The Guarding of the Mind

Written by Steven Black on 05/06/2017. Posted in Articles

‘Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind.’

1 Peter 1.13

Here the apostle sets before us what should be the resolve of every Christian through grace – to guard the mind. There is in this evil day a constant, concerted attack upon the minds of God’s people. We are daily exposed to a brainwashing process. Radio, television, videos, the press and various publications are all instruments hijacked by our subtle enemy to reach our minds. The media constantly presents sin as acceptable in modern society. Drinking, adultery and unfaithfulness are presented as socially acceptable and the common norm. The unsavoury filth of the world should never be allowed to seep into or sully the mind of the Christian. He must gird up the loins of the mind, as the pilgrim on a journey girded up his robes with a girdle so that he might walk unhindered. So let us keep our garments unspotted from the world and gird our minds lest they get caught up and entangled in the philosophy and thinking of the worldling.
Paul speaks of “loins girt about with truth” (Eph. 6:14). Here is the mind girt and encircled with the Word of truth and hedged about with the power of truth. Feed your mind and soul on the manna of Christ in His Word. Keep your mind’s eye on Christ and it will not be able to fix itself on the world. Remember, loose thinking must inevitably lead to loose living.

Rev. R. J. Beggs,

Ballymena, N.I.

 

A Time for Everything

Written by Steven Black on 21/03/2017. Posted in Articles

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

We believe that whatever the Bible says is true. Yet sometimes experiences cause us to question whether certain things are personally relevant. The tension between doctrine and experience is a common test of faith. Solomon’s conclusion that God has made every time beautiful and appropriate is one of those great statements easy to believe in good times and easy to apply to others in their bad times. The key is to believe it during our own bad times. Believing that God has a purpose that embraces everything in life and that His plan is beautiful regardless of its manifestation is the secret to enjoying the life that God has given us.

Solomon leads up to this all-embracing statement by setting forth all the times ordered and ordained by God. Ecclesiastes 3 begins with a list of fourteen pairs of defined times that together represent all possible times in life. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by chance, accident, or fate. Everything, absolutely everything, happens according to God’s design. Our efforts and worries cannot alter His eternal plan for us. Whereas unbelievers may regard themselves as the masters of their fate or the captains of their souls, we as believers know that our times and destinies are not only in God’s good hand, they are part of His infinitely wise plan. Our life is a privilege; our life is God’s purpose. In the good times, we should humbly acknowledge that God has made all times beautiful. In the hard times, we should confidently rest in that beauty. That God is sovereign over the affairs of life is true whether we believe it or not. Believing it is the only thing that gives sense to life.

Dr Michael P. V. Barrett

We must believe in the grace of sovereignty
as well as the sovereignty of grace.

Augustus H. Strong

A Time for Everything

All enamelled and interwoven with free grace!

Written by Steven Black on 27/02/2017. Posted in Articles

By: Thomas Watson

“For ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not to bring to nought things that are; That no flesh should glory in His presence” I Corinthians 1:26-29.

Without this effectual call – there is no going to Heaven!

This effectual call, is a gracious call. It is the fruit and product of free grace! That God should call some – and not others; that some should be taken – and others left; that one should be called who is of a more wicked disposition – while another of a sweeter temper, is rejected. Here is free grace! That the poor should be rich in faith, heirs of a kingdom (James 2:5), and the nobles and great ones of the world for the most part rejected; this is free and rich grace! Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight” Matthew 11:26.

That under the same sermon one should be effectually wrought upon – while another is no more moved than a dead man with the sound of music; that one should hear the Spirit’s voice in the Word – while another does not hear it; that one should be softened and moistened with the influence of Heaven – while another, like Gideon’s dry fleece, has no dew upon him; behold here distinguishing, sovereign grace!

What is the cause of this – but the free grace of God! It is all enamelled and interwoven with free grace! Those who are monuments of God’s mercies – will be trumpets of His praise. “That no flesh should glory in His presence” I Corinthians 1:29.

CHRISTIAN OBLIGATIONS – TO ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE

Written by Steven Black on 12/02/2017. Posted in Articles

By Ian Henderson (C.W. Vice-Chairman)

Edited from an address given at the High Leigh Bible Conference, 2016

The Word of God states – in Jude v 3 – to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” or – in other words – “to engage in the battle.”
It is a plain fact that the Protestant Reformed faith is under threat today as never before – it is under threat from various sources – including atheism, Islam, Ecumenism and Romanism.
Sadly, many Ministers today choose to take a neutral stance on virtually every issue – presumably so that they don’t offend others or jeopardise their own positions. But the Word of God is very clear – and the Lord Jesus Christ did not preach to please all His hearers – the disciples did not preach to please all their hearers. They preached so that men and women could hear the good news of the Gospel and seek the Lord in repentance – and if people were offended (and many of the religious leaders were) – so be it.
Why is the Church not active today? Is it because God’s people are not engaged in the battle?
How many times have you heard prayers offered, prayers that bemoan the state of our nation? And yet we must ask ourselves some pertinent questions:

  1. Why is the Church not taking the Gospel message to the people – the people in the streets who do not come into the Churches? Is it because God’s people are not engaged in the battle? Let me ask you – when did you last give out a Gospel tract – organise/support an open-air meeting – do some door- knocking?
  2. Why is the Church not opposing the evil in their communities? Why is it silent? Is it because God’s people close their eyes to the sin all around them and are not engaged in the battle?
  3. Why is the Church not providing more practical support for the brethren across the world who ARE doing the Lord’s work and are being imprisoned because of it? Is it because God’s people are not engaged in the battle?
  4. Does your heart burn to do something in the Lord’s service – or are you simply not engaged in the battle? You leave it to others.
  5. Do you desire to stand unashamedly for the Lord’s cause and for the cause of the Gospel, but no leadership is given – or are you simply not engaged in the battle? Maybe your role is that of leadership!

I want to suggest to you that you and I have to take responsibility for the state in which we find the Church today – as we are not engaged in the battle as we ought to be.

We are not engaged in the battle as were our forefathers.

