The Vision of Glasgow City Church:
All of Christ in All the Church to All Creation
All of Christ
The world has never been in greater need of a full, clear picture of the one and only Jesus, the same One who walked this earth 2,000 years ago.
He may no longer be on this earth physically but He is still moving among us and revealing Himself.
Before He left, Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to do this very thing: to reveal Himself to the world.
By His Spirit, Jesus has been ‘showing up’ ever since!
When Jesus shows up, He does his own explaining! As it was in the Gospels, when He enters our lives doubts are dispelled and fears fade.
This is what He wants people to experience when they enter His church. It is what they still do experience because His presence is here.
The problem has never been His presence but blurred, even blinded vision.
Yet by His Spirit, He is still in the business of touching eyes and removing scales.
In the face of Jesus, we undeniably and irresistibly see God just as He is.
The Bible reveals that Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature, that there is nothing we need to know about God that cannot be discovered by encountering Him.
And when we do encounter Jesus, we are compelled, without even having to be asked, to respond.
The original name of Glasgow City Church was ‘The Burnish Bush’, after Moses’ life-transforming encounter with God in the desert.
The same power to transform is found in the Gospels as person after person is changed forever by meeting Jesus.
It may surprise you – it once amazed me! – that during His time on earth some people were hardened to, disliked, even hated, Jesus.
And yet I have seen lives – my own included – radically changed, beyond human explanation, by a personal meeting with Christ, and still some refuse to believe!
Yet one thing none of Jesus’ detractors could do was ignore Him!
His impact was just too great. Wherever Jesus showed up He changed things, to put it mildly. He caused upheaval, sometimes turning whole communities upside-down.
He still does. Many of us are trusting for a day when Jesus will visibly and demonstrably visit our communities once more!
Whenever and wherever the Jesus of the Gospels appears, crowds still gather.
This is why, after two millennia, the church of Jesus Christ remains the biggest and fastest growing people movement in history, as vibrant and alive as it ever was!
Jesus is alive in Heaven, but lives and communities are transformed when He is revealed on Earth.
Churches exist all over the world, well beyond ancient Israel, because Jesus, by His Spirit, has historically continued to appear to men.
And when He appears in power, nothing competes.
Black Friday? Cup final Saturday? Sunday golf? Keep them – Jesus is in town!
Road closures? Parking restrictions? Amber warnings? Minor obstacles! Jesus has come. We will find a way to be there.
But He doesn’t just show up in our gatherings: He comes home with us too!
Imagine if Jesus came to your house today.
“Oh,” you may say, “But He is in my home!”
For some He may be – and thank God if you are one of the many who enjoy a daily conversation with Him! – but for most He is not.
What if you were to have a life-changing encounter with him in your living room?
What if you met Him in such a way that people who have known you for years started to talk about how your life has changed? What if they started knocking your door saying they’d like to know about The Change themselves?
Church is where God’s family gathers. It’s Jesus’ house, a place where everyone can come just as they are … and leave touched. Church is where Jesus delights to reveal to us what He had in mind when He made us.
And when we return home, He comes back to the house with us and, by His word and His Spirit, and continues the work there. And then out to our place of work or study.
At Glasgow City Church, we believe that Jesus still desires to reveal Himself, and therefore God, in all the different ways He did in the Bible.
In the Gospels, Jesus came as an apostle, sent as God’s ambassador to set up the kingdom of Heaven in the world of His day. But He was more than an apostle.
He came as a prophet, exposing the reality of the way things really were, declaring what God had to say about it and revealing what lay up ahead. But He was more than a prophet.
He came as an evangelist, showing God’s righteousness and mercy to a sinful and needy world, befriending sinners and transforming lives. But He was more than an evangelist.
Jesus was a pastor who lovingly protected, nurtured and guided the flock that gathered around Him. But He was more than a pastor.
Jesus was a teacher who clearly established and explained the truth of God’s word. But He was more than a teacher.
When we talk about seeing all of Christ, we are talking about the expression of every attribute and gift of His life and ministry that is found in the Gospel narrative.
The next part of our vision – and a major reason why God loves church – is that it is through His people that He Jesus continues to reveal Himself today.
All the Church
The word ‘all’ here is really important!
‘The church’ is much bigger than you and I. It is much bigger than my local church or any other congregation, no matter how large. It is much bigger than any denomination or movement, or even ‘all the Christians in this part of the world’!
While the word ‘all’ may be used in different contexts, from universal – every believer who as ever lived – to local – everyone in our congregation – it is important that we understand the ‘cosmic’, all-encompassing picture before we talk about any local church.
The big picture should protect us from an inflated image of our own importance!
At Glasgow City Church, we believe that our local church cannot function healthily in isolation from the wider body of Christ.
In the same way, we believe that the local church depends on every individual member discovering and growing into their own unique part of the local body.
So, how do we get to the place where all the church fulfils its part?
Christ has designed a strategy through which the fulness of Christ’s ministry can be displayed through His entire body.
