Friday, 21 October 2011

Denney and Lloyd-Jones

One of the formative influences on the life and ministry of Rev. Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was the writings of Rev. Prin. James Denney, the Scottish Presbyterian theologian (1856-1917).  Two others were Dr. P. T. Forsyth (1848-1921) and Dr R. W. Dale (1829-1895), both Congregationalist theologians.

It is not believed by many reformed people that Dr Lloyd-Jones did not believe in, nor did he teach, limited atonement.  As a study of his published sermons will indicate, the Doctor preached a full Gospel to the whole world because he has a message that would benefit the whole world even only it believed in Christ alone for salvation.  Denney, Dale and Forsyth all influenced Lloyd-Jones to a more biblical understanding of the Gospel.

There is a great story about how this book had a profound impact on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great Welsh pastor/preacher/author. John Stott tells the story that after preaching one Sunday, a minister told Lloyd-Jones that the cross and work of Christ appeared to have little place in his preaching. Lloyd-Jones went immediately to his favourite used bookstore and asked the owner for the two leading works on the Atonement. The owner brought out James Denney's The Death of Christ and R. W. Dale's, The Atonement.

Lloyd-Jones hunkered down and studied, eschewing all food and causing his wife considerable anxiety that she called her brother and asked if a doctor should be called. Lloyd-Jones emerged later and claimed to have found "the real heart of the gospel and the key to the inner meaning of the Christian faith." That was 1929. After that time, his preaching changed forever. (See Stott, The Cross of Christ, IVP, 1986, pages 9-10.)

My faith and ministry in no small part was shaped by Lloyd-Jones' masterful sermons.  I am forever indebted to Lloyd-Jones and now, to Denney as well.

That's why I entered numerous quotations from Denney on how he understood the atonement.  For him, it was obviously something that God did for the whole world.  Christ died for all, and tasted death for every man.  When Lloyd-Jones preached this heart-stirring messages, many were won to Christ through them.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Prof. James Denney's "Death of Christ." Part 1.

“...the shadow of the world’s sin lay on it from the first.”  (p. 22).
“The power that is in it is the power of the passion in which the Lamb of God bears the sin of the world.”  p.56.

“...Jesus was taking upon Him the burden of the world’s sin,” p.64.

“...He speaks there of His flesh, which He will give for the life of the world,” (p. 36).
But if the death of Jesus has eternal significance — if it has a meaning which has salvation in it for all men and for all times;...” (p. 65).

As there is only one God, so there can be only one gospel.  If God has really done something in Christ on which the salvation of the world depends, and if He has made it known, then it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything which ignores, denies, or explains it away, (p. 110).

“...the unforced and uncompromising defense of that on which the glory of God and the salvation of the world depends.” (p. 111).

But Paul could not receive this ritual tradition, and we know he did not, without receiving at the same time the great interpretative words about he new covenant in Christ’s blood, which put the death of Christ, once for all, at the foundation of the Gospel,  (p.113).

“…it is obedience in this unique and incommunicable yet moral calling, to be at the cost of life the Saviour of the world from sin, (p. 126).

“...Yet it is in this immediate inference, that the death of Christ for all involved the death of all.”  (p. 141).

“...’so then all died. ’ This clause puts as plainly as it can be put the idea that His death was equivalent to the death of all; in other words, it was the death of all men which was died by Him. Were this not so, His death would be nothing to them.  … If it is our death that Christ died on the Cross, there is in the Cross the constraint of an infinite love; but if it is not our death at all if it is not our burden and doom that He has taken to Himself there — then what is it to us? His death can put the constraint of love upon all men, only when it is thus judged that the death of all was died by Him. … But it will not be easy for any one to be grateful for Christ’s death, especially with a gratitude which will acknowledge that his very life is Christ’s, unless he reads the Cross in the sense that Christ there made the death of all men His own, (Page 142).

Prof. James Denney's "Death of Christ" Part 2.

“...the Gracious One He has consented to be satisfied with that suffering of death which He has made possible for humanity in Christ.The suffering of death is that which God in His grace is pleased to claim from the sinful race as the condition of restored fellowship.”  (p. 177).

“He is righteous, for in the death of Christ His law is honoured by the Son who takes the sin of the world to Himself as all that it is to God.;...” (p. 177). 

