Nigel Pollock (TSCF New Zealand) introduces us to Polish Day – several opportunities to experience some aspects of Polish culture. Pavel is with him and speaks of what it will mean for today to be Polish day – food, experiences.
We sing in English, Spanish, Polish – again delegates arrive. The group is becoming more relaxed – strangely the news of John Stott’s death and the unique focus of his life seems to have catalysed a greater concentration and focus among us. We stand today and sing – “Salvation belongs to our God”
The student world needs the good news of Jesus. Not simply to sustain IFES ministry – not EVEN – but because there a generation live without hope if they live without Him. Salvation is His to bring, to give, to pour out – He has won our Salvation, He IS our Salvation, by the cross and through the resurrection. This world needs Jesus – students today will walk into the churches and workplaces of the coming years: it is our prayer here that this will lead to a great spread of the gospel.
Tom, Gen Sec of Belgian movement, spoke about the art space here at World Assembly. He spoke particularly about one piece. The lamb bound to be slain laid on an altar of newsprint. This piece was a real challenge to him in his attitudes and led to repentance, adoration and greater confidence in Jesus. The art space is available to view the work of Christian artists here on site.
Matgorzata comes to the stage, to speak about what God is doing in her life. She was brought up in a Protestant family, an unusual reality in Poland. She came to faith at the age of 8. As she grew her faith waned – to the point where she was a Christian in name only. She came to Art college, she liked and wanted the lifestyle of others. She sometimes came to ChSA meetings but in reality she preferred parties etc. Matgorzata was invited by her cousin to a ChSA camp and there she gave her life to Jesus. Since that time she has come to ChSA meetings, she is now attending a church and she was wondering if God is called her to Christian ministry for 7 years. She is now working with ChSA leading a group in the place where she studied.
Nigel reminds us that Scripture engagement will come in different forms, this morning there will be two speakers in two languages from two continents on one passage. Sabine Kalthoff and Ramez Attala. Nigel reminds us that it is a question of how does Scripture challenge us in our head, heart, hands and feet? How are we called to be different by God – we’re not called to think about how someone else might be called to be different but we ourselves.
The drama team come and the passage is read. Rev 7
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Sabine comes to the stage and speaks:
There is more to reality than our eyes can see. We are invited to enter into the vision, to see what he saw. John looks and sees God seated on the throne – the control centre of the universe. The throne is not occupied by many but by One. It is not empty – God is there. For John, the reality of life in exile under the emperor of Rome would be very easy to provoke a questioning of God’s rule. But God reigns. This vision ensures us that in the face of the many influences in our world today, God is still on the throne. The Lamb is the one who rules – Jesus Christ is the One who reigns. He won through the cross, at the power centre of the Universe is self-giving loving sacrifice.
Everything else in the vision is centred on the throne: the multitude stand before the throne, the angels surround the throne, they fall down at the throne. Jesus is the defining centre of all reality. Our lives too – we are invited to position ourselves, our ministry on the throne of God. As our lives and minds are filled with so many things of daily lives – we through this vision, and all who have lived under it, are invited to centre our lives on the Lamb who reigns.
He is not some addition to our lives, we do not invite him into our centre, invite him into our problems – we are more correctly invited into the reality of His life. Jesus is the sun around whom we revolve – not the other way around. We are not the centre of our universe, the universe. All is about Him, for Him, through Him and to Him.
How does this vision of reality impact our lives today?
Hope in the lamb is the centre of our hope, centre of our lives. When our work is small the challenge is huge – for our hope and security to be bound up in the work of the gospel, and not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.
Yet there is more to reality that what we see when we look around us. There is more happening. How encouraging must it have been for John to see God’s rule and reign when the church in Asia Minor was so threatened by the Roman Empire.
For those of us in the minortiy, in small groups, in a tiny work in large universities – small work changes lives in big ways. No individual, no society, no continent is so far from God that they cannot be changed. There is more to reality than we can see. The Lamb is the One who sits on the throne.
What are tears doing in this vision? (17) The reality of this world will not be forgotten in eternity – even where Salvation is won the tears of the suffering will not be overlooked or forgotten. The Lamb who was broken will comfort the broken and make them whole. The suffering is not only remembered it is healed.
