Edenvale Baptist Church

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Our Hope and Reward

This past Sunday we spoke about Church from Col 3:14-4:6, and didn’t get to deal with the part about Family Life. To that end we’ve once again enlisted the help of Melanie Blignaut for our blog, as she has some helpful comments on family life in light of Col 3:18-21. If you would like to study this passage further then perhaps listen to the sermon ‘Work as Worship’ from the Cross Centered Life Series.

Children are not naturally obedient creatures. My eldest daughter conveniently goes deaf whenever I utter a sentence containing the words “tidy up”. My youngest, now in the throes of the Terrible Twos, likes to test the limits of my patience every chance she gets. Teaching obedience is a daily, often hourly struggle.

My children must be obedient to us as parents, but not simply “because I say so”. I want them to learn the joy of obedience and that honouring their parents pleases God. If my children cannot respect and obey us, then how will they ever learn to respect and obey God?

Teaching obedience is not solely about telling my children how to behave or what to do. How we live as a married couple and a family has the most impact on them. When I submit to my husband, our daughters are shown that submission to Christ is a beautiful way of expressing love. When my husband shows his love for me, our daughters see the sacrificial love that Christ has for the church.

When our daughters see us obey God’s Word and serve Him with cheerful hearts, they learn there is joy in service and obedience. When we tackle each task, no matter how mundane, as though we are doing it for Christ, our daughters learn humility.

Of course, this is easier said than done. We need to work on our own hearts first, to make sure that we are sincere and joyful in the way that we obey and serve God.

We are not perfect people. We are not perfect parents. Our children are not perfect. But Christ is our standard, and so we look to Him – our hope and our reward.

You can follow Mel’s writing at her blog ‘Wind in a Letterbox

The Will of God

As we work through Colossians in our ‘Entrenched’ Series, there simply will not be enough time to deal with all of the wonderful spiritual themes and ideas in these passages. To that end we’ll be posting some helpful blogs and commentaries from various authors over the series, to enrich and complete your study of Colossians.

Today’s post is from Sam Storms, who has written a devotional guide to Colossians which you can get here. In this Post he discusses the ‘Will of God’ from Colossians 1:1. To read the blog at his site click here.

One of the reasons we ignore certain statements in Scripture is our misguided belief that they simply don’t apply to us. For example, when the apostle Paul introduces his epistles he typically describes himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (Col. 1:1a; cf. also Eph. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1).

I’m not an apostle and I doubt if you are either. So what possible relevance does a statement like that have for you and me? Before I answer that, let’s consider what Paul had in mind for himself.

In the first place, this was an expression of his entire theological perspective. He became a Christian “by the will of God.” His authority as an apostle is “by the will of God.” The power of his ministry, whether in teaching or healing the sick, is “by the will of God.” It is only “by God’s will” (Rom. 15:32) that he will eventually visit Rome. And whatever more he will achieve before he breathes his final breath is “by the will of God.”

Secondly, he needed to make clear to the Colossians (and to us) that they (and we) are obligated to listen to him. The Colossians were being led astray by false teachers, and we are certainly in no short supply of them in 2006. But it is Paul, not they, who speaks with divine authority and sanction. If it is “by the will of God” that Paul speaks in this letter then it is “the will of God” that we heed and embrace all he says in it.

In sum, Paul didn’t aspire to, ask or apply for the job (after all, until captured by the grace of God on the road to Damascus he was evidently content with and proud of his status as a revered Pharisee; see Phil. 3:4-6). His ministry as an apostle did not come by human nomination nor did he look for human confirmation. It was by divine initiation, preparation, and authentication, which is to say, “by the will of God.”

