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Madison Park Came from Where
Scripture: Acts, Romans, Titus, Philippians, John, ...
Track 11 of 17 in the Living in the Light of His Coming series
Running time: 34 minutes, 19 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, November 14, 2004
11th sermon in a 17 part series
"Madison Park Came from Where?"
"Being in Him Means Being His Church"
(Acts, Romans, Titus, Philippians, John, 1 Corinthians, 2 Timothy, Ephesians)
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett

Several years ago I got myself booked on one of those impossible travel schedules. Took the train from Lincoln to Chicago. Took the plane from Chicago to the East Coast. Taught for several days. Came back to Chicago. Took the train from Chicago Midway to Chicago OíHare. Flew to Quebec to teach for another weekend. Came back. Took the train back downtown to the train station and then had a layover waiting for the train back into Lincoln.

I was laid kind of straddle across some chairs that had arms in them, to try to give you an idea of how uncomfortable this sleeping situation might be. My feet propped up on my suitcase, trying very hard to be asleep and yet awake enough to hear the announcement for the train. And I heard it. It said, "The train for Lincoln is departing track such-n-such" and I jumped up out of the chair, flew down this thing. Just ready to step on the train and I said, "Now this is the train to Lincoln?" He said, "Yes, Lincoln, Nebraska."

It does matter which train you get on. I could just have imagined waking up an hour or two later and their saying "Iowa" and Iím thinking, what am I doing here!

Well, the question is, which train are you on? Last week we talked a little bit about the history of the church in general and frankly, kinda where everything came from, although that was such a sweeping kind of review.

This morning I wanna ask about us particularly. What about Madison Park Christian Church? Where in the world do we fit in and if youíre on this train, where in the world are you gonna end up? Whatís the destination that weíre on? Itís really a question of who are we and what makes us distinctive. I wanna do just a very brief history of this thing that has been called by a variety of names. Ah, probably the name that I first became familiar with was the Restoration Movement. It was an attempt of congregations of people to simply go back and try to restore what they saw as a church as it was found in the New Testament.

I learned later that it was sometimes called the Modern Reformation. It was an attempt to try to say weíre doing the same thing in this era that was done generations ago in the 1500/1600's by Luther and Calvin and others. In more recent years itís been called the Stone-Campbell Movement because of two of our leading church fathers or congregational fathers back in the 1800's (Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell). None of those names probably capture much of who we are but theyíre a part of the history and when youíre reading about it, thatís the kind of language that youíre going to run into.

Time line wise, it really is a very United States kind of movement. It initiated in the late 1700's/early 1800's. Let me just toss two or three names and dates that will be virtually meaningless but will give you a context. 1793 - James OíKelly down in West Virginia/Virginia/North Carolina, decided that being a part of a church with

a name was troublesome and what they really wanted to do was just simply go back to the roots and try to find out what the New Testament taught.

Same thing was happening in the early 1800's. Abner Jones and Elias Smith up in the New England states approximately 1802 coming to those same kinds of conclusions.

1804 Barton W. Stone down in Kentucky particularly, but around the Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee area, ah, reaching some of those same conclusions. In fact, his decision was simply to be called Christians and try to be called nothing else.

In 1809 Alexander and Thomas Campbell, two Presbyterians from Scotland had come to the United States (father and son) and had, on opposite sides of the ocean, come to the same basic conclusion. They were a part of a Presbyterian church with a name about this ? ? long. It had divided up into about six different segments and they were a part of a particular segment that was true only in certain areas of Scotland and they came to the United States and realized that absolutely none of those divisions applied in the United States because they didnít even have the same political system that was at work in Great Britain. So they decided that they should just simply be called "Disciples."

Those men in those early 1800's began to become acquainted with one another. Obviously, communication was much different back then than it is now but, they began to hear about each other across those Eastern and Southeastern parts of the United States and they began to have dialogue with until at one point in the mid-1800's or early to mid-1800's, they developed this friendship where they decided that what they wanted to do was just be "Christians" only.

They wrote this document which has become rather famous among our heritage called the "Last Will & Testament of the Springfield Presbytery". It was the day that they put this governing body to rest. Wrote its last will and testament and said from here on out weíre simply going to be "disciples".

