Saturday, 15 October 2011

Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963)
Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897–1963)
 Vocationally A.W. Tozer (1897–1963) served as pastor of Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Chicago and Toronto. In 1950 he became the editor of the Alliance Witness. Tozer understood the power of words. He took pains to put his thoughts into edifying statements that would strengthen the Body of Christ and bring more glory to God. Tozer stands out because he avoided both the fundamentalism and the anti-intellectualism so common among Christians of the 20th century. Tozer's preaching was fresh. From his studies he drew heavily from Christian mystics, early church fathers, and revivalists. A.W. Tozer was particularly impressed by John Wesley's self-description of being "a man of One Book, but a student of many." Tozer preached the gospel so plainly that it has been said he was invited to speak everywhere—once. He refused to stand at the church door to shake hands with the congregation after church because in his mind that was "glad handing" people and setting himself up to be flattered and thus self-deceived. Biographer Lyle Dorsett put it this way: "Tozer concerned himself with the depth of his ministry, and left the breadth of his ministry up to the Holy Spirit."

“The church must examine herself constantly to see if she be in the faith;
she must engage in severe self-criticism with a cheerful readiness to make amends;
she must live in a state of perpetual penitence, seeking God with her whole heart;
she must constantly check her life and conduct against the Holy Scriptures
and bring her life into line with the will of God.”
- A.W. Tozer
“Modern evangelicalism has surrendered to the world, excused it, explained it,
adopted it and imitated it. More young preachers imitate men in the world
with a good deal more energy than they imitate the holy saints of God.”
— A.W. Tozer
“Scholars can interpret the past; it takes prophets to interpret the present.”
— A.W. Tozer
“It is easy to learn the doctrine of personal revival and victorious living; it is quite another thing to take our cross and plod on to the dark and bitter hill of self-renunciation.”
— A.W. Tozer
 “I want nobody fooling me with unreality. I do not want anybody coming and fawning over me if he does not mean it. I do not want anybody to lie to me in the name of etiquette or ask me for a dime to support something I do not believe in. I do not want anybody to ask me to believe in a religion that I have to take on the basis of somebody's authority. If Jesus Christ cannot change me, if my Christianity is not real; if the problem I face is not a real problem; if it does not mean heaven, hell, death and the grave; then I do not want to be wasting my time with it at all.”
— A.W. Tozer
“To be called to follow Christ is a high honor, higher indeed than any honor [people] can bestow upon each other.”
— A.W. Tozer
The blight of the Church today is spiritual starvation. People are famishing on rationalism, socialism, sensationalism, on lifeless bonds and bank notes and unwholesome pleasures. "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?... eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness" (Isaiah 55:1,2)  Are you living on the bread of God or starving while in the Father's house there is bread to spare?
— A.W. Tozer
“Sin has obscenely scarred and defaced this world, taking away its harmony and symmetry and beauty. That is the negative picture. Thank God for the positive promise and prospect that heaven is the place of all loveliness, all harmony and beauty.”
— A.W. Tozer
“To speak to God on behalf of [people] is probably the highest service any of us can render. The next is to speak to [people] in the Name of God. Either is a privilege possible to us only through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — A.W. Tozer

 Tozer had strong convictions about the subject of worship as well as its corruption by what he referred to as "the Great God Entertainment." The excerpts in this book were carefully selected to give you a clear picture of his thoughts on both topics.
Worship: Unacceptable worship, spiritual concentration, the presence of God, the power of God, personal communion, adoration, hymns.
Entertainment: Evangelical heresy, propaganda, an outward shift, modern evangelism, religious activity, worldliness.
Also included are Tozer's sermon "The Act and Object of Worship: in its entirety as well as his controversial essay, "The Menace of the Religious Movie," written in the mid 1950s.

Courage Under The Cross in Troubled Times

Rev. Dr J. E. Hazlett Lynch
This book is being offered to the Christian reading public as a ministry of encouragement, especially for those who are finding the going tough at present; it is also for those known to you who are being opposed and persecuted for righteousness' sake.  It is not only Gospel ministers and preachers who experience the onslaughts of the world, the flesh and the devil; every Christian knows this in their lives.

So if you want to be better informed about this matter, and encouraged in your daily warfare as a Christian soldier, then this book is for you.  In it, you will read about Trouble Working For Us, That Thorn in the Flesh, Strength Renewed, Looking Unto Jesus, etc.

The teaching here is biblically-based, is practical, easily understood, and most encouraging.

For your convenience, I have added a PayPal button to this site.  PayPal, as you know, is fast, easy, safe and extremely highly recommended in industry, and one in whom you can have great confidence.  So, to get your copy of this excellent little book, price £5.00, click the BUY NOW button, and you will be taken to the official Paypal site.  Complete your credit or debit card details, and the book will be sent to you almost immediately.  If you already have a PayPal account,the purchase procedure is much easier.


The Need For Humiliation in Gospel Ministers
Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
"We cannot seek God's blessing unless we humble ourselves before Him because of our past failures.  We will not be motivated for change unless we grieve in spirit.  If we are not humbled, how can we expect out people to be humbled?  Can we soften their heart while ours remain hard?  Some think their only duty is to preach while it is their people's duty to repent.  But, in Scripture, leader such as Daniel and Ezra sorrowfully confessed their own sins as well as the people's. Can we read Paul's message to the Ephesian elders without being deeply humbled?  I am sure that you all believe that sorrow for sin and and confession are necessary to maintain fellowship with God.  However, knowing what to do is not enough.  Our affections and wills must also play their part.  We must confess our sins before God who is 'faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us.'  I include myself since I am aware of so many sins I cannot pretend to be innocent before God."

