How times have changed in old Ulster!

(“Belfast Newsletter” article, 3rd July 2021)

First on the list is a visit to Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, the home of one of the world’s oldest sources of that which cursed and blighted the lives of millions and brought them down to hell!

This “Belfast Newsletter” article shows how times have changed in old Ulster! Such a headline or article would never have appeared in a newspaper when I was a boy. It would have been seen instinctively as bordering on blasphemy and in utter denial of the words of the Lord Jesus and His gospel!

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” Matt 6:33.

“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” 1 Timothy 4:8.

Christians should understand just what such a headline means in what is considered the ‘Protestant and Unionist newspaper’ in our Province! Denoting as it does an ignorance and a spirit of careless indifference to the Word of God, it is in truth a fulfillment of the revelation of the final days of this age, as given to Christians by the Lord through His inspired writers.

“That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation,” 2 Peter 3:2-4.

Surely, the spirit of this headline is depicted here! It presents a spirit of ‘scoffing’ at eternity and the need of all to seek God for His mercy and salvation, rather a tour of places of very questionable interest, which will in a coming day, be reduced to ashes under the fire of God’s judgment!

The Lord Jesus said to Martha, sister to Lazarus, when she complained to Him that her sister Mary was not helping her in the kitchen but rather, she “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word,” Luke 10:39. “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:41-42.

Sitting humbly before the Saviour and hearing (giving full attention to) His Word is the wisest thing for all to engage in. It is most certainly that which ‘EVERY PERSON IN NI SHOULD DO BEFORE THEY DIE’!

“For we must needs die, and [are] as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again,” 2 Samuel 14:14. That being so, and it most certainly is, there is a need for everyone to prepare for their departure from this scene of time! The simple instructions of the Bible on this matter have ceased to be preached in most pulpits. Instead there is a declaring of a lie, the devil’s lie, that our own works and religious activities will suffice by way of preparation.

That is the message of the modern pulpit.

It is not the message of God!

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36. But what, you may ask, does it actually mean to ‘believe on the Son’? I believe what the Bible says about the Saviour. I don’t deny His existence but seek to reverence Him!

Please think on these words of James. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:19-20. A true and living faith is accompanied by evidences, works.

Here is what it is to believe. “He (the Lord Jesus) came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:11-13.

Two words are used here to set forth faith. They are ‘received’ and ‘believe’. To believe on Christ is to receive him. During the days of His earthly ministry, those who believed on the Saviour demonstrated their faith by showing hospitality to Him. “And as he passed by, he saw Levi the [son] of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him,” Mark 2:14-15. Matthew showed his new faith by receiving Christ into his home and making a feast for Him and inviting many to come along and hear and see the Saviour.

This ‘receiving’ Christ into his home was evidence of Matthew having ‘received’ Christ into his heart! The ‘tax collector’ was acting very differently from how he used to act, as a result of his new relationship with Christ. Paul said, and this is seen in Matthew’s life: “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

So, to believe on Christ is to receive Him into our hearts and lives by faith. Acts 8:36-37 tells of the conversion of the Ethiopian and of his declaration of faith before he was baptised. “And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” Acts 8:36-37.

That was his faith, his receiving of Christ. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” In other words, all that the Bible says of Christ, I believe: the record of His miraculous and supernatural virgin birth, His spotless, sinless life, His giving of Himself to die for His “sheep”, bearing their “sins in his own body on the tree.” His rising again on the third day and even now, “at the right hand of God” is making “intercession for us,” Romans 8:34.

These are the gospel truths which must be embraced if we are to “believe” on Christ and be saved.


If they do not they will be lost forever in a Christless eternity.

Do give heed to these words if you are not yet converted and under the precious blood of Christ’s atoning death.

Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
3rd July 2021.