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WELCOME TO THE MARCH RECORD
04 WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR? The Editor
preparations for containing a virus outbreak, the news cycle continues to prove that politics and
The decisions made by our elected representatives, locally and nationally, affect our lives in ways large and small. While we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, our calling to ‘do justice and love mercy’ (Micah 6:8) inevitably brings us into the realm of politics. This month’s Record contains some different perspectives on our often complicated relationships with the political kingdoms God has placed us in. The German sociologist, Max Weber, described politics as the ‘slow boring of hard boards’ — change is a difficult and slow process, and we constantly face resistance. If we should become discouraged, Roddie Rankin shows us where to find the antidote. Our minister is preaching through the book of Daniel on Sunday evenings. As we follow the story of the exiles, we see that — even in the heart of the Babylonian empire — God’s will is done. Let us take courage when the political tide turns against us. We do not have our trust in princes, mortal men who cannot save (Psalm 146:3). Our God reigns. All politics is local. Let us know what’s happening in your congregation. Reading about outreach events, mission work, testimonies and other news is a huge encouragement to all of us. •
WORLD NEWS Brazil, Belgium, Nigeria, Burundi, Iraq, China, North Korea, India
FREE CHURCH NEWS Bon Voyage from Bon Accord, Giving a reason, Is Arran calling you? Prince William to address General Assembly
OBITUARIES: REV JOHN H. MACLEAN, DAVID FORD, DR. NEIL GALBRAITH, ANGUS MACAULAY
THE CONDUCT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER John Knox
THE RECORD RECOMMENDS...PODCASTS
A TIME TO BE SILENT Roddy Rankin
SCRIPTURE UNION. HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE IN SCOTLAND TO EXPLORE THE BIBLE
ETS NEWS Thomas Davis
If you have any news articles please send them to email@example.com.
FROM THE ARCHIVES James W. Fraser
Yours in Christ
THY KINGDOM COME Dayspring MacLeod
WHY DID GOD RAISE JESUS FROM DEATH? PART 4 Iain Gill
MISSION MATTERS David Meredith
SAOTHAIR AN EARRAICH Janet MacPhail
POETRY PAGE Unknown Author
Cover: Photo by Gleren Meneghin on Unsplash
government are consequential.
That in all things he might have the pre-eminence Colossians 1:18 2020
40 POST TENEBRAS LUX Catriona Murray
BY THE EDITOR Populist politics passes by on the other side
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?
The sacrifice and patience required to love neighbours is alien to populism. Yet it is this same sacrifice and patience that we are commanded to exhibit.
hristian values are under threat in modern democracies, but not in the way you might think.
Populism stands in opposition to Jesus’ ethic. If we don’t keep hold of the command ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’, this new political current is liable to sweep us away.
THE RISE OF POPULISM Populism is on the rise across the world. In the first global, empirical study of modern populism, Jordan Kyle and Limor Gultchin found that there were four populist leaders or political parties in power in 1990; seven in 2000; but twenty in 2018. Populist parties are major players in most democracies today. The four largest democracies in the world — India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil — are all governed by populists. As is the UK, following an election where the two main parties were led by populists from different sides of the political spectrum. One quarter of Europeans voted for populist parties at their last election. Since populist movements have emerged on both the left and the right over the course of democracy’s history, they can be difficult to recognise. But, at its heart, populism is founded on antagonism between ‘us’ and them’. Kyle and Gultchin identify two claims which unite all populists. First, that a country’s ‘true people’ are locked in conflict with outsiders, such as establishment elites, big business or migrants. Second, that nothing should constrain the will of the true people. Populism is an ideology based on division; on emphasising the differences between people; on creating — but not loving — enemies.
THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE
Photo by Julien Borien on Unsplash
Populists arise in democratic systems of government. They gain influence by appealing to voters and winning their support. Often, they represent and give a voice to sections of the electorate who feel they have been ignored. They have also been shown to have a positive effect on voter turnout at elections. Academics like Chantal Mouffe have argued that populism can revitalise democratic politics, and suggest that critics are merely defending a failed status quo. Nevertheless, populism’s problems outweigh its positives. The ideology is associated with what political scientists have termed ‘democratic backsliding’. It is common for populists in power to attack the institutions of democracy. Donald Trump has made a sport of verbally assaulting the American press, declaring the news media ‘the enemy of the people’. The human rights watchdog Freedom House has downgraded Hungary to the status ‘partly free’ after Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party used its parliamentary majority to restrict the rights of groups like the Romany population, Hungary’s largest ethnic minority. In Venezuela the arch-populist, Hugo Chávez, protected himself from opposition by bringing the judiciary and National Election Council under his control. Indeed, there is even concern among lawyers and think-tanks that our own populist leader, Boris Johnson, may seek to challenge the independence of UK courts in retaliation for the Supreme Court overturning his prorogation of Parliament last year. Despite posing as the voice of the people, a populist government is four times more likely to damage democratic institutions than a non-populist one, according to Kyle and Gultchin. This is the result of an ideology built on self-interest and alienation.
No matter the basis for the group, people tend to favour those in their group, and feel animosity towards those outside it. This consequence of the Fall is the enabler of populism.
We have seen the same problem arise before, although that seems largely to have been forgotten. George Orwell observed in Animal Farm that leaders who introduce division and distrust into a society (‘four legs good, two legs bad’) are setting off on a downward spiral. Liberal democracy works when it seeks to improve everyone’s lot. By sharing influence among the whole electorate, it puts a check on the selfishness which runs riot when power is concentrated in the hands of a few. It forces politicians to think of others, even while they seek glory for themselves. On the other hand, populism erodes this safeguard by excluding people from the political process.
US AND THEM Why should we care? Christianity does not need democracy. Despite persecution, the New Testament church flourished under the Roman Empire and Christianity continues to grow in China today. But the persecuted church has no choice but to stand apart from political power. That is not our situation. Populism in our western context still offers Christians a seat at the table of government, a vote at the ballot box. When populists promote policies of which we approve, it is tempting to fall in line behind them. But if we are swept along in the selfishness and division of populism, we will lose sight of our neighbours. The social psychologist Henri Tajfel helped to describe humanity’s desire to sub-divide and create enmity. Tajfel observed that people instinctively align themselves with others who seem to share characteristics with them. Groups can form based on political views, family ties, nationality, or even support of a sports team or preference for a certain kind of art. No matter the basis for the group, people tend to favour those in their group, and feel animosity towards those outside it. This consequence of the Fall is the enabler of populism. Populism holds that some are worthy — the native, the hard-working, ‘the many’; while others are not — the incomer, the elite, ‘the few’. This approach has exaggerated the ‘in-group/out-group’ tendency described by Tajfel, and it is poisoning our political culture. The result is battle lines being drawn all over contemporary politics. We have Leavers and Remainers, Nationalists and Unionists, liberals and conservatives. People are made to feel terrible when their ‘side’ loses an argument or an election. The attitude of the winners is triumphalist, hubristic and mocking. This has consequences. Immediately following the 2016 US presidential election, requests for mental health support tripled according to Talkspace, a support provider in New York. They noted a steady increase in requests from Muslims, African-Americans and Jews — in other words, members of the ‘out-group’. ‘In my 28 years in practice, I’ve never seen anything like this level of stress,’ a psychologist in Chicago told CNN. People reported particular concerns about maintaining their relationships with loved ones who had different political views. This situation is not conducive to graciousness or forgiveness. It leads to entrenched views and a lack of compromise. It makes open debate on policy difficult. There is a high price placed on changing your mind when moving on from an ‘in-group’ is treated as treachery. Ultimately, it means people in an ‘outgroup’ are treated as less than bearers of God’s image.
Rather than seeking to alienate, our approach to politics must be magnanimous. Remembering that politics is not the gospel, we can advocate with passion but disagree with humility.
A PRIEST, A LEVITE AND A SAMARITAN Jesus, of course, demands a different ethic. After agreeing with an inquisitive lawyer that the law’s command is to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27), Jesus is asked ‘And who is my neighbour?’ He goes on to teach the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which two upstanding members of the community ignore the plight of a compatriot, but a foreigner gives of his own time and money to help. This must be our approach in the face of a populist moment. Rather than seeking to alienate, our approach to politics must be magnanimous. Remembering that politics is not the gospel, we can advocate with passion but disagree with humility. Populist politics chase short-term gains. We have an eternal perspective. God’s people can look back on forty years in the wilderness, four hundred years between Testaments and two thousand years since Jesus promised to return. While our culture chases instant gratification, loving your neighbour requires patience. It is easy to throw in your lot with an in-group, taking credit for successes and blaming outsiders for adverse results. But, as in the example of the Good Samaritan, loving your neighbour requires personal sacrifice. Populism would have us pass by on the other side.