“..and the sin of the world for which in His blood He is the propitiation?” (p. 177).

“...…in Colossians we are confronted with a new situation. ‘The world’ which is the object of reconciliation is no longer as in 2 Corinthians 5:19, or Romans 3:19, the world of sinful men; it is a world on a grander scale. … The reconciliation of sinful men is represented as though it were only a part of this vaster work. (p. 195).

The Cross is the basis of a universal religion, and has in it the hope of a universal peace. (p. 201).

“...that in the death of Christ God has dealt effectually with the world’s sin for its removal.”  (p. 217). 

“...‘through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.’” (p. 231).   

“...but its redemptive value, i.e. its value for us, belongs to it not simply as obedience, but as obedience to a will of God which requires the Redeemer to take upon Himself in death the responsibility of the sin of the world.” (p. 234). 

“It is one thing when we conceive of it as an imperative will, having relation only to man as God’s creature; it is another when we conceive it as a redeeming, restorative, gracious will, of which the human race is in reality the object, not the subject, the subject by whom the will is carried out being Christ. (p. 234). 

“ Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the whole hope of a sinful world.” (p. ???).
Hence the blood of Christ both does something once for all — in breaking the bond which sin holds us by, and bringing us into such a relation to God that we are a people of priests — and does something progressively, in assuring our gradual assimilation to Jesus Christ the faithful witness.” (p. ???).

It is a death which once for all has achieved something — the aorists λσαντι (1:5), σφγης κα γρασας ν τ αματι (5:9), prove this. There is a finished work in it.” (p.??).

Prof. James Denney's "Death of Christ" Part 3.

 “...who takes away, not who takes on him, the sin of the world...” (p. ???).  

“He speaks there of His flesh, which He will give for the life of the world,” (p.???).

“But the love of God to the world is never conceived in Scripture abstractly.” (p. ???).

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (p. ???). 

“And He Himself is a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.’” (p. ???). 

The sin of the whole world has been atoned for, as the apostle expressly asserts (2:2); and it is on the basis of this work finished for all, and assumed to underlie everything, that the progressive purification of the Christian proceeds.” (p.???). 

“It is an immediate inference, then, from all that we have seen in the New Testament, that where there is no Atonement there is no gospel.” (p. ???).

“But it is this great gospel which is the gospel to win souls — this message of a sin-bearing, sin-expiating love, which pleads for acceptance, which takes the whole responsibility of the sinner unconditionally, with no preliminaries, if only he abandon himself to it. Only the preaching of full salvation now, as Wesley tells us — and who knew better from experience than he? — has any promise in it of revival.” (p. ???).

Christ did not die for those who were sufficiently penitent. He is the propitiation for the whole world, and He bore the sins of all that all might believe and receive through Him repentance and remission.” (p. ???). 

Christ died for sins once for all, and the man who believes in Christ and in His death has his relation to God once for all determined not by sin but by the Atonement.” (p. ???). 

“Rather does the whole phenomenon justify us in putting such a question as Dale’s: What must Christ’s relation to men be in order to make it possible that He should die for them? — a question leading to an essentially evangelical argument, that Christ must have had an original and central relation to the human race and to every member of it.” (p. ???). 

“Now the person who first uttered that sublime sentence felt his words fill with meaning as he contemplated Christ sent by God a propitiation for the whole world.(p. ???). 

Prof. James Denney's "Death of Christ." Part 4.

“We never read that God has been reconciled. God does the work of reconciliation in or through Christ, and especially through His death. He was engaged, in Christ, in reconciling the world — or rather, nothing less than a world — to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).”  (p. 144).

“It is the good tidings of the Gospel, with which the evangelists go forth, that God has wrought in Christ a work of reconciliation which avails for no less than the world, and of which the whole world may have the benefit.”  (p. 144f).

“...we can say God has reconciled the world to Himself; it is a work — as Cromwell said of the covenant — outside of us, in which God so deals in Christ with the sin of the world, that it shall no longer be a barrier between Himself and men, “ (p. 144f).

“When the sinless one, in to the will of the Father, died on the Cross the death of all, the death in which sin had involved all, then, and in that sense, God made Him to be sin for all,” (p. 148).

“...…it is not for sinful men, who do not know what love is, to tell beforehand whether, or how far, the love of God can take upon itself the burden and responsibility of the world’s sin;” (p. 148f).

