Prayer

Recently people have been in touch through this blog regarding the state of the Church of Scotland, but we are thankful that the Church of Scotland is not the entire Church in Scotland. There are still faithful witnesses being raised up in other denominations. In his last Editorial in the ‘The Witness’ magazine, the Minister of the Congregation stressed that even the conservative and orthodox denominations are deserving of God’s judgement. We wish to look at ourselves and to encourage prayer to God for his mercy towards us for Christ’s sake.

However, many recognise the power of prayer and have advised of a certain routine that guarantees an answer to prayer. It is first of all important to establish what prayer is, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (citing Scripture Proofs: Psalm 10:17; Psalm 32:5-6; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 103:1-5; Psalm 136;  Daniel 9:4-19; Matthew 7:7-8; John 16:23-24; Philippians 4:6; 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 5:14) gives the following answer to the question “What is prayer?”: “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will in the name of Christ with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.”

The best example of a prayer life is that of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and this subject was addressed recently in this sermon, and as a church we are in great need of prayer – it is the greatest need of the church.  We need to remember there are reasons that prayers are not answered and we can look to examples of prayers being answered in Scripture.

Nine years ago, the Minister addressed the subject of “Prayer” in a 66 minute talk. It considered that the Christian’s life begins with prayer and that prayer is a feature of Christian life. This can be downloaded or listened to on sermonaudio. One of the best helps in prayer, the talk points out, is to read the Psalms and pray the Psalms. Or to vocalise even our private prayers.

Once we understand what prayer is we can look to the Bible to guide us in the content of our prayers. We can look to other helps and resources. The Catechism offers development on each petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Too often today prayer lists being read out are the substitute for prayers. Study the Bible’s prayers and look to the helps of prayer produced by former generations.

In terms of encouragement to pray, one of the Elders of the Knightswood Free Church (Continuing), Reverend John J Murray, wrote an article encouraging us to pray for revival. It is perhaps a needful read for all who have a concern for the decline of Christian religion in Scotland.

Congregational Changes

On the 30th April 2017, Reverend James Haram was inducted to the office of Elder in the Knightswood Congregation and joined the Kirk Session. Mr Alastair Manderson was ordained and inducted to the office of Elder in the Congregation and joined the Kirk Session. A sermon was preached by the pastor and can be found on sermonaudio here.

The Minister of the Congregation is no longer the editor of the Denominational magazine “The Free Church Witness” but backdated copies since 2006 of the magazine during his time as editor are available here.  To start from the oldest copies and work your way into modernity, you may wish to begin here.

It is hoped that the Minister Reverend William Macleod will take up a role teaching Systematic Theology at the Free Church Seminary, in addition to the present workload as Minister of Knightswood Congregation of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing).

 

The Lord’s Day

Recently a comment on the page sought an answer from the Ministry of Knightswood Free Church (Continuing), the question concerned the observance of the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath as taught in Holy Scripture. It is assumed that the question was asked out of a genuine and humble desire to learn, rather than a guest taking advantage of this page to propagate a cause they hold to themselves, and as such it is important to give a thorough response. 

Thankfully there are plenty of resources which are available on this subject some of which have been compiled together and can be read online thanks to the work of Mr Travis Fentiman of Reformed Books Online. You can access those resources here.

We have not posted the comment as we do not wish others to engage in argument, the church of Christ is here to engage with lost sinners about the Gospel of saving grace, not to engage in theological amusements. The question however came as follows “Please could you tell me when and where the Sabbath was changed from the seventh day (i.e. from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) to Sunday (the first day) in the Bible. Thank you.”

The answer to when: the day of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The answer to where is difficult to pin down – we would briefly answer “over the whole creation”, but perhaps by “where” is not meant a geographical location but a Scripture proof. We will assume the latter. 

Our own Minister has addressed this subject when speaking on Question 59 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, addressing the texts he says “In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve kept the seventh day as the Sabbath.” True enough. And the patriarchs and the manna and the law at Sinai all agree in this. But then see the New Testament, when the Women who love Christ, go to him on the First Day of the Week. Soon the Church will gather on the first day of the week, and offerings will be collected. Mention is made of the Lord’s Day when special things happen. 