The apostle Paul wrote: “When [Christ] ascended on high … He gave gifts to men … And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
What a revelation of an incredible strategy!
Just a few verses later, Paul develops the theme further: “… The whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
These verses, in Ephesians chapter 4, reveal Christ’s strategy for maturing a healthy body, where every individual part discovers and grows in its purpose!
Notice every feature of Jesus’ Gospel ministry revealed in these five gifts listed. The church ends up building itself up, but it doesn’t start that way; it is first equipped by a broad range of ministries gifted by Christ Himself.
The ministry of the church was never intended to be done for the church by a few professionals; it was intended to be done by the whole church. And the true sign that Christian leaders are fulfilling their role is that the entire church has become mobilised.
This is God’s strategy: Christ exalted – gifts endued – church equipped.
Christ the sends apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to enable a fully active church to collectively reveal the full person and ministry of Christ.
We refer to these gifts as ‘ascension ministries’ because through them the ascended Christ expresses His fulness through the church.
What a glorious picture of what the church is called to be: the embodiment, or reincarnation, of every feature of Christ’s earthly ministry, revealing a full picture of Christ on Earth by igniting every member of a united church!
To use the apostle Paul’s terminology, all the church is to grow up to become “a mature man” that fully reveals Christ.
This second part of our vision is essential because, with Christ ascended to Heaven, His fulness can now only be revealed on Earth through all the Church.
Is this not why Jesus prayed for all of us in John chapter 17, that we may be united as one … “… that the world may know that You sent Me …”?
Before all of creation can be reached, all of Christ must be revealed through all of the church.
This is why the apostle Paul laboured the words “one” and “all”: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Only all of the church is sufficient to reveal all of Christ.
And when all of Christ is revealed through all of the church, all of creation will be reached!
The Bible is God’s plan of redemption for all creation, presenting Christ Himself as the only Redeemer of the human race.
As Redeemer, Christ came to rescue and restore a broken world. Christ Himself is God’s ultimate and eternal Fixer!
But who, or what, did Christ come to fix? Absolutely everything that was broken.
The Book of Genesis tells us that all of creation – not just mankind but everything man was placed in charge of – was made by Christ, and for Christ.
But when Adam sinned, all his unborn children fell with him, and the entire creation that he was left to govern was, by extension, corrupted and cursed by his disobedience.
In Genesis (3:17), God declares to Adam that even “the ground is cursed because of you.”
The Fall of mankind through Adam represented paradise lost. It began in man but the contamination of sin spread to everything he touched, from Adam’s inner being, to every human relationship, to the animal kingdom, to the welfare of the planet and beyond.
But the beautiful, poetic truth of the Gospel is that Christ’s work of redemption not only begins with man but also extends to absolutely everything touched by the Fall.
Redemption may find its centre in the human heart, but its circumference orbits the entirety of creation!
Absolutely nothing in Heaven or Earth, visible or invisible, material or spiritual, is to remain uninfluenced by the revealing of all of Christ through all of His church!
And the igniter that releases the powerful light waves of redemption into the cosmos is when a person is born again through faith in Christ. When God changes the heart of man, every area of his life, his relationships and the world he touches, directly or indirectly, becomes subject to the touch of the Redeemer and the eternal force of redemption.
Some people look to the Government as the big agent of change in our world. Others look to multi-national conglomerates that use financial control to exert their dominance. Still others look to technology, screen icons or social media.
People who think this way usually see the church as just another of society’s institutions, a social organisation created by people to cater to the religious needs of human beings, but certainly nothing of real power and influence.
But that is not what the church is.
The church of Jesus Christ is nothing less than the embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth. It is the agency through which Christ Himself, King of Heaven, influences the world and implements eternal change, bringing back to Himself everything that was created for Himself.
Redemption begins when Christ, by His Spirit, reveals Himself to me, convicts me of my sin, moves me to repentance, and comes personally to live inside me as His own dwelling place, in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
But that is the start, not the end.
Then He comes home with me, metaphorically taking charge of the keys and starting to rearrange the furniture.
He comes into our lives and begins to reconcile broken relationships and dysfunctional families.
He tells me that when I go to study or work, He Himself is now the Boss that I am working for, and my standard is that of a citizen of Heaven, as Christ’s ambassador on Earth.
He commands honesty and hard work and stirs my social conscience.
He makes me feel personally responsible for the tidiness of the street and the state of the planet.
He expects my best and shifts my mentality from ‘get by’ to ‘fly high’.
The ultimate outcome is that the world I touch starts to gets changed by the change in me.
When this starts happening to enough of us, a contagion effect that theologians call ‘revival’ follows.
People start to see church as a place where lives are transformed and, like Moses at the Burning Bush, they turn aside to ask, Why? What is happening here?
They visit church … and there they meet the Redeemer.
When all of Christ is revealed in all the church, every believer starts to discover their purpose in a world that Christ came to change.
That’s a pretty big vision!
It has to be big because, according to the Bible, it’s God’s vision.
It is a vision that God has invited Glasgow City Church to share in.
Could it be yours too?