Saturday, 10 August 2013

Puritan Preachers

"The difference between the Puritan preachers and us, is that they lived six days in eternity, and came down on Sunday to deliver the goods," (Dr Leonard Ravenhill). We often fail in this very matter. These men were great men of God, men who know God intimately. They lived and worked as in His presence. They sought His face continually and looked intently into the face of Christ. No wonder the Word of God came in power to their people through them!
Ravenhill exposes the fact that preachers do not know what it is to pray or to worship the Lord. There is a glaring lack of discipline in our lives.                                                                  
"The secret of the Puritans was not that they had more time on their hands but that they had more eternity in their hearts! They had an eternity consciousness," says Ravenhill. The need is surely great for a fuller awareness of eternity than perhaps anything else.
It may be objected that we are living in different times from the Puritan era, and there are pressures upon people today that were not evident 350 years ago. Also, ours is a technological and scientific age that has advanced beyond recognition from the days of the Puritans. Surely, you cannot expect people to come and sit through very long sermons that are minutely argued and penetratingly applied to the conscience?
Yes, there are great differences between these two eras, but these are not material and certainly do not necessitate any change in the message that is to be addressed to the men of this generation. Why? Because man is still the same sinful man, and God is still the same holy God, and the Gospel is still the same power of God for the salvation of the believing sinner. There are superficial changes, but no deep changes, except, perhaps, to say that men today may well be in a worse mess on account of sin than they were before; yet it is impossible to conceive of anything worse than to be a sinner, regardless of the external circumstances that surround him.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Voluntary Ministerial Blindness

Keswick at Portstewart has come and gone for 2013 and enjoyed, in God's blessing, the heatwave that blanketed the UK this July. The main preachers during the week were Rev Allister Morrice, Scotland, and Rev. Dr Liam Goligher, Philadelphia, and the preaching was of the highest standard, as you would expect, and the sense of the Lord's presence with us was captivating. It was biblically sound and balanced - in the main - and the application of God's Word to all present was precise. The Bible Readings each morning were rigorous and deeply insightful and sanctifying. The evening meetings were also pointed, although the singing programme was repetitive, very subjective, and somewhat annoying.

The really sad thing about it was that despite mention of the persecution of Christians in far-away lands and in totalitarian regimes by some speakers, there was simply no recognition that this is happening under their noses and within their own churches, and with some of the persecutors being actively involved in working against the Gospel and its hard-pressed servants.

Why is this? Well, persecutors, like all bullies, do not recognise as persecution the persecution in which they are involved. They speak against it in conventions yet use this role as cover for their persecution of brother evangelicals when they return to "the firm" that employs them.

The sheer blindness that accompanies these ministers is visible only to those who have "eyes to see and ears to hear."  Others simply do not suspect that good men at Portstewart would work against brother evangelicals who are being ill-treated by and in their congregations, or simply ignore their plight.  But that is the reality.  Being first and foremost the good churchmen that they are and want to continue to be, they will not stand up for their ministerial brethren if by so doing they might jeopardise their promotion prospects within the churches.

This ministerial blindness can be explained: persecution of Gospel ministers is something that only happens in far away lands, not within their churches.  Theologically liberal churches never persecute their own, but they always persecute evangelicals.  Too much ministerial wreckage is lying about Northern Ireland for this to be denied.  Liberal ministers are not persecuted by their denominations because such ministers do not preach the biblical Gospel.  But Gospel ministers within liberal denominations can expect to be ill-treated by such church systems, and not even their evangelical colleagues will stand up for them.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Preachers and the Judgment Seat of Christ

What preachers have lost sight of today is “the judgment seat of Christ,” says Dr Leonard Ravenhill. They have forgotten that one day they will give an account of their stewardship to their Master, as they stand before Him. What He has given to us we will give back to Him with or without interest.
What a difference it would make if we all had an eye on the judgment day! Rev Dick Lucas encouraged young preachers always to keep the "eschatological perspective" before their minds, as men who must give an account.  Martin Luther spoke of the two days in his life - THIS day and THAT Day.

Our service will be revealed on that day, and our work will be fully known. Nothing can bring greater seriousness to our preaching than that thought.