Saturday, 1 October 2011


Can anyone explain to me how the post of "evangelist" can be filled without first assessing the evangelistic content and methodology of the prospective evangelist?  Can a suitable candidate be found through the interview process alone? 

This is what one religious denomination is doing in order to find someone who could fulfil this task.  There was no concern about whether or not a candidate could preach the Gospel with power; only his past experience and his understanding of the Gospel, which had to 'dot every eye and cross every tee' of the prospective employer, were relevant.

Indeed, it seems to be the case that the title 'evangelist' was merely a cover-up for what was essentially a community worker.  There does not seem to be any real preaching opportunities, but sufficient 'baby-sitting' work and the supervisions of congregational organisations. 

But, is an evangelist in the biblical understanding just another name for a church community worker? Or is it something quite different?  When Paul told young Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Tim.4:5), what did he mean by that?  Philip was also described as an evangelist (Acts 21:8)?  What was his work?  Indeed, the risen Christ gave evangelists to the church as His gift to her.  But what were they to do?  Be community workers?  Act as church 'baby-sitters' for children?  Run organisations?

No, their work was carefully and clearly delineated. They were to men called and equipped to take the message of Christ to the world, as Philip did when he was sent to the Ethiopian Eunuch (Ac.8:26-40).  He was preaching the Gospel in Samaria where what has come to be known as the Samaritan Pentecost took place, a man mightily used by God to reach the lost with the Gospel.  It was at this significant time that God called Philip away from the centre of revival activity to the desert, why? because the Lord had a work that Philip was specially well fitted for, and that was powerful evangelism.  So, from this we learn that the work of an evangelist was to preach the Gospel to multitudes and crowds, as well as to individuals.  It was this work that young Timothy was to do - be a preacher of the Gospel of God.

That the church needs men with this gift is clear; and that Christ made a gift of evangelists to the church is also agreed.  They were to heralds of Christ, the messengers of God sent out into a hostile world. They had good-news for the whole world - that Christ died for all, and the Gospel now offers eternal salvation to all who put their trust in the one and only Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. 

At no time was 'baby-sitting' children part of the evangelist's role; nor is there any indication in the New testament that the evangelist was to be a church worker in the community.  This is teaching that the modern church does not seem to understand, or even want to understand.  And it certainly has no intention of applying it to the work that she is called by God to do.

Perhaps, the real intention behind appointing these (unbiblical) evangelists is to reduce further the evangelistic responsibility of the church to the world.  I now that some churches were embarrassed by the presence of Christian workers in the Irish Republic over many years, and now that these are being 'killed off,' the replacements will never do what those men did for many years.

How blind church leaders are when it comes to reaching the lost for Christ! Our prayer must be that God will open their eyes before it is too late.

Maybe the church of today needs to return to the Scriptures and begin to take their message with utmost seriousness.  To get your own copy of the AV in digital form, please click this link

Billy Graham's Prayer For Our Nation

Dr Billy Graham was one of the most outstanding evangelists in the last century, a man who fearlessly preached the Word of God to the masses.  Despite his later developments into areas which he would have been much better not entering, his great catchphrase was "the Bible says."  But that aside, the 90 year old evangelist is still a man of prayer and this prayer of his is published here for your encouragement.


'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.  We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.  We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.  We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.  We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.  We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.  Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!' 

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, 'The Rest of the Story,' and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called 'One nation under God!' 

Think about this: If you forward this prayer to everyone on your e-mail list, in less than 30 days it would be heard by the world. (It's worth a try!)  'One Nation Under God!

The Latimer Syndrome Spreads

David Latimer seems to be enjoying his celebrity status as Martin McGuinness' 'presbyterian chaplain' but he is doing it, and gaining these 'honours', by dancing on the graves of the people that McGuinness & Co sent to their deaths, including my youngest brother, Kenneth. 

His denomination, at both national and local levels, has been deafeningly silent about Dr Latimer's activities, in contradistinction to the way Rev Mervyn Gibson was brought before church authorities for walking down the Newtownards Road to the music of a hymn.  Is it a case that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland supports provo-lovers, but despises members of the orange order?  This seems to be the case, in the light of his church's recent activities.  It is very distressing for members of PCI to see their denomination applauding, by its silence, the very public support given by one of its ministers to a notorious terrorist leader, yet is prepared to take action against another minister who seeks to stand for Gospel principles. 

Indeed, the Moderator of that church is strangely quiet at present - does he also support what McGuinness has done to his own fellow members?  If not, then let him come out and say so.

Innocent victims of the IRA's terrorist campaign are especially hurt by Latimer's bare-faced support for a terrorist leader, and for a man whose organisation sent many Presbyterians et al to their untimely graves.  Whilst quite clearly there are Presbyterians who will support their church at all costs, and will go on supporting it regardless, others are much more discerning, and will now be re-assessing their position within that religious denomination.  But in all likelihood, such re-assessment will issue in no change, whatever hold a church has on its members.