So what does this have to do with you and me? Everything! Here is why. It isn’t simply Paul’s apostolic authority in the first century but all things in all our lives at every moment in the twenty-first century that must be attributed to the “will of God.” Paul himself made this clear in Ephesians 1:11 when he described God as the one “who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

Did you see that: all things! Not just Paul’s ministry but yours as well. Paul was an apostle “by the will of God” whereas some of you are school teachers “by the will of God.” Others are housewives “by the will of God” while many are nurses, physicians, lawyers, factory workers, salesmen, athletes, or missionaries “by the will of God.” God’s will extends to your life and calling and career no less so than to Paul’s. Yours may not entail the spiritual authority that his did, but it is no less an expression of God’s enablement and calling than Paul’s or Peter’s or John’s or anyone to whom we attribute greatness.

Have you paused to ponder the fact that who you are is “by the will of God,” as well as what you do, where you live, how much you own, whatever you accomplish? Needless to say, this excludes your sinful deeds and rebellious attitude and failure to obey the Scriptures. For example, if Scripture declares that “this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3), then we dare not say that sexual immorality (or any other violation of the Word) is “by the will of God.”

I take away at least two things from knowing that my life and achievements and efforts and gifts and opportunities are “by the will of God.” First, there is an element of security in knowing this. The security is in the realization that my life cannot extend beyond God’s grace or capacity to redeem all things for his glory and my good. If all is “by the will of God” then I can celebrate his presence in my life and his hand on all that I seek to do in obedience to his Word. God’s “will” encompasses and permeates and infuses all that you and I will ever be or do or say or think.

This experience of security especially extends to times of trial and hardship. Suffering for righteousness’ sake is also “by the will of God.” In fact, Paul declares that “it has been granted” (i.e., graciously given) to us to suffer for his name’s sake (Phil. 1:29). Knowing that such experiences are not serendipitous or chance happenings but are orchestrated “by the will of God” will alone sustain us in the hour of testing.

Second, knowing that God is working all things according to the counsel of his will imparts a dignity not only to Paul’s apostleship but also to your life and ministry, as well as mine. God values who we are and what we do because it is the fruit of his will working and orchestrating all things for the glory and praise of his grace in Christ Jesus. There is no second-rate job or inferior ministry or meaningless endeavor when all is “by the will of God.”

It’s stunning to consider that my daughter changes the diapers of my grandsons “by the will of God,” and that I’m typing these words “by the will of God,” and that you are reading them “by the will of God,” and that all of us are simultaneously breathing “by the will of God.”

So, don’t ever think that because you aren’t an apostle or a pastor or a public figure with power and prestige that you are any less the product of God’s will or somehow on the outside looking in on what he is doing in the pursuit of his redemptive purpose. Lay your hand on your heart and your mind and the fruit of your labors, and above all your salvation in Jesus Christ, and rejoice that it is all “by the will of God.”

By the will of God,

Sam

The Body of Christ

A man broke his left arm. One night when he couldn’t sleep, he imagined a dialogue between his right and left hand.

The right hand said, “Left hand, you are not missed. Everybody’s glad that it was you that was broken and not me. You are not very important.” The left hand said, “How are you superior?”

Said the right hand, “Why, my owner cannot write a letter without me.” The left answered, “But who holds the paper?”
Said the right, “Who wields the hammer?” Said the left, “Who holds the nail that the hammer hits?”
Asked the right, “Who guides the plane when the carpenter smooths a board?” Retorted the left, “Who steadies the board?”
Said the right, “When our owner walks down the street and lifts his hat to greet someone, which of us does it?” Replied the left, “Who holds his briefcase while he does it?”

Then the left continued, “Let me ask you a question. When our owner shaved yesterday he used you, but his face is cut because I wasn’t there to help. Also our owner’s watch has stopped. Know why? You may do the winding, but if I’m not there to hold it, the watch won’t get wound. You cannot take money out of the wallet because I’m not there to hold it. The master can do very few things without me.”

