The Trinity and the Emerging Church
Automatically Generated Transcript
Now, just to encourage you to be able to follow the message and know which Bible verses we're going through, I put them into the bulletin. And when you come on Sunday mornings, take a moment to grab a bulletin. We'll produce a few more so that you can follow where my sermon ought to go. All right.
But what we're actually doing at the moment is, generally speaking, in the mornings, going through the Gospel of Matthew. But in these three Sunday mornings, of which today is the third, we're particularly looking at ways to know how to measure, how to see, how to test whether you've got the Christian life in its fullness, whether you've got a complete Christian life, a full one, that's taking into account what it's all about.
And by doing so in the Gospel of Matthew, I thought for a season that maybe I could set out what is a full human life and see how the Gospel applies to it. But then it occurred to me that would take all day, and people would be leaving and I'd be there alone at the end because it was so long. And so instead, I turned it around to look at let's see what God is summed up best as. How does this Gospel of Matthew present God?
And one of the features that you find is that it presents him in his trinity, triunity, his Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And you don't really have a fully-orbed Christian life if you haven't come to understand those three persons of our one God. I know there's a mystery in it. I didn't say understand in the sense of grasping the totality of God. If you could do that, you'd be God. But he presents himself in the Bible as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And what is more, there are connections between how those three operate together.
And there are three spots in Matthew's Gospel where either there is the three of them operating presently in one event, or they're talking about the three of them. And those three passages are what I chose to do, what is now the third occasion, and it is right at the end of the Gospel, in what is called the Great Commission.
You're probably very familiar with Jesus' command to go into all the earth and to preach the Gospel to every creature. Well, that's actually how Mark was it, but Matthew worded it as going into all the world and making disciples of all nations. But he goes on to say, teaching them, or first of all baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And Christian baptism is always one properly done in the triune name, recognizing our one God operates in three persons.
Now, they're not just three different faces, he puts on a Father face when that's needed, and then puts on a Son face when he wanted to come to earth. No, or the Holy Spirit's another personage. No, they are three distinct persons, not human persons, but personages. I don't know what word to use. It is what the Bible presents. If you try to understand it, you'll break your mind. If we could encompass all that God was, we would be God. We'd be infinite. You just can't do it.
It has happened down through history where people have refused to accept it. They go off on a tangent into some weird sect or cult. Or where people seek to understand it, they drive themselves crazy because you just receive the revelation as to God says this is what I'm like. And when you relate to him in the fact that there is a Father who has sent the Son and given us an example of how heaven operates with earth.
Some of you may have asked the question, who do I pray to? And given that the Holy Spirit is down here with us, do you pray to the Holy Spirit or should you? I don't think there's anything wrong to do to pray to the Holy Spirit, but Jesus, in his example prayer, begins with "Our Father who is in heaven," and he illustrates, he gives the precedent that prayer is from earth to heaven. There is something innate in all of us to recognize God, our one God, and to pray to him.
Many a time in warfare occasions when the bullet whistles past someone's head, I had a person in my church in Sydney who was alive because the bullet whistled past his head and he heard it, and it killed the man next to him. And he couldn't get over the fact that that had happened in the happenstance of life but the direction of God, and he decided to become a Christian. There's something in all of us that naturally relates to there being an eternal being.
In fact, when someone comes and says, "I want to become a Christian," some of the wording I use is to lead them in a prayer. I get them to bow their heads and to pray, "O God who is in heaven," or "O Father God," because his fatherhood is the eternal Godhead leadership, is something that we intuitively recognize, "O God."
Many of you have had times when someone was sick, or some difficulty came, and you weren't being so self-conscious about yourself, but you said, "O God, I need you." And our one God is the one who came and did something for you. You can't really be a fully-orbed Christian unless you understand how he operates through his Son and through the Holy Spirit.
And there are verses in the Bible, many of them that you'd know, ones like, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord. Oh, the Lord, that's the Father, I suppose. But he's saying not by the strength that you've got, or what you can sum up, but by my Spirit because God's Holy Spirit comes mysteriously at moments when you most need him. He's the one who answers the prayers, which is right at the burden that Jesus has in Luke 11, where he talks about prayers and talks about what a father would give, you know, if you asked the father for an egg, would he give you a snake, or something like this. And it says about how much more shall the father give, and it's the Holy Spirit.
