Posts Tagged ‘healing’

An Overview of Denominations and Heresies in Ireland

November 30, 2017

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I recently counted the number of different churches in a small village I know well in Northern Ireland. (By the way, this is a predominantly Protestant village and while a few Roman Catholic people might live here, there is no Roman Catholic Church in the village itself.) There are the usual mainline denominations: Church of Ireland, Methodist and quite a large Presbyterian Church. Then there is a small Evangelical Presbyterian Church, an Elim Pentecostal Church and a Quaker Meeting House. Now, these are the six churches I know of; there could well be other groups who meet in private homes and other locations… and I believe there is also a Brethren Gospel Hall situated in the outlying countryside.

Compare this with a village that I also know very well in the Republic of Ireland. This village, although with a population around the same size as its Northern counterpart, contains one church… the Roman Catholic Church. Again, there may be small house groups that I am unaware of, although if there are – they don’t publicize their existence. Of the population in this village in the Irish Republic, I would say that many people would be nominal Roman Catholics. By “nominal” I mean that they would have been baptised in the R.C. church as babies, had their “first communions and confirmations,” and perhaps got married in the church. (However, a sizeable proportion of the population don’t get married at all these days, preferring to cohabit, while a few may opt for civil ceremonies). These “nominal” Catholics (and I believe that a huge chunk of the population in the Republic of Ireland as a whole are nominal Catholics) adhere to all the church’s traditional ceremonies but they rarely, if ever, attend mass, unless on special occasions and funerals. They are referred to by some as “`A La cart Catholics,” choosing to stick with ceremonial traditions and rites but ignoring the beliefs which would interfere with their lifestyle. Very often because of underlying fear and superstition, they will ensure that their children are baptised and have had their first communions and confirmations but really, if they were honest, many have absolutely no interest in spiritual matters.

As I look at these two villages (let us call them “A,” the Protestant village and “B,” the Roman Catholic village) I see in both of them much of this “a la carte” or “pick and choose” mentality. Having said that, I am aware that there are many genuine Christians (those who have been born again of the Spirit of God) residing in “A” and although these individuals may attend a variety of denominations on a Sunday morning, theirs is a daily walk of faith with the Lord and the denomination itself means very little to them. Others in “A” are church going people and they may even be friendly, pleasant and honest people but they have never been truly born again and are relying on their good works to take them to heaven.

However, I know “B” very well; the population has been growing there over the past few years, as more and more people travel out of Dublin city for affordable housing. I see “B” as a challenge but I know that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) It is true that there are the unsaved in “A” who are every bit as needy as those in “B” but somehow the presence of even a few Christians in a village gives it an entirely different atmosphere….

I feel a terrible darkness in “B” – a spiritually heavy darkness which is almost overwhelming and depressing but again… “with God all things are possible.”

While just a few genuine Christians plan to reach the lost in such villages, the devil, of course, is always waiting in the wings with other false systems of belief. The usual Jehovah’s Witnesses make their way around the houses periodically, taking advantage of most people’s lack of knowledge of scripture. But the spiritually parched ground here is also a breeding ground for other lesser-known falsehoods…

False prophets are making their rounds throughout the world and even small localities may be no exception. People are often mesmerised by the sensational and supernatural; these “prophets” claim to possess healing gifts and the answers to a multitude of problems.

In a world of ill health, depression, stress and physical and spiritual poverty, people will flock to them for hope and a warm “feeling” from someone they think cares about them personally, without realising that repentance and trust in Jesus is simply the answer to our every need.

The island of Ireland is currently full of denominations of one sort or another – but the number of people who truly know Him and who daily walk the narrow way with the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour are, I believe, dwindling. Yes, people love the sensational – and the modern. Worshipping “in spirit and in truth” has somehow become rare in this age, with the discarding of traditional hymns and the confusion of an assortment of modern versions of the Bible. Yet, in the midst of all this confusion, this spiritual darkness, these heresies and this craving for sensationalism, the Lord still speaks to those who will hear His “still small voice.” And, in this the Day of Grace, He can still use those who truly know Him as Saviour. Spiritually speaking, these days would appear to be discouraging days to live in but we must remember His words: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor. 12v9)

The battle is the Lord’s – not ours! (1Samuel 17v47) But the Lord also instructs His people that “Light cannot have fellowship with darkness.” (2Cor. 6v14) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2Cor. 6v17) I feel that the bottom line for the Christian is that he cannot worship properly in a church where he has not the full assurance that the Pastor, minister or person in charge is, at the very least, a Christian!

The Lord gives us discernment when we lean on Him and He can use just one or two people in the midst of all this darkness if these, His people, are obedient to His will and pliable in His hands.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places…” (Ephesians 6v12)

“Signs and Wonders:” “Miracles” of Healing

September 23, 2017

We are living in an era of the “supernatural;” scenes in “mega churches” (and sometimes not-so-mega churches) where people are violently “slain in the spirit” and seemingly amazing miracles take place. (The former is another discussion for another time.) I am certain that miracles can and do take place in the lives of those who trust the Lord, having experienced answer to prayer in my own life and in the lives of loved ones. “the prayer of faith shall save the sick…” (James 5v15). But surely the sincere prayers of a couple of souls who are close to the Lord in a quiet place are worth a million hysterical voices who clamour for great “signs and wonders?”

Often when someone is not healed instantly, leaders in these churches will put it down to the person’s “lack of faith” and that person can feel ostracised, vulnerable and now in a worse situation than if he or she had never disclosed their health problem in the first place.

I remember someone telling me once that we should not wear corrective lens – whether it is for the myopia of youth or the long-sightedness of later years. “You should,” this person lectured me, “have the faith to believe that you don’t need them.”

My views on this are…. Whatever the Lord’s will is. I don’t live in a perfect world and I don’t have a perfect physique; yet He has promised me… “as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33v25)

What is most important is that I am walking closely with the Lord and always within His will for me. To me, spiritual health takes precedence over physical health; for someday I will be out of this body anyway, praise God. After all, did not Paul have “a thorn in the flesh?” (2Corinthians 12v7) And did not Timothy have “stomach problems…” (1Timothy 5v23) and Frances Crosby lived a very productive life, despite being completely blind in the physical sense. The Lord could have healed her in an instant… but would her prolific hymn writing still be touching lives today? When I close my eyes there are no distractions…

However, if a chronic disease or pain gets in the way of us being able to physically accomplish what the Lord wants of us, then I believe that He very often does remove that “thorn in the flesh.” Still, sometimes the experience can help us to understand the sufferings of others, so that we can comfort (and have a greater empathy for) those who are going through similar problems in their lives.  Sometimes the Lord can allow (even temporarily) illness to overtake us so that His will is accomplished in our own lives and ultimately in the lives of others that we come into contact with. (Job is one example of this.) “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Cor. 1v2&3)

Yes, and He does comfort us for He has walked this road before us and understands exactly what we are going through, more than anyone else – even loved ones. And yes, I believe that very often He does want to stretch out His hand and heal us in His time and in accordance with His will. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4v15)

However, the notion that we must always be in perfect health (and that this is somehow equated with our spiritual standing) which is put about in some circles is just one malaise in a world which is deteriorating rapidly in the spiritual sense. There are many other aspects of “signs and wonders” which I would like to touch on, for surely we are living in that era of “false Christs” and “false prophets” which Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24v24? “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”