Similarly, our divine Master needs all the members of His body to exercise all their gifts so that His body may function smoothly and effectively

 

 

(Anonymous, adapted from ‘19 Gifts of the Spirit’ by Leslie R. Flynn)

The Daily Devotion

Lets face it, setting aside time dedicated to our relationship with God every day is difficult. We roll out of bed and launch into our busy days, only to crawl back into bed exhausted at the end of it. We go to Church on Sundays, and perhaps attend a Homecell during the week, hoping that it will be enough to fill our spiritual tanks until the next week.

In many ways it may be enough, but who wants just enough? When it comes to God, you can have as much of Him as you want (AW Tozer), and the best way to experience the fulness of a relationship with Him is the same way you would pursue it with anyone else: by spending time with Him.

That’s what the Daily Devotion is about. It’s simply time set aside every day to strengthen our most important relationship. Sometimes it may seem like a duty, but if you think about it, you have nothing to lose by spending increasing amounts of time with God. You do however, have everything to gain.

There is no formula for spending time with God, since it is primarily about a relationship, not a rule. One of the best parts about a Daily Devotion is it’s the one place where we don’t have to perform! Simply showing up and authentically spending time with God is all it takes.

Having said that, the basic means God uses to relate closely with us is through Prayer and Reading the Bible. The Holy Spirit himself is actively involved in both of these activities, using them to draw us closer to the Father & Son. However you choose to spend these times, Reading the Bible and Praying will be a part of it!

Some people find it helpful to have some sort of guide when it comes to their Daily Devotion, much like one would have a plan as to how they could best spend time with their Spouse. Following is an example of how you could spend your Daily Devotion time. Please note it’s not a prescription, but is just one way to combine Prayer and Reading of the Bible in a helpful way. Don’t pay too much attention to the time indicators, they’re merely there to show you how you could have a meaningful time of devotion in just 30 minutes.

Feel free to modify and arrange as you wish, perhaps talking with someone else about how best to improve your devotional time. Finally, when all is said and done, simply enjoy God!

A Basic Daily Devotion:

        1. Be Aware of God (5min)

  • Use this time to slow down, relax, and simply focus on being aware of God.
    • It may be helpful to remember verses such as Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”.
  • Try to clear your mind from the many distractions you may have.
    • Sometimes our minds are like beehives, with thoughts flying around distracting us from simply enjoying the presence of God.
    • You may want to have a piece of paper nearby to write down anything you’re worried about, or things you need to do. Once they’re on that paper you can let it go for a while, knowing you’ll remember to attend to it once you’re done!
  • You may wish to play a worship CD, or sing aloud, or anything that helps you to simply Worship God.

 

       2. Process your Day with God (10min)

  • Take some time to run through the events of the day (if you do your Daily Devotion in the evening) or of the previous day (if you do your Daily Devotion in the morning).
  • Try and remember everything that happened, from the time you woke up till you went to bed.
  • Remembering all these events do the following:
    • Thank God for the blessings that came your way that day
    • Ask for forgiveness for the mistakes you made
    • Pray for His intervention over some of the difficult issues, or unresolved issues.

     

       3. Listen to God through His Word (10min)

  • Choose a portion of Scripture and read it slowly, reflecting on:
    • The meaning, or significance of the passage.
    • What that passage means for you, in your life.
  • Choosing a portion of Scripture to read can be difficult, so here are some suggestions:
    • Read through a Book in the Bible, taking a few verses (say 5 or so) each day.
      • Any New Testament book would be good for this, but you may want to start with one of the Gospels (eg Mark) or shorter epistles (eg Philippians).
      • You could also pick one of the Psalms, or add that to your New Testament reading.
    • Use a Bible Reading plan
      • These plans have been used for centuries, and they help you to read through the whole Bible in a year.
      • They normally involve reading four sections of the Bible a day, which can be overwhelming for those starting out.
    • Use a Daily Devotion Book
      • These books have a reading for each day, as well as some comments by an Author.
      • If you’re going to use this method, be sure to take the time to go to the passage of Scripture in the Bible, and read a little bit more than your book prescribed, to allow God to lead you as you read.
      • Once you’ve slowly read the Scripture prescribed, then read the comments by the Author.
  • Some find it helpful to journal or write down whatever stands out to you about the passage you read.
    This has the increased benefit of helping you to remember the Scripture!

