The call to minister the gospel to the ends of the earth is not an easy one. I am afraid we give up too quickly and let obstacles stop us from sharing the Good News with those who have never heard. Some of those obstacles are what happens in our own minds; excuses that we create because we have lost our boldness and passion to save the lost.
If you have read the biographies of missionaries like C. T. Studd, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, William Cary, Jim Elliot and many others, you know they stopped at nothing to share the gospel with the unsaved. Suffering, separation from family, starvation and illness, lack of ordinary comforts, and loss of everything, including their spouse was a price they were willing to pay.
We should remind ourselves of Barnabas and Saul when they were sent out by the Holy Spirit and the Antioch church, they arrived at places like Salamis and immediately “proclaimed the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews…they had gone through the whole island” (Acts 13:5-6). They gave no thought to the risks that might be involved.
We often think the risks of sharing the gospel to the unreached are too high today. Was the risk too high for John Chau who lost his life in seeking to reach an unreached people group. For these, the risk was small compared to the eternal gain of souls brought into the kingdom of God. In the case of all those mentioned here, the risk was worth receiving the eternal reward!
As I closed this month’s newsletter for NFI, Revelation 5 came to mind. We rightly think of all the preaching, witnessing, and years of hard missionary work learning languages and translation. Then there are the billions of dollars that have been spent over centuries. Great as all these have been, I have no doubt that the prayers that have gone up to God, pleading with Him to spread the gospel and open hearts, will remain as eternal incense to God.
“And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (5:8–9).
Hospitals, schools, wells, organizations and all the funding that goes into missionary effort is never mentioned in Revelation. The prayers of the saints are! Not only that, they carry with them an aroma, as if they were a sacrifice of Christ. Such prayers are answered by redeeming “people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation!” We could not do anything greater than give ourselves to prayer. They have eternal consequences.
Whether we look at the expansive universe through a telescope or a tiny cross section of the human DNA through a microscope, we are looking at a revelation of God’s “invisible attributes” and “eternal power.” For those who do not believe in God and reject Him, Paul has something to say;
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19-20)
How sad that so many have rejected this evidence. Paul said earlier in this chapter that such persons “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” and it becomes a willful act of the mind and heart to reject the evidence God has given in His own creation.
Those of us who believe and know God personally should value the revelation of Himself in His creation as well as the authority of God’s Word, the Bible. It is “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
In a world where everything we see, hear, and touch is in some way tainted by sin, it is very hard to believe and acknowledge the sovereignty of God. The argument that so many give, and perhaps our own hearts, is, how can God be in control and sovereign when there is so much evil around us. Paul puts this issue in perspective:
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
William MacDonald (a man I knew personally) puts this verse into simple terms; “The Almighty is self-contained. He is the source of everything good. He is the active Agent in sustaining and controlling the universe, and He is the Object for which everything has been created. Everything is designed to bring glory to Him.” (NT Believers Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson, page 544.)
Since this verse in Romans 11 is true, why should we not let this truth control our thinking and replace our anxiety with expectations of what God will finally do with this universe for His glory? If we allow this to control us, we will live now for His purpose, will and glory.
A few years ago, our youngest son went to Nepal with the purpose of looking into a ministry and hiking to base camp of Mount Everest. Because his body was not acclimated to high elevations, he hired a Sherpa to carry his backpack toward the end.
In a similar way, Paul “bows [his] knee before the Father…that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). Why did Paul want this for these believers? “So that you…may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19). Imagine coming to comprehending something that surpasses knowledge?
It would only be through the power and work of “the Spirit in your inner being.” The question for us is; are we letting Him do that? To scale any spiritual mountain, we must have the Spirit’s power giving all that we need. As these spiritual vistas fill our hearts, we will be driven to tell others.
When we look at the entire body of Paul’s writings, containing an amazing scope of truth from the sinfulness of man, God’s saving grace, His eternal purpose for the Church, and how strong biblical leadership will be passed on to the next generations, it is a wonder that there is so much more. We might think that what was revealed to Paul was complete and nothing remained to be told.
