Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sinclair Ferguson to Leave First Presbyterian

I know it's probably wrong to have "favorite pastors" that you don't even personally know. Even so, I must admit that Sinclair Ferguson has long been one of my favorite pastors. In seminary I was greatly blessed by such books of his as The Holy Spirit and Children of the Living God...and that was before I was even aware of his incredible accent! A number of years ago he spoke at my denomination's General Assembly and preached the two best sermons I've ever heard at a GA. I subscribe to his podcast through SermonAudio, and am routinely blessed by his preaching from the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Columbia, South Carolina.

Yesterday I received an email from a friend informing me that Ferguson would be retiring. It contained a link to an article from The Aquila Report that included part of the message he wrote to his congregation. As I read it I was struck (though not surprised) by its pastoral tone and Christ-centeredness. He wrote the following:

I do not really need to remind you of the first thing. Christ alone is our anchor.
Our church is first and, foremost Jesus Christ’s Church. He has built us together
here over the centuries; his servants have come and gone. But he has remained
“ever faithful, ever true.” It is always right and healthy when we love our
pastors—and like my predecessors here I have felt myself to be deeply loved; but
we are here only to point to the Savior whose church we are. I did not anticipate
that the last series of sermons I would preach to you would be from Hebrews (I
wanted to expound Philippians!). But how appropriate that these Sunday
morning we hear the message again and again: See how great Jesus is. Fix your
eyes on him.
I do not really need to remind you of the first thing. Christ alone is our anchor.
Secondly, let us continue to love and encourage one another. I have often said
that I believe the most important picture of the church in the New Testament is
that of a family. More and more I have felt that is what we want to be here at
First Presbyterian. It is certainly here that a chief element in the impact of our
witness will be found in a day when so many natural families have become
dysfunctional. Life as it is meant to be is found in Christ. His grace runs in the
dried up riverbed sin has created in every dimension of life—not least family. So,
in the church, as we often sing,
He wills us be a family, diverse, yet truly one:
O let us give our gifts to God, and so shall his work on earth be done.
The third thing (yes, there would be a third thing!)? Let us continue in prayer
that the Lord will work on among us, and provide for us the ongoing ministry
that will keep us growing in Christ and faithfully serving him into the future.
On Monday night when I went home after breaking the news to our elders,
Dorothy overheard me singing and commented on the words: “Through the love
of God our Savior, all will be well…” “Yes” I said, “but as I was singing the words,
tears were flowing down my cheeks!”
Surely if the heart of a stoic Scot can be melted with love for this congregation,
the capacious heart of the Lord Jesus is filled with a love for us that knows no
bounds, and “all must be well.” I certainly believe that will be so.
Whatever he may choose to do upon his return to Scotland, my prayer is that Sinclair Ferguson might be blessed at least a fraction as much as he has been a blessing to me. If so, he will be mightily blessed indeed!

1 comment:

Doc B said...

Sad to hear this; I absolutely love to listen to him preach and listen to his conference talks. He is a great (no hyperbole) communicator who takes deep truths and makes them something that can be grasped. He's much like R. C. Sproul in this, and it's probably no coincidence that they have teamed up for so long through Ligonier Ministries.

I download everything I can get by him and listen in my car. Hopefully, he'll remain active with Ligonier and continue to speak at conferences.