Friday, 23 May 2014

Beating a Dead Horse

When I was training for the ministry, in the days before the Internet and MP3s, I enjoyed the benefits of the Trinity Tape Library and the excellent Preaching of Al Martin.  Each month I would borrow six tapes that I would listen to and take notes on.  I learned much from Dr Martin's preaching and teaching, but there was one throw-away statement that has always stuck in my memory.

Martin commented on the fact that he spent little time directly interacting with Liberalism, preferring instead to simply teach the Bible and not waste time trying to correct those who reject Scripture, for "there is no point in beating a dead horse."

This week has been a sad week in Scottish presbyterian history as the Church of Scotland has continued in its rejection of Scripture and willingness to embrace the gay agenda.

There is little point in trying to correct from Scripture those who do not bow to the authority of Scripture. I am increasingly coming to the opinion that there is also little point in trying to convince the pseudo-evangelicals who claim to recognise Scripture, but are also not willing to bow to its teaching.  They have firmly nailed their colours to the fence and on the fence they will sit.

There is, however, another body of true believers who are still in the established church and no longer know what to do.  For some their elders will give guidance and direction and it is inevitable that further congregations will leave the denomination.  Others, however, find themselves in a situation where their ministers and elders will give no firm biblical direction.  Indeed in some erstwhile evangelical congregations there will be a deafening silence on this issue or the claim that the situation can still be reversed at Presbytery level.  This is a forlorn hope.

Those believers are not a dead horse. They can still be appealed to and given biblical direction.  Many will leave, but they need to be told there is a biblical presbyterian alternative still available.

As an example of the kind of simple appeal that can be directed to them I give the text of a letter which I hope can be published in our local newspaper.  I deliberately avoid mention of the recognition of practicing homosexuals in office - instead I focus on the root problem of the ongoing rejection of Scripture:

"With this week's decision of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to continue its course of ongoing rejection of Scripture as the Word of God, I wish to remind readers of the fact that there is a biblical presbyterian alternative in the heart of our community. Bishopbriggs Free Church is a lively evangelical fellowship that has had a presence locally for over one hundred years. Its motto proclaims,  "Putting the Bible at the Heart of Life". This is seen in its worship, its preaching, and its interest in mission at home and abroad.

As a former minister who served for nineteen years in the Church of Scotland I can assure readers of a warmth of welcome in this growing church, and preaching from our current pastor that is biblically grounded, combining grace and truth with clear and uncompromised practical application."

Short, direct, and, I hope, irenic.  I encourage others to use the local press to give similar invitations. 

It is not all bad news.  The Free Church General Assembly was a model of positive biblical encouragement, celebrating the Gospel in all its fullness. Oh, and my daughter gave birth an hour ago to our fifth grandchild...  

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