Revd Iain Murray is known across the evangelical world for his biographies, history books, and preaching ministry. He was recently interviewed as part of Before They Leave the Stage, a YouTube series organised by Heath Evangelical Church, Cardiff. The series features retired but well-known ministers speaking from their homes to an online audience. They share highlights from their life and ministry, as well as present concerns for the church.
Having just turned 90, Revd Murray had much ground to cover as he reflected on his life. He fondly recounted his conversion at 17; his National Service in Malaya; his pastoral work in Oxford, London, and Sydney; and the humble beginnings in 1955 of Banner of Truth, a publishing house he co-founded.
After relating his own conversion, Iain raised concerns over the popular understanding of the nature of salvation. He emphasised the necessity of a lasting, inward change rather than the outward decision of a moment: ‘We talk too much,’ he said, ‘about conversion and not enough about the fact that we have to be born again – that God has to do something to turn us and humble us.’
In a similar vein, Iain underlined the need to keep Christ foundational to all church work: ‘It is his work. He has his servants for a little while – they have their entrances and exits, but he is the centre of the stage.’ When facing the demanding nature of gospel work, it is ‘faith in the risen Christ’, said Iain, which makes a ‘transforming difference’.
Having the right perspective on pastoral work was another issue Iain raised. Preoccupation with ‘present usefulness’ can blind ministers to the bigger picture of God’s purposes, Iain said. ‘It’s not the present moment that is all important; God has a long-term purpose.’
Towards the end of the interview, Iain commented further on God’s sovereignty over current events. He acknowledged that Britain is in a spiritually dire state: ‘We’ve been brought low and we need to be – we’ve sinned with a high hand.’ But Iain reaffirmed God’s sovereignty over the nation: ‘What is happening is exactly what God purposes. We are not in a situation of defeat. Christ is building his church. In every part of the world, God is doing what he intends to do – and we can be thankful for that.’