It is my privilege to be able to attend the Evangelical Ministry at St Helen's Bishopsgate this week. Most of the faces at EMA are unfamiliar but it was nice to meet up with my friends Alan Davey and Robin Asgher and several others. Liam Goligher is set to be the opening speaker each of the three days.
I have heard Liam Goligher before in Aberystwyth and at Banner, where he has not quite got on as well as he might. Here, in a tieless button down and blazer and kicking off with a reference to the advisability of watching TV on a Sunday night, he seemed much more at home.
In an introductory message on John 15, he spent some time giving us the background from Isaiah and Psalm 80, the point being that the old vine Israel failed. It is in this context that Jesus says "I am the vine". I was very happy with his replacement theology but he was very keen to emphasise the mixed nature of the vine even today. Conscious that some of us are Baptists he said that even Baptist churches are mixed. Sadly, he put it rather poorly saying that we Baptists know that there are unregenerate people in our churches but that is not the case. If we knew they were unregenerate, they could not be members! Baptist churches may be mixed but they do not set out to be, as some seem to.
He then went on to stress the importance of being under the Word and the importance of straight preaching of the Word. He also spoke of the importance of mutual indwelling. he was keen to see remaining in Christ not as something mystical but the everyday looking to Christ the only Saviour who we need to cleanse us or prune us by his Word as in Peter''s case (not removed as in the case of Judas). We ended with some poetry and a warm glimpse of heaven. The emphasis on straight preaching was appreciated.