Yes. Its Yet Another Open Letter to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ at Gateshead!
hi again in the name of our Lord and Saviour. I do hope you are keeping well and living in the blessing of the continuing presence of our Lord, 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. The directory is growing slowly. Very slowly. Up till now it would appear that many are understandably hesitant in this matter but I hope and trust that we will see the value of knowing who our brothers and sisters are and where they are living.
The community of the saints is a very practical matter. No matter how much I may love my brothers and sisters in Morpeth, I am not going to be in actual community with them unless I move to Morpeth.
Also here in Gateshead, with its large geographical area, I am going to find it very impractical to try and be in day to day community with the saints in say Whickham when I live in Low Fell.
Also perhaps it is good to see daily practical community with the saints where we live as something distinct from other aspects of our lives. We still go to work, many of us, a distance from our homes. We may have interests and involvements that take us away from our locality. We still have friends and family who live within travelling distance but not on our doorsteps. Community with the local saints is not to be some kind of all-inclusive cult that cuts us off from real life and the larger networks of our lives. I have seen this and it is not a pretty sight.
Community by its very nature is always going to be local.
In the scriptures we have some indications of this. Paul, being a tentmaker, in Corinth, stayed with Priscilla and Aquila who were of the same trade (Acts 18). The salutations to the various groups of friends in Rome, Romans Chapter 16, give a clue, as do other references. Most importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ had a mobile community of disciples with Him through the years of His ministry.
Breaking bread house to house as practised by the church at Jerusalem has the added benefit of furthering and facilitating local community. Indeed anything we do house to house is of benefit with regard to strengthening relationships and giving opportunity to ‘love the brethren’.
While I may get on excellently with the brothers in Morpeth, I need to get on as best I can with the brothers right here, within walking distance of my house.
Of course, our community with the saints here depends very much on our community with our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Human efforts may be fine and commendable, but it is Christ who is the way, the reality and the life. In our flesh there dwells no good thing. In our flesh our prime concern will always be our own interests.
Through faith in Christ though, we can lay down our own lives, take up our cross and follow Him. For He strengthens us with His might in our inner man through the Holy Spirit.
Community of the saints: Does that seem fantastic, an impossible dream? It surely is without Christ, but with Him all things are possible.
Also it may not have to be huge, all embracing, all at once. Great if it could be.
But Christ says, ‘If any man’; ‘If two of you agree’; ‘Where two or three are assembled together in my name’; He chose ‘twelve, to be with Him’.
If we wait for the majority to take the first steps, we may miss out on what He has for us. Jesus calls us each by name to follow Him.
I was thinking; What if the apostles hadn't decided to send Peter and John down to Samaria after the good folks of that city believed the word as preached in power by Philip? Acts 8: 14 to 25.
The people of Samaria had heard the gospel and seen many miracles done in the name of Jesus.
They had seen demons cast out in the name of Jesus.
They had believed on Jesus.
They had been baptised in the name of Jesus.
But as yet the Holy Spirit had fell on none of them!
Could it be that many of the good folks in Gateshead who have come to real faith in Jesus Christ have as yet not received the Holy Spirit?
Without receiving the Spirit it is still possible to be regarded a s a good member of a particular group.
It is possible to become an expert in 'doctrinal issues'.
It is possible to aspire to leadership (See Simon the Sorcerer).
Where we don’t depend on the daily infilling of the Spirit we may be more disposed to depend on a program, a leader, a clearly defined group, affirming times together, emotionally lifting music and lectures.
Tragically, what is really needed by many here in Gateshead is to receive the Holy Spirit. That well springing up within, overflowing the Life of Christ.
I note that the first thing Peter and John did was to 'pray that they might receive the Holy Spirit.'
They prayed for the whole group of those who had believed. We aren’t told how long they prayed.
Then they laid hands on them and they each received the Holy Spirit - personal.
Then after a little while of testimony they left them!
With the Holy Spirit! They had then passed from death (the flesh) into Life (the Spirit)
As the anointing teaches us all things, we can be left in His care.
So I see the current pressing need here in Gateshead to be that those who have believed upon Jesus Christ and been baptised in His name might all receive the Holy Spirit.
As it doesn't seem too likely that any Peter or John types will come down and pray for us it behoves us here to pray that we all might receive the Holy Spirit.
Anyone wanting to gather with others to pray, please step forward.
Personally, I would dearly love to gather with folks who are filled with the Holy Spirit, who pray much on their own and have a real desire to pray with others.
What can we expect if we don’t pray?
As they say on the TV ads, I’m waiting for your call!
Please feel free to contact me in person or by post, phone or at email@example.com
All the best,