Some comments on a horrifying report!

I have just read (11.00 am) the headlines of an article in the “Belfast Telegraph” entitled: ‘David Tweed’s daughters reveal the ‘monster’ he really was after years of sexual abuse at hands of late rugby star father’.

David Tweed was buried out of Hebron Free Presbyterian Church where he was reported to be a member. He was accepted there as a professing Christian.

It must be stated that a sinner, guilty of the most horrific wickedness may receive forgiveness and mercy from the Lord upon repentance and faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

That is made plain in such portions of God’s Word as 2 Chronicles 33:9-14.

“So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, [and] to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he [was] God. Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side odidf Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.”

Here is a man who sinned to a very great degree against the Lord. The record in 2 Kings states this dreadful truth. “Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing [that which was] evil in the sight of the LORD,” 21:16. Amongst the sins he committed were those against his own children. “And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger,” 2 Chronicles 33:6. This passing children through ‘the fire’ entailed the most cruel death of the infants. It was a wicked heathen practice strictly forbidden of God in His law. “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD,” Leviticus 18:21.

One commentary contains these words: “We have seen Manasseh’s wickedness; here we have his repentance, and it is a memorable example of the riches of God’s pardoning mercy, and the power of his renewing grace. Deprived of his liberty, separated from his evil counsellors and companions, without any prospect but of ending his days in a wretched prison, Manasseh thought on what had passed; he began to cry for mercy and deliverance. He confessed his sins, condemned himself, was humbled before God, loathing himself as a monster of impiety and wickedness. Yet he hoped to be pardoned through the abundant mercy of the Lord.—Then Manasseh knew that Jehovah was God, able to deliver. He knew him as a God of salvation; he learned to fear, trust in, love, and obey him. From this time he bore a new character, and walked in newness of life. Do not deny to yourself what God has not denied you; it is not your sin, but your impenitence, that bars heaven against you.”

Manasseh is not the only example of God’s great mercy to sinners who repented of the vilest wickedness. “ Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Here Paul bears testimony to the conversion of members of the Corinthian church which before were found guilty of the most dreadful sins.

I say all this simply in order to show there will be in heaven many against whom many family members, friends and neighbours will have pointed the finger and denounced them as hypocrites at claiming to be ‘Christians’ since they knew the terrible sins and crimes of which they were guilty!

The aged servant of God, Ananias, baulked at the command of the Saviour to visit one ‘Saul of Tarsus’ and restore his sight, lost by the revelation of the light of Christ’s glory on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:3-8. “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:” Acts 9:13.

To the day Paul was taken to heaven, would it not be said by many that he was guilty of the most cruel persecution and torture of Christians in his younger days. It was something he freely and sorrowfully acknowledged many times and, indeed, put on record for us to read today.

“I am verily a man [which am] a Jew, born in Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished,” Acts 22:3-5.

Again, Paul testified: “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 1:11-14.

To the name of Paul we could add many, many more, equally guilty of terrible sins against their fellow man and the Lord.

I use the word ‘alleged’ when writing of the accusations, not because I reject what is said but because I honestly do not know the truth of the matter. The story told by the daughters of David Tweed, if true, is most distressing and abominable. It would appear that there are others beside the daughters of this man who bear witness against him on this matter.

David Tweed was convicted of child sex abuse charges — quashed in 2016 after he served four years of an eight-year sentence. I confess that I did not read this recent ‘Belfast Telegraph’ article in any great detail because it is so harrowing.

But it has to be stated that IF David Tweed (a man I did not know) was guilty of such unspeakable crimes and turned to Christ in repentance and faith, then there was forgiveness for him. Like those in Corinth, he would have been ‘sanctified,  . . . justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God’.

However, true conversion will ALWAYS be followed by evidential works which prove the work of grace to be genuine! There will follow those works ‘meet for repentance,’ Acts 26:20.

I have no knowledge of the date or the circumstances of David Tweed’s professed conversion. Nor do I know how he acted toward those against whom it is alleged he sinned so greatly following that event. This I do know, that if there were no ‘works meet for repentance’, then I would seriously doubt the genuineness  of his conversion.

If he did not act as required of all true converts, then the allegations against him are true and he did but add sin to sin and brought shame upon the witness of the gospel! This we know, there is a day when the full truth will be revealed. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is,” 1 Corinthians 3:11-13.

I pray that the Lord will visit those who experienced this alleged wickedness and I would have every believer to remember them and their respective families in their distress. If their witness is true then they have been sinned against most grievously and despite has been done to the name of Christ and the Spirit of Grace (Hebrews 10:29). May the Lord be pleased to visit and comfort them and work that healing that only He is capable of. May they come to know “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” and experience that keeping of their “hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:7.

May the Lord be pleased to preserve the testimony of His truth in the midst of this sad controversy.

Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
8th November 2021.