The unfinished business of Jesus and his church
I want to acknowledge: the indigenous people who walked before us on this land; the officers and members of the General Assembly; friends and churches who reflect my past and present walk in faith and service; the family from which I come and to whom I belong; and the Triune God in whom we all live and move and have our being.
I want to talk about: The unfinished business of Jesus and his church.
The unfinished business of Jesus
We speak of the “finished work of the Cross” and indeed the work of the Cross is finished. Nothing needs to be added, or can be added, for our justification.
However, there is still unfinished work for Jesus.
Let’s review the work of Jesus:
First the background.
There was the pre-creation vision of the Triune God that included the Fall and corruption of all things. In that vision there isa divine commitment to restore, renovate and perfectthe good good creation. God is not a demolition contractor who trashes and abandons his good creation, but a renovation specialist on a cosmic scale.
Then there is the pure love of Father that resolved to reconcile all things and the execution of that plan through Jesus and its facilitation by the Holy Spirit.
And so we now focus on the work of Jesus as the one through whom the Father’s plan is executed:
As our Bible teaches & our Confession and Declaratory Statement reminds,there were certain key objective, supernatural and historic events at the heart of the gospel. They are all about Jesus.
All that is done, but work of Son is not finished. This is his past work. There is also his present and his future work.
Future: Yet to come is that glorious day when, with shout of angels and trumpet blast, the Lord will return; raise all who are dead; separate his own to himself for eternal life; separate the rebels for eternal judgement; and when he delivers the kingdom to God the father and subjects all things to him(1 Cor 15:24-28).How we long for that day and call Maranatha!
However, the work of Jesus is not just past and future.
Jesus already reigns with the Father from heaven’s throne & in him the whole universe continues to hold together.
Consider also the present enduring priestly work of Jesus.His sympathetic understanding gives us confidence as we draw near to throne of grace in our prayers that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our times of need (Heb 4:14-16). Every time we pray we draw on this present work of Jesus.
There is another present work of Jesus that draws us in. Let’s focus here…
There is a curious start to Acts. Luke writes of how in volume 1 he spoke of all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up (Acts 1:1-2). That word began has hint that Jesus had more to do and teach. But then Luke immediately gives us his second account of the ascension. How can an absent Jesus continue and finish the work whose beginnings Luke describes?
The answer, of course, lies with the third person of the Trinity and then through the church.
Before his death, Jesus promised that he and the Father would send the third person of Trinity to be another helper or counsellor to be alongside his people (eg Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15). His last word between his resurrection and ascension was again to promise the Holy Spirit and to promise that he would empower the witness of the church (Acts 1:8).
And so it was and is. Acts 2 describes the extraordinary manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The rest of the book of Acts describes the extraordinary and ordinary work of the Holy Spirit in and through the church. As is widely recognised, Acts gives a pivotal place to this work of the Spirit.
This is Jesus at work. This is the Son continuing his unfinished business as he causes the gospel of God to be proclaimed on earth as well as to the heaven lies (Eph 3:10). This is Jesus, working to the Father’s plan through their Spirit. The work of the Spirit is the work of the Son. And the work of the Son is the work of the Father.
Their work creates our unfinished business.
The unfinished business of his church
Our work can be variously described.
I offer this personal reflection first
Thank you for trusting me with leadership. I’m not worthy of this role, I don’t measure up to those present tonight who have gone before me, I’m not of the caliber of the eminent John Meiklejohn (our first Moderator-General) or of the redoubtably famous Australian Flynn of the Inland … but under God’s grace I will do my absolute best for you.
There is a Wordsworth saying: ‘child is the father of man’, which at least has the appearance of holding true, most of the time.
In that line ‘child is the father of man’ the poet says that we are the product of our habits and behaviour developed in childhood. It’s a reminder that every father was once a son. That we all start out as children, and that experience remains within us.
