Archive for October, 2019

The Saving and Keeping Power – the Testimony of Inspector Brian Martin (1955-1983)

October 27, 2019

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Inside an old book one day, I found the following little testimony tract written by John Brian Martin, a young police inspector, prior to his death in the Northern Ireland troubles. Having visited Banbridge just recently, I discovered on research that this was the town in which Brian lived with his wife and two young children prior to his death. He was murdered just before his 28th birthday, along with other young officers who were attending a lecture in the Ulster Polytechnic in Jordanstown; these sadly died later. Reading this information made me aware of the brevity of life and how we must be ready to meet the Lord. The following was written in the introduction…
JOHN BRIAN MARTIN, a Police Inspector in the Royal Ulster Constabulary died as the result of a terrorist bomb at the Ulster Polytechnic whilst attending as a student on 4th November 1983. Prior to his death he committed to print his testimony of the “Saving and Keeping Power” in his life which is told as follows…
“The Lord brought me into the world on the 4th December 1955 and the earliest recollection I have is when I was very small and my father getting down on his knees with me at night before I went to bed and reciting the Lord’s Prayer to me until I was able to say it as well. I was the eldest in a family of three, having two younger sisters. I was not raised in a Christian home but in “a church home,” if I could use that phrase. It was seen to that I was taken to Sunday school and church every Sunday and was even encouraged to do scripture exams. Then, when I was 11 years old, my father died. This had a profound effect on me at the time, as I was the eldest in the family. To my mother’s credit, she saw to it that I still attended Sunday school, church and the Youth Club.
At 18 I joined the Police and it was while training at Enniskillen that I first came into contact with the Christian Police Association, as they distributed a copy of the New Testament to each recruit. Back then I had more concern for the things of the world than my own soul; cars and having a good time were all I was concerned about.
I was by no means a drunkard but drink to me then seemed to be the “in thing” socially as it appeared to have some sort of status attached to it. I continued in this vein of life and then got married. Just before I got married my wife became a Christian. She told me at the time and I can remember thinking distastefully about her decision. Now I can see that this was part of God’s plan for me. I went to church as regularly as possible, was a choir member, a committee member and even went along with my wife to the mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting. I had the outward appearance of being a Christian but still I knew I had not made the commitment that was required.
I went to various missions and gospel halls with my wife and at the beginning of 1980 I knew the Lord was talking to me. I was confused and restless and feeling extremely agitated. My wife and her mother, both committed Christians, I knew were praying for my salvation. I knew within myself what I had to do but pride in myself was keeping me from doing so.
Finally, on 18th May, 1981, after attending a gospel service in Rathfriland the previous evening, I committed my life to the Lord. I went to see my own minister that day, seeking for salvation, counsel and guidance. I felt very humbled in this but the Lord gave me courage to do it. I spent a gratifying time with my minister that morning and after making a simple prayer with him and commitment, I felt all the unrest and unease begin to lessen. We both spent a time of fellowship together and when I went to work that evening I told a colleague (who I knew was a committed Christian) of my experience, which helped me in my stand. At that moment I was at peace within myself and had an assurance which I never had before. I wondered how I might tell some of my non-Christian friends. This was made easy for me with the Lord’s help. I can say in all honesty that to lead a Christian life, especially in the Police Force, is not an easy one. It is a battlefield all the way, but although not an easy life, it is a blessed life. If you dear friend, are holding back from commitment to the Lord because of your own pride, as was my case, I would say to you, act now before it is too late. In Genesis 6v3 it says that the Lord’s Spirit shall not always strive with man. This indeed is a sobering thought. If you feel that the Lord is talking to you and you are under conviction, I would urge you to act; the Christian life, as I have found every day, brings a new challenge, a new experience and new friends.”
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A short time after writing this, and only two years after committing his life to the Lord, this young man lost his life on this earth because of the forces of evil in those days. But praise God “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1Thessaonians 4v14).
I pray that someone somewhere will still be touched by his story, for the Lord loves you and it is not His will that you should go out into a lost eternity – whatever part you played in Ireland’s conflict, or indeed whoever, or wherever you are in this world…

Was Paul “the Chief of Sinners?”

