On October 20th 1909, P. T. Forsyth delivered an ordination address based on John 17:6,
“I manifested thy name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me.”
The sermon is very short and broken down into three parts, The Property, The Gift, The Use.
Below is part one (The Property), and over Easter I will blog the other two parts. With gratitude to Jason Goroncy in his excellent book containing published and unpublished sermons by Forsyth, the one I am posting is a previously unpublished one (p.352-355), and I whole-heartedly commend the book, as I have already done in a previous post, not least for an outstanding introduction (worth the book money alone)!
‘Thine They Were.’
These are God’s people. Christ’s people, not yours. You say they are “my people!” Yes, but only because they are the people of God.
To begin with, they cost Him more than they will ever cost you. If ever they are trying, and if ever they tax your patience, remember that. And if ever you feel unequal to your task, remember that they are more His than yours, because they cost Him more. Your Church . . . . is the Church of the living God, bought by Christ’s most precious blood.
You will see then that the Church is composed of those who are His people in a very different sense than, for instance, “the earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1). The Spirit of the Lord fills and moves His creation, but what made the Church, and fills and moves it, is His Holy Spirit, something far more intimate to God than the power and order of creation, something dearer, something greater.
All men are God’s as part of His creation; they are His offspring. But there is something greater, diviner, than humanity; it is the Church of God. The Church of God is the finest product of humanity; it is the greatest thing in the universe. And this is so because it was produced by God in His Son and Holy Spirit.
The Church is His own as no nation is, no society, no family. The Church is His as His Son is His – His in His Son. He is not as a part of creation, but as a new creation in Jesus Christ. If in Love He created the world, in much more love did He create the Church. It was in might and beauty He created the world; it was in Holy love He created the Church. It is His as nothing else in the world is. It is the Church of His Son, and His Son is more to Him than all the world.
I speak of the Church of course, as God sees it; God who sees the end from the beginning. You also must learn to see your Church like that; not as a man sees it but as God redeemed it, and as God trusts it, and bears with it, and feeds it, and serves it, and waits for it while it grows to the mature man in Jesus Christ.
I have spoken of the property. I now come to speak of the gift….