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Posts tagged ‘mission’

Jesus Last Prayer

84. Partake – Jesus’ Last Prayer

John 17v1-5: Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendour of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendour. You put him in charge of everything human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendour, the very splendour I had in your presence before there was a world.

After His last teaching on His last night, Jesus now turns to prayer. Firstly praying for Himself, then for His twelve disciples and then finally for all disciples that will follow, the church. This prayer is probably the pinnacle of revelation in John’s gospel. Here we see Jesus’ very words, revealing an unparalleled intimacy with His Father.

The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus prays for Himself

Central to this part of His prayer is glorification. That is the glorification of Himself in order that God the Father who sent Him will be glorified. Glorify is rarely used outside of church circles today. If ever it is, is usually in the context of somebody pretending to be better than they really are. Glorify means, in a biblical context, to have the person’s true nature disclosed. So in effect, Jesus is saying in John 17v1: “May people see me for who I truly am, your Son. And may they also through Me, see Your true nature, Father!” Praying as He does, just before He knowingly goes to His death on the cross, shows the importance of the cross. For it is through the cross that God the Father and Jesus will be glorified. Jesus’ death on the cross reveals a God of love, faithfulness and forgiveness. John 17v4 reveals that it was this purpose that He came, in order to complete the work given. Jesus’ entire earthly life has been one to show divine love. All His works and words were completed without even a hint of hypocrisy. His entire life was driven by the desire to see sinful people turn to God for reconciliation and forgiveness. At the cross and through the cross, this is achieved. Jesus confidently prays that having laid aside His glory by taking on human form, He will return to God’s right hand, having achieved the work of redemption. The theme of eternal life runs throughout John’s Gospel (John 3v15-16; John 10v28). Eternal life is knowing God personally and intimately, and that is only achieved by faith through Jesus’ death on the cross. It is a free offer and open to all. It is the responsibility of all people to take up the offer. Once the offered is taken up, the responsibility is then to tell others of this offer.

Jesus prays for His Disciples

John 14v6-8: I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you. They believed that you sent me.

In this part of the prayer, Jesus prays for His disciples. Note how He describes them: they were chosen by God Himself, seen God in Jesus and have received God’s words and obeyed them (John 17v6). John 17v6, 9-10 tells us that the disciples were in the safe possession of both the Father and the Son. John 17v7-8 shows what the disciples know. Despite misunderstanding frequently what Jesus was talking about, the disciples still grasped that Jesus had come from God. Having taught that they will endure persecution and suffering because they are His followers, Jesus prays for their safety. They will be safe, not because of their own cunning, character or conduct. They will be safe because of God’s care and protection (John 17v11-12). As they are God’s possession, He will ensure that they are watched over and protected. This security is also borne from glorifying God and being witnesses for Him (John 17v10). God is glorified whenever His salvation plan is explained and told.

Who are the disciples enemies and why do they need protecting (John 17v11-12, 15)? The first enemy is the world who does not know God and is therefore in rebellion against God. The disciples were told of this prior to this prayer. Satan is also an enemy of the disciple and will do all he can to stop God being glorified in the life of the disciple. How will God keep them safe? Through His mighty name and nature. By remaining loyal to Jesus, obedient to His teachings and telling others about Him, God’s name & nature will therefore protect them.

Jesus also prays that they may be filled with joy (John 17v13) and be dedicated wholly and solely to Him. The disciples now have a mission and purpose to fulfil – to tell others of Jesus. This mission though whilst their responsibility is not theirs alone, but is the continuation of Jesus’ mission to bring people to reconciliation with God. Part of that mission is to live a holy life in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the real and true pioneer evangelist! Living a holy life, means living a life not for themselves but for the glory and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Jesus prays for all Christian Disciples

John 17v24-26: Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendour you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them — Who you are and what you do — And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.

Now Jesus prays for all those who, through the work of the disciples, will become His followers. As such, it brings all Christian disciples into intimacy with Jesus and a part of a dynamic relationship with Him.

