Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter June 2013

Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel

– Philippians 1.27

Dear Friends,

We have recently begun looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians on Sunday nights. I was very much struck by the few words which are picked out on our cover this month. Paul writes to the church at Philippi, a church which loves and respects him, and which he loves very much, about their pressing need for unity. He goes on in the verses following this to speak of the need for oneness, humility, and helpfulness.

Why ‘go over’ the topic again here? Well, not everybody hears the evening message, and this one, I feel, is vital. We are charged by the Word of God, as a local church, to be of ‘one mind’ and to ‘strive together for the faith of the gospel’. The meaning of these charges is quite plain. We are to seek to serve the Lord as a company of people together, not as disparate individuals. Further, our aim is to preserve and proclaim ‘the faith’, the truth of God’s Word, and specifically, ‘the gospel’, the good news of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, his life, death, resurrection, and coming again in glory.

We are to be ‘striving’. What we do for Christ is supposed to cost us something – it is hard work to keep on with holding truth firmly and proclaiming Christ warmly. It isn’t something which just the preacher can do on your behalf, either. It is something we are to do together. But how often are we really together? Do less important things get in the way of your participation in church life? Are you willing to ‘strive together’ with your brothers and sisters in Christ in the prayer meetings, for example? These are tough challenges to our ease and our insular inclinations, for sure. May God grant us grace to hear and obey His word!

ARE we the soldiers of the Cross,
The followers of the Lamb?
And shall we fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?

2  Must we be carried to the skies
On peaceful beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bruising seas?

3  No! we must fight if we would reign;
Increase our courage, Lord:
We’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

from a hymn by Isaac Watts, 1674–1748

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