“...Christ takes our place in death, and in so doing is identified with the world’s sin; the end in view in this is that we should take His place in life, and in so doing stand justified in God’s sight.”  (p. 148f).

“But St. Paul felt that the sin of the world made a difference to God; it was a sin against His righteousness, and His righteousness had to be vindicated against it; it could not ignore it, and go on simpliciter ‘justifying’ men as if nothing had happened. Such an interpretation of the passage ignores altogether the problem which the sin of the world (as St. Paul looked at it) presented to God.” (p. 168). 

“The question, therefore, is — if we are going to think seriously at all — What is the propitiation, or more precisely, How is the propitiation to be defined in relation to the sin of the world, in view of which God provided it, that He might be able still to maintain fellowship with man?” (p. 173). 

Christ comprehended in Himself the whole human race, as Adam did.” (p. 174). 

Prof. James Denney's "Death of Christ." Part 5.

‘The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many.’ ‘Christ died for the ungodly.’ ‘He bore our sins in His own body on the tree.’ ‘He is the propitiation for the whole world.’ ‘I beheld, and lo, a lamb as it had been slain.’ It is in words like these that we discover the open secret of the new creation.” (p. ???).  
Jesus Christ, come in flesh, the propitiation for the whole world.” (p. ???).  
“...God has made man in His own image; but, as has been suggested above, it has a limit, in so far as God is God and not man, and must have relations to the human race which its members do not and cannot have to each other.” (p. ???).  
“...the conception of a relation of all men to God.” (p. ???).  
He bore our sins. He took to Himself all that they meant, all in which they had involved the world. He died for them, and in so doing acknowledged the sanctity of that order in which sin and death are indissolubly united. In other words, He did what the human race could not do for itself, yet what had to be done if sinners were to be saved: for how could men be saved if there were not made in humanity an acknowledgment of all that sin is to God, and of the justice of all that is entailed by sin under God’s constitution of the world? Such an acknowledgment, as we have just seen, is divinely necessary, and necessary, too, for man, if sin is to be forgiven.” (p. ???).  
“The idea of fellowship with Christ, for example, is constantly urged against the idea that Christ died for us, and by His death made all mankind His debtors in a way in which we cannot make debtors of each other.” P. ???). 



A Tercentenary Lecture
Alan C. Clifford
28pp pbk �2.50
ISBN 0 9526716 6 2

To order, click here.

The age of John Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards was also the age of Philip Doddridge (1702-51). Remembered chiefly for his hymns, he was also a pastor, preacher, theologian, educator, author, philanthropist and patriot. A remarkable English christian by any standard, Doddridge's faithful, fragrant and far-reaching testimony to Christ made him unique in his day.

His obituary in the Northampton Mercury justly assessed his life. He was `a man of fine genius. ... His piety was without disguise, his love without jealousy, his benevolence without bounds. ... In the several characters of a friend, a preacher, a writer, a tutor, he had few superiors: in all united, he had no equal'.

At a time of ecumenical confusion and uncertainty in church and society, this lecture examines Doddridge�s protestant convictions. Challenging the view that Doddridge was a pioneer of modern ecumenism, the author believes that a rediscovery of Doddridge�s contribution is long overdue.

Ordained in Northampton in 1969, Dr Clifford is Pastor of Norwich Reformed church in Norfolk, a county with which Doddridge was closely connected.
To order this timely booklet, click here.  Please quote the order code: TID.HL.PD

OLIVER CROMWELL: The Lessons and Legacy of the Protectorate

The Lessons and Legacy of the Protectorate
Alan C. Clifford
40pp pbk �2.50
ISBN 0-9526716-2-X

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The quatercentenary of Oliver Cromwell's birth in 1599 was justly celebrated. While the late twentieth century probably provided more detractors than admirers, none could deny the Lord Protector's heroic qualities, integrity of character and sincere Christian convictions.

In addition to the articles, books and programmes occasioned by the anniversary, this booklet sought to make a small contribution to the celebration. A sympathetic but not uncritical survey of the momentous events of Cromwell's life, it is an attempt to evaluate his achievements and to highlight some important lessons for today. Viewing the Christ-centred vision of one of Great Britain's greatest statesmen in the context of his times, it is hoped that those who value our religious and political heritage will be encouraged to maintain and propagate it for the benefit of generations to come. At the beginning of the third millennium of Christianity, the author believes that such should be our response to the legacy of Oliver Cromwell.

