray, help us deepen our
relationship with God.  This could be called our vertical relationship. 
Through the Bible, God communicates to us; through prayer, we
communicate with Him.

The next two principles, We Must Fellowship with other Christians,
and We must Witness for Christ, help us reach out to others.  This
could be called our horizontal relationship.  In fellowship, we
communicate with other Christians about our Saviour and the
bond He gives us with one another.  In witnessing, we communicate
with non-Christians.  We tell them about Jesus, what He has done
for us, and what He desires to do for them.

Principle Five, We Must Obey God, is the core of growth.  As we
obey Him, we experience increasing joy, peace, and fellowship with
the Lord Jesus Christ and fellow believers.  We also become
increasingly more mature in our Christian walk.

If you follow these principles, you can be sure that you will grow
toward maturity in Christ.

Principle 1 – We Must Study God’s Word

James 1:22-25 says:  ‘22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so
deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  23 Anyone who listens to the
word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his
face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and
immediately forgets what he looks like.  25 But whoever looks intently
into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not
forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed
in what they do.’

1 Peter 2:2 says:  ‘Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk,
so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.’

Matthew 4:4 says: ‘Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not
live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth
of God.’

Principle 2 – We Must Pray

Have you ever considered that you have immediate access to the
most powerful Person in the universe?  Whatever you need,
whatever the time, you can call upon Him.  His calendar is
cleared to be with you. His schedule is open for your
appointment; His full attention is devoted to you.

Prayer is the inspiring experience of conversing with, and
praising God as our loving, heavenly Father.  Few
experiences can equal prayer in empowering us and
lifting us above our problems.  But prayer is not just an
‘escape hatch’ for us to get out of trouble, please ourselves,
or gain our selfish ends. Rather, it is inviting Him to talk to
us as we talk to Him.  There is more to prayer, but this is
basic to true prayer.

Matthew 26:41 says: ‘Watch and pray so that you will not
fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says: ‘Pray continually.’

John 14:13-14 says:  “13 And I will do whatever you ask in my
name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  14 You
may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Principle 3 – We Must Fellowship with Other Christians

Hebrews 10:23-25 says:  ‘23 Let us hold unservingly
to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting
together, as some are in the habit of doing, but
encouraging one another—and all the more as you
see the Day approaching.’

Acts 2:42 says: ‘They devoted themselves to the
apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking
of bread and to prayer.’

Principle 4 – We Must Witness for Christ

A witness is a person who tells what he has seen and heard. 
He shares his own personal experience.  Anyone who has a
vital personal relationship with Christ can be a witness for Him. 
Witnessing is the overflow of the Christian life.  A vital
Christian life is contagious.  As our lives are filled with the
presence of the Lord Jesus, we cannot help but share Him
with those with whom we come into contact.

Romans 1:14-16 says ‘14 I am obligated both to Greeks
and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.
15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also
to you who are in Rome.  16 For I am not ashamed of the
gospel, because it is the power of God that brings
salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew,
then to the Gentile.’

I am obligated; I am so eager to preach;

For I am not ashamed of the gospel

Acts 1:8 says:‘But you will receive power when the
Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses
in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
ends of the earth.’

Principle 5 – We Must Obey God

Romans 6:14-18 says:  ‘14 For sin shall no longer be
your master, because you are not under the law, but
under grace.  15 What then?  Shall we sin because we
are not under the law but under grace?  By no means!  
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to
someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one
you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads
to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be
slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart
the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves
to righteousness.

Matthew 6:24 says:  ‘No one can serve two masters. 
Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you
will be devoted to the one and despise the other. 
You cannot serve both God and money.’

Matthew 22:37 says:  ‘Jesus replied: “Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your mind.”’

John 15:10-11 says:  ‘10 If you keep my commands, you
will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s
commands and remain in his love.  11 I have told you
this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy
may be complete.’

Philippians 2:13 says: ‘For it is God who works in you to
will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.’

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. by David Ireland

John 11:20  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23  Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.


This subject is fundamentally important to the gospel message, the whole gospel could be said to stand or fall on this important point as we read:

1 Corinthians 15:17 “… if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

Indeed the often quoted ‘Gospel in a nut shell’:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “…for I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…”

…emphasises the resurrection’s importance as integral to our salvation for as we shall see it is the same power that raised Christ from the grave which we are hoping in to see us raised to life again in the rapture of the church to everlasting bliss in heaven.

