Hope for Scotland
There is much despair, wringing of hands, searching of souls and concern amongst those Christians in Scotland who realize what is going on in Scotland today. On the other hand there are Christians who refuse to see the blindingly obvious and who think that everything is rosy in the garden, if only we would recognize this and be really nice to one another. Some think we have to defend a Christendom which is long ago and scrap for the few remaining crumbs from the establishment table. Others believe that revival is just around the corner and if only we can work ourselves up into a frenzy of excitement then the fire will fall.
Meanwhile there are those who are aware of what is happening and whose temptation is to circle the wagons and wait for the angelic cavalry to arrive – or at least until the Lord returns. Sometimes I feel the temptation to withdraw, either into myself and my books, or to run away to far off Englandshire or the US. But although the battle is fierce, or maybe because the battle is fierce, I believe that there is real hope yet for Scotland. I have many reasons for thinking so – not least the power of the gospel, the promises and sovereignty of God, the love of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But I want to highlight two ‘signs’ of these that have really encouraged me this week.
A Great Sermon – Firstly on Sunday I was preaching in Falkirk, in an old evangelical church that is seeking to move forward and trying to work out how to communicate the gospel in todays Scotland – itself a good sign. My son, Andrew, was preaching in St Peters. He is the product of the Free Church manse, youth camps, UCCF and Chalmers Church in Edinburgh. He is currently studying at Edinburgh Theological Seminary whilst working with Robin Sydserff at Chalmers (this itself is a pattern which is changing theological training in Scotland). When I got home I received a text from an experienced minister who was stunned at how wonderful the sermon on Romans 8 was.
I have listened to it twice and each time it has ministered to my soul. It doesn’t beat about the bush, seek to entertain or patronize – its just the word of God – preached with passion, power and pathos. And it ministered to my soul. It is an incredible feeling to have your own son feed your soul. For me when there are young men like this coming into ministry in Scotland, there is hope. This was one of the best sermons I have ever heard – you can hear it here – http://stpeters-dundee.sermon.net/main/main/20500774 Wonderful as it is to hear great preachers from across the pond, Scotland does not need celebrity preachers. We need to see many more of our own young men, raised up by God, to proclaim his glorious word.
A Great Seminary – The second encouraging thing was watching the second edition of ‘The Bible Boys’, the BBC Alba Gaelic fly on the wall documentary about four men going through ETS. You can watch it here (don’t worry there are subtitles!) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06fwsrv/balaich-a-bhiobaillbible-boys-episode-2
In the middle of the programme there is a clip from Tain Free Church, where I glanced an old elder of the Church, my former maths teacher Neil Macarthur. Neil was a great influence on me as a teenager when I first became a Christian. I know that he, like many, has been bewildered at the changes in society and church. And yet I know also that he must be encouraged that in the midst of the famine of hearing the words of the Lord, God is raising up men to proclaim the Word. A few years ago there was one student in first year in what was then the Free Church College. Last week I was visiting there and discovered that there are 26 in first year today. Of course not all are intending to go into the Free Church ministry, and that is another really hopeful sign. Bible believing Christians are uniting across denominational boundaries to proclaim the glories and beauty of Christ.
Ps 133 1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.
A Great Hope – There is hope. Not in the fanciful theories of men, not in the Christ denying preaching of those who don’t believe the Bible, not in the legalism of moralists, not in the empty godless fanciful philosophies of the atheistic secularists, but there is hope in the Word of God….because it brings us Christ. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The harvest is great. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to thrust out workers into the harvest field of Scotland!