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Christianity Explored

John 3:7

4you - an Irish evangelistic Web site Free DVD


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History of Tipperary town and fellowship.
Tipperary town links
Pictures of Tipperary town and beyond
It's a long way to Tipperary
Tipperary Testimonies
bethinking.org

"If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me."

St. Patrick


Daily Bread



History of the Irish Church

"He that loveth little prayeth little, he that loveth much prayeth much."

Augustine


Directory of English Evangelical Churches
Directory of Welsh Evangelical Churches
Directory of Scottish Evangelical Churches

"If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though they despise me."

Patrick


Irish Christian Walking

"I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am."

John Newton (writer of Amazing Grace)


Irish Christian Writer's Fellowship

"Who puts the rainbow in the sky? Who lights the stars at night?"

Declan O'Rourke (lyrics of Galileo)


"Eighty and six years have I now served Christ, and he has never done me the least wrong; how, then, can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?"

Polycarp (early Christian martyr)


"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength."

C.H.Spurgeon


The Story of Jesus - Read or Listen in MP3

"Our whole life ..... should be so angled towards God that whatever strikes upon us, whether sorry or joy, should be deflected upwards at once into his presence."

J.A.Motyer


Salvation article by Warren Nelson

"God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves."

D.L.Moody


Andrew Trimble Ireland Rugby star speaks about his faith here

"Duirt Íosa leis: "Ní thagann aon duine go dtí an tÁthair ach tríomsa" John 14:6



"I never made a sacrifice. We ought not to talk of 'sacrifice' when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself up for us."

David Livingstone - Explorer and Missionary



"How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear."

John Newton


"The Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have begun thinking less of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you get neither."

C.S Lewis


The Narnia Story

"Rinneadh an uile ní tríd agus gan é ní dhearnagh aon ní dá ndearnadh" John 1:3


"Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me."

Patrick


Watch the Jesus film in Irish here (find "Gaelic, Irish" on the page)

"Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father's wrath on his shoulders, and he has drowned them both in himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous."

Martin Luther



"Cé a fhéadann peacaí a mhaitheamh ach Dia amháin?" Luke 5:21



Culturewatch from Damaris site

"Nothing shall be lost that is done for God or in obedience to Him."

John Owen


"i dtreo nuair a luafaí ainm Íosa go gcromfadh glúin gach neach" Philippians 2:10


Confession of Saint Patrick

Click here for Christian Spotlight's Guide to Games


"God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them."

Augustine


"Consecration is more than chorus singing, more than prayer meetings, more than conventions. Consecration is in its fullest sense the surrendering of every energy God has given us to the control of the Holy Spirit to the fulfillment of his will."

T.C.Hammond



Audio sermons on Doubt, Suffering, Fear, Worry, Depression, Death here

"For a small reward, a man will hurry away on a long journey; while for eternal life, many will hardly take a single step."

Thomas a Kempis


Christian Institute

"And Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees."

William Cowper


Fish the Net Top 1000

Tipperary Christian Fellowship

Where: Community Centre near the Excel Centre (Entrance on Blind st ) Map Pic | Video
When Sunday 11.30 am

Welcome to the Web site of Tipperary Christian Fellowship. Although we are a small fellowship in a small town, we are part of a body of millions and millions of Christians all over the world - and down through history! And more importantly, Jesus said "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Mt 18:20) The fellowship has met in Tipperary town for over 20 years. In addition to the Sunday morning meetings, we also have other meetings from time to time. For example, we might organize a weekly Bible study, depending on the needs at a particular time. All are welcome to our meetings so do feel free to drop in - even if it's only once - to see what it's like. The meeting lasts about an hour. Click here if you have any questions.


Kickham Statue Tipperary Town Excel Heritage Centre - Tipperary town
Rock an Thorabh view of Tipperary town Glen of Aherlow

More pictures from Tipperary town and county here
That's Life - Watch an online video gospel presentation, set mainly in Dublin, on the Colin Glen Christian Fellowship (West Belfast) Web site. See also Cuallacht Chríostaí Ghleann Chollainn
Sample video from Christianity Explored series.
Jesus video (Many languages)
Aontas web site
MP3 talks on revival from Heath Evangelical Church, Cardiff

In our meetings we do the following:

Pray
Sing hymns
Hear a short message from God's word (Bible Study)
Celebrate the Lord's table (Communion)
Christian Hymns
Bits and Pieces

