Tidal Wave–change comes to the local church

“And day by day, continuing with one mind and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Act 2 46-47

We have something spectacular to share with the world–Jesus loved you enough to give His life so that you don’t lose yours. How do we share that? Tidal Wave is a 29 minutes long Vimeo–do you have time to to find out about Simple Church?

 

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Learn ABOUT God FROM God

“But when He who had set me apart…and called me through His grace was pleased to reveal His Son in me…I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood…but I went away to Arabia…then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas…Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem…I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles…for fear that I might be running in vain.” Gal 1:15 – 2:2

I love to research. I want to know more about the things I’m interested in. When I bought an aquarium, I spent hour after hour on the internet learning about fish, habitat, pests and diseases. I couldn’t get enough. jane

And when I started my garden–well, you know where that led…DSCN1330

I think there’s a terrible pattern among Christians of receiving all their “revelation” from the mouths of “experts”–pastors, teachers, apostles, prophets–instead of searching out truth for themselves. Of course, God has given us the 5-fold ministries “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service” (Eph 4:12). But Paul (who tells us to follow his example), when he was first saved, went away by himself to study the word of God and get revelation straight from the mouth of the Holy Spirit. Yes, he had a very strong background in Scripture, something very few of us had when we were first rescued by Jesus. But he didn’t trust in that knowledge (“knowledge puffs up, but the Spirit builds up”), rather he received something wholly new and revolutionary–from the Holy Spirit.

I dare say, most of us loved reading the Word of God in the days of our “first love”, but then did we lose the joy in it? How many of us were taught in those early days how to read the Word and hear the Holy Spirit? How many of us continued to not only read, but meditate on the words? How many of us made a permanent habit of praying the Scripture as the Holy Spirit prompted us? Likewise, how many church leaders are spoon-feeding their members instead of encouraging/challenging/provoking them to learn about God in intimate communion with God.

I’m certainly not suggesting that we ignore the teaching of our leaders, or abandoning gathering together for the purpose of worship and reading the Word of God. But if that’s where our relationship with Jesus ends, we are the worse for it; we are not being “partners in the Gospel” as Jesus invites us to be.

Let’s change that, starting today. Get out your Bible. Read a portion. Talk to God about it: thank Him for what you’ve read; ask Him what it means for you and how can you apply it.

Start small and work up.

Start!

Hebrews – a dramatic cliff-hanger

I could post something from every page of David Pawson’s wonderful overview of the Bible: Unlocking the Bible. Today I’ve chosen a passage which has helped me to read the book of Hebrews with more understanding and emotional connection.

I’ve always loved Hebrews because it is so centred on Jesus but it wasn’t originally written for people like me. It was written to Jewish people, explaining how Jesus fulfills and is vastly better than all aspects of Jewish history and faith. Pawson narrows the time period of its writing to sometime between AD 55 and 70. He says it was written to Jewish believers who had returned to Rome after the death of the emperor Claudius (who had banished the Jews from Rome), to find the young church mostly Gentile with Gentile leadership. If the letter to the Romans was to reconcile these two parts of the church, the letter to the Hebrews was to urge the Jewish Christians to stay in the church. Why were they tempted to leave? Because Nero’s persecution was beginning. It was becoming very tough to be Christian and would before long be life-threatening. Here is how David Pawson continues:

Of course, this was happening to all the believers, whether they were Gentiles or Jews, so why was this letter written only to the Jewish believers? The answer is very simple and explains the whole letter. The Jews had a way of escape from suffering that was not open to the Gentile believers. The Jewish believers could get out of trouble by going back to the synagogue. At this time Christianity was illegal, but Judaism was still legal, with synagogues officially ‘registered’…

So the Jewish believers could return to the synagogue and claim to be going back to the same God. But the cost of doing it – indeed, the only way for them to get back into the Jewish synagogue – was to publicly deny their faith in Jesus. It was a great dilemma… They knew that if they took their families back into the synagogue they would be safe. But they would have to say in front of the synagogue, ‘I deny that Jesus is the Messiah.’

… At the end he says he has written a ‘short letter of exhortation’. It is certainly a letter of exhortation, but it is not very short! An exhortation is very practical. He is not trying to teach them doctrine, but is trying to stop this drift back to the synagogue. Everything he says from beginning to end is aimed at that problem. He throws everything at them. He appeals to them, warns them, speaks tenderly yet strongly. He uses every argument he can, because he fears they will lose their salvation if they go back to Judaism.

I have just read through Hebrews again with all this in mind. Now every chapter is a dramatic cliff-hanger. Will they take the easier way out at the eternal cost of their salvation? Or will they continue and endure, avoiding apostasy, possibly at the cost of their lives but maintaining their hope for eternity. We don’t know how many made either choice.

Hebrews is an emotional letter because the stakes couldn’t be higher. Do we face the same choices now?