Summary: A sermon that continues to look at common denominators that make Christian fellowship unique.
Last week we began an exploration of key factors that should be present in a Christian fellowship - these key factors are validators of the authenticity of the fellowship as much as and indeed more than the sign ourside on the lawn.
Riversdale Christian Fellowship on a sign does not make us into a Christian fellowship.
Last week the Prime Minister of New Zealand - Helen Clark found herself embroiled in controversy because she had signed a painting that she had not painted.
In fact she had signed six paintings that she hadn’t painted.
There was an uproar over it because if a painting carries an artists name then the painting should rightfully reflect the work of the artist.
It’s the same with a church - if we have the name of Jesus on our sign then our fellowship should reflect the character of Jesus - His character should flow out of us.
This week I would like to raise other Qualities that we can exhibit to justify the signature Jesus on the canvas of our fellowship.
RO 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
There is something distinctive about the faith of the Romans that makes them identifiable and distinctively Christian.
There faith is so distinctive that it is being reported all over the world.
That is pretty distinctive. There were other Christian groups around but Paul singles the Romans out as being well known for their faith - I suspect that he is suggesting that their faith is outstanding even among other christian churches.
There are in fact four things I would like to mention in relation to this that we need in our relationships with one another that produce good fellowship with one another.
I want to use the numonic F.A.I.T.H
The first point is actually the point I made last week so I do not want to dwell on it overly.
Fear of the Lord. By fear of the Lord I mean a healthy respect for God. The ability to hold in tension awe for God and familiarity with God. At Jesus’ death the curtain leading into the temple tore in two as a powerful symbol that we no longer require a mediator to go before God. But as we saw last week in romans chapter 1 verse 18 and following it is possible still to come under the wrath of God - it is only our dwelling in God’s grace that protects us from the very real possibility of Hell. So we need to hold in tension the fact that God is both Abba to us and to step outside his grace is a fearful thing - Fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding.
Getting this right is a helpful platform for fellowship. Because in this place all pride - arrogance and self elevation fall away. We are as someone once put it - simply one beggar showing the other beggars where the food is.
The second point is the atmosphere of Grace - RO 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-- 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Paul in all his letters maintains an attitude of Grace everything he says comes back to this one point we know the forgiveness and grace of God in our lives and we practice that grace towards each other.
We are in fact bathed in grace.
We are a people who are bathed in god’s forgiveness and love.
That kind of attitude needs to be extended to each other.
God not only asks it of us he insists on it.
In the parable of the unforgiving servant God makes the necessity of it clear.
Grace here is not only a gift it is also a command!
2TI 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.