Article 4 of 9 on the Diocesan Mission
Article 5 is Diocesan Mission Policy 2: Churches
Last October our Synod accepted a fourfold policy in order to put our Diocesan Mission into effect.
The first part of this policy is:
1. To call upon God for such an outpouring of his Spirit that his people will be assured of his love through his word, seek to please the Saviour in all things, manifest the godly life and be filled with prayerful and sacrificial compassion for the lost in all the world.”
This must be the first part of our work together, for there is nothing that we can achieve without God. As the psalmist says: “Unless the LORD builds the house those who build it labour in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
On the day of Pentecost God, through his risen Son, poured out his Spirit on all flesh. This outpouring of God’s Spirit lies at the heart of the regeneration of Christians over nearly two millennia. Nobody can be born again except by the Spirit of God being poured into their heart.
However, the Lord also bestowed his Spirit upon his people at particular times in order for them to undertake his work. It is this special outpouring of his Spirit that we need to pray for now. For “such an outpouring …that his people will” have or do four things.
1. By his Spirit we will “be assured of his love through his word”. This is absolutely critical if we are going to preach the gospel of Jesus. For that gospel word declares the love of the God towards sinners, and the assurance of our forgiveness, pardon and acceptance in the presence of God the Judge of the entire world. Unless the Holy Spirit assures us by his word that we are loved by God in this way, we will be unable to preach the gospel to others.
2. By his Spirit we will “seek to please the Saviour in all things”. Before we preach to others, we must preach to ourselves lest we be disqualified. In everything, we must ‘do all to the glory of God’ and so we must seek to please our Saviour in all that we do. For we no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us and was raised again.
3. By his Spirit we will “manifest the godly life”. Our lifestyle must be clearly and demonstrably different to the rest of our society and the world. We must exhibit godliness in all our ways if we are to win the world to Christ. When Jesus taught his disciples to fish for men, he taught them that they were to be like salt, light and a city on the hill. Their usefulness lay in being different like salt or like the light in the darkness. But it had to be an observable, unmistakable difference – something that cannot be hidden – like a city on the hill. That difference was doing such “good works” that would lead others to “give glory to your father who is in heaven”.
4. By his Spirit we will “be filled with prayerful and sacrificial compassion for the lost in all the world.” To be godly, like the Lord Jesus Christ, we must be filled with compassion for the lost. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. We cannot be like him and ignore the plight of sinners. And when he came into the world he came in prayerful compassion for the lost. He saw the crowds as harassed and helpless and told the disciples to pray for labourers to share with them in the task. And in his compassion for the lost he paid the uniquely extreme sacrifice of dying not just for friends but for his enemies, not just in their place but as the sacrifice for their sins. If we are to follow Jesus, we too must take up the cross – lay down our lives – for the salvation of others.
All this is impossible without the outpouring of God Spirit upon us. So, the first part of our fourfold policy is call upon God in prayer.