When Experience Fails

We celebrated our 59th anniversary last Sunday with a combined service. Pastor Ian encourages us to look to the past and remember God's faithfulness and work, and to continue to live lives of repentance and faith.

This past Sunday we celebrated 59 years of God’s interaction with the gathered people we have come to know as Grace Baptist Church. Our history has been full of faith, struggle, thanksgiving and sometimes even heartache. We have been blessed with growth and we have seen division. We have experienced healing, and we have been refreshed by God’s gentle mercies.

In the 18th century, German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Hegel wrote that “all we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” The truth of this statement can also be affirmed throughout the history of every Christian church.

Churches begin with high ideals. Some begin as a reaction to some perceived theological error, or even some seeming ecclesiastical tyranny. As the movement incubates, several other like-minded believers join a man inspired by holy discontent and driven by spiritual desire. Together they have or soon receive a common spiritual experience that gives urgency to their witness and zeal to their efforts. They often throw off the burden of complex religious expectation and turn to inward spiritual simplicity. Not one of them would ever believe that any in their precious God-enamoured band of Christ-followers would ever forget the joy of those early days. But they do. Or if they do not, the next generation does.

It is one of the painful conundrums of faith that second generation members of a spiritual movement often wander back to the same bondage from which their parents escaped such a short time before. With many sad examples to warn them, the experience of others is insufficiently transformational and so they stumble as if sleepwalking, straight back into captivity.

Could this be said of Grace? Is it possible that we have subconsciously begun to introduce the identical practices that left our forefathers spiritually thirsty? Have we—little by little—with every unbiblical conviction, every golden calf, grieved His Spirit and stifled the joy of our fellowship with Christ and each other? When hearts begin to turn, nothing anyone can say or do will halt our march back into the twilight. And soon every anniversary service will feel more like a corporate obligation than a joyful celebration.

Perhaps this is why, in Romans 5:14, the Apostle Paul, sought to exhort the Roman Church with these words, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Revival comes, not with some new experience, but when God draws His people to the Himself and to His Word. As we heard this past week, it is He who strengthens us “with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” (Colossians 1:11) And it is His Word that faithfully guides and encourages us into confident hope.

This week we will begin a 15-week walk through the letter of 1 John. Each week we will intentionally bend our hearts toward God’s Word that through the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope—both in our generation and the next.

This Week

This Sunday, at 9 am—“Fellowship with the Word of Life” 1 John 1:1-4

  • This Sunday, at 11 am—Our Equip classes continue: Men/ Women of Grace
  • On the 26th of August we will be celebrating with those who are being baptised. If you wish to follow Christ in believer’s baptism, contact our church office.
  • Tell Me a Story! Bible Storying Conference. Learn how to share the big story of the Gospel this 13-17 September at GBC. Ushers will have flyers in for those interested in attending this conference.