Notes on sermon preached at PCF on 8 January 2012
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“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take she asked”?
The response was a question:“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know”, Alice answered.
“Then”, said the cat, “it doesn’t matter” “
(Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)
If we don‘t know where we are going, we can not choose which road to go on. To make choice in our lives and in our church lives, we have to have a clear understanding of where are goin and what we are trying to achieve.
Jesus himself had a clear understanding of his mission. He had three years to choose, train and release his team of disciples, as well as proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom, before accomplishing his unique work as the Son of God through the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.
We have to have a clear understanding of what it is we are trying to achieve and do in our Christian lives and our church lives, we need to document it, write it down, consider it, and run with it:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald[b] may run with it. (Habakkuk 2 v 2)
Before we can get into that in detail two thoughts underpin our understanding.
Called – firstly we have to understand that we are a called people. God has called us by name. He wants our company, our companionship and our friendship.
“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you. (Isaiah 41 v 8-9)
What an amazing thought, that we have been taken from the farthest corner of the earth, chosen by God and called by Him!
This thought is expanded on in Isaiah 43:
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Here the word used is “summoned”. God has seen us, even in the womb and has called us by name, promising us his protection, his provision and his guidance. What security should come from this amazing thought!
In the New Testament Paul unfolds our call theologically:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8 v 28-30)
Our whole salvation hinges on the fact that every believer has been called by God.
Sent. In the security of understanding our call we have been given a mission. A missionary is one who has been sent. And in that sense every person is a missionary. Every person has a call to come to God and to be sent out by Him. The question is – sent out to do what?
Our mission at Poole Christian Fellowship, as individuals, and as a church, is that we want to be individuals and a church whose lives are dedicated to knowing Jesus, and to making him known.
Knowing Jesus….and making Him known”
Let’s look at this two part mission statement one part at a time:
1. A Relationship
One of the most extraordinary things that we can say about our faith is that it is not a religion, it is a relationship. Amazingly, the God of the universe desires a relationship with us.
This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9 v23-24)
The simple goal of Jesus is to give us eternal life:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life…. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3 v 16, 36)
But when we see what this eternal life is, and amazing truth emerges – God wants us to Know Him!
” For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”. (John 17 v 2-3)
2. A Relationship to Be Developed
Every relationship has to be worked at and developed over time. And our relationship this Jesus is no exception. The question is – how? What do we need to do to develop our relationship with Jesus?
Where this relationship is unique is that it can be developed by the life of Jesus living within us – the Holy Spirit.
a. We have the word of God – the Holy Spirit has given us the word of God to enable us to meet Jesus, to understand what he wants and to obey him
b. We have prayer – which is its simplest form is talking with Jesus. Imagine a relationship where you never talk to the person involved! This will include praise, worship listening and talking
c. Obedience is fundamental to knowing Jesus – this is not a relationship between equals, it is a relationship which starts when we make him Lord of our lives. And as we yield to the reality of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so we will get to know him better
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14 v 21)
d. Fellowship. Our faith is not a spectator sport, neither is it an individual sport. It is a team sport. The view that we can live our Christian life on our own without reference to others is wrong and carried no weight whatsoever. So all the disciplines outlined above have their corporate outworking. We are a community of people who are committed individually and together to seek to know Jesus.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10 v 24-25)
So we are a people committed to knowing Jesus. As Paul said:
“ What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3 v 8-10)
Making Jesus Known
Each of the four gospels, and the book of Acts, has an expression of the mission that Jesus has given to all his people over the ages. Expressed in different ways, each of the gospel writers makes it clear that as individuals and as a people we are caught up with the call to Jesus to bring salvation to the world.
As John has Jesus saying:
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20.v21)
Incredibly, in our lives and ministry, we are caught up in the mission of the son of God. Ouyr call and mission has its root in his call and mission. We are a sent people, missionaries in a world that needs the love of Jesus.
What does this mean in practice?
1. We are “salt and light”
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot… “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5 v.13-16
Jesus has sent us into the world to influence it – not to be influenced by it! Just as salt brings flavour and light brings illumination to the world, we, as we keep cloe to Jesus are to bring God’s flavour and God’s light to the world around us.
2. We are witnesses
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1 v8)
Just as a witness in court will testify to what he has seen and heard so we too have a God-given responsibility to testify to what God has done in our lives. To be a witness in a court is not a heroiv thing – we just need to be honest and tell what we have seen and what has happened to us.
3. We are ministers of the gospel
The commission in Mark is:
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16 v 15)
Ultimately we have to tell people. There is a need for them to repent, turn to Jesus, believe the good news, be baptised and to live the Christian life.
As Paul says in Romans:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10 v 14-15)
We have a responsibility , by all means, to tell people and to support and pray for those who are doing so.
4. We are disciple-makers
Our job is not over when we have preached the gospel to someone and seen them respond. We are told
“… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 29 v.19-20)
Our job then is to teach believers to obey the Lord Jesus, until they themselves are able to make disciples. In other words, part of making Jesus known is to make disciples…who make disciples, and to see that process replicated around the world.
As a church our mission statement is:
…and making Him Known”
This means that:
1. We will take every opportunity to develop our relationship with God, learning to follow him, obey Him and become more like him
2. We will take every opportunity to be, and to share the good news of the gospel
3. We will make disciples….who make disciples…
Welcome to Poole Christian Fellowship!