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.’
18th April 2020
Previous Banners are available here
A CALL TO PRAYER
We would ask God’s people to pray for the revival of His church, the awakening of the lost, and a merciful deliverance from the Coronavirus Pandemic, in their own homes, at 3 pm on the Lord’s Day.
SERMON FOR SUNDAY
The following is the first and second chapter of the Rev. William S. Plumer’s book, ‘The Christian.’
WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN
I. THE CHRISTIAN NAME
The word 'Christian' is found but three times in all the Scriptures. The places where it occurs are Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; and 1st Peter 4:16. These read as follows:
‘…And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.’
‘Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.’
‘Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.’
The chronology of some of the events recorded in the Acts is not entirely certain, but it seems pretty clear that the followers of our Lord were not called Christians until ten or twelve years after our Saviour's ascension to Heaven.
I once heard a sermon on Acts 11:26, in which it was assumed that the name Christian, like that of Puritan or Methodist, was first given in reproach, and by enemies; and was afterward adopted by the disciples of our Lord, as a name which they were willing to bear. And it cannot be denied that in every age odious epithets have been heaped upon the godly. It is also certain from the history of the trial and martyrdom of Polycarp, that for a long time the enemies of the Cross employed the term to revile and accuse. But this does not prove that bad men first gave the name.
These things seem to be clear:
1. Christian is a very fit name for all the followers of Christ. They are in Christ. They love and adore Christ. They are ready to die for Christ. He is their Saviour and Redeemer. They are not ashamed of Him, and He is not ashamed of them. They are the friends, followers, and redeemed of Jesus Christ. He is all in all to them. They are precious to Him. He says so (Isaiah 43:4).
2. Christian is a very appropriate name. It well designates God's people, and in itself sums up the whole matter. Other names are given to God's people, and some of them are very appropriate, but none is more fitting than this.
3. It was foretold by the evangelical prophet that in the latter days the Church should receive a new appellation: ‘…the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.’ (Isaiah 62:2). This passage no doubt indicates the great blessing arising from the altered state and prospects of the Gospel Church. But may it not also be interpreted as having been literally fulfilled in the bestowment of the name Christian? Many have so thought.
4. Nor were there lacking in the primitive Church, people by whom the Lord could fitly change the name of His people; for in immediate connection with the historic statement that ‘…the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch…’ it is added, ‘And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.’ (Acts 11:27-28).There were inspired men who were able to make known the mind of God and to speak by His authority.
5. The people of God have ever since, and without hesitation, borne the name of Christians. The inspired historian, Luke, says nothing against it. Peter speaks of it approvingly. Evidently godly men have long accepted it as if it were from the Lord.
Someone may ask, WHAT IS IN A NAME? The answer is that there is a great deal in a name; and in giving a name, one exercises high authority. It is recorded as one of the acts of the intelligence and authority of Adam that he gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field (Genesis 2:20). Jehovah Himself asserts His prerogative in giving and changing names as He pleases. Thus, He changed the names of Abraham, Jacob, and Sarah. Thus, He directed that the name of His incarnate Son should be called Jesus. Names are things when properly applied. They are indeed often borne unworthily, often misapplied. But it would shock our pious feelings if the ancient Church had received her names from Cain, or Canaan, or Korah, or any notoriously bad man, instead of being called Jacob, Israel, Joseph, Abraham's seed, and spoken of in other like terms indicative of glory and virtue.
In the Christian name is so much that is precious, that nothing could persuade godly men to give it up. Even bad men love to have the epithet 'Christian' bestowed upon their loved ones who have left this world.
Reader, are you a Christian; a real, living, firm, consistent Christian? You have the name, but are you worthy of it? Is your union with Christ close and vital? Do you live in Him? Do you live for Him? Do you live to Him? Do you wish to live and reign with Him? Have you duly considered the import of the name you bear? It means much more than being born in a Christian land. Worthily to bear the name of a Christian, is the greatest honour and the greatest happiness ever attained on earth.
A Christian is the highest style of man.
II. THE CHRISTIAN PROFESSION
In the New Testament the same Greek verb is rendered both confess and profess. In these places it is rendered CONFESS, namely, Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8; John 1:20; 9:22; 12:42; Acts 23:8; 24:14; Romans 10:9; Hebrews 11:13; 1st John 1:9; 4:2-3, 15; and 2nd John 7. In the following places the same verb is rendered PROFESS, namely, Matthew 7:23; 1st Timothy 6:12; Titus 1:16. In like manner the noun is sometimes rendered profession, as in 1st Timothy 6:12; and in the very next verse it is rendered confession.
If there is any difference between a confession and a profession, it is that the former is made in the face of danger, while the latter is a mere setting forth of our belief and practice. Each is an avowal of one's convictions or of one's belief. Each is a declaration of what is supposed to be truth.