These stirring words taken from Baxter's The Reformed Pastor are a massive and painful rebuke to all ministers, for not one of them can escape slothfulness in their spiritual exercises.  We are not spared from the devilish attacks that other men know; on the contrary, ministers know an even greater sense of being 'known to the devil' than any other man.  And one of his greatest ploys is to get us to imagine (wrongly) that we are always right, while our people are always wrong; and that they must humble themselves and repent, but not us!   How foolish the shepherds of God's flock are when they entertain such unseemly notions.

The Holy Scriptures are full of teaching apn the need for humble leaders of God's people, as even a cursory reading will reveal. David and Ezra, Moses and Joseph, Jeremiah and Amos, to name a few, would teach us the importance of not following our own ideas but humbling ourselves and following God's revealed will in the Bible

How can God bless a people when their leaders exhibit such attitudes!  We all need to be humbled before the Lord, so that in due time he nay lift us up.  The way up is always first of all the way down.  This is a lesson that we all need to learn very urgently.  May we learn it well.

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Amryaldian Macleod

In his excellent book, From Glory to Golgotha, (Christian Focus Publications, Ross-shire, 2002), Prof Donald Macleod unashamedly presents authentic Calvinism when he writes about the atonement.  In his other writings, a similar practice can be discerned, as in his A Faith To Live By.  He moves effortlessly from saying that Christ 'offers the world redemption' to 'what His death would mean to His people,' and His mind being 'preoccupied with love for his own.'  Macleod fully accepts that reformed believers and preachers can say with confidence that "Christ died for you," that "He died for sinners," affirming, since all are sinners, He, in that sense, died for all. 

The following quotations reveal what the author thinks about this central Gospel doctrine.  

"He has disclosed what he has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor.2:9-10), the mystery of his decision to exercise clemency and show pity to a lost race."  (59).  (Emphasis his).

"He is himself the cure:  Come unto Me.  As he understands himself he can offer rest to the whole world - to every man, woman and child.  Fully conscious of the magnitude of the problem and visibly so frail and vulnerable, he offers the world redemption from its tyrannies and deliverance from its neuroses."  (61).   (Emphasis his.)

I have no doubt that as Donald Macleod's writings are examined, it will be discovered that he holds to the reformed principle that the death of Christ is "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect."  This paradigm makes best sense of the antinomies of the Gospel.  There are very many universalistic texts about the design of the atonement in the Scriptures, and there are texts that state that Christ died for His people, His sheep.  Macleod strikes the proper balance in these books; may all reformed preachers 'go and do likewise.'

Church Minister in Same-Sex Partnership

THE female minister of a rural Scottish church has shocked her congregation by 'marrying' another woman.

The Rev Eleanor Muir told parishioners on Sunday morning that she had entered into a civil partnership.

But while admitting that same sex-relationships in the Kirk are 'topical' - the issue of gay clergy threatens to cause a schism in the Church of Scotland - she will not talk about her relationship.  'It is a private matter and I don't have anything to say at this stage,' she said. 'The congregation have " been enormously supportive.'

Miss Muir is minister of St Bean's church at Fowlis Wester, Perthshire, which dates back seven centuries, and previously worked on the Isle of Barra.

She came to Fowlis Wester, six miles west of Crieff, just over two years ago. It was widely known that she lived in the manse with another woman, though some locals said they assumed the couple were friends.

Perth and Kinross Conservative councillor Ann Cowan, who lives across the "road from the kirk in Fowlis Wester and was recently married by Miss Muir, said: 'I am personally very understanding of her situation. It is causing debate, but I am not going to condemn her.'
SOURCE:  Scottish Daily Mail, 13th Oct 2011.
The moral decline within the established church in Scotland, being presbyterian in government and the sister church of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), is progressing at breath-taking speed.  This moral decline can be linked to the theological and spiritual decline within that denomination for many decades. 
For the church of Scotland, or indeed any church, to accept as normal what Scripture clearly condemns, ought to come as no surprise to any biblically knowledgeable Christian.  Paul teaches in Rom.1:18 that godlessness is the source of all unrighteousness, and where unrighteousness is not only tolerated but accepted as biblical, the only conclusion is that godlessness has pervaded the church.  The Church of Ireland (Anglican, or Hibernian)  has already accepted a civil partnership amongst its clergy, and the Presbyterian church in Ireland may not be too far away from a similar policy/practice.

The point is that where theological liberalism is the doorway through which most, if not all, perversions enter the church, and reformed evangelicals within those churches that are accepting of theological liberalism, need not pretend surprise at recent developments.  One  senior PCI minister told me that his church will not accept same-sex marriages within the clergy, but I'm not so sure about that, and for this reason.  Where theological liberalism is accepted as a valid expression of biblical religion, and given the spinelessness of reformed evangelicals within that church to do the right thing (they are adept at turning against their fellow evangelicals when the situation arises), it does not have the moral, spiritual or theological conviction to expose, oppose and remove such aberrations from the church's life.  

Further, the press report states that "the issue of gay clergy threatens to cause a schism in the Church of Scotland," a most unlikely outcome.  Senior reformed evangelicals within that church hold the view that even if the C of S were to join with the Roman catholic church, they would not leave 'the Kirk.'  So we are right back to the old situation where the denomination takes priority over the Gospel.  This church, and all churches that accept the validity of theological liberalism, are in exactly the same boat. They are like the frog that is placed in a saucepan filled with cold water which is then put on to boil, and the poor old frog becomes increasingly accustomed to the rise in temperature that it stays there until it is boiled to death.  In no way would it jump into a pot of boiling water.

Similarly, ministers and members alike who are comfortable within unfaithful churches, are prepared to stay in them, regardless of how those churches deny the truth of the Gospel.  They profess that the supreme standard of the church is the Holy Scriptures but in reality, the supreme standard is their church's code, or law book.  There is a tremendous departure from the truth of the Gospel in all these churches, and there are also vested and personal interests that exercise a vice-grip hold over men in the ministry.   

