Archive for the ‘Denominations, cults and systems of belief’ Category

“The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil”

June 26, 2017

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“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6v10)

Other versions such as the NIV translate this as: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” or “the root of all kinds of evil.” However, I stand by the King James Version and its translation. Ultimately, this verse makes it clear that all evil, although it may not be immediately apparent, can be traced back to this evil root: mankind’s love of money. Today my Bible study brought to mind the specific evil of idolatry…

I have been reading of Paul’s fascinating journeys in territory which would be highly dangerous to travel through in today’s world. Nevertheless, in those days before the advent of Islam, there was the “great goddess Diana whom all the world worshipped” (Acts 19) and who “brought no small gain unto the craftsmen,” (V24). Back then anyone who preached the gospel would have been in danger, just as Paul was. The reason for this was obvious: great profits were to be made from the sale of silver shrines of “Diana” and no craftsman likes to see his livelihood in peril! In fact today, as then, the love of money in itself can be a source of idolatry.

“Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone in Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” (Acts 19v26&27)

It is interesting to make the comparison with idolatry then and Roman Catholicism today. I see that the Pope wishes to visit Ireland next year (2018) and I believe that there are many reasons for this, not least a report that there is great disillusionment here with the Roman Catholic Church, with numbers of people leaving it faster than ever before. But superstition still abounds. Take for example the village of Ballinspittle in Cork where “the moving statues” phenomenon has brought in tourism and prospered small businesses since 1985 when so called “moving statues of the Virgin Mary” were first observed. Imagine what the “fall of Roman Catholicism” would mean for just one small village – and if it happened all across the world what it would mean for the Vatican in financial terms!

Silversmiths like Demetrius in Acts 19v24, statue- makers and those travelling with “relics” of saints would be at a financial loss, while locations all over the world from Medjugorje in Bosnia to Tapao in Vietnam would lose out on tourism, if crowds no longer travelled to see places where there was supposed to be “apparitions” of the Virgin Mary etc. Shrines and statues as objects of worship would be no more, if many turned to the living God as in Paul’s day, when “mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19v20)

“Sirs,” said Demetrius the silversmith to his colleagues in business, “ye know that by this craft we have made our wealth.” Demetrius, as with all who think only on the affairs of this world, clearly had no concept of this truth: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8v36&37)

Later we read of another “Demetrius” in 3John 1v12 and this Demetrius was a disciple. I would like to think that this Demetrius was the same one, this time, converted – but unfortunately there is no evidence for this either way. Eternity will reveal many things and perhaps, too, many pleasant surprises…

There is nothing more precious in this world than the value of your soul; perhaps it needs attention today, whatever your standing in society, or your church or denomination. It may not be well with your wealth or even, worryingly, with your health – but is it “well with your soul?”

As Paul travelled, contending with dangerous “crowd mentality,” vicious opposition, beatings, persecution, imprisonment – and eventually death (although we are not told the manner of his death), he said: “neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy…” Acts 20v24. When his fellow believers feared for his safety, they “besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21v12) But Paul answered: “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (V.13)

The proposed visit of the Pope next year should be viewed by those who have been born again as an opportunity. There may be many protests from ex-Catholics who are angry about child abuse and other issues, while pious clergy, church dignitaries and ordinary people will line the streets but this is an opportunity for tract distribution and outreach as the Lord leads, so that eyes would be opened, just as Paul’s were, after acknowledging blindness on the Damascus Road. If the Lord can work in the life of Paul, transforming him from being a persecutor of the church – to someone who was an outstanding apostle, He can perform this same miracle in many lives.

Oh that the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ Saviour today would be able to say with the apostle Paul: “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20v26)

The believer must aspire to nothing less than these words of Paul (for whom material possessions and riches meant nothing)…. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Philippians 3v8)

Oh for a Glimpse of Eternity!

May 28, 2017

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There are many thousands of different religions and systems of belief in this world – and many conflicting views as to what happens human beings when they depart this life. Roman Catholics believe in an intermediary place known as “purgatory,” although the Christian Bible contains no reference to any such place; Hinduism teaches reincarnation, “karma” and the cycle of life, while Islam believes that “mankind will be divided into two groups, one in Paradise and one in hell.” Both, they say will “abide therein forever.” Of course, they maintain, that only Muslims can go to Paradise. Whatever conflicting views they have, there is a general consensus amongst all systems of belief that our behaviour in this life will determine the nature of our life in the next.

