About Ivan Foster

Ivan Foster is a recently retired minister in the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Until November 2009 he was minister of Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church. He continues to preach and write as the Lord gives opportunity.
Website:
Ivan has written 447 articles so far, you can find them below.

Sacred memories of God’s goodness, Pt2

“Glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen,” Luke 2:20.

Read Psalm 145.

Stream or download Sacred memories of God’s goodness Pt 2


We come to the second part of our story of the Free Presbyterian Church. In the first part we sought to show you how, in the providence of God, a series of events in the religious affairs of Ulster in the early years of the last century preceded the formation of the Free Presbyterian Church.

Just as events in Egypt prepared the people for that glorious upheaval and departure from their captivity, so the Lord in like fashion ordered the spiritual affairs of Ulster in the 1920s and 1930s in preparation for the formation of a new and vigorous separated, Reformed witness in Ulster by which the Lord would take the battle to the enemy.

Complacency

There are parallels with the state of Israel in Egypt and God’s people in Ulster back then.
There was, to a great degree, a spirit of complacency amongst both Israel and Christians here in the 1930s – 1950s.

Exodus 2:12-14 records a spirit of contentment under the oppression of Egypt and a rejection of any intervention by the one who was to be God’s deliverer. There was an ignorance of God’s purpose amongst God’s people. As Stephen declares in his speech before the Sanhedrin in

Acts 7:25. “For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.”

There was also an obvious ignorance amongst Christians in Ulster in those days of controversy. Little support was given to the protesters within the Irish Presbyterian Church and even less given to those who separated and formed the Evangelical Presbyterian Church!
There was just no awareness of God’s purpose in separation.

Further evidence of Israel’s complacency is seen in the face of increasing cruelty by Pharaoh in Stephen’s statement in Acts 7:19. “The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.” Note the words: “So that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.” The Israelite parents complied with the wicked and cruel demands of Pharaoh!

Unchallenged

So it was in Ulster in some 90 years ago! The perverted theology of J E Davey was embraced virtually unchallenged by the Presbyterian Church and the rising generation was willingly sacrificed to that soul-damning doctrine!

But as the cruelties of Pharaoh in the end aroused and awakened Israel to their state of bondage, likewise there arose a like awareness, at least to a measure, in Ulster, not just before the Free Presbyterian Church was formed but in the subsequent years as its witness drew the attention of Christians to just what was happening in the ecclesiastical world! “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them,” Exodus 2:23-25.

I believe that the ‘groaning’ of God’s people began some time before 1951 as God prepared to do “a new thing in Ulster.” Indeed, that season of prayer we mentioned in our first message, when Ian Paisley and John Douglas and two other men, waited upon God and ‘sighed and cried’ for His blessing and were heard, was an evidence of that stirring!

The Free Presbyterian Church was formed in war!

The controversy in Crossgar in March 1951 was centred upon the gospel! That has been challenged by some in the Irish Presbyterian Church. They say that they had no objections to a gospel mission but it was the preacher, Ian Paisley, they objected to.

The elders of the vacant Lissara congregation in Crossgar had witnessed the blessing of God upon Ian Paisley as he preached in the months following the prayer meeting of October 1949. They had seen the wonderful interest stirred amongst people, the crowds that had flocked to his missions and, above all, the souls that had been saved. They desired to see something of that blessing amongst their flock in Lissara.

However, the Presbytery of Down did not share their desire. They did not like Ian Paisley’s message. WHY? For the simple reason that they were disciples of the ‘new gospel’ then prevalent within the Irish Presbyterian Church, the gospel of J E Davey! Ian Paisley was preaching against the modernism and the ecumenism of Irish Presbyterianism and the Presbytery of Down, amongst many others, did not like it!

Dr Davey’s gospel was a blasphemous attack upon the Biblical record of the ‘good news of salvation’!

Listen to some of the things Davey said and wrote. Let me quote again from Dr Paisley’s sermon, which he preached in 1983, on Davey’s heresy.

“Nineteen hundred and twenty-one is an important year, because that year Professor J. E. Davey, Master of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity, delivered a series of lectures known as the Kerry lectures. The subject was ‘The Changing Vesture of the Faith – Studies in the Origins and Development of Christian Forms of Belief, Institution and Observance’. These lectures were published. Let me read you a few extracts and you will realise the type of heresy that

Professor Davey was propagating:
‘The faith which is found to depend on Book or Church has put these things in place of God; the visible in place of the invisible on whom alone faith can depend, and such idolatry is always helpless in the face of reason and progress.’
S

o Professor Davey said it was idolatry to put your faith in the Blessed Book of God. ‘It was idolatry’. Just as evil to bow before the graven image as to take out the Bible and believe its Precious Truth and its Divinely revealed doctrine.