The Church has gone quiet – most people find it to be irrelevant in today’s society – it allows sin all around us to abound without being challenged.
In fact, in some instances, the Church actually promotes sin. Men in high office in the Church no longer believe that the Bible is the Word of God and they challenge its authority.

Next year – 2017 – we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation – OR – do we celebrate?
What does the Protestant Reformation mean to you?
What does the Protestant Reformation mean to me?
Do you look at Rome through the eyes – as it were – of the Protestant Reformers – through the eyes of Martin Luther who came out from Popery and nailed his 95 theses to the Church door at Wittenburg – or do you feel today that Rome is no longer the threat that it once was?

Today, we are in a battle

  • a battle against atheism
  • a battle against Ecumenism
  • a battle against Romanism
  • a battle against Islam – and many other isms – but are we?

Are we really engaged in the battle – or do we just drift along to Church Sunday by Sunday (maybe even being SMOs – Sunday Mornings only) and simply expect the Church doors to be open for us, the central heating to be turned on and the comfortable cushions laid out on the pews?
But – if we – as the Lord’s people – do not engage in the battle – who will?

Let me briefly summarise some of the battle-lines in which we, as Protestants, ought to be engaged:

1. We ought to be contending for the Protestant Reformed Christian faith and be a bulwark against further declension from the old paths.
2. We ought to adhere to the boundaries as laid down by the Word of God alone and defined by the great Confessions of Faith.

3. We ought to seek adherence to the Authorised Version of the Scriptures – the AV 1611 King James Bible – as being the most accurate translation of the Scriptures into the English language.
4. We ought to expose the failings of modern Bible translations and their link with the spiritual declension in so many Churches today.
5. We ought to lobby in support of other true Christians who are suffering persecution – and act in support of organisations and ministries who are working specifically in the areas concerned.
6. We ought to be in regular contact with Government Ministers at Westminster when Christian freedoms are threatened and Biblical standards of morality are challenged by the introduction of ungodly legislation.
7. We ought to lobby against ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’, such as Ministers of local Churches who openly support godless lifestyles as being acceptable.
8. We ought to expose the ‘big names’ in neo-Evangelicalism who embrace Roman Catholic doctrines and others, for instance, who promote the false theory of evolution.
9. We ought to expose dangerous teachings such as the Alpha Course and their links with Rome.

We need to be watchmen – engaged in the battle.
Are you a watchman?
Are you – am I – engaged in the battle?

What is a watchman? What is the responsibility of a watchman? Well, the job of a watchman in the Church is to give a warning cry – to sound the alarm – at the erosion of our Christian liberties whenever they may occur.

For the past 43 years, we, in the United Kingdom, have been under threat from a godless European Union – a Union promoted strongly by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

23rd June, 2016 – just 6 months ago – was a great day for this once great nation of ours – our Independence Day – but we – as Christians – need to be on our guard. Can ungodly politicians be trusted? Does Brexit mean Brexit? We are still not free from the shackles of the European Union – a Roman Catholic super-state – we must remain engaged in the battle. There is much to be done – we must not leave it to others.
This Protestant nation of ours – thanks to the European Union and its open door immigration policy – is under threat today from militant Islamic expansion and persecution – as well as false Christianity. Are you engaged in the battle?
We are under threat because of wicked legislation designed to prosecute and persecute Christians who dare to preach the Gospel in the public arena – who dare to stand against evil. Are you engaged in the battle?
The people of God have a great responsibility – they have a responsibility and a duty to stand up for righteousness in a godless society – and our first duty must be to God. Where a Government, or a people, or a law, is against the Word of God, we have a duty to make this fact known – whatever the consequences.

Let’s just take a quick look at some Bible characters –

John the Baptist lost his life for pointing out the evil of Herod taking his brother’s wife.
Daniel was a lone voice on the night of Belshazzar’s feast – and ended up in the den of lions.
Elijah stood alone on Mount Carmel against the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the groves.
Jeremiah was a lone voice and was persecuted and imprisoned for his stand for the Lord.
Gideon continued trusting in the Lord, even as he saw his army reduced from 32,000 to 300.

Did God fail any of them?

No – He did not – and He will never fail those who put their trust in Him. But these men all had one thing in common – they were all engaged in the battle. Are you – am I – engaged in the battle today?
For centuries – since the Protestant Reformation – there has been one citadel of Protestantism that Rome has sought to destroy – and that is Protestant England. We are living today in a day when she has all but achieved her objective. In Victorian times, the great revivals of evangelical Protestantism fostered and encouraged worldwide missions. England became the acknowledged head of the Protestant nations.
The growth, power and prestige of this country were due, at that time, to our evangelical past and God honours those who honour Him. But the reverse is true today – for today we have departed from God more than any generation of people since the Protestant Reformation.

In the 19th century, Protestant societies were formed – let’s just remind ourselves of some of them:

  • the Protestant Reformation Society in 1821
  • the Protestant Alliance in 1845
  • the Protestant Truth Society in 1895

Today, they are now but only a shadow of what they once were. Others – like the National Union of Protestants in 1940 or the British Bible Union and the Bible Testimony Fellowship have ceased to operate and we saw them replaced, as time went by, by a new Movement – the World Council of Churches – and the idea of a world Church and Church unity came to the fore.
What happened to our Protestant voice?

Most of the larger denominations joined the World Council of Churches – and today are co-operating with Rome in many of their activities; and it is against this background that Rome hopes to destroy us.

So the question must be asked again – are you willing to be engaged in the battle

  • a battle against the might of Rome
  • a battle against the wealth of the Vatican
  • a battle against the power of the priest?

Who is on the Lord’s side is the battle-cry – are you willing and ready to enlist?

