Memorial Address

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.

But David's 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 Christ.

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

David admitted 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

David would 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 sincere faith."

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.

He wrote 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.

Now this 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 and rejection.

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 end.

2Tim. 4:7,8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept he faith.

Finally, there 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 his appearing."

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.

The Psalmist says, "Whom have I in heaven, but you and there is none that I desire on earth besides you."

God has given his servant David Fountain the desire of his heart by taking him into his presence.