A Christian profession is called for
1. By the very nature of the case, Christ's kingdom is both spiritual and voluntary. If men consent not to serve Him, they are His enemies. If they bow to His yoke, how can they more fitly declare that fact than by avowing their love to Him? If none of Christ's friends declare for Him, He will soon have no friends in this world.
2. A proper and becoming profession of love to Christ is useful to others. It emboldens timid disciples. It confirms the faltering. It awakes the dull and inattentive. It makes men feel that there is a reality in religion. Very few things are more potent for good, than a solemn profession of Christ's religion. Many a man has been stout and hardened until he saw his wife, or child, or brother, standing up to take upon them the Christian profession. It was proof of desperate wickedness in the chief priests and elders that when even the publicans and harlots believed John, and these officials saw it, they repented not afterward that they might believe (Matthew 21:32).
3. A Christian profession is commended in the Word of God. It is called ‘…a good profession…’ (1st Timothy 6:12). It is in itself right, lovely, beautiful, excellent, as the Greek word signifies.
4. A Christian profession is commanded by Him who has all authority in the case. His word and providence unite in saying: Who is on the Lord's side? Come out from among them. Be separate, says the Lord. Choose you this day whom you will serve.
5. Very glorious promises are annexed to a right Christian profession, and very awful threatenings are uttered against those who refuse to own the Redeemer. Hear the Saviour, who shall be our final Judge:
‘Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.’ (Matthew 10:32-33). Compare Luke 12:8-9; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Romans 10:9-10.
But what is implied in a Christian profession? It is plainly to own the whole truth of God as made known to us. To profess any error or falsehood cannot but be dishonouring to God. A good profession clearly implies an adherence to the truth of God. And no lie is of the truth. It is also a declaration of a purpose to observe all God's statutes and ordinances. There is no piety where there is no keeping of the Commandments. A good profession is always followed by walking in the ways of the Lord, following His example, and framing our doings to please Him and serve His people. And all this is with humble subjection to Christ in all things.
A Christian profession must be
1. SINCERE and HEARTY. Not only must it not be basely hypocritical, but in it there must not be even self-deception. It must be honestly made. In it must be no reserves, no relentings. A profession of love without love is offensive to every right mind.
2. It must be HUMBLE, not vainglorious and ostentatious. Jehu called on men to witness his zeal for the Lord. He was a poor, vain creature.
3. A Christian profession must be OPEN and PUBLIC. Christ made no secret of His love to us. Why should we make a secret of our love to Him? ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:16)
4. Our profession should also be BOLD and FEARLESS. We should not seem to be asking pardon for being followers of Jesus Christ. Paul says: ‘…I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…’ (Romans 1:16). There is an apologetic way of avowing truth which seems to provoke opposition. We must stand up for Jesus, cost what it may. The life of the truth is more important than the life of any man upon earth. We must resist even unto the shedding of blood, if necessary.
5. A Christian profession is PERMANENT – until death. In this war there is no discharge. ‘…if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him’, says God (Hebrews 10:38). In this work we have great encouragement. ‘Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)’ (Hebrews 10:23). How faithful He is, the saints of all ages can testify. His faithfulness never fails. It reaches to the heavens. It is unto all generations.
A HYMN OF HOPE - tune
How vast the benefits divine which we
in Christ possess!
We are redeemed from guilt and shame and called to holiness.
But not for works which we have done, or shall hereafter do,
Hath God decreed on sinful men salvation to bestow.
The glory, Lord, from first to last,
is due to Thee alone;
Aught to ourselves we dare not take, or rob Thee of Thy crown.
Our glorious Surety undertook to satisfy for man,
And grace was given us in Him before the world began.
This is Thy will, that in Thy love we
ever should abide;
That earth and hell should not prevail to turn Thy Word aside.
Not one of all the chosen race but shall to Heav’n attain,
Partake on earth the purposed grace and then with Jesus reign.
POINTS FOR PRAYER
Pray for the Queen and her government, the National Health Service and scientists working on a vaccine / cure.
Pray for the sick and the sorrowing, the sad and the lonely.
Pray that God will be glorified in the salvation of souls, the restoration of backsliders, and the consecration of the self-centred.
While unable to meet in our church building for the weekly prayer meeting and Bible study, let us give the same time to prayer and Bible reading.
Let me know if you have any prayer requests that you would like brought to the attention of the congregation.
‘And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.’
4. What is God?
God is Spirit (John 4:24), infinite (Job 11:7), eternal (Psalm 90:2; 1st Timothy 1:17), and unchangeable (James 1:17), in His being, (Exodus 3:14), wisdom, power (Psalm 147:5), holiness (Revelations 4:8), justice, goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6,7).
ANSWERS TO AFFLICTIONS
The following is the first of six letters written by the Rev. John Newton (author of ‘Amazing Grace’) about afflictions.
