The theme was drawn out of the story of Abraham:
Starting with the call of Abraham, the promises over his life, including the promise of a child.
Isaac represented everything they were hoping for, all they had waited for.
Then Abraham called to sacrifice Isaac: a test like no other. An unthinkable test. Stephen then gave a vivid retelling of the story.
What a tremendous moment in salvation history: hence its inclusion in Hebrews 11. A great faith moment.
Stephen then drew out parallels with calvary
- A mountain outside Jerusalem
- A long awaited, beloved Son
- The son carrying wood
- The Son's appeal for another way
- The obedience of the Son
- The Father's love for their son, amongst the pain of the unspeakably horrible moment of the extreme sacrifice required
What is the implications of the grand event at Calvary for us:
- as local Churches
- as a family of a Churches together on a Mission?
GRACE TO YOU
- It must touch us and define us so it can touch our relationships and churches.
- We pass it on to others, we model it, we display it. Is our confidence in the right place? (v6) Their confidence is in God from start to finish.
- God started and God will complete what He has started in us.
- Our confidence flows out of our deep assurance fo God's eternal salvation. Not our Churches, not our works, not our gifts, not our title or position, not our relationships, not our call, not our successes: Not the numerical growth of our Church, but Christ alone.
- 1 Cor 3: God makes things grow, not us. We are called to plant and water faithfully. The rest is His work. This was a timely reminder for a movement growing in terms of size of Churches and number of Churches. That is up to God: there is not worth in it for us.
- Grace of God is so amazing it cannot stay hidden
- It is personal, it is real, but it is not private
- It joins us with others, and builds us into a city on a hill living for the glory of God
- The church was birthed in Acts 2 out of the public declaration of the gospel of Jesus, the expression of the grace of God found in Jesus.
- The message of grace creates a living community of grace, the Church
- The apostles preached the gospels and churches started
- The apostles letters were to Churches, or those who visited Churches
- The Church is to be a public demonstration of the grace of God in our community
- God's grace is not static: it has always been for the nations, ever since the first call of Abraham
- Obedience to God leads you to the nations: as in God's promise following Abraham's experience on Mount Moriah
- The apostles knew the gospel had to go to the ends of the earth
All eyes on Mr Virgo for this evening, but before then I am going to listen to a presentation by three friends who have planted Churches in Birmingham.