The trials endured in Northern Ireland in recent decades are largely due to two factors – the influence of Roman Catholicism on the one hand and a dead ecumenical Protestantism on the other. Our loss of character as a nation has developed as we have departed further and further from God but, at the same time, Rome continues to seek to gain influence and to equate herself with Christianity in the minds of the majority of the people. Rome’s influence can be seen in the media – Archbishops of Canterbury rush to pay their respects to the Pope – Free Church Ministers invite Roman Catholic priests to address meetings in their Churches; but Roman Catholicism preaches a false Gospel and it is not a Christian Church. Rome denies the sufficiency of God’s grace to save men. Roman Catholicism, in its official teachings, rejects Sola Scriptura and places its traditions and superstitions on a par with the Scriptures – thus effectively adding to the Word of God.
Rome also denies that the death of our Lord Jesus Christ was sufficient to atone for the sins of His people. This denial can be seen in the blasphemous Roman Catholic Mass which claims to offer Christ as a sacrificial victim, again and again, on the altar at each Mass; thus denying the Word of God that Christ’s sacrifice was paid once and for all on the cross of Calvary.

For centuries, this nation of ours held to the Biblical position that the Pope of Rome is that man of sin and son of perdition – as described in 2 Thess. 2 v 3 – but, today, we see widespread and growing acceptance of the Papacy within the fold of the Christian Church.

On 16th July, many evangelicals joined hands (apparently in the name of unity in the Lord Jesus Christ) at an event called TOGETHER 2016. Many professing Christian celebrities took part and the organiser – a man named Nick Hall of Pulse (which is apparently a student led evangelism movement) – gathered more than 1000 Churches nationwide to join in prayer for Christian TOGETHER 2016 unity as found in Psalm 133 v 1 –Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. ”
But this unity at TOGETHER 2016 is not the unity spoken about in the Scriptures – this unity is a false man-made unity which includes unity with Pope Francis, who included a personal video message for the event. There is a battle being waged and it is the bounden duty of every Christian – every Protestant – to oppose, not only Rome, but also the false ecumenical unity being propagated at events such as this.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon – the Prince of Preachers – once said “it is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against antiChrist; and as to what anti-Christ is, no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the popery in the Church of Rome, there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name.
But is Rome part of the Christian Church?
I trust that we are all agreed on the answer, but in case there is any doubt let me quote Pope Francis. A few months ago he stated that Christ’s work on the cross was a failure.
A few weeks ago he stated that –To say that you have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is dangerous.
And in recent weeks he said that – Jesus Christ is not our hope; but Mary and the Mother Church are.
So there is but one answer – Evangelicals, Protestants, must awake to the pressing need and the imminent danger in which wefind ourselves. We MUST engage in the battle — we MUST stop pussy-footing on Romanism – and we MUST put our own house in order – the serious nature of the days in which we live demands that we all get engaged in the battle.
Is it not the case that in many of our Churches today we would be surprised to see unbelievers come in – we preach the Gospel to those who are already saved and neglect the sinners who are outside in the streets. Multitudes around us are ignorant of the Gospel and its message – and the world rushes on to judgment. But Protestantism is an open-air plant – it needs no hot-house cultivation. It thrives in the strong winds of opposition, but is weak and sickly when cultivated indoors.

The Protestant Reformation was a revival – the Reformers were Gospel preachers – and we today are the spiritual descendants of these Reformers. We must battle against Rome – we must battle against any departure from the Scriptures.
We must be active in evangelism – reaching the people in our immediate neighbourhood with the Gospel.Whether it be what The fight against Rome we could call Campaign Evangelism, Rural Evangelism, Literature Evangelism, Child Evangelism – every possible God-honouring form of evangelism – our single purpose must be the salvation of precious souls – young, old, male and female.
The Reformers cried from the stake – NONE BUT CHRIST; the Puritans made Christ the centre of their writings and sermons. The Victorian evangelicals – Moody, Spurgeon and the rest – were all constant in the same theme – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Will you engage in the battle today for the Lord and maintain a witness for the truth? We are called to contend – contend for what? Contend for something valuable – the Word of God says “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Why was it delivered? Because it is a valuable heritage and treasure. We today are those with a commission – “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. ”

  • The Gospel which brings freedom and light.
  • The Gospel which breaks the chains of sin.
  • The Gospel which brings decency and high standards and a love of righteousness into society.

In our work and witness, we ought to be engaged in the battle. We are contending for the faith – contending for real Christianity – Christianity that can transform lives. Is that not a battle worth engaging in?
“Contend” says the Apostle, “for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
To contend for something means we have to strive for it. Battle is involved. Controversy is inevitable. But the Authorised Version doesn’t just tell us to contend. It says “EARNESTLY CONTEND”. Look it up for yourselves in Jude v 3. That may not be very comfortable these days – but let us see to it that future generations don’t curse us for our laziness – don’t curse us for our apathy.
We are contending for something historic.
We are contending for something valuable.
We are contending for something in jeopardy – nothing less than the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ in our land and the maintenance of our Protestant heritage.

“Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” – so says the Scriptures.

Engage in the battle – don’t leave it to others – be proud to be a Protestant – and God will give us the victory. We may well have a fight on our hands – but the outcome is assured.

May God enable us by His grace to be soldiers for Jesus Christ and to enlist in God’s army.
So let us all be engaged in the battle and “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”. Amen

_____________________

As the stars do not make Heaven, but only decorate and adorn it, even so works do not merit Heaven, but adorn and decorate the faith which justifieth.

Martin Luther

CHRISTIAN OBLIGATIONS – TO ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE

Christ and the New Creation

Written by Steven Black on 04/02/2017. Posted in Articles

By Horatius Bonar

“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17

What condemnation do these words pronounce upon the shallow, meagre religion so common among us – making us feel that hardly any description of its professors could be more exaggerated or unreal, than that of being “new creatures.”

Take yon member of the church. He wears the garb and bears the name of Christ. He is a fair average specimen of a large class. He has the profession of being a Christian; yet…

he is fond of the world;
he grasps at its gold;
he loves its fashionable gaiety;
he reads its novels;
he frequents its haunts of amusement;
he enjoys its company;
he relishes its foolish talking and jesting.
Is he “a new creature” in Christ Jesus?

Is it possible that, with …
so much worldliness,
so much selfishness,
so much self-indulgence,
so much pleasing of the flesh,

he can have been “born again,” whatever his profession may be?