Sunday Morning: Currently studying The book of Romans (August 2014)
Contact us - paul@tippfellowship.org
Evangelicals Now - Latest Edition
Tipperary Christian Fellowship Facebook Page
Aontas and Affinity
Daily Bread
Faith by Hearing
The Gospel Coalition (Online Sermons)
Ligonier Ministries - View or listen to more than 350 series on a wide range of topics.
Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones Recording Trust (All Sermons Now Free)
@ the Castle
Theology Network and BeThinking
9marks Over 70 audio interviews with theologians and evangelical leaders

Dr Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology Talks Also on iTunes
Sydney Anglicans
Reformation21

Pray

Nowadays, people usually see a Christian as someone who does good to other people but first and foremost, we are called to love God.

"`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37)

Anyone in any kind of relationship knows how important communication is. Without communication, it is hardly a relationship at all. The other person might just as well not exist. The fact that God is invisible can make it difficult to pray but on the other hand, God is everywhere so wherever you are, he is only a prayer away. And he is all-powerful so if you bring your requests to him through Jesus his Son, he will only say 'no' if he has some better plan in the background. If we don't feel like praying, that shouldn't surprise us. Prayer requires faith and being aware of God's work in our world and in our lives day by day. Even at the best of times, it's easy to lose sight of all this.

Furthermore, by nature, deep down, we are not very good at loving God or loving others. The Bible teaches the doctrine of original sin - humankind has fallen. Our relationship with God has been damaged and there is a deep-seated disinterest or even hostility to the true and living God. Much of the Bible is about how we can rectify this. But even when a person truly commits their life to Christ, they still need to go to God everyday and ask him for help and strength. We can easily get into a vicious cycle of making ourselves so weak by not praying that we no longer have an appetite to pray. God becomes unreal to us and we focus on things that have no eternal significance.

The Our Father is an example of how we should pray

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

A growing number of people are happy to believe in some sort of a force out there called God but they cannot understand how he could be a personal being who appreciates our love and listens to our prayers. The Bible tells us that we are made in God's image. We are a bit like God and God is a bit like us. Humans can do great things - God can do even greater things. One of the greatest things about humans is the capacity to love. Why should we think that God is missing this capacity? Why should we think that God isn't bothered with us? He created us with a desire to relate to him. What parent doesn't appreciate the love of a child? I remember looking down at my baby daughter and her smiling back up at me for the first time. It is amazing that God appreciates our affection but in another sense, we shouldn't be too surprised. If I were ten times as intelligent as I am, I would imagine that I would appreciate the smile of my daughter every bit as much.

We enjoy seeing our children grow and learn. We love to help them. Sometimes we can appear cruel and heartless - injections - making them go to school - saying 'no' to them but ultimately we have their best interests at heart.

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9 ff)

Who of us can say that we love the Lord our God with all our hearts? Notice that in these verses, Jesus refers to his own followers as evil - he takes it for granted! But at least if we pray, we are making a start. Ultimately, only God can give us the power to change - to truly love. It isn't always easy to pray but part of the purpose of a Christian fellowship is to encourage one another in this.

Jesus assured his disciples again and again how important and how effective prayer is.

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. " (Luke 18:1)

"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

Nowadays, many are disillusioned with organized religion. Some would just prefer to be Christians on their own and not bother with any kind of a church or fellowship. There were those in the early church who felt the same way. But notice that Jesus, in the verse above and throughout the gospels, assumes that his followers will gather together. The writer of the book of Hebrews says
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
More on prayer


Sing Hymns

Have you ever known a person who will only talk to you when he wants something? Not very nice is it? As well as pray, a Christian praises God. As humans, we appreciate praise. An audience applauds when their favourite artist comes on stage. It would be a very cold world if no one ever said a good word about anyone. And if you have children - or even a dog, it's a lovely thing for them to run out and greet you when you arrive home.

As humans, we have the capacity to appreciate creation. Do you remember the song My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music? We might laugh at it now but all of us have things and memories that cause us to love life. We don't always appreciate these things at the time. It be many years before we appreciate how magical some memory really is. But all these thoughts can be regarded as gifts from God, our Creator - a taste of things to come. The Bible teaches that we can know and love our Creator. Again, he is not some sort of a robot or Mr Spock character that doesn't understand love. That wouldn't be much of a god!

