I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Philippians 1:23
Affliction teaches us to prize and long for heaven. In our prosperity we are content with the present world and say with the disciples, ‘It is good that we are here.’ While life is sweet, death is bitter. We do not crave heaven while the world gives us her friendly entertainments. But when poverty, imprisonment, persecution, and diseases come, we are not so fond of the earthly life. Then we can entertain a parley with death, and take heaven into our consideration. In discipline God takes our hearts away from this present world by degrees, and makes us look homeward. We would be content like Israel around the fleshpots of Egypt until the cruel taskmasters doubled their burdens. When God lessens our esteem of the world, he draws out our desires for the actual fulfillment of our heavenly comforts. Even so come Lord Jesus! Affliction reveals the glory of heaven. To the weary, it is rest; to the banished, home; to the scorned, glory; to the captive, liberty; to the warrior, conquest; to the conqueror, a crown of life; to the hungry, hidden manna; to the thirsty, a fountain of life, and rivers of pleasure; to the grieved, fullness of joy; and to the mourner it is pleasures for evermore. Heaven is precious and the soul desires to be with Christ, which is best of all. Hope, though it keeps life in the soul, is not able to fill it. It longs to be at home in its Father’s arms. They that walk by faith are not content until their belief is actual sight. When Jacob heard that Joseph was alive, he was not satisfied with the hearing of it; he said ‘I will go and see him before I die.’ Augustine sweetly said upon the answer of God to Moses: ‘You cannot see my face…and live’ (Exod. 33:20), ‘Then, Lord, let me die that I may see your face!’
Sinclair Ferguson has publicly stated that no one has had a greater spiritual impact on his life than William Still! William Still was the minister of Gilcomston South Church, Aberdeen, from 1945 to 1997. While his name may not feature in the official annals of the Church of Scotland, it is doubtful whether any other individual in his Church during the latter half of the twentieth century had such a profound or widespread influence. For over fifty years Mr. Still pioneered a single-minded commitment to expository preaching and congregational prayer which made Gilcomston a beacon of Reformed and evangelical Christianity in Scotland.
A man whose very life breathed the grace and love of God, no one who ever met him, received his counsel, or sat under his ministry, could have escaped the sheer Christlikeness of Mr. Still’s life. In the early days of his ministry he wrote: “There is no part of me, or of my life, that I will withhold from the work that God has called me to.”
It was one of the marks of his evident commitment to the service of Christ that he devoted himself to the pastoral care of his people, providing them with daily Bible reading notes that would feed their souls and prepare them for works of service. The “Notes”, which appeared in the monthly “Congregational Record,” soon became highly sought after across Scotland, the United Kingdom, and even to the far-flung corners of the world, increasing in many a love for and commitment to the Word of God.
Drawn from every book in the Bible, this selection, edited and arranged by David C. Searle, will take the reader through the year with William Still. These pages will explain what it means to live under the authority of Scripture, to exalt the glorious Person of Christ, and to rejoice in the wonder of the gospel.