We had a previous Sunday morning sermon where it's not the Holy Spirit, it's not actually a promise of people getting the Spirit after already being a Christian, it's actually saying how much more will the father, by Holy Spirit means, give you the answer to your prayers that you prayed to the father. For there is a connection between how the Spirit comes, he comes to bring the answer to your prayers that you prayed to the father.
But where does Jesus fit in? Well, Jesus has the added aspect that he is the second member of the Trinity. You call the father the first member of the Trinity, just to know who you're talking about, and Jesus the son is the second. But Jesus isn't only God, Jesus is also human. He came and took on humanity. He was born of the Spirit at his birth.
We have a phrase about people becoming Christians, being born of the Spirit, which is true. You had a physical birth when you came out of your mother's womb, but your spiritual birth is when you do business with God, when you come and find God, and he makes you a Christian, he makes you born again. You heard Jesus' words to Nicodemus, you must be born again is when the Spirit comes, and Jesus explained to Nicodemus that there's a mystery, and he says the wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound it makes, but you can't tell from where it's coming or where it's blowing. So is everyone who's born of the Spirit, and of the people who are here this morning, some of you have been born of the Spirit, and some of you, it's yet to happen, and being born of the Spirit is what makes you a Christian.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, you must be born again because you can't be anybody who can see the kingdom, let alone get into it unless you're born again, and the actual wording again can also mean from above, and it's the way that Jesus was distinguishing between being born from earthly means, physical birth. That's, by the way, what I think it is, the born of water. He worded it one part in the talk with Nicodemus, and being born of water is like the water's breaking with the woman and the baby comes out. That's what's happened to all of us, I presume, seeing you here. Put your hand up.
No, no, I won't ask that, if you would, but we've all been born of earth, all of the water, born of flesh, but not all of you have been born of the Spirit. Not necessarily, I don't know, the Spirit comes where he wants to. You can see the consequences, you hear the sound thereof, but you don't, not physical sound, but you see the operation of the arrival of the Spirit, and people's lives turn around.
You can't make it happen humanly by education or by good teaching from family or by attending church or a youth group. You'd be surprised at how many people I run into who were once in a youth group, and you meet them and they're as worldly as the rest of the people, and they're swayed by this generation of awful attitudes as our nation descends down into the dirt. And then they tell you that they went to a youth group for ten years or something. Just going to a youth group does nothing that the Spirit of God alone can do. You must be born again.
And if you haven't, if you're not sure, it would be better for someone like me to shake you up a bit and make you worried, and go and check out and make sure you are. That actually happened to me, as I've told our fellowship before, at another church they invited me to speak, and I did, and I spoke on the wheat and the tares, and the wheat is ones planted by the Lord, and the tares, that's weeds, planted by the devil.
Anyway, then I got sick, and I had a heart complaint, and I was told I had two years to live, and the church asked me to preach again, and I staggered along, and I had another sermon all prepared, and there were notes in my Bible, and I stowed it up there to talk, but my mind went a bit funny, and I turned the pages and it landed on the notes from the previous message, and before I knew it, I'd preached the wrong message, the same one I'd given previously, and there had been someone very annoyed at me the previous time for saying things to do with the fact that you might not really be born again, and I went and gave them a second message, and they'd already complained to the pastor, who tried to get him to promise never to have me back again, but the pastor liked me, and he had me back again, and I gave the same message.
And there was someone there that day that came to Christ, who'd heard it the first time, and not responded. God is concerned for us to know that we must be born again, and there, you don't know that until you follow through the whole Gospel and see the relationship between God and the Son, and now the Son's gone to heaven, it's between Son and us, Jesus the Lord of heaven, via the Holy Spirit that he puts on us, by which he births us again, by which he leads us.
