New converts are often surprised that they immediately encounter difficulties in the Christian life and falsely conclude that something must be wrong, when in fact, everything is going just right.
It has been said that 99.9% of the blessings of becoming a Christian are in the next world (ie Heaven). That means there are few benefits in this world. It needs to be stressed much more often that becoming a Christian will mean hardship in this world. Christ guaranteed it in John 16:33 and Peter rebukes the early Christians for being surprised when trouble was brewing for them in 1st Peter 4:12. Paul the Apostle warned the Thessalonians that they were to expect trouble in 1 Thess 3:4 and he likewise told Timothy that persecution was inevitable if they were going to live righteous lives in 2Tim 3:12. It was through much trouble that Moses became the great man he became according to Hebrews 11:24-26.
Why then should people become Christians if it means there will be trouble for them in this world? The best answer is that God is worthy to be worshipped for who He is. Christ gave Himself a sacrifice for sinners and He is worth worshipping. He is worth suffering for. Add to that the fact that Heaven awaits the Christian after this life. The first five minutes in Heaven will make it all worthwhile.
Even if there were no Heaven at the end, we should be willing to become Christians because it is the only proper way to live and the only proper way to fulfil the purpose of our existence on earth. There is the added incentive of a new sense of purpose and meaning in life, the exciting and uplifting experiences along the way, along with the joys of forgiveness to compensate for all the hardships, but in the last analysis, we ought to follow Christ because He is God and we are His creatures and He has been crucified in order that we may have eternal life.
So why do Christians have trouble? Acts 14:22 seems to say it all. We can only enter the Kingdom of Heaven “through” these troubles. Enduring trouble is as necessary to enter Heaven as crossing the Atlantic Ocean is to enter America from the UK. There is no other way. Trouble is the “Gateway” to glory. Christians ought to engage trouble, not short-circuit it because it is the means through which they travel to Heaven. If we are to prosper spiritually as Christians, we need to have the correct perspective of trouble and remember what Peter said in 1Pet 3:14 and 17 that if we suffer for righteousness sake, we are blessed and if we suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil it is better.
Do we really believe the Bible?
By George Macaskill – used with permission
September’s Presbytery was held in Fearn APC in Hilton. It was wonderful to go by the farmland past the activity of harvest and down to this scenic village on the East coast and to meet with some of the folk there. This is a new initiative of Presbytery to have our meeting on occasions in places other than Kingsview, Inverness. We hope that this will be an encouragement to us all as we share in the work that we are involved in.
On this occasion we heard from three of our congregations (Tain, Oban and Edinburgh) and the work that they are involved in. From these reports it was clear that the work of the gospel is not without its difficulties. Discouragements come in suffering, bereavement and through the choices that people make but the Lord is faithful and there are also many things for us to give thanks for.
It is wonderful that in each of our congregations the life-changing gospel is proclaimed freely. The seed of God’s Word is scattered and just as the harvest has come from the farmland at this time we look forward to and pray for the Lord’s own harvest to come.
We also give thanks for Laurence Mackenzie our General Treasurer and for all that he does for us. Laurence was happy to report that our financial obligations continue to be met and encouraged our continued prayerful support of the financial administration of the church. In addition to being our General Treasurer, Laurence was appointed to Convener of the Business Committee of Presbytery. Please remember him in prayer as he takes on this new role.
Laurence takes over this work since the passing of Roderick MacKenzie. We were certainly reminded of that loss as we met in Hilton. Not only in the present but in times past there have been so many committed to the work of the gospel among us. Tribute was also paid to the late William Fraser. Alexander Murray spoke of his commitments, including being General Treasurer himself. We give thanks for those who have gone before us and in whose debt we are. May the Lord help us to follow in their place and to faithfully support to the cause of Christ among us.
Thank you to the Office-bearers in Hilton and to the ladies who provided food and refreshments for the Presbytery as we met.
GIFT AID – SCOTTISH CONGREGATIONS
The UK tax authorities have asked charities to amend the Gift Aid declaration form for those contributors who make offerings to the God’s work. My assistant, Jennifer McCullough has already sent the new forms to Congregational Treasurers. I would respectfully ask that Congregational Treasurers ensure that all contributors have signed the new forms and pass them on to me at 3 Sunnybank Lane, Greetland, HALIFAX, HX4 8LN. If anyone has any questions please do contact me on email@example.com. Our ability to continue, financially, as a denomination is completely dependent on reclaiming the tax you have paid on your contributions. May the Lord bless you for your kindness. If you are a UK tax-payer and are not currently contributing through Gift Aid I would urge you to prayerfully consider this matter; essentially it adds 20% to what you give to the work of Christ. A Gift Aid declaration form is available on our website: click here.