Elsewhere in a recent lecture, the Reverend William Macleod said this:

Change of day

From the creation till the death of Christ the Sabbath was the last day of the week. It was changed with the resurrection. The great work of creation was celebrated by the Old Testament Sabbath, but now a far greater work has been accomplished. Jesus work of redemption was much greater and more costly than the work of creation. It was completed on the first day of the week and to celebrate that the early church kept the Christian Sabbath on Sunday. They met for worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). You would expect that they would make their collections at the end of the week, when everyone got their wages, but Paul says specifically, ‘Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come’ (1Cor.16:1-2). John tells us that he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (Rev.1:10). The day of Jesus’ resurrection was ever after called ‘the Lord’s day’ and to John it was a blessed day. The principle of one day in seven still holds but the day celebrated has changed. We worship Christ as our Creator, ‘All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made’ (John 1:3), but even more do we worship Him as our Redeemer ‘who love me and gave himself for me’ (Gal.2:20).

We trust that this information will be of help to all who are interested. 

Services on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) which is the Christian Sabbath are held at Knightswood Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) at 11am and 6.30pm. The Church is located at 361 Fulton Street, Knightswood, G13 2SR. All are welcome.

 

 

 

Upcoming Communion Season

On Thursday evening 16th March 2017 at 7.30pm, the congregation will begin the preparatory services for the Lord’s Supper. The expected preacher on Thursday is Reverend Andrew Allan, on Friday (7.30pm), Saturday (7.30pm) and on the Sabbath  (11am & 6.30pm) the expected preacher is Reverend James Clark.

Visitors are warmly invited to worship the Lord Jesus Christ and to learn of his Gospel as the congregation meets for the solemn purpose of hearing the Word of God preached and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper administered. All will be made very welcome, and those who are the Lord’s People can speak to the Elders prior to the Lord’s Day morning in order to obtain a Communion token.

The services will be broadcast live, God willing, on the Bible Sermons website and people unable to attend at 361 Fulton Street can find their way with less petrol to the online stream. Please note however, that it is an audio only broadcast.

The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ

“Our place is there, where the Word of God is read, where prayers are offered, and where the Word is proclaimed. As [Jesus] custom was, he went into the synagogue.”

The following sermon by the minister gives an interesting explanation of the order of service in typical synagogue worship, within the context of Christ’s ministry starting in Nazareth:
http://www.sermonaudio.com/code_sourcefeatured.asp?reversecolor=FALSE&showoverview=FALSE&flashplayer=TRUE&tiny=TRUE&minimal=TRUE&eventtype=EVENTID&sermonid=11712104320

Why do so few believe?

The church in Britain today is at a very low ebb. Attendances are small. Congregations tend to be ageing and almost all declining. The vast majority of people show little respect for God. His name is blasphemed, His day is desecrated, His commandments are broken, His Gospel is despised and His church is for funerals. Why?

Evolution

The publication of Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ in 1859 proved a turning point for Western civilisation. Up till then most people believed in a Creator God and feared Him. Now it appeared that God was not needed and that there was a natural explanation of the origin of the world. Even although evolution was not proved and much evidence existed to cast doubt upon it, yet human unbelief grasped hold of it as an escape from the Creator and Judge.

Liberalism

At the same time as Evolution was carrying all before it in the scientific and popular realm, German liberalism was undermining the church from within. Doubts were cast upon parts of Scripture. Questions were raised. At first it was about matters which appeared somewhat peripheral, eg the authorship of certain Biblical books. However, once doubt was cast upon the Bible’s inerrancy in one area it soon spread. If what Scripture said about the Mosaic authorship of the first five books of the Bible was wrong why believe the Bible on other points?

Entertainment

No age has had so much readily available entertainment as ours. People have no time to think about deeper things. The music is always on and it is of the kind that makes individuals forget God or rebel against Him. Television and video pictures are constantly and alluringly passing before the eyes to fill the mind and distract the thoughts from God. Pleasure is presented as the purpose of life. Envy is encouraged. Marriage vows are smiled at and sexual immorality is portrayed as something which everyone enjoys apart from Victorian hypocrites.

Pluralism

We live in a day when it is popular to regard all religions as having the truth and being different ways to God. Liberal theologians agree. It is considered the height of bigotry to say that the followers of any religion are wrong and on the way to hell. People conclude that there is no such thing as objective truth in the realm of religion.