God’s touch comes to the broken, the weary, the lost – He who holds salvation, is the Lamb who was once slain: he brings the healing that is needed. The Throne of the Universe is occupied by the God who has made himself known in Jesus Christ.
Santo, Santo, Santo
mi corazon te adora
mi corazon abe decir, Santo eres Senor
Holy, Holy, Holy,
My heart adores
My heart is glad to say the words
“you are holy, Lord”
Students crowd the stage to read the passage of Rev 7 in Spanish.
Pavel returns to the stage to remind us that Ramez Attalah with now and he will speak French. I’m listening in translation.
What were the aspirations of the Facebook revolution generation – they want security, a greater authenticity from their government and perfection. These are the things that Ramez will speak.
The new freedom in Egypt has led to a rejection of authority altogether – there has been a descent into confusion and a lack of respect for authority. But safety and insecurity can come very quickly – just like Norway. A Norwegian friend wrote to Ramez – ‘we are all shocked at the hatred in the human heart, it reminds me of something that my father said to me at the end of the second world war, “the problem with the Germans is that they are just like us” we are all full of sin”
On the first evening Deiter spoke from Revelation 5. It is only Jesus who rules – who can offer real hope. John looks for the Lion of Judah – this great saviour is the Lamb who was slain. The Lion of Judah is found in the weakness of a slain Lamb. The centre of our faith is the Lamb on the Cross – the weakness of God, the wisdom of God, in this act is His power to save.
The freedom which comes to us – is His freedom and unlike the world’s offer of freedom. In our sinfulness we seek a freedom to be influential and connected and powerful – it is not the things that we aquire that make us infulential etc. We are beggers seeking stability – but we are washed and saved by the blood of the Lamb. It is contrary to the world’s expectations. But it is the foundation of our lives.
In Egypt Ramez’s wife has been working alongside the people who lived off the rubbish of Cairo. These people thought they had as much value as the rubbish they lived on. But a young man, who had not even finished high school, preached the gospel and in 30 years this village is transformed. They still collect rubbish but they are now full of hope and life. A short time ago “Adele the rubbish collector” came to meet Ramez – they are freed in their profession and dignified in it by the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The dramatic transformation in this work is huge. The men and women are set free to do an important and significant work of recylcling and cleaning the city. There is no shame in the work any more – there is dignity in the gospel which bring dignity to their work. Centred on Jesus all of life is freedom.
If you wear fashionable clothes you give dignity to them. If you have a doctorate, you dignify it not it you. There are no idols in heaven – this crowd in heaven are dressed in white. How did John know that they were from all over the world? But it is a relief to know that our ethnic identity will be preserved – heaven is continuous with now: comfort and challenge. Challenge, worrying even, that our lives now will define and impact our lives then.
I knew John for 36 years and there is no time to tell of all – we know that John Stott has gone to be in heaven. He will be there as himself, identifiable indeed. Ramez heard a negative report at first but four years later he spoke at the Lausanne conference and won Ramez. John Stott lived a life centred on Jesus – was ready to change and learn and live a life totally focussed on the Lamb.
Nigel Pollock and Daniel Bourdanne speak together at the front about security and authenticity. Nigel asks what are the issues for Daniel in leadership.
Daniel speaks about the challenge God has laid on his heart – the reason for my life is to worship God, that is the ultimate reality: the Lamb who is seated on the throne. Life is not about my work, my race, my identity – it is about Jesus. Daniel atteneded a conference in Switzerland last March. He handed his passport to the security person. They stopped Daniel and they took him to a room and they checked everything. This was racism not security driven – it was a wound for Daniel. The reason for Daniel’s life is to worship God.
Daniels face is wet with tears as he speaks –it is a message and a challenge of great relevance and power.
In harsh financial times – our eyes need to be fixed on the Lamb and not to be focussed on the activities of the financial markets. We need to look at our activities and seek to serve the Lamb who was slain but now reigns.
Daniel invites us to stand as he prays.
Heavenly Father, you are on the throne. You ar the King of kings, you are the Lord of the universe. You are the lord of our selves. We ask you Lord ot help us, to humble us, to have a real vision of who you really are. The Holy Lord of the Universe. Please give us the security that comes from you. Thank you our God, our Lord, thank you the Lamb, thank you the Holy Spirit, in Jesus Name.
We close with obligatory notices – boring but important. And then off to coffee and small groups.