The Rev’d Jim Graham, Pastor Emeritus of Gold Hill Baptist Church, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, has passed into Glory. The name may not be known to the Establishment, but the vitality of the man, the passion of his preaching and the depth of his faith have rippled through the Baptist fraternity and nonconformist movement for the best part of 40 years. His biblical expositions were fundamentalist; his sermons uncompromisingly evangelical; his love of the gospel was fervent, and his alliterative Scottish lilt quite distinctive. Jim Graham was a lover of Christ, and thousands upon thousands who experienced his ministry worldwide will readily attest to the truth that they know Jesus because Jim Graham introduced Him to them, and they got to know Him better because Jim Graham walked as best he could in the footsteps of his Lord and Saviour.
He left his mark on a generation of Charismatic Evangelicals: you may not have agreed with his precise theology, but no one could doubt his sincerity, grace and humility. Jim Graham was ordained for the ministry in 1956. He succeeded the Rev’d David Pawson as pastor of Gold Hill Baptist Church in 1968: “The concern of the church became the centrality of Christ; the authority of Scripture; the practical outworking of teaching through House Groups; the movement of the Holy Spirit in renewal; the importance of fellowship.” This was his mission and vocation. His lifelong passion was to preach Christ and Him crucified. He had little time for dead institutions, otiose dogma or liturgy: the Bible was his passion, and his love for the souls of men and women called him to the role of pastor. He was never short of time to listen, and he was never looking over your shoulder as he did so.
If you never heard him preach, here he is on ‘The State of the UK Church’:
It is easy in sorrow to incline toward hagiography; to exalt dead ministers to an unscriptural position, even to the point of instant sainthood. The Rev’d Jim Graham would want none of that. He was no priest; no mediator between God and man. He was just a pastor, preacher and teacher; a faithful lover of God’s Word. He stood fast on old principles: he never forsook the old paths. For him, nothing did more good to the soul of man than the fervent preaching of the Bible. In an era of ignorance, superstition and immorality, he was a man of prayer, goodness and light.
In the words of his children:
Psalm 100 states, ‘I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter his courts with praise’. Dad did this. His last few days were marked with a deep sense of thankfulness to those around him and to God. We are not surprised by this, as our father was a man of deep faith, enormous grace and overflowing thankfulness. He recently published a paraphrase of some of Paul’s epistles entitled ‘The God-Life’. It feels right to give dad the last word. He paraphrases part of Philippians 3 in this way:
I want you to know that a single priority and a clear focus dominates all that I am; I have firmly and securely closed the door on my past and now my eyes are riveted on that yet-unreached horizon and every sinew and muscle that I possess is now concentrated on getting there… When I get out of bed each day, I do so for one purpose: to love, obey and serve God and his people. So it is onwards and upwards for me!!
‘His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant..‘
O MERCIFUL God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life; in whom whosoever believeth shall live, though he die; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in him, shall not die eternally; who also hath taught us (by his holy Apostle Saint Paul) not to be sorry, as men without hope, for them that sleep in him: We meekly beseech thee, O Father, to raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; that, when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him, as our hope is this our brother doth; and that, at the general Resurrection in the last day, we may be found acceptable in thy sight, and receive that blessing, which thy well-beloved Son shall then pronounce to all that love and fear thee, saying, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world: Grant this, we beseech thee, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.