THUS FAR, AND NO FARTHER The current political climate presents another danger to the Church. Populists have a high view of what political power can achieve. If only we take back control, they say, we can ensure prosperity for the people. Or, if only we could set our own tax policy, we could have a welfare state that matches our national values. The pitch is simple, and so is attractive. It has successfully drawn Christians in on many occasions. We can be tempted to think we can sanctify the nation by wielding political power. It is not so. We need to keep a balanced view of this. Government action can curb some of the excesses of sin — the provision of education reduces crime, trade treaties reduce the likelihood of war. But political power cannot change the heart. We cannot legislate for moral improvement. When we seek to engage in politics, we must bear in mind John Locke’s counsel that the Church is more likely to be influenced by the government than the government is by the Church. Politics is an important avenue for Christians to love our neighbours, to seek justice for the oppressed and in so doing to be salt and light in the world. But if we stray too close to a populist government, we can expect to be co-opted for the purpose of setting one group against another, to the detriment of our gospel witness. Christian values are threatened by populism because it is a self-centred ideology, intent on separation. The sacrifice and patience required to love neighbours is alien to populism. Yet it is this same sacrifice and patience that we are commanded to exhibit. It would seem that there is a rising tide of populism in democracies across the world. But we serve the God who has prescribed limits for the sea, and said ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’ (Job 38:11). We rely on his strength when we refuse to pass by on the other side. •
AMERICAS AFRICA EUROPE ASIA AUSTRALASIA PERSECUTION PROTEST MARCHES (AFRICA)
ASSISTED SUICIDE RULING (EUROPE)
The first weekend of February saw an estimated five million people join marches throughout Nigeria to protest the recent murder of Brethren pastor Lawan Andimi by Boko Haram, and to challenge the Nigerian government’s failure to stop the repeated abductions and killings. The marches were organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). CAN president Samson Ayokunle said, ‘With one voice, we said “no” to killings, “no” to security negligence, and “no” to the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. It is a wake-up call to the government.’ CAN alleges that government officials are assisting Boko Haram terrorists by providing them with information and ammunition. The marches were supported by high-profile church leaders, including Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos. His congregation, one of the largest in the world, includes Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Two weeks before he was murdered, Boko Haram released a hostage video of Lawan Andimi. ‘By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife, my children, and my colleagues,’ Andimi said, ‘[But] if the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God. Be patient, don’t cry, don’t worry. But thank God for everything.’ •
A Belgian court has acquitted three doctors who assisted the suicide of a 38-year-old woman. Tine Nys died in 2010. Her sisters, Lotte and Sophie, argued that she was not incurably ill – as the law requires – but was suffering from the stress of a broken relationship. In the case of the doctor who administered the lethal injection, the court ruled, ‘There was reasonable doubt…and if there is reasonable doubt it is to the benefit of the accused.’ Assisted suicide has been legal in Belgium since 2002. •
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE (AMERICAS) Liverpool F.C.’s Roberto Firmino has shared video of his recent baptism on Instagram. ‘I give you my failures and I will give you my victories as well. My biggest title is your love, Jesus!’, he wrote. After his baptism, Firmino is seen celebrating with his wife Larissa Pereira, Liverpool teammate Alisson Becker and Brazilian musician Isaias Saad. Becker, a fellow Brazilian, has been encouraged to speak about his faith by his club manager, Jürgen Klopp, who explained to the media: ‘To be a believer, but not to want to talk about it — I do not know how it would work. If anyone asks me about my faith, I give information. Not because I claim to be any sort of missionary. When I look at me and my life — and I take time for that every day — then I feel I am in sensationally good hands.’ •
WITNESS IN WUHAN (ASIA) While confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to increase, Christians in China are supporting others and sharing the hope of the Gospel on the streets of Wuhan. Christian Broadcasting Network’s Asia correspondent, Lucille Talusan, reported, ‘They’re very courageous. They give out masks and they say that they are Christians and they share the love of Christ and point to Jesus to bring hope to them and their families and the whole of China...This is really a breakthrough.’ Earlier in February, a Christian pastor in Wuhan wrote an open letter to Christians around the world asking for prayer. ‘It is readily apparent that we are facing a test of our faith,’ the pastor wrote. ‘The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that his thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah 29:11), and that he allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us. Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ…. [When] disaster strikes us, it is but a form of God’s love. Spoken for today, Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Meanwhile, a video shared by Father Francis Liu from the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness showed encouraging sermons being broadcast through speakers placed on balconies. There are also reports that Christians from other provinces have offered their homes to host people fleeing from Hubei province. •
WORLDWIDEWORLD WATCH LIST The world has become a less tolerant and less safe place for hundreds of millions of Christians, according to Open Doors’ latest World Watch List. The organisation reports annually on the 50 most dangerous nations to practise Christianity. In the top 50 countries alone, 260 million Christians face a level of persecution measured as extreme, very high or high. In total, one in eight Christians worldwide face persecution measured as extreme, very high or high – a 6% increase from 2019. North Korea remains the most dangerous place for Christians. Something as simple as owning a Bible can mean a person is arrested and taken to one of the country’s infamous labour camps, never to return. This year’s report notes the growth of digital persecution. China (23rd on the list) has begun to utilise AI and biometric measurement to increase surveillance and control of religious believers. At least one major church now has facial recognition cameras to record worshippers’ presence. India (10th) is also set to make use of these technologies. •
EXODUS FROM IRAQ (ASIA)
LOCAL MEDICAL MISSIONARIES (AFRICA)
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, nearly four fifths of Iraq’s 1.5 million Christians have left the country. Church leaders are now warning that a Christian presence in the country could disappear altogether. Father Nadheer Dako told the Daily Telegraph that there are now more than twice the number of Iraqi Christian families in London than there are in Baghdad. Local bishops are calling for people to stay and preserve the city’s Christian heritage. However, Hana Samoul, whose nephew was murdered by militia, and who wants to move to Detroit, told the newspaper: ‘A lot of the bishops have sent their own families abroad. Why should they expect us to stay?’ •
The Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) began in 2003 with an ambitious goal: to graduate 100 general surgeons in Africa, for Africa, by 2020. PAACS seeks to harness the potential of African Christians to address the continued shortage of doctors on the continent. Alliance Niyukuri is one of the first 100 PAACS graduates. He joined the missionary staff of Kibuye Hope mission hospital, Burundi, in 2018. Niyukuri told Christianity Today, ‘I’m hoping that my presence here can encourage other Burundians and allow me to be a role model to students coming to the mission hospital. The Lord is [calling] more and more young graduates like me, calling us also to serve in the mission hospitals.’ •
MAR/APR 2020 PRAYER DIARY If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 Sun 15th Pray for the rural congregation of Assynt & Eddrachillis and Rev. Ian Allan, their interim moderator, as they gather for worship this morning. Mon 16th As our young folk settle back in their normal activities, pray that they will be refreshed and invigorated by what they heard over the weekend at the Youth Conference. Tues 17th Give thanks with the Glenurquhart and Fort Augustus congregation for a settled ministry. Pray for Rev. Sean Ankers and his wife as they settle into their ministry in that community. Wed 18th Remember David and Martha MacPherson in prayer as he settles into his role as the Director of Operaciòn San Andrés, a Christian charity that works to combat the effects of poverty in the community of Collique, Peru. Thurs 19th Pray for all those involved in delivering relationship and sex education in schools. Pray that education authorities would recognise and respect parents’ concerns on this. Fri 20th Give thanks that many of our ministers and church workers have access to schools. Pray that God would give them wisdom and insight as they take up these opportunities. Sat 21st Today has been designated as World Down Syndrome Day. Give thanks for anyone you know who has learning disabilities and pray that they are able to get all the help they need. Sun 22nd Give thanks for the congregation in Brora. Pray for the Rev. Roddy Macrae, their interim moderator, and Rev. Ricky MacDonald as they minister there. Mon 23rd There are 100,000 children in local authority care in Britain. Pray that more Christians would be willing to provide a secure and loving home for these children. Tues 24th Pray that everyone concerned in the negotiations for our future arrangements with Europe will be fair and honest.
Wed 25th The Bible Society distributes Scriptures among the 1.5 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon. Pray this will bring them comfort in their struggles.
Sat 4th As this year’s General Assembly draws closer, pray for all the preparations and for Rev. Donnie G MacDonald (retiring Moderator) and Rev. Neil MacMillan (Moderator Designate).
Thurs 26th Pray that those who serve our country in the armed services would know the comfort and help of the Lord.
Sun 5th The Northern Presbytery covers many square miles. Pray for the congregation of Lybster, Bruan, Latheron & Berriedale and their interim moderator, Rev. Howard Stone.
Fri 27th SU Scotland’s Equip! aims to help Christian young people in S4 -S6 think through why the Christian faith is true in the face of the big questions of today, and then live it out in one of the hardest places to be a Christian: school! Pray as these events take place in Glasgow and Edinburgh tonight. Sat 28th Tragic deaths by accident, suicide and illness are frequent in our poorer communities. Pray that all who deal with these incidents will have compassion and be able to minister the gospel. Sun 29th Another of our scattered congregations is Bonar Bridge & Lairg. Pray for Rev. Alasdair MacAulay as he works with the folk in these communities. Mon 30th FEBA have plans to open a new radio station in the south of Iraq in 2020. Pray that God would prepare hearts and open minds to hear the gospel; for some, for the first time in their heart language. Tues 31st Give thanks for openings on many local radio stations for spreading the Good News in our own country and for the freedom we have to hear and to witness. Wed 1st The Dornoch congregation hope to move forward with plans to develop the upper floor of the church building. Ongoing prayer for all that this involves would be greatly appreciated. Thurs 2nd Continue to pray for all the ongoing work in preparation for this summer’s camps. Pray that all camps will be well staffed with leaders and cooks. Fri 3rd Please pray that many will encounter Jesus Christ as they read Holy Injil, Luke.
Mon 6th Pray that Scripture readers would be given opportunities to share the Good News with our service personnel. Give thanks that SASRA still have access to our barracks. Tues 7th Give thanks for our health service and pray for those in management as well as the nurses and doctors who provide the service. Wed 8th MAF provides flights to many parts of the world where there is very little medical provision. Give thanks for the 75 years of aid that they have brought to many needy places. Thurs 9th Throughout the world there are people suffering from drought, floods and fire. Pray that God’s people are seen to be caring and loving wherever possible and give thanks for Tearfund. Fri 10th Today, as we remember our Saviour going to the Cross, give thanks for this great sacrifice that he made so that we could have eternal life. Sat 11th As the world celebrates Easter this weekend, pray that the events of 2000 years ago on Calvary would not be lost in chocolate eggs and bunnies. Sun 12th The Rogart congregation is in another rural area. Pray for Rev. Duncan Macleod as works with them as their interim moderator. Mon 13th Give thanks for joint initiatives where people from different denominations are working together to be one in the Lord so that their communities can say ‘see how they love each other’. Sat 14th Pray for those in authority and ask God to raise up people who will make a positive difference in society. Particularly remember any Christians you know who are in such positions.
Prayer requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please take time to send requests for your congregation or ministry to be included in forthcoming Records. These prayer notes are prepared 5 weeks in advance of publication.
FREE CHURCH NEWS BON VOYAGE FROM BON ACCORD
ver 150 people gathered together in bon accord free church to wish the rev. david macpherson and his wife martha well as they leave for peru.
David leaves to take up a new role as the Director of Operaciòn San Andrés, a Christian charity that works to combat the effects of poverty in the community of Collique, Peru. David and his family moved to Aberdeen in 2008, where he was inducted as minister, taking over from current Edinburgh Theological Seminary Principal the Rev. Iver Martin. Bon Accord wasn’t completely new to the MacPherson family though; David’s maternal grandfather, the Rev. Duncan Leitch, had previously served as minister. David was keen to stress that he has served three weeks longer than his forebear. The evening was themed as a ‘Scottish Farewell’ with ceilidh dancing and haggis on offer. Some of the youth from the congregation also dressed up as waiters and made sure everyone was promptly served and well fed. The congregation presented David and Martha with several gifts and offered their heartfelt thanks for their years of dedicated service. Please pray for David and Martha as they resettle in Peru, as he takes up his new post, and for the congregation of Bon Accord as they look for a new minister. •
No shortage of food!
Rev. David MacPherson says his goodbyes to Bon Accord Free Church with his wife Martha
Smart waiters at Bon Accord Free Church farewell
GIVING A REASON
embers of glasgow city free church have produced an index of resources designed as a starting point for being ‘prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have’ (1 peter 3:15).
