You can find the whole message from yesterday’s service on our website www.waverlyvineyard.org under The Story.
Yesterday’s message was on how Paul’s Gospel transformed the communities and cultures where he preached. His Gospel of Jesus as the Resurrected and Returning King transformed the world. His radical inclusion of the Gentiles and his insistence on salvation by grace through faith laid the foundation for Christianity as we know it. But Paul wasn’t responsible for the rapid growth and power of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the Church was.
Paul planted communities of grace strategically. He often chose the largest city in a province to work in and then, having established a sizable congregation, he would leave – moving on to plant another congregation in another city in another province. The Church would then continue on with the things they had been taught – living out with conviction and power their new life as sons and daughters of God. So it wasn’t Paul maintaining and expanding these congregations – it was the men and women of the Church.
These men and women weren’t trained scholars like Paul, they were ordinary folk. They had businesses, families and lives. But they way they did life was irresistible to the world around them. No one had ever seen a group of people love one another like these Christians did. No one had ever seen such generosity, compassion, charity or power. Their conviction of their beliefs and the extent to which those beliefs transformed their lives was extraordinary.
Their testimony and example challenges me – do I live out my beliefs with as much zeal as they did? Have I taken the time to think through the implications of the Gospel – like how the Gospel of Freedom should change the things that I buy, the way I spend my time and how I treat my possessions? I don’t mind these wrestling matches because I trust in the power of God’s Spirit in my life. This is a refining process, a purification if you will; much like Jesus in the desert.
God and satan both want you in the Desert, but for vastly different reasons. The enemy wants to overpower you with doubts and accusation. The Father wants to release His power through your weakness. It wasn’t until Jesus faced his own wilderness experience that he ministered “in the power of the Spirit.” He’d received the Spirit at his baptism, but it wasn’t accessible until the quality of his character had been proved. I think it is important to note that God will only lead you into battles you can win and that will strengthen your faith, rather than make you turn back (see Exodus 13:17)
I think that is all I want to recap for now. Have a great week!