What does Jesus pray for His church of followers? Jesus prays for unity. That is unity is on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17v21-22). The life of all Christian disciples are inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christian disciples are united because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17v22). This unity is also physical, in so much as through a visible unity, people will come to know Jesus personally and take up the offer of reconciliation with God (John 17v21, 23). This unity is also physically seen, through the telling of the message of reconciliation (John 17v20).

Remember Jesus’ words earlier in John’s Gospel? John 15v12-14: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. If the world sees Christian Disciples loving others sacrificially, then unity is seen and it is an effective witness to the reality of reconciliation with God.

For more to think about please do read John 17. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

 

Q1. How am I as a Christian Disciple glorifying God and being His representative?

Q2. What are the hindrances that I face regarding evangelism and telling others about Jesus?

Q3. What can I, as a Christian disciple, do to maintain a witness of unity with other Christian Disciples?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partakes(at) googlemail.com. Thank you.

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Easter 2013 – Jesus’ Mission and Identity

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Monday – Jesus’ Mission and Identity

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At the time of recording, this is Easter 2013 and it is Monday. We start a week of looking at Jesus Christ. Together, every night this week, we are going to look at different aspects of Jesus’ final week.

  • Tuesday Last Prayers
  • Wednesday Last Teaching
  • Thursday Last Night
  • Friday Dead
  • Sunday Risen

Mission

Luke writes in Luke 4v42-44: “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”

This is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry on earth! These verses at the end of Luke 4 tell us that His mission is to preach God’s Kingdom. A reluctant John the Baptist baptized him and the crowds heard God the Father speaking to Him. He underwent temptations by the arch-seducer, satan and emerged victorious from that ordeal. Now Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, has returned home to Galilee (Luke 4v14).

  • Jesus at home (Luke 4v14-30)

Jesus is back in home territory and because of the power of His teaching, He is becoming known as a great teacher (Luke 4v15). Jesus spent some time in Galilee, become known and is arousing the interest, curiosity and excitement of people.

  • Worshipping (Luke 4v14-18) – It was Jesus’ habit to attend public worship wherever he was. He would have worshipped as any Jewish man would have.

A typical synagogue service

  • Opened with a prayer for God’s blessing
  • Traditional Hebrew confession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21)
  • Prayer and readings from the Law and the Prophets
  • Brief talk given by one of the men or a visiting rabbi (Acts 13:14-16)
  • Benediction or prayer

Because of His growing renown as a teacher, it is no surprise that he should be asked to read the Scripture and give a short teaching session regarding it. Here in Nazareth, Jesus declared that the day for demonstrating God’s salvation had arrived and the day the prophets looked forward to, was going to be fulfilled in Jesus Himself (Luke 4v20). He was the Servant Isaiah had talked about long ago (Isaiah 61v1-2). His ministry was divinely directed; it was a ministry of hope for all people and a ministry to free the spiritually oppressed (Luke 4v18).

Acceptable Year of the Lord (Luke 4:19)

When Jesus said in Luke 4v19 “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”, Jesus was referring to the “Year of Jubilee” (Leviticus 25). Every fiftieth year, this special year was the balancing of the economic system.

  • Slaves were set free and returned to their families
  • Property that was sold back to the original owners
  • All debts were cancelled
  • Lands lay bare to rest and rejoice in the Lord

The local reaction was at first one of astonishment (Luke 4v22) and telling each other he was the son of Joseph! But Jesus was not the son of Joseph, but rather the Son of God, the new Adam and the founder of a new humanity as he goes on to explain.

  • Rejected (Luke 4:20-30)

They saw Him as the son of Joseph. Admiration turned to anger, because Jesus began to remind them of God’s goodness to the Gentiles.

  • The prophet Elijah bypassed all the Jewish widows and helped a Gentile widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:8-16)
  • Elisha healed a Gentile leper from Syria (2 Kings 5:1-15)

Whilst those in Nazareth could only see Jesus in the local setting, He told them His mission was for all Israel! And if Israel rejected this message of Good News, then the Gentiles would be blessed by it (Luke 4v25-27). Upon hearing this, the astonished admiration turned to furious anger (Luke 4v28-30)! Salvation is no longer restricted to Israel but for every child of Adam – every human. Jesus’ mission was not to be Israel’s saviour but the world’s saviour.