There are also multiple conflicting views on the nature of paradise too. Mormons, for example, have some strange views, talking of “three heavenly kingdoms:” the celestial, terrestrial and telestial. However, that is another discussion for another time. In the wake of recent suicide bombings, it is the nature of Islam’s “paradise” that has been very much occupying my mind this week. Amongst all the systems of belief that I have ever heard of, their view of “paradise,” with its promise of 72 virgins to jihadists must surely sound evil to any right-minded person.  It is said in Palestine that a mother who sends her son to die as a martyr is sometimes seen as “marrying him off.”

All of this makes me wonder what supposedly awaits female jihadists – and there have been quite a few. Sadly, those who die this way, unless they repent within the very short time they have before death, face an eternity more horrific than we can ever imagine. I only wish that they could have a vision of this – for if they did, they would never murder and maim so many men, women and children the world over. If only they weren’t brainwashed by the words of their fellowmen and would seek the living God – the one God who sent His only Son to die that they might inherit the real paradise, which can never be compared to anything we have experienced on this earth. Even the peaceful green fields of my childhood to which I sometimes return to walk with joy, are nothing in comparison with what awaits those who love the Lord.

Those who have not been born again of the spirit of God have a view of heaven that is akin to a continuation of their own base greed and earthly desires in this life. They don’t see it as Jesus described it… “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22v29&30) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Corinthians 2v9)

As the Muslim month of Ramadan has just commenced, there have also been calls for jihadists to perpetrate yet more crimes in the countries they are living in throughout the west. With all my heart I wish that potential suicide bombers and terrorists could see that far from an eternity of self-indulgence and their own strange ideas of “paradise,” they will face judgement, for “as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28)

Sadly, Islam maintains that Jesus never died at all – and therefore He never rose again. On the contrary those who know Him love Him and see His resurrection as the ultimate victory over sin and death and hell. “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in the heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1v15&16.)

I have often thought about heaven and the joy of meeting loved ones again. It is important to remember that our relationship with them will be different, yes – but it will be better beyond anything we can ever conceive of in this life. And most of all, what joy to meet the One who saved me by His grace! “His smile will be the first to welcome me.” How I wish those who are planning evil deeds could believe that there are untold wonders in the real paradise, for all who repent and put their trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. Frances J. Crosby’s hymn “My Saviour first of all” describes the scene so beautifully and scripturally… This lady was physically blind in this life, but oh how she could see spiritually! How amazing for her, when on the first day of eternity, she had the joy of meeting and seeing her beloved Saviour!

“Thro’ the gates to the city in a robe of spotless white,

He will lead me where no tears shall ever fall;

In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight;

But I long to see my Saviour first of all.”

Link to this hymn: https://youtu.be/CMFM-lpzCC0

 

 

Church of Ireland Archbishop’s Controversial Participation at the “Beatification” of Jesuit Priest, John Sullivan (1861-1933)

May 16, 2017

On Saturday, 13th May last the first beatification ceremony ever on Irish soil took place and I was dismayed (but not surprised) to learn that the Church of Ireland Archbishop officiated alongside the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin at this ceremony.

The candidate for beatification, John Sullivan, born on 8th May 1861 at 41 Eccles Street in Dublin was one of five children born to Sir Edward Sullivan (a member of the Church of Ireland and later Lord Chancellor of Ireland) and Elizabeth Bailey, a Roman Catholic from a prominent land-owning household in Passage West.  It is reported that he was raised in the Church of Ireland but later converted to Catholicism in 1896, aged 35.

Much that is positive has been recorded about this man, as indeed it has about other notable men and women down through history – but the eternal destination of their souls is something over which only Almighty God has control. God’s Word tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3v23) so how can mortal man have some sort of role in the “promotion” of a soul which has departed this life?

In this, the year of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, it is very disturbing to see how ecumenism has eaten into the fabric of many mainline denominations, which would once have stood firmly for the great truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible; truths for which men and women suffered and died at the stake.

