An important and common question that is asked today is ‘Who am I?’. This question was answered at the Scottish Reformed Conference not only by the speakers themselves, but also by the gathering of Christians who attended this years’ conference. Over 400 people of all ages met to worship together expressing their identity in Christ; the conference is very much a family affair with many children present and the joy of the occasion was commented on by many people.
The speakers this year were Dr Sinclair Ferguson and Dr Robert Murdock, both gifted communicators. Dr Ferguson is the Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and a teaching fellow with Ligonier Ministries. He also exercises a greatly respected preaching ministry and is an author of international renown. Dr Murdock trained at Faith Mission Bible College and worked with the mission before returning to study theology in Belfast; he was in pastoral ministry for almost 20 years. Since 2013 Dr Murdock has served as the Principal of Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh.
Turning to the book of Genesis, Dr Ferguson addressed the subject of human identity highlighting the truth that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God. Concerning what is commonly known as ‘The Fall’, Dr Ferguson said “We must grasp what we have fallen from and understand how tragic the fall is”.
Who am I? Am I what I appear to be? These questions are often asked out of a state of confusion. The modern mantra of self-discovery and invention ultimately leads to despair; in contrast, the Bible clearly tells us that we have been created in the image of God with a marvellous distinctive and destiny; Dr Ferguson added that “the wrath of God is seen in the whirlwind of confusion that society has sown”; we see the tragedy of what we have become when we understand the dignity that we have fallen from.
Not only are we created in the image of God, humanity is also created in the pattern of God in that we have dignity and the ability to share fellowship with one another. What’s more, we have the privilege of a special vocation, we share in and care for the God’s creation; in a sense we are to extend the Garden of Eden and in doing so, we reflect the glory of God. In striving to reflect the image of God, we are to live in fellowship and in family; we ourselves create image and likeness in family; this fellowship and family reflects the likeness of God and that is one of the reasons why Satan wishes to destroy it.
Though sin has distorted who we are, God still offers us recreation and rest. The only solution to our brokenness and alienation is Christ; He is the remedy to the fall as He, and He alone, perfectly experienced what it is to be in the image of God. In the Gospel we are offered redemption and recreation; the Gospel brings about lasting and meaningful change that enables us to see through God’s eyes and value as God values.
As we live out our faith we will automatically produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. This is what Dr Murdock highlighted during his session.
Turning to Galatians 5, Dr Murdock examined the Fruit of The Spirit that is seen in the life of every believer; Christ lives in us and through us; the faith that saves is not fruitless and is the overflow of the Spirit’s presence within us. Jesus will be seen in our lives and heard in our words as we display this spiritual fruit.
Love is at the head of the list of this fruit as it is a summary of all that is to come. Love is the distinguishing characteristic of God’s people; love is more than a feeling; it is action as well as concern and ultimately flows from the love of God. Without love, the Christian is nothing. Since we have been recreated in God’s image, we are to reflect the love of God in our lives.
Contrary to what some people may imagine, Christianity is not a joyless experience neither is the happiness that we display superficial. Christian joy is deep rooted and is birthed in our knowledge of God and experiencing His wonderful grace. Peace with God, other people and ourselves is another segment of the fruit of the Spirit; along-side peace comes patience. Patience is longsuffering and reflects the patience of God and is also seen in kindness. All people have experienced the kindness of God; what’s more, Christians have experienced a kindness that leads to repentance and acceptance of God’s grace. In reflecting the image of God, we are to be kind and good to other people.
Another segment of this Spirit created fruit is faithfulness. Faithfulness is seen in reliability and dependability; once again, the faithfulness of God is our model to follow. Yet another part of this fruit is gentleness; far from being weakness, gentleness is strength under control. The final segment of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. This self-control is not rash, it does not let our minds run riot but is disciplined; it is God inspired self-control.
Dr Murdock asked the congregation to imagine what the church would be like if we developed the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control would overflow. Our churches would be Spirit-filled because the people of God have cultivated the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.