Dr Clifford is currently pastor of Norwich Reformed Church, England.
To order this slim volume and get a sense of who Oliver Cromwell was and what he did, what he beieved and how he worked those bewliev=fs out, then buy this book.  Visit here and quote this order code: TID.HL.OC

Prophetic Messages Urgently Required!

If the church of Jesus Christ is to make any impact on the world in which we live, she must return to the policy adopted by our Lord in the exercise of his prophetic ministry.  His ministry was nothing if it was not biblically radical.  He knew nothing of 'safe' language when declaring the mind of God on any situation, but dared to use 'careless' language.  In His case, careless talk cost lives!  His language, content and emphases had one result - they raised His public profile very high in the world, so much so that we are still talking about it 2,000 years later. 

Just as He did not ignore the problems that confronted Him, so the church today has no right to ignore what is patently and obviously wrong.  Especially is this the case with the deep-rooted issues that lies at the bottom of our current moral and spiritual difficulties, not to mention the greed that has contributed to our economic problems. 

Indeed, we have no right whatever to make maintaining the peace both inside and outside the church the over-ruling consideration in what we say and do.  Let Prof. Donald MacLeod challenge our thinking:

"There can be no low profile on political heartlessness, institutional violence, protestant bigotry, Romish intrigue or Gaelic intransigence.  Where elders bind congregations to arrangements suited only to conditions 100 years ago; where traditionalism masquerades as orthodoxy or heresy as theological creativity; where so lose their zeal that they look only for 'easy charges' or 'peace in my time;' where a liberal establishment discriminates fiercely against evangelicals whilst at the same time boasting of its tolerance: these are not situations calling for a low profile but for high visibility and plain speech." (From Glory to Golgotha, 2002:97,98).

The prophetic voice of the church must start sounding out these urgent notes, whether or not the world or the church wants to hear such a message.  That the world will resent and oppose such a challenging message is a given; but that the church would 'go and do likewise' ought to be most disconcerting.  The sad reality its that that is precisely how she will react to the Word of God!  And many in her number, evangelicals and reformed people included, will fall into line like good little sheep.  The denomination will win over the Gospel in every case! 

If the message of the Cross is to be sounded, then the conscientious preacher of the Gospel must refuse to listen to those yellow-belly ministers and advisers who will counsel silence.  These men will remind the 'prophet' of the cost that will be involved if he speaks out:  lose of job, home, pension and good salary; lose of popularity (which might mean not being elected to the highest position the church possesses; and you can't have that, can you?); being overlooked for a 'nice' charge with a very good stipend; not being asked to go on foreign trips, or junkets: and on and on the list could go.

What does taking up your Cross daily and following Christ mean in practice?  It means inter alia telling both the world and the church what neither wants to hear, telling it consistently and telling it continually until they begin to listen.  The great and the good will call this a 'rant;' but what a needed rant it is.  We must go on saying the same things until people start to listen.  Are YOU up for it?  Are YOU different from the normal run of 'prophets'? may God grant it that you are!

My Debt To The Doctor

MY DEBT TO THE DOCTOR: An 110th Anniversary Tribute to Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones

An 110th Anniversary Tribute to DR D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
Alan C. Clifford
Pastor, Norwich Reformed Church
52 pages pbk �3.50
ISBN 978-0-9555165-2-8

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Approaching the end of my seventh decade, I wish to express my debt to a famous Welsh preacher who, under God, was instrumental in my spiritual development. He was the first of three major Welsh influences in my life. The second was my university education, the third being my beloved wife Marian whom I met at university in North Wales. This tribute is not so much an autobiography as a token of gratitude to God for the life and ministry of the greatest Christian preacher of the 20th century, expressed through the medium of eighteen letters I received from him during the last fifteen years of his life.

As a young Christian reared in Methodism, converted in Anglicanism and in the process of discovering Puritanism, I became aware of this London-based minister known as 'the Doctor'. Called thus by his affectionate admirers, the late Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) had been the minister of Westminster Chapel for approaching twenty years when I first heard of him. (from the Introduction).

The photograph of the Doctor with a youthful Rev Alan C Clifford at the Gateshead Church in the north of England where Rev. Alan Clifford was installed as minister.