Commentators on the Church of Ireland's challenges over same-sex marriages is another case in point, and talk of a schism is also around.  But this will not happen either, because the denomination has such a hold over these men's consciences that they would see it as schismatic to leave 'mother church.'

Church authorities maintain their silence on such matters, thus demonstrating their indifference to the denial of the Gospel. 

But it is not being schismatic to leave what has proved itself to be a church in apostacy, and to join with what is a truer manifestation of the church on earth.  Of course, the big question is, Which one?


Please feel free to read the posts which highlight the books on the reformed faith.  I recommend these to your attention, having read all of them.  They are thorough, scholarly yet eminently readable, informative and challenging.  These will repay rich dividends as they focus your attention on those matters which are revealed in the Word of God.  They deal also with historical events and personalities, men who were instrumental in bringing the Word of God to the attention of the masses.

When ordering any of these books, make sure that you add the product code.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Christ for the World

Affirming Amyraldianism
Amyraldian Association Conference Report

Edited by Alan C. Clifford


173 pp   £9.95 (plus £1.50p p&p)   ISBN 978-0-9555165-0-4

Available from:
Charenton Reformed Publishing
8 Le Strange Close
Tel:  01603-452387 or 01953-453803
Please quote this code when ordering: TRF.HL.CFTW 


The following papers from the 2006 Conference explore different aspects of Amyraldian theology.  Placed before his largely-biographical account of Amyraut, it was considered appropriate and helpful to include Dr Clifford’s 2005 expository paper, ‘The Case for Amyraldianism’. 

Concerning the conference theme, the title may be read in two ways.  First, ‘Christ for the World’ means that our Lord Jesus Christ, and no other, can bring salvation to a desperately-needy world.  Second, ‘Christ for the World’ stresses the truth behind the ‘Great Commission’ (Matt. 28: 18-20).  While not everyone will respond to the Gospel, Christ commands us to proclaim it to everyone.  Such is the middle-ground between two false views (an absolute universalism which asserts that all will be saved at last; and a fatalistic hypercalvinism which insists that since believers chosen in Christ will be saved, then no general Gospel offer is required).

Without questioning Christ’s triumphant purpose in saving His elect people (Matt. 22: 14), John Calvin never lost sight of God’s universal compassion.  Unlike many who claim to share Calvin’s understanding, the great Reformer had a large vision.  The ‘limited love’ exegesis of John Owen’s Death of Death had no prototype in Calvin’s theology.  An evangelist at heart, the Reformer stated that ‘We ought to pray that this and that and every man may be saved and so embrace the whole human race’ (Comment on John 17: 9).  Such a vision found full expression in the Genevan Liturgy:

‘ … Moreover, we offer up our prayers unto Thee, O most Gracious God and most merciful Father, for all men in general, that as Thou art pleased to be acknowledged the Saviour of the whole human race by the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ Thy Son, so those who are still strangers to the knowledge of him, and immersed in darkness, and held captive by ignorance and error, may, by Thy Holy Spirit shining upon them, and by Thy gospel sounding in their ears, be brought back to the right way of salvation, which consists in knowing Thee the true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent…’ (Forms of Prayer for the Church).

Since the French Huguenot pastor and theologian Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664) faithfully perpetuated Calvin’s biblical view, the conference explored his teaching and its relevance for us today.  Our understanding was further enriched by considering the eloquent ministries of the English Puritan Richard Baxter (1615-91) and the French Huguenot Jean Daillé (1594-1670).  The conference covered issues vital to effective Christian witness in the 21st century.

We wish to express our warmest thanks to Dr Digby James of Quinta Press for his kind assistance in this publication.  Thanks are further expressed to Abby Fox for proof reading, and also to David Fox for his presentation of the Norwich Reformed Church logo, and for making MP3s available on the church website (  Besides his own extensive contribution (time constraints only permitted the delivery of half of his paper on the day), we are grateful to David Llewellyn Jenkins for supplying a photograph of the North door of the former French Church [St Mary-the-Less], Norwich.  Walloon and Huguenot refugees and their descendants worshipped here until 1832.  The ‘1637’ design is highly significant, this being the year of Amyraut’s heresy trial at the National Synod of Alençon.

Calvin Celebrated.

The Genevan Reformer
and His Huguenot Sons

A Contribution to the
John Calvin Quincentenary

Alan C. Clifford

Charenton Reformed Publishing

Pbk     168 pages   Price: £9.95 (£11.00 íncluding p&p)

Published in Great Britain 2009
Charenton Reformed Publishing
8 Le Strange Close, Norwich  NR2 3PN
Please quote this code when ordering: TRF.HL.CELEB 

ISBN 978-0-9555165-3-5


 Norwich Reformed Church or Charenton Reformed Publishing
or the author: CliffordNRC@ (tel: 01953-453803)

From the Introduction

Born at Noyon in Picardy, John Calvin (1509-64) is generally regarded as the most eminent of the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century. Exiled from his native France, he became a pastor of the Church of Geneva and the organizing genius of the Protestant Reformation. While his Christ-exalting influence as a theologian, preacher and commentator became--and remains--truly international, Calvin’s labours were particularly fruitful in France. His spirituality also found expression in the Confession of Faith and presbyterian Discipline of the French Reformed churches drawn up at the first National Synod held at Paris in 1559. Through the zealous evangelistic labours of pastors trained in Geneva, around 2,000 churches had been founded by 1560. Yet Huguenot piety was to be constantly tested through nearly three centuries of fierce persecution including the terrible St Bartholomew massacre of August 24, 1572. Cruelly harassed by the Roman Church, the noble army of French Reformed martyrs never failed to demonstrate the grace, electing love and faithfulness of the living God. Thus John Calvin’s Bible-based, God-honouring legacy was constantly vindicated in the most inspiring epic of faith and fortitude ever known.

