Meditation 1

There’s a quaint little church located about 15 minutes outside of Charles City, Iowa. Perhaps some of you have been there. It’s the church that inspired William S. Pitts to write his famous hymn, “The Little Brown Church in the Vale.” When we think of a church, images come to mind, maybe a cathedral of sorts, or the wood framed church you attended as a child.

However, you envision the church, it’s a people joined together in one faith. One writer says the 21st century church needs to wake up and recover their cultural relevance. By this the writer is saying that the church is a people whose purpose is to proclaim the relevance of the Word of God to every culture in every age and in every land.

The fashion in which this Word is to be proclaimed is to be in accordance with those two men dressed in white. Jesus had disappeared into the clouds; people were intently looking up into the sky. Two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them.

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:11

The message is in a spiritual form, not from man’s own imaginations.  Spiritual messengers appear from another world.  In fact, the Bible declares that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” 2 Timothy 3:16. And the Bible is the declaration of Christ coming into the world as the Son of God.  Remember the arguments Jesus had to put up with concerning His Spiritual relationship with His Father. After an unsuccessful volley with the Sadducees and the Pharisees, Jesus turns to His disciples and asks, “Who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16 Then came this response from Jesus. I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18.

The message was fashioned on the Day of Pentecost.  Moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke.  When the people heard [what Peter told them] they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:37-39

The Christian Church’s message is born upon the wings and will of God and must never be fashioned by the whims of culture. The message happens when a people moved by the Spirit live their lives as the Spirit guides them deeper and deeper into the true Word of God. The product of this Spirit is the church. Acts 11:26 The Bible tells us that “Barnabas and Saul met with the church [ekklesia]” in Antioch. And in 1 Corinthians 15:9 Paul makes the confession that he had persecuted the church [ekklesia] of God.”

Peter uses the stone metaphor to refer to the church [ekklesia]. It is built on a rock as we sing together in one of the church’s most beloved hymns.

As you come to him, [Jesus Christ] the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:4-10

For the Christian Church to be relevant to a culture and a community, it must be made up of people who have been made holy through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 

1 Peter 1:16

We are spiritually moved by the people who led the Christian church in the past, as for example, the Apostle Peter. It is important to know the profile of Peter in order to realize the miracle of a spiritual transformation. Ken Boa in his blog testifies to this.

The man who called himself “a witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 5:1) was not there when Jesus was hanging on the cross; he was hiding in fear. The man who calls us to be eager to serve (1 Peter 5:2) remained seated while Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. The man who tells us that we should be clear-minded and self-controlled so that we can pray (1 Peter 4:7) fell asleep while Jesus was sweating blood. The man who so boldly tells us, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (1 Peter 2:13) lopped off the soldier Malchus’s ear in the garden (John 18:10–11). Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:74)

The world around us, the cultures we live in, and the communities in which we serve are the products of people like you and me, sinners born just as were Peter and all of those first disciples.  And for a man with a profile like Peter’s, impulsive and immature, to tell us to be a holy people is much like a team in a preseason training camp. Whenever they win a preseason game, it really doesn’t count. Neither does what we do count. We live, we die, and in between we win some and lose some. This means nothing in the eyes of God.

That’s the whole point of Peter’s life. It is God who works His transforming powers in us. That is what we confess to by faith.  As each new generation of the church comes along, the transformation of every member happens in that same way.

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 2:38-39

We know the church can so easily be led astray from its calling. That is why Peter said what he said. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8.     

Be cautious, be alert, remain sober–Peter tells us. In many ways the church today has done just the opposite. We have, in so many ways fashioned the Word of God to our own liking. This is a very careless thing to do. Peter warns us that Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. If you have ever studied a stalking lion, he is stealth, he looks for the careless and unprotected.

For these reasons alone, the church must raise up those whose lives have been transformed by God’s transforming Word. It is upon this Word that the church has responded to its calling. He said to them,

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Mark 16:15

This message does not change over time. What the Word of God meant to those who preached it in the early centuries of the Christian Church means the same to us.  What the Word of God meant to those who preached it at the time of the great reformation of the church means the same to us.  What it will mean to those who will hear and accept the Word of God in the 21st century will be the same as what it meant to those who have gone before.

The people of God in every generation respond to the same message as was preached on The Day of Pentecost.  Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38

This is the message of the Christian Church that is of vital importance to each coming generation.  It is a message of daily forgiveness and renewal. Daily we lay our lives aside and trust anew in the life that is being prepared for us. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Romans 8:19-23

Remember the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25? Five kept their lamps burning until the bridegroom arrived. The Christian Church draws from the wellspring of the past. It looks to the doctrines of the Christian Church. It remains attuned to the Athanasian, the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds as the Holy Spirit so guides it into the future.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:13-16

We are now observing holy week which the people of God have done down through the ages. As each new generation comes along new ways to observe Easter are introduced. None of these must ever allow us to fail in our obligations to make known the true meaning of Easter, especially to our children.  I say this with all seriousness. We are not living in easy times because there is so much in the culture that can so easily devour us and our children. We return to the metaphor of the rock as it pertains to our being strong in the Lord and His power as we approach this great day in the history of the Christian Church.

Over and over the Word of God warns us, reminds us, and calls us to not deviate from the Word but be strong in the faith we share through Jesus Christ. A look at the book of Revelation provides us with a glimpse into what the fruition of our faith will become.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” 

Revelation 7:9

Generations will come and go; cultures, nations and peoples will rise and fall, but the Word of the Lord will stand forever.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 

Isaiah 40:8

In our human relationships, the words we exchange, though invisible, can generate emotions and attitudes and can even illicit powerful physical reactions. But God’s Word possesses a spiritual quality all of its own. It is for that reason that Jesus could say, “The words I have spoken to you— they are full of the Spirit and life”. John 6:63. This being so, Holy Week becomes a time when we look more deeply into the sacrifice of Christ’s life that gives us a deeper, stronger, clearer vision of the hope of our resurrection through our faith in His resurrection. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. John 11:25

Truth and Life Ministries



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Dr. Ken Peterson

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