To order your copy of this intensely personal book, click here, and remember to quote the order code TID.HL.DTD.  Thank you.

The Good Doctor - Philip Doddridge

The Good Doctor: Philip Doddridge of Northampton
A Tercentenary Tribute
319pp pbk £9.95
ISBN 0 9526716 3 8
As a pastor, preacher, theologian, educator, author, hymn writer, philanthropist and patriot, Philip Doddridge (1702-51) was a remarkable English Christian by any standard. His faithful, fragrant and far-reaching testimony to Christ made him unique in his day. This tribute introduces us to an attractive personality whose remarkable achievements merit renewed attention. At a time of confusion and uncertainty in church and society, the author believes that a rediscovery of Doddridge’s contribution is long overdue.

To purchase your own copy, please visit

‘A deeply interesting work about a fascinating Christian. ... the book is excellently presented, lavishly illustrated and good value for money’ (English Churchman).

‘Among other biographers ... Alan Clifford’s book is now clearly indispensable. It is also warm, readable and challenging’ (News of Hymnody).

‘Lovers of Doddridge, Northampton, hymns, revival and the history of English Dissent, cannot afford to ignore this book’ (Evangelicals Now).

Dr Clifford has ... done us a real service with the publication of his book in the 300th anniversary of Doddridge’s birth. The book is well written and attractively produced. The narrative is interesting and informative’ (The Banner of Truth).

‘Doddridge’s life and ministry are set out in a very readable way, and Dr Clifford’s enthusiasm for his subject comes through on every page. ... [a] most valuable and stimulating tribute to one of the greatest stars in the Congregational firmament’ (Congregational Concern).

‘A scholarly and well presented book ... comprising a very useful appendix ... This book will make a valuable addition to any library and comes highly recommended’ (Our Inheritance).

‘[In] this enlightening biography ... our hearts warm to a man whose consuming desire was to win souls for Christ and whose strength and life were devoted to the glorifying of God’ (Peace & Truth).

I had the privilege of reading this excellent biography of one of God's great servants while on holiday a few years ago, and enjoyed it immensely.  I had one criticism of it which I shared with the author - the reading only lasted for one week! I was disappointed when I had finished it.  I made good this deficit by reading it again, and referring to often.

Then,just this time last year, my work took me to Lisbon in Portugal, and during a period when we were on a break, I was able to locate and visit the British Cemetery there, and also to see the grave where Doddridge is buried, having died of an illness 200 years to the very year before my birth.  It was an honour to see where the great man was laid to rest.

But Dr Clifford's treatment of Doddridge is sympathetic, scholarly, factual and most edifying.  Read it for yourself.

Your copy can be purchased from the published by clicking here.  Please remember, when ordering, to quote TID.HL.TGD.  Thank you.

The Church's Culpable Silence

Christians, and together as the Church, are called to take up the Cross daily and follow Christ.  This does does refer to 'crosses' such as pains, frustrations, annoyances, challenges, etc, but to the instrument of death upon which the Son of God and the world's Redeemer was crucified. 

Donald MacLeod makes a very poignant point in his application of this principle when he remarks that speaking out is an integral aspect of Cross-bearing.  He condemns the church for her silence when she should speak out, and mentions the Highland Clearances, the Robertson Smith affair and the jingoism of the early days of the First World War.  Many other examples of ecclesiastical silence could be forwarded such as the church's deafening silence over the immoral political arrangements we have for the government of Northern Ireland, the spread of sodomy both inside and outside the churches, the increasing level of 'cover-up' that it being perpetrated by the churches, etc.

For the church to take up the Cross daily, she is required to speak out the Word of God as she exercises her prophetic ministry.  If she does not speak out, then she has lost her prophetic voice and ministry and calling.  She is not the church!  As Christ's Body on earth, she simply cannot maintain a low profile.  Today there are literally lorry loads of 'wisdom' within the church, but that is all being used either to silence Gospel preachers or to avoid trouble.  The reluctance, nay refusal, of the church to exercise her God-given prophetic ministry is culpable.  Her big boggy man is the fear of giving offense, even where that offense is justified. When the church links herself extremely closely to a government body in order to extract financial favours from that body, she has sold her soul to politics!  And when you have extracted political favours that are financial in nature, then you undertake not to offer any criticism of the 'powers that be' so as not to display ingratitude.  But speak out, the churches will not - ANY OF THEM!