In the reign of Henri IV, the Edict of Nantes (1598) provided a fragile and frequently violated peace. Directed by the Jesuits, the Roman Church pursued a policy of cruel extermination. This tolerant Edict was finally revoked by the despotic Louis XIV in 1685. Huguenot temples were demolished and the flocks were scattered. The faithful worshipped in woods and caves and other remote places; their assemblies were known as the ‘churches of the desert’. Those captured by the dragoons were punished. Pastors, elders and others were either hanged or sent to the galleys. The women were sent to prison and the children re-educated in Jesuit schools. Many emigrated to Holland, Germany, Great Britain and elsewhere. The frustrations and sufferings of those who remained led to the tragic Camisard war of 1702-9. But God did not forsake his covenant people. Under the inspired leadership of Antoine Court (1696-1760) and Paul Rabaut (1718-94), there was an amazing revival of the Reformed churches, beginning in the remote southern province of Languedoc.

The persecutions gradually eased. The last Huguenot galley slaves were released in 1775. At last, with public opinion beginning to change, the Edict of Toleration was granted in 1787 on the eve of the French Revolution. The diabolical tyranny of the Vatican-backed French monarchs received its just reward in the terror and bloodshed of the revolution (1789). It was a miracle that French Protestantism ever survived. Yet, in the midst of indescribable suffering, the testimony of the Huguenot pastors and people alike was unshaken. In their faithful witness to our Lord Jesus Christ, the assurance of the psalmist was theirs too: ‘Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation... O God, You are terrible out of Your holy places: the God of Israel is he that gives strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God’ (Psalm 68: 19, 35).                

While Calvin’s life and achievements are well known, the events and personalities of the French Reformation are mostly unknown, at least to the general Christian public. This is unfortunate since Calvin’s influence on later generations of French Protestants is a truly fascinating and inspiring story. In addition to the main chapter on Calvin, the outlines of five eminent Huguenot pastors - not to ignore a little-known ‘English son’ - are presented to raise the profile of these and other servants of Christ whose dedicated labours for the Gospel deserve to be better known. In days of unparallelled apostasy and confusion within the professing Church, these Huguenot heroes challenge us to greater faithfulness and dedication to the cause of Christ. If this quincentenary celebration contributes to that end then the author’s enthusiasm for his subject will have been justified.


Amyraut Affirmed

‘Owenism, a caricature of Calvinism’

A reply to Ian Hamilton’s

Amyraldianism -
is it modified Calvinism?

Alan C. Clifford


64 pp   £3.50 (plus 70p p&p)     ISBN 0 9526716 7 0

Available from:
Charenton Reformed Publishing
8 Le Strange Close
Tel:  01603-452387 or 01953-453803
Please quote this code when ordering: TRF.HL.AA 

An influential theologian of the French Reformed Church, Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664), was Professor of Theology at the Reformed Academy of Saumur.  His claim to fame (or infamy, depending on one’s point of view) arises from his distinctive theological stance.  Convinced that orthodox Calvinism had distorted the original Bible-based teaching of John Calvin, Amyraut’s criticisms aroused intense hostility.  Tried for heresy and acquitted, opposition continued throughout France and elsewhere.  Within Reformed and Presbyterian circles, the theology known as ‘Amyraldianism’ has aroused strong dissent ever since.  This booklet is a reply to a recent critique of Amyraut’s controversial views.  The author demonstrates that far from being alien to Calvinism, Amyraldianism may be seen as an authentic expression of John Calvin’s misunderstood teaching.  The author thus maintains that the ultra-orthodox theology of John Owen and the Westminster Confession of Faith demands a radical reassessment and revision.

Dr Clifford is currently the Pastor of Norwich Reformed Church, England

Calvinus - Authentic Calvinism Clarified

Below, as promised, are details of the first of the reformed books that are being offered for your instruction and attention.   

This book, written by Rev. Dr Alan C Clifford, minister of Norwich Reformed Church, sets out, in unambiguous terms, the teaching of the great Genevan reformed, John Calvin (1509-1564), regarding the extent of the atonement, surely the central doctrine of the Christian reformed faith, the Gospel 
Allowing the trusted and respected reformer to 'speak for himself,' Dr Clifford extracts those statements from Calvin's Institutes, his commentaries, his sermons, and others of his writings, to demonstrate what he believed and preached, about the atonement.

This book is highly recommended to my readership, and will repay careful study; all references can be checked by consulting Calvin's own writings.  

Ministers of the reformed churches are especially encouraged to buy and read this dynamic book, and to take the biblical teaching of Calvin on board, especially when preaching evangelistically. Christians who wish to be informed about the reformer's beliefs about the atonement are also urged to buy and read this book.  

The discoveries demonstrated in the book will liberate preachers from the bondage of men, and give added power to their evangelism.  If you really want to see the world won for Christ, this is the book that will drive you in that direction.


Authentic Calvinism
A Clarification

Alan C. Clifford

This book explores the hotly debated question: did John Calvin teach limited atonement?  Selected extracts from his writings allow the sixteenth-century Genevan reformer to speak for himself on this and closely related subjects such as the free offer of the gospel, the breadth of God’s love and the availability of grace.  The reader is then able to decide whether Amyraldianism is a deviant theology or - as the seventeenth-century French theologian Moïse Amyraut claimed - a reaffirmation of authentic Calvinism.  First published over a decade ago, this second edition evaluates more recent scholarship.  The highly controversial issues in question continue to command the attention of theologians and others involved in regular pastoral ministry.  Clearly, such matters still await a valid verdict.  It is the author’s view that the authentic biblical legacy of John Calvin challenges the ‘confessional correctness’ of Westminster Confession ‘Owenite’ orthodoxy.

