LINK (magazine) letter

To know Christ and to make Him known

Dear Friends,

For many, the experience of church is mixed.  It can be a wonderful experience of a loving, accepting and forgiving community with a quality that the world longs for, yet for some it can be a difficult place where there are cliques and factions, where people are criticised and a power struggle between individuals interrupts the serenity of others. There is often a struggle between what we are “in Christ” and what we are in reality. During our Church Week-end away we were challenged by the timeless letter written to the church in Ephesus. Paul, sitting in prison, wrote to remind them that they have every spiritual blessing “in Him” [i.e. Christ]. The letter was to be circulated around the churches of Western Asia Minor as well as the busy, important city of Ephesus, and contained timeless truths of universal importance.

Simon Austen’s study of the book of Ephesians states ”the end point of history is a church, a group of redeemed people from every nation tribe, language and tongue, who have been reconciled to God and to one another in Christ, singing his praises for all eternity in a new heaven and a new earth.” The challenge is to show, that in the church today, we are that new community of faith and hope, a place of reconciliation and grace, a light in the darkness, a place exhibiting truth, a place of humility and generosity, a place where Jesus IS Lord, and where, in Christ, we find satisfaction and are happy with life whether it be one of breadcrumbs or banquets. Ch 1 v.4 says “for He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”. In order to do that, He has redeemed us and empowered us by His Spirit “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” Wow, that is quite something!

Yet, when we look at ourselves, we are struggling with the opposition that the church faces, particularly from a world which is busy with its own agenda and considers us an irrelevance. We are also struggling with the fact that although God chose us to be holy and in Him we have redemption and forgiveness and have the Holy Spirit’s seal of ownership and have a guaranteed inheritance, we still sin in our daily walk with Him. God hates sin and yet he loves us ! How do we reconcile those two things ?

It is true that in our daily lives we let God down and in response to our genuine repentance he forgives. It is right that we feel ashamed and seek to put things right, but our imperfect daily walk does not change our STATUS before God.  We are still loved unconditionally and considered righteous before Him. We are being transformed by his Spirit but we cannot contribute to our righteousness. In God’s courtroom we have no confidence that our good works will gain us favour. Our confidence is our righteousness through faith in Christ.  As the famous hymn {Rock of Ages} puts it “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling”. Thus the mark of a Christian is humility but also the joy of knowing that our status in Christ is secure. The prodigal son found that out in dramatic circumstances.

So, as I step down as leader at the end of July, my prayer for Eastwick Road Church is that you will continue to seek God’s strength and will, daily, and that “you may know the hope to which God has called you” [Eph 1 v. 19]. May His power at work in you transform you and the community you serve, as together you give Him all the praise.

With  my love,

David

Some thoughts were stimulated by reading Matt Fuller’s book “Perfect Sinners” [Good Book Company]


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December 2012
Good news for the poor

January 2013
Approaching the future with confidence.

February 2013
Farewell from Mike and Jean Wanstall

March 2013
We are all witnesses

April 2013
Resurrection ... true or untrue

May 2013
Active membership

June 2013
Sabbatical

October 2013
What are we about?

November 2013
The trellis and the vine !

December 2013
The significance of Christmas

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