To have the Son through the Holy Spirit lead you is what it actually is to be a Christian. The Bible says, "He that does not have the Spirit of God is none of his." What Christianity's all about is that Jesus in heaven, who's the head of the church, we're the body down here on earth, and how does he get his legs to kick and his arms to jerk and his voice to sound? He does it through us, the body, but that's because there's this connection between Jesus in heaven and us on earth, and when did that connection start? It was when the church was founded on the day of Pentecost. Not before. There was an old covenant then, but the new covenant begins at the day of Pentecost when Jesus, from heaven with the Father, sent the Holy Spirit to his believing disciples, and they constituted the first on that day, because the Spirit was in us as a people, and we are the church because of the connection between the Son in heaven, who is Lord of lords and King of kings, and us on earth, who have his Spirit in our hearts.
You can't be a Christian without the Spirit in your heart, for that's how Jesus operates in your heart, how he lives in your heart via who is now called the Spirit of Christ, though it's the Holy Spirit being talked about because of the relationship that was between the Father and Jesus the Son when he was born of Mary, when he got around doing the works of the Father, he said he does nothing but what he sees the Father do, he didn't come and do independent things, snap his fingers and say, "Look who I am, I'm the Son of God," no, being the Son of God meant that he was the one who would do what the Father led him in, nothing did he do but what the Father gave him to do, and when the Father gave him to do it, he had his Spirit on him to empower it so that no miracles, big miracles were done by Jesus until he had that baptism moment, that's what we went through on the first Sunday, and you can't be a fully orbed Christian until you've had the moment of confessing Christ, done it through baptism, which is the outward symbol of the connection between you and the Son of Heaven.
And in order to set that all up, and I'm repeating now that first week's sermon, but that first week's sermon two Sundays ago was about the fact that the connection between the Father and Heaven and the Son and Earth was made visible when Jesus was baptized, though he had no sins to confess, but he said in answer to John the Baptist that he had to do that to fulfill all righteousness because he who was to be the head of the church was giving the precedent for us to follow that when we come and get right with God, when we're born again, the very thing you should do next is get baptized. Not that the baptism will do anything other than get you wet, but the baptism is your designated way the Bible has for you to come out in the open that you're a Christian, and its symbol is that you're connected with the head of the church who's led the way and you followed him and you got baptized.
Well, I'm repeating again now the previous two sermons, but the one we're on now is where Jesus tells something to his apostles, and in the, if you put the text up again from Matthew 28, as you had before, that'll be good, but in this particular time it is the apostles. Now, here's a question, how many apostles were there? Quick answers, anybody? How many apostles were there? Twelve. How many went to the mountain in Galilee for Jesus to hear these words? Eleven, this lady knows. Yep, okay. Anyway, there's eleven. Why eleven? Someone else? Because the twelfth one had become a swinger when he committed suicide on the end of a rope. That's Judas. And the eleven left.
Now, why is that important? Let's see it now, and this is in Matthew 28, starting at verse 16, the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. So, who were the people who received the Great Commission? Answer? The eleven disciples. I've been to lots of times to convention meetings at Tambourine or to places where somebody wants to make a point that we're all called to go. But then when I look up the Bible, I discover the ones who got this commission were the eleven. You'd be surprised at how much opposition you get if you point that out. You go to Bible studies and people there at the Bible studies do what happens in Bible studies. You open the Bible, and then around the room, people all give their opinions. When the verse often says the opposite, it grieves me actually that we don't recognize that the whole purpose of Bible studies is not for you to express what's your default, but that you change your default according to what you read.
Now, the ones who got the Great Commission, it has an application to us, a derivative application to the whole church, of whom these apostles are the leaders. So there's an element in which it's not wrong that the Great Commission comes down to us. But in the first instance, it was to the apostles. And you won't be a fully orbed Christian if you just take verses out of the Bible and say, "I'm going to go and do that no matter what else anybody does. That's me. I read it in the Bible. I'm off to do it." The thing is that's good to do if you read properly and you get the full story. And the full story is what I'm trying to give you through these three things, that to be a fully orbed Christian, you have to understand the fullness of what is revealed.
And when it comes to the Great Commission, it is because it was given in the first instance to the apostles who literally were called to do it. There are many people who go racing off to the mission field when that's not what God wanted them to do. If they needed to have a Bible passage to tell them, the Bible is one that's relevant. It says when you come to Christ, stay in the state in which he called you. Don't go and change it just because you became a Christian. If you had a job as a mechanic, don't say, "I've become a Christian. I should do a different type of job because mechanics have greasy hands" or whatever. I don't know what people think. No, the Bible says stay where you are because God will direct you as to where he wants you to be, and he might have called you because he wanted someone in that very place to belong to him.
