Encouragement in the storm
A delightful incident occurred in April when a friend was flying to Heathrow from Nairobi.
He got on the crowded Kenya Airways flight and, as the passengers settled into their seats, a little girl of around three years old, on her mother’s lap, turned and began to sing, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’ The whole plane seemed to look at her. Then her mother and a number of Christians on the flight gently joined in. My friend said it was a great witness. If an adult had piped up like that, no doubt people would have frowned and the singer would have been asked to stop. But a child’s voice no one could stop. Sometimes what is weak and small is mighty for God. Psalm 8.2 says: ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies’.
Meanwhile the storm against Christ and Christian values has not abated. As news comes in from different quarters, it appears that many Bible churches in the UK are making headway. But with this gradual numerical growth, the opposition seems more determined and furious.
In the media debate over the redefinition of marriage, the gay activist Matthew Parris, along with others, has called for the abolition of marriage altogether. With the Olympics looming, the coalition government wants to push through all-day Sunday shopping for the period of the games. But this is likely to undermine the Lord’s Day and freedom to worship even further in the long run. Then we think of popular books, like Love Wins and others which contradict the Genesis account, from church leaders who undermine both the gospel and the reliability of Scripture.
On the global front, Mr. Cameron, while visiting Indonesia, has at last had the gumption to speak out and encourage Muslims to respect human rights, especially those of Christians, and to ‘abandon the dead-end choice of dictatorship and extremism’. While grateful for the Prime Minister’s intervention, one cannot help feeling that his words are a bit rich. Is it not extreme to allow Christians in the UK to be demoted or lose their jobs for expressing traditional Christian values and for his government to specifically oppose in the European courts the freedom of Christian people to wear a simple cross in the workplace if they so wish?
So the storm surrounds us.
So far, no further
But, with all this in mind, I was reading Iain Murray’s excellent recent book Archibald Brown: Spurgeon’s Successor.* Brown was a close friend of CHS and pastor of the much blessed East London Tabernacle. One night in 1892, on holiday in Sandown, Isle of Wight, a great storm blew in. Brown stood on the balcony of the house where he was staying watching the ‘wild, tumbling, roaring’ waves shaking the whole shoreline. Spurgeon had recently died and the ‘Down-Grade controversy’ had seen many distance themselves from the reliability and sufficiency of Scripture. Brown saw the ferocious oncoming waves as picturing the unrelenting attacks suffered by God’s church.
But into his mind flashed God’s words from Job 38.11: ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’. Preaching from this text, Brown says: ‘As I looked I saw, first, hell’s forces restrained… I beheld temptations limited… our heart of sorrows measured. And then, at last, as I looked out, I saw apostasy arrested’. ‘God has a “here” at which the wildest waves must stop.’ It is an encouraging lesson we do well to remember in the present troubles.
* Archibald Brown: Spurgeon’s Successor by Iain Murray, Banner of Truth (ISBN 978 1 848 711 396)