I have previously written about beatification in my blog: “Why Beatification is Blasphemous & Contrary to Scripture,” on 2nd May, 2011 and now it is with sadness that I learn of this very recent event.  As I have previously said:

“There is absolutely no scriptural foundation for the notion that men (whatever position they have been elected to) have the power to decide the destiny of a soul who has passed into eternity. Hebrews 9v27 tells me that “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…” Who judges us? Surely only God has the power to decide my spiritual standing, or yours – or that of any pope who has ever walked this earth? According to the Roman Catholic Church, “beatification is the last step on the road to sainthood.” How contrary to scripture this is, for whenever I read of ‘saints’ in the New Testament, they are indeed living followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example Paul writes to the living not to the dead in Ephesians 1v1… “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus,” and “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:” (Philippians 1v1.) The saints then (and today!) are ordinary men and women who have come by faith to a living relationship with the Lord.

The fact is… only saints can enter heaven! In Jude 14 we read that Enoch prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.”

John 1v12&13 tells me that … “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Saints are therefore born by the will of God and not by the will of men – and although their bodies die, they live on in the spirit and are elevated to heaven; not by the will of man, but by God the Creator, Saviour and indwelling Holy Spirit of all who come to Him in repentance and faith in His finished work for them at Calvary.

My prayer is that souls would come to see the “spiritual wickedness in high places” and these “doctrines of devils” that are prevalent in such ceremonies as beatification. The Bible tells me that the “love of money is the root of all evil” and I am inclined to think that prayers for the dead, relics, beatification and great ceremonies in the Vatican and other locations bring in much needed finance at times like this.

May my Lord and Saviour speak to those souls who are sincerely searching for truth and questioning the validity of such practices, beliefs and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. Oh that they would see clearly the simplicity and wonder of this truth… that sainthood is totally God’s will for each one of us and that this has been made possible for us here and now in this life – by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ… “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…” (Colossians 1v14

Let a Man Examine Himself – on “Letters of Commendation”

March 6, 2017

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Just recently I happened to be researching places of worship in an area which I may visit in the near future. One particular place of worship had an online statement: “letters of commendation required for visitors wishing to remember the Lord.”

My understanding of this is that if you are a stranger in a certain place of worship and you want to have communion with the other Christians there, then you must carry a letter “of commendation” from your normal place of worship. As to whether your “normal place of worship” must be of the same denomination as the one you are visiting was not made clear. As it happens no such denomination exists in our area – and in fact we would have to drive for a very long time before finding one!

That Paul wrote letters to churches, commending brothers and sisters who would be visiting there, is an entirely different matter, as he was introducing these people as fellow workers in the gospel. He was not passing judgement or comment on whether these individuals were eligible to participate or receive communion in the church they were proposing to visit.

In the world in which we live, any person could find himself in any area at any particular time – and if that soul is truly a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and wants to have fellowship with local believers in a place where he or she is a total stranger – should they not be given a warm welcome?

Years ago my husband and I were visiting a certain church in a certain city and (although I don’t remember much about it) it must have been decided that we shouldn’t have communion with the rest of the congregation as ‘they didn’t know us’ and so we were amused to find ourselves ‘put behind a curtain.’

I refer to the words of Paul in 1Corinthians 11v26-31: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Here we see that we should judge ourselves, otherwise we will be judged by the Lord. The Lord “looks on the heart” of men and women and only He knows whether that person eats or drinks unworthily and only He can judge. Obviously, if some stranger came in, acting in an unruly manner, then clearly someone should have a quiet word with this person so that the service is not interrupted. However, this passage talks about “judging ourselves” and the “Lord judging us.” No one else should be able to decide whether we are worthy or unworthy, unless there is some very obvious reason for doing so, like the one previously mentioned.

Legalism and the letter of the law are so at odds with the spirit of the law. Ironically, at the end of the day, the stranger who enters one of these churches might be in a better standing with the Lord than someone who is known to the elders, because… who can know the heart of man? “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17v10)

Praise the Lord, we can have fellowship with (and love for) others without denominationalism being an issue when we pray sincerely about these matters, leaving them at the feet of the “Judge of judges. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1Samuel 1v7)

What is “The Church?”