Let me give you another extract from this same publication: ‘Protestants’ insistence on the Sacred Book which touches us most closely has been progressively modified under the attacks of modern scholarship. To the quest for an external Infallibility there is no answer. Throughout all the search of men for such an external Infallibility the heavens are as brass, and all the Infallibilities which men have laboriously pieced together crumble away at the touch of criticism.’

I’m glad my old Bible has not crumbled away at the touch of criticism. Professor Davey’s body is today eaten by the skin worms; his soul is in Hell in the torments of the damned, if this Book is right, but, thank God, God’s Truth is marching on and marching on to final and blessed victory.

Let us go on. In page 27 of this book, he makes a terrible indictment, he says: ‘The new vigour of Rome after the Reformation, evidenced especially in the counter-Reformation in all its aspects, and in the great missionary activities in which Rome gave the lead to Protestantism is a sure sign that in Romanism there are elements of life as genuine as in the opposing faith.’ (Shades of Ecumenism) that ‘Romanism has elements of life as genuine as lies in the heart of Protestantism.’

Dr Paisley further quoted Davey. “Professor Davey says, ‘The centre of Protestantism’s orthodox system is a doctrine of atonement, resting upon a theory of imputation which is only another form of Transubstantiation.’ So he likens the doctrine that Christ was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, to the idolatry of the Mass. “God does actually take responsibility for all things present and to come, but imputation is not only an unsuitable word in virtue of its commercial derivation, but it stands for an absurd theory of what actually happens in experience, and it is almost an exact parallel to the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation. Each of these two branches of Christendom possessing the same rationality at the very centre of its system of salvation. It is surely then not for us to sneer at others ’till at least our own house has been set in order.’

hink of it, that glorious doctrine so ably set forth in our Catechism, ‘What is Justification?’ ‘It is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the Righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.’
He goes on in the book to say, ‘We can’t even be certain there is a God at all; no one can be certain of the Being of God’; and he tells us that ‘Christian Science and Spiritism are great vital movements. They testify to a new and living religious spirit seeking after God. These movements are not purely speculative, they are doing positive good, making better, stronger and wiser men and women.’ So when that was published the Bible Standards League knew, and Mr. Hunter (Rev James Hunter) knew, the battle-lines were really drawn. The next year Professor Davey lectured to the Students’ Christian Movement, and he published his lectures under the title, ‘Our Faith in God through Jesus Christ, Its reasonableness, necessity, effectiveness and finality,’ and again we have the poison. On page 61 in answer to the great Gospel question, ‘What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?’, Professor Davey tells the students, ‘Christ is the decentest chap we know of.’ Think of that! Christ the Eternal Son of the Everlasting Father, the One Who was and is and forever will be; the One Who in the Eternity of the past was in the bosom of the Father, co-equal and co-Eternal in the Blessed relationship of the Trinity, and that One Who humbled Himself and came down to this earth and dwelt among men, that One of Whom Paul could write, ‘Great is the Mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the flesh.’ J. Ernest Davey says ‘He is the decentest chap we know of.’ And he goes on in this book to tell us that ‘we don’t accept the views of Christ as final, not at all. In Christ we have a perfect spirit, a perfect life, a final faith in the imperfect vestments, social, historical and intellectual, of a provincial Judaism and apocalyptical peasant piety. That is, that we must penetrate beneath the clothes to the abiding reality for our final faith. This finality lies and will lie so far as our mind can conceive the problem and the future at all in the moral finality of His spirit.’”

We further quote from Dr paisley’s 1983 sermon. “When a student, Mr. W. J. Grier, Bachelor of Arts, returned from doing two years in Princetown Seminary, and came to finish his final year in Assembly’s College, he was aghast at what Professor Davey was teaching. Another student, Mr. Nesbitt, was also aghast at the statements which the Professor was making. The Rev. W. A. Nesbitt affirmed that when he was a student in Assembly’s College, one day Professor Davey said, ‘The Jewish view was that Jesus was the illegitimate son of Joseph and Mary, and I accept that view.’ Mary was a strumpet and our Lord a bastard, according to Professor Davey.

Another student, who is now settled in a Church, stated that ‘he himself did not believe in the Virgin Birth, neither did Professor Davey.’