 

       4. Talk to God in Prayer (5min)

  • In this final time of prayer, you may wish to start by praying over what you have just read, and anything you think God may be saying to you through the passage.
  • Then go ahead and pray for yourself, for any further concerns you may have.
  • Lastly, spend some time praying for others: Family, Friends, Church Members, Colleagues etc.

We hope and pray that you may come to know God with a deep-felt knowledge as you meet with Him in Word and Prayer!

For a PDF version (printable) of this article click here.

Unintentional Parenting

We’ve just finished our Cross-Centered Life Series, but as with all Sermon Series’ there’s just not enough time to talk about everything! We spoke about family in general, but didn’t get to address parenting in particular. Once again then, we welcome Melanie Blignaut to the blog as she discusses the Gospel & Parenting.

One of my goals this year is to be more intentional in my parenting, specifically relating to how I share the gospel with my children. The result has been lots of fun with age-appropriate devotional activities and memory verses that aren’t always word-perfect but are oh-so-precious from little girl lips.

But . . .

I’ve recently been thinking about unintentional parenting. What am I teaching my children about Jesus when I’m not actively trying to teach them anything? Am I modelling the gospel enough so that there’s no difference between the times when we’re learning about God and the times when I’m just being me?

The answer: not always. Oh, how I choke on those words! I am not always the mother I would like to be. I am not always the wife I would like to be. I am not always overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit when I am with my girls. I speak without thinking. I raise my voice when I should keep my mouth shut. I mutter and seethe and glare when I should hug and kiss and soothe.

I am not perfect. Just when I think I’ve got it together, I lose it completely. Funny how it always goes like that.

But maybe that’s okay. My girls aren’t seeing a mother who always says and does the right thing, but they are seeing a mother who sometimes has to pray out loud so she doesn’t lose her temper. They see a mother who shouts, but then asks forgiveness. They see a mother who doesn’t know all the answers and they are learning it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” They are learning that there’s no such thing as the perfect mother, wife, woman – and that’s a good thing.

If I was that perfect person, then I wouldn’t need Jesus. They are not perfect; they need Jesus.

Thank you, Lord, that even my imperfection and brokenness can point my daughters to you!

 

You can follow Mel’s writing at her blog ‘Wind in a Letterbox

Slaying the Busyness Dragon

When I greet someone and ask how they’re doing, inevitably the response is something along the lines of ‘Busy’. It’s something that everyone seems to struggle with, even kids! They may not describe their lives as ‘busy’, but I get tired just thinking of all their extra-curricular activities and homework (Did I get that much homework in Primary School?).

It’s a difficult beast to slay. I know we walk a tightrope of responsibilities and expectations, and have to deal with increased time spent in traffic and meetings and fixing leaking taps. Most of us are trying hard to juggle many balls, but unfortunately one seems to be constantly dropping: our family. They seem to get the worst of the busyness dragon.

We spoke about this on Sunday, but we could have spoken about it for weeks. So once again I’m going to point you to some external help (we’re outsourcing a lot these days. You know, to help our own busyness). I met Kevin de Young at a conference last year, and he had some good things to say about God and the Gospel. He also wrote an excellent book about busyness, called ‘Crazy Busy’, which won the Christian Book of the year award for 2014. It’s also a short book, which is good if it’s a book about busyness.