I’m the product of English parents, 93-year old mum who’s praying for us tonight, greeting you from her home in Melbourne, and dad who passed away three years ago. Dad would’ve so enjoyed tonight. My earliest days, seeing Christian faith in action, saying prayers in the home, reading Scripture round the dinner table, seeing Christ in my parents, practicing humility, learning self control and obedience … yes, Wordsworth’s maxim holds true.
Let me trace back a generation or two. Dad was a PK. During childhood days in the Longditton rectory he watched my grandfather, the so-called peddling parson, ride this way and that through bombed-out London suburbs attending to the well-being of his parishioners. Further, dad saw the mettle of my grandparents’ Christian faith the day two uniformed service members came to the rectory door to notify them that their eldest son, an RAF pilot, was missing, presumed dead.He watched his Dad slip outside to the back lane, still a man full of faith, but weeping.
What would the Reverend Robert Henry Wilson have thought of his grandson, leaving Anglicanism behind – now deeply entrenched in the Scottish church? Well, boundaries are never so absolute. It’s not that I’ve abandoned my family’s English church – for one of my grandfather’s colleagues sits pride of place on my bookshelf and in my hands – the stunningly relevant and discerning writings of Bishop J C Ryle.
Let’s go back one step further. My grandfather was a child of a most enterprising and thoughtful Christian family, the Wilsons of Wandsworth. My grandfather’s grandfather William Wilson founded, owned and managed the largest candle-making factory in the world. Prices Candles by name, it was the candle-supplier for Queen Victoria’s weddingand for every royal engagement since. William Wilson, was a keen evangelical Christian who in his youth supported the London Missionary Society, and keenly supported the gospel pursuits of David Livingstone in Central Africa.
The Wilson candle-making factories on the Thames at Battersea and on the Mersey in Liverpool, were renowned for compassion and care for their workers. My great uncle James P Wilson was factory chaplain at the Battersea plant, and he loved his 2,000 workers as his own parishioners, and cared for the boys who worked there: providing them with reading lessons after work, and with prayers, warm baths, Bibles and cricket on the common for exercise. Chaplain J P Wilson’s reputation of Christian care for factory workers was such that Harriet Beecher Stowe (of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame) praised him and Elizabeth Gaskell visited the factory before writing her novel. I havea journal article that suggests that Prices Candle factory management inspired Gaskell to write ‘North and South’.
William Wilson’s prayerful conviction was that all of England should have ready access to light, and so he and his genius son George invented a new and cheaper way to make candles for the relief of the poor and the engagement of a better standard of living for all.William Wilson believed: ‘If we can manufacture and control light, many things become possible. It means we’re no longer bound by the seasons, no longer compelled to rise at dawn or sleep out the winter.’
To achieve this they imported palm oil from plantations in West Africa – but never from anywhere that involved slave-trading – rather, providing a healthy alternative trade to the slave market.
So, ‘child is the father of man’ is true, but only to a point. If I have inherited something of Christian value from my parents’ faith, from the Reverend Robert Henry Wilson, from Great Uncle Chaplain J P Wilson and from head of clan William Wilson then fine – but the maxim doesn’t work automatically. Wordsworth is not quite right.
William Wilson worked his candle-making trade for the relief of the poor; Great Uncle George F Wilson applied his genius chemistry intellect for the glory of God; Great Uncle JP Wilson gave himself for the care of factory workersto bring them to know Christ … inspiring examples to have … but they remain just that: inspiration,examples to follow.
All this is preparation of the soul … all of what I’ve said is,at best,grounding in the way of faith, but it’s NOT faith … until it’s personally appropriated.
The grace of God may be prepared for by childhood, but it comes by repentance of one’s own sin and by reaching out in faith to Christ, laying hold of Christ – and through this the supernatural event of new birth.
That’s the key element on which I rely and by which I’m assured that I can proceed:
And, for God’s new birth in Christ I am supremely grateful. It’s because of God’s new birth, I am assured that I’m a Christian, confident that I’m loved of God, and convinced that I can serve the church.