On another occasion the Professor said, ‘Jesus had a downward tendency which our forefathers would call original sin, but which we would call the dregs of evolution.’ So the Lord came from a monkey according to Professor Davey.’ ”

This was Davey’s gospel! I urge you to read Dr paisley’s full sermon which is available here online.

To each minister and elder of the Free Presbyterian Church there comes, as part of their ordination oath, a solemn reminder of the obligation God laid upon us to maintain the battle against apostasy commenced in 1951.

Each minister and elder is asked: “Will you maintain with all the strength God shall give you the truly Scriptural separation position of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and vigorously withstand the apostasy of Irish Presbyterianism exhorting God’s people to obey the teaching and commandment of 1 Timothy 6:3-5.”

Oh that every man, minister, elder and student would cry out in response to this question with all the fervour of Luther long ago: ‘Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.’

Davey’s gospel was a complete contradiction of Biblical Christianity and the rediscovered glorious truth which emerged at the Reformation, brought to light again by the merciful Providence of God. J E Davey was little more than an advocate of Popery in the guise, a thin one at that, of a Presbyterian minister.

It was little wonder that the Down Presbytery of the Irish Presbyterian Church refused to have Ian Paisley preach the message of the Bible in Lissara church hall!

On the Free Presbyterian website we can find these words.

“Early in 1950, the Committee of the Crossgar Mission Hall approached the 24-year-old Rev. Ian Paisley to determine whether he would conduct a Gospel Campaign in the town. After careful consideration and prayer, the date was fixed for February 1951. The Campaign Committee, the majority of whom were office-bearers or members of Lissara Presbyterian Church, feeling that the Mission Hall would be too small, decided to ask their Kirk Session for the use of the local Presbyterian Church hall for the campaign. This was unanimously granted at a meeting of Session.

However, in what local people saw as evidence of the liberal agenda that was becoming increasingly evident in their church, the Down Presbytery meeting on Monday January 8th 1951 ruled that the mission should not go ahead in Lissara Church hall. It is doubtful that the local elders were ever properly informed of this because the plans for the mission continued. Certainly the ordinary members knew nothing about the ruling.

Matters were drawn sharply to a head when on the evening of Saturday 3rd February 1951, just 90 minutes prior to a march of witness to advertise the mission, Down Presbytery held a special meeting to which Lissara’s Church Session were summoned. At this meeting the Moderator of Down Presbytery demanded that the Lissara Session reverse their decision to grant the use of the church hall to the missioners.

The evangelicals, who had already been battling against liberalism in their own congregation, saw these moves as further evidence of the downward trend in their denomination. They could not believe that the Presbytery would ban a gospel mission in their own church hall. For two of the elders, Hugh James Adams and George K. Gibson the high-handedness of the Presbytery was too much. They refused what they saw as an anti-gospel demand by Presbytery officers to immediately cancel the gospel campaign. For this they were suspended.
These events were as yet unknown to those who were at that time gathered for a March of Witness. They made their way to Lissara Church Hall only to discover that the Down Presbytery had closed the doors of the hall to the preaching of the gospel and to them. One of the abiding memories of those who were on that March of Witness is having to shelter from torrential rain in the porch of their own church hall from which they had been locked out.
The Mission however, went on in the Killyleagh Street Mission Hall and was blessed of God in the salvation of 94 precious souls. Dr. Paisley speaking in the Crossgar Church in 1997 said, ‘My memory of those meetings was not the packed house that we had overflowing each evening, the great spirit of blessing and the joy of leading precious souls to Christ but it was of the continued sessions of prayer – one on Tuesday night and one on Friday night when we went on past midnight and past two o’clock in earnest intercessions before God. For a crisis would arise at the end of the campaign- back to the Church that put out the light of the gospel or outside the camp to bear reproach for the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the decision and choice that had to be made.’ ”

Thus war began! Under Ian Paisley’s leadership, the Free Presbyterian Church continued to challenge the apostasy of the Irish Presbyterian Church which had in 1948, become one of the foundation members of the World Council of Churches.

An example of that challenge may be seen in the events of 1953. JE Davey was elected and installed as moderator of the Irish Presbyterian Church. It was an act as wicked and as damning as the acceptance of the thirty pieces of silver by Judas! I believe that it was then, if it was not already written over that denomination, that ‘ICABOD’ was written large over the Irish Presbyterian Church.