The recommended resources have been compiled into a booklet by Caitriana Nicolson. The booklet was inspired by questioning the young people of the congregation about challenges to faith that they faced. It has five reference sections covering general apologetics, science and faith, children/parents/youth, sexuality/gender issues and organisations promoting and defending Christian values. There are lots of additions that can be made to those featured in the booklet. If you are aware of other useful sources of information, you are welcome to send suggestions to email@example.com. The booklet will be available on the congregation’s website (glasgowcityfreechurch.org), and copies can be requested by e-mail or post. •
IS ARRAN CALLING YOU? BY WILLIE MCALLISTER
time minister to pastor our group. This may suit a younger man looking for part-time employment on the island, alongside their ministry or, alternatively, someone more mature who wishes to cut down on their working hours. Social problems are less apparent than in many areas of Scotland, but there is still a great need for gospel teaching. As the island heads towards being a year-round destination for tourists, there are increasing opportunities for employment in various spheres including education, tourism, and health and social care and in several islandbased businesses. We are fortunate to have good broadband speeds over most of the island, making it feasible to work from home. We have a lovely modern manse in the heart of Shiskine crying out for a family! It boasts a large sitting room with views to Kintyre, a dining room, three double bedrooms and a further office/single bedroom. We crave a pastor who will embrace our elderly people, guide our congregation and spend time with our youngsters. Primary school education is provided in seven schools scattered throughout the island. Secondary education is provided in Lamlash High School, with children being bussed daily from all over the island. An increasing number of college courses are becoming available through Argyle College (based in our high school building). Medically we are well served by a joint GP practice with five surgeries and a cottage hospital. Could this be the destination for you as a pastor? Or could this be a relocation possibility for your young (or not-so-young!) family to join our number, promoting the gospel on this beautiful island? •
he island of arran is 56 miles in circumference with a population of approximately 4,500 (this
can double in the summer months). It lies twelve miles off the Ayrshire coast and, although only two hours’ travel time from Glasgow, it’s a world apart. Arran is often referred to as ‘Scotland in miniature’, with the mountainous north and the rolling fields and beautiful coastal areas of the south. There are thirteen villages scattered around the coastline, all with very individual characters. Abounding in wildlife and unspoilt areas, there is always something to marvel at. There is one Free Church congregation on the Island, with two church buildings – one in Shiskine on the west side of the island, and one in Brodick, the main village and ferry port. The Brodick church building has recently been refurbished, with the pews replaced by chairs, and a kitchen and office extension built on. We can regularly expect around twenty worshippers at each service, with ages ranging from late teens to eighties. The morning service in Shiskine is often swelled by visitors in the summer months. The evening service in Brodick attracts friends from other denominations on the island as well as visitors. Our worship is contemporary, using Scottish Psalter, Sing Psalms, hymns and, in the evening, keyboard accompaniment. The congregation are active in the services, greeting visitors, assisting with scripture readings, and hosting monthly teas and quarterly fellowship meals. In the winter months there is a regular ladies’ meeting and a fortnightly Bible study. Due to numbers and finances, we are looking for a part-
PRINCE WILLIAM TO ADDRESS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
is royal highness the duke of cambridge and earl of strathearn is due to address this year’s general assembly of the free church of scotland.
The Lord High Commissioner is the Sovereign’s personal representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland but is also invited to address commissioners at the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland on the last day of proceedings. The position has a reduced role within the business of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, largely maintaining a symbolic connection through the denomination’s adherence to the Establishment Principle. The Lord High Commissioner first addressed the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 1925. The 2020 Free Church of Scotland General Assembly will be held between the 18th and 22nd of May. •
REV. JOHN H. MACLEAN (1946-2019) BY REV. D.G. MACDONALD
t was with an enormous sense of sadness that we learned of the passing of rev. john h maclean on the 12th february 2020.
There are not the words to express how much he was loved and how much he will be missed. He was a loving husband to Morag, his trusted helpmeet and partner in the work of the gospel, a devoted father and best friend to his son Martin, and a father-inlaw who welcomed with open arms into the family his daughterin-law, Shivonne. It is our prayer that they will know the Lord, the God of all grace, comforting and carrying them at such a sad time. John was a man who loved people and loved preaching, for he was a man who above all things loved his Saviour. His enthusiasm for preaching the gospel was unmatched; even in the past few months when he was no longer able to preach, he was still preparing sermons. From the age of 17 he proclaimed the gospel faithfully and powerfully, always believing it was the power of God to salvation for those who would believe. His ministry in Lairg and in Trotternish was owned and blessed by God and he was used by him in the much wider church to bring many to Christ. John’s optimism was unbridled and his willingness to serve the church in any way he could made him that rare individual who would never hesitate to serve on committees or to undertake huge administrative tasks, and he did so with genuine enjoyment. His gravitas and wise counsel in the Presbytery of Skye and Wester Ross provided stability during difficult times, and his
friendship and encouragement to colleagues over the years were invaluable. He truly was a good and faithful servant. But today it was time for him to enter more fully into the joy of his Lord. He is now before the throne of God and will serve him night and day in his temple, and the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be his shepherd and lead him to springs of living water, and God will wipe every tear from his eyes. We are comforted by that Gospel hope, but we still feel the pain of the parting and will miss him immensely. •
DAVID FORD (1948-2019) BY CLIVE BAILEY
e are saddened to report the death of our brother and friend, david ford, who passed into glory on sunday night, 16th february
2020, after suffering a stroke during the previous week.
David will be sorely missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him, but especially by his family. David was a loving husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather. We extend our deep sympathy and condolences to his wife Marianna, his children David, Elizabeth, Rebecca, John and Matthew, and their families. We pray that each of them may know the comfort and presence of the Lord in their sadness. David was a man who loved his Lord and Saviour and loved to tell others of the God of all grace, which he did in a lifetime of ministry and preaching in an impressively wide range of locations and contexts. His first pastoral charge was in the remote town of Celendín, high in the Peruvian Andes, where he ministered with Olwen, his first wife who predeceased him, for several years, along with the growing family. In this challenging environment, they were a wonderful example of a loving Christian home, open to all and caring for anyone needing help and counsel. In due time they returned to Scotland, where David was called to minister in Coatbridge Free Church, where he was much loved by the congregation. But his love for Latin America was still evident, making frequent short teaching trips to Lima, Moyobamba and Medellín. His gifts in lecturing were widely respected, leading to his taking up a full-time post in the seminary in Medellín, Colombia, and establishing an online theological resource in Spanish, Recursos Teológicos, making its material available to all.
David’s servant heart and desire to serve his Lord continued when he returned to Scotland, assisting as interim-moderator where needed, Clerk to the Board of Ministry, part-time lecturer in Edinburgh Theological Seminary and in many other ways, many of them known only to his Master. Now his work on earth is done, and he is enjoying being with the one he loves most, the Lord Jesus Christ. We miss him, but are comforted in our sorrow by our sure and certain hope in the gospel. •
DR. NEIL GALBRAITH (1940-2018) BY REV. HUGH FERRIER
As a Kirk Session we shall greatly miss Neil’s friendship as well as his unstinting work as both elder and treasurer. At the same time we are grateful to God for the provision of this tireless partner in the gospel over these years. We commend his wife Bella, his son Robert, and his daughters Caroline and Sandra, along with their respective families, into the same everlasting arms that their husband and father entrusted himself to, with the prayer that they would know the peace that passes all understanding. •
t was with a deeply felt sense of shock and disbelief that the congregation of the high free, stornoway, heard of the passing of our elder and
congregational treasurer, dr neil galbraith, on saturday, 17th november 2018.
Neil was born and raised in Govan. He was married to Bella and they were blessed with a son and two daughters. On moving to Stornoway Neil was a diligent and attentive attender of the High Church Congregation for a number of years before publicly professing his faith in the 1990s. He was ordained as an elder soon after this and showed a prayerful and practical concern for all those he knew who were in need. Many can testify to the way in which they benefited from Neil’s quiet Christian generosity and encouragement. His many and varied skills were put to good use in his work as congregational treasurer – a position he held until the time of his death. This work was time-consuming and required constant vigilance and attention – particularly in the formation of the new High Free Church Congregation. The Free Presbytery of the Western Isles also acknowledged Neil’s abilities and benefited greatly from his input as both Presbytery elder for the High Free Congregation and as a member of the Presbytery’s Student Oversight Committee. It was clear in knowing Neil that he exercised a strong and deep faith – a faith that showed itself in the way that he conducted himself at home, within the courts of the church, and in the public arena. When faced with the seriousness of his illness and its devastating prognosis, Neil accepted it all with serenity and courage, committing himself firmly into the everlasting arms of his Saviour. In the last difficult weeks of his life, his family frequently saw the way in which Neil’s all-consuming interest was his Lord and how evident it was that his great desire was simply to worship his Saviour. The Lord was indeed his Portion.
‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (Psalm 73:26)
ANGUS MACAULAY (1925-2018) BY REV. HUGH FERRIER
t was with great heartache that the congregation of the high free, stornoway, heard of the passing of our senior elder, mr angus macaulay, on sunday, 16th december 2018.