A new creature!” Then…
old feelings,
old habits,
old tastes,
old hopes,
old joys,
old haunts,
old companionships –

all are gone! Old things are passed away, all things are become new!

Formerly, I sought the things of this world. So now, by the necessity of my new nature, I seek the things above. Sin has become hateful, holiness supremely attractive.

My vision has been purged, so that now I see everything as with a new eye; the evil, with an eye which loathes it; the holy, with an eye which loves it. I approach everything with …

new feelings,
new tastes,
new sympathies,
new antipathies.

I behold everything in a new light and from a new point of view. Myself, this world, the world to come, God, Christ and the everlasting joys – all these are to me now, what they have never been before! My whole inner man has changed respecting them. There has been a new creation! What, then, have I to do with sin, with the flesh, with the vanities of so vain a life, as the men of this world are leading?

Oh, the unimaginable blessedness of those on whom this new creation has taken place! Oh, the unutterable, the endless misery of those on whom no change has passed – in whom old things still remain.

___________________________

Christ and the New Creation

A Watchword for All Who Profess
and Call Themselves Christians

Written by Steven Black on 22/01/2017. Posted in Articles

by JOSEPH IRONS

“Beware of men.” (Matthew 10:17)

This is the caution which the Son of God gave to His disciples, when He ministered among them on earth, and the Holy Ghost caused it to be penned, that the true Church of God might use it as a watchword to the end of time; and never since this caution dropped from the lips of Jesus, has it been needed than now; for men seem to vie with the prince of darkness who shall most effectually oppose the kingdom of Christ and the spiritual interests of His blood-bought family.

“Beware of men!” – Not merely of profane men, open infidels; but little caution is necessary respecting them, because “the show of their countenance does witness against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom – they hide it not;” (Isa. 3:9) but the men who assume the profession of Christianity, without possessing its vital principle, are the men of whom the Saviour’s watchword is, “Beware!” – The men who put on the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof – whose carnal minds and carnal interests have always warred against the pure truth of God, and perverted the whole plan of salvation by lying fables and human traditions, seducing the souls of millions to utter destruction.

This baneful poison produced the monster Popery in the days of Constantine, when carnal men professed to be Christians, because the emperor professed to be such, and thrust themselves into priestly office, blending priestly power with political power, until superstition and tyranny supplanted Christianity, and exercised a despotic sway over mankind; proudly dictating to every man’s conscience, plundering his property, degrading his existence, and pretending to power over his eternal destiny; so that priestcraft sat like an infernal incubus ever the entire population of Christendom, and spread its darkness, horror, and death over this favored land, with tortures and cruelties perfectly satanic.

That awful night was chased away by the glorious Reformation, and the principles of liberty have had a shining day; but who does not see the evening shades gathering around us again, threatening midnight darkness with tempestuous horror? Intellectual pride vaunts itself against the light of revelation; superstition is trampling upon the simplicity of the gospel; and error, of every name and form, is at war with the truth.

There is now scarcely a city or town in England but in which there are men sprung up in the office of priest (some Papist, some Puseyite,) who are using all their efforts to bring back those dark days and those degrading superstitions which dishonor God, foster the pride of man, and delude millions of souls fatally; and hence the importance of our Saviour’s watchword, “Beware of men!” – For these men are doing more mischief than devils could do without them.

“Beware of men” who boast of apostolical succession, which they cannot prove, and who are no more like the apostles of our Lord, either in doctrine or character, than sin is like holiness, or Satan like God. See what monstrous opinions they broach, such as baptismal regeneration, which rejects the ministry of the Holy Ghost; priestly absolution, which insults and virtually denies Christ; ecclesiastical authority, which sets at nought the word and the decrees of God the Father, and thus genders Atheism, by denying all the Persons of the Godhead. Can they be honest, when they know that there is not a word in all the New Testament to sanction the existence of an official human priesthood, Christ only being the Priest of the Gospel Church after the order of Melchisedec? Can they be honest in their boasted reference to the fathers, when they know that the usurpation of ecclesiastical power, and the right of one Christian minister to exercise authority over others, were never allowed in the churches for 300 years after Christ’s ascension to glory?

“Beware of men!” Such as our dear Redeemer has described, “who desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; which devour widows’ houses, and for a show make long prayers.” (Luke 20:46) And again, the same Divine Teacher says, they outwardly appear righteous before men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity; therefore He denounces them as serpents and a generation of vipers, who shall not escape the damnation of hell. (Matt. 23:28-33) Indeed, whoever would see a full-length portrait of Puseyism, has only to read the whole of the twenty-third chapter of Matthew. It has enslaved the finest minds; it has prostrated the brightest genius; it has sugared the most virulent poison; and sainted the most reprobate enemies to vital godliness; in fact, it has outdone Popery itself in deception.

The tradition of apostolic succession is a religious hoax: the existence of an official human priesthood is a rejection of Christ and a return to Judaism; the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is a barefaced falsehood; and all pretensions to priestly absolution are blasphemy. Yet men who hold these hideous notions, arrogate to themselves the exclusive right to teach their fellow-men, saying with lying words, as did the false teachers in Jeremiah’s day, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these;” (Jer. 7:4) or, in modern language, “The Church, the Church, the Church,” is the enthusiastic cry of those who possess not one feature of the Church of Christ as described in Holy Scripture, and as exhibited in the early ages. The Church of Christ is a spiritual body.

“Beware of men!” Those very men who now seek to do by “all who profess and call themselves Christians,” as the spider does by the fly; first bind the wings and legs of our liberty with an invisible web; and then suck our blood by persecution, as in days of yore. Oh! Search the Scriptures, and learn from thence what the true Church of God is, and do not suffer a carnal priesthood to blind your eyes, enslave your consciences, and ruin your souls. See how they toil for human patronage; mark their thirst for worldly honors; watch their abuse of ecclesiastical power; weigh the mock sanctity of their long prayers; and then say if these are the marks of apostolic descendants, or the characteristics of Christ’s ministers. Rather, are they not the features of Baal’s priests – the broad marks of Antichrist?

