Statement on the Death of Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley
Former Moderator of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster
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What Do We Believe
Everybody believes something. What we believe is important, but perhaps what is more important is why we believe it.
What is the basis for the beliefs that you hold? Click here to see what we believe and why!
According to the Bible, man is a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Death is no respecter of persons and at the moment of death there is the separation of the body and the soul- ‘…the body without the spirit is dead…’(James 2:26) So at death the body is dead but the soul lives on. At that point the eternal destiny of the soul is determined. ‘And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.’ (Hebrews 9:27) “There is a particular judgement which is immediately after death; by virtue of which, the souls of men are condemned to their proper state of happiness or woe.” (John Gill)
The thief who put his trust in Christ went to paradise (Luke 23:43) and those disobedient to the gospel go to ‘prison’ (1 Peter 3:19). In Luke 16 the Lord Jesus relates the account of two men who died. ‘And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…’ (Luke 16:22-23)
So the message of the Bible is clear- those who trust in Christ as their Saviour go to be with Him in heaven which is ‘far better’. Those who die in their sin, without forgiveness, receive what we all deserve- the due punishment for sin, the torment of hell.
There are numerous reasons for and benefits from the death of Christ. We are told explicitly that He came to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10v45). Sin brings man into bondage and a price must be paid for freedom. His death is called a propitiation (Rom 3v25). That means that His death appeased or removed the wrath of God. The Lord taught that: ‘…he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ (John 3:36) We are told that He died that we might be forgiven. (Eph.1v7) We are told He died under the curse of the law. We are guilty of breaking God law, summarised in the Ten Commandments, and as such are guilty under the law. But ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’ (Galatians 3:13) We are told that He died to reconcile us to the Father. Sin separates us from fellowship with God but we ‘…who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.’ (Ephesians 2:13)
Putting it simply we are told that His name is Jesus for He will save His people from their sin (Matt1v21). Thus Christ died to save us from every effect of sin: guilt, wrath, bondage, separation from God.
Without hesitation, Yes! The Psalm assures us “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven” (Psalm 32:1). The question is not “Can I be forgiven?”, but rather “How can I be forgiven?”, and the answer is clear.
Guilt is that feeling that we have broken something and/or offended someone, and we are debtors because of this. Forgiveness is the sense that the debt is no longer held against us.
The guilt and estrangement we all feel in the depths of our being comes from the fact that our sins have broken God’s Law, and are offensive to Him. Our iniquities have separated between us and our God. (Isaiah 59:2) We feel the debt of this in terms of the fear of a Final Judgement Day (Hebrews 9:27), and the Eternal Punishment in Hell which will certainly follow. (Psalm 9:27)
Acknowledging this, many seek to outweigh their “bad deeds” with “good works” – but they never find real forgiveness. Such is impossible because Bible is clear that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)
How then can we be forgiven? “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Only the Saviour’s blood, spilled at the Cross, can purge our lives of every sin (past, present and future), remove our guilt, offensiveness and estrangement to God, and give us lasting peace and forgiveness. Only “through faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25) alone, and repentance from our sin, is that purging made efficient in us.
Look around and you will notice a strange contradiction: this world is beautiful but broken! Stunning as the creation is, it is also vicious and unforgiving: our “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain…”. (Romans 8:22)
Look within yourself and the same contradiction exists. Humans are “fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14), and yet “born unto trouble…”. (Job 5:7) We are dying, guilt-ridden and often openly evil individuals, who cannot even live up to the standards we set for ourselves.
The Bible asserts that “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) – not just the final act, but every cause and trouble that precedes it. Though trivialized by many, Adam’s sin condemned the whole creation into bondage, and himself and us to pain in this life, and eternal punishment in the next. Only the Biblical explanation of a perfect creation AND a corrupting sin can adequately explain the beauty AND brokenness we see all around and the feelings of guilt and failure we experience within.
The Good News is that “once in the end of the world hath he (Jesus Christ) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26) At Calvary, Jesus Christ paid the price in His own blood to deliver all who trust in Him from the eternal penalty, guilt, habits and finally the presence of sin, and also to restore the Creation. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Romans 6:23) – a gift that must be accepted personally by faith and repentance.
The Apostle John wrote his first epistle to help the readers to ‘… know that [they] have eternal life…’ (1 John 5:13) Thus it is clear that a sinner can have eternal life and also know they have eternal life. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, not simply to make it possible. Thus all who call unto Him for mercy and forgiveness are actually saved. ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:13) Our hope of heaven is sure because of the perfect work of Christ in living and dying for us. What’s more the child of God experiences the work of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to obey the Lord’s commands. Thus ‘…hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.’ (1 John 2:3)They also enjoy the witness of the Spirit: ‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’ (Romans 8:16) Therefore it is possible to know that Christ is your Saviour, that God is your God and that heaven is your home.
|31st Oct||8:00 pm||Ordination of Craig Dennison
Speaker(s): Rev. John Greer and Rev. Daryl Abernethy
|5th Nov||7:00 pm||Rehoboth FPC Installation Service
Speaker(s): Rev. John Greer (Moderator), Rev. David McIlveen (Interim Moderator)