Along the banks of the River Thames there is a place once known as 'Execution Dock'. Here unfortunate criminals, usually pirates, were killed. They were tied to stakes and three tides were allowed to pass over them. One would have thought that one would have been enough! I guess if you were one of those being executed you would watch every inch of that tide as it progressed. It would be a measure of just how long you had to live. When I was a boy I use to enjoy holidays at Prestatyn on the North Wales coast. We spent hours in the sea. But you had to watch the tide or it would creep up silently behind you in channels that would finally cut you off from the shore. What had been safe sand was now under several feet of water. Watching the tide, either inch by inch or going away and returning some hours later, can be a matter of life or death. We guard our safety and take necessary measures to ensure self survival.
In the Tower of London, in the Jewel House, are the Crown Jewels, an incredible collection not only of crowns and orbs and swords, but also of dazzling gold tableware. It is an amazing collection, a veritable feast for the eyes - and it's well guarded! Soldiers, metal doors feet thick and everything alarmed. The collection is precious to England. Also I remember watching with my daughter Naomi President Obama being driven past after a visit to Westminster Abbey. His car looked like a limousine, but was built like a tank. His convoy consisted of a dummy presidential car, 6 other cars, no doubt full of secret service men, an ambulance and, bringing up the rear, a Range Rover bristling with men armed to the teeth with all sorts of aggressive hardware. The President was in town and great lengths were taken to ensure his safety!
Paul writes to Timothy telling him to guard the Gospel. Paul is reaching the end of his life; he has "run the race". Now he hands over to Timothy the charge of guarding the good deposit (the Gospel) that was handed to him. So it is today. But modern secular culture, with its intricate and pressurising webs of influence, is seeking to impose a new gospel on the Church, a gospel which does not prioritise the power of the Cross, the necessity for repentance, or cleansing by the precious Blood of Jesus. It seeks to influence the Church in such a way that the Gospel becomes user friendly: Find out what the people want (and don't want), then give them only what they want. In essence it moves towards being ashamed of the Gospel. The Gospel is embarrassing they say: Don't talk about sin and repentance, talk about feeling good, being blessed. Don't speak of discipleship. It's a subtle tide, coming in slowly, almost imperceptibly. We are in danger of sacrificing truth on the altar of love. But, as it says in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. So today we to must guard the gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and hand it on, just as Paul did with Timothy.
That's what we as a Company seek to do in the summer, when we produce our musical 'Guard the Gospel'. Hand it on: Unpolluted; undiluted. For it is the power of God unto salvation!