The 2022 Annual General Meeting of the Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk Auxiliary of the Trinitarian Bible Society.
By Philip Lievesley
On Saturday 5th February 2022 Oulton Broad Free Presbyterian Church hosted the 2022 Annual General Meeting of the Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk Auxiliary of the Trinitarian Bible Society. In his introduction and prayer, the Chairman of the Auxiliary the Revd Kyle Paisley encouraged those gathered at the meeting to pray for the work of the Auxiliary. He also said that he was encouraged by the variety of denominations represented that make up the Auxiliary and that everyone was united in their commitment to the Authorised Version. Mr Paisley also gave an overview of the aims and purposes of the Auxiliaries and an update on the situation regarding the ESN Auxiliary. He said that although the work has been hindered by the Coronavirus pandemic for the best part of the last two years there were nevertheless encouraging developments of openings to distribute Bibles in schools and HM prisons in the area. The Auxiliary plans to distribute many TBS commemorative editions of the Holy Bible produced especially for the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Following the Scripture reading from 2 Timothy 3 read by Mr Jeremy Kent and Prayer given by Rev. Philip Lievesley, the Revd G. R. Burrows preached a sermon on 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Mr Burrows began by reminding his listeners in attendance that the Scriptures are the identity of the source of the Christian faith. Scripture alone is the sole source of necessary doctrine, and final authority for faith and practice. This was set out for us in our great Protestant Confessions of Faith. For example, Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles ‘Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation’ which affirms that: Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. Mr Burrows said that the whole Bible is the Word of God. The second part of Article VI affirms that: In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church. Mr Burrows next went on to explain that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. For example, how could Moses the inspired writer of the first five books of the Bible possibly know about how the world was created, or about the fall of mankind as is recorded in the book of Genesis? He couldn’t possibly have known about these things but by the inspiration of God. He reminded his listeners that the eighteenth-century English Baptist theologian John Gill argued that it was impossible for us to know what the everlasting counsels of God were. Or how did the prophet Isaiah write the 53rd chapter of his prophecy describe the feelings of Christ on the cross in great prophetic detail centuries in advance? How could Job say: ‘For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth’ (Job 19:25) unless by inspiration of the Spirit of God?
Another important and fundamental point in the sermon was that the central message of the Word of God from beginning to end is to show us the way of salvation which is through the person and work of the only Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. Other points raised were the providential preservation of the Scriptures, as affirmed in the Westminster Confession of Faith; the practical impacts of the Word of God that the Bible changes lives; that the Bible should be read every day for the comfort of the believer; should be read daily in the home so that families may receive the blessing of wholesome directions for domestic life; the wisdom of having visible Bible texts in church premises; and that sound hymns should be steeped in the Scriptures. He concluded his sermon by quoting from a sermon preached by Revd George Whitefield entitled ‘The Duty of Searching the Scriptures’.
“Search, therefore, the scriptures, my dear brethren; taste and see how good the word of God is, and then you will never leave that heavenly manna, that angel’s food, to feed on dry husks, that light bread, those trifling, sinful compositions, in which men of false taste delight themselves: no, you will then disdain such poor entertainment, and blush that yourselves once were fond of it. The word of God will then be sweeter to you than honey, and the honeycomb, and dearer than gold and silver; your souls by reading it, will be filled as it were, with marrow and fatness, and your hearts insensibly moulded into the spirit of its blessed Author. In short, you will be guided by God’s wisdom here, and conducted by the light of his divine word into glory hereafter”.
The sermon was recorded, and I understand will be made available on the official website of the Trinitarian Bible Society in due course. (www.tbsbibles.org).