Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

Christians have a message of Good News and hope that needs to be heard. It is an amazing message which transforms us and sends us back out into society with distinctive love and generous actions.

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Society, however, can be wary of Christians when we want to both help the needy and bring the Christian message, and it is easy to be intimidated. Our response though should not to keep our heads down and pretend we’re not Christians. We don’t need to hide the message about Jesus to fit in with some people’s views of what is acceptable in a pluralistic society. We care about people’s needs – about their deepest needs, material and spiritual.  London City Mission have been meeting those needs for almost 180 years and we are not about to stop.

In our imagination we may look back to a golden age when the Christian message was popular and acceptable, but that is a fantasy. Reaching out with the Good News of Jesus has always been unpopular. The New Testament describes the gospel about a forgiving, risen Christ as a stumbling block for the religious, and madness for the intellectuals. We shouldn’t expect to be popular, but we press on because we have a message of Good News and hope that needs to be heard.

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 In British society we too often emphasise the individual ahead of the group. We have a society full of lonely individuals, a society where old people go the doctor to find someone to talk to. The answer is not to employ more doctors (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing). Part of the answer is to have people throughout society, radically transformed by the Good News of Jesus’ love, grace and forgiveness – ready to reach out with love to their neighbours, in word and action.

 Churches have a vital role to play in London’s most needy communities. That role is more than just holding the community together though; Church is more than just a place to provide a Foodbank for the poor, or company for the elderly widow. Church is also more than just a place where people hear a stimulating talk followed by a chat with friends over a cup of coffee.

The transforming, life-changing message about Jesus flings Christians out into a world with hearts full of grace, sacrificial love, forgiveness, kindness and joy.

 As we think of the Christians’ place in society, it seems there are two extremes we can tend to. One is to say that the church is primarily a religious organisation for the betterment of its members. In that case we will stay behind our stained glass windows reading the Bible without acting on its teaching about love, mercy, justice. The other extreme is to say that church is a social service whose main purpose is societal justice, in which case we are likely to be co-opted by a needy  government into a professionalised social welfare organisation, filling the gaps in the government’s leaky social safety net.

 We have a much more vital role than that. We show Christian love, we share Christian hope, and we do so without conditions. And we don’t just show it to people exactly like ourselves.

We have a message of Good News and hope that the whole world need to hear. Good News of sins forgiven, of grace to the undeserving, of love for the unlovely, freedom for the prisoner, hope of a new beginning for the addict.

 It is as we live as 100% Christians, proclaiming the Good News of Christ and showing his love to the lost and needy, that we will play our role as salt and light in the dark and tasteless corners of this land.  Salt that has lost its taste is worthless, but distinctive Christian action, centred on a declaration of the good news of Jesus is of very great value indeed.

Based on a speech to Christians on the Left on February 18th2014

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Charles Marnham at London City Mission day of prayer 8th January 2014
Acts 26:12-32
Rev 12:7-12
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We live in a society which is increasingly ignorant of the basic facts of the Bible. The bad news is that Christians will be misunderstood and attacked. The good news is that we have more people asking questions.
Rev 12 pulls back the curtain and gives us an insight into the spiritual battle that is going on. Satan had been defeated but he continues to make war. We must remember that the result of the war is certain. Christ is victorious, despite ongoing skirmishes.

Paul tells his remarkable story 1-18
The orthodox zealot turns from persecuting and killing Christians to leading them and spreading their message.  Even the least likely person can be saved! Paul had been kicking against Jesus for some time. His Damascus moment was the culmination. Paul’s testimony is powerful. He is able to share his own story which shows that he is orthodox and can be taken seriously. The blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony prevailed. Giving our testimony is a powerful way of overcoming Satan’s lies. We share our story, we open the Bible, we point people to Jesus. Our story plus prayer is a powerful witness.
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Paul gives a life changing message
He preached that people need to move from darkness to light, to repent and live for the Lord forever. Death for Christians is very different because we have hope of eternal life. A radical liberation from the power of Satan and a liberation into the kingdom of heaven.  Bonhoeffer complained that repentance was left out of the church in Germany and it became full of “cheap grace”. Cheap grave is grace without Jesus, grace without genuine repentance. We fall into the habit of only needing to repent of the things that the world finds offensive but fail to repent of sin, but Paul preached the true gospel.
Paul takes his opportunity and gives the true gospel message short and succinctly. We also need to be able to share the Good News in a brief, understandable manner.

Paul has an unending passion
Paul faces opposition, but doesn’t give up easily. He says, “do you believe the prophets?” Paul sees what the issue is that his hearer has and he deals with it. Sometimes people have hoax issues as a shield against God but some have genuine issues. We need to be ready with an answer. That may mean we need to read some books, but we must be prepared with an answer. It is the Spirit’s work but we must be bold. LCM recently received a donation from an anonymous donor in memory of one of our missionaries, Charles who worked with bus drivers. He worked for years and was often treated with contempt by the drivers but one man at least was persuaded to listen to him. That man became a Christian and so did his wife and children and his mother. Subsequently so did his grandchildren. One of his children wanted to show gratitude to the missionaries who continue to patiently share the Good News. Paul persevered because of an unending passion for the gospel. So must we.
Changing London

Today in London and in most of the Western world it is easy for Christians to feel they are labouring under a cloud. Church attendance is falling, the media has an anti-Christian bias, our politicians are for the most part self confessed atheists, and our churches are dumbing down the Good News in search of worldly approval. But we need to be careful that we are not falling for lies from the pit of Hell. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien describes several great leaders falling for the deception that Sauron is unstoppable and therefore despair is the only reasonable counsel. This Epiphany I believe the Lord wants us to remember that, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light”. We have a King who is enthroned in Zion who laughs when he sees the enemies of his people. His victory is assured.
At the arrival of the Messiah, his people were caught on the hop. Only a couple of aged prophets at the temple were expecting God’s redemption. So God sent outsiders to make it clear that there was good news. At Epiphany we remember that God sent wise men from overseas to announce news of glad tidings to his people. Today it seems we are still in need of good news from overseas. Our churches in England may be struggling but there is revival going on in China and many parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, even Iran has seen a resurgence.
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The London City Mission church census last year shows that church attendance in London isn’t actually falling. There has been such growth amongst the Nigerian and Ghanaian churches that over all attendance is rising. Praise the Lord!
So it is with great joy that I welcome Jonathan Oloyede to London City Mission today to encourage us from God’s Word. There is a wind blowing through London today and it isn’t only a winter storm. God has not given up on the battle in this land. His King is enthroned in Zion and he will accomplish his desires. He laughs at his enemies. If we are wise then we’ll hear the Good News and respond in humble obedience and declare his glory!

Quotes from Jonathan
“As a Muslim I sought the Lord but Allah did not speak to me. Instead I found Jesus Christ whilst studying at medical school”
“London as a city desperately needs the gospel”
“We need to raise up a cohesive army of men and women who submit to Christ’s Lordship and reach out to the lost with the gospel”
“Nobody is to far from Goods for him to touch”