But David Latimer ought to be thoroughly ashamed of himself, as ought his church.  But there again, "shame demands grace," and where there is "no grace" there will be "no shame." 

I am also wondering what Dr Lesley Carroll thinks of this - my suspicion is that she thinks that all such activity is excellent, and to pot with the innocent victims of the IRA.  She also demonstrates by her actions that every action that can be taken against Gospel ministers within PCI, ought to be done without undue delay. The very presence of these ministers is an annoyance that they could do well without.

PCI's deafening silence about this matter demonstrates that, as a church, it does not know much about true reconciliation, even at the horizontal level!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Mr Walter Mitty, Church Elder

Some church elders seem to be Walter Mitty characters - having exaggerated ideas of their own importance.  They see themselves as the 'authorities' within the church/congregation. Their rule runs!  They say what is done and what is not done.  They determine who preaches in their pulpit, not the minister.

It never seems to appear to them that the only authority within the Christian and reformed church is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,  which are the alone supreme authority against which everything is to be judged.  Of course, this is an utter irrelevance in many churches that have ruling elders.  In my experience, many of them are not Christians, therefore do not know Christ or His Word.  So it is pointless a minister trying to assess spiritual issues in the light of God's Word.  Ignorant elders providing spiritual leadership - what a sick joke!  Indeed, I spoke to an elder a few years ago who did not even know the Westminster Confession of Faith - the very document that he said was what he believed at the moment of his ordination to this biblical office, and to which he signed his name. 

I have heard of a situation where an elder tried to blackmail his minister by refusing to provide an essential piece of equipment until he stopped condemning the practice of co-habitation.  The minister refused, all credit to him.  That elder obviously does not know the Scriptural teaching about marriage, or, if he does, has decided to ignore it.  How such a man can be retained as an elder of as professing Christian church is utterly amazing; but there it is.

The days at college were not the most inspirational in my life; but I do remember an old professor telling us that the authority of the elders stops at the bottom of the pulpit steps.  That meant that no elder, within the reformed churches at any rate, has the right to tell a minister what to preach on, or what version of the Bible to read from, or how he is to conduct his ministry.  Of course, a wise and mature minster will listen to his elders, especially if they are mature Christian men, and consider what they are saying, in a bid to try to bring improvements, according to the teaching of the Scriptures, to the overall spiritual development of the congregation.  But a good reformed minister will not allow himself to be told who will preach in his pulpit, and who will not!  He has the right and the responsibility to refuse to follow those instructions. And given the fact that so many elders are not only unregenerate, but in some infamous cases, are ungodly men (and now women), the conscientious minister will oppose any move on the part of his elders who wish to push him down an unbiblical and unChristian road.  It is one thing for a minister not to want certain ministers in his pulpit, it is an altogether different matter for any elder to demand that certain ministers are not to preach in his pulpit.  If the preacher is a liberal and unbiblical ecumenist, then hooray for the elder who has the courage of his convictions.  But if, as it most likely the case, the 'banned' minister is an evangelical, Gospel preacher, then that elder is way out of line and must be told so in no uncertain terms.

But these are indeed strange times we're living in.  Of this day it can also be said, "The Word of God (is) rare in these days."

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Let us Read the Word of God!

If you are interested in having a Bible on your computer, may I graciously refer you to this link.
This will give you a digital version of the King James Version that can be downloaded to your computer in five (5) minutes; it is also downloadable to your iPhone, if you have one.

This means that when you want to read a portion of God's Word, you have it convenient to you - on your computer.  And in addition, if you are on the move, and own an iPhone, you can read the Scriptures by this means. You will have the complete OT and NT, as well as a number of bonuses that will help you in your Christian walk.

Think how easy it will be to check passages and texts, and how convenient it will be to prepare Bible studies and to cross reference what it is you want to say.

When you hear your minister say next Sunday, "Let us read the Word of God," you will know that you can do that at anytime, and in digital format.

Visit the website at this link and have this, still loved, version of the Holy Scriptures.

Courage Under The Cross

Have you got your copy of the author's book of the above name?  It's a treat to read, and is full of very practical help for the Christian who just might be finding life a bit tough.  Each sermon is based on an exposition of the Scriptures, which involves both explanation and application of the message.

To get your copy, send a cheque, postal order or cash for £5.00 (p&p included) to: Really Living, 23 Parkmore Close, MAGHERAFELT, Co. Londonderry, BT45 6PL, Northern Ireland, UK. Please make cheques and postal orders payable to Dr J. E. Hazlett Lynch. Orders will be fulfilled within 10 working days. Cash orders will be dispatched immediately.

Or, you can pay for it using PayPal by clicking the BUY NOW button below.  PayPal is the safest, easiest, simplest, fastest and most secure method of  paying for your book.