There were multiple emphases in the church but two that probably stand out. These bodies really strongly emphasized a spirit of unity to be based on the Scriptures. Not sitting around with people and saying, what do we have in common? What kinds of things can we negotiate over? But, to simply say, letís go back to Scripture, letís lay the Bible open and letís do our very best to simply try to understand what this Bible says and letís unite on those particular teachings. One of the slogans of that early movement which has carried on over the years is, "where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent". Now obviously it becomes a difficult kind of issue when you try to agree on what the Bible says but that was at least the attempt that they were trying to make.

That emphasis upon a unity of the churches and a unity of believers on the basis of the authoritative nature of Scripture was also the catalyst then to try to reach the world for Christ. This was a strongly evangelistic movement and it primarily followed the westward movement of the United States. If you think historically, early 1800's, Louisiana purchase, everything is moving west. Lewis and Clark - all of these people are moving westward across the United States and this movement of churches, Christian churches and Churches of Christ followed those people movements across to the west.

If you stuck a pin in a map at Lincoln, Illinois and drew a circle two hundred miles around Lincoln, there are a thousand congregations either titled Christian church or Church of Christ in the center part of this movement that Iím going to try to make a little more unclear here in just a second.

That spirit of unity leading to this spirit of evangelism really came out of John 17. Iím going to read a number of texts for you. You can choose to either write them down and maybe look at them later or you can turn with me if you want.

John 17 has been a foundational text in the history of this particular church movement. Itís the prayer of Jesus. Itís the only prayer that we have recorded that Jesus actually prayed. We know we have the model prayer where he tells us how to pray. This is the prayer that was actually recorded that he prayed. Iím going to come down to John 17:20 where he begins not to pray about other things but to pray specifically for those who will be followers of him. He says, "My prayer, John 17:20 is not for them alone. (talking about his disciples in the first century) I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

And therein is pulled together those two driving themes of our church movement. We need to be one. There needs to be a spirit of unity. Letís gather around the authority of Scripture, the teachings of the word. Letís just be one body of people who believe basically the same thing so that the world will believe that Jesus came into the world loving them. And so there was that catalyst, that connection between the spirit of unity and a spirit of evangelism.

Unfortunately, as is the case in all the history of the church from the first century to this, that spirit of unity didnít last very long. This is early to mid-1800's and by the late 1800's and early 1900's weíre beginning to have difficulty staying together.

You will notice downtown area, a church known as the Disciples of Christ. Thatís a part of our heritage. Lots of them across the United States that carry a symbol, Christian churches, Disciples of Christ, they have the cup and the cross as their denominational symbol. They are, in fact, a formal denomination, a part of the denominational world trying to create a spirit of unity. Thatís a part of our heritage. They began to lose faith in Scripture, so they began to try to work at spirit of unity based on other kinds of things than simply coming back to the Bible.

You will notice, over here behind us, about a half a mile, and down the street just a little, the Church of Christ. Itís a building where they meet together on Sunday mornings to worship much as we do except that they donít use except they donít use any kind of musical instrument in order to share in worship. That body is also a part of our heritage. They settled out as the Churches of Christ and their primary difference between us is that they have a different approach to interpreting Scripture. Their interpretation of Scripture is based on this. If the Bible is silent, we donít do it. The New Testament does not talk about using instruments in worship, therefore we donít have them.

Now you can press that analogy in a lot of different directions. The Bible doesnít say anything about Sunday school. Some Churches of Christ donít have Sunday school. The Bible doesnít say anything about multiple cups at the Lordís Supper so some of them donít use multiple cups. They just use one.

Some donít have church buildings because the New Testament doesnít say anything about buildings. Thatís the argument from silence. If it doesnít explicitly say that we can do it, then we donít do it.

There are probably 5 to 8 thousand congregations among the Churches of Christ in the United States. Somewhere, I suppose, between one and one-half million members.

