A tribute to Dr. Ian Richard Kyle Paisley

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By Rev. David McLaughlin, Minister of Carryduff Free Presbyterian Church.

As a church family we were plunged into a state of shock and mourning on Friday morning by the sudden passing of Dr. Paisley (Lord Bannside), the founding father of our denomination and former moderator of the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

On behalf of the Kirk Session and Committee of Carryduff Free Presbyterian Church we extend our deep sympathy to Baroness (Eileen) Paisley and family, Sharon, Rhonda, Cherith, Ian, Kyle and their families, on the death of a much loved husband, father and grandfather, and assure them of our thoughts and prayers at this time.

Dr. Paisley’s death marks the end of an era in Ulster. For six decades he stood in this province (often alone) as a faithful spiritual leader who was fiery and passionate about what he believed in. Ian Paisley was definitely a lover of the Lord. A gifted orator whose words were fuelled by a heart full of passion, as he proclaimed the one way of salvation through his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

From his pulpit in the Martyrs Memorial  for 60 years, he sounded out the Gospel message, under such striking titles as:

–  ‘What think ye of Christ’ (22nd-Dec 1968)

– ‘How to Set a Church on Fire’ (25th-Jan1970)

– ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Liberty’ (25th-Oct1987)

– ‘Patrick the man’ (03-Dec 2000)

– ‘Light on Religious Revivals from Zachariah’s Candlesticks’ (17th-Apr 2005)

These sermons and 100s more are freely available via sermonaudio.com

The Bible reference that he added underneath his signature when asked to sign books or Bibles was clearly a prayer and a pledge; Ephesians 6:19-20:

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

His chief motivation in all he said and did was his love for his Lord.

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The ‘Doc’ as we affectionately called him was also a lover of the lost. From a young age he laboured as a zealous evangelist, who covered thousands of miles in the search for lost souls. He was one who taught our congregations and hearers everywhere to love the souls of men.

He was equally a lover of the Land. A true loyalist indeed. A ‘Shamgar’ for our day and generation. Like a  ‘Mr. Valiant-for-Truth’, Dr. Paisley prominently stands in the noble line of the men and women from Protestant Reformation times as he tackled the apostasy and false religion of these modern times. On many occasions he gave lectures on the Protestant Reformers; take a look around the corridors of ‘Martyrs’ Memorial’ next time you’re there; the very walls commemorate those noble men and women who gave their lives for the cause of Christ in their day and Generation. Surely we can say of Dr. Paisley, “He served his own generation well”.

He was a lover of Liberty. A great stalwart in prayer; always encouraging and inspiring God’s people to pray. He hated cold lifeless prayers. To him, they were the death of the church. Dr. Paisley was a man who lived his life in communion and fellowship with God. He lived to serve God and served Good in his life.

Furthermore Dr. Paisley was a lover of life. A big-hearted, generous man: I know he would often announce himself as, “I’m a Ballymena man,” but his generosity knew no bounds – to this particular church, to the denomination he founded under God, to preachers and students for the ministry, to missionary causes the world over, to those who were going through the valley of tribulation or even death; He was a personal mentor. A deeply compassionate, caring man with a pastor’s heart for friend or foe.   When any individual needed help, advice, a word in season, a confident ear, a shoulder to cry on, Dr. Paisley was alway’s there. He was a true friend in time of need whose humour, care and very presence will be sadly missed.

The persona, voice, and beliefs of the Big Man were instantly recognizable the world over. Even in the realm of politics he was a political giant. Everyone knows the name of Rev. Ian Richard Kyle Paisley. Even now Ian Paisley’s name has trended worldwide, propelled by the force of countless thousands of tributes and messages. Twitter and Facebook, along with other conventional forms of media, have served as platforms for people to reflect on his life and legacy.

I treasure fond memories of Dr. Paisley and of my visits to the Easter Convention meetings in Martyrs Memorial. I still remember my first visit to this day. I was there in my Faith Mission uniform. The year was 1986. The building was jammed packed. I sat in the balcony. His heart warming prayers and powerful preaching ministry that day will forever be etched on my memory. It was through Dr Paisley’s preaching in Coleraine Free Presbyterian Church I was called into the Gospel Ministry. In 1999 he ordained me to the Christian ministry in the Martyrs church and installed me as pastor in the Carryduff congregation; After Rosemary and I were married and lost our first child, I took a phone-call from him; he prayed with us over the phone. Often when we would meet together at some event or function, he always asked about my family, enquiring how they were getting on.  When my wife was ill he again again phoned and offered prayer.

In 1976 along with the late Robert Lowe, he climbed through a broken window in the delict Killynure school house, now (Carryduff Free Church) and prayed to the Lord to start a Sunday school for boys and girls in the community and eventually a church to the glory of God. That was the vision and burden Dr. Paisley had and shared with us. With much fondness we remember his last sermon to the congregation in 2013 regarding, ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse’ from Malachi 3:10.

The legacy of our founding father will never be forgotten. As the Bible says, “the memory of the just is Blessed”, Proverbs 10:17

Now I believe this legacy must live on. Isn’t it true that God buries his workmen but his work continues on. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. The ‘Doc’ prayed for revival in Ulster. For a mighty out-pouring of the spirit of God. That is what we need and ought to be praying for. “He, being dead, yet speaketh,” is a Biblical phrase (used of Abel) … and, I am persuaded, will be true of those high and joyful days yet to be visited on this province and throughout the known world.

And now that this man of God, this good man has received his highest-ever promotion. For the Lord had been pleased to call him home to heaven. Dr. Paisley is in heaven today, not because he loved the Lord, the Lost, the Land, of Life itself, but because there was a time in his life when God saved him by applying the cleansing power of Christ’s blood upon him.

… In a sermon preached by Dr Paisley on 12th January 2003 – ‘The First Five Minutes After Death’ (1 Corinthians 13:12 the text), he announced:

“If you hear in the press that Ian Paisley is dead, don’t believe a word of it. I’ll be more alive than ever … I’ll be singing as I sang never before.”

In the same message he spoke of those who, “… pass over triumphantly into the eternity of the blessed.”

On the morning,  of the 12th September 2014, he found himself among that number. “Absent from the body and present with the Lord”, 2 Corinthians 5:8

A verse that Dr. Paisley penned and added to one of our most famous hymns – ‘Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me,’ – summarizes his current situation:

Then above the world and sin,
Through the veil, drawn right within,
I shall see Him face to face,
Sing the story saved by grace,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me ever be with Thee.

The challenge that comes to each of our hearts today is this: are we ready to meet God? Are we saved? Have we been to Jesus for the cleansing power, are we washed in the blood of the Lamb?  Are we ready to hold the torch of truth in our hands for the spiritual and eternal benefit of this generation? Remember there is a time to live and a time to die!

Speaking of time, let’s all remember that Dr. Paisley’s death is indeed a time for sympathy towards a sorrowing family whose brief, years and pain are real. A time for sadness on the loss of a colossal giant in the church and the country; A time for soul-searching and reflection of the grace, mercy and love of God In Christ; A time to supplicate the God of all comfort to strengthen us in our hour of need. A time to set aside personal differences and hurts and unite in grief with the  passing of one so great in the Israel of God. “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?” (2 Samuel 3:38).

By Rev. David McLaughlin, Minister of Carryduff Free Presbyterian Church.