 If you pay by this method, it will be despatched within two working days.

Of their father!

People who swear and blaspheme the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who take God's holy Name in vain, cannot be trusted, and are not people who love truth or are truthful.  Why?  because everyone who speaks in these ways directs their verbal onslaughts against the God, against His Son Jesus Christ, Who is the Truth. Such people's word, or their oath, cannot be trusted. And no matter what they say is saturated with anti-truth sentiments.  They are given to exaggeration, sometimes wild and gross exaggeration, and to wild flights of fancy.  What they tell you must not be believed without independent corroboration.  These people are led astray themselves, and lead others astray.  Their immoral disposition precludes their being lovers of truth and honesty, however they might protest to the contrary.  Their habitual language reveals a character and disposition that causes them to be most self-righteous, seeing themselves as paragons of virtue.  In particular company, they are most plausible, but when their guard is down, you see them for what they really are.

Where does all this come from?  Well, they get it from "their father."  They exhibit their father's traits and characteristics, and there can be no doubting just who their father really is.  They send much time with him - because they do not spend time with Christ - and he feeds them their attitudes, what to say, ow to say it, and to whom.  He has them very well schooled indeed.

Who is their father?  Well, the Bible tells us that it is the devil himself. He is the "father of lies" and has been "a liar from the very beginning."  And when you listen to these people, many of whom are church people, church members, church office-bearers and youth leaders, you know very quickly whose family that belong to.  They are so true to their father that being unable to distinguish them from those who do not belong to their family just never arises.  They are totally consistent with their father's nature. 

You know, you can know for sure who your father is by observing the language you use when you speak. Do you curse, do you swear, do you blaspheme, do you take God's name in vain?  If you do, these are the family traits that mark you off as a member of the devil's family - he is your father.  When you pray, do you just throw in the Lord's Name as a kind of 'filler,' to give you time to think what next to say; oh, be very careful, for you are taking God's name in vain, you are blaspheming as you pray! 

Repent, turn to God in Christ, and seek His forgiveness immediately.  Turn to Him with your whole heart.  Confess your sins, and ask for pardon.  And do it now!

Denney Sermon 1911

In 1911, the greatly loved and respected Rev Prin. James Denney, DD, published a book of sermons entitled, The Way Everlasting, (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1911).  One of that collection was entitled Knowledge not mystery, the basis of religion (1911:26-37).  Basing his remarks of Deut.29:29, Denney said that “the secret things spoken of in this verse are in the first instance the destiny of the Jewish people.,” (p.26)   He preached about the law as being what God has revealed to His people, and through them to the world. 

He continues by making reference to “the fortune or destiny of the nations” being “always an interesting subject for speculation,” (27).  Mentioning such nations/empires as Babylon, Egypt, Tyre, Carthage, Rome, and Venice, as examples of the outworking of this great principle, Denney applies this to the UK of that time.  He says, “It verifies the word of God which speaks to us in this chapter; it shows us in a thousand ways that vice is the worm at the root of a nation’s strength, and that righteousness alone makes nations great.”  How true this is!  Proverbs teaches us that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” (14:34).  That vice is a worm at the root of every nation’s strength, is a given; but that this is recognised by the leaders of nations is not so well recognised.
Denney proceeds, “Often we meet with speculations on the future of our own country or of its contemporaries and rivals.  We are invited to see a greater Britain grow continually greater, until a federation of English-speaking peoples controls the affairs of the world, with a pleasing consciousness of having only obtained their due; or to see the worn-out British race, stripped of its ships, its colonies and its commerce, sinking to an inglorious end. These speculations are precisely what is meant here when we read, the secret things belong unto the Lord our God: as far as we concerned, the book of the future is sealed with seven seals.” 

However, as Deut.29:29 so clearly teaches, while we cannot tell the fortunes of the nation in advance, we are told on what it is they depend.  On obedience to God’s revealed will.  So when a nation, or society, or family or individual operates and lives in open or secret defiance of God’s revealed will in Scripture, it has nothing but the judgement of God to look forward to.  They knew what God required, but they said in their hearts that they knew better than God, and went and did their own thing.  They defied and rebelled against God. 

Is Britain still Great Britain?  Wherein does her greatness lie?  At one time it lay in her adherence to the Bible, the Word of God.  But dare anyone make that claim about Britain today?  Is Britain still a God-fearing, Bible-believing country?  Are her laws compliant with God’s revealed will in Scripture?  Are moral standards being upheld in our nation?  Are the norms of decency being enforced, or are they being flouted – with government approval?  Is it safe for our young people to walk the streets of our towns and cities, without fear of molestation or other form of attack?  Is our nation rigorous in its compliance with God’s Word?  Is there vice being exposed in today’s world?  Have the authorities taken steps to curb the practices of vice?  The answer is a decided NO.