Then thereís us and weíre someplace in between. Christian churches, Churches of Christ (sometimes youíll see us called one or the other, sometimes youíll actually see us called both). Youíll see Christian Church and then in parentheses it will say Church of Christ. Itís a way to try to distinguish us without formally dividing us. Although, the very fact that you put a name on anything does, in fact, divide you out. Weíre distinct from eighty other bodies in this town simply because of who we are. Weíve tried to stay someplace in the middle. We have tried to hold to the authority of Scripture and to try to base everything that we do on that authority. To believe that it is, in fact, inspired of God and reliable and yet, on the other hand, not have gone to the place that we say, just because the Bible doesnít say it, doesnít mean that we canít do it. Weíve left ourselves in that kind of middle ground.

Well, the real questions is about us. As a body, this particular congregation came out of the Disciples Church here in town, probably 75 or 100 years ago. We started out as a Bible study, a Sunday school program initiated by First Christian Church and about forty years or so ago, separated from the formal Disciples movement by an act of the congregation to say that we want to be independent from the denomination. Became Madison Park Christian Church, technically non-denominational.

What are the distinctiveís? Distinctiveís of those churches that you would see identified by this idea of being Christian churches, it would range a bit, all the way across that range from disciples to the churches of Christ. These would be fundamental things that you could hold, find true at least in this center part, the part that we occupy. And that is this. We are Christians only, but we are not the only Christians. Donít forget the latter half of that phrase because thatís been a distinctive of our movement to say, we donít want to be anything but a Christian. Weíre not saying weíre the only ones. Weíre just saying thatís all we are.

I love the conversation. It happens to me occasionally. Doesnít seem to happen as much as it used to, but youíll get in a conversation about the church about your relationship with Christ and theyíll say, "well, what are you?" And you say, "Iím a Christian" and they look at you and I say, "well, yeah I know that, but what kind of a Christian are you?" "Well, an imperfect one." "No, what I mean is what are you?" "Oh, I know what youíre asking me. Are you a Baptist, a Methodist, an Orthodox?" "Iím none of those, Iím just a Christian." Itís a rather novel sort of a thing to be in our situation. It is, I think, one of the beauties of what we are. We arenít aligned with any particular body of people. Weíre not a denomination. We donít have a headquarters. Weíre just us. We try to do that simply because thatís what Scripture teaches. Acts 11:26 says, they were first called Christians in Antioch. Thatís what the New Testament folk were called. They are called in the book of Acts, the "followers of the way". We donít use that nomenclature very much. But that is true of us. Weíre simply trying to follow the way of Jesus. Weíre trying to be disciples. Thatís where the name came from, the disciples of Christ, simply trying to follow him.

Ah, the New Testament uses lots of language for people who are just Christians. For example, Romans 1:7 Paul says I want to write to you who are in Rome the saints called of God. Now thatís not a term we use very often for ourselves either. We could talk about saint Jim. Well maybe we. . . . .Jim says, "NO". Thatís a biblical term for us. Weíre the saints and yet at the same time in Romans 16:16 it says the churches of Christ send you greetings. Now thatís another term thatís used to talk about a congregation of believers. 1 Corinthians 1 Paul says, To the church of God in Corinth.. . . . . . Well, that was another term used for the church to simply talk about the church as its located in a place and quite honestly thatís often how we are referred to from town to town. Itís the church at 7th street. Itís the church of this particular community. The desire is to be something and that only. To be a believer, to be a Christian and have that be it.

Thereís a second distinctive of us and that is that we are locally self-governing and yet we are a part of an enormously large fellowship of churches. When Paul wrote to his protege, Titus, after he had sent him to the island of Crete to work with the church there. . . . . in Titus 1:5 Paul says about this young man The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. Christian churches are governed by a local church body we call Elders. Theyíre called a variety of things in different places, but they are the elders of the congregation. The New Testament talks about them in terms of being shepherds, pastors. In terms of being elders, older (wise) people. In terms of being overseers, those who literally look over the congregation. In Philippians 1:1 Paul writes to the Philippians and he says, ah, Iím writing to the saints who are in Philippi along with the overseers and deacons; the ministry people. They were an identified body. And in a local congregation like our own, we are a self-governing congregation. Thatís one of the things that separates us off from other denominations. Nobody tells us what to do. I donít mean that as a rebellious statement. I just simply mean, all governing responsibilities are in the hands of the eldership of this congregation. Theyíre the ones who make all of the decisions. Itís not a democracy around here. We doní t vote on things. We select godly men that we trust to be good leaders and then we let them make the decisions. And as the ones who are under their supervision, their oversight, we follow them. Thatís the way this particular body chooses to function.