In it he describes some of the reasons we get caught up in busyness, and it mainly centers around our own Pride. I know that sounds harsh, but look at all these facets of pride and see whether it has impacted your own busyness:

  • People-pleasing. We are busy because we try to do too many things. We do too many things because we say yes to too many people. We say yes to all these people because we want them to like us and we fear their disapproval
  • Pats on the back. This is the most obvious kind of pride: living for praise. It’s similar to people-pleasing, except less motivated by fear than by a desire for glory. “If I take on this extra assignment, I’ll be a hero to everyone in the office.” Never mind what it will mean for my family, my church, or my walk with the Lord, so long as it means more glory for me.
  • Performance evaluation. As in, we tend to overrate our own. Studies consistently show that almost all students rate themselves above average. Almost all employees consider themselves in the top tier. Almost all pastors think they are strong preachers. Because we regard ourselves so highly, we overestimate our importance.
  • Possessions. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?”
  • Proving myself. God is not against ambition. Too many Christians lack the initiative, courage, and diligence that ambition inspires. But ambition for our own glory must not be confused with ambition for God’s glory
  • Pity. Let’s face it: people feel sorry for us when we’re busy. If we get our lives under control, we won’t seem nearly so impressive and people won’t ooh and aah over our burdens. Many of us feel proud to be so busy, and we enjoy the sympathy we receive for enduring such heroic responsibilities.
  • Poor planning. Yes, sometimes we just need to sit with a calendar and draw some boundaries!
  • Power. “I need to stay busy because I need to stay in control”. Sound familiar?
  • Perfectionism. “I can’t let up because I can’t make a mistake”.  Am I really trying to do good or to make myself look good?
  • Prestige. “I’ll finally be somebody”. And hopefully to your family too.

There’s a whole lot more good material in his book (this is a very abbreviated and adapted version of the many facets of pride!), including some startling parental advice. It all sounds good to me. Give it a read, if you’re not too busy…

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Work Matters

We started our ‘Cross Centered Life Sermon Series looking at an aspect of life that seems to dominate us: Work. As we’ve been processing the idea of Cross Centered Work, and Work as Worship, we’ve been amazed at how deeply God is working in this area of people’s lives.

But Sermon time is short, and Sermon Series are limited (This Sunday we move on to a fundamental aspect of everyday life, and that’s family). We can’t really do justice to the enormous topic of ‘work’ in just a couple of sermons, and so we’d like to suggest you continue exploring the idea of Cross Centered Work, as there are some amazing resources available.

Try these three books for starters:

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‘Work Matters’ have a fantastic blog to go with the book, which includes stories of others seeking to find Work as Worship. If you’re looking for additional web-based resources, you needn’t go further that Rightnow ministries, which have incredible resources available to you (the video we showed last Sunday was courtesy of Rightnow).

Keep serving the Lord Christ through your work. It Matters.

Perfect, Precious Love

This week we welcome a guest to our Blog. Melanie Blignaut is a member of our Church and an accomplished writer. We’ve asked her to write about her experience of Easter as mother of two young girls. You can follow her writing at her blog ‘Wind in a Letterbox.

If there is one thing I have learned since becoming a mother, it is that I cannot make my children do something they do not want to do. For most things, that’s absolutely fine. But I cannot make them love Jesus – and the possibility that they won’t terrifies me. I can’t make them choose to follow Him – but I can show them who He is and pray that they really see Him, and want Him, and that their lives will honour Him.

My daughters are still little – three-and-a-half and 18 months old – and some would perhaps argue they are too young for me to be worrying about their salvation. Too young? Is there such a thing as too young for Jesus? I don’t think so. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:15-17) There must have been three-year-olds and 18-month-olds in the group of children the disciples were trying to chase away that day, yet Jesus called them all to Him.

This Easter, we began a new family tradition. For ten days, I did activities with the girls that pointed to the cross and focused on the Christ part of Easter. We didn’t deny the girls the experience of the Easter Bunny, but we wanted to make sure they understood that Easter is a Jesus-thing, not a chocolate-thing.

