This week, my wife Roi Lene and I traveled to Iowa City to respond to God’s heart, not as pastors but as believers in Jesus Christ. We met with a young man whom we deeply love and is battling Leukemia. Then we visited a young family whose two year old daughter is suffering with a “softball sized” tumor near her lungs. We went there to do what Jesus commanded in John 16:18 where He said, “they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Next year our church will be 25 years old. As someone who has witnessed the entire 25 year history, I have a different perspective that those of you who may have become a part of our church family in the last few years. Though we are living in “today” and God is “I am” and not “I was,” our history is important. Our beginnings as a church help us understand the foundation that was laid and the values that were established to make us what we are today. I want to take a few minutes and remind us all that we are a grace filled church with a Kingdom of God mission.
Grace is the magnificent work that God achieved on our behalf in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to live for us, to die for us and to be raised to new life so that we might be raised into a new life. Grace is God’s accomplishment of setting us free from our sin, imputing to us His gift of righteousness and therefore drawing us into intimate fellowship with Himself. Simply put, grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. All that we will ever need has been given to us for this life and the one to come because of God’s amazing grace.
But God’s work in reconciling us to Himself and showering us with His grace and love was done to achieve more than just to secure a future for us. Our reconciliation was not just for our enjoyment and pleasure. God drew us to Himself so that He would have a people, filled with His Spirit, who would represent and bring about His will for the people of this earth. We are a people who are called not to just bask in God’s grace. We are, as believers, a people set apart for God to administer His mission and to execute the war he began 2,000 years ago in defeating Satan’s grip on humanity.
Look at this verse in 1 John…
1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
The word destroy from Vine’s Expository Dictionary is a Greek word that means: To loose, dissolve, sever, break, demolish, and destroy. We see in the works of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, One who lived His final 3 years of life filled with and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus loosed people from demonic influence, blind eyes, and wounded souls. Jesus dissolved leprous, diseased skin and religious condemnation. Jesus severed Satan’s grip on people whom God loved. He shattered the effects of guilt and condemnation, set people free from sin and drew people into the unconditional agape love of God.
Jesus was sent here with a mission. He came to destroy the works of the devil. As we look at Jesus’ prayer just before He is nailed to the Cross, we see His plan for us. I would encourage you to read the entire prayer in John 17 because it is a prayer for you. But I want to call your attention to one small sentence that is filled with profound implication.
John 17:16 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
Look at this verse carefully. The “them” He is speaking of are His disciples. And not just the original twelve, but those who would believe after them. Jesus’ desire was that as He came to this earth with a mission, so now, He is sending us into the world with the very same mission. As He lived His life in total and utter dependency upon His Father and looked to the presence of the Holy Spirit to supply His life with power and supernatural ability, so we too are called to live a life of being naturally supernatural.
Jesus didn’t come to show us up; He came to show us how. Jesus came to show us how to live the “God life”. Whether you’ve been a part of Heartland Vineyard Church for 25 years or 25 days, you are a part of a fellowship of believers who have embraced the love and grace of God and the mission Jesus has sent us to accomplish. We are here to experience the subjective reality of God’s love for us and then making ourselves restfully available to express God’s love and grace to those around us in need.