By Mark Stocker, current pastor of Spring Road Evangelical Church, July 16, 2004
Can I start by
saying that I am grateful to the Fountain family and the church for their
consideration and concern in delaying in informing me of David's death. It did
mean that we enjoyed more of our holiday. We only heard the news 48 hours ago,
and we are still coming to terms with it.
In the time I've
had since then to think of what to say, I have wrestled with how I can encapsulate a view of this person who
under God's hand was so used and such a great influence to so many. I could
speak in detail of his writing and books, his speaking at and organisation of
conferences, his knowledge and understanding of church history. Many things
have come to mind, but I realise I must limit myself because of the
practicalities of the time. I also know that some perhaps know firsthand more
of David's early Christian experience and witness than I do.
I have decided
therefore to speak of the firsthand experience of the man I knew for the past
20 years as my Pastor, my brother, my friend, my fellow elder and also the
man who has been my spiritual father in
Christ. I have related to him and seen him in times of strength and energy, yet
also in times of weakness and great distress. I am going to highlight
particular things which were emphasised in David's ministry and personal
experience, but are also reflected in his written works as well.
The first thing
I would say is this:
(1) David had an experience of the love of Christ
David was ever
amazed that God should choose to deal
with him in grace and bring him to a knowledge of sins forgiven and into
relationship with his Son. He marvelled at God's love to him.
The apostle Paul
says that he love of Christ constrained him; Paul felt a joy and a desire to
respond to that love and devote himself to Christ. This was David's experience.
His soul's desire in life was to serve Christ and be obedient to him.
knowledge of Christ's love was not just a one-off thing, experienced at
salvation. He was convinced that God's eternal purpose was that the child of
God should have an increasing experience and understanding of the person and
the love of Christ in this life until glory.
Often he would
exhort us from Ephesians 3 - the passage I read. Paul says there that he wants
Christ to dwell in the Ephesians' hearts by faith and
that they should know the love of God. As believers, didn't they have Christ in
their hearts? Didn't they know the love of Christ? Yes they did, but Paul
wanted them to have an ever-increasing experience of Christ and his love. In Philippians Paul says "that I may know him - Christ!"
Didn't Paul know him? Yes he did, but Paul wanted a deeper experience of
This is what
David wanted for himself and also, as a faithful Pastor, for his flock. God gave
this to those who were faithful, who shunned the passing pleasures of sin and
the world and set their hearts on Christ.
But not only did
he want it for God's people; he wanted those who did not know Christ to come to
a knowledge of the love of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. I remember him
asking if we knew what it was to have to stop ourselves witnessing at
times. He felt such should be our closeness to Christ and our concern to be
used of him that speaking of him should be spontaneous and natural. He was ever
concerned to take every opportunity to speak of the Lord.
I can remember
going to play squash with him on one occasion (which generally was more of a
squash lesson for me than a match for him). Afterwards as we had some
refreshment, I can remember him going over to the receptionist whom he had got
to know and eventually so naturally and graciously talking to her of spiritual
things and of the Lord.
As a result of
this he would always grasp opportunities in other ways. Many of his published
works, such as those on Isaac Watts and Lord Radstock were born of a desire to
grasp opportunities to make Christ known locally. Their publication coincided
with local anniversaries concerning these men. In part his desire was that
these works should be used to speak to non-Christians. As a result he also took
opportunities given on local radio and television.
(2) His experience of Christ was reflected in his
ministry of the word
to having developed little by way of a preaching style. He used well-developed
notes and would admit to 'gabbling' when nervous. However, his preaching was
greatly used and owned of God. We all knew what it was to know God powerfully
dealing with our souls through the word given to his servant. Many can say that
it was the word they heard through David which God used to draw them to Christ.
Why was his word
used in this way? Though his voice was not strong at times, his preaching had a tremendous authority. He
took everything from the word. His great concern was always to show us exactly
what the Bible was saying to us, so that we understood that the message was not
from him, but from God. He would not go outside the bounds of the Scriptures.
He would open up the word to us.
But he wouldn't
just leave it there. He then was always concerned to make application of that
message. He would say, "The people need application." If there was no real
application, for him the sermon was unfinished. Application was vital if the
people were to understand the implications of the message.
