Since my conversion fifty-three years ago, the churches have witnessed worldwide ups and downs, triumphs and defeats. However, the gospel has spread territorially, church planting has increased and there are far more Christians in the world today than ever before. I now receive letters from Continents and countries where spiritual blindness prevailed half a century ago. True, these churches are handicapped by modern apostate churches, the dumbing down of doctrine, the growth of para-church movements, big business and entertainment groups masquerading as Christianity. Thankfully, these are dud squibs and self-destructive. The new generation will soon be free to use the whole world as a basis for strenuous ploughing, sowing and reaping. We shall not have to wait another fifty-three years to see God answering the prayers and prophecy of Isaiah regarding the knowledge of the Lord covering the earth savingly as the waters cover the sea.

     What advice have I then for the young harvesters of today?

Ten suggestions:


1. God’s Word

     Keep true to God’s Word. Reject modern evangelical teaching that the Scriptures have no mediatory purpose in regeneration and that they are, Barthian-like, a lottery of random words until one is drawn in a particular situation, by a particular person and only then used by the Spirit to become an agent of truth. God’s Word is always pure truth. It is the breath of the Spirit who never stops breathing. There are no blanks drawn in ministering the Word. Every word has a task to fulfil. ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:16). It is God’s good Word for all times always declaring the same two-fold ministry that man has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God but the gift of God is eternal life. The Word of God always comes as a savour of death or as a savour of life but never becomes void, perpetually performing that which it is breathed out to accomplish.


2. Idleness in the pulpit

     There is no lazy way to pastor flocks. Iain Murray claims sound expository preaching is too strenuous for today’s tiros, i.e. untrained ministers. So we should drop it. Rubbish! Such lazy ministers are hirelings so we should drop them. We are God’s front-line Ambassadors and warriors, always training, always studying to show ourselves approved, always learning, always pleading with God for His full armour in passing on the Word of Truth. The idea that well-prepared and well-applied expository sermons are for the head and not the heart is the gospel of Satan. Keep tiro-hirelings out. Choose men of God who have shown their calibre before allowing them to fill the pulpit. Once chosen, help them with their hard work. We preach the full gospel of the full Word to all men everywhere as the Spirit leads. Those who deny the mediatory powers of God’s Word are thus void of mediatory powers in their preaching. They have a Wordless, Christless, Spiritless gospel. No wonder at a recent BOT conference, Alun McNabb gave two Variety Club performances on how to fill preaching with jokes. Talk about being corny! He cracked one after the other and they were very cracked indeed! It was sad, pathetic and shameful to hear his gospel for hirelings. The joke book and Vaudeville has replaced their Bible preaching!


3. Music and Singing

     That leads us to another modern church-destroyer, that of orchestrated and instrumentalised singing and musical atmosphere-making performances in worship. Nowadays, there is little affinity between New Testament worship and our own. The Established Church perverted worship with the organ. Spurgeon deplored this but his denomination followed the bandwagon. Luther called the organ an instrument of Baal but, nevertheless brought in musical lyrics. The Free Churches pioneered rhyming ditties which the C. of E. borrowed. Baptist Benjamin Keach introduced liturgical rhymes into his church ignorantly convinced that the Hebrews, like the Cockneys, spoke rhyming slang. His church fell to pieces. Arian Isaac Watts thought church services needed an entertaining pep-pill and demanded happy, lively music. These men’s Music Hall apologies for hymn-singing are shocking. William Romaine rejected Watts’ Whims. He is a better guide. Look at your modern hymns. Most, like the Olney Hymns and Watts’ earlier works, were not for singing. Many are for the human ear, not God’s. Many are by plain heretics and others are ‘Christianised’ adaptations of non-Christian poetry. Today, many are Buddhist-like mantras.

     Up to modern times, the English word ‘sing’ merely meant speaking or declaring. Think of Cowper’s The Task which begins ‘I sing’ and then Cowper preaches without a single rhyme or tune. The New Testament uses ‘sing’ mostly in this sense and does not mention musical instruments in worship though Ephesians 5:19 is quoted as evidence of such congregational instrumentalised singing. Check it out. The passage advises, ‘Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.’ This is inner, true, spiritual worship and not external noise.

     True, the O.T. used professional choirs and orchestras. ‘The New Testament calls them, ‘Shadows of better things to come,’ ‘imposed until a time of reformation’. We are still in the world of shadows and not reformed. We do not burn incense but we perform musical idolatry. Leave the organ to Baal, the piano to the music hall, rhyme to the poetasters, the guitar to the skiffle-group and the liturgical mantras to the Buddhists.


4. The gospel to be preached

     Our gospel is not according to Laurel and Hardy, nor Handel and Bach, nor Sydney Carter’s Lord of the Dance, but the power of God unto salvation. Nor do we tell our unrepentant and un-converted hearers in Bonhoffer style, ‘Look to your own heart and take heed of your Christian duty to believe savingly.’ Such introverted, psychopathic action never saved anyone. Christ says even if we performed all duties, we would merely be doing what the law demands of us. However, salvation is of grace alone. Our modern so-called Reformed Establishment tells us that salvation and sanctification are matters of duties and law-obedience. The law neither saves nor sanctifies anybody but it does condemn everybody. Salvation and sanctification are Christ’s loving applications of grace and absolute acquittal from the law. That is our gospel.


