Grace & Truth

Grace-and-Truth-Sermon-Series-IdeaSalvation, as far as we are concerned is the most important issue that we must grapple with in scripture. There are as varied teachings on salvation as there are denominations in the world. While some teachings are very similar and often intersect, yet it is undeniable that most are in complete contradiction.

At one extreme there are the ‘Hyper-grace’ exponents that asserts the salvation of God is by grace alone to the exclusion of other vital Biblical teachings such as; repentance, confession, baptism, etc. These are considered secondary works and are not necessary but considered good. This teaching gives rise to what Jude warned about in Jude 1:4, “I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” (NLT) This teaching also makes the Old Testament moral law irrelevant and does not encourage the doctrine of sanctification.

At the other end are the pure legalists who insist that salvation is completely and wholly dependant on man’s works. This results in the idea that we can work our way to heaven, giving rise to Phariseeism and judgementalism. As with most things, truth is often found in the middle of the two extremes or with a balanced approach. And it is always found in the Holy Scriptures.

Paul tells us to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) or have a proper systematic approach to studying the Scriptures and establishing Biblical doctrine. Here’s what the scriptures teach: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9 (KJV)

The text clearly tells us that we are saved by the grace of God and not of the works of the flesh. However, grace is not automatically imparted to every single human being, else everyone is saved regardless of religious beliefs and lifestyles. We would no longer be required to propagate the Gospel. This is of course false.

God’s Grace gifts his redemptive power over sin and death in our lives by virtue of Jesus’ death on the cross. However, there is still the issue of ‘Man’s free will’ that God will not override. We are still required to respond to Grace, either to accept it or reject it. It is ‘through faith’ which is our responsibility that Grace is accessed, therefore we are not unwilling and unconscious participants in God’s salvation. ‘Through faith’ requires our response to His Grace and faith must be lived out, it is not just a mental ascent. We are required to Repent of our sins (Luke 3:3), Confess (Romans 10:10), be Baptised in Jesus name (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 19:5, 22:16), receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5, Acts 2:38, Rom 8:9) and to live holy enduring (Matt 10:22, 2 Thess 2:13, 2 Pet 3:11).

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.

 

Pentecost and Beyond…

17296What does it mean to be a Pentecostal Believer? It means that we share in the same experience as the early Church, as evidenced in the inauguration of the Church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The experience of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not merely a cerebral or subdued one but what characterized Pentecost was that there was a real and physical evidence perceived upon the Believers when the Spirit filled them. They spoke with other tongues, prophesied and were emboldened and empowered to a dynamic launch of the Christian Church.

We believe that this experience was not just a one time event but as seen throughout the Book of Acts, it is ongoing and relevant today for all who are hungry for God. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:39

Similarly, we are Pentecostal in that we believe and adhere to the same message of salvation that Peter preached in Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Without a doubt this is one of the greatest revelations and experience for all mankind today. So to be Pentecostal is not to be a part of a denomination but to have an experience that is absolutely necessary in being part of God’s Church and being saved.

However, Pentecost does not end with Acts 2, and as much as we follow this initial experience of salvation, we are to go on; emulating the same spirit and evangelistic fervour of the early church and first disciples. Since Pentecost, the Church wrought miracles, saw multitudes saved, launched ministries, released missionaries, had revival, performed great sacrifices and turned their city upside down. As Pentecostals, we ought to aim for nothing less than what the early church witnessed. This is a call to Pentecost and Beyond!

Hear the final verse of the historical book of the Church: “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Acts 28:30-31

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.

Abide

Abide_rotatorAs we read through the Bible with the BREAD program, there is recurring pattern that emerges. One of humanity’s downfall because of our desire to be our own gods, then comes depravity and despair and finally a God of grace who redeems the lost. I think this theme is recurrent because as humans we have a tendency to resort to our strength, knowledge, prowess, talent and resources to live our lives. It often seems easier to do things for ourselves and live by our own merits but this system is flawed and destined to fail. Not only that, but the very heart and essence of sin is sourced from this disposition of living life for self and by self, which only leads to a foregone conclusion. Yet in the scriptures, even God’s own people never learn. I’m afraid to say we are no different.

That is the reason for the incarnation of Christ. God knew that man could never redeem himself so He himself was made flesh and dwelt among us and did what no one else could, appease God’s wrath. We are desperately hopeless and helpless to obtain eternal life but God’s love brought our deliverance and our salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yet even as Christians, we live our lives almost completely independent of Him. Void of His presence and without His power. We cannot make it. But if we walk in the Spirit and live in communion with God, the fruit of love, peace and joy becomes an outflow and consequence in our lives. Don’t fall into the trap, living your own way which leads to despair but walk with Christ and find abundant life.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5 (KJV)

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.

Suffering Saviour

EasterWhen we consider the many attributes of God, we often think of his awesomeness and grandeur. And so we should. However, perhaps the most powerful characteristic of our God is that of a suffering saviour.

This is significant because even though we live in a world filled with suffering, pain and injustice, the God of all creation did not stand outside of the human condition to judge a lost humanity. Instead the scriptures tell us that God became a man and as a man he endured the worst that the world could impose on a person, including the torturous death of the cross.

As a man our Lord Jesus experienced that gamut of human misery; in that he was homeless (Matt 8:20), rejected by society (Isa 53:3), suffered hunger and thirst (Matt 21:18, Jn 19:28), He was falsely accused, abandoned, tempted, stressed, He was beaten and tortured (Jn 19). His suffering ultimately culminating on the malevolent, Roman instrument of killing, the Cross.

While God has not removed suffering and pain from our existence, He stands with us in our suffering with nail scarred hands and feet, and a pierced side. He lets us know that he has suffered with us and that suffering and death has brought redemption to us, that regardless of what our lot is in this life, we can live with him in eternal joy.

He proved this by being resurrected after being dead for three days. He demonstrated that He is indeed who He said He is, the Lord of Glory, the Word made flesh. When you live your life in Christ, you too shall live again because He died for all humanity. This is God’s great love.

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.       1 John 4:14-16

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.