Love. Truth. Unity.
To help work out the big vision God has given us as a church we are focusing on three pursuits: Love, loved by God to love like God; truth, teaching all the Bible; and unity, seeking all the gifts for the church.
The Pursuit of Love
Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, "without love you are like clanging symbols" (1 Cor. 13). Like an armchair football fan it's easy to talk a good game, but unless we really learn to love we are just noise and we lose the heart of what it is to be followers of Jesus!
Tucked away amongst flats in the New Gorbals is St Francis' Community Centre, originally a huge Roman Catholic Church, and it's claimed that not long after it began in 1861 a Frenchman sent a gift here in a box labelled, Corpus Valentini Martyris – St. Valentine's bones! Each Valentine's Day people turn up to pray that God would help them find 'the one' and to receive blessing on their marriage by proposing there. When people talk about love that's often what is meant, two people 'completing one another' as they tick each other's many boxes for the perfect partner.
The kind of love we are pursuing at Glasgow Grace however, doesn't begin by mutual appreciation. It begins with a one sided love. A love that is so scandalously worked out with God Himself hanging on a cross in our place. The God of the Universe loves us, no matter what. No pretence is required. Jesus has already ticked all the boxes for us.
Some people think that church is for the people who have it all sorted out, but the Bible is clear that you will never be able to sort yourself out. Enter Jesus, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5: 32). Only Jesus can make us right and He did that by going to the cross as a perfect, spotless, blameless, righteous, sinless man and then swapping it all for the big mess we've all made. God loves us because He loves us, not because we've earned it. He meets us in the midst of our mess, not once we've figured out how to clamber our own way out.
When people encounter this kind of love, once they know what it is to be loved by God they find they want to start loving like God. At Glasgow Grace we want to love the Church, to love the city and to love the nations – just like God does.
The Pursuit of Truth
It can be hard to know what's true and what's not. But, Jesus said that "when we know the truth... it will set us free" (John 8: 32). So, where do we find it?
One of the Psalmists (Psalm 119: 167) wrote, "My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly." That’s been our story too. The Bible is precious to us because it has revealed the wonder and glory of God's faithfulness to us. As we've heard the truth about God we've experienced and enjoyed a relationship with Him that has brought us immeasurable joy and freedom.
There is a lot of cynicism surrounding the authority of Scripture today. Here are just a few reasons why we are so confident about pursuing truth today through the preaching and teaching of the Bible.
The Undeniable Evidence
The Bible is a collection of 66 books with 24,000 consistent ancient manuscripts available to us. The earliest of these are dated only 30 years after the events took place (around the time people would start writing things down before the eye-witnesses died).
The One Unified Story
The Bible is a collection of books spanning thousands of years, yet it miraculously comes together as one unified story for all people. The 'contradiction objection' is a major one for a lot of people. Without knowing the big story and studying the context of the Bible it could be easy to come up with soundbite contradictions, when in fact the synergism and prophetic fulfilment between the 66 books of the Bible are major evidence that behind the author is another power holding the whole story together.
The Main Character
The Bible is a collection of books lived out perfectly in the life of Jesus. After Jesus' resurrection from the dead He walks to Emmaus with two men who had seen all the drama unfold. At first they didn't realise it was Jesus, but when they did they thought back to the walk with Jesus and said, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Lk. 24: 32). No wonder their hearts burned. Jesus Himself was explaining to them that He is the 'yes' and 'amen' to all the Bible's promises (2 Cor. 1: 20).
The Power to Change
The Bible is a collection of books that have the power to burst into our lives today and transform us all with real, living truth. Every Christian on planet earth can testify the Bible's power as it is described in Heb. 4: 12 and 2 Tim. 3: 16.
We are committed to teaching and preaching all of the Bible. Our prayer is that the fullness of Glasgow's motto would be restored, not just "Let Glasgow flourish" , but "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of thy word and the praising of thy name."
The Pursuit of Unity
Glasgow is too often known for its divisions. Thankfully much of those perceptions are largely disappearing, but we've even been guilty in the Church too, especially around the gifts God gives us... are you a charismatic church or a Bible teaching church?
At Glasgow Grace we don't see the separation of 'Word' and 'Spirit'. As we teach and preach the Bible we look to embrace all that Scripture says, including the call to "eagerly desire all the gifts" (1 Cor. 14). So, we are doing just that – pursuing all the gifts of the Spirit, from the most practical to the most miraculous.
We have a lot of choices these days. Glasgow's café culture is enormous. There are hundreds dotted across the city to choose from and even once you decide where to go you are faced with another choice, which coffee do you want? An Americano? A Filter? A Latte? A Cappuccino? A Cortado? A Macchiato? A Cold Brew? The list goes on and on. We are used to having lots of choice and it can be tempting to choose a church based on preference too. You may even have that preference because of the gifts that God has given you. We are calling people to not only pursue gifts for themselves, but as a whole church. You might have a gift in the prophetic. That's great and we want to help you develop that gift to its fullest, but we’d also be helping you to eagerly desire the other gifts for others in the church. As we do we hope to complement one another as we make disciples together.
The Apostle Paul explains to the believers in Corinth that churches have many gifts like a human body has many parts. Like a human body the church body functions best when each part compliments the other parts. Our prayer is that God would use the distinction of our gifts to strengthen us for the mission we are called to in Glasgow. The most effective way we can bring transformation to Glasgow is to pursue unity, using our many parts for the glory of God and the good of Glasgow.
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