I love the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.
In all things.
What peace, what confidence, what assurance.
Freed from self-reliance.
It was in exercising that sovereignty that God sent the Son into the world, “that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)
The sovereign God is a saving God!
That’s the big point of the Christmas story: Jesus came to save.
That’s the big point of the crucifixion story: Jesus came to save.
That’s the big point of the resurrection story: Jesus came to save.
That’s the big point of my personal story: Jesus came to save.
And that is the message of GCW.
John Harper was greatly used of God, and one of his challenges to people was, “are you saved?”
He knew Jesus came to save, so he went around asking people.
If I ask someone that question today, do they know what I mean?
Are they aware of what it means “to be saved”?
And, more importantly, are they aware that they are in urgent need to be saved, for they are facing an imminent and terrible peril (death, and judgment)?
Jesus came to save.
It is because all perish that God gave His only Son - only whoever believes in Him shall not perish.
But instead have eternal life.
All of this is called good news by Christians, which it is.
Tell the world! Immediate rescue from certain death! God's mercy and favour!
It’s news that the desperately needy people of Shropshire (and everywhere) need to hear.
People need to know that they are in dire spiritual danger, but they can still be saved.
"God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Act 17:30-31)
God sends His people with this good news.
Jesus came to save. Are you saved?
John 14:16 - "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;”
Or, the “Comforter”.
The original word is Paraclete, literally, “called to one’s side”, “comforter”.
The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, He is to be to us all that Jesus was to His disciples.
“I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.”
Notice, our Lord did not say “a” Comforter, not “the” Comforter”, but “another”.
Telling us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the first Paraclete, and the Holy Spirit is a second Paraclete occupying the same position as the living Jesus did.
They had Jesus with them, we have Holy Spirit with us!
He is our Paraclete, “called to my side”, “comforter”.
With Christ ascended, what would have become of these forgetful and fickle fishermen without another Paraclete?
Powerful preachers, leaders?
More likely they – and their eyewitness testimony – would have disappeared.
Any influence the Church has had, or is having, or that we Christians have comes from the abiding Presence of the Paraclete!
Thus we should treat the Holy Spirit as we would have treated our Lord had He been among us.
I was thinking this week: “Should you ever sing, “come Holy Spirit”?”
The disciples didn’t say “come Lord Jesus”.
That would have seemed silly – He was right there, they could see that.
Is the Holy Spirit any less here because my eyes do not see Him?
Hasn’t the Holy Spirit already come down from Heaven?
Romans 8:9 – “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”
He has already come down from Heaven and has never gone back again!
At the airport we leave the Arrivals hall once the flight has arrived and our beloved has joined us.
Romans 5:5 – “… the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
We need not stand around waiting.
Since He's here, within -
Galatians 5:25 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
This week we shared the special joy of welcoming 2 more members to GCW.
How can you express the joy?
Membership in a local assembly is vastly difference to any other kind.
It communicates things that the world cannot compete with.
In the world, when you join an assembly, you are thinking: “what can I get?”
In the local Christian assembly, when you join, you are thinking: “what can I give?”
In the world, self is in the foreground.
In the local assembly, self is in the background.
You ask, “how may I serve?”, not “how may I be served?”
You ask, “how may I edify?”, not “how may I be gratified?”
(The staggering thing - as ever in the walk of life with Christ - is that as much as you give, you just keep having it poured out back on yourself - abundantly!)
When you are saved, you become a member of the body of Christ.
United to Christ, united to the other members of the body in this way, you are then qualified to become a member of a local expression of that body.
The order is, you are born again, you are baptized, you are bound to fellow believers.
The body of Christ on earth is made up of assemblies of believers.
All believers throughout history are the Church of God.
You can be a Christian without being a member of a local assembly.
But that is the exception, and it should be rare, and it should be remedied.
Joining the Church is by faith through grace.
We use “membership” to identify the formal committing of oneself to an identifiable, local assembly of believers.
We think this is right because the Bible teaches:
(1) the example of the early Church;
(2) the existence of Church government;
(3) the exercise of Church discipline;
(4) the exhortation to mutual edification;
(5) Epistles were written to distinct assemblies;
(6) the special relationship with elders; and
(7) active fulfilment of the “one anothers”.
And you know what?
This past Sunday I didn't just think it was right, I didn't just know it was right because it's in the Bible.
I FELT (affections stirred!) it was right, as all our hearts swelled, full of love for our Saviour and for one another.
And our arms linked.