The same applies to the church of Jesus Christ on earth.  Is the professing church religious in its adherence to the Word of God?  Is she more concerned about Confessional correctness than about obeying the Scriptures?  Does she take holiness within her bounds seriously?  Is righteousness so important to her that it is not only practiced but seen to be practiced?  Does she preach the Gospel faithfully?  Are the biblical requirements for church membership adhered to strictly?  Is she involved in all sorts of ‘cover-up’ of scandals in order to protect her own ‘blue-eyed boys’?  Does she seek and experience the power of God in her services?  Is God present by His Holy Spirit in a way that is unmistakable?  Is He present in power in the worship of the people?  Again, the monotonous answer must be NO.

What is the certain result of all this?  Disaster and ruin of what is essentially the church, and the preservation of what is the mere outward manifestation of organised religion.  The outworking of God’s “secret things” is happening even though we cannot always see it.  The worm of vice is working continually at the ‘strength’ of the nation, the church, the family, and the individual, but its work is hidden.  Only in time will the full fruits of its secret activity be seen; but then it will be too late. 

Are you feeding the worm of vice in your life?  Is the worm of vice active in your family, church and community?  Is it being fed with the wickedness it needs for survival?  Are you feeding it?  Do you know you are feeding it?  Are you even concerned?

Proverbs teaches us that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” (14:34).  Our nation is a reproach because it not only tolerates but facilitates open sin and wickedness.  She thinks she is great, but her greatness is fast disappearing.  Allow me to rephrase that same text and apply it thus:  “Righteousness exalts a church, but sin is a reproach to any congregation.”  Does true righteousness, not a false righteousness or a wicked self-righteousness, exalt your church, or has it to be said that the sinful practices and attitudes and beliefs that you cherish are making your church a reproach amongst the people of the world?
Or making it even more personal: “Righteousness exalts a people, but sin is a reproach to any individual.”  Is there a sense in which it can be said of you that you are being exalted because of the genuineness of your righteousness?  Or is the sad truth rather that you are despised and a reproach because of your sin?

These are searching questions, are they not?  So, consider your ways!

New HYMN for SONGS OF PRAISE Celebrations

Yes, for many, 'Songs of Praise' has provided a glimmer of spiritual cheer for fifty years.
However, no period has known a greater degree of religious decline and Christian apostasy.
No section of the professing Christian Church stands untarnished.
Ecumenism has led to an increase of papal-inspired authoritarianism and ritualism. Rome's priesthood is corrupted with paedophilia.
The Anglican Church has disintegrated through Liberalism, poisoned by feminism and homosexuality.
'Happy clappy' and 'charismanic' Evangelicalism has produced a superficial and trivial spirituality, perverted by fleshly worship styles and sentimental music.
Reformed Calvinists have produced much dead orthodoxy, hypercalvinism and antinomianism.
The following 'Hymn for Revival' is a humble contribution to this end [see attachment for tune]:


(Psalm 85; Habakkuk. 3: 2)
Llanllyfni DSM
(John Jones Talsarn, 1796-1857)
O GOD, exalt your name,
Revive your prostrate cause;
The honours of your Son proclaim
And vindicate His laws;
Our lethargy we mourn,
The unresponsive heart,
We long to taste the liberty
Your Spirit can impart.
                                   2 Reveal the sight of Him
                                    For whom we feebly strive;
                                    Our vision of your truth is dim,
                                    We scarcely seem alive;
                                    Our sins His heart have pained,
                                    Our shame we cannot hide,
                                    Are we the church, by blood redeemed,
                                    For whom the Saviour died?
                            3      Lord, come with sovereign power,
                                    Purge our hypocrisy,
                                    Come in this late, this needy hour
                                    And grant us sanctity;
                                    Oh banish from our minds
                                    Sin’s least suggestive thought,
                                    Fulfil the purpose of your wounds,
                                    Implant what you have wrought.
                                 4 Inspire our hearts to feel
                                    The truth we have declared;
                                    O God, the world has quenched our zeal,
                                    By fear we are ensnared;
                                    Free us from bondage, Lord,
                                    Revive your work once more,
                                    Then all the earth shall hear your word,
                                    All shall your grace adore!
Dr Alan C. Clifford

 (Used with the author's express and gracious permission)

Monday, 26 September 2011


The following things may be said to be marks of an evangelical.  I do not subscribe to the point of view which describes people as ‘evangelical Christians,’ because there is no other kind of Christian but an evangelical one.  The two terms are co-terminus.

An evangelical is concerned above all else to promote the glory of God in Christ.  What he believes, how he worships God, his life – these all seek to further God’s glory.

An evangelical is anxious to preserve the gospel of Christ for future generations.  This is the only message the world needs to hear, so it has to be preserved at all costs. 

An evangelical takes the lessons from history with great seriousness.  Ignorance of history probably accounts for more errors in the church than anything else. 