Another tradition is that my husband and I watch the film The Passion of the Christ every Easter, usually on the Eve of Good Friday. This year, for the first time, I had a glimpse of God’s Father-heart and what the cross cost Him. How humbling to think of it! My mother-heart, with my imperfect, selfish love, breaks at the thought that my daughters might not come to faith.

And God knows. God knows – and it is His heart’s desire that they choose to be His children too. His heart; His perfect, precious love for me, for them, for you – revealed in that moment on the cross when Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”

Our Easter Journey

We love Easter! We love indulging in conversations about the love of God demonstrated in Christ. We love being reminded about the Gospel. We love experiencing the truth that the Crucifixion not only changed history, but still changes our stories today.

Thats why we make such a big deal about Easter, and why we run so many events in this time. We know that it’s precious family time, and a welcome break from a brutal first-quarter at work, and a good chance to get some bonus leave! But it’s also a chance to re-experience the power of the Gospel.

So don’t let Easter pass you by this year! There’s so much for you to participate in, and it’s OK to not do it all, but do prayerfully consider with your family how best to experience Easter this year.

If you happen to be going away and are wondering what you can do, we have one more tool to help you! Actually, it’s not our own tool, it’s a tool the greater Church loaned us! Attached is an Easter-week devotional provided free by desiringGod.org. It starts on Palm Sunday (13 April) and runs through to Easter Sunday. Whether you use it personally or with your family, it’s just one more way to experience the glory of Easter.

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In Christ In Edenvale.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father” (Col 1:1-2).


The phrase ‘In Christ’ is one of the richest in the New Testament:

  • If you are in Christ you are Alive to God (Rom 6:11)
  • If you are in Christ you are Free (Rom 8:2)
  • If you are in Christ you are a New Creation (2 Cor 5:17)
  • If you are in Christ you are an Adopted Son or Daughter of God (Gal 3:26)
  • If you are in Christ you are Righteous, Sanctified and Redeemed (1 Cor 1:30)

Living in Christ means a whole new life, both here on earth and in eternity. It’s the ‘here on earth’ bit that we often forget.

To the Saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae

You may be ‘in Christ’ and have your whole world changed. But you’re still here in this world. For now.
And so you are not just ‘in Christ’. You are ‘in Christ in Colossae’.
Or should I say, in Christ in Edenvale.

If you are in Christ, then all of the richness of being in Christ should spill over into your life in Edenvale. So that this great city might find it’s way to Christ too.

And be alive again.
And Free.
And New.
And Redeemed.
And part of the Family.


“Grace to you and peace from God our Father”
Amen.

Our resolve for good

Welcome to the new EBC! Our new identity is just a small reflection of a much deeper change: our heart.

We believe God has been stirring us up to greater acts of mission, stretching to the ends of the earth, but beginning in our great city of Edenvale.

We realise this is an ambitious undertaking, but as we heard in our Winds of Change series, all of the commission statements that we studied include some comfort:

  • Peace be with you” (John 20:21)
  • I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20)
  • And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you” (Luke 24:49)
  • But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus did not give us a project without a promise, and these include such great things as having His divine presence as well as His power, with us to the end of age. That’s a long time. About as long as we may need to reach the Ends of the Earth through Edenvale.


Paul prayed something similar for the Thessalonian Church, a prayer that we would love to keep on praying for EBC
:

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 1:11-12).

May God make us worthy of this great calling.
May He fulfill our every resolve for good
and every work of faith
by his power.

So that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us,
according to grace of our God
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Another reason to pursue Unity in Diversity

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 2:8-12)

Paul applies the centrality of the Cross to all of our most important life circumstances, like marriage, family, finances & work. It’s no surprise then, that he applies it to Racial Harmony.

Humanity has struggled with civil unrest due to Ethnic Diversity probably since the days of Noah. It’s a prideful condition of the heart that has caused chaos over the history of many countries of the world, not least our own.

It’s also a major stumbling block for Churches. The Church at Ephesus had issues in this area, to such an extent that one of the Primary themes of the book is the pursuit of Ethnic Diversity in the Church.

