Benhar Evangelical Church
THE BENHAR BANNER
‘Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it
may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.’
Later Banners are available here
A CALL TO PRAYER
The minister and elders of Benhar Evangelical Church call our members and adherents to turn to God, in repentance and faith, pleading for the revival of His church, the awakening of the lost, and a merciful deliverance from the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Because we are unable to meet for public worship, we would ask the Lord’s people to give themselves to a special time of prayer, in their own homes, at 3 pm on the Lord’s Day.
‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’
(2nd Chronicles 7:14)
SERMON FOR SUNDAY
Last year I listened to a volume of J.C. Ryle’s papers titled, ‘Practical Religion.’ The paper which I found most helpful was his chapter on sickness. The following is the first of its three parts. I trust and pray it will bolster your faith and bless your soul.
‘…he whom thou lovest is sick.’ (John 11:3)
The chapter from which this text is taken is well known to all Bible readers. In life-like description, in touching interest, in sublime simplicity, there is no writing in existence that will bear comparison with that chapter. A narrative like this is to my own mind one of the great proofs of the inspiration of Scripture. When I read the story of Bethany, I feel "There is something here which the infidel can never account for." – "This is nothing else but the finger of God."
The words which I specially dwell upon in this chapter are singularly affecting and instructive. They record the message which Martha and Mary sent to Jesus when their brother Lazarus was sick: ‘…Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.’ That message was short and simple. Yet almost every word is deeply suggestive.
Mark the child-like faith of these holy women. They turned to the Lord Jesus in their hour of need, as the frightened infant turns to its mother, or the compass needle turns to the Pole. They turned to Him as their Shepherd, their almighty Friend, their Brother born for adversity. Different as they were in natural temperament, the two sisters in this matter were entirely agreed. Christ’s help was their first thought in the day of trouble. Christ was the refuge to which they fled in the hour of need. Blessed are all they that do likewise!
Mark the simple humility of their language about Lazarus. They call Him ‘…he whom thou lovest…’ They do not say, "He who loves Thee, believes in Thee, serves Thee," but ‘…he whom thou lovest…’ Martha and Mary were deeply taught of God. They had learned that Christ’s love towards us, and not our love towards Christ, is the true ground of expectation, and true foundation of hope. Blessed, again, are all they that are taught likewise! To look inward to our love towards Christ is painfully unsatisfying: to look outward to Christ’s love towards us is peace.
Mark, lastly, the touching circumstance which the message of Martha and Mary reveals: ‘…he whom thou lovest is sick…’ Lazarus was a good man, converted, believing, renewed, sanctified, a friend of Christ, and an heir of glory. And yet Lazarus was sick! Then sickness is no sign that God is displeased. Sickness is intended to be a blessing to us, and not a curse. ‘…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ ‘…all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.’ (Romans 8:28; 1st Corinthians 3:22-23). Blessed, I say again, are they that have learned this! Happy are they who can say, when they are ill, "This is my Father’s doing. It must be well."
I invite the attention of my readers to the subject of sickness. The subject is one which we ought frequently to look in the face. We cannot avoid it. It needs no prophet’s eye to see sickness coming to each of us in turn one day. "In the midst of life, we are in death." Let us turn aside for a few moments and consider sickness as Christians. The consideration will not hasten its coming, and by God’s blessing may teach us wisdom.
In considering the subject of sickness, three points appear to me to demand attention. On each I shall say a few words.
I. The UNIVERSAL PREVALENCE of sickness and disease.
II. The GENERAL BENEFITS which sickness confers on mankind.
III. The SPECIAL DUTIES to which sickness calls us.
I. THE UNIVERSAL PREVALENCE OF SICKNESS
I need not dwell long on this point. To elaborate the proof of it would only be multiplying truisms and heaping up common-places which all allow.
is everywhere. In Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in America; in hot countries and
in cold, in civilized nations and in savage tribes – men, women, and children get
sick and die.
