WIC Weekly June 14th 2020
Warsaw International Church
Mobile +48 601 331 032
Worship every Sunday at ul. Miodowa 21 (near Old Town) at 11:00 AM
Entrance from Schillera Street
Last Sunday, at our online Communion service, we were joined by Mike from Poland for the first time, as well as Lillian from Kenya and Kati from Finland (a former worshipper, but with us online for the first time).
At our Church Council meeting last Wednesday, it was decided to continue with online services for the whole of June. At the end of June, we will hold another meeting to review the situation. I want to reassure those of you who live away from Warsaw, or who live in Warsaw but might be unwilling to return to church when we finally go back, that you’ll still be able to log on to the service and take part at the same time – except that you’ll see us in church! So no one will miss out on a live service!
Please join us again online this Sunday – especially if we haven’t seen you for a long time, we would love to see you online! The Zoom link for this Sunday’s service at 11 am CET is:
Join us for this Sunday’s live online service on Zoom at 11 am CET by clicking: Warsaw International Church - Weekly Zoom Service (Sundays @11:00 am) Time: Sundays @ 11:00 AM Warsaw Meeting ID: 375 882 822
Recordings of our Sunday services are available on our wic.org.pl website.
And here is the Zoom link for our Thursday Bible study at 6 pm CET, the text being Matthew chapter 7:
Warsaw International Church - Bible Study (every other Thursday @ 6:00 pm) Time: May 14, 2020 06:00 PM Meeting ID: 416 626 997
Thank you for continuing to support us in every way (our online attendance is currently growing), and particularly for praying for our global church family. If you would like to send an offering at this time when no collections are being held in church, here are our church account details:
Warsaw International Church Santander Bank Polska S.A. IV/Oddział w Warszawie ul. Jana Pawła II 17 00-854 Warszawa Polish złoty (PLN) account: PL 63 1090 1056 0000 0000 0600 9128
In Poland, as in many nations, the number of infections is again increasing as countries attempt to return to “business almost as usual”. Let’s pray that governments will listen more to their health experts, so as to avoid an absolute disaster in a few months’ time.
Please pray for the safety of all our church members – past and present. Pray also that God will preserve WIC and make His wonderful plans known to us.
Keep praying for revival: for your nation and family to turn to JESUS, and for Poland to turn to JESUS too!
Last Sunday’s sermon
Readings: Romans 8, 9-11; 1 Peter 2, 1-3. 11. 21-25.
Have you ever had the experience that, as you read the Bible, a verse or verses suddenly grab your attention so much that you decide to make them a rule of life for you to follow, or to base your thinking on? For example, you might read that “God is love” – and you’re so impressed with those words that love becomes the guiding principle in your life. So whenever you meet someone, you remind yourself that you must love them, even though they seem unlovable.
But then, elsewhere in the Bible, you might read that God is an angry God, who punishes sinners, instead of loving and forgiving them, and you might get confused about what God is like, or even what to tell others when you share your faith with them. In fact, you might even reject one of those statements and concentrate on the one that appeals to you most, so as not to confuse yourself or other people.
I have a brother-in-law in the south of Poland. He always emphasizes the necessity for people to repent and to turn away from their sins. And he’s always disagreeing with the pastor of the Methodist church where he worships – because that pastor preaches only about the love of God. It’s a popular message that people want to hear. Everybody wants to be told that God loves them and forgives them. They don’t sing songs about sin in that church. They sing about acceptance, forgiveness and love. It sounds great, except for one thing. The worshippers in that church are not confronted with their sins. They come to the service with their sins, and they leave with those same sins. They are not told what God expects of them, because only one half of the Gospel is preached to them.
I think that, in today’s readings, we have another example of such apparently contradictory ideas – so contradictory that we might again get confused. Let’s look at the passage from Romans. Paul is telling the Christians in Rome that they are controlled by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – ever since they became Christians. They are no longer controlled by their sinful nature. Because the Holy Spirit is in them, their body is dead to sin.
