The free gift of God's forgiveness is offered to everyone
Many assume religion and faith to be the same thing but they aren’t. Working to earn God’s forgiveness and acceptance, through religious rule keeping and moral uprightness, is what defines religion.
Faith however rests solely on the finished work of Christ to have done perfectly and completely that which we all are wholly incapable of doing ourselves – no matter how hard we try, how admirable our efforts or how honourable our lives.
In light of this finished work a relationship begins, borne out of heartfelt gratitude becoming the life force of those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to deliver them from the penalty of sin, fear of death and God’s ultimate judgement.
Unlike religious works, which rely upon man’s efforts, the free gift of God’s forgiveness is offered to all, regardless of what they have done, and considering our experience of armed conflict it could be argued that the collective, steadfast defiance of many associated with the armed struggle era has, with the passage of time, given way to troubled consciences and heavy burdens. Jesus tells those who are weary and heavy burdened to come to him (Matthew IIV29) and this invitation extends today even to those deemed by others to be beyond redemption because of their past. God’s word tells us, “There is no-one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14v3) and may this challenging truth be a catalyst for those who believe themselves to be too bad- or indeed too good- to seek and receive God’s full forgiveness.
Saying sorry and admitting our wrongs does not come naturally nor easily to people but acknowledging our sins in true sorrow and repentance, before God, not only frees us from the fear of His judgement but also ushers in a new life of eternal assurance and lasting peace with God. All this is freely given when a repentant sinner, regardless of what they have done, places their trust in the finished work of Christ – his life, death, burial and powerful resurrection – and believes that Christ alone has done what no-one else or anything else, including religion, has the power to do – make sinners right with God.
Christian testimony film challenging and poignant
I attended the showing of Once Gay, the Christian testimony film of X Factor singer from Malta Matthew Grech, in Townsend Street Presbyterian Church in Belfast on Valentine’s Day. As a Christian who no longer practises the ‘gay’ lifestyle I could identify with much of what Matthew presented that night.
Representatives from the LGBT community decided to picket the event but Matthew and members of his music band magnanimously gave out red roses and chocolates to the protesters, which I thought was a lovely bridge-making gesture demonstrating not a shred of negativity or judgment towards any who were protesting.
The film was both challenging and poignant. The main thread of the production was that the equality and respect sought so passionately by members of the LGBT community today should also be afforded to those who want to be free to seek a life other than the gay one, and if that includes some form of counselling or helpful therapy then each person should be free to make that choice, not to be reined in by increasing legalisation of government directives concerning such. No such ‘therapy’ was at any point advocated by any of the representatives on the night, rather it was a celebration of the freedom and joy found in their
It is a pity some of the protesters did not come in to see the film to get a sense of its real essence which was not targeting the LGBT community in any way, but rather supporting those who choose to follow Christianity. At the moment we are still free to do so, but for how long? How can equality only be unchallenged for just one side while the other position is silenced?
Most LGBT people are looking for love and new life in Jesus can provide the greatest love of all. It may incur wrath, but it is true. As Jesus said: “They hated Me, they will also hate you” and “you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.”
Bangor, Co Down
Why are Irish people still acquiescent?
On October 24 2017, Raidió Teilifís Éireann reported that the cost of the Free State government bailing out the Free State banks was €62,800,000,000. Free State banks had been borrowing increasing amounts from German banks and French banks in order to lend increasing amounts to private property developers who sought to benefit from the property market’s bubble. The Free State banks inevitably became insolvent when the bubble burst and house prices fell. Thus working-class Irish people had to pay the bill and clean up the avoidable mess made by reckless plutocrats. It was no different for working-class people in the six counties as The Independent reported, on December 4 2009, that the British government’s bailout of Britain’s banks cost £850,000,000,000. On September 12 2018, the BBC reported that the Royal Bank of Scotland’s £45,500,000,000 bailout will never be recouped and that workers are £800 a year poorer than they were before the crisis. Workers will never see a penny of those bailouts back and economic conditions have seriously deteriorated so it begs the question what was the point of bailing those banks out? Why are people still acquiescent? Would the socialist economic programme laid out in Republican Sinn Féin’s Saol Nua document not be a marked improvement on the dystopic status quo?
Display of intolerance
Being unable to attend Townsend Street Presbyterian Church on the evening of Thursday February 14, I watched the Matthew Grech film Once Gay on YouTube. I was therefore both horrified and disgusted at the act of intolerance displayed in opposition to the showing of this film.
This film, set in the context of Malta, is the simple story of the Maltese X Factor contestant Matthew Grech, who as a result of becoming a Christian changed his lifestyle by the grace of God.
This is the central essence of the Gospel that God changes the lives of those who come to trust in Him.
What a pity that those who demand equality for themselves do not also demand equality for others – particularly for Christians.
BRIAN KENNAWAY (Rev)
According to Lord Trimble the Brexit backstop contravenes the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
Article 1 [ii] of the agreement states: “It is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.”
However, according to David Trimble’s booklet The Foundation of Northern Ireland, there are instead two Irelands and they each exercised their right of self-determination in different and irreconcilable ways.
According to David Trimble’s narrative the 1998 agreement is fundamentally meaningless. The fundamental truth is that Irish people in Northern Ireland have an inalienable right to national freedom as part of the sovereign Irish nation, in Trimble speak “the Irish Catholic nation”.