Posts Tagged ‘holiness’

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.

Thy Welcome Call… Avails for All!

February 16, 2017

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I have always admired the voices of a Welsh choir… particularly when they sing some of the lovely old hymns like “Gwahoddiad,” which is Welsh for “Welcome.” The words and music of this beautiful hymn (“I am coming Lord” or “I hear thy welcome voice”) were written by Lewis Hartsough (1828-1919) who composed it at a revival meeting in Iowa and it was subsequently published in “Guide to Holiness.” There are many stories of how it went on to be used in revival meetings and how it blessed many souls and brought many more to a place of repentance.

 

So, why am I thinking of this hymn today? Well, today is the anniversary of when my Dad (who prayed much for revival) was called Home to be with the Lord. Above is a little hall (Ballytyrone) where he used to pray with friends. I recently put a memoriam notice in the local newspaper, in remembrance of him, followed by a little verse which I composed just last week. The Lord gave me the words in an instant one morning, just after I had woken up.

 

Hutchinson, Jack, Called Home 16th February, 2011.

 

Lovingly remembered by Elizabeth, George, Grace, Christine and their families.

 

 Oh, the arms outstretched to all

 

Who gladly hear Thy welcome call!

 

Oh the joy on heaven’s shore,

 

That greets Thy saints forevermore!

 

© Elizabeth Burke

 

All sorts of people read newspapers (even local newspapers) which are left in all sorts of places and waiting rooms and somehow I believe that some simple words which we have been led to write may strike a chord with someone somewhere and will be used of the Lord to, at the very least, inspire them to think upon eternity and spiritual matters.

 

His arms are indeed still outstretched to all in this the Day of Grace; He died for all (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2v2) and it is not His will that any should perish. (2Peter 3v9)

 

Today I sing along to the words of this lovely old hymn which has blessed thousands the world over. I don’t recall Dad referring to this hymn but I know he would love it… I quote the first and last verses and chorus and share the link as a tribute to him.

 

Link to this hymn:  https://youtu.be/TlR1ot4QzP0

“I hear thy welcome voice,

 

That calls me, Lord, to Thee,

 

For cleansing in Thy precious blood

 

That flowed from Calvary.

 

I am coming, Lord,

 

Coming now to Thee:

 

Wash me, cleanse me in the blood

 

That flowed on Calvary.

 

 

All hail, atoning blood!

 

All hail, redeeming grace!

 

All hail, the gift of Christ, our Lord,

 

Our strength and righteousness!

 

Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?

October 25, 2016

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I have recently discovered the shocking truth that there are an increasing number of people who do not believe that repentance is a prerequisite for salvation. “Just believe and receive,” they say – “no need to repent.”

I listened incredulously to a preacher who maintained that “repentance is works” and we are not saved by works. It is certainly true that “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9) At the same time: “faith without works is dead.” (James 2v14-26) “Bring forth therefore fruits meat for repentance:” Jesus warned the Pharisees and Sad-du-cees. (Matthew 3v8) James said: “shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2v17)

Perhaps I should relate my own experience here: for many months prior to giving my heart to the Lord, He had been dealing with me and convicting me of my sin. While the world looking on would have said to me: “seriously, you’re not that bad you know,” the Lord was showing me my life as He saw it – and I knew that it was not a life ready for heaven.

“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” (Proverbs 16v1&2) He showed me that I needed work done in my heart – work which only He could do. I learned that by giving Him free rein in my life, that only He could make me a better person – one fit for His Kingdom.

Indeed it has always been my clear conviction that, spiritually speaking, the old must die – for new life to begin. The old leaves of autumn curl up and die, in order that spring can bring new growth and fresh shiny green leaves! The night that I trusted Him, I simply walked (spiritually speaking) from the darkness of my past into the light of the future that He wanted for me. Yes indeed, I was sorry for (and turned away from) that old life lived outside of His grace. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Corinthians 5v17)

“Repentance” this preacher shouted, “cannot mean turning from sin, since God repented… didn’t He?”

My answer to this is that when God ‘repents,’ He in effect is changing the course of action He was going to take on account of the fact that people have repented of their sinful ways. In the Book of Jonah we have a good example of this: The people of Nineveh said: “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3v9&10)

Denial of the fundamental doctrine of repentance is a very serious matter and one in which the devil plays a big part. If people think that they can make some sort of ‘commitment’ and then continue to live on in their sin, this awful doctrine has the potential to drag them to lowest hell – a horrific thought. This is why they should pray and search the scriptures diligently for we cannot rely on the words of mankind, regardless of their standing in the community or their achievements in Bible College.