Angie, as we knew and loved him, was brought up in Sandwick and there he and his wife, Marion, created a warm and welcoming family home. They were blessed with two daughters, Margaret and Chriselle, who sadly predeceased them in 1999 and 2006. This was a sore and frowning providence but one that Angie accepted with great fortitude and grace. His exemplary character was further seen in the way that he cared for Marion in her illness and frailty, both within the family home and latterly in Bethesda care home and hospice. It was Angie’s clear and unashamed witness to his Lord and Saviour that marked him out in so many ways. He publicly professed his faith in the High Church Congregation and was soon ordained as a deacon and then
as an elder in the 1980s. As an elder he carried out his duties with warmth and winsomeness. He would regularly visit the care homes, those in hospital, the housebound, as well as those within his district – often bringing some baking or something from his garden. Angie was consistent and tireless in all his responsibilities and endeavoured, by God’s grace, to be faithful to the end. It was a joy and a privilege to hear him give his testimony to the Lord’s grace in his life at the August 2018 Communion, and many were able to say that it was a precious moment. Even in the last few weeks before his death Angie was indefatigable in seeking to magnify the name of his Saviour and was to be found serving at the November Communion, engaging in prayer at the midweek meeting, and even leading the Saturday night prayer meeting a week before he was hospitalised. Here was a man who had truly found his Lord to be his dwelling place. Angie’s passing has left a huge void in our Session, in our congregation, and in our town, but we give the Lord all the praise and glory for blessing us with such a committed and faithful servant. In Angie we saw a man who had lost much but who continually and frequently spoke of the Lord’s goodness to him. We commend his sons-in-law, Hugh and Harry, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren into the care of the One whose grace is sufficient, praying that
they would daily know his presence, his comfort, and his steadfast love. • ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21)
WOM E N FO R M I SSI O N
ANNUAL MEETING 2020 SATURDAY 16 MAY | 2.00PM Glasgow City Free Church
WOMEN FOR MISSION
WOMEN’S CONFERENCE W IT H GUEST SPEAKER ANN A L L E N
SATURDAY 19 SEPTEMBER Culloden-Balloch Baptist Church, Inverness
THE CONDUCT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER BY JOHN KNOX (C. 1514 – 1572)
Minister, theologian and reformer John Knox had a high view of Communion. He called it ‘our singular and inestimable treasure’. James S. McEwen observes that ‘None in the Reformed world made the Sacrament basic for the Church itself, as Knox did.’ Originally entitled ‘The maner of the Lordes Supper’, the following is Knox’s guide to the sacrament. It has been rendered into modern English by the Rev. Dr Bruce Gardner. THE RECORD
that he feels in his heart unfeigned repentance for the same, but only those who continue in sin without repentance. Nor yet is this pronounced against those who aspire to a greater perfection than they can attain in this present life. For although we feel in ourselves much frailty and wretchedness, so that we do not keep our faith as perfectly and constantly as we ought (being frequently ready to distrust God’s goodness, through our corrupt nature), and also that we are not so thoroughly given to serve God, nor have so fervent a zeal to set forth His glory as our duty requires – feeling still such rebellion in ourselves that we need daily to fight against the lusts of our flesh – yet, nevertheless, seeing that our Lord has dealt mercifully with us to date, that He has printed His gospel in our hearts so that we are kept from falling into desperation and wrong belief; and seeing also that He has endued us with a will and desire to renounce and resist our own passions with a longing for His righteousness and for keeping His commandments, we may be now perfectly assured that those defaults and manifold imperfections in us will be no hindrance at all against us, to cause him not to accept and impute us as worthy to come to His spiritual Table; for the purpose of our coming there is not to insist that we are upright and just in our lives, but, contrariwise, to come to seek our life and perfection in Jesus Christ, acknowledging in the meantime, that we, in ourselves, are the children of wrath and damnation. Let us consider, then, that this Sacrament is a unique medicine for all poor sick creatures, a strengthening aid to weak souls, and that our Lord requires no other worthiness on our part, but that we unfeignedly acknowledge our indiscipline and imperfection. Then, to the end that we may be worthy partakers of His merits and most strengthening benefits (which is the true eating of His flesh, and drinking of His blood), let us not allow our minds to go astray in the consideration of these earthly and corruptible things (which we see present to our eyes and feel with our hands) to seek Christ bodily present in them, as if He were enclosed in the bread or wine, or as if these elements were turned and changed into the substance of His flesh and blood. For the only way to dispose our souls to receive nourishment, relief and quickening from His substance is to lift up our minds by faith above all things worldly and sensible and by that means to enter into heaven, so that we may find and receive Christ where He lives undoubtedly, very God and very man, in the incomprehensible glory of His Father, to whom be all praise, honour, and glory, now and forever. Amen. The Exhortation ended, the Minister comes down from the pulpit, and sits at the Table, every man and woman likewise taking their place as suits the occasion best; then he takes bread, and gives thanks, either in the following words or words similar in effect:
celebrated once a month (or as often as the
congregation think expedient), the minister usually says the following:
Let us take note, dear Brethren, and consider how Jesus Christ ordained His Holy Supper for us, according to the way St. Paul recites in the eleventh chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘I have,’ he says, ‘received of the Lord that which I have delivered to you, which is that the Lord Jesus, the same night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, saying, “Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise after supper, He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new Testament or covenant in my blood; do this as often as you drink of it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you will declare the Lord’s death until His coming.” Therefore, whoever will eat this bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Therefore, see that every man test and try himself, and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this cup; for whoever eats or drinks unworthily, eats and drinks His own damnation, for not having due regard and consideration for the Lord’s body.’ This done, the Minister proceeds to the exhortation. Dearly beloved in the Lord, forasmuch as we are now assembled to celebrate the Holy Communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ, let us consider these words of St. Paul, how he exhorts all persons diligently to try and examine themselves before they presume to eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For, as the benefit is great, if with a truly penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy sacrament (for then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood, so live in Christ and Christ in us, one with Christ and Christ with us), so is the danger great if we receive the same unworthily, for then we are guilty of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour: we eat and drink our own damnation – not considering the Lord’s body – and so kindle God’s wrath against us and provoke Him to afflict us with different diseases and various kinds of death. And therefore in the Name and authority of the eternal God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, I excommunicate from this Table: all blasphemers of God, all idolaters, all murderers, all adulterers, all that are in malice or envy, all persons disobedient to father or mother, princes or magistrates, pastors or preachers, all thieves or deceivers of their neighbours; and finally, all those who live a life directly fighting against the will of God, charging them as they will answer in the presence of Him who is the righteous judge, that they do not presume to profane this most holy Table. And yet I do not pronounce to separate any penitent person, however grievous his previous sins have been, so
O Father of mercy, and God of all consolation, seeing all creatures acknowledge and confess You as Governor and Lord, it becomes us, the workmanship of Your own hands, at all times to revere and magnify Your Godly Majesty: first, because You have created us in Your own image and similitude; but mainly because You have delivered us from that everlasting death and damnation, into which Satan drew mankind by means of sin, from the bondage of which neither man nor angel was able to set us free; but You, O Lord, rich in mercy and infinite in goodness, have provided our redemption to stand in Your only and well-loved Son, whom, out of genuine love, You gave to be made man, like us in all things (except for sin), so that in His body he might receive the punishments due for our transgression, by His death to make satisfaction to Your justice, and by His resurrection to destroy him that was author of death, and so rescue and bring, again, life to the world, from which the entire offspring of Adam were most justly exiled. O Lord, we acknowledge that no creature is able to comprehend the length and breadth, the depth and height of that most excellent love of Yours, which moved You to show mercy where none was deserved; to promise and give life where death had got a victory; to receive us into Your grace where we could do nothing but rebel against Your justice. O Lord, the blind dullness of our corrupt nature will not allow us to weigh these most ample benefits of Yours sufficiently; yet, nevertheless, at the commandment of Jesus Christ our Lord, we present ourselves to this, His Table (which He has bequeathed to be used in remembrance of His death until His coming again), to declare and witness before the world that by Him alone we have received liberty and life; that by Him alone You acknowledge us to be Your children and heirs; that by Him alone we have access to the throne of Your grace; that by Him alone are we possessed of our spiritual kingdom, to eat and drink at His Table; with whom we have our way of life presently in heaven; and by whom our bodies will be raised up again from the dust, and will be placed with him in that endless joy, which You, O Father of Mercy, have prepared for Your elect, before the foundation of the world was laid. And these most inestimable benefits, we acknowledge and confess to have received, from Your free mercy and grace, through Your one and only beloved Son, Jesus Christ: for which therefore, we Your Congregation, moved by Your Holy Spirit, render You all thanks, prayer and glory, for ever and ever. This done, the Minister breaks the bread and gives it to the people, who distribute and divide the same amongst themselves, according to our Saviour Christ’s commandment, and likewise gives the cup. During this time, some part of the Scriptures is read, which vividly sets forth the death of Christ,
to the intent that our eyes and senses may not only be occupied in these outward signs of bread and wine, which are called the visible word, but that our hearts and minds also may be fully fixed in the contemplation of the Lord’s death, which is represented by this holy Sacrament. And, after the action is done, he gives thanks, saying: Most merciful Father, we give You all praise, thanks and glory, because You have condescended to grant to us miserable sinners so excellent a gift and treasure as to receive us into the fellowship and company of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; whom You gave over to death for us, and have given Him to us as necessary food and nourishment to everlasting life. And now we beg You also, O Heavenly Father, to grant us this request; that You never allow us to become so alienated as to forget such worthy benefits, but rather imprint and fasten them securely in our hearts, so that we may grow and increase daily more and more in true faith, which is continually exercised in all kinds of good works; and much rather, O Lord, confirm us, in these perilous days and rages of Satan, that we may constantly stand and continue in the confession of the same to the advancement of Your glory, who are God over all things blessed for ever. So be it. The action thus ended, the people sing the 103rd Psalm, “My soul, give praise” etc., or some other thanksgiving; which, once it has ended, one of the aforementioned blessings before is recited, and so they rise from the Table, and leave. To the Reader: If it should be that anyone marvels why we follow this Order, rather than any other in the Administration of this Sacrament, let him diligently consider that, first of all, we utterly renounce the errors of the Papists; secondly, we restore to the Sacrament its own substance, and to Christ His proper place. And, as for the words of the Lord’s Supper, we recite them, not because they would change the substance of the bread or wine, or that the repetition of it should perform the Sacrament with the intent of the sacrificer (as the Papists falsely believe), but they are read and pronounced, to teach us how to conduct ourselves in this action, and that Christ might witness to our faith, as it were with His own mouth, that He has ordained these signs for our spiritual use and comfort. We first, therefore, examine ourselves, according to Saint Paul’s rule, and prepare our minds so that we may be worthy partakers of such high mysteries. Then, taking bread, we give thanks, break and distribute it, as Christ our Saviour has taught us. Finally, the ministration being ended, we give thanks again, according to His example, so that there is nothing attempted in this holy action without His word and warrant. •
THE RECORD RECOMMENDS PODCASTS Technology gives us unprecedented access to preaching and theology, but it can be hard to separate the signal from the noise. Here are seven podcasts to nourish the Christian mind. HELP ME TEACH THE BIBLE New episode every fortnight In this series, produced by The Gospel Coalition, Nancy Guthrie interviews a range of teachers and preachers to find out how they teach through specific books of the Bible.
ASK N.T. WRIGHT ANYTHING New episode every fortnight For the past two years, leading New Testament scholar and author Tom Wright has been answering listeners' questions on everything from prayer, free will and Old Testament violence to spiritual gifts, marriage, and Jesus’ return.
JOURNEYWOMEN New episode every week Recognising that the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone, Hunter Beless meets Christian leaders and thinkers to ask how women seeking to glorify God should navigate the challenges they face.
5 MINUTES IN CHURCH HISTORY New episode every week A bitesize look at the people, events and places which have shaped the story of Christianity. Host Dr Stephen Nichols sheds light on the way our unchangeable God has worked in his church in previous generations.
GENERATION PODCAST New episode every week The Record’s own David Meredith, the Free Church’s Mission Director, sits down with a variety of guests from within and beyond the Free Church to discuss Christian mission.
RENEWING YOUR MIND WITH R.C. SPROUL New episode daily A staple radio broadcast since 1994, Renewing Your Mind is now available as a podcast focussed on in-depth Bible teaching and addressing the big issues facing Christians today.
MORTIFICATION OF SPIN New episode every week Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt and Aimee Byrd hold a casual conversation about the challenges faced by the contemporary church and the things that count in the Christian life.
A TIME TO BE SILENT Photo ©Sergey Chayko - stock.adobe.com
RODDIE RANKIN reflects on the peace we forfeit when we refuse God’s loving command to be still.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee! O calm of hills above, Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee The silence of eternity Interpreted by love! With that deep hush subduing all Our words and works that drown The tender whisper of Thy call, As noiseless let Thy blessing fall As fell Thy manna down. (John Greenleaf Whittier, 1872)
I lay down to listen for silence. Silence Moistened her lips and then she spoke. I read later what she said. It was this: If you love me, I’ll love you too; If you seek for me, I’ll seek you. Hear me, and know God’s favour,01 And His secrets; great unknowns I tell to those who call.02
In the echo chambers, where my choices Are affirmed, unchallenged, unbelieving As we honour none but ourselves.08 To hear her grace, must we, can we Sever our umbilical dependence On the world; our ever-live connection To the virtual friends with whom we journey? Afraid. We dread to be alone with Silence Lest her candour tells us truth.
Not only did I not hear, but unattuned, I was entirely unaware of her presence. Do we not claim to long wistfully For her voice, and complain loudly That it is not sent to us as it was? We are those who disturb clear waters Then peer into their cloudy depths For the glint of a lost key. Perhaps if she would shout she might Be heard over the clamour of our lives. But that is not her nature. A shout Might mean for us the world’s end.03
And so I went, eating and drinking, Marrying and giving in marriage09 Until the day I broke. Unable to sustain The heedless pace I set myself, The thrumming strings of this instrument, Most finely tuned and wonderfully made,10 Snapped. Mind, body, health and spirit Could no longer offer the sacrifice of fools.11 And so I was a brute beast before God, for half a time, a time, and times Until into His sanctuary I came and understood.12 My nerves constrained abrupt retreat From noise; a gentle Shepherd’s voice Bid me go out with Him to solitude.12 That voice! Familiar from unguarded moments, I knew, and, busy, had evaded.
