I. HIS RIOTOUS LIVING
We have considered the restlessness and rebellion of the prodigal and how it lead to him leaving his father’s house for the far country. We continue our study with a look at how things fared for him in the land of his prefers before his father’s house.
1. In the far country, things did not go as expected. He became what he himself most likely never planned to be. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” Hebrews 3:13. He
desired to sin but not to spend all and decline into poverty and utter destitution. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose (destroy) his life for my sake shall find it,” Matt 16:25.
2. But he was not his own master! And neither are you, Christ rejecter. If, instead of seeking Christ, you heed the call of sin then sin will have its way with you. It will control you and not you sin. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you,” Romans 6:17.
3. Notice that his father let him go. We have commented on this before but it is worth mentioning again. God lets those who would be free of Him have their way.
“So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels,” Ps 81:12. Sin is presently restrained by God in you sinner! But if you seek after sin and God gives you up you will discover its power and your helplessness. How powerful it is that it can allure us away from God! Few have felt its full power for God in mercy shelters us.
Illustrations abound—drugs and alcohol. (Sheltered bay in Lough Erne—no wind until bay is left and open lough is reached) Beware sinner of crossing that line.
2. It is a venture into the unknown. He did not know what lay over the horizon! Here is the irrational attitude that sin produces! The boozer, the drug-taker all indulge in that which is very evidently harmful and dangerous. Who knows what a day will have for us? “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow,” James 4:14.
Not so with the obedient child of God. While we may not know what a day will bring forth we have this assurance: “For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me,” Job 23:14. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Thess 5:9. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way,” Ps 37:23. “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not,” Ps 17:5.
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” 2 Corinthians 5:1. We “know” where we are going! “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day,” 2 Timothy 1:12. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” 1 John 3:2.
3. He has no intention of returning. He gathers all together. He will not leave anything behind that might cause his return. What a mind-set the sinner has. He is determined to have nothing to do with God. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me,” Psa 81:11 “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit . . . . For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water,” Jeremiah 2:11, 13 “They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof,” Pro 1:30.
4. He puts as much distance between himself and his father as he can. He went to a ‘far’ country. He wishes him out of his sight and out of his mind.
Beware that this is not the spirit that is at work in you.
May God open your eyes and cause you to see and understand the consequences of departing from the Lord.
Having considered the Prodigal’s ‘Discontentment’ we move on to consider his ‘Departure’! Where there is discontentment and it is not dealt with and conquered then it will lead to departure. Paul said this: “But godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Timothy 6:6. Only godliness can produce contentment. I mentioned at the beginning of this study that the devil was a discontent spirit and that is because of his ungodliness! There is no discontentment with God. “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10. God has no reason for discontentment! All His plans and purposes will come to pass. His perfect will shall be perfectly accomplished. It is as we are conformed to God, become more godly, short for ‘godlike’, that we enter into God’s contentment and peace and tranquillity!
The discontent son was not in harmony with his father – hence his discontentment! “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls,” Matthew 11:29.
1. The son departs as soon as he can. “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country,” verse 13.
As soon as he receives the means of departing and makes the arrangements he goes. What a testimony of his distaste for his father his haste is. This is the spirit of fallen man at work.
“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden,” Genesis 3:8.
Scripture: Acts 17:22-23 “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you,”.
Sermon preached in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church,
Lord’s Day evening, 18th February 2018, by Rev Ivan Foster (Rtr)
Our sermon title will be considered by many as blasphemous and intolerant and worthy of criminal proceedings!
Whatever else it may be, I hope to show that it is biblical and right!
It will be seen from our text that when dealing with error the Christian minister must not tip-toe around the matter. A spade is to be called a spade and in this case, superstition and ignorance, are to be called just that.
Paul pulled no punches in his denunciation of error.
That is how the Lord Jesus preached against and dealt with the folly and ignorance of His day. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God,” Matt 22:29. Chapter 23 of Matthew is filled with the Saviour’s blunt and forthright confrontation with His enemies. What plainness of speech He used!
Let me commence tonight by saying:
I. IT WOULD BE A KINDNESS TO IRELAND WERE THE POPE NOT TO COME.
1. Ireland, South and North, has been made to see something of the corruption of that organisation the pope leads. One of the many blessings Christ bestowed was the REMOVAL of devils from the lives of those enslaved by him. “He cast out the spirits with his word,” Matt 8:16. Christ did not ignore the devil or his agents!