An evangelical is not only interested in preaching a positive message, but will also preach the great negatives of the biblical faith.  A battery with only one pole is quite useless to start your car; so a message that is only positive lacks the power it needs to effect anything for God’s glory or man’s good.  He is not afraid of the great negatives of the Bible, or that may be reasonably derived from its teaching.

An evangelical will neither add anything to Scripture, nor will he subtract anything from it.  He will not do this by avoiding in Scripture what does not fit in with his own prejudices.  Nor will he see himself primarily as a denominational man, but as an evangelical first and foremost.

He will be vigilant about the Gospel and about the various trends that come and go, and will not allow himself to be derailed by these fads and fashions.  As one of God’s watchmen, he will sound a clear alarm at the first approach of attack on our like precious faith.  Not only does he distrust reason as the final arbiter in disputes or in the formulation of doctrine, he uses his reason in his bid to come to terms with the teaching of the Bible.  He approaches his ministry in a scholarly manner, but he does not see scholarship as the ultimate authority in matters of religion and theology.  He applies his God-given intellect to think his way through the various offers that present themselves, usually in the name of scholarship, but he is not afraid of the scholars or their views. 

The true evangelical is the man who preaches the great salvific doctrines of the Bible with a passion that is contagious.  He knows the urgency of the times, and the uncertainty of another day of grace.  He shows his hearers their lost and helpless condition without Christ and urges them to trust in Christ alone for eternal salvation.  He emphasises the need for the new birth, and presses upon sinners the indispensability of the death of Christ for salvation. 

The evangelical, then, is different from other ‘theological’ people in that he, and he alone, takes biblical revelation with utmost seriousness.  It is he, and he alone, who seeks to bring glory to the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And it is he, and he alone, that is genuinely concerned about the salvation of the world.  Soli Deo Gloria


Some pointers as to what an evangelical is, is the concern of this post.  I have said frequently that this is the age in which defining anything is frowned upon, not only because even the experts are unable to find a definition of something that is inclusive enough to draw support from as wide a grouping as possible, but also because definition by default excludes whatever does not fit in with the definition.

The great fad today is to get as many people as possible on board for a particular cause, and have a broad a base as possible so that we can get the numbers, and then people will sit up and listen. But, this can only be done on the basis of arriving at the lowest common denominator to that particular target group. 

It is something like this that has happened to the precious term, ‘evangelical.’  I say ‘happened;’ that is not strictly correct.  This is something that has been ‘done’ to the term, ‘done’ by choice, by deliberation, as the outworking of a particular strategy, and fore a particular purpose.  That purpose is now clearly discernible, as can be seen in the professing evangelical churches.

What has happened in this: away back in the 19th century, certain German universities began peddling the idea of ‘higher criticism’ of the Bible.  This was really an attempt to de-God the Bible and to remove everything supernatural, the miraculous, and that which did not accord with human reason. Everything in the Bible had to have a reasonable explanation; it had to have a rational vindication, because clever, thinking people were no longer prepared to accept the old understanding of the miraculous stories which we were taught in Sunday School.  This ‘higher critical’ school of biblical studies was most successful, and many were swept away by it, and numerous ministers lost their faith altogether.

In English Baptist circles, the great preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, voiced his opposition the liberalism that spawned the ‘higher criticism’ school, and was rounded condemned by his evangelical colleagues - Spurgeon’s stand has proved to have been the correct one, and his denomination has suffered almost irreparable damage when it succumbed to theological liberalism.

Then, theological liberals began to latch on to the term, evangelical,’ and threw their weight in behind it.  In fact, the theology of German theologian, Karl Barth (1886-1968), who was the leader of a movement known as Neo-Orthodoxy, and presented what was thought to be a new evangelicalism.  The basis on which this flawed conclusion was reached was Barth’s trenchant criticism of theological liberalism.  Uncritical evangelicals, even within scholarly circles, were unable or unwilling to discern what was happening, and so gave this movement a warm welcome. 

So what this is saying to us is that an evangelical is someone who believes the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired, authoritative, inerrant and infallible Word of God.  It is the revelation of God to sinful mankind in written form.  This Word is to be obeyed and submitted to willingly and constantly.  It is the supreme and only authoritative standard for faith and practice in the church of Christ, all else being woefully inferior to that.

From this flows the fact of the virgin birth of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, His holy life, His atoning death for the sin of the world, His burial, His triumphant and bodily resurrection from the dead on the third day, and His ascension into heaven, where He sits at the Father’s right hand.  His return to this world to wind up history and to usher in the Final Judgement, of which He has been appointed Judge.  An evangelical believes that God has acted in history in Christ to redeem sinners to Himself, and that by faith in Christ alone may a man be saved.

An evangelical minister, then, believes and preaches the whole counsel of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and assesses everything else against this infallible standard.  He is a Gospel man through and through.  The Gospel not only gave him life, but is his very life.  It is the indispensible message of salvation that the entire world needs to hear and believe. 