Dr Clifford is currently pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church, England

When ordering this product, lease quote TRF.HL.CAL
 ISBN  978-0-9555165-1-1            64pp               £4. 95  (P&P extra).


Preface to the First Edition                                  

Preface to the Second Edition                                 


Notes to the Introduction                                    

The Sources

Extracts from John Calvin's Writings                         

Appendix I:   Critique of Roger Nicole                        

Appendix II:  Critique of Jonathan Rainbow                   

Appendix III: Critique of lain Murray                        


Summary Statement                                            

Review Extracts                                              

Summary Statement


It should now be clear that the traditional two-cornered contest between Calvinism and Arminianism is an inadequate portrayal of the issues.  Not only should Amyraldianism be seen as a ‘referee’; it also qualifies as the most persuasive challenger in a three-cornered contest.  To make matters even clearer, the so-called Calvinist (or really High Calvinist) contender should really be named ‘Owenism’.  Accordingly we may conclude that ‘Owenites’ face awkward questions. 

First, if a universal gospel offer is to be made, what precisely is on offer if not a universally-available redemption? 

Second, if Christ died only for the elect, does it not become necessary for enquirers to discover their election before they come to Christ? 

Third, what are the non-elect guilty of rejecting if nothing was ever offered to them?

The Amyraldian or Authentic Calvinist position possesses five advantages: 

First, it provides an object lesson on how to avoid extreme reductionist hermeneutics.  Theory is ever to be the servant, not the master, of the textual data. 

Second, it enables us to accept plain statements of Scripture as they are without forcing them into a theological mould, e. g. ’world’ = ’the world of the elect’ (as Owen maintains).  How can Owenites criticise Roman Catholics and the cults for tampering with the text when they do likewise? 

Third, in keeping with God’s plain declarations, it proclaims a universal compassion for the world without unwarranted restrictions.  Thus the Owenite tendency to produce clinically-clear heads and callously-cramped hearts is reduced.  Sadly, not all Owenites are like Whitefield and Spurgeon whose compassion arguably exceeded their creed. 

Fourth, it is, in the best biblical sense, conciliatory.  As has been noted, Ralph Wardlaw considered that High Calvinism provided too easy an excuse for the Arminians to reject true Calvinism. 

Fifth, without prying into the profundities and complexities of God’s inscrutable sovereign purposes, it enables us to pursue an uninhibited mission of mercy to a lost world.  We leave the results to God.  While faith is evidence of election, present unbelief is not necessarily proof of non-election.  There is always hope for everyone we proclaim Christ to.

First Edition Review Extracts

This book reflects the author’s conclusions about Calvinism through his doctoral studies.  He explores the hotly-debated issue of whether Calvin taught limited atonement.  In the light of this, he examines the validity of interpretations of Calvinism made by subsequent theologians, particularly that of the French pastor Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664). ... After the introduction comes the focal point of the book: a selection of 90 extracts from the writings of John Calvin, directly expounding his views on the extent of the atonement.  It is wonderful to have set before you a collection of quotations from Calvin’s writings on this subject, which allow the reformer to speak for himself.  This whole section is written without comment, leaving the reader to decide where Calvin really stood. ... Whatever one’s opinions about ‘authentic Calvinism’, one would have to admit that Dr Clifford writes authoritatively and convincingly on a subject with which he is thoroughly acquainted and has extensively researched. ... [The] content is thought-provoking and stimulating, and challenging reading, especially for all who claim to be ‘authentic’ Calvinists!
KATHY CHILDRESS, Evangelicals Now

According to God’s revealed will or intention the death of Christ is universal in its scope, but conditional upon the human response; according to his secret will or decree it is restricted in its scope but absolute and unconditional.  Thus Calvin affirms both a conditional salvation made available to all and an efficacious, unconditional salvation given to the elect alone.  It is this antinomy the author claims, rightly in my view, that makes sense of the diverse statements that Calvin makes on the subject. ... The debate about Calvin’s teaching on the intent of the atonement looks set to run and run.  Those who in future turn their minds to it will not be able to ignore this volume and will especially be grateful for the opportunity to review the wide range of Calvin material which is gathered together in the core of the book.
TONY LANE, Evangelical Quarterly

The great value of the book is the way in which the overall argument is related to Calvin’s writings. ... Some authors give only sections of what Calvin wrote, some are historically selective, others give only one emphasis and leave the drift of the whole for the reader to search out.  The author has done a fine job in rectifying that problem by presenting his arguments holistically. ... It must be said, and it is inevitably so, that the arguments are often subtle, all are closely argued, and at times, some can be philosophically quite sophisticated. ... However, despite the nature of the discussion, and the enormous literature generated, this book is a model of clarity and perspicacious argumentation.  It is demanding, by its nature, but careful and diligent reading will give even the near novice a fine introduction to the whole issue.  It is a valuable work in the continuing debate.  Whether or not it will fulfil the author’s wish that these issues ‘will now be settled once and for all’ remains to be seen, but it will deserve a serious reply from opponents.  If Dr Kendall set the cat amongst the pigeons then Dr Clifford continues to rattle the reformed cage.  Let the reader read and discern.
JOHN F. DUNN, English Churchman

Dr Clifford’s scholarship is undoubtedly detailed, but his hope of settling the controversies in this volume presumably depends on the assumption that readers will have perused his more detailed study on Atonement and Justification. ... Note: 1996 is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Moïse Amyraut, whose authentic Calvinist credentials Clifford is anxious to reassert in this piece.