Secondly, l reflect on the church
Maybe the same maxim applies for the church: child is the father
Affirmation – Creation Care: Creation Care Affirmation July 2015
Report – Creation Care: Creation Care Report
Statement on Domestic Violence: Domestic Violence Statement July 2015…]]>
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While day-to-day struggles continue, life at the orphanage is now close to being back to normal. Plumbing and structural repairs were undertaken and the building brought back to a habitable condition.
Orphanage staff have been able to assist a neighbouring Buddhist community on two relief missions with food packages and mosquito nets being distributed. As a result, closer ties have been formed and some members of the community have visited the church and will continue to be ministered-to.
In the words of Pastor Jeewan;
“We as a family , are very thankful to you for your love! We are very glad for you are with us and praying for us and helping [to restore] our Bethel home and our affected community by the earth quake. Thank you very much!”…]]>
Thank you very much for the sermon notes !
I will keep in touch as much as possible.
We remember you all ,
The Presbyterian Church is significantly involved in The Bethel Children’s Home an orphanage of 16 children in Kathmandu, through Revesby Presbyterian Church in NSW.
Jeewan Adhikari is the pastor of the local Samdan Church who manages the children’s home. He has this week written about their troubled circumstances in a letter that can be seen in full with photos by clicking here. Please take the time to read it.
We praise God that no child or staff member was killed but their daily existence is now horrendous.
Kindly share this information widely and pray for those who have lost so much. If you are able to give funds they can be deposited directly into a trust account which is solely for this ministry and will be transferred to Pastor Jeewan for this purpose promptly.
The Commonwealth Bank account details are: ‘The Bethel Children’s Home Account’ BSB No. 062233 A/c No. 10231873.
Presbyterian Church of Australia in NSW’s Surry Hills office will be closed on four days during the 2015 Christmas holiday period – Monday December 28, Tuesday December 29, Wednesday December 30 and Thursday December 31.
The first Presbyterian Pulse magazine for 2019 will be published on March 1. The deadline for copy will be close of business, Monday January 14. Copy should be emailed to the Editor email@example.com.
N.S.W. State General Assembly – Monday 15th July 2019
General Assembly of Australia – Monday 9th September 2019
I have been shocked as we all have to see the desperate affects of Tropical Cyclone Pam on the islands of Vanuatu.
There has been widespread damage and at this stage it is feared high loss of life.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia has a unique relationship with the Church in Vanuatu, we have a long history of Ni Vanuatuan students training for ministry in Australia, and have had a strong connection with the Bible Training College in Talua.
At this stage we dont know of about loss at Talua, the worst impact of the cyclone was in the south, whereas Talua is in the north.
Please pray for Vanuatu, pray for relief to be provided, pray that there will be selfless rescue and generous love shown both from those on the ground in Vanuatu and neighbouring nations.
The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop has said that our nation is responding along with New Zealand with immediate aid.
Here is an opportunity for the church to be in the vanguard of the relief effort, I therefore urge all Ministers and Sessions to bring this need before your congregations both for prayer and financial gifts.
Cheques should be made payable to
Moderator General’s Disaster Relief Appeal
and remitted to
Presbyterian Church Office, PO Box 2196, Strawberry Hills, NSW.2012.
The Direct Deposit details for the Moderator General’s Disaster Relief Appeal Fund are:
Account number: 003988
Account Name: Presbyterian Funds
Please write the word ‘Vanuatu’ in the ‘Description’ box on the bank transfer page.
Doing this this way we express in a tangible way our solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters.
Message from Mark Powel, PCNSW Moderator
“The Presbyterian Church of Australia and in particular NSW has had a long and strategic involvement with the work of the Gospel in Vanuatu. In this their hour of need we have an incredible opportunity to help our brothers and sisters in Christ in rebuilding their communities. Please give generously to this appeal, pray for the wise distribution of funds and also prayerfully consider how you or your church might personally be involved in the future.”
“But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7
Moderator General, Presbyterian Church of Australia…