Wicked and cruel treatment of children has been revealed in Ireland and across the world as having taken place for many years within Rome’s institutions! It has resulted in 100,000s turning from Rome in Ireland.
We have a wealth of data on this subject on the internet which the interested reader may investigate. Here are some I found in a matter of seconds.
2. The only hope for Ireland is for its people to see the utter sham of Roman Catholicism. It usurps the name of Christ. Who it is the pope claims to be: “The Vicar of Christ”! What a blasphemous claim! It denies the efficiency of the death of Christ. It spreads darkness instead of light wherever if goes.
That is what Protestants discovered through the reading of the Bible at the time of the Reformation.
Here is the testimony of historic Protestantism.
39 Articles of Religion
Here is something of the “anti-popery” of the 39 Articles of Religion which formed the basis of Reformation Anglicanism.
11. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
12. Of Good Works.
Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
15. Of Christ alone without Sin.
Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world; and sin (as Saint John saith) was not in him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
22. Of Purgatory.
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
28. Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
31. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
37. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.
The King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction. Where we attribute to the King’s Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers. The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England. The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences. It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.
Westminster Confession of Faith
Likewise, we quote the Westminster Confession of Faith where it directly denounces popery. Of course the whole of the Confession witnesses against the errors of Rome but we will limit ourselves to two quotations.
WCoF, 24:3 – Of Marriage.
It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet is it the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord: and therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.
WCoF, 25:6 – The Church.
There is no other head of the Church, but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church. against Christ and all that is called God.
We add to these sentiments those of Methodism’s Founder, John Wesley who expressed his view of the pope and popery in his comments on 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
V. 3. Unless the falling away – From the pure faith of the gospel, come first. This began even in the apostolic age.
But the man of sin, the son of perdition – Eminently so called, is not come yet. However, in many respects, the Pope has an indisputable claim to those titles. He is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled, the son of perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers, destroyed innumerable souls, and will himself perish everlastingly. He it is that opposeth himself to the emperor, once his rightful sovereign; and that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped – Commanding angels, and putting kings under his feet, both of whom are called gods in scripture; claiming the highest power, the highest honour; suffering himself, not once only, to be styled God or vice-god. Indeed no less is implied in his ordinary title, “Most Holy Lord,” or, “Most Holy Father.”
So that he sitteth – Enthroned.
In the temple of God – Mentioned Re 11:1.
Declaring himself that he is God – Claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.
To these testimonies we could add more from the creeds of Baptists and Congregationalists and many others. The ranks of historical Protestantism were solidly ‘anti-popery’!
3. Without doubt, a papal visit would re-energise support for popery in the south. That we must pray against! It is a rejection of Romanism, not a return to its evil fold we would see.
II. GOD’S PEOPLE ARE NOT TO SHOW TOLERANCE TOWARD FALSEHOODS SUCH AS ROMANISM
1. I must clearly explain what I mean by this. I do not mean that Christians are to try and physically stop RCs worshipping or in any way hinder them pursuing their religion. Those who do so are wrong.
The Lord is opposed to idolatry and will one day judge it but He presently bears with idolatrous worship all over the world.
2. However, we must not encourage Romanism. While giving others the right to follow its teachings, we must not encourage it.
3. We must bear witness against it. That is what our forefathers did in the creeds etc I have quoted. We must maintain a witness in our day and reject the falsehoods of it and apostate ecumenism! It was for this purpose that the FPC of Ulster came into being. The minister’s ordination oath bears this out!!
4. We must be alive to its deceitfulness! 2 Cor 11:12-15. It is by its deceitfulness that popery has gained such a stranglehold on Ulster today. Its craftiness re the “peace” movement and the IRA ceasefire completely deceived unionist politicians some 11 years ago. They were not too hard to deceive since they had a great hunger for the ‘bait’ set before them – earthly honour and glory!!
Evidence of that hunger continuing was seen in the past week with the disclosures in the press of the treachery of the DUP in its talks with Sinn Fein/IRA regarding the re-establishing of power-sharing at Stormont!
III. THE ANSWER TO POPERY IS THE GOSPEL
In my March LTBS messages I will be dealing with Paul’s words to the Galatians. “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father,” Galatians 1:4.
I will be pointing out how that in order to counter the deceptions of the devil at work amongst the Galatians, Paul reiterated the message of the gospel.