When Jesus quoted the proverb “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”, he revealed his knowledge of Old Testament history. He knew that God’s messengers often were rejected, and even as God’s Son, he was rejected as well.

Jesus’ mission was to be the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16) and the Servant of the Lord. His mission was to give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people. Not only people in his hometown, nor only in Israel, but rather for the whole world. People have two choices when faced with this fact: accept or reject. There is no other option.

Identity

And what of his identity? In Mark 8v27-33: Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

This section of the Bible contains the verse, when Peter calls Jesus the Christ or Messiah or Saviour (Mark 8v29), this divulges Jesus’ true identity, In the preceding few verses Jesus and the disciples were in Bethsaida and there is the incident where Jesus healed the blind man. When the man is healed, Jesus instructs the man not to tell anybody! Why did Jesus stipulate taht? Because Jesus didn’t want to be seen as only a healer and miracle worker.

  • Confess who Jesus is

Now we come back to that climactic part of the Gospels when Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say that I am?

Some say John the Baptist

  • Jesus and John had been seen together in public and they were different in personality and ministry
  • John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1v17), in a ministry of judgement, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service.
  • John performed no miracles (John 10v41), but Jesus was a miracle worker.
  • John even dressed like the Prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1v8; Mark 1v6)

Others say Jeremiah (Matthew 16v14)

  • Jeremiah was the ‘weeping prophet’, and Jesus was the ‘man of sorrows’
  • Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus.
  • Both men were misunderstood and rejected by their own people.
  • Both men condemned the false religious leaders and the hypocritical worship in the temple.
  • Those in authority persecuted both men.

In both His works and words, Jesus gave evidence to the people that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they did not get the message. The disciples had much to learn about Him and what it meant to follow Him. The Jews were expecting a victorious Messiah (Isaiah 11v1-5). But they had forgotten that the Messiah must also suffer and die (Isaiah 53v1-12; Luke 24v26). The Jewish people thought that the Messiah would set up an earthly political kingdom, but Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom that would last forever (Isaiah 9v7; Daniel 7v13-14; Luke 1v33; Revelation 11v15)

What was the purpose of the Messiah? (Mk10v45)

Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16). His purpose as the Messiah was neither that He be served nor that He will lead a political overthrow of the Roman government as some had hoped. Rather, His purpose as the Messiah was to be God’s servant and give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people.

Follow who Jesus is

When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8v33). Remember that they did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. By the time Peter had written his epistle 1 Peter, he did (1 Peter1v6-8, 1 Peter 4v13-5v10).

Some Jewish leaders taught of 2 Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1v10-12)

There is a price to pay for true followers:

  • Surrender completely to Him.
  • Identify with Him in His suffering and death.
  • Follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

What is the reward for the true disciple of Jesus?

  • Satan promises glory now, but in the end suffering comes.
  • God promises suffering now, but the suffering turns to glory.

Spiritually, at this time, the disciples were still blind to who Jesus was, just as the man who was physically blind. Our confession of Jesus is a matter of life and death (John 8v21;1 John 4v1-3). Confession of Jesus as Lord is necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 12v1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10v9-10). Christians are called to follow Jesus, to take up their cross and this could mean nothing less than being ready to suffer and die for Jesus. If we are ashamed of Him on earth, He will be ashamed of us when the end of the world has come. He will reward those deserving the reward, and deny those who deny Him.

Finally, who do you say this Jesus is? What have you done with this Jesus – accepted or rejected Him?

Thank you

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WOW Disciple – Module 11 Evangelism

If you are in the Bournemouth/Poole/New Forest area, why not come along! You can come for one session or stay for them all! We will be looking at: What, How, Why, Where, When; Our message; Enhancing your story; Exploring your identity; Enlarging your outlook…

If you need more information, or are thinking of coming, please do make contact! It would be great to see you there!

Where? Poulner Chapel

When? 10am to about 1pm,

Saturday 1st December 2012

Cost? Free of charge!

Come for just one session or stay for all 6!