“Beware of men!” Even of those who pass for evangelical men; for every grade of error is to be found among them. Even while I am writing this paper, my soul is distressed with the awful perversions of the word of God which surround me, and which are advocated by men of renown; one drowning the doctrine of regeneration in the baptismal font; another substituting the credence of carnal reason for the faith of God’s elect, and another denying the Son of God; while the great bulk of so-called evangelical preachers try to dethrone Christ, and to enthrone proud free-will as absolute sovereign.

“Beware of men!” For even those whose views are, in the main, scriptural, seem to determined to bite and devour one another through jealousy, that they make each other offenders for a word, and put more stress upon the shibboleth of a party than upon the fundamental doctrines of the gospel; drinking into the spirit which our Lord reproved in His disciples, when they said, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him, because he followed not us!” Oh! These are awful signs of the times, when even the real disciples of Christ have exchanged brotherly love for party-spirit and jealousy; all seeking their own, and not the things that are Jesus Christ’s. (Phil. 2:21)

What, then, it may be asked, is real religion? I answer, it is altogether supernatural. It originates in the love of God the Father to His whole Church, His chosen family, which is scattered all over the world. It is intrusted to God the Son, in positive responsibility by an everlasting covenant, for the redemption of their persons with His own blood, and their eternal salvation in His own righteousness imputed to them. It is communicated to them by the regenerating and quickening operations of the Holy Ghost creating in them a new and holy life, capable of enjoying God. This new and holy life consists of all the graces of Holy Spirit, and becomes manifest by their actings upon Christ; Faith trusts Him and claims Him: Hope aspires after Him, and waits for Him; Love cleaves to Him and honors Him, rejecting all that is unlike Him.

Reader, is this your religion? If so, heaven is secure. If not, when you die you will descend to eternal despair, though loaded with all the forms of Pharisees – all the traditions of Rome – and all the mock sanctity of Oxford.

Arise, O Lord, and plead thine own cause, prays His willing servant in the cause of truth.

A Watchword for All Who Profess
and Call Themselves Christians

LIVING TO GOD’S GLORY

Written by Steven Black on 26/12/2016. Posted in Articles

By: J. C. Philpot

Wherever the grace of God is, it constrains its partaker to desire to live to His honour and glory. But he soon finds the difficulty of so doing. Such is the weakness of the flesh, the power of sin, the subtlety of Satan, the strength of temptation, and the snares spread on every side for our feet, that we can neither do what we would, or be what we would. Before we are well aware, we get entangled with some idol, or drawn aside into some indulgence of the flesh, which brings darkness into the mind, and may cut us out some bitter work for the rest of our days.

But we thus learn not only the weakness of the flesh, but where and in whom all our strength lies. And as the grace of the Lord Jesus, in its suitability, in its sufficiency and its superaboundings, becomes manifested in and by the weakness of the flesh, a sense of His wondrous love and care in so bearing with us, in so pitying our case, and manifesting mercy where we might justly expect wrath, constrains us with a holy obligation to walk in His fear and to live to His praise.

We are such strange creatures. We are willing and more than willing to be taught of the Lord, for we are continually, in all sincerity of heart, begging Him to teach us; and yet we do not like His way of teaching when it crimps the flesh. We feel earnestly desirous to live to the honour and glory of God; and yet when to do so demands some sacrifice of money, or ease, or comfort, or reputation – still more when it seems to require the plucking out of a right eye, or the cutting off of a right hand, then we draw back and rebel that there is not a more easy and pleasant way for the flesh. And yet, perhaps, if we are enabled to make the sacrifice required by the Word and our conscience, there is a sweetness to our spirit mingled with the bitterness to the flesh. It is almost with these bitters to the flesh as Mr. Hart speaks of repentance:

“Nor is it such a dismal thing
As ’tis by some men named;
A sinner may repent and sing,
Rejoice and be ashamed.”

It, perhaps, has been a call to make a sacrifice of a little money in possession or in prospect; and after a stout battle between a liberal spirit and a covetous heart, the better principle prevailed. Now, when the victory has been gained, do we not often find that what has been given is but little missed; and the good it has done to the cause of truth, or to any of the Lord’s poor and needy children, is an ample compensation for having overcome the opposition of a covetous spirit, and the crying out of the old man as he had a nail or two driven into his miserly fist? But, soon, perhaps, as he dies hard and writhes under the crucifying nail, there will come forth a cry from us, or some one connected with us, “Spare thyself. Why, if you go on like that, you will rob your wife and family, and bring them to beggary. There is this and that bill to be paid, and you know how hardly money is got, and how swiftly gone.”

But some kind providence turns up, and then drops the head into the dust, with a “Lord, I am vile, and Thou art good. Pardon my covetous, unbelieving heart. O let me never doubt Thee again.” So, if a little of our good name or fame, or darling respectability must be parted with, the flesh soon begins to cry out, and cannot endure the shame of the cross. But how soon the Lord can so break in upon our heart with a sense of His goodness, mercy and love as to make us feel even unworthy to suffer shame for His Name’s sake, and count it an honour to endure His reproach.

We need not pursue the subject further. Our readers’ own experience will supply them with abundant instances both of the weakness and wickedness of the flesh and the superaboundings of grace; and they will agree with us that both misery and mercy, all that we have seen and felt of the evil of sin and all that we have tasted, felt and handled of salvation, all that we know of self, and all that we know of the Lord, call upon us and constrain us, as with one voice, to walk in His fear, live to His praise, and seek to glorify Him with our body and spirit, which are His.

And with this desire will certainly follow a willing readiness to serve the Lord’s cause, help the Lord’s poor, sympathize with them in their afflictions and trials, and manifest to them our esteem, affection and love.

In what other way can we manifest the truth and reality, the life and power of our religion? Men will judge us, and rightly judge us, by our works, not by our words; by our fruit, not by our leaves; by our Christian spirit, meekness, quietness, humility, sincerity, disinterestedness, readiness to service rather than to rule, and general willingness to bear and forebear, to seek others’ advantage, not our own, and do what good we can to the souls and bodies of our fellow-men.