My Dear Madam,
I have seen of late, more of the importance of a thankful spirit, not only for its own sake, but as a useful and almost necessary means of serving the Lord acceptably. An unbelieving poring over our sinful selves, not only robs us of our comfort, but of our strength likewise, and makes us forget the innumerable mercies with which the Lord has enriched us.
To be humbled and ashamed before Him, under a sense of our vileness, is quite correct. But still, while Jesus is our Head, our Righteousness, our Shepherd, our Lord, and our God; and while we feel a growing desire of grace and communion maintained in the soul – we shall not sorrow, without rejoicing at the same time. This was the experience of the great apostle of the Gentiles; he felt this in an eminent degree when he said, he was ‘…sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing…’ so that if he was with us now, he would join with us in saying:
I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me!
You see then, my dear Madam, we have daily reason to sorrow because we are sinners – and greater reason to rejoice, because Jesus has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself!
I hope your nephew enjoys good bodily health, and his soul is nourished and refreshed. Though he lives in a barren land, I trust he finds that the Lord can open springs and fountains in the wilderness. The word of grace and the throne of grace afford wells of salvation, from which he cannot be debarred. From thence, I hope, he will daily draw the water of life with joy; and, like a tree of the Lord's planting - strike root downwards, and bear fruit upwards, and experience that the Lord is able to keep, establish, and comfort him – though for a season he is deprived of the public ordinances of the Gospel.
It is observable, that none of David's Psalms express more lively emotions of faith and love, than some of those which he penned when he was driven from the opportunities of public worship, and constrained to dwell alone like a desert owl in the wilderness; such was his situation when he wrote the 42nd, 57th, 63rd, 142nd, and 143rd Psalms.
Blessed are we, when we can clearly see that every event and circumstance of our lives, is under the immediate direction and appointment of Him who cares for us, and who has engaged that all things shall, notwithstanding all our doubts and misgivings, work together for good.
May you, my dear Madam, go on in the ways of the Lord, with fresh animation and delight, and may your prospects be bright and unclouded, so that you may with joy be able to sing with the seraphic poet:
I now can read my title clear,
To mansions in the skies;
I bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes!
There shall I bathe my weary soul
In seas of heavenly rest;
And not a wave of trouble roll
Across my peaceful breast.
And now, my dear Madam, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
And with this I will conclude, assuring you that I am,
Your much obliged and affectionate servant,
THE ONLINE SERVICE
Our church’s first online service went on air on Sunday 5th April. The Pastor preached an evangelistic message from Romans 5:9. The service was published on YouTube and a link was posted on our church’s Facebook page. The second online service went on air last Lord’s Day, Sunday 12th April. The Pastor preached an evangelistic message from 1st Corinthians 15:1-4. The videos have received a high number of views. Pray that God will use the preaching of His Word and the praising of His Name on our online services to bring men, women, and young people to faith in Christ.
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF EXODUS
1. How many days in the week were Israel to gather manna?
2. What is the fourth commandment?
3. How long was Moses on Mount Sinai?
4. From what wood was the ark of the covenant made?
5. From what did Israel make a golden calf?
6. What was inscribed on the high priest’s crown?
7. Why could Moses not enter the tabernacle?
ANSWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S QUIZ
1. Zipporah (Exodus 2:21)
2. 83 years old (Exodus 7:7)
3. Locusts (Exodus 10:4)
4. Male (Exodus 12:5)
5. The two side posts and the upper door post of the houses (Exodus 12:7)
6. The month Abib (Exodus 13:4)
7. Marah (Exodus 15:23;25)
AN INSPIRATIONAL ILLUSTRATION
LAYING ASIDE A CROWN
At the coronation of his majesty, George III, after the anointing was over in the Abbey, and the crown put upon his head with great shouting, the two archbishops came to hand him down from the throne to receive the Sacrament. His majesty told them he would not go to the Lord’s Supper, and partake of that ordinance, with the crown upon his head; for he looked upon himself, when appearing before the King of kings, in no other character than in that of a humble Christian. The bishops replied, that although there was no precedent for this, it should be complied with. Immediately he put off his crown, and laid it aside, and then desired that the same should be done with respect to the queen. It was answered that her crown was pinned to her head, that it could not be easily taken off; to which the king replied, “Well, let it be reckoned a part of her dress, and in no other light.”
‘For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.’
(1st Corinthians 1:26-29)
No more, dear Saviour, will I boast
Of beauty, wealth, or loud applause,
The world has all its glories lost,
Amid the triumphs of the Cross.
 Plumer, W.S. The Christian 1878
 Toplady, A.M. How Vast the Benefits Divine 1774
 Newton, J. Six Letters on Afflictions
 Macleod, N.I. Moral and Religious Anecdotes
 Watts, I. No More, Dear Saviour, Will I Boast Verse 1
Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY