Jesus

He is Risen!

He is risen! This is the proclamation of the disciples and the early Church. Whilst this may seem like a peripheral issue to some, where they may argue that even if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead he still taught many good lessons when he was alive. Thus his life still held value even if he wasn’t resurrected. Yet the great Apostle emphatically claims that; “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” 1 Cor 15:17-19

Our faith is futile, according to Paul, if Jesus did not rise from the dead simply because if he did not rise, then his words and teachings could not be trusted as truth, since he prophesied and proclaimed his own resurrection. And if his words are not true, then we have no hope of life with Christ after death, thereby making life futile and meaningless.

The prevailing atheistic perspective seems to be that when our life is over, we simply cease to exist. What a miserable prospect indeed. That all we have to look forward to is non-existence. What’s the point of living if that were the case? It is little wonder that people are stricken with depression and hopelessness to the point where they take their own lives because they perceive a bleak future of nothingness.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not only offer hope of a glorious future for his faithful followers but he affirmed, and verified, this promise of eternal life by rising from the tomb of death after three days. “Did the resurrection really happen?” is the cynical question voiced by unbelievers. I don’t have time to unpack all of the evidences but for further research, explore these basic tenets of the veracity of the resurrection of Jesus: living eye witness accounts such as the New Testament writers who were never refuted, the empty tomb where Jesus was buried and lastly, the most logical explanation for the willingness of Jesus’ disciples to lay down their own lives in martyrdom and the spread of Christianity in the face of extreme persecution.

There are many more but those three tenets are sufficiently compelling to speak to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. We can find joy and hope knowing that what awaits us, when our life on earth is through, is the glory of his Holy presence forever! Hallelujah!

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Cor 15:20

March of Miracles

One of the first questions that a new Christian sometimes asks is; ‘Do miracles still happen today?’ This question is often borne out of a prevailing perspective in our world that anything that is not scientifically explainable, or part of the natural process of the material world, does not exist or can not happen, such as miracles.

That in itself is a misnomer because by very definition, miracles are occurrences that supersede the natural order of the physical world. That’s why they are called miracles. Let me add that there are many things that can not be explained by scientific means, including; morality, aesthetics, affection, the belief and evidence that humans have an immaterial component to them called the soul or spirit and other phenomena such as healings of the sick extraneous of medical treatment.

We are surrounded by miracles all the time. What about the miracle of a person becoming born again, having their sins washed away at baptism in Jesus name and the infilling of the Holy Spirit speaking in tongues? These things cannot be accounted for on a naturalist worldview and as such may be classified as a miracle.

The question then for the Believer is not whether miracles still happen today but rather ‘Why don’t more miracles happen today?’ The former question has already been addressed but the later question I believe can be answered by the Church. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father,” (John 14:12) and that miraculous signs shall follow the Believers (Mark 16:17-18). James tells us that we have not because we ask not... (James 4:3)

We can expect signs and wonders to take place more and more. This month as we continue to walk ‘In His Steps’, let us pursue after what God has promised us through Christ Jesus our Lord, to see more miracles by praying, believing, working and doing what God has called us to do for his glory and Kingdom!

In His Steps... 2019

1 Peter 2:21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

The theme of POS this year is ‘In His Steps’, with the emphasis on following closely in the steps, or example, of Christ Jesus our Lord. Whilst we are not moving away from the purpose of the Church in making disciples of all nations, this year we are focusing on connecting with the lost, emulating the way that Jesus did and in the principles, attitude and methods by which he made disciples.

It is imperative that we focus on our relationship with Jesus, particularly when we can become so distracted with the busy-ness of life and even in ministry we can become so preoccupied with our ‘doing’ that we forsake our ‘being’ in Christ. As we walk in His steps, we walk with him in a relationship of faith and it is that grounding by which our identity, our attitudes and behaviours flow out from.

Jesus was called a friend of sinners, yet he himself never sinned. In like manner, we shall pursue a life of sanctification and spiritual growth while at same time making friendships with those who don’t know him. Jesus spoke the truth in love at the same time showed mercy to the penitent. We too must demonstrate love to this world but not be afraid to speak the truth with all grace. Jesus made disciples as he opened up his life to involve others, similarly our goal should be to open up our lives in order to disciple others to the ways of God.

As we engage in daily disciplines of meditation of God’s Word, prayer and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, fellowship with his Church and reaching the lost, the more Jesus Christ is formed in us or as Paul puts it that we mature to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).

Let’s make every effort and set up our lives so that we are walking In His Steps!

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’

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!

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.

Go Make...

What an exciting time at the Pentecostals of Sydney as we launched our 2018 theme; ‘Go Make’ and reaffirmed our vision and values. The importance of this task can not be understated since it is very easy to become distracted and deviate from the purpose and objective for the very existence of the church. It is alarming to see the level of activity in nominal Christianity and yet often still missing the most crucial part of Church.

Churches abound in good works, with giving to the needy, providing material relief and a myriad of services. While these deeds are important and occupy a part in the ministry, the unfortunate reality is that it’s often done at the expense of what Jesus called the Church to primarily do and prioritise. That is; the preaching of the good news of salvation and the discipleship of all nations to the observance of the Word.

At the other end of the spectrum, many churches have such a strong desire to reach the masses, which is to be commended, but in their great burden for this cause, they have forsaken doctrinal integrity. The demands that the Gospel places on the disciples of Jesus are left out and instead a kind of Christianity Lite is presented. This hyper grace teaching all but diminishes the need for repentance (which is an act of personal commitment and change - 2 Peter 3:9), confession (Rom 10:10), baptism in Jesus name for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Mark 16:16), receiving the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:38, Rom 8:9) and remaining faithful in the face of trial and temptation (Mark 10:22). All of these are essential for salvation in response to the grace of God. It is His grace that makes it possible at all that we have the opportunity to make these personal decisions. I am convinced that this can only be accomplished through the method that Jesus taught and exemplified; Discipleship.

It is incumbent upon the Church to focus on our purpose and primary objective and that is; to reach as many people as we can, with the teaching of Christ. This is in fact, the great commission that Jesus committed to the Church - Matthew 28:19-20

Make Disciples of all nations, Baptise them, Teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you.

This is what ‘Discipleship’ means.

So this year, let’s look at our habits, practices, church operations and ministry, and see whether what we are doing on a regular basis is fulfilling this model that Jesus gave to bring salvation to the world through the means of discipleship. 

Go……Make……Disciples