Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How greatly God has blessed us through the CPRC

The last year has been amazing. We have visited the CPRC a number of times. Once, we visited for a short weekend, and I remember spending the afternoon with Francesco De Lucia (one of CPRC's zealous translators) at Philip Rainey's house. We had a marvellous lunch, finished off with reading and discussing Luke 18 together - one of my favourite passages for the defense of not merely baptism of believing members of households, but infant baptism too, and especially, since "of such are the kingdom of God" and except we receive the kingdom of God as a little child we shall "in no wise enter therein".

It was a great encouragement too, to spend the afternoon talking with Philip and his wife and Francesco, to learn about his struggles in a compromising church so similar to my own and how "the lines are fallen unto [us] in pleasant places; yea [we] have a goodly heritage" (Psalm 16). It is good to hear the confession of the saints, and how we dwell in unity together as brothers like the unity of the Spirit that anoints our great high priest, Jesus Christ, and which fills God's temple (Psalm 133) where there is eternal life in the knowledge of Him (John 17:3). I have to explain, that here in Limerick, I would hear no-one outside the small number of the LRF who would reject the "free offer" and stand for it as Philip Rainey has done, and suffered for it - although this has clearly worked out for his good, and our good too, as his witness encourages me to follow such a godly example. The scarcity of such a witness makes it all the more precious to me.

Each time I visit the CPRC, especially joining them in the public worship service, I am quite in awe of how God closely dwells among His people, and the unimaginable difference between the true and the false church. Before I first came, I had never experienced anything like it, nor could I have imagined it - and I am further convinced of the extreme darkness covering this nation, and of the overflowing abundance of God's grace in Christ, flowing to me, and all the saints from sovereign and gracious predestination. Nothing else could explain why my eyes have been opened while so many others remain obstinately blind to the things made manifest to them all.

The mealtimes at the Stewarts, and our walks/hikes together are exceedingly precious to me also, where we spoke like men who dream (Psalm 126), and rejoiced in God, peering into the everlasting truths revealed to us in Scripture by our God and Saviour, and singing psalms to Him in thankfulness. These are marvellous things, which seem almost out of place here on earth, and amidst so much evil and sin, in the world and even in ourselves. To be singing the songs of heaven, and dwelling with the God of heaven, and hearing His heavenly voice, all here on earth! That is a wondrous thing. I long for the day in which we in the LRF, if it so pleases our ascended Lord, should be granted a minister of the word - and yet even now how greatly are we blessed to have such unity and fellowship, and joy in the truth, to be remembering Zion together, here in Babylon! Visiting the CPRC has shown me a little bit of what Zion is like, so that I would long for it more and more dearly, even with tears.

For this reason, we ought always to be zealous that God is worshipped only according to his commandments and no other way - for how can we profane that holy hill with sick and lame sacrifices (Mal. 1:14), and idolatry? The hypocrites here, and false churches constantly cry out for compromise, and the glory of God to be brought lower than a man, and for Jerusalem to be torn to the ground, only that they can mock the saints with vain superstitions, blasphemies, and abominations. And they even seem oblivious to how greatly God hates such obscenities - and in such blindness are incapable of loving God or His saints, only objecting that we do not follow their traditions and that we strenuously object to their evil practices and demonic doctrines.

And in that same ignorance, they leave true believers, the scattered sheep, also in ignorance to be tossed to and fro with every kind of deceit. How gracious God has been to have shed His light here on us! And how great our responsibility is to show forth His praises, so that the hypocrites are uncovered and their deceits laid low in the dust. To see the lampstand in Ballymena stirs us up in praying, hoping, and working that God may establish such a pillar and ground of the truth here.

So, it is encouraging to see God at work in some of our close friends, who more frequently join us on Sundays, gradually having the scales taken from their eyes. One came with us to the CPRC once too, and we spent a lot of time with Francesco, and visited the Giant's Causeway, and the Silent Valley reservoir. Of course it was the fellowship which I appreciated most. Conversations with Francesco are always a great blessing to me, and I think they were for everyone else there too. I remember that Sunday we heard a sermon on what it means to be a true Jew, and also a sermon on the Father's hand in providence. There is no comparison between biblical preaching, and the poisoned gloop that is served up in the "churches" in Limerick.

Am I being too harsh, or too extreme? Is it as bad as I paint it? Definitely not - probably not harsh and extreme enough, because the false church is always even immeasurably worse on the inside than it looks on the outside (Eze. 8). "Nice" people abound here, but hell too is full of "nice" people. How are they "nice" anyway when they contradict and oppose Scripture (the very words of the Spirit of Jesus Christ!) at every turn - just as they oppress and crush the saints? I cannot think of the blessedness of my visits to the CPRC without contrasting them with the Satanic synagogues here in Limerick - each commends and vividly illuminates the true nature of the other, so that I rejoice more in the former, and detest more the latter. It is the difference between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of darkness. One is a sheepfold, the other is a pig sty.

When Rev. Stewart was here, he preached a fiery sermon on the fires of division that Christ has come to bring upon the earth, and I found myself willing too, that this fire were already kindled here in Limerick (though it is in part), so that there would be a clear separation between those who love God by His grace, and those who hate Him by nature as reprobate children of Satan. His exhortations were much needed, as it is very difficult not to cave in to the pressure exerted on us from every direction. But we stand by the power of God who graciously sends us His word, and His strength and truth fights our battles for us on these banks of the Red Sea, so that we will see greater wonders than these. Left to ourselves, I shudder to think of the depths of destruction to which our depravity would take us.

There is so much I could tell of our time with Rev. Stewart and his wife, and how wonderful a time we had in the services, worshipping the living God in our midst, and in our meals and peaceful times in the afternoons. Each of us greatly benefitted from this time. It was powerful reminder of how there is always a remnant according to the election of grace - another passage that was preached on from I Kings 19 about the still small voice. But I'll not write a book here - yet.

I should finally say that the lectures have been superb, and I had long and enjoyable discussions with Rev. Stewart about evolutionism and creationism, which is an area of particular interest to me, from a scientific perspective too. It is amazing how any real scientist could believe evolutionary theory, except for total depravity. Of course, the materialists, like stupid monkeys, are busy chewing off the branch that they are sitting on - because any sort of science is impossible without biblical presuppositions. Atheism is the worst religion for science, since it inherently denies all the basic tenets that science is based upon. No surprise there, about the marvellous capabilities of the human nature to hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). So, I am further astounded by the miracle of grace that has redeemed us, and therefore may we continue to stir one another up to praise our Rock.

I am very excited about the prospect of visiting the saints of the PR churches in America!

Peace be to all the saints only (I Cor. 16:22),

Sam W.

1 comment:

Emily-Kate said...

Blessed am I to have you as a friend. It is great to read the great things that our Father has done for us, it is amazing!

And yet I'm saddened because what you wrote about the Limerick "churches" is so true. We really do live in a dark world that buys lies and sells the truth, when the bible clearly says differently, Proverbs 23:23. You are not being to harsh when you say things are bad "because the false church is always even immeasurably worse on the inside than it looks on the outside (Eze. 8)."

After reading the Limerick Post page 24, "Pastor Jim's Gentle Approach Wins Approval" (digital copy online), I am sickened, upset and yet I know God REIGNS! Pastor Jim says he doesn't want to convert people (well then why is he preaching) and that he encourages them to stay in their churches even the Roman Catholic Church (which holds to works salvation and a Jesus who can't and doesn't save). 1 Tim 1. Enough said.

I know that things will only get worse, so I should not be surprised and yet I am.

May the Gospel of Sovereign Grace be powefully preached in this City.

God will not be mocked :)