The Government and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church has called for a season of prayer for Saturday 30th October. It is to seek God’s intervention in the affairs of our nation. There have been other such prayer seasons in recent times.
A day of intercession and prayer in our present circumstances is very welcome and very proper. However, when we set out to seek the Lord it must be done with His requirements and commands very much in mind.
There have been prayers offered to the Lord by God’s people which were not heard by Him. “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” Isaiah 1:15-18.
Maybe it is time to ask: “Has the Lord been answering our prayers?”
Sin in our hearts, in our lives, in our midst will stop our prayers being heard and therefore from receiving an answer.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation,” Psalm 24:3-5.
This well known psalm, which is often sung in our worship services, sets forth the holy requirements laid down by the Lord before He will hear and answer prayer.
The Psalmist acknowledged this truth I am seeking to underscore in the familiar words: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear [me],” Psalm 66:18.
It is said in 1 Samuel 7:2 that “all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.” To those anxious to obtain the Lord’s blessing again amongst them, the prophet Samuel said: “If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, [then] put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines,” verse 3.
This scriptural principle cannot be ignored by us as we would seek the Lord in this our day of trouble and rebuke. We must follow the example of David. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” Psalm 139:23-24.
The Lord repeatedly makes this matter plain to us. That in itself might suggest that it is a truth we are reluctant to face up to! “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land,” 2 Chronicles 7:14. That four-fold set of conditions laid down for a repentant people before they will receive an answer to their prayer, has been often quoted amongst us all the days of my Christian pilgrimage. There has to be a searching out of our sins and a turning from them before the Lord will answer us.
That there is sin amongst us is a most obvious fact. We would not be in the state we are and in need of the Lord’s reviving power again if SIN was not amongst us! While that fact is obvious, sadly, we are not so ready to acknowledge our sins. We, like all generations before us, are more ready to cover our sins than we are to confess them. We are more inclined to deny the presence of sins amongst us than we are humbly to declare and own them.
I believe that as it was with David, when he lived in denial of his great sin in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11) so it is with us today. However, and this encourages us, the Lord in mercy brought home to David his sin and that led on to pardon and reconciliation. “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die,” 2 Samuel 12:13. How publicly the good man owned his sinful behaviour may be seen in his psalm of repentance, Psalm 51!
That is the path we too must follow if we are to obtain the blessing of the Lord which “maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it,” Proverbs 10:22.
Has the Free Presbyterian Church sin in its ranks? I believe that there is one very obvious transgression which has been concealed, denied and ignored now for many years.
That which I refer to are the very wrong actions of some in our ranks, some even who hold office in our denomination, in that they maintain support for the wicked policies of the Democratic Unionist Party, particularly adopted over the last 15 years. Those wicked policies began with a very unbiblical allegiance formed with Sinn Fein, a party of innumerable criminal links including that of terrorist murder and robbery! Just such an early form of such a political arrangement between the Ulster Unionist Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party was denounced in the past by the DUP and by our church.
Part of the 1998 Free Presbyterian Presbytery statement on Power-sharing read:
The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster recognising the Bible as our sole rule of faith and practice — vehemently opposes the recent April Agreement (the Good Friday Agreement).
Our opposition to the Agreement stems from the fact that it is unscriptural, unethical and immoral. Scripture makes it abundantly clear in Romans 13:1-5 that it is the duty of the Government to punish evil and reward good. The fundamental principle which lies at the heart of any stable and peaceable society has been dispensed with in this Agreement. Set against a backdrop of lies and deceitfulness it ensures that those who have supported and advocated violence will sit in government over our people. . . . Such a position is contrary to the divine law of God where He commands punishment of an evildoer (1 Peter 2:14).
Sadly, many who voted in Presbytery for that statement in 1998 seem to have forgotten it by 2007! The shameful power-sharing arrangement with Sinn Fein did not end there, but as is always the case with sin, there was a sinking down into even more wrong-doing.
Support and financial encouragement was given to sodomite organisations by the Stormont Executive, headed up by the DUP and Sinn Fein. It was deceitfully denied at the first but finally acknowledged to be true. (See — Letter from OFMDFM — A little more honesty from the First Minister, but …)
That funding has continued for years and has involved even Free Presbyterians. Dr Paisley was the First Minister when the Stormont Executive took over the funding scheme started by Mr Peter Hain MP. Mr Mervyn Storey was also involved in the issuing of funds to sodomite organisations. (See – Can Mervyn Storey’s actions in heading a Stormont Department which funds sodomy and blasphemy be defended or excused?).
I think that it should be stated that none of the articles which were published in The Burning Bush on these matters were ever challenged!
Sadly, as I have already stated, disobedience can only lead on to greater sin. So it is with the DUP. In the local council elections of 2019, the DUP put forth and endorsed a woman who openly declared her perverted lesbian lifestyle. (DUP Sinks still further with lesbian council candidate).
That endorsement of sodomy has intensified. (See It is ‘make up your mind time’ for those Free Presbyterians in the DUP) Recently, the DUP voted into its Deputy Leader’s office, a woman who makes no secret of her support for all things LGBT!! The DUP has a deputy leader in Paula Bradley who has for years shown her support for the perverted notions of sodomites. In 2018 she agreed to sponsor a ‘Pink News’ Stormont reception at which it is reported Mrs Arlene Foster spoke. (Irish News, 27/6/18).
Further evidence of the brasen departure of the DUP from the Bible was seen in the headlines of an article in the BelfastLive news site. Prominent DUP MLA, Pamela Cameron, is reported as saying that she was delighted to attend her ‘best friends’ gay wedding’ (See — DUP MLA Pam Cameron shares her delight at attending best friends’ gay wedding)
We could multiply the evidences of the DUP’s downward slide into worldliness and sin but we need not. Sadly, it has to be noted that there are Free Presbyterians still supporting this party, despite these God’s defying and dishonouring policies. This support is evidenced by their COMPLETE SILENCE in the wake of the very public reports in the secular press documenting this wickedness.
Numerous attempts have been made by concerned ministers and elders to have this ungodliness dealt with as it should and which it would have been in the better days of our witness! ( See — “Is political activity exempt from the rule of God’s Law?”) However, such efforts have been stymied, ignored and resisted. I have written many times to Presbytery officers and I believe that I am correct when I say I have yet to receive a sympathetic, supportive acknowledgment. Certainly, there has been no action taken against those who hold office in the Free Presbyterian Church and who support the evil position of the DUP.
Now, in the light of this, how can we hope to have the Lord answer prayer while there is a deliberate refusal to comply with His Word. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear [me].” Is there not a ‘regarding’ of sin at the very heart of our denomination? The word means ‘to approve’. See Genesis 1:4, 3;6 etc.
As long as this situation continues we will receive no hearing of our prayers from heaven and we can but expect things to get worse and the spiritual decline will accelerate more quickly.
How dreadful is that prospect!
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
11th October 2021