As I was preparing to come here this evening, it was my purpose to preach a simple gospel message. Indeed, I can quote the words of Jude where he says he turned from his original subject matter to another. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” verse 3.
My topic is not the one Jude turned to but rather, in the light of recent events in Manchester and in London last evening, I wish to speak about the times in which we live and the significance of such horrific events.
God says that the preacher is to be a watchman, one who stands on the walls of the city and watches for the approach of the enemy and then shouts out a warning to the people of the city.
We will take heed to the opening words of this passage.
“Behold, my servant,” Isaiah 52:13.
In this portion you have one of the most wonderfully detailed portraits of the Lord Jesus. His name is not mentioned but we can be sure that the prophet is speaking of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus.
Last assembly we looked at Acts 8:26-35 and we learned that this passage is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. We saw also the wonderful help that God gives us in order that we might understand the Bible.
Boys and girls we all need help to understand the Bible. This man was a very learned and intelligent man, verse 27. But listen to his words. “And Philip . . . . said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” Acts 8:30-31.
Here we have the help that God supplies.
1. The Holy Spirit, v29. He is the One Who wonderfully superintends the bringing of the elect to an understanding of the gospel.
2. A Preacher. What a blessed gift from God are Spirit-guided, Spirit-filled preachers. The man to give the help that the Ethiopian so desired was sent by the Holy Spirit at the right time, “And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him,” Acts 8:31.
We will take heed to the opening words of this passage. “Behold, my servant,” Isaiah 52:13.
In this portion you have one of the most wonderfully detailed portraits of the Lord Jesus. His name is not mentioned but we can be sure that the prophet is speaking of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus. 1. Proof that this is the Lord Jesus pictured here. Please turn to Acts 8:26-35. Note especially the verse 30. “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?” He was reading where we have been reading today. Boys and girls we all need help to understand the Bible. This man was a very learned and intelligent man, verse 27. But listen to his words. “And Philip . . . . said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” Acts 8:30-31.
“And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,” Acts 11:26.
(A message preached by Rev Ivan Foster in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church on Lord’s Day evening, April 30th, 2006)
I suppose there is no more abused term in the English language than that of “Christian”!
So abused is the term that the true Christian must takes steps not to be associated with those who would describe themselves as “Christians”.
The term is commonly applied to that which is, in truth, anti-Christianity. The blessed name of Christ is thus used to veil that which is born of the devil.
Of course we recall the words of Israel in the day of their departure from God. “And he (Aaron, the High Priest) received them (ornaments of gold) at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,” Exodus 32:4. The very thing forbidden of God just a short time earlier, is now called God! “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,” Exodus 20:4-5.
Little wonder then that we have this abuse of the term Christian.
But let us see from God’s Word just what a Christian is.
The synopsis of a sermon preached in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church on Sabbath evening, September 11th, 1994, By Rev Ivan Foster
(A warning issued 23 years ago of the deceit and lies at work on the subject of ‘peace’ in Ulster!!)
There are times when the finger must be pointed and the lie exposed. The cause of truth in a time of deception demands that a most vigorous witness be maintained. When there is a babble of voices proclaiming the lie the servant of God must be all the more strident in order to ensure that his voice rises above the lie. We live in just such a day. The fabric of national life is riddled with the woodworm of deception and falsehood. Politics, religion, business, every strata of the nation’s affairs is corrupted by untruths. A great deception is being wrought especially upon the Ulster people in the realm of religion and the constitutional future of our province.
1. It is deceitful to claim that no deal has been done with the IRA.
I say that on the basis of the past history of London’s dealing with us. There has not been a prime minister or secretary of state but has lied about us and to us. Deals have been done with the IRA before in Whitelaw’s time and again just recently by Major’s government. Both deals were strenuously denied at the time. I find no comfort in the assurances of Archbishop Eames. He is a perjurer par excellence. As a minister of the Church of Ireland he has broken his ordination oath repeatedly by his affiliations with Rome. His word is no bond.
I say it on the basis of the informed opinions of very many people. The press is filled with reports from those who have the inside track on such issues that indicates a deal.
I say it on the basis of the activities since the cease-fire was declared. They confirm the reports of the contents of the deal struck between Major and the IRA. Prisoners brought over to Ulster, IRA armed escape, in which a prison officer was shot and wounded, but which was deemed no breach of a ‘cease-fire’, army reducing its presence, border roads being opened. Newsletter reports – 10/9/94.
2. It is deceitful to say that the IRA cease-fire forms the basis of future peace.
A ceasing of terrorism is not the same as peace. Maybe if that was better understood there might not be the foolish tendency to swallow all the hyperbole uttered by the horde of deceivers that sit behind the microphones in the studios of the broadcasting media.
I wish to speak about the true nature and character of peace.
I. TRUE PEACE IS FOUND ONLY WHERE CHRIST IS OBEYED.
Lev 26:6. Peace was promised to Israel when she obeyed the Word of God. While there is a continuing of the rejection of God’s word that we witness today, there can be no peace in Ulster. The word peace means— safety, quiet, tranquillity, contentment. Do you see any of those characteristics braking out on the Falls or Shankill roads?
1. The disturber of peace is sin. The harmony, tranquillity and contentment of heaven was disturbed by Satan’s sin, II Peter 2:4. Sin ruined the peace of man in the Garden of Eden, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Romans 5:12.
2. As long as sin rules in the heart there will be rebellion in the life and behaviour of men. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Pro 23:7. Isaiah 57:20-21. The word ‘rest’ means peace, Joshua 11:23. For peace to prevail there must be obedience to God.
3. Obedience of the gospel is the first peaceable act man will perform. True obedience is accompanied by surrender to Christ, a yielding up of all arms and resistance. The gospel is God’s peace terms, Isaiah 1:18.
II. TRUE PEACE FLOURISHES ONLY WHERE CHRIST REIGNS.
Psalm 72:7. In the day of Christ peace shall abundantly flourish. The day spoken of here is a specific reference to the millennium reign of Christ upon the earth. But it is seen at least in part in that day when the sinner comes under the rule of Christ.
1. There is peace in the soul regarding the past. The pardon of all sins has brought peace.
2. There is peace in the soul regarding the present. Having God’s mercy rest upon you leaves you desiring no more. It is enough.
3. There is peace in the soul regarding the future. It is well with our souls.
III. TRUE PEACE FLOWS ONLY FROM CALVARY.
1. The blood of the cross is the basis of all peace. The blood-shedding of Christ dealt with the source of the sinner’s unrest — his war with God, Rom 5:10.
2. Peace is bestowed by the application of the blood to the heart of the sinner. Reconciled by the blood. Home of the Israelite marked by blood escaped judgment.
3. It is maintained by recourse to its cleansing power. I John 1:7-9. The sins of believers are dealt with by the blood. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” I John 2:1-2. It is to the blood we look and to it alone for deliverance from sin and the unrest and strife that it creates.