I keep praying for our politicians, and part of my praying for them is not just that they'll do politics like I want. I pray for them that God will get them, and he'll have himself someone in the politics who belongs to him. And I don't want them to get converted and then race off and say, "Well, I should go to Bible college, leave parliament." No, stay where God converted you unless he tells you to go to Bible college. Please stop going to Bible college. I used to lecture for 23 years as a lecturer in theology, so I shouldn't be heard saying that. Don't tell the Baptist Union. But the thing is, go to Bible college if he leads you. But wherever you got converted, stay there till the Lord says, "Now," as he does in Acts 13, "separate for me Paul and Barnabas to the work that I have called them." I believe that you should find where God wants you to be. And some people it is that he got you converted to be right where you are now. Don't leave. Learn to do.
Now, the other part of that, of course, is what this message today is trying to work its way around to, is that the connection with the Great Commission is that it's the apostles, and they become the founders of the church. And they have given the illustration about following Jesus. They've done what he told them to do. We might as well jump ahead. I'm going to make up my system now, but go to Mark chapter 3. Oh, it is number 2. Thank goodness. Was this, to whom, number 1 was, to whom was this specifically addressed? The answer is in chapter 16 to the apostles, the 11 of them. But number 2, point number 2 is, was this foreshadowed in the personal call to these people? The answer will be yes. But let's look at Mark 3, 13 to 21.
Now, this is during the ministry of Jesus. And I've been asking all the time, how come we, some people think the gospel is just a short message you could say quickly and you get people converted and that's that. But the whole gospel is 28 chapters in Matthew's case. How come there's so much of it? It's because you don't just need to say a prayer and get in the door. You need to understand the fullness of the gospel and the relationships between Father, Son, and Spirit, and you, in order to be a fully-orbed Christian.
Now, here are the people who follow Jesus. And if they had just relied on how they got called in the first place, then they'd be quite a funny bunch of people because they weren't very wholesome Jews. Most of them were, had all sorts of roughnesses about them. In fact, James and John were called the sons of thunder by Jesus because they were always arguing. And they were sons of thunder with tippers. Then Peter, what about Peter? He was always boastful and doing rash things. You go through the original disciples, Jesus knew he needed three years to get them to be what they needed to be, to be apostles.
Well, here it is where he gives them the first instance, not of the call to leave the boat with their father and stop fishing and start following him around. But when they gave a call, the call to them to take on a certain place in things, and he went up onto a mountain and he called to him those whom he desired. So of all the people that followed him up the mountain, he got some specific ones and had them come close. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles. And you understand the word apostle, apostello, means "I send forth." Usually, it's "I send forth with clout." So if you sent a general who has a ship with soldiers to a foreign place, you're sending him to send with clout, take control or do whatever they were sent to do. So the word apostello is to be sent with authority.
And so, he appointed twelve whom he also named to be sent out so they might be with him. And tonight, my message is on that worship and being with Jesus is prior and more important than what you do in your service. That's tonight's message. It's an old message of mine. Some of you might have heard it if you knew me 20 years ago before, but it's a very special truth.
But he did this, Jesus, to the disciples whom he called to be apostles, but he wanted them to be with him. They didn't get to do that much going out a few short-term missions here and there, but they followed him around because it's always the purpose of Jesus that you've got to get to know him before you're any use of him sending you out. There's nothing worse than mission organizations discovering that they have raw missionaries arrive who ain't been long enough with Jesus. And a problem, they have arguments and they have issues and many times have to go back home because they came too soon. Don't go rushing off to the mission field unless you've been with Jesus 28 chapters worth.