It's not always easy to string words together when we want to worship God. But we are helped by thousands of hymns that have been written through the ages by gifted Christians. These give us the opportunity to reflect on what God has done for us. For example, here are two well-known hymns How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace.

How Great Thou Art

(This hymn can be sung to the tune of the Isle of Inisfree )

O Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

Then sings my soul, my saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul! my saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul! my saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, Who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.

Both of the writers of these hymns focus on redemption as well as creation. They are delighted because the best is yet to come. Many people throughout the world are familiar with the song It's a long way to Tipperary. It's a happy little ditty but it is forever associated with the tragedy of the First World War. The words speak of someone wanting to get away from the coldness of the city to the place he loves and to the person he loves. Far from going to Tipperary, the soldiers were facing something that must have seemed like hell itself. A later song written by Johnny Cash also makes mention of Tipperary town - Forty Shades of Green where he sings "most of all I miss the girl from Tipperary town." Of course, human love can go wrong and often we return to our native towns to find that they bear little resemblance to the little paradise we created in our memory. But these hymns speak of a greater love and a greater place. Many were written by people in very difficult circumstances. They too wrote about the place they love and the person they love or more importantly, the person that loves them. And they wrote about heaven, the real home of the Christian. Vance Havner said "If you are a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven; you are a citizen of heaven making your way through the world." Here are people who realise that they have been redeemed - rescued from eternity in hell. They are looking forward to the life to come. Now they know that whatever happiness this world offers is nothing compared to what is to come. And whatever sufferings they undergo will one day be forgotten forever. The Apostle Paul said

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."(Romans 8:18)
The last book of the Bible, Revelation says:
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.'" (Revelation 21:4-6)
More on praise


Hear a Short Message from God's Word (Bible Study)

If God wants us to speak to him through prayer, it should come as no surprise that God also wants to speak to us. The first disciples had the great privilege of having Jesus with them. They could ask him questions and hear him speak to them audibly. One day, Jesus will return to earth, but for the moment, he is absent from the world physically. For the moment, he has returned to heaven. However, he did send his disciples to spread his message through the world. But what was his message? What did he teach? How should we live as individuals? What should our churches be like?

Nearly every kind of religion and sect claims Jesus as one of their own in some sense. All have their own understanding on who Jesus is. What hope has someone in Tipperary town (or anywhere else) of knowing what Jesus actually said?

Well, it would be very odd if the Son of God came into the world, spoke to the first generation of Christians and then left everyone else to guess he really taught. Although Jesus never wrote a word of the New Testament, his first disciples did. Luke begins his gospel with the following words:

"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye-witnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:1 )

The apostle Peter assured the early gentile Christians that what they were being told wasn't just another story. There must have been many stories going around the Roman Empire about all kinds of religions, sects and cults. The apostles saw it as their task to convey the truth.

"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty." (2 Peter 1:16)

The apostles saw many more miracles than are recorded in the New Testament. What we have in the gospels is quite concise but is enough.

"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30)

Although the care with which the writers undertook the task is important, what is even more important is that they said what God wanted to say. They were not inspired in a vague sort of way, the way a Christian poet might be inspired to write a poem about God's creation in the spring. The Bible would be of little use if it were written by a well-intentioned writer bumbling along giving his opinions. In such important matters, we really need to know that this is God speaking. Even though the writer is using his own words and style, it is literally out of the mouth of God.

"Jesus answered, 'It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.''" (Matt 4:4)

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible is central in our fellowship. People sometimes ask if we take it literally. Well, where something is presented as literal, we take it as literal. If a politician promised to lower taxes and refused after the election, would you be impressed if he said that he had been speaking figuratively when he made the promise? People generally know whether someone is speaking literally or figuratively. There are things that might be difficult to swallow in the Bible but it would probably be more honest just to say that you don't believe them rather than putting some strange interpretation on them. There is figurative language in the Bible (e.g. "I am the bread of life" John 6:35) but if it says that Jesus walked on water, we believe that he walked on water. It isn't a particularly difficult thing to do if you are the Creator of the world! Likewise, if the Bible says that Jesus physically rose from the dead, we believe it. If fact, even if you don't begin by believing the Bible, and view the New Testament as just another historical document, the evidence for the resurrection is quite convincing.