This is an unusual book but it debates an all-too-familiar field. ... Clifford’s claim that Calvin makes universal-sounding statements too strong to reconcile with Owen’s approach seems formidable.  Equally it suggests that whilst Calvin’s work predates the classical differences between parties in the Reformed tradition, the subject was not quite as alien to the great Reformer as we might think. A surprising side benefit of the study also shows that Calvin was a missionary at heart and advocated personal evangelism. ... The author supplies a spirited introduction defending Amyraut and his successors, who challenged the seventeenth-century Calvinist ‘high orthodoxy’ with its belief in limited atonement.  It is some time since Amyraut found an advocate, but the case presented here is more than worthy of such a distinguished figure.  The argument will certainly rumble on yet, but all parties will have to take account of this little but forceful book.
ROY KEARSLEY, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

God's Work.

Because Gospel work is God's work, we must "not despise the day of small things."  We started off as infinitesimally small cells, and by the blessing of Almighty God, we have not only become adults, but Christian adults.  This is just how God works!  So rejoice in His wonderful grace and provision.  Gospel work is brought before the Throne of grace at least once every day, and sometimes twice, seeking His Spirit's outpouring on Gospel work, and because He has commissioned the proclamation of the Gospel, HE WILL BLESS IT.  What were Augustine's wise words?  "Give what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt."  

Remember also, for your encouragement, William Carey's wise words, "God's work done in God's way will never lack the resources."  Only be sure that it is God's work you are doing, and that it is being done in His way.  Then we can expect the blessing of Heaven to fall upon it.  God's work is Gospel work!

We are committed to prayerfully supporting Gospel work, have contracted to pray for it constantly, and we expect God to answer our prayers.  And that's great!  The problem for us is that He always answers our prayers IN HIS OWN WAY AND IN HIS OWN TIME!  As Jesus told His disciples, "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons set by My Father."  And that often puzzles us. It is in times like that that we must hold on all the more to His faithfulness.  GOD IS GOOD.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Humbled by the Presence of God.

How glibly we all talk about the Lord's presence in our church services.  We seem to imagine that the existence of quietness is, in itself, a sign of God's presence in the service; and it might well be.  We think that when people weep as they listen to the preaching of the Word, that that is a sign of God's presence; and that is probably true, too.

But the one thing that is manifestly missing from many of our church services is this: Christians and unbelievers alike are not be humbled by the Lord's presence; and if this is not happening, is He really there?  Are we opting for the easy answer or easy explanation for the 'stillness' and claiming that God's presence produced it, when no one present is broken by their sin and guilt?

Of course, there is such a spirituality as hardness of heart.  This can explain why we are not seeing the visible manifestations of God's presence with His redeemed people when they worship Him.  I confess that while there have been times when I felt that God was very near, this did not humble me in the dust.  Is my heart so icy hard that the very presence of Almighty God cannot melt it?  I shudder at the very thought!

Perhaps this is why the Christian (evangelical and reformed) church is so unspiritual and so insensitive to the presence of the risen Lord in our services.  Our hearts can no longer feel that God is near.  We are living so far from Him that we do not really recognise His presence with us. 

Let us pray God that he will have mercy upon us, and that, by His Spirit, He will melt our hardened hearts and bring them again under His sovereign sway.  If we need anything today in the Church, it is to be humbled by the presence of the Lord.

Macleod's Amyraldianism!

Reading the stimulating books of Rev. Prof. Donald Macleod of Edinburgh is always a delight.  His knowledge of theology is unsurpassed, and his ability to put it across simply is admirable.  Amongst the great truths he teaches is to be included his understanding of the atonement, which varies between being distinctly Westminster and being truly Calvinistic.

In an earlier posting, I had included some wonderful quotations from Macleod on this central article of the faith, and of the Bible, and have since come across three others from his excellent book, A Faith to Live By.  These complete my extractions from that book, and are as follows:

"God ... doesn't want anyone to perish.  He wants all men to be saved."  (283).

"But surely the most important fact about hell is that none of us need ever experience it.  All the persons of the Trinity are seeking your salvation.  
Let me make it as personal as I can.  They are seeking your salvation.  God the Father gave His own Son.  God the Son laid down His life.  God the Holy Spirit loves us.  How then can we go to hell?  Not when there is such love in God!  Not when there is such salvation in Christ!  Not when all the persons of the Trinity are seeking your salvation!  That will be the most terrible thing of all: the moment when God calmly asks, 'Did you hear of my love?  Did anyone ever tell you that I sought your salvation?  Did anyone ever tell you that My Son and My Spirit also sought your salvation?  Did anyone ever tell you how I gave My Son to be your Saviour?  Did anyone ever tell you how it would pain and grieve Me to condemn you?  Did no one warn you not to put Me to that grief and pain?'
What will your answer be?"  (287).  

"Never forget ... that Christians are first and foremost bearers of good news.  They are evangelists.  'Go,' said Jesus, 'preach the gospel to every creature' (Mk16:15).  Tell every man, 'I have good news for you.'"  (288).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Spirituality and Enlightenment

I have set up another website that may be seen as a sister site to this one, called Spirituality and Enlightenment, and I would encourage you to visit this site. It can be accessed at

God Gives The Increase.

In the work of evangelism, God's people are fired with the expectation of great things happening; and that's as it should be!  We go into this work expecting God to move by His Spirit in the hearts of poor lost souls.  This is what we pray for, long for, and hope for.  Our trust is in the Lord of hosts.  The love in our hearts for the lost drives us to go out and tell them the Gospel message. Remember, Jesus told His disciples to GO into all the world and preach the Gospel, and one possible reason for this command is because unregenerate sinners will not come to where the Gospel is preached, unless God draws them.  We want to see the Kingdom of God increase numerically and within the hearts of the Lord's people.  But we are often more likely to see the latter, and not the former.

It is disappointing, after weeks of dedicated labour and effort, that no new people come to the Gospel services. However, given the spiritual lethargy that is deeply embedded in our society and culture, this is no great surprise.

But the outreach with the Gospel is not within its results.  Church members are more deeply united than ever before - that's a great spiritual benefit.  The presence of the true Christian Church in the city is better known now than ever - and that's a benefit.  Citizens now know and have met with God's people, and who knows what will come of that meeting!  The spirit of prayerfulness amongst the people is also deepened in their spiritual lives - another great benefit.  The Gospel is being 'preached' by word and letter to people who wouldn't have heard it otherwise - that's evangelism.  Christian members as well as the ministers have the  opportunity to witness in ways that mark an advance for many of them - a benefit.  

I know how disappointing church evangelism can be - I've been there and done it!  But community outreach does something to church members - it edifies and encourages them.  Keep thinking about the real successes you've had already, and encourage your people to look for opportunities for further evangelistic work.  There will be some people who have met a real Christian, perhaps for the first time in their lives, who might well contact you in the days to come.  You have sown the seed of the Gospel - and this seed will grow and produce fruit - and that fruit might just be within your church initially, but not exclusively.  Next year, that seed has to be sown again - following the example and practice of the farmer.  Keep on sowing, and the harvest will come.  It must!  Remember, Paul was proud of the Gospel, why?  Because it "is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes"  (Rom.1:16).  Never forget that! You are handling divine energy!  These were not the pitiable words of a preacher - they were the very words of God, and they are filled with punch, power, and spiritual dynamite.  Keep at it.  Persevere always.  Reaping always follows sowing.  Harvest always follows planting.  

The work of the Gospel is still very much in our prayers, and will continue to be.  Don't let the devil have a hayday with you.  Renounce him in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. You are a bigger man than that because you serve the Almighty God of heaven and earth, and His Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.  He's your God and Saviour, and remember what Calvin said - GOD MUST WIN.  

Remember also - the first week of your Gospel 'mission' may not always deliver the results you would like to see. You have to be persistent.  Keep knocking the doors.  Mobilise your members to keep on keeping on.  Bring the matter before the Throne of heavenly grace.  THIS IS NOT YOUR WORK!  This is the Lord's work.  He is building His Church.  The gates of hell will not prevail against her!  This is just the first installment of the work.  More is to come, much more.  Look to the future.  You might think your faith is very small and weak - don't we all; but it is placed in the right Person.  That's what counts.  You are looking to the sole King and Head of the church to do His great work of mission in needy [wherever]. Don't underestimate what is happening.  Remember the work of the Spirit is often hidden.  But that doesn't mean it is not going forward.  And these "secret things belong to the Lord," (Dt.29:29).

Didn't you and your people preach and share the Gospel with many more people than attend your services?  Of course, you did.  Rejoice in that.  You have 'cast your bread upon the waters' and after many days [perhaps], you will find it (Eccles.11:2).  The kingdom of darkness has been hit hard by the presence and witness of Christ's redeemed people acting as salt and light in that benighted city.  Satan will kick back, have no fear about that.  But he's a defeated enemy, fatally destroyed at Calvary and sealed at the resurrection.  What we are seeing are the dying kicks of the old enemy, satan (he's not deserving of a capital letter in his name). Keep up your defiance of him and your implicit trust in Christ.  And He will win the day.

Beware! The Prophets of Peace!

Someone has said, though I have not checked it out personally, that there is a "fear not" (in one form or another) in the Bible for every day of the year to encourage the believer (and the unbeliever) that there is nothing really to fear in this world.  The 'fear not' fraternity can marshal many Scripture verses to validate this opinion. The problem is that very often the verse is misunderstood and/or applied erroneously.

The main error of this unintelligent approach is that 'there is nothing to fear,' and all we have to do to be delivered from it is to believe it. Tozer warns that to teach people that there is nothing to fear while living in a world like ours is the height of "gross irresponsibility."

This world is full of enemies to mankind, not the least of which is man's danger to himself.  Jesus taught, "fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell," (Mt.10:28).  What he is saying is that there is every reason in the world for sinful man to be afraid.  In his sinful rebellion, he has plenty to be afraid of.  Sins pays wages in full (Rom.6:23),and amongst these are death, judgement and hell; and they are all waiting for him and he cannot escape them by looking the other way.  It is therefore the height of irresponsibility for any teacher to tell his people to ignore these dangers; it is to fly in the face of the facts, and is a deadly enemy to his soul.  And here's the problem - the greatest danger to these poor sinful people is the false teaching of the peace prophets.  Instead of loving these men, sinners ought to stand in fear of even being in their presence.  They should flee from them like the plague.  Have nothing to do with such deceivers.  Consider them always a source of the greatest fear, for their teaching, or lack of it, has eternal consequences for you and for them.

Let me be very practical and personal for a moment.  Where there are mortal dangers and no place to hide, the only sane reaction is FEAR.  To dismiss fear while th danger still exists, is insanity of the highest level.  Only when the danger has been removed can fear disappear.  Indeed, the only man who has no right to be afraid is the man who has fled to Christ, the mighty Saviour, for refuge.  The danger is still there, but it not there for him. He knows that his mighty Saviour will bring him through all these troubles and dangers and present him faultless before the presence of the Lord.  He knows that! 

And he knows something else!  All the exhortations not to fear in the Scriptures are addressed to believers only.  At no time are they addressed to the children of this age.  Every single person who has not cast all his cares and fears on Christ alone will have to carry them himself.  Everyone who has done this is safe for time and for eternity; all others must face their enemies alone!

Monday, 10 October 2011

God Sees Our Sin!

