April 3 Devotional

Today’s passage is John 20:19-23
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
I’m reading a book right now looking at the doctrine of the church, so it’s asking the question what makes up the church, how do we define the church, what markers are there of that true church (following what we recite in the Nicene Creed: one, holy, catholic, apostolic), and the two of the markers are found in this passage: confessional and missional. 
So first a little background to the passage. This takes place right after the disciples have found the empty tomb. Mary has seen Jesus, talked to him, and now she’s served as the first eyewitness of his resurrection, and told all the other disciples. Then, later that night on a Sunday night, the disciples are gathered together, in what may be described as the first church service (again, depending on how you define the word church!). 
Then we see the confessional nature of God’s people. A popular mantra today is: no creed but the Bible, which dismisses the way God works in history. Creeds were formed as a response to various heresies that were threatening the church, and are thus a helpful reminder for us to not go back to those exact same tempting ways. And this confession is how we can ultimately have peace with God, which is how Jesus greets his disciples: “Peace be with you.” If we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raise him from the dead you will be saved (Rom. 10:9) and have peace with God.
This then leads to the second nature of the church: missional. So often when we talk about the church we think of a building, when in reality it is God’s people. That means we often get the order of things mixed up! Theologians refer to this idea as the missio de or the mission of God. God’s mission has a church, the church does not have a mission. The mission is primary, the gathering is secondary because the church is temporary. Someday we will be with God personally, and we won’t need to set aside time weekly to gather because we’ll always be gathered and worshipping him perfectly! But this is all contingent upon the confession, which is why that must come first. But this mission means that all of us are seeking to tell the world what Jesus has done for us! Jesus describes us as a light on a hill that guides and points people to the truth. So I’d encourage you to think and pray through what it means for us to be on mission as the church, both corporately and individually. How do you think we’re doing as an example to the world of a life fully surrendered to God? What does that practically look like?
Today’s song is titled ‘Christ Is Mine Forevermore’ which is getting to this very idea we studied today! Christ will ensure that we will make it to the end, so let’s trust in Him! You can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.
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