Pastor's Word

The Search of the Wise

As the world enters a period of festivities and holidays, for many it is a busy time of shopping, travelling, hosting and celebrating. And for the most part, that is all it is. They get together with family and friends because that’s what they’ve always done, it’s part of the tradition that’s been passed down from previous generations. Nothing more, nothing less.

While as Christians we know that there is more to the celebration of the birth of Christ than turkey dinners and exchanging of gifts, we too can fall into the trap of merely going thru our Christian tradition. Where our spiritual walk simply becomes religious custom. Now there is nothing wrong with having routine, and in fact discipline and consistency is commendable, but we must be cautious to not substitute relationship with religion.

I am reminded of the wise men from the East in Matthew 2 who came to see the King who was born, that they may worship him. These men were wealthy, powerful and, more importantly, they were wise. In all of their prestige, they were pressed to search for the great King even at the cost of their lives being threatened by Herod. What motivated them was their desire to see face to face the one who was promised and as such begin a relationship with him.

During this period, let me encourage you, that while you search for the best bargains, food and fellowship (and that’s great) don’t stop seeking that which is most important; God Almighty. Hunger and thirst after him again, even if you’ve been a Christian for a very long time, or especially if you’ve been one for a long time and perhaps your journey of faith has dwindled down to religious observance. Ask Him to restore the passion and appetite for Him. This is the search of the wise.

“Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth” Psalms 105:4-5

Friendship

For most of this year, we have looked in to the book of Acts and what has been quite inspiring to me in studying the account of the early Church is the fact that although it’s inception and development were powerful, dynamic and supernatural, yet much growth also came on the back of intense hardship, problems and brutal persecution.

What is also evident however is the organic, or very natural, way in which individuals come into the Kingdom of God; through relationships and personal connections that led to discipleship. We do see the ‘cold sale’ evangelism of street ministry leading many to salvation but there is no denying that established connections are instrumental in many hearing the Gospel and also being discipled in the Way.

We read of Lydia and her household, Barnabas with Paul and John Mark, the household of the Philippian Jailer, Paul with Priscilla and Aquila who in turn convert Apollos. This is not at all dissimilar to the way Jesus recruited his twelve disciples. John 1 details how Andrew brought his brother Simon (Peter) to Jesus and Philip doing the same with Nathanael. God uses us to reach our own social circle first even before reaching strangers. And yet the most effective way to introduce unbelievers to Jesus is by befriending them first.

Again, Jesus employed this natural means of making connections and developing relationship beginning with a simple conversation that serves as an initiation to friendship. Friendships is where discipleship begins and I am convinced that if we are going to reach our world by making disciples of all nations, we must be willing to strike up conversations with a view to making friends. In the process of walking with friends, our hope is that they can see and walk with Christ for themselves.

The Godhead

Perhaps one of the most profound passages of scripture that affirms the indivisibility of God is found in Hebrews 1:3 - Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; KJV

The inspired writer asserts very clearly that Jesus is the express image of His person. Whilst the incarnation of Christ is a mystery in that it is supernatural and miraculous in nature, yet the identity of the mighty God in Christ is clearly proclaimed. 

Obviously, it is impossible to exhaust the knowledge of God or have a complete comprehension of the Infinite Creator through our finite minds. However, the understanding that there is only one God, or being, in the Godhead is fundamental to not only our beliefs but to what the Bible emphatically claims.

It is well documented that the majority of the Church prior to the Council of Nicea in the 4th Century believed that there was only one in the Godhead who was revealed in three roles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The Athanasian teaching of a triune God though rejected by many believers at the time was accepted as dogma under the Roman Emperor Constantine along with other fallacious teachings that still endure in the Roman Church today.

Caution must be taken in using human terms or attributes to describe our limitless God, yet the King James translators clearly utilises the terminology in Hebrews 1:3 that the person of God is perceived through the image of Jesus Christ. There is only one person and one image of that person, just as we, as individual beings are one person and have one image. Though our existence may consist of a tripartite component of; spirit, soul and body, yet we don’t say that there are three of us. If someone claims to be more than one person, we would suggest checking them into a mental health service. Neither do we endorse any absurd ideas that though we are married or part of a community that somehow, we consider our combined relationship as one individual self-conscious being together with our spouse or others in our close relationships. At the very core of our existence is the fundamental idea of our indivisibility and oneness as autonomous creatures.

There’s no one else exactly like us. Despite someone who may look so similar to another, like an identical twin who shares strikingly similar features, down to their DNA, yet it would be totally absurd to believe they are one being or person. Genesis 1:27 tells us that man was created in the image of God. I propose that one of our main attributes that is based on God’s image is his uniqueness and absolute oneness as unequivocally stated in God’s Holy Word.

Pastor Stan’s teaching series on ‘The Godhead’

Turning Point 2018...Go, Make Disciples

Spring is upon us and I always enjoy this welcome transition of seasons, not only because we go from cold and frosty mornings to more comfortable warmer weather. Nor is it just that the days are getting longer and the flora begins to bloom but it’s also the month of Turning Point. The irony of the seasonal change and the name of our annual conference is not lost in the significance of this event.