Even with the expansive revelation given to Paul, He still says “how unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).
There is more! Let’s see how he describes the gospel of God’s grace given to Him. “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things” (Ephesians 3:8–9).
Paul felt unworthy to receive such a revelation; the gospel that contained the “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” But that propelled him even more to proclaim these riches because they had been a “mystery or secret” for so long. He wanted this light to be divinely revealed to every Gentile heart. The idea of “mystery” also conveys there is always more to learn.
Oh, that we had this passion! The more we see how “unsearchable” these riches are, the more we will want to share it with those who have never heard. God will take care of the “how” if we are filled with the “what”!
Paul wrote his letters with specific people and churches in mind, not just subject driven. Since the Early Church was young in their faith, his letters were intended to further establish them in the gospel of grace, and in some cases, to correct errors or misunderstandings that came into the Church through false teachers or lack of sound doctrine. We must also remember the huge difference between earning God’s favor by keeping the Law and receiving favor by grace.
As Paul wrote “to all those in Rome who are loved by God,” he took eleven chapters to outline the gospel in detail so there would be no doubt about its foundation and how the gospel should be understood. At the end of these chapters, it is as if Paul cannot hold back the praise that is filling his heart at the moment, and must express his feelings in worship.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).
These early chapters have outlined the depraved state of mankind on the one hand, and on the other, the measureless grace of God that made us His own possession in spite of our condition. This alone is worthy of our abandoned worship and praise.
Yesterday we looked at the “steadfast/everlasting” love of the Lord, perhaps one of the most comforting characteristics of our God. As we study God’s Word, we find there are other features of His relationship with us that spans far beyond our short life here.
In giving the Law to Moses, there are places where God lets us look into the future by drawing comparisons between those who hate Him and those who keep His commandments.
“I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:5–6). That phrase “to thousands of” literally means “to thousands [of generations] of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Notice that the blessing of “steadfast love” is 250 times greater than the infliction of judgment for rejecting His commands, but it is based on how we respect God’s Word. This principle is repeated in Deuteronomy 7:9-10, except that those who “hate” God in this reference are “destroyed.”
Why does God give us such a clear comparison? These consequences are experienced in this life, which should make us stop and carefully consider the immediate effect on the next generations. I often remind parents with children that their example is watched and felt by them from birth and will impact the next generations long after we are gone. What we do now, matters!
There are so many situations we all face that cause doubts to arise in our minds. We either feel alone and isolated from others without support, or we begin to doubt our value before God. These times are when we must resort to God’s presence and Word to adjust our thoughts and emotions.
Here are verses that should reassure us and remind us of God’s disposition toward His children.
“Remember your mercy, O Lord, and Your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of Your goodness, O Lord!” (Psalm 25:6–7).
“But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:17).
Jeremiah was a prophet who suffered so much for being faithful to the Lord in the face of a nation that had been so unfaithful. Yet, God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued My faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3). What an amazing God!
Let these glorious words fill your heart with hope and truth!
From time to time, we want to give you an update on significant developments in this ministry. From past experience with ministry in India, we were often left disappointed because of traditional barriers that hindered grasping biblical principles. We are convinced that this is a mission frontier that has a high priority. Think about these statistics:
· Population unreached with the gospel = 1,313,878,000
· People Groups = 2,717 (2,445 unreached)
God has shown us in other parts of the world that God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) has equipped and motivated the Church to disciple and prepare believers to disciple others. With GPHD either translated or being translated into 15 languages, we wondered what the next language should be? As you can see from the Joshua numbers above, India has a huge need.
According to Ethnologue, Hindi is the 5th largest language in the world and spoken by over 189 million people. We have a reliable translator who is willing to do the work and print the books. Please pray with us that the translating will be done quickly, accurately and printing costs will be reasonable and with good quality.
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