Luther-like

In 1953, Ian Paisley led his Ravenhill congregation in a march down to High Street in the centre of Belfast where there was large open space, a reminder of the Belfast blitz of some 12 year earlier, and there held a protest against the actions of the General Assembly in installing Davey as its moderator and burned a number of his writings in protest.
Missions

Dr Paisley busily engaged in evangelism and new congregations were formed. Cabra, now Hebron congregation in Ballymoney, was formed in 1951, after a mission in Cabra schoolhouse at which 100 people were converted.

Mr. Sandy McAuley and his two sons, Ansy and Billy, had been saved in Faith Mission meetings some time earlier. This had a great impact on the life of Mr. McAuley and his family. Following his conversion Mr. McAuley held cottage meetings in his home where the Gospel was preached faithfully each Sunday evening.

The McAuley family attended Drumreagh Presbyterian Church where Mr. McAuley was the Clerk of Session and Superintendent of the Sunday School and had a well-attended Bible Class. When strong allegations arose about the immoral conduct of the minister of that congregation, Sandy was approached about the matter by some church members. He felt that he should visit the minister to inform him that such rumours were in circulation. The minister adamantly denied all allegations and indeed treated Mr. McAuley as if he were the accuser.

Drunk

Sometime later he arrived at the McAuley farm with two of his elders. It was clear to Mr. McAuley that he was in a drunken state. The minister, who was reputed to be something of an amateur boxer, beat Sandy brutally and left him battered and bleeding. His daughter, Miss Sadie McAuley, remembers seeing her father later that evening and hardly being able to recognise him because of the swelling and bruises on his face.

Mr McAuley first heard Rev. Ian Paisley at an Orange rally in Ballymena. But then Mr. McAuley and other Cabra men heard Rev. Ian Paisley’s powerful preaching in Crossgar and it caused them to long for a mission in their own area. They arranged for the campaign to be held in the old schoolhouse. It was from that mission that the Free Presbyterian Church in Cabra was constituted on Saturday, 23 rd June, 1951 at 3.30 pm, as the third congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church, Crossgar and Ravenhill being the first and second congregations.
We read on the Website of Hebron FPC  the following account of the constitution service.

“The meeting place was a large tent erected in Mr. William Stevenson’s field just beside the old Schoolhouse. Originally the plan was to start the church in the Schoolhouse where the mission had been held. When it became clear that the people were seceding from the Presbyterian church to form a Free Presbyterian congregation, the old school building was closed to them.

The tent, holding about four hundred people, was well filled for the constitution service. Just before the sermon, Rev. J.G. Leitch MA and Rev. W. J. Hemphill BA, ministers of the Route Presbytery, arrived ‘to spy out the land.’ They looked very bewildered as they saw the huge crowd gathered and seemed not too comfortable as they had to take their seats directly below the platform, such was the large crowd. During the service, when the congregation shouted a hearty ‘hallelujah,’ they joined in the shout, carried away perhaps by the intense zeal of the people.

Rev. Ian Paisley delivered the constitution sermon. He spoke powerfully against modernism, apostasy and the World Council of Churches. He also spoke out against Professor Davey who denied the Virgin Birth of Christ and who had been acquitted, in 1927, of heresy charges by the General Assembly of the Irish Presbyterian Church. This was followed by prayer when the whole future of the work in Cabra was committed into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great King and Head of the Church. Then Mr. James Atkinson, Mr. Alexander McAuley, Mr. William Stevenson and Mr. Albert Hanna, the seceding elders, answered the prescribed questions and subscribed to the Confession of Faith. They were inducted into their offices and given the right hand of fellowship by Rev. George Stears and Rev. Ian R. K. Paisley.

Rev. Stears then delivered a solemn charge to the elders and congregation. The service, which lasted for two hours, was brought to an end by prayer and the benediction offered by Rev. J. Kyle Paisley from Ballymena. A sumptuous tea was then served by the ladies of the congregation.

After the tea, greetings to the new congregation were conveyed from the other congregations of Ravenhill and Crossgar and from friends in Ballymena, Dundonald and Rathfriland.”

Rasharkin FPC was formed shortly after when a division took place in the local Presbyterian Church. Here is an extract from the history on its webpage.

“Those families and individuals who left the Presbyterian Church met in an old barn, belonging to Mr Daniel Wallace. Dr. Paisley, who at that time had been preaching in Cabra, was invited to conduct a Service. After this meeting the people decided to form themselves into a congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church, and on 18 August 1951, the congregation was formally constituted, the same year as the Denomination itself was brought into existence.