Twenty six years ago Bishop Ted Slack named this conference to commemorate a significant event in the history of POS with our new venue, rapid growth and revival. Truly a profound change had taken place and as scripture says that we go from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18), we also pursue one turning point after another in our spiritual journey.

The dictionary defines Turning Point as ‘a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.’

There have been countless turning points occurring in our church this year particularly in individual lives but perhaps one of the major changes have been the focus of Discipleship that’s captured in our 2018 theme, ‘Go Make’.

We are attempting to transform our paradigms and church culture by going from a merely 'soul winning concept' to a discipleship one. It is my desire that everything we do and all that we are as God’s people are brought to a complete and transparent scrutiny through the lens of discipleship. This includes our programs, our traditions, our habits, language and culture. We have to ask the brutally honest question; ‘Is what we are doing, in line with the Great Commission (Matt 20:19-20)?' which is the very heart beat of God. If our conclusion leads us to a negative, then we must remove it and begin to adopt practices that would ensure we are doing what we as a Church are supposed to.

The ministry of Br Hernandez and Br Emory at Turning Point 2018 will once again be life changing beyond words but this time, let us not only enjoy their ministries but participate in this event through a discipleship perspective and coupled with the processes of our purpose and calling….of going and making disciples.

Pursuing Holiness

The Incarnation of Christ did not only affect our salvation through his death on the Cross but it brought every child of God directly to a relatable and accessible God who manifested himself in flesh. Jesus promised: “No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” John 14:18 NLT

He will come to us as our heavenly Father as he fills us with the Spirit of adoption. What an amazing revelation and experience that we are not walking in religiosity but in a relationship of faith with our invisible Father! However, for the Christian this understanding is merely the launching pad for us into our journey of sanctification. This is what the great Apostle Paul was admonishing;

2 Corinthians 7:1  “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.;” NLT

After we have been converted and are born again, we don’t remain in a state of spiritual inertia where there is no change or growth but quite the contrary, when we are saved, we then go on onto perfection, toward complete holiness

That means change and maturity has to be implemented and incorporated into our lives, to where we put away sinful habits, actions, words and lifestyle that is displeasing to the Lord. It is a process of removal and addition; we remove the behaviours and attitudes of iniquity, like lying, cursing, lusting, etc and we take on the godly habits of prayer, worship, serving and generosity.

This of course does not happen in one fell swoop of a singular event but it is the ongoing process of a day to day experience that is borne firstly; out of a relationship with God. We pursue holiness because we love Jesus and want to do what he commands us.  It is an outflow of his Spirit and his Word working in us that leads us to a pure life. Walking with other Believers is also of immense importance because we see in others who have been walking a little longer, the possibility of living right.

I don’t want to discourage anyone with this message because you may feel such a huge disparity between where your life is at today and the idea of holiness. On the contrary, I simply want to remind you that you have journey and destiny to pursue which is Christ. And the closer you get to him, the more we must become like him; righteous, pure and holy. In fact, let me conclude these thoughts by saying that if we are not on the road to holiness and becoming more like him, we are likely on the road that leads further away from God. 

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 

Words & Actions

Luke, as the writer of the book of Acts and the Gospel, begins his record of the life of Christ and the history of the Church by stating his intention to document both Jesus’ words and actions.

“….was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:” Luke 24:19

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,” Acts 1:1

The Evangelist was emphasising the importance of Jesus’ words and teaching. Jesus himself declared that his words are spirit and life, and that knowledge of the truth brings freedom. Ultimately it is Jesus’ words that brings the knowledge of salvation. 

The ministry and life of Christ however, was not just words or rhetoric but he backed up his words with his actions. Anybody can make all kinds of claims about themselves but to give evidence of those claims is a whole other matter. Jesus healed the sick, opened blind eyes and deaf ears, delivered the demon possessed and perhaps the most important deed of all was that he came back to life by God’s power after three days of having been dead. This is of utmost significance because he prophesied that he would do just that, proving that everything he claimed is true.

There is no claim that he ever made, that has been refuted or disproven but his resurrection stands as evidence that he is who he says he is. With that kind of compelling evidence, we would do well to not only pay attention to what he said but to DO what he commanded. 

In like manner let us preach and declare God’s truth to all. Let us speak words of truth and life, since words are profound and powerful. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Pro 18:21). Let us speak with boldness, motivated by God’s love, but let us also act and step out in faith that our words and deeds match. This is a basic definition of integrity and I believe, this is how we can fulfil God’s great commission. Speak the truth and live it out!

Ablaze

As we continue through the book of Acts, I am reminded of just how amazing the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ was in it’s inception. How his followers carried out his commandments being empowered by the Holy Ghost and preaching the Gospel with all boldness. It was truly a Church ABLAZE!

Just as Jesus had promised, the Comforter would endue them with power from on high and on the day of Pentecost, being filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in tongues and magnify God. Peter preached the Gospel message of salvation and before the day was through, three thousand souls were saved.