5. The Being of God

     Pay attention to the Sovereign, Unchanging Being of God. Today’s pseudo-Reformed teaching that God has three contradictory, paradoxical, irreconcilable wills is poison for the soul. Shun the heresy that the Son has a different will to the Father’s and that the Father is torn between a will to save all and the will to damn most. Fifty-three years ago the BOT pointed us to Christ on Mount Zion. Twenty-five years ago they began to point us to Moses on Mount Sinai. Today, they point us to a gaggle of gods on Mount Olympia. In dropping their Triune God, they have dropped all. We teach people how to drop in and not become drop-outs.


6. Institutionalism

     Evangelical religion is often institutionalised and party-minded, formed around externals, discipline, hierarchy, order, ordinances and organisation, not Christ. We remove Christ’s Name from our churches calling them Landmarker, Primitive, Plymouth or Wee Frees, etc., like lodges or Darby and Joan Clubs. There are some sound brethren hiding behind these misleading appellations, but how can a church exchange Christ’s Name for a nick-name or sacramental rite? Pay attention first to your fellowship with believers, whatever your organisational preferences. This was the teaching of the Seventeenth Century cross-party, inter-church Puritans such as Bergius, Byfield, Cotton, Davenant, Durie, Featley, Goodwin, Gouge, Hall, Manton, Matthiae, Mead, Nye, Owen, Pareus and Sibbes.

     Those sound men of God, true Puritans, taught, never to put a constitution, discipline or order before fellowship in faith and doctrine. Denominations are not churches. The church is there where fellowship in Christ is, not where a certain discipline, order and elders’ traditions are practised. Never doubt your salvation because the man who led you to Christ was not a Southern-Baptist preacher. Never think you have not been baptised because your baptiser was not a bishop or elder of the correct succession and intention. Never refuse to preach the gospel in an FIEC chapel because you are a Strict Baptist. Denominationalism is often next to superstition. No denomination is a pure church. Never gather in worship as a denomination. Always gather as a Church.

 

7. Para-Church Organisations

     Denominationalism leads to centralised associations and inter-denominational unions which lead to Para-Church organisations. Here we find most of our critics. Whenever a para-church is born, true churches die. Nowadays, not our pastors but the Christian Institute tells us what is right and wrong; Various ‘Trusts’ rule what books we should read; Christian Watch vies with Christian Concern in fighting for ‘our rights’. The Christian Council in Britain advises us on our voting and tells us to ‘stop bashing’ the BNP and UKIP¸ Operation Mobilisation does our missionary pioneering for us. Most bombard us with costly literature and pester us for funds. Many have most sinister connections, especially politically, with no sure doctrinal basis. Just as we need to get back to the Bible, we need to get back to the Church. Christian action is church based.


8. Para-Church Creeds

     Beware of efforts to unite Christians around para-church creeds like the Lausanne Covenant, Anglicans and Roman Catholics Together, the Chicago Declaration, the Cambridge Declaration, Manhattan Declaration and Affirmation 2010. They are usually promoted by those who have deserted the Reformed faith, allowing dubious personages to play a dominant part. In this way, they hide their own apostasy and seek to be seen as orthodox and force unwitting signatories to follow them. A modern trend as in Manhattan is even to appeal to ‘believers and unbelievers alike’ to sign. Besides, such creeds are outdated as soon as they appear and are mere steps along Downgrade Road. Now Malcolm Watts tells us that the old Reformed creeds are despised, so we must accept his Affirmation 2010. Who is he trying to kid?


9. Bible Versions

     Do not be led astray by modern Bible versions. These are mostly commercial, pagan productions of no linguistic value and doctrinally deficient. These pagans line their pockets through our gullibility. Shun, especially the ‘evangelical big names’ who recommend them. They are mostly in it for personal gain. Most of these amateur compilations are so Liberal that they out-do Higher Critics like Eichorn and Bauer. A recent survey made in Germany demonstrates that modern evangelical, conservative textual scholars are far more Liberal in Higher and Lower Source Criticism than the old Liberals were.


10. A Make-Believe Ministry

     Modern Reformed leaders and publishing houses following Andrew Fuller, teach that Scriptural doctrines like penal substitution are mere metaphors. Preaching is explaining metaphors by metaphors. This is the Arch-Liberalism of Paul Tillich who claimed that all religious utterances are mere symbols. According to the Baptist Quarterly, Paternoster Press’ Stephen Holmes sees Christ’s vicarious death as merely expressing ‘an excellent metaphor among other metaphors’. Sin, guilt, pardon, redemption, justification, righteousness, but especially the atonement and imputation (see the writings of Phil R. Johnson) are mere imagery. God only speaks in pictures, paradoxes and make-believe. If your pastors tell you that the Cross is only a figure of speech, tell them to repent or pack their bags and go. Judge God by His Word – and pseudo-Reformed popes like Fuller and Johnson by their images.


     As I retire from public life, it is good to know that there are many youngsters out there ready to bring in a great harvest. Away with Dispensationalist sooth-sayers who tell us that darkness on the face of the earth has come at last. That is how things started, not how they will end. Christ comes at the restitution of all things, when that which sin has marred will again be made beautiful. Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature is more meaningful than ever. The fields are ripening unto harvest and the sheaves to be gathered in cannot be numbered.