So, sealed up the oracles remain, Unheard by me and by my fellows. The word of the Lord is scarce.04 Is He mute, or are we deaf?05 For consolation we pass around Old messages heard by others Who learned to listen. Of how they learned We tell as though we understand. Messages concerning messages; Christian Chinese whispers, not words Sustaining weary travellers day by day.06 Vain hope to hear the soft voice Yet remain in the crowded room; The still, small voice While shaken by the earthquake!07
Now chastened to obey I packed my gear. Leaving the road I hiked to the place Where isolation is no metaphor, Prepared my bed and lay down, listening. No creature stirred; the air was still. Nothing moved. And that is what I heard. Nothing. Straining harder still no rumour came, Until, around the edges of my mind, a murmur: the rhythm of my life; a beating heart In my own breast! You are alive, she said, With those moist lips. To you, offspring of Eve, Mother of all who live,14 this gift is granted. Amazed, I relished this first revelation Of Silence; drew breath with satisfaction And exhaled, exchanging life with all around:
I will be honest: I was afraid. Of silence. The absence of the customary clangour, The clitter, clatter, chitter-chatter That fills the careless life. I know my place
Afraid. We dread to be alone with Silence Lest her candour tells us truth. Dependent if not dependable, a fragile strand In the web of all things. Caught by folly, Too weak to struggle any longer, My body bone-tired meeting my demands. My, mine, myself, too late observed, Dismayed that my companion In this desert place was me. No easy fresh beginnings; no escape, Just firm determination to find help.
The Shepherd’s peace of justified belief,24 The fruitful Spirit’s peace,25 the Father’s peace We cannot comprehend.26 Hallowed was that childlike sanctuary. Much later, glorying still, I saw the stars, And from their heights I saw myself. A soaring vision took me up, To stand upon the Milky Way With Silence for my company And guide, the heavens to survey And see, wrapped in eternity, Upon his head a crown, a Man, And seated with Him me!27 In that sought place, the waves died down, Just as they had at Galilee And to the shore of the crystal sea Where I desired to be, I came.28
I smiled to see two players on the stage Of this new drama in my mind: ‘Who’s there?,’ said Thinker To the stranger in the room. The stranger blushed to be found out, As one long sleeping on his watch. Both Thinker, then, and Listener Began to bicker and to blame. ‘Shut up!,’ I cried, and ‘Who said that?,’ They asked in unison.
I came again today, to that shore. Now More easily found, from where I start. Out of the reach of lapping waves I lay down, and laid down my cares. Dear Silence spoke to me of life, And what life really is: the life The Shepherd lives, and by that life Of how He lives in me. •
Silence returned; an uneasy still, For what I heard was a heart Fretful for noise, craving distraction, Restless as breaking waves. That Shepherd, doubtless spurred by His own Sufferings,15 had taught me prayer: Into temptation lead me not;16 had led me here, To this desert and temptation.17 I heard what my heart wanted: The greed, the grudges and the girls, While Silence watched me and reproved. Upon my bed she searched my heart. I trembled,18 as she found what God finds When He looks there.19 And so, convicted, I confessed my secret hidden rooms With shame, and solemnly consigned Their tainted contents to His fire.20
Rev. Roddie M. Rankin is minister of Kyle and Plockton Free Church 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
No fig-leaves now, I lay exposed Before her gaze; attentive to her voice: Be still and know the LORD is God. Of wars and weapons He will be the end,21 And of the hot desires that spawn them.22 Thus disarmed, before His face, And upon mine, I felt the grace of mercy: He restored my soul, by quiet waters.23 I marvelled at His patient care.
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
In that submission, truths I’d learned Became keys; turned tumblers And raised levers in my mind, Unlocked the way to peace:
25 26 27 28
Proverbs 8:17, 34 Jeremiah 33:3 1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Samuel 3:1 Mark 4:8 Isaiah 50:4 1 Kings 19:11,12 John 5:44 Matthew 24:39 Psalm 139:15 Ecclesiastes 5:1 Daniel 4:32; Psalm 73:17, 22 Mark 6:31 Genesis 3:20 Hebrews 2:18 Matthew 6:13 Matthew 4:1 Psalm 4:4 Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 139:23, 24 Acts 19:18, 19 Psalm 46:9, 10 James 4:1 Psalm 23:2, 3 Romans 5:1 Galatians 5:21 Philippians 4:7 Psalm 8:3-9; Ephesians 2:6 Psalm 107:28-30; Mark 4:39
SCRIPTURE UNION HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE IN SCOTLAND TO EXPLORE THE BIBLE
Jim Dewar, Chair of the Board, commented: ‘We look forward to working with Robin in a new way and developing the organisation in ways that allow us to fulfil the vision of SU Scotland in a constantly changing culture. Please pray for Robin as he looks forward to taking on this new role. ‘Equally, we pay tribute to the outstanding leadership Andy has brought to the movement over the past 19 years. During that time, under God the organisation has gone from strength to strength, experiencing significant growth and impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and young people.’ Robin says of his appointment: ‘It’s a huge honour to be entrusted with the role of serving the SU Scotland family in this way. All that we do, we do as team, in total dependence on God. Together with other colleagues, I will be getting out and about to meet as many SU volunteers, young people and staff as possible over the next few months, to listen and learn and discern where God might be leading us as a movement. Your prayers and ideas are needed as we chart a fresh course for the years ahead, while making the most of the opportunities we already have to see the children and young people of Scotland exploring the Bible and responding to the significance of Jesus.’ •
cripture union scotland is part of the worldwide family of scripture union movements that began in the nineteenth century and now operate in over
130 countries across the world.
SU works in partnership with local churches and other sympathetic organisations. More than 2,000 volunteers are involved in helping to run activities, together with around 100 staff and associate workers. SU groups in schools across Scotland are places where young people can have fun, meet new challenges, feel valued, and are free to express their views and consider their own beliefs as they engage with peers and Christian leaders. Scripture Union’s work in schools includes initiatives like SHINE, which aims to equip young people to live for God at school and create opportunities for young people who are not Christians to explore the Christian faith for themselves. Last year, 40 SU groups ran SHINE events. The SU Group at the Royal High School in Edinburgh meets on a Thursday lunchtime and usually there would be around 15–18 pupils at the group. In week 3 of SHINE, a message went out over the school tannoy that ‘Christianity and Cake’ was to be held in one of the classrooms—and 38 pupils turned up. Cake was quickly consumed while Rachel and Sam introduced the Youth Alpha video ‘Who is Jesus?” and various discussions arose from that. It was such an encouragement to the leaders and pupils who had courageously invited their friends along. ‘SHINE is a high quality programme of resources that encourages and inspires Christian young people to see the unique opportunities they have to share their faith with their friends and others in school,’ said Angus Moyes, SU’s East Team Leader. Karen, a pupil in Glasgow, said that ‘Jesus is the most important thing we could ever tell anyone about and yet so often we keep it to ourselves.’ Following the retirement of Andy Bathgate, who has led the organisation since 2001, the Board of Scripture Union Scotland has announced that Robin MacLellan has been appointed as CEO from 1 April 2020. Robin has been part of SU Scotland’s Leadership Team since 2008, serving initially as Director of Support Services prior to becoming Deputy CEO and Director of Residentials and Resources in 2014. Before joining the staff team, he and his wife Rachael served as volunteers, particularly leading SU Holiday events.
New SU Scotland CEO, Robin MacLellan
BY REV. THOMAS DAVIS
ne of the most exciting developments at ets over the past couple of years has been the establishment of a post-graduate study programme on the subject of mission.
So this month we are interviewing Rev. Calum Cameron, who is currently studying for our Masters of Theology in Missiology through the ETS Centre for Mission. Tell us a little about yourself. I am 25 years old and I grew up in the Highlands, near Inverness. I have been in Edinburgh for the past four years, where I have been studying at ETS and serving at St Columba’s Free Church. I am engaged to Sarah and we are looking forward to getting married in September this year.
word dissertation on a topic of our choice. So overall, the amount of words we write is about the same as a 40,000-word research thesis, but we spread that over lots of different subjects. We also have regular seminars where guest speakers will come and present their research into a particular topic, followed by a time of discussion and questions. There is a lot of self-study involved, which is very good for developing self-discipline. So I ty to make sure that I devote time each week to reading and study so that I keep on top of the work alongside my involvement at St Columba’s.
What are you studying? I am studying the Masters of Theology in Missiology and I am a part-time student. That means that the course will take me two years, and while studying I am also serving as a Minister in Training at St Columba’s Free Church.
Can you give us an example of the kind of essays you have to write? Yes, towards the end of last year we had to write a very interesting essay on what we understand mission to be. There is a famous quote that says ‘if everything is mission, then nothing is mission’. We had to discuss this and there are people who agree and disagree. Some people think that mission encompasses every single aspect of what a church does. Whether it is leading an outreach event, teaching a small group, maintaining the building or providing a foodbank, it’s all mission. Others, though, would say that mission is more focussed on evangelism and actually seeking to convert people to faith in Jesus. The argument behind the famous quotation is that if we say that everything is mission, then we stop focussing enough on the more specific work of seeking to convert people. I feel that, although it’s true that every aspect of church life is mission, it is important to make sure that we don’t lose a primary sense of focus on seeking to call people to faith in Jesus. That, to me, seems to be the pattern in the New Testament. It was really helpful to have to think through these issues.
What ‘Missiology’ and why is it important? Missiology is basically the study of mission. So that means that it covers lots of different things: history of mission, biblical teaching on mission, some aspects of systematic theology, and lot of areas of practical theology. There is a wide variety in the course, which I love. Sometimes we will be looking at mission in the Old Testament; other times we will look at key mission movements from history, and so on. It is important because mission is at the core of who we are and what we do as a church. Missiology helps encourage people who want to engage in mission to think and talk about what we need to do in order to serve in mission. The key question at the heart of all that is, ‘What does the Bible say about mission?’ Alongside that, missiology is immensely helpful as an opportunity to learn from others. The course has strongly reinforced that fact that the Christian church is no longer primarily ‘Western’. The global Christian scene has changed radically. In fact, now the majority of the church is in Africa, Asia and South America, and there is so much to learn from what God has been doing in these places. It is so important to listen to and learn from others.
How is this course helping you prepare for Free Church ministry? I have found the course so helpful because Scotland is a massive mission field. Although we have a strong history in terms of the gospel, today the vast majority of people don’t know Jesus and aren’t aware of what the gospel message is. In just over a year, I am hoping to go and serve as pastor in a local Free Church somewhere in Scotland, and I think that one of my key
What does the course involve? The course is a taught masters, which means that instead of focussing on one big thesis, like in a research masters, we have to do assignments across a lot of different topics. We have to write ten 3,000word essays across the two years and then a 15,000-
roles will be to equip people for mission. So studying this course has been excellent preparation to help train me to be able to prepare others to understand the culture around them and to share their faith with friends, neighbours and colleagues.