These are some of the essentials that define an evangelical.  In fact, these are ‘essentials’ in any definition of an evangelical, others things being secondary.

Sunday, 25 September 2011


By Oswald J. Smyth, LL.D.             
The Great White Throne is set.   The Judge is seated.  Angels and archangels are in attendance.  All heaven assembles.  Unnumbered millions, in breathless wonder, survey the fearful scene.  With awe on every face, they wait.  Time’s final drama is to be enacted.  Nothing else matters now.  Everything of a secondary nature has been forgotten.  ‘Tis God Almighty’s Judgement day.
Presently, amid the awful silence, the Dead appear; sinners great and small, from every clime and race, sinners of the deepest dye; murderers, sorcerers, liars, thieves, idolaters, adulterers, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, blasphemers, Sabbath breakers, infidels, atheists, agnostics, and criminals of the blackest type, along with those who have neglected and  forgotten God.
From the world’s great battlefields where their dust has lain for hundreds of years, they come; from ocean depths where ships were sunk long centuries ago; from graveyards innumerable, long since forgotten, they come.  Oh, what a company!  And how they keep coming, millions upon millions of them, once the men and women of the earth – summoned to appear before the God whom they have ignored and despised, to render an account.  They glance this way and that, looking for a means of escape.  They call for the mountains to fall on them, and hide them from Him that sitteth upon the Throne.  But there is no escape, no help.  It is the day of their doom.
And the books are opened, the books filled with the record of their earthly lives.  Very sin is recorded, every transgression entered, every failure and neglected opportunity written down.  Deeds long since forgotten, vile things carefully hidden from the eye of man, all, yea, all are now revealed, and the universe listens to the awful revelation.  Aghast they stand, terror-stricken they wait; dumb they hear.  Finally, the Book of Life is brought.  “And whosoever was not found written in the book of Life was cast into the lake of fire,” (Rev.20:15).  It is not now a question of the depth of their sin; for all alike are guilty.  Only one enquiry, only one thought:
                                                                 “Is my name written there
                                                                 On the page white and fair,
                                                                 In the Book of Thy Kingdom –
                                                                 Is my name written there?”
In vain they search, in vain they scan its pages!  Their last chance is gone, their final hope extinguished.
                                                                 “And oh, what a weeping and wailing,
                                                                 As the lost were told of their fate;
                                                                 They cried for the rocks and the mountains,
                                                                 They prayed, but their prayer was too late.”
My friend, will you be there?  Are you still unsaved, and yet unmoved?  And if so, will you not be warned today, now, before it is forever too late?  Do you not know that you will be judged?  God’s Word is very plain.  It says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God,” (Rom.14:12).  No one else can appear in your place, nor will you be judged for the sins of another.  You must answer for yourself.  And unless you are saved, you will certainly be present.   
How will you be judged?  On the basis of your attitude towards Christ.  Not morality or religion, but relationship to God’s Son.  “He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God,” (John 3:18).  Only one question, therefore: “what did you do with Jesus Christ?”  “Well,” you reply, “I was a faithful church member, and lived a good life.”  That is not the issue.  Did you accept Jesus Christ as your saviour? That is the acid test.  “He that believeth shall not be damned.”
Who will be your Judge?  Jesus Christ Himself, the One who longs to be your Saviour.  Listen to the Word once more: “For the father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement unto the Son,” (John 5:22).
A criminal was about to be run over by a car when a man sprang out and saved him.  Later on he stood in the prisoner’s box, charged with a great crime.  The judge was the man who had saved him from the car.  The criminal appealed to him, expecting that he would do for him again what he had done before.  “That day,” explained the judge, “I was your Saviour; today I am your judge.”  And he was sentenced.
Some day – God grant it may be now – you will own Jesus Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings.  Will it be now or then?  Now of your own free will, or then by compulsion?  Will you have Him now as a Saviour, or then as a Judge?  It must be one or the other.  Which is it to be?  My friend, I bid you accept Him, and accept Him – NOW.]
This was taken from a Gospel tract written by Dr Oswald J. Smyth, and published by every Home Crusade, Northern Ireland.

21st Century Gospel Preaching

It is so very important that, in today’s anaemic church, a preacher is known as an evangelical.   It is the in thing to be especially in theologically mixed denominations.  The idea that these denominations are becoming more evangelical and that there are now more evangelicals in the ministry is a cause of great pride in these churches.  And if this were really the case, then the church on earth would be triumphant in its thanksgiving to God for calling such men into its ministry.