So he called them that as they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed twelve, and it gives the names. So it is right at the beginning, not of their recruitment, out of being a tax collector or being whatever it was, a fisher-person, but in him letting them know where they'd fit in his system. When he gave them a call, the first of all he wanted them to be with him. And if you're to be a fully orbed Christian, you can't do only one chapter of Matthew's worth. You need the full 28 of learning about Jesus. Or if you've gone into Mark's gospel or whatever, you need to be someone who's studied to find Jesus and know him. It's always dangerous to get called into any mission when you don't know Jesus well enough. And the first time you get opposition and things are going wrong, you get depressed. You need to have been with Jesus and let him teach you to be prepared. That's the rationale, by the way, for which you might go to Bible college because Jesus leads you in that preparation phase, but you do it because he so leads you.
And he appointed twelve, and it's got the list of them there. And the long list goes on with the names of them. And so that's how Jesus started it. And then the great commission is coming after the 28 chapters' worth. It's time for them to now do what he's been preparing them for. And so the whole business about apostles was that they were chosen of Jesus for a special task. I've got something more to add about that. And that we'll get by seeing how I'm going to stick to my thing. The number three is in the bulletin, the next one. How does this implicate us? I told you that sometimes you can go to these conventions and some of them are very cheeky about how they say it. They say, look, I've seen Matthew go into all the world. How come you're still here? I've heard them say that. And all this guilt comes over people because God has got them a nice new job or they've just been married or, you know, they've got six kids. What do you do with them? Do you just leave them and race off to the mission field? But they were saying some of these conventions, God has called you. It's there in the Bible. How come you're still here? Well, it's because God called the twelve apostles to do what he said. And there is a derivative application to us. And I'm about to tell you what that derivative application is.
Well, to do so, we're going to go over to, according to this, Ephesians 2, 18 to 22. Now, through him, that's Jesus, we both have access in one spirit to the Father. So immediately being drawn to our attention is the fact that this fully orbed Christian life is where you can relate to the Father by having the Holy Spirit. And week number two was about the Holy Spirit. I didn't do it very thoroughly, I know, but by recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, you learn how to relate to both Jesus and the Father. And it's the Holy Spirit who helps you be in touch, have access, it says, in one spirit to the Father. So you're no longer strangers or aliens. It is the work of the Spirit in the heart that makes you aware of your connectiveness with the Godhead. You can't do it without the Holy Spirit, and you need to learn who the Holy Spirit is and what it is to let him walk with you or let you walk with him. So the book of Galatians says, in a modern translation, keep in step with the Spirit. The old translation says walk after the Spirit. It wouldn't give that command if it were not the possibility that many Christians wouldn't. And if you're not walking after the Spirit, the book of Galatians says you're walking after the flesh, and the flesh is corrupt. The flesh never gets any better.
My dad taught me this. It was a little bit of a confession because when he was a young man, he had lots of faults. He used to have a fiery temper. He's a bit of a, was a bit of a redhead or, in his case, an orange head. He had orange hair, and he was a fiery sort of person, and he used to make jokes of other people and used to take the mickey out of the pastor he had at the church by making jokes because he was sort of good at pointing out humorous things. And he was a bit of a problem. So that when he applied to go to the ministry, he was led of God. So to do, the pastor wouldn't give him a reference because of all the things he was like in the church. That was my dad. And it's amazing how God, I can't resist telling you this, how God gets his will anyway because the pastor got called around by my father's mother to give an account of himself of how the pastor had not recommended her son, her youngest son, and she was ready to give him heaps. And he tried to show why he didn't because dad had been very irreverent and making fun of people and everything. But what the outcome was, she and her husband were not really church-going people. They'd run away to get married because they had to. And they were lapsed Christians. They weren't acting as Christians. But from the moment that pastor wouldn't give dad a reference, his mother was right behind him going into the ministry. God works in getting him into the ministry through his mother by the pastor not giving the reference. God always has his ways of getting what he wants, even when we don't cooperate too well.
