Our vision statement at RPC says that we want to see hearts that grow to seek truth. We also want to grow hearts that overflow with grace.
Grace and truth are not opposites, yet they work together for healthy, balanced spirituality. It is not about finding a balance of the two—just the right amount of grace mixed with the right amount of truth. Rather, it is about holding the two of them in tension without minimising either. A tension of 100% truth with 100% grace.
Truth never denies reality. We need truth to survive. 1 Corinthians 13:6 also says that love delights in truth. The more we allow truth to impact us, then the more opportunity there is for real, deep love and amazing, wide grace. You mix truth with grace and suddenly you take relationships to a deeper level as you accept people with a knowledge of their faults.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13, “Dear friends in Corinth! We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide… I speak now as though you were my children: show us the same feelings we have for you. Open your hearts wide!”
May you not just seek truth, but also overflow with grace as you open your heart to others.
In our Home Church we have been looking at Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This is a great letter as it brings us back to the basics of our faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul speaks some very powerful words in Galatians 2:16 when he states, “Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires.”
Paul reminds us all of how the Christian faith is different to every other. It is not our actions that make us acceptable to God (i.e. the Law), but rather what we believe (faith in Jesus).
This is upside down to the message of the world. The world tells us that we are accepted depending on our behaviour, while it does not matter what we believe.
The problem is that it is what we believe (deep down in our core) that determines how we behave. If we believe that our acceptance is determined by our actions we will be either arrogant or insecure. Arrogance and insecurity are two things that are hard to hide. They come out in our behaviour.
May you know deep within your core that you are accepted by God, as you are, in Christ Jesus.
John tells us that Jesus came full of truth and grace (John 1:14). As a church we want to reflect this truth and grace as we grow to become more like Jesus.
Often we are scared of the truth. Denial is surprisingly common in our lives (even though we might deny it!). I have my favourite mirrors that I use. They are the mirrors that show my reflection in a flattering way. They somehow broaden my shoulders and narrow my waist! This reflects (pun intended) my natural inclination to prefer what makes me feel good about myself, rather than the truth, or the reality.
Jesus said that he was the way, the truth and the life. Although truth can hurt us, it rarely harms us. Indeed, living in reality is usually a healthier place to live. Reality is our friend, which is why God gives us the opportunity to live in reality, if we choose.
Ephesians 4:15 urges us to speak the truth in love to one another. The outcome of speaking this truth in love, Paul tells us, is that we will grow into maturity in Christ.
Looking at the reality of who we are is never easy, but God provides the perfect environment in which we can live in reality. He gives us grace beyond all measure. Not yet perfect, but forgiven!
This Sunday we begin our sermon series that answers questions asked by the people in the pew! The first question is "the question of Hell". I figured we should get this one out of the way early!
What is hell? Does hell really exist? This is always a touchy subject, and this is perfectly understandable! It is important to keep things in perspective, so consider the following:
The Bible spends a lot more time talking about eternal life than it does about spiritual death (Hell). This is because the Bible tells us about the Good News, which is that spiritual death has been overcome by Jesus (John 3:16). We just need to believe in Him!
Spiritual death is the reality that is NOT good news! Some people do not want to believe in a Christianity that talks about hell, and yet this is to reduce Christianity to no longer being Good News. It is Good News because of the bad news!
I personally do not like dwelling on hell. I prefer to think about the means by which we can live forever through God’s amazing grace. Yet grace can only exist if there is truth in the notion that we deserve punishment. The fact that the punishment I deserve is so great that I deserve nothing less than spiritual death only serves to magnify the depths of God’s grace making it all the more amazing.
If you really wanted a Christianity without hell, then what exactly is it that you think you want? It would cease to be the belief that Jesus died to save us from a spiritual death.
To put it very briefly, RPC has a vision statement that says we want to be the following:
“A community that worships God through His power by emphasizing three things. Truth, grace, and a love for others.”
These three things (truth, grace and love) are only achievable if they are truly a response to what God has done for us in Jesus (who is full of truth and grace, and the author and perfecter of love). Paul, in Romans 12:1, tells us that our spiritual act of worship is to be a living sacrifice, and we do this through God’s compassion. That is to say, it is only possible through God’s grace.
The Old Testament highlighted a way of worship of God where animals were sacrificed to bring forgiveness and a restored relationship with God. It becomes obvious, however, that the sacrifices became nothing more than a religious observance to earn favour with an angry God, and so God reminds His people that the sacrifice of an animal is not really what he desires at all. Rather, he delights in a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:16-17).
The English word "worship" means "honour".May our worship as a church reflect hearts and spirits that are broken and have a humble desire to honour and serve our heavenly father.