In 1976, when I was assistant to Derek Prime at Charlotte Chapel, Bruce Milne was a guest speaker for a special weekend. I can still recall his sermons and the manner in which they were delivered. As a young man, hoping to learn how to preach, I paid careful attention, as he provided a model of humility, clarity, and warm persuasiveness. In due course, he moved to Canada to lecture alongside the late J. I. Packer at Regent College. His best-known book has been a staple diet for the leadership here at Parkside. Know the Truth is of immense help in understanding basic Christian doctrine. The very fact that, half a century on, we are offering it to you this month suggests that it is already a classic.
It is vital that we know what we believe and why we believe it. The present series in Titus, titled Get It Right!, encourages us along the same lines. Early this morning, I overheard a conversation as a chef witnessed clearly and kindly to a security guard, explaining the wonder of God’s love in Jesus. Such opportunities abound, and we must be ready to give an answer to those who ask about the basis of our hope.
It is important for us not only to know what we believe but also to be convinced about where we belong. Part of the fallout of COVID can be seen in the missing members in local churches. Some have gone online, while others are offline and basically out of line with God’s purpose for His people! This is not to pass judgment on those who on account of age or infirmity are prevented from doing what they most desire. It is instead a call for those who have gone missing to rethink their church involvement. I am challenged and encouraged by Steve Turner’s observation:
The church humbles us. It is one of the few places in our societies today where we sit with rich and poor, young and old, black and white, educated and uneducated, and are focused on the same object. It is one of the few places where we share the problems and hopes of our lives with people we may not know. It is one of the few places where we sing as a crowd. Although the church needs its outsiders to prevent it from drifting into dull conformity, the outsiders need the church to stop them from drifting into individualized religion.
Our other book recommendation this month provides help in this matter. Love Your Church is the work of Tony Merida, who will be joining us in May for our Basics 2022 conference. As pastor of a vibrant local church, he explains the benefits and privileges that are ours when we fully embrace our role as church members. This would be a good book to read in a group context so that we can exhort and encourage each other in this important area of our lives.
As I reflect on what I have written, it is clear that when it comes to saying the same things again and again, I am guilty as charged! I take solace in the fact that the apostles constantly issued reminders—“I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (2 Peter 1:15). No doubt you will agree that such an emphasis is in keeping with our stated purpose: “to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance so that unbelievers are converted, believers are established, and local churches are strengthened.”
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
PS: With May around the corner, it’s a good time to encourage a pastor or church leader you know to join us at Basics May 2–4. Registration is open online at basicsconference.org.
Topics: Letters From Alistair Begg