Maize ‘n Grace

6When I was visiting in the Omagh Presbytery recently, I was impressed by the spiritual vitality, energy and initiative shown by some Christian people in that part of the world. In particular, I was struck by the desire of those who work in the agricultural industry in that area to share their faith in a contemporary and relevant way.

Two County Tyrone brothers, Brian and Lynden Keys, are organising an event called maizengrace at The Ecclesville Equestrian Centre in Fintona from 10-12 June at which Angus Buchan, a South African farmer with a Scottish name, will speak. All the details are on the website.

There’s a lot of careful and prayerful planning going into this event, and the message which Angus will share will be relevant to people from every walk of life, but especially to those from a rural or agricultural background. All the local church leaders and members have been invited to an information evening next Thursday, 18th February, in the Ecclesville Centre in Fintona. If you are a leader in a rural congregation, and especially if you live west of the Bann, you might plan to take a group along to one of these events. It may prove to be an ‘maizen’ time.

19 Replies to “Maize ‘n Grace”

  1. Peter wrote – ‘Apparently the ‘narrow way’ is so narrow as to be almost non existent!’

    This presumably would explain why the Lord added to His statement on the ‘narrow way’ that “FEW there be that find it” and why therefore His ‘gospel truth’ is to be preserved and proclaimed as it is both savingly vital and eternally precious for His elect.

  2. Take Heed

    “FEW there be that find it” – Exactly!!

    And it is why I make no presumptions about either myself, or others.

  3. Dear Peter,

    You wrote – ‘And it is why I make no presumptions about either myself, or others’.

    Are you saying (1) that you make no ‘presumption’ about whether you yourself are saved and on your way to glory despite for example 1st John 5:13 and (2) are you saying that a fellow believer like Paul was wrong to encourage the Roman believers to exercise discernment as found for example in Romans 16:17.

    Bishop J C Ryle wisely wrote “Controversy in religion is a hateful thing. It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world and the flesh without private differences in our own camp – but there is one thing which is even worse than controversy and that is false doctrine being tolerated, allowed and permitted without protest or molestation… Three things there are which men ought never to trifle with – A little poison
    – A little false doctrine – A little sin”.

  4. Take Heed

    Thank you for your reply.

    You quote J C Ryle, “Three things there are which men ought never to trifle with – A little poison
    – A little false doctrine – A little sin”.”


    Do you know of anyone who meets such standards?

  5. Dear Peter,

    You wrote – ‘Do you know of anyone who meets such standards?’

    It is my gracious privilege to be able to say ‘Yes, I do and He’s my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ’ and in the portion of scripture that you introduced concerning ‘the narrow way’ He firstly warns His people, His true sheep, to “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” – that means that these “wolves” pose as Christians but are not.

    Then secondly He tells His people that they will be able to KNOW these ‘false prophets by their fruits’ – the fruits of their lips and the fruits of their actions will betray them as being “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

    Will someone like myself or other Godly watchmen that I know be able to perfectly meet the same standard as the Lord Jesus Christ – obviously not – but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try, with the Holy Spirit’s help, in this case in the area of ‘doctrine’, to be as good Bereans as it is possible to be – these noble people checked out the Apostle Paul’s “fruits” and he commended them for doing so in Acts 17:11.

    Just in closing I note that you didn’t respond to the 2 questions I listed in post #5.

  6. Take Heed

    First up, I appreciate the nature and tone of your replies, they are thoughtful and measured.

    You will understand, I hope, that my questions have been deliberate; I’m driving at something I think is important for the church to consider. I should say too that I’m a church ‘insider’, my doctrine is evangelical and reformed. I’ve discovered something however, doctrinal purity is easy.

    I will respond to your 2 questions, though, before continuing to reflect more on that idea. In relation to (1) about presumption, actually, no, I make no presumption about my salvation. Another scriptural ‘take heed’ warning me to be careful not to fall, chastens me. Anyhow we are called to live by faith (faith in the character and activity of God), I have no basis for presumption.

    Your second question asks if I think Paul was wrong. Of course not, but can you see how I link, Paul’s encouragement to exercise discernment of others with his warnings to Gentile believers in chapters 9 10 and 11? Indeed in this section Paul warns them against presumption. They are very like the ‘take heed’ warning in 1 Corinthians 10.

    You see, Take Heed, when I hear of compromised doctrine in others, not only am I thinking of the same in myself (none of us actually are doctrinally pure), I think too of the ‘doctrine’ of my day to day living. I think of the wider context of the Sermon on the Mount in which the reference to the narrow way is written. Enter through the narrow gate Jesus tells us, after having described what that narrow way is in the preceding sermon. When I read those words I think on my doctrine, I think on the things I believe and I realise that not only do I not live up to God’s standards, I don’t even live up to my own.

