Since posting the latest blog, I've read an article by an octogenarian, retired medical doctor, who, with his now deceased wife, ministered in Africa as a Baptist Medical Missionary, for many years. His name is Jack Gray and now resides in New Zealand. His blog, The Pilgrim Path. will stimulate a response, one way or another :)
His words in his testimony, "My Search for The Church" caused me to reflect on my previous post. Here is a man who has experience of which I wrote:
"These days marked the greatest transition of my life as a Christian, a beginning of the dying out to church as I had known it, to allow God to reveal Church as He would have it. That death has not been sudden and clean, but slow, sometimes painful and progressive. The religious habits of a lifetime and the mind-set of years do not expire easily. The months that followed were not easy, but we constantly received encouragement from the Lord in various remarkable ways, and over the past three and a half years we have been coming to a new understanding and experience of the Body of Christ. What we perceive as yet dimly, and what we are experiencing encourage us not to look back, but to press on."
In another article"What is the Church?" he writes:
Recently I have been culling my library, sorting out what I want to keep and what I can discard. A little paperback entitled "Invitation to Pilgrimage" nearly went into the discard box, but something made me hold it back to read it again after the many years since I first bought it. It was written by an eminent theologian of the Church of Scotland, John Baillie, and it was his attempt to present the Christian faith to his academic colleagues who were not believers. I found much of profit in all of the book, but it was in the last chapter, "Invitation to Church" that I found a passage which thrilled my heart with its ring of truth, and with its harmony with all that Paul and other New Testament writers taught us about the church.
Here is the passage:
"The Christian Church is neither a local thing, nor a human thing, but is universal and divine. It has nothing to do with place or race, nor is it an association created by men for their own purposes. The Church is a divine society, created by God Himself; a society to which men are elected, not by human vote, but by the grace of God; a society whose one condition of membership is faith in God's forgiving love. It is indeed a human society in that its members are men and women, but it is a divine society in that its Head, on whom all its life depends, is the Son of God."
Jack writes, "......... those brave enough to venture forth trusting in the reality of the divine society, created by God Himself, and drawing its life from the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ and joined together by the Holy Spirit, are "Church Discoverers":
"If I have truly been, as John Baillie puts it, "Elected to this society not by human vote but by the grace of God", and if the ground of my membership is "Faith in God's forgiving love", then I am indissolubly incorporated in God's Church. I belong to "The assembly of the first-born, who are enrolled in heaven" (Hebrews 12:23) The Church is not some organisation which I may of my own will and choice join. To God's Church I have to be joined by an act of God, to be "baptised by the one Spirit into the one body." (1 Corinthians 12:13)"
As Jack intimates, the Surgeon's knife, of which I previously blogged, is not comfortable, but is full of blessing!