But while numerically this is the case in some denominations, the sad reality is that the churches in which they minister have seen no improvement in her spiritual life as a result.  It was very disturbing to hear a retired evangelical minister in one of the mainline denominations admit this to me in the Summer of 2011.  Many more evangelical ministers, but no improvement in church life!
Now if that does not beg an obvious question, I do not know what will!  Why does an increase in evangelicals into the ministry not make any difference?  Well, it is all down to what you believe an evangelical is!  Perhaps the reason is that the church today does not know what an evangelical is!  She can longer define an ‘evangelical’!
It is true that there is an intolerance to defining anything today.  The church has done what the world has propagated – or maybe the world is merely imitating what the church did from the mid 1800s – and that is, she has re-written biblical history and theology to fit in with the modern way of thinking; and this has been imbibed by those who call themselves evangelicals!  If ‘grace’ is something so wonderful, so sublime, so out of this world, that it defies definition, then don’t define it; and if someone else uses this term, the just accept it, asking no questions.  If ‘love’ is such a warm thing to talk about, then talk about it and don’t define it; then if someone else talks about ove, then just accept that he means the same by it as you do, and ask no questions.
If the Gospel is the most wonderful thing in the world, and if a man says he preaches the Gospel, and if his congregation thinks he preaches the Gospel, and if non-evangelicals, liberals, ecumenicals, use this precious term, then that’s good.  Just accept them as fellow-believers and ask no awkward or embarrassing questions.
So in preaching, especially if you are in a denomination that does not know the difference between truth and error, or who is a Christian and who is not, or even what a Christian is and is not, then proceed as if everyone who attends your church is a Christian, but throw in a few Gospel ideas just to keep the unthinking professing evangelicals on side. 
But don’t be too pointed in your preaching!  This could be very costly to you personally.  You don’t want your congregation to even suspect that you do not think some of them are Christians at all.  And you certainly do not want the church eldership to get the impression that you think this.  So keep your preaching very low-key, not too pointed, and no application.  You don’t want your members, who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ and who have been accepted as true Christians by the eldership, to start being converted, do you?  You don’t people to start being saved in your church because that will be to question and challenge the judgement of the elders.  And you can’t have that! 
In a future post, I will seek to delineate what it is that constitutes an evangelical, just so that there is not confusion about this precious term.

Why Do Evangelicals in Liberal Denominations Make No Difference?

What a question?  The very thought that evangelicals make no difference to the life of the church is preposterous.  That they are described as ‘salt’ and ‘light’ by our Lord is a fact.  But that they are not working as ‘salt’ and ‘light’ is also a fact.  The ‘salt’ has lost is savour, and has become useless; and the ‘light’ has been put ‘under a bushel’ therefore does not give light to anyone (Mt.5).  Saltless salt is not only useless, it is positively dangerous, because it prevents growth.  And if the light that is in you id darkness, how great is that darkness?
In today’s insipid church, there is abundant evidence around that this is exactly what has happened.  The preachers have no message – Bible studies, Bible explanations, Bible teaching, but no message.  If I were to ask you what the message was from the preacher you listened to today, could you give the main points of it?  Did it stir you to response?  Did it challenge you?  Did it hit you very deeply?  Has it changed the way you think about God, Christ, the Gospel, the Church, or has it left you ‘just as you are’?
I think it can be demonstrated that the church today is not proclaiming a ‘word from the Lord’ to its needy environment, the world.  Look at the state of the world in which she lives.  Every man does that which is right in his own eyes.  God is not speaking into today’s world, or even into His church.  There is no message!  There is no revelation.  There is no communication from God.  And the people are left not knowing how they ought to live and behave themselves.   Anything goes!  Do what you like!  Do what everyone else is doing!  Live for pleasure and enjoyment, and forget the consequences. 
Where there is no revelation, no word from God, what happens, what is the inevitable result?  The people cast off restraint.  They do whatever takes their fancy.  They are left rudderless in the storms of life.   They do not know where the spiritual ‘true north’ is to be found.
Even within the life of the modern church, the same may be discerned.  Anything goes within the church today.  There is precious little difference between the world and the church today.  Drop into any so-called evangelical church in the west today, and you will find it imitating the world in which it lives.  Look at the lifestyles of any evangelical, and you see that their Christian faith is just an add-on to an already busy life.  Even in the matter of dress, we see the same thing.  Listen to them pray, if they even do, and you will find that God is no, longer their fiend, but their pal!  And God is not anyone’s pal!  These people have degraded Him to the level of the guy you chum around with! 
No, evangelicals are not having any effect within their churches today, because the teaching of Matt.5 is being displayed for all to see.  There is no ‘salt’ or ‘light’ in the ministry.  Christians are not being ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in society, in the home, or at work.  That explains why they can hold down their jobs for decades – they are no threat to the world, not preserving what is good and disinfecting what is bad.  They are not shining the light of God’s truth and law into situations of corruption, not challenging bad language or filthy talk, not being Christ-like where He has placed them.
That’s part of the reason why evangelicals in today’s churches are having no impact for the Gospel or for good.  They need to examine, in the light of Judgement Day, what it is they are really doing. 

