Summary: The three guiding lights of the Church are Biblical theology, an evangelistic programme and a spiritual dynamic
Three guiding lights for the Church
The story of the Ascension of Jesus Christ is a wonderful piece of history, but what relevance does have to us in 21st Century Britain.
May I answer my question by telling you a story?
Story: "There is an old legend which says when Jesus had ascended into heaven, the angel Gabriel asked him,
"Lord what plans have you made for carrying on your ministry in the world? How will people learn of what you have done for them?"
Jesus responded, "I left that to Peter, James and John, Martha and Mary. They are to tell their friends and their friends will tell other friends until the whole world has heard the good news."
Gabriel then asked, "What if Peter is so busy with his nets and Martha so full of her housework and the friends so preoccupied that they all forget to tell their friends? Don’t you think you should make a “Plan B”?”
Jesus answered, "I have no Plan B. I am counting
on My Children to spread my name and my
Both our reading for Ascension Day focus on Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples to preach the Good News
in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Why is that so important?
Well, how many of us would be here today if Peter had gone off fishing and Martha had gone back to housework and their friends had been too preoccupied to tell others about Christ.
Yet as we sit in this wonderful 12th Century Church this evening – the longevity of the building reminds us of the 800 years (at least) of unbroken Christian worship in Ivychurch – but not just worship but witness to the resurrected and ascended Jesus in their lives
I would like to focus on a short passage from our Gospel reading this evening because it shows us three guiding lights for the Church
The passage from Luke 24 is this:
45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
There are - to my way of thinking - three guiding lights that we can take from this passage
1. The first guiding light is a biblical theology (Lk 24;45-46)
Jesus opened up their minds to Scripture
As the Church, we need to know that Jesus and his ministry are rooted in the OT. Jesus death on the Cross wasn’t an “unhappy chance”.
It was in the plan of God from the day that sin entered the world back in Genesis 3.
And incidentally – if the OT was good enough for Jesus – we ignore studying it at our peril .
We need to become familiar with the Word of God. We don’t base our Gospel on reason but rather God’s revelation in the scripture.
Bible Study is important because it is GOD’S REVELATION to his people.
Notice the emphasis – God’s REVELATION to his people. And we ignore it at our peril
2. The second guiding light is that the Church needs an evangelistic programme (Lk 24:47-48)
Jesus gave his Church a single Commission – to preach the Good News to all people everywhere
If we claim Jesus is Lord of our lives, we can hardly not want to do what he tells us to do.
But our motivation for preaching the Good News is not because we HAVE to but because we WANT to.
Story: Let me explain what I mean by telling you the story that the famous Canadian 20th Century Pentecostal missionary, Jonathan Goforth, used to tell.
When Jonathan was 16 and still living at home with his parents, his father bought a second farm. He asked Jonathan to look after a huge field on that farm and get it ready for harvest.
Jonathan loved his father and wanted to please him. So he ploughed and weeded the field.
He tilled it, bought the best grain and planted it in the field.
When the field was ready for harvest, Jonathan brought his father over to inspect it.
Jonathan’s father came and stood on a small hill overlooking the field and said nothing.
He simply surveyed the field to see if he could find weeds.
When he found nothing, Jonathan’s father simply smiled.
Jonathan Goforth used to say: "It was the smile on my father’s face that was all the reward I needed. So it is with our heavenly father when we do what he commands us to do."