Time and again throughout the book of Acts, the supernatural power of God is recorded as operating through the Church with the lame man at the gate Beautiful miraculously healed, earth shaking prayer meetings, a whole community of sick folk healed with some just by having the shadow of Peter the Apostle pass by them, miracles, signs and wonders. Perhaps one of the most remarkable manifestations of God’s power is the fact that the followers of Christ sold all their possessions, both poor and those with land, and brought the money to the disciples feet, where there was distribution made particularly to the poor. And they were united! (Acts 4:32-37).

The Church was on fire, set ablaze by the Spirit of God. In one instance the Church was described as; “These that have turned the world upside down” Acts 17:6.

God is calling the Church back to the same level of zeal and passion. Let us be mindful to not become so sophisticated and drilled in our church structure/services that we merely rely on rote and ceremony. We need the Holy Ghost to operate in us and through us. The Church is not a once a week event at a particular location, but it is the active ‘Body’ of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the church’s calling to turn our world upside down by bringing men and women to a saving knowledge of Christ. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but that is just one component of the function of the Church. Our assignment is to invade the lost world for the sake of souls.

It starts by praying and seeking earnestly, with all our hearts, for God’s divine intervention in our lives and in our Church. We must enter the prayer closet and begin to stoke the flames of prayer and fasting until our lives, and our Church, is once again ablaze with Holy Ghost zeal.

Pentecost and Beyond

What does it mean to be a Pentecostal Believer? It means that we share in the same experience as the early Church, as evidenced in the inauguration of the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The experience of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not merely a cerebral, or subdued, one but what characterised Pentecost was that there was a real and physical evidence perceived upon the Believers when the Spirit filled them. They spoke with other tongues, prophesied and were emboldened and empowered in a dynamic launch of the Christian Church.

We believe that this experience was not just a one time event but as seen throughout the Book of Acts, it is ongoing and relevant today for all who are hungry for God. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:39

Similarly, we are Pentecostal in that we believe and adhere to the same message of salvation that Peter preached in Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Without a doubt this is one of the greatest revelations and this experience is for all mankind today. So to be Pentecostal is not to be a part of a denomination but to have an experience that is absolutely necessary in being part of God’s Church and being saved.

However, Pentecost does not end with Acts 2 but as much as we follow this initial experience of salvation, we are to go on emulating the same spirit and evangelistic fervour of the early church and first disciples. Since Pentecost, the Church wrought miracles, multitudes saved, launched ministries, released missionaries, had revival, performed great sacrifices and turned their city upside down. As Pentecostals, we ought to aim for nothing less than what the early church witnessed. This is a call to Pentecost and Beyond!

Hear the final verse of the historical book of the Church: “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Acts 28:30-31

Suffering Saviour

When we consider the many attributes of God, we often think of his awesomeness and grandeur. And so we should. However, perhaps the most powerful characteristic of our God is that of a suffering saviour.

This is significant because even though we live in a world filled with suffering, pain and injustice, the God of all creation did not stand outside of the human condition to judge a lost humanity. Instead the scriptures tell us that God became a man and as a man He endured the worst that the world could impose on a person, including the torturous death of the cross.

As a man our Lord Jesus experienced that gamut of human misery; in that He was homeless (Matt 8:20), rejected by society (Isa 53:3), suffered hunger and thirst (Matt 21:18, Jn 19:28), He was falsely accused, abandoned, tempted, stressed, He was beaten and tortured (Jn 19). His suffering ultimately culminating on the malevolent, Roman instrument of killing, the Cross.

While God has not removed suffering and pain from our existence, He stands with us in our suffering with nail scarred hands and feet, and a pierced side. He lets us know that He has suffered with us and that suffering and death has brought redemption to us, that regardless of what our lot is in this life, we can live with Him in eternal joy.

He proved this by being resurrected after being dead for three days. He demonstrated that He is indeed who He said He is, the Lord of Glory, the Word made flesh. When you live your life in Christ, you too shall live again because He died for all humanity. This is God’s great love.

1 John 4:14-16 - And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

An Exciting Time

What an exciting time here at the Pentecostals of Sydney as we launch our new service format with multiple services every Sunday morning, as well as our Wednesday night midweek Bible study at Church. This is a means by which we can make more room for more people to come and be part of God’s Kingdom and help deepen their walk with God.

Underpinning all this and all that we do in this Church is the burden and great passion of God; the making of Christian disciples. This is of vital importance because if heaven is real and if hell is real, as the Bible claims, then our loving God’s primary concern is that none spend eternity in torment but in heaven. This is why He gave us the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) - to ensure that all people of all nations are brought into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

This great concern borne out of God’s amazing love is expressed in the method that Jesus taught through the discipleship of the whole world. This is our task and our method, we must do everything in our power, resources and time to live out this purpose.

God's amazing grace has afforded us this opportunity through the incarnation of God Himself into this world through the man Christ Jesus. As fully man He gave up His life in the horrific torture, and ultimately death, by crucifixion.

His death however paid the price for all of man's sin and His resurrection ensured the resurrection of all of His disciples. We are a month away from Easter, or Passover, in which we commemorate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Let this month be for us a journey of drawing closer to our heavenly Father as we walk in His grace and resurrection power.

Matthew 20:28 - Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.