I have a great love for interviews with Ephesians 4 Ministries. It's a great chance to hear them speak more spontaneously and from the heart rather than the more prepared preached word. I was fascinated therefore to see that UCCF got the chance to interview Terry Virgo at New Word Alive last month and found the 45 minute interview fascinating and stimulating. Terry's passion for the Church came at a much-needed time for me. So I thought I'd type it up for those who don't have the time to listen. It was so good to hear Terry speak passionately about his vision and passion of a victorious and glorious end-day church!Mike Reeves: Hi and welcome to another "Tabletalk". I am Mike Reeves - UCCF's theological advisor and we have got a special treat which is that wonderfully (perhaps foolishly) Terry Virgo has agreed to come and sit back round the table again. Terry thanks so much for coming back after having endured one session.
Mike Reeves: Terry I am going to sneakily try to get you to do a mini-preach now. I have got one Bible verse that I want to ask you about which is one that you will know very well. It is Ephesians 3:10 that Paul writes; "God who created all things" wanting through the church to make known the manifold wisdom of God to to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places". What does that mean? Why is it that God chooses to make His manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities through the church? Why is the church such a perfect God-chosen medium for the proclamation of the gospel?
Terry: I think that the mystery of God being revealed through the church is an amazing concept. It is plainly there in the Scripture. I think God has chosen - and I always think this is strange. That Christ has a Bride made up of people to be put together again and I always feel if I was God I would like something pure and not reconstructed. In God's incredible purpose He has chosen to reconstruct people and it is an amazing display of His grace so through the church is a revelation of the grace of God - that God can take spoiled goods and throughly transform them to such a degree that in all honesty He can say; "My delight is in her". He delights in us and we are a demonstration of His breathtaking grace. We are (as it says in Ephesians 2) "one new man" and we come from enormous diversity and racism, tribalism is so deeply rooted in the human culture and human nature and only Jesus can bring together that which is impossible to dwell naturally together.
The church is not just meant to be beautiful for herself life stain glass windows but is the answer to the world's deep need! And only Jesus can unite tribes who hate one another. Only Jesus can do that miracle. So the church is resplendent with glory because the church is a display of Jesus power to totally transform an individual. You may say Mother Teresa was an amazing lady and a saintly person - but God wants not just a saintly individual but He wants a community who corporately demonstrate Jesus power to save at depth culturally in such a way that we are on display and cause the world to take note!
I feel when it says in Isaiah 2 that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall rise above all the nations and all the nations shall flow to it - that is my hope and prayer that we shall the church that is the mountain of the house of the Lord and there are many other mountains! Communism came and went. Secular humanism. There are many mountains. But the promise is the mountain of the house of the Lord is above them all and all the nations will flow to it. And as Moyter says in his commentary on Isaiah - that is supernatural for rivers to flow upwards! God will do that!
God will draw from all the nations and glorify His house and the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the glory of the former! I think we can live with a verse like that! I know it is an Old Testament prophecy but I am wanting to believe for a glorious church where love and harmony and the Presence of Jesus and worship and love for our enemies even in the midst of hostility as it was in the book of Acts - but the church (it says in Acts 2) that no one dared joined themselves to them. But the Lord was adding daily those who were being saved.
They were held in honour and there was reverence towards the church. No one was laughing at the church. To me it is a matter of heartache when the church is regarded as foolish when the church should be a in a place of real respect. There may sometimes kill us as we know is happening around the world today. But there should be a fear of God because of the church. So there is a long way to go but God is committed to His church and we want to keep believing that He is going to have a glorious church.
Mike Reeves: Terry that is a magnificent glorious vision of the church and what I love is how you have got a vision of the church that is rooted in the very being of God and is attractive to how we are made, attractive to our hearts and what a challenge to the whole world and designed as such. Terry could you give us some thoughts on what has helped your thinking on this? Are there some resources that people can get hold of to help to think through the church more whether that be more of the doctrine of church or pragmatically? Anything that has helped you?
Terry: I think my love for the church has grown over I guess many decades now. When I was converted I didn't think this way and I was so grateful to find what I thought was a good church where people were truly born again and we had the Bible preached every week. But I hadn't any biblical awareness of the glory of the church at the beginning. I think I was an individualist and we were taught to do personal evangelism and personal devotions and everything was personal. But I think specially in these post-modern days where everything is so fragmented the church as a corporate community is a wonderful answer to the desert conditions out there. I think it has grown over years. I think when I first read John Stott's BST on Ephesians that was a real introductory helpful book where he does lift up the church in that commentary. Over the years more and more if I see a good book on the church I will grab it, read it and feed myself on it because I really feel we need to start from a good theology. I don't want to start merely pragmatically. There is so much on the church today that is telling you how to build it bigger.
Mike Reeves: I think you have shown that is something built theologically.
Terry: Yes I am constantly having to work on that because I think we live in an amazing generation of developed skills and over the years the way a pastor is seen has changed somewhat reflecting the culture. So historically he was in the culture of a doctor or a squire. Then later with the development of education he had to have a degree so he could be in that world and then a psychologist and add some therapy. It's almost a reflection of culture. Today it is that you need to be a manager or a CEO - can you direct? What is your five year goal and talk the language of growth and being smart.
Mike Reeves: Terry thanks so much for your time and sharing your heart - very grateful for it and everything you are doing.
Terry: Thanks so much Mike.