Another common view nowadays is that the Old Testament is less inspired than the New Testament. Theologian, Leon Morris, points out that "The Bible was the only book Jesus ever quoted, and then never as a basis for discussion but to decide the point at issue". When you read the gospels, you realise that Jesus and the apostles regarded the Old Testament as true. The Jews had legends like every other nation but these legends never made it into the Bible. Therefore, if you regard yourself as a follower of Jesus, it is wrong and foolish to take an 'a la carte' approach to the Bible. The fastest growing churches today are the ones that have rejected what was once the 'modern approach' of picking and choosing what to believe. There is a story of a modernist clergyman visiting an elderly lady and finding a Bible that was torn to shreds. He asked her how this happened and she told him that she cut out all the bits he said weren't really true!

Each Sunday, we have a short reading and a little inspirational talk or sermon. Those who attend are also encouraged to read the Bible for themselves and to read Christian books. Obviously we believe the Bible to be inspired, infallible and inerrant. A set of directions wouldn't be very helpful if it included mistakes! But we should always be prepared to question what humans teach, whether it is through books, sermons, TV or whatever. Although any church or fellowship needs to have a level of doctrinal agreement among its members, we make no claims to be infallible or exclusively correct in our teaching.

More on the Bible


Celebrate the Lord's Table (Communion)

The cross of Christ is at the very heart of the Christian message. This is why the writers of the hymns rejoiced. That is what amazing grace is all about. That is why millions of Christians throughout the world know that they are saved and safe. A simple definition of grace is

G od's
R iches
A t
C hrist's
E xpense.

To understand the cross, we need to see that God is a holy and just God who punishes sin as well as a loving God who forgives the repentant sinner. I remember watching a documentary in 1987 in which hippies remembered the 'summer of love' back in 1967. The question was asked - "Do you still believe that 'all you need is love'?" Some said "yes" but one man said "love AND justice". People want justice. It shouldn't upset us that God is a just God who will deal with evil. Here is an interesting quote from an atheist.

I do not believe in God because if he existed he would long ago have destroyed the human race for its cruelty and evil.

At a football match, people get very upset if the referee is unfair. A judge who gives an unduly lenient sentance is himself condemened by the general public. Our newspapers are full of stories of people crying out for justice. Of course, there are many different ideas on how lawbreakers should be dealt with. But ultimately, God is the one who is in the best position to decide.

Although we are quick to give our opinion on the evil that others do, we don't always like the spotlight to focus on ourselves. Do you remember what Jesus said to those that were about to stone a woman caught in adultary?
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. (John 8:7-9)
It isn't that Jesus was soft on adultary. He does condemned it elsewhere and he did tell the woman not to sin anymore. But he wanted to expose the hypocrisy of those who pointed the finger. As Bob Marley sings

"The road of life is rocky
And you may stumble too
So while you point the finger
Someone else is judging you."

We like to categorize sin into mortal and venial - black lies and white lies. We'll happily be humble and point out our own 'little' faults but the real sins are committed by other people!

The truth is that we are all guilty. We might be able to reform to some degree but we are powerless to earn a place in heaven. It's a bit like making ten mistakes in our driving test and trying to make up for it by improving before the end of the test. We have already failed. There are no second chances as far as getting to heaven is concerned. The Bible says that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Heb 9:27). So why does the word gospel mean 'good news'? What's the good news?

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6)
The Bible teaches that if we truly repent and trust in Jesus, all our sins are forgiven because Jesus paid our fine. Imagine being arrested in a foreign country and being sentanced to 30 years in prison or a million euro fine. Well, if someone was good enough to pay your fine you would go free. I never like using such glib illustrations when talking about the cross, but it important to know what happened. The cross wasn't an accident. It wasn't just to show how much Jesus loved us or to set us an example. It achieved something in heaven - the salvation of sinners. He bled and died to take away my sin. Jesus is the 'lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world'. (John 1:29) Those who believe in him will not be condemned on judgement day because he paid their 'fine'. What is more, the Father looks on them as if they never sinned and as if they had lived the kind of life that Christ lived. He adopts them and warmly welcomes them into his family.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

But the sinner is treated like Christ only because Christ was treated like the sinner. Calvary was a dark time for Jesus. Not only was there the physical aspect which was portrayed in the film, 'The Passion'. That was just the tip of the iceberg. The spiritual aspect was something much deeper that we cannot understand. The doctrine of hell gives us some indication of how much God hates sin. If Jesus took our punishment, he suffered more than anyone has ever suffered. And yet, his death is celebrated by his disciples. In fact, even on the night before he died, he was delighted to break bread with his friends. He said "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (Luke 22:15) After he rose from the dead, proving that the sacrifice was accepted by the Father, he had many more happy times with his disciples. And, although he is no longer with us physically, we can still have fellowship with him spiritually and remember and celebrate that great day.