LIVING TO GOD’S GLORY

Christ’s Incarnation

Written by Steven Black on 12/12/2016. Posted in Articles

From Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758)

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Christ became incarnate or, which is the same thing, became man to put Himself in a capacity for working out our redemption. For though Christ as God was infinitely sufficient for the work, yet to His being in an immediate capacity for it, it was needful that He should not only be God, but man. If Christ had remained only in the divine nature, He would not have been in a capacity to have obtained our salvation; not from any imperfection of the divine nature, but by reason of its absolute and infinite perfection: for Christ, merely as God, was not capable either of that obedience or suffering that was needful.

The divine nature is not capable of suffering; for it is infinitely above all suffering. Neither is it capable of obedience to that law which was given to man. It is as impossible that One, who is only God, should obey the law that was given to man, as it is that He should suffer man’s punishment.

And it was necessary not only that Christ should take upon him a created nature, but that He should take upon Him our nature. It would not have sufficed for Christ to have become an angel, and to have obeyed and suffered in the angelic nature. But it was necessary that He should become a man, upon three accounts:

1. It was needful in order to answer the law, that the very nature to which the law was given, should obey it. Man’s law could not be answered but by being obeyed by man. God insisted upon it that the law, which He had given to man, should be honoured and fulfilled by the nature of man, otherwise the law could not be answered for men. The words, “Thou shalt not eat thereof,” etc., were spoken to the race of mankind, to the human nature; and therefore the human nature must fulfil them.

2. It was needful to answer the law that the nature that sinned should die. These words, “Thou shalt surely die,” respect the human nature. The same nature to which the command was given was that to which the threatening was directed.

3. God saw meet that the same world, which was the stage of man’s fall and ruin, should also be the stage of his redemption. We read often of His coming into the world to save sinners, and of God’s sending Him into the world for this purpose. It was needful that He should come into this sinful, miserable, undone world in order to restore and save it. For man’s recovery, it was needful that He should come down to man, to man’s proper habitation, and that He should tabernacle with us: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

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THE DESIRABILITY OF KEEPING TO THE AUTHORISED VERSION OF THE BIBLE

Written by Steven Black on 03/12/2016. Posted in Articles

By: J. C. Philpot

Written in 1857 when the Revised Version was being contemplated.

We take this opportunity to express our opinion upon a question much agitated of late – whether it would be desirable to have a new (or at least a revised) translation of the Scriptures. We fully admit that there are here and there passages of which the translation might be improved, as, for instance, “love” for “charity” all through I Corinthians 13; but we deprecate any alteration as a measure that, for the smallest sprinkling of good, would deluge us with a flood of evil. The following are our reasons:

  1. Who are to undertake it? Into whose hands would the revision fall? What an opportunity for the enemies of truth to give us a mutilated false Bible! Of course, they must be learned men, great critics, scholars, and divines. But these are notoriously either Puseyites or Neologians[1] – in other words, deeply tainted with either popery or infidelity. Where are there learned men sound in the truth, not to say alive unto God, who possess the necessary qualifications for so important a work? And can erroneous ungodly persons, spiritually translate a book written by the blessed Spirit? We have not the slightest ground for hope that they would be godly men, such as we have reason to believe translated the Scriptures into our present version.
  2. Again, it would unsettle the minds of thousands as to which was the Word of God, the old translation or the new. What a door it would open for the workings of infidelity, or the temptations of Satan! What a gloom, too, it would cast over the minds of many of God’s saints, to have those passages which had been applied to their souls translated in a different way, and how it would seem to shake all their experience of the power and preciousness of God’s Word!
  3. But besides this, there would be two Bibles spread through the land, the old and the new, and what confusion would this create in almost every place! At present, all sects and denominations agree in acknowledging our present version as the standard of appeal. Nothing settles disputes so soon as when the contending parties have confidence in the same umpire and are willing to abide by his decision. But this judge of all disputes, this umpire of all controversy, would cease to be the looser of strife if the present acknowledged authority were put an end to by a rival.
  4. Again, if the revision and re-translation were once to begin, where would it end? It is good to let well alone, as it is easier to mar than mend. The Socinianising[2] Neologian would blot out “God” in I Timothy 3:16 and strike out I John 5:7-8, as an interpolation. The Puseyites would mend it to suit Tractarian[3] views. He would read “priest” where we now read “elder” and put “penance” in the place of “repentance.”

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  1. We should say: Anglo-Catholics and Modernists.
  2. Denying the Godhead of Christ.
  3. Led by Newman and Keble, the Tractarians were moving towards Romanism.

Once set up a notice, “THE OLD BIBLE TO BE AMENDED” and there would be plenty of workmen, who, trying to mend the cover, would pull the pages to pieces. The Arminian would softened down the words “election” and “predestination” into some term less displeasing to Pharisaic ears. “Righteousness” would be turned into “justice” and “reprobate” into “undiscerning.” All our good Bible terms would be so mutilated that they would cease to convey the Spirit’s meaning, and instead of the noble simplicity, faithfulness and truth of our present version, we should have a Bible that nobody would accept as the Word of God, to which none could safely appeal, and on which none could implicitly rely.

  1. Instead of our good old Saxon Bible, simple and solid, with few words really obsolete, and alike majestic and beautiful, we should have a modern English translation in the pert and flippant language of the day. Besides its authority as the Word of God, our present version is the great English classic – generally accepted as the standard of the English language. The great classics of a language cannot be modernised. What an outcry there would be against modernising Shakespeare, or making Hooker, Bacon or Milton talk the English of the newspapers or of the House of Commons!
  2. The present English Bible has been blessed to thousands of the saints of God; and not only so, it has become part of our national inheritance which we have received unimpaired from our fathers, and are bound to hand down unimpaired to our children. It is, we believe, the grand bulwark of Protestantism, the safeguard of the gospel and the treasure of the church; and we should be traitors in every sense of the word if we consented to give it up to be rifled by the sacrilegious hands of Puseyites, concealed Papists, German Neologians, infidel divines, Arminians, Socinians and the whole tribe of enemies of God and godliness.

