“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness,” 2 Timothy 2:15-16.
The phrase ‘rightly dividing the word of truth’ simply means ‘to make straight and smooth, to handle aright, to teach the truth directly and correctly’. Paul refers to a ‘workman’ and it is reasonable to think that when he is directed of the Spirit of God to use a phrase that carries the meaning embodied in the Greek term, that a workman such as a carpenter or stone mason is in the mind of the apostle. My father, who was a carpenter, so often told me when I was but a lad and attempting to help him in some task: ‘measure twice and cut once!’. No one needs to heed such counsel more than one who opens his mouth to pronounce the Word of God and apply it to the hearts and minds of men.
It is easy to misapply God’s Word and thereby misrepresent the meaning of it and thus mislead and misdirect men!
I am saddened to note that such was the outcome of the words spoken by Mr Paul Givan, the First Minister in a speech he made recently in the Stormont Assembly.
A video of part of that speech has been mounted on Facebook and a copy has been circulating. It was sent to me by two friends who were asking my opinion of the words of Mr Givan for they felt that his actions did not ring true.
They are correct.
Sadly, I noted that a Free Presbyterian minister was the one who sent out to these two friends a copy of the video. I was saddened for such an endorsement by that minister indicated a sad lack of discernment, a sadder lack of understanding of God’s Word and failure to see the errors of Mr Givan.
Such was the state of ‘evangelical’ thinking within the ecumenical churches when I first began my ministry back in 1965. Such thinking the Free Presbyterian Church rightly condemned back then. I find it distressing that there is found now amongst Free Presbyterian ministers the very same shallow and superficial understanding of God’s Word that was evident back then, amongst the compromising evangelicals who were prepared to sell-out God’s truth in order to keep a stipend within the ecumenical churches which had readily embraced the errors of liberalism and pro-Romanism.
It appears that some are prepared to treat God’s Word as some form of ‘lucky dip’ out of which you can pluck verses with very pleasing phrases and statements and embrace them and press them upon all and sundry, irrespective of the meaning of the words in the texts or the context in which they are declared!
That is not a right ‘dividing the word of truth’! Rather, it results, as I have said, in a misquoting of the Lord, a misrepresenting of Him and a most serious misdirecting of men!
In the speech of Mr Givan, mounted on Facebook he refers to the Minister of Health, Mr Robin Swann, in complimentary terms. He says of him that he carries a heavy burden of leadership. He goes on to say that “I know that he like me looks above (he raised his finger and briefly pointed upward) for that leadership . . . because of the faith that we have.”
He then goes on to say that he receives support as a result of his faith in God. He states that he knows that it is also the case with the Minister of Health. He continues by saying that he takes comfort and guidance from a number of verses in the Bible which he then quotes and applies to the Minister and to the other members present in the debate.
Mr Givan quotes Isaiah 41:10. “Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
He also quotes 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
These are two wonderful verses which have on innumerable occasions comforted and strengthened the people of God. But is Mr Givan correct in pressing them upon the members of the Stormont Assembly present in that debate and upon the Health Minister in particular, and declaring that they apply to them all?
Does the context in which these words are spoken by the Lord permit such a use to be made of them?
That is the question that one who handles God’s Word and who presses it upon individuals must EVER consider.
On this occasion, Mr Givan is saying to Robin Swann, the Health Minster, the man in charge of the National Health Service in Northern Ireland (NHS) and thereby, the man ultimately responsible for the abortion service, the killing of unborn babies that the NHS provides and also the pressing upon the public the Covid-19 vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies who have acknowledged that they used foetal material from an aborted baby to either develop or test their vaccines: “Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
I must say that I believe to do so, at the very least borders on blasphemy.
Mr Givan is misrepresenting God, seriously misleading Mr Swann and the other members of the Assembly present and who are part of a gathering which is responsible for the funding and support of sodomy and the encouragement of every form of modern perversion related to it.
Mr Swann’s party, the Ulster Unionist Party, is one that a Christian recently found it necessary to resign from, because of the immoral standards supported by that party. The Belfast Telegraph of November 13th, but a few days ago, reports: “Mr McKee, a member of Newry, Mourne and Down council, had criticised UUP leader Doug Beattie over his stance on abortion, same-sex marriage and a recent Assembly vote on gay conversion therapy.”
We ask Mr Givan, is it right to say to Mr Swann, a loyal member of that party and indeed its leader a short time ago, that the Lord says to him: “Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Without hesitation I say that Mr Givan was speaking in arrogance and presumption and in utter error! He had no right or authority to speak in God’s name and offer such encouragement to the man supportive of abortion, same-sex marriage and a recent Assembly vote on gay conversion therapy and ultimately in charge of the abortion machinery in Ulster!
Mr Givan thus makes God the encourager and upholder of abortion and he will give an account for such dark folly.
In Isaiah 41 the Lord was speaking prophetically to the nation of Israel, the offspring of Abraham. “But thou, Israel, [art] my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. [Thou] whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou [art] my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away,” verses 8-9.
These words have reference to God’s future intervention in the affairs of Israel and His deliverance of them from their latter-day enemies and His restoration of them to the land that He promised them from the days of Abraham.
“Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, [even] them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, [and] ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat [them] small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, [and] shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. [When] the poor and needy seek water, and [there is] none, [and] their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, [I] the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, [and] the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it,” Isaiah 41:11-20.
Men such as Robin Swann, engaged in the evil work that he is, has no right to these wonderful promises!
I could likewise say something similar of 2 Timothy 1:7. Paul directed these words to one of whom he said: “To Timothy, [my] dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, [and] peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from [my] forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands,” 2 Timothy 1:2-6.
With the best will in the world, I fail to see any parallel in the life of Robin Swann to the man to whom these words are spoken and I can justly conclude that he has no claim upon the comforts of verse 7.
Robin Swann gives no evidence of God having given him the spirit of “power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Where is the love and soundness of mind evidenced in the programme of abortion and the use of a vaccination that has made use of foetal material in its development, which he heads?
I say again that Mr Givan is gravely in error in speaking as he did.
If he is a Free Presbyterian, then those who are his Session should be looking into his folly. Sadly, I have little hope of that happening since it is not that long ago that Mr Givan partook in an ecumenical service in Armagh Cathedral at which the head of the Roman Catholic Church here in Ireland, castigated our Protestant forefathers for the honourable and just stand they took against the treacherous British government’s plan to force them into ‘Home Rule’ under a Roman Catholic dominated government in Dublin back in 1912.
The ‘service’ was supposed to mark the birth of Northern Ireland in 1921 as a result of that stand by out forbears. Instead it became a platform upon which to deride them.
Mr Givan emerged from that service smiling broadly, having apparently perceived no wrong in the insults heaped upon the memory of our godly forefathers who had adopted as their slogans in that anti-home rule campaign such phrases as “For God and Ulster” and “Home Rule is Rome Rule”?
Mr Givan and his fellow DUP members, united with Sinn Fein/IRA as they are at Stormont, have long ago abandoned the faith and the fight and the fidelity of the Protestant heroes and heroines of 1912!
I have been told by a minster that as far as he knows Mr Given was spoken to by his Session about his attendance at the ecumenical service in Armagh and he has since resigned his membership of the Free Presbyterian Church.
I am very thankful and heartened if it is so that the elders in this case acted, but saddened that Mr Givan chose to resign rather than humble himself and amend his ways and obey God’s Word.
He is thus putting the politics of compromise and rebellion against God before honouring the One he professes to serve.
“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Samuel 15:22.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
November 25th, 2021