25th Anniversary Sermon by Ali McLachlan

Posted on 27/08/2013 by lizzie

Here is the sermon that was preached at the School’s 25th Anniversary Service:


Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.


The Microsoft Word spellchecker doesn’t recognise the word Mannafields. It suggests another word: minefields… How would you like to attend Minefields Christian School! Ironically, schooling is a dangerous and potentially explosive thing; in the wrong hands, and in the wrong direction. The Reformer, Martin Luther once said, I am afraid that…schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth. 


What are your parents, and what is the staff at this school trying to engrave in the hearts of the youth here? An article on the Mannafields website says:

This August marks 25 years since the School first opened its doors to pupils.  Since then, a significant number…have received a Christ-centred education and a solid foundation to build their lives upon. This is something to be glad about, and commemorate, and we give thanks to God for His faithfulness and grace to Mannafields. Providing, guiding, helping and shaping. Praise God!


Just as with the church of God, so with education, (1Cor.3:11) no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. At those schools thought to be Edinburgh’s finest: St George’s, Erskine’s, Watson’s, Herriot’s or Melville’s parents can pay a small fortune to have children instructed in what Burns wrote, when Columba landed, how electrical current moves, and so on. At this school, which may never be ranked as the best school in Edinburgh, you are taught why the universe behaves as it does, and who makes it behave that way. This is an education that money can’t buy! The foundation of knowledge at this school is that all things were created through Jesus Christ and are upheld by His powerful word.

This school will teach you that Christ is your alpha and omega; your source and your end; the one by whom you exist and the one for whom you exist. Without the Lord Jesus Christ all education is meaningless.


That’s why we come to Matthew’s gospel. We are familiar with the wise man building his house upon the rock. Too familiar.


v24, this familiar verse begins with the word ‘therefore’. Filler word? Do we skip it? Therefore = What’s it there for?

The word means that because one thing is known, this also needs to be known.

Verse 24 is spoken because v21 has already been spoken.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…”

It is a fact that not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore hear and do to build on the rock which will withstand the storms of this life and preserve you for the next.

A child’s description of school is ‘a place where you get to know stuff’.

Jesus teaches that our relationship to knowing stuff decides whether we enter the kingdom of heaven.

For 25 years you have been knowing stuff. But even with all this knowledge, it is possible to go astray. Academic study is not an end in itself. 2Tim.3:7 warns us about those who are, ‘always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.’

Children! Knowing Christ Jesus as the foundation of your life cannot be helped by a calculator, ruler, dictionary, or even a teacher! These things are known spiritually. It is the Spirit of God who must make these things plain to you, as the entrance of God’s word brings light. I pray that the Spirit of God will be at work in you even now as we consider Jesus’ words.


Not everyone who refers to Jesus as Lord will go to heaven. You will know many people in this city who say, if they care to comment, that they believe in Jesus. They believe He lived. They believed He taught lots of stuff. They believe He died. Some will go further and say that He is God the Son, the only hope of sinners; the way to heaven. But although they say these things, they may not go to heaven.


Apparently, v22 says, On the day of judgment, ‘Many’ will say they know Jesus and be turned away from heaven.

Wait! They know Jesus, but they are turned away from heaven. Yes, and worse.

They will try to offer some qualifications and credentials by which they feel they deserve to be let into heaven.

We prophesied in your name. We cast out demons in your name. We have done many wonders in your name.


Surely these people will get into heaven. These sound like good qualifications – aren’t they? What do they mean?


We prophesied in your name. We consider ourselves your representatives…Christian people, Christian school.

We cast out demons in your name. We consider ourselves to be doing good; helping, welfare of others.

Done many wonders in your name. Consider ourselves pretty awesome, in fact…


Depart from Me, I never knew you. How do we explain these words?


Supposing I went to Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Queen of the United Kingdom in Scotland. Suppose the flag is flying and Liz is in. And supposing I go up to the gates and ask to be let in. The crowd of Japanese tourists all start taking my picture, but the guard is not impressed. He asks if I have an appointment and looks at me doubtfully. I say that I don’t need an appointment, and that I know her Majesty, and that I consider her a friend. Do you think the guard on the gate will say, “Oh, well then, sure, let me get the gate for you”? It’s never going to happen! But supposing I was really persuasive and prevailed upon the guard to telephone the palace to get a message to the Queen that Ali McLachlan was at the front gate requesting an entrance. Supposing her Majesty was reached, and supposing they relayed the message, wouldn’t the reply come back to the guardhouse, “Never heard of him. Send him packing.” But suppose I tell those in the guardhouse that I’m not moving until she comes to talk to me. Supposing I kick up a stink and make a real scene. Then a short trip to Gayfield Police Station’s remand cell would be my next stop. I am clearly a criminal and need to be locked up.