The barn they had worshipped in was extensively renovated and made ready for use as a Church. Those in opposition to the new work nicknamed the congregation ‘barn rats’. Rev. Cecil Menary was the first Minister of the congregation, and the first Session consisted of Daniel Wallace, William Rea and Samuel Logan.

The following February Dr. Paisley conducted a Gospel Mission. The power of God’s Holy Spirit was manifested, and many people, young and old, were saved. The outcome of that Mission was that over forty souls put their trust in the Saviour, including Mr Bobby Wilson, a past Clerk of Session.”

Thus four Free Presbyterian congregation were born in the first year. Each of those early congregations had a birth in the fires of evangelism.

Later in 1952, Rev Paisley had a tent mission down at the roundabout at the junction of Cregagh Road, Mount Merrion Avenue and Ladas Drive. As a result of that Mount Merrion congregation was constituted on 2nd August 1952 as the 5th congregation. Dr Paisley negotiated and purchased the plot of ground, which was previously an allotment, and the church building has been on the same site ever since.  Rev. John Douglas and Rev. S. B. Cooke were involved from the start of the work and Rev. Cooke’s was its first minister.
Trinity Free Presbyterian Church in Portavogie, was born out of revival. The commencement of the witness can be traced back to 1954 when Dr. I R K Paisley was invited by a number of Presbyterian families to conduct services each Lord’s day in Ballyhalbert Orange Hall. These families then petitioned the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church to be formed into a congregation. In 1955, at a meeting presided over by Dr. Paisley, it was decided to secure ground and commence a building fund. A site for a building in the village of Portavogie was purchased in 1956. The congregation met on the site in January 1957, when the Moderator cut the first sod. The building was erected entirely by voluntary labour by men of the congregation.

The first building was opened in September 1958. Approximately 450 people gathered to attend that opening ceremony and the ordination and installation of their first minister. Rev. John Douglas.

Later that same year, 1957, Dr. Ian Paisley held missions in Lisburn Orange Hall and afterwards in Derriaghy Mission Hall. A few brethren with a burden for souls met for prayer in an old cottage on the Mosside Road, Dunmurry. A Gospel Mission was planned for Dunmurry on the site where the new Free Presbyterian Church would be opened.

Despite the earlier successes in the gospel, the Free Presbyterian Church entered a period which we might likened unto the wilderness journey of Israel. From the early events in Ballymoney and Rasharkin etc., until the early 1960s, there seemed to be little happening, though in the wisdom of God a work of preparation was taking place. A great longing for revival blessing began to fall upon many in Ulster. I can recall the longing for God’s blessing that there was upon the people amongst whom God had placed me.
Prayer was answered and that in a most unexpected manner.

It is to those times we will turn in our next message.

Truth for Today, Pt10

Truth for Today — Studies in Ruth, No 10, 1:19-22.

Stream or download Truth for today, Pt10


The decision has been made and the matter settled. Ruth is resolved to journey to Bethlehem with Naomi.

Though a Moabite who has never even been in Judah, her new-found loyalties and aspirations, born of the Holy Spirit at her regeneration, shows that spiritually she is an Israelite indeed. Her native air is now the atmosphere of the promised land. Her new instincts carry her toward Bethlehem. She is in company with returning backslider, Naomi.

I. PLEASE NOTE THAT GRACE WILL ALWAYS PREVAIL IN THE TRUE BELIEVER
“So they two went until they came to Bethlehem,” verse 19.
For a time Moab exercised great power over Naomi and drew her into its fold. Now she is delivered. “ . . the LORD hath brought me home,” verse 21.

1. Sin can exercise power over the believer for a time. The Bible is full of examples.

2. But the true believer cannot be held in its power indefinitely. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace,” Rom 6:14. “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger,” Job 17:9.
The sheep may stray but they will be regathered by the faithful Shepherd.
That is the mark of a true believer.

3. God is honour-bound to rescue His fallen people. “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of,” Genesis 28:15. Deut 3:18; 1 Sam 12:22; Ps 37:25, 28; Isaiah 41:17.

The Parables #103

The Pharisee and the Publican, # 11. 

Scripture: Luke 18:10-14.

Stream or download The Parables #103


“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.”

How important prayer is boys and girls! There is no hope of heaven for someone who does not pray. We can obtain salvation ONLY by asking God! Matthew 7:7-11.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Romans 10:13.

Let us go a little further in this matter.

How a person prays tell us much about them!

In the case of the Pharisee . . . .
The Pharisee thought little of God. See how he addresses God! “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God . . . . ” There is not much reverence in such a beginning! No expression of fear, or of love or any awareness of the majesty of the person he addressed!
The Pharisee thought much of himself! “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican,” verse 11.