Sickness is among all classes. Grace does not lift a believer above the reach of it. Riches will not buy exemption from it. Rank cannot prevent its assaults. Kings and their subjects, masters and servants, rich men and poor, learned and unlearned, teachers and scholars, doctors and patients, ministers and hearers, all alike go down before this great foe. ‘The rich man’s wealth is his strong city…’ (Proverbs 18:11). The Englishman’s house is called his castle; but there are no doors and bars which can keep out disease and death.
Sickness is of every sort and description. From the crown of our head to the sole of our foot we are liable to disease. Our capacity of suffering is something fearful to contemplate. Who can count up the ailments by which our bodily frame may be assailed? Who ever visited a museum of morbid anatomy without a shudder? "Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long." It is not, to my mind, so wonderful that men should die so soon, as it is that they should live so long.
Sickness is often one of the most humbling and distressing trials that can come upon man. It can turn the strongest into a little child and make him feel ‘…the grasshopper shall be a burden…’ (Ecclesiastes 12:5) It can unnerve the boldest and make him tremble at the fall of a pin. We are ‘…fearfully and wonderfully made…’ (Psalm 139:14.) The connection between body and mind is curiously close. The influence that some diseases can exercise upon the temper and spirits is immensely great. There are ailments of brain, and liver, and nerves, which can bring down a Solomon in mind to a state little better than that of a babe. He that would know to what depths of humiliation poor man can fall, has only to attend for a short time on sickbeds.
Sickness is not preventable by anything that man can do. The average duration of life may doubtless be somewhat lengthened. The skill of doctors may continually discover new remedies, and effect surprising cures. The enforcement of wise sanitary regulations may greatly lower the death-rate in a land. But, after all, whether in healthy or unhealthy localities, whether in mild climates or in cold, whether treated by homeopathy or allopathy, men will get sick and die. ‘The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.’ (Psalm 90:10). That witness is indeed true. It was true 3300 years ago. It is true still.
what can we make of this great fact – the universal prevalence of sickness? How
shall we account for it? What explanation can we give of it? What answer shall
we give to our inquiring children when they ask us, "Father, why do people
get ill and die?" These are grave questions. A few words upon them
will not be out of place.
Can we suppose for a moment that God created sickness and disease at the beginning? Can we imagine that He who formed our world in such perfect order was the former of needless suffering and pain? Can we think that He who made all things ‘…very good…’, (Genesis 1:31), made Adam’s race to get sick and to die? The idea is, to my mind, revolting. It introduces a grand imperfection into the midst of God’s perfect works. I must find another solution to satisfy my mind.
The only explanation that satisfies me is that which the Bible gives. Something has come into the world which has dethroned man from his original position and stripped him of his original privileges. Something has come in, which, like a handful of gravel thrown into the midst of machinery, has marred the perfect order of God’s creation. And what is that something? I answer, in one word, it is sin. ‘…sin entered into the world, and death by sin…’ (Romans 5:12). Sin is the cause of all the sickness, and disease, and pain, and suffering, which prevail on the earth. They are all a part of that curse which came into the world when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and fell. There would have been no sickness, if there had been no fall. There would have been no disease, if there had been no sin.
I pause for a moment at this point, and yet in pausing I do not depart from my subject. I pause to remind my readers that there is no ground so untenable as that which is occupied by the Atheist, the Deist, or the unbeliever in the Bible. I advise every young reader of this paper, who is puzzled by the bold and specious arguments of the infidel, to study well that most important subject, ‘the Difficulties of Infidelity.’ I say boldly that it requires far more credulity to be an infidel than to be a Christian. I say boldly that there are great broad patent facts in the condition of mankind, which nothing but the Bible can explain, and that one of the most striking of these facts is the universal prevalence of pain, sickness, and disease. In short, one of the mightiest difficulties in the way of Atheists and Deists, is the body of man.