January 16, 2017

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I was at a funeral a few days ago, in a small church which was absolutely packed to capacity, given that the deceased was very well known in this rural community. Later after standing in the bitterly cold wind in the country churchyard, I decided to make my way into the warm church hall for a welcome cup of hot tea and the customary sandwiches and “tray bakes.” Some people that I talked with referred in vague terms to “the church” in conversation, something which led me to my present train of thought…

So what exactly is “the Church?” Many would say that it is an organisation or denomination… their denomination; others would say that it is a building; still others would use the term generally, in the ecumenical sense for members of many (usually mainstream) denominations, while there are those who would say that “the Church” consists of those who “attend church services.”

Well, the truth is that “The Church” as portrayed in scripture is not a building, nor an organisation of religious people, nor a denomination or denominations, nor even the “people who attend church services.” “The Church” is that body of believers throughout this entire world who have been truly born again of the Spirit of God – those who have trusted, by faith, in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and who “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1John 1v7) These individuals may attend a variety of different churches or denominations but they are marked by one common trait – the love in their hearts for both their Saviour and each other. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13v35)

The warmth and love that is felt when having fellowship with other believers is second to none… and this love is also extended to my fellow travellers in life, whatever their faith or indeed lack of. The believer, the member of that body of Christ has a love for souls and a desire to see them saved and while they may not always see “eye to eye” with fellow Christians of other denominations, they have a love in their hearts for those individuals; love which transcends their differences.

We are not to be surprised if “the world hates us.” (1John 3v13) But understandably it would be surprising to feel the coldness and animosity of those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in the Lord – and yet this must not affect our attitude to them.

In Matthew 24 we are told of many of the signs of Christ’s coming again. In Verse 10-13 we read: “And then many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Coldness and lack of love are surely traits of these last days. Places of worship are full of many nominal Christians but “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1John 3v13)

To love the Lord our God and one another is the greatest commandment upon which all others are based. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1John 4v18)

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1John 3v23)

And so, “the Church” know the Lord and the Lord knows those that are His. I love the old hymn by Samuel J. Stone: “The Church’s One Foundation” which embraces this truth… “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Timothy 2v19)

Many denominations were represented at that funeral, but there is only one Church – the Church which is made up of those individuals who have availed of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation; those who love Him and walk with Him until He comes or calls them Home…

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord:

She is His new creation by water and the Word;

From heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;

With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died.”

Link to this hymn, which in its original form has seven verses: https://youtu.be/iOGF93cDYNs

On Fasting, Misinterpretation of Scripture… and Dangerous Cults

November 7, 2016

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In recent years the forces of law and order in western society have been working hard to deal with scenarios that many had never even previously heard of. “Honour” crimes abound and young people flee from forced marriages which are seen as the norm in their native (mostly Islamic) countries. It is also not uncommon to have to bring justice for the victims of certain types of African ritual and religion. “A clash of civilizations” the authorities call it.

While we think that we’re living comfortably and mundanely in our ‘civilised’ little 21st century high-tech world, perhaps somewhere not too far away there is someone else who is trapped in slavery or a child who is being tortured for having an ‘evil spirit.’ It really is horrifying to think of the thousands of cults of one sort or another in this world and how confusion abounds.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14v12 & Proverbs 16v25)

These thoughts struck me just recently, as I discovered old photographs that I’d taken of the Thames River in London, in November five years ago. They reminded me of a book which I had read some years ago too… “The Boy in the River:” a shocking true story of the murder and sacrifice of a small child in the heart of London in 2001. I was horrified to discover how young children can be the sacrificial victims of certain systems of belief which operate in a very clandestine way. Unfortunately even pseudo “Christian” groups in certain African countries can believe that some very young children have “kindoki” (a kind of witchcraft or possession by an evil spirit) and as a result they are sent back to their native country to have it “dealt with.”

“Dealing with” the offending “spirit” can amount to exorcising the unfortunate child by starving him, since the pastor and his helpers (in their strange mix of traditional beliefs and so-called “Christianity”) misinterpret scripture.

In Matthew 17 we learn of a certain man who came to Jesus, to beseech Him for his son who was described as “a lunatic,” who often fell into the fire – or water.” (v15) The disciples had been unable to cure him and Jesus had rebuked them for this. However, he added… “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (v21) Here we see that the disciples needed to pray and fast in this instance… not the child. This is at variance with what happened in the case of one young boy in the book, who had been starved in order that an “evil spirit” be removed. Unfortunately, even very young children who aren’t aware of what is happening to them are treated in this way too and often it is the “church hierarchy” who have the so-called evil spirit – not the child.

In a world of widespread confusion, evil and pain, those who know the Lord can only pray for opportunities to serve Him in the places where He has led us to be. We live in a rapidly changing, uncertain world where suffering abounds – perhaps much closer to us than we even realise; the Lord would have us to be vigilant and prayerful as a result. I have discovered many ‘faith groups’ which have sprang up all over the place but Jesus said “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7v20)

Gardeners know how easily weeds spring up and anything taking seed in stony ground is especially easy to pluck up. Yet… “The Lord knoweth them that are His…” (2Timothy 2v19) We need to pray about the evil realities that exist in our communities… including human trafficking and individuals being blackmailed into working for very little or practically nothing. Most of all, we need to pray that souls will truly come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour in these last days when cults and false prophets are on the increase.

A Red Sky at Night… is a Shepherd’s Delight

September 25, 2016

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I had a peaceful walk yesterday evening at dusk in the little lane which runs behind our home. Glancing towards one of the fields, I noticed the last of the large bales of straw awaiting collection… hopefully before more rain! Looking up at the sky, I also noticed a lovely sunset towards the west… hopefully the promise of pleasant weather on the way. We are always ‘hoping’ for good weather in Ireland, sitting as we do on the edge of Europe, the most westerly outpost before America where rain batters its way in from the Atlantic.

As we strolled home we met our neighbour, a farmer, who was walking with his dog. I remarked on the lovely sunset and he said… “A red sky at night is a shepherd’s delight…” With a smile I finished the quotation… “And a red sky in the morning is a shepherd’s warning.” Later at home I thought on this old saying and remembered the words of Jesus: ”When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16v2&3)

We live in days when “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2Timothy 3v13) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2Timothy 3v1) How well those terrible traits are described in 2Timothy 3! I later recalled a video which I had watched of a man who “had reverted to Islam,” which I found most disheartening. Islam says “reverted,” not “converted,” because it states that every baby who is born into this world is born a Muslim. They maintain that later in life those children become Jews, Christians etc. because their parents teach them to be so, or because of other influences. They also maintain that there is no such thing as original sin… but what does the Bible say?

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51v5) In John 3v3 Jesus says: “Verily verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” However, I do believe that babies and the very young who have no understanding of spiritual matters are not held accountable in the way in which adults would be… “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4v17)

Another verse which upholds the doctrine of original sin is Romans 5v12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Other cults including Mormonism and the Bahia’s also deny this doctrine of Christian faith.

I believe that we live in an age of great deception and confusion, like never before and that “evil men and seducers” are truly “waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are active with their little literature tables in our towns and cities and people, while earnestly searching for something more in the spiritual realm, are sadly embracing error. How confusion abounds in our world with so many cults and wrongful systems of belief!

Jesus said: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7v13&14)

“Few there be that find it…” And yet it is the Lord’s will that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth – (1Timothy 2v4) “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5v19) The Lord Jesus Christ having “offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10v12)

Denial of the doctrine of original sin is only one of many terrible heresies in these evil days. It is the sin condition that must be dealt with but sadly antinomianism is also prevalent amongst so called “Christian” churches and spiritually speaking that “red sky in the morning” is very evident. Joel 2v31&32 tell us that “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”

His invitation to look unto Him and be saved still stands in this the day of grace, to all who will hear it. Oh that all would avail of it, before, spiritually speaking, this ominous red sky (the signs of the times) are replaced by a moon of blood and a sun turned into darkness, “before the great and terrible day of the Lord.”

 

The Erroneous Practice of the “Blessing of the Graves”

June 12, 2016

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Around this and other times of the year here in Ireland I have noticed various newspapers proclaiming an event known as “the blessing of the graves.” Relatives of the deceased are encouraged to tidy their graves in preparation for the event and although this ritual may vary in rural and urban areas throughout Ireland, in all places where it is held the priest will bless those graves and pray for all the deceased within that graveyard. May I say that I sincerely hope that no one ever prays for me when I am dead! However, whether they do or not will make absolutely no difference to my eternal destination for the Bible says: “And as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27) How wonderful to have that assurance in your heart… that the very moment your soul is separated from your body, it will be in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! “Absent from the body… present with the Lord!” (2Corintians 5v8)

With regard to the afterlife, the Bible makes it very clear that there is only a choice of two destinations for the soul… heaven or hell. Roman Catholic theologians invariably refer to the book of Maccabees to support an ‘in-between’ destination which they refer to as ‘Purgatory’ but the book of Maccabees and other books of the Apocrypha were never referred to by Jesus or the apostles. In fact, these spurious books were not even accepted by the Roman Catholic Church until the Council of Trent in 1546 AD. Also, these books were never acknowledged as sacred Scriptures by the Jewish Church, it was not written in Hebrew and furthermore teaches immoral practices which could never be conceived to be the Word of God.

As is the case with this and other ordinances of Roman Catholicism, there is usually a sum of money involved in having your graves blessed. At this point I must relate something which I witnessed quite a few years ago. I was once visiting a monastery in Northern Ireland when I stumbled upon a “blessing of the cars” ceremony. Before me was an interesting scene… I saw a priest hovering over a car with some “holy” water, while a lady was simultaneously searching her open handbag to pay him for this dubious privilege.

I often wonder how poverty stricken parishioners have felt throughout the years, when they could not afford to pay the priest for blessing the graves of loved ones and for praying that they will eventually be released from Purgatory, which is said to be a place or state of suffering where sins are reputedly cleansed, in preparation for Heaven.

The very thought that a soul may be bought a place in Heaven with filthy lucre is surely the height of blasphemy. In Psalm 49v6&7 we read… “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever).

Praise God, the great price has been paid, for “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7)

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” (1Peter1v18-21)

So graves, while they may be kept tidy, cannot be “blessed” and deceased souls should not be prayed for, for the Lord Jesus Christ was “once offered to bear the sins of many” and the great sacrifice has been paid once for all, giving living souls the opportunity to repent of their sins and put their trust in His redeeming blood, so that they may have that assurance in their hearts of a home in Heaven.

“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10v11-14) Praise God that we can “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10v22) And praise God we can be cleansed from our sins in the ‘here and now’ in preparation for Heaven – which, unlike  the fictitious place of Purgatory is a destination of pure light, love and joy; a destination which is in God’s will for every soul who is alive today. (1John 2v2)

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15v55-57)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3v16)

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16v31)

On Irish Election Leaflets… and the Living and the Dead

February 24, 2016

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In recent times we have had a variety of postmen, who perhaps are not as well acquainted as our old postman with those who live in this rural community. I therefore often have to ‘play postwoman’ as I deliver the right post to the right houses! Just this week we have had numerous election leaflets delivered by the postal service… and then an isolated leaflet from one particular party was delivered this morning. I looked at the name and address and sorrowfully shook my head, for this person had sadly passed away some years ago. No, I wouldn’t be delivering this one as I would never be able to communicate with this person ever again… certainly not in this life anyway.

As coincidence would have it, I am presently reading in the Book of Ecclesiastes, a Book which I find unique in the Bible, much of it appearing to reveal man’s conclusions about the hopelessness and vanity of life. For example Chapter 3v19 states: “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminance above a beast: for all is vanity.” Now, those who know the Lord also know that there is much more to the existence of mankind and we cannot take this verse in isolation. Reading on in this chapter there is a question in verse 22… “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” Praise God the answers to such questions are to be found in the final two verses of Ecclesiastes. Containing ultimate wisdom, they bring this fascinating Book to a wise conclusion… “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Chapter 12v13&14)

The incident of the mistakenly delivered election leaflet and the Book of Ecclesiastes brought many thoughts to mind. First of all I was thinking that it had been a while since we’d had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I also know that they don’t like to ‘do their rounds’ while political parties are out canvassing at the same time. Here is a cult which very often does quote little portions of verses in isolation and one example is this… “the dead know not anything.” (Ecclesiastes 9v5). Unfortunately these isolated few words from a verse are taken to support their view on what happens to a soul after death.

