It is thrilling to know that God has given us a gifted new leader with a passion for sharing the Gospel and we look forward to exciting days ahead. But immediately I find myself wanting to sound a note of caution. The uncertainty of recent days challenged us to pray. Once again as in former times we were cast on God. Unless God came through, we were sunk. So we prayed and cried out to God. The temptation now will be to let our guard slip, to fall into thinking that now that God has answered our prayer there is less urgency to pray: the crisis has passed. But brothers and sisters, we are on guard duty for the Kingdom of God and we cannot afford to abandon our post. Our enemy, the devil, wanders around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We must not allow him any opportunity by dropping our guard. We must continue to fight together for the Gospel through our prayers and witness.
An essential part of our fight is our fight for the centrality of the Word of God and the Word preached. I have just been reading an article by J. I. Packer on the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. I was so struck by how relevant the Reformers’ struggle is to issues we face today, as we find so many unwilling to accept that the Bible contains God’s timeless message. On issues from sexuality to salvation, we dare not dilute the word of God. Packer says this: “The Reformers’ whole understanding of Christianity … depended on the principle of sola Scriptura: that is the view that Scripture … is the only guide for conscience and the church, the only source of true knowledge of God and grace, and the only qualified judge of the church’s testimony and teaching, past and present.” He goes on to outline 9 principles of the use of Scripture. His ninth is an amazing summary of what we stand for here at GCC:
“The people of God must wait on the ministry of His Word by those whom He has qualified for this task. This is the way the church must feed its faith and nourish its life. Where the Word is not faithfully preached and taught, spiritual darkness and death always and necessarily supervene.”
Yours in Christ,
Ian Thompson (Acting pastor)