But she is most content to stay within her own cloistered precincts and utter pious platitudes within well-defined party-lines. She sees herself as having a calling from God to keep on counting the number of angels that can stand on the point of a pin, while the nation within which she is supposed to be "salt" and "light" goes to hell!  But who cares!

It is precisely this mentality, this lack of true and reformed spirituality, that allows the church to pussy-foot around the great crises that face us all at this time - the moral meltdown that is everywhere evident, the corruption in high places (you can't say anything about that because your own church members are in the middle of it!), the growth in prostitution in Northern Ireland alone, with men spending almost £500,000 each week on this 'service' that is offered in the known 88 brothels that blight our once noble land.

This explains why the churches today have lost all their moral authority as the Voice of God in this nation.  Modernity and being contemporary is much more important than being faithful to Christ, the church's only King and Head.  Macleod opines, "It was precisely because he refused to keep such a low profile that Christ was crucified."  He brought His own crucifixion on Himself!  He spoke light into the darkness of His world, and He was crucified for it.  He shown the light of God's truth into the hypocritical Pharisees, and they blasted Him for so doing.  It was His radical message that invited trouble from the Jewish and Roman authorities.  Indeed, the very life He lived was a constant rebuke to the religious society that it impacted.  The Cross did not just happen to Him; "He provoked it by His own words and actions," says Macleod. Continuing, he asserts, "His death itself was a priestly act. But he provoked it by his prophetic ministry and especially by his scathing denunciations of the self-appointed guardians of the law.  His talk was, to say the least, 'careless.'"  

How true!  The churches today, all of them, are getting an easy time because they have lost their prophetic voice in the nation. Not only have we very poor political leadership, there is virtually no spiritual and oral leadership in our country.  "Every man does that which is right in his own eyes."  Macleod is principled enough to know what to say, when to say it, and to whom to say it.  He knows his Bible well enough to say what has to be said without fear or favour. He still exercises his prophetic ministry; but few others are doing this. 

The church today is silent.  Is that because she believes in her heart of hearts that the God she is supposed to serve is also silent?


Listen to these most significant words from the pen of Rev. Prof. Donald McLeod: “The One Who was with God comes to be without God in order that we should be with God,” taken from his book, From Glory to Golgotha (Christian Focus Publications, Ross-shire, UK, 2002), p.93.  

Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the world, was with God in the beginning, in eternity and enjoyed the most unclouded fellowship with His Father.  That fellowship within the Godhead was reciprocal and unbroken.  They all enjoyed each Other's company.

When man was made from the dust of the earth (in one particular sense man was not created out of nothing, ex nihilo, but was made by God out of pre-existing material, dust and earth) he enjoyed deep and unbroken fellowship with his Creator God.  Out of His goodness and love, God made a helper suitable for Adam, and with whom he could have precious fellowship.  But rather than their mutual fellowship being God-centred, they began to depart from exclusive fellowship with God and listened to the enticing voice of the serpent, satan, who allured them into disobedience.  Man then fell out of fellowship with God while in the Garden of Eden, and a 'new' situation arose which meant that man was no longer with God.

How was this mess to be remedied?  Again, the fellowship within the Trinity worked out a means of salvation for the world, as represented by Adam and Eve (I am not getting into the speculative arguments about the order of the decrees), and the Son voluntarily agreed to become mankind's Saviour.  He was with God in glory, but in order to redeem the world, He would have to leave the glory of heaven and become flesh, live a pure and spotless life, die the ignominious death of the Cross as a common criminal, be buried in a borrowed tomb, rise again the third day, appear to His chosen disciples for a six week period before ascending into heaven and sit down at the right hand side of His Father.  But, and here's the point: when the Son of God died on Calvary, He died bearing in His own body the son of the world (Jn.1:29).  He took your sin and mine with all its shame and disgrace, and was punished to the limit for it.  And on the Cross, you remember how He cried out in utter anguish, in the words of Ps.22:1, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"  This was an experience that He had never known before.  His fellowship with the Father was always unbroken and the highest pleasure. But now, He has been forsaken by His Father.  For the first time ever, He is without the Father.  Why?  because He was bearing the penalty of your sin and mine.

