Posts Tagged ‘rock of dunamase’

“Upon this Rock I will build my Church…”

September 7, 2019

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Ireland is full of famous “rocks,” like the Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary, the Rock of Dunamase in Co. Laois and the “Big Stone,” (“Cloughmore” pictured) in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down. Standing stones are also a fascinating phenomenon in Ireland; many of these are associated with old legends about how they came to be there but I love to draw spiritual analogies from those rocks…
Rocks are sure foundations, rocks are reliable, unchanging, and unmoveable; rocks can be a refuge and a hiding place from the storm and Psalm 81v16 speaks of “honey in the rock.”
Unfortunately many people in Ireland believe that Peter was the “first pope,” of whom they say that Jesus said… “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
However, Jesus when He made this statement was speaking of Himself as the Rock and to get understanding of this we need to read the entire chapter of Matthew 16, especially from Verse 15… “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jo-na: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16v15-18)
When Jesus went on to say “Upon this rock I will build my church” He was clearly referring to Himself because of His words in the previous verses. Throughout the New Testament only Jesus is referred to as “the Rock.” In 1Corinthians 10 Paul is speaking of Moses and his ancestors… “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (Verse 4)
In 1Peter 2v8 Jesus is referred to as “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”
There is no doubt that Peter was a beloved disciple and later in the New Testament, a faithful and fearless servant of the gospel but he is not the “Rock of our salvation.” Read the words of Jesus to him in Matthew 16v23… “get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Peter, like many, may have meant well by his words (“Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Verse 23) but these words were not pleasing to the Lord. Peter was a mortal man; the church was never built upon mortal man but upon the Lord Jesus Christ “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1v14)
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1v18) Unfortunately mankind like to establish their own organisations, claiming that only their particular denomination is “the church.”
The church, as I have said previously, is not a building, or an organisation or a denomination – but that body of believers throughout this world who have given their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and are born again of the spirit of God. “Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.” (1Corinthians 12v27) This chapter continues to show how the “body,” of which the Lord Jesus Christ is Head, have differing gifts.
“Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth in him shall not be confounded.” (1Peter 2v6)
Praise God, these words are also prophesied of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament … “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28v16)
In Psalm 62v2 the words… “He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved,” are repeated again in Verse 6, this time reinforced by omitting the word “greatly.”
Praise God if we build upon this Rock, like the wise man Jesus refers to in Matthew 7v24, spiritually speaking we are building on the Rock which cannot move.
… “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16v18)
We are living in days when the “gates of hell” are most certainly trying to prevail against the church. Black clouds are threatening those who have taken refuge in the Rock of Ages… that Rock which is so eloquently spoken about throughout the Psalms and many other books of the Bible. “The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (Psalm 18v46)
But when God promises that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” He will keep that promise. While the famous earthly rocks we are familiar with will some day pass away, the Rock of our salvation is eternal and unchanging and many times prophesied of in the Old Testament. Unto those who believe “he is precious” (1Peter 2v7) but a “rock of offence to them which stumble at the word.”
“And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.”(Isaiah 8v14&15)
“And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21v44)
Manmade religion seeks to exalt man above God. How can a mortal man be the rock upon which God builds His church?
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (1Corinthians 3v11)

The Last Faith Mission Convention in Stradbally, Co. Laois – and Memories of the Rock of Dunamase

August 23, 2011

The Stradbally area will always hold special memories for me, since it was the evocative beauty of the scenery here which inspired the covers for my first two books: “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and “Singing on the Journey Home.” It was with a sense of anticipation tinged with a little sadness that we set out on our last journey to this area where the convention has been held for the last twenty-eight years.

Last weekend I recalled the bright August morning on which we first discovered the ‘Rock of Dunamase’ – ancient castle ruins dating back to AD 432, which the Stradbally area is famous for. This rock, if it could speak, would tell of many battles. In the 9th century it was plundered by the Vikings, in the 13th century it became a Norman stronghold, while in the 17th century it was destroyed by Cromwellian guns. Throughout Ireland’s turbulent history the Rock of Dunamase remained a strategic base, even through constant violent attacks. Amazingly the rock was recorded by the Greek geographer, Ptolemy, in his map of AD140!

Little did I know when I first photographed the “Rock Church” from high amongst the ruins of the Rock of Dunamase, that it would be on the cover of my first book and that a view of a lovely little Laois farmhouse would provide the cover for the second.

As we drove along the narrow country lanes, I gazed with interest at golden crops just waiting to be harvested. Yes, they were “white unto the harvest” but would there be enough help available to get those crops safely gathered in before the dark days of rain which had been forecast? There were numerous “tares amongst wheat” and regrettably some “wheat amongst the tares.”

And so I pray for the Faith Mission workers as they move to a new location; that they will stand true to the principles on which they were founded; that souls will be touched like never before and that the Lord will use this new centre in Durrow to His glory. I thank God that He gave ordinary people like me the opportunity to reach souls in the Stradbally area, while attending the convention there over the years and I pray that some day I will meet those souls in heaven.

It was good to meet with old acquaintances and to receive and give spiritual encouragement last weekend and I pray that those who attended will be met at the point of their spiritual needs, for how we need the Lord in these times.      

I thought about the spiritual condition of many who claim to follow the Lord, both in this county and others and sadly the words of Revelation 3v2 came to mind: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Yet, recalling how I reflectively touched the ancient remains of the Rock of Dunamase years previously, I cannot but think of the words of Jesus to Peter, in Matthew 16v18… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

That “Rock” was surely Christ, as is evidenced by the words of 1Cor. 10v4… “for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”

If a great remnant of the earthly Rock of Dunamase still remains, despite the fierce battles of two hundred decades; how much more shall we withstand the gates of hell if we are strengthened and made pure by faith… in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal “Rock of Ages?” Praise His Name.