New believer? Come and learn!

Mature believer? Come and share your experiences!

Map to Poulner Chapel (marked above as PBC),

Linford Road, Hangersley,

Ringwood, Hants BH24 1TX

Function of a Virtual Church

Virtual Church 05 – Function of a Virtual Church

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In the last Podcast of this series, we discovered what is a Virtual Church. Now we discuss, what functions does a Virtual Church fulfil.

Some church leaders suggest that virtual church membership will continue to increase and that by the year 2020 “nearly all churches will be virtual churches” in the sense that physical attendance will become secondary and most contact will be via Virtual Reality (Andy Peck, ‘2020 Vision’, Christianity, September 2006, 14). Another survey suggested that by 2010, 10% to 20% of US adults and teenagers will use the Internet as their primary spiritual input. These figures suggest the growing importance of a virtual church in the life of people. But how does a Virtual church function?

The phrase ‘one holy, catholic and apostolic’ probably remains the best means of identifying whether a church is truly part of the historical church or not. The Church at its inception was “a practice of shared faith”, epitomized by these four dynamic marks. Although definitions may vary, these four hallmarks traverse the broad spectrum of Christendom in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. The term ‘one holy, catholic and apostolic church’ is a verbal confession, denoting the four visible dimensions of the invisible church and being a community springing forth from its first century founding. Furthermore, it evolves from generation to generation, but without losing the core beliefs. Catholic here, in case anyone requires clarification, means universal and not the denomination.

Jesus when praying in John 17v17-21 stipulates these four hallmarks of His church: one (John 17v21), holy (John 17v17, 19), catholic (John 17v21b) and apostolic (John 17v18).

By engaging in fellowship, worship, mission and bible teaching, a church thereby reflects the historical and biblical universal church which is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. One in that the church exhibits fellowship between the individual believer and God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; as well as fellowship between believers. A church is holy in that the church encourages worship of Almighty God. Catholic, in that, the church is engaged in the continuous mission of evangelisation. Finally, the church is apostolic in that it teaches from the Bible.

While these four hallmarks are statements of faith, they also must lead to declarations of function, because the Church must be actively visible. These four derived functions of the church are: fellowship, worship, mission and bible interaction. They are mutually interdependent and as Jürgen Moltmann in his book “The Church in the Power of the Spirit” states, “they are the invisible church’s visible manifestations.”

How does a Virtual Church engage in Fellowship?

Fellowship is a mutual sharing together. Through the sharing of stories and interacting with each other, Christians in a Virtual church engage in acts of fellowship. Sharing a common purpose of seeking Jesus, worshipping and praying together, playing games, engaging in stimulating dialogues and lending support when required, are all facets of Virtual church fellowship. The Virtual Church can also engage in regular offline meetings, to help engage each other more.

How does a Virtual Church engage in worship?

Worship in a Virtual Church has a variety of methods in which God’s glorification is sought. Global worship includes singing, responsive prayers and liturgy. Each individual member having his or her own bread and wine can engage in the Eucharist, similar to traditional church. A problem may well arise with baptism, which is by necessity a physical action. This problem can be overcome by negotiating with a traditional Church to baptize the person wanting baptism.

How does a Virtual Church engage in mission?

Virtual Church evangelism is primarily based on a friendship evangelism model with building relationships at the core. It is talking to people online, interacting through blogs, writing of testimonies, engaging in discussion threads and venturing into other online forums and communities. In a Virtual Church, where people are judged more on the ability to be persuasive rather than appearance, Scripture is powerful. Evangelism is therefore not instantaneous (although it can be) but rather a process of journey.

How does a Virtual Church engage in bible teaching?

In a Virtual Church, bible teaching continues to be central. Sermons are preached and interactive discussions are engaged in afterwards. Topical teaching threads and blog threads can teach Scripture and commented upon. Audio files can be streamed or downloaded from the Church and played on iPods and other devices, for use in personal time. Particularly relevant is the narrative style when online “holographic stimulation” will facilitate emotional attachment.

In the next Podcast, we will look at the perceived liabilities of a Virtual Church, before heading into to the main benefits.

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