I feel that, although it’s true that every aspect of church life is mission, it is important to make sure that we don’t lose a primary sense of focus on seeking to call people to faith in Jesus. That, to me, seems to be the pattern in the New Testament.
What have you enjoyed about the course? I have really enjoyed the variety; it is has been so good to look at biblical studies, theology and history, all in relation to mission. I feel the course is very vocational and in so many ways I can see how useful it will be for pastoral ministry. I have also really enjoyed complementing my studies with preaching, pastoral work and practical service at St Columba’s. It has also been great to get to know other students, some of whom have come from across the world to study the course. Above all, it has been great to learn more about how the Great Commission that Jesus gave is being lived out across history and across the world. • To find out more about the MTh in Missiology, please visit www. ets.ac.uk/mission/digging-deep
Calum Cameron studying at ETS
FROM THE ARCHIVES CHURCH AND NATION BY JAMES W. FRASER
he church of god may be said to have a dual capacity. in some respects it may be called an amphibian
— it has a spiritual life, planted in christ jesus
with heaven as its domicile; in another sense it is firmly planted in this
— it has an existence on earth. It is not the Lord’s will to remove believers the moment they are converted to the Father’s house and family above. Indeed, our Lord expressly prayed that the Father would not take his Church out of this world, but that they might be kept from the evil of this world. As for the spiritual life of believers, it is in Christ. They are risen with the risen Christ; their life is hidden with Christ in God; they have been made to dwell in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Thus there was real truth in the somewhat whimsical reply of a believer to a friend’s question as to his present abode. Instead of saying, ‘I’m living in town so-and-so and at no. X of street such-andsuch’, he replied, ‘I’m dwelling in Romans 8 (or Ephesians 1)’. He recognised that the believer has a hidden life, his real life, lived in fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, his Son, our Saviour, through the Holy Spirit of promise. The Church, like the believer, is a sojourner and a pilgrim in this present evil world. It looks forward to a glorious future, not on earth, but in the Father’s house of many mansions. Its sights are set on the consummation at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will come the second time without sin unto salvation, for the punishment of evildoers but for the praise of them that do well. There is a definite forward-looking The Church, in carrying out its commitments towards a climax of triumph — what divines call an eschatological outlook — own generation, in the realm of the secular, when the Church itself will be cleared of never cease to be the Church. all impurities (the New Jerusalem being presented without spot as the chaste bride of the Lamb) and when the Church will also be delivered from the trials and temptations and persecutions of an evil society and unjust governments of men. Jesus clearly told Pilate that his kingdom was ‘not of this world’. Hence he would not use weapons of flesh and blood to establish it. It was founded on the sacrifice of the suffering Saviour and established by the power of the risen and reigning Lord. This climax of redemption is ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished’, the hope of the Church which will be fully realised in God’s good time . world
to its must
THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD Meanwhile it is God’s purpose to leave his children in this world. Here they have a discipline to undergo, a witness to bear and a work to do, for the glory of God. They have a discipline to undergo which is God’s normal way in developing, maturing and sanctifying their Christian character — and this discipline is often not pleasant but grievous. ‘Nevertheless afterwards....’ They have a witness to bear for God both against a sinful God-rejecting world and to encourage repentance and faith on the part of sinners of mankind. They have a work to do, under God, in building up a society of righteousness and love. If men are saved ‘single file and not in battalions’, they are not saved to go it alone, independent of and unconcerned for others. The desert hermit is not the norm for the Christian life. Christ created his Church a society from the beginning, and this social concept is not confined to the Church at prayer. If the Church worships together it must also live together
in fellowship. The ‘togetherness’, the koinonia, is not society, Christian art, Christian commerce, Christian over when the kirk skails after the Sunday service! The industry. The whole national life should be permeated early church shows us the pattern — ‘they abode in the by the spirit and ideals of Christianity, for Christ is Head apostles’ fellowship and in breaking of bread’. over all things. Does this mean, then, that the society of the Church, This is the basis for the Establishment principle, realising its corporate quality, fulfils all righteousness, which is still one to which the Free Church of Scotland recognising its eschatological goal, in withdrawing subscribes, even though we get not a penny plack of from the affairs of men, cultivating its own soul, eagerly support from a Church-State relationship. With support anticipating its culminating redemption and leaving the for this principle Thomas Chalmers led the Free Church world of men to the devil? This may be putting it crudely. out of its connection with the state with the familiar There are those who would advocate something like words that we left a vitiated establishment but would this. Good Christian men have nothing to do with the be glad to return to a pure one. world, considered as a society; their business is to How is this ideal to be achieved? By the Church save their own souls, withdrawn from the world, as a dabbling in politics? Putting forward its own political garden walled in from the wilderness. Man as a political, party with a view to gaining control of the government societary animal, is not for them. of the nation? By supporting one particular party? – The story is told of C. H. Spurgeon that at the time as it was said, no doubt by enemies, that the Church of a General Election he was invited to preach for a of England was the Tory Party at prayer! No, by neighbouring pastor who held views similar to those none of these ways is the ideal of church and nation depicted above. He was late in arriving at the chapel. achieved, any more than the social gospel, as a When he did arrive his friend asked, ‘What kept you?’ substitute for the evangel of redemption, fulfils the Spurgeon replied, ‘I turned aside to record my vote.’ Church’s social responsibility or, more recently, the ‘I thought,’ chided the other gently, ‘that you were theology of revolution applied secures the liberty a citizen of the New Jerusalem?’ ‘So I am,’ replied of the oppressed. The Church, in carrying out its Spurgeon, ‘but my commitments to The Church has a right, even a duty, to make its own generation, old man is a citizen of this world.’ ‘Ah,’ said pronouncements on all matters affecting human in the realm of the the other, ‘but we are secular, must never welfare, whether political, social, or even economic. cease to be the told to crucify the old man!’ ‘So I did,’ capped Spurgeon, ‘my old man is Tory Church. The blueprint of the kingdom of heaven and I voted Liberal!’ A little good-humoured chaffing? must never be discarded for the building plan of a More than that, Spurgeon realised that, as a citizen of new Jerusalem in England’s (or Scotland’s for that the UK he had a citizen’s responsibility and a citizen’s matter) green and pleasant land. privilege, and he wisely exercised them. Paul himself Without getting involved in party politics or getting was quick on occasion to claim his citizen’s rights as a enmeshed in social service, or breaking a lance (perhaps Roman freeborn. by the comfortable means of making a contribution to The Church in Scotland has always been conscious guerilla coffers) in support of insurgent nationals, the of society. Church and nation is no mere modern Church can exercise practical influence by its individual slogan. The Church and the parish have been always members being engaged in those fields, where linked together since the Reformation until the atheistic legitimate. At the same time, bearing in mind that man, modern outlook secularized things. Even yet there is even Christian man, is not divided into hermetically a recognition of this relationship in that Parliament sealed compartments but is one whole, with personal, and council meetings are opened by prayer. And then social and civic rights, the Church has a right, even a we still have the ‘kirking of the council’ in Scotland. duty, to make pronouncements on all matters affecting Education and the relief of the poor, in old days, were human welfare, whether political, social, or even the responsibility of the local church. economic, always bearing in mind that its witness in those respects must be according to the principles laid A CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN A CHRISTIAN NATION down in the Scriptures. Its pronouncements must be The concept of a Christian church in a Christian nation principial. It has no party axe to grind. No one form of stems from the Lordship of Christ. In Scottish history government is divinely authorised. The positive aim, it is exemplified by the Covenanting movement of overall, is the righteousness which exalts a nation, while the seventeenth century, both National and Solemn its negative goal is to avoid the sin which is a reproach League and Covenant. The nation has no right to be to any people. And this primarily for the glory of God neutral in its attitude to Christ, not even a benevolent and the Christ who is King of Kings, and secondarily for neutrality. To be neutral here is to be against – ‘he that the good of men. • is not for Me,’ said Jesus, ‘is against Me.’ Christ’s crown covers more than the society of the redeemed – not This editorial appeared in The Monthly Record in only a Christian people organised for worship, but March 1977 Christian government, Christian education, Christian
THY KINGDOM COME DAYSPRING MACLEOD rallies the Resistance
hat do you consider the primary evil in 21stcentury western civilisation?
Abortion? Political corruption? The vilifying of those who disagree with ‘progressive’ values? The evergrowing ability of technology to control and deceive people? The huge chasm between the poorest and richest in society? The existence of nuclear weapons? Muslim extremism? Damage done to the environment? Human trafficking? The undermining of truth from the double whammy of transsexualism and bare-faced lying by people in authority? I could make a case for quite a few of these. Until a few years ago I would have said abortion; now I’m more troubled by the undermining of truth. Without the boundaries of facts, it’s hard even to carry on a debate about moral allowances, much less reach conclusions. And as for consensus — that feels like a pipe dream these days! The last few years have seen a huge change in the West, with left and right lurching in opposite (extreme) directions, calling each other names as they go. Looking at the first paragraph, it’s hard to pick just one battle, isn’t it? It is pretty overwhelming. As a Christian I sometimes feel like Berlin in 1945 — every way I look, there’s another front bearing down on me. It’s hard to remember that, while we are not assured victory in every battle, we are assured victory in the War. The War that we fight — the War of good versus evil, the War that even unbelievers feel so viscerally that every great story in the world describes it — is the only War. It takes the form of many frays, many skirmishes, not only from the global threats described above but also from the daily raging of our old sin nature. We are enlisted men and women, and from time to time it’s good to take a wider view of our strategy and position. So, with an eagle eye over my personal corner of the battlefield, I want to ask: Is this article enough? If I state, in print and the everlasting digital media, that I stand for Christ, am I doing enough? If I send yet another automated letter to my MP protesting the latest abortion allowances, is that enough? If I recycle my old milk bottles, and even properly rinse them out first, am I doing my bit? If I state right out in public — well, on Facebook — that I believe men cannot be women, and carry out a lengthy debate with a progressive about why that is, have I done my job? If I mark my ballot in each election for the politician I find most honourable, have I performed my duty? If I tell you, here and now in the March 2020 Record, that I believe legitimate marriage can only be between a man and a woman, can I hang up my sword?
Above all, it means spending time in prayer, strapping on our armour...Prayer is our superpower.
© Photo by Pearl on Lightstock
If that sounds like a ludicrous question, congratulations, you have retained some sanity in these crazed days. When did we get this idea that holding forth our opinion was of any use to God’s kingdom? Probably about the same time that we turned our back on a friend or family member for voting for the ‘wrong’ candidate! Our self-importance knows no bounds — and precious little humility. Now, of course there are times when we must stand up for truth and justice. This should not, however, take the form of a Republican raging at a Democrat for ‘not caring about babies’, or vice-versa for ‘not caring about women and immigrants’. As Christians we should, and I trust do,
all care that the unborn are not left to slaughter, that women are afforded dignity and respect, and that those who have undergone terrible suffering in their own countries should have opportunity to seek safety elsewhere. I suspect we are more or less in agreement on most of the big issues facing our world; instead of nit-picking about elections, let us fight evil and falsehood and abuse with everything we’ve got. I’m talking Resistance. What does Resistance look like against the forces of evil, when all the political parties seem equally corrupt? It looks like personal integrity, no matter the cost. It looks like patient hours spent wooing the gay or trans colleague at work with kindness, without whitewashing over your differences. It looks like using your gifts if you can run for office yourself, or supporting others with your money if you can’t. It means going into hostels and refuges and ministering to those who have been sold into prostitution or have fled their own countries. It means having a hard conversation with a friend who’s considering a termination. It means risking disapprobation when you refuse to don the rainbow lanyard. It means being no-platformed when you confess to being a Christian, and losing business opportunities when you refuse to take advantage of someone’s weakness. It means overlooking differences of opinion (this can take some serious pride-swallowing) in order to work together for the gospel. Above all, it means spending time in prayer, strapping on our armour. But I have to say that, don’t I? I have to include that in a nice safe article about ignoring political differences for the greater good. And, bonus! Prayer is cheap and easy, too!
as for suffering being a necessary part of identifying with Christ – well, if it were up to me, I’d probably give that a big ‘no thanks’.