It’s not whether I know her Majesty. Everyone knows the Queen. It’s whether her Majesty knows me.

I may know all about the Queen, where she was born, where she lives, I may have picture albums and articles stacked up at my house. I may have queued up, cheered and waved my flag, and taken pictures at all the major royal events. I may have seen pictures and heard descriptions of where she lives. But I do not enjoy a personal relationship with her. We have not spoken. We have not had tea together where she calls me “Ellie”. I have not had any personal dealings with her. She is not my friend.


The Lord Jesus, the King of kings describes those who know all about Him; they are well-educated, but they are not His friends, “…depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness.”: You who sin for a living; You who work industriously to do what you want instead of what God wants; You who earn a living and make a name for yourselves with no concern for, a total disregard for, God’s law. You who act as if God had never given you a law to live by.


But we all break God’s law. Pupils at Mannafields break God’s law. Christians break God’s law. Real Christians who really know Jesus break God’s law. Is no one going to enter the kingdom of heaven?


It is common to have high-flying academics to give these talks at school anniversaries. I am not one. I liked art at school.

I have done some paintings. Some people are kind enough not to laugh at them. I have even sold some paintings. I didn’t make any profit from selling them. But I am not an artist. It’s not what I do. It’s not who I am. It’s not how I make a living.


In just the same way, I have sinned against God’s law. At times I have fancied myself as a sinner and tried unsuccessfully to profit from sin. But sin is not what I do for a living. It is not who I am. It’s not what I live for.

It is those who have given up their career of lawlessness and sin who Jesus accepts into heaven. They no longer practice…


It is possible to learn a lot at Mannafields. And all learning is good. Knowledge is helpful. Wisdom is better. But it is possible to know Jesus academically; you might be able to pass a multiple choice test about Him – but He doesn’t know you by name. You are not one of His friends.


Now I fear, commoner as I am, that I shall never get to know Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth. Even if I wanted to, I am a nobody, and I shall never get noticed, and we shall never do lunch, or share holidays.

But I am glad that King Jesus is a much greater monarch. Not only is He a much greater King, He was also a much lowlier one, who humbled Himself to save sinners like me. He became obedient to death on a cross so that ordinary people like you and I could know Him. Jesus said, (Jn.6:37) All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.


The Lord Jesus, the King of kings describes those who are His friends: v24…whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them


The truths you are learning are not just for knowing, but for living out. Jesus says in v21 that the one who goes to heaven is “he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” We must be those who come to Jesus and obey Him.


I tell you the depressing truth. In all my working life, I have never used algebra. I have never quoted Tam O’ Shanter or Henry IV part one. Pythagoras’ Theorem, the Left Hand Rule, and the chemical properties of potassium permanganate have never come in useful. but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.


Whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them – that is the way to godliness. Making Christ the Lord of your life is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is and of the life that is to come. This is why 25 years of such teaching is to be celebrated; why a Christ-centred education is the best foundation to build your lives upon.


Hearing and doing what Jesus says would make a good motto for a Christian school.


A motto: a short phrase that tells you what an organisation aspires to; aims for. Do you hope to go to university some day?

Scottish universities have high aspirations: Glasgow Caledonian ‘for the common good’; St Andrews ‘ever to be the best’; Napier sees the value of learning saying ‘without knowledge all is vain’. These are all noble goals to be sure, but without the right knowledge, how can we be our innovative and excellent best for the common good? Where will you go to university, I wonder? I am no careers advisor, but here’s how I would map out your academic progress…


You should begin by getting your bachelor’s degree from the University of Aberdeen. They have a good motto: ‘the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord’. Get your fundamentals right. Progress from there to do your masters degree in Glasgow, whose motto is ‘via, veritas, vita – the Way, the Truth and the Life’. May your masters degree lead you to your Master, Jesus, who first said these words and is the way, the truth and the eternal life with God! Finally, I hope you become an eternal student and spend the rest of your life on your doctoral studies in Dundee, whose motto reads, ‘magnificat anima mea dominum – my soul magnifies the Lord’. I hope you see that as the aim of your academic career – as the aim of your life. This is the rock you must build on.


Make your education count. Build on the rock of Christ Jesus. Find in Him, the true way to life eternal. Spend the rest of your life living out the word of God in truth, that your house may stand, and that God may be glorified.


(This text has been taken from Ali McLachlan’s sermon notes.  Thank you very much, Ali!)