And, well, anyway, here it is, the spirit relating to the father. So then you're no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. And the next thing you've got to understand if you really want to have a fully old Christian life as God intended it to be is you can't dodge the church. You're not just an individual who does the things you like or someone who reads the Bible and does the parts you believe in. The church has been instituted by God and Jesus, the head of the church, the book of Ephesians teaches he's the head and we're the body. When Jesus was on earth, he stepped forward to be baptized and he said to John the Baptist, as I preached there from the first of the three Sundays, suffer it to be so, allow it to be so, John the Baptist, he asked, for such we fulfill all righteousness. It's to be done to show the right thing done. And if the head of the church can step up to be baptized when he has no sins to confess, who are we not to follow his precedent? Jesus got baptized in the dirty river Jordan in a generation where no one understood what he was doing. And when he did, the Holy Spirit was seen to come him in the fashion of a dove of lights. The Holy Spirit came and just as God the Father had communicated with John the Baptist, the one that you see come on him and stay on him, that's the Messiah, that's the one. And so it is we've asked that Jesus has set a precedent that when you become a Christian, you act as an individual learning and it's all for your sake, and you're glad for the helps that you get from the church.
But when you're baptized, it is for you to be seen as grafted into, what's he called it here? Fellow citizens with the saints. And you take on board a self-consciousness that you're one of the saints. That doesn't mean that you're perfect. That's a Catholic idea that's not correct. And it doesn't mean that you've become wonderful and you're going to be able to do special things. It's just that you're a member of the household of God. Be a part of the church. And it's actually a discipline you have to learn. It's wonderful when people are taught that by the families that they're in. I praise God for my family and the fact that my mum and dad so love the Lord, but they always took me to Sunday school. They always took me to church. I lived through the era where they had to dress up their kids in little suits. I used to have short pants and a coat on. We're allowed to kick the football over the rose garden in the front yard, but we weren't allowed to go down the park. There were silly rules. But nonetheless, my mum and dad made sure I was fully churched, always taken to the new church that we moved near to and taken along to get into the youth group. And they used to work behind the scenes to make sure we landed at church. And even though some of the churches where they're in were not necessarily perfect, they never would criticize the church to me.
In fact, my dad went through lots of difficult things in the politics of the Baptist Union of New South Wales, but he never told me. He never poisoned me. He always presented the good things of even the bad people. My dad did. And so that I love the church and my experience of the churches, and I can tell you from Perth to Sydney to Adelaide to Brisbane, my experiences of all the churches he took there were a wonderful experience. And that's what we need to do, is to get into the church and make it a brotherhood that we're a part of, members of the household of God, build on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. The apostles and prophets were never repeated. They were the foundation leaders of the church. There are other roles in the church, like evangelists and pastors and teachers, who keep being replaced. But God doesn't have extra apostles. It says in the book of Acts that makes you an apostle, allows you to be an apostle, was that you'd seen Jesus before his death and resurrection, and you'd seen him afterwards. That number was limited. They all died out long ago. Oh, you say, so they're not ministering anymore. Oh, yes, they are. What do you think the New Testament is? But the ministry of the apostles and the prophets, and how God used them, and they speak to us every day.
And the reason why we don't have extra apostles, some people imagine they are, like the man in Rockhampton who was a Baptist minister and he sent out to the rest of us, new life is coming. God has shown me things. Just wait for it. I'll send you an email, basically, he wanted to do. So what would I do with his email? Paste it in the back of the Bible? No, sir, I don't. There are no new apostles. There are people who may have gifts. I believe there are prophecies people can make, but they don't constitute anything to add to your Bible. The revelation that founded the church has been finished. It's the New Testament. And although different personages in church history have wondered, Martin Luther didn't like the book of James because of some of the ways it said things. But I disregard Martin Luther in that point, and I'm accepting what the scriptures are.
And so built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, and because the apostles have that foundational thing, they were the ones who founded the church in the sense of guaranteeing what is the doctrine. There may be other people who will be sent out, but not with the same clout that the apostles had. And so if you look up an encyclopedia, I've done this, if you look up about who were the apostles to England, you will name the person who was the first missionary there. By the way, the word missionary is just Latin for the same thing as apostle, but they're not the apostles of Jesus. There are some examples even in the New Testament of people who are messengers of the churches. And if you look it up in the Greek, it's actually the word apostoloi of the churches, but they're not apostles of Christ. The apostles of Christ were the list given in Mark 3 that we read, and one of them didn't make it because it was Judas, and the other eleven were the ones who went to the mountain Jesus directed them to, and are chosen to be the apostles that are told to go into all the world and preach the gospel or make disciples of all nations. We follow their lead through the church that they founded, and it is the church that has to carry on that which Jesus gave through the apostles to go to all nations.
