“LIVING AND SHARING THE GOSPEL”
May 13, 2018
Worship God in Spirit and Truth
Grow in His Grace and Knowledge
Share the Love and Hope we have in Christ.
Grace Communion International – We are an international Christian fellowship, on mission with the Father, Son and Spirit, living and sharing the gospel in ways that birth all kinds of churches, for all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. As an international Christian fellowship, we have about 50,000 members formed into 900 churches spread across 100 countries.
For you, O Lord,
have made me glad
by your work; at the works of your
hands, I sing for joy.
Joseph and Tammy Tkach
In a recent online search, I learned that 54 countries, including the United States, celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May (May 13, this year). Other countries celebrate something similar on other days of the year. For example, the UK celebrates “Mothering Sunday” on the fourth Sunday during Lent. The roots of that celebration are the tradition of visiting one’s “mother church” (where you were baptized). As time progressed, the day became a time to give honor to one’s birth mother. While I believe it’s appropriate to take a day each year to give honor to our human mothers, I also think (in the spirit of what Jesus said in Matthew 12:46-50) that it is good and right that we give honor to our spiritual mother, the church.
Honoring our mother, the church
Though some Christians ignore and even dishonor the church, Scripture teaches us to give her the highest honor. Protestant reformer and theologian John Calvin did just that, teaching that the church is necessary for the spiritual growth and well-being of all believers:
John Calvin (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Let us learn even from the simple title “mother,” how useful, indeed how necessary, it is that we should know her…. I shall start, then, with the church, into whose bosom God is pleased to gather his sons, not only that they may be nourished by her help and ministry as long as they are infants and children, but also that they may be guided by her motherly care until they mature and at last reach the goal of faith… so that, for those to whom he is Father the church may also be Mother. And this was so not only under the law but also after Christ’s coming, as Paul testifies when he teaches that we are the children of the new and heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26). (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.1.1)
In a couple of books on evangelical theology, Sung Wook Chung (Professor at Denver Seminary) notes that Calvin identified six functions of the church as our mother:
- Conception: God’s people are conceived in the womb of the church through the power of the Spirit and the Word.
- Birth: God’s people receive life (regeneration) by the Spirit within the context of the church.
- Spiritual nourishment: The church “nourishes us at her breast” (Inst. 4.1.4).
- Care and guidance: The church takes care of us throughout our lives, offering direction and counsel.
- Forgiveness and salvation: We cannot hope for either forgiveness or salvation “away from her bosom” (Inst. 4.1.4). As bearer of the gospel and as led by the Spirit, the church is God’s agent of forgiveness and salvation in the world.
- Cultivation of godliness and piety: In the fellowship of the church we are shepherded by and for good works.
The apostle Paul, whom God used to establish the church among the gentiles, compared his ministry to that of a nursing mother caring for her children (1 Thess. 2:7). He also compared Christ’s relationship with his church to a husband’s relationship with his wife (Eph. 5:25-32).
Closely aligned (though not perfectly parallel), Jesus, the head of the church, compared himself to a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings to provide protection (Luke 13:34). Down through the ages, teachers of the church, including Calvin, added these biblical images and metaphors up, and recognized how fitting it is to identify the church’s ministry as spiritual “mothering.”
Happy Mother’s Day!
As Mother’s Day draws near here in the U.S., I am remembering my baptism and the care I have received from my spiritual mother, the church, and the good works of my human mother who nurtured me in the ways of God. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you reading this who are human mothers, and also to our spiritual mother the church.
PS: In the We’re Often Asked section of the GCI website, we addresses the importance of our mother, the church (also referred to in Scripture as “the body of Christ”):
God calls sinners into the fellowship of the saints, which is the body of Christ. Regardless of denomination or choice of Christian congregation, the spiritual nurture of fellow Christians is essential for a faithful life in Christ. It is from Christ that “the whole body [is] joined and held together by every supporting ligament… as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16). Speaking of the importance of the church in the lives of Christians, Paul wrote: “It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13)
†† Pastor’s Corner ††
Pastor David Perry & Jonnie
Excerpted from a sermon by GCI Pastor Lance McKinnon
In the Christian calendar, last Thursday (May 10) was Ascension Day. That means that today (May 13) is Ascension Sunday on which we celebrate Jesus’ ascension. This celebration then leads nicely into the last day of the Easter celebration known as Pentecost, which occurs next Sunday, May 20.
The story of the Ascension begins the Book of Acts and serves as our passage for this sermon. It’s curious that Acts, written as a history of the early church, chooses to begin with the story of Jesus’ Ascension, but most churches today give the Ascension little attention. Maybe it’s an attempt to avoid what we think is a goodbye story. Or maybe our pride is insulted by its implications, namely that Jesus is King and we are not. But the Ascension is not a goodbye story. When Jesus ascends to the Father he is not leaving us here as orphans but rather takes us with him as adopted children.
Jesus, as the God-man, has ascended back to the Father, seating us with him at the Father’s right-hand side. Jesus the superhero has accomplished our salvation for us. Thus there is no need for us to put on a superhero cape of our own and try to fly to heaven on our own power.
The Lord is ascended and has all authority given to him. He continues his ministry through us, as we live in the Spirit trusting the Father.
I pray that we recapture the story of Ascension Day and be filled with the renewing and empowering hope that comes from the message that Jesus is our ascended King, reigning in the Spirit with the authority of his loving Father.
Prayers for our Country and Pres. Trump
Prayers for the Body of Christ World Wide
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers & Sisters Around The World
Local Prayer Requests
JW Holmes-(Vicki’s friend) leukemia – hospitalized with blood clots.
Mary Coffey, prayers for healing, strength & encouragement.
AnIta – (niece of Barb Hudson) – continue prayers for complete healing
Doug Whitlock – (Laf) Prayers for health issues
Dorothy Johnson (GCI Indy) Recovery from recent hospitalization for health issues
Oscar Brown (GCI Indy) having more tests…headaches and other medical issues
John Nelson (GCI Indy) Still dealing with health issues
Lucy (Anita Franz’s sister) She started Cardiac Rehab.
Peggy Perry Due to tiredness after all the chemo and radiation, she has decided to retire. She thanks all for their prayers that guided her.
Kalengule Kaoma (lives in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa) Prayers for wisdom & protection as he oversees Africa as GCI Mission Developer/Coordinator.
Linda Persky (wife of Bradley Persky) Undergoing chemo – pancreatic cancer
Deben Sam (GCI affiliate in Nepal) Prayers that they can remodel their current building, raising it above flood waters. (See update in this bulletin)
Joseph & Georgette Franklin, Our Haiti Church & School– Prayers for safety & blessing & provision.
Joe & Tammy Tkach & Greg & Susan Williams Protection, safety, wisdom & encouragement
For Divine Appointments To Touch Others With Jesus’ Life & Love