It’s into this context that Paul writes these words in Eph 2:8-12. Notice three things about this passage and the pursuit of Ethnic Diversity:

  1. The plan of God was always that the Gospel message tied together both Jews and Gentiles. It was always God’s intention, therefore, that the Gospel not only apply to all humans everywhere, but unite all humans everywhere.
  2. It is the duty and purpose of the Church to promote this message. It is ‘through the Church‘ that this message is made known.
  3. Unity in Diversity is a significant attack on the powers of darkness. The ‘rulers and authorities in the heavenly places‘ are the spiritual forces of evil, and unity in diversity casts a sharp, powerful, luminescent light into those dark places.

John Piper has said that the cross created a bloodline that is stronger than any tribal, racial or familial line. This bloodline is our lifeline, and we want this lifeline to extend to all peoples throughout our great city.

You are witnesses of these things

“Christians have been given the full responsibility for the proclamation of the forgiveness of sin for everybody in the world” (Ed Stetzer).

That may sound a little dramatic, but we think it’s what implied in the Commission Statements of Jesus, and particularly in the one we looked at last Sunday:

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things.

And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49)

The word used for ‘Witness’ is the word we would also translate ‘Martyr’, as in a person who cannot contemplate a life separated from the Gospel message. To a martyr, their life and the message of Jesus are so intertwined that they would rather die with the message, than live separated from it.

That’s what we’ve meant by the word ‘Sentness’. It’s the idea that the Gospel message, which upon believing it rescues us, is the very same message that compels us to proclaim it.

Let’s be real here: this Gospel message is not just a nice piece of advice, like that golfing tip you saw on YouTube. We’re talking about the solution to everything that’s wrong with the world. That kind of News has some force to it. A gravitational pull that won’t allow you to just toss it aside along with that useless advice about dieting you got from a magazine. This kind of News becomes so attached to you that you may not be able to contemplate life without it.

That’s what some people call a Martyr. It’s what Jesus called a witness. It’s what the Church has since called Disciples.

I have a Commission

Martin Luther King Jr. once rallied a generation and changed a nation through a speech labelled “I have a dream”. As we saw this past Sunday, we have so much more than a dream.

We have a Commission.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20)

A dream is something personal to us, our own ambition or wish perhaps, but a commission is so much more. A Commission is a task entrusted TO us BY someone else, someone in a position of authority, who decides we would be the ones to accomplish the task. The Church does not have it’s own wishes or dreams for the future. The Church has simply been entrusted with a Mission.

We are not Dreamers, we are Commissioned.

I suppose that technically, a commission could be anybody asking anyone to do anything. Like perhaps a wife asking a husband to buy bread and milk on the way home. I guess that could be thought of as a commission.

Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. We would never use the word ‘Commission’ in that setting, because we know it is too sacred a word to apply to a chore. Indeed. A Commission is a sacred task, and the the spirit of the word denotes a mission so urgent and important that it would take precedence over everything else until the Mission was accomplished.

That’s why we take the Commission of Jesus so seriously

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20)

In both of the WOC sermons thus far we’ve mentioned how Jesus doesn’t give a Commission without a promise. Last week the promise was that His peace would be with us. This week the promise is that He himself would be with us.

We have a Commission. We have a Promise.

We have been Sent.

It’s time to Go.

A Missional Church

A Missional Church is one who’s fundamental identity and organising principle is the Mission of God on this earth.

It is a congregation of believers grateful for God’s saving act in their own lives, an experience of love that compels them to extend it to others.

This kind of Church has experienced the power of the Gospel, and knows it is still ‘the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes‘ (Rom 1:16).

A Missional Church recognises that the Mission of God, which started just after creation and swept through redemptive history, is not yet over, and it realises that God is still sending the Church to fulfill His Mission (John 20:19-23).

We believe we are called to be that kind of Church.