Monthly Newsletter — March 2013

Posted by colin on March 2, 2013 under Monthly Newsletter | Comments are off for this article

 Family of Faith Christian Fellowship

London Newsletter

March 2013 / Issue 38

In this issue:

  • Upcoming events

  • March Letter

  • Joseph Tkach on the True Gospel

  • Things to pray for

  • Quotations Worth Thinking About

Upcoming Events:

  • Communion – Sunday, March 10, 2013

    Our Communion service takes place on the second Sunday of each month.

  • Discipleship 101 – Sunday, March 17, 2013

    Our discipleship course takes place on the third Sunday of each month. The topic this month is “The Goal of the Christian Life and the Purpose of Blessings” (Chapter 20 & 21 of the booklet).

March Letter

It is hard to believe that we are already into March and Spring will soon be here.

Please remember the Food Bank. Our monthly donations have been declining recently. Hopefully, this coming Sunday we will be able to give a boost to our donation for the month of February. The Food Bank is in immediate need of canned fruit, tea and coffee. They have an oversupply of pasta and peanut butter at the present time.

I have included an article from Dr Tkach’s recent weekly update on the difference between the true gospel and what is often taught as the gospel. It is well worth another readand reminds us that the gospel is indeed good news.

Warmest regards,

Colin and Sue

Joseph Tkach on the True Gospel

Christians often say that the gospel is good news, but then add a great big “IF.” I’m sure they are sincere, but this addition turns the gospel into a proposition or a possibility of what could be true if certain works are first performed. For them, the gospel is good news, but only for those who qualify. For everyone else, it is not good news at all.

The wonderful truth is that the actual gospel is not a contract, which tells us what God will do “IF” we first do our part. Rather, it is the announcement concerning what God has already done – what he has already established in and through his Son, Jesus Christ. It is vital to understand the difference.

The actual gospel speaks of the fact of our forgiveness in Jesus and gives us something real to believe in. The gospel with an “IF” appended speaks of the possibility of our forgiveness, but then proclaims that we must also believe in something else, such as our faith, or our repentance or our performance, before that possibility becomes reality. One is the truth of God’s grace; the other is legalism.

This legalism projects a false reality that Jesus’ forgiveness does not exist unless you first measure up. However, no one can measure up to the perfection of God. Even when we become believers, we still have our times of failing to do what is right. And the blessing of the grace of God is that we are forgiven in Jesus Christ. He stands in for us as our great high priest and takes our weak and imperfect repentance and faith and then by the Holy Spirit shares with us his perfect faith and repentance on our behalf. And God gets all the glory.

Sadly, some reject this, objecting that it means that you can just sit back and do nothing. But that is not where a correct understanding of grace leads you. Presuming upon God’s grace is not receiving God’s grace. It is not responding to grace as grace. Grace is not an impersonal abstract fact or principle, like gravity. Grace is not an exception to the rule of law. It is God’s offer of a restored, reconciled relationship of fellowship and communion with him in faith, hope and love. Grace, then, calls for a particular response. The apostle Paul tells us that God has reconciled the cosmos to himself. He then goes on to implore us to be reconciled, to live in line with the reality of that reconciliation (see 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20) – to wake up and smell the coffee! Such an ordered or disciplined response is not the enemy of grace but how we receive and benefit from it, or rather, benefit from our restored relationship to God through Jesus Christ!

In Colossians 1:29 (NIV, 1984), Paul explained how he proclaimed Christ: “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” The gospel of grace in Jesus Christ energizes and moves us just as it did Paul. It brings about “the obedience of faith,” which was the aim and goal of his entire ministry (see Romans 1:5; 16:26 RSV).

Accepting God’s grace is not a license for laziness. We should remind ourselves every day what Christ has done and is doing for us. Our motivation is the fact that he has accepted us, not the fear that he might reject us. Paul tells us: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12 NIV, 1984).

Before I began to really understand grace, I regarded the Bible largely as a rule-book that God gave to tell us what to do and not do. In doing so, I missed the point of many of the narratives in the Bible. I saw God as detaching and not attaching, disconnecting and not connecting with us. Do the right thing and you belonged to his “in” crowd. Disobey and you were “out.” The more I focused on obeying the law, the more I also seemed to miss God’s purpose to develop a loving relationship with each of his children. My view became one of seeing God as ruling people out, breaking them with “rods of iron.” Thankfully, I did not totally lose sight of God’s mercy, but I really did see him as a cosmic sheriff and myself as his deputy!

I know that many of you grew up believing as I did. Our experience was not as unusual as we may have thought. As I have gotten to know Christians in other denominations, I find that this is typical, even among many who have been Christians for many years. That is why we need to understand and be reminded daily that it is his grace – not law – that disciplines us. He is the author and the finisher of our faith.

Things to Pray for:

Please pray for:

  • Mozambique: please pray that the flood waters will subside so that aid can reach our brethren in central-northern Mozambique. Please pray that there will be no outbreak of cholera or other water-borne diseases.

  • Our local congregation that we might fulfill God’s will for us. Pray that we might each be a light in our community, manifesting the love of God to friends, family, co-workers and neighbours.

  • Opportunities to share the gospel with others, the courage to do so, and the wisdom to know how.

Quotations Worth Thinking About

The repeated promises in the Qur’an of the forgiveness of a compassionate and merciful Allah are all made to the meritorious, whose merits have been weighed in Allah’s scales, whereas the gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving.  The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.

–  John Stott

The unity of God and man in Jesus Christ guarantees the fact that God and man … belong together, are bound together, and are in fellowship with one another. In Him the covenant has its irrevocable basis. In Him it cannot be broken.

Karl Barth

The tragedy of life is so often the tragedy of the unseized moment. We are moved to some fine action, we are moved to the abandoning of some weakness or (bad) habit, we are moved to say something to someone, a word of sympathy, or warning, or encouragement; but the moment passes, and the thing is never done, the evil thing is never conquered, the word is never spoken… the moment of fine impulse is never turned into action and into fact.

William Barclay

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