© Photo by Pearl on Lightstock
Except that prayer isn’t cheap or easy. That’s why most of us (yes, me, right here — especially me) are a bit rubbish at it. Prayer takes a lot of the most expensive commodities we have: time and concentration. And it is the single most effective weapon we have. In a time when we are constantly monitored and tracked, prayer is the Resistance. Prayer is our superpower. We just don’t do enough of it, because it feels, well, a little boring maybe? Like we’re not really doing anything at all. We don’t actually expect it to change anything; we should really be out there instead, saving a bit of the world ourselves. Look at that list one more time. Do you really think you can make a dent in all that? I know I can’t. And I don’t see much changing with casual, occasional, nice prayers. We need uncivilized, outraged, heavy-duty, life-and-death prayers! We need God to ACT. We need the fiery, consuming power of the Holy Spirit. Look at Christ there in Revelation 19, all flaming eyes and robe dipped in blood and wearing many crowns – and we’re scared of opposition from political liberals? We need to go to that Christ, that victorious Christ, and roar it out, in righteous passion: Thy kingdom come! And after prayer like that, don’t you think that list looks rather, well… small? •
As the Nation prepares to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe this May, join us for 40 days of reflections on war, peace, and God's amazing plan of salvation.
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SASRA Havelock House, Barrack Road, ALDERSHOT, HANTS GU11 3NP Telephone: 03000 301 302
NEW PRESIDENT OF THE SOLDIERS’ AND AIRMEN’S SCRIPTURE READERS’ ASSOCIATION (SASRA) BY PHIL RUSH
n the 1st january, major general rj thomson
General Thomson joined the Royal Green Jackets in 1989, after graduating from Cambridge University. He then served overseas with his regiment in Germany, Norway, Canada, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. He then commanded 2RIFLES, deploying to Kosovo (2008) and Afghanistan (2009). Following professional studies in France, General Thomson was appointed Defence Attaché in Paris in 2017. General Thomson is married to Hils, and they have five children. As he takes up his new role as SASRA President, General Thomson asks that we pray for him in three key areas of his life: • For wisdom in his current role as Commander of British Forces Cyprus; • For family life, as they live at two ends of Europe; • For effectiveness in his role as SASRA President. He also urges prayer that the Lord would watch over and prosper the work of the Association. •
He succeeds General the Lord Dannatt, who after twenty years as our President becomes President Emeritus of the Association. Major General Thomson takes over as SASRA is working hard to expand its ministry to the men and women of both the British Army and the Royal Air Force. SASRA is a Christian mission with a history stretching back to the early 19th century. It employs suitably qualified and called ex-service men and women to support our serving personnel. They work behind the wire on military units to provide pastoral and spiritual support, always looking to make Christ known. The Association has enjoyed Royal Patronage since 1913, and is honoured to have Her Majesty The Queen as our Patron. SASRA is delighted to welcome Major General Thomson as its new president. He is currently serving as Administrator of the Sovereign Base Areas and Commander of British Forces, Cyprus. became
Phil Rush is SASRA’s Development Officer.
BY IAIN GILL A series of short articles about Jesus’ resurrection
We enjoy the benefits of being ‘born again’ not only because Jesus died, but also because he rose from the grave. When we become believers and for the first time really ‘know’ Christ, that is our spiritual resurrection. So as of now, if we are in Christ, we are already resurrected spiritually. Our physical resurrection, as explained in 1 Corinthians 15, will come in due course. In Christ we are newly created. Our spiritual resurrection has happened. To quote Jesus in John 5:24, ‘whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.’ In Romans chapters 5 and 6, Paul shows the relevance of Jesus’ resurrection. Similarly to 1 Corinthians 15, Paul in chapter 5 uses the idea of sin entering the world through one man. His teaching there is usually understood to refer to the Christian’s legal standing before God. We’ll maybe look at that in the future. Our focus here is on the teaching in chapter 6: ‘…all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’ And again: ‘… count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus…offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.’ Do you see the amazing relevance of this to your Christian life? In Ephesians Paul writes this: ‘…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.’ Alan Redpath says about this verse that we are not only called on to identify with Christ in his death, but also to identify with him in his resurrection. We not only die daily to sin: we also rise into the heavenly realms. The commentator William Hendriksen says that ‘Christ’s resurrection and exaltation to the Father’s right hand...not only foreshadows and guarantees our glorious bodily resurrection…but is also the basis of present blessings…. From the place of his heavenly glory and majesty Christ sends forth the Spirit into the hearts of believers…with Christ Jesus we ourselves were tried, condemned, crucified, buried, but also made alive, raised, and set in heavenly places.’ The resurrection of Jesus is for every day. When you have your daily private devotions, you not only should confess before God your personal sin, and die to sin — you should also rise, identifying with Christ in his resurrection. Confession of sin should lead on to rising in that power, spending time in the heavenly places. And from there we should go into the day in the power of the resurrection, experiencing the activity of the Spirit of Christ within, filling our hearts with joy, giving us the strength to face the day ahead. •
Thomas de Keyser: The Resurrection (Amsterdam 1596-1667)
he life of the new birth is resurrection life.
PART 4 THE BELIEVERâ€™S SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION
BOOK REVIEWS GENDER IDEOLOGY SHARON JAMES (2019) Transgenderism is one of the most troubling social issues of our time and it represents an assault on the Biblical doctrine of humanity. All Christians should be aware of the issues and equipped to respond in ways that are respectful but discerning. Sharon James’ Gender Ideology enables us to do just that by providing a succinct but comprehensive guide through this minefield. One of the challenges when engaging with this subject is the hijacking of language. Terms such as gender and sex are being used today in novel ways to suit the new agenda, and the book begins by clearing the decks and providing clear definitions of key terms. As the title indicates, this book does not simply provide ‘cut and paste’ responses to the issues raised but goes to the ideological roots of transgenderism, its key theorists and the concept of ‘critical theory’. Difficult material is dealt with in a very accessible way. At a pastoral level Sharon James commends an approach that is respectful and yet which insists that it is kinder to tell the truth than to reinforce the lie. This is an outstanding little book. Get hold of a copy and buy one to pass on! • Ivor Macdonald, Hope Church, Coatbridge
SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS TONY BROWN (2019) Speaking from personal experience, Tony Brown has written an excellent book on how to interact helpfully and sensitively with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He takes his readers through the history of the JWs and how the organisation has changed over the years since they were founded. I was unaware of most of this and it was very interesting to know the background. He then takes you through the main distinctions in their doctrine and how to point out these to any JWs you might be witnessing too. Before reading this book, I knew there were key differences in doctrine which were important to bring up when speaking to a Jehovah's Witness, but I was uncertain of how to best do it. I was unsure which Bible passages would be best to turn to and how to make the differences more explicit. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone looking to develop their understanding of Jehovah’s Witnesses and how to share the gospel with them. Tony Brown’s book is easily accessible and very insightful. • Rachel Sloan, Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh
30 PROPHECIES, ONE STORY: HOW GOD’S WORD POINTS TO JESUS PAUL REYNOLDS (2019) This large, hardback book does exactly as the title says- it takes the reader through 30 prophecies in the Bible that point to and were fulfilled by the Lord Jesus. The size, design and layout make this book especially suited to be read to, and maybe by, younger readers. The plethora of pictures and colour, and the simplicity of the language used, make it an attractive read and easy to understand. Every chapter reviews a particular prophecy under the following headings: Prophet/Dates (who was the prophet and when did it happen?), Prophecy Made (what was the actual prophesy given?), Then and There (what did it mean to the original hearers?), Prophecy Fulfilled (how Jesus fulfils it), Scarlet Thread (how the prophecy fits into the bigger picture of redemption), Application (what does it mean for me?), Prayer (a response). This is a helpful resource for the young and for families, unpacking the central theme in the Bible - it is all about Jesus! • Colin Macleod, Gairloch, Kinlochewe & Torridon Free Church
THE PASTOR OF KILSYTH ISLAY BURNS (1860, REPUBLISHED 2019) If you are interested in the revival in Kilsyth, the great disruption and the consequences of it from a personally touching pastoral perspective this is a book you should read. The language can be a bit jarring or archaic when the main author writes. However, when you get into the writings of the Rev William Burns, the pastor of Kilsyth, the writing is a joy to read. The book covers his whole life from boyhood to death. It gives great details of how the revival happened from Burns’ pastoral perspective and included a lengthy chapter on the mode of conducting revival as well as four of sermons Burns preached. The book itself is worth buying for the last 3 chapters alone. It is a beautiful recount of the Rev Burns’ faithfulness through the disruption, from coming home from the General Assembly to an empty manse and being barred from preaching in the church to being forced to preach on the bank at the side. These final chapters of his last years are rich in the faithfulness of a minister who would not leave the people who had been appointed to him and the faithfulness of God to his servant over the years. His life is emotionally moving, beautiful and inspiring, especially considering he considered himself a simple pastor and disciple right to his final breath. • James Murray, Esk Valley Free Church (Available from Banner of Truth) These books are only a small proportion of the ones we review. You can find all our reviews online at https://books.freechurch.org or sign up to our monthly email to get them directly to your inbox: https://thefree.church/books-sign-up
MISSION MATTERS A monthly take on some of the mission work the Free Church is involved in by our Mission Director, DAVID MEREDITH.