I, however, feel that we must quote from verses 4,5&6: “For to him that is joined to all living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

“For a living dog is better than a dead lion…” Imagine a situation where the person to whom the leaflet was addressed had been wealthy in the things of this world and also had been held in very high esteem by the local community – but where is this person now with regard to eternity? Surely there is more hope for the living poverty-stricken than the rich who have died in their sin? While there is life, there is hope – the joyous hope that souls still living in this the Day of Grace have the opportunity to get right with God.

Verses 5&6 of Ecclesiastes 9 tell us of the lot of those who have no hope beyond the grave – but Revelation 14v12&13 describe the inheritance of those who have loved and served the Lord: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

The “harvest of the world” is surely coming and “the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4) Precious souls are dying around us with no hope beyond the grave and so those who know the Lord must work for Him while it is yet day.

The following verses of Ecclesiastes I find good encouragement and exhortation for those servants who seek to serve the Master while it is day…

Ecclesiastes 9v10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Surely our opportunity to serve Him by reaching souls is now – in this life?

Ecclesiastes 11v1: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” This can apply to giving to the Lord’s work and it may also apply to the words that we write or speak for the Lord through the years of our lives; kind deeds, too, can speak to souls of the love of God for them and His desire to see them saved.

Ecclesiastes 11v4-6: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” There are many hindrances thrown our way to prevent us from serving the Lord, but we must keep our eyes upon Him and not upon the dark clouds of potential trouble which we feel may thwart our efforts to do His will. “For if God be for us… who can be against us?”

Political parties may come and go and the philosophies of this world change with changing times but “the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” – and only what is accomplished for Him will last.

Many Modern Translations of the Bible are challenging the Deity of Christ!

January 23, 2016

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Even as a child I had always found the King James (1611) Version of the Bible very easy to understand. Therefore, it often comes as a surprise to me when people seem to want to complicate the simplicity of scriptures to the detriment of the basic doctrines of Christian faith. Take for example this well know verse in Philippians 2v6. (I also quote verse 5, so that it is understood that it is “Christ Jesus” who is being referred to here.)

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Verse 5)

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” (Verse 6)

Here we clearly see that Jesus thought that being equal with God was His rightful position… He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”

Here is the New International Version’s translation of Verse 6:

“Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.”

Other translations are listed below:

English Standard Version:

“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

New Living Translation”

“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.”

Berean Study Bible”

Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to hold on to,”

New American Standard Bible”

“who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

Holman Christian Standard Bible:

“who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.”

I have quoted just a few of the numerous translations of the Bible in English. What concerns me is that, while the translators may genuinely not have intended a translation to be ambiguous, this, at best, has been the end result in many cases. At worst there is surely a sinister influence at work here…

How can I witness to others, whose system of belief denies the deity of Christ – if the Bible I am using does not clearly uphold the truth of who the Lord Jesus Christ is?

At this point in time I feel that there will never be a better English translation than that of the King James Version (1611). This is the Bible over which I pondered in the months before coming to know my Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour; this is the Bible which has been my guide in times of decision; this is the Bible which inspired my father and my mother who have gone to be with Jesus, “which is far better,” and this is the Bible to which I and those who know and love the Lord have turned – for exhortation, guidance, comfort, blessing and words of love, in the face of a cold uncertain world… “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalm 147v3)

A long time ago I wrote these simple words inside my Bible’s flap:

“I love to lean upon my Lord;

I have no help but Him,

And when I read His lovely Word,

My earthly fears grow dim.”

“His lovely Word” must never be twisted, altered, added to or omitted to suit doctrine or mankind’s intellectual notions. The King James is a comforting Bible – and this element of comfort is often missing in the new translations, when truth is obscured and words are complicated.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ((John 1v1)

Unfortunately the New World’s (Jehovah Witness) translation of this is: “and the word was a god.” Note the small ‘g’ too. I pray for those who are deceived, knowing that the time is at hand when judgement shall fall upon all who alter God’s Word: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”  (Revelation 22v18&19).

Surely… “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10v31)

“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1Peter 1v25)

Our understanding of the “Word of the Lord” thankfully does not depend on education or intellect. The simplest soul, who loves his Saviour, will have no trouble in understanding, for he is eager to do His perfect will… This is the Bible of revivals!

How many times have you attended a meeting or service of worship where everyone is reading out of a different version of the Bible? May the Lord give those who love His perfect Word the courage to question anyone who deviates from the truth while reading from a translation which is clearly in error.

…”that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2v11)