    You are correct though, one did, and He is the way; but here is my problem, and the reason I raise the issue. When I interact with much of the conservative church of which I am part, what I hear about is the need for accurate doctrine (you will realise now that I do not think it unimportant) but I suggest that we hear about doctrine at the expense of Jesus. And what I mean is this. In defining our doctrine, our things to believe, we set, ultimately, achievable standards. We can convince ourselves that we, by accurate belief, are among the ‘few’, and in doing so we fail to see our need of a Saviour, in doing so we have ‘saved’ ourselves by our ‘faith’ and we have forgotten grace, we have forgotten the activity of God.

    There are many such warning in the bible; warning about those whose doctrine was sound but whose hearts were tinkling cymbals. I make no presumption about my heart.

    I wonder do you see my dilemma?

  7. Dear Peter,

    I too also appreciate your well-mannered replies and thank you for attending to my two earlier questions. I can only speak directly from my own personal experience of God’s gracious salvation to which I have been humbled on occasions to testify. The ‘new birth’ was a miracle that I as a child of God can never for one moment doubt but it was only the beginning of a preparation for glory and it has at times involved one step forward and at least two steps back as I have ‘fallen’ foul of the sin that remains (Romans 7: 18-23). However, despite such backsliding, God’s elect will be kept by Him (1st Peter 1:5) and are assured that He will complete the good work that He has begun in them (Philippians 1:6). That is not presumption but rather a resting on the sure promises of God in His Word. An influential religious group in Ireland do state that it is a deadly sin to ‘presume’ to know that you are assuredly on your way to heaven – in so doing they make null and void the plain truth of God in His Word.

    When it comes to judging the ‘doctrine’ put forward by others I readily admit that my own understanding in the area of ‘doctrine’ has been very much a learning process but at the time of ‘new birth’, whilst I would have been a ‘spiritual pygmy’ in matters of doctrine, there were some basics that I believe are graciously revealed by God when He regenerates a lost sinner and in my early days I remember even with my then limited knowledge challenging someone of much more maturity but ‘liberal doctrine’ about something they had said at a meeting. As the years have passed and my own knowledge increased I have been fully persuaded that my early fledgling challenge to that person was more than biblically justified as they have continued on their sadly influential ‘liberal’ path.

    God’s elect can of course get it wrong at times, but not consistently and over a long period, and those that do so are obviously the ‘wolves in sheeps clothing’ that we must beware of. Paul warned the elders at Ephesus of the coming of such after his departure (Acts 20: 28-31) and clearly the elders heeded his warning for the Lord commended the watchfulness of that church in Revelation 2:2.

    An occasional doctrinal slippage can happen but persistent doctrinal ‘deviation’ is symptomatic of something much more serious as John stated in 2nd John 9.

    The ‘narrow way’ is of course Christ Himself (John 14:6) and those ‘born again’ of His Spirit are assured of heaven. Entrance does not depend on their ‘doing’ but solely on His work on the cross, but at the same time their ‘doing’ will reflect that they know that it was for them that He shed His blood and bore their punishment.

    Sound doctrine will or at least should result in God-honouring living – that’s what Paul was teaching in his letter to Titus. In chapter 1 he lays out the requirments for leadership and their responsibility to guard against false teaching. At the start of chapter 2 he emphasises ‘sound doctrine’ and then proceeds to exhort Godly living in all sections of the congregation. Sound doctrine that results in Godly living will fulfil God’s desire for His people – to be conformed to the image of Christ, His blessed Son. May we therefore both be looking unto Him as we apply His doctrine in our lives for His glory.

    Please feel free to have a final word but I’ll end now as ‘the moderator’ has been more than generous in affording me space to air my views.

  8. Gentlemen,
    Wow !
    However let me add there is not one of us on this earth that has all the answers . We fumble around in the dark and occasionally the Light shines on our attempts to understand it all. Praise God for our feeble efforts that bring us forward to understanding His message.

  9. Dear Paul,

    My perhaps fallen sense of humour now wonders that having had responses from Peter and Paul – will I now hear from Mary? Those of a certain vintage with an interest in American folk music will understand my cryptic comment.

    Just on a more serious note how reassuring it is that in our ‘fumblings’ God’s Word is an illuminating and guiding lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105)

    Best wishes

  10. Take Heed

    If you hear from Mary we each might have to revise our doctrine! And perhaps on that point of humour I’ll say, thank you for the conversation.

    Best regards


  11. Dear Heed and Peter,
    I admire the high standard of verbal sword fencing both of you have engaged in. Let me add to it with the hope that I don’t lower the standard.