You have doubtless heard of Atheists. An Atheist is one who professes to believe that there is no God, no Creator, no First Cause, and that all things came together in this world by mere chance. Shall we listen to such a doctrine as this? Go, take an Atheist to one of the excellent surgical schools of our land, and ask him to study the wonderful structure of the human body. Show him the matchless skill with which every joint, and vein, and valve, and muscle, and sinew, and nerve, and bone, and limb, has been formed. Show him the perfect adaptation of every part of the human frame to the purpose which it serves. Show him the thousand delicate contrivances for meeting wear and tear and supplying daily waste of vigour. And then ask this man who denies the being of a God, and a great First Cause, if all this wonderful mechanism is the result of chance? Ask him if it came together at first by luck and accident? Ask him if he so thinks about the watch he looks at, the bread he eats, or the coat he wears? Oh, no! Design is an insuperable difficulty in the Atheist’s way. There is a God.
You have doubtless heard of Deists. A Deist is one who professes to believe that there is a God, who made the world and all things therein. But He does not believe the Bible. "A God, but no Bible! A Creator, but no Christianity!" This is the Deist’s creed. Now, shall we listen to this doctrine? Go again, I say, and take a Deist to an hospital, and show him some of the awful handiwork of disease. Take him to the bed where lies some tender child, scarce knowing good from evil, with an incurable cancer. Send him to the ward where there is a loving mother of a large family in the last stage of some excruciating disease. Show him some of the racking pains and agonies to which flesh is heir and ask him to account for them. Ask this man, who believes there is a great and wise God who made the world but cannot believe the Bible – ask him how he accounts for these traces of disorder and imperfection in his God’s creation. Ask this man, who sneers at Christian theology and is too wise to believe the fall of Adam – ask him upon his theory to explain the universal prevalence of pain and disease in the world. You may ask in vain! You will get no satisfactory answer. Sickness and suffering are insuperable difficulties in the Deist’s way. Man has sinned and therefore man suffers. Adam fell from his first estate, and therefore Adam’s children get sick and die.
The universal prevalence of sickness is one of the indirect evidences that the Bible is true. The Bible explains it. The Bible answers the questions about it which will arise in every inquiring mind. No other systems of religion can do this. They all fail here. They are silent. They are confounded. The Bible alone looks the subject in the face. It boldly proclaims the fact that man is a fallen creature, and with equal boldness proclaims a vast remedial system to meet his wants. I feel shut up to the conclusion that the Bible is from God. Christianity is a revelation from heaven. ‘…thy word is truth.’ (John 17:17).
Let us stand fast on the old ground, that the Bible, and the Bible only, is God’s revelation of Himself to man. Be not moved by the many new assaults which modern scepticism is making on the inspired volume. Heed not the hard questions which the enemies of the faith are fond of putting about Bible difficulties, and to which perhaps you often feel unable to give an answer. Anchor your soul firmly on this safe principle, that the whole book is God’s truth. Tell the enemies of the Bible that, in spite of all their arguments, there is no book in the world which will bear comparison with the Bible, none that so thoroughly meets man’s wants, none that explains so much of the state of mankind. As to the hard things in the Bible, tell them you are content to wait. You find enough plain truth in the book to satisfy your conscience and save your soul. The hard things will be cleared up in one day. What you know not now, you will know hereafter.
A HYMN OF HOPE
Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the better land,
We'll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, some time, we'll understand.
Then trust in God thro' all the days;
Fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise,
Some time, some time, we'll understand.
We'll catch the broken thread again,
And finish what we here began;
Heav'n will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah, then, we'll understand.
We'll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song has ceased when scarce begun;
'Tis there, some time, we'll understand.
God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Some time with tearless eyes we'll see;
Yes, there, up there, we'll understand.
POINTS FOR PRAYER
Pray for the Queen and her government, for the National Health Service, for scientists working on a vaccine, for key workers, for the military, for our country, communities, and our church.
Let me know of any prayer requests you would like brought to the attention of our church members and adherents.
Give the time we used to spend at our midweek service to prayer and Bible reading.
‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.’ (Isaiah 26:3)
While it is biblical to take precautions in the face of contagious and deadly disease, we can forget that, if it be His will, God can sovereignly protect His people from harm. The Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon testifies to how he was reminded of this, in his commentary on the Psalms, ‘The Treasury of David.’ Referring to Psalm 91:8-9, he writes,
“Before expounding these verses, I cannot refrain from recording a personal incident illustrating their power to soothe the heart, when they are applied by the Holy Spirit. In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighbourhood in which I laboured was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. I gave myself up with youthful ardour to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions. I became weary in body and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was getting sick like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it. As God would have it, I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when my curiosity led me to read a paper which was placed in a shoemaker's window in the Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore in a good bold handwriting these words: ‘Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.’ The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvellous power I adore the Lord my God.”
- What is the chief end of man?
A Man's chief end is to glorify God, (1st Corinthians 10:31) and to enjoy Him for ever (Psalm 73:25,26).
If you use the Daily Reading Plan you received at the beginning of the year, you will find it more valuable today than you did before the suspension of services and meetings. If you have fallen behind in these readings, you now have an opportunity to catch up. It is easy to neglect Bible reading when you know that you will hear the Bible read and expounded three times a week at church. Sadly, that privilege is no longer available to us. Yet good will have come from this bad situation if you establish or increase your own Bible reading. This, of course, is to be accompanied by prayer. If you have access to the internet, you should try listening to recordings of the Bible on YouTube.
O give us homes where Christ is Lord
The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;
Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster,
And praise is natural speech to every tongue;
Where mountains move before a faith that’s vaster,
And Christ sufficient is for old and young.
You are welcome to phone for counsel, prayer, and practical advice. I am here for you and it would be good to hear your voice. So, feel free to contact me.
BROADCASTING THE BIBLE
If you have access to the internet you have access to thousands of sound sermons on sermonaudio.com. You have also the opportunity to listen to services broadcast from churches we have links to. These include Calvary Free Presbyterian Church, (Magherafelt), Comber Free Presbyterian Church, and Temple Baptist Church (Knoxville, Tennessee). If you haven’t access to the internet you can listen to sermons on Premier Christian Radio. ‘Let the Bible Speak,’ the radio ministry of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, broadcasts a sermon every day at 1 am (1305, 1332, 1413 MW, Sky channel 01232, Freeview 725) – you can record this and listen to it at your convenience. The Metropolitan Tabernacle (Spurgeon’s Church), where Claire and I worshipped on our recent visit to London, broadcast a sermon on Revelation TV (Sky channel 581, Freesat 692, Freeview 241) every Saturday at 8 pm.
There are several ways in which you can continue to give your weekly offerings: (1) You can set up a direct debit. (2) You can transfer them to the church account using online banking. (3) You can lay them aside until the suspension of services is lifted.
To set up a direct debit or to transfer the offering using online banking you will need the following details:
Name of bank account: ‘Benhar Evangelical Church Treasurer’s Account.’
Sort code: 83-22-28.
If you choose to set up a direct debit or weekly transfer, and have filled out a gift aid declaration, the church will continue to receive gift aid on your offerings.
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF GENESIS (PART ONE)
1. What did man become when God breathed life into him?
2. With what did God clothe Adam and Eve after the fall?
3. What was the name of Noah’s three sons?
4. Upon what mountains did the ark rest?
5. What age was Abraham when Isaac was born?
6. What was the name of Rebekah’s brother?
7. Where was Rachel buried?
THE CHILD AND THE BOOK
I like to think of Christ as a burden bearer. A minister was one day moving his library upstairs. His youngest son came in and was anxious to help him. The minister told him to go and get an armful of books and take them upstairs.
When the boy’s father came back, he met the little fellow crying on the stairs. He had been tugging away at the biggest book in the library, but he just hadn’t managed to carry it. The minister took his son in his arms, book and all, and carried him upstairs. So, Christ will gather up and carry you, and your burdens.
 Ryle, J.C. Practical Religion
 Cornelius, M.N. Some Time, We’ll Understand
 Spurgeon, C.H. The Treasury of David
 Hart, B.B. A Christian Home Verse 3
 Moody, D.L. Children’s Stories
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY