The God Who Is Still Near

Solas was honoured to be invited to participate in this year’s GLO Mini Bible School. In his introduction to the event, GLO-Europe Director Stephen McQuoid wrote about the depressing statistics of the decline of Christian faith in ‘the West’. He also noted that Scotland is the most atheistic and ‘non-religious’ part of the UK. However, the aim of the GLO Mini Bible School was not to dwell in negativity, but to become informed and inspired – and to join in the fightback.

Held over two nights at The Tilsley Auditorium in Motherwell,  the format invited participants from across the churches to come together to think through the the challenges and opportunities of the present time – in perhaps a little more depth than is usually possible in a Sunday service. Equally these sessions were not pitched only at the theologically educated church leader, but at all Christians who are concerned about the spiritual state of our nation.

Stephen McQuoid kicked the event off with a session based on Paul’s address to the Aereopagus in Acts 17. Emphasising Paul’s assertion that “God is not far from any one of us”, Stephen looked at the Apostolic method of engaging pagan people with the claims of Jesus. The people are not our enemies, we go in love to serve them, actively looking for bridges between their world and the gospel.

In Session Two Dr Mark Stirling used the book of Revelation as a framework for examining the social and cultural crisis we face today. The backdrop is that behind the sin and rebellion (and devastation which flows form it), Christ is Lord and will bring history to its conclusion. Mark examined current emphasis of the inner authentic self, and the way in which this latest idolatry places a weight upon people they cannot bear. Likewise, he spoke powerfully about the alternative of genuine discipleship – in which we find our lives by losing them for Christ!

In my first session I looked at Paul’s statement in Romans 1, that he was “unashamed of the gospel”. We looked at why the gospel was seen as potentially shameful in the First Century and why it might be today. We then through together about some ways we might overcome our reluctance to share our faith. The gospel remains the power of God for salvation!

In the final session, I contrasted the way in which Paul spoke to believers and the way that both he and The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to unbelievers. Paul before Agrippa used his testimony, highlighting the importance of narrative; while Jesus used stories/parables, images and questions to open up the most profound questions about God with the people he ministered to. We closed with a brief reminder that the gospel is firstly good news for us, and that God’s grace utterly transforms how we do evangelism.

At Solas we were delighted to be involved with the GLO Mini Bible School. The event is scheduled to run every year, and the details will all be published on their website here as soon as they are available.