Forget the former things...I AM DOING A NEW THING
Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world…”
14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Matt. 28:16-20 “Go and make disciples…”
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Luke) Acts 1:3-5,8 “You will receive power… and you will are My witnesses… to the ends of the earth…”
3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”
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8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
John 21:6 “Throw your net on the right side…”
2-6 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus ), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side [e.g. the wrong side] of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Acts 10 – Peter’s change of perspective
Following the roof-top vision which changed Peter’s perception of what was clean and unclean, He received a deputation of Gentiles.
The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.
24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection.
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Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Four changes that occurred quickly
Acts 20:7a. Change 1: meeting on first day of the week
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.
Acts 20:20. Change 2: teaching from house to house
20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.
Acts 10. Change 3: accepting Christian fellowship with Gentiles
Acts 16:7-10. Change 4: engaging with Greek culture in Macedonia
7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Psalm 119:18 – ask!
Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful truths in your law.
God is always doing “a new thing”
The final words of commission between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension in the four gospels
- (Mark) Go into all the world…
- (Matthew) …to all kinds of people, and make disciples…
- (Luke/Acts) …empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to those like you and those unlike you and far away…
- (John)…by daring to do what you know, but in different ways
Four things the early church were doing differently:
- Met on the first day of the week, not the Sabbath (Acts 20:7).
- Taught from house to house, not just in public gatherings (Acts 20:20, typo in diagram).
- Went willingly to Gentiles and saw the Holy Spirit come on them just the same (Acts 10).
- Left the security of their culture and embraced a different culture (Greek Macedonia) while sharing the Good News of Jesus (beginning of Acts 16).
The church as we know it has seen different winds of the Spirit. Here are a few:
- (Not on map) The early, separated, religious monastic foundations (Benedictines, Augustinians, Cistercians) were joined in about 1250 by the Dominican ‘blackfriars’ and Franciscan ‘greyfriars’ . These friars, unlike monks, went out, preached and ‘planted churches’.
- John Wesley, a through-and-through Church of England minister in the 1700s, preached outside at C of E churches’ preaching crosses to anyone of any class, when churchwardens wouldn’t admit him. He then coached new believers in lay-led home-based meetings, putting discipleship at the heart of the movement.
- William and Catherine Booth left the restrictions of Methodism (1861) to address the spiritual and material needs of the urban poor – the Salvation Army.
- The new awareness of the Holy Spirit changed a Pentecostal part of the church (1907) and impacted the whole church (1960s onwards) including mission training for young people (YWAM, 1960s onwards).
- In the 1980s, some of the largest and most vibrant churches in the world grew up from a network of small ‘cell’ groups, each of which had the full attributes of church, complementing the larger congregations.
What could we do differently? The Holy Spirit will show us, but here are some ways that have attracted God’s blessing in a number of different UK situations. Start from 12 o’clock on the map…
How do we find out how God might be leading us to ‘Cast the net differently’?
1. Ask and listen. We are familiar with prayer meetings which make prayer requests. Instead, try some prayer meetings with no requests, which focus on praise and adoration for who God is – and then listening, carefully recording words, pictures, Scriptures which come to mind and looking for a pattern of agreement (everything is established by two or three witnesses). Faith comes by hearing.
2. All of the last words of Jesus involved risk. All faith involves risk! Try not to be risk-averse, and deal with fear robustly, refusing to agree with the enemy’s suggestions!
3. If God is saying ‘Cast the net differently’, then embrace change. Joining God in what HE is doing will always involve change. Be ready to change and keep asking Him what the changes look like.
In summary, a recent report by Jill Hopkinson in Bible Society Transmission looked at where growth of rural churches was happening. The quote summarises two key conclusions.
- It has been found that growth comes through creating new ways
- The new ways enable people to discover the gospel, not just hear the gospel