With regard to “just believing,” James said: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2v19)

We read of John the Baptist that “he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;” (Luke 3v3)

Later in Luke 13v3 Jesus said: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” The Greek word used in this verse for “repent” is “metanoia,” a transliteration of the Greek “μετάνοια,” which can be defined as “a transformative change of heart, especially a spiritual conversion.” If we merely believed without the “transformation” (which should include an entirely different attitude to sin) what change would have been wrought in our lives? Surely only the Lord can bring about this real transformation!

The devil somehow convincing people that they don’t have to have the sin in their lives dealt with is a story which has its evil roots in the dawn of time. “Yea, hath God said…” he said to Eve in the Garden of Eden, sadly convincing her that her action would have no dire consequences for the future of mankind. (Genesis 3v1)

The fact is… God hath said: “The soul that sinneth it shall die…” (Ezekiel 18v20)

In Acts 3v19 Peter stresses the need for repentance: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”

Abhorrence is the only attitude that the Christian should have to sin. John says in his epistle: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1John 2v1-3)

And so we see that wherever repentance is talked about in the Bible in relation to mankind, it involves the issue of sin… something which the Lord wishes to eradicate from our lives. At the same time our adversary would prefer that people argued over semantics and the meaning of the word ‘repent,’ while turning a blind eye to sin – which will have eternal implications in their own lives, if the Lord is not permitted to deal with it. No sane person would ignore a cancerous tumour that they had knowledge of. They would be dismayed by its very presence and then they would go immediately to an authority who was qualified to deal with it, to have it expertly operated on and removed, for the good of their whole body. The thought that there might be a waiting list for such an operation would fill anyone with anxiety – and of course even the most ‘non-religious’ would find themselves praying earnestly that it would never return! Praise God, there is no waiting list where the disease of sin is concerned, for He is willing and able to deal with an entire world of repentant ‘casualties’ in the ‘here and now…’

 

“Little Children, let no man deceive you…”

February 16, 2016

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I wakened to the sound of a cold blustery wind this morning and pulling the curtains to my little bedroom window, viewed the effects of this invisible wind as it bent the ivy-covered trees in the garden. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3v8) Praise God for sending His only begotten Son into this world, that this world through Him might be saved…

As the grey morning drew on I was remembering what I was doing around five years ago. Unlike this cold and wintry day, it was a beautiful day with sunshine and a blue sky. As I write, I recall how I tearfully followed my Dad’s funeral cortege as it made its final journey down the avenue from the old country home; it was in this very dwelling place that I had trusted the Lord to save me many years previously.

This week, in order to honour his memory, I inserted a little memorial notice with a verse of scripture in the local newspaper of that area – the Ulster Gazette… “Hutchinson, Jack, called Home 16th February, 2011. Lovingly remembered by his children, Elizabeth, George, Grace, Christine and their families. Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 15:57.”

I was thinking earlier… now how best can I honour my father’s memory today? What good memories he left behind… above is a text which he painted on one of his sheds. I know for sure that he would love me to quote the verses and uphold the great truths that he held dear, as he walked through this scene of time.

I recently attended a meeting where the sermon was based upon the words of first John chapter 1. I quote verses 8-10 in this chapter… “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

I have absolutely no problem with these verses, even taken in isolation. The truth is plain and simple… if I have sin in my life, I cannot deceive myself by saying otherwise and if this is my state… then I would be a liar to say that I have not sinned. However, “He is faithful and just” – not only to forgive me my sins, but to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. To deny that this can truly happen in an instant is to deny His infinite power.

How good it is to read on… “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1John 2v1-4)

What victory over sin and death and hell is offered to us through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ! Victory – not only in the next life, but in this transient and potentially troublesome one too! Note the important little word ‘if’ in 1John 2v1. The philosophy that those who have trusted the Lord to save them must then be weighed down by the chains of habitual sin for the rest of their lives is a highly dangerous one and those who preach it bear a fearful responsibility.

“Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1John 4v6&7)

These were the verses (and there are many many more!) that my Dad loved.

Today as I think of him, I know in my heart that he would want me to continue to propagate that which he took a stand on in this life. Above all he would desire that loved ones and acquaintances would apply it to their own lives. For all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save them to the uttermost and to keep them in the narrow way in their daily walk with Him, there are these promises:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortality must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortality shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

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.”

The final verse of this chapter, I believe, would be Dad’s message to brothers and sisters still walking in this scene of time… “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, umoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for inasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15v51-58)

Praise God!