Ecumenism

There are many churches. Which is right? Perhaps they are all wrong? What is a Christian? Within the large denominations some ministers are obviously heretics since they do not believe fundamental truths such as the atoning death or physical resurrection of Christ. The world hears an Evangelical preaching the Gospel, then hears his neighbouring minister and fellow-worker teaching universalism (that everyone goes to heaven). What is he to believe? The Evangelical treats the heretic as his brother in the church, so is heresy really a soul-damning error? No wonder the world is confused. Does the truth really matter? “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2Jn:10). “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal.1:9).

Funerals

Recently it was forcibly impressed on me just how damaging some funeral services can be for the Gospel. In our world, where ministers are viewed as primarily professional comforters, what is to be said when someone dies who gave no evidence of saving grace? The practice of giving tributes at funerals is becoming very common. In some cases it is an easy exercise, but in other cases, if one is honest, it is very difficult. Sadly many ministers today say what people want to hear whether it is true or not. It is becoming increasingly rare to go to a funeral and not to hear the dead being put to heaven. When the immoral drunkard hears his fellow-sinner sent by a minister to his eternal rest, he either rejects Christianity as lies or continues in his sins assured that he will still somehow get to heaven too.

Persecution

In some parts of the world becoming a Christian could mark you out as a target for beating, imprisonment or even execution. In Britain there is a more subtle form of persecution, but it is one that is very difficult to withstand. The real Christian is despised, patronised, ridiculed and ostracised. If you hide your faith you can be accepted. How hard it is to stand alone, mocked by the majority! How easy to compromise so that the popular people will not laugh at you! How often does one hear a sermon on hell? The world ridicules hell-fire preaching. Certain subjects such as the rôle of husbands and wives are avoided in preaching lest they give offence. There is a fear of mentioning specific sins from the pulpit.

Scandals

No doubt in every age there have been church leaders who have badly disgraced the Christian church by their behaviour. However it seems to be worse in our day. The horrid sins and crimes of Roman Catholic priests have been paraded in public. The uncovered immorality of money-grabbing tele-evangelists cannot be hid. The media loves to publish the scandalous sins of ministers so that Christians of whatever denomination or persuasion can be written off as hypocrites.

Man-made-conversions

In no age has the church been so concerned with results as at present. The number of conversions is the way used for gauging whether a ministry is successful or not. Because numbers are so important shortcuts are taken to ensure results. ‘How to’ manuals sell well. Man does the work of the Holy Spirit for Him. A decision of the will is all that is required of the unconverted. “Make this confession or say this prayer after me. Now you are a Christian. Don’t let the devil tempt you with doubts”. In this way even Evangelical churches are flooded with ‘converts’ who have never been born again. It is strange that ministers, the watchmen, do not fear being held responsible for deceiving souls to hell.

Lost Expectations

Because of the lack of visible results many even in the best churches are losing hope. Evangelism can be very hard work especially if you are seeing little fruit. It is easy to become fatalistic. If God means to convert He will. Meanwhile we sit back and do nothing or lay all the emphasis on teaching and worship. What is the point of speaking to my neighbour about Christ? They are not interested and have made that plain time and time again. What is the point of preaching evangelistically? Few unconverted folk come to my church and those who do have heard it all innumerable times. If we do not expect to see conversions it is unlikely that we shall.

Poor witness

If as Christians we were more consistent in our lives our witness would make more of an impact. Sadly Christians generally are as worldly as the rest of society. Our greed, bad temper, deceitfulness and unkindness undermines our words. Our lack of prayer leaves us without power. Our laziness and fear of man keep our mouths shut when we have evangelistic opportunities presented to us. Surely we need to repent and at the same time plead with the Sovereign Lord for revival!

The Fight

Do you think of yourself as a soldier? Do you feel you are at war? In one sense you do because the Bible says it. Yet it is easy to forget. The enemy is invisible and pretends that he does not exist and so we are lulled to sleep. But we have a real enemy with large and powerful forces at his disposal. Wake up and fight! There is no way that we can make it to heaven without fighting.

