Grace Communion International

…and another thing  by John Stettaford


I had been finalising my calendar for 2022 when it struck me, that next year is the anniversary of my baptism in June of 1962. That’s 60 years of membership into the body of Christ!

It never ceases to amaze me these days how fast time passes. Of course, for all of us this is a constant as we watch children grow and circumstances change. I remember the man I worked for during my college years had a new baby son. That day we all piled into his minivan early one afternoon and, instead of heading back to college, we ended up drinking a glass of champaign at his home. Today that boy is a hulking 18-stone 6-foot plus professor of theology in a US university.

Then again I remember my mother, aged 95 at the time, opining sadly that all her friends had now died and she was alone. She had her family, of course, but you can’t choose your family, only your friends.

Still, that baptism also gave me membership into this fellowship. My first service was begun a year earlier, the week before Trumpets. And I have witnessed many changes even within our church during these 61 years.

God may be changeless (Malachi 3:6), but human beings are always subject to change, and the church, as a divine institution but humanly organised, is also subject to change.

I actually think that this has to be to our advantage, a gift from our loving Father. Learning, for example, is change; repentance by its very definition is also change. We have new understanding brought to our attention through our personal and collective studies and the prompting and revelation of the Holy Spirit. And it is a truism that not everyone acknowledges—or is willing to admit—that as a fellowship we have had our understanding amended, even radically changed, within the last 20 years or so.

Let me give you a recent personal example. I have read the book of Exodus many times down the years, even before I came into contact with WCG. And yet, reading it anew in the Geneva version of 1588, I came across something if I ever knew it, I had forgotten. And that is, after the giving of the Ten Commandments, ten days later Moses was called up Mount Sinai, but not alone. Aaron, and his sons, Caleb and Joshua, plus 70 leaders of Israel were called up with him (Exodus 24:9-11). They saw God and ate a meal with him. Following that Moses stayed on for 40 days more.

All this seems in reverse as to what happened in ad 31. After Jesus’ resurrection he stayed with his disciples for 40 days before his ascension, and then, ten days later, came Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Just like Hebrew poetry sometimes, everything in the shadow is the reverse of the reality. And do I despite to Scripture, if I see that meal as a foreshadowing of the wedding feast we are all looking forward to?

Of course, it may all be coincidence, in that there are several events which follow a forty-days scenario in the Bible. But only this one seems to have any association with Pentecost. Still, it might even be wishful thinking, in that I have wondered about that 40 days of Christ with his disciples for years. Why 10 days short? And what did they do ‘tarrying’ in Jerusalem? Did they devote themselves to prayer, asking for understanding, asking from the heart for the repentance that they had come to see they needed, if they were successfully to carry out Jesus’ wishes in spreading the Gospel message? If so, those 10 days were by no means idle, wasted time.

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