Moderator’s Address Reaffirms Church Identity and Mission

Moderatorial Address – Free Church of Scotland General Assembly 2024

Rev. Callum Macleod, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, delivered his address at this morning’s meeting of the General Assembly, focusing on the church’s identity and mission in contemporary Scotland.

In his address, Mr Macleod emphasised the importance of maintaining a clear understanding of the church’s identity in Christ as well as ecclesiastical polity. “This union with Christ is a defining union. We become a new creation in Christ. Our personal identity is formed in our union with Him.”

Mr Macleod continued, “[We are also] bound to be Presbyterian in practice. We submit to the Headship of Christ in every area of our Christian living. And we submit to the Headship of Christ at every level of church government and governance.” 

Turning his attention to the significance of worship, Mr Macleod stressed its central role as a response to biblical revelation. “Salvation drives the people of God to worship; redemption compels God-directed praise,” underlining the need for worship to be regulated by the Word of God.

Quoting C.J. H Wright, Mr Macleod said: “Fundamentally, our mission . . . means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’ s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation.”

We participate in mission because of our very constitution in Christ, and because of our innate sense of the divine purpose and calling. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus, the footsteps of the apostles, and the footsteps of the New Testament church (John 20:21). We obey the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). As the bride of the Lord Jesus, we are sent to fill the earth with the image of God.

We do not make disciples in the sense of bringing people to faith. We ‘go out’ in obedience to Christ’s command to evangelise. Evangelism is the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 14:21). It defines mission as crossing borders and frontiers in order to proclaim the gospel for people who still have not heard it.

When we evangelise, we are “gospelling” — we are spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are engaged in this “gospelling” in our local communities, towns, and cities, across our nation as we seek opportunities to plant churches, and across the world as we engage in global mission with other likeminded partners.

God, by His sovereign grace, blesses our gospel preaching and witness, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, calls sinners to himself, unites them to Jesus, and gives them the Spirit of adoption as sons in their hearts. When we become disciples, it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

There is mission beyond evangelism. It is the mission of teaching the new communities, seeking moral transformation into the ways of God. Discipleship is “a process that takes place over a period of time for the purpose of bringing believers to spiritual maturity in Christ.’ Discipleship is a lifelong process of learning to follow Jesus ever more faithfully, with deeper insight, clearer understanding, increasing joy, and of growing Christlikeness.

Mr Macleod then spoke of the church’s missional role in the public square, affirming its responsibility to uphold truth and engage with society. “The function of ministry in the public square is central to the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount – “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). We are to be “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). The primary use of salt in biblical times was to act as a preservative – salt holds back decay. We must permeate the world with the truths of the gospel to stop the spiritual and moral decline in our society.”

Mr Macleod concluded his address by looking ahead: “God’s sovereignty means that the world is moving towards a definite final goal. There is a terminus and a glorious destiny in view. We look forward to a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). At last, the whole of God’s creation will be filled with image of God. At last, we shall see Jesus as He is, and “we know that when he appears, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).” 

The full Moderatorial Address can be be viewed here.

Click here to watch the address.