From: Sin and Salvation – Selections from J. C. Philpot

Edited by B. A. Ramsbottom

[How much of this has come to pass in this day of many translations]

THE LIFE AND WORK OF WILLIAM TYNDALE PART 3

Written by Steven Black on 16/11/2016. Posted in Articles

THE LIFE AND WORK
OF WILLIAM TYNDALE

By: Michael Hobbis

Part 3 (of 3)


In Part 2 of our account of the life of Tyndale, we last left him as having been furnished with extra funds to continue with the work of further revision of his translation of the New Testament. These funds came about by a merchant friend of Tyndale, ostensibly providing help to Bishop Tunstall to buy all of Tyndale’s translated Scriptures coming from the presses of Europe, which Tunstall in a great display promptly burnt. This, in turn, gave Tyndale more money to continue with his major work of revision and Old Testament translation.


We learn from Foxe that while he was sailing to Hamburg to print the translation of Deuteronomy, there was a great storm at sea and Tyndale lost ‘both money, his copies and time’. With Coverdale – with whom he was now working – he had to begin all over again – the Pentateuch being completed between Easter and December and printed in January, 1530 in Antwerp.

Tyndale was prodigious in his labours and in 1531 also translated Jonah and a revised Genesis. The great work of the year 1534 was a completely revised New Testament, with further slight revision in 1535. This was in addition to his previously published polemical works, already mentioned: The Obedience of the Christian Man and The Practise of Prelates and further work on the Old Testament.

The history of the English Bible at this time is admittedly unclear in its detail, but it is believed that every year on average since its first issue, a new edition had been printed and sent by merchants and other means to England. During this period of Tyndale’s labours for the Lord, he also was involved in a drawn out controversy with Sir Thomas More, who had, using all his erudition, sought to ridicule and discredit the faithful translator and Reformer. In 1529, More published a considerable volume entitled ‘The Dialogue’. This extensive work was a defence of the Church in its use in worship of images, penances, praying to saints and going on pilgrimages et al. This was a reaction to such books of Tyndale as ‘The Wicked Mammon’ and ‘The Obedience’, which reached England as More was preparing this tome. This literary assault upon Tyndale was written with all the consummate skill More could bring to it, but Tyndale had the Truth on his side and was more than capable of a clear and spiritual response. His ‘Practise of Prelate’s’ was an initial defence, but in 1531 he wrote ‘The Answer’; this more comprehensive work was plainly written and its straightforward arguments silenced most of More’s accusations. However, Sir Thomas More bitterly persisted with a further polemical work ‘The Confutation’; this second attack by More was regarded even by his friends as a failure, being some ten times the size of Tyndale’s ‘The Answer’.

With no certain dwelling place, and in the midst of these distractions from enemies such as More and the over-zealous monks Roye and Joye, this indefatigable soldier of Christ laboured so that you and I could hold in our hands the Word of the Living God, understandable and pure.

There were happier times during Tyndale’s self-imposed exile in Europe; viz. two wonderful influences upon the Royal courts of England, or should we rather say God’s work of providence, in regard to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his Queen. The first is the account whereby a maid of the Queen had obtained from her a copy of Tyndale’s work, The Obedience of the Christian Man; this book was in turn borrowed by a male friend who was so taken with its contents that he was loathe to return it. The maid, in much distress, confided in the Queen who, in turn, appealed to Henry for assistance, who obtained its return. Henry, curious as to its contents, began to read it, upon which he exclaimed ‘this is a book for me and for all Kings to read’. Such are the marvellous workings of the King of Kings.

Moreover, Anne, it seems, had so much sympathy with the work of the Reformation, that when a certain merchant, Richard Herman, was arrested and held in Antwerp for aiding in the distribution of Tyndale’s translated New Testament, she wrote a letter to Thomas Cromwell desiring him to use his influence in giving this man his freedom again. She wrote:.

Anne the Queen: Trusty and right well-beloved, we greet you well; and whereas we be credibly informed, that the bearer hereof Richard Herman, merchant and citizen of Antwerp, in Brabant, was in the time of the late Lord Cardinal put and expelled from his freedom and fellowship of and in the English house there, for nothing else, as he affirmeth, but only that he did, both with his goods and policy, to his great hurt and hindrance in this world, help to the setting forth of the New Testament in English: we therefore desire and instantly pray you, that with all speed and favour convenient, ye will cause this good and honest merchant, being my Lord’s true, faithful and loving subject, to be restored to his pristine freedom, liberty and fellowship aforesaid, and the sooner at this our request, and at your good leisure, to hear him in such things as he hath to make further relation unto you in this behalf:

Given under our signet, at my Lord’s Manor of Greenwich, the 14th day of May.

Herman was indeed given his freedom and Tyndale, in gratitude for Anne’s generous protection, gave her a beautifully illustrated New Testament, tooled – and in large gilt letters on the edge – are inscribed the words Anna, Angliae Regina. Tyndale’s name nowhere appears on it and it is without preface. As has been remarked, the Bible needs no dedications to ‘Most High and Princes’. This precious volume was bequeathed to the British Museum by a Rev. Cracherode who, it seems, had rebound it.

Later there was a bitter controversy between Tyndale and George Joye, the aforementioned Reformed monk from England, also in self-imposed exile. This man, who had merely been assisting Tyndale, had taken it upon himself to produce his own revised and corrected New Testament, much to Tyndale’s dismay. This new work of George Joye was undertaken without Tyndale’s knowledge and by a man who, it seems, had little knowledge of the Greek and knew only Latin with any proficiency. It contained many errors and was a sad episode in the life of Tyndale, whose only desire was to give to the ordinary Englishman, in his own tongue, the Holy Scriptures of God as true to the originals as he could. Needless to say, as with another troublesome itinerant Reformed monk years before of a similar name, William Roye, these two also parted company.

