‘What God is teaching us is that really, when we think of love, we need to think of service. When we think of service, we need to think of love, because the two go hand in hand.’ – Simon Marshman
Watch the full sermon: http://bit.ly/2uaY8b3
Read the Bible text: http://bit.ly/2tUdFvJ
Read English support notes: http://bit.ly/2tUpBxB
The Bible is very comfortable with the idea that you can talk to God. Depending on the Bible version you look at ‘prayer’ is referenced over six hundred and fifty times!
When you became a Christian, your membership in the church took both a universal and a local shape – a wide and narrow view if you like.
The Church universal is the worldwide body of believers who meet in various locations and times around the world and throughout history who all profess faith in Jesus as Lord.
Brothers and sisters who are fleeing for their lives from the Islamic state fighters in Iraq and Syria, those who are on the mission field, those who meet as Christians around your country, and those that meet in the churches in suburbs around your city – are all members with you of the universal church – because we all have the same Lord and Saviour in Jesus.
Jesus speaks of the universal church. When he said to the disciple Peter in Matthew 16:18, ‘I will build my church’ he probably did not have in mind a specific local church on the corner of King David street and Goliath Avenue in Jerusalem! What he meant was that he would build together all those in the years to come, who would be his followers, the members of his body – his universal church.
The Apostle Paul addresses the universal church in Colossae when he says he ‘suffers for the sake of Christ’s body, which is the church’ (Colossians 1:24) and then to Timothy when he speaks of ‘God’s household, which is the church’ (1 Timothy 3:15).
Scripture testifies to the importance of being part of the universal church where we stand shoulder to shoulder with others in faith – even though we may not speak the same language, be from the same culture, have the same lifestyles, live in the same kinds of material circumstance, or even live in the same era of history.
Whenever I spend time with Christians of other cultures or languages, I recognise a beautiful reality – I have more in common with these brothers and sisters in faith than I do with many who don’t yet know Jesus even when they live in my own suburb or city!
But scripture also testifies to the ‘Local church’.
The Church local is your immediate church fellowship – the group of Christians with whom you share life with, face to face, week in and out. Those brothers and sisters who know you by name, who pray specifically for you, who help carry your burdens, who celebrate your successes and mourn your losses, and who help you to love and know God better and to serve him and others as you work to grow God’s kingdom.
Paul addresses the local church in 1 and 2 Corinthians (’to the church of God in Corinth’), and in Ephesians (‘to the saints in Ephesus’), 1 & 2 Thessalonians (’to the church of the Thessalonians’), Philippians (‘to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi’). In Colossians he sends a greeting to ‘Nympha and the church in her house’ (Col 4:15). There is a very particular local church which he has in mind.
As you meet each week with a body of believers, you express your membership in a local church.
As Christians, it is important to recognise you belong to both the universal and local church. Why?
For one, quite obviously, there are many more Christians in the world than would be able to meet in your particular church space – but there is a time coming when all Christians will gather around the throne of Christ in eternity and worship as the full universal church. It is a wonderful blessing to recognise our place alongside so many others in Christ.
Yet, it also matters that we meet together as a specific local church, on a regular basis to serve God and others. Christians cannot gather as the universal church to hear the Bible taught and proclaimed, to baptise new believers, to sing songs of praise, to take the Lord’s Supper together, to reach out to the community they come out from, to serve one another, to hold one another accountable, to physically care for, to urge one another on towards love and good deeds.
Meeting in local churches is important for the life and well-being of all Christians.
For other articles in this series:
Belonging to Church
The Church – universal and local!
Draw Near to God and to Others
Core in Membership
Sermon ‘I Have Many People In This City’ (Acts 18:1-17) by Geoff Lin is now available in audio and video: http://bit.ly/2mFOKgi
Read the Bible text: http://bit.ly/2obi3DV
666 and All That: The Truth About the Future by John Dickson and Greg Clarke (Sydney: Blue Bottle Books, 2007).
Reviewed by Katy Annis
What happens in the End? What does the Bible say will happen in the future?
The theological term most often used to describe the end of times is ‘eschatology’. 666 and All That by John Dickson and Greg Clarke addresses the topic of eschatology, a subject that both fascinates and concerns many people.
Dickson and Clarke treat this subject with a clear, concise and ‘no-nonsense’ approach. This book has a simple underlying argument; that is, Scripture itself does not provide a literal ‘play-by-play’ description of what the future will be like, therefore, we have little to gain by attempting to understand it in this way. Rather, they suggest that our focus should be on the promises, the hope and the joy that Christians can anticipate in the future Kingdom.
In some ways it’s not hard to imagine a world without Easter. Even though most are pleased to enjoy the blessing of a long weekend, most live without Easter making any difference to their lives.
It’s not that the public holiday is the issue. Many of us enjoy other public holidays, without making much difference to our own lives. If our theme was ‘Imagine a world without the Adelaide Cup’, we’d probably think we’d be all the better for it!
When Tom Playford was premier during the war years, he shut down the racing industry. Apparently the Prime Minister of the day had issued the instruction to close non-essential services because of the war effort, and Playford thought racing fitted the category (this was reportedly not what the PM had in mind, and the industry was reinstated a year later).
What would happen if we shut down the Easter ‘industry’?
Peer Discipleship is when two or more Christians encourage one another toward Christlikeness with Bible in hand.
That is another way of saying – be intentional as a godly friend!
But let us retrace some steps and see how it is that we get to this definition!
The question ‘Why leave a ‘church?’ may be a dangerous question to ask, especially on a church blog!
The reality is that all churches have people leave them – for both wise and unwise reasons. It is worth spending some time thinking about why one would take the step of leaving a ‘church’ and then further considering how to do that well. That said, I am hoping that no one reading this will in fact leave 5pm Church as a result!
In the previous two articles we have considered ‘What is ‘Church’?’ and then ‘What to expect of ‘Church’?‘ which as background should help establish that leaving a church should be thought about carefully – that is not a decision that should be made hastily or prayerlessly. If ‘church’ is about God’s people gathering as a family in Christ around his Word, it should give some pause for thought to a person when deciding to stay or to go. Leaving means leaving a family and a place where God’s word should be key to their fellowship.
Changing churches or leaving church altogether is no small thing.
The beginning of the year is often the time when people check out church (‘It is a new year, thought I would give it a go’), join church (‘I have moved and want to make this my church’) or leave church (‘I am making a life change’).
As such, it is reasonable that one consider ‘What should I expect of ‘Church’?’.
In the last update we considered ‘What is Church?’ and suggested that church was a place for believers (whilst still open to not-yet believers) and a place where God’s people gathered as a family in Christ. Expectations of church then are important because they help a person decide whether this church is doing what it should be or not.
There are a couple of ways to arrive at an answer.