BEING GOSPEL PEOPLE
By Bishop Bill Atwood
From the magnificence of Creation through the devastation of The Fall, the most important thing that has happened in human history is the Gospel manifest in the Incarnation, Ministry, Suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. It is magnificent in many ways. First of all, it is magnificent in scope. The devastation of sin is so terrible, it defies human efforts to address sin's curse. Only God can adequately deal with the devastation of sin and He does in Christ. Other attempts garner only a harvest of fruitless religion.
Second, it is magnificent in method. John wrote, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” That refers to the Incarnation in which God the Son (Who is the Word of God) took on flesh in the Virgin Mary. Whatever the need that must be addressed by the Fall, God taking the initiative to come into the world is adequate to the task.
Third, it is magnificent in efficacy. On the Cross, through the shedding of His blood and death, Jesus Christ wins for us forgiveness for our sins. Unlike the Temple system of sacrifice that had to be repeated time and time again, when Jesus, the Great High Priest, goes into the Holy of Holies and serves as both Priest and Victim. Because He is man, HIS fidelity as A man establishes it in our midst. Because He is God, its scope is complete. What Jesus has done has fully addressed the need.
Fourth, it is magnificent in availability. Because of the complete sufficiency of what God has done in Christ, the work is complete in Him. We don't have to add anything to His work. It is His free gift to us, reliant on His saving work rather than relying on human endeavor. The wonderful news is that salvation and transformation are available to us, freely given. The message is so amazing, it can almost sound unbelievable. Surely there is something I must do in order to win my salvation, cries my flesh, but the Spirit replies, “No it is Christ and His work.” We just receive it by faith.
Once we have been kissed by this heavenly grace, and embraced its transformation, our lives are revolutionized. Rightly received, the Gospel will change our behavior and shapes our voice. As I've traveled, I've heard wonderful examples of this. Let me share some examples:
The night that he told his parents he had come to faith in Christ, he told me he was awakened by a scream from his mother. When he opened his eyes, he saw his father's arm swinging toward him with a knife seeking to kill him for his conversation. He rolled out the window to escape, and fled with only his night shirt. What was amazing was what he said to me, “My faith in Jesus has cost me a lot. I have lost my family, but I have gained more. I have received Christ. I would do it again.”
“These are my Gospel tool,” the young man said as he pointed to his feet. “I don't have any money, but these feet walk like Jesus walked. I can walk to people and tell them about Him. We have had a lot of fighting for a long time. Many of my family and friends have been killed. But if you have Jesus you still have everything even if people look at you and think you have nothing.”
“I was a Christian but not strong. When the genocide came, I lost many family members and friends. The day came when I was visiting the prison, one of the people said to me, ‘I killed them. I killed people in your family. I will have to pay the price for that. I have asked Jesus Christ to forgive me. I have no right to ask for your forgiveness, but I am asking. Will you forgive me?' I knew right then that my own salvation was at stake. If I refused to forgive it would be at the risk of my soul. When I said, ‘I forgive you.' I felt the freedom and joy of Christ as I wept and embraced the man who had killed family members of mine.”
“We are not allowed to have Bibles where I live. If people are found with a Bible, they are beaten terribly. So, when we got a Bible, we took it apart. Each one of the believers in our group took one page. We kept our page in secret and memorized it. I am the second chapter of John. My brother is the third chapter! We are willing to lay our lives down to bring the Word of God to the people because it is life itself. It is how we heard the Gospel.”
There are many, many, more examples, but those are a few. We can learn from those who are paying such a high price. Perhaps as much will not be required of us, but many of them did not expect such a price. No matter what, Jesus Christ is sufficient to whatever life's circumstances are. We are always going to have to deal with costly discipleship. Some of us will pay life's ultimate price, others less, but it is not possible to follow Jesus faithfully without rubbing the world, the flesh, and the devil the wrong way. Seeking to plumb the depths of the Gospel's good news for our lives is a wonderful way to produce a harvest of the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit that will endure no matter what the venue; no matter what the circumstance. As Africans often say, “God is good, all the time.”
St. Andrew's MEMORY SERVICE for DORIS SELLERS
Doris Sellers, beloved wife of Bishop Franklin Sellers, went to be with her Lord on March 31, 2015 at the age of eighty-eight. There will be a Memorial Service here at St. Andrew's Church on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. A Luncheon will follow in the Parish Hall . Our thoughts and prayers are with Bishop Sellers, and his sons, Franklin, Walter, David, and Paul along with their families.
(See Insert & 5 th Pg. of Parish Register for Easter pictures and for pictures of “The Last Supper” Rehearsal and Play performed on Maundy Thursday with donations of $523.87 for Love INC. In combination with $482.90 given during Lenten Services and Good Friday Service for Love INC, we sent a total of $1,006.77 to them.)
Thank you to all who purchased the lovely lilies which adorned the church Easter morning in Honor or in Memory of loved ones.
A Memorial Service for our beloved Bishop's wife, Doris Sellers, took place in Marco Island, Florida on Saturday, April 11, 2015, at the Marco Presbyterian Church.
The Youth had their Lock-In which started Friday evening, April 17, and concluded Saturday morning, April 18, 2015.
May 3 & June 14, 2015 after church
May 16 & September 26, 2015 from 9 to 11 a.m.
MOTHER/DAUGHTER SALAD SUPPER
POSTPONED until Next Year: 2016
RUMMAGE/CRAFT & BAKE SALE
Saturdays, June 13 th & 20 th , 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Bishop Royal U. Grote will be with us for the Annual Episcopal Visit on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015.
“Rally Day” CHURCH PICNIC is Sept. 6 th when Bishop Grote is here.
MAY MISSION FIELD
Please pray for Napel, and the RE parishes and people there who lost loved ones, homes, businesses in the earthquake.