Amongst the reasons for doing this is that He wanted mankind to be restored to fellowship with His father again.  In the words of John Calvin (1509-1564) "the Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of man might become the sons of God."  The design was that man's sin would be taken away (Jn.1:29), so that man might again be with God. 

“The One Who was with God comes to be without God in order that we should be with God,” and that forever!  MacLeod got it just right again.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Isaiah's Vision of God's Holiness

A. W. Tozer wrote, speaking of Isaiah's experience as recorded in chapter six of his book:  “The sudden realisation of his personal depravity came like a stroke from heaven upon the trembling heart of Isaiah at the moment when he had his revolutionary vision of the holiness of God.  His pain-filled cry, ‘Woe is me! for I am undone;  because I am a man of unclean lips,  and I dwell in the midst of a people unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’”  This cry, says Tozer, “Expresses the feeling of every man who has discovered himself under his disguises and has been confronted with an inward sight of the holy whiteness that is God.  Such an experience cannot but be emotionally violent.” 

I think you will agree with me when I say that the church today knows nothing of that experience!  To many church people, I might as well be talking in riddles.  Unlike Isaiah, we have never come face to face with our own depravity, sinfulness, uncleanness; we have never seen ourselves naked before this holy God, stripped of all our self-righteousness. We've never been in the presence of absolute purity, of that “holy whiteness that is God."  

We have never stood trembling before the holiness of God because of our sin.  NEVER.  That is an experience that is totally foreign to us today.   And we wonder why our Christian lives are as unspiritual as they are!  And we also wonder why the church is in the state she is on at this time.

Could it be that because she has lost Isaiah's view of God's absolute majesty and holiness, she is presenting a God who is no different from the plethora of other gods that men worship today?  And the world is not impressed!  Tozer is quite correct when he says that "the church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshipping men."

You only have to take a quick look at any church today to discover its doctrine of God.  Just a quick look will tell you all you need to know.  Watch how she worships, and that will tell you if it is Isaiah's God who is being worshipped.  Listen to the lyrics of many modern songs of worship, and you'll soon find out if their worship is being directed to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Sample the music, and you will know if it is the God of Majestic glory who is being sung to and about.  The heart is revealed in the works!  
Isaiah was humbled in the presence of the thrice holy God, but we boast and are full of pride when we enter the presence of the modern god.  Isaiah was broken by a consciousness of his sin; but our doesn't seem to matter!  Isaiah left the Temple in adoring silence with his mind fixed on his meeting with God; but we start normal everyday chatter the moment the benediction is pronounced!

Is there a difference between Isaiah and us?  There is!  Is the god we worship the same God that Isaiah worshipped?  Hardly!  And are we concerned about this distance we travelled along the ways of the world?  There's no evidence that the church today is bothered about such religious matters - the property, yes; the income, yes; but God.  NO.  And when we remember that the business of the church is GOD, it's no wonder He has left us to ourselves to invent ways of worshipping Him!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Praying in the Spirit

My work and vision today is to enable people everywhere to understand clearly the Scriptures and to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to give them a sense of God, to know God personally through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. There is perhaps no better way of doing this than by listening to the preaching of the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones by radio, audio recordings, and at conferences.  His published sermons are also a fine way of learning the Scriptures and being taught of God.  I want to encourage the return of regular, systematic teaching of the Scriptures in our generation.

If you click on the above link, you will be directed to a website where you can listen to Dr Lloyd-Jones preaching the first of a four-part series of sermons on Praying in the Spirit.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A. W. Tozer
                                                                      Dr A. W. Tozer

Living a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.

Tozer had seven children, six boys and one girl. He was buried in Ellet Cemetery, Akron, Ohio, with a simple epitaph marking his grave: "A. W. Tozer - A Man of God."

Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer. "His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life," comments his biographer, James L. Snyder, in the book, In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. "He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them," writes Snyder.

Tozer was truly a 'man of God' and a man of the Word.