How blind he was to God’s glory when he speaks thus of himself so!

How different was Paul’s view of himself, 1 Corinthians 15:10.

The Publican had a very different attitude.

He thought much of God but little of himself! “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner,” verse 13.

Note his attitude toward the Lord. “ . . standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven.”

Note his view of himself. “ . . . smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Greek ‘THE sinner.’

The Saviour says that God heard his prayer and saved him. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other,” verse 14. He was set free from from his guilt and counted righteous by God. He was seen by God as ‘just if he had never sinned!’

Sacred memories of God’s goodness, Part 1

“Glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen,” Luke 2:20.

Read Psalm 145.

Stream or download Sacred Memories of God’s goodness, Pt 1


What I will be attempting to do in these meetings is really a development of a message I preached in Mourne Free Presbyterian Church, at the invitation of the minister, Rev Andrew Patterson, back on January 11th this year. I am grateful to the elders here in Kilskeery for the invitation to enlarge upon what I said in Kilkeel over the three nights of these meetings.

I hope to deal with the topics:
Tonight: THE FORERUNNERS OF THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
Wednesday: THE FORMATION OF THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
Friday: THE FLOURISHING OF THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

May the Lord be pleased to bless us and help in this task.

It is a great sin to forget God’s merciful dealings with our forefathers. It is also a most dangerous thing to do! I must confess that I fear that such a folly is breaking out amongst us!

Such a sin is often reported in the Scriptures. Jeremiah 2:32 is an example. “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” It is clear that such a sin was common and furthermore, such forgetfulness illustrates what little value is placed upon a remembering of God’s mercy and love toward His people!

Oftentimes one can detect an unwillingness to recall the former deeds of God for the possible reason that such recollections highlight just what it was that our fathers did that pleased the Lord. Seeing what it is that pleased the Lord in the past, we might well be challenged by the question: “Well, why are we not doing that today?”
That is question some would rather the people did not ask, for giving an acceptable answer is very difficult indeed!

May we be delivered from such an improper spirit and attitude!

Let us therefore, not be guilty of such forgetfulness but rather let us treasure the record of God’s gracious dealings with us and our fathers.

I want to go back further than 1951, the year in which the Free Presbyterian Church was founded. I want to go back further than Dr Ian Paisley, who was God’s instrument in the formation of the Free Presbyterian Church. I want to go back nearly 100 years to the days of revival blessing in Ulster under the ministry of the Presbyterian evangelist, William Patterson Nicholson, or WP as he was affectionately known.

Northern Ireland was a very recent political entity back then, being formed in 1921 as a result of the ‘Home Rule Crisis’ which brought Ireland as a whole to the verge of civil war.
The six north eastern counties of the Province of Ulster refused to join with the other 26 counties in Ireland, which desired to be separated from the United Kingdom. Because of the predominance of Roman Catholicism in the 26 counties, our Protestant forefathers feared becoming a minority within a Roman Catholic Ireland. Ulster Protestants had centuries of experience of “the tender mercies” (Proverbs 12:1) of the wicked Irish Roman Catholic, anti-British and anti-Protestant activists!
Sinn Fein was the predominant party in the 26 counties and it pushed for Home Rule and the British Government granted it to them. Of course, then as now, Sinn Fein and its armed wing, the Irish Republican Army, desired to force the Six counties of Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join with the rest of Ireland. The terrorist war it had waged against the United Kingdom forces was now concentrated upon Northern Ireland and there was great public disorder in the very early years of Northern Ireland’s existence.

W P Nicholson

It was during this time of terror and disorder that God was pleased to call His servant W P Nicholson back to his homeland to undertake a time gospel missioning. He was then in his mid-40s. When back home, he later recalled what it was he witnessed. “When I arrived in Ulster I found the country terribly disturbed, there was a curfew and Belfast City was deserted”.

His first of many missions was in the Albert Hall on the Shankill Road. It was attended by many men who worked in the shipyard. Hundreds of such men were saved. While the ensuing days were fruitful days they were also testing days. The Albert Hall was one of the largest auditoriums in Belfast in 1920 and to fill it in normal times was challenging enough but in an atmosphere of fear generated by the terrorist strife it was most challenging. W P refers to this time by saying, “Those who came to the early meetings in the Albert Hall had to lie flat in tram-cars because of the bombs that were going off as they passed by. Even during the meetings, shots being fired outside could be heard frequently inside by those brave enough to attend the meetings”.