But it doesn't mean every individual has to deliberately leave your work. So if you're new to come to Christ and you've become a Christian, don't necessarily think that means you have to be a missionary overseas. You could interpret it to mean that you're to be a part of the mission we, the church, all have to be on mission here now. But the point that I have, and I did put it in the eConnected as well, that there is an entity which is called the missional church, and some of the churches that might go by the title, if you ask them what type of church they are, we're a missional church. All they mean is that we take seriously the charge the church has to take the gospel everywhere, and they're good. But there's a small subset who believe that you're not actually even a church until you're actually on mission somewhere, and if you don't support the mission, you're not the church, and actually you get rid of all the other extra stuff about church and just do the mission. That doesn't work because the chief thing about a church, I've got a friend who tried to seek to go and plant churches and make everything to do a mission. The thing was that his gifts were really good at bringing people to Christ, but he was fairly not so good, don't know what to say, not so good at helping people who've been converted to be taught. What happened is that he'd bring people to Christ, and after a few months they'd go somewhere else because they needed someone to teach them. It takes the whole church to be the church. You have a pastor in me, and I'm more of an evangelist than a teacher. I do those two things. But there are a lot of other things I don't do too well, or don't do at all, but that's where the body of Christ comes. That's why we need to be a fellowship where lots of different people do their thing. That doing by the church makes complete all the work that needs to be done in the church. But if we were to just be an evangelistic agency, it wouldn't work. We have to have within what we do what is necessary for a local church, that they're all the things that help people to grow, help people to get mended when they're damaged, help people when they're sick to be prayed for. That takes a lot of different people with different gifts.
Please take my so saying here today as a call. If you have another gift, then you're to do your gift because it takes all of us to make this a church that goes. Sometimes you can measure how much the people of the church get involved in the totality of the ministry as a certain percentage of involvement of the members in the actual action of the church. It's a bit like if you were to go and investigate Coles or Woolworths and see all the people walking around, most of them are customers. They don't make the place run. But there's a very big difference between the customer who comes for the specials and being a person who's a part of the workers.
What's meant to happen in the church is at first you might have come for the specials because we had a special night for everybody coming, like next Sunday night. It's nice to come when there's also a Christmas do. We have people in our church who put on pretty good Christmas things, I think. We have some of them who are experts at drama. Whenever you have those things on, people come and crowd in. Now, when you're only coming for the specials, you're like a customer of Woolworths who's just going there for your sake. But what this is talking about, becoming a part of the household of God, is that you make a move from being a person who's here for the specials to being a person who's a part to make the place run and find somewhere where you can contribute and help.
I know there's a balance to be kept between how much time you spend. Don't spend all your time here. You should be spending some of it in the community as well. But in the balance of things, what we need is for people who become a part of the household of God. In fact, it's when you're actually doing that, you get a certain type of blessing that God is using you, that really charges you up. I would not replace, I would not add my past ever giveaways, those special years when I used to go to beach missions and get dead tired for having paid my money to be present. I paid my own way. I paid the money for the food and all. Then they had me get up before six o'clock, work all day long and get dead tired and you come to the end of it, I need a rest. But I wouldn't change having been there. Or some of the other crusade activities that I ended up getting involved with and some of the fellowship that I have still with people who would ring me up or send me emails from distant cities because they remembered me from being on the crusades for young people. Or some of the Baptist youth camps used to be down at, don't worry I could go nostalgic forever on this, but we used to have very rich camping ministries in the Baptist Union and all sorts of wonderful things used to happen in those camps. Wow. I wouldn't replace them, but it was by getting involved and making lots of mistakes. Oh, if I were to tell you of my mistakes of being a leader in some of those camps, you'd be laughing at me all the way home, so I won't tell you too many.
