'The Father I never knew'. Grace without the additives!

To see full program click on https://www.scribd.com/doc/256023179/The-Father-I-never-knew

River City Church has known a great season of change in recent years and in the midst of that has come a revelation and a restoration. The revelation has been that which the apostle Paul shared with his church in Galatia, that any addition of Old Covenant based requirements to the Gospel, effectively strips the message of its power. The revelation that empowers us to live the Christ life is that the righteousness, the right life, we have been seeking to live for God, is not something we have to attain through our performance. There is no required level of prayer to reach, or right confession to speak, or resources to give, before God will reward our efforts by blessing us. The reason is that one man took our place and prayed and confessed and gave all that had to be given, even His own life, so that we might stand today complete in HIm, holy and blameless in God's sight, with God's own Holy Spirit filling our lives with His contentment and joy over us. The revelation of this truth, that righteousness, the blessed life of God, is not a state to be working towards (self-righteousness), but a gift to be freely received (the righteousness of God), is the very power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16,17)

The result of being persuaded of this truth is the restoration of rest and joy to the soul. It was St Augustine who famously pointed out that in being made for God, our souls would not find rest until they found their rest in Him. The almost too good to be true news (gospel) is that Jesus who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2Cor.5:21) We do not become righteous progressively, we were made righteous when we accepted Christ's righteous life as our own. We cannot even boast of having the faith to believe, as even that faith is "not of ourselves but is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8,9) In other words our complete salvation (justification and sanctification) is by Christ's work from first to last (Hebrews 12:2) 

To all this we might be forgiven for asking, "Then what exactly do we have to do, if God has done it all for us?" To this question Jesus replied "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent."(John 6:29) At first sight this appears too simple, too easy. But if it is so easy, how did we manage to mess it up and end up with thousands of different groupings and denominations, each claiming to have the truth? The answer brings us back to Paul's letter to those Galatians, for truly when it comes to making mistakes, there are no new ones! How did they and we, manage to get entangled again in religion when it was for freedom from slavery (to performance) that Christ set us free? (Galatians5:1) The problem is our pride. The Gospel of Grace leaves no room for boasting and if we do not let the truth, that grace is unmerited, that the Father is that generous, have full reign in our hearts, then we will  seek to add our tuppence worth (just to be sure) and for each tempting performance target we pride ourselves in seeking to reach, we further estrange ourselves from the power of His grace and from those we have now started to compare ourselves with (Gal.5:4)

The story that most beautifully communicates our struggle to receive grace, the life God offers us and how we have succumbed instead to the temptation to make a life for ourselves, is Jesus' parable of the Prodigal son in Luke 15. Two sons both hungering to be someone, to find the good life and both seeking the answer to their restless hearts through what they could achieve. One leaves home, after demanding the father give him the inheritance he should only receive on the death of his father. In effect he is saying, "I want to live as if you are dead. I want to make a life for myself." He proceeds to do all the things that he thinks will bring him the good life he seeks, but is left empty and alone. The big shock of the story however, is that the elder son, the one who sought to find the good life by staying at home and doing all the right things, also ends up empty and alone and very angry. Despite what you may have heard in church all your life, doing all the right things is not the way into the right life. Such a message only leaves people empty and angry because their faith has actually been in themselves, in what they are doing for God, instead of in what He has done for them. At the end of the story, the father stands pleading with the elder son to lay down his attempts to earn the blessing of the father by declaring to him the beautiful truth that the Holy Spirit is communicating to the Church in this hour; "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours." (Luke 15:31)

Our upcoming event in February is an opportunity to communicate this liberating truth, to those like the younger son who have walked away from God and those like the elder son, who stayed in 'church' but have worked themselves away from the grace and joy of the 'In Christ' life. The meetings each evening in the Verbal Arts Centre will seek not only to communicate this message through teaching and testimonies, but also to minister grace through prayer ministry for the sick each evening. There will be ample time and space for conversation and sharing in the venue at the end of each meeting. For those who would like more in-depth teaching on the issues raised there will be seminars taking place on the Saturday 28th from 10am till early afternoon at River City Church in Irish St involving those speaking at the event. Topics will include "Old Covenant versus New". "How can we be righteous?" and "Healing by Grace"   Refreshments will be provided and the event is open to all. If you would like to put your name down to attend the day seminars, just send an email to info@rivercityapostolic.org . We are blessed as a church to enjoy the friendship and support of the Charis Bible college in Belfast and ministers and students from the college will be participating throughout the event. It is our prayer and expectation that in beholding afresh the face of Jesus, many will see clearly the father they never knew 

"Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? John 14:8,9.