The TRUTH is ever heaven’s antidote to the lie! 2 Tim 4:1-6;
1. The apostles demonstrated that. The ancient pagan world was wonderfully overcome by the gospel.
2. The reformers demonstrated that. What a toppling of Rome took place at the reformation!
3. Every revival has demonstrated that. Millions of Roman Catholics were delivered from the chains of darkness in those wonderful times of blessing.
Paul declared: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” Romans 1:16.
Declaring the gospel and praying against every advance of popery is our Christian duty!
The name ‘Capernaum’ means “Village of Comfort” and it proved that to this unnamed man whose friends were so faithful and diligent in getting him to Christ for His blessing.
When the Lord Jesus comes to a place it cannot remain a secret. His presence will be known. “And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them,” Mark 2:2.
Christ can stir up in the hearts of men a glorious interest in Himself!
We are told here of 4 men who saw an opportunity to do good to their friend. “And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four,” verse 3.
Palsy was a form of paralysis often accompanied with tremors and convulsions. It resulted in a state of helplessness. It took 4 men to help him as he could not help himself at all. This was no partial paralysis but rather a general utter disability.
This man is a picture of a sinner in his natural state, who is insensible of his condition, of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, of his danger and misery to which he is exposed, of his lost and undone condition, of his necessity of the new birth, and of his need of salvation by Jesus Christ.
He has no power to come to Christ for life and salvation and as his friends took him, and brought him to Christ, so it becomes the friends, relations and neighbours of unregenerate persons to be concerned for them and to bring them under the means of grace. There they may be brought to a sense of their sins and a view of the free and full forgiveness of them through the mercy and power of the Lord Jesus.
We may learn from the actions of these men.
I. THESE MEN WERE INFORMED ABOUT THE LOCATION OF CHRIST
1. They were not indifferent or uninterested in the affairs of Christ! All too many Christians are more interested in the business activities than they are in the affairs of the Kingdom of God. Hag 1:3-6, John 6:27.
2. Their ears were tuned to reports of Christ’s movements. “It was noised that he was in the house.” They heard that “noise”!
3. They immediately saw the opportunity presented to help their friend. His need was uppermost in their hearts. These men used their time and strength to bring this man to Christ. Oh to be alive to the needs of others and the danger their souls are in! Hell opens at their feet and they are helpless to escape! “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ,” Gals 6:2; Rom 15:1; John 13:14.
4. Note the word ‘straightway’. They acted immediately!
II. THEIRS WAS A CONCERTED EFFORT
1. They would have received no help from their paralysed friend. In this he pictures the unconverted sinner. John 5:40. Refusal of Naaman!
2. They acted jointly and energetically. They must have been amongst the first to react to the news of Christ’s presence. What good can be done by such a holy partnership! Christian, seek out the company and friendship of such!
“A threefold cord is not quickly broken,” Ecclesiastes 4:12.
3. They immediately ran into difficulties. No good can be done in this world without opposition. How often the crowd present a difficulty! The difficulty of getting their friend to the house, not any negligence on their part, slowed them up so that others were there before them.
4. Their determination is seen in how they overcame the formidable problem. The crowd can hinder. “They uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay,” 4.
5. The cooperation of the owner and cost to the 4 friends should be noted. The roof was seriously damaged and would have to be repaired.
Nothing is more important than the salvation of a soul!
III. NOTE WHAT IT WAS CHRIST OBSERVED.
1. Jesus saw their faith. Verse 5. “I will shew thee my faith by my works,” James 2:18. The faith of the 4 men not of the sick man. Everything they did, the carrying of the man, the removal of the roof and all that entailed, spoke of their faith to Christ.
2. Christ also saw the chief need of the man. “Jesus . . . .said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” The palsy was bad but unpardoned sins are immeasurably worse!
3. Forgiveness of sin is neither earned nor deserved. Rather it is bestowed by the grace of Christ. The man did nothing, not even speaking a word!
4. Please notice that the forgiveness of sins was not all that Christ bestowed upon the man. That is a most wonderful blessing but there was more. Our lifetime and our eternity will be filled with the more that follows!
Christ’s healing of the man was in order to demonstrate His power and authority to forgive sins! He demonstrated that He was God.
It is with God we have to do if we are to have forgiveness of sin! Not Mary or the saints or the church or our works! The scribes were correct when they said: “Who can forgive sins but God only?” Verse 7. But they were blind to the fact that Christ was God!
It is to Him, the God-man, sinners must go for salvation.
5. The happy outcome. The 5 friends would have walked home together, after they had repaired the man’s roof!