Those were the beginning of a new season of glory days, not only for Ulster but also for W.P. Nicholson. The Nicholson Revival, which brought him to almost every main town in the six counties, was under way.

Professor Davey.

There was another ‘religious stir’ taking place at that time which was of a very different kind. I refer to the ‘Heresy Trial’ of Professor Davey. It took place in 1927. I would readily believe that it was a direct result of the revived spirit amongst Presbyterian believers which stemmed from the WP Nicholson meetings and his very direct and pointed denunciations of liberal theological teaching in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. A revived soul is bold in the defence of his Saviour’s honour and will not silently ignore the Lord’s truth being denied.
It is to be remembered that revival does not banish sin or stop apostasy! God’s answer to apostasy is judgment. The world in Noah’s day learned that as did the Sodomite’s in Lot’s day!
Many believe that revival would cure a denomination that has allowed apostasy to find a home. So they stay within such a poisoned church and pray for revival. It is a vain and unbiblical hope! The revival of Nicholson’s day did not cure the Irish Presbyterian Church from apostasy. That disease has grown and advanced since the first days of its appearance in the person of J E Davey.

‘German Rationalism’

Professor J E Davey was a graduate of a number of universities, including that of Heidelberg, from which he brought back to Belfast the false and destructive notions of ‘German Rationalism’. In June 1917, he became the youngest person ever appointed to a chair at Assembly’s College, the Presbyterian College in Belfast. It is now called ‘Union College’. There is evidence that even before Davey’s appointment, there were modernist professors lecturing to Irish Presbyterian ministerial students. However, the rot grew worse with his appointment to the Chair of Church History. He would subsequently hold chairs of Biblical Literature, Hebrew and Old Testament, and New Testament Language, Literature and Theology. Dr Davey had already, in 1923, published a book, “The changing vesture of the faith: studies in the origins and development of Christian forms of belief, institution and observance”. This book highlighted his profane anti-Bible theology. Rev James Hunter, then Minister of Knock Presbyterian Church and a member of the committee of management of the College, led the protests against this modernist. Doubtless he would have been encouraged to do so by the sermons of WP Nicholson and his attacks upon liberalism in the pulpits.  On one occasion WP had said of the Assembly’s College Principal, Dr James Haire: “There couldn’t be anything good from a hare for the Bible teaches it is an unclean animal!” He was right.

Rev James Hunter and others were accused of ‘dirty tactics’, when they issued leaflets against Professor Davey and heckled him at public and church meetings. Just what would they make of the Saviour’s denunciations of His enemies in Matthew 23 and of His purging of the temple and driving out those he called thieves and robbers?!

Rev Hunter issued one particular leaflet entitled: “The Assembly’s College, a seedbed of Rationalism”, and in these papers warning notes were sounded, quotations were given from the text books used in the College. As a result, as Dr Paisley put it in a sermon preached in 1983,  “the whole of the Church was alarmed – alarmed that a group of ministers should dare to attack ‘The Holiest of All’, the Assembly’s College, and point the finger at the leading Professors of the Church.”
In his sermon, Dr Paisley goes on to say: “Instead of trying the Professors for their heresy they tried Rev. James Hunter. They rebuked him for daring to go out and publish these pamphlets, and when he appealed to the General Assembly he was publicly rebuked, by 499 votes to 115, for the action he took in warning the Church about the leavening process of apostasy and heresy which flowed from the Assembly’s College.”

Rev James Hunter and Rev W J Grier, who as a student in Assembly’s College and had sat under Davey’s lectures, and was a key witness against Davey in the trial, were amongst those who formed the Irish Evangelical Church, now called the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, in October 1927. That took place a very short time after the General Assembly upheld the decision to acquit Davey of all charges brought against him by a verdict of 707 votes to 82.

Pastor James Kyle Paisley

Another important factor in the emergence of the Free Presbyterian Church was the separation of Pastor James Kyle Paisley from Hill Street Baptist Church in Ballymena in 1933. He had raised issues about of the sale of alcohol and of immoral behaviour amongst members of the congregation. This created a controversy which resulted in him seceding and forming the Independent Baptist Tabernacle in Waveney Road, Ballymena. Ian Paisley was seven years old.

Amongst those who supported Pastor Paisley was Mr Charles Beattie, father of Rev William Beattie, Mrs Eunice Douglas, wife of Dr John Douglas and Mrs Ann Foster, my own wife. Mr Charles Beattie became an elder in the Tabernacle and its treasurer until, his death in 1963, aged 54 years. He had been saved in W P Nicholson’s mission in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena in 1923. W P Nicholson’s preaching in Ballymena was wonderfully blessed with some 2500 people coming forwarded inquiring about salvation, the highest number of any of his campaigns.