Where are the Preachers for this Hour?

That the churches today have got plenty of speakers is not in question.  Not a service passes every Sunday but there is a speaker mounting the pulpits of our land.  There  are loads of speakers; but is there ‘a word from the Lord’?
There are many preachers in the various churches, standing up to preach to the congregations that have called them. But what are they preaching?  Are they bringing a ‘word from the Lord’? 
Is there anyone out there who waits upon God?  Is anyone listening to God?  Is there a preacher today who is spending time with God, and attuning his heart to the mind and will of God?  No preacher can hope to receive a message from God who does not spend time listening to Him.  And where does God speak?  In the Scriptures.
Now, it is precisely here where the problem arises.  Ministers of the gospel seem to think that all they have to do is to conduct an exegesis of a passage, bring out the original meaning of the passage, and then share that with his people; he concludes that that is s sermon.  But it is anything but!  It might be a commentary on a few verses of text, but it is not yet a sermon.   A sermon is what a minister of the Word has when/after he has listened to God speaking to his own heart in the Scriptures, and which is then delivered to the congregation. 
Now, a sermon, a message from God to the people, is a dynamic thing; it is throbbing with spiritual life.  It is something that must first come to life in the heart of the preacher.   It first warms his heart.  It impacts on the preacher before it can impact on the congregation.  If it doesn’t, then all the preacher has to give is a (hopefully) well-constructed is the equivalent of ‘cold tea.’  It is therefore delivered without passion, without warmth, without feeling, and without conviction.  You just have to listen to a preacher to discover whether or not he has been with God and had spent time listening to Him.  How many sermons have you listened to that have left you utterly cold!  Too many, I presume. 
But only a minister who has been with God (see Ac.4:13) had any right or warrant to be with people.  Only a preacher who has first listened to what God has said to him through the Scriptures has any right to stand in a pulpit and speak to people.  And he is then under a divine compulsion to say what God has said to him, nothing more, and nothing less.  He must listen to God, and then, as His ambassador, bring His message to the people, no matter how uncomfortable that message might be.  He only can warm the hearts of the people who has first had his heart warmed at the fires of God’s love and grace.  And the only preacher who can speak with the authority of God is the one who has submitted himself to that authority in the Word.  
Today, we have a load of preachers who have no authority in their preaching or for their preaching.  Their sermons are not ‘cutting it’ in today’s decadent society and church.  They do not address the sins of the present age.  Corruption and compromise go on without challenge.  Loose living is tolerated, and hypocrisy is not confronted.  Church members can live without in the least sense of dedication to Christ and His Gospel.  Indeed, the calling to ‘dedication’ has been lost from the Christian vocabulary.  There is too much contentment with ‘shades of mediocrity.’ 
Yes, many ministers have more than one university degree, and some have two or more.  But what does that matter; how relevant is that achievement to the work of the minister.  I know of a minister who was interviewed recently for the post of Evangelist and his interviewers mentioned the number of degrees he possessed; the interviewee’s response was that these are irrelevant.   And they are! Degrees from the world’s institutions are no substitute for being ‘with Jesus.’  It is this that differentiates the man of the world from the man of God.  And it is this man who brings the Lord’s message to a lost and dying world.

Do Intelligent People Attend Church?

What a question to ask!  100 years ago in the UK, there was the idea that intelligent people did not believe the Christian faith.   Twentieth century people were much too well read and educated, too clever and intelligent, to be interested in an old religion.  They had no concern about what could not be seen or proven in a laboratory.  So, the argument went, intelligent people were just not religious.  The fact that this does not concur with the evidence, does not seem to bother those who are blinded by their own prejudice.
But today, despite the fact that many ministers possess several university degrees, there is an inability on their part to give their people anything that even smells of something adequate.  A friend of mine, in a conversation we had many years ago, said that even though many of our colleagues had two or more university degrees (including degrees in theology), he could not have the theological discussion that he and I could have. 

The feeling seems to be that secular education is depriving ministers of the wherewithal to produce sermons of excellence upon which to feed their people.  It used to be said that men who started off as good preachers were killed by degrees.  There just might be more than a grain of truth in this viewpoint.  A good education is essential to a serious ministry, but so often this is made a substitute for devotion to Christ and His Gospel

Just as consumers will not go back to an eating establishment that does not deliver good meals of appropriate standard, so Christian, or non-Christian, people are under no obligation to insult their intelligence by attending churches that cannot feed them.  Would you return for another meal in a poor restaurant?  Then don’t expect any intelligent person to attend a church where the ministry is woeful, to put it mildly.  And church officers must desist from their blind loyalty to a church that is starving them of ‘food convenient’ for their souls.  Too many are prepared to ‘hang in there’ for the sake of tradition, or worse, pride and the fear of losing face.