The Enemy

Our enemy is the devil. He has been around for thousands of years during which time he has tempted millions of people. He has trained on the job and has lots of experience. We cannot see him and that gives him a deadly advantage. Further, he has us under constant surveillance. We do not have to speak out for him to hear. He has no physical ears but can hear the thoughts going through our minds. He can whisper into our hearts in such a way as that we cannot readily distinguish his words from our own thoughts. Unlike God, he is not able to be present in more than one place at once. However he has millions of devils under his command and so, wherever we are, devils are never far away. He does not know everything but he is highly intelligent and being thousands of years old he has acquired a vast amount of knowledge.

The Wiles of the Devil

He has many of these. For example, he mixes truth with error. Obvious heresy is easily rejected but when camouflaged with a good dose of truth it is absorbed. Sometimes he emphasises an important point of doctrine but does so at the expense of another point which is disastrously ignored. He can readily quote (or rather misquote) Scripture, which he knows better than any of us. He tempted Christ in this way. Sometimes he appears as an angel of light and would succeed in deceiving the elect to their destruction if that were possible. On other occasions he promises that good can be achieved through evil. The end does not justify the means and we must never do evil that good might come. He is the ruler of the darkness of this world who loves to darken the understanding of men and women. One of his commonest ploys is to strengthen people in the belief that he does not exist. Nowhere in this world are we free from this frightening and powerful enemy.

Satan’s Aim

His great concern is to get us to sin and to do so more and more. He wants us to hurt God. Indeed his aim is to stir up everyone to fight against God. He knows that his battle with God is doomed to failure and that he will soon be cast into hell, yet he is so fanatical that he will fight to the finish. Even in hell he will be yelling his blasphemies against God. He hates the Creator and enjoys destroying. Because God loves His people Satan hates them. He will do all he can to spoil your peace and joy and make you feel miserable. He tries to seduce Christians into backsliding and so to bring shame on God and His church. If he can persuade you to lead others astray or to turn folk from Christ he is jubilant.

The Armour

It is intimidating in the extreme to have such a powerful foe, but God does not leave us to the devil’s mercy. We are provided with armour which is adequate. It is made by God and specially designed for the purpose.

  • Belt of Truth. The soldier has to ensure that his flowing garments will not hinder him. Fastening his belt and tucking in his clothes leaves him ready for action. This belt of truth is so important. Deceit and hypocrisy leave us vulnerable to the enemy. Be sincere and hate lies and you will stand strong.
  • Breastplate of Righteousness. It is also called the breastplate of faith and love. This is ethical righteousness. Anyone who is careless about morality is in great danger. Yes, we are justified by faith alone but the faith that justifies does not remain alone. Antinomianism is very common today and as Rabbi Duncan said it underlies every heresy. This is the idea that you do not have to bother about God’s law. God forgives your sins and therefore you can live as you like. If we are to stand against Satan we need the breastplate and must strive and struggle to live a holy life. Divine sovereignty in protecting us does not annul our human responsibility.
  • Gospel Shoes. It is said that Caesar’s victories were due to the superior footwear of his soldiers. The enemy was caught unprepared by his amazingly fast marches. We too need good shoes. These are the Gospel of peace. It is wonderful to know that Christ died for our sins and rose again. The full price has been paid for our deliverance. When Satan says there is no hope for us and that we might as well give up, he is lying. We have a great Saviour and can be at peace knowing that victory is sure.
  • Shield of Faith. The devil shoots burning darts at us to set us on fire. He says there is no God or that God is not fair or that God does not love us. These darts are quenched by faith. We cling to God in trust.
  • Helmet of Salvation. It is called in another place the helmet of hope. When Satan says this or that is exciting and that you will enjoy it and be thrilled by it, you need the helmet. You have been saved. There is a wonderful reward waiting for you in heaven. Why sell your soul for the trivial things which Satan offers? What shall it profit a man though he gain the whole world and lose his own soul (Mk.8:36)?
  • Sword of the Spirit. Jesus used the sword of God’s Word very effectively in chasing Satan away. We must know our Bibles well. Study the Scriptures. Fill your minds and memories with it. “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written…”
  • Prayer. This is a powerful weapon. It underlies and overshadows all the rest. It is vital both in attack and in defence that we use all prayer, always, with all perseverance, for all the saints.

Be Strong
The devil is mightier than we but God is almighty. There is no way in which we by ourselves can resist Satan’s wiles. Yet with God’s help we shall persevere and we are more than conquerors. Satan shall be bruised under our feet shortly (Rom.16:20).