Now, that’s wonderful news, and I’m sure we would all love it if the apostle Paul came to our church and told us the same thing. And of course, it’s true. If the Spirit is in us, then we are indeed controlled by the Spirit, and are dead to our sinful nature. But there’s a danger here. I can give you a specific example of someone I know, who actually tells other people that, because she’s a Christian, she has the Holy Spirit in her. Perhaps that isn’t so bad in itself, but unfortunately, in her case, her actions do not live up to her words. She’s very good at creating conflicts and upsetting other people. So the effect of all this is to make her look ridiculous in other people’s eyes. When they talk about her, they say that she certainly doesn’t give anyone the impression of having the Holy Spirit in her. If we do have the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to boast about it – we need to show it, not only by what we do for our neighbour, but also by our humility, sensitivity, compassion.
Now look at the passage from 1 Peter. The original reading should have been just verses 21-25; but I also included verses 1-3 and verse 11 to make the point I’m going to make. You see, in verses 21-25, Peter – like Paul – writes about the wonderful things we have as a result of Christ’s death on the cross – for example, “by His wounds you have been healed”. If we have been healed by His wounds, we must have been healed on the cross, when Christ said: “It is finished”. So in fact, we must have been healed before we were born! We came into the world already healed by Christ – though we didn’t know it.
But again, we have to be careful about what we tell others. Suppose you go round telling other people you have been healed by Christ. Of course, that’s true. But others will say: if it’s spiritual healing, then why are you still sinning? And if it’s physical healing, then why are you still falling ill? Can you explain that to them? If not, don’t tell people only half the Gospel!
You see, if you go round thinking: “I’ve been healed by Christ on the cross, so how can I be sinful or ill?”, you don’t understand the entire Good News of Jesus Christ. Because, in those verses I added – verses 1-3 and verse 11 – Peter also tells the Christians to get rid of their sinful ways. So again we have a contradiction: we are spiritually healed, but we have to get rid of sin. In the Letter to the Romans, it was: we are controlled by the Holy Spirit, but we must not live according to our sinful nature.
Do you see what’s happening? It’s easy to preach about God’s part in the Good News: He loves us, He healed us, He gave us His Holy Spirit. But the Good News also contains a warning: God hates sin. He will punish persistent sinners, and we Christians are by no means perfect. We too still have to keep repenting and turning away from our sins. If we don’t work on ourselves, but just sit back, fold our arms and tell the world we are saved, we will fall back into sin, because we haven’t actually changed our ways.
Imagine a class of pupils. They have a new teacher. Their previous teacher was a bad teacher, but now they have a good teacher. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to work anymore, and that the good teacher is so good that he or she will do everything for them! On the contrary, they have to work harder than before. But this new teacher will guide them through all their exams. Jesus is our new Teacher. He will guide us safely to heaven. But we must follow Him in our daily life.
Brothers and Sisters, in a moment we will celebrate our first online Holy Communion. I’m so pleased we can do this together, in these unusual circumstances. I hope you have bread and wine or grape juice ready – water will also do. Sometimes, patients in hospital give themselves Communion by drinking water and eating some bread. Imagine you’re such a patient – what would be your most important concern? The presence of a priest or pastor, perhaps? Or whether the drink in your cup is wine or water? Or simply your faith, that you are communing with God – getting close to Jesus, aware of His presence, aware of His suffering for you, aware of His power to heal you, aware that you belong to Him? Surely that’s the most important element in Communion!
If I were such a hospital patient, wanting to give myself Communion, I would prepare myself by looking within; examining my life, my thoughts, words and deeds; regretting my sins; wanting to be purified, renewed, restored to life. We can have all these in our Communion with God. We are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood”, as Peter says in our verse for the week. In the Communion, the Holy Spirit draws us to Jesus and makes us want to be one with Him: “Take, eat - this is My body, broken for you; drink this – this is My blood, poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins”. Oneness with Christ.
That is what those first Christians celebrated every day, as they broke bread in their homes. No pastors, no priests – because they were all priests in God’s eyes. The Holy Spirit made Jesus real to them; cleansed away their sin; filled them with love; gave them humility. And Jesus was present in their lives, all the time. They experienced healing. They experienced the Spirit of Christ. But they also knew they were sinners – pardoned sinners. They knew they were fragile, delicate, and that they could again fall into sin at any moment, if they didn’t keep a careful watch over their conduct.
May we too become more and more like the people of the early church, so that it can also be said of us: “The Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”. Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
14 June is the Second Sunday after Pentecost.
Verse for the week: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18, 14).
Psalm: 116, 1-2 and 12-19.