    For each of us, sinners all,our interpretation of doctrine is influenced by our identity, our culture, the way we were raised, the teachers and scholars who taught us and our understanding of Gods word through hard industrious study of the Bible. There have been so many times in my life where I have relied on the perspective of others in matters of doctrine.

    In our human failings and with human fraility we can make judgements and presumptions which are really only in the gift of God to make. With those failings , and I myself fail every day, we can only attempt with the best will in the world to be on the “narrow path”. It is through Gods understanding of our weaknesses and through His Grace and the sacrifice of His Son that we have the right to say we “may” be on that path. (I cannot see that any one of us has the right to say definitivly that we are on that path) The most we can expect is that God will look down with favour on our attempts to follow His Word and His Message.

    Best Wishes,
    ps Peter, Paul and Mary -a wonderful folk group whose members have shown great compassion, love and care for their fellow man.

  12. Dear Paul,

    Thank you for your latest posting and I do sincerely hope that you won’t take any personal offence at what I really now need to say but when you wrote ‘I cannot see that any one of us has the right to say definitivly that we are on that path’ I have to point out that your statement flies in the face of God’s Word in places such as in 1st John 5:13 that I have previously quoted and in John 8:14 where the Lord says “I am the good shepherd and know my sheep AND AM KNOWN OF MINE” and verses 27-28 “MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE and I know them and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand”.

    Sadly, in what is termed ‘Emergent Christianity’, you have men like Brian McLaren who has addressed large gatherings of young people here in Northern Ireland and he, along with his close friend Steve Chalke, deny the very heart of the gospel by describing Christ’s atoning death as ‘cosmic/divine child abuse’. Last year Mr McLaren encouraged professing Christians to ‘drop any affair you may have with certainty’ – he was basically challenging God’s people with Satan’s age-old cry from the Garden of Eden – ‘Yea, hath God said’.

    Paul, in your first posting you wrote ‘there is not one of us on this earth that has all the answers’. Whilst none of us has a total command of all of God’s ‘truth’ we nevertheless, with the help of God’s indwelling Spirt, our teacher and guide, can be guided into knowing a wealth of God’s ‘truth’ (see John 16:13) for the Saviour Himself said “And YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH and the truth SHALL make you free” (John 8:32).

    In the opening 7 verses in 2nd John we read of the apostle John’s absolute delight with those believers to whom he is writing and it is couched in these terms “unto the elect lady and her children whom I love in the truth and not I only but also they that have known the truth. For the truth’s sake which dwelleth in us and shall be with us forever… I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth… for many deceivers are entered into the world”. Thankfully God’s ‘truth’ can by diligent study be found in His Word and around the world there are still gifted preachers, called of God, to “feed the sheep” from and with God’s ‘truth’.

    In closing perhaps I could recommend a book that I personally found very helpful – ‘Redemption: Accomplished and Applied” by John Murray. Amazon appear to have some copies available on this link

    With all good wishes in Christ

  13. godly watchmen? I am confused. I know there were God’s watchmen (Ezekiel) from the Old Testament but where is this in the New Testament. There is no ministry for a watchman in the New Testament that I can read of. Please explain take heed from the Scriptures please.

  14. I was made aware of the visit of Angus Buchan by a friend who lives in the area.

    He lent me a copy of Buchan’s biography , in which I read some wonderful accounts of many thousands of people becoming Christians, and whose opening line, quoting Buchan as he preached is “To hell with El nino”.

    Buchan is not sure whether the “miracle” he performed on the Zulu lady struck by lightning was an act of resurrection or just healing from unconsciousness though the caption writers for the photographs in the edition I read, claim that she was indeed raised from the dead.

    Angus Buchan comes across in his book as a very sincere and active man, who is convinced that he has conversations with God, and that if a person prays “the sinner’s prayer” there cannot fail to be some positive effect. He has covered many miles in carrying out his evangelistic crusades.

    He has built an orphanage and school, mainly for Aids affected children and quotes James 5:14 “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:” to prove why his wife and two of her friends laid hands on a man with back problems, whilst Angus anointed him with oil and prayed “the prayer of faith”; they watched as one of this legs seemed to grow longer.

    Angus looks up to many godly saints of the past and quotes favourably from them. Unsurprisingly coming from Africa, Livingstone holds a special place in his heart, though his equally positive view of Kathryn Kuhlman seems incongruous.
    I shall not be in a rush to Ecclesville; if I want to listen to that sort of preaching I’ll stick with Benny Hinn or Joel Olsteen on the web.

  15. John, to link Angus with Benny Hinn comes from a position of ignorance about the truth of the man. He is not money motivated, and simply seeks to spread the Gospel.

    Shame you won’t be in Fintona…

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