I have recently, for a variety of reasons, been thinking about the seventh verse of Hebrews chapter 13, which reads, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” A couple chapters earlier, the writer gives a list of the names of “people of old” who “received their commendation” (11:2) because they lived trusting in God’s Word and promises. They serve as a “great cloud of witnesses” so as to encourage us to keep on looking to Jesus.
This brings to mind a long list of people who taught me God’s Word faithfully. Their influence on my life has been substantial. The list includes Sunday school teachers and Bible class leaders (both women and men), evangelists, ministers, local church elders, and many more who lived assured by the redeeming power of the cross. Some of the names you would recognize, but the majority would be unknown. It is a profitable exercise to create such a list and then to thank God for each individual as you recall their names and the lessons they taught that you’ve remembered all your life.
It would seem that the leaders referred to in Hebrews 13 were no longer available for counsel and encouragement, just as some of the names on our lists will have gone on to their reward. But as we continue to run the cross-country race of life, we are thankful for those who are still setting the pace and urging us on.
Two of my pacesetters are on my mind today. Both of them live thousands of miles away. One I have known for the greater part of my life, and the other I have come to know only recently—in fact, just since we began our studies in 1 Samuel. That clue will allow some of you to guess (correctly) that I am referring to Dr. John Woodhouse from Sydney, Australia. I came to know him a couple of years ago, after one of my Parkside colleagues challenged me to expound 1 Samuel. Having accepted, I soon realized that I was in need of help, which came in the form of commentaries written by my new Australian friend! I’m looking forward to meeting him for the first time in May when he comes to speak at the Basics conference. There is no doubt that our congregation is keen to hear directly from him without the middleman.
My other friend and pacesetter is nearer than Australia but still lives an ocean away. Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson and I are both from Glasgow, and we both have in common our enjoyment of murder mysteries. He is a distinguished theologian and a wise and caring minister of the Gospel. His visits to Parkside and his teaching at past Basics have endeared him to each of us who have sat under his ministry of the Word. I have a sneaking suspicion that I may not be the only pastor who has found his books written for children to be immensely helpful in understanding systematic theology!
With both of these brothers I rejoice in a Christian love that spans continents and has stood the test of time. So let me leave you with two invitations and an encouragement. First, I invite you to take up reading Sinclair’s insights in the book Name above All Names, available from Truth For Life this month, and to invite your pastor to join us for Basics 2022. (Registration is open online at basicsconference.org.) Then, I encourage you to start your list of names. Add to it, and remember those who spoke and continue to speak the Word of God.
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
Topics: Letters From Alistair Begg