Before Jesus went to the cross, he told his disciples to meet together and share bread and wine.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Cor 11:23 ff)

Theologians have argued for centuries about the sense in which Christ is present when we do this. At Tipperary Christian Fellowship, we do not believe that the bread literally turns into the body of Christ. Instead, it represents his body, just as elsewhere a door, vine, light etc are pictures of Christ. However, it is a very precious time for us and we are very aware that Jesus himself is among us. In any given week, it is easy for us to drift away from God. The great thing about the Lord's Supper (or Communion as some call it) is that we are brought back to the cross and reminded of what it cost Christ to redeem us.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (2 Peter 2:24)

The message of the cross is summed up in a little hymn that we sometimes sing. It was written by an Irish woman at the bedside of her sick daughter, who later recovered.

There is a Green Hill

There is a green hill far away,
outside a city wall,
where our dear Lord was crucified
who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin,
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do
.

More on communion

The Bigger Picture

People sometimes wonder where new churches such as Tipperary Christian Fellowship fit into the bigger picture. We are all accustomed to classifying churches according to denomination or perhaps some worry about some of the heretical sects that emerged from the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. People might wonder which grouping we belong to.

I suppose, if we can be grouped with anyone, it would be with the evangelical movement. This is not a single organization. It's a bit more like a tendency or an emphasis that has always been there in the church. We would argue that the early church was essentially evangelical and consisted of many local churches with loose organizational links to one another. Of course there was a deeper spiritual unity because all are part of God's family. Over the centuries, this vitality and simplicity was lost. The medieval church at the time of the Crusades was very different from what we see in the New Testament or even from the Celtic church that followed Patrick. Then came the Reformation and there was a huge debate over what the church should be like. Now there is freedom of religion and people are in a position to read the Bible and make their own judgements. You don't have to change your religion everytime there is a new king or queen as happened in England for a few decades in the 16th century! Needless to say, there is debate about what the early church was really like but we feel that we should do our best to return to the sort of church that we see in the New Testament. There are different views on this but we would encourage you to read the New Testament and form your own opinion prayerfully. Evangelicals themselves have a range of views and this is no bad thing. I'm always a bit suspicious of groups that claim that their particular church alone are the one true church - or groups that think that there would be chaos if they don't do what the 'leader' says.

So what is an evangelical? I found a good set of definitions here. One of these definitions is

"Evangelicalism is a Christian movement that transcends denominations and that emphasises the authority of the Bible and the centrality of Christ’s death in our place".
In some ways, the term 'evangelicalism' is a bit like the term 'socialism'. It covers a lot of different types of people and organization. You can have socialists within the mainstream parties and you have parties that are purely socialist. Some evangelicals are more radical than others. Some are old-fashioned while others try to be hip and trendy. Some are intellectually-oriented, some put more emphasis on emotion and relationships. Some evangelicals are happy within mainline denominations. All Souls Langham Place and St.Helens Bishopsgate in London are good examples of churches that are evangelical but are part of the Church of England (Anglican). All Souls is where the Christianity Explored course originated. There are several examples of very successful Presbyterians churches in the Republic of Ireland, such as Kilkenny Presbyterian Church , which are thoroughly evangelical. Many of the people attending such churches are not from a Presbyterian background and might not have a lot of interest in Presbyterianism as such. They are drawn to the preaching and the Christian fellowship. Other evangelicals are not happy with the historical denominations. This is because in some cases these denominations include people, including leaders, who don't really believe the Bible and who deny truths such as the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the resurrection and the afterlife (although hell is denied more than heaven). You might have seen the BBC comedy 'Yes Prime Minister'. In one episode, 'The Bishop's Gambit', the Prime Minister, Jim Hacker, seeks Sir Humphrey's advice about appointing a bishop.

Sir Humphrey: 'In the Church of England the word Modernist is code for non-believer.'
Jim Hacker: 'An atheist?
Sir Humphrey 'Oh no, Prime Minister. An atheist clergyman couldn't continue to draw his stipend. So when they stop believing in God they call themselves modernists.'
Jim Hacker: 'How can the Church of England recommend an atheist as Bishop of Bury St. Edmunds?'
Sir Humphrey: 'Very easily. The Church of England is primarily a social organisation, not a religious one.'