October 15, 2019

The following well known verse is often used to make a doctrinal point… “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1Timothy 1v15) It never ceases to amaze me how this verse is constantly used to make an excuse for habitual sin in the lives of many who would call themselves Christians. Note the words “of who I am chief.” Paul is speaking in the present tense here and if he was speaking of himself he was referring to his (then) present state. Therefore was he “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope…” (1Timothy 1v1) saying “I am the chief of sinners?”
How could Paul (the regenerate servant of the Lord Jesus Christ) be “the chief of sinners?” We need to look at the first few words of this verse… “This is a faithful saying…” The phrase “faithful (or true) saying” is used five times in the New Testament: 1Timothy 1v15; 1Timothy 3v1; 1Timothy 4v8&9; 2Timothy 2v11-13; Titus 3v4-8; in each instance it is “a true saying” – a proverb, which is “worthy of all acceptation.”
This saying was never meant to apply to Paul as an individual at that point in time. However, unfortunately it suits many to believe that “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” was the “chief of sinners,” so that they can preach “a sinning religion.” There are two types of people in this world: saints and sinners. I am aware that there are also “seekers” and of course not everyone has sunk into the same depths of evil – but the unsaved charity worker, like his drug dealing neighbour, is lost until he comes to that place of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Nowhere in the Bible do we read of “saved sinners” and yet this is a term which I have often heard used in evangelical circles. Amazingly I have also heard of someone who preached that “a little bit of sin keeps us humble.” The Bible makes it clear that “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1John 2v1) Note that it is not when we sin, indicating that sin should be something alien in the Christian’s life. Another phrase which I have heard quoted is “we sin in thought, word and deed every day;” this too is a man-made phrase and unscriptural.
I remember the words of someone speaking at a children’s meeting held years ago in a back garden… “We are all so sinful…” I cannot recall her exact words but she made it clear that she regarded herself as being as sinful as those she was addressing. One little girl who looked confused, asked… “But what’s the point then?” I believe that what she meant was: “What’s the point of me asking Jesus into my heart, if He’s not going to make me a new person?” That little girl is now a young woman whom I haven’t seen in many years and I don’t know where she stands spiritually. Child workers and Sunday school teachers bear such a fearful responsibility.
What Paul was effectively saying was… if I had been the only one, the Lord would still have died for me. “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:” (2Corinthians 5v14)
If we read on in 2Corinthians 5, we see that “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (Verse 17) When Paul was blinded by the light of the Lord on the Damascus Road, his subsequent experience changed him dramatically. Although Christians were fearful of him at first, it soon became evident to them that Saul the persecutor had become Paul the saint; miraculously he had become a sincere and fervent follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his own words… “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.” (Romans 6v21-23)
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5v21)
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Corinthians 6v18)
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4v22-24)
Surely only a hypocrite could utter such words if he was indeed “the chief of sinners.” And we know that Paul was not a hypocrite.

“Wells without Water” – A Career in “the Church”

October 2, 2019

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Over the years I have on occasions met clergy from various denominations. For some reason I have recently been thinking about these encounters and how, sadly, it was clear that many of these people had no spiritual light whatsoever. They generally do what is expected of them: have an acceptable sermon put together for Sunday mornings, visit hospitals, the bereaved and elderly parishioners and conduct weddings and funeral services, amongst other duties.
Sadly, though, they have not had the experience of being truly born again of the Spirit of God and while what they do may seem commendable, it is in most cases their “job” – not a real calling from the Lord.
Of course they have differing personalities and many are charming, friendly and pleasantly spoken. But unfortunately I have also encountered in these days something very disturbing in some – a type of cynicism, with no effort whatsoever being made to disguise it.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7v15) Yet often I feel that some don’t even make the effort to don “sheep’s clothing,” since many in their congregation seem completely blind to the real wolf staring them in the face anyway. I have even heard of ministers jokingly admit that they have “difficulty believing in some of the miracles in the Bible.”
This cynicism, this lack of sincerity, this flippancy is all too common in some circles, while horrifically there are lost souls going out into eternity every second in this world – souls who have sat under the “ministry” of the spiritually blind, whose voices echo meaningless platitudes from the pulpits of great churches and cathedrals the world over.
The Lord loved and died for everyone, including the robed hierarchy of great churches but unless they too, repent and come the humble way to the foot of the cross for forgiveness, the words of 2Peter 2v17 apply to them… “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.”
There are ministers in so called “evangelical” circles too, who unfortunately are what Paul describes as “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (2Corinthians 11v13)
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2Corinthians 11v14&15) We are living in incredible days when discernment is a great requirement in the life of Christians. Surely… “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7v16) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Peter 5v8)
Thank God there is hope for even the hardest, most cynical deceiver, for the Lord is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3v9) If we have knowledge of such “blind, leaders of the blind” we must pray for them that their eyes would be opened to the truth and we must pray for the people of these congregations in dead churches too that they would be drawn to the Saviour who loved them and gave Himself for them. But those who truly know Him in these days must take a stand for the truth and “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1Peter 3v15)… even to the most seasoned, cynical, educated, eloquent and senior member of the religious hierarchy.