Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Regions Beyond leaders gathering | Session 4 | Mark Jones
This message was preached by Mark Jones who is a part of Regions Beyond which is led by Steve Oliver. Regions Beyond is an apostolic sphere within Newfrontiers Intl.
Mark shares on what does it mean to be an Apostolic people, how do we build apostolic churches whose foundation is on Jesus and not about Jesus. Great foundational stuff you do't want to miss reading about and listening to. Get your church folk to listen to this as well. Please share this freely. This is Newfrontiers DNA.
You can hear the audio by clicking here.
Acts 2 is essential to understand being an apostolic people group
Acts 2:1- 13.
Jerusalem must have been an incredible site, a very varied people group- every nation under heaven was in Jerusalem. They wanted to celebrate the giving of the law and they came some distance for this purpose. But what happened to them next changed their whole world-view. They encountered the presence of God and had an entire world-view change.
Peter stood up explaining what was happening glorifying Jesus, representing Christ whom they crucified- that has made Him both Christ and Lord. An amazing conviction fell on all of them- this was a brand new community not an appendage to what existed already- not a new Jewish sect. They were a brand new community and had new power and new purpose- to establish God’s mandate in every nation and every people group. They became an apostolic people.
Jesus in John 20 appeared before the disciples- ‘as the Father has sent me, so I send you’- in like purpose with the same outcomes. This new community devoted themselves to the apostles teaching. They were given new principles and values to live by. The power of God has affected them and what they were going to do? They were given teaching and understanding about what they are to do- this new people of God made up of Jews and gentiles, free and slave, rich and poor- a temple not made of bricks and water but of living stones; a dwelling place of God in the spirit- no longer subject to the law but free to call Him ‘Abba! Father’.
Apostolic doctrine gave them identity- establishing foundations they never had before. And thus the foundations of the early church were laid and I believe that every church must built on those foundations. The vision of local church should not be defined by an enthusiastic leader’s particular favourite subjects or cultural relevance, historic preferences or sentiment or latest techniques or even the desire of the masses. They must be defined by this apostolic call that has Christ Jesus at its foundation if we want to have a people group who will go to the ends of the earth.
Any foundation will control the quality and shape and structure of what is built upon it. Whatever you put in the ground is going to determine what is built upon it. If the foundation is not Christ, what we build will be inferior and will not bring true transformation on the earth. If church growth is done by referring to Jesus instead of building on the foundation of Jesus- we end up copying what God wants for us instead of building what God wants for us. The church is called to be an original. Paul makes this clear in Romans 1:4-6- Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ”. We have to catch the heart of God. Paul understood that his apostleship is to bring the obedience of faith among all the nations including those who are now being called.
We need to be clear that we need to build from the heart of God. It’s easy to come to God with our plans and try to find a reference in God’s word to gain credibility, but we need to build on a foundation of Jesus Christ. Revelation has to always precede our methodology. We can’t start with our methodology hoping to find something to match it. An apostolic people always live in the revelation of God to produce a transformational methodology. If our starting point is God’s view, then the end result will be biblical transformation.
Q. So what is God’s view? What is His purpose?
Ephesians 1:9-10: “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth together under one head, even Christ.”
Our world is far too parochial but God’s goal has always been to bring everything in heaven and on earth under the rule Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 2 it talks about how we are no longer strangers and aliens and we now become one new man in Christ. That’s God’s goal- where there is no segregation and separation between who we are, what we are and where we come from.
An apostolic people are concerened about how to make Jesus known and how to bring everything under His authority and His rule. It’s always been God’s intention from the beginning that this would happen.
In Genesis when God breathed purpose into Adam- to go forth and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. He was talking about developing God centered families, governments, nations, that establishes a culture that glorifies Jesus- A world where the glory of God would fill the earth like the waters cover the sea. It’s God’s goal that that should happen.
As we move through Genesis we come to the passage about Babel- where they turned around the call of God to fill the earth. So often, we get into that consolidation point. But God scattered them- the purposes of God would be fulfilled.
In Genesis 12, the promise of God comes again to Abraham. Paul picks it up in Galatians- Abraham’s seed was Christ. It was in Jesus that His promise was fulfilled. Nothing invalidates God’s promise that every nation under heaven shall be blessed. Every family on the earth shall be blessed through Christ Jesus.
In psalm 2- He who sits in the heavens laughs…“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” God says, possess what I’ve called you to possess for he has set His king on His holy mountain. And it goes on to say, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession”
We can become very pastoral. But God says, it’s too small a thing. The vision I’ve given you to go to the needs of the earth, so that my salvation goes to the ends of the earth.
It’s not an either or- God wants us to lift up our gaze. Do you see the nations? Our energy goes out but the impartation comes in. the transformation happens within us in the local churches as well.
God’s purpose is an apostolic people group who establish to genuinely reach out to the ends of the earth.
Sometimes, the gospel becomes too therapeutic- the gospel of salvation instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s first about God, before our sin i.e when peter encountered Jesus.
This gospel is about Jesus Christ and His authority to the ends of the earth. We are saved by grace, but our methodology doesn't reflect that sometimes. The answer to not becoming institutional is that we are diverse! It’s fantastic. Sometimes we can put up barriers because we don’t understand how grace works out. An apostolic people group don’t deny access to the poor!
We will never reach the nations if we don’t understand the grace of God. Unless we are secure in it, we want others to become like us and that’s just another legal system. They are comfortable and understand the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to empower God’s people to reach the ends of the earth, so that we are prepared to engage with people that He wants to reach.
He loves to take what belongs to Him and make known to us. We are an apostolic group. We are not here just to train discipleship groups to populate our children’s groups. We are to equip them to reach the ends of the earth!
Q. Are we training and equipping to send or simply training and equipping to maintain?
Our training and discipleship changes because we are an apostolic people. When we do this, it changes our worship- worship that’s full of the presence of God-where Jesus reaches the ends of the earth. Psalm 95- “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”
· Q. How are we raising our children?
Genesis 18: 19 says “ For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
My greatest regret is that we did not prepare our children better to do what God has called us to do. We must do that. Teach them to be pioneers. How well do we prepare them to do that?
· Q. How do we manage our finances?
We have a new view of finance. An apostolic people don’t hold on to their finances for a rainy day. They give it away. In 2 Corinthians, the Macedonians begged Paul to give away their money because of their relationship with the Lord and to the apostle. A people group who live like this, put God at the center of things.
· It effects how we develop teams. We need to have diverse leadership teams so that our conversations are diverse, our prayers are diverse. Acts 6- ‘choose from among you’- there must have been some diversity in that.
· Joining in apostolic partnership- an apostolic people will look out for one another- genuinely interested in what’s going on in other churches. Build partnerships to fulfill the purpose that God’s called us to. The whole church must be caught up!
· Works among the poor- an apostolic people know how to do psalm 113- (He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people) lift up those who cannot afford to get involved. Church is not a middle class programme- it’s the purpose of God. The poor get lifted by an apostolic people, because it matters.
We are an apostolic people group because we are drawn into the ministry of Jesus Christ and into His purposes.