We wont be getting into an exhaustive study of the resurrection but we do well to take notice of the following several points:

That it is a fact established by evidence. e.g. this list of references is not the complete list but a sample to illustrate the point:

Many infallible proofs: Acts 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

…including but not limited to:

500 brethren, James, all the Apostles and then Paul: 1 Corinthians 15:6-8

The 500 - v6  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

James and the Apostles -v 7  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles,

Saul of Tarsus -v 8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

All the apostles at once:  Matthew 28:9  And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him

Mary Magdalene: Mark 16:9 ¶Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

 The two on the road to Emmaus: Mark 16:12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

So why should we believe the testimony of these 500+ witnesses? Aside from the overwhelming weight of witnesses, we need to recognise that many, possibly most, of these people died maintaining their belief in the resurrection; that they had saw Jesus alive. Now many people can be persuaded to die for a cause they believe in but nobody will die for that which they know to be untrue. These disciples died for the truth of the gospel, including the resurrection. When someone is willing to put their life on the line for an argument’s sake they are more than reasonably sure they’re right.

Christ was seen and handled by more than 500 witnesses over a period of forty days after his resurrection, many of whom died maintaining it as true, and we can be sure, we serve a risen saviour!

That it is the Father’s power which raised him from the dead to save a people.

The commandment of the Father Jesus received: John 10:17-18  Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

It was God who raised up Jesus: 1 Corinthians 6:14  And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

God has raised him for our salvation: Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

It is the supernatural power of God which made the resurrection possible and which will make our resurrection possible. Modernists and humanists disregard this factor and arrive at all kinds of fanciful theories e.g. Swoon theory (Christ fainted on the cross and revived in the tomb), Non burial theory (Jesus was taken for dead but dumped with the criminals and revived later escaping), and many other theories. While each in itself still a miracle to some degree (although the modernists proposing these things hadn’t really considered their theories thoroughly enough before proposing them), they all seek to deny the bible, discredit Jesus and deny the power of God. Indeed as Paul puts it in Romans ch 1 they are “willingly ignorant”. Paul goes on to explain they are “without excuse”. People oppose the God they know exists and refuse to acknowledge his power even as evidenced by the resurrection. We serve an almighty God!

That it is the sign of his power/authority.

The Son of God: Romans 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

It is the Christian’s hope (confidence, comfort, sustaining focus, expectation) for the future, if Christ is not risen from the dead then what hope (confidence or comfort) is there for us? It is a sign of the last days that we are seeing increasing challenges to the authority of God’s word, even these very ‘churchmen and women’ so-called teachers of the word of God promoting the idea that the bible’s authority is of man’s creation not God’s. Well if it doesn’t have God’s authority why should we bother listening? Why should we waste our time gathering to worship and serve God in this place? Away with such rubbish! This is God’s word and we can trust every detail as reliable and true, the resurrection is established by a variety of witnesses as we have seen, it is possible because of that which the modernists, liberal theologians, historians and humanists ignore i.e a SUPER-natural God who is mighty in power. The resurrection is the ultimate testimony and sign to this fallen world that Jesus is the Son of God. They who deny the resurrection make a challenge on, and make an attack on:

The authority of God’s word, The power of almighty God, The deity of Christ.

****It is so critical to our salvation and hope for heaven that it is a necessary belief that we accept this, (again Romans 10:9 underlines its importance). To refuse to accept it is apostasy, those who reject it are not saved nor can they ever be saved while they honestly maintain such a belief.****

Perhaps there is somebody here that has never met with the risen Christ. Tonight the lord Jesus invites you here to come and be saved.

First we must understand we are sinners before a holy God: Romans 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Exodus 20, the 10 commandments.

Next there is a coming judgement: Acts 17:31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Revelation 20:11-15  ¶And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

2 Thessalonians  8-10 the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10  When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

The  Judgement fell on another: Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  

Galatians 1:4  Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father

We must repent: Matthew 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

We must have saving faith: Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

The message hasn’t changed since the days of the Apostle Paul as he said in Acts20:21  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

We serve a risen Saviour! He invites you here to trust in his finished sacrifice alone for salvation.

To God be the glory, the majesty, the dominion and the power now and forevermore. Amen.