Yes. It’s Another Open Letter to the Church in Gateshead!
hi again in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I do hope you are well and aware of the continuing presence of our Friend, Jesus Christ.
As ever, anyone wishing to be included in the directory of the church at Gateshead and to receive an updated copy of the same need only get in touch by any way they wish. It’s good to be aware of fellow saints living nearby.
I’m encouraged with the knowledge that Christ is building His church. He declared this as a statement of fact; He did not just make a promise.
We hear of the Spirit moving sovereignly among Berber tribes folk in Eastern Algeria, in Vietnam and other places without the involvement of westerners. Christ is building His church.
Folks are also being converted to Christ here in England, yes even in Gateshead, by the same Spirit. The Spirit reveals who Christ is to individuals and they are granted faith unto repentance. Christ is building His church.
‘Laying aside therefore all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envyings and all evil speakings, as newborn babes desire earnestly the pure mental milk of the word, that by it ye may grow up to salvation, if indeed ye have tasted that the Lord [is] good.
To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious, yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Because it is contained in the scripture: Behold, I lay in Zion a corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be put to shame.
To you therefore who believe [is] the preciousness; but to the disobedient, the stone which the builders cast away as worthless, this is become head of [the] corner, and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence; [who] stumble at the word, being disobedient to which also they have been appointed.
But *ye* [are] a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that ye might set forth the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness to his wonderful light; who once [were] not a people, but now God's people; who were not enjoying mercy, but now have found mercy. 1 Peter; 2. (Derby)
What an inestimable privilege we each have. Not just to be joined to Christ but into His spiritual house, His holy priesthood, His people. Clearly we have much more than just being saved from the consequences of our sin. Indeed we can be so pre-occupied with the fact of our own salvation that we may lose sight of what we have been saved for! I know that I sometimes view my salvation as if it were principally for my benefit.
Perhaps due in part to the insular and independent character of our culture it can be easy to lose sight of our corporate calling and responsibilities. Though knowing Christ personally is wonderful beyond words, knowing Christ in His body, the church, is meant to be wonderful also.
Jesus Christ equates His body, the church, with Himself. When He said to Saul on the road to Damascus, “It is I, Jesus, whom you are persecuting” who was Saul persecuting? He was persecuting the church, those who believed on Christ.
When Saul responded, correctly, with “What shall I do, Lord?” he was told by the Lord; “It shall be told you what you shall do”. Saul was actually told ‘what you shall do’ by a simple brother in Damascus, who as part of the body of Christ was obedient to the instruction of Christ to go to the house in the street called ‘Straight’ and laid hands on Saul. This episode is a good clear example of the local church’s identification with Christ, with an individual member of the local church being obedient to Christ and being Christ to another member. The church functioning through the individual members’ obedience to Christ. ‘Without me you can do nothing.’ ‘Abide in me and I in you….He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit.’
As members of the church universal of the Lord Jesus Christ we are one with all the saints that have been from the day of Pentecost through to those who yet will be up to the final trumpet. Where we are in time we are practically one with those saints who are alive with us at the same moment. Where we are in space – geographically – we are one with those in our area. This is why the churches in the New Testament are always identified with a particular place and time rather than any man made organisation. When Paul wrote to ‘the church of God which is at Corinth’ he was writing to all the saints currently at Corinth. There was no institution called the church of God at Corinth. We who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who currently live in Gateshead are members of the church of God at Gateshead. This fact is not affected by some individual saints having affiliations with various organisations (which may for various historical and cultural reasons be called churches.)
I like the note in Acts 9; 19, where it says “Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.”
I’m sure the Lord would like to see us each spending some days with the disciples at Gateshead. Such is church life, spending time with one another.
How do we value our fellow stones? As of little worth? As not worth the effort? Or can we see one another as chosen, precious and with a purpose?
May the Lord grant us grace and life in the Spirit motivating us to seek out one another. Ananias was directed specifically to go to where Saul was with a specific purpose. May we be ready to be sent to our brothers and sisters also.
It’s good to talk. Please feel free to contact me in person or by post, phone or at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best,