Southern Presbytery Holds Annual Colloquium
By Rev Graeme Craig
The annual Colloquium of the Southern Presbytery of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) proved yet again to be a profitable day for those in attendance. The aim of the Colloquium, this year taking place on Saturday 4th February, is to provide an opportunity for discussion on theological and practical issues and be a means of providing a time of refreshment and challenge to the Ministers, Elders and other men present.
Proceedings began with a paper from Rev. Trevor Kirkland on Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross. He outlined how Luther critiqued the man-centred religion of his day (Romanism) which he described as a “theology of glory”. The phrase may be new to many, but simply refers to man’s tendency to have a theology which ultimately gives man the glory rather than God. Whereas the theology of the Cross is one which emphasises sin, humbles man, and drives him to see his need of redemption in the cross of Jesus Christ. Mr Kirkland’s lecture was no dry historical presentation; rather he showed how Luther’s concerns from 500 years ago are bang up to date. Much of evangelicalism makes little of sin and much of man. How we need to be theologians of the Cross. A theology of man’s glory is worthless.
After a short break, Rev. James Gracie spoke on Ezekiel’s theology of Judgment. Living in a day when the captive Jews could worship, though oppressed, and when idolatry and false prophets were rife with true believers a small remnant, Ezekiel’s day was much like ours. Mr Gracie examined the judgments of Noah’s day, Babel and Sodom, before focusing on the reasons for Judgment in Ezekiel’s day. While idolatry and the persecution of faithful prophets were contributing factors, it was Zedekiah’s breaking a solemn vow taken “in the name of the LORD” which ultimately brought Jerusalem’s destruction. Today, breaking marriage and ordination vows cannot be taken lightly as they attract God’s judgment. Lessons were then drawn out. Firstly, God was not bound to preserve Jerusalem simply because of its historical standing. Similarly, God is not bound to preserve Scotland because of its historical standing. Secondly, while the remnant prayed for Jerusalem’s preservation, this did not mean God was bound to answer as they desired. Thirdly, Ezekiel and Jeremiah were faithful, as we are called to be, even though the faithful may suffer. Above all, God preserves and blesses his Church amid judgment, as seen in Ezekiel 9. Through judgment, God will fulfil his purposes and build his Church. There was a challenge yet also encouragement from Ezekiel for dark days in Scotland.
The day concluded with a brief paper and discussion on Encouraging Body Ministry presented by Rev. Graeme Craig. The Church is pictured as a body with Christ as the Head. Each member is important and it is our duty to value and serve one another according to the place and gifts God has given us (1Corinthians 12). Mr Craig showed how this ministry may show itself in a variety of ways relating to corporate worship, practical care, being an example, edifying one another, prayer and evangelism. Means of encouraging this were then discussed.
As the day closed it was with a sense of thankfulness for the grace of God in the Gospel and a resolve to maintain steadfast the truth of God in an age of spiritual decay. The addresses can be found on the Partick SermonAudio page. The next Colloquium is scheduled DV for Saturday 27th January 2024.