Monday, 17 March 2014


Cuz pointy hats aint my thing...

Postcard English Sermon notes



The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot. (v7)

We do not worship saints at all nor do we elevate them beyond the strict boundaries set in the Bible. However, we do honour them and our text gives us a warrant to do so. Patrick was a just man (Romans 5:1) and is worthy of our remembrance. Again: He being dead yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4) and it for us to hear what he has to say. 

A popular view of Patrick is to have him appear as a rather severe looking statue robed in the full regalia of a Roman bishop, with mitre and bishop's crook.

As we examine Patrick's own writings (final authority in this matter) we find that he was not a Roman Bishop at all. I suggest that mitred headgear wasn't his thing back then either. How does Patrick reveal himself? 4 areas/thought on this matter:


Assumed (not told) he came from Britain to Ireland. Scotland? Wales? Some venture to say: France. Not vitally important. Thought/born around 390AD  If from Briton, then he is  the only native Briton we know anything about from this era.

A/ Christianity had already come/Britain. His father (Calpurnius) was a deacon/Celtic Church and also a high ranking civil servant under Roman Empire. Patrick: known the old Celtic tongue and also Latin (privileged) Our advantage: his writings in Latin.

B/ Despite His Christian upbringing, Patrick tells us that he rebelled against it all. In his Confession: "Knew not true/God...departed from God and kept not His commandments and disobeyed those who preached to him salvation."  
Try/picture him sitting in simple meetings, ever resisting the claims/invitations of the gospel:
Hearing words like Jn 7:37/Matt 11:28 and saying: Not for me!
When this is the case, you are looking at spiritual slavery. 
Patrick's Bible tells us this:
John 8:34 Whosoever commits sin is the servant i.e. the bondslave of sin.
2 Timothy 2:26 says sinners are led captive by the devil at his will

C/ Such spiritual slavery soon gave way to the physical.
When 16 years old, Irish raiders came and killed some servants and carried away others plus Patrick. A common occurrence. 
Many thousands of persons were carried away/Ireland. 
A very traumatic time. Patrick quotes Bible: The Lord pouring upon him the fury of His anger. So it was no picnic! 

D/ Worth saying here. God was in control/events. Get the big picture. Events just don't happen. They are ordained beforehand.
 Humanly speaking this ought to have driven Ireland ever from Patrick's thoughts and created undying bitterness etc., with memories too painful to conjur up again. 
But it didn't. God makes the wrath of man to priase Him (Psalm 76:10)
Certainly so here. Patrick himself: 
"God kept me...before I knew him and before I had discernment between good/evil, [God] protected/comforted me as a father doth his son."  
And yet he was still unsaved. Still a rebel/God. But God was in control/all things. 
Still the same God today.


A/ Like the Prodigal Son, Patrick: down/dumps in a strange land and most miserable. Began to think about home. Advantage. Though a rebel/God, he was familiar with the gospel/Christ. Flooded back.

B/ Sat among the heathen Irish/great hardship he tells us:
The Lord opened/understanding of my unbelieving heart that I might recall my sins and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God.
Recalling/sins is important: Luke 5:32 Patrick: did a very un-Irish thing!
Did not deny/excuse sin or cover it up.
When enslaved, (Cp Repentant Thief) acknowledged slavery was his just deserts. 
We can see here: Repentance is so necessary/saved (Luke 13:3)

C/ As quoted: He turned/all heart to the Lord His God. (Faith)
Believed God would receive him. Believed He could receive him.
How can God receive the guilty sinner? Patrick's doctrinal part:
Christ overcoming death when interpreted (light/NT) refers:
Cross-work of Jesus Christ. Substitutionary atonement/Christ:
Summed up: Galatians 2:20 i.e. paid price for our sins.

D/ Patrick speaks often re: grace/God. 
Key/salvation: Ephesians 2:8-9
Every word here: important. Not of works, religious/otherwise.

E/ How can we tell Patrick truly converted?
Gave the evidence of a new life.
Before: Unlearned/clownish. Lived as a fool lived. Lived without God in sin/rebellion.
Afterwards: Sober life. Became a praying man - true praying - studied Bible. 
(His writings are saturated/Scripture)
Test of a true Christian: Nothing vague about this.
Bible is very precise/matter: Matthew 7:21/2 Corinthians 13:5
If you have just a vague notion/ can readily improve it.
Vagueness: Probably linked to mere religious views without any real place give/authority of the Bible.


After his conversion/grace of God, Patrick escaped from slavery. Trevalled 200 miles (foot?) and took boat to the mainland and was reunited/family.

A/ His days/slavery had stood him in good stead.
Often alone in communion/God/.
Learned Irish language/customs and had borne testimony to his faith/among the captives. 
Truly: Romans 8:28 All things work together etc.

B/ "A few years later" Patrick had a dream:

"And there verily I saw in the night visions a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it were from Ireland with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter, which was entitled, "The Voice of the Irish"; and while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letter, I thought that at that very moment I heard the voice of them who lived beside the wood of Foclut which is nigh unto the western sea. And thus they cried, as with one mouth, "We beseech thee, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more." And I was exceedingly broken in heart, and could read no further. And so I awoke. Thanks be to God that after very many years the Lord granted to them according to their cry."

C/ Despite every fear/dread/nasty memory he might have had: Patrick returned again/Ireland to preach the gospel/Irish. We know that he had to overcome the violent Druids etc. 
He faced great opposition from the High King/Tara and many other dangers etc., but he remained faithful/calling and saw many churches established/island. 

D/ He particularly speaks of people turning from idols.
He tells us again how such a transformation came about:
"I am a debtor exceedingly to God who granted me such great grace that many peoples through me should be regenerated to God [born again]"
Patrick preached (like the Lord Jesus/Apostles) the need of the new birth.
The old heart cannot be patched needs to be made new. "a new heart will I give you..." (Ezekiel 36:26)


Entitled our message: Will the real St Patrick please stand up?#

A/ Patrick preached holiness/life.
On one occasion, he returned the gifts people gave him (caused some offence) but he desired to "keep myself warily in all things" so that he would give no occasion to the unbelievers etc., to defame/disparage him.
Far removed from drunkenness/gross ungodliness associated with this day.

B/ Was St Patrick a Roman Bishop? Was he sent/Ireland by the Pope?
If so, then there is no mention of it.
Seems very strange especially when we are looking at a not inconsiderable amount of his writings.
An argument from silence is no argument at all.
Historical fact: Early Celtic Church was independent from Rome until long after Patrick.
Interesting: No mention in Patrick's writings of any distinctive Roman doctrines.
No mention of of the Blessed Virgin Mary for example.
Writings are thoroughly evangelical in character.

C/ In Patrick's Ireland, there was a Bishop for each Church. 
Goldwin Smith: "There seems to have been a bishop in every village" (Irish History & Irish Character p.33) 
This effectively rules out prelacy. 
Bishop = Teaching Elder.

D/ Whatever we may think of Patrick, here is something far more important:
What do we think of Jesus Christ?
If Patrick was here, Patrick would preach Christ.
He says: "I have devoted myself to the end/my life to Christ my Lord"
Patrick would preach: Acts 4:12/Romans 10:13
At the end of that doctrinal part known as Patrick's Confession, he specifically quotes Psalm 50:15
"Call upon me in the time of trouble and I will deliver thee..."
That's the way/salvation. 




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