Old Testament reading: Genesis 18, 1-15.
New Testament reading: Romans 5, 1-8.
Gospel reading: Matthew 9, 35 – 10, 8.
Food of the Spirit
Revival Begins with Conviction
Revival is always a revival of holiness. It begins with a terrible conviction of sin. It is often the form that this conviction of sin takes that troubles those who read of revival. Sometimes the experience is crushing. People weep uncontrollably, and worse! But there is no such thing as a revival without tears of conviction and sorrow.
In January 1907 God was moving in a powerful way in North Korea, and a Western missionary recalled one particular scene: "As the prayer continued, a spirit of heaviness and sorrow for sin came down upon the audience. Over on one side, someone began to weep, and in a moment the whole audience was weeping. Man after man would rise, confess his sins, break down and weep, and then throw himself to the floor and beat the floor with his fists in perfect agony of conviction.
"My own cook tried to make a confession, broke down in the midst of it, and cried to me across the room: ‘Pastor, tell me, is there any hope for me, can I be forgiven?’ and then he threw himself to the floor and wept and wept, and almost screamed in agony.
"Sometimes after a confession, the whole audience would break out in audible prayer, and the effect of that audience of hundreds of men praying together in audible prayer was something indescribable. Again, after another confession, they would break out in uncontrollable weeping, and we would all weep, we could not help it. And so the meeting went on until two o’clock a.m., with confession and weeping and praying...."
He went on to describe a meeting a few nights later when many Christians were brought to a deep conviction of sin: "My last glimpse of the audience is photographed indelibly on my brain. Some threw themselves full length on the floor, hundreds stood with arms outstretched toward heaven. Every man forgot every other. Each was face to face with God. I can hear yet that fearful sound of hundreds of men pleading with God for life, for mercy. The cry went out over the city till the heathen were in consternation."
Scenes like these are typical of almost every recorded revival. There is no revival without deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin. It is this terrible conviction of sin that led the Congolese Christians, during the revival in 1953, to sing a chorus of their own making:
Receive salvation today, This is the hour of judgment.
The missionaries wanted to change the words to "This is the hour of mercy," but were pointed to Malachi 3:2-3: God had come as "a refiner’s fire."
We must be fully aware that this deep and painful conviction of sin is an inevitable part of true revival. If all this appears to be a frightening prospect, it is well to understand that God will bring it, and that a deep, uncomfortable, and at times overwhelming, conviction of sin is an indispensable part of revival. We often have a tinted view of revival as a time of glory and joy and swelling numbers queuing to enter the churches. That is only part of the story.
Before the glory and the joy, there is conviction, and that begins with the people of God. There are tears and godly sorrow. There are wrongs to put right, secret things, furthest from the eyes of men, to be thrown out, and bad relationships, hidden for years, to be repaired openly. If we are not prepared for this, we had better not pray for revival. Revival is not intended for the enjoyment of the church, but for its cleansing.
None of this should surprise us if we understand the ways of God in the Bible. The terrible judgment upon Uzzah for his careless contempt of disobedience (2 Sam. 6:6-7) is paralleled with the remarkably similar story of Ananias and Sapphira in the early church (Acts 5:1-11). The purpose was the same: "Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events" (Acts 5:11).
In revival there are none in the church and few in the community who take sin lightly. God turns His anger into mercy but still He makes people "feel" their sin. We have an unholy church today because Christians do not feel sin or fear it. The God who punished the sin of Uzzah, and before that, of Achan and of Nadab and Abihu, is still as holy now as He was then; His view of sin has not changed.
Secondly, it must be understood that this experience of conviction, and the physical crying and fainting that not infrequently accompany it, can be fraudulently copied by men. There is always the danger that foolish men try to ape the work of the Holy Spirit. To set out to create these physical responses, whatever name we give to them, is a dangerous and sinful meddling with the work of God.
It is not difficult to work people up to such a degree of intensity that they show the symptoms of conviction without the lasting fruit of peace in Christ and a holy life. Conviction of sin, and everything that goes with it, is God’s work, and it is the wise Christian leader who leaves it in His capable hands.
Those who long most for revival should begin by examining their hearts and lives before the searchlight of a holy God and His Word. If we cover our sin and do not confess it now, when revival comes we may find ourselves confessing it to the church.
Brian H. Edwards
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