Even though we are locally independent, locally autonomous we are part of a very large movement. In the United States there are approximately 5,000 churches in this center part called Christian churches/churches of Christ. The vast majority of them are in the mid-west. Indiana has about 500. Illinois has around 500. Missouri probably 400 or so because of that westward kind of movement. We are both a rural and an urban body. Many, many of our churches are out in the middle of nowhere. I mean that literally.

Bethany Christian Church, Brownstown, Illinois. You cannot get there from anywhere. You gotta go someplace else and then start. The place is hidden out there in "nowheresville". You can stand on the front steps of Bethany Christian Church and look in every direction that you can see and you will see one house. They probably have thirty or forty people that meet there regularly.

On the other hand in another rural setting, on the other side of the state of Illinois in Arcola, Illinois you could go to Walnut Grove Christian Church. You could stand on the front steps of that building and you could see, actually, I think itís five houses from there. Theyíll average close to three hundred every Sunday morning. They draw from quite a large area.

On the other hand, you could go to Louisville, KY and you could go to Southeast Christian Church and you could worship with 20,000 people a weekend. Now in Louisville there are lots of people who moved to small churches because they find the 20,000 member congregation a bit unwieldy so they go to little churches of only a thousand or two thousand. Those are smaller and therefore a little more their size.

Itís a relative term isnít it? If you went to Indianapolis, IN and in the surrounding area you could find, ah, anywhere up to nearly ten or twelve churches that are a thousand or more in attendance on Sunday morning among our Christian churches. Itís one of the strongest cities in the United States for our church.

We have churches that go all the way from Los Angeles to New York City. In fact, Mosaic Manhattan has been planted within site of "Ground Zero". Itís a young urban. . . . . .people from Juilliardís and other kinds of places. . . .very UP SCALE, very urban, very young, very "artsy". Weíre just a wide ranging kind of movement. In the past ten years we are the fastest growing movement in the United States outside of the Mormon Church. Planting churches right and left in Christian Standard, one of our publications, there will be a list that covers two pages of Christian churches that are over a thousand a Sunday in average attendance. You could fill up ten pages of those that are under 50 in attendance. There are lots of us.

Weíre a part of a national fellowship. There is absolutely nothing official about our relationship with other people. We gather every summer at the North American Christian Convention. Ten, fifteen thousand people will come together for a preaching rally basically. No decisions are made except to have it again next year. Several of you went to Peoria this year to the National Missionary Convention where four or five thousand people were gathered to hear about our Missionary movement. We probably have a thousand missionaries across the world. We have as many churches outside the United States as we do in the United States and more members outside the United States than we do in the United States. We sponsor a whole host of Bible colleges. We probably have thirty colleges that our churches support. From right here it would take less than a day to get to half a dozen of them. You could go to Moberly to Central Christian and thatís one of our colleges. You could go to St. Louis and go to St. Louis Christian College. Thatís one of ours. You could drive over to Lincoln and go to Lincoln Christian College & Seminary. Thatís one of ours. You could go up North into Minnesota and be at another one of our colleges. There are just a bunch of them. We have three or four seminaries and several graduate schools. We have one Christian Liberal Arts School, all simply supported by people like us to try to train up people with a Christian world view in order to impact the world with the gospel.

Well, weíre distinct because weíre Christians only. Weíre distinct because weíre locally autonomous, not part of a denomination but a fellowship. We try to call (and this is the third thing) we try to call Bible things by Bible names. Weíre not always successful at that but we try. We try to do things in Biblical ways. The Scripture becomes important to us.

So the church, you simply call the church. We try not to refer to the building as the church. We try to refer to the building as a building. In fact, I try, I donít know whether you notice, but occasionally I slip. . . .but I try to say Iíll meet you at the church building rather than Iíll meet you at the church. Because frankly, youíre the church. I suppose when we were standing there talking about getting together, we are the church. Wherever we meet happens to be the location.