Sin is an internal reality that ONLY God can see.  When Gen.6:5 says that God saw that mankind's wickedness was constant and global, He saw what could not be seen by anyone else. The same is true of you and me. God sees your heart, soul, and mind.  He knows you intimately.  So outward uprightness is no protection or shield against the preying eyes of the Almighty.  "For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam.16:7).  "You are the God Who sees," (Gen.16:13).  "You are the man!"  (2 Sam.12:7).

The first stream or sign of heart sinfulness is seen in the thoughts.  "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...." (Mt.15:19).  A. W. Tozer writes: "It is doubtful whether any sin is ever committed until it first incubates in the thoughts long enough to stir the feelings and predispose the will toward it favourably," (Set of the Sail, 1987:60).  Man's innermost being is the incubator for every sinful action or inaction.

"The Old Testament tells us how the wicked man lies in his bed thinking out ways to do evil and when the morning comes carries out the plans he has made during the night, because it is in the power of [his] hands," (Tozer, 60).  How many sleepless nights are spent in bed planning and scheming evil and destruction against a neighbour!  How many details are worked out and finalised in the 'wee small hours'!  How many deaths have been engineered during the hours of darkness!  Oh, man's wickedness knows no limits.  And God sees its depths!  And what He sees horrifies Him, and impelled Him to send His Son to take away "the sin of the world," (Jn.1:29), yours and mine!

How we need to guard the thoughts of our heart, and fix our minds on seeking forst the kingdom of God and His righteousness, looking to the things that are above, not on the things of the earth. Think godly thoughts always, and make up your mind to do the will of God at all times.  Remember, there is a strong tower that the righteous run into and are safe, (Jud.9:51).  Even when we fail in this regard, God's promises of forgiveness and restoration when we repent still stands.

The Gospel or the Denomination?

It is quite appalling how, within the precincts of the Christian church, men succeed in replacing Christ and His glorious Gospel with things and ideas that, in their proper place are good, but in other than their proper place, became very bad.  I refer to the tendency within reformed evangelicalism to exalt the church, the denomination, above even Christ and his Gospel.  There is a tendency to elevate denomination above the Gospel in a way that is reminiscent of the false teaching of Roman Catholicism which elevates Mary above Christ.

This has resulted in the creation of a generation of evangelical ministers who are first and foremost denominational men rather than Gospel men.  You can 'criticise' the Gospel and the way it is p                                                         reached (or not preached), but you cannot offer any criticism of the church.  It is no longer acceptable to define what a Christian is, because once you do that, you might find yourself challenging decisions made by elders when they admitted non-Christians into church membership.  Even if ministers are 'liberal' in their preaching, to offer criticism of that is to criticise the church, and we can't have that, now, can we?  Especially where ministers do not have the ability to preach the Gospel of God (Rom.1:1), the Gospel of His Son (Rom.1:9), or the Gospel of Christ (Rom.1:16), this is accepted, because they are church ministers, and they are in our denomination! 

The end result of this is that where there is a contest between supporting the Gospel minister and supporting the denomination, the latter usually wins hands down!  The denomination will tolerate weak Gospellers, but it will not tolerate strong ones!  The denomination must be protected against the Gospel especially when Gospel ministers, by their preaching, expose false Christians!  This deplorable situation has, in consequence, created a type of pseudo-evangelical and pseudo-reformed religion that bears little relation to the Gospel as expounded by Paul in his great letter to the Romans and believed in the pews of Rome at that time (Stuart Ollyott).

When church officials are challenged by this change in allegiance, they go on the offensive and become quite irate.  This is because they see their church as being the most perfect church of Christ on earth.  Such a church needs no further reformation - which is NOT a trait of truly reformed churches!

What is needed then?  An immediate return to the Gospel and to total allegiance to Christ.  Ministers and members alike must always place the interests of the Gospel before the interests of the church - where these clash!  There must be an end to assuming that what the church says and does is what the Gospel requires.  A wholehearted return to the Gospel is an urgent necessity.

When a man becomes a Christian, "he can humbly declare his independence of everyone and everything outside of Christ," says A. W. Tozer.  He then knows that Christ and His Gospel are everything to him.  They can take away his means of income, they can throw him out of his house, they can publicly humiliate him, and they will even try to take away his faith in his Lord and Saviour.  But that is one thing they can never do!  Christ is his, and he is Christ's forever.  His attitude is that of the Shulamite, who said, "My beloved is mine, and I am his," (Song of Sol. 2:16), and "I am my beloved's, And my beloved is mine," (Song of Sol. 6:3).  There is this eternally secure relationship between Christ and His servant.  Once church ministers arrive at this highest of positions, they will then naturally give precedence to the Gospel over what the church or her servants will say or do.

This is the only acceptable position for any man who has given himself to the Christian ministry.  He was not forced by anyone to enter the Gospel ministry, so his obligation to Christ is intensified.  He is there in answer to the call of the sovereign God.  To fulfil that calling, he must be first and foremost Christ's man, Christ's slave (doulos).  Further, he must be Christ's man only and exclusively.  No other authority must demand his allegiance, and he must give it to no other.  He must be bound to the Gospel and by the Gospel.  Such a man will know the benediction of the Lord on his life and ministry, even though the world and the worldly church will regard him as the scum of the earth.  The true minister of the Gospel will not only re-align his priorities, but will follow Paul's instruction in Col.3:2: (he will) "Set [his] mind on things above, not on things on the earth."  He will willingly sacrifice himself for the Cross of Christ and for the sake of the Gospel.  He will do this out of love for Christ and for the souls for whom Christ shed His precious blood (Jn.1:29; 3:16).  He must "seek those things which are above."  His desire is to be a true servant of Christ, and to preach the Gospel to every creature in the world.

Get this right, and the church will know the benefit!