Retarded Spiritual Progress

“Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of retarded spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession, do so many persons find themselves no further along than when they first believed?… The causes of retarded growth are many. It would not be accurate to ascribe the trouble to one single fault. One there is, however, which is so universal that it may easily be the main cause: failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God…”
— A.W. Tozer

“Pure thinking will do more to educate a [person] than any other activity he [or she] can engage in. Thinking is a kind of living.”
— A.W. Tozer

“Whatever a [person] wants badly enough and persistently enough will determine the [person's] character.  Character begins with God.”
— A.W. Tozer

"It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that."  - A. W. Tozer


Strange as it may seem but there are signs of Stalin’s ‘useful idiots’ at large in the world today, and not least in Northern Ireland.  They are also deeply embedded within the church.  They are being controlled by the ‘higher powers’ to do their bidding.  The term was used by Stalin to describe Soviet sympathisers in the Western countries.  Joseph Stalin had, as one of his most ‘useful idiots,’ a man called Walter Duranty. 

Duranty was a correspondent, the Moscow bureau chief of the New York Times, Pulitzer Prize winner, and a Stalin apologist, who lived in America.  He was the means of spreading dangerous propaganda in the West with a view to popularising communistic ideals.  His sympathy for Stalinism was well known, as was his being ‘economical with the truth.’  Resorting to outright deception in order to pursue their goals caused him no pangs of conscience.

But what characterises ‘useful idiots’ today?  Several things. 

First, they are being used by the ‘higher powers’ for the promotion of sinister agendas.  These may well be satanic. 

Second, while some know they are being used by others and willingly fall into line, very often others are totally unaware that this is happening, and would deny any such thing.  ‘Gullible’ seems to be an apt description of such people. 

Third, they imagine, wrongly, that they are pursuing what is good and right, when all the while they are falling into the trap set for them by their masters, and pursuing a destructive course.  They are tunnel-visioned individuals who are unable to ‘see the wood for the trees’; they cannot see the damage they are doing, and even when the potential damage is pointed out to them, they don’t care; and with such an attitude, they are giving their enemies a field day.  Think how Gospel haters oppose the preacher, and believe that they are working in the best interests of the church/congregation. 

Fourth, they not only place themselves in jeopardy, but by their intrigue, cause others to follow them into ruin.  How often ‘sheep’ will follow one who sets him/herself up as a leader!  Soon the lead ‘sheep’ has drawn all the other sheep that are foolish enough to go after them out of the fold.

Fifth, they imagine that they are liked and supported by their masters while in reality they are utterly despised by them.  These foolish blind leaders and followers of the blind believe they are popular, but time will tell just how foolish they really are.

Sixth, when their masters have secured their evil purposes, they drop them like hot potatoes.  How often this has happened in the past!  If their masters think that their association with their pawns will cost them in one way or other, they will drop them immediately.

Seventh, before they finish their work for their masters, they have succeeded in dismantling everything good that they touch, leaving the beneficiaries of that good utterly dejected.  We have yet to see the results of this.

Sadly, ‘useful idiots’ are as evident today as they were in Stalin’s day.  They are found in every community, class, creed, grouping, organisation, lodge, church, whatever.  They are there!  Such people usually are not suspected by their close friends of being ‘agents’ of some higher malignant power.  Double agents are adept at hiding their true identity.

So how do you recognise them?  It’s quite simply, really.  “You will know them by their fruits,” (Mt.7:15, 16, 20).  The Scriptures make it very plain what to look for.  Look at the results of their work, their activities, and you will see clearly what these people are.  Their fruits identify them very clearly.  Watch and see what is happening before your eyes, recognise what they are doing, and then you will be able to identify these ‘double agents.’ 

Are they involved in scheming against a servant of Christ?  Do they plan against the work of the Gospel?  Are there clandestine meetings to dislodge a Gospel minister?  “You will know them by their fruits,” says Jesus.

They might try to hide whose bidding it is they are doing, but they cannot hide their role in it; and they are almost certain to deny any such involvement with these ‘shadowy characters.’  They will even try to convince the gullible (and will succeed with many) that their line of action is for the wider good, but the discerning will not be taken in by their subterfuge.  And those who protect them will also see them for what they are, while they themselves will be seen for the fools they are!  Remember, satans’ working is always from the shadows, from the dark places, where there is an absence of light.  These are tricky people to handle; they are devious, calculating and conniving.  They manipulate their ‘prey,’ and leave them open to allegations.

So, keep you eyes wide open and observe what is happening around you; try to discern the trends and trace the similarities in the ‘odd’ things that are happening; and then tell me that I’ve got it all wrong!