We donít have clergy. Now it doesnít mean that we donít have preachers. It means that we donít have clergy. We donít have any formal structure for ordination. We have no licensure. We have no ordination. Anybody can preach. Dan Peters could get up on Sunday morning and preach if he wanted and youíd let him. He probably doesnít want and you probably wonít let him. But, he could because we allow that kind of thing. We believe in the priesthood of all believers. Every Christian is a minister. Thatís what weíve been talking about all Fall. Ephesians 4:11 says God appointed some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for works of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

So we believe that every one of us is a minister. We donít use capital "M" minister to describe certain ones of us. Weíre just all ministers. Some of this have the privilege of doing this for our life. This is what we do. Itís a privilege to actually get paid for doing the thing that all of us do simply because weíre called to be believers.

Let me give you one other distinctive and that is this one real strong emphasis upon the authority of Scripture. Over in 2 Timothy 2 & 3. There are two verses that have very much apart of who we are as a church movement. They undergird everything that we stand for. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

One of the distinctiveís of this particular body of churches is its attempt to try to say things biblically, to simply try to understand the Scriptures. To try to govern our lives by the teaching of Christ. Itís not that weíre opposed to having summary statements. In fact, thereís not a thing in the apostlesí creed that I think any of us in here would take exception to. I certainly wouldnít. It says things very, very well. Itís just that weíve decided that rather than going back to the creeds, we would go back to the text and allow people the privilege of wrestling with that text to try to discern what the Bible says and then to try to operate their lives as best they know how in that word.

If you come over another chapter to 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul says this, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Thatís the foundation upon which this church is built. This Scripture is inspired of God and it is reliable and those of us who want to be what God wants us to be can look in that text, we can understand that Scripture and it will fully equip us for everything that God desires us to be. And so we try to do that. We try to offer you opportunities for that. Itís why we are locally governed by elders, because thatís what we see in the New Testament. Thatís how churches in the New Testament were governed.

After Paul planted churches in Acts 13, he immediately went back to those churches and in Acts 13:23 for example it says, he established elders in those churches. We see that happen.

Probably the easiest two things to talk about where we try to distinguish ourselves by simply being Scriptural would be for example, at this table. One of the unusual things about Christian churches is that we share around this table every Sunday. There is nothing in the New Testament that demands that you do that. There is no command to do that. But in Acts 20:7 when Paul was gathering with the church leaders at Ephesus, he talked about the fact that they stayed in Troas over the Lordís day so that they could share in the Lordís Supper. It was apparent from Acts 20 and some other places that the early church took the Lordís Supper basically every time they got together, certainly every Sunday. And so weíve decided as a body of people to take the Lordís Supper every Sunday. You donít have to do that. Thereís nothing that insists that you do that. You are not forced to participate in this table on Sunday.

Youíre invited, as a believer, to come to this table and participate at this table because you are a Christian. Itís not because youíre worthy of being here, by the way. Ah, forgive me, but youíre not. Ah, the only reason youíre allowed at this table is because of the blood of Jesus. But then, thatís exactly why weíre here, because of the blood of Jesus.

Now in my particular case, Iíve decided, for example, Iím in all three services sitting right over here. I participate in the Lordís Supper in all three services. I donít find that a violation of anything and it allows me to identify myself with all parts of this particular body that I worship with, which is people who come to second and third service. . . . .those other two churches we have here. Or at least, thatís kinda what it feels like sometimes.

But itís the distinctive of us. We believe that this table is for every Christian and we celebrate it every Sunday unlike other churches who choose to do it another way.

And the other thing that sets apart from other people in the world is our understanding of Scriptureís teaching on who should be baptized and what that baptism means.

In fact, just this last week or two I sat down with a half-a-dozen students (there was supposed to be a half-a-dozen students, several showed up) just for a question and answer period over this very subject. And the very first thing that one of the studentís said to me is, do you believe such-n-such? And I asked the question, well, do you believe that? He said Yes. I said, Can you put a text to that? And that was the response I got! S I L E N C E! Because what he was advocating there was no text for. And I said, Iím not here to discuss (I mean Iíll discuss anything you want to) this is what the point of the meeting was but my preference would be to say, letís talk about what the Scripture teaches.

We can go all over this issue of baptism on what you have heard or what you have read, or what youíve been taught someplace. Letís just ask this simple question.