The Sabbath morning after Dr Paisley’s ordination on August 1st, 1947, WP Nicholson was in the congregation and that was significant for the Ravenhill Evangelical Mission Church in which Rev Ian Paisley had just been installed as minister. Its founders had been very much in favour of WP Nicholson’s stand on worldliness and his denunciation of modern trends amongst Christians.

The founders of Ravenhill Evangelical Mission Church, elders who had seceded from Ravenhill Presbyterian Church in 1935, had decided to withdraw, not so much about doctrinal or theological issues, though they were arising in hearts, but more about what the seceding elders saw as worldly trends beginning to emerge in the Ravenhill congregation and in the Presbyterian Church generally.

These various events form part of the mosaic of our church.

12th April, 1964

When I first attended Dr Paisley’s church on 12th April, 1964, the Spirit of blessing had been resting upon his ministry from the time, some 16 years earlier, in 1948, when he and others, Mr Bob Scott and Mr Jim Welsh and teenager John Douglas, had waited upon the Lord for prolonged periods of prayer, involving day and and night sessions.

The prayer times had been convened with a view to obtaining God’s blessing upon open-air witnessing, but after a short time it became a specific seeking of God for revival blessing.

John Douglas came home from work on the Monday evening, hoping to rejoin the prayer meeting which had begun on the Friday evening, September 30th. The prayer warriors had felt compelled to stay before God until the blessing came, though youthful John Douglas was forbidden by his father to stay at the overnight seasons of prayer. He rejoined the prayer times each morning though he had to go to work on the Monday. When he rushed down to the church on Monday evening he was met by Dr Paisley at the church at about 6.30, joyfully announcing to him: “Revival has come!” This was  early 3rd October 1949.

Dr Paisley would testify that at that time he was filled with God’s Spirit, the right and privilege of every Christian as Paul makes clear. “ . . . . be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18.
The immediate result of that infilling of God’s servant was a time of very successful soul winning in such towns as Rathfriland and Ballymena. It was shortly after the special prayer time that he went to Rathfriland. It is reported that 186 should were converted at those meetings. The mission started in the Friends’ Hall. After a night or two, the people could not get in so the Presbyterian Church made its Church Hall available, and then, eventually the Church itself had to be used in order to accommodate the crowds attending.
Those times were considered to be real times of revival blessing.

But after some two years of such blessed times, a change came.

Events in Crossgar in 1951 altered the affairs of Ian Paisley and the path God was leading him on.

News Review for week ending Friday 8th February 2019

“The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation,” Numbers 14:18.

Londonderry shootings ‘attempt at controlling communities’

Durkan hits out after men shot in separate attacks in Derry

Durkan and his like would have the world forget that the Roman Catholic community in Londonderry voluntarily yielded up control to the IRA long ago!!!
The Irish Republic always was and still is, a haven and a hideaway for republican terrorists!!! Is this why Irish PM, Leo Varadkar, does not want effective border controls!!!??? 
These ‘inspirational messages’ were addressed to prostitutes. How low the royal family has sunk!!!
Such condemnation is commendable BUT God commands us not to just condemn sin but to separate from it.
‘Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,’ 2 Corinthians 6:17!!
“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH,” Revelation 17:5
Under the guise of concern for children’s welfare the State seeks to gain total control of children and deprive parents of their rights!!!
Does this man, who supports the unscriptural role of ‘women ministers’, reject sodomy if he says that his church is ‘open’ to sodomites??!!
Does this not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the terrible deprivation the downtrodden
Roman Catholic community was subject to in Northern Ireland !!!????
How many others believed an ‘unreliable test’ and had their unborn child murdered???
Hebrews 10:34 is relevant here. ‘For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.’

David Trimble was and is a fool as is evident by his company!!!
Gobbledygook. The whole purpose of the Roman Catholic political coalition supporting Dublin’s ’no hard border’ cry is based upon Dublin’s determination to have Northern Ireland brought in under her rule. The compromising politics of the DUP have advanced that objective and its siding with the ‘no hard border’ lobbyists has most stupidly aided our enemies !!!
This Polish politician and this jumped-up academic will have an eternity to regret such words, which in themselves indicates that this is no ordinary political quarrel given such vitriol!!!
Nothing new there then!!!