The Church is facing a serious danger. We have become so habitual about our church routine that we have forgotten how to listen. This is not a new problem. It was less than thirty years after Pentecost that Jesus dictated letters to the Apostle John and as He concludes each letter, He sends the same message no matter what the state of the church is.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’” (Revelation 2:7).
It did not matter what the current state of the church was, they all received the same message. This underscores the importance of having spiritual ears that discern the voice of the Spirit. Even for a church like Ephesus that Paul planted, and Timothy discipled, Paul prayed that their spiritual senses would be sharpened through the Spirit.
How much more effective would the Church be if we took time to hear the Spirit speak. He will not force Himself on those who do not want to hear Him speak. Do we have “ears” that know when it is the Spirit speaking. When He speaks, it will be what Jesus is saying (John 14:26; 16:12-13) through Him to the Church. It will be truth, correction, and encouragement.
“The Bible is not the basis of missions; missions is the basis of the Bible.”
― Ralph Winter
Jesus coming to earth as a man, sent from God the Father, on the first missionary journey that incarnated the love and heart of God for lost humanity. You and I are left here to complete that work, “and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Our Missionary Jesus left the Missionary Spirit here to be our Helper in finishing the task. Will we allow Him to supply what we need to reach the last and the lost?
We have often referred to Matthew 28:19 as the Great Commission which is really the Great Command for the Church. Just as a reminder, I copied this verse below.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
As we work with so many around the world, training them to return to Scripture as their only authority, we discover that their obedience follows as they grasp the authority and power of the Holy Spirit. Obedience NEVER comes from our insisting that they follow what the Bible says. It comes from God Himself, through His Word, laying claim to their souls and hearts.
We watch many who have gone through God’s Plan for His Disciples and those who have not been baptized ask that they identify with the Lord Jesus in obedience to His command. They are convicted by God’s Word to obey. A perfect example is this couple in Ecuador. Though the picture is a little blurred, you can see the joy on their faces after coming out of the water (Acts 8:39).
Have you obeyed the Lord Jesus in this command? If not, do you have a biblical reason for not doing what the Lord has asked us to do?
There is no way to express in words the thrill that fills our hearts as we see indigenous disciples seriously pursuing their own spiritual growth. Ecuador has been one of our destinations where we have seen God work in unmistakable ways. We are now seeing fruit from seeds of God’s Word planted before.
Last year we introduced God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) to the Quechua churches in this small South American country. From that moment there has been a steady and growing movement of God among these believers. The picture you see here is a graduation of those who completed their studies in GPHD. Pray with us that this movement will continue to grow and spread from these disciples to all the churches in Ecuador and then to the Quechua in Peru and Columbia.
It may seem natural for sinners to repent after hearing the gospel message. That should be expected when the gospel is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Early Church expanded at an amazing rate, Satan was also at work seeking to derail this new work of God.
Peter was quick to identify sin, that left unchecked, would have undermined the unity created by God (Acts 5:1-11). He confronted Ananias and his wife Sapphira with lying to the Church about a transaction that was intended to benefit the body of Christ. As with any necessary confrontation of sin, the objective is for the individual(s) to be convicted of sin and repent. Sadly, this did not happen and resulted in their death.
Leaping forward about three years to Chapter 8, Philip is pushed out of Jerusalem by persecution and God’s design to spread the gospel. As he goes through Samaria, a man named Simon believes and is baptized and continues with Philip. Simon watched as others believed and received the Holy Spirit as Philip laid his hands on them. Simon thought he could buy this gift with money.
“Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:20-22).
We must be more concerned about the purity of the Church if we want to be effective in spreading the gospel. Man’s methods and the misuse of money cannot be mixed with God’s purpose and ways of reaching the lost. Without repenting of such methods, the gospel will stop, and the church become stagnant and ineffective.
One of the wonderful works of the Spirit, as the Gospel of Pure Grace is presented in His power, is repentance. Here are two examples of how this worked in the Early Church.
“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37–38).