What does the Bible say and then figure out where to do from there? And thatís been the stance of our church. The New Testament teaches nothing about infants being baptized, so we donít do it. It talks about adult believers who have responded to Christ, responding by being baptized. So thatís what we do. Youíll notice we donít do this on Sunday morning very often, much to my dismay. Iíd love to do more baptisms on Sunday morning but in Acts 16 the Philippian jailer gave his heart to the Lord and was baptized (hereís the language) the same hour of the night. So thatís what we do. If you want to become a Christian on Thursday afternoon, give your heart to the Lord. Be baptized, then on Thursday afternoon weíll fill the baptistry and weíll do that because we believe thatís what the Bible teaches. If you want to wait until Sunday morning, thatís fine. Weíll be glad to work that into a worship experience. Weíd love to have that happen more often than we do on Sunday so that you could actually see it. We believe, for example, that baptism is a part of the conversion experience. Acts 2, the response of the disciples to the questions asked. Peter preaches the first sermon. You crucified the Messiah. They say what do we have to do? Peter says, repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins. Youíll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And so, we would say, why wouldnít you do that? Why wouldnít you, in response to Jesus, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit and have a gift?

When the apostle Paul is still Saul on his way to Damascus, he is encountered by Jesus. And yet, he is not told what to do for three days. And then Ananias comes to his doorstep and said, Saul what are you waiting for? Arise, be baptized, calling upon the name of the Lord. So thatís what we would teach. That when you come to faith in Christ, one of the things you should do is to be immersed into Christ and the question that we would ask is a very simple question. Why wouldnít you do that? If Jesus commands it, if Jesus did it, if Jesus practiced it, if the New Testament did it, if Paul

did it, if Peter commanded it, why would you rebel against it? It isnít that itís more important than anything else in the Bible, itís just that itís one of the Bibles teachings so why would you not want to do that? Thatís been our stance over the years. Itís one of the distinctiveís of Christian churches.

Well, who are we? We are a body of believers who honestly are trying to do nothing more than be Christian. Do we always succeed? Unfortunately not. Are we doing our best? We hope so.

There was an old train station in the mountains of the Catskillís in New York. It was one way of getting into New York City and on a particular afternoon a man showed up, kind of a "smart-aleck" sort of fella. This rather run down train station was going to catch some of his irony. He asked the guy that was selling the tickets, "Is this Grand Central Station?" He said, "No--but youíre on the right track."

Are we the perfect church? No! But we think weíre on the right track. Weíre just simply trying to be Christians. To be believers in a way that allows Jesus to work in our life and to change us into something useful. Thatís all weíre trying to be. Weíre not trying to say weíre the only Christians in the world. Weíre only trying to say we are Christians only. And thatís it. Just us. You donít have to agree with us or anything. All you have to do is agree with Jesus and weíll all be happy because thatís what we believe in.

It does make a difference which train you get on. Now Iím not suggesting that getting on the Christian church train is the only way to get to heaven. Iím only saying, if you get on the Christian church train, weíre pretty sure we can get you there. That is a destination for which we are headed.

And we can help you allow Christ to work in your life in ways that you may not have ever had him work. Now you may find that in other places too. Weíre not suggesting that itís not there. Weíre only suggesting it is here. Weíre going to hold up for you

Sunday after Sunday after Sunday in this place, Jesus Christ. Weíre going to elevate him and allow him to draw you to him and thatís all weíre ever going to do. Weíre going to simply invite you to let Jesus work in your life and turn you into someone that God can use to change the world for himself.

So the invitation is to be a Christian. Just a Christian, no particular kind of one, just a Christian. One who has identified with Jesus by believing in him, repenting of your sin, confessing your faith in him, experiencing his death and resurrection and baptism and living as faithfully as you know how so that his prayer in John 17 gets answered. That when they see us, working, living together as brothers and sisters they will believe that Jesus came into the world in order to love them too. Thatís why we do this.

So what weíre really praying is that those of us who attend this body will begin to develop an even greater passion for Jesus than we have ever had. That we will have a passion to know him in such a way that the rest of the world will also gather around that passion and be attracted to him. So weíre inviting you to be passionate about Christ, to allow him to be the center of your being and let him change you.

Would you stand with me while we sing this song and let that express that for you.