Tyndale had been wrought upon to return to England by Cromwell, who dispatched Stephen Vaughan, a man who was favourably inclined to the Reformers. He was commissioned to seek out Tyndale and offer him safe passage to England. Happily, at this time, Tyndale refused. Vaughan himself declared that: ‘It is unlikely to get Tyndale into England, when he daily heareth so many things from thence that feareth him’.

This turned out to be a wise move on the translator’s part, since Bilney and Bayfield had been consigned to the stake, while John Frith, who had returned to the land of his birth from Tyndale and Europe, had been consigned to the Tower and was also later cruelly martyred on July 4th, 1533. Tyndale had already offended Henry by publishing the Practise of Prelates and, like John the Baptist before him, had reproved the King for his adulteries. Henry could, at any stage, have ordered officials in Europe to arrest Tyndale, but such was the animosity between Henry and the Emperor Charles that, while hostilities lasted, Charles would not have given up Tyndale to satisfy Henry.

For two years, 1533-1535, Tyndale resided at Antwerp and we learn from John Foxe that he lived frugally and kept two days a week for himself, which he termed ‘his pastime’. These were Mondays and Saturdays, which he kept for visiting the poor men and women who had fled England from persecution into Antwerp. He spent these ‘pastime’ days travelling the length and breadth of the city to give alms to any poor refugees he could find. He had been supported financially himself by the wealthy merchants among whom he lived and, in turn, shared this largesse with these needy souls. He ministered in the Scriptures on the Lord’s Day in the home of various merchants, when it is said he did ‘sweetly, gently and fruitfully read’ and, we may assume, expound the Bible to them too. It was towards the close of this period that he published a further revised and improved edition of the New Testament in 1535, when, for the first time, headings were provided by him to the Gospels and Acts.

Now the dark clouds of treachery and dangerous mists of intrigue were beginning to swirl around Tyndale and, like so many Godly martyrs before him, he had fought a good fight and was about to finish his course. This man had lived an abstemious life from his earliest days, which was beyond reproach by even his enemies. His greatest enemy, Sir Thomas More, declared that Tyndale was ‘well known for right good living, studious and well learned in the Scripture, and looked and preached holily’. He lived his life to bring the Gospel to the ordinary Englishman and was an embodiment of its sweet and holy influences. Our God, in His own purposes and decrees, sometimes chooses to show great kindness of grace in saving the very worst of sinners and restores the greatest backsliders to His own praise and glory. In other cases, as with William Tyndale, He shows the wonders of loving kindness and power in keeping them from all outward sin and in lives of consecrated single-minded holiness. Our great shame in this nation is that for many ‘a great prophet has been among us and we knew it not’.

Tyndale, in his latter years in Belgium, had been given hospitality in the home of wealthy merchants. A large mansion had been provided to the English merchants by the magistrates of Antwerp. In addition to this, it was one of the happy privileges of the Antwerpians that none could be arrested on suspicion alone, or held without trial for longer than three days. As long as Tyndale did not venture too far abroad, he might live in comparative safety. Sir Thomas More had been deposed and imprisoned and the Reformation had been forwarded by Cromwell and Cranmer who were now in the ascendancy; so the threats from England were not what they once were.

Now Tyndale sheltered beneath the roof of the ‘English House’ under the patronage of the merchant Thomas Poyntz. So long as he stayed there he could not be arrested, for the rule was that none but great criminals could be brought out from thence. Like Daniel, he declined the dainties of the well-laid table in the house, preferring, it is said: ‘Sodden meat and a small beer’. But very devious plans were now afoot to secure Tyndale’s arrest, which was to lead to his eventual martyrdom. Poyntz had left on business and now one Henry Phillips, a Catholic monk from England, who had recently made friends of the local merchants, also made the acquaintance of Tyndale. By guile, and because of the gentle simplicity of Tyndale, he was able by a ruse to entice him into the alleys and byways of Antwerp, where he was set upon by agents of Phillips who had, like Judas, pointed his finger above this poor man’s head as he walked behind him. Henry Phillips had been acting for those Catholics who hated what Tyndale was doing and, in truth, were even opposed to King Henry VIII, because of his split from the Pope. Upon his arrest, both Cromwell and, surprisingly, even Henry did what they could to secure Tyndale’s release; but all to no avail. He was held for 135 days in the castle of Vilvorde. Neither Cromwell nor Henry could actively interfere in the matter because of the bad relationship with Charles V, that it would no doubt have made things worse. They could only make appeals; indeed Poyntz himself was arrested for trying to secure his friend’s release and only just managed to escape to England.

While in the damp and cold castle dungeons, Tyndale, as with another in the prison of the Emperor Nero, asked the Marquis of Bergen-op-Zoom, an acquaintance of Cromwell, for a warmer coat, a light to read by, a Hebrew Bible and a Hebrew Dictionary and Grammar, that he might spend his time in study. Cromwell had already appealed to this man to intercede in Tyndale’s favour. Whether he received these mercies we know not, but we do know that he translated the Hebrew Bible as far as Chronicles before his death, which was transmitted to John Rogers, another later Marian martyr, to be printed by him with the Pentateuch and the New Testament, which is known as Matthew’s Bible. This seems to suggest that he did receive such mercies.

Tyndale’s long trial began in 1536, after which he was condemned to be strangled and then burned at Vilvorde on Friday, October 6th. The only detail we have concerning this faithful man’s martyrdom is from Foxe who said that this martyr cried at the stake with fervent zeal and a loud voice, ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes’. Tyndale had for some years expected this end and had stated that he knew that, for him, there was no other way into the Kingdom of Christ than through persecution, suffering and pain.

We leave this true Christian in his place as one of that great cloud of witnesses of whom the world was not worthy. The next time we pick up the Bible to read, may we perhaps consider what treasure our Lord has given us, in that we each have access to the Words of life and, by His grace, the cost of the lives of His faithful servants, such as William Tyndale. Let us also remember the even greater debt we owe to the One who is the very Word Himself, even Jesus Christ our Lord, without whose life and death and His precious blood given for us at the cross for our ransom, Tyndale himself would have had no hope of eternal life and peace.

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