This first reference proves that repentance was not ‘demanded’ by Peter as he presented the gospel but was the result of the gospel working in the soul by the Spirit. Three thousand souls were added to the Church that day (2:41).
Following the healing of the blind man in chapter 3, Peter speaks a convicting message that included, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (3:19). This boldness strengthened the disciples and made their witness even more effective.
The attempt by some to make the gospel ‘appealing to the sinner’ by leaving out repentance ignores the greatest need of the soul and weakens their understanding of Christ’s sacrificial death. True repentance opens the door and invites a mighty work of God in the soul – an eternal work!
Some of the most exciting work that God is doing comes from areas of the world where life is made difficult by persecution and the environment. We should remember that neither of these conditions hinders God’s plan and purpose! This report and pictures come from Myanmar where nearly a year ago a coup put this country into chaos. This came on top of COVID conditions. Yet, our brothers and sisters found ways to persevere and keep their hearts focused on the Lord’s work. Here is their report.
“Training is so wonderful, and people are so exciting. Most of them are from different Provinces in Myanmar. Thanks for your prayers but continue to pray for our trainers so they will continue learning by finishing God’s Plan for His Church (GPHC). I have introduced GPHC to them and plan to start training in coming August.
I can see some of them becoming missionaries after they finish GPHC. One of them finished GPHD and graduated with a certificate.”
Please keep these faithful believers in your prayers.
“Our Lord Jesus said to us in very solemn words, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Then He adds this: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). In other words, a fruitful life and an eternal life come from this: dying like a seed and hating your life in this world. What overwhelms me, as I ponder this and trace the life of Adoniram Judson, America’s first foreign missionary, is how strategic it was that he “died” so many times and in so many ways.
More and more I am persuaded from Scripture and from the history of missions that God’s design for the evangelization of the world and the consummation of his purposes includes the suffering of his ministers and missionaries. To put it more plainly and specifically, God designs that the suffering of His ministers and missionaries is one essential means in the joyful, triumphant spread of the gospel among all the peoples of the world.
In what follows, I would like to give four points and a plea that all of you earnestly consider your role in completing the Lord’s Great Commission.”
1. God purposes for the gospel to spread to all peoples.
2. God plans to make suffering a crucial means to accomplish this purpose.
4. We are in a historical position that cries out for tremendous missionary effort and sacrifice.
(John Piper, Adoniram Judson – How Few There Are who Die So Hard, Page 2).
After our Zoom Prayer time this week, we received a message from a dear brother in Ecuador. He was on his way home from a special event and wanted to share how excited he was. He explained how it all happened.
“A young Quechua woman who has recently graduated from the Quechua Bible school in Quito, had a burden to minister in the jails and prisons. Somehow, she got her hands on some God's Plan For Young Disciplesbooks in Spanish and received permission to go into a prison in Riobamba, Ecuador and teach there using this book. The officials were very happy with the positive impact it had on these young men who are between the ages of 13 and 18. More opportunities are opening up for her to do training in the prison system.”
Oswald said that a number of the young men shared how thankful they were for the opportunity to study the Bible. This has also had a tremendous impact on Oswald and wanted to thank everyone for their prayers. (Pictures will be shared when they are approved by officials).
We never know how, when and where God is going to work, but that is OK. What is important is that we remain dependent in prayer so when He reveals His work, we are ready to work with Him!
Yesterday we looked at the glorious Scriptures that give us a glimpse into our future state in heaven. Returning to that section in 1 John 3, he makes us think about how that future condition should have an immediate impact on us now. “And everyone who has this hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). If we take John’s exhortation seriously, we are forced to ask ourselves how eternal things and our being with Christ is changing our Christian walk today?
Peter gives a very dark report on the conditions of this world as we approach the Lord’s soon return which he calls “the day of the Lord” (2 Peter 3:10). “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Peter 3:11–12).
Jesus told His disciples on ocassions not to be like the world but “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes” (Luke 12:35–37).
Let us purify ourselves, live in holiness, and eagerly wait for Jesus to return!
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