But it's fantastic to be involved with someone who's on the inside. The inside of the church is a marvellous place. It gets attacked by the devil trying to make it not a marvellous place, but I want to tell you that there's nothing like the joy of having found a church that's on fire. I had one crusade up in Papua New Guinea, in Morocco, and I met people there and they so loved their church that when independence came to Papua New Guinea, and many of them were expatriates, had to come back to Australia, they would say, we've never had a better church. And they used to meet once a year, all the people who'd once been in Morocco, have a fellowship reunion. And then they remember, and they actually asked me to come and speak at one of their gatherings one year, and the message God gave me was to don't rely on how wonderful it was at Morocco. You'd better find another church down here in Australia to get in and try and make it the same. Because if you can get in the church and help it to become a church on fire where people are joined together in the love of God and having this Christian life that is fully orbed because it's involved in your being in the church, then you know what I'm talking about.
If you're listening to me now, you know there's nothing better than having found a church on fire for God and where the fellowship is rich. Which is why we put on the things we do at the end, you know, the higher grounds and have the meals. And there's a fellowship that's been developing in our church, it's growing, and I'm so pleased, so happy. It's the work of God that's working in our church and it's actually something that's happening not only in the services but happening after the services. And there are people who come, there are some people who even sneak along and miss church, but they don't want to miss out on being with the fellowship. And I smile to myself at that. I don't like missing my preaching, but nonetheless I smile about them having identified if you haven't gotten into the fellowship yet, you need to work a bit at it. Don't say not enough people have invited me to their place. Open up your place and start a bit of a thing of inviting different people. Someone came to me and I don't know how much I should say, but they said about this church 20 years ago was the saddest place they'd ever been. Well they didn't tell me, but their relatives did, saddest place they'd ever been. But churches don't have to be sad places and who to be the people to make it joyful places, but someone who suddenly sees I can bless the other people, don't come along so they can bless you, take it as your task to be here to bless them. I've met some people like that around Australia in different places who take it on their shoulders to be the spice in the church that turns it from being just an institution into something that is just full of joy. How else did Baroco Baptist Church be a place like that that people keep talking about it for decades afterwards? Because the Spirit of God had some people there who ministered and when you are part of the household of God, he uses you in little ways that not everybody sees.
I'm very fortunate the role that I'm in because I get blessed by some people who help me and sometimes spot when I've had a hard time of one sort or another and they come and do things. And there are people who have gifts, one of those gifts in the Bible is called helps, and they seem to be led of God, led of God. There are people in America like that, I often thought of the American scene as one which is everybody's individual and does what's right in their own eyes, I didn't really like that. But there's also a place where there are Christians who never sit back and expect it to be done by others and they will see a need of someone and they go and fix it or they go and do it. And boy, some of the people that Michelle and I ran across in America who, I pretty well believe they were angels in disguise, they were probably just people doing God's job. He wants angels, not just ones with feathers on their back, he wants angels who are humans. There's even a hymn that talks about the angels, not the fiery ones above but ones like you and me. And he can use us in others' lives and all you have to do is to recognize you become a part of the household of God. And the Christian life that is fulfilling is when you find yourself built on the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, Jesus Christ the cornerstone, whom the whole structure joined together grows into a holy dwelling place for God by the Spirit. That's what the Holy Spirit does, is leads you to your place. Do you know your place? Ask with a bit of a louder call to the Father to allow his Spirit to show you your place and to insist on you finding it. Don't give up because some of the greatest joys you have is being in a church. And if you've had not so good experiences, let me tell you, there's something either wrong with the church or wrong with you. Because the first thing that happens is that you get put into a church, you'll be led.
My son Lachie, they don't like me using them as illustrations, but he won a girl to Christ on the internet and after a year they became friends. And she won her to Christ after about a year of talking to her and he actually got me to lead her to Christ so someone more objective could be in on it. And you know what? She went out and at her own initiative found a church and got herself baptized because she read of it as a thing to do. And she made herself available to a group of people in London it was at the time. Be someone that takes the initiative to be a part of the fellowship of God and the household of God. Let me pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for today. Lord, I've been talking on a bit. Lord, I praise you for the truth that you love the church and you put people in churches to bless them. And Father, we pray that you might make our church, that church, where people are put because you're going to bless them there and help them there. Or bring people here. Lord, I can think of some people, I won't say any more, but who came here because they knew you put them here to bless us. Father, what a marvellous thing. We pray that we will learn how to be the household of God. In Jesus' name, Amen.