Perhaps that is an exaggeration but it is not uncommon for church leaders to see the Bible as nothing more than a book of 'inspired' human ideas. Jesus is seen as nothing more than a particularly inspired human who only lives in our minds like Joe 'I never died said he' Hill or Elvis. All the other religions are regarded as equally 'inspired' so you mix them all and end up with a kind of an ecumenical goo that teaches little more than the need to be nice to others. There is a god but the problem is that he doesn't actually exist - he's just an idea to inspire us all. An atheist could easily argue that you can have niceness and morality without all this mumbo jumbo. Hence, the church becomes an object of ridicule - and no wonder! There is nothing wrong with being ridiculed but it would be better to be ridiculed for teaching the truth rather than denying the truth.

Evangelicals are not interested in that kind of a gospel or that kind of a god. Some Christians just ignore such leaders within their denomination and do their own thing at a local level. But others feel that in New Testament times, Christians were expected to 'contend for the faith'. You can see this when you read the epistles. Almost all of them warn against false teaching. Therefore, rather than cooperate with, coexist with, or actively oppose modernists within their denomination (something that is often frowned upon nowadays), many Christians think that the best approach is to 'vote with their feet' and join or form evangelical churches. Of course many churches that are not evangelical do a lot of good social work but evangelicals are generally also looking for good biblical teaching and fellowship and that tends to be more important than denominational loyalty. A church should be a community of believers who encourage one another in the faith. I grew up in a non-evangelical church and in my circles, apart from some of the older folk, no-one bothered even pretending to be interested in God. You just went to church because you were expected to. Another reason why an evangelical might not be happy within a mainline denomination is that there might be specific doctrines that he/she might not agree with. For example, there would be little point in being a Roman Catholic if you didn't believe in the distinctive doctrines of that denomination.

Many new churches and new church groupings were formed after the Reformation and in the modern era it's all happening again. If you ever watch Songs of Praise on the BBC, you will notice a lot of the churches are new. They are not necessarily hostile to the older denominations but they simply move in very different circles. They tend to meet in halls or schools rather than older church buildings. Of course, in areas of the world where evangelical churches are large, there is often the sort of nominalism we see in the traditional denominations and there is always the danger of silly fads, unbalanced teaching and false teaching in any church - especially churches that cut off links with all others. I would never wholeheartedly recommend a person to go to an evangelical church or any other kind of church without checking it out by asking other churches in the area about it.

In Ireland, some evangelicals groups, such as Cork Baptist Church, are hundreds of years old. However, their congregations would largely consist of local people who've only started attending in recent years i.e. not from a Baptist background. Others like ourselves are very new. Most of these churches are independent but have either formal or informal links with other evangelical groups such as the Association of Irish Baptist Churches, Aontas (formerly the AIEC (Association of Irish Evangelical Churches)), and the Evangelical Alliance Ireland. We are not a member of any of these at the moment but we do have informal links with folk who are involved. Some think it's all very chaotic but you could argue that debate and diversity is healthy. If there are no disagreements in a movement, there is generally someone giving orders and that can be very unhealthy. Although our local church only started 20 years ago, what matters is that we are part of what Augustine called the 'invisible' church. This consists of all true believers in every denomination in heaven and on earth. Local churches are just groupings of people. They open and close according to the needs of a particular place. Right now, there are local evangelical groups in Cahir, Clonmel, Coalbrook, Thurles, Nenagh, and Roscrea as well as in Tipperary town. There are similar fellowships in Limerick and in many other towns throughout Munster and Ireland. Who knows what the scene will be like tens years from now? Perhaps some groups will grow. Others may cease to function as people move on to other places. Local churches reflect the relentless change that we see in 21st century society. However, the universal church is the one that will last into eternity. No one grouping can say that you have to join them to be part of that. You are part of it once you come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


There is an old water fountain a few yards from our meeting place. It still works 200 years on! It contains a few texts from the Bible on the water of life e.g. "And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely " (Rev 22:17)

It's easy to walk right by that spot without every noticing the fountain, let alone what's written on it. We don't need its water anymore and maybe we feel that we don't need the gospel anymore. Well, we have redirected the water right into taps in our own home but we still need it. Are you spiritually thirsty? What do you think happens to the person who isn't thirsty- the one who doesn't feel that he/she needs what Jesus offers?


Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of International Bible Society. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of International Bible Society.

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