Photo ©Fin Macrae
immy carter , former president of the united
the same way? If so, have the courage to stop it. Gospel ministry has priority over social ministry. Jesus said that he had come to preach. We know exactly what he had come to declare: ‘The kingdom has come near. Repent and believe the good news.’ If that gospel is not proclaimed, then people’s lives will not be changed. Church emphases tend to change from generation to generation. There was a time when people were warned about the ‘social gospel’, and so church was reduced to a bare minimum of Sunday services and a mid-week meeting. It’s simply a question: is the pendulum swinging in the other direction or are we exempt from such changes?
states , has been described by the washington
post as ‘ the un - celebrity president ’. He lives in a modest house and more often than not travels on commercial flights. Other former presidents milk the lucrative speaking circuit, but Carter prefers to teach Sunday School at his local Baptist church in Plains, Georgia. Jesus is the un-celebrity Messiah. At the beginning of his ministry there was one day when the whole town was gathered at the house where he was staying. If success could be measured by the multiplication of good things, then Jesus knocked it out of the park. In Mark 1, Capernaum was buzzing at the news of the new celebrity in town. People like novelty and he was certainly different. His preaching was with authority, so different to the tired religiosity of the official teachers of the law. Healings were frequent, and if you wanted to add in the drama of noisy exorcisms you would not be disappointed. The team were excited at this early peak in ministry and one morning went to look for Jesus when he had disappeared to pray. Simon excitedly reported to him that ‘everyone is looking for you’. We are not sure what went on during his private prayer time with his Father, but the result was dramatic. On his return he announced that Capernaum was over; they had to go to the nearby villages to enable him to preach there, because preaching was why he had come. A few surprising lessons emerge. Action and activity, even if they seem productive, are not always markers of authentic mission. We have to have the courage to stop things if they are not missional. Signs and wonders were observed, but Jesus insisted that they were simply signs of the kingdom coming. In congregations there are very rarely bad things done; everything is good, but not everything is important. A key question is, what’s the point? Why do you hold the art class? Why host the food bank? What about the debt-counselling service? One helpful diagnostic question would be, could Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same thing in
Jesus is the un-celebrity Messiah. At the beginning of his ministry there was one day when the whole town was gathered at the house where he was staying. If success could be measured by the multiplication of good things, then Jesus knocked it out of the park. People crave action, and the more supernatural it appears the better. Dramatic healings are claimed – one well-known church brand recently encouraged its people to pray for the resurrection of a little girl who had died. There is power in proclamation, and that which seems to be foolish can raise the spiritually dead from the grave of their separation from the life of Christ. It appeared to be counterintuitive to leave the action in pursuit of a preaching ministry among untested villages in Galilee. The kingdom is topsyturvy in its values and effects. The way up is the way down and the last shall be first. Maybe both you and your congregation need to do less to reach more people. Modest and uncelebrity is what we are called to be: that’s what turns the world upside down. •
Saothair an Earraich (Spring Toil) LE JANET NICPHÀIL
s e àm dripeil a th’anns an ràithe-sa do dhaoine a
Chriosd annainn, ’s gum biodh sinn a’ fàs lag annainn fhìn, ach làidir Annsan. Bu chòir dìcheall, coibhneas agus toileachas a bhith nar beatha, oir, ged a bhiodh an rathad tron bheathasa corrach, tha an Dachaigh a tha romhainn air leth beannaichte.
tha ag obair a-muigh, agus a tha ag ullachadh achaidhean airson gum bi gach nì air dòigh ro àm
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cur an t-sìl.
Is iomadh sìol eadar-dhealaicht’ a tha tuathanach a’ cur aig an àm-sa den bhliadhna, agus e glè eòlach air na nithean as fheàrr a dh’ fhàsas anns na h-achaidhean aige. Is e àm fuar, reòidhte a tha seo glè thric, agus tha e cho furast’ leisgeulan a dhèanamh airson fuireach am broinn an taigh anns a’ bhlàths. Cha dèan treabhaiche èasgaidh sin idir. Bidh e air a chois glè thràth, agus inntinn suidhichte airson a bhith a’ cur gach nì air dòigh. Tha mòran smaoineachaidh ’s a’ chùis, agus an uair sin tha obair glè chruaidh na lùib. Nach ann mar seo a tha obair na Rìoghachd gu spioradail? Is iomadh Fear-teagaisg an Fhacail a tha a’ strìth ri talamh cruaidh ann an iomadh cridhe, agus tha e a’ cumail air ag ullachadh, a’ taghadh chuspairean, a’ sireadh dòigh air bith ach an tuit Facal Dhè ann an talamh a th’air ullachadh leis a’ Chruthaidhear Fhèin. Ged is e gu cinnteach an Cruthaidhear a bheir daoine beò, tha E a’ cleachdadh iomadh searmon a tha A theachdairean air ullachadh airson seo a dhèanamh, ach feumaidh sinne a bhith èasgaidh, dìcheallach, agus ged nach fhaiceadh sinn toradh, feumaidh an deagh threabhaiche cumail air an aghaidh gach mìmhisneachadh. Is e obair shàraicht’ a th’ann an obair an Earraich, agus chan eil i idir do leisgeadair. Dh’ fhàsadh e sgìth glè aithghearr. An-dèidh na h-obrach-sa, nuair a tha blàths an t-samhraidh air feum a dhèanamh, nuair a thig àm an fhoghair bidh toradh ann, agus toileachas. Chì muinntir èasgaidh a-nis toradh an saothrach. Tha Facal Dhè, nuair a thèid a shearmonachadh, a’ dèanamh an nì as fheàrr Leis. Fosglaidh an Cruthaidhear cluasan agus cridhe aon neach, agus druididh E cridhe neach eile, ach tha sìol na Rìoghachd a’ dèanamh an nì a tha an Cruthaidhear a’ ròghnachadh. Dh’iarradh sinne gun tuiteadh e air talamh a chaidh ullachadh le Spiorad a’ Chruthaidheir, agus gum biodh beannachd na chois, ach mur faic sinn sin, cuimhnichidh sinn gu bheil talamh ullaichte ann an rìoghachdan eile, agus gu cinnteach, duilgheadas na chois. Nach biodh e math gun ullaicheadh sinn ar beatha gu spioradail, mar a tha an tuathanach ag ullachadh na talmhainn? Is iomadh nì a tha e a’ spìonadh às an talamh, ga ghlanadh, ’s ga rèiteach, eadhon mus tèid a threabhadh. Is e an Cruthaidhear Fhèin ‘Fear-sgrùdaidh nan àirnean’, agus bhiodh e feumail dhuinn gum biodh inntinn
Ged dhèanadh sinn saothair ’s Tu Fhèin a bheir fàs, ’s ann bhuatsa tha toradh is measan is blàth. Ann an èisteachd an Fhacail ’s e do Ghuth-sa bheir beò, ’s Tu a dhùisgeas an anam le anail do bheòil. Tha sinne a’ feitheamh gus an cluinn sinn do cheum, ’s gus am faic sinne d’ obair, bidh seo coltach riut Fhèin. Èistidh sluagh, ’s sin bhon cridhe is siridh iad Ios’, iad a’ faicinn a’ chunnart mur bi Esan gan dìon. Sèid Thusa led Spiorad air ar cridheachan reòidht’ ’s dèan treabhadh a nochdas gun do phlanntaich Thu pòr. Ann an doimhneachd ar cridhe las na gràsan an-àird’, gus am mol sinn Fear-Saoraidh a choisinn dhuinn Slàint’. •
POETRY PAGE FIVE MINUTES AFTER I DIE BY UNKNOWN AUTHOR Loved ones will weep o'er my silent face, Dear ones will clasp me in sad embrace, Shadows and darkness will fill the place, Five minutes after I die. Faces that sorrow I will not see, Voices that murmur will not reach me, But where, oh, where will my spirit be, Five minutes after I die? Quickly the years of my life have flown, Gathering treasures I thought my own, There I must reap from the seed I have sown Five minutes after I die. Naught to repair the good I lack, Fixed to the goal of my chosen track, No room to repent, no turning back, Five minutes after I die. Now I can stifle convictions stirred, Now I can silence the Voice oft heard, Then the fulfilment of God's sure Word, Five minutes after I die. Mated for aye with my chosen throng, Long is eternity, O, so long, Then woe is me if my soul be wrong, Five minutes after I die. O, what a foolâ€”hard the word, but true, Passing the Saviour with death in view, Doing a deed I can ne'er undo, Five minutes after I die.
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If I am flinging a fortune away, If I am wasting salvation's day "Just is my sentence," my soul shall say, Five minutes after I die. God help you to choose! Your eternal state Depends on your choice, you dare not wait; You must choose now; it will be too late Five minutes after you die.
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BY CATRIONA MURRAY
POST TENEBRAS LUX A
ccording to an account collected by alexander carmichael
believed that , on easter sunday , the sun danced for joy at the
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Creation itself worshipped in the form of what one old lady described as ‘the glorious, goldbright sun…rising on the crests of the great hills…changing colour — green, purple, red, blood-red, white, intense-white, and gold-white’. This is nothing less than a victorious display, celebrating the resurrection and all the hope that it has brought to a weary world. David knew this same exuberance when he danced before the Ark of the Covenant. It’s a challenge, isn’t it, to maintain that first flush of enthusiasm for our new life in the Lord? We don’t love him any less, but we begin to take him for granted. This is something that typically happens between humans too, so it’s small wonder — in one sense anyway — that we presume on the Lord’s own steadfastness towards us. After all, we know that this is the one relationship which will not end; he will not leave nor forsake one of his own and will never cast us out. Never, some people like to say, is a long time. God’s ‘never’ is even longer than that, though. It is an eternity. Longer than the longest Free Church sermon, even. Yes, I know, that is hard to imagine, but try: the communion into which you entered the day he set you
free goes on into that eternity. If ever there was a prospect that should fill our hearts with Davidic joy, it is that. I don’t suppose I’m the only human being whose limited brain capacity simply cannot comprehend eternity. When I try to consider it, I find myself hampered by all the old clockwatching habits that mere humanity instils in us. It will, of course, be freedom from that, a loosening of that terrible bond which threatens to choke even the best happiness in this world: the certainty that this too must pass. What comforts us in our griefs and vexations also casts a shadow over our joy. In eternity, however, there will be no such thing. Instead of being frustrated because I cannot measure what lies ahead, then, the only thing for it is to consider where I am now. If I am indeed a faithful follower of Christ, then I am safe inside that resurrection already. The good work that I believe he has indeed begun in me will be finished in eternity. ‘Will be’ — that is certainty for you. Born not of my self-confidence, but of the total trustworthiness of my Saviour. Thus, the road that we are already on takes us into glory with him. And while the contemplation of that certainty is too wonderful for words, isn’t our current status well worthy of joy too? We know it is, and yet, we allow ourselves to go on living as though we don’t have this hope. Our race becomes a trudge,
becomes a crawl, becomes a painful inching towards glory. But, let’s draw a lesson from the old lady in Uist who once in her long life witnessed the display of an Easter Sunday sun that danced for the risen Lord. Though she herself was advanced in years and old in the faith, her spirit was renewed by the sight. The sun, older still than her, more ancient than any of us, has seen much evil under its rays but still leaps in all the colours of its Maker at the contemplation of Christ’s return. How can we see this for ourselves? Well, Carmichael’s account from the woman tells us that as well: ‘To be thus privileged, a person must ascend to the top of the highest hill before sunrise, and believe that the God who makes the small blade of grass grow is the same God who makes the large, massive sun to move.’ Of course, we don’t actually have to wait until Easter Sunday, nor must we rise early, nor yet climb any hill, in order to witness God’s glory. Christ bears the exact imprint of God, whose hand placed the sun just so. We have communion with him right now. Sometimes, I don’t mind admitting to yourselves, I look inside myself and see what he has already done and am so grateful. Not, of course, because I am perfect, but because I am not what I was. That, and the prospect of what he will make me yet, causes the sun to rise in my own heart, shot through with all the colour and brilliance of that resurrection morning. •
The Record is the official magazine of The Free Church of Scotland.