I believe his
word was also used in this way because he also walked closely with Christ. He
said how often his sermons were the fruit of his own devotional times with the
Lord. He had firstly laid hold of God himself and then lifted us up to him.
And his love for
Christ was reflected in his love for the local church and for God's people. He
felt when called that God had impressed upon him that: "Above all you must love
this people and put them first." This is again why there was such an
earnestness to his ministry here. When many things could have deflected a man
of David's gifts away from the ministry here, he felt his calling was to
faithfully pastor the flock here at Spring Road. The local church was where
Christ dwelt. Here he showed his glory and power. His concern even to his dying
day was that Zion might prosper. This was his burden and his joy.
(3) He was above all faithful as a pastor
often exhort me from 1Tim. 1:5 - "Now the purpose of the commandment (Paul's
charge to Timothy) is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from
David time and
again stressed that the fact that a Pastor had to above all be faithful to God
and have a good conscience before him.
recently of the help Bert Munnings had been to him as
his elder and he said:
"Bert was never
swayed by human considerations wherever they came from. He spoke with God-given
conviction from the Scriptures - this meant that his contribution was of
immense value. He not only expressed his views, but had the grace of God to act
consistently with them."
David was the
same. There was the tremendous example of a fatherly love and yet a faithfulness
in dealing with souls. I can think of many examples of such dealings with me.
I remember once
lamenting I felt a shortness and weakness in the sermon I had preached that
night. He graciously said to me: "Now Mark, remember we must have faith." I
realised I was more concerned for the approval of men when I should have been
looking to the Lord. I can recount many times when members here can recall a word
David as a pastor spoke to them graciously and lovingly, which they cherish as
having been a great help to them.
David felt bound
to do the Lord's will. He was guided by the word. Once his heart was convinced
from the word, he felt bound. David was not the perfect man, no one is, but
there was this tremendous integrity and faithfulness.
faithfulness is very costly. There can be a tremendous pressure in the ministry
at times to put the human first and give way. Not that we are callous or
unfeeling, or despise human feelings and emotion, but sometimes they do go
against what he Lord's will is. And if we do the Lord's will we may risk the anger
Now David was
not unfeeling. He was a deeply sensitive man. But he was convinced that he
Lord's will must come first, even if it meant he suffered loss and some no
longer walked with him. He had many scars, yet he submitted his way to God
believing in his heart that Lord would
honour and keep those who were faithful.
Even though so
weak of late, still he was greatly valued and could be looked to for counsel
and guidance which came from years of experience, and from a heart which always
put Christ first.
I could not have
had a better example or teacher. David truly lived what he believed. He had
endured suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He was faithful to the
2Tim. 4:7,8 "I
have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept he faith.
is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous
Judge, will give me on that day, and not to me only, but also to all who loved
This brings me
to say the last thing:
(4) David longed for the second coming of Christ
He was always
looking for the second coming of Christ. This was what struck us when we first
came to the church. How little we had heard this in other circles, yet here was
someone who looked for it, longed for it and exhorted us all to live in the
light of it.
Recently he was talking
of developments in the Middle East which he hoped might cause the Jew to
eventually cry to God earnestly resulting in a great conversion and so
heralding the coming of Christ.
Not long after
he was converted, David was doing some work for the Lord. He was out in some
woods in Canada (I think) taking time to meditate and read the word, when as a
result of something he read he was overwhelmed with a powerful sense of the
love of Christ which went on for some time. Though David would never have any sympathy with those who
teach a second blessing, or higher life sanctification, he did believe that God
in his sovereignty does give such experiences of his love to his people, when
in times of need or to encourage them in a particular work.
David felt he
had had a foretaste of glory, and from that time on he longed to go to heaven. Well,
his desire has been fulfilled. He is with Christ which is far better.
David would feel
very embarrassed by this tribute. All he wanted was Christ to be glorified.
Yet may we copy
his example, stand where he stood, know the Christ he knew. Above all may we look unto Jesus the Author
and Finisher of our Faith. We give all glory to God - who made his servant and
used him in his purposes.
says, "Whom have I in heaven, but you and there is none that I desire on earth
God has given
his servant David Fountain the desire of his heart by taking him into his